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.

Powered by Blogger

Friday, November 30, 2007

food discoveries

In the U.S., most of us are pretty far removed from our food. Meat comes in neat, plastic-wrapped styrofoam packages, bread is presliced in a bag, milk comes in a big paper carton.
It's only in the past few years that I've started thinking about where my food comes from. (Don't worry, I'm not climbing on a soapbox here. No organic/ethical/sustainable discussion ahead.)
The other night I was at a potluck dinner for a YP group. One of the guys asked me how to make soup.
"What kind of soup?" I asked back.
"Any soup," he said.
I summed up making chicken soup, thinking he was just asking to see whether I knew how.
It turned out that he didn't realize there was such a thing as stock or broth. He thought you just somehow turned vegetables into soup. He couldn't comprehend how the vegetables could produce so much liquid. So we started discussing broth and how to make it. Soon, a bunch of us were talking about foods whose origins we never understood.
Some really interesting questions were posed about the origins of flour, sugar, boullion cubes, etc. I recently read "Twinkie, Deconstructed," so I understand the basics.
My confession was, by far, the funniest (saddest?) bit of food ignorance.
In high school, we learned about fast- and slow-twitch muscles and our teacher pointed out that that's why we have dark and light meat. My jaw dropped.
"So, you mean, muscle is meat?" I asked, immediately regretting having opened my mouth.
He laughed -- and so did many members of the class. (I grew up a "townie" in a farm town.) I thought there was a special part of the animal called "flesh" that produced meat. I thought it was a special organ. I had never once in my 15 1/2 years thought about where my food came from. (Coincidentally, it was shortly after that when I first decided to try vegetarianism for unrelated reasons.)
Is there some food whose origins you ponder? I've told you mine. What about yours? Go ahead, mock me. It's OK. I've since learned. :)

a little late to the party

Apparently, the rest of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky discovered the world's best waffles this summer. Polly told me about Jean-Francois Flechet's fabulous Belgian waffles this summer, then she wrote about him in the Life section. But I never managed to nab a Taste from Belgium during my weekend farmers market trips. I've been missing out.
Fred and I grabbed lattes from Pike Street Press last Sunday before doing some Christmas shopping in the Gateway Quarter. (Park+Vine, Mica 12/v and City Roots had their first Sunday hours; Metronation is open Sundays starting this weekend.)
We hadn't eaten breakfast, so each had a waffle, which Fred thought would surely not be enough food to sustain him through a day of shopping.
I'm hooked. That waffle was the single-best sweet I've eaten in a long time. I'm usually not a fan of really sweet treats, but WOW!
Again, I know I'm a few months late. By now, the waffles are served in coffee shops, restaurants and markets across the region. Better late than never, I suppose.
What else have I been missing out on? What are you eating that I'm not?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the "Zagat" guide

I'm with Lauren. Superfluous quotation marks make me giggle. What's with "chocolate" cake. Is it allegedly chocolate? Imitation chocolate? Or -- worse yet -- carob?!
I got the Zagat Guide 2008 in the mail yesterday. Apparently, for whatever reason, I decided I needed one. Oh, well.
The "online version" isn't "bad," but the "print" version -- the "hard copy" -- was annoying to read. I understand that the quotes are from "reviewers." In my mind, I'm narrating the guide with "finger quotes" and the word allegedly (but said in a really funny voice) every time I read a fragmented quote. Who knows what these people really said, p.s.! The guide is at home. I'll include an entry tomorrow. Read it with "finger quotes" and be annoyed like I am!
Some of the quotes remind me of that "Friends" episode (quotation marks actually necessary there!) where Joey tries to figure out how to use finger quotes.
I should submit the entire guide to that blog that Lauren found.
Any other opinions on Zagat's "reviews"?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ollie's turkeys

Yum. Apparently I've had my head in a hole (ostrich style) these past few years, as I never knew that Ollie's fries up turkeys for Thanksgiving every year. I've never eaten a fried turkey, but next year might be the time to start. Don't these look amazing? Have you ever tried them? Wow.

Korean wine dinner coming up

This arrived in my inbox this morning. Pretty interesting - a Korean dinner at Sung with wine pairings. I've never been one to pair wine with Asian food (I prefer beer, and I'm not much of a beer drinker), but I might have to try it more often.

AAGF&W Dinner

TUESDAY, January 15th - 7:00 p.m. - Association for Affordable Great Food & Wine known as the A.A.G.F.& W. intended to invite you to our first dinner at Sung Korean Bistro, 700 Elm Street, downtown. Sung has made quite a name with the vegan crowd since he opened last month, but we’re going to keep the meat and pair everything with a bunch of bubbly to celebrate a new year. Join us for the evening.

Gimbab & Goonmandu Sampler - Gimbab, a rice roll with pickeled radish, crab meat, beef, egg and cucumber along with Goonmandu, pan-fried dumplings stuffed with tofu, scallions, onion and cabbage - Firelands Brut, Lake Erie

Jab Chae - Chicken with stir-fried sweet potato noodles, squash, carrot, cabbage, onion, green onion and bell pepper - Simonet Cremant de Bourgogne

Bulgogi - Grilled marinated thinly sliced beefwith a light sweet and spicy flavor served with rice - Piper Sonoma Blanc de Noir

Cheese Assortment - Segura Viudas Brut Rosé, Cava

$40 per person. Reservations at 513-984-9463 by Noon, Monday, January 14th.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How was your Turkey Day?

Now that we've all come out of our food comas and survived Black Friday, tell me how your Thanksgiving went. I made stuffing, and as I'm used to Thanksgiving for about 30 people, I made entirely too much. I am a traditionalist, just the usual sage stuffing with mushrooms added. I think next time I'll venture beyond the norm.
My boyfriend's mom made the most incredible bread pudding with a pecan-brandy sauce. It's rare that I take seconds of dessert -- I'd rather have a second helping of the "real" food -- but I ate two full portions and took three more servings home. (Only one is left!)
My mushroom dish was a hit with even the most die-hard turkey lovers. I made too much, but it was a nice substitute for turkey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dim sum is served - and other restaurants open Thanksgiving

Pacific Moon on the Levee started serving dim sum again last month (thank GOODNESS), usually only on Saturday and Sunday. But this week, check it out for a Thanksgiving lunch. The dim sum carts will be a'rollin' 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week at Pacific Moon. We did sample a few dishes at the Foodie Report's one year anniversary earlier this month. A big thumbs up on the steamed shrimp dumplings, curry puffs and char siu steamed pork buns. I'm personally not a big fan of pork dumplings (siu mai) or shark fin dumplings (shark fin is a controversy in and of itself), but you'll have to try them and then decide for your self.

Turkey time!

Hopefully you're already at home dreaming of turkey. I'm at the office today, but my parents are prepping their house for dinner tomorrow for about 40 of our closest relatives, just on my mom's side. Yes, we're one of those big Cincinnati families who've been here forever.

In a panic? We have lots of tips online. Cincinnati.Com's Holidays page tells you everything from USDA food safety to Thanksgiving menus to how to make Thanksgiving food for baby.

Here are tips on carving the perfect bird.

And to wash it all down, a bit of bubbly, perhaps.

I love Thanksgiving. It's all about family (and food), with no distraction of gifts. Except for the ugly stuffed animal monkey that gets dressed up and passed around in our family for special occasions. (I received it last year for Thanksgiving, dressed as a bride, since I'd just gotten engaged!)

Another thing I love about Turkey Day is that after dinner, when all of the dishes are cleaned and we're on our third piece of pie, we head downstairs to sing along to my mom's player piano, which is a foot-pumped version, not the automatic kind. After a few drinks, my uncles can really belt it out. The Notre Dame fight song always gets played (yes, it's a football family), as does the Beer Barrel Polka.

What makes your Thanksgiving special? Enjoy it!

From scratch

On Thanksgiving (and most every other day of the year), my mother makes absolutely everything from scratch, from pie dough to stuffing/dressing. Fresh herbs in the turkey, homemade whipped cream for the half-dozen pies we made. Even the cranberry relish in later years was from scratch (my sister makes a cranberry-orange relish).
For foodies like us, dear readers, this is the norm. It's from scratch because we don't know any other way. We wouldn't dream of buying the pumpkin pie or (gasp!) plopping a tub of Cool Whip on the table. (Read the ingredients on that stuff. Ick!)
This year I'm not going home because I have to work today, the day after Thanksgiving and Saturday. I'll be at a new house where I know things will be different, perhaps some things a little less homemade.
For my mom and me, Thanksgiving is about the cooking. We stay up late the night before finishing pies, then rise early on Turkey Day to start the bird. It's nothing fancy, just good, from-scratch homemade food.
I was riding on the elevator today, and I heard people talking about letting the grocery store make the turkey or the dressing -- even the whole meal! To me, Thanksgiving is just not a day for shortcuts.
What do you think?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

(No) Turkey Day

So for about the 10th consecutive year, I'm about to have a turkey-free Thanksgiving. I've made a Tofurkey for the past several years but I'm skipping it this Thanksgiving because no one else in my family will help me eat it, and because I won't be at my parents' house long enough to enjoy the leftovers. I'm basically planning to load up on side dishes, which I tend to do anyway, and I think my mother also may have picked up some vegetarian chicken drumsticks of some sort. Anyway, I'm curious: What are any of you other vegetarians having for your main dish? My co-worker Rachel just alerted me to what seems to be a new place in Madisonville called Five Star Foodies (the Web site's still under construction) that sells vegetarian turkey rolls and gravy, which might be worth checking out at some point. I'd love to hear your ideas (if not for this year, maybe next year...)

Labels: ,

Food for the hungry

I am a crossword puzzle addict, an activity that many people close to me consider a not very constructive use of my time. Really? Well, I’m using my vocabulary to feed the world’s hungry.
I just learned about a website called www.freerice.com, where I can turn the formerly useless vocabulary I have picked up from doing crosswords into rice that is donated to the hungry around the world. You can too, no matter what level your vocabulary is.
Just log onto the website and start taking the vocabulary quiz that you’ll find there. For every word you get right (it’s multiple choice), 10 grains of rice are donated to We Feed People, an international humanitarian agency that gives food to 90 million poor people annually. The quiz automatically adjusts to your vocabulary level. So it’s a useful learning tool for new words whether you’re just learning English or you want to try to get to the highest level. I’m planning to learn new obscure words for the Friday New York Times puzzle.
The site is underwritten by advertisers, whose space on the site is actually quite unobtrusive. One billion grains of race have been donated in the first month the site was up.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Good karma

Go ahead, come unchained!
BuyCincy.com and local businesses are asking us to throw our money at the local economy tomorrow. (Part of sales at some of the places go to good, local causes! Other places are letting you swap big-box retailers' gift cards, which are then donated.)
Melt and Essencha Tea House are among the foodie-related participants. Check here for a full list... and my new favorite lounge Below Zero is hosting an after-party.

We want your cookie recipes

Time to crank up that oven and pull out those cookie sheets!

Do you have a fabulous new recipe for cookies? A tried-and-true favorite that you always bake for the holidays? Send it to me (nking@enquirer.com) and you can be part of an upcoming food story! Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number.

Jellied v. whole berries

Cranberry sauce is one of my favorite things about Thankgiving Day dinner. My sister usually jokes, "Want some dressing with your cranberry sauce?" (Yes, we eat dressing, not stuffing, in my family. I think some Southern traditions - like chess pie - will live on forever...)

My mom makes a cranberry relish (it's quite similar to this cranberry chutney recipe on the Williams-Sonoma Web site). But she also plops a cynlinder of jellied, shivering cranberry sauce into a bowl on Turkey Day. Some people prefer one over the other. Others don't care and reach for whatever is nearest... I love the way whole cranberries pop when you eat them, and the tart bite they have which balances so well with oranges, pecans, etc... But I have to say that I sorta like the jellied version, too. I like a little kitsch every now and again...

It's the holiday season...

The holiday season starts earlier and earlier each year. Carols are blaring from the speakers in lots of stores. My beloved Target replaced Halloween stuff with tinsel, dreidels and the like before the kids could even utter "trick-or..."

But the good thing about this time of year are the seasonal treats. I'm talking holiday-edition deliciousness. Like:

Christmas Crunch
Peppermint nougats (with the trees in the center)
Dr. Praeger's potato pancakes
Trauth egg nog
Cranberry ginger ale

What are your favorites?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This is, um, different...

Hungry? Think you could dine at Modern Toilet? This is a picture of the dessert... This article made my stomach turn, and I'm not usually bothered by stuff like that.

Speaking of banana bread...

I baked some earlier this week. I added toasted hazelnuts and cocoa. Yum... I made a double batch and brought it in to work Monday to share those evil, evil calories...

Chocolate-Banana-Hazelnut Bread
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 too-ripe-to-eat bananas, mashed
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (or more if you like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan with a non-stick/flour spray. (Or you can, of course, butter and flour it.)
Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Let cool. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the bananas, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Fold (don't beat) the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. (Batter will be chunky. Don't fret.) Fold in hazelnuts. Scrape batter into pan. Bake about 50 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.

And just try not to pick at the edges while it cools...

Want a side of gluttony with that?

Interesting food story on MSN today...

According to the article, the good folks at
Big Texan Steak Ranch are out to prove that things really are bigger in Texas. They'll be happy serve you a 72 ounce steak ($72) with a side of southern hospitality. The MSN story says over 8,000 people - including an 11-year-old boy and a 69-year-old woman - have consumed the big ol' hunk-a-beef. And get this: The record for fastest human consumption of this gargantuan steak is 9-1/2 minutes, set by former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Frank Pastore. You can even order one of these scary steaks online for $99.95. The site says it feeds 8-10 people!

Any local restaurants have similar food monstrosities?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Good banana bread?

My bananas are getting mushy. Too mushy to eat. Anyone have a great banana bread recipe? I have a few, but the bread always comes out too dense and kinda too moist, not at all spongy and springy and nice. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Do you eat strata?

Do you even know what strata is? We have a Californian in the newsroom, and he asked me, in all honesty, what strata was. Now, having grown up in West Side Cincinnati, this was a bit of a shock to me. (Well, not really). But it's the kind of thing we ate for special events in grade school in the church undercroft. How could you not have heard of it!

(And a digression - yes, it did take me until midway through my freshman year in college in Minnesota to discover that the rest of the world did not eat their chili with spaghetti. I couldn't figure out why they thought that was so weird!)

For the uninitiated, strata is a releatively simple breakfast casserole of eggs, milk, bread and cheese, usually meant to feed a crowd.

Got a great strata recipe?

We’re looking for the best, make-ahead breakfast "strata" or casserole recipes, perfect for holiday entertaining.

Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime telephone number.

I need to try some of these: sausage strata, ham and apple strata. Just wow. And if you need more choices, this B&B web site has recipes for everything from artichoke and seafood strata to grits casserole. I'm saving that link.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


InCahoots opened last week in Blue Ash. Same name as the former restaurant in Corryville, but no actual connection. Howard Zuefle, formerly owner of Bacall’s, is the owner. His niece, Nicole Zuefle, is the chef. It occupied the former space of Bilker’s Kosher Grocery at 9708 Kenwood Road.
Zuefle says the décor features earth tones and clean lines a la Frank Lloyd Wright, with a bar area and a two-sided fireplace.
The menu ranges from familiar to more creative, and includes casual sandwiches such as a Reuben and roast beef, spinach salad, taco salad and pasta. Appetizers include asparagus fries, shrimp fonduta and chicken wings. Entrées range from a catch of the day selected from a list of environmentally friendly seafood and a spicy vegetable skillet to pork loin stuffed with caramelized onions, fennel and fontina cheese, and several steaks.
InCahoots serves food 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. The bar is open an hour later. “We’re a great place to go after a concert or movie or a high school game,” says Zuefle. 513-891-2500; incahootsohio.com.


I was a little surprised to hear that the Encore Bistros were closing, because I thought they'd gotten on track. But with a little reflection, not so surprised. There was some weird dealings with Paul Sturkey where he basically lost control of his own restaurant and own name, which was all very secret, so I can't explain it. There was bad management, and really bad food for awhile. It's hard for a restaurant, let alone a small restaurant chain, to go through that many changes and come out OK. Too bad. The basic concept---good, thoughtful food with all the trappings that make suburban chains successful--was a really good one. Those are some nice properties available. I hope someone figures out a good new use for them.

Ham soda

I can't decide if this is clever or just gross: Jones Soda is marketing a ham soda - kosher, no less - alongside other wacky holiday flavors: sugar plum soda, jelly doughnut soda, potato latke soda. I haven't seen this in stores yet (but haven't been looking). Who's tried it!?

Encores closed

The four local Encore Bistro and Bar restaurants have closed. We don't have many details yet. Here's what we do know. (Thanks to co-worker Karen for the tip!)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Homemade snacks

I'm in the mood for something crunchy. Salty. How about some baked garbanzo beans? Mmm... I'm going to pop them into the oven as soon as I get home. Even before I change into my play clothes...

Hummus-y Crunch
1 (16 oz.) can garbanzo beans
Non-stick cooking spray (or you can use olive oil, just enough to coat)
Garlic powder
Lemon pepper seasoning (regular or salt-free) to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Rinse and drain beans. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the beans on the baking sheet. Give the beans a quick spritz. While the beans are still moist, sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so for even browning. Just try to eat only one handful...

Hark... What eateries doth approach?

Potbelly Sandwich Works, a Chicago-based sandwich chain, and Noodles & Co., a Boulder, Colo.-based quick-casual eatery, are coming to Florence. It's all part of master plan for Houston Road Shoppes.

"Shoppes," eh? Yes, yes... I never tire of ye olde English... Or chains.

Friday, November 09, 2007

beaujolais nouveau

There are those who think the annual November beaujolais party is all hype and no substance. I say, I think that's what it's supposed to be. However, whether you think it's fun or silly, here's a way to make a really good party out of it: add French country food by de Cavel and have some charcuterie and celeri remoulade with your new wine.

The French-American Chamber of Commerce will throw a party to welcome the new vintage tomorrow at Currents Ballroom in the Newport Aquarium. Jean-Robert de Cavel is doing the food, which will feature traditional French charcuterie, crudité salads, duck cassoulet and other French country dishes. It will be served buffet style so the crowd can mingle. After you try the new vintage, they’ll have other French wines to serve. It’s $75 at the door. ( less ahead of time.) Call for reservations: 513-852-6510.
Another way to try the Beaujolais nouveau is with a tasting at Piazza Discepoli in College Hill. They’ll be pouring at least 5 in a festive tasting at 7:30. $15. Reservations at 513-68-8466

That's one tough cookie...

This might be the biggest fortune cookie I've ever seen... I put a penny and a ruler next to it so you can get an idea of how big it is. Oh the things marketing departments dream up...

Speaking of sushi...

So you've probably already read John Kiesewetter's story about red snapper being misidentified as the (much cheaper) tilapia at local sushi restaurants. The full story will air Monday on "Inside Edition." Of course, mislabeling fish isn't anything new by suppliers. The U.S. catfish industry took notice when Vietnamese marketed basa fish (another mighty bottom dweller) under the name "catfish." The Chicago Tribune reported mislabeling of red snapper back in 2004. It really goes back to knowing your suppliers, and I'd like to believe that our local sushi spots aren't intentionally duping anyone - just passing along what they are provided from suppliers. Call me naive.

Anyway - are you a red snapper aficionado? Can you tell the difference between snapper and tilapia?

And tell us - what are you favorite sushi restaurants in the area? In a pinch, I always enjoy Asiana on Edwards Road (though they do great Thai food as well, which I'd rather be eating). But I need to get back to Matsuya in Florence. Even moreso than the newer, upscale Miyoshi in Florence (sorry, I don't need squid entrails) and longstanding Jo An Japanese in Erlanger (which is always solid), Matsuya is down-to-earth, no fuss, no muss - and very reasonably priced.

Where do you go for your maguro?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chipping away at "original"

I can't be the only one who has noticed that the chip section is threatening to take over the international foods aisle, both literally and figuratively. Seems like chip companies are throwing unusual flavors at the masses to see what sticks. "Original," it seems is no more... About the closest you can get is Sea Salt and Fresh Pepper. (By the way, how "fresh" can the pepper be by the time it gets to your store?)

At least the folks at
Kettle Foods let the people have a say in the flavors. You can vote for the next flavor they launch. I've researched the candidates and I have to say my favorite is the Jalapeno Salsa Fresca. They were flavorful but still packed some heat. The other flavors running for election are Mango Chili, Orange Ginger Wasabi (good for when your nose is stuffy), Death Valley Chipotle and Wicked Hot Sauce.

You can also
take a survey to "find your flavor" before you go back to the grocery store ... Mine is Spicy Thai. Mmm...

Time to slow down...

It's cold. The trees have lost their leaves. That means it's time to break out the slow cooker.

I've been feeling the need for serious comfort food lately. I made country ribs and beans yesterday. I seasoned and seared the meat to get nice color and flavor and then put it in the crock pot with the beans, a little hot sauce (for the saltiness and the heat), more spices, water and some chicken stock. The smell was amazing before we even left to go to work! When I got home, it was falling-off the bone perfection. I added a green salad and some cornbread to complete the meal.

Is your crockpot on? If it is, what's in there? If it's not, what do you wish was in there?

I'm in love.

... with these two treats from Silk soy milk. They make my morning lattes a sinfully delicious treat!
The nog has 90 calories a cup and 2 grams of fat, compared with 80 calories and 4 grams of fat for my usual Silk unsweetened.
Pumpkin spice has 170 calories (!) and 3.5 grams of fat. What's the deal, Silk? Why so many calories? More sugar (24 g of evaporated cane juice), I guess. The nog has literally half the sugar.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sandra Lee writes a book

I wonder if Sandra Lee's autobiography is 70 percent someone else's work and 30 percent her own, just like those awful meals she serves up. The book's called "Made From Scratch," which I'm pretty sure is a phrase not found in her vocabulary.
I watch "Semi Homemade Meals" to mock her prepackaged sauce mixes (chock full of chemicals and sodium), limeade and lemonade concentrates as marinades (hello, high fructose corn syrup), fruity cocktails with every meal (what, are we on a cruise ship?) and those tablescapes (because everyone spends $50 to update their decor for each meal; spend the money on the food instead of distracting them with smoke and mirrors).
Her cooking philosophy is: I'm going to take the lazy route, then put all my energy into making a cocktail so everyone will forget how awful my food is.
Seriously, this is one of her recipes:
Spaghetti with meat sauce
No. 1: She uses jarred sauce.
No. 2: The recipe calls for 4 tablespoons each of olive oil and butter. (Are you kidding me? Who needs that much fat!?)
No. 3: The photo includes garlic bread that I'm pretty sure is from a box.
No. 4: That sounds like something I made when I was 7. We all use canned/boxed/premade ingredients from time to time. But she takes it to the next level.
I get it. She wants it to be simple, easy and affordable. I've seen her Chefography on Food Network. I respect her for all her hard work. And I understand: She was poor as a child and had to make due. (get it: "Made From Scratch." Nope, title still doesn't work for me.) I respect that she raised her sisters and helped stretch their food budget. But psst... you're rich now. You can either hire someone to cook for you or buy/cook better food.
The easy-food genre has many stars (
Robin Miller, Rachael Ray, and others) who are far more talented than Ms. Lee. And they don't rush through the cooking to spend 10 minutes decorating the table! If I want decorating tips, I'll watch HGTV!!!
Her Web site says:

She creates the foundation and supplies the information that allows anyone
and everyone (from students to parents to working professionals) to take 100% of
the credit for something that looks, feels or tastes as if it were made
completely from scratch.

Made from scratch? Really? Do you honestly think that a chicken-lemon soup made from condensed soup tastes homemade? Not in my home, it doesn't!
Me-ow. This is catty. But seriously. I'm all for taking short-cuts, but she's downright lazy!

(And did anyone else notice that she redecorates her kitchen every episode?!)

Labels: , ,

The par-tay...

It was fun, gang. I wish some of you regulars out there could have made it. We had dim sum everywhere (the curry chicken turnovers are SOOOO good!) and the laughs were flowing freely. The only thing missing? Some of the frequent commenters.

A funny aside... Pacific Moon's Bill Hatfield came over to me that night and said, "Hey, that couple over there is here to celebrate the Foodie Report's birthday." So I went over to greet them, wondering who I was about to meet. A familiar screenname? A mysterious anonymous poster? I get over there and they tell me, "We don't even know what a blog is. But we saw the specials online and we came. You guys plan to do this again soon?!"

All righty... Here are some pics.

And coming soon: Another Foodie Report gathering. We're thinking a roller skating rink/bar. Oh yeah... I can already feel the bruising, baby...

Left to right: Lauren Bishop, Amy Goldberg and Lisa Cieslewicz partake at the partay...

Bill Cieslewicz, a carefully-disguised Polly Campbell, and Stepfanie Romine belly up to the bar.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Mesh's menu...

Mmm... The New Years Eve menu at Mesh sounds like a tasty way to ring in 2008... It's $125 per person (wine pairing additional $40). Seating begins at 5:00...

amuse-bouche (the mystery of it!)

lobster bisque
creme fraiche
curry carrot soup
truffled apples
crab duo
crab cake + crab chowder
beef carpaccio
micro green salad + horseradish vinaigrette + shaved parmesan
prosciutto wrapped sea scallops
saffron risotto + micro greens salad + blood orange truffle emulsion

paul sturkey's house salad

sun-dried cherries + toasted almonds + feta cheese + sturkey's creamy balsamic vinaigrette™
baby spinach salad
maytag bleu cheese + potato gaufrettes + pine nuts + basil vinaigrette
caesar salad
herb focaccia croutons + creamy garlic caesar dressing

filet mignon oscar

king crab + sturkey's spice™ bearnaise + grilled asparagus + garlic mashed potatoes
veal and lobster partners
veal tenderloin + lobster mushrooms + english peas
maine lobster tail + roasted corn chorizo ragout + tarragon-lobster emulsion
salmon filet "mignon"
lobster mashed potatoes + french green beans + sherry soy sauce
lobster pasta
lobster tail + lemon linguine + spinach + tomatoes + champagne beurre blanc
pan roasted chicken breast
pancetta + chive potato gnocchi + asparagus + mushrooms + savory sweet soy essence
redskin potato ravioli
wild mushrooms + baby spinach + tomatoes + truffle emulsion
asian style sea bass
oyster mushrooms + baby bok choy + steamed carrots + honey garlic broth
smoked beef tenderloin medallions
tasso mashed potatoes + roasted garlic demi glace + bleu cheese cream + fresh corn succotash

chocolate bailey's cheesecake cake

"Best Restaurant Dessert" in America - USA Today
chocolate cake + bailey's cheesecake cake + vanilla buttercream
carrot apple cake
carrot cake + spiced apple-pecan cake + cream cheese icing
And, after you're good an full, a champagne toast at midnight!
Where will you be when the ball drops?

Super soups!

I love Trader Joe's. I really do.
Their frozen veggies (Greens with Envy are awesome!), no-salt-added canned tomatoes, cheap wheat pasta, fancy ethnic sauces, pseudo-healthful snack chips. And I haven't even mentioned three-buck Chuck!
I love finding new products, though recently they've taken all the fun out of it by devoting the end one aisle to new products. I preferred the old way: Stumbling upon a hidden treasure as a meandered the aisles.
I try to avoid canned/prepackaged soups, mostly because they disappoint and are chock full of sodium and sugar! Yikes!
But Trader Joe's carries a great line of boxed soups that I really like.
Like the Imagine soups, these are handy for storing and ready to eat. But I find those soups a little bland. TJ's spices up the soups: Corn and pepper, tomato and roasted pepper, carrot and ginger, butternut squash and apple.
My recent find is Creamy Corn and Roasted Pepper soup. It's sweet and creamy, but there's really no dairy in it (don't quote me on that. It might be a minor ingredient). Roasted poblanos offer a hint of heat. I mixed in 1/4 cup of brown rice. It's No. 2 on my list of best TJ soups.
It's not so bad for you: 80 calories a serving, according to this source (a quarter of the box). (Though I distinctly remember reading the box and seeing 110 calories, but that's not much of a difference.)
Topping my list is Tomato and Roasted Pepper soup. That soup in the red-and-white can was half of my favorite meal as a kid. (Grilled cheese on wheat bread was the other half.) I was so disappointed to learn recently that corn syrup is among the major ingredients of that! Yuck! Trader Joe's soup has no corn syrup in it, and there's a grown-up richness with the roasted pepper.
It's a great, easy comfort food.
TJ's soy-ginger broth is another great find: fat-free and full of flavor, I reduce this broth for Asian-style sauces or add steamed veggies and brown rice or soba noodles for a quick dinner.
I also like it cold with soba noodles and all the trimmings.

Bathroom review

One thing that never seems to fit into my restaurant reviews is a look at the bathroom. Well, more accurately, the women's room. There are many people who think the bathroom is the real key to judging a restaurant--its cleanliness reflecting the general atttitude of the establishment. That certainly makes some sense, and holds true pretty well.

Sung Korean Bistro, my review of which appears today, has a really great women's room. The door looks like an antique Korean box, the sinks are those cool vessel sinks that look like a bowl sitting on the counter, there are pretty flowers, and it's super clean. A pleasure to visit.

Happy Birthday!

Today is the first anniversary of The Foodie Report and we hope to see all of you tonight at Pacific Moon at Newport on the Levee to celebrate! We're hosting a happy hour 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!

And, once again, 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 (One green teani coming up!)


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 come hang out, eat, drink and be merry with us!
Photo credit: Christy Thompson via www.sxc.hu

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New uses for old candy

Here's a recipe for leftover Halloween candy that I decided not to include in my story yesterday, thinking it probably has a limited---very very limited---audience. It's from Bill Buford's book "Heat" about his experience becoming a serious cook. A lot of the book is about Mario Batali, and Buford repeats this story (heardfrom a guy named Andy Nusser) about a dish Batali created one drunken night: "Someone had brought foie gras but didn't know how to serve it, and, rising to the challenge that a good cook should be able to make a meal with whatever is to hand, Mario prepared a sweet, vinegar-like-reduction of Orange Nehi soda and Starburst fruit candies. ("First you remove each Starburst fruit from its wax-paper wrapper and put the candies in a saucepan, where, over a low heat, you melt them slowly until you have a bright-colored syrup, and then, separately, you cook the soda, until it's reduced by half." Nusser insists that the result was very good. . . . "
Anyone want to try it and report back?

Can you create peace with what you eat?

Will Tuttle, Ph.D. thinks so, as he explains in "The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony." Tuttle's speaking at 7 p.m. today at the Schiff Family Conference Center at Xavier University's Cintas Center, 1624 Herald Ave., Evanston. The event, sponsored by Xavier's Advocates for Animals club, is free for students and faculty and $5 for the general public. The release says: "He will be giving a lecture describing the invisible connections between what we eat and the broad range of problems we face -- psychological, social and spiritual, as well as health and environmental. He offers powerful ways we can all experience healing and peace while contributing to a positive transformation of human consciousness." Wow, this makes me feel like I'm back in Ithaca! If you can't make it tonight, he's going to be all over the place this weekend. Here's his schedule -- and if you attend any of the events, post a comment with your thoughts.

Friday, Nov. 2
6-8:30 p.m.
Presentation with Will Tuttle with meal catered by People Inspire Progress.
Imago Earth Center
700 Enright Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45205 (Price Hill)

Saturday, Nov. 3
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Will Tuttle presents a workshop on the World Peace Diet with lunch provided by Gratitude Restaurant. Sponsored by A.P.E. and New Thought Unity Center.
New Thought Unity Center
1401 E. McMillan St.
Cincinnati, OH 45206

Sunday, Nov. 4
1:30-4 p.m.
Will Tuttle presents a workshop on Opening the Intuitive Gates sponsored by New Thought Unity Center.
Donations & love offerings
New Thought Unity Center
1401 E. McMillan St.
Cincinnati, OH 45206

Sunday, Nov. 4
4:30 p.m.
EarthSave potluck with guest speaker Will Tuttle
$3 for non-members
Clifton United Methodist Church
3416 Clifton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45220


Jim Borgman
Today at the Forum
Paul Daugherty
Politics Extra
N. Ky. Politics
Pop culture review
Who's News
Roller Derby Diva
CinStages Buzz....
The Foodie Report
Classical music
John Fay's Reds Insider
High school sports
UC Sports
CiN Weekly staff