I spent a good chunk of my 20s living in Cleveland Heights. I cannot say enough good things about this community. Except for the never ending flood of parking tickets that made its way to my car on a regular basis, I simply loved living in this area for a variety of reasons and cherish the many wonderful memories from that phase of my life. When I lived there, I regularly took advantage of Shaker Lakes. It was (is) simply beautiful and provided the perfect backdrop to my regular walks. While I’ve been back to the Heights area on a regular basis, I regretfully have not been back to Shaker Lakes. And until attending Pestival this past weekend, the annual event to benefit the Nature Center, I simply forgot just how wonderful this area is and how fortunate we are to have it right in our backyard.
If you’re not familiar with the event itself, Pestival features area chefs, like Jonathon Sawyer (check out their pics from the event), Sergio Abramof, Scott Kim and John Pistone, creating unique dishes made from garlic mustard, an invasive plant pulled from the grounds at the Nature Center. This event, now in its 5th year, usually sells out within a week, so I jumped at the opportunity when asked to attend.
Aside from enjoying some really tasting treats (I made repeat visits to Sawyer’s table for mustard green fritters with wild Ohio ramps, City Fresh eggs and local cheese and Kim’s station for beef shabu shabu with garlic mustard edamame mashed potatoes – wow!), it was a great reminder that we need to start taking full advantage of all this area has to offer and begin to expose our daughter to it as well. In fact, I plan to sign us up for Critter Colors and Magical Marsh this summer, two classes they offer for toddlers – only $7.
At Pestival, I learned more about the Nature Center’s mission and just exactly how it came to be. Apparently, the land was marked to become a freeway (why does this not surprise me?) connecting the east side to downtown. A group of women began a grassroots movement to preserve the parklands and thus began the Nature Center, which is recognized as a model urban environmental resource that is open to all.
If you haven’t been, I highly recommend exploring Shaker Lakes. It genuinely is a beautiful area and worth visiting. And while it’s a year away, you can count us in for the 6th annual Pestival (truly a fun way to spend an evening and sample many tasty treats). I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to go back, but now I look forward to getting reacquainted with the area and exposing Natalie to another unique part of Cleveland and thus, another reason why we’re so lucky to live here.