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, March 28, 2008

A good deed for former Ruby employee

I just got a news release about a monthlong fundraiser that Jeff Ruby's retaurants are sponsoring for a former employee. Many of the readers/writers on the blog are former food service employees. We all know how restaurant work is, for the dishwasher on up to the chef/owner regardless of whether it's a short-order dinner or the finest five-star restaurant.
An employee at Jeff Ruby's Belterra restaurant was severely injured in a car accident last year, and Ruby is donating money from every entree and bottle of wine sold in April -- at all his restaurants -- to help pay medical bills. Ruby himself has donated $20,000 to kick-start the fundraiser. And, it's good to note that the employee had health insurance through the restaurant.
Throughout the month of April, the seven Jeff Ruby-area restaurants will participate in a fundraiser for 24-year-old Jason Daviaux, a Scott High School graduate and former employee of Jeff Ruby’s Belterra steakhouse injured last year in a car accident on his way to work.

Daviaux was driving on I-71 to the Belterrra restaurant when the axle of the car broke and a wheel spun off the vehicle. The car crashed and he was ejected. He suffered severe spinal injuries and is now paralyzed from the waist down.

During the month of April, a portion of proceeds from each entrée and bottle of wine served at all Jeff Ruby restaurants will go toward Jason’s long-term care and rehabilitation. Jeff Ruby has launched the effort with a $20,000 donation to the Fund.

“Jason had two goals in life, one was to help his mom financially and the other was to be the 115 pound state wrestling champion, and he reached those goals. Now his goal is to walk,” said owner Jeff Ruby. “He may not be going to work for us again, but we’re going to work for him, raising money to assist in his recovery.”

For more information or to make reservations at one of Jeff Ruby’s restaurants, visit www.jeffruby.com.

Early spring menu at Pigall's

Annette just sent over the early spring menu for the $74 prix-fixe meal at Jean-Robert at Pigall's. The menus are full of interesting choices, and I love that I remember French words I've forgotten. Par exemple, "grenadine" is the French word for pomegranate! Everything sounds more interesting in French. Would you rather eat a beet or a bettarave rouge?
The menu is lengthy, so I'll post it in the comments section.

Agave nectar sweetened vegan cupcakes

My childhood friend Summer Genetti is the pastry chef at Chalk. I met up with her shortly after the Covington eatery's opening earlier this year and sampled her vegan chocolate cupcake, one of five mini treats served in her signature Flight of Cupcakes. If I hadn't known in advance the cupcake was vegan, I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. Most diners don't either, said Summer.

All of which makes this vegan chocolate peanut butter mousse-filled cupcake recipe tempting to try this April Fool's Day. But you don't have to be vegan to try and enjoy a vegan recipe; the cupcakes are made without dairy, eggs and sugar, so they're cholesterol-free and diabetic-friendly, too. The sweetener here is low-glycemic agave nectar.

The recipe comes from Ania Catalano, author of the new "Baking With Agave Nectar," featuring more than 100 agave-centric recipes, many of which are vegan, gluten-free or both. I've never experimented with agave nectar, but this cupcake recipe looks and sounds so good it may just be the time to try it.

Anyone ever use agave nectar? Do you have any recipes or tips to share?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


So I had lunch at Wendy's the other day. ($2.40 for lunch--a baked potato and a bowl of chili. Hard to beat. Though the chili wasn't as good as I remember it.) The guy in front of me got the new Spicy Baconator. I thought about trying it --professionally, just to keep up--but I couldn't.

The guy takes it to his table, where he takes off the top bun, takes the salt shaker that Wendy so thoughtfully provides, and shakes salt on his Baconator for a good five seconds. How much salt is that? On bacon?

Makes me wonder. And it's not just at Wendy's--I find many of my restaurant meals are almost too salty to eat--but someone across the room will be salting the heck out of it. I find this discouraging.

Sake to me.

With the popularity of sushi and Japanese food, the well-educated gourmet needs to know a little more about sake, the Japanese rice wine. The local Japan America Society is offering an opportunity to try a nice variety of rare and premium sakes imported from Japan. Their special qualities are being highlighted with food pairings from some of the best area restaurants—Beluga, Cumin, Daveed’s, Honey, Orchids and Slims. For instance, Orchids is matching a Bishounen/Wakatake onikoroshi with slow cooked tuna loin and pickled vegetables and spicy port dumplings with red pepper glaze. Proceeds benefit the Society’s Greater Cincinnati Cherry Blossom Planting. $75 per person/ $140 per couple (mention you read it in the Enquirer, they’ll give you a $5 discount.) 5:30-9 p.m. Friday, at Jungle Jim’s Oscar Event Center in Fairfield. For more information and to reserve, go to www.jasgc.org/saketasting.html


I try to keep track of restaurants that we've been anticipating but whose opening date keeps getting moved. (That's pretty much all of them.) Oceanaire says early May. So does the new Greyhound Tavern.

I wonder how many other new restaurants we'll be seeing--doesn't seem like the best economic climate. . ..

Taste of Cincinnati

Taste of Cincinnati is looking for local restaurants to set up shop at this year's festival. I have a few suggestions for them:

Jean-Francois Flechet and his Belgian waffles.
Valerie Williams and her vegetarian turkey rolls.
The Bonbonerie's fabulous cookies, cakes and other pastries!
Anything from Melt in Northside!
Maybe some Habanero?
I know that the Taste is better for places that have grab-and-go food, so my list is brief...

What other local places would be a good fit for Taste of Cincinnati? (details for entry will be posted in the comments section)

Eddie Merlot...

Have any of you guys ever been? FYI:


Eddie Merlot’s to Open in Cincinnati on April 2

It’s one of America’s premier steakhouses. It’s a destination for anyone who appreciates the finest wine, prime aged beef, and seafood. And it’s making its Ohio debut on April 2.

It’s Eddie Merlot’s, Cincinnati’s newest upscale restaurant—and it’s certain to become one of the city’s favorite dining experiences.

Owner Bill Humphries says that Eddie Merlot’s sets itself apart by taking what’s best about the classic American steakhouse and combining it with modern, engaging special touches. “Dinner at Eddie Merlot’s is a night to remember,” Humphries explains, “but it’s never pretentious. Our guests feel welcome because they can relax and enjoy the evening while experiencing the best in food and wine. We treat them very well, but they can be themselves when they’re here.”

The Eddie Merlot’s difference begins with its decor, designed to have equal appeal with men and women, and everyone from twenty-somethings to Baby Boomers. With modern lighting fixtures, high ceilings, lighter woods, and expansive windows, the atmosphere is decidedly contemporary, and always inviting.

Equally as inviting are the men and women on the Eddie Merlot’s staff. Each guest is treated to the one-of-a-kind service Eddie’s calls the “WOW Factor.” From the greeting they receive at the door to the service at tableside, guests’ expectations are exceeded at every turn.

And then there’s the main course—the food. Eddie Merlot’s starts with U.S.D.A. Prime beef, a certification awarded to only 2% of all U.S. beef. Steaks are aged naturally for a minimum of 21 days, to an unparalleled standard of tenderness and flavor. The chef then personally selects each piece for the optimum proportion of marbling and texture, before hand-cutting and each steak to the guest’s specifications. Then, to seal in the flavor, the guest’s steak is flash-seared on special high-heat grills.

For those who enjoy seafood and other choices, variety abounds on the Eddie Merlot’s menu, with entrees like Colorado Lamb Chops, Pan-Seared Duck Breast, and Sea Bass. In addition, special promotions bring new seasonal flavors to the menu, like “Eddie’s Best: Beef & Burgundy,” beginning May 1. Guests can enjoy limited-time only features like Tuscan New York Strip, Lobster and Beef Wellington Filet Mignon, Prime Beef Brochette, and Stilton Cheese Filet Mignon.

Alan Pope, a 17-year veteran chef, oversees the Eddie Merlot’s kitchen. Pope, well-known to Cincinnati diners from his work at the Napa Grille, says that the variety Eddie’s offers is unmatched.

“You can experience something different every time you visit us,” Pope notes. “Our goal is to consistently provide the highest quality dining experience, while also including some unexpected choices that you just won’t find anywhere else.”
Of course, nothing goes with a great meal like a glass of fine wine. That’s why Eddie Merlot's serves more than 75 wines by the glass, and a Reserve List with more than 150 selections. In a testament to its high standards, the existing Eddie Merlot’s locations have earned the coveted "Award of Excellence" from The Wine Spectator each year since their opening.
In bringing together the best in food and wine in a setting that’s festive and dynamic, Eddie Merlot’s also offers the perfect setting for a private gathering. With a variety of private areas to choose from according to the guests’ needs, parties of up to 60 can be accommodated.

Eddie Merlot’s is located at 10808 Montgomery Rd. at the I-275 interchange. For more information, call 513-489-1212 or visit eddiemerlots.com.

Sidebar: Who is Eddie Merlot?
Bill Humphries, founder of Eddie Merlot’s, is well known for his love of wine. In fact, Bill’s talent for choosing appropriate dinner wine was one of his responsibilities as a board member for a worldwide corporation. At one such dinner, Ed, a new member, asked Bill to surprise him with a great wine. When the wine—a merlot—was served, Ed was exceedingly impressed, and told Bill, “From now on, always order the merlot.” “And from now on,” Bill replied, “you’re Eddie Merlot.” To this day, that’s what Ed’s fellow board members call him. Eddie Merlot’s is an homage to the man and his love of a great steak, a great glass of wine and a good story. Eddie Merlot’s welcomes its guests in the same spirit.

About Eddie Merlot’s
Eddie Merlot’s is a premier American steakhouse featuring exceptional prime aged steaks and an extensive selection of the finest wines. A division of Platinum Restaurant Group, Inc., Eddie Merlot’s restaurants are located in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, with new locations opening in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio in early 2008.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reserve opens for lunch

The Reserve Restaurant & Piano Lounge -- which moved from Fourth and Race streets in downtown Cincinnati to Newport on the Levee last fall -- now serves lunch starting at 11 a.m. daily.
The lunch menu ranges from $3 (cup of soup) to $11 (half-rack of ribs). Looks like a pretty good range, with plenty of salads and sandwiches.
For more information, visit www.reserveonthelevee.com or call 859-431-7373.

Easter dinner and more

So, Foodie Report readers, you think you're sick of hearing about tofu, greens and dairy-free food? Try being my boyfriend, who willingly eats whatever I cook. He likes tofu and all my vegetarian concoctions, but I came home to a bucket of KFC in the fridge two weekends ago. ("But it's a family meal," he said. "It'll last all weekend.") And it did. He and his friends pigged out on KFC, and I realized my vegetarian dinner parties aren't always as much of a hit as I thought. (I crave junk food sometimes, too, but how can you eat something that has a "Food Safety Assurance" label on the lid? Ew. Food shouldn't need such a label. Reminds me of the time I saw "KFC is safe for consumption" on the door of a Seoul KFC during the bird flu scare. No, thanks, I'll pass.)
The night before Easter, my friends who were still in town decided we needed to have Eastern dinner together. And, because I'd had a few glasses of pinot noir (three big ones, at Grammer's), I agreed to roast a chicken.
Dinner turned out to be Fred, three guys and me. They got a variation on engagement chicken, and I got roasted mushrooms, lentils and tofu with lemon-Dijon-herb sauce.
I bit my tongue, made no anti-meat comments and let the guys enjoy their dinner. And I stripped the carcass and made stock for a soup that Fred ate for dinner the next night.
Reportedly, the chicken was perfectly roasted, and it fell off the bone. I stuffed it with lemon, rosemary, thyme and garlic, then slipped herbs under the skin.
PETA's cringing right now, but I was happy to serve a meal that every one of my guests could enjoy. And I'll add that everyone tried -- and liked -- the lentils.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

1st anniversary = paper, 20th = peanut oil

Outback is celebrating 20 years of deep-fried onion-ness. Want to make a knock-off Bloomin Onion at home? I'll post the recipe in the comment section. Just don't eat it the day before you get your cholesterol checked. The recipe is from Todd Wilbur's “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains” (Plume, $14).

Do you make a "kitchen clone" of anything served at a restaurant?

Photo: Gannett News Service, Pam Spaulding/The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thanksgiving for one, please...

*If you have something against frozen dinners, stop reading now.

I'm still on a quest to reduce how much I spend at the grocery store and to drop some pounds without cutting any foods out of my diet. I'm now down 25 lbs since late last fall. And I've managed to save money in the process. I find that it's easier (and cheaper) for me to bring my lunch to work. Plus I don't have to worry about getting to the counter at La Tea Room Cafe (their site was down when I posted) around the corner, with the intent to order a cup of the minestrone but instead order their fabulous chicken salad on a croissant. It's delicious, but just not worth the calories most of the time. So I bring leftovers or a Lean Cuisine with some extra vegetables from home.

What Lean Cuisine says: "A sophisticated blend of roasted turkey medallions glazed with a rich brown sauce accented with dried cranberries. Served over a savory bread dressing and accompanied by creamy, whipped sweet potatoes."

What I say: Um, yeah... not sure about the whole "sophisticated" thing, but not bad for a frozen meal. The turkey was a bit chewy, just as most meat that comes out of the microwave is. But it was in a pretty tasty gravy with about 10 small cubes of stuffing. (Hey, it's only 250 calories. what do you expect?) The cranberries added balance to the saltiness (as there was plenty of that!). The star of the compartmentalized plastic tray (sounds incredibly appetizing, I know) were the mashed sweet potatoes. All in all, it was like the lunch you might enjoy two days after Thanksgiving Day: tasty, but not nearly as good as it was on Thursday.

Would I buy it again/recommend it to someone who eats frozen dinners? Yep... Would I rather have leftovers from a dinner I cooked? Of course.

*This blog is not the food snob/nazi/purist blog. It's the Foodie Report. The people who post and comment here have one thing in common: We are all a tad bit obsessed with food. Beyond that, you can eat as little or as much flesh/red dye #40/tempeh/Soyrizo, etc... as you please and you can still be in the Foodie Report family. Just know that even if you don't patronize chains, you will likely see entries about them here. Even if you, like me, are an omnivore, you will likely see entries about vegetarian fare. We're an eclectic bunch as are most of the people who visit this blog on a daily basis are. (We love you for that...)

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Taza = Love

As a loyalist of the long-closed The Buzz Coffee Shop, I admit I had my doubts when I first saw the signs for Taza, which replaced the long vacant building at 2900 Jefferson Ave. in Clifton. Like so many others, The Buzz was my home away from home, a welcome respite throughout my undergraduate years, offering sagging but comfortable couches and a relaxed, Bohemian atmosphere with enough caffeine to make look Richard Simmons look lethargic. Could another coffee house there ever compare?

There is no comparison - Taza is not only much nicer than The Buzz, it's hands-down the best local coffeehouse I've been to. And this is coming from an avid local coffee house connoisseur. Taza holds the same appeal of the Buzz - a casual, welcoming atmsosphere and great brew - but is immensely more sophisticated. College kids will no doubt flock through its double doors, but unlike its predecessor, they won't dominate the demographic.

A group of Clifton locals opened Taza in January as a "comfortable 'third place' to meet up with old friends and make new ones." The not-for-profit group showcases local creative and performing talents and plans to offer a monthly "Friends on a Mission" mini-grant to community service groups in need of funding. For a calendar of events, check out its website or MySpace page.

The food menu is limited now to fruits, soup and muffins, but the chalkboard sign promises a light lunch menu soon. Hopefully extended evening hours are in the works, too. Current hours are 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

(Barista Shane Strouse pictured in first photo)

An easy biscotti recipe to try

I had this Italian-themed dinner party to go to last night and for some reason I volunteered to bring dessert, even though I don't have time to do much cooking these days, much less baking. Fortunately, I found an easy biscotti recipe on the Food Network Web site that chef Rocco DiSpirito apparently shared on an episode of "Melting Pot." I used vanilla extract instead of anise extract because I'm not a licorice fan, sprinkled the rolls with cinnamon and sugar and added chocolate chips to half of the batch, and it turned out pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. (My fellow dinner partiers agreed.) It wasn't too dry and crumbly either, maybe because I only toasted it for 6 minutes on each side instead of the suggested 6 to 10, and it was delicious dunked in coffee with a bit of Baileys. I'm sure these would also be great with almond extract, sliced almonds or other variations, as some of these reviewers suggested. Here's the recipe -- let me know if you try it.


1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon anise extract, or 3 drops anise oil
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, sugar and anise flavoring until well blended. Combine the flour and baking powder, stir into the egg mixture to form a heavy dough. Divide dough into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a roll as long as your cookie sheet. Place roll onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press down to 1/2-inch thickness.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack (I just let them cool for a bit right on the cookie sheets-LB). When the cookies are cool enough to handle, slice each 1 crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet. Bake for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on each side. Cookie slices should be lightly toasted.

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A hot and spicy waffle topper!

Sweet! Hot! Waffles!
From Jean-François, the waffle guy:
"We are expanding our toppings selection. For those of you who want to start their day with a kick, we will serve the the waffle with delicious, locally made, Sweeet Hot Sauces. The hot sauces come in three spice levels:Kiss me Momma, Sweet hot Momma and Too Hot for Momma! All sauces are a blend of honey, various mix of peppers and herbs. It is very unique. I had never tasted anything like it and I love it! The mix of spiciness and sweeteness goes wonderfully well on the waffle... and on many other food items. Ken Cunningham, the man behind the sweet hot sauces, will present his creations on Saturday March 22nd at Findlay Market, starting at 9am. The sauces will be available as topping on the waffles and for sale by the bottle.

Trio for Easter

From Trio...

Trio Restaurant has seating available for Easter Sunday. Call now to make reservations for our breakfast buffet or for dinner!
(513) 984-1905
Open Easter and every Sunday 10:30 am - 9:00 pm

Don't forget... Monday is Lobster Night and
Tuesdays they serve famous Mushroom Ravioli!
TRIO is located at:7565 Kenwood RoadCincinnati, OH 45236
Phone: 513.984.1905
Fax: 513.984.3873
Updated, with prices: $16.95 adults, $8.95 kids

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wine dinner

Chalk food + wine is hosting a wine dinner with the wines of Maison Marques & Domaines on Wednesday April 2.
Dinner will be served in six courses, each paired with wines from Louis Roederer, Albert Pic, La Poussie, Delas Freres, and Christian Moueix.
Co-hosting the event will be Roland Herrmann from MMD USA. The price per guest is $125, which does not include tax or gratuity. Seating by reservation only, availability is very limited for this event.
Contact Bryant Phillips or Leslie Laski at 859.643.1234 for more information

Over-the-Rhine-based Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. will tap the first keg of its latest year-round brew, the Moerlein Barbarossa Double Dark Lager, Thursday night at Arnold’s Bar and Grill downtown. First brewed for German Emperor Frederick I – aka Barbarossa – during the 12th century, the Moerlein Barbarossa was first produced in the mid-1800s. It’s a deep reddish-brown German-style dunkel. The first tapping ceremony will happen at 5:30 p.m., but the party is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., according to a news release. Robert L. Pohl, the last president and chief executive officer of the original Hudepohl Brewing Co., will tap the first keg. Arnold’s is located at 210 E. Eighth St., and the event is free to the public. Free, limited-edition posters of the label will be given away during the event. For more information, go to www.christianmoerlein.com.

From weekly newsletter...

DCI (Downtown Cincinnati Inc.) send a weekly newsletter full of things to do downtown.
Here are some food-related highlights:
Universal Grille at 909 Vine Street is serving lunch again! Monday through Friday from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm stop in for burgers, salads, pizza, nachos, soup and more. Universal Grille’s burgers are the tops. Try the Sunset Strip Burger covered with BBQ sauce, bacon and cheese for just $7. Call 513.381.6279 for more low down on the chow down! http://www.myuniversalgrille.com

Gather your friends and co-workers for a great time at the brand new BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon at 19 E. Seventh Street to watch the March Madness kick off on March 20 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Your $10 donation benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society plus gets you a Miller Lite Draft for just $1, House Wine for $3, Well Drinks for $4 and Specialty Martinis for $5. Complimentary hors d’oeuveres will be provided by BlackFinn. http://www.blackfinncincy.com

Make reservations today for Easter Sunday Brunch at The Phoenix at 812 Race Street from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm. You’ll find omelet and Belgian waffle stations, Chicken Florentine, Honey Glazed Ham, vegetables, salads, bagels and so much more for just $27 for adults and children ages 5 to 12 pay $19. The elegant Phoenix, built in 1893 as a men’s club, is known for its beautiful stained glass windows and grand marble staircase. Call 513.721.8901 to RSVP. http://www.thephx.com

For an Easter Buffet unlike any other in a breathtaking French art deco setting, make reservations at the Palm Court at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. Traditional Easter favorites include Carved Roast Baron of Beef, Carved Leg of Lamb, Crab Claws, Shrimp, Cardamom Crusted Salmon, Made to Order Waffles and Omelets, Grand Marnier Cheesecake, Cherry Bread Pudding and lots more. Plus a special appearance by the Easter Bunny! Adults $39.95, seniors $31.95, children 5 to 12 $19.95. Prices do not include tax or gratuity. Easter Buffet hours are 10:30 am to 4:00 pm on March 23. Call 513.421.9100 to make reservations at the Hilton Netherland located at 35 West Fifth Street. http://www.orchidsatpalmcourt.com

452KNOW2- MARCH 26
45202 is more than a zip code. It’s a lifestyle and an urban cultural center. If you love the code, come celebrate it and its hippest artistic inhabitant, the Know Theatre at the new BlackFinn Restaurant and Saloon at 19 East Seventh Street. Celebrate the Know Theatre’s tenth anniversary as downtown’s “just left of off Broadway” theatre, plus the Cincinnati Fringe Festival is toasting its fifth anniversary. Your $5 donation benefits the Know Theatre, plus you’ll enjoy complimentary appetizers and drink specials. It’s March 26 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. To learn more about the Know Theatre, click on http://www.knowtheatre.com.

Olive Garden coming soon

Olive Garden will open in Stone Creek Towne Center at 3725 Stone Creek Blvd. in Cincinnati on Monday, April 14 at 4 p.m.
The new restaurant, built in the company’s Tuscan-farmhouse design, replaces the city’s first Olive Garden located at 9654 Colerain Ave. which was built more than 20 years ago.
Olive Garden will begin accepting applications for employment on Wednesday, March 19. Those interested in applying for a position with Olive Garden should apply in person at the restaurant Monday through Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Beginning March 19, the phone number is (513) 245-1820.

Out to dinner

My belly is happy but my bank account is a little sad after last week.
In the last two weeks, I've been to Hugo, Red, Lavomatic, Nada, Andy's, Teak and (gulp) Don Pablo's.
I blame Restaurant Week's extension. Some friends and I went to Hugo two Thursdays ago and had such a good time (and a FABULOUS meal) that we went to Red the following Thursday. I wasn't planning to go, but I did and enjoyed myself.
Red was OK, in my opinion, but my friends (all beef eaters) loved it. We were first seated right outside the bathroom and in the line of traffic for every server passing through the dining room. Add a screaming baby and we quickly asked to switch to the much less crowded back room.
Our salads were good but forgettable. (A week later, I can't remember which one I had!) There were only two choices for Resto Week entrees: beef and mahi-mahi with mussels in a saffron broth. I liked the saffron broth, but the mahi-mahi and mussels were incredibly overdone. The broth had an identity crisis: There wasn't enough to eat with a spoon, and it was too thin to thoroughly sauce the fish.
I tried my friends' mashed potatoes -- each upgraded, to garlic and to pesto potatoes. They were fabulously rich and delicious.
The dessert was so-so: Banana bread pudding was too eggy, the sauce too sweet and the ice cream just right. (I'm lactose intolerant and try really hard not to eat ice cream, so I passed on it after a bite.)
I think I should have ordered a couple of sides and a full dinner salad. I would have been happier. Others rave about Red, so I'm willing to give it another chance.
The very next night, some friends and I tried to have dinner at Lavomatic but settled for a glass of wine and headed to Nada. (So nice to see restaurants crowded so soon after opening, though for purely selfish purposes, I wish it hadn't been so crowded at 8 p.m. on a Friday night.)
Nada was, as usual, perfect. Guacamole ($9) was creamy and delicious -- I love eating it with crudite in addition to the chips. It eliminates the guilt of eating guacamole. Last time, I complained about greasy thick flour chips, but they were not greasy this time. I had the black bean and mushroom tacos ($12). I like them even better than the mahi-mahi tacos ($16) I had last time. The sangria was fabulous -- and stuck to just one because I'd already had a few glasses.
(Saturday night I cooked a fabulous vegetarian dinner at home: Zucchini-basil skillet cakes, wild rice pancakes and vegan basil cream pasta with vegan chocolate cake and strawberry jam. More on that later.)
Sunday, my sister came in town and we took her to Teak, where they have a new sushi chef named JJ. He's from Korea, my friend told me after we left, and he's really good. Teak is our go-to sushi place, so we're usually not overly impressed. (Does that make sense? When it's always good, you only notice when it's bad for some reason.) Sunday we ordered a giant boatload of sushi and were incredibly impressed. Among our favorites were a hot mama roll (look for it soon on the Teak menu) and a mackerel tartare with spicy sauce. Mackerel is my favorite sashimi, but I'd never had it like this.
Monday, after yoga, we walked to Andy's Mediterranean Grill in Walnuts Hills. (Boyfriend lives near Eden Park, so with a shortcut, it's just a few blocks away, we learned.) This was news to me: from 9-11 p.m. on Mondays, food and drinks are half off at Andy's. It wasn't corned beef and cabbage, but it was a fun way to finish St. Patrick's Day with a group of friends.
Ooh, and I forgot one: Had lunch at Via Vite yesterday. I wasn't feeling great, so I just had the roasted yellow pepper soup ($7 a bowl). It was bright and rich and perfect on such a dreary day.
Tomorrow I have a lunch meeting in West Chester, at Mesh. I'm pretty excited. That's another restaurant I don't visit often. It's a really long drive for me!
What have you been eating lately? Needless to say, after a long week of meals out, I've got to cut back a bit.

Whole Foods stages parmigiano reggiano revolution

Good news for cheese lovers, bad news for the lactose intolerant.
Whole Foods (aka the former Wild Oats) is staging a revolution of that deliciously pungent cheese. Are they stringing up those that pass off the putrid stuff in shaker cans as the real thing? Are they punishing those that call it parm? (I vote they outlaw the powdered crud that most of us ate growing up. Sounds like a good revolution to me.)
Nope, they're trying to set a world record for cracking open 270 hand-selected wheels of two-year-aged Parmigiano Reggiano.
Why? "In a world of mass-produced food products, we are proud to offer a true hand-crafted work of art. That’s a reason to celebrate!"
Sounds good to me!
"Whole Foods Market cheesemongers will demonstrate the ancient art of “opening happiness” or breaking into its crown jewel of cheeses with the traditional method that preserves its salty, crunchy, crumbly internal crystalline structure, which is left intact. Parmigiano Reggiano samples, wine pairings, and recipe ideas will also be offered."
The details:
WHEN: April 12 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

WHERE: Whole Foods Market specialty/cheese department
2693 Edmondston Rd. (513) 531-8015
5805 Deerfield Rd. (513) 398-9358

Friday, March 14, 2008

Let them eat cake!

We celebrated the impending bundle-to-be of a fellow Hometown staffer yesterday with a baby shower. I volunteered to make the cake(s): a butter cake and a three-tiered cake with chocolate and German chocolate layers topped with yummy buttercream frosting and a lemon cake with raspberry filling.

I'm no Ace of Cakes, but considering these are my second and third fondant cakes and my second ever tiered-cake, I'm summarily impressed. (My first stab at making a tiered, fondant cake was for my informal wedding reception held after our wedding on Mackinac Island. I decorated it the day of - I do not recommend this).

I took the first two Wilton class series years ago at Garden Ridge in Eastgate. The store went out and returned in the same location last September, but they've since discontinued most of their Wilton line and cake classes. But if you're interested, Fantasy in Frosting offers lots of cake decorating classes each month at its Newport store. Not only did I buy most of the basic cake decorating supplies there, FIF also offers pre-made flowers and floral sprays of fondant and gum paste, so even aspiring amateurs can make their cakes look professional. (Wal-Mart and Meijer also offer basic Wilton cake decorating supplies, like Wilton pre-made fondant and royal icing, decorating bags and tips, rollers and smoothers, color tints and cake pans. Their prices tend to run much cheaper than dedicated cake supply stores, but they only offer the basics.) Cincinnati Cake & Candy Supplies near Arlington Heights also offers classes, ranging from beginner to more advanced levels. Both stores print their monthly schedule of classes on their websites.

If I weren't in graduate school already, I'd probably enroll in the Midwest Culinary Institute's pastry arts certificate program for my own personal edification. The one-year evening program covers the basics of baking and design, while the two-year Pastry Arts Technology program is more in depth and even yields an associates of applied business degree.

But for me, the fun of cake-making isn't in the baking - I use a modified cake mix recipe - but in the decorating. I was a graphic designer before I turned reporter, so I view cake decorating as an art form - one that tastes great, too. Are there any true aces of cakes or aspiring cake decorators out there? Or do you know of any other good cake supply shops or stores offering cake decorating classes?


I don't think I'm alone in this, though I know there are other opinions as strong as mine in the opposite direction. I'm speaking of the smell of gyros, as I mention in my review of Mythos today.http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?ID=/AB/20080313/ENT01/803140307/
Maybe it's because I once did a story hunting out good gyros around town and simply ate too many of them, but I find the overpowering greasy meat smell of those gyros things going around on a spit just too much. I feel like I smell like it for the rest of the day. Am I being way too sensitive? (As you know, I'm in the un-vegetarian camp on this blog, and I love the smell of grilling steak wafting down the sidewalk . . . )

Thursday, March 13, 2008

MCI cooking classes... and camps!

The camps are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 23-27: ages 8-12; July 21-25: ages 13-17;
August 11-14: ages 8-12.
Tuition for each camp is $250, $225 for additional siblings. (Curriculum to come, I hear!) They’ll be hands-on, with faculty and community instructors.

Spring Favorites From Nectar Restaurant
Julie Francis: Chef/Owner Nectar
Monday, April 7: 6 – 9 p.m.

Join Chef Francis for a class using the ingredients of the season with French Mediterranean flair. Beginners $59

Party Like a Wok Star!
Chinese Appetizers with Mike Wong: chef/owner Oriental Wok
Wednesday, April 9: 6 - 9 p.m.

Chef Wong, owner of Northern Kentucky’s famed Oriental Wok will show you the secrets of entertaining Chinese style. Learn how to make potstickers, spring rolls and more! Beginners $59

Spring has Sprung Brunch
Catrina Leatherwood: chef/owner Taste the World in Cincy Catering
Saturday, April 12: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Chef Catrina focuses on the best Spring has to offer in this class on everyone’s favorite leisurely meal. Many dishes are easy to do and take the stress out of entertaining for family and friends! Beginners $59

Ghee This Tastes Great: Introduction to Indian Cooking
Yajan Upadhyaya: Cumin Indian Fusion Restaurant

Monday, April 14: 6 – 9 p.m.

Don’t know a chutney from a curry or a biryani from a makhani? Join Chef Yaj for a delicious and fun evening of exploring Indian Cuisine. Beginners $59

A Taste of Scotland
Patricia Helfenstine: Nicholson’s Tavern
Monday, April 14: 6 – 9 p.m.

Focus on traditional Scottish recipes with a lot of history behind them like savory salmon, chicken and leeks and more. Beginners $59

Vive la France! Classic French Dishes
Brian Whisman: Kroger Division Chef Coordinator
Wednesday, April 16: 6-9

Learn the trifecta of French classics with Chef Brian: coq au vin, salade nicoise and berry crepes. Beginners $59

Tastes Like Chicken—for teens
Robert Coletrane: MCI chef
Saturday, April 19: 1 – 4 p.m.

Teenagers 13 and up will want to take charge of dinner after this class. Chef Coletrane focuses on techniques for the perfect chicken: trussing, searing, roasting and more. Class will include multiple recipes plus a discussion of nutrition choices and safety tips as well. Intermediate/advanced, some knife skills necessary. $59

Cooking Your Life Healthier
Donna Lapasky: MCI Faculty Chef
Saturday, May 3: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

A great class for those with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease or for anyone wanting to learn how to make better choices in the kitchen. Beginners $59

The Vegan Table--For Omnivores, Too!
Chris Keegan, MCI Faculty Chef
Saturday, May 3: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Join Chef Keegan for this class on developing flavorful dishes for the vegetarian palate. Class will focus on seasonal produce as well as tips for healthier eating and ways to make dishes vegan, not just vegetarian. Beginners $59

Kids in the Kitchen—Wrapping It Up!
Catrina Leatherwood: chef/owner Taste the World in Cincy Catering
Saturday, May 10: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Kids ages 8-12 can learn how to make their own healthy and yummy snacks and meals. Perfect for families who are always on the go. Class will also cover basic kitchen safety and nutritional choices. Beginners $49

Cake Decorating 201
Moe Thie: MCI Faculty Instructor
Saturday, May 10: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The follow up to Cake Decorating 101, focus on borders, simple flowers, edible images and creating special cakes for special events! Intermediate $59

Spring Favorites from the Palace
Romy Jung: executive chef, The Palace at the Cincinnatian
Monday, May 12: 6 - 9 p.m.

Take home a bit of Cincinnati’s elegant and innovative Palace Restaurant in this class with Chef Romy. Beginners/Intermediate $59

Chocolate: Savory to Sweet
Jared Whalen, chef, Chalk Food and Wine and Bill Sands, owner Marble Hill Chocolatier
Tuesday, May 13: 6 – 9 p.m.

Behold the power of antioxidants in this fabulous evening with chocolate in every course, plus learn the art of pairing wine Beginners $65

Start Your Grills: Grilling, Marinades, Rubs, Spices
Brian Whisman, Kroger Division Chef Coordinator
Wednesday, May 14: 6 - 9 p.m.

Join Chef Brian for a primer on the technique of the season: Grilling! Learn how to make sensational tasting meats with new and different spice rubs and marinades. Beginners $59

Boot Camp – Back to Basics!
Senior Master Culinary Chef John Kinsella & Chef Stefan Marcus: MidwestCulinary Institute
Saturday, May 17, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Dice, slice, chop and chiffonade in the morning Knife Skills session with Master Chef John Kinsella. Then put those skills to use in the afternoon with Chef Stefan Marcus with a session on Roasting and Braising—and vegetables. Beginners/Intermediate $110

Wimbledon Champagne and Strawberry Fayre
Patricia Helfenstine: Nicholson’s Tavern
Monday, May 19, 6 - 9 p.m.

Get ready for the world’s most famous tennis tournament or just get some great spring and summer entertaining ideas with Chef Trish. Class will include shortbreads, pastry and more. Beginners $59

Small Plates: Summer Entertaining
Paul Dagenbach, DeSha’s American Tavern and Grill
Monday, May 19, 6 - 9 p.m.

Join Chef Paul for an evening of entertaining with style and ease, perfect for those lazy, hazy days of summer. Beginners $59

St. Patrick's Day at Chalk

If you're still hungry after all that green beer, Chalk is planning a special menu for St. Patrick's Day. Looks like the perfect food to pair with a green beer!


Amor de Brazil, the restaurant that introduced the churrascaria concept to Greater Cincinnati, has closed. Its last night was March 11. Al Copeland Investments opened the restaurant in Deerfield Township in August 2006, replacing what had been a Copeland’s of New Orleans. The all-you-can-eat grilled meat plus elaborate salad bar concept, which originated in Brazil and Argentina, is popular around the country. Boi na Braza, downtown, is another example of the type.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I know about a lot of restaurants in a 8-county region, from Hebron to Hamilton. So it's pretty funny there's a restaurantI walk past at least 10 times a week that I'd never eaten in. Maybe because it's really a bar, and it's hard to know from the outside what you'll find once you go inside. Head First is a sports bar on Third St., between where I park and The Enquirer office. I'd been in there at night--my husband sat in a few nights with a band that plays there.
In the pre-smoking law days I would never have considered lunch there, but a friend is temporarily working downtown even farther west on 3rd St., so we met for a quick lunch. I had a big Cobb salad with a nicely grilled chicken breast, plenty of bacon, tomato, cheddar, etc. No avocado, so not an authentic Cobb, but good. My friend had a chicken salad sandwich. I don't know, not a big deal, but just a pleasant surprise that there was such a varied menu of moderately-priced lunch stuff. They have blue-plate specials, too, like meat loaf and other home-cooked meals.
And, later this month, if you work downtown and you just have to slip out of the office for an unspecified period of time and watch your alma mater play basketball, this would be exactly the out-of-way place to do it. They have tons of TVs. 218 W. Third St.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hugo for Restaurant Week

Five friends and I checked out Hugo for Restaurant Week 2008, part 1. Part 1 was last week, and thanks to the really fun blizzard, part 2 is this week. (Yes, the blizzard was fun for those of us who don't have driveways to shovel and had friends who let them crash downtown!)
Are you taking advantage of Restaurant Week, part deux?
(Because of private parties, Daveed's and Hugo aren't participating on Thursday. They have good reason: David and Sean are swapping restaurants!)

Anyway, back to Hugo... we broke the rules: Our party was so large that we couldn't eat together in the lounge. Not all of us wanted the Restaurant Week menu, so we ate in the Magnolia Room off the dining room. I was out with the leadership team of a YP group, and we lingered a long time. This dinner was one of the first times we've gone out without having a project to discuss, and we really get on well. We were a bit louder than the other diners, so I'm glad that we had our own room. We're well-behaved, just energetic and eager.
The staff was more than accommodating, and chef/owner Sean Daly stopped by while we were still having drinks at the bar. He told me all about the aforementioned restaurant swap. (Back in the day, he worked at Daveed's, so he knows that galley kitchen well.)
I had the fried green tomatoes with crab and tomato confit. Perfectly crisp and firm on the inside, with a bright, creamy sauce. I swear off tomatoes in winter, but even the tomato confit had good tomato flavor and color.
Course two was the Hugo salad: romaine, potato, onion, goat cheese and smoked sherry vinaigrette. Another good dish, but I like salads to be really exciting. This one was a bit demure.
Course three was king salmon with Savoy cabbage, butter beans and Dijon cream. Wow! I'm a big fan of butter beans, and the cabbage had just enough bite to it. The salmon was rich, bright and full-flavored -- nothing worse than an anemic piece of salmon. Absolutely delicious!
Most of the table had the tomatoes or the sweet corn fritters (accolades from all) and the free range chicken with greens and bourbon glaze. The chicken was a huge hit, I'm told.
The only thumbs-down came from a guy who "had to have" the macaroni and cheese from the bar menu... then realized after it came that it wasn't what he expected. "It's not like Grandma's," said the waiter, who was right. White cheddar mac with herbs, pancetta and foie gras. Others who tried it deemed it excellent.
Hugo was good, though if I didn't eat fish I might have been hard-pressed to find a dish for me. (Lack of vegetarian entrees is why I'm not a full-on vegetarian, though that could soon change, I've decided.)
Overall, Hugo was great. Two of my friends who live in Hyde Park decided that they would come back often just for drinks -- and the eye candy.

wine and dine

I've gotten my first brochure for The Cincinnati Wine Festival, and the wine dinners listed are already largely sold out. They're Thursday, March 27, just before the big festival tasting events. There are 10: Carlo and Johnny, Honey, Jags, Jean-Robert at Pigall's and Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse are already sold out. That leaves Orchids, Daveed's, Embers, Hugo, and Morton's. If you like dinners where the wine and food have been carefully matched up, these are really good. Winemakers or reps from the wineries are there, and the chefs go to a lot of trouble to show off and create a refined feast. If I had $125, I'd snap up a ticket to the Orchids dinner. Stephanie Gallo, the honorary chair of the festival, will be there with E&J Gallo wines, and Todd Kelley, the chef at Orchids, is top-notch. Hugo, with Graziano wines, or Daveed's with Sefried Estate, would also be good bets. You can sign up at www.winefestival.com

Video review of Nada

OK, I've gathered that some of you are tired of hearing about Nada, but here's a video review of it anyway (shot by me and with a voice-over by Polly). We're trying to do more of these video reviews, particularly with new restaurants, just because they give you a much better feel for the place (and the food) than still photos do. Any suggestions? Leave 'em in the comments.

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I was sick for a good solid week--the flu this year is being caused by very persistent little bugs. I stayed home and watched stupid TV and the first season of Big Love on DVD and read books. Oh, I re-read The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon. What a wonderful book that is.

Maybe this would be a good time to be in a plural marriage like on Big Love: the other wives could have brought me hot tea and meals. Fortunately, instead I had lots of soup in the freezer. I love to make soup, and I always put 1 or 2-serving size containers of it in the freezer for lunches or times like these. Here's a soup I've made several times lately and had a good supply of. It's called Senegalese peanut soup and caught my attention because my daughter is spending her semester abroad in Senegal. She says she hasn't had anything quite like this though. Anyway, it freezes really well, and it's thick and nourishing, though a little too spicy if you're the stomach kind of sick. And of course it wouldn't be a good idea if you have peanut allergies. . . .

1 pound dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 leeks, diced
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (add later--the peanuts might be kind of salty)
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
6 cups water
1/2 cup diced green onions
1/2 cup cream
1 minced clove garlic
Chop about 1/4 cup nuts with a knive. Puree the rest coarsley in food processor; set aside.
In large soup pot, heat oil. Add onion, celery and leeks. Saute until tender. Add sugar, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt. Stir to coat. Add tomatoes, water and green onions, half-and-half, and garlic . Stir in ground peanuts. Heat through. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro and the chopped peanuts. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Market Wines opens March 29

Cheers! Finally, Findlay Market is a one-stop shop! Market Wines will open on Saturday, March 29.
The shop is opening the space that was used for Christian Moerlein tastings.
Market Wines is located at 128 W. Elder St., directly across from the main Market building. Hours of operation are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9-5, Friday from 9-6, Saturday from 8-6 and closed Sunday and Monday. The phone number is 513-744-9888. In addition to fine wines, Market Wines will also stock a selection of micro-brewed and imported beers and wine accessories. The shop will also hold monthly wine tastings.

more Korean goodies

I can't believe I forgot to blog about this! Riverside is expanding, sort of. A Korean bakery is opening next door to the restaurant, where Mad Cup was. I'm meeting with Mark Jang, the owner, on Thursday for a tour and update.
Ah-sah! I'm excited.
A Korean bakery and café will open next to Riverside Korean Restaurant in Covington by the end of March, said Mark Jang, who owns both.
Riverside Café will serve coffee, 10 Korean teas and other drinks. Jang will also have Korean desserts, such as sweetened sticky rice cakes, walnut buns and other pastries.
At night, the café will serve Korean and dessert wines, plus appetizers from the restaurant’s menu.

He’ll train his staff to perform traditional Korean tea ceremonies.
The café will be open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., plus Friday and Saturday nights during dinner hours to accommodate overflow seating at the restaurant, which will be attached to the café.
While the restaurant features traditional Korean décor, the café will highlight modern Korea. Jang’s architect and designer are both Korean.

In the summer, he’ll serve a popular Asian drink called bubble tea, sweetened black or green tea served with large tapioca beads and fruit flavorings.
The café will have a private room, which might become a “noraebang,” or singing room, for karaoke.
Riverside Korean Restaurant is located at 512 Madison Ave.; Riverside Café will be at 514 Madison Ave., in Covington. Jang hopes to be open by March 31.

Mike & Jimmy's closes, John Phillip's coming soon

Mike & Jimmy's closed at Crestview Hills, but a place called John Phillip’s Restaurant and Bar will take it's place.
I did a Restaurant Week video there last year, but I've never eaten there. Looked like a good place, but I usually don't find myself in Crestview Hills.

BlackFinn and Suite opens Friday

BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon is set to open Friday at 19 E. Seventh St. in downtown Cincinnati. The restaurant, part of a chain that started in New York, will offer an American menu, with lunch ranging from $6.99 to $14.99 and dinner costing $8.99 to $25.99, according to a news release Monday. Formerly McFadden’s, the space has been renovated with an enclosed dining room in front, a pub room and private meeting/dining areas. The building will also house the Suite at BlackFinn, a club and lounge. For more information, call 513-721-3466 or visit www.blackfinncincy.com
Suite and BlackFinn will have a $5 cover charge after 10 p.m. starting March 20, according to a PR rep. VIP tickets for the opening night of Suite are available online or at the restaurant.

The menu looks better than I expected, certainly a step up from McFadden's. The PR rep said there are five locations; the Web site says 12. Not sure whether some of those are under construction or whether she was confused. Ever been to a BlackFinn in another city?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wild Bill's in Lebanon closed for good

Bummer. Wild Bill's American Grille in Lebanon has now closed, according to their web site. Not sure what the deal is, but they had closed back in March 2007, blaming the smoking ban on decreased business, but customers convinced them to open back up. Obviously it wasn't enough to keep them going. This was one of the few restaurants to serve buffalo from Vista Grand Ranch in New Richmond. But I think you can still get buffalo from Eckerlin's at Findlay Market (and also the IGA in New Richmond).

Friday, March 07, 2008

Restaurants closed

As you might have suspected, many restaurants are closed.
So far, we know that Chalk Food + Wine, Lavomatic Cafe, JeanRo Bistro (no lunch tomorrow but open till 8 tonight for food), along with Polo Grille.
Know of any others?
Just in case, call ahead if you have dinner reservations tonight.
Update: Pigall's and Twist are closed, too.

Best. News. Ever.

Go forth and dine, people! (once the roads clear, of course!)
Restaurant Week Extended Through Friday, March 14
Participating members of the Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week will extend its 3 course $25.08 promotion through Friday March 14th due to the inclement weather.
For a complete lists of participants log on to www.gcindependents.com Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant directly. Some restrictions may apply.

Food Network chef to speak at Joseph Beth

Anyone here a fan of Food Network Chef Robin Miller? If so, the nutritionist and bestselling cookbook author will discuss and sign her latest cookbook, Robin to the Rescue, at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 15 at Joseph Beth Booksellers.

Miller is the author of six cookbooks and serves as host of the Food Network’s “Quick Fix Meals.” Her latest cookbook offers two hundred time-saving healthy recipes.

Joseph Beth Booksellers is at 2692 Madison Ave. in Norwood and can be reached at 513-396-8960.

I want a show!

Since Food Network apparently doesn't check resumes, I think I'll embellish a little so I can get a cooking show. In fact, I think that just about all of use here on the Foodie Report -- readers and contributors -- could get a show.
If, according to
Robert Irvine's rules of logic...
picking fruit=making Charles and Di's wedding cake
cooking dinner for my friends in numerous countries ="a jet-setting private chef who has a flair for ethnic cuisine."
Did the story about Robert Irvine surprise anyone else? Not the part about him getting fired, or the part where he lied, but the part about how long it took for Food Network, his publishing company and others to find out!

This is not the first time Food Network has been duped!

In case you didn't make it to the grocery store before the white death descended upon us...

Here's a cool new Web site that tells you what you can make with the stuff sitting in your kitchen right now:


Just plug in an ingredient, dish, cuisine and/or your mood and it'll spit a bunch of recipes back out at you. It's not working perfectly right now -- I plugged in "Mexican," "vegetarian" and "cheap" when I was searching for a dish to make for a recent dinner party, and the first recipe it gave me was for basmati rice (???). But then you can click on "show me more recipes" and get other ideas (for example, a recipe for white bean and broccoli burritos with cilantro). The site is still in beta mode, so maybe they'll add more recipes over time and improve the search function. Have fun!


Thursday, March 06, 2008

St. Patrick's Day at Molly Malone's in Covington

Never really been into St. Patrick's Day. Not sure why. What do you do for St. Patrick's Day?
From Molly Malone's of Covington:

Molly Malone’s of Covington will celebrate their first St. Patrick’s Day on Monday, March 17 in their new home, 112 E. Fourth Street. Located in the former Jack Quinn’s building, Molly Malone’s will close Court Street and will set up under a gigantic tent!
On Saturday, March 8, from 8-10 pm, guests can stop by Molly Malone’s to enter the Molly Malone contest. Just give your best impression of Molly Malone herself; the winner of the contest will ride on Molly Malone’s float in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Day Parade occurs on Saturday, March 15. Molly Malone’s will be inviting everyone to continue the festivities by coming in and enjoying some of their authentic Irish food and drink.
The St. Patrick’s Day festivities begin early with Kegs & Eggs at 7 am. LIVE music will begin at noon with Roger Drawdy and the Firestarters and will continue throughout the day with Celtic Core, Troubadors of Divine Bliss, Comet Bluegrass All-Stars and more! Bands will perform on all three floors of the Molly’s building, with pints of Guinness and Kentucky’s own BBC beer available at all bars. Molly’s will also serve food throughout the day, offering traditional Irish favorites such as Bangers and Mash, Beer Crisped Fish & Chips, Irish Lamb Stew and Corned Beef and Cabbage.
112 E. Fourth St., Covington. (859) 491-6659.

Food for Thought panel discussion

For the health foodies amongst us, I received this in a local e-mail newsletter:

Food For Thought - Thursday 13 March, 6:30 - 9:30 PM
Exploring organic foods, hormones in foods, & healthful cooking. Topics & speakers: “Healthful Cooking for Today’s Families” by Maggie Green (Certified Executive Chef), "Organic Compared to Non-organic Foods" by Mark Keating (Lecturer, University of Kentucky, Horticulture), & "Hormones in Foods & Their Effect on Human Health" by Greg Rentfro (Meat Specialist, University of Kentucky).

Advanced registration appreciated; registration on-site possible beginning at 6 PM; light snacks provided. Sponsored by Boone County Extension Service. Held at 6028 Camp Ernst Road, Burlington, KY 41005. For more information or to register, call 859.586.6101or go to www.ca.uky.edu/boone.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Madison's news

David Warda will be creating a weekly grab-and-go menu for Madison's, plus fruit salads on Saturdays. Samples will be available at the Internet cafe at Findlay Market (next to Madison's, 110 W. Elder St.) from 11-noon this Saturday.
This week's menu:
Marinated Green Beans
Black Bean, Mango and Roasted Corn Salsa
Cabbage Salad
Sesame Peanut Noodle Salad
"Adults Only Mac and Cheese" (sounds intriguing!)

Cooking Classes at the Market will be held the 3rd Sunday of each month at Findlay Market.
Tasting and Ask the Chef will be held the 2nd Saturday each month at Findlay Market.Custom and private events are available. Contact 513-542-2009 for details.
Upcoming cooking classes:
Cooking Classes at the Market
Fruit Desserts - Sunday, March 16th
Pear Upside-down Ginger Bread
Dark Chocolate Ancho Chili Pound Cake
Island Fruit Layer Cake with Mango Icing
Pear, Apple and Walnut Crisp with Spiced Wine Syrup
NEW DATE! Vegetable Sides - Sunday, April 13th
Sofrito Rice
Mixed Greens with Chilies and Balsamic Vinegar
Beets, Apples and OnionPoblano/Cheese Grits
Moroccan Carrots with Capers
($25 per person. Prepaid Cash, Check, Credit Card (visa,mc,amex,disc)Call for reservations 513-542-2009, 513-723-0590 or visit the Madison's Store.)

Seafood at Morton's

From Morton's:
Morton’s The Steakhouse has added a Chilled Ocean Platter to its seafood selections. The platter -- a lobster, colossal shrimp cocktail, jumbo lump crab meat, fresh Bluepoint oysters on the half shell and pre-split Alaskan King Crab legs -- is available in two sizes. The three-to-four person appetizer is $80 and the five-to-six person appetizer is $120.
In addition to adding the Chilled Ocean Platter to its permanent menu, the Cincinnati location is offering a Baked Ocean Platter of sea scallops wrapped in bacon, jumbo lump crab cakes, Oysters Rockefeller and Shrimp Alexander. Two sizes are also available for the Baked Ocean Platter: A $77 platter will serve three to four and $115 platter will serve five to six. Because the dish is still in its testing phase, it will only be available for a limited time.
Morton's The Steakhouse is located at 441 Vine Street in Carew Tower at Fountain Square. Open daily for dinner from 5:30-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5 p.m. -10 p.m. on Sundays. Bar is open daily at 5 p.m.
(513) 621-3111; www.mortons.com

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Coffee house find: H.D. Beans Cafe

As I mentioned last week, my husband Brandon Kinman and friends played live jazz at H.D. Beans Cafe on Sunday. That's him in the center on trumpet, along with friends Will Toedtman (left) of Pleasant Ridge and Ashley Martin of Union Township.

Despite being an an avid local coffee house aficionado, I had never heard of the Silverton cafe. And it's easy to miss - my husband and I drove separately and we both drove right by it and had to circle back. But H.D. Beans is a coffee house gem well worth the hunt. The space is small, but cozy and well-lit. The works of local artists adorn the walls, along with multiple plasma televisions for catching up on the latest basketball game or news. Relax at one of the bamboo style tables or sink into the comfy couch to sip away your troubles. For a brief, if somewhat dizzy tour of the coffee house, check out the cafe's MySpace page.

Oh, and the best part? Free wireless internet access.

For breakfast, the menu offers several bagel creations and an impressive array of caffeine to kick start your day. For lunch, try a hearty turkey reuben or melt or for something lighter, sample the chicken and seafood salads or the S & S sandwich, which sports smoked salmon, capers and onion chive cream cheese. Complement your meal with a cup of soup, side of fruit, potato salad, chips or a hot soft cinnamon or salted pretzel.

H.D. Beans doesn't offer many vegan options - okay, they don't offer any vegan lunch options - but Ben the barista offered to custom make me a veggie sandwich. My husband had a chocolate muffin the size of a softball which he declared, in between mouthfuls, scrumptious.

Hours are 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. H.D. Beans is at 6721 Montgomery Road and can be reached at 513-793-6036.

Another video: Shopping at an Indian market

I shot this video of Yajan Upadhyaya, the chef/owner of Cumin, shopping at Niva Grocers on Lebanon Road in Sharonville to go along with another Polly Campbell story that's running Wednesday. If you can find it, Niva has aisles and aisles of fascinating food, as you'll see in the video. I was especially excited to see Thums Up, the slightly spicy Indian version of Coke that Cumin serves. I don't have much experience shopping at ethnic markets here -- what's your favorite? (I think Miscellaneous Rodriguez on East Kemper Road has just about the best name ever, although I've never been there.)

Update: Read Polly's story here.

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Great night, great cause

For information, go to www.7daysforsids.com. Click here for tickets.

Earthsave potluck

The local chapter of Earthsave will hold its next potluck at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 30 at the Clifton United Methodist Church at 3416 Clifton Ave.

For those of you unfamiliar with the group,
Earthsave is an international non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about the benefits of a plant-based diet. The local group holds a monthly potluck, which usually includes a presentation by a guest speaker. But you don't have to be vegetarian to attend and enjoy great food while meeting new people.

This month Freeman Wicklund and Christy Thompson of the group Mercy for Animals will speak about the animal rights organization's start-up in Cincinnati. Founded in 1999, the Columbus-based group boasts more than 12,000 members committed to ending animal cruelty by promoting a vegan diet. I became involved with this group several years ago when they first tried to start a Cincinnati chapter and for folks who dislike the sensationalism of PeTA, MFA may be for you. The organization distributes literature at community events, peacefully protests and sponsors presentations from authors, activists and other experts.

Potluck attendees are asked to bring a vegan dish to share, along with your own plates, utensils and cups. For more information, call 513-929-2500 or e-mail earthsave@fuse.net.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Habanero on the Levee

Here's some good news that you don't read every day: A local, independent restaurant replacing a chain! I chatted with the owner, Max Monks, this afternoon. He sent a press release, but it didn't have hours. I'll update with hours when I know them. Had a really good tofu and eggplant burrito there a couple of weeks ago. Loved the burrito, but like Nada, they serve flour chips. I'm not a fan of flour tortillas or flour tortilla chips. Too greasy. But at Habanero and at Nada, I'll live with them because the salsa is so good!

Habanero will open its second location in April at Newport on the Levee, said owner Max Monks. The fast casual restaurant will have the same menu as the Clifton location, with a few additions. New dishes will include a sugar cane skewered Caribbean jerk shrimp appetizer and fire-roasted barbacoa steak taquitos. Monks said the Newport location will have a kids menu, which he recently introduced “with resounding success” at the Ludlow Avenue location. Monks will also serve beer, wine and sangria.
Monks said he is making some changes to the space – formerly Moe’s Southwestern Grill, which closed last month – to give it a “Habanero feel and reflect the independent, creative side of things.” Monks said that after 8 ½ years in business in Clifton, he made the decision to stay in Cincinnati and expand Habanero. Newport has an “excellent demographic, an excellent reputation and a need for a fast casual” restaurant such as Habanero. The Newport location will employ about 20 people, he said.

(Thanks, Lauren, for the tip!)

Amor de Brazil Lenten specials

When you're fed up with fried fish, here's another place to try during Lent. From Amor de Brazil:
Amor de Brazil, the first Brazilian churrascaria-style steakhouse in the Cincinnati area and known for its 15 premium cuts of seasoned grilled meats, announced that it has added seafood to its menu for a limited time.
In addition to the finest marinated, fire-grilled meats, exceptional salads and top-notch wines, Amor de Brazil is now offering whole live Maine lobster, a land-and-sea combo, grilled shrimp, herb crusted salmon and large sea scallops now through Easter (March 23).
In addition, Amor de Brazil offers a one-of-a-kind salad extravaganza that includes Ahi tuna, Norwegian smoked salmon, shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, imported cheeses and exotic salads and side dishes. The restaurant features continuous tableside service by Gauchos.
The Cincinnati Amor de Brazil is located at 5150 Merten Drive in Mason.
For more information, visit www.amordebrazil.com.

Good conversation, good food

Good conversation is always enhanced by good food, a winning combination long recognized by the Imago Earth Center. The Price Hill educational organization will host a conversation and vegetarian dinner Friday, March 7 at 700 Enright Ave.

The night begins at 6 p.m. with a catered vegetarian dinner. The suggested donation is $10 for dinner, but the center encourages folks to pay what they can. No wine or alcohol will be served, but attendees are permitted to bring their own.

The conversation follows at 6:45 p.m. Based on Ray Oldenburg's book Celebrating the Third Place: Inspiring Stories about the 'Great Good Places' at the Heart of Our Communities, the conversation will focus on where we meet other people with whom we share our stories and our lives, and how these kinds of meetings can foster relationships with others who are committed to sustainable living.

For more information, call Imago at 513-921-5124.

Pasta bar at Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

Just got this in an e-mail:
Starting today, The Pasta Bar & Buffet at The Grille at Palm Court is new and improved! Now there are two choices for your pasta fix - The Palm Court Pasta Bar is just $9.50 and includes the create-your-own pasta or choose The Palm Court Buffet, which includes the pasta bar, entrees, sides, salads and dessert buffet all for $12.50.
Available Monday-Friday from 11:30am-1:30pm at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza.

Chip in for water, help a child in need

More than 40 Greater Cincinnati restaurants are participating in the Unicef Tap Project during the week of March 16. For every dollar that diners donate for otherwise free tap water, a child will have clean drinking water for 40 days.
Cincinnati is one of 14 U.S. cities participating in the project, which ends on World Water Day, March 22.
Last year, more than 300 New York City restaurants raised approximately $100,000 for the project in one day. This year, UNICEF has added 13 more cities and expanded the event to a week.
A kickoff event and fundraiser will be at Bang Nightclub, 314 W. Fourth St., downtown, for on March 14, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. March 14.
For more information, and a list of participating restaurants, go to www.tapcincy.org.

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