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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Monday, December 31, 2007

Fast food 'light'

Taco Bell and Jack in the Box, along with the aforementioned Starbucks, are offering lighter menu options next year.
Any New Year's resolutions about eating? I'm going to get stricter about not allowing high fructose corn syrup in my body. (The only products we eat that contain it is the occasional loaf of bread, Gatorade and inferior chocolate products.) I'd also like to cut out non-organic cheese, diet soda (I drink maybe five a month) and processed soy (aside from organic tofu). I'm almost 100 percent there on all of these, I just need to be a little more diligent.
My new favorite healthful food addition is umeboshi plum paste. They're supposedly good for helping colds and flu. The plums, actually apricots, are an acquired taste. I'm still acquiring that taste.

Where will YOU be at midnight?

Some friends/colleagues are throwing a NYE shindig tonight... So, that's where I plan to be come Jan. 1, 2008. I just talked with the hostess and she told me that they stocked up at the Party Source and they have tons of appetizers and alcohol. I'm thinking I need to take my sleeping bag, pillow, tooth brush... Ha!

Where will you be eating and drinking (responsibly) when the ball drops?

Photo: David Sorcher/Cin Weekly

Friday, December 28, 2007

More on Chalk...

More on Chalk...
I'm happy to hear that the space -- which is in my neighborhood -- won't be empty! Polly wrote of great squid she'd had this year; I had a great squid appetizer in the bar at Pho Paris a couple of months ago.

Speaking of Jean Robert...

This from the de Cavel camp:

December 28, 2007
Pho Paris to become Chalk Food + Wine
Covington, KY – Jean-Robert’s Group welcomes a new food destination on Greenup Street. Pho Paris will close after New Year’s Eve and is planning to reopen to the public on Tuesday, January 15th as Chalk Food + Wine.

Chalks’ menu will be based on our approach to comfort food, with a whimsical touch. “I wanted something a bit more casual and approachable for the guests. I believe this concept will satisfy everyone’s expectations,” de Cavel said. This new venture is a strong collaboration with our existing team, Chef Jared Whalen and his kitchen brigade, Pastry Chef Summer Genetti, Manager/Sommelier Bryant Phillips and his front of the house staff, which have made Pho Paris’s reputation as one of the best destination restaurants in Cincinnati.

Chalk Food:
The food approach will be keeping our philosophy of the group, using the best fresh ingredients from the season and trying to use local products as much as possible, making everything from scratch. The menu will feature Starters (selection for cold and hot appetizers) from $5-11, Hand Food (sandwiches) and Eat Us (selection of main entrée) from $6.5 to $28, Friends (side dishes) from $5-7 and Sweets (selection of desserts) from $5-8.

Chalk Wine:
The wine approach will be a huge part of Chalk. The front side room will be turned into a wine room – cellar style with a selection of international wines concentrating on small production/artisanal wines at retail pricing for every budget, for take-out or to be consumed in the restaurant with a minimal corkage fee. The wine list in the dining room will focus on intense selection of glass pours. The wine room will also be available for wine tastings as well as to be booked as a private room for up to 16 people. The Chalk team will work on wine dinners and pairings to please everyone.

The new look of 318 Greenup Street will have a feel of a neighborhood eclectic, whimsical place where people can gather anytime of the week to share some wonderful dishes or experience an interesting selection of wine. Chalkboard will be placed in the room with some art by local artists focusing on food and wine. The feel will be very comfortable to every one. “Having such a passionate team as Jared, Summer, Bryant and their staff who care about their craft and the dedication to please the guest the best possible, I am so excited to be part of this new concept and wish our Chalk team good luck Having our partners Martin and Marilyn Wade invested in Covington on Greenup Street, we’re so thankful to be able and pleased to bring a new food and wine destination to this neighborhood. We’re waiting to serve you, Cheers, Santé, See you in mid January” says de Cavel.
For reservations or information about Chalk please call 859.643.1234

The skinny on Starbucks

Ordering coffee at Starbucks can be challenging, what with the gazillion of choices available – a tall non-fat double-shot vanilla latte with whip, anyone?

Now the brewing baron is making ordering easier for perplexed patrons with its new “Skinny” platform. The new lingo – the word “skinny” – saves you from having to say nonfat Latte made with sugar-free syrup. So, instead of ordering a nonfat, sugar-free gingerbread latte, you can now order a skinny gingerbread latte.

The company also added a new sugar-free syrup flavor – mocha – to its existing selections of vanilla, hazelnut, caramel and cinnamon dolce.

Katie Thomson, a registered dietitian for Starbucks, says the move was prompted by customer demand for healthier options. But Starbucks’ new lingo seems more like wishful thinking in a cup. Swapping out a tall Cinnamon Dolce Latte (made with non-fat milk and no whip) with a tall Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte is a difference of just 70 calories. And even if you indulge in a drink a day, that’s still just 490 calories per week – it would take nearly two months before those daily drinks resulted in a gain of one pound.

If you want to skip the lattes altogether, might I suggest my favorite Starbucks drink? Order steamed soymilk, plain, no syrup. You will probably have to repeat this a few times to the baffled barista who, without fail, will not know how to ring the order up since it’s not on the menu. Sprinkle some vanilla powder into the drink and add a few packets of Splenda sweetener to taste and voila – pure heaven.

So, what’s your favorite Starbucks - or other coffeehouse - concoction?

Get Twisted...

I recently went to
Twist with some friends. Can I tell you that I want to move in to that lounge? No, really... I want to get an air mattress and a blanket and just never leave. Jean Robert is a genius and I love it...

One of my friends started with a pear martini, her favorite drink there. I'm not a huge fan of pear, but I tried a sip and it was tasty. Or maybe it was just the ambiance that made it so. No matter... I had to focus on my drink: the chai espresso martini. When our server, Christina, made it, she asked me, "Do you want chocolate?" Um, yes! Then she proceeded to lace the glass with it. I'm all about multitasking... Beautiful and delicious.

Another friend had (I hope I get this right... things are a little fuzzy for obvious reasons!) the vanilla heat martini. The most dynamic drink of the night, it was fab, featuring whole beans and cinnamon. The mellow - yet intense - vanilla spreads across your palate. That is quickly chased by the subtle heat of the cinnamon, making for a flavor combination that is hard to resist. In fact, I had to fight the urge to steal my friend's drink. I know what I'm ordering the next time I take a walk around the corner to Twist...

I also have to sample a few things from their array of petite bites...

*As always, you can post your own reviews of Twist and lots of other hot (and not-so-hot) spots in the area...

Petite Bite Menu

Fingers were made before forks, and hands before knives

Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Truffle $6.5
Crab Salad, Tropical Fruit $8.5
Tuna Tartare, Grapefruit and Pomegranate $8.5
Smoked Salmon Two Way, Quail Egg $7
Shrimp, Bayonne Ham and Smoked Paprika $8.5
Foie Gras Mousse, Bourbon and Dried Fruit $8
Snail, Red Potatoes and Garlic Butter $6.5
Duck Leg Confit, Pear and Shiitake $7
Twist French Castle $8
Croque Monsieur $5.5

Caviar & Roe Service 2 oz., with Egg Mimosa, Lemon and Toast
Kentucky Paddlefish Caviar $90
Atlantic Salmon Roe $22
Medley of Flying Fish Roe $10

Duo of Sweet Bites
Frozen Soufflés $6.5
Ice Cream Lollipops $5
Twist Mousses $6
Pigall’s Pound Cake $6
Cuisine des Chocolats, 4 pieces $8

Photo: Enquirer file

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Onto another decade of eating...

I opened just one eye on Monday morning... I wanted to see if the world looked any different at 30. It didn't. So I got up and had a pretty normal day at my parents' house in Columbia Station, Ohio.

I was in the mood for fish and vegetables. (I need fatty acids and antioxidants now more than ever, right? Gotta keep the crow's feet at bay...) So we went to Blake's Seafood Restaurant and Bar for my birthday dinner. They were one of, like, three restaurants that were open on Christmas Eve. Many kitchens are closed, even if the restaurant doors are open so procrastinators can go get a last-minute gift certificates. Merry Birthday to me...

But Blake's was open until 9:00 p.m., so we were good to go. We started with calamari in a heavenly sweet, spicy chili oil. And I had the filet à la Oscar. While the filet was a little overcooked, not the medium that I had requested, it was still very tender and delicious. I wish I had gone with my first instinct and ordered fish... Oh well. Maybe next year...

Now I feel like I need to detox. Between the filet, the gift basket goodies, and all the sugar/fat/alcohol in between, my body could use a break. I'm feeling a bit inflamed about the cells... Anyone out there have a post-holiday detox plan? I'm drinking lots of filtered water and drinking Yogi Tea, my favorite. (You can listen to deliciously zenful music on the Web site. So soothing...) Dinner for tonight? Steamed vegetables with lemon juice and a salad...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas presents

with pictures, now. Thanks, Chad Edward, for reminding me!

A cold thwarted most of my weekend plans, but the good news is that I'm all better. My friend Rob's flu and my cold nixed our plans for a fun and fancy night out on the town.
To cheer me up, Fred and I exchanged gifts early. He gave me two Korean stone pots with platters to rest them on, along with some other Korean cookware accessories, like a plastic Bento-style box. (Though, not to worry, dear co-workers: I would never bring kimchi to work. I like you too much to subject you to that smell.)
We cured them yesterday (boiled salted water in them, then coated the surface with sesame oil) then made a bibimbap/stir fry type dish with kimchi, tofu, some veggies and rice, with an egg on top.
We actually stood around and waited for the water to boil. You could hear the stone breathing, and we kept checking to see what would happen. We're dorks, I know. But my gift was very much appreciated!
The tofu and the rice were perfectly crispy with very little added oil (maybe 1/2 teaspoon or so sesame oil for taste). The bowls cleaned up quickly, too, despite the caked on egg. I filled them with hot water and a couple of minutes later cleaned them with a soapy dishrag. They're so fun!
Polly and I were talking about how fun it would be to cook non Korean food in them, just to see how versatile they are. I can't wait to make bibimbap for a friend and watch him or her see the raw egg and cold ingredients cook while the dish is tableside.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mythos Grecian Grill: The real deal

So I went to Mythos Grecian Grill for lunch today (that's the one at 100 E. Fourth St., as opposed to the two smaller Mythos Express locations downtown) and I couldn't get over how crowded it was. My friend and I got there just before noon and there was already a line almost the door and only a few empty tables. I guess other people who work on and around Fourth Street downtown are just as sick of the Tower Place Mall food court, Bruegger's, etc. as we are. At one point they formed a second line for people who were only ordering gyros and paying cash or something like that. Anyway, the line moved quickly with the help of a guy who I'm guessing was one of the owners, who was offering menus to people waiting. I got the hummus pita, which was deliciously overstuffed with hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and a hard boiled egg in a big soft pita, and equally good fries (I shunned the healthier side choices of rice, soup or Greek salad). Fortunately, there's plenty of seating in that space and it looks like Mythos won't have any problem filling it up, while the Atlanta Bread Company never seemed so busy the few times I went in there. Mythos appears to be trying to become the Skyline of Greek food in Cincinnati; a 65 to 70-seat restaurant in the Chiquita Center is supposed to open next spring in addition to the three existing downtown locations. I guess you should never be too far from a good gyro.


and so much more

I've been an absent little foodie, but finally I have blog fodder.
  • My latest food obsession: oatmeal. But not those packets of dust, chemicals and sugar that yield of bowl of runny goo. Nope. I like the real, thick, chewy, nutty oatmeal. With a sprinkling of dried cranberries or wild blueberries from Trader Joe's, a half-dozen pecans or almonds and some soymilk and flaxmeal, this healthful, fiber-filled meal is almost like dessert. Sometimes I even drizzle on some organic REAL maple syrup (which at Trader Joe's was actually cheaper than the regular real maple syrup for whatever reason. Oh, decadence and fiber.
  • Like Polly, I've been hearing about Terry's Turf Club lately. Business reporter -- and my cubicle neighbor -- John Eckberg first told me about it a couple of months ago. Then my friend Bri brought it up, and last week I got an invitation to a birthday party: at Terry's! I hear they have an awesome portobello burger, but I'm heading there after dinner at Seny on Friday. Seny is tapas, so maybe I'll just nibble (I hear they've worked out the kinks and the food is excellent but small).
  • I had a Comet burrito two Fridays ago for the first time in a LONG time. They're as big as Chipotle's, only better. The tofu, which I hear is marinated in grape jelly, is addictive. Can anyone confirm or deny? I think I should test that theory. Might be fabulous... or distasterous.
  • Tabitha and I made sugar cookies. Turns out, I don't like making sugar cookies. It takes for-ev-er. And it's messy. And there's no health-ing up sugar cookies. I try to add or substitute flax meal, oat bran, applesauce, etc. to baked goods. But with sugar cookies, it's harder. They're more temperamental, with so many steps: rolling, cutting, frosting. I've decided instead of cookies, I'll give granola and trail mix this year. And if I make it with cashews, which I can't eat, I won't be tempted to eat it myself.
  • Fred and I ate at Riverside the other night, and I realized how much I missed that place. The waitresses, Adrian and Briana, are attentive and kind. Bruce and Seo-hyun (I know I misspelled her name!) are really talented! The soft tofu stew is my favorite, mostly because it's a comfort food for me. That was my typical lunch each day in Korea. I tried everything, but after a few months I settled on soon dubu baek bahn (soft tofu stew) as my go-to meal. When I walked in to Kimbap Chungkuk down the street from my school, the ajuma at the counter often called to the kitchen before I could speak. Riverside's is perfect: Oysters to flavor the broth (sometimes clams), plenty of chili oil, mushrooms carrots and onions, a generous glob of soft tofu and an egg that poaches in the spicy, boiling broth. The egg is key: The yolk adds a richness to the broth. Yum. Dip in spoonfuls of rice. Ah.
    Owner Mark Jang was working that night and came out of the kitchen to see how we liked the new side dishes: anchovies with hot peppers (little dried ones. the kind with tiny eyes. I forgot my rule against eating things with eyes. delicious!), jellyfish with Korean horseradish, some sweet bellflower root. Fred loves the simple sides: watercress or spinach with sesame oil. I love the dried mushroom, squid and radish dishes. They're crunchy and chewy with really rich flavor. I love Korean food.
  • A bunch of Enquirer folks headed to Palomino last night for their great happy hour to get a head-start on a certain Foodie Report editor's birthday. Who's birthday? Hint: She's fabulous. That narrows it down, doesn't it?! :) We love their happy hour; $3 drinks, $5 pizzas and half-price appetizers, along with the BEST mojitos! A non-blogger and fellow mojito lover had one complaint: pizza con vongole. When you see on the menu that there are clams are your pizza, you probably don't expect the clams to be in shells. It's a great presentation, and I'm sure the clams are perfectly cooked, but they're really hard to eat. She said, "I had to eat the clams, then eat the pizza. I wanted pizza with clams." I've had that pizza, and she's right. It's awkward to eat. Do you pry the clams from the shells with a fork or your fingers? Put them back on the pizza or eat them first? And what do you do with the shells? After a couple of mojitos, that's WAY too many decisions. That said, cheap (good) food and drinks can't be beat.
  • Fred loves the stuffed grape leaves at Mythos, so we've been there once a week since the new place opened on Fourth Street. The lines are long but move quickly. I had the veggie moussaka, which is a bit heavy for lunch and has a load of cream sauce on it. It was good though, and with a Greek salad included in that and most every meal, it's a good deal, too. Anyone else been there?
  • And finally (this post will soon end, worry not, loyal readers) my dear friend Rob, a former college roommate, is coming home for Christmas. He's a hip, fabulous guy who lives the posh life in D.C. I'm going to show him that Queen City's way better than it was the last time he was home, more than six months ago. We're going to start with a drink at Twist, followed by a walk to Fountain Square. (He's never seen Fountain Square 2.0.) I'm thinking dinner at Via Vite, Nada or Sung (Ooh, or Riverside) then maybe Below Zero or Cue. It's so nice to have too many options for dinner and drinks!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vegetarian chicken 'n dumplings

One of my most cherished childhood memories are visits with my great-aunt Doris. Because she lives in Danville, Ky., we made the trek only about once or twice each year. Sure, we love our aunt, but what we really anticipated were her famous chicken ‘n dumplings.

After I went vegetarian, I thought my childhood favorite was a comfort food of the past. But my wonderful husband – who, curiously, can only cook chili and frozen pizza - has devised a recipe for vegetarian chicken ‘n dumplings. It’s not my aunt’s recipe, but its close. Oh, so deliciously close.

I don’t usually follow recipes, so alter the veggies to your taste. Here’s what we used:

Vegetarian Chicken ‘N Dumplings

3 cans Swanson vegetarian vegetable broth (any veggie broth will work, but we’ve found Swanson’s to be the most robust in flavor)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
5-6 celery stalks, diced
2 potatoes, diced
One bag of baby carrots
One bag Morningstar Farms Chik'N Strips
I also used various seasonings, like garlic, oregano and basil, along with salt and pepper.

Dumplings (recipe usually on box – we used 2 cups Bisquick HeartSmart Pancake and Baking Mix with 2/3 cup organic, fat free milk)

Combine all ingredients except the dumplings. Bring to a boil and simmer for about half an hour. Make dumpling mix. When carrots and potatoes are soft, bring to a boil again and drop in dumplings. Reduce heat, cook dumplings for 10 minutes.

Bon appétit.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vegan cooking classes

I just received a note through the local vegetarian email group I'm a part of. Experienced vegan cook Adrienne Cooper will offer six vegan cooking classes on Thursdays in January through Feb. 7. Learn to cook complete and balanced full-course vegan meals, with recipes included.

Classes are limited to 8 guests
Cost is $150 for the series.

Send payment to Adrienne Cooper at 4736 Doberrer Ave. Cincinnati, Ohio 45232. For more information, call 513-542-0055 or e-mail acooper_039@fuse.net.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Some restaurants open with a big bang and get lots of attention and talk. Others kind of build. A few weeks ago I first heard of Terry's Turf Club, which has been open on Eastern Avenue since January. I saw an obscure blog reference, called Terry, thought it sounded cool, went for dinner that night, and fell in love with it. Within a week, I'd had a number of conversations like this: "Hey, I found a new place down on Eastern Avenue I think you'd like," I said to a friend. "Oh, Terry's Turf Club?" she said. Then, even more amazing: " Hey, I found a new place I think you'd like," to a neighbor. "Oh, Terry's Turf Club?" he said. Turns out he's Terry's doctor. . . .

I felt like I was the only person who didn't know. I worried about reviewing it--not only did it seem possible to ruin it, since it's so small and personal, but I don't know if it would be as fun to go because you read about it than just finding it. Of course, I did anyway.
Try it, it's fun. Terry says he's going to expand and build an outdoor patio for the summer.
I think he should change the name, though, to The Harriet Beecher Stowe Republican Club. He's already got the neon sign.

Happy accidents

Here’s a stocking stuffer idea: Belly Flops.

Everyone makes mistakes – even the Jelly Belly Factory. The factory tosses together all the ‘mistakes’ and sells them in bulk to those of us none too picky about what our jelly beans looks like.

In most cases, the only flaw is in the shape: You may be find one that’s round, one that’s square, or you may find a few stuck together. But the taste and flavors you love are all there. And each bag is randomly packed so you're sure to get a good variety.

Order a 2-lb pound bag direct from the factory via Amazon for $8.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One Closing

Well, this is too bad. One Restaurant and Lounge in Mason is closing. It was a really beautiful restaurant, and with interesting food, especially for its very suburban location. Sean Kagy, the chef and owner--with his wife Jennifer--said that Mason's work on improving their downtown district is what did him in. It was hard to get to the restaurant -- people had to walk through mud and construction. Business was only half of what it had been, and the projects continue.

He's putting everything in storage, then looking around for another site--still thinking suburban, but perhaps somewhere closer to the highway and with more going on, where he's not the only good restaurant.

Last night is December 31. If you have a gift certificate, use it now.

I hope the beautiful job they did on the former Mason Town Hall doesn't go to waste, and another restaurant eventually moves in. 202 W. Main St., 513-336-0042

A great day at the office...

I love my job. I get to work with amazing people and I learn something new every single day. The fact that I get to help shape The Enquirer's food coverage is just, well, gravy. Really, really good gravy. Food is universal yet specific to culture, class, country, etc... All of that makes for a subject matter that is growing and evolving all the time. And it can be, dare I say, fun.

But a good friend of mine had even more fun at work today. He's an exec for a major corporation headquartered here (the company has nothing to do with food, by the way) and his boss took him and his colleagues to
The Party Source for a cooking class. The chef made spicy cashews, lamb and feta sliders; caramelized onion, apple, prosciutto and good Parmesan cheese pizza; and smoked salmon with crème fraîche and dill on blini.

My friend shared one of the recipes with me...

Lamb and Feta Sliders
Prep time 25 minutes
1 pound of ground lamb
½ cup of feta
box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 teaspoons of rosemary, minced
1 egg
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
freshly ground pepper
King's Hawaiian rolls

Combine all ingredients (everything except the rolls) in a large bowl. Form meat mixture into small patties. Saute patties in large skillet (the recipe he gave me didn't call for oil or non-stick spray, but I would recommend it as lamb is pretty lean) over medium heat until browned on both sides and cooked through. Serve on rolls.

What's on your list?

Today's food story is all about the holiday gift giving, baby... Polly tracked down some of the most-coveted gifts that are sure to be on foodies' lists this seaon.

I, for one, have been drooling over the induction stovetop for a few years now... And I'm pretty sure I'll still be drooling over it come Jan. 1.

Do you see anything that you want? What's missing from our list but on yours?

Great food, great friends

Being a foodie who can’t cook is one thing. Being a vegetarian foodie who can’t cook is quite another.

Shortly after I first became vegetarian, I stumbled across a flyer for the local Cincinnati chapter of EarthSave. The group holds monthly potluck dinners, always on Sundays, which are usually accompanied by interesting guest speakers or presentations. Since I was the only vegetarian in my family and circle of friends, I decided to give the potlucks a try. Not only did I expand my repertoire of vegetarian cuisine, I made some pretty good friends, too.

Graduate school eats up most of my weekend free-time now, so I haven’t been able to attend the potlucks in the last year or so. But if you want to experience great vegan food and meet some interesting new people, I recommend you also give it a try.

The group’s next potluck – also its holiday party – will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 at Clifton United Methodist Church, 3416 Clifton Ave. The Lagniappe Cajun Band will provide live music.

You don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to attend, but attendees are asked to bring a vegan dish for 5 to 10 people, and your own plates, cups, utensils and serving dishes/utensils. I’ve seen folks who bring vegetarian dishes – a.k.a. dishes with dairy products, honey, etc… - but the general consensus seems to be that vegan dishes are best.

For more information, call the group at 513-929-2500 or e-mail cincinnati@earthsave.org.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'll take these over Vegemite any day...

I don't usually open a bottle of bubbly on Monday nights. But I was compelled to do so yesterday so I could try something remarkable: Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Champagne... The company behind this product says they handpick the flowers in "the tropics of northern Australia."

It was amazing, I tell you. The hibiscus lent floral and almost honeyed notes to the Champagne. I can only describe the flavor as an exotic blend of rhubarb and strawberry. And the pretty pink delicacy gave the Champagne
the most amazing blush. The flower sat beautfully in the base of the flute, bubbles racing around it. And eating the flower when the Champagne was gone (booooo...) was marvelous. It had a soft, delicate texture, just as you would expect, but with a bit of a bite. Delicious.

The hibiscus flowers are available at Williams-Sonoma stores. An 8.8-ounce jar of 11 flowers is $14. You can also order them on http://www.wildhibiscus.com/.

Beautiful and intriguing, these would be perfect for a party. I have no doubt your guests will not soon forget it. Then again, they wouldn't forget Vegemite if you served that, but for very different reasons...

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Coming soon to NKy: New York Bagels

This just in from Covington's Pike Street Press:

"Friday December 21st and Saturday December 22nd: - We are flying in a real New York City experience! We will have H&H bagels - from the upper west side of Manhattan - flown in for the weekend so make sure you get yours before they run out. These ultra fresh bagels are famous and delicious and we are considering flying them in every weekend just for you. So, stop by, try one and let us know what you think!"

You can order H&H bagels directly from their web site too. My freshman year in college, we had a couple women living down the hall who were diehard New Yorkers, whose parents sent them massive bag fulls of fresh New York bagels that tasted wonderful. Ah, good memories. And good bagels.

Trader Joe's Winter Blend Coffee

I'm not a fan of flavored coffees. They taste artificial, and if coffee is good then it doesn't need to be masked by vanilla buttercream frosting or hazelnut almond mocha torte or other such flavorings. I do enjoy a sprinkling of cinnamon every once in a while.
Trader Joe's has brought back its Winter Blend coffee, which has cinnamon, cloves and red and black peppercorns. I tried a sample at the store on Saturday and ended up buying a can. It's spicy and sweet and fresh-tasting, with a great, rich coffee flavor.
I'm a fan. Add some soymilk and it's almost worth getting out of bed for on a cold, rainy morning. Almost.

Wild Oats/Whole Foods

The Wild Oats in Norwood and Deerfield Township are changing more each day in preparation for their transformation into Whole Foods Markets.
First came additional prepared foods, for which Whole Foods is known. Then came additional produce and flora, along with Whole Foods packaging, baked goods and uniforms for employees. The stores will get new Whole Foods signs by the end of January. More nonperishable, private-label items will appear on store shelves next month.
The Wild Oats Web site is gone, too; you're immediately redirected to the Whole Foods site. I talked to the Mid-Atlantic region's marketing director, Sarah Kenney, and she said there's no national plan for the changeover; each region is progressing at its own pace.
She's coming here soon and we're going to do a store tour. I see a video in our future...
Have you noticed the changes at Wild Oats? Do you shop there?

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Orange Julius is M.I.A. and I don't like it

Where the heck are all the Orange Julius'? I remember a time when you could be in the middle of your holiday shopping, crabby, hungry, tired of carrying your coat but too hot to wear it... And who was there for you? Just waiting in the food court? Orange Julius. Ready to cool you, and keep you going for another three hours until dinner. Now, Eastgate and Florence are the only malls that have them. I guess they're partnering with Dairy Queen...? But I don't shop at either of those malls.

Not cool...

So, I'm making my own. I'm sure it's way better for me anyway. You could also use pineapple juice - which is actually my favorite - strawberries, or any kind of fruit/juice combination.

Soy Joy Julius
1 cup water
1/2 cup frozen juice (it could be good to freeze it in ice cube trays, and then put them in freezer bags for later; just make sure you know how many cubes equal 1/2 cup)
2 cups of vanilla Silk soymilk (make sure it is very cold; or you could use plain and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla)

1/2 teaspoon salt (to counter the supersweet juice)

Mix everything in a blender and enjoy while you reminisce about the 80s.
Makes two servings (or one, if you're a tad greedy).

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Sugar cookies, sweet memories

I haven't made sugar cookies since high school, when I made dozens upon dozens to share at lunchtime. (I was 15. I wanted boys to notice me. They noticed the cookies instead.) They weren't really that great, looking back on it: Most were too crunchy, and my frosting was too runny.
My friend Kati, however, made the most delicious sugar cookies in the entire world. Light, fluffy, just sweet enough, with the perfect amount of frosting. We once drove to St. Louis for a student newspaper conference, and those fueled us all the way there and back.
I'll be attempting to make sugar cookies this weekend, with my little sister Tabitha and friend Bri.
Any tips, recipes, horror stories to share?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Delta goes gourmet

For many a long-distance traveler, airline food is about as palatable as prison food. Rubbery chicken, cardboard-like fish or chewy beef – airline food has long been the scourge of the industry.

Now that airlines are struggling to remain profitable, many of the cheaper airlines made the ingenious decision to avoid serving bad food by not serving any, and the rest have upped their game. As MSNBC Travel Troubleshooter Chris Elliott reports, serving gourmet food on flights is becoming a real trend as airlines try to make flying more enjoyable, while also hoping to part passengers from their dollars.

Delta Air Lines recently brought on board celebrity chef Todd English to design its gourmet passenger meals. Passengers on Delta flights over 750 miles can now order smoked salmon and egg salad croissants, a Mediterranean salad with grilled shrimp or a roast beef Cobb sandwich. Meals run between $2 and $10.

Sound tempting? Don’t salivate yet, warns Elliott.

Those tempting Todd English sandwiches are available online on flights longer than four hours. On shorter hops, expect to be offered a choice between a package of dry roasted peanuts, Biscoff Cookies or honey peanut butter crackers.

And although some of the Todd English food selections are available to economy class, the good stuff is reserved for first- and business-class passengers and only on select transcontinental flights domestically.

Despite Delta’s efforts, Elliott points to the Zagat Airline Survey, in which Delta ranked 7 points out of a possible 20 – still an “F.” Writes Elliott:

So there you have it. Airlines only offer the fabulous in-flight fare on a handful of flights and make you pay for it when you’re sitting in the cheap seats. The rest of the food is pretty dreadful. If you’re worried about the quality, quantity or availability of food on your next flight, don’t believe the flashy announcements being made by the major air carriers. Bring your own food on board. Or at least, bring exact change.

So, what do you do on longer flights? Have you ever had a good airline meal?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A newbie...

Join me in welcoming a new contributor to The Foodie Report: Rachel Richardson. She has lots of news and information to share with all of us, and it's great to get another perspective.

Welcome to the blog, Rachel!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Food flying to you in Northside

Polly just passed on the following info:

"Residents of Northside can now have their favorite restaurant meals delivered to them at home. A new bicycle restaurant delivery service called Flying Food will deliver food, coffee, pizzas and even CDs from Northside businesses to Northside residents. The owner is Dan Vogel-Essex, a recent University of Cincinnati graduate, who wanted to have a business that would employ bicyclists. Customers pay a $2 delivery fee. Participating restaurants include Hideaway, Northside Tavern, Melt, The Comet, Portofino pizza, Sidewinder coffee shop, plus you can order from Madison’s Grocery and Shake-It Records. Call 513-591-3663 (that spells FOOD). Flying Food operates 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday."

Love it. Too bad I don't live in Northside... but they are planning to expand at some point. I've lived in cities that have had much more extensive restaurant delivery service - usually by motorbike - and took advantage of it quite a bit. It's a good start.


Last night, the fabulous folks at Park+Vine turned me on to a great health drink: Kombucha. It's essentially sweetened tea that has been fermented with a mushroom or yeast. The drink is slightly sweet, with a taste akin to acidic cider. (Perhaps that's my way of saying it tastes a bit like cider vinegar.) It's quite effervescent, and the tea bubbles in your tummy. Overall, it's pretty good.
I'm told that kombucha is quite good for your liver and digestive tract. (liver cleansing drink... could be just the tonic you need after that holiday party!) The bottle boasts 30 calories per serving (2 servings per bottle), plus a billion Lactobactillus bacterium (the same bacteria found in yogurt) and a substantial amount of probiotics and amino acids.
At $3.75 a bottle, it's a little pricey for a thirst-quencher. But then again, this isn't something you'd drink for fun. It's something to drink for your health.
I like it. Try it. It's good, raw and healthy. I tried the original version but there are also citrus and raspberry flavors, which I'm told are less intense.
Tried it? Liked it?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Nada! It's open!

Nada, the new Mexican restaurant from David Falk and his Boca Restaurant Group, opened downtown today. It takes over the restaurant space on the corner of 6th and Walnut Streets, next to the Aronoff Center for the Arts, that was formerly Bella.
On the menu: festive, casual food that’s inspired by the authentic regional cuisines of Mexico and given a contemporary chef’s interpretation. There are tacos (mahi mahi, carnitas, barbacoa and chicken) but no combination plates, burritos, enchiladas or other Mexican-American restaurant standards. Small plates include ceviche of scallop and shrimp with orange and chipotle and queso fundido with asadero and gouda cheese. Entrees include pork green chile stew, lamb shoulder with ancho mole, raisins, peas and rice, and pork chop with red chile adobo, mashed plantains, poblano ragas and orange habanero sauce. Nada is more affordable than Falk’s Italian restaurant Boca in Oakley, where dinner often runs $75. At Nada, small plates range from $7-$14, and entrees from $14-$22. The menu features many small plates, making it easy to have drinks and a small meal before or after shows at the Aronoff.
The bar features premium tequilas and fresh juices. Heading Nada’s kitchen is Jonathan Mouch, formerly the sous-chef at Boca.
The two-story, glass-walled Bella space, designed by architect Don Beck, now has a contemporary look with rustic touches. The downstairs has open seating and a bar, while tables upstairs can be reserved. There’s also a room for parties and private dining.
Nada was originally announced in March of 2006, at a location in Norwood, but the change in location and the work on the interior pushed the opening back by many months. Currently, Nada is serving dinner only, but will add weekday lunch in January. Food is served from 5-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and the bar is open until 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday. Reservations at OpenTable.com or 513-721-6232.

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