2010 Best of Cleveland: Tailgating

Cooking Show
WOIO's Sunday morning pre-game show, Tailgate 19, is a man-cave staple. Former Browns players flavor the anchor desk, stoking testosterone-fueled football fever. And then there's Marlin Kaplan's cooking segments. One of Cleveland's acclaimed fine-dining chefs, Kaplan's restaurants aren't exactly what you'd imagine when hearing the word "tailgate." But that's OK with Kaplan. He loves showing the city how to cook fantastic food whether you're cooking out of the back of your truck in the Muni Lot (like he did for a show last season), or you're at home whipping up supper for 20 of your favorite Browns fans. Kaplan's segments have been expanded this year, and he's teaming up with local celebs such as John Lanigan and Joe Crea to focus on that Sunday supper theme. "It's Sunday comfort food," explains Kaplan, "things that translate well for entertaining." The celebs provide their predictions, Kaplan brings the kitchen mojo. It's a win-win situation (here's hoping the Browns can follow suit). Sundays 11 a.m.-noon, throughout football season, WOIO CBS 19

Cornhole Boards
You can get cornhole boards almost anywhere. But this popular game requires a sturdy set to handle the countless hours spent tailgating before Browns games, in your backyard or anywhere else you can transport them. So Big Time Game Boards founder Kyle Whitling makes his premium boards strong with birch and pine and includes extra features such as latches and a strap for easy carrying. There's even a bumper sticker-like scoreboard and plastic clips to keep score. But the real draw is his willingness to work with customers to create custom designs. That's why places such as WMMS, NASA Glenn Research Center and now us have turned to him. Whitling can put almost anything on a board by transferring it to a vinyl sticker and meticulously placing it on a primed piece of wood. If you want to go the more traditional route (see his standard versions above), he's pretty handy with the paintbrush, too. 216-798-8779, bigtimegameboards.com

Dawgie bag
Browns fans are famously loyal, which means we don't often part ways with our team T-shirts. But outgrown tees that do end up at Goodwill may get a second chance — as carryall bags. We've all seen plenty of reused T-shirt bags, but these ($7) are sewn with two kinds of stitches along the bottom to make them "ultra strong," says Fashion Green T Bag creator Linda Miles, who gets all of her shirts from thrift stores, garage sales or through donations. "You can put more in these bags than I can carry." So we say load it up with those tailgating essentials: hot dog buns, cornhole bags, your choice of beverage, Stadium Mustard — whatever you can fit. And if you buy one of these bags from Miles' Etsy site, she'll donate the profits to a local food bank. For those who've lost faith in the Browns (shame on you!), there are Ohio State T-shirt bags available, too. etsy.com/shop/fashiongreentbags

Motorized Furniture
If tailgating had a hall of fame, the Go Kouch would be a sure-fire, first-ballot inductee. Created by Mike Meredith, Alan Maslar and Dan Bosco, the mobile lounger (yes, we said mobile) was inspired by a lapse in memory. "We forgot our lawn chairs and had nothing to sit on," Meredith says. "So we said, Why not bring a couch down there?' " The trio spent four intense days of blood, sweat and beers piecing together a lawn mower with Honda Civic and Ford Mustang parts to give birth to the 6 mph speed machine in 2005. Ever since, the couch has received a lift down to Browns Stadium via trailer hitch. In its prime, the Go Kouch toted the trio (and a few lucky ladies) around at home games (including 22 straight). Today, jobs and families have made Sundays at the stadium less frequent for the group. But the Go Kouch is far from retirement. Replacement parts still have it at the top of its game for Muni Lot appearances on the occasional lucky Sunday.

Tailgate Burger
Great tailgating is an art form — just the right mix of food, drink, convenience, entertainment and team spirit. That's why we're bringing bacon cheddar patties from Chuppa's Market Place to our next Muni Lot bash. The half-pound burgers ($3.99 per pound) start with ground chuck made daily at the market. "Fresh is the key," says owner Paul Chuppa Jr. And if that's not enough, Chuppa's puts the bacon and cheese inside for easy transport. As you might expect, the family-run market takes hometown pride seriously: Both the beef and bacon come from Cleveland's Oleksy Meats. Yeah, Chuppa's understands your fandom. So no matter what the result on the field, you'll have a winner in hand. 5640 Pearl Road, Cleveland, 440-885-5000, chuppasmarketplace.com
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