Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Someday my autograph is gonna be worth plenty! You just wait!

Friday night I volunteered for a good friend of mine at the Meredith A. Cowden Foundation Six Courses for a Cure at the Sheraton.

Lynne has worked with this foundation since its inception and is a mainstay in its fundraising efforts by putting together the auction for each event. Five years ago Lynne contacted Single Volunteers and we brought a few people out to handle their inaugural event. Although SVWR disbanded several years ago, I keep going back to assist Lynne and the Foundation in their efforts.

The monies raised at this fabulous gourmet event will be used to fund a medical symposium dedicated to Graft vs Host Disease, its complex issues, research, education and resources available to patients and physicians. GvHD, which is a complication of a life-saving bone marrow transplant, results when the patient’s body is attacked by the new immune system created by the bone marrow transplant. Sadly, it can cause death if not controlled. This will be the only symposium in the world solely dedicated to this malady.

Six Courses for a Cure is the result of the creative genius of Roger Thomas, Executive Chef at the Sheraton Suites, Cuyahoga Falls and Pete Olsen, a partner in Purple Feet Distributing located in Macedonia.


Meredith Cowden, Guest speaker
Dr. Steven Pavletic and
Dr. Adrianna Pavletic
Photo courtesy of Ernest J. Aranyosi
 After meeting Gerry and Marti Cowden at a family celebration and hearing the story of their daughter Meredith and her courageous battle against leukemia, Roger and Pete suggested the idea of a wine dinner to benefit the Meredith A. Cowden Foundation. Both Pete and Roger have hosted and participated in many wine dinners to raise funding for charities and worthwhile causes in northeast Ohio, specifically the Akron area.

The evening began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres created by all of the participating chefs. The incredible six course dinner was prepared by Chef Brendan Meeker of Glenmoor Country Club, Chef Rick Carson of Nosh Eatery and Creative Catering, Chef Brian Goodman of The Greenhouse Tavern, Chef Jeff Jarrett of AMP 150, Cleveland Airport Marriott, Chef Kevin Altomare of Hudson’s and 3foodies.com and Chef Roger Thomas of Piatto Novo, the Sheraton Suites Akron/Cuyahoga Falls.

Over 100 items were up for bid on the silent auction tables and a dozen high end items were up for auction by Bob Hale between dinner courses, including a trip to Charleston, SC and a day riding in the Summit County Sheriff’s riot tank complete with shooting practice with laser and real guns.

It’s heartwarming to see a healthy Meredith in her early 20’s after learning of her illness when she was young. Leukemia is terrible, but once you think you have that cured, to find that she had to battle GvHD had to have been devastating for her and her family. Once that battle was won, the Cowdens took their energy and decided to help find a cure for the disease that nearly took their daughters life. The Cowdens are a portrait in people putting their beliefs into action and working hard to make a difference in other peoples lives.

 NOW I’M A FILM STAR!

Fellow partiers - We might all be stars!
OK, maybe not – but at least I might be an extra in a local film being shot by my buddy Blue. A shout went out for people to fill a party scene on Saturday morning and I answered the call. What a hoot! I’m not going to give away a plot line but the crux of the scene was based around a group of people eating bbq ribs. Now THAT I could get into! And we did! We were to smear bbq sauce on our faces and really ‘get into’ the ribs. We laughed until the scene was over, we all looked so silly. I think I even had sauce up my nose. I'm told my performace was bording on the pornographic - I'm not sure what they meant by that so will just have to wait to see the scene if it ever hits the airwaves.  Whether our performances make it into the film or not remains to be seen, but it sure was fun participating.

And hang onto my autograph - once I hit it big I'll be forgettin' all about the little folk!

Front Street Mall
BACK TO THE FALLS FOR LUNCH AND A SUNNY WALKABOUT
I was so taken by the walk I had last weekend on the Falls Riverfront, I decided to do it again Saturday afternoon in the sunshine. Everything looks a bit brighter in the sunshine, and the river is no exception.

This weekend was R.I.O.T. on the River and I stumbled into the festival around noontime. Sadly, there was little activity on the mall area even around the music stage. On stage was the band Red Letter, which is a pop/rock band of four siblings from Doylestown. They were joined on stage by their Dad, who was filling in on guitar for one of the brothers unable to make it this day. Their stated music goal is “to use the expressive nature of music to communicate that there is hope throughout the highs and lows of life.” Their message mostly relates to teens and young adults of this generation, bringing positive lyrics to a modern pop culture sound. I listened to most of the set and these kids are pretty talented. I hope they continue to do well.

The band Red Letter at RIOT on the River
RIOT is basically Christian Rock - young bands with good music and uplifting things to say.  They make a nice change of pace to other music which can be ugly or downgrading.  Give these people a lot of credit for putting this together - it's just a shame there weren't more folks there appreciating the performance of the afternoon.

Moving on, however, it was lunchtime and I was hungry.  Grumble belly always wins over music - no matter what the message may be.  There was a BBQ truck set up on the mall for the evening RIOT festival, but they didn't have any food ready this early so I stopped into the new Firehouse Grill I spotted last Sunday and had lunch.

The Firehouse Grill & Pub on Front Street is in the old spot that was occupied by the Cashmere Cricket a few years back. The Cricket was flooded out and finally closed two years ago, but I see it reopened on the other side of the mall. That is now on my list of “revisit places soon”.

The Firehouse is a local chain of bar and grills and I’ve eaten several times at the East Market location, my good friend Cathy is a fan of their dollar burgers. The atmosphere there is somewhat dingy and dirty, although the food is good if you like pub fare (which I do). I was hoping that the new location would be better and it was. A nice fresh space with a fully stocked bar and a few outside seats along the mall, this will make a good lunch spot as long as the weather holds.

The staff was friendly and service was good. It was a quiet afternoon so the cook was wandering and I personally thanked him for my burger. I ordered the lunch special – bacon, cheddar burger with fries – for $4.99 and it was quite good.

The only issue I had was the fact that smack in the dead of summer I was served a slice of one of those crappy hothouse tomatoes on my burger. Frankly I see no reason why a kitchen of any caliber cannot order up some local tomatoes during the peak of summer to add some real flavor to a plate.

Aside from that short rant, my lunch was excellent.  The fries are skinny and well cooked and I definately could taste the bacon on my burger. 

SATURDAY AT D'AGNESE'S
Bev and Terri sent out an invite to join them at D'Agnese's to listen to the smooth jazz of the Stingers. The Stingers are an Akron-based band that includes Bill Brauning (bass), Bill Moriarty (keys), and (last night) Jim Yarnell on drums. Seems this group is fluid and at times includes horns and other players. Last night it was just Bill, Bill and Jim and they did a terrific job of trying to keep the attention of five women who where were busy gossiping around the dinner table (that was my group in case you didn't figure that out!).

They moved from samba and cha cha to smooth jazz and we were tapping our tootsies all evening.  By breaktime, our table was the only one populated and the guys stopped over for some lively conversation before finishing up the evening. 

The food was good, most of us ordered appetizers and shared.  There was calamari all around the table, Bev had my favorite - the roasted beets with salad - and I ordered another pizza.  Dessert was ordered all around too, with the clear favorite being the banana cheesecake.  With a glass or two of wine, good music and lots of chatter, it was a very pleasant evening indeed.

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