Cleveland AKA Junior League, Burgers and Chocolate

I spent this past weekend in Cleveland, OH for The Association of Junior League International’s Organizational Development Institute Conference. (I know that’s a mouthful right?) Our League only sends 2 members each year to this conference and myself and my good friend, Karen, were chosen to go. There are different tracks (aka focus areas) during the conference. Karen took Community Impact and I took Fund Development.

I can’t tell you how much I learned over the weekend. I have always been interested in Fundraising and have planned special events, so I was thrilled to get deeper into the nitty gritty of the proper way to raise funds. It was also interesting to hear what other leagues are doing and what and what not to do.

It was also a very inspiring weekend. There were many talks about change, our mission and the future of Junior Leagues.

I came home with an overwhelming amount of knowledge and new ideas. I can’t wait to share them with our League!

On the way to Cleveland we had a layover in Charlotte, where we both had our first taste of Pinkberry!

It’s truly as good as everyone says it is. I got the chocolate hazelnut and it tasted like frozen nutella. Crumbled roca, coconut and raspberries mixed in. Yum!

We didn’t get to our hotel until after midnight and promptly passed out. Thank goodness the first session wasn’t until Noon.

The next day when we went down for the opening plenary we were greeted with the AJLI Boutique. Aka lots of JL goodies!

Mini tools in a hat box like purse. Is this not the cutest thing ever??

Mini lip glosses. Also, cutest thing ever.

Lunch during the plenary. Those pickles were so good…sweet with a spicy kick at the end. The conference was at the Renaissance in downtown Cleveland (we also stayed there) and they kept us very well fed!

The Renaissance is a beautiful old building…so vintage looking! It’s also attached to Tower City Center, which has shops, a movie theater and restaurants. Very convenient!

At the end of our first day we bundled up and headed out to find a place for dinner.

After failing to find a pizza place we had looked up we finally came across Brgr 9.

This ended up being a great choice. I got the Tango, which had homemade chimichurri, bacon, manchego cheese, lettuce, onion and a roasted orange mayo on brioche. The combo was awesome and they cooked my burger perfectly medium rare. Bonus: they use grass fed local Ohio beef! The fries were also excellent. Loved the aioli and rosemary ketchup that they serve on the side.

The next day was a full day of sessions and a luncheon. I was impressed with Renaissance’s food…it was really good! Usually luncheons are consisted of dry chicken, over cooked potatoes and icky vegetables. Although our lunch was chicken, potatoes and vegetables, everything was great! And that chocolate fudge cake in the background? Oh ya, that was awesome too.

That night Karen and I were set on going to Chocolate Bar. On our way we came across East 4th Street, which was adorable and had some cute shops and restaurants.

We stopped into Cle Clothing Co., which had awesome and creative shirts, bags, koozies, etc. definitely different from your typical tourist shop!

Chocolate Bar lived up to its expectations. I started with the Peanut Butter Cup martini. It was a litttle to alcoholic tasting for my taste, but still quite delicious.

For dinner I got the mac and cheese and added prosciutto and carmelized onions. I was prepared for a heavy meal, but the mac and cheese was light on the cheese, which was nice so it didn’t compete with the other add-ins.

The Chocolate Bar was attached to a place called The Arcade, which was gorgeous. Love all of the historic looking buildings in Cleveland.

On our last day we were filled up with a full breakfast, had our last session and closed with how we could bring all this information back to our Leagues.

Unfortunately, during a conference, there’s not much time to explore the city you’re in. We pretty much only went out at night for dinner. We really wanted to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but there just wasn’t enough time!

The most exciting thing I can tell you about our trip back to FL was that there was a Crumbs in the Newark airport and I promptly freaked out. Crumbs only have locations in the northeast and some on the west coast. (Come to FL please Crumbs!!) They seriously make the BEST cupcakes I have ever tasted.

SO many flavors too, it’s so hard to choose which one! I ended up with a vanilla cupcake with the top decorated like a pumpkin in orange frosting, and a devil’s food cake cupcake. I split the vanilla one with Jon last night…and it was heavenly.

What’s the best cupcake you’ve ever tasted?

Where was the last city you visited?