No, this is not a rundown on our extended family nor a list of high and low temperature that have set records but it is two evening meals, in succession, and the prices paid.
Thursday night we joined a group of Artichoke lovers at a price fixed dinner ($60) at "Nectar Restaurant" 1000 Delta Ave (513) 929-0525. Julie Francis, the owner and excellent chef, offers, once a month, a 5 course dinner build around one product. That night it was the Artichoke.
The meal started with Cream of Artichoke Soup with Lump Crab and local Radish Sprouts. The soup base was pureed baby Artichoke hearts, creamy consistency while the lump crab lived up to it's name. For my taste the soup needed a little more "Oomph" which I accomplished by adding an amount of freshly ground pepper.
Next came Shaved Raw Artichoke Salad with Poached Shrimp, Carrot, Mint, Edamame and Pecorino. The raw heart had been shaved thin and then marinated in a lemon marinade before it was mixed with the other ingredients. The whole affair was doused with a bit more of the dressing and the Pecorino was a nice compliment to the other fairly bland ingredients. As one can tell I'm more into spice that bland.
Jewish Style Friend Artichokes ( an extremely popular rendition in Rome) with Cracked Black Pepper and Coriander Brown Butter was for me the hit of the evening. The half of Artichoke heart with the stubs of a few leaves had been fried perfectly so the the vegetable was crisp on the outside and yet retained firmness and moisture in the center. The Artichoke was placed on a romaine leaf with just a touch of Caesar dressing.
The main course was Marksbury Farm Beef Skirt Steak with Artichoke Potato Hash and Chimichurri. The steak had just enough fat to enhance the flavor and the hash, in fairly large pieces, was a nice accompaniment but was outshone by the flavor of the meat.
For dessert Julie and her pastry chef offered Candied Artichokes in Puff Pastry with local honey cider Gastrique (sauce) and Honey Custard. The Artichoke failed to add to the light pastry and custard with the drizzled honey sauce.
All in all it was a nobel effort, which was well received, by all, to feature a vegetable with it's own unique flavor and constancy.
The next "Dinner Club", as Julie calls the meals, will be build around Asparagus.
The next night, in an entirely different vain, we ventured to "Wunderbar" 1132 Lee St. Covington KY (859) 815-8027 where at striped picnic tables we were served home made sausages, 2 for $8 dollars including a "side", for me Brussels Sprouts, and a warm roll. Marilyn had a beautiful Ruben and very good potato salad.
My sausages were an Apple spice and a Wassbi ginger, the latter having the right amount of heat.
The night before the beverage had been an Austrian White Wine but the beverage of choice at "Wunderbar" was a hoppy dark beer. At the bar there was also much more ganter with the folks around . A shift of locales and food is probably what keeps us "eating out".
As an after thought, in this posting, we did drop by "Season 52", Rookwood for a shared "spring salad" after a show. The server recommended the Stuffed Mushrooms and we were glad she did. They come in a hot dish, usually used for snails, and are button mushrooms stuffed with spinach and cheese and then covered with panko bread crumbs and light butter sauce before being heated till bubbly, under the broiler. It could be a main as well as a side., and is highly recommended.