Sunday, June 27, 2010

Camp visit, before and after

We have finished the last of our four weekend trips in June. Before we left for a weekend in the "North Woods" one of our California families, the Hirschhorn's of LA, came here for a couple of days. Adam, our 13 year old Grandson repeated his Bar Mitzvah ceremony for Joanne, our daughter, who had not been able to make the trip to California. It was a wonderful thing to do and a wonderful family event. Ken Kanter, a Rabbi and friend, from HUC, officiated and was outstanding, as of course, was Adam.
We had some meals at Cincinnati favorites, Greyhound Tavern, Walt's Hitching Post and the Oriental Wok, with some or all of the visitors during that time. All restaurants have been written about numerous times.
Marilyn and I left Saturday morning, June 19, having seen 3 Hirschhorns off to Chicago and one off to Camp Nebagamon, for our flight to Minneapolis and the drive to Camp Nebagamon, Lake Nebagamon, WI. Our summer retreat for many years. The reason for this early trip was that our eldest Grandson, Jason Hirschhorn, had written and was producing the first Sunday night Council Fire of the 2010 season. He had asked us to come, and as I have said numerous times, "a request from a Grandchild is one step above a command from God".
Saturday night we were guests at the home of the former, long term owners, and Directors of the camp and had a very pleasant evening with drinks, grilled steaks and conversation. Camp served us in the next two days quintessential camp meals, Grilled cheese and tomato soup, pizza, cold scrambled eggs, good coffee cake, delicious meat ball hougies etc. The Council Fire was on the subject of "risk taking", perfect for kicking off a new season. In my very prejudiced view it was OUTSTANDING.

Monday afternoon we took our leave and drove to Duluth for dinner with a friend. "Midi Restaurant", 600 E.Superior St, Duluth, MI was a new experience for us. It is located in the Fitzger Hotel complex and surprisingly, to me, was full on a Monday night. It could be that a couple of other Duluth regular spots are currently closed for renovation. Anyway, we all had the Walleye dinner, pan sauteed, including grilled asparagus and another item, I chose fresh spinach with golden raisins, a nice combination.
I'm sure a large part is mental, but Walleye, in Duluth taste better than elsewhere, although it is probably the same frozen product that you get in any first class restaurant from NY to CA.
After dinner, at the suggestion of a camp staff member we drove and spent the night at the "Grand Casino Hotel" in Hinkley MN. A high rise hotel attached to an Ojibwa operated casino. We were pleasantly surprised by our large, clean, quiet room for $75. Next morning we stoped for a Carmel roll, a unanimous recommendation at "Tobies" also in Hinkley. Hinkley has 1000 inhabitants so if you ever get there you wont miss either spot.

Home Tuesday night and a busy schedule of "eating out" since then. "Cafe Mediterranean" 7454 Beechmont Ave 513-232-2400, which in my opinion is the best Turkish food in the area. The table split salad( Shepard) and dessert while I had stuffed baked eggplant and Marilyn an excellent Donar Kebab. They have full bar service and is handicapped accessible. Another night at "Mecklenburg Gardens' 302 East University Ave 513-221-5353. A new chef has slightly upgraded their standard items which 4 of us enjoyed "under the grape vines" on a pleasant Cincinnati summer evening. Dark German beer followed by Romaine Salad and the chefs special, shrimp and beer sausage sauteed with mushrooms, onions and green peppers fit perfectly with a slightly warm dark rye bread. Marilyn stuck with the Wiener Schnitzel and although she was able to finish the veal she needed help on the red cabbage and spatzles, which have both improved with the new chef. I suggested driving thru Baskin-Robbins to share a scoop of "rocky road" which after complaints, we did- I got two bits left by the negative chours.
This morning was Dim Sum at "Jen's or Casual Wok and Grill" 10012 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati, OH 513-891-3100. Wonderful, never ending, array of steamed, stuffed dumplings and many other delectable items at a ridiculously low price, under $10 each, and served in a restaurant heavily occupied by Asian families. What more could one want to start a summer, or any, Sunday.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Being good to my word I'll warn you that most of this will be our weekend in NC. If interested read on, if not see you next time. Ed Saxon read.
Before the weekend in Asheville North Carolina, and environs we had a couple of meals here, in Cincinnati, to be with a Granddaughter who was here for an week, and to celebrate our son-in-laws 55th Birthday.
We had lunch at "Teller's in Hyde Park", with the GD, where Marilyn and I split the Iceberg wedge, plenty for two, and also a Florentine Pizza with tomato's, artichoke hearts and grilled onions on a thin Pizza crust. The night before the whole family went to "Primavista"( visited many times) where I had the usual Bombay, Salad and Scampi Regiano( sauteed scampi served with mushrooms and onions over a bed of angle hair). A fine dish but that evening the pasta had not been fully drained, which of course detracted. Marilyn had the veal special. It was a pleasant evening.

Friday morning we drove to Asheville NC to "hook-up" with our New York cousin, who like us is "into glass". It was a studio tour arranged by the Penland School of Arts and Craft and we were interested in visiting some of the artists and their studios, all in the Cumberland Mts in an approximate 25 mile radius of the school. Penland is approximately 50 miles North and East of Asheville.
To fortify ourselves we had dinner the first night( Friday) at "Table", 48 College St. 828-254-8980, almost universally recommended. The restaurant honored our 7:30 reservation, made thru "Open Table" and we were seated promptly although others were waiting. It is a store front on College Street, a main artery downtown, and with hard walls, ceiling and store front windows, and is very noisy. The menu is very interesting based daily on local products and changes, as the availability of items in the market, does. There are no "specials". For a first course I chose NC shrimp, grilled, house made bacon and peach kimchi, much more like a sliced thin spiced peach than as fermented kimchi, all served on local greens. My main course was NC softshell crabs on a goat cheese risotto with a sauce vierge( no one could explain). The server mixed up the order and so all had to wait while he and the kitchen straited it out. Marilyn had the devilled East Fork Chicken, a roast chicken elsewhere, gnocchi alla romano and "heirloom" broccoli, we call it broccoli rabe. Both main courses were $26. I had my usual drink first and shared a glass of Guner-Ventliner. The table shared two desserts a wonderful heavy "stout" Chocolate cake with roasted cherries, a first for me, topped with Carmel ice cream. the other dolce was a fresh peach crumble with praline ice cream. Food very interesting, good and inventive but the service was poor, a general feeling of superciliousness.
The next morning after a stop at a gallery in town and one in the Penland area we evolved a plan to visit 3 glass studios in the afternoon. First lunch at a local, "road food" type place, discovered by us and not Jane and Michael Stern. Ed Saxon, please note."Hillbilly's Grill and Ice Cream', in the front of a nursery( plants not children) is a four table, CLEAN, as the owners stress, white wall board room shared by the ice cream freezer and cash register. The owner, a retired Highway patrol officer, is one of the two cooks, his wife the other. It sits just off State Rt 80 about 7 miles south of Micaville NC, not that you'll ever want to find it. The lunch was surprisingly good, all served in Styrofoam containers. Bar-Be-Qued pulled pork( what else in NC), potato salad, baked beans and cole slaw, all "home made". Three lunches, split among the 4 of us was one lunch too many.
Four stops plus a trip over Mt. Michell, the highest peak in the eastern US, brought us back to our very welcoming Hampton Inn.
Dinner that evening took place at "Rezaz Restaurant' 28 Hendersonville Rd( Biltmore Village), Ashville 828-277-1510, a mixture of Mediterranean, Italian and American dishes. Bombay was less expensive, and a larger pour than the night before, a good start.
My meal was a first course of "spring pea' gnocchi and sweetbreads, in a light pea and white wine sauce, wonderful. Followed by the largest single seafood paella I have ever been served. The kitchen must go thru sacks of rice, nightly, if I am to judge from my serving. The paella contained clams, shrimp, chicken and churuzzo plus peas carrots and baby onions. The rice was so plentiful that the slightly spicy sauce couldn't moisten all. Marilyn chose a Minestrone, which she said was excellent and a pan seared trout on a bed of lentils. Our server was excellent, something that always adds to ones enjoyment and he insisted that we divide a linzer cookie, on him( or the house). He understood working for tips. Another fine meal. After dinner we crossed the street to enter the lobby of the "Grand Bohemian Hotel" a site to see or avoid depending on ones taste.
Sunday, after a visit to the Penland School of Arts and Crafts and several artists both glass and world renowned woven baskets we had our last meal together at the "Creekside Cafe" Rt 226 in Barkersville, NC. Family run and kitchen equipped, as far as I could tell with a chopping block and deep fryer. Almost exclusively fried seafood as signaled by the tarter sauce and cocktail sauce in squeeze containers on the tables.
After our late lunch, about 2:30, the four of us split with the New Yorkers headed East and we towards Cincinnati where we arrived around 10 PM. Full of Art, Crafts, good food and good company.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Passing thru

As I said in the previous posting we are "on the road" or "in the air" for four weekends. The first trip was to LA and this past weekend was a driving trip to Nashville, TN. Briefly here is a report.
The first night in Nashville we ate at "Macke's" 4009 Hillsboro Pike". The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of a building in a shopping center. Decor is a mix of outdoor Southern, plants and white chairs, and old fashioned high end, dark wood and subdued lighting. In my opinion it doesn't mix. The food was satisfactory, a split iceberg wedge salad, which was quite small, and a seafood Paella with little rice and a pleasant mixture of seafood. The outstanding attribute, to me, was the fact that there is no bartender, measuring out drink, the wait staff does it all, and by the middle of the second Bombay I was feeling "no pain".
The next day we took in the Chihuly exhibit at "Cheekwood", the English Manor house built by the Cheek family in the early 1930's, from stone brought from England. The Cheek family was in the coffee business and their brand was "Maxwell House". Lunch at the gift shop restaurant, "The Pineapple Grill' was excellent. My "Fried Green Tomato salad" had 3 large tomato slices on a bed of greens with both coated pecans and goat cheese tossed in. The dressing was a light citrus vinaigrette with a beautiful strong fresh citrus flavor.
Dinner before the Nashville Symphony Orch. concert was at "Bricktop" West End Ave. An attractive Bar and Booth set up. The table shared an order of devil eggs and sweet grilled bacon slabs, seasoned with either a brown sugar rub or maple syrup, and done perfectly, crisp but still chewy. My dinner, two sizable, back fin lump crab cakes, with little filler, and buttered steamed spinach couldn't have been lighter or nicer.
On the drive back to Cincinnati, the next day, breakfast was at "The Waffle House", not light, a pecan waffle and hash browns, crispy and greasy, with button mushrooms and sauteed onions. We had been told the "Cracker Barrel" had chicken pot pie and so stopped, only to find that it is only a special on Wednesday. Not to waste the late lunch hour I had a fried catfish sandwich, with good cole slaw and Marilyn a BLT, also with the slaw.
Saturday night after wine and spreads, at a friends house, 6 of us went to "Grand Finale" 2 East Sharon Road, Cincinnati( Glendale) OH 513-771-5925. The place was full and so was I, from what had been ingested all day. The table, as the evening before, shared a plate of 3 halved deviled eggs, not as good and twice the cost, of Bricktops". I ordered a friend oyster appetizer with cocktail sauce and was served 5 oysters on a bed of heavy, clinging, tarter sauce. The BLT wedge was satisfactory but probably do to my days activities I was less than enthusiastic.
Last night was better. After two, bartender made Bombay's, much less alcohol than the two at "Macke's" and a table splitting order of fried Calamari, which I topped with fresh lemon juice, I was served, professionally. a prime rib sandwich( 8 oz) medium rare and a large stack of thin french fries done crispy, as requested.
This recap will probably be it until we return from Asheville, NC.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lot's of Travel

June is going to be a heavy travel month for us. I am not going to go into our activities but any restaurant reports will be from various locations. If I send food reports or restaurant comments from other that the Cincinnati area I will try to label each posting with the name and location, so if it is of no interest you can just by-pass that entry.
Our travels will take us to Los Angelo's, which trip is just concluded, to Nashville, TN; Ashville, N.C.; Minneapolis,MN and Lake Nebagamon, WI, with possibly a few side trips.

LA was a big and wonderful family weekend, celebrating our youngest Grandchild's Bar Mitzvah, with almost all the meals at either a private club or at our Daughter-In-Law's home, all marvelous experiences. We did meet old Cincinnati friends, who have moved to Southern California, for a lunch at "Marmalade" one of several, of this up scale, expanded, "coffee shop" type operations though out the LA area. This one is located at 14910 Venture Blvd. Sherman Oaks. The food was very good and the portions more than generous.
For lunch I had a "cup", which turned out to be a small bowl, of thick, hot split pea soup, seasoned perfectly. This was followed by a half portion of Roasted Beet Salad served in a bowl in the manner of many Cobb Salads. Over crisp greens were arranged cubed Golden beets, chopped fresh tomatoes, blue cheese crumble and fresh bacon bits. All was dressed with an excellent light citrus vinaigrette. Marilyn had an equally delicious "cup" of Mushroom soup plus a half order of their Ginger Chicken Salad. Of the four only I, the real glutton, finish everything.

Passing thru Cincinnati, for two days, we met our Priest friend for dinner at the "Oriental Wok". A regular spot for us and for him, service and hospitality remain outstanding. They currently are serving fresh soft shelled crabs, one of my favorites. Last night they were done to perfection, deep fried, but not greasy, and nestled in a bed of chopped green and red bell peppers and sweet onions all marinated in a very light slightly spiced dressing. Each item complimenting each other.
The three of us started the meal splitting a pan seared Chinese Egg Foo Yong, loaded with crisp bean sprouts and including a touch of water chest nuts plus strips of grilled beef.
Marilyn had Chicken Chow Mien and our friend had Pad Thai. I'm afraid I am two adventurous for those well prepared, but standard items. We all must pay some price.