The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Live jazz at H.D. Beans Cafe

If you find yourself bored from, say, noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, come watch my husband, Brandon Kinman and friend Will Toedtman play some live jazz at H.D. Beans Cafe at 6721 Montgomery Road in Silverton.

Brandon will play trumpet and flugelhorn, with Will on guitar. I've never been to H.D. Beans, but they have multiple plasma televisions and big comfy couches to relax in. It sounds as if its coffee house meets cafe, with hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and baked goods.

Brandon and Will are former members of the Shawn Elsbernd Quartet and the Northside Jazz Ensemble, both of which enjoyed some local praise years ago.

Restaurant Week

Are you excited? I am!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


At the last minute, I went to CityBeat's party at Twist last night, and Fred agreed to come along. We ran into a few friends, including our favorite blogger at BuyCincy.com. One vanilla heat martini for me and a Sam Adams for Fred made work become a distant memory. I'm such a lightweight that martinis are dangerous, especially on an empty stomach! The place was packed, and the crowd was pretty diverse. Lots of good people watching to be had! And when you could get it, there was free food, too.
Our friend and his girlfriend were heading to Lavomatic, so Fred and I tagged along.
At 8 p.m., most of the tables downstairs were filled. (Not sure whether they were seating upstairs.)
We had a
  • pot of roasted cauliflower soup ($8, but it served four!)
  • butter lettuce salad with shaved fennel and citrus pickled red onion ($6.50)
  • vegetarian ravioli, with rhubarb, root vegetables, bitter greens and brie, and rhubarb cream sauce ($14)
  • roasted salmon with preserved lemon, Israeli couscous and star anise beurre blanc ($18)
  • crème brûlée with lemon madeleine with candied rhubarb ($7)
We loved the entrées, really liked the soup and salad, and liked the dessert.
We loved our dessert until we tasted theirs -- chocolate compote with cherries and bay laurel cream, and baba au rhum with hazelnuts and hazelnut gelato.
The compote was fabulous in an "I-dare-you-to-finish-me" way, but the baba au rhum -- wow! It was "I'm-so-confident-in-my-fabulousness-that-I-don't-need-to-flaunt-it" good. The crème brûlée was a little too demure after those two.
The folks at Lavo, which is what all the cool kids are already calling it, rightly said two entrees and two glasses of wine would run about $50. Have you been there yet?

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's all Greek to me

The husband and I are turning into quite the cosmopolitans. Last month we traveled to New York City and this past weekend saw us in sunny, dry Chicago. We let our native friends there make dinner reservations and they decided on the widely acclaimed, three-star restaurant The Parthenon, nestled in the heart of Chicago's Greektown.

Founded in 1968, The Parthenon has since become a Chicago establishment and tourist draw. Murals of Greek landscapes combine with appropriately classical touches, including faux colonnades, to honor the restaurant's venerated namesake. The family-owned restaurant claims to be the birthplace of the Flaming Saganaki (cheese flamed in brandy), a popular dish waiters flambé tableside while crying "Oopa!" (Greek for cheers or hooray). I wanted to get a photo of those intrepid waiters who lit up five or six dishes at once, but the restaurant was so packed I never could get the shot.

Outside of the veggie gyro at Mythos downtown, I've never sampled Greek food, so my husband and I decided to split a vegetarian combination platter entree of vegetarian moussaka, pastitsio and dolmas, along with an appetizer of mini spinach-cheese pies. For those of you, like me, who aren't familiar with Greek food, here's a quick primer:

Moussaka: Layers of eggplant and meat sauce topped with bechamel (white) sauce and kefalotiri (a Greek cheese)
Pastitsio: Macaroni baked with broccoli, spinach, bechamel sauce and kefalotiri
Dolmas: Vine leaves stuffed with rice, meats and herbs, egg-lemon sauce.
The spinach-cheese pies are just that, wrapped in a flaky, phyllo dough.

The vegetarian options, of course, omitted meat, but for the meat-eaters amongst us, the menu offered a range of choices from a whole fish and other seafood to roasted pig - yes, you can order a whole spit-roasted suckling pig. A few of our friends ordered the lamb, which they proclaimed marvelous, and another liked the chicken breast spinaki (chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta and served over rice). Also offered are seafood and beef selections and an extensive wine list.

My husband really liked the veggie moussaka and I really liked the spinach-cheese pies, but frankly, we both liked the lone quarter-potato most of all. While Greek food may not be for us, it was still a lot of fun exploring a side of Chicago new to us and different foods.

Are there any authentic Greek places around Cincinnati? Where do you go to get your Greek on?

Nada: Nothing I didn't like

I went to Nada today to get lunch and also to scope it out for an upcoming video version of Polly's recent written review. So, here's my own review. My friend and I started out with tortilla chips and ancho chile salsa ($2) and both found the chips to be a bit on the greasy side, but the superb, super-fresh-tasting salsa took care of that problem. I ordered the vegetarian tacos (two of them, with woodland mushrooms, black bean puree, pico, guacamole and chihuahua cheese in flour tortillas) with a side of cabo salad (mixed greens, tomato, tomatillo, goat cheese, almonds and agave nectar vinaigrette) for $12. I was kind of annoyed because the online lunch menu led me to believe that three veggie tacos were $9 and that a side was optional, but on the current lunch menu at the actual restaurant all the tacos are $12 and include your choice of a side. Twelve bucks is about twice what I usually spend on lunch (on the day or two a week that I typically eat out) but I felt like it was worth it, even if I can't afford to go there that often. Everything was very fresh and flavorful and not too heavy so it didn't leave me feeling overstuffed, as Mexican food often does.

My friend raved about her mahi mahi tacos, but her side of Mexican mac 'n' cheese, with jalapeno and roasted poblano, stole the show (which I can say after stealing a couple of bites for myself). It was to die for. Next time I think I'll just order that and a salad. Or maybe just a double order of mac 'n' cheese.

Beyond the food, our server (didn't catch his name) was very friendly and had just the right amount of attentiveness, and the red and yellow interior was warm and cheery on a dreary day. I can't wait until it warms up and I can sip a margarita on the patio and people-watch. Leave your own review in the comments and/or here, if you haven't already.


Upcoming cooking lessons

I received a mailer last week about upcoming cooking classes offered by the Midwest Culinary Institute. The hands-on classes are led by some of Cincinnati's most highly acclaimed chefs in one the center's 12 state-of-the-art culinary and pastry kitchens at Cincinnati State.

Upcoming classes:

Saturday, March 1, 1 - 4 p.m.
Kids Baking
MCI instructor Catrina Leatherwood leads the class for kids ages 12 and up. The class will focus on healthy choices, as well as basic kitchen and safety skills
Beginner, $49 ($39 for each additional sibling)

Saturday, March 8, 1 - 4 p.m.
Kick up some fun in the kitchen with Jean-Robert de Cavel
Intermediate-Advanced, $59

Saturday, March 15, 1- 4 p.m.
Cake Decorating 101
Learn to prep, fill, and ice the perfect cake. Cake decorating 201 will be offered in the future.
Beginner, $59

Saturday, March 15, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Boot Camp - back to the basics!
Chefs Chris Keegan and Stefan Marcus of the MCI will help you practice your knife skills to be put to use with an afternoon session on roasting and braising.
Beginner-Intermediate, $110

Kroger is also offering a $10 gift card for all class attendees. For more information or to register, call MCI at 513-569-1621


Wow! That's all I can say. For those who have seen the interior of Grammer's in OTR, you know what I mean.
Formerly owned and lovingly maintained by Mr. Cincinnati, Jim Tarbell, the German bar and restaurant is now owned by Marilyn and Martin Wade. Closed to the public since the early 90s, Grammer's (at the corner of Walnut and Liberty streets in OTR) reopens Thursday as a bar. (I'm going to try to stop by after Taft with a Twist.)
Expect plenty of beer, including Christian Moerlein's OTR and BarrelHouse's Duveneck. For Bockfest, there will be Hudy Bock!
According to co-manager Lois Parker, formerly of Coach and Four restaurant, there will be seven beers on tap, plus a wine list. For martini drinkers, expect anchovy- and bleu cheese-stuffed olives.
Want to taste a variety of beers? Try a flight of four, 4.5 ounce glasses.
Bratwurst, mettwurst, hard pretzels, oversize dill pickles and pickled eggs (apparently, Parker was told they're a "must.") are on the menu, plus free popcorn with an array of spices or parmesan. A bigger menu is expected within a year or so, Parker said.
Plenty of Enquirer folks told me stories about their memories of Grammer's. Have you ever been there?

Weight for it...

Just checking in to tell you how Weight Watchers is working out for me. I just weighed in I'm down another 2.4 lbs.

Go me! Go me! OK. Enough of that. For today... Now I'm off to get some turkey chili at Paula's!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How to make the perfect latte

Here's a video I shot and edited of Tony Tausch, owner of the Coffee Emporium, showing how to make the perfect latte at the Emporium's Central Parkway location. Polly Campbell wrote a story along the same lines for Wednesday's paper (I'll post that link here once it's up). Tony is basically a walking coffee encyclopedia, and the downtown Coffee Emporium is just the coolest place. There are big sacks of coffee beans on shelves in one corner, you can peek into the room where the coffee roaster is, and there's always an interesting mix of people hanging out there -- business people, hipster types working on laptops, etc. Sadly, I didn't have time to sample one of this beautiful lattes he made when I shot this, but I'll definitely go back.

Update: Go here to read Polly's story on "Cincinnati's Mr. Coffee."


Monday, February 25, 2008


What a busy day in OTR!
I stopped by Lavomatic Cafe this morning and interviewed Burke Morton and Joanne Drilling, the manager and chef. The place looks great -- very in line with the rest of the Gateway Quarter. The space is long and narrow, but bright. It's very green -- a shade of celery on the walls -- and bamboo tables topping bases recycled from Grammer's. (Maybe they got a deal on celery-hued paint -- Chalk used a similar color. I like it.) The wine bar is made of cork, and much of the decor is from neighborhood stores. There's also a door that leads to Metronation, the furniture and gift shop next door. What a great idea: Instead of a waiting area, just send diners next door to shop!
The food will be "rustic, full-flavored French fare," according to Joanne. She's very energetic and "obsessed with freshness." She learned to love food while studying in Germany. By the term's end, she said that she was more excited about cooking than studying. (Who can blame her? I felt the same way when I studied in France.) Joanne worked at the Maisonette, left for Atlanta, was part of the crew that opened Pigall's and then did some catering and private chef work.
She brought Marni Ward, a pastry chef and friend, from Atlanta. She's worked at some great places in Atlanta, including Canoe, Spice, Luxe, Twist, Prime and Goldfish.
The rooftop dining won't be ready until the spring thaw, but it's a great space.
There will be a couple of dozen wines available by the glass for $6-$12, with 75 wines by the bottle. Bottles of wine will sell for about $10 above retail prices, a welcome change to many restaurants.
Lavomatic opens tomorrow at 1211 Vine. Check it out and report back, dear Foodie Report readers!
Lavomatic Cafe, 513-621-1999
Hours: Opens at 11:30 a.m. for lunch Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. for brunch Saturday and Sunday; kitchen closes at 9:30 p.m. Sunday though Thursday, 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The kitchen will also serve a limited late-night menu.


Grammer's, the historic German restaurant in Over-the-Rhine, reopens Thursday! I just got off the phone with owner Martin Wade.
We knew it was reopening, but this is the first report of when.
It'll be open Tuesday through Saturday from 4-12 or 1.
Expect a full bar and a limited menu: brats, metts, pretzels and free popcorn.
Grammer's 1442 Walnut St., 513-421-8300
Anyone ever been to Grammer's? It's been closed since '92 except for private parties. That was far before I arrived. I'm going to check it out on Wednesday.

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I used to like clipping coupons from the Sunday paper, but I've discovered that I clip fewer and fewer these days. There just aren't coupons for the products I use regularly. All that changed when I picked up a coupon book at Wild Oats/Whole Foods last week.
Mambo Sprouts coupons are available for free at Whole Foods, or you can go online to get a coupon book mailed to you three times a year.
The coupons are awesome: $1 off Boca products, Kashi cereals and Luna bars; $2 off Kiss My Face moisturizer; $1 off Organic Valley cage-free, organic eggs!
Wow! I've found at least 10 coupons I'd actually use.
Order them online, and print more coupons. (That section of the Web site is under construction.)
Oh, and you can use the coupons anywhere you'd use other coupons, not just at Whole Foods.

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Baby food

My book club met last night. The current baby boom hit our group and two of my literature-loving friends - including the one who hosted yesterday - are ready to welcome their babies into the world any day now. We're very excited to welcome Baby Camryn and Baby Jamia! To take the burden off Baby Camryn's mommy, we decided to make it a potluck and it was fabulous. We had macaroni and cheese, a tossed salad, chicken wings, chili cheese dip with cookies and cupcakes for dessert. It was sort of like a last supper before our group grows by two members...

I decided to make pulled chicken with barbecue sauce. It was the first time that I had ever made it and now I'm wondering why the heck I've never done it before! I took Hawaiian rolls so we could make little sandwiches with it. I didn't have a recipe so I just did what made sense to me... The vinegar was a great counter to the sweetness of the sauce.

Pulled Chicken with Barbecue Sauce
2 cups chicken broth (I used the smallish carton)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1.5-2 lbs chicken breast
garlic powder
few pinches of brown sugar
A bottle and a half your favorite barbecue sauce (Gotta love Famous Dave's, available at Kroger)

Pour the broth and the vinegar into a deep pan (so you have room for the chicken). Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Rinse chicken breast and pat dry. Season liberally with garlic powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar (and any other seasoning you like). Place the seasoned chicken into the simmering broth-cider mixture. Cover and poach until done, about 7 minutes on each side (more time if the meat is very thick). When the chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan, place on a plate and shred with two forks. Allow the broth-cider to reduce while you shred. Put the shredded chicken back in the pan. Pour barbecue sauce over the chicken, mix well and cover to heat through.

Adding red onion would also be tasty, but I was keeping it simple yesterday...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Feeling saucy?

From Polly's helpings column...

Frisch’s Big Boy uses its tartar sauce creatively. Not only in its fish sandwich, but also in its Big Boys and other burgers. If you have even more creative uses for Frisch’s tartar sauce, enter it in a contest sponsored by Frisch’s. Submit to yourfavoriterecipe@frischs.com or send to P.O. Box 1013, Cincinnati, OH 45201. Include name, address, e-mail and telephone. It can be for anything you want, it just has to have Frisch’s tartar sauce in it. Entrants can win Big Boy coupons – along with fame and acclaim.

It's not creative, but I love Frisch's tartar sauce on super-hot, super-crispy, salty fries... That's about... what...? 1.8 million points?

People do weird things for contests like this. Goetta fudge, for example. I dare someone out there to put tartar sauce in fudge. I wonder if they have a minimum of sauce that you have to use. Heck, I could put a teaspoon of tartar sauce in brownies and who would be the wiser, save for the errant supertaster who happened to get a mouth full of pickle and chocolate?

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Brewery tour tied to Bockfest

Just passing along a press release on a cool event. I've not been but think it'd be a fun one to attend:

Prohibition Resistance Tour 2008

Friends of the Brewery District,

On March 8-9, 2008, during the 16th annual Bockfest, you are invited to travel back to Nineteenth Century Cincinnati and explore the city's rich brewing heritage, both above and below ground. The Brewery District, in conjunction with Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal and the John Hauck House Museum, will be presenting the Prohibition Resistance Tour.

Each tour will start at Museum Center, where the tour will include an admission voucher to the Cincinnati History Museum's Beer, Breweries and Barons: A History of Cincinnati's Brewing Industry exhibit. Greg Hardman, the CEO of Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, will give a presentation on the amazing story of how Christian Moerlein left his native Germany and started one of the biggest breweries in the country, a story that mirrors the history of Cincinnati. The bus tour will include many of the remaining historic brewery buildings in Cincinnati, including the John Hauck Dayton Street Brewery, the Clyffside Brewery, the Jackson Brewery, and the Christian Moerlein Brewery. We will explore the life of another of Cincinnati's great brewers at the John Hauck House Museum, where this restored mansion on Cincinnati's original "Millionaire's Row" contains original antiques, furnishings and brewing memorabilia. Our final stop is at the Kauffmann Brewery on Vine Street, where we will journey through the sub-basements and tunnels of the brewery, spaces unused since Prohibition and never before opened to the public.

Go to bockfest.com for more details and to purchase tickets.

Wild Oats vs. Whole Foods

Earlier this week, Polly wrote about the changes afoot with the Whole Foods / Wild Oats merger. I know there are some who insist Whole Foods isn't as wholesome as it appears, but I'm impressed by the lowered prices and increased and diverse offerings it's brought.

I've never been able to make a vegetarian meatloaf that tastes quite like mom's meat-based loaf, but the Whole Foods vegetarian meatloaf (available at the deli counter, $6.99/lb) comes deliciously close to the real thing. The husband and I both loved the red bean and rice salad, also available at the deli counter. And the chocolate chewies? Absolutely divine. Even better, all ingredients are clearly labeled and contain no no artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, or synthetic preservatives.

Polly, too, was impressed with the sheer bounty of prepared foods. As she noted:

There was such abundance of prepared foods, it made me wonder if anyone cooks anymore. There are bars with curries, chili bars, a huge salad bar, a barbecue bar, a tofu bar and a great olive bar. There’s a gelateria, a pizza station, an Italian foods deli, a bakery with fancy French pastries.

I'm also liking the Whole Foods website, which lists oodles of recipes and health and wellness topics.

How about you? Have any fabulous Whole Foods finds to share? Or do you prefer Wild Oats?

funny signs

A certain downtown lunch spot has this sign posted in the window:
try a hot stuffed potatoe*
Is Dan Quayle creating signs now?
I know we've had grammar debates on this blog, but what do you think about such silly mistakes? I'm amazed at the number of spelling errors or grammar errors in signs, on menus and in other promotional literature. Sometimes mistakes are understandable. We know the difference between its and it's, but how many of us have -- when exhausted, distracted or just rushed -- substituted the wrong homonym?
This sign has been there for months. I noticed it right away, but I never remember to say something to the owner/manager/employees.
Do you get annoyed by poorly worded signs? Any memorable ones out there?

*I'm paraphrasing. I'll get the exact wording when I venture out for lunch.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cast your vote

There is an interesting poll on iVillage... If you had to choose between sex and chocolate, which would you pick?

Hmm... What cocoa percentage are we talking?

Another great Leap (Day) forward: pan pizza

To celebrate "the entire week leading up to Leap Day [Feb. 29] as 'Leap Week,' " Papa John's is introducing it's "better-than-ever" Papa's Perfect Pan pizza, supposedly super crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

But better, anyone celebrating a birthday Feb. 29 who orders a one-topping Perfect Pan pizza at www.papajohns.com that day for pick up, and can verify their birthday, gets the pie for free.

Between that and the Morton's offer, birthday babies might be pretty stuffed next week.

Me? I prefer thin crust pies at Papa John's. But I'm still bummed you can't order fresh sliced garlic on them. Which reminds me, I need to start making my own dough and using my new Cuisinart Brick Oven for this very purpose. Lots and lots of fresh garlic, please!

A couple things to chew on...

For your food-lovin' edification...

On Monday, Feb. 25th. Mesh will be hosting Mac McDonald, winemaker at and owner of Vision Cellars. Mac is one of eight African-American winery owners in California, and his wines are downright phenomenal. He specializes in Pinot Noir, and we will be pouring his Marin County, Sonoma County, and Gary's Vineyard Pinots along with his Santa Lucia Highlands Riesling. Chef Paul Sturkey will be preparing appetizers for the event, so all the foodies out these should be more than pleased with all the great food and wine to be had. It will be held in the Mesh lounge from 5-7, the cost is $25 per person, and all wine will be sold at the event.
If you'd like to learn more about Vision Cellars, go to www.visioncellars.com. Plenty of info can be found on the site, including pictures of Mac which should clue you in to how much charisma this guy has to spare. We're very pleased to have a winemaker of this caliber coming into town. - Adam Shobert, Cincinnati representative for Wineworks Ohio.


Morton’s The Steakhouse is celebrating Leap Year and those born on February 29, referred to as “leaplings,” by offering a free steak and seafood dinner to people with this special birthday on Leap Day, Friday, February 29, 2008. The restaurant is offering the dinner to the first five “leaplings” who make advance reservations to dine in the restaurant on their birthday.

The birthday dinner consists of a single-cut filet; choice of Morton’s jumbo lump crab cake, shrimp Alexander or broiled sea scallops; choice of Caesar salad or Morton’s salad with blue cheese dressing, chopped egg and anchovies; choice of Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate (Birthday) Cake or key lime pie; and a complimentary glass of champagne for “leaplings” at least five and one-quarter years old (otherwise known as 21 and older). Complimentary valet parking will also be also provided for the birthday celebrants.

Morton’s is asking that all “leaplings” show proof of date of birth (valid I.D.), as well as make advance reservations. The number of free birthday dinners is limited to the first five celebrants. To make reservations, “leaplings” may call 513-621-3111 and specify “Leap Year Birthday.”
Tim Kieliszewski, Morton’s general manager, said, “With Leap Year only coming once every four years, we wanted to do something special to highlight those with this unique birthday who can’t celebrate on their actual birthday each year. What could be a better birthday present than a free dinner at Morton’s?”

Morton's The Steakhouse is located at 441 Vine Street in Carew Tower at Fountain Square, is open daily for dinner from 5:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Sundays. Bar 12●21 is open daily at 5 p.m. For reservations, guests should call (513) 621-3111. Guests are also invited to visit www.mortons.com to make on-line reservations or view the full Morton’s menu.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ben & Jerry pick a (new) fave...

Did you see Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the men behind Ben & Jerry's ice cream, formally announced their support for Barack Obama in his presidential run? Apparently, they were backing John Edwards before he dropped out of the race.

I wonder if they'll give him his own flavor... Someone else (it wasn't me!) suggested Baracky Road. At any rate, this has to be one of the more, um, interesting endorsements I've ever heard of.

Tattie's Gourmet Deli reopens in Milford

I met up with Tattie Bellucci last week for an upcoming story in the Hometown Enquirer edition. Tattie is the proprietor of Tattie's Gourmet Deli, which recently reopened in historic Milford from Fairfax.

The deli's vivid decor is reminiscent of the artwork of illustrator Mary Engelbreit, a little folksy, brightly-colored and whimsical. Tattie's best-selling sandwich, for which she says the shop is locally renowned, is the Poppy, featuring rosemary shaved lamb, topped with mayo, mint jelly, red onion and lamb au jus. Another popular favorite is the Tatty, featuring a rare London port roast beef, topped with bernaise, mayo, red onion and tomatoes.

I tried the Portobelly sandwich, one of three vegetarian selections. The combination was very tasty: balsamic marinaded portobella, red onion, roasted red pepper, spinach, tomato, sprouts topped by provolone cheese and sundried tomato pesto sauce.

Tattie also offers a classic twist on traditional salad favorites, like tarragon macaroni & cheese, oriental vegetables, roasted garlic vegetables and edamame bean salad. While I was there, a local reverend walked in and he told me the deli's dill cranberry shallot chicken salad is not to be beat.

The deli also offers dinners to go, orderable by email. Offerings are limited currently to soup, salad and a loaf of French bread, but Tattie says she hopes to expand the menu soon. Be sure to try her huckleberry vinaigette. Dinners range from $12.95 for two people to $25.95 for four people.

Tattie's is at 233 Main Street. Call ahead with orders at

At last: Some Restaurant Week menus

Greater Cincinnati Independents has finally updated the web site to include some (but not all) menus for restaurants participating in Restaurant Week March 3-9. Check it out.

DaVeed's is not really embellished at all but looks pretty solid.

Mesh looks like my favorite menu at the moment. Already holding a reservation there.

And some restaurants are apparently serving lunch specials too. Dilly Deli seems to have two courses (burger+dessert) for $12.08.

I hope the other restaurants get their information in soon. Makes it a lot easier to promote this.

But I do hate the time limitations on Cincinnati's Restaurant Week. No Saturdays at certain places, or only the very earliest seatings. But hey -- at least it's a start.

Wine Festival dinners next month

Just checked the web site for the Cincinnati Wine Festival dinners, coming up March 27. Been snoozing? Me too. Five out of 10 dinners (at $125 per person) are already sold out. But you can still get a reservation for dinners (with wine) at:

DaVeed's at 934 - with Sefried Estate

Embers - Meeker Vineyard

Hugo - Graziano Family of Wines

Morton's, The Steakhouse - Morgan Winery
Orchids - E&J Gallo


Carlo and Johnny's - Alexander Valley Vineyards

Honey - Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Jags - Burnet Ridge

Jean Robert at Pigalls - Wines of France

Jeff Ruby's - An Italian Affair

Not-so-new and noted

I’ve been lax in my Foodie Report blogging duties lately (although I’m sure most readers haven’t noticed or cared) so here are some quick reviews of some new-ish places at which I’ve dined recently. (Note: Although my bio on the left indicates I’m a vegetarian, I sometimes succumb to seafood cravings, especially when there are few vegetarian options, so I should probably change it to avoid getting attacked.)

-Seny, East Walnut Hills: For all the hype, I wasn’t that impressed with Seny. But maybe it was just what I ordered -- sautéed shrimp, potato and herb croquettes and slow-roasted stuffed mushrooms, which arrived topped with bacon, although the menu didn’t indicate that. If I were more of a meat-eater, I probably would have found more to choose from. (My favorite part of the meal was probably my glass of sangria.) And the service was weirdly over-attentive, with multiple servers stopping by our table (maybe someone was new and in training)? As far as local tapas places go, I had a better experience at Latitudes Café in Milford last year, but I’d be willing to give Seny another chance. I wouldn't recommend it to strict vegetarians, though.

-Greenup Café, Covington: I had brunch there a few weeks back but didn’t choose the most adventurous thing on the menu (buttermilk pancakes with bananas, blueberries and maple butter), so I really need to go back. Almost everything on the brunch menu is under $10, and its cozy, colorful interior and prime location in Covington's walkable Riverside Historic District can’t be beat.

-Twist Lounge & Bar, downtown: My small plate of crab salad (served on porcelain spoons) was superb, but my plum martini was way too sweet – it basically tasted like a liquid Jolly Rancher. Wonderful, cozy atmosphere here too, and not too crowded, even during happy hour on a Friday. I felt like I was hanging out in someone’s very well-furnished living room. It sure would be nice to be relaxing in front of that fireplace right now...

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Watch it, sucka...

As I mentioned back in January, I've been working on whittling my waist whilst still enjoying food. I'm now 20 lbs lighter than I was when I started late last fall. It's nice to have found my stride (and the slacks in the back of my closet that I can again fit). I keep flexibility in my diet (if I want the cookie, I eat the stupid cookie... but I don't eat 8 of 'em) but also keep an eye on my weight and body fat percentage.

I want to lose about 15 more pounds, still keeping my curves. But I have noticed that I have hit a plateau. Even with the salads, the soup, the glasses of water, the... You get the picture. In the past, I've done low-carb (lost weight, but who can pass up bread for the rest of their life?). I've done low-fat (who can pass up bread AND butter for the rest of their life?). For me? Moderation (read: eating whatever I want without overdoing it) is best.

So, I'm trying something that's old but new to me: Weight Watchers. My first meeting is at 11:00 a.m. today. I'm a little nervous because I have this irrational fear that the group leader is going to have a bullhorn and as soon as I step on the scale, he/she will announce my weight to the world and there will be a collective gasp... Dramatic? I'm aware.

But I'm going anyway, phobia be damned. I can use the inspiration, meal ideas and the accountability. And perhaps the change of pace will help me fly past the three numbers that I keep seeing when I step on the scale... I'll let you know how it goes. Anyone else out there on a mission to lose? We can do it together!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What's better than cheap?

Yeah, you know it... Free.

Here is
a cool site for foodies who dig freebies. And there are a bunch of other sites that tell you where to go for free samples of food-related stuff... All you gotta do is Google "free food samples." I love to sign up for free samples. Sure, you give them your e-mail address, home address and the squirrel all the information away so they can figure out their demographics... But I have a junk e-mail addy that comes in handy for this sort of thing. Ha!

And it's always fun when you open your mailbox and find an unexpected (because it's been, like, 6 weeks since you signed up for it) trial-size treat...

Bravo to move to Deerfield Towne Center

Bravo Cucina Italian will move from its Montgomery Road location, where it's been for 12 years, to the space in Deerfield Towne Center, formerly occupied by the Red Star Tavern. I was wondering this as I drove by the renovations over the weekend. Good for them. It is a chain, but a pretty darn good one, as far as I'm concerned. We don't eat there very often, but for quick and close and decent Italian when you want to go out (and not be overly fussy), it works.

Moe's at the Levee closes

Moe's Southwest Grill at Newport on the Levee is no more. Don't suppose it's a huge loss, though I did get a quick and tasty burrito there once. Wonder what happens there next?

Monday, February 18, 2008

New downtown

I've always thought the block of 4th St west of Plum was underutilized. It's an almost-intact stretch of wonderful old buildings, and until a few years ago was busy with art galleries, but is now quiet, but it holds such possibility. Bang nightclub recently moved in, and now there's going to be a restaurant next door to it.
Boss Cox will open at 312 W. 4th St, in an 1873-era building in June. Daniel Wright, who is to be the chef, says it will be a gastro-pub that serves American food to go with beer. It will have visual and culinary references to Cincinnati’s Pre-Prohibition past, but will feel and taste modern. It’s named for the notorious machine politician of the early 20th century. A 8 x 30 foot blackboard will list the menu, the list of 14 or so beers on tap, and the drink menu , so there will be no need for paper menus.
The exhibition kitchen will feature a wood-burning grill, with a rotisserie. It will turn out high-end food that’s moderately priced, with entrees mostly under $21. Some dishes Wright is planning include fresh oysters, goat cheese gnocchi with semolina carrots and brown butter, beer-braised mussels, marinated skirt steak salad with arugula nad shaved manchego, a charcuterie platter with house-made pickles, Guinness-braised veal cheeks, bacon-wrapped trout with leeks and salsify, rotisserie chicken with sweet corn souffle, a braised pork belly sandwich, a goetta sandwich and Boss Cox burger.
Wright, who moved here from Chicago and has worked at restaurants such as Blackbird and Campanile, was most recently executive chef at Souk in Chicago. His parntners are Lance Frye, recently of Boca, and Joe Creighton.
Boss Cox will be open for lunch and dinner, and until late on the weekends.

Don't forget about happy hour!

See you tonight...

What: The Foodie Report Happy Hour

When: Monday, February 18, 2008, from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.

Where: Palomino (cash bar - but with $3 mojitos, you won't even notice)

Why: Um, because we said so... Just come!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pigall's does it again

So Pigall's is mentioned in AOL's list of America's top 11 restaurants (a nice round number, no?!). I can't comment on any of the other spots as I haven't tried them...

I've only ever tried Pigall's once, for lunch, and can't say I was overwhelmed. The service was fabulous, the food was good, the decor beautiful, but I don't remember having my socks knocked off. Or maybe it was all just too frou frou for me. Or too over the top for lunch. (Is that sacrilegous? Perhaps. But it's honest.)

But I will try it again... for dinner. Hopefully soon. Trying to get in for one of the four-course for $40 meals that start Feb. 19 (on Tues, Wed, Thurs only), to celebrate it's Mobil four-star rating.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lucy Blue offers Wednesday lunch buffet

Lucy Blue fans won’t have to wait for dinner hours now to enjoy their favorite pizza.

The Mount Lookout pizzeria at 3200 Linwood Ave. now serves a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. The restaurant’s regular hours are 5 – 10 p.m. Sunday through Monday and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The buffet includes a fresh salad, bowl of homemade soup, a beverage and all-you-can-eat pizza for a cost of $7. Individual items are available at regular cost.

I'm going to try again

Thanks for the responses to my previous question about Whole Foods. But I'm still hoping to find some enthusiastic fans who have been looking forward to this switchover, or miss if from somewhere else they've lived and/or people who think a Whole Foods here will be somehow detrimental, or will miss Wild Oats, or have some other definite opinion. And sorry to for bring print media into this blog world but I'd really appreciate it if anyone who does hold one of those opinons would e-mail me at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Amma's Kitchen has opened

A member of the local vegetarian email group I’m a subscriber of emailed to let everyone know Amma’s Kitchen has now opened at 7633 Reading Road in Roselawn. He gave the place a fabulous review.

Stepfanie wrote about the new all-vegetarian Indian restaurant last month. It replaced the popular Udipi Café. According to the reviewer, dinners are from the menu, but at lunch you have a sampling of two soups, four kinds of breads and at least half a dozen vegan dishes.

The menu boasts about 100 items with delicacies like rasam, a tangy pepper soup; masala dosa, a rise crepe stuffed with potatoes; vegetable biryani, a rice cooked with aromatic spices and vegetables; and channa batura, a large puffed bread with chick pea curry.

(I’m getting hungry just typing all these goodies up.)

The reviewer said he wished there were more vegan desserts available, but with the other abundant menu offerings, felt content with Indian tea.

The lunch buffet is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends and holidays. Dinner hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and till 10 p.m. on weekends.


On the drive in to work this morning, I caught the tail-end of an interview with Nigella Lawson, and the popularity of the flourless chocolate cake - which I have never tried making.

Yum. Now I know what I'm baking this weekend! Check out Nigella's recipes here for chocolate raspberry heart cake and dense chocolate loaf cake. They both look amazing, but I'm going to go the easier route and make the loaf cake - which apparently is even better if it sits for a day.

Valentine's crisis averted. Chocolate to the rescue!

PHOTO CREDITS: AP Photo/E! Entertainment (Nigella); The Enquirer/Michael E. Keating (cake)

Sweet treats

Valentine's Day in elementary school was fun: Making mailboxes from paper plates, construction paper and glitter; buying Valentines with your favorite cartoon character; eating cupcakes with pink frosting.
I'm a bit nostalgic on this cold, gray day.
What's your favorite Valentine's Day treat? Conversation hearts or Red Hots? (I never liked conversation hearts. They taste chalky.) Did your mom make heart-shaped pancakes?
Mmm, nowadays, my only weakness is dark chocolate. But oh, what I wouldn't give for a cupcake!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Taste of Russia at Morton’s The Steakhouse

From Morton's:
WHAT: Vodka and caviar tasting at Morton’s The Steakhouse
WHERE: Morton’s The Steakhouse – Carew Tower
441 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
WHEN: Friday, February 29, 2008
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
COST: $45
INFO: Reservations can be made by visiting www.mortons.com or by calling (513) 621-3111.
On Friday, February 29, 2008, Morton’s The Steakhouse will host a vodka and caviar tasting event. Guests are invited to experience a taste of Russia through a sampling of four vodka “Mortinis” paired with hors d’oeuvres. All of the Mortinis will be made with Imperia vodka, one of Russia’s finest luxury vodkas.
The drink menu includes:
· The Imperia Mortini
· Russian Raspberry Mortini
· Thyme Lemon Drop Mortini
· Cucumber Mortini
The hors d’oeuvres menu includes:
· Petrossian Caviar
· Tuna Tartare canapés
· Sliced smoked salmon
· Sliced tenderloin crostini

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Eat, drink and be green

I just found out about a local group called Green Drinks Cincinnati, an informal network of individuals, organizations and businesses interested in improving their environmental footprint on Cincinnati.

The group usually meets the third Thursday of each month at various venues throughout the area to discuss, network and learn about sustainability in the city. It appears as if Arnold’s is a popular meeting spot for the group.

The group hasn’t posted its February meeting info yet, but check back at its blog for upcoming meetings and to sign up for its mailing list.

Your table is ready online

Thanks, Foodie Report readers Tom and Brian for your help with this story. Westender just posed a great question: What do you think about dining out on Valentine's Day? As he rightly says, it's a night that draws a good number of rookie diners -- people who tend not to eat in restaurants very often. Is service affected? Is quality? Sure, it's the second-busiest night for restaurants. Managers are quick to point out that that doesn't mean the restaurant is at capacity. Most reservations are for two people, so those big tables are unused and four-tops become two-tops.
Will you treat your sweetie to a special dinner or night on the town? Or do you have horror stories from V-Days past?
An interesting aside: In Korea, there are two "Valentine's Days." On Feb. 14, women dote on their sweeties; a month later, on White Day, men reciprocate. And singles and those who eschew the holidays celebrate Black Day on May 15.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another one

At Hugo in Oakley on February 14:
Four Course Dinner, 2-4 choices per course; $55
Seven Course Dinner; $80
Add if you want:
The Wine Flight: $25
The Fine Wine Flight: $40
(Wine Flights are not required.)
3235 Madison Road, Oakley
321-HUGO (4846

A Valentine's option

The Brandywine Inn is a small restaurant in Monroe that serves classic French food, with constantly changing menus. They're offering this for Valentine's Day . Sounds pink and luxurious. (Their chateaubriand is wonderful.)
Pink Champagne
With chocolate dipped strawberries
Seafood Gratin
Mixed seafood stuffed in a portabella mushroom cap topped with cheese and baked
~ Chardonnay ~
Spinach salad
With sun dried cherries and cherry vinaigrette
Center cut filet mignon garnished with mashed potato, caramelized onions and mixed vegetables
~ Cabernet Sauvignon ~
Strawberry Torte
Strawberry mousse with strawberry-laced cake served with strawberry sauce

This Menu also available on Friday and Saturday

Seating Time on Feb. 14 will be 7:00
Price of Dinner is $49.95 per person without wine and $69.95 per person with wine

For Reservations 779-4747 or 1-513-539-8911
Website: www.brandywineofmonroe.com

New Chain restaurant in Tri-County

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse opens today. They're cutting the ribbon--well, right now, I guess. They're raising money for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation with their opening day events. This looks like a casual, pubby kind of place. They brew their own beer (though not here--they make it in some of their other locations). They have a varied menu, with deep-dish pizzas as a specialty. You can see the menu at www.bjsrestaurants.com

It's at 11700 Princeton Pike, in Tri-County Mall, 513-671-1805. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Eat more veggies, win an iPod

The vegan organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is offering a drawing of an Ipod to those who take and pass along its pledge to move towards a more vegetarian diet. Take the Veg Vow today.

Look out for the Veg Vow contest’s fine print: It’s not enough to take the pledge; you have to pass it along to at least one of your friends and family, too.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week will be Monday march 3-March 9th. There are 25 locally owned restaurants participating, and all will offer a three-course prix-fixe dinner for $25.08. (A penny up from last year) They are:
Andy's Mediterranean, Behle Street, Bella Luna, Brown Dog Cafe, Chalk, Daveed's, deSha's, Greenup Cafe, Holy Grail, Hugo, Jag's, Pigall's, Jimmy D's, Kona, Mesh, Mike & Jimmy's, Molly Malone's (not sure which one) Nicholson's, O'Bryon's, Polo Grille, Pompilio's, Primavista, The Pubs, Red, Universal Grille and Washington Platform.

There may be more added. Make your plans--and go to a restaurant you've never tried before. It's great that this is getting off the ground.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Oh, happy Monday...

So you hunger to hang out with fellow foodies? C'mon!

What: The Foodie Report Happy Hour

When: Monday, February 18, 2008, from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.

Where: Palomino (cash bar - but with $3 mojitos, you won't even notice)

Why: Um, because we said so... Just come!

Can't wait to see you there!

Fish sandwich season

Did you check out this story on fish sandwiches? Did you know Cincinnati folk helped put this Lenten-season staple on the map?

Everyone has different fish-sandwich standards. I prefer to pass on the thick crust of batter (which often gets gooey inside) for a simple dredge in corn meal. The more spice the better, but easy on the salt. Oh, and don't give me the shaped fish, that fits on the bread. That doesn't look right. I need to see a fillet, a wide end, and, my favorite part, the little end that gets extra crunchy. I also need lettuce, tomato (Oh, they're mealy? I'll pass...), tartar sauce AND dill pickle slices. Put it all on a Kaiser roll and don't talk to me for, like, 30 minutes.

Who makes the best fish sandwich in town? What makes it so good?

How, exactly, does one build a better fish sammich?

And Mary made a good point about fish fries in the area.
You can find lots of them on Cincinnati.com.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Once bitten...

If the foodie talk here isn't enough to sate your appetites, best-selling cookbook author Mark Bittman has started a new blog over at The New York Times called Bitten. Bittman promises to post daily recipes and travel reports and feature guest writers.

Writes Bittman:

We’re going to look at great food made with everyday ingredients and readily achievable techniques — as The Minimalist has been doing for a decade — not food as something to be admired from afar, but as a part of daily life.

Still, the core of Bitten will be the pleasures of food, and especially, cooking.
I really don't have time to add another blog to my daily feed, but the Italian-style Vegetable Pancakes looks good.

From Findlay Market newsletter...

Taste From Belgium Presents Jean-Philippe Solnom
Jean-Philippe Solnom creates chocolates for Jean-Robert’s Cuisine de Chocolat.
Jean-Philippe will be at the Taste from Belgium stand on Saturday from 10:30am till noon to present his Valentine's chocolates.
Throughout the weekend Jean-Francois Flechet will pre-order Valentine's chocolates as well as preparing his usual, delicious authentic Belgian waffles.
Stop by and order a gift of handmade chocolates for yourself or that special someone.
I know where I'll be from 10:30 to noon on Saturday!

Grailville to hold art show, supper

Loveland-based Grailville will revive its Winter Sunday Supper tradition with an art show and dinner on Sunday, Feb. 10.

The program kicks off at 2 p.m. with an exhibit of women's quilts and fiber arts, with entertainment provided by folk trio Raison D'Etre. This event is free, as part of the Arts Sampler Weekend. Raison D'Etre will play again at 4:30 p.m., followed by the supper at 5:30 p.m. Cost for dinner is $15. And while you're there, be sure to explore the center's 300 acres of woodland, pastures and organic gardens.

The center is located at 932 O'Bannonville Road. Reservations for dinner are required, by calling 513-683-2340. Go to www.grailville.org for more information.


Hi, all. I hate to do this, but I'm in a bit of a pinch. I'm writing a story for Monday on diners who use OpenTable.com to make reservations. Restaurants I have, but diners I need. A couple of restaurant managers are tracking people down, but it's harder than you think to find strangers to quote!
Do you use OpenTable? What do you think? Drop me an e-mail (sromine [at] enquirer [dot] com)
Thank you in advance, and forgive the intrusion.

I know! Let's swap restaurants!

Sean Daly and David Cook have cooked up something fun to do--and remarkably trusting, I think. They're going to trade restaurants for a night. Sean and his kitchen staff get to walk into David's kitchen at Daveed's in Mount Adams (which is tiny--I have no idea how they make that elaborate, fine food) and David and his culinary entourage get to show up at Hugo in Oakley. They'll then have to come up with a menu based on what they find in the walk-in, figure out how to cook it in the new surroundings, and serve it. (the serving staff stays put.) They'll do it for charity--and to amuse themselves. David Cook should probably start looking up recipes for grits. And it would be only fair for him to leave some of his signature foie gras and flank steak for Sean, along with something completely bizarre, like oil made from nuts already eaten by goats (there is such a thing, and it's the kind of thing you'll find on Daveed's menu)
David Cook cooks everywhere --he'll come to your house if you pay him -- so I think he'll be fine. Sean Daly hasn't been doing this as long, but he's a very good cook, too. Ought to be fun. March 13, two seatings at 6 and 8:15 p.m. Proceeds go to SIDS and Kindervelt.
Make a reservation at the restaurant of your choice.
HUGO 321-HUGO (4648)
Daveed's 721-2665

Sex, Psychology and Sushi

Looks interesting. It's something that would either do incredibly well or tank. Seems like a professional version of those nights spent with a friend, crying into a beer or a glass of wine over the person who did you wrong.
From Sake Bomb:

Wouldn’t you love to know why that girl you were dating last month stopped calling, suddenly? Why is it that every guy you try to be friends with ends up falling in love with you and the men you want to fall in love with, barely know you exist? Or perhaps you have finally found love but the passion is slowly dying after spending years together. We have all been bewildered by the opposite sex or even by ourselves, at some point in life. The good news is that there are answers. The bad news is… they lie in the deepest portions of the human mind.

Join other men, women and couples in the tri-state during a bi-weekly series called Sex, Psychology and Sushi starting on Feb. 11, 2008 at 7pm inside the Dragon Room at Sake Bomb in Hyde Park. A professional psychologist will be the guest speaker, tackling important topics regarding the psychology of sex. Dinner is included in the price of the tickets available at the door.

“So many people assume they understand the opposite sex, but whether you have been married for twenty years, recently divorced or a serial dater, there is always something more you can learn to improve yourself and your love life by simply understanding yourself and different aspects of relationships,” Says Dr. Merritt Oleski, a licensed psychologist and owner of Sake Bomb.

The $40 ticket price will not only fill your mind with useful information, but it will fill your stomach, as well. Guests will have the option of a full course meal including appetizers, a main dish and a sensual desert to satisfy your sweeter side. The behavioral expert will present topics such as; “The power of pheromones and where to get them”, “I thought he/she was into me, what happened?” and “Love or Lust… that is the question?” After each presentation, the expert will answer questions and open up the floor for group discussion. Guests are invited to stay and mingle with other guests and enjoy a full selection of liquors, beer and of course, sake.

The Dragon room is the latest addition to Sake Bomb’s already spacious dining area. The room can be rented out for special events and banquets, complete with a large screen television projector, full bar and wait staff.
The first Sex, Psychology and Sushi series takes place on Monday, February 11, 2008 at Sake Bomb in Hyde Park at 3672 Erie Avenue next to the Hyde Park Country Club at 7pm to benefit your relationships. This event is appropriate for couple’s and singles. Appetizers, dinner, dessert are included with ticket price. Alcoholic drinks not included. The series will continue the first and last Tuesday of each month. For more information, contact Dr. Merritt Oleski at: (513) 739-5892 or (513) 533-0555.

I've never been to Sake Bomb. Have you?

Five Star Foodies

Rachel first shared info about Five Star Foodies a couple of months ago. Valerie Williams is the subject of today's Careers column.
I tried the company's vegetarian turkey rolls and gravy, and I'm a big fan. For a vegetarian, holiday meals can be limited to side dishes. Her product will fill a void on my Thanksgiving table.
The company sells just two products right now, but more are coming soon.
I met Valerie and her son Graydon (above) at their Mount Auburn kitchen a few weeks back. After the interview, we started talking about nutrition, food and kombucha (Valerie used to make her own). I've got a list of new reading material thanks to the two of them. They're both quite knowledgable and passionate -- without a hint of pretentiousness or preachiness.
An interesting side note: Valerie was one of the owners of Christos and Drivakis, the vegan restaurant in Winton Place/Spring Grove Village in the 80s.
Have you tried these products? What do you think?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Whole Foods

For a story, I'm interested in hearing from any of you who have strong feelings about Whole Foods and about Wild Oats morphing into Whole Foods. If you do, post them or e-mail me at pcampbell@enquirer.com. I recently shopped at the locations in Oakland,Ca and the one in Columbus, which is ridiculous big and full of food.

Skyline and Valentine's Day

From Skyline Chili in Blue Ash:
CINCINNATI – It’s no secret that Cincinnatians love Skyline Chili, and there’s no better time to celebrate that love than on Valentine’s Day. For the sixth year in a row, the Blue Ash Skyline Chili, located at 5005 Cornell Road, will host a romantic dinner from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, February 14.
The restaurant – to be known as “La Skyline Chili” for the evening – will set the mood with candlelight, a violinist and roses for the ladies. Maitre d’chili Scott Callaway (manager of the Blue Ash location) and his staff will serve up a special menu including two, three-course Skyline dinners for $24.99. Dinners include a salad, main course and cake.
Female servers will be decked out in pink shirts and black pants and the gentlemen will don tuxes, donated for the sixth year in a row by Skeffington’s. Although the restaurant’s staff will be in formal attire, there is no dress code for guests.
Reservations for the special evening are required and can be made by calling the Blue Ash Skyline Chili at (513) 489-8488.

The chicken (tender) or the (fertilized) egg...

Which came first?

First of all, I'm not a mommy. Yet. So I need to confess that I have never been on the receiving end of a dinner-hour tantrum. Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, I just wanted to rant a bit about "kids' menus." Is it me or is just about everything on said menus fried and/or beige? The most colorful thing about the options for kids in most restaurants are the crayons. That usually means lots of simple sugars, fat and little nutrition. And applesauce doesn't count in my book... Heck, maybe the crayons wouldn't be such a bad snack when you weigh the limited options. At least those are supposed to be non-toxic...

I have visions of bearing small people who look like me and eat as I do. OK, so perhaps the first part is ridiculous (not to mention vain). But am I wrong to expect to have children that try different cuisines, eat fruit AND vegetables AND grains, and keep the minced/fried chicken snacks to a serious minimum?

I can't imagine that babies are born with a hankering for fries, macaroni and cheese and fried bits of chicken? Not that there is anything wrong with any of those in moderation! Do parents introduce such foods too soon and turn their mini-me's into monsters, making it difficult to not cave in to stop the screams and tears when kids want that stuff at every meal? Maybe it's like an addiction, making chicken nuggets the gateway food to poor nutrition. If these study findings released last year are correct, I'll just put carrot sticks in paper that is covered with arches... Have any of you managed to rear children who eat more than grilled cheese?

It's clear that I have given this too much thought, especially since my two "children" have fur and floppy ears. Matter of fact, here's a picture I took of my "kids," Bailey (left), 10 months and Bree, 11 years old. Yeah, I know, I know. The picture isn't food-related. But, darnit if they aren't the sweetest...

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When the moon hits your eye....

My husband and I jetted off to New York a weekend ago. The trip arose unexpectedly and was tragically short, so we didn’t have much time to plan an itinerary. Friends and family asked us what we planned to do there, expecting to hear a visit to the Statue of Liberty or a tour of Ground Zero. They were a bit taken back when I announced we wanted to visit the very first pizzeria in the United States.

What can I say? I’m a food culture historian and I love pizza.

Pizza was introduced in America in the late 19th century by Italian immigrants. Gennaro Lombardi lays the claim to the first United States pizzeria opened 1905 in New York City at 53 ½ Spring St., an establishment still open today. Originally a grocery, Lombardi originally sold what he called tomato pies, wrapped in paper and tied with a string, to Italian day workers. By 1930, the shop transformed into a sit-down restaurant with spaghetti added to the menu.

Still, pizza didn't catch on in the U.S. until after WWII, when returning American GIs raved about the pizza they ate in Italy. In 1943, Chicagoan Ike Sewell opened Pizzeria Uno, offering a classic twist on the traditional pizza recipe. Sewell's was a deep-dish style pizza baked in thick cast-iron pans in giant ovens, more casserole than pizza. The newly-christened Chicago-style pizza became so popular Sewell soon had to open another establishment, Pizzeria Due.

Cincinnati was a little slower to catch on to the pizza craze. When Buddy LaRosa announced his plan to open a pizzeria in Westwood, his Sicilian-born father told him he was crazy.
"You gonna sell pizza? ‘Med-i-gans never gonna buy pizza from you," he said. Fortunately for the now legions of local fans, LaRosa opened his Boudinot Avenue pizzeria anyway in 1954. LaRosa's has since become the largest Italian chain in the Tristate.

Americans' love for pizza inspired others to follow suit, with the first frozen pizza introduced in 1957. And the rest, as they say, is history. According to The Pizza Joint.com, Americans now eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day.

Sadly, we didn't get the chance to visit Lombardi's, but we did try another pizzeria that's garnered rave reviews. This was our second experience sampling authentic New York-style pizza and my husband and I can now definitively say, “Give us Chicago-style pizza any day!” For us, real pizza is meant to be eaten with a fork.

nother fabulous pizza gem we’ve discovered lies not in New York or Chicago, but in Nashville, Tenn. On a weekend trip there to celebrate my husband’s birthday several years ago, we set off in search of a high-end restaurant. But after an hour of fruitless searching and rumbling stomachs, we finally pulled in to a college dive near Vanderbilt University called Pizza Perfect.

The pizza there truly lived up to its name: the crust was crisp and thick, yet not too thick, and the toppings were fresh and piled on. In fact, for my husband’s birthday trip the next year, he chose to go back to Nashville, just for the pizza.

So, what do you prefer: Chicago-style or New York-style pizza? Do you have any other pizza finds to share?

Monday, February 04, 2008

downtown restaurants

OK, you want to talk about my downtown restaurant story. Have at it.
I will say that I wrote it because people kept saying to me "Are all these restaurants going to survive?" I think it's great to have so many new places to eat--but I do worry that there will be fallout from the competition and it will be the chains who remain, the little guys who don't make it.

Restaurant Week update

We have great readers.
You're right: Restaurant Week is coming.
I was waiting for more info, but I'll post what we have so far.
Restaurant Week o8: March 3rd-9th 3-course prix fixe Dinner for $25.08/Lunch $12.08.
They haven't finalized anything from what I've heard, so many of the restaurants might not have plans set. (That means, don't get angry if you call and a hostess is confused. The details are still being hashed out, from what I've heard.)
Remember that many of the details are TBA. Check out what else is going on with the Greater Cincinnati Independents.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hathaway's reopens

Updated, with a picture that doesn't do it justice:
I don't want to ruin the surprise, but the landmark diner in the Carew Tower arcade (open since 1956!*) got a cool makeover. Stop in and check it out starting Monday. (The place is really flooded with light, with an icy blue decor. This photo of Bronger is great, but it doesn't show the changes very well.)
New owner Chris Bronger made over the decor, and the menu is still full of diner standards and comfort foods, with breakfast items, burgers and malts.
Bronger resurrected the Hathaway’s specialty salad – a scoop of cottage cheese with yogurt, coconut, walnuts, raisins, fruit and apricot dressing. He also added steak and eggs, a mushroom-and-Swiss burger and a couple of healthier choices, a grilled chicken salad and sandwich.
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Prices: $1.75-$7.95 Phone: 513-621-1332
*I'm no psychic, but I'll bet our friends at BuyCincy.com are excited about this! :)

V-Day and Chipotle

I'm so hungry that I think I could eat an entire Chipotle burrito. I usually get the burrito bol: Black beans; hold the cheese and sour cream; tomato, tomatillo and corn salsas; and guacamole, please. Get a free one, according to this news release:

CINCINNATI, February 1, 2008 – For those moved to articulate their feelings for their paramour this Valentine’s Day, the nation’s largest greeting card company offers more than 1330 different Valentine’s Day cards to help you find exactly the right words. If that dizzying array of choices is too much, Chipotle offers one alternative that even gives something back. Give the person who makes your heart burn like tomatillo-red chili salsa a Chipotle gift card, and we’ll give you a free burrito for yourself.

Customers who purchase a Chipotle Mexican Grill gift card between Feb. 1-12 and save the receipt will be eligible to receive a free burrito. Just bring the receipt to any Chipotle location on Feb. 13 or 14 and redeem it for a free entrée.

El Pollon closed

One of my freelancers just e-mailed to say that a restaurant she was supposed to check out for a Weekend story, El Pollon in Fairfield, had closed. Not sure when it happened, but the phone's been disconnected. Pity - it was a Peruvian chicken spot on Dixie Highway that just opened in July 2006. Polly had written about it providing food at the Cincy Cinco festival last May.

Waffle tour and more

From Jean-François Flechet's newsletter:
"We just moved into a new space at Findlay Market. We are now located inside the main market house, next to Ms. Helen's grill.
Come on in and check out our new space. It's a lot comfier and warmer than our old spot.. nor more freezing while waiting for a waffle. We have a large bar and seatings available only a few steps away.
Hours: Friday: 9am-4pm Saturday: 8am-4pm Sunday: 10am-3pm"
"Join us on Sunday February 3rd at Sidewinder Coffee & Tea in Northside for the first stop of our 2008 Waffle Tour. Sidewinder is located at 4181 Hamilton Ave. Try one of their special winter drinks along with an authentic Belgian Waffle. We will be baking waffles from 10am till 1pm. More dates will be announced soon... "
Bon! Gaufre, anyone?

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