We've Got The Sweet Stuff
Did you know that Cleveland is the birthplace of a rapidly growing holiday? On the third Saturday of October, many folks here in the United States will celebrate Sweetest Day.
Sweetest Day came to be in 1921 when a committee of Cleveland's top candy makers decided to provide candy and chocolates to the sick, elderly, orphaned and poor. The day became popular year-after-year and later took off when companies - like Cleveland-based American Greetings - spread the concept nationally.
And, we don't think there's any better way to celebrate a day originally devoted to candy and chocolates, than a sweet trip to CLE.
Recent research indicates that chocolate may reduce blood pressure and improve cognitive function. And, of course, we here in Cleveland want to make sure you stay healthy and smart.
So, it's only natural that we recommend a stop at Lilly Handmade Chocolate in Tremont. The uber cool chocolate shop specializes in pairing fine wine and craft beer with their handmade, fresh chocolate confections.
Visitors can try delicacies like the Mauie Wowie, a white chocolate filled with Madagascar vanilla bean and Hawaiian black lava sea salt, which is paired with a Southern Tier Java Stout. Or, try the Boozie Suzie. This dark chocolate is filled with kirsch-soaked French cherries and kirsch double-chocolate ganache, which is paired with Lefthand Oak Aged Imperial Stout.
Check it out. After all, it's in the name of your health!
To quote the words of the great Homer J. Simpson, "Mmmm...donuts."
Homer Simpson would love Cleveland because, not only do we have great donuts, but we're home to a shop that puts local BEER inside their donuts.
Yes, you heard that correctly. Beer donuts. And, the name of the donut shop is Brewnuts. It's located in Tremont and they offer a variety of donuts baked or coated with delectable beery concoctions.
One that we personally love: The Symon (named after celeb local chef Michael Symon who loves pork) - a chocolate peanut butter donut made with Willoughby Brewing Company's Peanut Butter Coffee Porter, topped with a peanut butter beer sauce finished with a smoky pork rind magic dust.
We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.
They're cute. They're fun. No, we're not talking about labradoodle puppies. We're talking cupcakes!
SynDee Klingenberg and Wendy Thompson, two local pastry chefs, opened A Cookie & A Cupcake in Tremont back in 2008 (and also just recently opened Churned ice cream shop). The cute boutique-style bakery focuses on specialty cakes, but it's their cupcakes that get us going.
One of our favorites? The "PB Crunch" features chocolate cake, peanut butter crunch and peanut butter buttercream on top. Or, check out their "Signature," which is chocolate cake, vanilla custard and buttercream - shaped like Cookie Monster - on top. Can you say, "Om nom nom?"
Little Italy, a near east side neighborhood in Cleveland, is a bounty of incredible Italian eateries. But you'd be a fool to miss out on the Italian bakeries that also line the streets.
One such location, Presti's Bakery, serves up some pretty incredible cannoli. These little fried dough pastries are stuffed to the brim with ricotta and other sweet delights that will leave you thinking, "Holy cannoli!" (We couldn't resist.)
While there, enjoy a couple of delicate Italian cookies washed down with a freshly made cappuccino on the streetside patio of this historic, family-owned business.
Admittedly, we're not experts on Italian cuisine (though, we're really good at eating Italian food). But, you know who is an expert on Italian cuisine? Chef Mario Batali.
So, even though we've known this fact forever, we'll let this expert chef tell you via USA Today: "Corbo's Bakery has the best cassata [cake] I have tried in the USA."
Located in the Little Italy neighborhood, Corbo's Bakery is a fourth generation business that creates these desserts, which are round multi-layer sponge cakes generously stuffed with homemade custard and fresh strawberries, then covered in delightful gobs of whipped cream icing.
A Little Bit Of Everything
Hand-dipped chocolate-covered Oreos. Caramel apples smothered in chocolate and pecans. Chocolate cupcake truffles. Cookies and cream cupcakes. Dark chocolate covered pretzels. Cotton candy. Fudge.
We dare you to not salivate right now.
Campbell's Sweet Factory offers a little bit of everything for your sweet tooth...and then some. The family-owned operation, which got its start at a stand inside the West Side Market, now has three locations throughout Cleveland.
And, if you think it's all sweet, think again. Campbell's is famous for their 25 gourmet popcorn flavors including dill pickle, bacon & cheddar, caramel apple, and strawberry & cream. Our favorite?
Dichotomy Corn - caramel corn coated in delicious cheese. [Cleans drool off keyboard.]
Chocolate and vodka. They're two ingredients that, when combined, can create a little party in your mouth.
And what better place to get a party started than at a restaurant called The Chocolate Bar?
Located on Euclid Avenue adjacent to East Fourth Street, the Chocolate Bar reigns as one of the best spots to enjoy a chocolate martini. And, they've got dozens of them to try.
Feeling daring? Try a chocolate shot. Need to warm up? They've got tons of spiked hot chocolates.
There's something so serendipitous about Jack Flaps on Cleveland's near west side. The location is owned by James Beard nominee Chef Eric Williams of the modern Mexican hotspot of Momocho, as well as the retro hot dog joint Happy Dog. That being said, one would think his newest venture, a breakfast restaurant, would serve an entire menu of savory and spicy items.
Au contraire. While a savory menu is available, Jack Flaps has a stronghold on breakfast-y foods that are downright sweeeeet. (Think: pancakes smothered in white chocolate sauce, then sprinkled with salted caramel coffee crumbs.)
Our favorites include Jack Flaps' homemade waffles. Try the "Graham Cracker" waffle, which is covered in chocolate Nutella and marshmallows. Or, take a dive into the "Nooks ‘N' Crannies" waffle smothered in vanilla, roasted peach chutney, whipped chevre and berry coulis.
Good thing they're opened every day from 7am - 3pm.
Can we all just agree that life gets better when ice cream is involved? Life is particularly grand in Cleveland, because we've got so many great ice shops to splurge. Check them out here.
If you're anything like us, your childhood memories are closely connected to the candy you used to hoard as a kid. Candy like candy buttons, Big League Chew, Pop Rocks, wax lips, Chiclets and Boston Baked Beans?
If so, then we'd like to introduce you to b.a. Sweetie Candy Company.
You'll have a field day stocking up on your favorites at this 65-year-old, family-owned candy company that's average inventory level is in excess of 400,000 pounds of just about every kind of candy you can imagine.
Oh yeah, and they also have the world's largest collection of Pez dispensers.