Saturday, November 29, 2008
i personally hate going to the mall, especially at christmas. i am not one of those people who experience a shopper's high when i knock down an old lady with a walker and grab the last elmo live! from the shelf. since i worked in retail and my poor husband still toils away in the red and khaki, mostly i just feel sorry for the employees. for the most wonderful time of the year, people sure are crabby.
i digress. my point is, i find gifts elsewhere. i was excited to learn that greater cincinnati independents is offering gift certificates good at any of their 32 restaurants. *most* people like to eat, and it supports our local businesses, so it's a win-win.
here's the list:
Andy's Mediterranean Grille, Behle Street Cafe
Bella Luna, Brown Dog Cafe
Chalk Food + Wine, China Gourmet
Daveeds at 934, deSha's American Tavern
Dilly Deli Cafe, Wines & Gourmet, Greenup Cafe
Holy Grail Tavern & Grille, Hugo Restaurant
Jag's Steak & Seafood, Jean-Robert at Pigall's
Kona Bistro, Mac's Pizza Pub
mesh, Molly Malone's - Covington
Montgomery Inn Boathouse, Nicholson's Tavern & Pub
O'Bryon's Irish Pub, Pompilio's
Primavista, Pub at Rookwood Mews
Red, Seny Tapas Bar
The Polo Grille, The Pub at Crestview Hills
Tink's Cafe, Vineyard Cafe and Wine Room
Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant
Friday, November 28, 2008
6:30am thanksgiving. i couldn't do this again to my hair if i tried.
the schedule. i make the list so i don't have to think for the rest of the day.
my mom (sous chef) peeling.bacon for the green beans.
the first item finished.time for a snack.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
now i have to gush for a second like the 14 year old catholic school girl i am deep inside. harry connick is adorable and did a fantastic concert and seems like a great guy to have a drink with and he wears vests and i told brian he should wear vests, too.
where did we eat before the show? nada. brian and i split the negro modella short ribs, a new menu item that is very good, even though it reminded me of the stew my mom used to torment us with as children (turnips and potatoes disguised as one another - evil!). highlight of the meal was the dessert. warm chocolate torte with bananas foster gelato - simply divine.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
we sat down and were welcomed by possibly the sweetest person ever to work in the food service industry. shur-good oyster crackers were provided to snack on while we perused the menu, which listed tons of sandwiches, breakfast, and like any westside establishment, chili.
this first picture is brian's brinner. on the right? a mountain of potatoes with cheese. to answer your question, yes, he finished almost all of it.
all this food, plus drinks, was a mere $30. the only disappointment? the menu promised pie, but there was no pie to be had. they stopped serving it awhile back. i guess not everyone wants to eat pie after a heaping double decker, but i sure did.
i have to say this, i make some badass macaroni and cheese. the secret to my pasta casserole prowess? the 19th edition of the better homes and garden cookbook, published 1949. back when people ate butter and weren't afraid of lard and bacon. the binding may be cracked and the pages yellow, but it holds a treasure of classic recipes. (this may be the same recipe as in the current cookbook, but i can't say)
baked macaroni and cheese (i usually double this recipe, cause it's that good)
3 tbsp butter (BUTTER, people, not margarine)
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk (go for the whole milk. you know you want to.)
salt and pepper
1/2 lb grated american cheese (i use sharp american. cheddar is good, as is the casserole mix championed by my friend elisa)
1 cup dry bread crumbs
cook macaroni in boiling, salted water. Drain and rinse. make white sauce of butter, flour, milk, and seasonings; add two-thirds of the cheese; stir until melted. (whisk count: 1) pour over macaroni in greased baking dish. sprinkle remaining cheese and bread crumbs over top. bake in moderate oven (325) 30 minutes.
only once when making this have i accidently grated my finger. ouch.
i saw mac and cheese recently on 'throwdown with bobby flay' that is 7 cheeses and 2000 calories a serving. looked incredible and may be duplication worthy.
Monday, November 10, 2008
After a string of debacles at various airports across the country on my longer-than-necessary journey, I arrived at the party to surprise my dad with my presence. He said, "What are you doing here?" I had several drinks and found that I am a champion in alcohol consumption at sea level, which is a huge elevation decrease from the 6100-6300 feet I usually drink at. If you ever want a particularly cheap night of drinking, go up a mile or so and have two beers, you'll probably be lit. But I digress. The bar tenders were awesome (and they did all the clean-up, super awesome), the ambiance was lovely (because of k's decorations), and the food was provided by Catering Excellence, specifically a guy named Joe Whitton. Joe attended the party as well; I found him to be a very cordial fellow. There were finger foods like cocktail sausages, meat wraps, cheese, a broccoli salad and pasta salad. It was all quite delightful, especially the meat wrapped around horseradish cheese. I didn't eat much however, in anticipation of Skyline later that night!
Having been born and raised in the Nati, I simply cannot express my love of Skyline in mere words. It is the whole reason I visit Cincinnati instead of having my family come to Colorado to see me. Skyline is just not the same when you have to eat it from a can with Kraft 2% Milk sharp cheddar cheese as a topping and Oscar Meyer turkey dogs for the dog part of the coney. Apparently Skyline has expanded their menu in a significant way since I last lived in Cincy, but I always stick with the traditional coney and 3-way to get my annual fix. Needless to say, Skyline = heaven...in fact I think that's what the angels serve as a snack in Heaven.
I did the rounds, I ate at LaRosa's. Still delicious as usual. I even drank the tasty draught root beer, though I normally don't drink pop. I wanted to get the full effect.
Saturday night we ate at Mecklenburg Gardens, a Cincinnati staple...probably even more so than Skyline. Because the place has been there since the Cenozoic era of Nati-time, it has the coolest atmoshpere, fun German beers and food. We ate: Saurkraut balls, potato pancakes (my favorite), pretzels with beer cheese (also favorite), Mecklenburg pie, German chocolate cake, and a bavarian cream puff (the tastiest dessert). My entree was the Portobella Spaetzle. It was good, the mushroom was the best part. I thought there was a bit too much cream sauce that ended up overpowering the fun of eating spaetzle. The waiter was not the best, he didn't even bring the dessert tray over, which the most fun thing about eating out. But overall, Mecklenburg Gardens rocks.
Next, we ventured into downtown to check out the revitalized night life. Very swank, never thought I'd see people out in downtown Cincy on a Satruday night. Palomino was the first stop, which is a great place to eat also, but we only had Lavendar Martinis there, which are pretty much the best martinis ever. I've never found them anywhere else, not even California (and they are supposed to be hip out there). Our friend Melissa works there and she is the best server they have.
Last stop of the night was a bistro a block from the Palomino that started with a J and is a hard word to remember, especially if one was drinking that night...which this one was. K can provide the name. The bar tender, Jen, is the greatest. We let her decide our drinks and they were excellent. A Washington Apple Martini and another Martini that had pineapple and was equally well-made and delicious. Totally recommend this cool locale for a stop on the downtown bar circuit. See Jen, ask her to make something up for you, she'll know exactly what you need!
The whole Nati experience seems to have changed since I last lived there, almost a decade ago. The westside is still, mostly, delightfully unchanged (still lacking in stand-alone Starbucks, WTF?), but it looks like the city is becoming more metropolitan and sophisticated. I even saw a Brazilian Steak House dt, excellent work with the revitalization, city council!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
our family's default restaurant when going to the zoo used to be zino's, but since they closed, we have not found a staple after-zoo eatery. we opted this time for camp washington chili, which i have previously only visited drunk.
the place was packed and gets two thumbs up for great classic atmosphere. the server was very friendly, although she seemed frazzled by the lunch rush. i ordered the grilled cheese with turkey, brian with ham. the sandwich was good; hot and melty. i wish it would have had real turkey breast instead of lunchmeat, but whatever. the big disappointment was the chili cheese fries we split. i hate to say it of such a cincinnati institution, but i thought the chili lacked flavor and the fries were kind of cold. i kept eating them hoping i just had a bad bite, but to no avail. they just weren't good. we left half the plate.
to end on a more positive note, when my grandfather was a firefighter he did insurance inspections of restaurants. every time we drive past camp washington, he comments that it had the cleanest kitchen he ever saw.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
i need suggestions. desperately. where do you take guests to show off the city?
some background: she's 26. married. doesn't drink beer. prefers cocktails. in all other ways is the total opposite of me.
we eat at the werkhaus fairly regularly because the food is decent and the prices reasonable. it's kind of like something easy i would cook at home - straight-forward sauce, pasta, pizza. but it's nice to take a break and have someone else do the work (i resisted the urge to very cheesily say "werk"). i love their caesar salad and recently my favorite dinner has been the baked mostacolli. brian's crazy about the lasagna. it's warm, hearty wintertime food.
their desserts are always good - chocolate decadence, double lemon, cheesecake. but we really adore the pumpkin praline, made extra special by the fact it is only available a few weeks out of the year. luckily, they are very generous with the recipe, which i will in turn pass on to you. i made it last thanksgiving and it was met with good reviews, although i don't think it tasted as yummy as at the werkhaus.
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter
- 3 tbsp whipping cream
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
in a heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and cream. cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour into two well greased 9x2 round cake pans. sprinkle with pecans. cool.
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 2/3 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups canned pumpkin
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
in a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and oil. add pumpkin and vanilla. combine dry ingredients, add to pumpkin mixture and beat until just blended. carefully spoon over brown sugar mixture. bake 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. cool for 5 minutes, remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. place one layer cake, praline side up, on a serving plate.
- 1 3/4 whipping cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- additional chopped pecans
in a mixing bowl, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff. spread 2/3 over cake on plate. top with second layer (praline side up) and spread remaining cream in center of cake. sprinkle with additional pecans. refrigerate.
makes 10-12 servings.