Cheese Archive



August 2014



Exploring Cleveland: Dinner at L’Albatros

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

After a busy morning and afternoon exploring Ohio City, both Charity and I were more than ready for a relaxing evening on Saturday. Charity’s recommendation for dinner that night was L’Albatros, a French Brasserie + Bar in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood. I love French cuisine so I was beyond excited to check it out.

University Circle is another gorgeous neighborhood about a 15 minute drive from downtown. It is home to Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and several other impressive cultural and medical institutions. On our way to L’Albatros we drove down Martin Luther King Boulevard so I could catch a glimpse of Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens, a collection of 31 public gardens, each commemorating a different ethnic group whose immigrants have contributed to the heritage of the U.S. and Cleveland. I would have loved to spend more time exploring this beautiful area, but our reservation at L’Albatros was waiting! L'Albatros, Cleveland

When we walked into L’Albatros I immediately fell in love. As soon as we stepped in I was greeted by the intoxicating aromas from the open kitchen immediately to our right. The space is split up into smaller sections, making it the perfect setting for an intimate dinner with friends or loved ones. In fact, my cousin and his wife had their first date AND got engaged here, so I think it’s safe to say that L’Albatros does special occasions very well. They also have an outdoor patio that named one of the top 10 patios in Cleveland this summer and judging by its popularity on this beautiful summer night, it was no wonder why!

L'Albatros, Cleveland

Once Charity and I were settled into our cozy corner table that looked out to the patio, we got straight to business and ordered a bottle of wine and an assortment of cheeses. L’Albatros has a “cheese guy” (fromager? cheesemonger? we just went with “cheese guy”) who brings out the full selection of the restaurant’s cheeses to your table and cuts off your pieces right then and there. We opted for a couple funky, a couple soft, and one hard, and we were off to cheese-lovers’ heaven! Served with sliced bread and a little bit of honey and fig jam, this was the perfect way to start a very memorable meal.

L'Albatros, Cleveland, Wine

L'Albatros, Cleveland, Cheese

L'Albatros, Cleveland, Cheese

After the cheese came the Escargot. I absolutely love escargot and Charity had never tried it before, so this was a no-brainer. L’Albatros’ version is made with toasted garlic and fennel butter (lots and lots of butter) and we both really enjoyed it. The addition of fennel was a twist that I’ve never tried before and it worked very well. Make sure you have a few extra slices of bread to sop up all of that delicious butter, it’s always my favorite part!

We also each ordered a salad to add in a bit of lightness after our first two courses. Charity ordered the popular Radish & Cucumber salad and I ordered their special, mixed greens topped with heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese, and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. These were both cool, crisp, fresh salads that hit the spot.

L'Albatros, Cleveland, Escargot

L'Albatros, Cleveland, Beet Cucumber salad

L'Albatros, Cleveland, salad

For our main dishes Charity and I both went with fish, Charity with the Roasted Cod, a fixture on the menu, and me with the Amberjack, a special for the evening. The cod was served with spätzle, sauerkraut, crème fraîche, and cornichon aioli – I had a bite and can attest that it is very tasty! My amberjack was served with summer squash and several other great seasonal ingredients. This was my first time eating amberjack and I was very happy with my order. 

L'Albatros, Cleveland, Cod

L'Albatros, Cleveland, Amberjack

We were both happily full but just couldn’t say no to dessert. We shared the dark chocolate tart with Meyer lemon curd, not too rich but just enough sweetness to satisfy; it was a great way to end an already fantastic meal.

L'Albatros, Cleveland, dessert, chocolate

Our dinner at L’Albatros was my favorite meal during my time in Cleveland. I would definitely rank L’Albatros as my #1 recommendation of where to eat in Cleveland based on my experience and all the great things I’ve heard from others. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate a special occasion or just in the mood for some delicious food, L’Albatros fits the bill!


*My expenses during my time in Cleveland were paid for by Positively Cleveland. As always, all content on Lion + Maven comes from my own, unbiased thoughts and opinions. 




June 2014



Touring Pike Place Market with Savor Seattle Food Tours

Written by , Posted in Restaurants, Travel

On Sunday my family and I returned from a 7-day Alaskan cruise and now that the week is in full swing it’s back to reality and the daily grind. Luckily I have a ton of amazing things experiences to write about so it will take me back, if only for a little while. We started our vacation in Seattle and stayed at Hotel Max, right in the heart of downtown and walking distance to everything we wanted to see. We spent our first morning touring the famous Pike Place Market with Savor Seattle Food Tours. This was the absolute best way to tour the market; with the tour group we skipped all the long lines and were able to try all the delicious food the market has to offer. After snapping a few photos in the market we met our tour group at Unexpected Productions’ Market Theater where you’ll find the Gum Wall – kind of gross but kind of cool at the same time!

Pike Place Market, Public Market, Farmers Market

Pike Place Market Gum Wall

Gum Wall Pike Place Market

Along with all the great food, you also have a great guide that takes you on your tour of the market and gives a ton of interesting information and history on the market and all its vendors. (Shout out to our favorite tour guide, Harriette!) The first stop on our morning tour was Daily Dozen Donut Co where we sampled their warm, sugary little doughnuts – simple compared to all the fancy doughnuts out there today but in this case simple is definitely a very, very good thing! Next we checked out the views from the Pike Place Urban Market while sipping on some hot tea from MarketSpice. It was a bit of a rainy day in Seattle and the spiced tea hit the spot!

Pike Place Market Urban Garden

Pike Place Market Urban Garden

From here we moved on to Pike Place Fish Marketwhere we tried a few of their fantastic smoked salmon varieties and watched my brother as he successfully caught the flying fish! From there we sampled some delicious apples and cherries from Frank’s Quality Produce, then made our way to Pike Place Chowder for hands down some of the best chowders I’ve ever tasted! On the tour we tried the traditional New England Clam Chowder as well as their Seafood Bisque. Both were amazing but the seafood bisque stole the show for most of us! It was so tasty and filled with big chunks of fresh salmon, cod, shrimp, and crab – we went back for full-size bowls after the tour was over!

Pike Place Fish Catch

Pike Place Chowder

After warming up with the chowder we made our way back inside the market for the best chocolate-covered cherries you’ll ever eat from Chukar Cherries, then headed back out again for all sorts of cheesy goodness at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. We also tried the most  delicious piroshkis from Piroshky Piroshky before stopping outside the “original” Starbucks to take in all the sights and sounds of the market.

Chukar Cherries

Beecher's Homemade Cheese

Beecher's Homemade Cheese, Mac n Cheese

Piroshky Piroshky

Piroshky Piroshky

Pike Place Market Starbucks

Pike Place Market

Finally (and sadly) we then made it to our last stop on the tour, Etta’s Seafood Restaurant, for a crab cake that was just a whole lot of fresh, tasty crab – the perfect ending to a morning of exciting sights, sounds, and of course tastes! If you’re visiting Seattle I highly recommend checking out Savor Seattle Food Tours, they have several other tours in addition to the market tour – a little something for everyone!

Etta's Seafood, Crab Cakes



December 2013



Eataly Chicago

Written by , Posted in Book Reviews, Chicago, Restaurants, Shopping

On Monday I went to the grand opening of Eataly here in Chicago along with the Epicurean and Katharine and it was fantastic! By 3:15pm the line was already wrapping around the building as the masses (and I) gathered for the public unveiling of the latest and greatest addition to the Batali-Bastianich food empire. Luckily for us, cups of rich hot chocolate were brought out for us as we waited…a delicious peek at what was in store for us inside!

Eataly Chicago Storefront

Eataly Chicago Opening

As the doors opened promptly at 4pm and we all filed in, I couldn’t help but feel like a kid walking into Disneyland. Yes, I’d definitely consider Eataly to be a food lover’s (especially and Italian  food lover’s) amusement park! Two beautiful, open floors of all the Italian food and wine goodies you can think of…and more!

Eataly Chicago

The first floor is filled with your more standard grocery items like produce along with the sweets ( Gelato bar! Nutella Corner!) and the fabulous Caffe Lavazza for a quick caffeine fix. Obviously a lot of great stuff going on here on the 1st floor, but for me the 2nd floor is where it’s at! As we attempted to take in all the wonderful sights and smells around us, we caught sight of one of the wine bars and decided our experience touring Eataly would be much more fun with a glass of wine in hand.

Eataly Chicago Nutella

Eataly Chicago interior

Eataly Chicago wine bar

Eataly Chicago Coffee

Eataly Chicago wine

Now that we had our wine we were ready to explore! Every step we took we found something new and exciting, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many great things under one roof! Not only do they have beer and wine to go, they also have a craft beer bar with great beers to sample on site from local breweries like Revolution, Three Floyds, and Half Acre, as well as Dogfish Head in Delaware and two Italian breweries, Birra del Borgo and Baladin. They also MAKE their own beer here in collaboration with Birra del Borgo, Dogfish Head, and Baladin…pretty awesome!

Eataly Chicago wine to go

Eataly Chicago Birreria

Eataly Chicago Brewery

We continued on and followed our noses to some of their amazing food counters. They have the Rosticceria where you can buy whole roasted chickens, the Salumi and Formaggi bar where you will find cured meats and aged cheese, Il Frito where the fried foods reside, a housemade Mozzarella bar, a butcher, a fishmonger, a fresh pasta counter, a bakery, a pizzeria, and several different spots where you can pull up a seat and grab a more formal bite to eat. As we roamed I snapped pictures with my camera and my iPhone and somewhere between the fishmonger and the fresh pasta counter my phone was plucked from my pocket, never to be seen again. The only negative experience here at Eataly but definitely a lesson learned…keep your valuables close and your iPhone closer!

Eataly Chicago cheese

Eataly Chicago meat

Eataly Chicago Rotisserie

Eataly Chicago meat

Eataly Chicago bread

Eataly Chicago seafood

Eataly Chicago fresh pasta

After the iPhone incident it was definitely time for more wine so we found an opening at one of the beautiful marble-topped tables and placed and order for wine and a few bites. We sampled the crudo, prosciutto, and housemade mozzarella and everything was delicious!

Eataly Chicago mozzarella

Eataly Chicago carpaccio

Eataly Chicago mozzarella prosciutto

After our quick snack we continued to explore the rest of the floor. I ordered a slice of the Sweet Sausage and Bell Pepper Foccacia to-go along with a couple of chocolate chip cookies and both were AH-mazing! Along with all the fresh food they also have a wide variety of dry pastas and sauces, olive oils, and other fun items that make for the perfect gift basket! If that wasn’t enough they even have a BEAUTY section! Complete with Davines products! LOVE!

Eataly Chicago pasta

Eataly Chicago pasta sauce

Eataly Chicago gift boxes

Eataly Chicago beauty products

The opening day here at Eataly was chaos but it was still such a fun time (despite going home minus one phone). This is an amazing addition to the Chicago scene and I cannot wait to return! Ciao for now!

Eataly Chicago interior


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