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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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Souper Bowl Bean Soup Sale

As football fans across the country tune in to watch the NFL Super Bowl Championship game this weekend, a local Habitat for Humanity chapter will embark on a championship effort of their own – the Souper Bowl Bean Soup Sale.

The Clermont County Habitat chapter of TriState Habitat for Humanity will hold its annual community-wide fundraising effort from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 and again from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Feb. 3 at the Milford United Methodist Church at 541 Main Street in Milford.

Spice up your Super Bowl parties with carryout quarts of bean soup available with a $4 donation. Proceeds benefit the organization’s work in providing affordable housing for working low-income Clermont County families.

For more information, call 513-942-9211 or go to www.habitat-tristate.org.

A walk through Chalk

I met up last week with Chalk pastry chef Summer Genetti of Mount Lookout for an upcoming profile in the Hometown Enquirer edition. Manager Bryant Phillips was kind enough to give me the grand tour of Covington's latest foodie gem, which I now present to readers of the Foodie Blog. Click on an image to see a larger-resolution version.

World peace cuisine cooking classes

I received the following flyer from a local vegetarian e-mail group I am a part of. If anyone here registers, be sure to let us know how the classes are going!

World Peace Cuisine Cooking Class

Join Mark Stroud, Culinary Olympic award-winning chef, in exploring our daily food choices and how they impact and express our spiritual, mental, and physical lives and the world around us. Part lecture, part discussion, part hands-on cooking class, we will create together delicious and delectable morsels to satisfy our appetite for World Peace!

Dates: February 7 – March 13, 6 weeks
Day/Time: Thursday nights, 7:00 - 9:30 p.m.
Required Book: World Peace Diet, by Dr. Will Tuttle

Fee: $29/class
Prepay $174 for the series and receive the book FREE!
Location: Kitchen
Facilitator: Mark Stroud

New Thought Unity Center
1401 E. McMillan St.
Cincinnati, OH 45206
513-961-2527, www.ntunity.org

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chicken Soup Champs

There's chicken soup, there's good chicken soup, and then there's the chicken soup that wins the annual Wise Temple chicken soup cook-off. Here are the results from the weekend:

Pro Division:
Best Matzo Ball
Kroger Blue Ash: Chef Debbie Goulding
Avari Deli & Bistro: Second Place

Most Original
Parker’s Blue Ash Grille: Cheesy Chicken Soup
Kroger Liberty Township Marketplace: Chef Bruce Dickson: Second Place

Best Chicken Noodle
Izzy’s: Izzy’s Chicken Noodle Soup
Barresi’s: Second Place

Amateur Division:
Best Matzo Ball
Scott Wasserberg
Youth Group (e)YGOW: Second Place

Most Original
Chris Kotsovos: Chris’s Soup
Shawn Coons: Second Place

Best Chicken Noodle
Dr. Patricia Joseph: Linnie’s Soup
Susanah West: Second Place

People’s Choice Award:
Barresi’s: Cream of Watercress with Chicken
Izzy’s: Chicken Noodle Soup: Second Place

Paid Attendance:
They also served:
2,000 Bagels
36 Gallons Soup Donated
500 Sandwiches
See the photos:

Super Bowl special

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Tin Duck Tavern in Lebanon will offer all-day happy hour specials and a buffet from 5-8:30 p.m. ($2 domestic drafts; select wine for $3.50 and special drink prices.)
The buffet, which will include Hot and Mild Sausage, Hot and BBQ Wings and Tin Duck Taters, will cost $9.95.
The tavern, at 1525 Genntown Rd. (near Wal-Mart off Rt. 42.), will be open until 10 p.m. For more info, visit www.tinducktavern.com.

Polo Grille

from Polo Grille
The Polo Grille will partner with the American Heart Association and Go Red For Women for two ways to support women’s heart health this upcoming month.

Tuesday, February 5th 6:30pm: Wine & Chocolate Pairing with Marble Hill
Try amazing artisan chocolates, each deliciously matched with a different wine, both good for the heart (in moderation). $35 per person - All Proceeds will benefit Go Red for Women.
Reservations Required: Call 701-POLO

Thursday, February 14th: Wine & Dine Your Valentine!
All bottled wine will be 30-40% off retail price. Choose from Chef Thom’s expanded features such as, Fried Oysters, Rack of Lamb and Grilled Sea Bass, or make selections from the main menu. Suggested wine pairings also available. 10% of dinner sales will benefit Go Red for Women. Reservations gladly accepted online at www.opentable.com - Or Call 701-POLO

The Polo Grille
5035 Deerfield Blvd. Mason, OH 45040

Valentine's Day at Chalk

from Chalk Food + Wine:

Valentines Day at CHALK food + wine:
No longer will Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati's single voices go unheard on this daunting holiday! Leave the sap and romance to less independent people!
This year, don't drink yourself into a lonely oblivion or eat ice cream at home in solitude!

Instead, attend a "Singles Dining Event" at Chalk food + wine in Covington

In addition to our regular menu Chef Jared Whalen will offer a 5 course tasting menu comprised of oysters, king crab, scallops, filet mignon, and dessert by pastry chef Summer Genetti. The cost for our tasting menu is$49/ person with an additional $29 for course specific wine pairings.

This Valentines Day, spoil yourself, and no-one else!
For reservations call 859-643-1234

Mardi Gras at Findlay Market

Thaw the winter cold with the Findlay Market Mardi Gras on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This event is family-friendly, free and open to the public. Market merchants will compete for the best Mardi Gras decorations, costumes, food and spirit. Shoppers will enjoy free Mardi Gras beads, an 11 a.m. crowning of the Mardi Gras King and Queen, a jazz parade through the Market Square, delicious Cajun specialty foods and more. Findlay Market is located on Elder Street between Race and Elm Streets. For more information, visit http://www.findlaymarket.org or call 513-665-4839.


Bruegger’s will celebrate 25 years on Friday.
In honor of the event, Bruegger’s, at 6 East Fourth Street, will be offering a Cream Cheese Sandwich for 99 cents from 6-9 a.m. (What's a cream cheese sandwich? Is that just a bagel with cream cheese?)
There will be cake during lunch. 513-421-2320; http://www.brueggers.com.

Ikea + cake = sweet

A friend here at the office recently celebrated a birthday. She is an Ikea fan(atic), so this is the cake someone here had Artrageous Cakes make for her. How cute is this?! And it was turtle... Yum.

I drive by Ikea on my way to work every morning and fight the urge to wave... Ha! Can't wait until it opens March 12!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

C'mon, get happy...

How about a Foodie Report happy hour? If you're down, throw out some places, dates, times, and we'll see what the general consensus is... I'm thinking mid- to late-Feb, to give folks enough time to plan for it. What say you?


I've been trying to bring my lunch to work more often: it fits in with various resolutions my husband and I have made: saving money, being healthy, working hard. . . . My husband is extremely good at it--he can make a lunch out of the merest scraps. I backslide a lot more, and it was immediately obvious to him yesterday that I had as soon as I kissed him hello. It's the combination plate at Jordan Valley, just around the corner from The Enquirer building. I'm not sure what the garlic's in, but it announces itself long after. This plate is really too much to eat, but I always manage to: it's four perfect felafel nuggets, two mounds of smooth baba ghanoush and hummus, and a really good tabouli: mostly parsley, tiny diced tomatoes, very lemony. All good by themselves or in little combination bites. 211 W. Fourth Street ( you may have to dodge some Scientologists)
Oh, and I just realized it's all vegetarian. Their chicken shawarma's good, too! and once they were out of beef for their kebabs and I had a wonderful lamb skewer for lunch.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What's for dinner?

Been a while since I asked myself that... Sigh... I can't remember the last great meal I prepared, and I miss cooking. I've been hitting up Thai and Indian joints for take out. I've also been stopping by Chipotle for bowls (beans, corn salsa, green tomatillo salsa, fresh tomato salsa, lettuce, hold the rice, thanks.). I'm paranoid that the people who work there will be like, "What the...? Wasn't she just in here, like, two nights ago?" So, in my infinite wisdom, I identified three locations that are close to me and rotate. Yes, I realize that this is a problem...

Hence, I am committed to cooking dinner tonight. Even if it's just baked fish and steamed vegetables or something. Heck, maybe even a smoothie... Or maybe I'll stop by Trader Joe's after work to try to get some inspiration? I just need to eat something I put together, you know?

What's the last great meal you threw together?


Mobil 4-star

Mobil Travel Guides released this year's listing of 4 and 5-star hotels and restaurants today. Jean-Robert at Pigall's has 4 stars again. It's the only restaurant in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana on the list.

This used to be such a big deal every year when we waited for the announcement to see if Maisonette would still be on the 5-star list. This may not be as big a story: there was nothing like Maisonette's track record and even though they always were there on the list, every year it somehow felt like a cliffhanger. But it's great to see Pigall's get the recognition--which, in my opinion, it deserves.


Here's a little more about BlackFinn, the saloon/restaurant that's going in where McFadden's was:

It's a chain, with 12 locations--the first was New York City. Like McFadden's, it's about sports on TV, drinking beer, and an Irish theme. They'll have 30 TVs. But there's also a very complete menu: they have more emphasis on dining. It's "contemporary American" with lots of starters, soups, salads and entrees. They'll have Reubens and steaks and crab cakes and salads, chicken Creole, Chicken Balsamica and more. They'll be open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.

While the front of the building is BlackFinn, the back is called Suite at BlackFinn, which is more of the nightclub part of the deal. It will have its own sound system, DJ and entrance from Gano Alley.

They think they'll open mid-March.

BTW, if you miss McFadden's, isn't Sully's essentially the same thing?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Nada definitely something...

And by "something," I mean fabulous.

I went last night with three friends and had a great time. The service was great and the food was wonderful. We all shared and were passing plates around like mad people...

sopes 8
crispy masa boats + short ribs + chipotle salsa + cotija cheese + pickled onions

Know this: I am not a violent woman. But I felt like hitting someone after I ate these. Doesn't make sense, does it? That I would hit someone because something is delicious, I mean. That's how good they were...

ceviche 14
scallop + shrimp + orange + chipotle

The citrus was pleasant without overpowering the mildness of the seafood. And the presentation made me want to take it home. Gorgeous and tasty.

mahi mahi tacos 10
fried mahi mahibaja style” + guacamole + pico de gallo

I've tried "fish tacos" many times before, and I have always been disappointed by a corn tortilla that overpowered a mild fish, or a fish (clearly not the freshest) that overpowered the other flavors in the dish. Not so at Nada. Every flavor was bright and identifiable but they played together like old friends.

chicken taquitos 7
crispy chicken tacos + asadero cheese and queso fresco + crema + tomatillo salsa

"Crispy." They called that right. I had to keep looking at it, asking, "This is chicken?" It was so juicy and flavorful, I just knew it had to be something else. Mmm...

shrimp and tamal 23
grilled yogurt marinated shrimp + sweet corn tamal + salsa verde

Two of us ordered this and we were glad we did. That way, we had enough of the tamal to go around. The shrimp was wonderful and I adore tomatillos, but that sweet, dense cake of corn was amazing and the star of that plate. I could have eaten a bowl of it...

plantain and potato mash 6

This savory/sweet side dish was tasty. But the powerful flavors that I had already enjoyed made for a tough act to follow. Hence, I enjoyed it and it was a very comforting dish, but it paled in comparison to everything else on our table.

mahi mahi 22
charred corn and fregula + jalapeno pesto + tomato vinaigrette

The fish was cooked to perfection. The exterior, slightly crisp, gave way to the glorious sheen of moist, flaky deliciousness. I wanted more flavor in the corn, but it is January... All things considered, it was still amazing.

For dessert, two of my friends had:

warm chocolate torte 8
torte + madisono’s banana foster gelato

I was sated and didn't want to indulge. But they both agreed that it was very good. Before dinner, I enjoyed a grapefruit margarita, and wanted another. And another. Oh, if I could have stumbled home... Have you been to Nada?
Leave your own review.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The "R" word...

What starts with an "R," can't be declared (not officially, anyway), but has lots of us considering nail-biting as a new hobby?

If you've surfed the Web, read the newspaper or watched the news lately, you're aware of the much-discussed issue of our economy woes and widespread fear of a recession. So, lots of us are feeling the need to tighten our belts. And forget about pinching pennies - the cost of gas alone makes you want to squeeze the life out of 'em. Which brings me to higher prices at the grocery stores.

I bought 5 Honeycrisp apples (if you've been following this blog for a while, you know how much I adore them) at Kroger the other day. Why did that purchase set me back $5.69?

What in thee...?!

And the fact that they were the size of an infant's head (read: neither honey-ed nor very crisp) really irked me. The price of bell peppers (even the green ones) is insane. The last time I checked, they were $2 each. Sigh...

Are you feeling the pinch? How are you making sense of your dollars when you grocery shop?

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Calling all independent restaurateurs

this event is only for restaurateurs:
The Greater Cincinnati Independents -- the group behind restaurant week and those great discounted gift certificates -- is now accepting new members. Find out what they do and about upcoming events for 2008 at their Open Enrollment on Tuesday, Jan. 29th 5:00-8:00pm at Heidelberg 1518 Dalton St. Cincinnati. Membership is open to all independently owned and operated restaurants in Greater Cincinnati & Northern Ky.
RSVP to Drew Hester: dhester@newportaquarium.com

Small plates, big flavor

Did you check out our small plates centerpiece today? The photos are BEAUTIFUL. Our photographer Michael Keating worked his magic...

What's your favorite place to think "small plates"? And what's dishes are you top picks? I love the French Castle at Twist (although I have to say that I took the roasted cherry tomato off after I tried it - I preferred it without the sweetness)... I also liked the tuna tartare and the shrimp with bayonne ham (both pictured here) at Twist.

I'm (finally!) going to Nada tomorrow night, so, from what I hear, I will soon have new favorites!

Pigall's when you're in love

Another Valentine's Day menu, this one for Pigall's. Dinner (select one from each) is $125 per person. Wine is an additional $50 per person. Tax, Gratuity and Valet Parking are included.

Smoked Salmon with Quail Egg, Kentucky Spoonfish Caviar
Cucumber Poached Salmon Salad with Lemon Dressing
Domaine des Aubuissieres “Cuvée de Silex” Vouvray, 2005
Maine Lobster with Red Micro Salad
Tropical Fruit, Cole Slaw and Avocado
Labouré-Roi “St. Armand” Macon-Villages, 2005
Trio of Duck Ravioli with Hen of the Wood Mushrooms
Pomegranate and Pink Peppercorn Sauce
Fondue of Parsnips and Kumquats
Oratoire St. Martin Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, 2003
Sea Bass with Pinot Noir Butter, Light Truffle Sauce
Fondue of Root Vegetables, Swiss Chard
Royal Trumpet Mushrooms
Raphet Bourgogne, 2004
Rack of Lamb, Tarragon Syrah Wine Sauce, Fingerling Potatoes, Goat Cheese Flan, Confit Tomatoes, Medley of Mushrooms and Creamy Spinach
Les Closiers Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2004
Beef Tenderloin with Bordelaise Sauce
Grape and Shallot Compote
Dauphinois Potatoes, Blue Foot Mushrooms
Rapini and Vichy Carrots
Lancatay Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 2003
Farandole of Selected Sweets
Tissot “Jean-Robert’s” Cremant du Jura, N/V
Chocolates and Cookies

Cupid's arrow...

... would be perfect for a kebab of some sort, I say.

Valentine's Day is for lovers. FOOD lovers, that is! The day is the second most popular day to dine out (Mother's Day is #1). Which explains why lots of restaurants go all out to make the lover's holiday extra special. Here is what Mesh (your choice of one selection from each course - $75 per person; $105 with wine pairing) has lined up. We'll post other "special menus" if we get them.

tomato bisque
pine nut pesto + basil chiffonade + creme fraiche
crab duo
crab cake + crab chowder
prosciutto wrapped sea scallops
saffron risotto + micro greens salad + blood orange truffle emulsion
beef carpaccio
kobe beef tenderloin + micro salad + horseradish vinaigrette
spicy tuna tartare
avocado cucumber salad + crisp wontons + sesame ginger vinaigrette
smoked turkey flat bread
caramelized onions + camembert cheese + bleu cheese cream + mission fig jam

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

atlantic salmon
lobster mashed potatoes + french green beans + sherry soy sauce
lobster pasta
lobster tail + lemon linguine + spinach + tomatoes + champagne beurre blanc
pan roasted chicken breast
applewood smoked bacon + chive potato gnocchi + asparagus
mushrooms + savory sweet soy essence
asian style sea bass
oyster mushrooms + baby bok choy + steamed carrots + honey garlic broth
veal and lobster partners
veal tenderloin + lobster mushrooms + english peas
maine lobster tail + roasted corn chorizo ragout + tarragon-lobster emulsion
filet mignon oscar
king crab + sturkey's spice™ bearnaise + grilled asparagus + garlic mashed potatoes

a selection of desserts by pastry chef pam sturkey
Paul Sturkey, Chef/Restaurateur
Pam Sturkey, Pastry Chef
Sid Jones, Chef de Cuisine

Geno's Barbeque reopens in Miami Township

Cincinnati’s moniker might be Porkopolis but it’s a Miami Township restaurant that goes whole hog on barbeque.

Geno’s Barbeque & Family Diner celebrated its grand reopening yesterday. The restaurant relocated from its spot in historic Milford to 1241 SR 131 in Miami Township.

Husband and wife team Geno and Vanessa Walker kept the restaurant’s same country-kitchen atmosphere and its offerings of pit-smoked barbecued pork spare ribs, buffalo wings, pulled pork, and chicken with hot sides (deep fryer foods, along with baked beans and macaroni and cheese) and cold sides (salads).

New menu items include prime rib and steaks and the diner plans to hold a "Fish Fryday" every Friday, offering blackened salmon, tilapia, whiting and catfish.

Also offered are catering options and Vanessa’s cakes and confections. And according to the Walkers, all menu items are homemade, including the restaurant’s signature barbeque sauce – but this is one recipe Geno won’t spill.

“The secret’s in the sauce,” he said, with a laugh.

The move has especially delighted one Miami Township man. Paul Knepp, owner of nearby Gemini Pools, says he ate at the Milford restaurant nearly every day. After he was unable to stop in for his usual breakfast fare for two days, the Walkers called to see if he was okay.

“There is a service and attitude not matched by any other restaurant,” said Knepp, who recommends the mesquite-smoked pulled pork sandwich.

For more information, call the restaurant at 513-248-4533.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Perfect timing, Rachel!

Whole Foods just announced they'll end the use of plastic bags at registers by Earth Day. Read more. Great timing for your post, Rachel, and for telling me the link was broken. It's fixed now.
I have used my own bags since Korea, where they charge 100 won (10 cents or so) per bag. (You also pay 100 won for the use of a cart. ) They give you 100 won if you bring your own bag there, at least at the large grocery stores like Carrefour. In the last year, cashiers have really started to understand the idea of BYOBag. Even two summers ago, cashiers gave me strange looks. If I forget my bags at Trader Joe's, I often grab a wine box, at least for the heavy stuff. Then that box becomes my disposable recycling bin.

Eco-bags in, plastic out

The subject of eco-bags may be somewhat off-topic here, but hey, you gotta lug around food in something, right?

The husband and I made the transition to using eco-bags last year out of environmental concerns. Who knew that one little, flimsy plastic bag could take more than 1,000 years to degrade? Added bonus: Kroger's credits you 5 cents for every bag you bring and use.

San Francisco became the first city in America to ban the use of traditional plastic grocery bags last year, and New York is set to pass a bill requiring large stores and retail chains to collect and recycle plastic bags they give to shoppers. The growing trend seems to be eco-bags are in, and plastic out. In Great Britain and China, eco-bags have even become some what of a fashion statement - read more here and here.

Have you made the eco-bag switch? Why or why not?

Web-food addiction

Gourmet magazine has relaunched its Web site (www.gourmet.com) with original content, including stories, reviews, videos, recipes and archival material dating to the magazine’s 1941 launch. - The Enquirer


And it's fabulous. Between www.gourmet.com, www.chow.com and http://www.cooksillustrated.com/, I'm a happy woman...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Who's (got) your manna?

Main Entry: man·na
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Greek, from Hebrew mān
Date: before 12th century
1 a: food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness b: divinely supplied spiritual nourishment c: a usually sudden and unexpected source of gratification, pleasure, or gain (
from www.m-w.com)

I was talking to a friend recently about manna, not in the literal sense, but the concept. I was on the search for it this weekend. I was hoping to discover it in a new restaurant, but I ended up going where I knew for a fact that I would find it: A Taste of Julia's in Fairfield.

What's my manna? Soul food. Injera (seen above) wrapped around just about anything edible in an Ethiopian restaurant (Speaking of which, Emanu is supposed to open this month. Um, I hope it's soon!). Thai food. Indian food. And (wait for it) sauerkraut mixed with mashed potatoes. What can I say... This is what happens when you love food and you come from a hodgepodge family.

What foods (cuisines or specific dishes) bring you pure pleasure?

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Not about eating, but it involves shopping carts

This sounds like a great Foodie Report activity.
I love all the events going on at Fountain Square this winter. Ice skating, broomball, now the Iditarod!!!
Fountain Square Management Group is going to have an Iditarod shopping cart race that runs from downtown, to Over-the-Rhine, Newport and Covington. Five-person teams will be picking up items on a grocery list and stopping at three mandatory checkpoints.
Grocery items will benefit Cincinnati’s FreestoreFoodbank, and a challenge awaits team members at each checkpoint. Challenges include performing for judges and consuming food and drink. Course details and grocery lists will not be revealed until the day of the race. The Cinciditarod begins at 12:30 p.m. and must be completed by 3 p.m.The first team to cross the finish line, having successfully completed all the requirements of the race, will be declared winner of the Cinciditarod and win a cash prize. Additional prizes are awarded for best costume & cart, best performance, best glamour shot, and more.
Registration runs from Jan. 21 to Feb. 21.
It costs $25, and it sounds like it's just crazy enough for me! Who's in?

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Nicholson's turns 10!

Just got this from Nicholson's, which is in its tenth year.
Nicholson’s is celebrating the entire month of January with specials such as $3 Belhaven, a Scottish brew referred to in-house as the “Scottish Milkshake”, $3 Nicholson’s Cask Conditioned Ale, free commemorative pint glasses (with purchase), and menu features. The festivities will commence with a huge Robert Burns Night celebration to be held on Friday, January 25th beginning at 7:00pm. Expect bagpipes, scotch samples, and a traditional “Toast to the Haggis” read by Caledonian Society leader Alex Watt. The Orlando-based Celtic rock group, Seven Nations, will play from 9:00pm-12:00am. There is no charge for the evening’s events.
Best known for his ‘Auld Lang Syne’, Robert Burns is regarded as a cultural icon in Scotland and among Scots who have relocated to other parts of the world, his birthday celebration became widely popular during periods of the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has been strong on Scottish literature.
Burns Night reservations are accepted but not required. It is strongly suggested to arrive early for pub seating to view the ceremony.
Nicholson’s is part of the locally owned Tavern Restaurant Group, which also includes deSha’s American Tavern, The Pubs at Rookwood Mews and Crestview Hills, and The Polo Grille in Mason.
For more information: www.nicholsonspub.com

Florence Olive Garden

Florence Olive Garden is closed for remodeling, according to the Community Press. It will reopen in September with a "Tuscan farmhouse" design.


Thanks to Cincinnati Locavore for this Time article about a "distavore" meal. It was, the author says, Chris Dodd's references to the 100-mile diet as a new American dream that was his tipping point. All foods were from at least 3,000 miles away and purchased from Whole Foods.
I've been reading Marion Nestle's "What to Eat," and she very simply breaks down local vs. organic vs. conventional. If you worry about consuming pesticides, antibiotics and hormones entering your body, eat organic. If you worry about the carbon footprint of your dinner, eat local. Sure, you can eat both local and organic, but could one infer that eating organic is selfish while eating local is altruistic and better for society as a whole? Sigh. Let's just Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Thanks, Valereee for this great point about country of origin labeling:*

Not long ago, he would have had a hard time even knowing where most of his
produce came from. Now when he wants to eat Peruvian asparagus, at least he can.
Thank a locavore, Joel.

*Not that all foods are labeled, as we well know.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Rage against Food Network's machine?

Just taking a quick poll to see where everybody here stands on The Food Network. Lots of people who share my love of food don't like the FN. I've asked people, "So, did you watch * insert random show here *?" only to have them recoil, simultaneously fighting the urge to retch, it seems.

Well, excuse the heck outta me! I didn't know so many people felt Hollyfood has lost (or never had) its luster.

Well, you know what? I like some food stars and their overproduced "plots" and over-acted/rehearsed entrances and tasting faces. I like it when Ina has to make a fabulous lunch for the guys who are restoring a windmill. The poor fellas were clearly in dire need of mini meatloaves. And Giada's get togethers look so inviting I really want to forget it's essentially a set, with cameras, floor markers and hot lights everywhere. I want to have Alton on speed dial. And don't even get me started on Nigella. As far as I'm concerned, she invites me over to her house every weekend to show me how to make quick meals.

Now, I have my limits. I like
Paula, but I can't watch her parties. (Is it me or does her accent get thicka' when comp'ny comes ovah?) And I just never "got" Emeril. I prefer not to cook with sauce packets, so I pass on Sandra Lee. And Rachael's voice and overanimation do bad things to my chi, so...

So, am I one of a few with a soft spot for celebrity chefs? Oh well...

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Food celebrity shenanigans

Thanks, Kelly for this link! One more reason not to believe celebrity endorsements! (Wasn't there a rumor that Michael Jackson hated Pepsi when he endorsed it?)

Jamie Oliver is trying to change the way we eat in some pretty drastic ways.

Iron Horse Inn

This is something that I was checking up on and just recently heard more about. Sorry for the delay: The Iron Horse Inn is open only for public events in January and February. It will reopen with a spruced-up interior in the spring. More details to come.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kimchi in NYT

This story made my mouth water. Don't tell PETA, but the food I miss most is Korean barbecue. Kimchi is at its best when it's grilled alongside greasy pork. Grilled alone, with a little oil, it still gets that great caramelized flavor.
I'm sure everyone's sick and tired of hearing about kimchi.
Sorry, but I love the stuff!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An ode to the independent coffee house

CIN Weekly has a special this week on the new wave of post-Starbucks generation of coffee houses. These cozier, often independent, establishments aren’t brewing to become the next McCoffee; they’re smaller in scale and tend to place their emphasis squarely on the coffee.

I’m a big fan of independent coffee houses, although ironically, I dislike coffee and many coffee-inspired specialty drinks - give me a steamed soy milk or a cup of Earl Gray any day. Rather what draws me to indie coffee houses is the atmosphere.

The coffee shops I frequent feature a blend of old architecture and modern, comfortable furniture and artsy décor. The works of local artists adorn the walls and the not-too-loud music is alternative and soothing. The seating is cozy, with a mix of tables and comfy armchairs you can just sink into and sip away your troubles. And of course, the shop must offer free wireless internet access.

I wiled away many a late night during my undergraduate years at UC at The Buzz in Clifton. The Jack Kerouac of the coffee shop world, The Buzz offered a Bohemian, laid-back atmosphere. When it closed in January of 2004, many Buzz regulars were left coffee shop-less and out in the cold.

The Buzz remained empty for the next three years, but now a new coffee shop promises to reopen its doors there as Taza. Both the website and a sign promise the shop will open soon, with the hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. I’ve contacted the owners for a specific opening date, but no word back yet.

The Buzz’s closing forced me to find a new coffee shop home and for the past several years, I’ve made it at Sitwell’s. The Clifton shop offers free internet access and an eclectic atmosphere, not to mention a mean bowl of homemade vegetarian mushroom soup. And Sitwell’s occupies a fond place in the memories of my husband and I – it was the place where we first met in person after meeting online.

Most recently, I’ve discovered Mammoth Café at 505 Monmouth St. in Newport. Not only does the shop offer a well-lit, comfortable atmosphere and free internet access, it also offers lots of vegetarian breakfast and lunch offerings. Owner Linda Marshall, who has degrees in both business and culinary school, bought the shop in 2006. She formerly managed Joseph Beth’s Bronte Bistro. Mammoth’s only drawback is its limited hours – the shop closes at 3 p.m. weekdays and is closed on Monday.

My co- Hometown reporter Shauna Steigerwald recently wrote about a popular Westside dig, College Hill Coffee. The shop’s fame recently spread after it was featured in the nationally syndicated comic strip "The Dinette Set," which runs in The Enquirer.

What are some of your favorite local coffee houses? What makes a coffee house truly great?

good news, bad news

I'll have a venti skinny latte with an extra shot, but, oh, could you hold the recombinant bovine growth hormone? Thanks...
Starbucks will stop offering organic milk, which it said accounts for a small percentage of drinks, because has switched to rbgh-free milk. Starbucks has completed the switch and now only serves milk without the artificial growth hormone, which increases cows' output.
The Wall Street Journal and MSNBC had very different takes on the story.

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100-calorie snacks: Half-empty, half-full

Be sure to check out our food centerpiece today. It's all about 100-calorie snack packs. You know the little pouches that have taken over the grocer near you...

I'm not sure how I feel about them. On one hand, they are nice when you want a snack, but also want to exercise portion control. On the other hand, they might not be so great for the grazer who finds herself mowing through an entire box of these treats in 24 hours, inhaling 500-600 calories of junk.

Do you have a favorite 100-calorie snack, prepackaged or not?

A&W closed

A&W has closed in Tower Place. Waiting to hear from real-estate agent on what will replace it. At least two readers have written to say they're hoping for a Chipotle...

Hathaway's renovations

Hathaway's is closed.
Now that I've got your attention... the landmark Downtown Cincinnati coffee shop is simply undergoing planned renovations, said new owner Chris Bronger. The coffee shop -- with all your favorite longtime servers -- should be open by Feb. 4, he said.

Udipi to Amma's Kitchen

Last night, after a late interview out in Springdale, I decided to be lazy and not cook. As I was driving down 75, I realized I was near Udipi Cafe, my favorite Indian place. My mouth started watering as I thought of the spicy chana batura (puffy bread with spicy chickpeas), dosai (chickpea flour crepes with vegetables) and vada (lentil donuts). It's my "date" place, according to my friends. It's the place I seemed to take guys on second dates, and where I made a point to take friends. I haven't been there, embarrassingly, since summer. Life has gotten in the way, and it's off Exit 9, so it's not exactly close to either Covington or Walnut Hills.
Imagine my disappointment to see that Udipi has closed. But: It's only changing owners. It will reopen this month as Amma's Kitchen, with that same vegetarian southern Indian food.
The decor, which was pretty sparse, is being updated, and some new dishes will be added, said Shiva Ream, the employee I talked to this morning.
more details to come. I'm very excited that this place will reopen, though I hope the food is as good as Udipi's. In the mean time, where do I get good (and yes, vegetarian, if possible) Indian food? Aside from Udipi, much of what I've had is mediocre.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chalk Food + Wine

I interviewed the management team at Chalk today, and I met Summer Genetti and Bryant Phillips for the first time. They're young and energetic, and the space is really fun! I don't want to spoil all they have in store, but expect amusing and well-executed chalkboard paintings/drawings and other fun artwork from local artists.
The entrees are labeled by animal and seafood (Cow #1 and #2, Catfish, Duck, etc.). Pretty funny, huh. And there appear to be plenty of veggie options: grilled cheese, pita falafel, veggie tacos plus veggie-friendly sides and starters. Word is, produce is local and organic when possible, says the chef, Jared Whalen. Sounds good to me.
Prices are reasonable: $22 filet (Cow #1) is the priciest, exclusing Lamb for the shank! for two with two sides for $28.
That trio (Jared in particular) was giddier than kids in a candy store when they talked about Chalk.
They'll be open starting Wednesday for lunch, from 11:30 on. Dinner service Monday through Saturday begins at 5:30.


McFadden’s will become BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon, a chain of Irish pubs that was established in New York City in 1994, according to the BlackFinn Web site.
Details to come.
I was out yesterday and away from e-mail, otherwise I would have called a friend's boyfriend, who works there.

Madison's Classes

Bryan Madison of Madison's says the store's last cooking class with David Warda sold out quickly, so act fast. He just sent me this info:

Winter Casseroles
1. Leek and Gorgonzola Kugel
2. Greek Macaroni Casserole
3. Zucchini Cheese Pudding
4. Mushroom savory Bread Pudding
Presented by Madison’s at Findlay Market and Author/Chef David Warda

Date: Sunday February 17, 2008
Time: 1:00-3:00PM
Cost: $25.00 Prepaid Cash, Check, Credit Card
Reservations made at Madison’s Store, or Phone 513-542-2009, 513-723-2009
Deadline for Reservations is Friday noon before class (2/15/08)
Classes are Limited to 25 persons
Classes will be held in market space next door to Madison’s
Each menu item will be demonstrated, prepared and served and recipe provided.
Each attendee will be provided complimentary items from Corporation for Findlay Market.
Madison’s will provide door prizes.

Future classes will be held 3rd Sunday of each month.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another one bites the dust?

Looks like McFadden's shuttered, but no confirmation of that. More details to come...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Reviving the Victorian tea party

The tea party seems to have fallen out of favor these days, but one Milford woman is on a mission to revive it.

Larel Grant has turned her love of tea parties into a part-time business called the Weekend Only Tea Party. But don’t let the business name fool you – Grant is also available to host parties throughout the week by special arrangement.

One weekend each month, Grant transforms the living room of her Cape Cod home into a Victorian parlor sporting embellished tables adorned with vintage decorations, crocheted doilies and fine antique china. A printed menu includes scones, tea sandwiches, clotted cream, hot or cold soup, fresh fruit, chocolate and cookies and three types of tea. Grant usually serves a sampling of black, green and herbal teas.

Grant and her story will be featured soon in the southeast edition of the Hometown Enquirer.

Garden clubs and church groups have proved to be Grant’s largest draw, although she also hosts parties for girl scouts looking to earn merit badges in etiquette. I think the parties would be ideal for Red Hat chapters, too.

Grant’s is a business, but it’s a non-profit business. She charges party goers only for cost of food and supplies. For more information, call Grant at 513-831-0356 or at 513-769-1916.

Chalk update

I drove by Chalk this morning on my way to work: It's a lovely, pale buttercup yellow color with -- I think -- some orange and olive green accents. I'm excited to see the inside. I've been trying to peek in as I drive by each morning, but that's hard to do -- and dangerous. I'm not such a good driver to begin with! Details to come about next week's reopening!

Another place to build-a-bowl

So, according to this story from business, bd's Mongolian Grill is set to open Tuesday in Deerfield Township.

I'm not a huge fan, but it's one of those kitschy places where you can go with kids or a large group of friends, be really loud, and not have to worry about the picky people in your party not getting what they want... You can build a virtual bowl to see how your picks would add up. Here's how my bowl of chicken, shrimp, broccoli, chopped garlic, onions, peppers, water chestnuts (and the cooking oil they use in each bowl) weighs in:

Your Bowl's Nutritional Facts:

Protein (g):

Carbohydrates (g):

Dietary Fiber (g):

Total Fat (g):

Saturated Fat (g):

Thursday, January 10, 2008

from DCI newsletter

Enzo’s is offering new convenient box lunches that you can pick up or have delivered. Each box lunch is $8 and includes a fresh café sandwich, cookie or brownie, chips and a bite of special chocolate. Sandwich choices include chicken salad, curry chicken salad, tuna salad, ham and cheddar and others. There is an order minimum of six lunches and 24-hours notice is requested for delivery. Enzo’s is located at 1106 Race Street. To place an order, call 513-579-1106 or fax 513-579-1105. http://enzocincy.com.
Afternoon Tea at Orchids
Stop by to experience live music and afternoon tea on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Orchids at Palm Court. Call 513-421-9100. http://www.orchidsatpalmcourt.com.
Jazz At The Phoenix Restaurant
Live music every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call 513-721-8901. http://thephx.com.
T.G.I.T. Wine Tastings At City Cellars
$6 every Tuesday at City Cellars at 908 Race Street. http://www.citycellars.biz.

Cooking classes for the soul


One of Cincinnati's most renowned soul food experts is ready to pass on her kitchen secrets.

Katrina Mincy plans to begin teaching cooking classes by early March at the Werk Mansion in Westwood.

Calling it Aunt Flora's Southern Soul Cooking School and Inn, Mincy, 58, says she will also host overnight guests at the mansion and have facilities to accommodate up to 60 guests for private dining functions. She and her husband, Ron, bought the century-old building several years ago.

Mincy owns and operates Aunt Flora's Cobbler House at Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. She prepared one of her famous pies on Martha Stewart's TV show last year.
Mincy is already accepting reservations for cooking classes and rooms at her inn. Information: www.auntflora.com.
Chuck Martin

More fish

I just got an opening date from the Oceanaire people. You can look forward to it opening downtown on March 22, barring unforseen circumstances, as they say (which seem to crop up a lot when it comes to restaurant openings)
It looks pretty fabu, I must say. It's an upscale chain--there's one in Indianapolis, among other locations. Like a swanky steakhouse, except with seafood. A 30's ocean liner is the inspirationf or the look.
In the 580 Building at 7th and Walnut, diagonally across from the Contemporary Arts Center.

Hurry! These go fast!

Just got this e-mail:
New Cincinnati Independents discounted restaurant gift certificates will be available for purchase Friday, January 11th!!
Check us out Friday morning by visiting the following link:
Certificates can be printed immediately after purchase. More detailed information is provided at the link.
Thank you so much for your interest in
the Cincinnati Independents and for your support of our community’s independent restaurants. If you have any questions or need any assistance with gift certificate purchases, please call our gift certificate support line at (877) 870-DINE, or send us an email at support@originalsgc.com

Good Baked Goods

I'm pretty much OD'd on cookies, fudge, strudel, stollen, schnecken, toffee, peppermint ice cream, fruitcake. . . . .. and all the other holiday treats I've sent happily down the hatch in the last month or so.

Still. . . . when I hear of someone opening a new bakery, I feel I should check it out. Especially when described as homemade European pastries. On the west side.

Taber Bakery is adream project of a young couple, Jeff and Jenny Taber. They're clearly starting on a shoestring, with a simply decorated storefront at North Bend and Harrison (next to the gun store). You might not give it a second look if you drove by. Jeff's the baker, and he makes real Danish pastry, in the form of breakfast Danishes, bear claws, and his own version of schnecken. It's buttery and rich. The schnecken is like "Cincinnati" schnecken, in that it's three cinnamon rolls baked in a loaf, but it's not the butter-soaked bread-like style of the Virginia Bakery. It's much more layered, with lots and lots of crunchy sugar between the layers.

And--are you from Buffalo? On Tuesdays, they have kummelweck, the coarse salt and caraway-sprinkled rolls necessary for beef on weck. I don't know what's authentic here, but I ran it past a Buffaloan I know, and he said they were right. . . . Delicious homemade rolls, in any case.
3408 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, 513-661-BAKE.

serendipitous sandwich

After battling a bat (don't ask) and getting home late, I didn't feel like cooking last night.
Still I quickly threw together a bit of black beans and rice with cilantro, roasted red peppers and avocado, but there were no leftovers. Quel dommage! That means Fred and I are eating sandwiches for lunch: Aunt Millie's Indian Grain bread (no HFCS, 3 g fiber a slice) with organic goat cheese, a handful of greens, avocado, cilantro and roasted red peppers. Heavenly, and very similar to Salt of the Earth's signature veggie sandwich.
When lunch is good, how can the rest of the day be bad? This more than makes up for getting one of my new heels caught in a sidewalk crack. (Cincinnati's sidewalk cracks are just wide enough to trip up someone wearing stilettos! My heels are slightly thicker than stilettos and still fell prey. They should really work on that! Plus, the cracks -- don't know the official name. caulking, maybe? -- are rubberized, so you get stuck. I digress.)
Are you enjoying your lunch hour?

Pollan to discuss, sign book Saturday

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

That's the advice journalist Michael Pollan offers in his new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Polly featured an interview earlier this week with the author about his new book.

Pollan - the author of the bestselling book, The Omnivore's Dilemma - suggests that if we would pay more for better, well-grown food, but buy less of it, we'll benefit ourselves, our communities, and the environment at large.

I picked up Pollan's book a few weeks ago, and it's on my list of books to read after I finish Barry Glassner's The Gospel of Food. But when I heard an NPR interview with Pollan last week, I skimmed through and read parts of the book - it's a hard book to put down.

Now locals will have a chance to hear from Pollan himself. Pollan will discuss and sign his book at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Joseph Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Plaza. The bookstore recommends getting line letters in advance, available with purchase of the book.

For more information, call Joseph Beth at 513-396-8960.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The tale of Kombucha

It's Hot Tea Month, and Life offered up an alternative: Kombucha, the fermented tea the Foodie Report wrote about last month.
I've had the Carpe Diem and GT Kombucha. The Carpe Diem brand, made by Red Bull, will appeal to more people, but the GT brand feels more like the "real" thing. It's fizzier and you feel better after drinking it. The Carpe Diem is cheaper ($1.69 compared with more than $3.50 at various locations).
LA Times Magazine has a fascinating profile of the man behind kombucha.


Rumor has it (and the Ohio Department of Liquor Control Web site confirms it) that Javier's is seeking a liquor license.
Could this mean that dinner hours are coming soon? At the very least, it means margaritas with your burritos! We'll find out!

The perfect foil to a hectic day...

The next night you get home from work and you're starving but you can't stand to think about doing anything but parking yourself on the couch, remember this post. Follow these steps (or a variation of them) for an easy dinner and a relaxing evening...

1. Kick off your shoes. (It's been a long day - let 'em breathe.)

2. Go to the kitchen and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grab a pound of tilapia, roughy, perch, salmon, etc... from the freezer. Unwrap the fillets and rinse under cool water. Season both sides of the fish with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

3. Get a large baking sheet or dish. Tear off two good-sized pieces of foil (large enough to hold the fish with room for vegetables to go on top.

4. Speaking of which, get your vegetables. My favorite combination? Yellow and green zucchini, onion and red bell pepper. And grab a lemon (or lime), too. If you can find Meyer lemons, rejoice and use it. The sweet, tart flavor adds amazing dimension. (FYI, I bought some at Wild Oats/Whole Foods last week. Get 'em while they last...) But you can use whatever you have on hand. Give everything a good scrub and a course chop. (Cut the vegetables too big and they might not cook fast enough; too small and you'l have a veritable vegetable puree.) Spread the chopped vegetables over the fish, making an even layer, but stay a couple inches away from the edge of the foil. Pour the juice from your lemon over everything. Season liberally with salt and pepper. (You might be surprised by how much you need... Lots of water in those veggies.) Pour a little (like 2-3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil over everything. Or, to make it just about fat-free, go without. Adding a little cilantro over the veggies is delicious, but optional. Again, go with whatever you have on hand.

5. Take the other piece of foil and place it over the fish and veggies. Fold the edges of the two pieces of foil into one another, creating a tight seal all the way around, but leaving room over the fish and veggies.
6. Put the whole thing in the oven. Take off your stuffy work clothes, throw on your sweat pants and an old T-shirt with holes on it. Go through your mail... Mmm, already smells good, huh?

After less than 10 minutes of prep time and about 25 minutes of cook time, dinner is ready. I often have Near East couscous with it. I love it and it takes all of an additional 8 minutes to make. I put a little lemon juice in the couscous as well...

Enjoy... (And you don't have a million pots to clean after you eat!)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Two Hispanic groceries open on east side

The past six months have ushered in two new Hispanic grocery stores in Union Township.

El Oasis Latin Products opened six months ago at 834 Ohio Pike next to Subway, while the El Porbenir (“good coming”) Grocery Store celebrated its grand opening just three weeks ago at 4505 Mount Carmel Tobasco Rd.

El Probenir owner Maria Luna says the large influx of Hispanics in the area and a dearth for traditional favorites prompted her store’s opening. But she also sees many native-born patrons, as well as immigrants from other non-Hispanic countries.

Don’t let the strip-mall locations fool you: These stores are chock-full of tasty ethnic foods, beverages and spices. El Porbenir boasts a wall full of seasonings and spices I’ve never heard of, let alone ever considered using – like rose petals used in a traditional Mexican beef dish or mayonnaise with a touch of lime. And for those who prefer their dishes spicy, both stores carry more than a dozen varieties of dried chilies.

The larger of the two stores, El Oasis is truly an oasis for both fans of Latin dishes and/or food adventurers who want to experiment with new tastes. And the store’s friendly staff is available to help answer questions and give suggestions.

For more information, call El Oasis at 513- 943-7999 or El Porbenir at 513-688-0082.

Monday, January 07, 2008

One opening, one closing -- and goat

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill will open on Jan. 18 at 2552 Cunningham Road in Evendale.
    From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 17, Chipotle is sponsoring a benefit for Reading Junior-Senior High School’s student activity fund. Get a burrito and soft drink for $5, and all proceeds will go to the school. Get free Chipotle apparel during the grand opening on the 18th.
    The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. The phone number is 513-554-0911 and the fax number is 513-554-1394.
  • Thanks to reader Lisa for tipping us off: Sarpino’s Pizza in Hamilton has closed, according to a corporate spokeswoman.

  • Fred and I have a new favorite place to eat: La Mexicana in Newport. (I know that I'm as much a discoverer of La Mexicana as Christopher Columbus was of America, but it's new to me!) Fred loves the goat meat -- he says it's rich and delicious, like lamb. I've had the vegetarian flag burrito (fabulous and filling enough for two meals), the flag enchiladas (too much cheese for me) and the regular vegetarian burrito (delicious). The portions are huge, the service was good and oh, that salsa verde! I'm usually wary of Mexican food (lard in the beans; veggies grilled alongside meat), but a vegan friend suggested it. There's corn oil in the beans!

hearty Tunisian tomato stew

A few months back, Mary gave me some cookbooks, including Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven. The recipes are heavenly, healthful and sinfully simple.
Last night, with a nearly empty pantry and fridge, I had to make do. I realized that I haven't been eating lentils much lately, so I searched the cookbook and found a recipe in Vegetable Heaven for Tunisian tomato soup with lentils and chickpeas. Sadly, I didn't even have tomatoes, so Fred had to stop and buy some on his way over. One heaping ladleful and we were both full. We're having leftovers for lunch and likely for a quick dinner or tomorrow's lunch. The recipe yielded six hearty portions of a stewlike soup!
Here's the modified recipe:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup lentils, rinsed (I soaked them with the spices this morning because I realized I didn't have tomatoes and couldn't cook the soup!)
1 28-ounce can tomatoes (crushed or diced)
1 green onion, chopped (recipe calls for 4 cups minced onion. Again, I was out of this! My pantry is so sad!)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste, plus a few healthy shakes of red pepper flakes
handful cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil
Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic and onion. Cook two minutes, then add the lentils (which have had been soaking with the spices). Add water to cover, then add tomatoes and chickpeas. Simmer 10 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Serve with cilantro.

I think we've been in a bit of a rut lately. We've been eating a lot of tofu and kimchi, and black beans and rice. Fred actually said last night that he's craving broccoli rabe. We found a few more recipes that we want to try soon: kale crisps (a snack food), spinach soup with basil and dill, sweet potato and pea patties, Tuscan bean and pasta stew... Though it doesn't feel like winter today, my stomach is ready for winter foods.
I also found a recipe for avocado-chocolate pie. I think I'll try it this weekend. Avocado-chocolate "milk"shakes are pretty good, so I hope I'll like this!

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What the...? Who shrank my jeans?

The thing about diets? They don't work. Not long-term anyway... You get bored. You can't stomach another breakfast of bacon and eggs (hold - make that hide - the toast!). Or soy yogurt and flax seed. You feel like you'll turn into cabbage soup. Or a grapefruit. Or, heck, you're just plain hungry!

So, with that said, I hope none of my fellow foodies out there resolved to go on a diet in 2008. If so, quickly and quietly take it back. (We'll look the other way for the next 15 seconds while you do.... * whistling*) OK, did you take it back? Yay!

At this point, most of us know weight gain and loss is basically addition and subtraction. If you consume fewer calories than you need, but enough to be strong and nourished, you lose weight and look great. If you eat way more (or even 300 more) calories than you need/burn, your jeans will start to, ahem, shrink over time. (I have that crazy dryer that often shrinks clothes right around the holidays. Oh, yours does that too? Weird...)

So, back in November I decided I would keep the holiday heft at bay. Not by cutting out carbs or eating like a waif. I just didn't overdo it. I enjoyed desserts, yummy alcholic beverages, full-fat and full-flavor foods, etc... But I didn't "waste" calories. For instance, there were TONS of jean-shrinking treats in the office. But I thought, "Do I really want to waste 300 calories on a random cookie bar that might not even taste that great?" Turns out, it was easier than I thought. Before, I would restrict like crazy to lose weight. Next thing you know, I'd be reaching for the
Marsha Marsha Marshmallow and give up on eating better for a while. Not a good look...

Basically, I took bits and pieces from diets that I like and made a way of eating that works for me. For instance, I like the vegan approach found in
"Skinny Bitch" (which I read in August) so I went many days without eating any meat, dairy or eggs. But, as an omnivore, I also incorporated the lean protein recommended in the Perricone Prescription and the South Beach plans. I found that when I didn't put any limitations on what I could eat or drink, I made better choices. Plus, I just felt better when I didn't have insane amounts of fat and simple sugar coursing through my veins. Not only did I not gain weight over the holidays, I lost 17 pounds and my body fat decreased. Plus, my endurance and strength at the gym improved. Sweet...

Will I ever reach for the Marsha Marsha Marshamallow? Maybe. Who am I kidding? Definitely! Just remember everything in moderation - even moderation. And now I know that I can enjoy everything without needing to get a new dryer...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Indian restaurant opens in Newtown

East-siders, rejoice! A new Indian restaurant has opened in Newtown's Ivy Hills Center.

Indian Oven at 7397 Main St. offers a buffet lunch for $6.59. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours are printed on the door, but a hand-written note informs patrons the restaurant is currently closed on Sundays.

For more info, call the restaurant at 513-561-7444.

So worth the walk (and the tissue)...

When I really want something, I'm unstoppable. I'll brave icy temps (and a runny nose), rain, sleet and snow... I don't take "no" for an answer. Today that go-get-em attitude applied to lunch.

I went out today - high heels, high winds and all - to
Ingredients to get the salad combination to which I recently became addicted: Mixed greens (or just romaine), tomatoes, TONS of garbanzo beans and almonds. And, because the salad makers tend to get extremely heavy-handed with the dressing, lemon-avocado dressing on the side. Super simple, but the flavor and texture combination is so good...

Want to find your favorite salad? CinWeekly has some good places to start
in this story. What are some other good places to get a big ol' salad?

MCI Cooking Class schedule

Just got this info about new cooking classes at MCI. I've never taken a cooking class, but I'm thinking that it might be fun to take one with some friends -- or Fred.
Community Cooking Classes
at the Midwest Culinary Institute
at Cincinnati State
Winter 2008
Start the New Year off right with culinary classes at the Midwest Culinary Institute.
Learn how to make bread, get your kids in the kitchen, explore the worlds of cheese, wine and chocolate and much more. And do it hands-on, in MCI’s state of the art kitchens with faculty chefs and chefs from some of your favorite restaurants!

To register or for more information call 513-569-1643 or visit: http://culinary.cincinnatistate.edu/Events/Events.htm

Saturday, January 26, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Betsy LaSorella $95
Introduction to Breadmaking, beginners
Saturday, January 26, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thom Milliken $59
Take the Fear out of Fish, beginners/intermediate
Wednesday, January 30, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Renee Schuler, $45
The Art of Cheese and Wine, beginners
Need some new ideas for entertaining? This tasting-only class with Chef Renee, the owner of Eat Saturday, February 2, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Kat Kessler, Pastry Chef, Hilton Netherland Plaza Cincinnati, $59
Tea Party 101
Wednesday, February 6, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bill Sands, Marble Hill $45
Hosting Your Own Chocolate and Wine Tasting: The Art of Perfect Pairings with Marble Hill Chocolate Lounge, beginners
Saturday, February 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. $110 (lunch included)
Boot Camp! beginners
Saturday, February 9, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Moe Thie, MCI faculty chef and pastry decorator $49
Kid’s Valentine’s Day Treats, kids ages 8 - 12
Tuesday, February 12, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. David Cook, owner, Daveed’s at 934 $59
Cooking for Couples, beginners/intermediate
Saturday, February 16, 1p.m. to 4 p.m. Catrina Leatherwood $59
Do-Ahead Winter Dishes, beginners
Wednesday, February 20, 6-9 p.m. Brian Whisman, Kroger Division Chef Coordinator $59
A Night in Italy, beginners

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Village Kitchen improves with changes

The Village Kitchen is as quaint and charming an eatery as the village of Mariemont from which it draws its name. The last few years have seen a few changes for the Mariemont tradition, which boasts 44 years of continuous service. But a recent visit reassured me that the changes have only served to improve the eatery, without compromising its concept.

A need for more space prompted the restaurant’s 2004 move from a cozy spot on Mariemont Square to its new location in the Walton Creek Center on Wooster Pike, just east of Kroger. The new spot boasts 40 more seats and when an intern and I stopped by for lunch recently, the place was full.

It’s the restaurant’s simple, home-style meals that have attracted crowds since 1964. Everyday lunch and dinner specials such as roast pork loin, baked ham, prime rib and pork chops draw a senior-citizen crowd early and younger couples and families later. Lighter fare includes entrée salads like the Martha’s Vineyard and the Peasant salad, along with sandwiches, wraps and soups.

In November, the establishment brought on seasoned culinary professional Chef Jerry Stern to head operations. Stern received classical training from the Culinary Institute of America before going on to serve as sous chef at various fine dining establishments.

Stern’s more than 20 years experience in menu development, catering and operations certainly shows in the Village Kitchen’s extensive menu. The traditional favorites are all there, as well as some tempting new additions, including six grilled panini sandwiches served on yummy focaccia breads. Bonus: two of the sandwiches are vegetarian.

The sandwiches are all named after Cincinnati neighborhoods and it was a hard pick between the Mount Lookout and Mount Adams sandwiches. We both ordered the Mount Adams panini ($6.95), which layers mushrooms, sautéed spinach, red onions, black olives and tomato with parmesan cheese.

The Mount Lookout sandwich (also $6.95) features sautéed spinach, red onions and tomato made gooey and delicious by layers of melted chedder and swiss cheeses. All sandwiches come with a side of crisp coleslaw.

Word of caution: Be sure to come hungry. The sandwiches are massive and neither of us were able to finish ours. I would like to go back with my husband for dinner sometime and maybe even sample some of the restaurant’s well-recommended desserts.

If you go:
Village Kitchen
7453 Wooster Pike
Monday - Saturday 7 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

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