Saturday, November 28, 2009


It seemed to me that I shouldn't let November slip away without some mention of Thanksgiving and a few event around the holiday. NO, I didn't get up at 3 AM on "Black Friday" to buy something I didn't need. And, YES, we did have a Thanksgiving dinner, but more on that later.
Going back a week ago we had dinner with another couple( our age who are getting married today) Friday night, Nov 20 at "Oriental Wok"-Regency. As those of you know, who read this Blog with some regularity, we go there a lot. It is easy, not overly crowed or noisy and they have very good food and excellent service. After the Bombay and appetizers I had a mixed plate of two of their specials, scallops and eggplant in a rich, slightly sweet and spicy, sauce and oysters and shredded green vegetables in a light ginger sauce. I don't know which I enjoyed the most but they complimented each other and I'm glad I had the split order.
Our Granddaughter arrived late Saturday night, from Bates College, and she joined us as we helped a young friend prepare for an after Thanksgiving party by making a Costco run. Herring, Cheese, Crackers, Cashew Nuts, Pork Tenderloins, Rolls, Napkins, etc. Later we sat with her and her 6 year old twins while they had Pizza and Hot Dogs at the warehouse, we declined the invitation to join them.
The three of us went to, "Vincenzo's" 11525 Chester Road, Cincinnati 45246 513-771-0022, for our own Italian dinner. We divided two main courses, quite large, an a special salad.
The mixed salad was fresh greens and romaine plus artichokes, tomato's, dried cherries, sweet peppers, croutons and Gorgonzola with a very good balsamic dressing. The main courses, equally as good, were Cappellini Bolognese and Gnocchi Dante, consisting of small Gnocchi, al dente, in a light cream and wine sauce with shredded prosciutto and mushrooms, delicious. Needless to say, it beat Costco, but maybe not if you are 6 year old.
Still with our Granddaughter we had lunch Wednesday, Nov 25 at "Wild Ginger" 3655 Edwards Road, Cincinnati OH 45208 513-533-9500.The three of us again divided orders of Pot stickers, Won ton Soup and a very large Ocean King sushi roll, soft shell crab, "fake crab", shrimp, avocado and shredded carrots and scallions. The rice is wrapped in a crust of shredded, fried, filo dough. it is one of the better sushi dishes in the area, in my opinion.
At last Thanksgiving. Our son-in-law's Mother took over the holiday meal replacing Marilyn. That was a very nice gesture as Marilyn is still not up to major cooking, or even minor for that matter. She did the roast turkey and got help with all the sides and appetizers. Everything was traditional with the addition of a wonderful baked apple casserole and Key Lime Pie in place of Pumpkin. I supplied several kinds of white wine and a fine time was had by the 6 of us, all family.
Friday, for lunch, I met a friend at the "Oriental Wok" where he had wonderful "twice cooked pork" and I settled for their first class combo Pad Thai. That night was the "after Thanksgiving party" held at "City Cellars" a wine store and party room at 908 Race street. The hostess left home without the Costco Purchases but realized her mistake and corrected with a stop at "Fresh Market" for replacement items, including sushi. Luckily the Pork Tenderloins had been cooked elsewhere and that plus the roles and cashew nuts(hurrah) made the scene. The wines were all Spanish and I was taken enough by the white, a Gordello, to purchase some for our home use. We, of course, raised the age average, as we do often, but a fine evening of the day after was a nice closer .
Some friends from Nashville, Marilyn's home town, were passing through so we met them for lunch today at "Arthur's" on Edwards Road in Hyde Park. The place was packed and we all had fairy light lunches, soups and salads, before walking around the corner to "Graeter's" where they purchased Cincinnati's finest.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Our life is never "routine" but sometimes trips and special occasions disrupt the normal flow of events. Since returning from Chicago there has been very little special but a lot of our normal "routine"
Going back almost 10 days we had dinner at "Knotty Pine" about which I have written numerous times. I always say that I am going to try something new and almost always end up with the Etouffee and the Grouper. This time I had the grouper with Cajun Spices and I will return to the pan seared as the Cajun is to highly seasoned, in my opinion, for the mild Grouper. Incidentally I like spicy food, in it's place, and I like "Knotty Pine" and it's relaxed surroundings and good food.
On that Friday night we went we went to "Cumin", another favorite. Being an ancient, and with a couple who are in our same age category, we found the food and service excellent but the atmosphere too nosie for our taste and conversation. It's not "Cumin's" fault but I will stick to mid-week instead of the weekend. I had wonderful sweetbreads and an excellent lobster crape which was listed as lobster ravioli. I don't refer, any longer, to "Cumin" as Indian as it has so expanded it's menu that it has become world wide cuisine.
The next day lunch was at "Bronte Bistro"(Joseph Beth) at Rookwood Pavilion, Hyde Park. I chose the "Black and Bleu salad and only consumed about half. The rest was my main course at dinner that evening. The Black and Bleu is roasted, sliced chicken( not enough spice here) on greens, tomato's and a sprinkling of peppers all top with bleu cheese crumbles. Acceptable but not memorable. The vinaigrette on the other hand was quite good.
This past week, starting Sunday, and after "Hair" the forty year old (hippie) musical at CCM, we joined others at "The Pelican's Reef" on Beechmont Ave. As you may remember the reef is a "Key West" bar and restaurant. Marilyn has not been eating much and so they accommodated her with a grilled Walleye Sandwich, not on the menu, while I had prepared Oysters, several styles, and a large large house salad. The food is good and the atmosphere relaxed and very pleasant. Sunday night after 7:30 PM it is usually less than half full.
Monday lunch was at the "Oakley Pub and Grill" 3924 Isabella Ave. 45209 513-531-2500. The Pub is just what the name implies. I usually have an excellent grilled grouper sandwich, on rye, but that day my companion and I chose to split an order of "Buffalo Chicken Wings" , Monday's special and a large order of crispy slaw. Too much slaw for two but always fresh and containing cabbage, nuts and Ramin Noodles, great. That night, with another couple, we tried a partially opened "Pera" in Mt. Lookout Square. "Pera's" menu is a mixture of Turkish, Italian and American. The food was good and plentiful but I think they are just finding there way in the first few days of operation.
Just for the record I had Shepard's Salad and seafood Fettuccine, on which I changed the sauce from a heavy Alfredo to butter and olive oil, while Marilyn had Mushroom Ravioli, over half of which came home.
After lunch the next day at "Lemon Grass" 2666 Madison Rd 45208 513-321-2882, one of many Asian and Thai spots in Hyde Park, I had enjoyed the Pineapple fried rice with shrimp. A dish I like there because there is enough curry to be noticeable. we had planed to join someone for a late dinner, so I was surprised when I returned home and found dinner had been mover up an hour or more. Being brave I headed for "Tinks" on Telford Ave in Clifton where I tackled a bottle of Chardonnay split with our dinner companion plus Salmon Tartar, much more resembling Guacamole with some smoked salmon bits added, and a tempura shrimp "poor boy". The food was good and the company outstanding.
After several days of minimum 2500 Calories a day, and several pounds on the scale it was time for a light dinner at home last night, clearing out the refrigerator." Left overs for several meals mention above.
So this is "routine" and I don't know if I can keep up this pace.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SOFA-Sculpture Objects & Funtional Art

Before I review my trip to Chicago and SOFA, the reason for going, I go back a few days to a meal here in Cincinnati; Tuesday, Nov 3 at "Maury's Tiny Cove" 3908 Harrison Ave. 513-662-2683. The "Cove" is a west side institution which is currently celebrating it's 60th Anniversary. It has been in the same location, although it has been physically expanded, and is now owned by the third person to be the proprietor. The clientele, surroundings and food have not changed much, an that is just the way the customers want things. The new owner had spoken to our class and so two couples made the journey into foreign territory, the far west side. The Bombay($5.50) was a generous pour, the Greek salad was good sized and good tasting, the Chicken Chili was more of a Navy bean soup, but had good flavor and the mixed berry cobbler, made by the current owners Mother, was served hot and accompanied with vanilla ice cream, it was excellent. Marilyn had her usual non-alcoholic Cranberry juice and soda followed by a house salad, baked potato, shared cobbler and coffee. Total bill, including tax, but not tip was $28.60. Maury's advertises itself as a steak house but none of us went that route.
Thursday, Nov. 5 I drove to Chicago (5 1/2 hours from Graeter's to Max and Benny's) after picking up desert items for Friday nights joint dinner. A friend met me at "Max and Benny's Restaurant" in Northbrook IL for a late lunch. "Max & Benny's" is what I wished we had in Cincinnati, a real full service "Jewish" Delicatessen. I had a bowl of sweet and sour cabbage soup and a half chopped chicken liver sandwich on hard crusted light rye. It was accompanied by a side of excellent slaw and a slice of sweet onion and crisp dill pickle, Jewish heaven. My friend had a bowl of thick home-made vegetable soup and two of the in house baked rolls that came with our food.
That evening I accompanied my hosts, long time very good friends to "Avil" Winnetka IL. "Avil" is a large new Greek restaurant in a rehabbed old brick laundry building. It is bright, cheerful, modern and noisy with a very mixed happy crowd. The first thing to appear was a plate with a cod row mixture, lightly seasoned and slices of warm Pita. This was the warm up as we ordered our drinks. The three of us shared two appetizers, Baked Lima beans, tomato's, onions and feta plus warm roasted red peppers stuffed with a spicy cheese spread. For my main course I chose Greek style grilled lamb chops( shoulder and small and thin but medium rare) with a side of spinach and rice in a tomato olive oil and Herb emulation. We also shared a plate of warm pita with the spicy cheese, almost like smooth cottage cheese, sauce. The other two chose main courses of Grilled shrimp and stuffed eggplant. The food was excellent and the service attentive. I was their guest and so did not receive a bill but I was told the total for us all, including drinks was in the range of $100.
The next day I took the train from Glencoe and the bus to Navy pier and spent 3 1/2 hours enjoying glass and wood art and the artists and gallery owner who were in attendance. On my walk back to the station, it was a beautiful day, I detoured to "Portillo's" at 100 W Ontario St. It is a large local chain serving pizza, sausages and many other Chicago favorites. I was in quest of a "Chicago Hot Dog", which I found and was not disappointed. If you are unfamiliar with a "Chicago style Hot Dog" try Goggle.
Friday night a group of 4 couples, this year minus Marilyn, joined for our annual "lobster dinner". The group has been together for more than 40 years and this annual event is held usually in Chicago, where we all meet, but has also graced Cincinnati, Maine, Wisconsin and Florida. Besides appetizers and whisky and wine the meal centers around steamed clams and boiled lobsters. For some reason I have a reputation as the lobster chef so after fortifications I fixed 8 2lb crustaceans which were accompanied with corn pudding, tossed salad, toasted loafs of cheese bread and my contribution of Graeter's Ice Cream( four flavors) and pastries. Most items are prepared in house and we treat ourselves well. The last act of the evening is a major contribution, pro rated, of a monetary amount to an area food shelter or food bank, our way of sharing this bountiful feast. Home the next day after about 6 hours sleep, tired but happy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New York City-Part 3

Shopping, that is probably the mantra for most teen age American girls. So it came as no surprise that our Granddaughter had told Marilyn that what she "really" wanted to do was see some of New York's' big stores. I became the pinch hitting, after all it was World Series time, "big store" guide.
We left the Apartment a little after 10 AM Thursday morning, Oct 29 and headed to Lexington Ave. After a stop at the shoe repair shop, where I deposited my 12 year old "gym" shoes in the waste can after hearing the repair price we walked on to Bloomingdale's at 60th and Lex. A sales person directed us to the 3rd floor, which had casual, but expensive slack, blouses and jackets we dropped down a level, both in altitude and price, and I found a chair, for the next hour, while Raina surveyed everything available. We ended with several items and were on our way by 12:30. Lunch time found us at the "Food Exchange" 120 East 59th St, NY 10021-212-759-0656. From a selection of approximately 20 sandwiches, 8 hot soups, many salads and shelves of drinks and sweets we chose an interesting Thai seafood bisk, tuna salad pita wrap, chips and green tea for a total cost of $13.50 or less than 1/3 the cost of the carry out the day before. We found a small table in the back and ate and planed our next move.
After lunch I thought Raina should see Bergdorf Goodman, a very top end retail establishment, and St. Patricks Cathedral before entering Saks Fifth Ave. at 50th and 5th Ave. A ride, on the escalator, to the fifth floor began our floor by floor decent. We departed an hour later with a very pretty green blouse and another shopping bag. Next on to Rockefeller Center to view the ice rink and, actually "30 Rock". The high point, for our Granddaughter, of the day may have been a visit to the NBC Shop where Raina choose a T shirt with one of her favorite says from the program of the same name. Last stop before returning to 75th an Madison was the New York Public Library at 42nd and 5th.
We had arrange to meet our cousin from Mamarinek at 5:45 for a pre theatre dinner. For it's location, and expertize in getting people to the shows on time, we chose "Scarlatto" 250 W. 47th St, between Broadway and 8th Ave, 212-730-4535. Marilyn and I had been to "Scarlatto" before had found the food quite satisfactory. They did not disappoint. I had the usual Bombay, a wonderful pear, arugula and Gorgonzola salad, with a pear obviously sliced with a mandolin, beautifully decorating the greens. My main course was a braised lamb shank on a bed of polenta.
We shared a Tartufo for desert and others had coffee or tea. I tasted some of the other items, Dover sole, Ravioli and a wonderful appetizer of spicy marinated baby artichokes. We were
on the street by 7 PM.
Our theatre was on 46th St and we headed there to try to exchange Marilyn's Mezzanine ticket for one on the first floor. The older NY theatres have neither elevators or escalators. The older gentleman in the ticket booth asked if I didn't want to sit wth my wife and I explained that there were four of us. He told me, firmly, to take the tickets he would exchange and low and behold we ended up in the "house seats", 9th row center. The show "In the Heights" had won the Tony for best musical in 2008. It is a young persons show and although I enjoyed it I found the music to loud for my taste and was not able to understand all the lyrics. Our Granddaughter, however, knew after the first act, that she had to have the CD. It was a lively and up beat evening.
Next morning I put Raina on the 10:03 to Boston to meet up with her family. I took the bus from Penn Station back to 75th and Madison and convinced Marilyn and our host to join me , across the street at "3 Guys Restaurant" 960 Madison Ave. NY NY 10021( between 75 and 76)
"3 Guys" is a typical upscale Greek dinner, there are several on the upper East side, with a large menu and upscale prices to pay the rent. A bowl of clam chowder, two spinach pies and a Grilled Cheese sandwich came to $46 with tip and tax.
I had wanted to see the Kandinsky retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum and Marilyn was willing to give it a try. She lasted about 45 minutes while I was there well over an hour. The exhibit is outstanding and I was "blown away" with his use of color and geometric designs. To me this is a must if you get a chance to be in New York while it is on display.
Marilyn had returned to the Apt. and so I spent the rest of the afternoon back at the Met, viewing the American painter exhibit, in depth, and some Frank Ross photos from the mid 1950's.
When I returned to our base Marilyn said she felt so bad that she wished to go home, to Cincinnati. I tried to get a flight that evening but had to settle for one Saturday afternoon. In the mean time a person has to eat and so we walked to "Girasole" 151 E 82nd St ( at Lexington Ave) NY 10028. It was a new adventure for us but had been highly recommended by our host. "Girasole" is a small, Italian, upscale, neighborhood place with singles to families occupying their approximately 20 tables. The staff is solicitous and served our every need. Since Marilyn was not at the "top of her game" we decided to split a grilled Veal Chop. I started with a beautiful Lump Crab, endive and tiny green bean salad, good sized, after the usual libation. The veal chop was served with a few lightly fried slice potato's and sliced carrots and baby green beans. Marilyn had her usual decaf and the restaurant provided a plate of almond Biscotti(sp) and two different cookies for each of us. We had developed a nice rapport with the manager and so he also sent a small glass, for each, of "lemon schella".
The trip home the next day was not easy, cancelled flight, delayed flight and slow luggage but at least we were home and in our own environs. NYC is still "GREAT", my Father thought that it was the only vacation in the world and possibly "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree".

Monday, November 2, 2009

New York City-Part 2

Tuesday, Oct 27, our Granddaughter Raina decided after several nights with her sister in a Vassar dorm that it would be a good idea to "sleep in". Marilyn, who was not feeling up to a lot of activities stayed in the apartment most days.
At a little after 11 A.M. Raina and I strolled up Madison Ave. from 75th to 86th where we boarded a "cross town" bus to take us to 86th and Amsterdam. Our first stop for the day was "Barney Greengrass", 541 Amsterdam Ave(86th/87th) NY, NY 10024 - 212-724-4707."Barney Greengrass' may be the oldest delicatessen in Manhattan having celebrated their 100th Anniversary. They are famous for their smoked fish and of course have all the other regular items, corned beef, pastrami, etc. The "dining room"(Ha) is small crowded and served by one very efficient server who covers those tables plus some in the deli proper. We met a longtime friend, who is a Presbyterian Minister, retired, and lives on the upper West side. She was ordained after her youngest left home for college. We have been friends from our days in Glencoe IL( 1965/77). "Barney Greengrass" is a must for me, especially since the original 2nd Ave. Deli ceased operation.
I choose an order of eggs with 2 sides, nova and smoked sable. I also go for NY Rye, toasted, as I can get satisfactory bagels in Cincinnati. Jean, the friend, was a light eater, that day, which I am not, and so I managed to enjoy a 1/4 of her corned beef, pastrami, Swiss cheese and 1000 island double decker. Raina managed her own smoked sturgeon, tomato and cheese.
After vacating our table we spent more time visiting before the two of us took off for the Rose Planetarium and The NY Natural History Museum. Raina, especially want to do this and we spent all afternoon, following the star show, at varying exhibits, Dinosaurs to Gems.
That evening 4 of us, Raina, Marilyn, Fran Hess, our host, and I went to my favorite, "Union Square Cafe" 21 East 16th St NY 212-243-4020. I really don't know why I eat anywhere else.
The Union Square Hospitality Group( Danny Meyer) operate a dozen or more restaurants, in Manhattan, alone, from Hamburger emporiums to 4 star gourmet but I enjoy none more than the "Union Square Cafe". Union Square combines hospitality, service, menu and food preparation and quality to appeal to all my senses.
After my Bombay I had a lightly dressed red leaf lettuce salad with shredded Gruyere. Raina started with excellent Calamari which she generously shared. Since the restaurant opened 25 years ago a main stay has been their "filetmignon" of tuna, marinated and served medium rare. I couldn't pass up and old friend. A glass of Sancerre and two shared deserts, chocolate torte and bread pudding put me in shape to waddle across Union Square for the bus ride uptown. Oh yes, Rania ordered lamb chops(4) and gave me a large helping of one, which had been grilled perfectly. I know I rave but it's one of the best places I visit and I look forward to every visit.

Grandpa reared his ugly head Wednesday morning and Granddaughter and I headed for The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I felt Raina should see this even thought I knew it was "not her thing". We stayed about an hour and a half and saw the Vermeer exhibit along with the new American Wing, the Temple of Dundur and an exhibit of American painters from 1760 to 1915. I did not have the heart to insist on a longer stay and so I returned Friday afternoon, to view items in depth.
Walking home from the Met( 82nd St and 5th Ave) we stoped at EAT, a Zabar run eat in and carry out. Two or three small purchases, for lunch, ran the bill to $45. We ate a the kitchen table, with me finishing Monday's Lobster roll and then went to the theatre district of the Wednesday matinee of "Billy Elliot", the 2009 Tony winner for best musical. The show was great but the dancing, staging and set design were worth more than the price of admission, which is high.
That evening the four of us, same as the night before, walked from the Apt. to "Atlantic Grill" 1341 3rd Ave (between 77 and 78th) 212-988-9200. "Atlantic Grill" is part of a small excellently run chain, reminiscent of "Morton's Steak House", in quality, upscale but not over priced. There Bombay was the most reasonable on this trip and the entrees were all in the low to mid $20's. I had a chopped salad and a main course of Linguni with fresh clams For dessert I chose an excellent warm apple crumble with maple ice cream. Others had Salmon, Chicken and Crab cakes for their main courses and there were also desserts of molten chocolate cake and a mixture of "house" cookies. The tab for us all was $190, including tax and tip.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New York City- Part 1

I'll break our trip to NYC into several parts. As always concentrating on where and what I ate, but also adding some comments on activities.
We arrived Saturday Oct 24 in late afternoon. Marilyn did not fell great, as we left Cincinnati, but we were both hopping a change of scenery would help.
Saturday night we met a "Nebagamon"( camp) friend, whose wife was working on Detroit, temporarily, at "Gino's" 780 Lexington Ave 10065-212-758-4466. My Father fist took me to "Gino's" in the mid 1940' shortly after it opened. Not much has changed, except prices and the fact that they now accept credit cards. It is old, steady and the food is standard except for the kinds of things that are on their menu, which I like and can not fine often: tongue, tripe, sweetbreads and brains. After the Bombay I settled on a Gino Chopped Salad and Beef tongue served on spinach or greens. Our Nebagamon friend, in his mid 50's, assured me that he would help with a bottle of wine and I took him at his word. His idea of help was one decent size glass and so I'm not sure if the food was as good as I remember or if the wine induced haze made it seem that way.
Next morning we caught the 10:52 to Poughkeepsie for a visit with our son and his daughter, who is a Freshman at Vassar. Our son and the rest of his clan had come East for a visit including Vassar, Cooperstown and Cambridge, for the Harvard bands 90th reunion.
The ride up the Hudson was knock out gorgeous, fall foliage etc, and it was great to be met at the station by him, his wife and younger daughter. The 5 of us had lunch at "Coyote Grill". one of many restaurants built around bar business and expanded "bar food". Trying to eat light, whenever possible, I had an Iceberg lettuce wedge with sliced tomato's and crumbled blue cheese. The Balsamic vinaigrette dressing and corn bread were both outstanding. After a 2 hour tour of the Vassar campus( the library is phenomenal) we took Lilly, the Freshmen, to "Stop & Shop" to load up on dorm room food. Lilly is most happy when eating "Pasta" in one form or another and so she chose "Thai Spice" 28 Raymond Ave Poughkeepsie, NY 12603 - 845-486-8888. The place was packed but two servers handled the crowd efficiently. There is a large and varied menu and although several chose Pad Thai, including Lilly, there were enough other dishes that tastes could be shared. For the table we had platters of Spring Rolls and Chicken Satay. I had Pineapple Fried Rice, served in a half of fresh Pineapple. It included both chicken and shrimp in plentiful quantity. Beer seemed the correct beverage for this dinner.
Monday, Lilly's younger sister, Raina, took the train "into the city" to spend some days with Grandma and Grandpa. I walked from our quarters, at 75th and Madison to Grand Central Station on 42nd Street. I left plenty of time for lunch, before the train arrived, at "The Oyster Bar" Grand Central Station NY, NY 10017 - 212-490-6650. I like seafood and the Oyster Bar has never disappointed. It is large, seating approximately 450, and since the volume is great the food , to me, is always fresh. Being alone I sat at the counter and enjoyed a platter of raw oysters, 4 different varieties, and a good sized portion of Cole slaw as well a conversation with an accountant from Long Island, who is a regular. I had told Raina, who had never tasted Lobster, that on the trip she should have a Lobster Roll. I ordered one "to go" ($28) and found to my delight that is was large and accompanied with slaw and sweet potato chips. Raina, when she got to the apartment ate about 1/3 and so I had the balance, still fresh, 2 days later.
Monday evening our cousin came in from Long Island (Mamaroneck) and the 4 of us went to "Heidelberg Restaurant" 1648 Second Ave, 10028 212-628-2332. The restaurant is in the heart of "Yorkville" which used to be an old German area, and it alone, in this neighborhood, carries on the tradition. There is a large bar, with 16 or more German brews, and decorations and staff costumes out of a "Disneyland German Beer hall". The food is very good and very reasonable, especially for East side upper Manhattan. Dinner was approximately $25 each including beverages. Not gratuity.
I enjoyed a German semi dark beer. We began by the table sharing an order of marinated cucumbers in a sour cream dressing, crisp and beautifully seasoned, the four of us did not finish the serving. I had Wiener Schnitzel ala Holstein, served with a large amount of in house made Spetzels and a side of Red Cabbage. Marilyn had the same with "home fried potato's" instead of the Spetzels and the potato's were equally as good if not better. I was the only one of the four able to finish the majority of the food. As you might guess that place attracts many young people whom seem to share the costs, and drink a "Boot of Beer", each, which I would guess is 36 to 48 oz. Ah, to be young.