Wednesday, April 30, 2008

eating habits

over at wine me, dine me there was some talk about the clean plate club recently. i am a card carrying member, solely because of the influence of my grandpa bob (different grandpa than previously mentioned). at a tender age, my grandpa bob told my sister and i that before we are allowed into heaven after we die, we have to eat all the food we left on our plates during life. this is the danger of having catholic grandparents raised during the depression. michelle and i debated over the years if the food would appear as we had left it, lukewarm and unappealing, or if it would age as we aged, and we would have to slurp up moldy brown goo before st. peter welcomed us with open arms. my persisting image of purgatory is miss havisham's wedding table; complete with cobwebbed candelabras, dusty lamb shanks, and a decrepit, decaying wedding cake.

after church on sundays we would go out to breakfast. once, at perkins, i begged and begged to be allowed to get pankcakes and promptly ate just 2 bites. my grandfather insisted they be wrapped up. they were kept in my grandparents' freezer FOR YEARS. whenever i visited them, grandpa would ask me if i wanted pancakes. i think they were finally thrown away when he passed on.

be careful what you say to children. they're listening.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

law and order

tonight on law and order svu, robin williams plays a locavore who prank calls fast food chains and manipulates employees to perform illegal activities. he's not very nice.

early bird special

brian and i went to diane's for dinner tonight. around 4:30. we were both hungry. for those westsiders who aren't familiar with diane's location, it's in the same plaza with the pirate's den. i know this is not quite the landmark is used to be since it no longer resembles an actual pirate ship, but generally everyone knows where it is.
diane's reminds me of eating dinner at my grandparents'. the potatoes are from a box, the green beans from a can, and there's rainbow sherbet for dessert. (my grandmother stopped cooking sometime in the 70's, and my poor grandpa does the best he can.) this cooking style is prevalent at several westside independents, and it seems to be popular. even though it was only 4:30, many of the tables were occupied. granted, we were the youngest people there by about 40 years.
i wonder why more fresh ingredients aren't employed. maybe it's economics - the canned and boxed products probably are less expensive, and that allows prices to remain very reasonable (our dinners totalled $24). maybe it's that tastebuds become accustomed to convenience foods. maybe it's for speed of service. i'm not saying it's bad food, but it's not necessarily good either.

maybe it's just comforting for people to eat something familiar.

food crisis

bbc america news had an interesting piece tonight on the rising prices of food and the hunger it is causing in nations around the world. additionally, countries like china are talking about leasing fields in australia to make up for land lost to urban development. president bush says only 15% of the rise in prices is related to corn diverted for biofuel. eating is getting so complicated and political.

stephen colbert also touched on the subject, commenting that "ethanol solves the energy there any problem alcohol can't solve?" he also offered the equation, rivaling e=mc2 for applicability, corn + magic = gas. check out his commentary, kernel of truth.

i am glad such influential media outlets are tackling the subject.

this friday

Another entry point to the local food movement is the Central Ohio Valley River Local Foods Guide, which is slated for May 19 release at Findlay Market. You can get an copy of the book early at a panel discussion on becoming a locavore that includes area growers and producers. $10 (or sliding scale fee, including a vegetarian dinner). 6 p.m. May 2. Imago Earth Center, 700 Enright Ave., Price Hill, 513-921-8455.

Monday, April 28, 2008


OH MY GOD. saturday night i had the immense pleasure of dinner by jean-robert at pigall's. 6 courses. wine pairings. sweetbreads. i have no words to describe the delicacy and decadence of this incredible meal. the best thing about eating such fine food is that it makes everything about life seem wonderful and perfect (the wine probably doesn't hurt, either). and the food is so pretty, a harmony of colors and textures. i really wanted to take a photo of each course, but i felt kind of ridiculous whipping out my camera at such a classy establishment to photograph what i was eating. kind of like photographing a monet at the musee d'orsay.

the cocktail: plush pear martini

the menu:
duck confit and salmon with radish salad

cape scallops with avocado, celery root, pineapple and sorrel
-2006 verget chardonnay

braised sable fish with julienne vegetables, balsamic vinegar and tomato cream sauce (my favorite course)
-2006 las eymeries white bordeaux

sweetbreads with veal breast, petit basque, arugula, and dijon demiglace
-2004 domaine rocheville cotes du rhone

beef tenderloin (very rare) with creamy spinach, shiitake mushrooms, fingerling potatoes and bordelaise
-2005 chateau clos bourbon bordeaux

assortment of cheeses (with berry compote)
-taylor fladgate 10 year tawny port

assortment of pastries (a ginger cake with chocolate glaze/frosting)
-2005 domaine de barrubio muscat sec (my favorite wine)

like flying business elite, i now have been spoiled and may never enjoy regular food again...

although maybe not, because late that evening we made a stop at the wc steakhouse...

Monday, April 21, 2008

we will take over the world

one of my ever-vigilant friends pointed out chicago is finally getting some decent restaurants - check out cinners.

fresh baked

yesterday brian and i walked over to a new addition to the cheviot business district - taber bakery. i had been told that the owner was a young pastry chef, so i was a little surprised to see burnt danish in the case. the glazed cake donut i ordered was acceptable, but much spongier than i prefer. i was starting to be disappointed. all was forgiven, however, when i tried the fresh baked white bread. it was delicious - yeasty and light. i almost ate the whole loaf myself (thank god i can almost justify it because i walked there). they bake on a daily schedule and i can't wait to try tuesday's rye and thursday's multi-grain sourdough.

the rest of the baking schedule:
tuesday: rye, rye rolls
wednesday: bread bowl, kummelweck rolls, hoagie rolls
thursday: multi-grain sourdough
friday & saturday: jalapeno cheddar, white, cinnamon raisin

of note - i also had a sample of the white chocolate pound cake - yum! i'll be buying some next time.

addendum: tuesday: the rye bread is pretty darn good, although, sadly, not salted. i also picked up some sugar cookies with buttercream frosting that simply melted in my mouth.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

thoughts on a rainy day

we spent 2 hours at lowe's today purchasing home and garden supplies, from front porch pots to bathroom paint. unfortunately, the rain has quashed any grandiose ideas we had for yard work. the only good thing about rainy sundays in the spring is the lack of a line at zip dip.

the weekend started off right friday night at mecklenburg gardens. i met some friends for happy hour hefeweisens, and it stretched into dinner and a little more beer. as a kid, i was resistent to german food. let's face it, a lot of german food smells bad and looks funny. limberger cheese. sauerkraut. sauerbraten. and what's up with the white hot dogs? i hated the suprise of going to my grandparents' and finding out it was sauerkraut day. that smell seeps into the curtains and i am convinced to this day that sauerkraut is a large component of that "old people smell" we all recognize. (i wonder if that smell varies by region?) the only "german" food i would eat was german chocolate cake. ok, and goetta, but that's more of a german immigrant thing
however, as i grew up and my tastebuds started to numb a little, i started to love german food. i think i finally tried it out of a sense of duty to my heritage. during my trip to austria, i probably gained 10 pounds from schnitzel alone. my friend and i wanted to come back to cincinnati and open a restaurant called 'the wurst place in town' dedicated to the various wursts and garden gnomes we had encountered in our travels. but i digress. german food has found it's place in my heart and stomach. and i have to say, mecklenburg's is my favorite. it surpasses hofbrauhaus by far. the atmosphere is great, it's never over-crowded, and the owner has a handlebar moustache that rocks. a few of us pharmacy students are there pretty regularly, enjoying the aforementioned hefeweisen, pretzels and bier cheese, and sauerkraut balls. great happy hour prices. and the dinner is blissful - spaetzle, apples and red cabbage, sauerbraten or weiner schnitzel. i always forget to leave enough room for dessert, which is unfortunate because they have cream puffs and mecklenburg pie (an original creation of pecan chocolate chip crust with mocha filling and mocha mousse). yum.
a little additional family history on mecklenburg's: my great, great uncle bruno was a waiter there for 42 years. he ran book out of there as well. you can see his picture by the hostess stand. he's the dreary looking one who resembles lurch from the addam's family.

shameless plug

this has nothing to do with food, but i have to support my neighborhood and promote the westwood home tour, which is next sunday, april 27th. it starts at mercy high school (my alma mater) at 1pm and goes to 6pm. it is a beautiful time a year to see westwood. lots of trees blooming and tulips in abundance.
for more information, visit the westwood historical society.

you can by advance ticket vouchers at henke winery, which i suggest you pay a visit to anyway. a lot of their wines are from locally grown grapes, and you can taste 7 wines for a mere $5. joan and joe are great hosts and the pours tend to be generous; it's easy to get sloshed. (i don't believe in pouring the extra out after a sip - what a waste). give their pan seared cheese a try while you're at it.

good. i did manage to make this about food afterall.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

its finished

well i finally finished the raised bed garden. only 3 trips to home depot and 2 weekends. not bad. i have images of this box being filled and green this summer. i read a book called square foot gardening -- you can learn more about this at this web page;

i, like krissy, have tried growing plants from seeds indoor this winter. i was hoping this would be more successful and seedlings would be all over my house. this was my first time at attempting to do something like this. previously i have purchased seedlings at the garden store, which have done quite well. my pepper plants seem to have done the best, my tomatoes are hit and miss, while the herbs have seen better days. i will likely end up supplementing my seedlings with store seedlings.

Friday, April 18, 2008

i have a burpee catalog and i'm not afraid to use it

i think i have mentioned before that a few of my girlfriends have prodigious gardens planned for this summer. last year, beth had so many tomatoes we are still eating them. i felt it unfair that i continue to bum fresh produce without offering something in return, so this year i wanted to contribute. problem. i live in westwood. my backyard is roughly the same dimensions as one of my closets. to those of you unfamiliar with the charm of westwood victorians, i'll clue you in. that's small. but i persevered and opted to try herbs. utilizing the bible of burpee, i chose some common (parsley) and some interesting (purple ruffles basil) herbs. i also purchased the "ultimate growing tray" that guaranteed to "grow bigger and better seedlings every time". promising. however, a number of weeks in, my sprouts look rather anemic and seem to have mold growing on them. the ultimate growing tray did not say anything about mold. so, success still remains to be seen. i am hopeful that when i transfer the fledgling oregano, cilantro, etc. to the yard, they will suddenly, mystically, become...well, something edible. otherwise, sorry ladies, it looks like i will again be begging for vegetables and bringing nothing to the table.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

eat your veggies

according to this month's food and wine, vegetables are all the rage in spain. they are spotlighted as main dishes and proteins take the role of garnish. a wonderful quote from a chef: "diners tend to idealize luxury proteins, but in our globalized world, those have become nothing more than empty status symbols." i wish this guy would talk to my husband.
the general idea is, meats are shipped from all over the place, while local vegetables retain their "personality" and connection to the region. easy enough concept, something we've heard about, but what these chefs are doing with vegetables is amazing. they are dressing vegetables as we've never seen them before. example: chef and his pharmacist sister create boiled potato coated in thin shell of kaolin and lactose. they are served with garlic aioli for dipping.
it's great to see veggies getting some attention. will i be able to convince brian to have a cauliflower steak instead of a beef one? not in the foreseeable future.

my great vegetable discovery of the month is purple carrots. they taste good (kind of sweet), look pretty in salads, prompt people to ask questions (may not be a positive aspect). and because of them, i found this fantastic website: i was unaware carrots were so inspiring.
even my pugs, crosley and francie, enjoy them. take that with a grain of salt, however, as they have also been known to peruse the cat box for a snack.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

tink's cafe

here is my review of tink's cafe in clifton as posted on

"i can hear what whoever reads this is going to say - you shouldn't have gotten the tofu. but i like tofu. it can be quite good if prepared a certain way. unfortunately, i was disappointed.

let me start by saying the atmosphere at tink's is great- sophisticated but casual. the service was also very friendly, although a little slow (we were on our way to a show at the playhouse and were late). for an appetizer, i had to have the fried green tomatoes, a particular favorite of mine, and they were great. the dressing and goat cheese garnish were the perfect complement. for the entre, i did order the tofu, but i can justify it. first, it was described, i believe, as cinnamon crusted. it was served with shredded and lightly fried beets, parsnips, and carrots. finally, it was promised to be tied together with a pumpkin cream sauce, which was at the very least intriguing. i imagined this flavorful, sweet and spicy, kind of moroccan inspired, light dish. what i got was flavored so subtly, it was bland. the best part was the fried beets/carrots/parsnips. the pumpkin sauce wasn't even as whimsical and wonderful as i had imagined. all around disappointing, especially after all the rave reviews i had heard.

i know, i know. i shouldn't have ordered the tofu."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Set your DVR

Check it out! King Corn will be airing on PBS later this month.

April 17 at 3am on WCET (channel 48)

It also has some airtimes on CET World on 4/16 at 8:30a, 2:30p and 7:30p.

For more information about the film go here

a tip for brownie goodness

brian loves brownies, so i am always looking for variations. this recipe i swiped from paula dean, who i don't watch too frequently. she's a little too sweetly southern, personality and cuisine. however, she is growing on me. she is a family sort of gal and uses a lot of butter, so i have been trying to give her a chance.

she did have an idea for incredible brownies, and they're so embarassingly simple...
here you go:
1)get your favorite brownie mix (that's right, people, i said MIX)- i like ghiradelli or the betty crocker with hershey's chips in it
2)mix it up according to package directions, and pour half in a 9x13 pan
3)top with favorite giant candy bar, such as toffee symphony bar or ghiradelli caramel
4)pour the rest of the brownie mix on top and bake according to package directions
5) get a gym membership to work off the calories from a whole 9x13 pan of brownies