The Foodie Report Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.
It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at email@example.com.
Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog is in transition, as you may have gathered. If you're still interested in reading and commenting about eating out in Cincinnati, I will be continuing that blogging conversation. The new site hasn't been fully launched--we haven't smashed a champagne bottle on its hull yet--but you can take a look, and if you sign up, you can comment. Please comment. I 'm kind of hooked on the feedback. Here's the link: http://beta.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=blog14
I went back to Yagoot a few days ago and took a couple of pictures this time. I considered getting something different, but I ended up getting original flavor with strawberries and cocoa pebbles again. Why mess with a good thing?
Don't you love the dining/restaurant news Polly dishes up? And wouldn't it be great to get cooking tips from a seasoned expert on food?
That's exactly what you're going to get when The Foodie Report branches off into two brand new blogs. Polly will continue to give you tons of restaurant news on her new blog. And the Community Press columnist Rita Heikenfeld will blog about dining in.
Soon, any bookmarks and links to this blog will take you to the new one. And all of our loyal foodie fans will get an early look at our new Web site. If you want to post comments on the new blogs, you will have to register.
You know, I think Dippin' Dots probably qualifies as molecular gastronomy for the masses. It's ice cream, but in a different form, created with scientifically advanced methods, so it works differently in your mouth. And it's 20 years old. To celebrate, you can get it free tomorrow from 4-9 p.m. at two Kentucky locations: Florence Mall in the center food court (859-283-1798) and at Buttermilk Pike and Anderson Road in Crescent Springs. (859-360-0876) They have a new flavor: birthday cake, a combination of cake batter and frosting ice cream dots.
Compassionate Communication: Speaking Peace with Jeff Brown, Certified Trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication When: 4:30pm Sunday, May 18 Where: Clifton United Methodist Church, 3416 Clifton Ave., 45220
What: Please bring a vegan dish to share (vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, seeds, nuts) and your own plates, cups, utensils No animal products: No dairy, eggs, casein, honey, etc.
A quick note to let Foodies know I will be moving to Georgia soon, so today is my last day at the Enquirer and hence at the Foodie Report.
Wishing you all wonderful gastronomic experiences. I need to start compiling my list of spots to eat at before I head to points south.'
A few quick notes on spots I've been to lately -
Relish in Deerfield Towne Center. Great fun, great atmosphere, funky music. Will definitely go back. But it's pricey. Between two of us, we had the recommended one small plate, one large plate per person, and one drink each. Nothing crazy expensive (ie, no filet mignon or lobster tail) - just yummy shrimp, scallops, a Manhattan, a lovely mojito martini.... And our total, for TWO people, was $86, which seems pretty hefty for a meal with no leftovers. One observation: they're located across from Regal Cinemas Deerfield, which is great... but are teenage movie-goers going to plunk down this kind of cash? Great concept, but prices need to come down. My suggestion: try it for lunch and (hopefully) save some $$. Or just get drinks. They are very hip for that, with a great little patio.
Sichuan Bistro on Mason Montgomery Road. Again, this continues to rock for Chinese food. We try all kinds of new dishes here, since about 9 out of 10 of them are simply stunning. Last night: stir fried potato strips (spicy), stir fried pea shoots (seasonal, not on the menu, lovely green leafy veg), chicken w/ "yacai" (some crazy preserved Sichuan veggie that also gets served w/ their stir fried string beans, which are divine) and peanuts (multiple levels of flavor, AND spicy), house lo mein (soft noodles), dumplings, pork w/ chive flowers (leeks) - just yum. And this is hugely affordable. Last week two of us had 4 dishes for $46 - and made two entire meals out of it. Can't really complain about that.
Kick off weekends with Whole Foods's Friday night samplers
Disclaimer: I swear, I am not now nor will I ever be a Whole Foods Market shill nor is the chain paying me in vegan General Tso's chicken. The fact that my most recent posts are all loving paeans to the blessedly vegetarian-friendly chain is mere coincidence. I discovered Whole Foods Market's vegan General Tso's chicken while grocery shopping on a Friday night (yes, I am that old and boring). That evening, the store also celebrated its Derby Day-themed Friday Five after Five sampler. In between grocery shopping, I talked to some patrons and Rachel DesRochers, the Norwood store's marketing specialist, about the ongoing event. My story, available online now, should appear soon in the Hometown Enquirer edition.
The events are held each Friday from 5 - 7 p.m. at both the Norwood and Deerfield Township locations and offer five different food and wine pairings for just $5. So, technically, it's Five After Five for Five, but I understand this is somewhat of a linguistic tongue-twister. Each Friday features a different theme around which food and wine are paired. Upcoming themes include:
May 16 - Local May 23 - Grilling - great beer & wine May 30- Chilean June 6 - Pool party
The samplers have become wildly popular with both foodies and fledgling and seasoned wine enthusiasts, said DesRochers. I'd say. On the night I went, I could barely nudge my way through the crowded aisles in which tables were situated and my "Excuse me's" were all drowned out by the din of the crowd.
Recipes are offered for some of the food samplings. Below is one offered for the Kentucky horserace pie that shall not be named because it's copyrighted. The whole idea of double-broiling anything is too much for my culinary simpleton brain, so if you try the recipe, let us know how it turns out.
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips 2 tablespoons melted butter 3 eggs 1/3 cup sugar 1 cup corn syrup, dark or light 1 tsp. vanilla 1 1/4 cup pecan halves 1 unbaked pie shell
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In double broiler, melt chocolates and butter. Let cool slightly. Beat eggs in medium bowl. Add sugar, corn syrup, chocolate mix and vanilla; stir until well-blended and then stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie shell and bake 50 minutes. Cool before cutting.
(In photo, Rachel DesRochers and team member Lindsey Taylor)
Chicago City Council has repealed its foie gras ban. Is that good news or bad news? Bad news for geese, good news for gourmets, I guess. I think if Chicago changed their mind, there's little chance that it will ever be banned in Cincinnati. Though the price of it may be a de facto ban.
For the record: During all that discussion about Best of Taste, I never stopped to actually count up how many chains are in Taste of Cincinnati. I have the list in front of me. The only national chains are: Buca di Beppo, Buffalo Wings and Rings, Buffalo Southwest Express, Melting Pot and Carrabba's. That's 5 out of 41. There are also some Ohio chains: Max and Erma's, City Barbecue and The Rusty Bucket, and some Cincinnati-only or Cincinnati-based chains: Graeter's, Izzy's, LaRosa's, Montgomery Inn and Mythos.
The Copper River salmon season opens tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. in Alaska. I haven't heard from any local restaurants or retailers when they expect to get a shipment, but be on the lookout. This dark-red, high-Omega-3 fish is really something special--you pay extra for it, but you get something great in return. I'll let you know about special as I find out about them.
I'm doing a story about how the rising price of food is affecting people's grocery shopping and dining out habits. If any of you have recently made changes--like bringing your lunch more often, not going out to eat, eating at less expensive restaurants, or working hard to spend less money at the grocery store, I'd be interested to hear from you. email@example.com.
I finally made it to the new Yagoot store in Rookwood Commons last night and I agree with Polly: It's amazing. I got the original flavor with strawberries and cocoa pebbles and it was like breakfast, only better. Seriously, if they served Yagoot in the deli in the lobby of the Enquirer building, I'd probably get that exact combination every morning. (They have fruity pebbles, too.) It tasted totally unlike any frozen yogurt I've ever had -- it's the whole tangy/tart thing -- but it's so, so good. There was a wait at 8:30 last night, so I predict long lines once it really starts warming up. Also, the place is just so cool looking, with lots of bright yellows, greens and oranges and modern furniture. I only wished they had outdoor seating (maybe they'll add it at some point?).
A commenter on Polly's last Yagoot post asked about the ingredients, so here's what's in the original flavor, according to one of the cards they have by the cash register: Skim milk, sugar, corn syrup, water, cream, whey, stabilizer (mono and diglycerides, guar gum, cellulose gum, carrageenan) and active yogurt culture. The coffee flavor also has natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, water and propylene glycol. Both flavors contain live active yogurt cultures. And it only has 120 calories and 1 gram of fat per 1/2-cup serving, but even the small appears to be at least a 1-cup serving (plus you have to factor in whatever toppings you get). But who cares when it's this good?
And on a related note, here's a hilarious critique of the marketing of yogurt to women. So far Yagoot's marketing seems refreshingly non-gender-specific.
Appetizer Best of Taste: Burbank’s Real Barbeque - Southern Smoked Chicken Tenders Award of Excellence: Buffalo Southwest Express – Wings & Egg Rolls Award of Merit: Bangkok Bistro – Crab Rangoon
Soup & Salad Best of Taste: Indigo Casual Gourmet Café – Black & Blue Tuna Salad Award of Excellence: Carrabba’s Italian Grill – Mama Mandola Sicilian Chicken Soup Award of Merit: Market Street Grille – Potato Soup
Entrée Best of Taste: Carrabba’s Italian Grill– Chicken Bryan Award of Excellence: Taz Restaurant – Chicken Kabob Sandwich Award of Merit: Pit to Plate BBQ – Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork
Seafood Entrée Best of Taste: Shanghai Mama’s – Seafood Shanghai Noodles Award of Excellence: Carrabba’s Italian Grill – Grilled Salmon Award of Merit: La Petite France – Crabmeat Crepe
Vegetarian Entrée Best of Taste: Arloi Dee – Vegetable Pad Thai Award of Excellence: Balboa’s Philly Steaks & Pizza – Slice of Cheese Pizza Award of Merit: Bella Luna – Grande Ravioli
Dessert Best of Taste: Buca di Beppo – Tiramisu Award of Excellence: Bella Luna – Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding Award of Merit: La Petite France – Chocolate Berries & Fruit Crepe
"Best of Taste" is today, and open to the public. This is the pre-Taste of Cincinnati event where the "best of taste" awards are given. 23 restaurants are participating and going for awards in six categories: appetizer, soup/salad, entree, seafood entree, vegetarian entree and dessert. One of those winners is designated "Best Damn Dish." After the judging, the event is open to the public from 5-8 p.m. It's $25 per person and you can sample as much as you want. It's $10 for veterans; all proceeds go to the Cincinnati location of the Fisher House, a foundation that provides free lodging to the families of hospitalized military personnel.
It's being held in the Duke Energy Center's third-floor atrium.
The restaurants who'll be there are: Arloi Dee, Balboa’s Philly Steaks & Pizza, Bangkok Bistro, Bella Luna, Buca di Beppo, Buffalo Southwest Express, Burbank’s Real Barbecue, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, City Barbecue, Courtyard Café on Main, Indigo Casual Gourmet Café, La Petite France, LaRosa’s, Laszlo’s Iron Skillet, Mama Vita’s, Market Street Grille, Montgomery Inn, Pit to Plate BBQ, Pompilio’s, Shanghai Mama’s, Taz Restaurant, Washington Platform, and Wertheim’s Restaurant.
Taste of Cincinnati itself (which includes more than these restaurants) is Memorial Day weekend May 24-26. It's noon-midnight on Saturday and Sunday, noon-9 p.m. Monday. Admission is free, and you'll find it along 5th Street, downtown.