Saturday, December 19, 2009

Proper Noun of the Week #23: Amanda Montague of Lilly's Chocolates

Do you love fancy chocolate, fancy beer, or fancy pink hair? If the answer to any of the three is yes, you gotta check out a happening little chocolate and beer joint in Tremont called Lilly's. If the answer to all three is yes, you need to get there like now.

I'm not really a gourmand, so while I'm sure folks working for institutions like Sauveur, Gastronomica, or the James Beard Foundation could use much more sophisticated descriptors, let me just say that her handmade chocolates are a-freaking-mazing. Everything you'll see at the counter in the back of the storefront on Starkweather in Tremont is made in house, which is really impressive, considering not only the deliciousness but also the aesthetic factor. Some of her creations are so visually precious you don't want to eat them, but when you do, you want to get a second job (preferably at Lilly's) so you can eat them all the time. Also, the lady does things with lavender that make my heart melt.

At this point, I figure it is appropriate, if not belated, for me to announce that I'm happy to receive from my loyal readers a giftbox or two from Lilly's as a gift. Forget about wasting that cash on Great Aunt Agnes, send some high quality Cleveland confections to CB!

While you are pondering the level of your generosity this year, chew on the following answers the woman behind the amazing chocolates at Lilly's, Amanda 'Lilly' Montague, has provided to my usual Cleveland-centric questionnaire.
1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?

Born and raised here in Cleveland. Parma, actually. White socks, sandals, perogis, Rock n Roll! I currently reside in Tremont with my fabulous husband Joshua and my super cute corgi, Lucy.

2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?

Hmm...That's a tough one. Playing on the rocks at Edgewater, going to polka parties with my Grandma and going to the Playhouse every year at Christmas for a play! Don't even get me started on the food....

3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work and/or art?

We're very much a meat-n-potatoes, hard working, beer drinkin', industrial town, but we're super creative and we have lots of art and culture too! I'd like to think my work reflects that attitude. My flavors are big and bold, we've got over 150 different craft beers and most of our space is decked out in industrial reclaimed steel work done by Jason Radcliffe. It just happens to be painted ina healthy dose of pink too. :P

4) If it was your birthday and you decided to have a Cleveland-centric blow-out bash, how would you celebrate? That is, what would you do, where would you do it, etc.?

The best Cleveland birthday bash would be shopping all day in the Gordon Square District & Tremont, going out to the lake and having a tasty picnic with my hubby & doggie with local treats like Riedel's sausage, Baricelli cheese and whatnot and going out to dinner at Momocho and enjoying blood orange margaritas and taquitos!

5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?

I would definitely take them to the West Side Market, who doesn't love that? We'd have to have lunch at Gourmand's Deli in Valley View (best sandwiches-EVER.), get frozen custard from East Coast Frozen Custard (it was my first job ever! love that place!), and cocktails at The Velvet Tango Room (the Dark & Stormy is my favorite). Dinner would be an adventure. Appetizers at Parallax, dinner at The Flying Fig and dessert at Bruno's Ristorante! Can you tell I like food? HA!

6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream & The Book Loft from Columbus and TeaLuxe & Crazy Burger from Rhode Island.

7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commissioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?

We have a COASTLINE. Why is there nothing there but the Browns Stadium, The Science Center, the Rock Hall & an Airport?! Where's the cool condos, houses, shopping, the fun stuff? The city has so much potential to be awesome and support so much cool cultural and artistic it off, tell people, promote Cleveland and it's awesomeness!

To meet Amanda and check out her delicious luscious amazing chocolate (and her laudable beer selection), visit her at Lilly's at 761 Starkweather Ave in Tremont. (Incidentally, the store is in the same location as the grocery store where Meryl Streep worked in The Deer Hunter.) For those of you thinking Christmas presents - which, by the way, is an excellent idea - you still have some good opportunities. Check out her hours between now and Christmas below.

Sunday: 10-5
Monday: 10-9
Tuesday: 10-9
Wednesday: 10-7
Thursday (aka Christmas Eve aka Last Chance!): 10-7

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