Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cooking Lessons

As I was cleaning and preparing fresh Brussels Sprouts,which we will serve tonight, at our annual "pot luck", along with Chicken Pot Pie, I thought should I try to post a year end review. Since I do not consider myself a restaurant reviewer, but just a reporter of what I feel, after "eating out" it didn't seem the way to go.
The thought also came to me that the biggest change in the food area, at least in our immediate family was our Granddaughter's interesting in learning to cook and spending some time with Marilyn trying to see what goes into their favorite dishes.
We have 5 Granddaughters, age 22 to 14, and they are quite often here, especially for the holidays. The two eldest, who are domiciled in Cincinnati, are both away at college but manage to make it here for Passover, Thanksgiving and often Christmas, with or without "boy friends" (my old fashioned term). The others, all in California, seem to alternate, one family a year, for one of the major events
This years highlights, on our menu, for various occasions were "German or Austrian" Matzo Balls, Cracker Crumb Pie, actually a nut torte with whipped cream and shaved dark Chocolate on top, Baked Tenderloin ( my Mothers recipe) and dessert Pizza, a refugee from Camp Nebagamon. The girls assisted in the preparation of all.
All recipes are available with a self addressed envelope and a small mailing and handling charge, only kidding.
In the mean time have a Healthy, Happy and Joyous New Year and remember "Let's eat Out".

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I'm sure I have written, before, about "The Precinct" at Columbia Parkway and Delta Ave, 513-321-5454 but I must again report on another excellent meal and superior service.
Since the day it opened, under Jeff Ruby's supervision, "The Precinct" has had their act together. Friday night they proved it again.
Any business that has a strong customer service ethic has a major jump on any that do not. Read Danny Meyers book,"Setting the Table" to understand the hospitality business. "The Precinct" is a prime example.
We arrived, at 7 PM, with a couple, both in their 90's and were greeted, on the sidewalk, at the service door. The women is on a walker and the service entrance has a ramp. We were shown to a table, I requested, in the least noisy part of the dining area, and were welcomed, as usual by several staff members. The food was prepared as ordered and brought on a schedule so as to not rush our drinks, but also not leaving us wondering where are dinners were. Our companions mentioned that the onion straws were too salty and without a word two new orders arrived, which were totally satisfactory. Attention to detail is a mark of any well run organization.
The meal was pleasant, the food very good and the hospitality first rate.
Instead of steak, my usual, I had an excellent pan seared Groper in a light citrus butter, delightful. Try it sometime when your not in the mood for beef.
I remain impressed with the training and follow through of this way above average restaurant.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Rookwood

"The Rookwood Bar and Restaurant", 1077 Celestial St., Mt. Adams, Cincinnati, OH 45202-513-421-5555. Has changed it's name, slightly, and it's ownership and it's menu. We went there last night, with another couple. It is the same relaxed bar and restaurant but the menu seemed a bit smaller and the food a bit better. It's a fine place to go for a pleasant bite and good conversation.
Dress is very casual and the food comes from the kitchen hot and promptly. There is full bar service and choices from appetizers to desserts.
I chose one of the specialty burgers, of which there are 6 or 8. Mine was loaded with crushed avocado, grilled bacon, grilled onions and lettuce and tomato, all top with a jalapeno mayo. I asked that they leave the jack cheese off this combination. It is served on a toasted, buttered bun along with kettle chips; french fries, which looked good are at an "up charge". It was delicious and plenty. The draft beer selections are fine but there are only 3 of them plus a dozen or so bottled beers. Wednesday is half priced wine night but since I was the only drinker we passed. Marilyn had a plain Cheeseburger while the other couple both had grilled chicken breast sandwiches. The other man had the homemade chili which was hot in temperature, medium in spice and quite thick. Pricing runs $15 to $20 per head, including tip, depending on the item and the drinks.

Sunday we were lounging, at home, when friends called and asked if we would like to join them at "JeanRo Bistro". Never missing a chance we were on our way and met them at 7 PM. To our surprise the place was packed, and it wasn't the football crowd. Our friends are in the wine business and again it was "half priced" night so we started with a Cabernet Franc. The table shared an appetizer of Lobster Macaroni & Cheese, about a good bite each, and I shared Beef Tartre with the other women. My main dish was a fish stew, very much along the lines of bouillabaisse. Marilyn and the other women each had calf's liver while the other man had a cassoulet. I tasted the cassoulet which had good flavor but was on the dry side. My fish stew had fine seasoning but came out luke warm. After a trip back to the kitchen it came back acceptable but not steaming. I like hot food hot and cold food cold and am willing to let time adjust temperature to my liking. JeranRo food on the whole is very good and we are fortunate to have a good french bistro downtown. Sunday night they were probably surprised by the turn out and so the food lamps in the kitchen came more into play.

Saturday, our daughters Birthday, we had a late meal at "The Summit". "The Summit" is the restaurant run by the culinary division of Cincinnati State. I have reported on it before. It is staffed with student chefs and servers with professional over site. This is our 2nd or 3rd visit and things to be going well although the room seems fairly empty each time we are there. We started with a bottle of Argentine Malbec and a round of first courses, mine being a Jonah Crab and Lobster salad, excellent. I followed this with Hemacci on Kimchee. The fish was served in a stone bowl with slices of breaded eggplant, a fascinating, slightly spicy dish. For dessert I tried to throw the kitchen a curve, being late and all, and ordered one of the salads. Even though they were about to close the salad arrived, as advertised, romaine, fresh figs et al. Our server was starting her second career and had exceptional knowledge of the food but was still in the process of learning about wine.
There were six of us and I was obviously the most adventurous. The table had 2 orders of duck breast, prepared perfectly and 3 orders of Gnocchi with a marvelous mushroom sauce made with four varieties of the fungi. The Gnocchi were not the usual, made with potato's, but was a light pastry rolled around the stuffing. Grocchi was the hit of the evening.
"The Summit" is not cheap and the service is somewhat slow but it is well done and the effort should be supported.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Today I had lunch scheduled with a good friend for 11:45. She is attractive, intelligent and very good company and so I look forward to being together. I was sending an email at 12:05 when the phone rang, next to the computer, and the voice on the other end asked if she had mistaken the date, time or meeting place? Good lesson, look at your calendar at least every morning and possibly more as you age.
With much chagrin I threw on some cloths, hopped in my car and hurried to "Yat Ka Mein" Noodle House, 3546 B Edwards Road, Hyde Park Station, Cincinnati, Oh 45208-phone-513-321-2028. A new spot for us both.
"Yat Ka Mein" had been recommended by several oriental employees of Saks Fifth Ave. as there favorite Chinese place in Cincinnati. No ambiance in this small strip mall off Edwards Road but good, steaming food , made to order and all served in bowls, except spring rolls and the like.
I am currently reading "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles", a Birthday gift from our Mendocino family. It is written by Jennifer 8. Lee and tells about her experiences as an American Born Chinese(ABC) and her exploration of Chinese restaurants and dishes. I had just finished the Chapter on General Tao's Chicken and so I was anxious to try the dish.
Arriving late my lunch companion had already had a spring roll and a pot of Green Tea. I ordered the chicken, which came high in temperature, low in spice while she chose Dan Dan Noodles. As is our custom we each tasted the others dish. I found "Yat Ka Mein" more than satisfactory. The lunch portions of each item were $5.25. I will return for good Asian food in a very local setting. Carry out is readily available.
Monday night was another ethnic treat. "Cafe Mediterranean"-513-232-2400 in the Beechwood shopping center serves excellent Turkish and Mediterranean fare, also, and not to be overlooked bottles of wine are half priced Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. We shared a Oregon Pinto($23).While 3 or the four had lamb Shishkabob I chose marinated and grilled chicken thighs, I was not disappointed. Marilyn and I shared a Sheppard's Salad, plenty for each, and the warm pita, which comes with each diner, plus sides make a filling and delicious meal.
That's the nights out so far this week. Wednesday we entertained and we both cooked, but that's another story.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cheddar Cheese

Last week I bought a chunk of Cheddar Cheese at Costco. I was seduced by the price, just over $4 a pound. This afternoon I'll open the cryopack and cut it into pieces, which I'll distribute to family and friends.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday we had 12 for lunch and dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A lot of trips to Kroger's, Sheadeau Bread and Finley market. Thursday was the typical Thanksgiving dinner with all the tried and true regular dishes except for dessert for which Marilyn and the granddaughters made a French Cracker-crumb pie (actually a nut torte). The next morning I fixed Egg's and Onions to go with the pecan rolls.
Friday night we had Baked Beef Tenderloin, my Mother recipe along with German, or Austrian, Matzo Balls, also home made with granddaughter help, and Brussels Sprouts. Actual we had Brussels Sprouts both nights, Marilyn Harrises recipe Thursday night and mine Friday, the sprouts were on sale at Costco and were small and sweet.
Saturday night was carry in Pizza, from "Pomadore", and tossed salad. Lunches were "clear the refrigerator" plus "carry in". By Sunday we were down to 5 and we had a marinated Pork Tenderloin. Five added pounds and 12 people later we were ready to slow down, but still eat out.

The three restaurants we have visited since last posting are: "Nada", "Trio" and "Honey"; interesting how many restaurants have single names.
"Nada" 6th and Vine is great for dinner, drinks and talk either before a downtown event, when it is crowded, or after an early evening meeting or show, around 9 PM when you can eat and linger. Modern Tex-Mex, as I have reported.
"Trio" in Kenwood is the home of the North Suburb regulars. Their food is consistent and the service is good. The night we went I had a nice chopped salad and a Thai Chicken Pizza, both very well presented and tasty.
"Honey" Northside on Hamilton Ave. remains a favorite. We had an "OLLI" Brunch there and I was so taken by the crab cakes, they served, when we went for dinner I had a double portion, of that appetizer for my main course. Others, for there entrees, had wild mushroom Ravioli, Lamb Shank and Beef Short ribs, all excellent.
So that's the holiday and time since. UC Football has been amazing and I hear there is also another team in town.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"It's a hard knock life"

As I tell anyone that takes my course"Let's Eat Out", at the UC adult education division, the restaurant business is one to avoid unless you really have an unbelievable commitment. It's full of surprises, disappointments and changes in perfect planing. A case in point:
Our family, 12 strong, gathered for Thanksgiving weekend. Age spread 83 to 11. I thought it would be fun for all to go to "Vito's Cafe", 654 Highland Ave. Ft Thomas KY-859-442-9444. Vito's has signing servers and a wonderful new menu. It had been highly recommended, in my prior Tuesday class, by Marilyn Harris. I called Saturday morning and left word, which was returned about 2 hours later. Vito, the owner and I had a long pleasant discussion and he said they would be handle our party at 6:45. That in itself was remarkable for a last minute Saturday night, possibly because it was the Thanksgiving weekend.
Two hours latter some family matters came up and we were force to cancel.
Now if you run a restaurant you make special arrangements to handle a large party, at the last minute, and I am sure we caused extra work, and possibly cost, for them by our reverse of plans, for this we apologies. Hence the title of this entree. Marilyn and I will try Vito's and give a report after eating there, I'm sure it will be delicious.

For ED: Thursday night our LA family and those of us from Cincinnati went to "Walt's Hitching Post". I've written about this Ft. Thomas Road House on numerous occasions. There were 11 of us seated at one large round table. Walt's is famous for the hickory Bar-B-Qued Ribs, justly so, in my opinion. I had been told by several people that their Fried Chicken Livers were "out of this world" and so instead of ribs I ordered chicken livers, mac and cheese and apple sauce. Nothing was bad, it really was OK, but next time it will be back to the ribs.
The rest of our group had, Ribs, Steak or Prime Rib. all were well satisfied and it proved to me to stick with what you know is good. The last time I deviated was in Cody, WY, at a bar, when I ordered fish instead of a hamburger, a huge mistake.

Today at lunch a friend and I went to "The Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern", 2692 Madison Road, Norwood, OH-513-841-2739. The restaurant is in the Rookwood Shopping Center. Rusty Bucket is part of a small chain, this is the 12th store, out of Columbus OH. It is a tavern with an extended "bar food" menu. My friend had root beer, a Philly Steak sandwich and onion rings while I had a very good Char Grilled Chicken Salad with greens, blue cheese, diced onions and an excellent light vinaigrette dressing. Total for the two of us, including a coffee was slightly under $27
plus tip. I'll try it again. It is what it is.

"It's a hard knock life"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

High Times @ UC

Being involved, slightly, at UC, I am watching the happenings, at our largest local institution of higher learning, and basking in the good news emanating from UC.
It can't be the work of one person but things are certainly more exciting since Nancy Zimpher took the helm, I'm prejudice.
OLLI( The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Cincinnati) has had a 6% increase in enrollment and has offered the most new courses ever during the current Quarter.
CCM just produced "How to Succeed in Business" to rave review and sold out audiences, this is really not unusual for CCM "Mainstage" Productions.
The Bearcat football team is with reach of goals, or bowels, once though only imaginable and campus spirit just keeps building.
I haven't even gotten into the improved Academic situation, and that is what it's all about.

Any way, our fall Quarter class, "Let's Eat Out" had 38 students, up from 12, four years ago, and we had off campus experiences with lunch at "Cumin" and a special Brunch at "Honey" on back to back Tuesdays.
In the meantime Marilyn and I have eaten out plenty; a listing for the past 2 weeks follows.
"Nada", 600 Walnut-513-721-6232 Upscale Mexican. I love the Ceviche
"Walt's Hitching Post", Ft. Thomas, KY-859-331-0494 Our favorite place for ribs
"Zip's", Mt. Lookout Square, Hamburgers, Chili and beer for current and past P&G'ers and their offspring
"The Precinct", Delta Ave. & Columbia Pkwy-513-321-5454 Our neighborhood and favorite steakhouse. They take great care of us
"Olives", 342 Ludlow Ave-513-221-4200 American Fare, well prepared, in the mid-Clifton location
"Primavista", 810 Matson, Price Hill-513-251-6467 Our favorite Italian, always consistent and delicious
"Otto"s", 521 Main, Covington KY-859-491-6678 Brunch, Lunch and Dinner you'll be at home, as we are, for good consistent food.
"Lavomatic",1211 Vine St.-513-621-1999 Cafe and Wine Bar with specials and basics with a flair.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More travel and eating

Each Thursday, for the last three weeks, Marilyn and I have piled into a car and set out from our home. Three weeks ago it was to head East, a trip already posted, and last week it was our jaunt to Murphin Ridge. The trip in between was to Chicago and St. Louis and this reporting will bring the traveling up to date.
Thursday, Nov 6, after picking up Graeter's for our hosts, we "sponge" a lot. We headed to Chicago. The fist stop was Lafayette, IN and lunch at "Chick-fil-A". This chain serves a mean fried chicken sandwich(breast) and a great milkshake or fresh lemonade. As we approached Chicago the traffic increased and the rain began. Because of this it took and hour and a half to make it thru the city and to the northern reaches of Cook County.
Dinner the first evening was at "Max and Benny's" restaurant in North brook. "Max and Benny's is one of several true delicatessens in the Chicago area but is the top one closest to where we stay.
I had excellent sweet and sour cabbage soup and a half of a chopped chicken liver sandwich on great, tough crusted, rye bread. Marilyn had mushroom barley soup and half a corned beef. Why can't we get someone to open a real delicatessen in Cincinnati? Any volunteers?
The next morning we took the train into the city and spent about 6 hours at SOFA( Sculptured Objects Fine Art). SOFA Chicago is probably the largest show of it's kind and has amazing glass, wood, metal and jewelry. Each year it has grown and we probably will have to schedule 2 days instead of one.
Friday evening our "Lobster Group", four couple who have gathered at least once a year for the last 40 years. got together. As the name implies the purpose is to be together and enjoy steamer clams and lobsters. We either meet in one of the couples homes, and do it ourselves or we head to an area restaurant. This year we landed at the "Davis Street Fishmarket" in Evenston IL-847-869-3474. Besides lobsters and clams some of the group had fish, ceviche, friend oysters and sweet potato fries and salads. All things were sampled by all. Too much food and drink.
Saturday morning we headed to St. Louis, after a light breakfast with out host. The reason for the St. Louis stop was a memorial service for the wife of one of our best friends. The "Michigan group" is make up of 5 couples, all the men having attended the University of Michigan and been "brothers" at the same fraternity. This was the first loss of any member of either group.
The women was extremely active in St. Louis and the state of Missouri. She had a stint on TV and ran for Lt. Governor. She was a well know consumer advocate.
One of the widowers sons and I spearheaded a carry in dinner for 30. The family have a regular Chinese restaurant they frequent, often, and the owner was only to glad to do a semi -catering job.
We ordered some standards, egg rolls pot sticker etc and had several "house" specialties, Wan Fu Shrimp, General T's Chicken and others. The evening went smoothly with all the guests, from 8 to 80 enjoying themselves and mixing well, just like some of the Chinese dishes.
Sunday was the "beautiful" memorial service at which the children and there father spoke as well as several community representatives. Even the "brothers" got into the act with a serenade. After the service there was on "open house" at the home with again too much food, but much good feeling.
Around 8 PM 10 of us, including several of our friends and our granddaughter and her "boyfriend" went to dinner. We chose "Oceano Bistro" 44 N. Brentwood Blvd. Clayton, MO-314-721-9400. I had a fine cup of Chowder( I spelled it right this time) and a large chop salad served with medium sized sauteed shrimp. The table had everything from Pork Chops to Profiteroles and everyone seemed well satisfied. The "boyfriend' does not eat any seafood so if the main theme is from the water we always make sure there is chicken or steak.
Monday morning after breakfast, at our Motel, we headed back to Cincinnati. A Burger King stop allowed us to try their new Steak burger, Mushroom and Swiss Cheese sandwich. It has a sauce with a nice Worcestershire flavor and half sandwich for each or us was sufficient.
I think I've covered the out of town sojourns for us and now it's home, at least in the area for the next month or two.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Do we eat out a lot? The obvious answer is YES.
Last night it was "Nicola's" at 1420 Sycamore St., Cincinnati, OH 45202-phone 513-721-6200.
We went with another couple, as we usually do, and had a 7:30 reservation. We were seated immediately, ahead of some others who obviously had a later time or no reservation. The restaurant was pleasantly full, as one might expect on a Saturday night. The service was welcoming and efficient.
Starting with my Bombay, the other couple had red wine, I moved ahead with a Belgian Endive salad which consisted of the shaved root, and to my surprise no leaves. The salad was lightly dressed with a pungent vinegar based mixture.
I split an order, each, of Gnudi pasta, with a pumpkin filling and sauce, and a roasted Gnocchi with three cheeses. The main course was served beautifully to the women of the other couple and to me on a large plate with 4 divisions, the other two held a very small amount of fruit chutney and a small amount of chives. The two main items were very tasty and adequate if you are not very hungry or are watching your calories. As readers know I am a semi bottomless pit.
Marilyn had a flat noodle pasta with a Bolognese sauce made in house with veal and beef. She gave me a taste and it was very well executed. Add to that a de-cafe coffee and we spent slightly over $100 including tip.
The food at "Nicola's" is very good and interesting but the price point is on the high side for an Italian Restaurant in Cincinnati. many of the entrees run between $30 and $40 and do not include any sides.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nu Vo

Tuesday night we drove over the bridge and into Newport. Between 5th and 6th St, on York St, on the right side of the street, going South, is a building which once was a Pizza parlor and now is the home of "Nu Vo", a small upscale restaurant, which started in Florence KY and moved about 6 weeks ago to it's current location, 527 York St-phone 859-261-1222.
The place is attractive in an inclusive way. The main room seats about 20 and has an open kitchen while a second room holds 10 to 12. The night we were there there were 3 tables occupied each by four guests. The kitchen is maned by the two owners, who are both chefs and the lone server handled drinks (wine and beer only) and food.
Nu Vo is the kind of restaurant about which I have mixed feelings. It is great to have people preparing interesting food and presenting it skillfully however the trend they have followed of very small, pricey portions is hard to sallow (no pun) in these, and often other times. Marilyn's word for this type place is "cutesy".
Marilyn and I split an order of "Grits" with a shaving or two of white truffles. Price $13 for our first course. The kitchen split the order, which came in bowels with a salty beef stock. For my main course I had the last order of Venison. Two small slices served on diced root vegetables, $25. Marilyn had sliced Veal Tenderloin. Again a small helping but very tasty. It also had the root vegetables and cost $25. Along with the food we split, with the other couple, a bottle of medium priced red wine. The other couple had scallops, 4 medium sized, and ravioli stuffed with fois gras. They were pleased with the preparation but were not stuffed.
I may be of the school that likes to have good food but still remember the Mother who wanted no one to leave hungry.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Murphin Ridge Inn

Do yourself a favor! If you live in the Cincinnati area, or even a hundred mile radius, hop in your car( gas is only $$1.80/gallon) and drive to the "Murphin Ridge Inn" in West Union, OH. It's a good idea to call first, 1-877-687-7446 and reserve a room or cabin and at least one nights dinner. Breakfast is included with the price of the room.
Sherry and Darryl McKenney, the owners, may be on the phone, but they will be sure to be there during your visit and they are just one of the extra special things that you will find during your stay.
Darryl likes to compare MRI to "The Greenbrier"; but "The Greenbrier" it isn't. No Dorthy Draper "cabbage roses" no uniformed doormen and no $800 per night cost.
What the "Murphin Ridge Inn" is, is a clean, comfortable, beautiful rural setting, with rooms furnished in Shaker copied furniture and food, in my opinion that beats "The Greenbrier". The hospitality is certainly more personal than any larger Inn or resort.
Marilyn and I plus another couple arrived yesterday about 4:30 PM. After checking in, grabbing a homemade pumpkin and spice cookie and unpacking in our airy room with Amish patterned window covers 3 of us took a half hour walk on a well groomed trail. As the November weather was very pleasant we stayed outside to see the beautiful sunset before taking our time getting ready for dinner.
We had made a 7 PM reservations but upped the time to 6:30, upon arrival and being informed that drinks were served in the "Dining House" We all started with our usual libations, for me Bombay, for Marilyn cranberry and soda. The others had Scotch and red wine, not mixed together. At this point Sherry and Darryl found us and the rest of the evening was following their suggestions.
After drinks we each had a taste of "deep fried Grouper". Sherry had been skeptical but it was delicious and in no way greasy or heavily fried.
For my main course I selected a "small plate", a misnomer as it consisted of a beautifully braised short rib, almost as good as I prepare, and a wonderful root vegetable hash. Two others had the same entree while that other person has excellent pan fried chicken breast. The soup de jour was a pureed black bean soup season to bring out all the flavor and the medium sized salad had several greens, white and natural raisins and egg and bread crumbles, all lightly dressed.
Darryl brought out a varied selection of Italian wines,at my request, covering every price point from reasonable to well into the low 3 figures. He knows wine and my advise is to follow his guidance on Italian or French. Without our ordering he open a delightful Murseault and we all ponied up for a generous taste.
Deserts, for our table, were two different chocolate cakes or torts and a 3 berry(all local) crisp with vanilla Ice Cream. If you need it bring the Maalox but don't miss the food and wine.
As some of you may know Sherry taught at the "Dorothy Lane Market" in Dayton and also ran a successful catering business in that city. They are a delight and very knowledgeable as well as hospitable.
Even though I have reported on our selections I in no way have covered the array of Main courses offered. Don't get the idea you'll be restricted, even if you are a Vegetarian.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

East Again

We took off Thursday morning, Oct 30, for our second trip East in less than two months. This time the purpose was to attend the Bar Mitzvah, in Washington DC, of one of Marilyn's brothers Grandsons. We find driving just as satisfactory as dealing with the airlines and not an investment of many more hours.
Our first stop was at the "Wexner Art Center" on the campus of OSU, in Columbus. The gallery is devoted,currently, to a showing of Andy Warhol's works from sketches to movies. If you are really interested in Warhol you should see the show, that runs till mid-February. The exhibit is extensive and to view it in depth should take a number of hours, probably 6 or 8. We devoted less than two.
From there is was on to Hagerstown MD, where we spent the night. Following the advise of the desk personnel at the Hampton Inn we went to "Al Pomodoro" for an excellent dinner. "Al Pomodoro" is located in the Hub Plaza at 1101 Opal Court, Hagerstown, MD 21740, Phone 301-739-2741. The restaurant is located in a suburban office building and the decor fits that mode.
The food is quite good and plentiful. I had a wonderful "Eastern Shore" Seafood platter with plenty of shell fish, broiled or sauteed, and served on a bed of linguine with a light white wine sauce. The outstanding items were the jumbo lump crab meat and the prawns, but the clams and mussels weren't bad either. Nothing was poor enough that I couldn't finish it all. The salads, which came with the meal, were sizable and the homemade salad dressings were especially tasty. I had a Parmesan vinaigrette while Marilyn choose Balsamic. Her main course was veal scaloppine with a sauce of pieces of mushrooms, artichokes and sun dried tomato's. She couldn't eat it all so I came to the rescue, for part.
The next morning we drove to Antietam Battlefield, outside of Sharpsburg MD. We spent about two hours being orientated and touring the battlefield. It was a beautiful Fall day which added to our enjoyment and now we can chalk off another historic site.
We arrived in the DC area, actually Silver Springs MD about 2 PM and spent the afternoon enjoying the weather, walking and visiting with family.
Dinner that night was at "Crisfield Seafood Restaurant" 8012 Georgia Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910. Phone-301-589-1306. Crisfield is an Eastern Shore Seafood House" which has been in business for 68 years. I have been there several times and have never been disappointed. Money has not been spent on ambiance but the food and service is beyond reproach.
I chose New England clam chouder, with just the right mix of clams and potato's and a main course of fresh, fried oysters. They were excellent. Mine came with French Fried potato's, which could have been crisper, I like them close to burnt, and wonderful cole slaw, as good as I have eaten anywhere. This, of course, called for several bottles of beer.
Marilyn had grilled flounder while our children, 3 of them were with us, had varrious crab dishes and seafood chouder in a tomato based light cream sauce. I intend to keep Crisfileds on my must visit list.
Saturday was a family lunch, the service and a dinner, at the Temple, with a Mediterranean menu. Sunday we all gathered for another family meal, this time brunch, before we started our drive home. Dinner on the road was at the "Waffle House", good, fast and very reasonable.
That was the weekend and as today is election day we'll have to see who next will inhabit DC.

Monday, October 27, 2008


"Heavenly taste"; just what does that mean? I, personally am not sure there is a Heaven, or the other place, but if there is, just how would it taste?
All that aside, I enjoyed some of the finest Pasta of my life last night.
We have a neighbor of Italian decent and this lovely, active women is her late 80's is a master of making and serving Pasta. She out did herself with a wonderful fettuccine with a ground veal and fresh tomato sauce(very light ) plus the appropriate shredded cheese and a warm pottery bowl of perfect proportions. I was somewhere out of this world.
I can't recreate her receipt but I know that she spends hours "rolling and folding" the pasta dough before hand cutting the noodles. It is so light that without the sauce it would probably float out of the bowl.
Along with this beautiful dish she served white wine, a salad of greens and grapefruit sections with a very light dressing and Pumpkin Pie and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. One of the more delicious and fill meals of memory.
I do not usually write up home cooking but I just could not miss the opportunity to report.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lunch and Dinner

Besides eating at home several times I have had several interesting lunches and dinner out during the past week. Not all or new, but all have not been visited, lately.
Last Friday, a friend and I had lunch at the "York Street Cafe", 738 York St. Newport KY-859-261-9675. The place was jumping. The back room was full of young women, approximately 20 in number, who were obviously enjoying themselves.
The two of us sat in the main room and ate from the regular menu. I chose a "navy bean soup" and an open face grilled Pita with eggplant, tomato and goats cheese, excellent but messy. My friend stuck with the curried chicken salad.
On Monday I met another friend for lunch at "Melt" 4165 Hamilton Ave. Cincinnati-513-681-6358. Melt was a new spot for me although they have been in business for several years, it is part of the renewal of Northside. "Melt" is a store front space run by two women and furnished with what tables and chairs they were able to assemble. The place filled up, with overflow, at a little after noon. The menu is fairly extensive, for this type restaurant, and many of the choices are vegetarian. I chose a Artichoke Melt made with a artichoke-spinach spread with sliced fresh tomato's and melted white Cheddar cheese. The sandwich is served on focaccia and was somewhat along the line of my Friday pita melt at the "York St. Cafe". They were different but both very good. My friend had Vegan Chili and a grilled Tuscan Chicken sandwich, with a sun dried tomato sauce.
Switching to dinners: Tuesday night Marilyn and I went, with another couple, to "Bonefish Grill" at Edwards and Madison(Hyde Park) Cincinnati. We had not been there in several months. "Bonefish" has gone thru another switch in management. Tom Schidler, the first manager left for North Carolina and Wes Lofton has also departed the scene. There absence shows in some of the communication and seating, the other couple never got to our table, but luckily we found each other, but not in the food and service, which remains good for this type chain operation. It was noticeable that the "recession" is having an effect of their business.
After my Bombay I chose a house salad, which is always good and sufficient, and a Grouper Sandwich, with a spicy rub. "Bonefish" has started offering "Petite" portions, at a lower price, and Marilyn had her usual Parmesan crusted trout in this smaller size. "Bonefish" remains a good alternative to the more expense "downtown" seafood establishments.
Last night, after drinks and hor's dourves at our house, 5 of us went to "Amarin Thai and Sushi" in Hyde Park. The same people who run "Amarin" in Madeira have opened at 3514 Erie Ave, Cincinnati-513-321-5533. It is small, cheerful and every bit as good as the original.
I shared a sushi roll with the table and for a main course had a special of the week, Seafood Crispy Pad Thai. Others had chicken pad Thai, Thai spicy chicken with vegetables, tempura soft shelled crabs, pork dumplings and a nice bottle of Puley-Fusey for the table. A very good new find. I'm sure we will return.
We'll see what the coming week brings.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wee still Eat Out

Oct. 7 my course at UC, "Let's Eat Out", began. It is interesting that we did not eat out much that week, having returned from our eastern road trip where we were eating out almost every meal for 11 days. Home cooking was very good, as usual at the Hirschhorn home.
On Friday night the 10th we went with another couple to the "Embers" in Kenwood. As many restaurants, reacting, to the downturn in the economy, the 'Embers' have a special 3 course menu offering 3 courses for $33. The four of us took advantage of this advertised special and found that the "Embers" was most accommodating in allowing some substitutions to what they offered. I was not in the mood for steak or the other items and I asked if they would include the special of the evening. red grouper, on the $33 diner. I was pleased when they agreed. The grouper was grilled and covered with a light Lobster sauce which included Bay shrimp and pearl onions. It was served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes, which I substituted for plain mashed potatoes, and accompanied with steamed spinach; a excellent dish. Marilyn stayed with the 7 oz tenderloin which she enjoyed. We both had Caesar salad and flowerless choc. cake with vanilla ice cream. With he steak she had french fries and a side vegetable. Very good dinner and very good value.
Monday night Oct 13 was the "Greyhound Tavern", Fort Wright KY, and the family fried chicken dinner. Still a good buy at $13.95 including a half chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cole slaw, bisquits and honey. All served family style and constantly fine quality and refills as much as desired.
Wednesday night, before the Ensemble Theatre we had dinner at "Lavomatic Cafe" 1211 Vine St, a few doors north of the theatre, 513-621-1999. Marilyn and I both had a delicious roast duck dinner with ample duck on a bed of creamed spinach. The duck was accompanied by a pumpernickel, apricot savory bread pudding and interesting and tasty addition. I choose a glass of "Cote de Rhone" which went perfectly. The play, "Sea fairer" was long, heavy but excellently done.
Thursday night 6 of us went to "The Precinct" Delta and Columbia Pkwy- 321-5454. This is our neighborhood watering hole. There has been a change in management, not ownership, but the food and service remain the same, first class. Marilyn and I almost always split a steak, a baked potato, onion straws and have our own salad. This is what we did and since it was one of the couples 61st Anniversary (long haul) we provided a raspberry cake from Bon Bonerie. A filling evening in several ways.
Continuing our support of the economy we went, with 2 younger people, not family, last night to "Otto's" 512 Main St. Covington KY. To comment on "Otto's" is really not fair. We feel like part of the family and are treated accordingly. Paul Weckman and his wife Emily Wolf started Otto's 6 or seven years ago at age 22. They started by serving sandwiches for lunch and now have a restaurant open 5 days per week for lunch and 4 nights for dinner plus brunch on the weekends.
Paul spoke at my class this week along with Renee Schuler, who operates a catering business.
Back to dinner. The four of us had an appetizer of "friend green tomato's" which I think they do better than anywhere and 4 different entrees. Tilapia, Roast Pork, Shrimp and Grits and Pene Pasta with shrimp, and 3 different onions. We all sampled everything. We had an excellent bottle of Pinot Noir, I wish I had written down the name. and shared one dessert for the table.
I am very fond of the place, the food and the owners. "Nuf Said".
As you can see we, well, made up for our nights at home after our travels.

Monday, October 13, 2008

South and West

We're getting to the end of the saga about our driving trip East.
Thursday morning, Oct 2, we loaded the CRV and pulled away from our great, free parking place of E 75th St. It took about an hour to clear Manhattan, via the Lincoln Tunnel and be on our way South on the Jersey Turnpike. Destination Baltimore. On the way we switched hotel reservations as we decided to combine our Washington stop with the Baltimore visit and head home on Friday.
I held off for my lunch but Marilyn succumbed to a "Whooper" when we hit Delaware.
I was rewarded with an excellent lump, crab meat cake after we checked in at the Hampton Inn, Glen Burnie. The hotel sent us to "Mo's Seafood Factory" 7146 Ritche Highway, Glen Burnie, MD 410-768-1000. It turns out that Mo's is a local chain with several stores and restaurants through out the area. Their Lump Crab Cake, $14.95, was all anyone could wish. White lump crab meat held together with a little egg and a hint of mustard, devine.
Dinner Thursday night was at "Fleming's Prime Steakhouse", just what the name implies. Our guests included our son Charles big boss, John Erickson and his wife, a nephew from D.C. and a cousin, who is in the Masters program at Johns Hopkins, and her friend. Fleming's is in a prime location, in the Inner harbor, at 720 Aliceanna St, right across from the downtown Marriott. It's decor matches it's menu, which is build around steaks, although there are other items.
We all had drinks and shared several bottles of wine and each of us had an excellent salad. The main course was steak and truly it was as tender and well prepared as any that I can ever remember. I am not a steak eater, and the menu does have other items, but my shared strip was delicious. Of course we had to have some "sides" and they, Shoestring Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus and Sauteed Mushrooms, were first class. Peach cobbler and coffee rounded out a near perfect evening.
Fleming's is a family owned and run business and the care and attention show. It was a fitting conclusion to our 10 day and 5 lb, gain, week in the East.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A bite out of the "big Apple"

Sept. 29, 30 and Oct. 1 were all spent in Manhattan, not a bad gig. There is something about New York that is different from any of the other cities we visit. Possibly it goes back to my Father who believed that the only vacation was spent in Manhattan.
We were blessed by good weather, we walk a lot, and the opposite side parking rule suspended for the Jewish Holidays, so what could have been better for our B&B at 75th and Madison.
I did have to park the first day, at a $36 charge, and that is low for Mid-town.
Monday, Marilyn and I slept late and then made our way to several of the stores on 5th Ave. before we met our friend, Rhonda Willers from Eau Clair WI, for lunch at the main Saks store. The reason we ate at the department store is that the General Manager, of the store, is a friend of ours and she was joining us for lunch. We also arranged to have our friend, whose apartment we use, be with us for as many meals as possible.
The 5 of us ate at the Saks Cafe, a delightful, modern room overlooking the garden of Rockefeller Center. The food is surprisingly good and very fresh. I had a wonderful blended Gazpacho and a Cobb salad, made with the hearts of romaine instead of iceberg. The Gazpacho was served in a very large martini glass which was very attractive but forced me to remove it from the plate so as not to spill on the way down to my mouth. Others had salads also, Salad Nicoise, Frutte del Mar Salad, with shrimp, scallops and calamari. We shared 2 deserts and had more than enough lunch.
Rhonda, who is a ceramicist and a teacher at several University of Wisconsin branches, joined the two of us at MOMA where we view several exhibits. We parted about 3:30 so that we could get ready for the late afternoon Holiday( Rosh Hashnah) service at Temple Emanu-el.
At 8 PM that evening we put together a larger group at one of our favorites, "Union Square Cafe" 21 East 16th St, New York, NY phone 212-2543-4020. Union Square Cafe(USC) was the first restaurant put together by Danny Meyer who is now acknowledged as one of the top restaurateurs in this country. We go there on almost every trip to NYC and feel right at home. Danny was in Tokyo, where they have opened a new,USC, restaurant this year, but, at our request, his wife and their son, who is a camper at Camp Nebagamon, where we spend our summers playing staff Grandparents, stoped by to say hello. There were 7 of us for dinner and I wont try to list all the items we ate and drank. The only disappointment was that by the time we ordered they were out of the "Monday night special, Lobster Shepard's Pie", so much for late night dining. The table had everything from Branzino(fish) to Gnocchi( Italian potato pasta) with my main dish being an excellent caramelized onion Risotto. Drinks, wine and several deserts and I'm glad I got the bill before the market sell off.
Tuesday Marilyn stayed in bed fighting a cold but Rhonda , who was staying in Brooklyn, and I walked upper Madison Ave visiting several galleries and one or two food markets. We get breakfast included at our friends home but Rhona had not eaten and she is a growing, attractive, young women.
Four of us met at "The Oyster Bar" at Grand Central Station for lunch. I needed an Oyster fix, handled admirably by a steaming bowl of well seasoned Oyster Stew. Others had lemon sole, squid Salad, our hostess likes a seafood salad at noon, and beautiful "fish and chips". Incidentally Grand Central has a beautiful food market which has been open about a year, it's well worth a stroll. The afternoon was a time to stop in a few ladies shops walking from 45th St to 75th and putting Rhonda in a cab for her flight back home.
Tuesday night dinner was a family affair, at the apartment, which our hostess both cooked and served. We did chip( no pun) in with some Graeter's.
Wednesday, I still hadn't moved the car, with no ill effect, Marilyn and I strolled thru Central Park, watched a publicity shoot and went to the new Museum of Art and Design, at Columbus Circle. I liked the museum and it's exhibitions very much. After a full hour, or more, there, we ducked into the subway and were on our way to the lower West side and several glass galleries, located between 26th and 14th streets. A light lunch in the garden at "Bottino" 246 10th Ave 212-206-6766 consisted of a sandwich each, mine Italian meats and cheeses, sort of an Antipasto, and Marilyn stuck with a well prepared flank steak. Back to strolling and gallery hoping and finally up town, via subway, and some actually shopping and bargaining with a street vendor. We got Marilyn and Our Granddaughter( the one in Maine) summer purses.
For dinner we follow the advice of our good friends the Davidow's. Harry has very good taste but no regard for costs. We went to "Scalinatella" 201 E 61st(corner of 3rd Ave.) 212-207-8280. It is a "scene". Small, crowded with a mixture of East side denizens and business types. The actual turn over time on a table, in this "white table cloth" restaurant, is under one minute; amazing. The food is excellent and very expensive. The Dover Sole was $78 dollars, the price of an airplane ticket to Dover. None of us had the sole but I did have a veal chop, $52.50 and a glass of excellent Italian Berollo, $25. Marilyn and I split a wonderful cappelletti with fresh tomato's mushrooms and shrimp in a delightful light tomato sauce, the sauce was seasoned beautifully and had the consistency of a fairly heavy broth. Both Marilyn and our friend had the veal special while our guest started with fried Zucchini blossoms, how upscale can you get?
The total cost for each was approximately what the total bill was for four of us in New Rochelle. Go at your own risk, financially. The food is good but I'm not sure what is the upper limit for an excellent dinner.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On to New York

Sunday Sept. 28, our son, Charles, Birthday, the rain continued but was lightening and more spotty. The poor weather, of the weekend, was all do to the rain surrounding Hurricane "IKE". Maine was under a hurricane watch for the first time in 17 years.
We loaded the car and headed south on I 95 crossing a tiny part of Rhode Island and into Connecticut, beautiful territory, especially as the rain ended. We were on our way to visit some other young relatives who live in Madison, Connecticut. I assume Madison is considered to be part of the greater New York area even though New Haven is the closest large city. Madison is l0vly as are many places along the Long Island Sound. Our relatives chose to have Brunch( approximately 1 PM) at "Elizabeth's Cafe", 885 Boston Post Road, Madison, CT.
"Elizabeth's Cafe" has grown from the kitchen and and storage facilities of a Catering company, "Perfect Parties". Added to the basic facilities are 2 "tea-room"type dining areas. White table cloths, New England wooden furniture and cafe curtains to match the decor. The food was better than the average Brunch. All was served on individual plates except for the basket of warm bread and rolls. I had an excellent corned beef Hash, not the packaged variety. The beef was actual chunks and the potato's and onions were also. I asked that the hash be crisp and that the poached eggs be firm but still runny. I am happy to report everything came as ordered. The other male duplicated my order while Marilyn had a beautiful Quiche and the other female had a tomato, herb and Goat Cheese omelet. Fresh orange juice, coffee and tea augmented the main courses. Total cost, for the 4 of us, including tip was $72.
By 2 PM we were again on our way to Mamarineck to visit my first cousin and her friend( whatever the PC for older people spending time together). We had been invited to attend a house concert given by the Brentano string quartet. The concert, which was called for 4 PM, but started late, was wonderful and the home, inhabited by an art dealer, was amazing. A special treat added to our journey. After the concert, and some discussion, the four of us went to try a new restaurant which they had heard about in what we thought was Larchmont, NY.
"Spadaro Restorante", 211 Main St. New Rochelle, NY, phone 914-235-4595 is the kind of small, strip mall Italian Restaurant you hope to find often, and are usually disappointed. The family run operation, we were served by the sister-in-law of the owner chef, was started about 4 months ago by a family that recently emigrated from Rome( not NY). It is crowded, full of families and will drowned you in food if you let them. We were served, without menus, and I only wish I had had paper and pen to record what came to our table. The Antipasto went on for almost an hour and contained close to a dozen dishes. Memorable were the bowl of hot mussels, potatoes in an olive oil and lemon broth, both asparagus and small green beans lightly sauteed in olive oil and herbs, Cappinota, sausage, cheese, mellon and prosciutto and too many others to remember. We had a fine bottle of Valpolicello and a pasta with 3 kinds of mushrooms, small pieces of prosciutto and a very light cream sauce. The meal was delicious and we will return, if possible. We quit about 9 PM and the place was still full. Our cousin's friend lead us to the proper "free way" and headed us towards Manhattan where we arrived at 10 PM, with only one, expensive, wrong turn. Incidentally our dinner at "Spadaro" cost $35 each including tip.
Next comes NYC where dinner for one can cost what the above meal cost for the four.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Heading South

In Lewiston, Maine you can get in your car and drive in any direction. For us it was an easy decision to head South, and so on Saturday morning, Sept 27, we loaded the CRV, minus the things left with Kathryn and headed towards Portsmouth New Hampshire and the Passer-Krieger Family. Alice is a cardiologist based in Exeter, NH and Barry is the Rabbi for a very small, and interesting, Congregation in the northern suburbs of Boston. As luck would have it, when we arrived at their beautiful home, on a tidal marsh and bay, we found both of their boys home for a visit.
After a full house tour and much discussion we all drove back across the river to Kittery, ME and "Warren's Lobster House",11 Water St., the quintessential Maine Seafood establishment. I had my last "lobster roll" of this trip while the others, 7 in all, ordered everything from "salad bar" to Pasta and seafood. Warren's Lobster House is good but the most outstanding thing was our attractive server who after getting a BA with an English major had decided to go back to school to receive a nursing degree in a more guaranteed hiring profession. Smart young women and passable seafood.
By mid afternoon we were off for our next stop, Boston. Around 5PM after fighting rain and Boston traffic, enhanced by the last Red Socks, Yankees final series of the year, we arrived at our destination for the night, Brookline,MA in the vicinity of BU. Because the college is around the corner, there is no "on street parking" so the next 10 minutes, in the rain, were spent rearranging cars in the driveway and on the sidewalk.
We spent the night with Carol Gladstone and Ben Wipple and their terrific kids, cats and "this old house". We had all decided that we would dine at one of the "Legal Sea Foods" Restaurants that cover the Boston area. After the kids got home, from more important activities, cleaned up and went to "Legal Sea Foods", Park Square, 26 Park Square, Boston, MA. This one was selected because it is right next to the parking garage where Carol has a reserved space. More on eastern big city parking when we get to NYC.
We pulled out all the stops, even going so far as letting the kids order 2nd's to the items which adults had taken to large a "bite". Drinks ran from Juices to Gin. First courses, hot appitisers(shrimp wontons, fried oysters, etc) salads and of course clam chowder, while main courses included trout, salmon, shrimp, pasta and Squid. We didn't skimp on beverages, including red and white wines and with two teenagers there had to be numerous deserts. A suite at a deluxe hotel would have cost less than our "free" third floor walk up bedroom; but the company would not have been as delightful. Legal Sea Foods is a well known and well run operation and the food and service is always good, if not memorable.
Finally to bed, after more talk, an a good nights rest accompanied by rain on the roof.

Monday, October 6, 2008

On to L-A East

L-A East is the new marketing slogan for Lewiston-Auburn Maine. We set out Thursday,Sept 25, morning, at 7:30 from Syracuse in a light fog. As we entered the Mohawk Valley, in upper NY, the fog increased until it was difficult to see a car length ahead. Obviously, it was tough, slow going till we clear that zone. At Schenectady we left the Thruway route in favor of a shorter but slower road thru the Green Mountains of Vermont and then New Hampshire. We're glad we did. The trees were turning and the foledge, a mix of bright green to crimson red was outstanding.
We stoped for gas in Bennington Vt and were so impressed we drove for a few minutes around town. Somewhere over the top of the mountain range we stoped for lunch from our cooler, I had the ribs from the night before while Marilyn had the rest of her corned beef. We always carry fruit, cheese and nuts so we hardly go hungry. While sitting on some rocks we remarked that we had not seen a "wayside" and I jokingly said "I bet there is one a mile ahead" Fate proven me correct but by then we were on our way.
We arrived at the "Ware Street Inn" at 52 Ware St. in Lewiston, Maine around 4 PM. This lovely B&B is right across the street from our Granddaughter's dorm and was a perfect location for us for the next several days. The Inn is run by Jan and Mike Barren who bought a colonial house and converted it 9 years ago to a 6 room B&B. He is the "handyman" and she the hostess and cook. She knows food and nutrition, as you will see. Our room was large with a king sized bed and full closet plus private bath. The rate was $130 per night. Two local restaurants she recommend that we missed, were "Chickadee" for lobster rolls and "Fuel" for dinner. Others have since confirmed her choices.
Our Granddaughter, Kathryn, took us on the first of several tours of the Bates campus. It is a typical, beautiful New England college including the red brick buildings, stone chapel and green rimed pond. Bates has about 1800 students and seems to be a fine mix from all over, although the preponderance are from New England and the East coast.
For dinner that evening we went to "Fish Bones" in and old mill building at 710 Lincoln St. Lewiston, ME, 04240 phone 207-333-3663 where Kimberly took care of us with excellent service and advice. An aside, a week later Kathryn went with her parents and had the same table and the same server. We dined on Lobster Rangoon, 2 split salads, one Caesar and one house, Lobster Cappellini( after all we were in Maine), a house made Gravlax, it can't be all Lobster, and appropriate drinks before and during dinner. Total cost including tip, $35/person.
The next morning the breakfast buffet held several juices, yogurt, cut up fruit, pumpkin cranberry bread, assorted cereals, milk, cream etc. while kitchen produced French toast with homemade orange-fig syrup of pure maple syrup.
After breakfast we went to the Bates Art museum which was holding a seminar as part of the New England Craft trail, on the following day. We met the museum curator and spent a pleasant half hour with him. Then it was off to the old and new libraries for more art and education. When Kathryn went to class, 12 to 4 we went to Freeport and LLBean plus other high end outlets. What would lunch be without a Lobster roll, which are as plentiful as outlets in Freeport. Late afternoon we took Kathryn for some food(read, snacks) shopping at a fine market in Auburn and then got ready for dinner.
Friday night was "The Sedgley Place" Country Inn Dining in Greene Maine 04236 (207)946-5990. This is about 15 minutes north of our B&B. "The Sedgley Place" offers 5 course, price fixed dinners with seating at 5, 6 or 7. Kathryn had chosen 7 and it was a good choice as it was a dark rainy night and her Grandfather made a couple of wrong turns before we got there. Our three main courses were Veal Cutlet(Marilyn), Filet Mignon(Kathryn) and 16 oz Prime Rib( the writer). Eight oz. of Prime rib went back to the dorm with the Granddaughter. Everyone started with a fist course, I chose a creamy vegetable soup which was really excellent, while Marilyn had French Onion and Kathryn stuffed mushrooms. We each had salads, pasta and the house vegetable. Desserts, where not necessary but included and awesome. All this for $28.95. We should move to Greene, ME. Found our way home and staked out a couple of land marks so that Kathryn and the B&B could get others there.
The next morning Jan had the usual array but the loaf changed to spice, nut bread and the kitchen produced "Oatmeal, nut, cranberry pancakes" served with homemade blueberry, raspberry or real maple syrup. We could hardly drag our selves upstairs to pack and then load our car, for more New England adventures.

Driving East

We left Cincinnati at 7:45 AM Wed. Sept. 24 on our planed 10 to 12 days along the East Coast. We drove, approximately 3000 miles but knew that it would be easier than flying to many spots with luggage, rental cars and baggage for some of our destinations.
The, ostensible, reason for the first leg was to deliver winter gear, ski's etc to our Granddaughter who is a freshman at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Our first nights goal was Syracuse NY, 600 miles from Cincinnati.
After a pit stop in Columbus, we went on to Cleveland for lunch with some good friends at "Corky&Lenny's" a true delicatessen in the old fashion mould. I could hardly wait for the cabbage soup and a Sable Platter which is my usual on a first delicatessen visit after a considerable absence. Marilyn goes for the standard "Corned Beef on Rye". I was not disappointed although there are several spots in the mid-west with better cabbage soup and who have more calls for Sable so that it has been out of the cooler for a longer time. Compared to Cincinnati, with no real "deli" it was great. Some of Marilyn's sandwich went in the cooler for lunch the next day.
Back in the car we finished Ohio, went thru a small portion of Penn. and hit the NY Thruway, which skirted Buffalo. I must admit that I had not considered the tolls we paid for the whole trip and although they did mount up they were not onerous.
We arrived at our Hampton Inn on the east side of Syracuse around 6:45PM. There was a unanimous recommendation, room clerk and people in the lobby, that the only place to eat was The "Dinosaur Bar-B-Que" located at 246 Willow St. in Downtown. The phone number is 315-476-4937, but it is only useful if you want "carry out" as they take no reservations. Being up for anything the "Dinosaur" is where we went.
When we arrived, parking a block away, we were greeting by a large corner location, with many customers in the "beer garden" and the street full of motorcycles. The place is a "scene". We forged on, and after walking thru several room sighted the receptionist booth under it's neon sign. The women on duty was closer to our age than that of most of the customers and so after a mention that we had come from Cincinnati she told us to take a table for 2 wedged against the wall and and next to what eventually becomes a stage for late night Blues.
Our waitress was great, and fairly indistinguishable from many of the others in her tight Jeans and somewhat revealing top, but "hay" the tighter the Jeans the bigger the tips. She was very professional knowing the menu, which is fairly large and good with bar service and food.
Marilyn and I settled for the "Sweetheart Deal for Two", a full rack, 12-13 fair sized ribs, 4 homemade sides, in our case cole slaw, Bar-B-Que Beans, fresh salad with house dressing and mac and cheese. Along with this comes corn bread and 4 or five different sauces, from sweet to very hot. "The Deal" goes for a total of $24.95. Our total bill, including drinks and over a 20% tip was $51.50. I should do so well in NYC.
We found our way back to the motel, after one or two wrong turns, took showers, always good after Bar-B-Que and hit the sack. A very fulfilling first day, in more ways than one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Interesting Weekend

Our social life hit on all cylinders over the weekend.
Friday night we were invited to a CSO Picnic given by one of the Board members at their home. My guess is that there were about 200 in attendance. Orchestra Members, their guests, Board Members, Administration and others. They had all my favorites, Bombay Gin, Cashew Nuts and several kinds of grilled Sausage, along with very interesting people. A pleasant evening in a lovely setting and a great beginning for the weekend.
Saturday night we had dinner, with another couple, at "Aqua" 1020 Delta Ave, Cincinnati. We have been there several times and I have written comments on the other visits. I especially enjoy the Sushi Bar and usually have a plate of mixed items, all of which I have enjoyed. Marilyn and others usually stick with the seafood or meat dishes. Saturday I had a wonderful smoked salmon salad which included figs, cashew nuts, currents and greens. I followed with several "oriental rolls" and a beer. Marilyn had the chicken in a finally seasoned sauce and served with mushrooms and fingerling potato's. The others had Gazpacho and grilled coconut covered prawns. The main room was full, and noisy, and so we moved to the terrace abutting the sidewalk where the four of us dined alone along with an interesting array of passersby.
Sunday night was a new experience for us. Several people had recommended "Cafe Mediterranean" which opened while we were out of town this summer. The owner is Mehmet Coskun and he takes a personal interest in his guests. "Cafe Mediterranean" is located in the Anderson Towne Center at 7454 Beechmont Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45255, phone-513-232-2400.
The are open 7 days a week and are located in the shopping center behind Macy's and next to the "Cold stone Creamery". The restaurant is handicapped accessible and has full bar service.
After drinks our table shared a combo platters of cold Mediterranean appetizers. The platter of food was beautiful and very tasty and had about eight different items. The combo platter plus a salad or one main course, split, would serve most couples, especially after one or two drinks.
Our main courses were a lamb shishkabob, for Marilyn, which again was excellent, and and a large serving of home made gyro meat for me. The shishkabob was accompanied with a Bulgar wheat pilaf and grilled peppers and tomato while my meat had the low fat vegetable mix, fresh broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. Hot pita comes with everything. The food was very good, although my vegetables could have used some kind of sauce, possibly yogurt, and the service was pleasant but unfortunately spotty. We will return and go for the appetizer and a salad. The total cost was approximately $50/couple plus tip.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A treat

I know that I usually write almost exclusively about food but I want to mention a treat of another kind. In Cincinnati we have a lot of Professional Groups. A couple that come to every ones mind are, of course, our Baseball team and our Football Franchise. This year both of these have been nothing to "write home", or any place else, about.
When you pick up our local newspaper you see both at least once or twice, every day.
We also have a very Professional Symphony Orchestra. your lucky to read about that once or twice a week, during their season. The CSO is not only 1st Class, but quite possibly one of the top 5 Symphony Orchestras in the United States and certainly in the top 10. The local paper gives cursory coverage, t0 this great ensemble, and they are usually stressing the problems, rather than the triumphs.
Last week the CSO opened their 2008/2009 season with two concerts, Friday and Saturday night, that were outstanding. The audience was not only large, over 5200 both nights combined, but also wildly enthusiastic. The lights had to come up before they would let the soloist, Andre Watts, retire.
If you want a treat, besides eating out, treat yourself to an evening with the CSO at Music Hall.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dining Out-Outside Dining

This week, in lovely weather, we ate at two different spots taking advantage of their decks. It's a great time of year, with few bugs, a beautiful setting sun and just the right evening temperature.
"Knotty Pine on the Bayou" 6720 Licking Pike, Cold Spring, KY-859-781-2200 has a lovely deck, overlooking the Licking River and delightful food to enhance the view. We had eaten there once before, at least 5 years ago, and were not impressed. Lee Comisar, of Maisonette fame, told me that they had small frogs legs and so I set my sight on going there and trying for myself. I was not disappointed. The server, a young women, was not only attentive but knowledgeable and guided the three of us thru an excellent dining experience.
I had, the a fore mentioned, frogs legs, sauteed in a light butter and wine sauce, although they will fix, almost, anything you order in the manner one wishes. The crisp mixed green salad was very good with a choice of a number of dressings, some made in house, but the rice, my poor choice over redskined potatoes, was ordinary, although they did offer gravy for the rice, which I refused. The waitress had suggested ordering an order of Etouffee to use as a sauce for the excellent "pan seared" Grouper, Marlyn and our other guest had. The Etouffee had small shrimp and pieces of crab along with the other ingredients. It was properly spiced and I ate my share without the need for any accompanying seafood. The collard greens were well prepared but came in a bowl with too muck "pot liquor" which absorbed the wine vinegar and other seasonings.
For desert we split their version of an Opera Cream Cake, good, but we'll stick to Bonbonerie.

"Lavomatic Cafe and Wine Bar, 1211 Vine St., Cincinnati-513-621-1999 is just a few doors up, north, of the Ensemble theater and thus makes a perfect spot before or after the show. We went, also, with another person before and had plenty of time for dinner and coffee.
This is one of the Jean-Robert's restaurants which operate in conjunction with his main spots downtown. We ate on a rooftop deck between two buildings but with plenty of open space. I started with a "Butter Lettuce" Salad with shaved beets and fennel and a creamy lemon dressing and followed with a sizable Pot of Chili, served in a metal pot with a lid and ladle. The chili was loaded with beef and, of course, the requisite amount of beans. I washed it down with a Draft Ale, which held me thru the show. Marilyn had a cheese tarte, which resembled a pizza on thin crust. It was a good stop although I still like the lunch menu more than that offered in the evening.