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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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Some old tricks and treats...

It's my first Halloween as a homeowner and, being the goof that I am, I'm pretty excited. I have pumpkins on the porch (I fought the slight urge to get the bale of hay, too), a little sign that says "Trick-or-Treaters Welcome" stuck in the mulch and lots of candy rearing to go. In addition to buying the normal stuff (Butterfinger, Snickers, etc...) I also found myself doing something strange: I bought some mini granola bars. Now I'm not crazy enough to think that those things are actually healthful. They have corn syrup, chocolate chips, etc... but somehow, the oats make it all right, you know?

I remember trick-or-treating (although I don't ever remember it being this warm!) like it was yesterday. The sweaters and coats that hid the cool costumes. The old lady down around the block who gave out pennies. The guy next door who was an exec at Frito-Lay and, thus, gave out bags of chips. Oh, and the lady who gave out apples. My parents would take those out of my bag before we even got to the next house... In the trash they went, whether they had razor blades in them or not.

What's the craziest thing you ever got when you were a wee trick-or-treater? How about your favorite treat? I just hope I don't go down in history as the lady who gives out oats to the kids in my neighborhood...
Photo credit: photos.com

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You done good, LC...

So after a bad experience and subsequent breakup yesterday, Lean Cuisine and I are officially back together. I had the Butternut Squash Ravioli today. I should have taken a picture of it, but I didn't think about that until it was half gone. I was amazed by all the vegetables! I mean, I had tons of sugar snap peas, carrots, bell peppers, etc... And even better? I could identify each ingredient as each retained its texture, color and taste. Oh, and the squash-filled ravioli was also delicious, especially considering that it had been frozen. All in all, it was great. Filling, tasty and overall satisfying. I'll be adding this one to my approved list of LC meals... Right under the Thai-Style Chicken.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

(mis)Truth in advertising

It happens to the best of us. You see a picture that makes your mouth water. Before you can blink, you give in to the incessant advances of an untold number of marketing execs and purchase the item, eagerly awaiting the bliss promised in the glowing, shiny picture. And then...

Blech. The real deal is a gray, smooshed, soggy version of its advertised self. For once, you're thankful that the actual portion is 1/3 of what is shown.

I was a victim today. I brought a Lean Cuisine (
Sesame Chicken) in for lunch. I'm usually prepared for the way an actual product often fails to live up to the carefully crafted and staged photo. But the difference between the two was shocking... Go back to the link and take a good look at the picture. I'm a realist so I didn't really expect the chicken to be crisp, but I did hope that it would at least look a little bit like that. Not even close. Unlike the golden brown tenders you see on the box, mine were beige and soggy, not to mention 1/4 of the size. The green beans and peppers were decorative, but there wasn't even much decoration going on. I finally determined it wasn't worth the carbs, especially considering that it's the day before Halloween and I have a ceramic jack-o'-lantern full-o'-candy sitting in my foyer at home. I might as well eat a couple of baby Butterfinger bars. Oh well...

Hope your lunch was better...

Monday, October 29, 2007

We want your recipes

We're going to be sharing our readers' recipes for Thanksgiving this year. You know, those things that just have to be on the table or it's not Thanksgiving. The sausage dressing. The cranberry mold, the dirty rice, the sweet-potato pecan pie. Or, in the case of my Thanksgiving table, the creamed onions.

You, dear bloggers, surely have such recipes that you would like to share. Don't wait until our happy hour get-together--e-mail them to me now. Tell me the story, too, of why this dish is indispensible. pcampbell@enquirer.com

Friday, October 26, 2007

Happy Birthday to us!

I can't believe it, but Nov. 2 marks one year since this blog started. The blog has morphed along the way, but one thing never changes: The Foodie Report is a delicious stew of various opinions, personalities and, well, tastes.

To celebrate, the Foodie Report crew is hosting a happy hour at
Pacific Moon Friday, Nov. 2 from 5-9 p.m. Mention "The Foodie Report" that evening and you'll get 20% off all appetizers. There will also be complimentary items from their new dim sum menu!

Here are the happy hour specials:

All draft beers $1.50 off regular price (so domestic drafts are $2)
Guinness is $3
All bottled beer $1.50 off regular price
All of the signature drink martinis are only $5.00 (I'll be having the green teani!)

Food (of course)
The $1 munchie menu consists of:
Mini veggie springroll (2 per order)
BBQ Pork Mini Sandwich (kind of like a Chinese slider, they tell me)
Vegetable Yakitori
Steamed Pork Bun
Steamed Chicken Bun
Hong Kong Roll
Mongolian Flatbread

So, we hope to see you there next week! Just picture it... We can obsess about food in person!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A "great" blog, kinda food-related

I discovered The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks today via Pop Candy so I thought I'd share the link here, mostly because I think it's hilarious. Also, a lot of the examples are from restaurants, which I think are some of the biggest misusers of punctuation marks in general. Seen any good ones around here?

Breaking the fast during the holidays...

During the holidays, I try to simplify things whenever I can. Although a holiday dinner often requires a ton of fuss, a holiday breakfast doesn't have to. So...

We want to know your favorite recipes for easy, make-ahead breakfast "stratas" or casseroles – perfect for holiday entertaining. Include your name, phone number and neighborhood. Send your recipes to cmartin@enquirer.com.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A souper lunch

I just had lunch at Paula's Cafe. Man, I love that turkey chili. I can't figure out what spices they add that addicted me, but I love it. As I'm eating it, so engrossed in the bowl that I'm tempted to ignore my fellow lunchers, I keep thinking, "Is that cumin? What is that? Cinnamon?" It's so good! Well worth the $5.25. I doubt an average person will be hungry again until dinner...

Now that the temperature has dipped, I can't think of anything more satisfying that a soup or stew. Who makes your favorite soup to go? Oh, and would you like bread or crackers with that?

Colonial Cottage Inn

When I saw this item in my in-box, I thought, "So what? Everyplace is smoke-free now." Then I saw it's in Kentucky, where smoking is allowed in restaurants. (Not to get into a huge debate here, but I hate eating around the smell of smoke. Smoke overpowers the smell of the food! Bars are another issue, but I won't eat in a restaurant where there's smoking.)

Here's an excerpt from their press release:

"Matt Grimes, owner of the Colonial Cottage Inn, is celebrating his restaurant’s smoke-free anniversary by donating $1 to the American Cancer Society for every appetizer he sells in November. Grimes’ restaurant went smoke-free last November during the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout.
“My wife and I wanted to create a healthier environment for our patrons and going smoke-free was the logical step,” Grimes said. Grimes was very concerned that he would lose business, especially since his historic restaurant was originally built to serve tobacco farmers.
“The first couple of months we saw a slight drop in business, but quickly we returned to normal and now people really appreciate our smoke-free environment,” said Grimes. “Our patrons stood by our smoke-free policy and I am very grateful to them.”
The Colonial Cottage Inn opened in 1933 to feed the workers of the local tobacco warehouse in the Erlanger community. The restaurant is a historical landmark in the community and is noted for its home cooking and affordable prices."

3140 Dixie Hwy., Erlanger; 859-341-4498


So the America's Top Restaurants guide from Zagat came out today. It's the only one that includes Cincinnati. Not surprisingly, Jean-Robert at Pigall's is highly-rated in it; 29 out of 30 points, making it one of the 11 top-rated in the book.

Which does not really mean that it's considered one of the 11 best restaurants in the country. Zagat is rated by the general public; people who have eaten at the restaurant, (at least that's the idea). Presumably most of the people who rated Pigall's were Cincinnatians. It's not like all the restaurants are rated by people who've directly compared restaurants around the country.

So what the rating really means is that Cincinatians love Pigall's more than people in other cities love their best restaurants.

Conversely, the same problem is true of other awards, like the James Beard Award, which is voted on by food writers and professionals who state that they've eaten at the restaurants they're voting for. That's why chefs and restaurants in Chicago win those awards. More of the voters have eaten in Chicago, so there's no direct comparison.

The Mobil awards may be flawed, but at least they're made by a national organization that thinks nationally and comparatively.

Pigall's membership in Relais and Chateaux is probably a bigger deal--though of course that organization inclueds only certain kinds of restaurants.

Guilt-free snackin'

"Snacks." Even the word sounds tasty. Sounds like something you just gotta have, doesn't it? They're like little presents to your tummy to tell it, "Shh... It's OK. I haven't forgotten about you since breakfast. Don't worry. >insert "Lunch" or "Dinner" here< face="georgia">
Here are some of my favorite snacks that are under 150 calories:

Campbell's Soup At Hand (I love the Creamy Chicken, the Velvety Potato and the New England Clam Chowder.)
Curves snack bars (I'm not really interested in working out at the Curves gyms [I like Ideal Fitness], but the chocolate- peanut-y granola-y bars are delicious!)
Almost all of the little 100 calorie snacks (I like the Chocolate Goldfish from Pepperidge Farm)
Sugar-free Jello-o and RediWhip. (How can something so good have like, 10 calories, and next to no carbs?)
And, of course, fruit. Which reminds me: I need to get my honeycrisp fix...

Do you have any favorite snacks that have less than 150 calories?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Salt to taste

I love food. I love the holidays. Combine the two and I'm like a kid (born) on Christmas Eve.

One of the cooler food-related gifts I've seen is the Artisanal Salt Sampler from Red Envelope. It's a collection of 24 salts "from around the world, from Bali to Peru." It's $165, but the experience of all those different flavors could be worth it.

I love trying salt from all over the world. The difference in texture, salinity, color etc... all add to the cooking and dining experience. My favorite salt yet? HimalaSalt, a brand of salt from (you guessed it) the Himalayas. It has an incredibly pure taste and a pretty pink hue. I also like that particular brand because the company supports sustainable sourcing. You can order it (in bulk and share) here. Oh, and keep an eye out next time you're trying to get the max for the minimum at TJ Maxx. I saw some there a few weeks ago so I stocked up!

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Product flops

Lauren's post about the Golden Arches and the subsequent comment about the McRib has me thinking about all the "limited edition" stuff that has been pitched to us over the years. While there have been some *gulp* successes (like the McRib, apparently, since I drive by signs that read "McRib is back!" from time to time), there have been some flops. Flops are funny. So let's discuss...

McDonald's has had their fare (couldn't resist) share of failed product launches. Here are some that come to mind: Lite Mac, McSwiss, Arch Deluxe, etc... The list goes on. Anyone want to wash a McDLT down with a Crystal Pepsi? Anyone? Anyone? How about a New Coke?

What food flops are burned into your brain? Anything that should be brought back? I'm still wondering what crime a canister of Cheez Balls ever committed. Hear that, Planters? Bring 'em back!

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Monday, October 22, 2007

All Pumpkin

How many ways can you think of to use pumpkin? Pie, of course, maybe cheesecake, oh, a soup. Well, Laszlo Molnar, who owns the Iron Skillet restaurant, has thought of way more than that, and is serving all kinds of pumpkin dishes from October 23 through the end of November.
Molnar makes a mean schnitzel (the best in this German town) and Hungarian dishes like goulash, but he's an inventive chef, too, and sometimes gives himself the chance to let loose. I think this menu is well worth trying--if you like pumpkin at all It includes:
Golden fried pumpkin purses
pumpkin soup with ginger cream
grilled pork tenderloin with Szechuan peppercorn pumpkin fries
pumpkin seed crusted trout with pumpkin softcorn pudding and sage brown butter
pumpkin and butternut squash ravioli with hazelnut butter
pan-seared scallops with pumpkin risotto and pumpkin seed vinaigrette
pan-seared duck breast with pumpkin spaetzle and cranberry glaze

pumpkin creme bruleee, frozen pumpkin souffle, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin roulade, pumpkin cheesecake, and yes, pumpkin pie.

The Iron Skillet: 6900 Valley Avenue, Newtown. 513-561-6776

Back in the USA

I am back from a lovely couple of weeks in France. (Oh, that sentence sounds so nice.) I saw parts of the country I've never been to: Provence, Cotes du Rhone and Burgundy, plus just a couple of tantalizing days in Paris.

Like every other tourist who's ever been to France, I was entranced by the open-air food markets, with cheeses, sausages, spices and vegetables so aesthetically displayed. Odd, then, how few vegetables there were in many of the meals we ate--there was always something, but it tended more toward garnish than a full helping. I see there was some discussion of eating rabbit on the blog while I was gone; I did see skinned rabbits in several markets, their intact eyes and ears making it very clear it was bunny you'd be buying if you could actually get past the eyes and ears. One market stall in Aix-en-Provence was selling roasted and skinned beets. What a great idea--if I could buy those here, I'd probably eat beets daily. On Saturday, after getting home, I went to Findlay Market, appealing and aesthetic in its own way. One vendor was selling a similar value-added product: heads of garlic roasted and smoked over cherry wood chips. The outside papery skin was nut-brown, and the inside smoky and soft. I've already used the two heads I bought. (I forget which vendor, but he was on the right-hand-side as you walk toward the market house--mostly he was selling homemade soap).

Has anyone else who's been to France noticed this?--there are Irish pubs everywhere. I saw at least one Molly Malone's, so I guess it's not surprising that we've ended up with two of that name here.

Forgive me, fellow foodies, for I have sinned.

I confess: I've been going to McDonald's a lot lately. And by a lot, I mean once or twice a week, which is a dramatic increase from how I often I used to go – never – before I moved somewhere where there's one just down the street.

It all started when I heard that miniature My Scene Barbie Roller Girls were the new Happy Meal toys (I'm a Cincinnati Rollergirl and so I have a weakness for all things roller skating-related, even if they're small, plastic and appallingly scantily-clad).

Then I discovered that it's McDonald's Monopoly time, which means that certain menu items contain small peel-off versions of Monopoly squares which might win you some cash if you collect the full set of properties of one color.

So recently, I've been placing orders like this:

"Can I have an Egg McMuffin meal with no meat, hash browns and a medium coffee? And also one of the Barbie Happy Meal toys? It’s for my niece." (FYI, I don’t have a niece.)

I’ve discovered a couple of things on these trips. First, meatless Egg McMuffins (they normally come with Canadian bacon – and here I thought it was just ham!) and hash browns are pretty darn good, in a greasy, morning-after-a-friend's-birthday-slash-Halloween-party kind of way. And I'd take McDonald’s coffee over, say, Starbucks any day – it's tastier and cheaper.

Second, I am never, ever going to win anything playing McDonald's Monopoly. I got all excited when I got a Park Place token a couple of weeks ago because I would win $1 million if I also got a Boardwalk token. Then I got another Park Place token last week. My kitchen counter is now strewn with duplicate tokens of varying colors, which I'm afraid to throw away until the contest is over just in case one goes missing.

So tonight, I'm going to make a nice stir-fry with vegetables, tofu and brown rice to make up for my terrible diet of late. And I'm going to start driving a different way to work.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Update on Anne Kearney

FYI, Chuck Martin has some info on the happenings with Kearney's new restaurant:

Chef Anne Kearney plans to open her new restaurant, Rue Dumaine, in Centerville – south of Dayton – by mid to late November. The restaurant will offer Kearney’s interpretation of southern French cuisine in a casual setting at lunch on Fridays and at dinner Tuesday-Saturday.

A native of Dayton, Kearney earned acclaim in the late 1990s as one of the best young chefs in America at her New Orleans restaurant, Peristyle. Before then, she worked for several New Orleans chefs, including Emeril Lagasse. She honed her cooking skills in Cincinnati, graduating from the former Greater Cincinnati Culinary Academy and cooking at Grammer’s Restaurant in Over-the-Rhine.

Kearney returned to Ohio in 2004 to be close to her parents, who live in Warren County. For the last three years, Kearney and her husband, Tom Sand, have been raising and selling organic produce. While planning the new restaurant, Kearney also taught cooking classes at Cincinnati State and other area schools.
Chuck Martin

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Recipe Hoarders Anonymous

You know who you are. You clip them out and stow them away. You have a ton of 'em scrawled on scratch paper in your junk drawer. You've dog-eared the heck out of your cookbooks. And, if you're full-blown, you've stolen magazines from the doctor's office. Or, worse yet, you've torn recipes out of the magazines at the doctor's office, leaving a trail of frustrated readers in your wake. You're a recipe hoarder.

But I'm not here to judge you. I want to help you...

Just know the recipe database is there for you, whenever you need a fix. And you won't have to destroy a perfectly good magazine to get it.

Oh, and if you want to give back to the R.H.A. community, just e-mail your favorite recipes to recipes@cincinnati.com and include your name and neighborhood. Unless, of course, you want to remain anonymous...

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Kentucky Proud

Want to do something fun Saturday? Head on over to the Kentucky Proud Expo at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. Four reality television stars will find out whose cuisine reigns supreme in The Reality Iron Chef Showdown.

"Survivor" contestants Rodger Bingham and Lillian Morris will battle "The Amazing Race's" David and Mary Conley, also known as TV Guide's "Reality Couple of the Year." Gil Logan, executive chef at Churchill Downs in Louisville, will host the event. The teams will have one hour to create three dishes with Kentucky Proud products, including two mystery ingredients. The showdown begins at noon. (And guess who is going to be a member of the tasting panel? Yours truly... Allez cuisine!)

The expo will enable visitors to taste and purchase more than 100 Kentucky Proud products such as cheese, salsa, popcorn, beverages, meats, sweets, and many others. Kentucky Proud is the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's farm marketing program.

Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $2 for children, with children 6 and under admitted free. (Visitors who present a Remke Markets store card will get $1 off admission. Proceeds will go to the Kentucky Grocers Education Foundation Scholarship Fund and the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Scholarship Fund.)

So come hang out and support some of our region's farmers...

Jungle Jim's video, just in time for Halloween!


Dim Sum returns to Pacific Moon

Pacific Moon is serving dim sum again! The traditional Chinese brunch is served -- by carts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. (And: Present Levee parking ticket and receive a complimentary medium dim sum. One per table)
They accept reservations for parties of six or more.
Here's what Pacific Moon says about dim sum:
Dim sum is the name for a Chinese brunch which involves a wide range of small
dishes served alongside Chinese tea. Dim sum dishes are wheeled around on a cart
by servers. It can include dishes based on meat, seafood, vegetables, as well as
desserts and fruit. The various items are usually served in a small steamer
basket or on a small plate.
The serving sizes are usually small and normally
served as three or four pieces in one dish. It is customary to order family
style, sharing dishes among all members of the dining party. Because of the
small portions, people can try a wide variety of food.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mesh has great eats for fall

If you're anything like me, your palate changes with the seasons. Sounds like the folks at Mesh get this.

Here is their new three-course tasting menu for fall. $35 per person (plus tax/gratuity; add a wine pairing for $20), Monday-Thursday, 5-6 p.m. One caveat of sorts: All orders must be in the kitchen by 6:15 p.m. Reservations required.

First Course Selections
basil bisque
tomato fondue + shaved parmesan + pine nut pesto

curry carrot soup
truffled apples

smoked turkey flat bread*
caramelized onions + camembert cheese + bleu cheese cream + mission fig jam

meshed potato "poppers"
sturkey's spice™ + white truffle oil

paul sturkey's house salad
sun-dried cherries + toasted almonds + feta cheese + sturkey's creamy balsamic vinaigrette™

caesar salad
herb focaccia croutons + creamy garlic caesar dressing

Second Course Selections
redskin potato ravioli

chorizo sausage + baby spinach + tomatoes + truffle emulsion

pan roasted chicken breast
pancetta + chive potato gnocchi + asparagus + mushrooms + savory sweet soy essence

atlantic salmon
lobster mashed potatoes + french green beans + sherry soy sauce

beef tenderloin medallion
truffled mashed potatoes + french green beans + roasted shallot demi-glace

Third Course Selections
carrot apple cake

carrot cake + spiced apple-pecan cake + cream cheese icing

all scream for ice cream
flavor of the day by chef pam

Oh, and carry-out is available (*except for the smoked turkey flatbread). Am I the only one who wants to go right now?

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ron Wise moving; Rondo's for sale

Ron and Mona Wise and family are moving to Switzerland to be closer to her family. (She's Irish, but her brother, sister-in-law and nieces/nephews live in/near Zurich.) Good news for them -- and the Swiss -- but bad news for the West Side.
Ron said today that it's a strictly personal decision, and that he's in talks with a potential buyer. If that doesn't work, the restaurant will be sold at auction Nov. 1. In the meantime, Rondo's is open and will continue to emphasize local and seasonal ingredients. Ron Wise's last night is Oct. 31.
Find more details here...
The owners of Rondo’s, on the Westwood-Cheviot border, are selling the restaurant and moving to Switzerland to be close to family.
Ron Wise said that if the restaurant isn’t sold by Nov. 1 – they’re currently in negotiations with a potential buyer – it will be auctioned. Worley Auctioneers and Appraisers, Inc. hasn’t listed the asking price.
“It has nothing to do with business,” Wise said of the move.
His last day at Rondo’s will be Oct. 31, but whether that’s the restaurant’s last day remains to be seen. He said the entire business – name, recipes and all – can be part of the sale. The auction is a way to ensure “we don’t have to take care of business from Switzerland.”
Wise notified his staff last Friday and has started telling customers about his decision. Until the last day, Wise plans to continue his seasonal menu of American dishes with a West Side sensibility.
He and wife, Mona, and their two children, are moving to be near Mona’s brother and his family. Ron Wise said he’s awaiting a European Union passport – Mona Wise is Irish – so he can find a job.
Rondo’s, which opened in September 2003 at 3230-3234 Harrison Ave., wasn’t able to get a liquor license until early this year, after the Census Bureau increased Cincinnati’s estimated population. The Wises live above the restaurant, the main buildings of which date to 1864.
For more information on the auction, go to http://worleyauctions.com/auction2007/november1/november107.htm

And here's more good news: In 1998, Ron Wise shared his famous bread pudding recipe with us. Here it is:
Iron Horse Bread Pudding
1/4 pound dry bread, sliced, crusts removed
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For serving: whipped cream, caramel sauce, marsala-or wine-soaked raisins (optional)
Tear bread into pieces and place in a buttered 8-by-13-inch baking dish or casserole. Place baking dish in a slightly larger dish or pan and pour water into pan until it comes up halfway to edge of baking dish. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cream, milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla in double boiler and heat gently over water while stirring. When custard begins to thicken and is warm to touch (about 99 degrees), pour through a strainer over torn bread in baking dish. Press bread down into custard with a spoon and cover baking dish with foil. (If necessary, place another oven-proof pan on top of foil to keep bread weighted down in custard during cooking.)
Place baking dish (with water bath) in oven and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until pudding is firm but still custard-textured. Remove foil during last 10 to 15 minutes of baking to brown top lightly.
Allow pudding to stand at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm with caramel sauce, whipped cream and sprinkle of marsala-soaked raisins, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A book for mini-cooks

I believe that like compassion and humility, an interest in good food and cooking should be cultivated in children. The Small Fries cookbook is a great place to start. It's a cookbook for kids featuring more than 100 pages of recipes, tips and activities. All of the recipes were submitted by kids. And it's no small potatoes that Teri Campbell shot all of the art for the book. The photos are absolutely gorgeous...

Proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. So you can give this to a child you know and also help some children you don't know.

Purchase the cookbook online or at Joseph-Beth Booksellers ($9.95).

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Time for tea

Love tea and Japanese culture? This is the event for you (Get there before I eat all of the edamame...):

Come to a Tea Tasting at Essencha!
Sunday, Oct. 21st, 3:30-5:30

Ever wonder what it would be like to visit Japan? Here’s your chance – and you don’t even need a plane ticket!

Learn about the calming, rejuvenating, and anti-aging benefits of tea, as well as the different varieties of Japanese tea and its historical significance

Enjoy delicious Japanese snacks such as edamame, noodle dishes, onigiri, and sweets

Discover the difference between sencha and matcha while listening to the beautiful classical Japanese sounds of live koto music

This event takes place in the serene setting of Essencha Teahouse in Oakley, 3212 Madison Rd, 45209. $20 includes tea, food and live entertainment. Seating limited – please RSVP to
tea@essencha.com or call 513.533.4832.

Proceeds benefit the World Music Festival on Oct. 27th at The Southgate House,
www.worldmusicfest.org. Organized in benefit of the Global Center of Greater Cincinnati.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

The hungriest table ever

So said the server/chef last night when we left Myra's Dionysus in Clifton, after dear friend Kristin's departure dinner. Fred and I arrived early and (guiltily) held a table for 30 minutes while we waited. In our defense, no one else needed the table until after two more people in our party of seven had arrived.
Mary was right. You can get three courses for less than $20. I spent $14.65 on Thai pumpkin soup, the wheat loaf special (pecans, bulgar and cheese, like a meat loaf, with mushroom sauce, veggies and cheesy mashed potatoes, for $6.75), a cookie and a glass of Chablis! Wow!
We ordered, more people would come, food would arrive in shifts, we tasted one another's food, we ordered again... and so on. We ate SO much!
Oh, do we love Myra's now. It's small -- maybe 20 seats. But the food was fabulous -- especially those soups. (Check Mary's blog for a recipe that's a version of the Thai pumpkin soup.)
I left full and happy, and I think Kristin left Cincinnati feeling that way, too.
My boyfriend and I will be back -- and soon.
Tonight's our six-month anniversary, and I'm starving. We're cooking, and all I want to do right now is eat good bread and cheese. I'm thinking mussels might be good, but I won't make it Findlay Market this late. Sigh. Let's hope Wild Oats has some.

You should meet me...

and Tabari (of CinWeekly fame) at Graeter's downtown on Monday. I'll make you a deal: If you ever spot me in there and call me by name, I'll buy you a scoop... Scouts honor. (And I was holding three fingers up as I typed that. Wait, was it two or three?)

One of Cincinnati's favorite ice cream spots returns downtown.
Graeter's will open its doors at its new Fountain Square location with a grand opening celebration Monday, Oct. 15. The new Graeter's, 511 Walnut St. at the Fifth Third Center on Fountain Square, is scheduled to be open 6:30 a.m.
to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday; hours are subject to change depending on weather and Fountain Square events.
"We are thrilled to make a return to downtown," says co-owner/vice-president of marketing Richard Graeter. "The large outdoor dining area on the Square, the view of the Tyler Davidson Fountain and the pedestrian traffic around the Square all add up to create memorable experiences for our customers." For more information, call 513-381-4191 or visit
Tabari McCoy

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Adventures in eating

Do you consider yourself an adventurous eater? I think I am, relatively speaking. I love trying foods from other cultures and countries. I've tried snake, gator, eel, squid, boar, blood sausage, conch, etc... among others. But there are lots things I want to try, but probably can't because of my fear of retching - or even touching them, for that matter. I know a great deal of the fear is really just a cultural difference. People have been eating this stuff since the beginning of time.

Here are some of the things on my list of "I'm curious, but I don't think my mind would let me..."

Fugu (Can someone get poison control on line 1?)
Tsao-Doufu, or
stinky tofu (Maybe this is one case where the food doesn't taste like it smells...)
Haggis (Oy... I wince at the smell of chitterlings, so I don't know how that would work out.)
Rocky Mountain Oysters (Enough said.)
Insects, at various stages of development - egg, larvae, adult (Did I mention that I am afraid of bugs? Gulp.)

Anthony Bourdain will let me ride along with him the next time he's throwing back some odd little delicacies. Love that show... What odd eats have you tried?

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Pies go to pot

Homemade pot pies taste better. Plus you don't have to worry so much about stuff like this.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Camp Washington ravioli

I got an email from a reader today who thought the ravioli fiesta at Sacred Heart Church was this Sunday... but phew! Not till next week. Time to get it on your calendar.

In case you're a new Foodie reader, Sacred Heart Church in Cincinnati's Camp Washington neighborhood holds a twice-annual pasta and ravioli fundraiser - one Sunday in October, and on Palm Sunday. This year it runs noon to 5 p.m. (but go early in case the food runs out). You can buy takeout frozen ravioli or bring pots for whatever good stuff they're cooking up, or stand in line to eat inside the cafeteria.

Chuck Martin paints a better picture of it in this 2004 story. Nah, nothing much has changed, though the price has gone up a bit. (They're snail mailing me the details.)

If you like food, and like checking out local communities, this one is not to miss.

What: Ravioli dinner (well, lunch)
When: Noon-5 p.m.
Where: Sacred Heart Church, 1050 Heywood St., Camp Washington (Cincinnati, Ohio!)
Information: 513-541-4654

And now I'm hungry...

Louisville Restaurant Week

Fleur Delicious, Louisville's Restaurant Weekend, kicks off Monday, Oct. 15 and continues thru Saturday, Oct. 20. The current website lists participating restaurants Vincenzo's, Yaching's, Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge, and Proof on Main (supposed to be a swanky, tasty spot inside the 21C Museum Hotel). Not a bad selection, if you're in the mood for a road trip in the coming week.

Forgettable meals...

Can we talk?

The last two months of my life have been a blur. It's as if the floodgates opened and out came personal issues, work matters and a slew of things ranging from the life-altering (the loss of a loved one) to the ridiculous (why didn't my DVR record the show I told it to?).

Thus, I put cooking, well, on the back burner. I can't remember when I last had the time and energy to really put some thought and love into a meal.

Don't you hate when you eat a meal and immediately afterward you're thinking, "OK, so that was a waste of time and calories." What's a meal (whether you cooked it or someone else prepared it for you) that left you painfully underwhelmed?

dinner plans?

So Seny opens tonight. Has anyone made reservations? Looks like I won't make it there for at least a week -- grandparents are in town, plus I've got some previous commitments. I'm interested to find out what people think.
Where else are you eating these days? Tell me, tell me... Where'd you go? What'd you eat? Who'd you see?

Cafe de Paris: downtown only

Au revoir, Cafe de Paris in Hyde Park.
Owner Khaled Atallah confirmed that his restaurant on Hyde Park Square closed in late September after about six months in business. It served North African specialties. He said rent was just too high.
The downtown location, he said, is doing just fine. He said he'd love to open another restaurant some time, but in a different area of town.
In the meantime, if you're downtown and looking for a quaint lunch spot, Cafe de Paris is still there, serving sandwiches, salads and breakfast.
Cafe de Paris
17 Garfield Place, downtown.

Iron Horse Inn: OPEN!

The Iron Horse Inn, that Glendale landmark, is open. We called and talked to Melissa, the manager, and she dispelled all the rumors: No new owners, no closing in sight!
I've not been there yet, but here's what Polly wrote about it last summer:
"The Iron Horse Inn saw a lot of history before it became a nice restaurant - as a saloon, hotel and penny candy store. It has created its own history, too, as all restaurants do. There have been several owners and chefs, different approaches to the menu and a varying price point.
The Iron Horse has settled into its role as a very useful restaurant. Downstairs in the 150-year-old building on Glendale's square, there's a formal dining room with a menu suitable for a special occasion. Upstairs, the space is more casual, with live weekend jazz, a patio, a lunch menu and several private rooms."

And if you don't believe me, check it out: 40 Village Square, Glendale. 513-771-4787

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

High-tech shopping carts

A cart that tells you not to eat junk food?!
I'd just be happy for a cart that's not full of the previous user's coffee cups, fliers, used tissues, etc...
I heard once that if you shop only around the perimeter of a grocery store, you'll be more likely to buy healthier food. Makes sense, though I'm pretty sure the bakery is located along the perimeter.

Gobs of Greek food

Guess what?! More Mythos!
Here's a brief version of the story in tomorrow's paper:
Mythos is opening a third location in downtown Cincinnati at the former Atlanta Bread Co.
Owner George Psihountakis said his latest eatery, expected to open by the end of November, is something Cincinnati needs more of – a “middle class restaurant, not four stars and five stars.”
At the same time he was making plans for his new restaurant, Psihountakis recently closed the Mythos at 136 E. Saratoga St. in Newport. Saturday Oct. 6 was its last day of operation, Psihountakis said.
The owner was so nice and talkative today, and he kept saying how sad he was to leave the customers there. He sold his lease to the Holiday House Liquor Store next door. .
The new site, at 100 E. Fourth St., has a capacity for 377, with a party room that can accommodate up to 300, Psihountakis said.
He wants to open by Nov. 15.
Mythos’ other downtown locations are less than a five-minute walk from the new restaurant and focus on gyros and Greek salad. But Psihountakis said the new restaurant will set the record straight about his native cuisine.
“It’s going to be a different menu,” he said, adding that he has “surprises” planned.
The first Mythos opened at 650 Walnut St. in 2004. The location at 410 Vine St. opened this summer. That site offered free gyros and drinks there one afternoon, and the line was out the door and down the street!
Psihountakis wants to repeat that promotion at the Fourth Street.
Also on the horizon for Psihountakis is a fourth site, in the Chiquita Building at 250 E. Fifth St. That restaurant, which is expected to open in spring of 2008, will seat 65 to 70 people.
“I’m going to expand and expand,” Psihountakis said.

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Hey, Polly...

Polly, if you're reading this while you're on vacation in France, STOP! Just kidding. According to her Blogger profile, Polly aspires to make the perfect apple pie. Here's a chance for her -- and you -- to prove whose apple pie takes the cake, so to speak!
From the weekly Findlay Market newsletter:
Apple Pie Bake-Off
You know you make the best apple pie in town. So, how about joining the fun on Saturday, October 20th and enter your apple pie in the Harvest Fest Apple Pie Bake-Off! Judging takes place at 2:00pm on the Elm Street Esplanade. There is a $5.00 entry fee and proceeds will be used as a Split the Pot in addition to Findlay Market Gift Certificates awarded for First and Second Place winner. Click here to download an entry form. Deadline is noon on October 19, 2007.
Start practicing now. The market has plenty of apples (local ones, and cider, too!) to use in your pies.

What would you serve?

I'm having some girlfriends over Saturday. Now that the weather is behaving, I think I can move forward with my plan to prepare some type of soup or stew. It's easier on me (Break out the programmable slowcooker!), it makes the house smell fabulous and who doesn't love comfort food when the weather turns cool?

I'm thinking of going with heavy appetizers with some light ones thrown in for freshness and then something sweet to round things out. I'm making a take on chicken potpie, serving the stew (chicken, mirepoix, tarragon, potatoes, etc...) in ramekins and topping each with leaf-shaped puff pastry (thanks Pepperidge Farm!) just before serving. For dessert? An apple-pear crisp (with good vanilla ice cream for those who dig à la mode).

Any other ideas for an apps menu? Maybe some kind of a kebab...? I thought about white chicken chili instead of the "pot pie." (By the way, if you are in the market for some really, really inexpensive ramekins, check out the Target near you. I went a couple of days ago and they had some small ones for 2 for $1. Insane!)

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What IS a foodie anyway?

My guess is we all think we know what makes a foodie a foodie. I think a foodie is someone who has a great interest in all things food. I think a true foodie can go into a fridge or a pantry that would be considered barren by the average person's standards and create a great meal. I think a foodie has instincts about the pairing of flavors and textures. A foodie doesn't put food in boxes like "breakfast" or "appetizer." She knows that food just needs to be good, not punctual. A foodie doesn't turn her nose up at things simply because she's never seen, heard of, or tried them before. A foodie is adventurous, thoughtful, and knows that life is too short not to enjoy fabulous food.

What, in your opinion, are the characteristics of a foodie?

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Who has the best slice?

While the chains serve a purpose, there's nothing like a mom-and-popesque pizza shop. I love the ones that have the spicy sauce that you just know is identical to the way someone's Nonna made it more than 100 years ago.

We are writing a round-up of some of the best pizza shops in Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky. Here are the rules, so to speak: It can't be a chain and they have to deliver.

I'm stopping by Fratelli's on my way home tonight to try their pizza (I know they don't deliver, but I've been meaning to try it for ages.) I've heard Aponte's is another one to try up North, and they do deliver. Who has the pizza (non-chain and delivery) you crave?

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Boo! Halloween time...

It used to be that Halloween occupied the whole month of October. This year, I think it crept up even earlier into September. Next year, who knows, it'll be in your face by August. And in case you were wondering, you can already buy Christmas decorations in the stores. Sigh.

But lots to do this Halloween season:

Find pumpkin patches, haunted houses and hayrides here.

Or check out Cincinnati.Com's site for all things Halloween related, including decorating tips.

And one more to add to the list: Findlay Market hosts its annual Harvest Fest Oct. 20-21.

· Apple Pie Contest: 2:00pm
· Our Ohio Workshop – Farming and Agriculture For Kids
· Our Ohio Cooking Demonstration

· Scarecrow Parade: noon Dress as a scarecrow and compete for prizes!
· Our Ohio Workshop – Buying Local
· Our Ohio Cooking Demonstration – Squash
· Guess the Weight of THE GREAT PUMPKIN and win Findlay Market Gift Certificates!

Sign up online to enter the apple pie contest, or to be in the scarecrow parade. More details: 513-665-4839.
PHOTO CREDIT: Provided by the Circleville Pumpkin show (which is Oct. 17-20, and now in its 101st year!)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

last meal in Cincy

My dear friend Kristin is leaving Cincinnati on Thursday for warm, sunny Jacksonvile, Fla. She found a fabulous new job, and she'll be close to family. It's a great move for her, but I'm sad to see her go.
Kristin has a strange schedule, with midweek weekends, so she, another co-worker and I had started going to dinner at a new restaurant every other Tuesday or Wednesday. We tried quite a few places: Pho Paris, Udipi, Green Papaya, Wild Ginger, Riverside Korean, Dancing Wasabi. Aqua, Teak (new to her), DaVeed's for Restaurant Week, and others I'm sure I've forgotten. (Wow, that's quite a list. Kristin's only been in Cincinnati for about a year!)
She's working every day this week, so we've only got Thursday. I'm organizing a going-away party with about 10 or so friends, with dinner and drinks.
Her departure has me thinking: If I had just 24 hours left in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, where would I go and what would I eat? It's a tough decision.
I think we're going to do happy hour someplace downtown, just to see Fountain Square one last time.
Dinner is her choice, and we've got budget constraints to take into consideration for some people. She's leaning toward JeanRo or Chez Nora, two places she's never tried. Beluga was another option. For drinks, we want to check out Keystone for the view of downtown and maybe Havana Martini or Below Zero.
Any suggestions? I'm sure we've missed some good spots. We wanted to go to Bella Luna, Maribelle's, Cumin, Red... oh the list is endless!
24 hours in Cincinnati? Too many great places, too little time.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fright Feast

Kings Island has a scary good time planned for Halloween. I'm not big into Halloween, but I think this would be fun for kids (older ones)!
Here's info from the release from Kings Island:

The Rakes-Helbig Funeral Parlor at the all-new Halloween Haunt at Kings Island welcomes you. Come “pay your respects” at this one-of-a-kind buffet meal in the park’s International Restaurant.

The Fright Feast dinner experience begins at 5pm every Friday and Saturday night during Halloween Haunt. Dine on an all-you-can-eat menu of Fried Witch Hen (Southern Fried Chicken), Ham BOO-gers (Hamburgers), Bloody Dogs (Hotdogs), Baked Beetles (Baked Beans), Pota TOE Salad (Potato Salad), Brow Knees (Brownies) and assorted potions (Soft Drinks). The Embalming Room (Cash Bar) offers potions that are on the slightly stronger side.

The Fright Feast meal is $14.95 per person! Good for the following Friday or Saturday nights: October 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27. Valid for entrance into the Fright Feast meal only. A valid 2007 season pass or pre-purchased admission ticket required for entry into the park.

Fright Feast meal tickets can be purchased online at www.PKI.com.

Pies are hot

So are pies the new cupcakes? This year's movie "Waitress" starred Keri Russell as an unhappily married woman who turned her problems into phenomenal pies, and the new TV show that no one can stop talking about, "Pushing Daisies," centers on a pie shop owner who brings people back to life in his spare time. How long will it be before overpriced specialty pie shops start popping up in New York and LA and mini-pies are served at wedding receptions? (Or is this already happening?) And who makes the best pies in Cincinnati?

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New Asian-fusion restaurant: Apsara in Blue Ash

Check out Polly Campbell's review here, and the video shot and edited by yours truly. I didn't get a chance to sample any of the food, unfortunately, but the Playboy roll smelled pretty amazing.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Upscale casual versus national chains

The topic of upscale casual places versus national chains has come up more than once this week.
What I've heard:
How are local restaurants supposed to compete with $12.99, 3-course meals?
What do we do to let people know we're not more expensive than a chain?
How do we get people to choose us over them?
So what do you think? Are you anti-chain? Based on what I read on the blog, I think a lot of us lean that way.
I don't really eat in chain restaurants here, but I do when I'm in other cities visiting family. Surprisingly, I don't come from a foodie family. With the exception of my sister, no one in my family likes spice, sushi or anything out of the ordinary. Plus, when there's a group, I think people assume it's easier to accommodate everyone at a chain restaurant.
What do you think? Why choose a chain over a local restaurant?

Brunch suggestion

I love, love, love brunch. Sunday, Saturday, any day, really. And the brunch I had at Melt in Northside a couple of months ago, a nicely spiced tofu scramble served in half of a huge roasted red pepper, was superb. And I also love fall. So I'm really excited about Melt's October brunch menu. The offerings include a caramel apple waffle (a buckwheat waffle drizzled with caramel, baked cinnamon apples, spiced coconut whipped cream and mixed nuts for $5.95), Farm House Frittata (sweet potato layered over tofu scramble, baked in a potato crust and garnished with goat cheese for $7.95) and the Monkey Melt (nutella or peanut butter with banana slices and sliced almonds baked on focaccia for $4.95). How can I possibly decide? I think I'll just have to brunch there every Sunday this month.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I had lost track of Anita Hirsch, who was the chef at The Palace and a few other Cincinnati restaurants in the late 90’s when her name was Anita Hirsch Cunningham). So I was surprised to come across a very nice photo of her in a new cookbook, “Neiman Marcus Taste.” (Potter, $45). She is now the corporate chef of the Neiman Marcus restaurants, and works for Executive Chef Kevin Garvin, who was also a chef in Cincinnati, at Orchids and The Palace. He wrote this book, which gathers recipes from Neiman Marcus restaurants. Many were devised by Helen Corbitt, who was the innovative Director of Restaurants in the 50’s and 60’s. The recipes range from perfect ladies’ lunch food like chicken tetrazzini and seafood crepes to Texan specialties like wok-seared marinated quail and baked cheddar grits. He mentions other dishes he developed when he was here in Cincinnati, and includes Anita's Bubbie Hirsch's challah (looks really good) and her blueberry-sour cream muffins. Oh, I wish we had a classy department-store restaurant here!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Free Food

You like free stuff? Dale and Thomas is giving away bags of their fancy popcorn during the month of October. This is candy-like popcorn, in flavors such as peanut butter and white chocolate or chocolate chunk n' caramel. It usually costs about $4/bag--you can get it for just the postage and handling, which is $5.90 for two bags. So not exactly free. But closer to free. https://www.daleandthomaspopcorn.com/freepopcorn/default.aspx

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