Tour de Bruell. A summer dining adventure

I did it!  And boy was it fun.  The Tour de Bruell is a summer challenge issued by Chef Zack Bruell and his team.  The mission: eat at each of his six local restaurants throughout the summer.  It’s an inviting and ambitious task ahead for diners.  Fans of the Zack Bruell Restaurant group have from Memorial Day until Labor Day to complete the Tour.  If they do, there are some delicious prizes they’re eligible for.

This year, I joined a couple of friends, and my husband and attempted to eat at ALL SIX in a day.  I was game, and starving.  And since it was my husband’s 40th birthday he was ready to go big!

Stop one was Alley Cat in the Flats East Bank, known for their spectacular raw oyster selection and fabulous views along the river.  We ordered a dozen oysters, and the seafood board (like a charcuterie board, with things like squid ceviche, salmon pate and seafood sausage)

And we toasted our adventure with a signature cocktail of the Tour, from Floh Vodka, and a glass of the featured Rose.  We drank in the views and the flavors.  Got our passports stamped and we were ready for the next location.

We hit Parallax in Tremont next, Bruell’s oldest of the stops along the Tour.  Their sushi is my favorite menu item there, so we ordered some that included beef for my meat eating husband and we were treated to some shrimp and vermicelli and a sweet apple tart for an early dessert.

Another toast…this time with the featured champagne of the Tour, Nicolas Feuillatte.  We were really settling in now!  Our next stop was supposed to be Chinato, along E. 4th Street.  But at the time we rolled up (or rather crawled) there was too much traffic and no parking so we skipped it and returned two days later.

So instead we went ahead to Cowell & Hubbard in Cleveland’s Theater District. We posted up at one of my favorite seats in the city, a front booth.  We ordered the pasta special, a ramen…and slurped it up.

And when I go to Cowell, we always get the pork stack and the bone marrow.  Both are a “must try” when you dine there.  More drinks and laughs, and another stamp for our passport.

Next we headed to the Intercontinental Hotel, home of Table 45.  They have a new Executive Chef there, Zach Bond, who was eager to tell us all about their new menu approach.  So we were treated to a five course tasting menu at the Chef’s Table.  Very Cool.

We had a perfectly cooked scallop with a jalapeno corn puree, a fresh summer salad with compressed watermelon, a take on Bolognese with smoked sausage, a spectacular Sri Lankan curried lamb and a palate cleansing berry sorbet to finish it off.  We paired the food with more of the featured wines of the tour.  My favorite was the Pinot Noir.  Stuffed? Not yet.  We were in it for the long haul. Once we got our stamp we were on our way to University Circle and my favorite patio in the city, L’Albatros.

It was a beautiful night to sit outside.  And to my surprise, given the hour and the volume we’d already consumed…we didn’t just eat…my husband still wanted to feast!

He ordered our favorite appetizer on the menu, the savory French Toast.  And to be honest, I only look at the menu when I go there just to see if anything has changed.  I ALWAYS get the cassoulet.  It’s just the best.  We got our stamp and called it a (great) night.

Fast forward two days and I popped back over to Chinato to complete my Tour card.  I have been dying to try the Blended Burger Project offerings from local chefs, so since we were their for lunch that was an easy choice.  Delicious and juicy!  And for starters we had a gorgeous tomato salad featuring three varieties of cheese and tomatoes.  Perfection.

tour de bruell completed card

So I did it! And you can too!  Get your card at any participating  restaurant to kick it off. Parallax, Chinato, Cowell & Hubbard, Table 45, L’Albatros and Alley Cat.  Hurry up! If you complete the Tour De Bruell by July 4th you and a guest are eligible to win a chauffeur-driven progressive dinner. (there will be five winners!) Finish by Labor Day and you’re eligible to win a VIP Tour Finale Dinner.  Ten winners and a guest will win a multi-course meal and wine pairings at one of Zack’s restaurants.  While there one of those people will win the Grand Prize, a multi-course meal for 8 guests cooked at your home by Chef Bruell!

 

 

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The Calling. A toast to Jim Nantz and Chef Zack Bruell

“Hello, friends” (in my best Jim Nantz voice) Such an iconic sports figure and such a charming personality.  The legendary CBS Sports broadcaster is joining forces with a legendary Cleveland chef, Zack Bruell, for an excellent summer pour…courtesy of The Calling.

zack and jim nantz

I had the honor and privilege to attend a luxurious event this week, a multi-stop wine tasting featuring the wine label from CBS Sports Commentator, Jim Nantz, and his partner, Peter Deutsch.

The free, public event, offered pours from The Calling, with a side car of back story from Nantz, Deutsch and Bruell, three pretty excellent story tellers.  We were first offered their Chardonnay, a beautifully balanced 100% Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County.  Tasting notes include stone fruit, citrus, melon, toasted nuts and vanilla bean.  It was creamy, which to me, is rare with this variety.

Next we were poured an incredible Pinot Noir.  Probably the best I’ve had in memory.  100% Pinot grapes from the same region mentioned above.  I could taste cherry, and cranberry.  What a velvety wine! Price point around $35.

And finally, we were offered a spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County.  It’s 89% Cab, 5% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot and 100% DELISH!   It presented blackberry and plum tasting notes, with a hint of coffee and a lingering finish.

Fans of wine, Nantz, and Bruell could meet up with the trio at L’Albatros Brasserie, Table 45, Parallax or Alley Cat Oyster Bar, and hear about the goal of this new vintage: become the new great American premium wine brand. The big name broadcaster chose not to put his name on the bottle.  Instead he wanted the wine to stand on it’s own. He and Deutsch got together after a chance meeting at a restaurant in Connecticut right after Deutsch had just finished reading Nantz’s book about his father, Always By My Side.  Nantz had long wanted to get involved in the wine industry.  Both wanted to start an endeavor to honor their fathers.  Several years later, they have a brand their fathers would be proud of.

tour de bruell card

Nantz said he is competing to win.  In fact, he said he wasn’t even going to enter the arena unless he was going to win.  Sip for yourself and be the judge.  The Calling is the official wine of this year’s Tour de Bruell. (I got my first stamp this week!)  You can get it at all Zack Bruell’s restaurants and Heinens grocery stores.