By Elaine T. Cicora / Photos by Elaine T. Cicora
Never let it be said that our Cleveland Dames don’t know how to have fun. Thanks to Dame Jess Lindawan, director of marketing for Paladar Restaurant Group, we had a wonderful opportunity to dine, drink, learn, laugh and network during our November meeting at Bomba Tacos & Rum, a friendly, chef-driven restaurant in Rocky River featuring a lively menu inspired by Cuban, Salvadoran, Peruvian and other Latin-American cuisines.
One of the ways Bomba, a sister operation to Woodmere-based Paladar, distinguishes itself from other taco spots, we learned, is by its extensive collection of 75 premium rums and craft cocktails. And to help us understand more about this delightful spirit, we were joined by Melisa Baringer, sales associate for Cleveland’s own Portside Distillery.
We learned that Portside is an artisan distillery and craft brewery, and holds the distinction of being the first distillery to open in Cleveland since Prohibition. “Everything is small batch, hand bottled, and hand labeled, and the results are totally worth it!” said Melisa.
To drive home her assertion, Melisa brought with her four of the distillery’s award-winning rums for sampling. They included:
- Silver Rum: Distilled from 100 percent cane sugar in a homemade copper pot still, we learned that this “New World” rum is Portside’s most popular, described as “incredibly smooth, with lingering full-bodied and fruity esters [that] will remind you why rum was the most popular spirit upon the founding of our country.”
- Vanilla Maple Rum: A blend of pure Northeastern Ohio maple syrup and Madagascar vanilla bean, this slightly sweet rum has won “Best of Category” honors among flavored rums at the American Distillers Institute Competition, making it perfect served neat or blended in a favorite cocktail.
- Spiced Rum: Infused with a special blend of spices, raisins and a touch of vanilla for a spicy finish, this 100-proof product is smooth and easy sipping. No surprise to discover it’s a Bronze Medal winner from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
- Christmas Spirit Rum: A blend of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and honey give this seasonal special its flavor. Slightly sweet and spicy, this rum has been described as “tasting like Christmas morning.” Portside only distills it once a year; so, you know, get yours while supplies last!
We were also treated to two fantastic specialty cocktails made with Portside products: The Spiced Cranberry Ginger Mojito, made with Spiced Rum, lime, mint, cranberry and ginger beer; and the Spiced Hard Cider Sangria, featuring Silver Rum, hard cider, spiced simple syrup and nutmeg.
We enjoyed our cocktails with a marvelous spread of tasty treats from Bomba’s kitchen, starting with freshly made guacamole garnished with pepitas and chipotle honey, and accompanied by an assortment of light, crisp corn, plantain, yucca and Malanga chips, made daily, in house.
Then it was on to a delicious buffet of mushroom empanadas, jerk-chicken skewers and a variety of soft tacos that included charred kale and corn, Rio-style chicken, braised beef and blackened fish.
As a sweet ending, we enjoyed churros and chocolate sauce.
Meantime, a vivacious group of nearly 30 Dames and their guests took full advantage of the opportunity to network, forge new business and personal relationships, and learn about each others’ roles in the food/drink/hospitality community.
Thank you to Jess, Bomba and Portside Distillery for hosting such a fun-filled, educational and relevant meeting.