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 lbishop@enquirer.com.

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 nking@enquirer.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 jgaw@enquirer.com.

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 pcampbell@enquirer.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 rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Planning a barbecue?

... or a potluck or a tailgate party or a fireworks get-together? Better make your own potato salad.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

By popular demand, Pigall's info

I got this e-mail from Annette at Pigall's last week and from CinTwin1 yesterday. Sorry for not posting it sooner. Someone else posted it as a comment, too. If you have any other restaurant week questions, feel free to e-mail me (sromine@enquirer.com ) or post a comment!
Celebrate Restaurant Week
With Jean Robert at Pigall’s
Tuesday, September 4th thru Saturday September 8th
Limited Seating in the Loft
At Communal Tables with Reservations
Starting at 6pm
Three Course Menu
Goat Cheese Salad
Choice of:
Salmon or Duck Leg Confit
Assorted Pastry
Price: $25.07
Price does not include Wine, Beverages, Tax or Gratuity
Call Richard for Reservations at:
Or Email richard@pigalls.com

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More details

Restaurant Week updates:
Read Friday's Life Section and watch the Morning Netcast video embedded below for more info.

O’Bryon’s Irish Pub
, O’Bryonville: Cheese sticks, Cajun chicken pasta and a salad, choice of dessert and a glass of wine. 513-321-5525

One Restaurant and Lounge in Mason. 513-336-0042.
Available in dining room and bar with no restrictions.
Scallops with chipotle beurre blanc sauce, arugula and leeks
Filet medallion with mushrooms fricassee & truffle demi glace sauce
Seasonal fruit
A wine pairing will also be available.

Encore Bistro & Bar
Loveland, 513-774-7072; Wyoming, 513-821-9200; West Chester Township, 513-759-0200.
Chicken & Andouille Spring Rolls
Chicken, andouille sausage, onions and cheddar cheese.
Served with a sweet hoisin chili sauce
Bleu Cheese, Bacon & Roasted Garlic Dip
Topped with toasted almonds and served with pita chips
Encore Salad
Crisp baby greens, romaine lettuce, sundried cherries, toasted almonds and crumbled feta cheese with creamy balsamic vinaigrette
Crisp romaine tossed with classic Caesar dressing and parmesan cheese
Chicken Napoleon
Chicken breast layered with prosciutto, provolone and roasted red
peppers. Served on orzo drizzled with marsala wine and bleu cheese sauces
Cashew Crusted Salmon
Served with risotto cakes and a duo of hoisin and wasabi sauces
Smoked Mozzarella Penne
Grilled chicken breast, mushrooms, red onion, tomatoes and penne tossed in a smoked mozzarella cream
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Horseradish Dijon Crust
Slow cooked, topped with horseradish and dijon over roasted garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables

Pho Paris details

The details on Pho Paris' offerings for Restaurant Week.
Reservations are recommended; please mention Restaurant Week. Jared Whalen and pastry chef Summer Genetti have a special tasting menu planned.
Dessert: pineapple tart with coconut-cilantro ice cream
dark chocolate flourless cake with crushed raspberries and creme fraiche
Entrees: Roasted stuffed quail with polenta, duck sausage, veggies in a cherry demi-glace
Pan-seared scallops with shiitake, snow peas, daikon, corn and ginger-Roquefort beurre blanc
Basa with carrots, bok choy and baby mushrooms in pineapple-coconut sauce
Salad: Duck confit with mixed greens and beets and honey-lemon creme fraiche
Address: 318 Greenup St., Covington, KY 41011
Phone: 859-643-1234
E-mail: info@phoparis.com

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Restaurant week video

Lauren, Liz Foreman and I spoke to a couple of restaurant owners about the inaugural Restaurant Week. Watch the video here:

Autumn Edibles tour

Info showed up today about an interesting Autumn Edibles tour thru the parks on Sept. 24. I'm passing along the press release verbatim. Sounds cool, though it sounds like the edibles are restricted to maple syrup and honey. Does this interest anyone? Does $49.50 sound a bit steep? I'd love to hear if anyone goes. It's the first I've heard of an excursion quite like this:

"Where better can you taste the wonderful flavors of fall than during the Autumn Edibles Bus Tour on Monday, September 24. Adults can take a journey celebrating the fall harvest with a tasting of maple syrup, honey straight from the hive and enjoy other fun fall activities!

"The day-long tour will begin at 7:30 a.m. at Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve with a delicious continental breakfast. During that time, Naturalists will share with guests the interesting history of making maple syrup. The tour will then travel to Parky’s Farm where guests can take part in walking and wagon tours on the farm, followed by a lesson about honey bees and a chance to taste the result of their work! Guests will have lunch at the farm before traveling to Withrow Nature Preserve, where they will participate in and learn about the harvest of local trees. The tour will then wrap up with its return to Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve by 4:30 p.m. that afternoon.

"The cost for the Autumn Edibles Bus Tour is $49.50 per person. Those interested may register online at GreatParks.org by September 14 or by mailing in the form located inside the Evergreen, the Park Districts’ event guide. The Evergreen can be found at any Park District Visitor Center or can be received through mail by signing up at GreatParks.org. A valid Hamilton County Park District Motor Vehicle Permit ($5 annual; $2 daily) is required to enter the parks. For additional information, call (513) 521-7275 ext. 240 or visit GreatPark.org. It’s Great Outdoors!"

Southview simplifies, and goes with straight barbecue

Apparently the "urban soul food" formula for SouthView Restaurant at Newport on the Levee wasn't quite working out. A press release today notes the change of name to "SouthView BBQ" and a new emphasis on families. Kids menu items are $4.95 each. New menu items include Cajun crab cakes, smoked chicken salad and SouthView’s fried chicken, with most dishes under $13.95.

SouthView BBQ, 859-261-3518; www.southviewrestaurant.com.

Vinoklet festival coming up

This is a fun late-summer diversion in a beautiful spot in Colerain Township for anyone so inclined. I went a couple years ago. Just a pleasant place to chill:

WHAT: 2007 Vinoklet Art Festival and Wine Tasting
WHEN: Saturday, September 8: noon – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 9: 1:00 – 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Vinoklet Winery
11069 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45252
COST: Free Admission & Parking
Juried artists exhibiting unique fine art and crafts. Bands both days and strolling musicians will be on hand in the artists’ area. Two grape-stomping competitions on Saturday. Food and award winning wines.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Taste of Clermont - and more festivals

I've spent a busy summer planning a wedding, so I unfortunately haven't had much time to check out the area festivals. But man, it's easy to forget how many they are. We had dinner at Carlo and Johnny's last weekend, and the band was saying how thin the crowds were, since Taste of Blue Ash was in town that weekend!

Coming up Sept. 7-9: Taste of Clermont County in Batavia.

Here are more fall festivals for your amusement.

And as we head into fall, bookmark this site for corn mazes, pumpkin patches and haunted houses.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kaori closes, online store coming

Kaori Tea in Covington has closed, but the specialty shop is in the process of setting up an online shop, where owner Steve Kawasaki will offer his imported oolong, black, green and white teas. In the meantime, e-mail owner Kawasaki at kaoritea@fuse.net or check www.kaoritea.com for updates on the online store.

Such a shame. This cute little place is in Covington, near the library. I'd see it from the bus window as I went home each night, and I frequently thought of stopping but never did. I had heard it was a great shop, and I really enjoy specialty teas. Has anyone else ever been there?

"Skinny Bitch" big on veganism

I'm midway through the book "Skinny Bitch" and it's really funny, sometimes hilarious. And the advice they give seems to be sound. Anybody else reading it? It's full of things most of us know but choose to forget/disregard when we go to the grocery store. Some of the messages in the book? Dairy is not the best thing for us; beef production is less than appetizing; refined carbs are bad, or "the Devil" according to the authors.

I've tried to go vegetarian (the longest I did it was a year) and it was great while it lasted. I felt fabulous, I looked fabulous and it felt good to know that nothing had been slaughtered for me. But somewhere along the way, The Craving (you meatlovers know what I'm talking about) kicked in. I think a vegan lifestyle, while harder to maintain, would be even more ideal. But that's just it... it seems too ideal. But I do think it's a good idea to limit dairy and increase the amount of vegetables, fruits and grains we all eat. I would love to live vegan, but I have too many vices to overcome. I would literally have to take it one day at a time!

I guess that means I'll never be a "Skinny Bitch." And I can live with that. I'd rather be a Curvaceous Diva anyway. Hey, sounds like I need to get going on my own "this is what I think you should eat" book! Anybody want to place an advance order now?

I'll probably finish "Skinny Bitch" in the next day or two, so maybe they have some helpful hints on just how I could live the rest of my days without my dad's barbecue. Sigh... I guess he could always soak some tempeh in the homemade sauce before he dunks the ribs, chicken, etc in it.

What animal products (doesn't sound so tasty or fashionable when you put it that way, huh?) could you not live without? I could live without leather. But fish? Now THAT would be hard. I'd rather give up sugar!


A few random food-related musings:

  • Findlay Market's farmers market doesn't open until 11 on Sunday mornings. Considering I usually don't make it there until noon or later on Saturdays, I thought I'd make a effort and go down at 8:30 on Sunday. I had to work at 9, so what a way to start the day. Yeah, according to the one vendor who was there, I was about three hours early. Apparently, everyone else knew this. I was so proud of myself for getting up early and being productive. Ha! But I'm glad that farmers can have one day to sleep in -- they deserve it.
    I went back later in the day and bought some gorgeous green zebra and garden peach tomatoes and mini squash from a Batavia farmer. His name escapes me right now, but I'll track it down. He's always so helpful and cheerful, and his tomatoes are divine. He always lets me sample!
  • I'm busy tracking down the details on Restaurant week. I'll post more as I find out, but some helpful readers have posted some details in the comment section here. I've got just a few left to track down.
  • I took my boyfriend's mom to Jungle Jim's for the first time Saturday. She loved it. She lived in Italy and Egypt for years, so she found food that she hasn't had since she left. We live in northern Ky., so it's a bit of a drive to Jungle Jim's, but I love that store! My only complaint is that the Korean section is small, but I usually go to the huge Asian supermarket on Sawmill Road in Columbus when I visit my parents. (There's also a nice-sized Indian market across the street, and a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's nearby. It's a foodie's grocery-store heaven!)
  • Reader Mary graciously gave me a box of cookbooks she was getting rid of. I spent a good part of the weekend reading cookbooks and old cooking magazines. I have quite a collection, but I can't resist cookbooks. I read them almost as much as I read nutrition books, my real passion. When I'm done, I'm sure I'll pass them along. Thanks so much, Mary!

Friday, August 24, 2007

New home for Big Boy in Delhi

The new Frisch's in Delhi occupies the space that was Delhi Flower and Garden Center. Read more here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Supper Thyme in Fort Mitchell

Kentuckians, rejoice! There's a new assemble-your-dinners spot called Supper Thyme opening Friday, Aug. 24. It joins other area convenience food-prep places such as Dream Dinners and My Girlfriend's Kitchen (pictured). But we're fairly sure this is the first such spot opening in Northern Kentucky. (I also think there's one more franchise in the area, but I'm spacing the brand name at the moment). If you've never heard of these, you assemble food for multiple meals at these locations (go with friends for more fun!), then bring the containers home to freeze for easy meals to pop into the oven when you need them. This appears to be the nearest Supper Thyme so far. There's one in Fort Wayne and one in Dublin, Ohio (and one in Findlay, which we hope isn't underwater with the rest of northern Ohio).

Recalled carrots not in Ohio

We've been seeing on CNN and reading online today that Trader Joe's and Los Angeles Saland brand baby carrots have been recalled. (Oh, and some smoked salmon has been recalled, too.) DON'T panic. So far, the carrots have not been sold in Ohio. They were mostly sold in the West. No word on whether baby carrots have been pulled from the shelves here, as a caution.
(What a great reason to buy all your produce from local growers. It's summer -- there's almost no excuse!)
You can drive yourself crazy worrying about food contamination. Lower your risks by eating whole foods. Yes, baby carrots save time. But they're not baby carrots; they're adult carrots whittled by a lathe into those little carrot nuggets. Be bold, and buy a bag with the green tops and brown stringy bits. Peel them, clean them, chop them, eat them.
Have you noticed that a lot of these recalls tend to be processed food? Canned beans, prepackaged carrots. Sure, you can get sick from eating homegrown spinach or local meats just as easily, but I'm sure the risks are lower.
Just a thought.

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You asked, we answered

A devoted reader posted a question about the new Smirnoff vodka-water product.
It's a "malt beverage" called
Smirnoff Source, but it's not on Smirnoff's Web site.
And there's a product called Hydra, "A lightly carbonated spring water beverage infused with all natural raspberry extracts that delivers 7% alc./vol."
Hmm... I'd like to try this, but I'm not keen on the artificial flavor. I don't like the fake taste of flavored water.

Mary has tried it. What about others? Have you tried it? Would you?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Upcoming Indian festival

Thanks to Rachel Richardson in Hometown for flagging me about the upcoming Temple Mela festival at the Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati. It's noon-8 p.m. Sept. 8, and a good bet for any fest-goer who thinks Cincinnati errs on the side of Germania (the first of at least five area Oktoberfests kicks off this weekend at the Germania Society), and goetta, and beer. I e-mailed Mela organizers yesterday asking about the menu for the festival... hopefully it comes soon and I can let you know what tasty Indian treats to expect.

A foodie diets

This foodie's on a diet. I'm up 10 pounds from last year, mostly because of a lazy summer and a new relationship. (Has anyone else ever put on pounds during the "honeymoon" phase? It's so easy to say yes to second portions, shared appetizers and chocolate anything when you're deliriously happy!)
I'm still happy with my guy, but I'm not happy about my gut. (I'm being slightly melodramatic, but I'm vain.)
Instead of leftovers for lunch, I'm eating them the next day for dinner, thus freeing more time for the gym. (A major excuse for avoiding the gym for me.) I'm eating salad for lunch, buying two bags of mixed greens and a box of veggies from the Wild Oats salad bar on Sunday nights. It has so far lasted for three days of lunches, with one more salad's worth of food left.
This works well for me. I added a can of chickpeas to the salad fixings, a handful of feta -- and that's it. I add red wine vinegar to each salad but no oil. (If I omit cheese, then I add olive oil. Yes, I know olive oil is heart-healthy fat, but I'm cutting calories where I can. Either oil or cheese on a salad, not both.)
I'm also bringing a bag of grapes to work and leaving them in the fridge, so I have a sweet, healthy snack anytime.
I like the Wild Oats salad bar veggies because they're already chopped and there's such a variety. I'm a bit of a control freak, but I'm learning to relax -- like letting the salad bar do the work for me. Anyone else have salad tips? Any other control freaks in the kitchen?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wine expert found dead

An absolute shame - Paul Ortiz was found dead in his downtown apartment. The former wine director at Boca had started the Cincinnati Wine School. He's worked at several restaurants over the years, so it seems like everyone in the industry knew him.

Check back at Cincinnati.Com for updates.

Bella Luna news

NOTE: I've updated the name of the deli and the owner. A few foodies have noticed the change at Bella Luna at Findlay Market. First, it was closed for vacation, now it has a new name.
Bella Luna owner Harry Stephens assures me that both the deli and the restaurant are staying open, though the deli now has a new owner, Angela Lucarelli.
The deli is now called Angelina Fine Italian Food, but it's still an Italian specialty shop, "with her own twist," says Stephens.
The story is that Lucarelli was dining at Bella Luna one night and told Stephens that her dream was to own an Italian shop. Luck would have it that Stephens was in the mood to sell, and now she's living her dream, with her mother.
"We’re going to focus our efforts here on Eastern Avenue," says Stephens, whose restaurant focuses on regional Italian cuisine. "Bella Luna is not -- I repeat not -- closing."
And not only is Bella Luna not closing, but it's also unveiling its latest menu starting Saturday. It's focusing on the Po Basin region of Italy, north of Tuscany. That includes Emilia Romagnia, Lombadia and Veneto.
Info: Bella Luna, 513-871-5862 4632 Eastern Avenue (Linwood), Cincinnati, 45226
Angelina Fine Italian Food: 513-381-2222, in Findlay Market. (She's closed on Monday and Tuesday.)

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Daveed's for Restaurant Week

Admittedly, menus and details on the area's first Restaurant Week have been somewhat spotty (i.e., what can you order; do you need reservations; is this limited to certain days in the Sept. 4-8 window), but an e-mail sent by Daveed's sheds a bit more light on their program:



$25.07 P/P
for further information please contact:
513-721- COOK

It's a start anyway.

Special dinner date spots

My birthday's this weekend, and I had to think long and hard about where I wanted to go for dinner. Had to be something special, but within reason. Would love to try Pigall's, but I'm hoping to get there for a $25.07 special during Cincinnati's first-ever Restaurant Week, Sept. 4-8. The Palace is lovely, but (IMHO) overpriced, even if the $20 risotto is to die for. Jeff Ruby's downtown is always nice, but I wanted something different. Jag's was a maybe since I've never been there (though a friend said it was overrated). one in Mason is a spot I must get back to (wow, it's been open since 2005... and I've only been there ONCE!?).

But I settled on a spot that's fairly close to home AND has fabulous music to boot: Carlo and Johnny. Yes, it's a steak place, but Jeff Ruby does it up right. I might have to settle on seafood, as I've been craving Maine lobster (still...). Last time I had amazing scallop sushi as an appetizer. The concept of raw scallops still grosses me out, but it tastes so amazing. Melt in the your mouth... And the music Thursdays and Fridays is by the Airwave Band, featuring Ted and Dixie Karas. If you haven't heard them play, do. They're a ton of fun!!!

Where do you like to go for those special meals out on the town??

Duck on the grill?

So here's something you don't get in your inbox every day: an e-mail promoting duck. The web site is Impress with Duck. Recipes, ideas, everything duck. Hm. Sorry, duck doesn't impress me as a general rule -- unless it's brick-oven fired Peking duck, that wonderfully greasy duck skin and fat concoction on a pancake with hoisin sauce and spring onions and cucumber, probably at an actual Peking duck restaurant like Quanjude in Beijing. But hey, maybe you're into it.

(And that's the AFLAC duck, thanks to AP for the photo... but hey, you get the idea!)

Apsara opening in Blue Ash

I've heard that Apsara, Chanaka Delanerolle's new Asian restaurant in Blue Ash, is opening Friday.
Apsara are sacred dancers at a Buddhist temple, and the word is blessed. Delanerolle owns Teak, Mount Adams Fish House and Celestial Steakhouse, so you just know there will be fish -- good fish, and of course, sushi. I got a menu. It's six pages long, excluding sushi: As we previously reported, it's a Thai restaurant with some extras.
Appetizers ($4-$10) range from the requisite: spring rolls, chicken wings and satay to the unusual: frogs' legs and lumpias. There are curries ($10-$19) of every color with proteins to pick from ($1-$4 extra), plus stir-fry dishes ($13, plus extra for proteins), and plenty of inventive entrees:

Lemon Grass Glazed Ahi Tuna $32
Grilled Ahi Tuna served with sautéed
sweet chili basil, Napa cabbage and coconut jasmine rice
Broiled Half Rack of
Lamb $26
Marinated in a sweet and savory sauce over Asian slaw and finished
with a tamarind peanut sauce
Crispy Duck $19
Served with an
assortment of vegetables and finished with basil sauce

The restaurant is in the old the Watson Bros building, which was before my time in Cincinnati. I have seen some of the interior pieces -- intricate carvings of the Buddhist dancers. They're quite impressive.
The drinks menu looks pretty interesting, too. The signature martini is ($10) is made with jack fruit, a mulberry relative that's native to Delanerolle's native Sri Lanka. The jack fruit is mixed with peach and raspberry shaken with Stoli Elite vodka. There are also plenty of cocktails with lychee, ginger and Asian pear.
Polly wrote more about it back in March.

Hours: I'm waiting for a call back from the restaurant. They didn't send them when they sent the menu. I'll update when I get it.

Apsara: 4785 Lake Forrest Drive, Blue Ash, 513-554-1040

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Monday, August 20, 2007

pacific moon turns more sushi-esque

Received an email from Pacific Moon touting their extended sushi hours:

We are now serving the entire dinner and sushi menus until 2 am everynight! Please order by 1:30.
Our sushi bar will now be open from 12 pm until 2am daily.
We also have New daily lunch specials from the Sushi Bar.
All lunches include House Salad.
SUSHI LUNCH ........................................$10
Choice of: California Roll or Spicy Tuna Roll
4 pieces of Sushi: (1) Tuna (1) Salmon (1) Snapper (1) Shrimp
SASHIMI LUNCH...............................$12
Choice of: California Roll or Spicy Tuna Roll
6 pieces of sashimi: (2) Tuna (2) Salmon (2) White Tuna
MAKI LUNCH..................................$12
California Roll , Philadelphia Roll, and Avocado Cucumber Roll
SUSHI RICE BOWL..........................$12
Choice of Eel, Tuna, or Salmon

I continue to be bummed that they have turned away from dim sum (since not many other spots in town really serve it). Have never worked in the restaurant industry, but I think this is a factor of making money, and sushi sells. Sigh. This was the one thing about Asian restaurants that amazed me when I moved back to the States a couple years ago. In Asia, if you serve Thai food, you serve Thai food. If you serve sushi, you serve sushi. There's no hodgepodging it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Restaurant week is coming...

Maybe you've heard about restaurant weeks in other cities. Restaurants unite and offer deals on (usually) prix fixe meals, at a heckuva good price.
Well, Cincinnati is getting a Restaurant Week, as Polly reported today:
"Greater Cincinnati Independents, a group of local restaurants, will
sponsor a Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week Sept. 4-8.
The 25 restaurants
in the group will each offer a three-course prix fixe dinner for $25.07. (It's
25 restaurants, and the year is '07.)"
So far, these restaurants are participating: Andy's Mediterranean Grille, Behle Street Café, Bella Luna, Brown Dog Café, Daveed's at 934, deSha's American Tavern and Grille, Encore Bistro and Bar, The Grand Café, Hugo, Jean-Robert at Pigall's, Jimmy D's Steakhouse, Kona Bistro, Mesh, Mike & Jimmy's Chophouse Grille, Nicholson's, O'Bryon's Irish Pub, One Restaurant and Lounge, Pho Paris, Polo Grille, Pompilio's, The Pub at Crestview Hills, Red and Universal Grille.
We'll post more details as we know them, or you can check out the restaurant group's Web site. Make your reservations today!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Yesterday, my lunch buddies and I had a bit of a hard time deciding where to go. We were going to try Mythos, the Greek place that opened across from the Starbucks downtown. (I think it's next to the Westin, but I'm awful with directions/street names.) The line was out the door and down the street. We didn't feel like waiting in the heat, even though the woman at the end of the line said she'd watched it move quickly while she sat at Starbucks.
I love falafel, so I was little disappointed. I hope to try Mythos some time soon.
Has anyone been there? How's the food? And for those of you who don't work downtown, where do you go for lunch?
Enquirer file photo of Mythos' vegetarian platter

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I just had lunch at Fresh with fellow Foodie Report-er Lauren and Amy, another Life reporter. Ever been there? It's owned by a local guy, Jonathan Dwight, and the philosophy is great food, great life. They use natural and organic ingredients and have mostly healthful food choices.
Lauren and Amy each had veggie sandwiches, one hot and one cold. But it was my giant house ($5.48) salad that they envied. I actually left with half the sourdough roll that came with it, plus half the salad.
When Fresh first opened, they only sold natural sodas. They've since added Coke and Diet Coke, for those in need of a jolt at lunch. The food is pretty good, it's a locally owned business, and -- they say -- they practice green business practices. (Though I might suggest that they offer nondisposible silverware and glasses.) This is the kind of place where you'll leave sated but not stuffed.
The menu has changed a bit from the one that's online. I wish they still offered tofu, but I saw it neither on the menu nor among the salad toppings.
Where do you go for fresh, light food for lunch?

Save the produce!

I'm a frugal little foodie. I absolutely hate wasting food. I feel genuinely guilty when I have to throw away food, especially when that food is produce. Cost aside, I don't like being wasteful.
I'm pretty good about eating all my fresh vegetables and only buying what I need. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is an impulse produce shopper. Two weeks ago, when we shopped together, he bought baby asparagus, portobello caps, a green pepper, a bag of snap peas, tomatillos, tomatoes and fresh corn. I bought quite a bit of produce, too, so all of that was for just one person!
Last Thursday, after dinner and a play, we went back to his place, and I realized he hadn't used any of the above food, except the corn. Worse yet, the fridge had frozen a few items. Use it or lose it time.
I roasted the 'shrooms, asparagus, pepper, tomatoes and tomatillos -- on the hottest day of the year, what was I thinking? -- and tossed them with some whole-wheat pasta. He was impressed. The apartment was a bit smoky, but at least the veggies were saved. He happily ate the pasta for lunch the next day.
Last night I had to rescue some scallions and Swiss chard. I sauteed the chard with the scallions, garlic and some olive oil and spices. Added lemon juice and a leftover bit of white wine. Tossed in a can of chickpeas and a bit of parmesan. Lunch -- odd but delicious!
Am I alone? What do you do with the hodgepodge of produce lingering in your crisper? Are you more likely to forget it and let it rot (like my boyfriend) or do you rescue it before it ends up down the garbage disposal or in the compost bin? Soups? Pasta sauces? Rubbish?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Food mill makes tomato soup

I spent a few days late last week scouring the basement to find my handy-dandy, long-trusted food mill. I actually own a couple of them, and have always relied on the old-fashioned type (in the wiki picture) to make tomato soup in late summer (i.e., now) and applesauce in the fall. I always picked them up at garage sales for next to nothing, though I see you can buy modern ones for a lot more.

Making tomato soup with tomatoes from my garden is a rite of summer. Even more so this year since my tomatoes were crap last year, so I couldn't make any then (and have had none in the freezer to eat in a while!)

It's simple: wash and quarter tomatoes; throw them in a big pot and cook them down on medium high heat. They soften in an hour or so... Cook uncovered so they boil down a bit.

I then covered mine and left them out overnight. In the morning, when they were cool, I ladled some into the food mill (set atop another pot) and milled away. The mill separates the seeds and skins, and leaves just wonderful, clear tomato soup. You can cook it down as long you want, and season to taste - mostly with sugar, sea salt, and a bit of ground pepper.

I froze about 8 containers of this and am a happy camper. We'll pull them out in the fall and heat up the soup, and throw in a couple cups of cooked elbox macaroni. A simple, nutritious soup for a quick meal. Yum.

Now I'm hoping the tomatoes keep on coming so I can make some more.

Did I mention I loved my food mill!? I have to make applesauce this fall. Mmmmm....

Friday, August 10, 2007


I went to Nectar last night to try the latest in Julie Francis's series of dinner parties featuring multiple uses of one ingredient. This was all about tomatoes. I've been eating an average of about one tomato per meal since the middle of July, most of them in my own recipe of sliced on a plate with salt. Maybe mayonnaise. But there's nothing more versatile than tomatoes, and Francis did a lot with them, all within high-summer Midwest parameters. The tomatoes were all from Sallie Ransohoff, tomato-grower to the stars--or at least to the better restaurants of Cincinnati.
There was a garlicy tomato bisque, with Francis's trademark crab salad garnishing it. There were fried green tomatoes with a spicy aioli, potato gnocchi with lobster and cherry tomatoes and the most delicious lobster reduction pooling around the edges), hangar steak with a pungent tapenade, and Swiss chard --the kind of thing Francis always does so well. My favorite course was a goat cheese cake with tomato sorbet. It was like a savory dish turned into dessert without losing its savory-ness. It was rather hot and loud in Nectar, but I do like the dinner party atmosphere, with everyone eating the same food at the same time, totally into it, applauding the chef, even applauding the grower! And I love to eat a series of small portions, with wine here and there to match.

These parties sell out, but if you'd like to experience the next one (maple syrup with Dan Berger) call Nectar and ask if they can squeeze you in.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Eat like a lady...

I love this story. It's so true. In addition to all the other rules concerning gender, certain foods are often associated with femininity and masculinity. As is the amount of food one can eat. You know the women who will never eat more than a corn cobbette and 1/4 of a chicken breast at the backyard barbecue. (Even the little girl pictured here knows you should at least TRY to eat the whole ear. Gimme' a break...)

Or how about the dainty ladies who move food around their plates for 3o minutes before finally sighing and exclaiming, "I am absolutely STUFFED!" "Starved," I want to say. "You meant you are starved..." And while it wouldn't be uncommon to hear someone say, "My son eats like a horse," and mean it to be a good thing, I've never heard anyone say, "Wow! My daughter sure can put it away! That's awesome. She is, after all, a growing girl!"

So why do boys get steaks while girls get salads? And I'm talking iceberg and fat-free something or other, not the entree salads so many of us on this blog know and love. And I know it, unfortunately, goes the other way. I can recall going out to dinner with a guy who told the server, "I'll just have a salad." That was our first and last date. I couldn't be with a guy who eats less than I do...

That is why I love Nigella Lawson... Neither she nor I would ever opt for just a half of an ear of corn when the whole thing is sitting right there next to the salted, creamy butter...

So to all my girlfriends out there, especially the hungry ones: Eat what you love, enjoy every morsel, and always remember "everything in moderation, including moderation." Then you, too, can eat like a lady. Assuming you chew with your mouth closed...

And now they've thought of everything

Once upon a time, I couldn't resist a good piece of bacon. It's the hardest meat for me to resist.
I once (and only once) made a recipe that my co-workers labeled "bacon pie." A French dish, it was quite simple: bacon layered in a spiral in a cast-iron skillet, topped with thinly sliced, buttery Yukon Gold potatoes and topped with nutty Gruyere cheese. A heart attack in a skillet.
Rich, crispy, smoky... bacon is just so decadent. The flavors meld so well with just about anything: lettuce, tomato and avocado on a sandwich; eggs and pancakes at breakfast; deep milk chocolate! Deep milk chocolate? With bacon?
This little blurb appeared in my inbox this morning, in a
Daily Candy newsletter.

Bacon Exotic Candy Bar
What: The idyllic combination of savory and
sweet as
Applewood smoked bacon meets milk chocolate.
Why: Bring home the
Where: Online at
I checked out the Web site. It's no joke: Applewood smoked bacon + Alder smoked salt + deep milk chocolate, the site boasts.
There are some other fun, exotic bars, too: ginger + wasabi + black sesame seeds + dark chocolate; Tibetan goji berries + pink Himalayan salt + deep milk chocolate; sweet Indian curry powder + coconut flakes + deep milk chocolate; Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers + Ceylon cinnamon + dark chocolate.
They sound rather interesting, and they cost about $7 each. As far as I can tell, you can only buy
online. (Blogger is being persnickety, and I can't load a pic this morning. I'll try later.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Prohibition throwback

There you are, grocery shopping on Sunday, when you decide you'll fix a nice dinner later that day. And, you think to yourself, what's a nice dinner without a glass (or two) of wine? So you scan the wine aisle, paying as much attention to the cool/cute labels as you do the varieties and the vintages, and grab a bottle that intrigues you. Excited about your fresh produce, gleaming cuts of meat and looking forward to the first glass of wine, you load up the conveyor belt. Life is good...

But this weekend-food fantasy comes to a screeching halt when the cashier says, in a loud voice, "We don't sell wine until after 1:00 p.m. on Sunday." OK, so maybe the cashier isn't that loud. Could be that I'm the only one whose face warms just a bit with embarrassment, as if the people behind me in line are shaking their heads and thinking, "Geez... What a lush. She can't even wait a few hours?"

But you're allowed to buy beer Sunday morning, right? Seriously, I don't understand the laws on wine sales in Ohio. Neither do these folks, from the looks of their Web site.

About the photo: Decanter set by Libbey - Provided

15 minutes.

I had a lot of fun thinking of good dinners you could make in 15 minutes for our story today. And believe me, I have made a lot of 15-minute dinners. I have often driven home looking forward to something delicious to putter around with, when it turns out that someone in my family has to be at a meeting or practice in--oh-- 15 minutes. Ir I want the family to sit down together, I have to improvise. (I know, they could have made something themselves, but that's another story.)
Here's some things that come in handy, besides leftovers:
Knowing how to make a good cream sauce or bechamel. Cheese sauce on vegetables, tuna sauce on noodles (or toast), creamed hard-boiled eggs or chipped beef, chicken a la king, the basis of broccoli soup or a souffle. I know, it sounds so retro Home Ec, very mid-century WASP. But it's quick--especially if you use instant Wondra flour. The recipe's on the carton. (You simply mix flour, butter and milk together in a saucepan and heat.)

Thin, quick-cooking cuts of meat, a pan sauce and couscous. Couscous is amazing--it takes 5 minutes, even the whole wheat kind. Finely ground bulgur wheat's almost as fast.
I usually make a pan sauce like this: cook pork cutlets or chicken breast slices or turkey or in butter, remove. Add a minced shallot to pan, cook for a few minutes, scraping up any bits from the meat. Add 1/4 cup or so of white wine, let it bubble off, then add 1/2 cup of chicken stock, let it reduce. Even better if you add a 1/4 cup of heavy cream. (approximate measures, of course) Then put the meat back in and let it all heat up together for a minute. But that's just the basics: add mustard, or herbs, or dried fruit, or saute mushrooms with the shallots or use sherry or red wine instead of white. This could be dinner every night and never taste the same.

Dinner in a pinch

It's Wednesday and that means it is (usually) Food day at The Enquirer. Yay! Best day of the week, I think... But I am willing to admit I am biased.

Be sure to check out the centerpiece today. It's an unfussy list of dinner ideas for when you are hungry but barely have time to think, let alone make a meal and juggle everything else on a busy night.

We all have days that are so jampacked that we either A. don't feel like leaving the house or B. don't feel like eating on the go or stopping at the grocery store.

What are your go-to dinner favorites when you're exhausted and just want to eat without stopping for takeout?

I'm celebrating already!

Happy Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor's Porch Day! Yes, it's a real (albeit silly) holiday. I'm celebrating already. A very kind editor brought in a bag of zucchini, and I snagged one that's larger and heavier than my forearm. (It's almost the size of my calf, really!)
I see zucchini-blueberry-banana bread and zucchini pasta in my future.
(The behemoths taking over gardens today are better in breads and baked goods; remove seeds and pulp before using.)
Last night, I used the last two small zucchini in my crisper as a quick, low-free side dish. I roasted one orange pepper, chopped it, along with a large clove of garlic and a handful of basil and oregano from my container garden. I used a box grater to slice the zucchini thinly, then sauteed it for about a minute. Yum!
We've already discussed how zucchini takes over the garden. How do you use it? I love to shred it in long strips (or grate it) and use it in place of spaghetti with my favorite sauces.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Organic influx

Kroger is expanding its organics line, according to the Enquirer business section.

A berry big problem

My name is Stepfanie, and I'm a berry-holic. I've been eating berries all summer (not always local or organic ones, I must add). It started simple enough: A pint of blueberries to go with my morning yogurt. Soon I was snacking on them every day, a pint every couple of days. Blueberries became a gateway berry; I've added raspberries and now blackberries to the mix.
On yogurt, as a snack, in baked goods. I've even made banana-zucchini-blueberry bread. I've made my Gramma Willie's blueberry buckle, and I've frozen them for something different.
I've mostly stayed away from the biggest berry of all, strawberries, though I've dabbled a bit.
I just can't resist the antioxidants, the fiber, the vitamin C! I'm addicted, and I don't want to stop.
(As I write this, two fingers on each hand are slightly magenta.)
I'm sure I'm not alone in my addiction: Summer produce is just too irresistible! What summer fruit or vegetable is your addiction?

Blatant self-promotion

I hadn't intended to post a link to this, but Liz Foreman, our multimedia directrice extraordinaire, sent me the html coding.
I debuted on the NetCast last Friday. We did a "User's Guide to Korean Food." It was great fun. Thanks to Riverside Korean Restaurant in Covington for their help!

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Monday, August 06, 2007

A summer shortcut

I discovered this earlier this year, but I'm glad to know about it now that we've had a streak of 90-plus-degree days. MEZA makes a spectacular Tuscan bruschetta topping that's just tomatoes, olive oil, basil and garlic. It's fresh, light, and tastes as good as anything you can make out of the garden, without the fuss. I eat it on toasted crusty bread as bruschetta, or spoon it over cooked pasta (can serve the sauce cold or hot) for a quick dinner. It's at Sam's Club for usually less than $6. (And the Sam's version looks different from that link above). Costco also carries MEZA, but the bruschetta is the Sicilian variety, which is loaded with olives (not my favorite). I haven't even bothered to make bruschetta with tomatoes from my garden yet this year, since it's so good out of the jar. But I am hoping for enough ripe tomatoes to cook up a batch of tomato soup (strained, with a little sugar, and a dash of salt and pepper). I freeze those and eat them on cold winter days with cooked macaroni. Serious comfort food. (My grandmother used to make it).

No more Uzbeki food

This should not come as a shock to anyone, but Samarkand Cafe on Fields Ertel has closed. It served lots of lamb and pilaf... I admittedly had takeout there once and never felt the urge to go back. (I could never get my friends to agree that greasy lamb dishes were a good idea for a meal).

A new sign hangs above the door at 8697 Fields Ertel Road, reading NEW EUROPE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT, and a sign on the door reads OPENING SOON. So we'll see what happens there.

Across town, in White Oak, the Chili Company on Cheviot Road has in fact closed. It had a short-lived re-birth (I think it opened in February after having been closed more than a decade). The sign outside now reads FOR LEASE.

Restaurants ebb and flow in these parts. There's a lot more new spots coming soon...

Bad beans...

Is it me or has there been a rash of food recalls as of late? Here's another one...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

school lunches

You will notice I did not quote myself in today's story about school lunches. I was not the most conscientious lunch-packer. I was doing fine for awhile, and I remember the day one of my girls came home from school and asked if I could please not wrap a stack of saltines in tin foil and send it to school--it was embarassing. They sort of took over after that. Fortunately, though my attempts to get them to eat healthy were slow going, they did on their own decide that food packaging was evil. I recommend this as a strategy for parents; get your kids to recoil against Lunchables on their own. They usually grabbed a string cheese, an apple and a bag of pretzels on their way out the door. They are leaving home now as more or less perfect young women, but I can't really recommend that--a better mother would have chased them with sunflower seeds, green peppers and chicken noodle soup. I admire the resourcefulness of the moms who contributed to today's story. The shocking state of child obesity should be the wake-up call for all of us to clean up our at-home eating act.
I did have one great invention as a mom: a treat that seemed pretty special to them without actually being very indulgent: Polka-dot bread. This is a slice of whole-wheat bread, buttered, with five or six chocolate chips stuck in, pointed side down. It's very cute, and better for you than a cookie. It worked until they were about 7.

Kroger milk dumps hormone

From The Enquirer business section:
Though the FDA has found no difference between milk with rBGH and without it, some research suggests otherwise. Make up your own mind, (I'm a soymilk drinker, so this doesn't affect me) but any time we can remove an additive from a food source, it's a good thing!

Thinking inside the lunchbox

We have a timely food centerpiece in Life today. It's all about school lunches. My mom fixed great lunches when I was a kid. She knew all the little tricks to keep hot stuff hot, cold stuff cold, and sandwiches from turning to mushwiches. Oh, and I had awesome lunchboxes. Well, that was until I was too "mature" to carry them and brown paper bags became the rule. But my love for lunchboxes (especially cool metal and retro ones) has returned.

What was the best and worst thing you ever took for lunch as a kid? Do you remember the most awesomest lunchbox you ever had?

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