Sunday, March 31, 2013


Marilyn and I spend one or two days a month volunteering at the Cincinnati Visitor Center on Fountain Square. It is a good connection with the city and a good way to meet people who come to our area.
Yesterday, our first couple were "roamers". They sold their house in California in 1999 and moved to Texas. After a short spell there they bought a truck and have been on the move, ever since. They will be spending about 4 days in the Cincinnati area.
Next came a young women from Singapore. A speech therapist who is visiting hospitals in this country. She is spending 2 weeks at the Children's Hospital Medical Center. Next a lady from Ludlow KY, and so on.

After our 3 hours "on duty" we closed the Center and met some friends at "Abigail St." our favorite OTR destination. If you don't already know, "Abigail St" is at 1214 Vine St. "Over the Rhine" (513) 421-4040, and is owned and run by Daniel Wright and his wife Lana, the same duo that own "Senate", next door. Dan and his chef buddy Salazar, were both on the floor last evening( I'm name dropping).
I chose poorly. I started with an excellent Bouillabaisse and followed with a very good Paella. The reason that I say I chose poorly is they are both a mixture of fresh shellfish either in a creamy, tasteful broth, or on a bed of Risotto, seasoned rice.
Both were great dishes but a mixture of tastes might be a better choice. Not that having both was not enjoyable. Acompaning I had a Belgium Raspberry Beer, Framboise, a first for me.
Marilyn had the always excellent Gnocchi, with asparagus and mushrooms and a delicious Lamb Tangine, full of flavor and served on a bed of Cous-Cous, seasons with herbs and golden raisins.

Earlier in the week, with a young(47) friend we went "bar hoping", at least our version.
We started at "Unwind" on Michigan Ave. in Hyde Park. Our idea of what a wine bar should be, comfortable, welcoming and a nicely mixed clientele. Tables, easy chairs, couches and a bar and fireplace make up the decor. We had a glass of wine and a wonderful pesto and artichoke flat bread baked to perfection. Moving on we stopped at the "Brew River-Gastro Pub" on Riverside drive. Here our drink selection shifted from wine to beer, each of the drinkers choosing one from their offering of 18.
So as not to starve we split and order of stuffed white mushrooms, half a tennis ball size, and stuffed with pesto and bread crumbs, then oven fried and served on a platter layered with mushroom sauce.. To please ourselves, and the table next door we ending with a house made "pig in a blanket". Special mild sausage wrapped in a corn bread dough and sitting on house made "German" mustard. It was a somewhat new experience and we are rethinking our "old folks" attitude to an evening out.

Other sports since last posting have been "Oriental Wok" Hyde Park where Guy Burgess and Susannah Wong run our hospitable, tasty, Chinese haven. "The Quarter Bistro" 6904 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, nice, handy but a tad on the expensive side, especially the "specials". And lastly "Grand Finale" 3 East Sharon Road, Glendale, with things just the opposite, on the Wednesday night we were there. Food good, reasonable, and a long drive from our river view home. Only regret were the extra pounds, the next day, after Marilyn and I split an order of crepes, stuffed with ice cream and covered with a warm Apricot sauce.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Second Course

The "Free Store-Food Bank" has a program running 10 weeks that teaches people good working habits and the basics needed for employment in the food service industry. After those 10 weeks some of the graduates are eligible for the "Second Course" that helps them improve their skills and move more quickly into a functioning kitchen. I have been visiting with these students, once a week, and expounding some of my service philosophy from the "Let's Eat Out" class and , of course, Danny Meyer.

In that same mode we have taken a second try, or more, at some of the area restaurants.
Monday night it was back for a 2nd time to "KaZe", 1400 Vine St, "Over the Rhine" 513-898-7991. This time we were much more satisfied than on our first visit. In all fairness, we had gone shortly after the opening and neither we, not the staff were "at ease". This time we had an idea what we were "getting into" and the staff is well briefed and knowledgeable. "KaZe" is basicly Japanese with Sushi and many dishes with a strong Japanese twist. There are several items for the less adventurous and "area bound".
Marilyn and I divided an order of Pork Buns( pork belly, apple, turnip, scallion and sauce on a soft steamed bun) and an order of Niku Sliders( beef short rib, marinated cucumbers and Korean BBQ sauce on Sesame Buns). Each order contains two. I went with a "Dragon Slayer" Sushi role,( spiced tuna topped with grilled eel) and raw Oysters Narhi while Marilyn chose nicely roasted chicken with a light Teriaki glaze on a bed of asparagus and stir fried mushrooms. All the dishes were well prepared and quite tasty.

Other establishment we have repeated have been "Wild Ginger" 3655 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-9500. Where I stuck with the King of the Ocean Roll, Sushi role including soft shelled crab, while Marilyn was more adventurous ordering Pad Thai topped with Walleye, a combination I had never seen offered. Kirin Ichiban washed down both.
"Seasons 52" 3819 Edwards Road, Norwood. We split a Caesar salad( enough for 4) and I tried Shrimp with Pene Pasta and spinach and Marilyn stuck to a Portobello Flat bread. We find "Seasons 52" an interesting chain addition to the local dining scene but not a place demanding constant patronage.
Another swing at "M. Wood Fire Oven" 3514 Erie Ave (513) 386-7783 with a chef friend found our table and bodies loaded down with excessive food. Here are some of the items we sampled: Cured Meats, House Olives, Sweet Potato Brandade( oven fried mashed potato sticks and seasoning) Roast Chicken, Short Rib Lasagne, Cauliflower, Chocolate Raspberry Cake, Smore Cookies and more. You get the picture. Some went back to the kitchen and some went home with all 4.
Lastly another swing by "Phoenician Taverna" 7944 S.Mason Montgomery Rd. Mason, OH (513-770-0027. Our favorite Lebanese with wonderful food and service. Since we leave the dishes in the capable hands of the owner I am not going to try to describe, but if you have never been, the Lamb shank is a must.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

This and that

We have just returned for the Wine Festival auction and luncheon at the Netherlands. The auction raised a tremendous amount of monies, for the charities they support, and the lunch, executed by Todd Kelly was up to the #1 Restaurant's usual standards.
Three courses, beautifully presented, all with matching wines (my head has a slight buzz as I type). Todd served: Kataifi-Wrapped Shrimp on a bed of Eggplant Puree, Roasted Red Peppers and Chevre balls rolled in Pistachios.This was followed with Duck Breast, rare, with Ginger Scented Carrots bathed in Maderia Sauce. Finally a Chesse Course of Valseon with Port Wine Fig Puree and Bucheron with Almond Brittle. A light mid-day repast.

We have been home often, but also out a fair amount. Dinners have all been at usual spots. "Enicota Emilia", "Pelican's Reef", "Gordo's" (I think we're done with this Norwood bar and burger joint, as we like others much better for this combination) "Nectar" (Always novel, interesting and pleasing to my taste. The other night I had wonderful short rib Taco's and a shrimp dish, with a tomato sauce laced with chocolate, and accompanied by a quinoa cabbage slaw. Now that is my kind of adventurous eating.)

Thursday night we took and eclectic group ( Priest, Trainer, Volunteer) to, in our opinion, the best Lebanese Restaurant in the area. Another rave for "The Phoenician Taverna" on Mason-Montomery Road near the large P&G office complex. Our route always takes us to "Costco", to stock our ladder, before or after our meal. We all shared "maza", hot and cold appetizer's ( a favorite is the Kibbi with eggplant salad and yogurt sauce) and then tackled the outstanding lamb shanks in a light tomato sauce along with a chicken dish and a stuffed meat pie entree and Mediterranean salad.

So here in a very brief version is where we have been and what we have done. Nothing really new but almost all most satisfying.