Tuesday, March 31, 2009

bottle shock

brian and i happened upon the charming "bottle shock" at the video store last week (yes, we still go to the video store). i wanted to get it because it is about wine, and brian wanted to get it because it stars alan rickman as french wine store owner steven spurrier. he loves alan rickman. he will watch harry potter with me just to see alan rickman slither on in.

anyway, i am quite uneducated. i had never heard of the paris tasting of 1976, which started as a publicity stunt until the californian wines triumphed over french wines in the blind test. the movie tells the story of the chateau montelena and their perfect 1973 chardonnay, a bottle of which now resides in the smithsonian. the movie is cute and likeable, much like chris pine as the slacker son who saves the day.

other things i didn't know: 1) wine can turn brown if it isn't exposed to any air at all. it turns back after a couple days. 2) bottle shock occurs when wine is transported and results in a temporary muting or disruption of the flavors.

intense quote (by the foreman, gustavo): you have to have it in your blood, you have to grow up with the soil underneath your nails, the smell of the grapes in the air that you breathe. the cultivation of the vine was an art form. the refinement of the vine is a religion that requires pain and desire and sacrifice.

random side note: chris pine is rumored to be cast in the 2010 green lantern film. sweet!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

martha served

st. martha (ironically) is the bible's consummate hostess, often serving jesus as a guest in her home. for this, she is the patron saint of cooks and waiters/waitresses.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

newly acquired

while it is disheartening that world market is closing its doors in western hills, (*tear*) we were able to score one of their wine displayers for our basement.now i have ample room for 120 bottles of varied and vibrant wines. donations will be accepted.

plaza mexico

i have kind of been on a mexican kick lately, so on the recommendation of jknepfle, brian and i went to check out plaza mexico.

the ambiance is very strip mall and it smelled strongly of cleaning chemicals when we walked in. of course, i would rather smell clean than the alternative. the menu has great lunchtime deals. luckily, it was lunchtime.

i have no problem with ordering liquor in the middle of the afternoon (ok, possibly before noon), so i had to try out a margarita. while it was reasonably priced and generously sized, it was watery and not very good. however, it was lunch, so maybe the professional margarita-mixer doesn't come in till later and i got a novice.
my carnitas was (were?) so tender with a vague sweetness. this is the first time i've tried carnitas, and it was very delicious but seemed fatty. maybe that's always the way it is. i think i would rather it be served more like pulled pork and less like a hunk of meat. the beans had a unique grilled taste. i thought the guacamole was commendable and the rice forgettable. in the interest of a thorough assessment, i also ordered a soft taco. while no part of the taco was particularly flavorful, the overall effect was satisfying.

brian had one of the combo platters. this is a chalupa and tostada. it was difficult to discern the difference, but he did enjoy his meal very much.do i like it better than cancun? no. but it is a nice little place with a full spectrum of mexican staples. the friendly service and the food made for a delightful lunch.
Plaza Mexi on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 27, 2009

spirited paintings

i hesitate to tell you this, because i still want to get several other prints and i don't want them to be sold out, but the artist behind the moerlein beer labels is selling printed canvases in limited quantities. pictured is our helles lager print, now framed and adorning our dining room wall.
go here for more information.

frisch's fish

the rumors are true. frisch's fish sandwich is phenomenal. the fish is flaky and dredged in cornmeal-ish batter, unlike the breadcrumbed numbers at bk and mcdonald's. tartar sauce excellent. bun sturdy and fresh. i ordered mine with cheese, but on this sandwich (and i will rarely, like, never, say this about cheese) it didn't add anything but calories.

it is pricier than other fast food fish options, but it is probably worth it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

this has nothing to do with anything

but the word of the day on dictionary.com is thaumaturgy: the performing of miracles or magic.

just thought that was pretty awesome.

cancun revisited

last week i read on cincinnati hound a query: where has all the good mexican food gone? it made me crave cancun, the mexican restaurant located inside western bowl.

i've written about cancun before, and as josh pointed out, i did forget to mention the absolutely gargantuan cups pop is served in. they also have a fabulous birthday tradition of forcing the lucky celebrant to wear a huge sombrero, listen while they sing, and then smash whipped cream in the celebrant's face at the end said song. i have a picture of amy experiencing this phenomenon, but she may divorce me if i posted it here.

i will again contend you CAN get good food in a bowling alley. i will be despondent if western bowl and cancun close.
here is my usual dinner: pollo a la cancun. chorizo, chicken, zucchini, and cheese. a good medley of flavors. the beans and rice are kind of a whatever, something to fill up the plate. but any entree i have ordered has been good.

the chips and salsa are acceptable; not stellar, but not an unworthy filler either. brian really likes the queso. we have been unsuccessful at home duplication.

Cancun Restaurant and Cantina on Urbanspoon

what in the hell is rapini?

beth and i went to bootsy's saturday night for a bachelorette party. i will share with you the notes i scribbled to retain the experience despite my alcohol-clouded mind.
what in the hell is rapini? - cousin of broccoli
exotic spanish flatbread = pigs in a blanket [direct quote from beth]
duck tacos = fucking amazing [direct quote from amy]
when we turn 50, let's get drunk in private [general consensus]

those were my basic impressions of the big top circus that is bootsy's.
the menu is eclectic, pretentious, unexpected, (beth, add your adjectives, too!) i have to admit when i looked at it online i was thinking to myself, i'm never going to find something that i want since i don't eat seafood (of any variety). oddly when i was there i wasn't having trouble at all in fact had to think about what i wanted to select in stead. ok that's far fewer adjectives than krissy wanted but more my thoughts on the menu.
the delicious and refreshing elderflower mojito. my sister has sworn to me that when she drinks st. germain (the elderflower liqueur), she tastes the mountains. my experience was not quite so transcendental, but it was good. it was good. i sampled. twice in fact. i would drink it but probably wouldn't be my first choicepotatoes espana. glorified french fries, and the "ketchup" (aioli) was excellent. nice texture and spiciness. i believe i heard someone say i plan to lick the bowl once we finish the potatoes since the "ketchup" was so good. again i sampled, i liked. yes, that was me wanting to lick the bowl.

the aforementioned fucking amazing duck tacos. throw cilantro on anything and i'm happy. you think duck and you think taco and you conclude "nah". however that is not true at all. they were wonderful. if i go again i will likely order them.

charcuteria. the meats were good, but the onions (on the bottom, not the ones on the top) were slimy, mushy and not flavorful. not something i would order again.

shrimp seviche with avocado.

sometimes i need simple. hence the ceasar salad (sans anchovies). dressing was good. croutons were really good.
beth's pasta featuring oh-so-tender pork. ok if you go to look for this on the menu you won't find it. the sauce is from one of the seafood dishes. i had asked the server if i could substitute the seafood for chicken (thinking that would be an easy trade) and she suggested getting pork. i figured she knew best so i went along with her suggestion. it was def. a good call. it was, well, very tender, melt in your mouth sort of tender. the combination with the pasta and sauce was a good call much to my surprise.

the service was great. our server was very friendly and down-to-earth. the bathroom was a veritable kaleidoscope. i was glad that it wasn't extremely overpriced as well. when you hear jeff ruby's you think you might be putting out a bit of cash, but all of us left full and not feeling broke either.
bootsy's is definitely the glittery purple suit in cincinnati's closet. whether that's your thing or not is up to you.

Bootsy's on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 23, 2009

hot damn

for the first time this season i hear the ice cream man! the haunting melody of "turkey in the straw" is drifting through my window and i hear the kids screaming and running outside (hopefully they are running to the truck and not away from something).

my mom says the cheerful music makes her think of something evil and creepy.

the brewmaster

picture a man who is consumed by parties and wordly ambitions, living a life seeped in impurity and pride. he believes christianity is the one true religon, but is not a christian because he does not believe he can lead a pure life. this man looks a lot like the guy on the left, st. augustine of hippo, patron saint of brewers. he earned his title because of his conversion from a former life of loose living and serves as an inspiration to those who struggle with a particular vice or habit.

st. augustine was thought to be one of the most intelligent people who ever lived, and is quoted before his conversion as saying to his friend,"we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!"

he became an influential theologian and argued in the early 400s that god alone could suspend the normal laws of the universe. in his view, neither satan nor witches had supernatural powers or were capable of effectively invoking magic of any sort. if witches are indeed powerless, the church need not overly concern itself with their spells or other attempts at mischief. the late medieval church accepted this view, and felt little need to bother itself with tracking down witches or investigating allegations of witchcraft.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

there were hanky pankies on the menu

really the title of this post says it all. for st. patrick's day, brian and i went to top shelf sports grille. the green beer was crappy (does green beer ever taste good??) and my burger was totally jtm-frozen-patty-ish. BUT they did have hanky pankies, a guilty pleasure of mine. not the traditional velveeta mixture, they consisted of a spicier sausage topped with melted colby jack(?). quite good. oddly served on a bed a lettuce with an unidentifiable dipping sauce.

the st. patty's day crowd mixed with the live music was a bit much - pure cacophony. the only reason i would return to top shelf is to again experience the glorious hanky pankies. i'm a total pushover for meat, cheese, and rye bread.

Top Shelf Sports Grille on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the yeast also rises

st. elizabeth of hungary died at the ripe old age of 24 after having three children, being widowed during the crusades, building a franciscan hospital, and tending to the sick. i am not sure how she got the gig as patroness of bakers. interestingly, she is also the patron saint of countesses, death of children, the falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows, and young brides. busy lady.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

cafe istanbul

the long awaited post.......we went to cafe instanbul (at newport on the levee) after the beer tour (yes that a few weeks ago). the first pic was the appetizer we ordered was a feta cheese pastry. as you can see we were starved and only able to snap a pic seconds before the last one disappeared.

even though there were four of us we only ordered two entrees. brian and i had the gyros and fries. pitas were nice and filled and the sauce was fantastic. i had expected the traditional cucumber sauce and this was a red sauce. brian actually had two. the look on the waiter's face was priceless.

eric and krissy had the sultan's pleasure. lamb and eggplant with the red sauce and green peppers. both of them really enjoyed it. this is krissy's signature dish. orders it everytime she comes (ok to be fair i don't know about EVERY time, but let's go with often). everytime. i love it.

we were there on a sunday night so it wasn't really crowded at all. service was good. the patio would be nice on a spring day. food was reasonably priced. i couldn't find the menu online. when i googled it i found a chain that seemed similar but didn't have the newport location listed, but everything else was the same.

bottom line. we'll go back.

Cafe Istanbul on Urbanspoon

shameless plug: AvO Ballet (Cheviot)

When Anneliese von Oettingen fled [edited: Germany as a refugee* with her two young children and arrived in Cincinnati] in 1947, she brought with her a love of teaching and a fierce dedication to the principle that ballet could transcend barriers and be an outlet for artistic expression. Due to her experiences under a harsh regime in her native country, Anneliese refused to tolerate convention and she celebrated diversity. She accepted all students when she established her ballet school in 1948 and was among the first to have African American students on stage.

In 1957, Anneliese devoted a ballet festival to the understanding and appreciation of all cultures. “Eight Dances Around the World” was performed at Music Hall with Thor Johnson, Music Director, conducting. The concept of uniting nationalities in peaceful coexistence through the universal language of dance is commemorated in AvO’s 60th Anniversary Gala this year.

On April 4, 2009, AvO will present a portion of their Gala at the Cincinnati Art Museum. “Art that Fools You” will be performed at 1:30pm and 2:30pm. Join them to travel around the world and revel in the dance that unites us all.

For more information or to learn about ballet classes, visit AvO on the web at http://www.avoballet.org/ or call 513-481-0092.

*on a side note, Anneliese interestingly was considered a "foreigner" in Germany because her father was born in Russia while his mother was briefly visiting.

Monday, March 16, 2009

bk big fish

the search for superior fast food fish continues. the bk big fish is big and the fish itself is tastier than the mcdonald's filet. much more like actual fish. the breading is also crispier and i liked the addition of lettuce. the tartar sauce, however, is inferior. actually, i'm not sure if it is tartar sauce or simply mayonnaise. no cheese on this one, and i have to admit i kind of missed that extra flavor and texture.

i would like to add that this fish was photographed and consumed while driving. such is the american way.

hot cross buns

at this time of year, graeter's offers its hot cross buns, a bun with candied fruit and raisins, crossed with icing piping. a very austere contrast to the paczki offered pre-lent. these buns are very good and an interesting lenten tradition.

bread has long played an important role in religious ceremonies and holidays. holiday breads are often baked in symbolic shapes and include special ingredients. easter breads often feature eggs, a commodity forbidden by the catholic church during lent. (who knew? not i.)

the practice of eating special small cakes at the time of the spring festival dates back at least to the ancient greeks. the saxons ate buns marked with a cross in honor of the goddess of light, eostre, whose name was transferred to easter. these religious offerings of bread replaced earlier offerings of blood. when archeologists excavated the city of herculaneum in southwestern italy, buried under volcanic ask and lava since 79 C.E., they found two small loaves, each with a cross on it, among the ruins.

the english custom of eating spiced buns on good friday was likely established in tudor times. the word "bun" probably came from the greek “boun”, which referred to a ceremonial cake of circular or crescent shape, made of flour and hone and offered to the gods. in england, people believed that bread baked on good friday could be hardened in the oven and kept all year to protect the house from fire. they also believe that hanging a hot cross bun in the house on this day offers protection from bad luck in the coming year. good friday buns hang for years, gathering dust and growing black with mold--although some people believe that if the ingredients are mixed, the dough prepared, and the buns baked on good friday itself, they will never get moldy. (i will not be assessing if this is true. i ate mine.)
(references here.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

cod and god, week 3

on the lenten hit list this week was our own parish, st. catharine of siena. the holy wooden fish pointed the way.

this was displayed below a "got milk?" poster of miley cyrus in the school cafeteria.little knobs of cod, heavily fried. the batter was quite thick and crispy. they were good, but the floppy rye bread (it's that german rye, made by either klosterman or butternut, i can't remember which) had a difficult time standing up to it. i didn't try the tartar sauce this time.real baked mac 'n' cheese! breadcrumbs and all. just needed salt.alas, no beer at this fry.

i spent a week in frankenmuth one day

last weekend brian and i ventured to frankenmuth, michigan's little bavaria, with our friends jessie and jerry. one day was plenty to take in all the fantastical german sights. here are some highlights.

our main reason for visting frankenmuth was to check out bronner's CHRISTmas wonderland. they have any christmas decoration or ornament you could ever dream of, from birds to canadian flags to karate-themed.

and i do mean anything.jessie and i outside the cheese haus, at one of the town's photo ops. the haus's horseradish cheese spread was my favorite.

at the frankenmuth fudge kitchen, they're always making something wonderful. we purchased pistachio, chocolate peanut butter, german chocolate, and black forest. most of which are sealed up to indulge in after lent.

totally speaks for itself.

even the kroger has been frankenmuth-ed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

in good company at sake bomb

jane austen wrote in persuasion, "my idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what i call good company".

i was definitely in good company thursday at sake bomb on erie. westender organized an evening of blogger frivolity. in attendance were get in mah belly, a dork and his pork, the nomerati, and 5chw4r7z, to name a few. beth and i both had a blast.

i did not eat much as i am battling this ridiculous cold (which is probably nosocomial pneumonia i picked up in a nursing home). what i really wanted was some warm, comforting soup, so i ordered the miso soup. it was not good. there was no flavor, except a vague fishiness. my impressions cannot be blamed on a congested head either; the other two of our party who ordered it also found it lacking.

despite illness, i am never one to turn down dessert. my fried cheesecake was good, not other-worldly, but it is difficult to flub any fried dessert. overall, i was unimpressed, but most people seemed to enjoy their food, so i may have to go back to try the sushi. one cool thing of note - the bar had this sweet inlaid copper colored decor. pretty nifty.

Sake Bomb on Urbanspoon

fruit of the vine

st. morand was born to a noble family in germany, but gave up his wealth and prestige to become a benedictine monk. he once survived a whole lenten season (40 days not including sundays, for those unacquainted) eating nothing but a bunch of grapes. this miracle earned him the resplendent patronage of wine growers.
in my humble opinion, he does good work.

Friday, March 13, 2009

a tale of two wines

1. a cautionary tale: hoodwinked by a wine shop employee

she told me it was fabulous. she told me it was actually periwinkle colored. she is a liar and i am gullible.

this blend of garnacha, syrah, and tempranillo was so bad i had to pour it down the sink, and i am not one to waste wine. i actually made a puckered, sour face at my first sip. apparently i am a slow learner and kept going back in for more until i just gave up. i was clinging to the hope i would magically enjoy sip number ten more than sip number one. alas, no. down the sink it went.

it is clearly the color of grape jelly, not periwinkle.
2. a tale of unexpected pleasure

it was cold, miserable, rainy day when we visited st. julian winery in michigan. (fyi: st. julian is the patron saint of hotel keepers, boatmen, and travelers) we tasted several of their wines; the whites were crisp and fruity, the reds bland and one-dimensional. all are made with locally grown grapes. i was intrigued by a cherry wine. i love cherries, but i have also come to realize cherry alcohols often cross the line to cough syrup. happily, this was not the case with st. julian's, made from montmorency and meteor tart cherries grown in michigan. it tasted like cherries, real cherries, nice and tart. simply spectacular. i think i would like to pair it with some sinfully dark chocolate.