Sunday, June 23, 2013

West Coast Comments

When I write about "out of town" activities I get mixed comments. Most who read this are in the Cincinnati area, but I do have a few else where, and I also feel I should explain the time between postings. I am going to break this report into several topics, rather that try to go thru day to day eating.

Hospitality- When I think of hospitality I immidiately refer to Danny Meyer's book "Setting the Table", which stresses the difference between service and hospitality. One of my favorite business philosophys, stressed in the book, is: "The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled. This is all preface to our first night in Seattle.
Eight of us had dinner at the "Boat Street Cafe"( menu was "spring in the Northwest", Salmon, Pork, vegies etc).
The party sitting across from Marilyn spilt her red wine which ended up fully spotting the front of Marilyn's white shirt. Our waitress immediatly offered to take her shirt,( Marilyn had an untouched sweater) spot it, and wash and dry it on the premise, and have it returned by the end of dinner.(They handle all their own linen "in house"). Good to her word the shirt was returned, in spotless condition, during the dessert course. Amazing!!

Slaw- Several places we had unusally good slaw. The first was at our cousins, homemade and rough cut, along with a huge piece of freshly caught and grilled Salomn; another portion came with chicken salad( nothing speicial) at "Greenleaf Restaurant" in Ashland OR. If you happen to go to the "Oregon Shakespeare Festival" in Ashland OR and hit "Greenleaf" get a side of slaw even if it is with breakfast.

Breakfast-  On the subject of Breakfast, Ashland OR has many restaurants but of all the places we have found "Morning Glory" and "Brother's Restaurant" top the list, in this department. "Morning Glory" may have the single best Breakfast menu of any place where we have enjoyed this meal. I had an omlet with fresh spinach, mushrooms, chicken Gouda sausage and Swiss Cheese, while Marilyn chose one with bacon, carmelized onions and chedder. Both platters came with thin, buttermilk pancakes covered with a whipped butter containing granulated sugar and fresh lemon juice. As if this isn't enough there are choices of toast, potatoes, tomato slices, muffins and fruit. At "Brothers" they pride themselves on their excellent "hash browns", righly so, but I chose a personal favorite "Huevous Ranchero's" which turned out to meet my expectations. Luckily I got to taste the "Hash Browns", an extra dividend.
Another good Breakfast was at "Stopsky's Delicatessen" on Mercer Island, across the lake from Seattle. I had a large chopped cornbeef hash but the next time I think I'll switch to the gooey looking Ruben.

Beer- "Standing Stone Brewing Co. 101 Oak St. Ashland OR provided, along with deep fried Brussels Sprouts and Lamb on Pita, a first, "Milk and Honey Ale", a delicious golden light Ale which went perfectly with my meal.
"Thai Pepper", Ashland, featured a "Rouge Hazelnut Brown Ale" somewhat darker in color but very drinkable and a great match for our Korean rack of Lamb. Beer and spiced Lamb, some combination.

Ambiance- In the Potland OR area two places stood out. "Zeppo", Lake Oswego OR has a lovely outside "sidewalk cafe" surrounded by trees, flowers and beautiful hanging baskets of plants( my Green Goddess salad with Shrimp was a good choice) and the bar( "Departure") in the 'Nine" hotel in the Meyer-Frank building downtown is a perfect modern upgrade of an old department stores' top floor. The young, hip Portlanders have found the place and are making it their own.

Side comments- I mentioned earlier that several places had "Spring Northwest" items on thier menus. Nothing, however, topped the English Green Pea soup, served room temperature, at "Tilth", Seattle WA; or the fun Organic fresh sandwiches at "Homegrown" in the Queen Ann District above the University of Washington. My sandwich, a pairing of avacado, Swiss cheese and egg, on an English muffin( read, fancy "egg Mc Muffin") couldn't have been a better interoduction to our 9 day visit to the area.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Boca, Sotto and others

"Boca" 114 East 6th St. (513) 471-4648 has been open for several weeks, most of the "kinks" have been worked out, but not the "clatter". The beautiful renovation of the old Masionette space( thanks 3CDC) has produced an "open kitchen", therefore the "clatter", modern restaurant divided into several rooms plus a bar and lounge area. It is a very attractive space to go with their modern Italian and Seafood menu, not that other items aren't available. We had our first meal there last night, along with another couple.
I began with the usual "Bombay"($10) followed by the Haricot Vert Salad, a nice mixture of greens, green beans, bacon, croutons and peas. The dressing was light and matched perfectly the items served.
"Boca" offers both Full and Tasting portions and most of us went with the latter. My two choices were: Squid Tagliolini, al dente, black, pasta mixed with peas and cheese and then covered in a light butter based sauce; and Baked Cod with a few sliced carrots served on top of a creamy polenta. The Cod portion was surrounded by a wonderful citrus sauce. Both sauces made the home made Italian bread even more enjoyable.
Marilyn started with the Grilled Romaine ( Cesear), a hold over from the Oakley spot, and followed with the tasting sized English Pea Ravioli, accompanied by a small piece of lobster. Her other small plate was Paparadelle Bolognese. From my tastings of her dishes, and her vote, the ravioli won the day. Coffee but no dessert brought the bill, including tax, but without tip, to slightly under $100.
It was a festive evening. Several people stopped by to say "hello". Most of the middle aged diners were well dressed and quite congenial.

"Sotto", which I believe means "under", 116 E 6th St. (513) 977-6886 has been open longer than "Boca" and we have visited on several occasions. The same food group runs them both. Our most recent visit, again with friends, found us splitting both first courses and dessert. The first course provided a large portion of roasted Brussels Sprouts, marinated in a balsamic dressing and topped with slices of Parmesan, and a small portion of baked, fresh Lemon halfs filled with a cheese and bread crumb and herb dressing. My main couse was the excellent Grilled Salmon, rare plus, served on a bed of fresh spinach with a butter and citrus sauce. Marilyn ordered the Amatriciana Pasta, oversized macarony shells in a somewhat spicy tomato and cheese sauce.
Dessert was an order, approximatly 6 golf ball, sized doughnut holes with a ricotta filling and 3 sauces, Carmel, Pistacio and Chocolat.

Other spots of our "eating out" trail this week were "The Quarter Bistro" 6904 Wooster Pike (513) 271-5400, which found us on a beautiful night at an outside table having drinks and main courses. The table split a large order of Guacamole and chips followed by individual main courses, mine, Belgium Endive leaves surrounded by shrimp, apple slices and dowsed with a light vinegret dressing with Gorgonzola and small croutons. Marlyn went with their "bisto Burger" which she reported as being dry, although the French fries vanished with no complaints.

Sunday night, for our son-in-laws birthday, 5 of us went to "Kaze" 1400 Vine St. (513)898-7991. "Kaze" has been in operation at least 6 months and has greatly improved, in my estimation, in that time. At a family birthday there is always sharing and that night was no exception. Pork Buns and Beef Sliders made the rounds with one for each. Several Sushi Roles, "California" and "Dragon", the first vegeterian and the latter with smoked eel and tempura shrimp, were sampled by all but Marilyn. Then came several orders of hanger steak and fingerling potatoes, divided salads and one with Octopus which got no takers except the author.
A "brought in" Bonbonerie Opera Cream cake provided the final Hari-Kari moment.

And now it's off to the Pacific Northwest and more adventures.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Boston and home

Here is a stab at another posting, let's hope I get this one right.

We arrived in Boston at noon on Monday, May 27. We have 2 Grandchildren, of the 5, off and on residents,  in the East, still either working or in school there. Since Monday was the official Memorial Day Holiday our Granddaughter, Kathryn Wolf, had the day off from her job in Wellesley. She lives in Cambridge, near Central Square, and that was our first stop. One of the most difficult things in Boston is finding a parking place( Valet parking runs $15 to $20 at intown restaurants) and so after settling ourselves, and our car, we walked about 5 blocks to "Flour Bakery and Cafe". One immediately notices the youth and mixture of Cambridge residence or visitors. "Flour" offers soups, salads, sandwich's and numerous sweets. Each of the three of us ordered a sandwich and we also shared one "sticky bun" (Pecan roll) as our sweet. My thinly sliced lamb was piled high on goat cheese and covered with a fruit chutney. Marilyn's medium rare roast beef had sliced tomato's and spicy, horseradish mayo.

The afternoon was spent helping Kathryn decide and load the possesions she wanted us to bring home, as she will be moving to Evanston to attend Northwestern in September. Upon her advice we left our car at our Motel and took the "T" for dinner in the "North End". Her choice of  "Mamma Maria" an upscale, Italian, white table cloth, restaurant was fitting for our reunion. That night there was much sharring. Some of the excellent dishes were: Lobster Ravioli, Tuna Tartare, Osso Buco, Rabbit Pasta, Apricot Panna Cotta and Apple filled, browned, puff pasty. All the items were well prepaired and beautifully served. I especial was raptuous over the veal shank bone full of marrow. For this Osso Buco I was more alert than the last time.

The next day Marilyn and I spent almost 4 hours at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. We lucked into a private tour with a fairly new, but knowledgeable, Docent, and had a delightful day.
That night our Grandson joined us for the consummate, Boston, farewell dinner; Lobster Rolls at "B&G Oysters". Our table, 4 in number, shared starters of Salmon Tartare, Fried Oysters, with a wonderful creamed Pesto, and Arancini( English peas mixed with rissotto and made into ball which are then deep fried and rolled in parmesan).
The Lobster Roll Platers( $29) are a joy to behold and devour. Each comes with a butter, toasted roll stuffed with all the meat from a one pound Lobster. The accompaniments are: crisp, hand cut french fries, lightly seasoned cole slaw and thinly sliced, home made, sweet pickle rounds, all in goodly portions. There are other items on the menu but "when in the Northeast,"etc. For dessert it was again, sharing time, and so we each took on a quater of a chocolate chip, ice cream sandwich. This was our second visit, to "B&G", but wont be the last.

Wednesday we drove 550 miles to Clarion PA, a stopping pont we have used in the past. This time the "Hampton Inn" staff sent us to "Captain Loomis" for a meal which was certainly decent and way above the dinner at "Luigi's" on the way East. Any dinner following "B&G Oyster" would have had a difficult job competing.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Out of order

The two previous postings are out of order as I found the missing "Headed East" under "drafts" and didn't know how to handle. It also was not spell checked or reread, as anyone reading can tell.
"To err is human to forgive is devine".

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Heading East

I have been with a lot of people, in the last week, who think that this Blog is a wonderful idea. It's nice to have praise but even better to have readers and comments. The number of "hits" come nowhere near the people who say what I am doing is of interest. Oh well, so it goes.
We take off, tomorrow morning, for a two week road trip to the East Coast. NYC, Poughkeepsie(  Graduation) and Boston. Should get back around May 31 with a few good meals under our belts, both literally and figuratively.
Before we go here is what we have been up to:

After "Zula", the subject of "Garlic, Garlic, Garlic". Which incidentally has been corrected by an additional visit by Marilyn, following which she reported a very good meal of many different, non-Garlic, items, we prepared for a wedding weekend, of a long time family member.
Prior to the wedding festivities we had dinner at "Trio's" in Kenwood. The two of us split a lettuce wedge, dressing on the side, and an entree of Meatloaf with mashed potato's, braised carrot slices and crisp onion straws in total plenty for two..

The wedding festivities kicked off Thursday night with a gathering for 12 at "Sotto', which has become our main stay for downtown eating. Much wine, several antipasti and a mixture of deserts, all were worked over by the assembled guests. My dinner order was the Spaghetti in oil and garlic, with red pepper flaks, and the Salmon (MR, which is what the chef recommends). Both of my dishes were excellent. The Salmon comes on a bed of spinach and is well seasoned with a basic lemon and butter sauce. Marilyn had a green salad and the small ravioli( on the menu with a different name) stuffed with pulled beef short rib. We really like their food.

A lunch at "Mayberry", 1211 Main St (OTR) 513-381-5999, in the garden provided their signature BLT. The tomato's are grilled and the slightly spicy sauce on the toasted, chewy bread make it call for one of   their libations.
Friday evening I stayed home and nursed a mixture of allergies and virus but understand I missed a good evening at "Zula" described very briefly above.

On to the wedding, on the "Satisfaction II", a yatch for rent. The evening turned lovely, the ceremony was very relaxed, as were family members for both sides. Appetizer's( shrimp bowl, fruit and cheese platters, stuffed mushrooms and deadly, hot toasted cheese and chopped veggie bread bites) and wine followed the ceremony.  A seated dinner, on a lower deck, at which beef got nice approval, chicken less so, and a special apple wedding cake highlighted the meal. After a 3 hour cruse we dock at 9:30 and said goodbye to the "happy" couple and all the wedding guests. A brunch, this morning finished the festivities and now it is back to planning for our departure tomorrow.


Before I report on our 11 day Eastern trip, which I know is only interesting to those who travel or keep up with our activities, I must mention that the last posting is out there somewhere in cyberspace.
Since I "hunt and peck" I often hit a wrong key and once in a while my posting never make an addition to what has gone before. Maybe a "hacker" in Russia or China, if they find it, can return my previous effort.

We left Cincinnati Monday, May 20 driving, with our New York cousin, to the "Big Apple". Arrived the next day, after a night in DuBois PA (don't eat at "Luigi's") and showed up at "Union Square Cafe" for dinner. This is Danny Meyer's oldest and most Midwestern restaurant. That fits because we are "old" and Midwestern. The menu is devided into Appetizers, Pasta, Snacks (new to me), Main Courses and Vegetables. I started with a snack of Lamb Ribs and meatballs, "Tzatzki"; two, crispy, grilled ribs and two lamb meatballs, medium rare, bathed in Tzatzki sauce. For my main course I chose "Sweet Pea Raviolini", stuffed with Maine Lobster, Meyer Lemon and Pea Shoots. Marilyn went with Gravlax, as her snack, and Rainbow Trout accompanied by Beech Mushrooms, Sunchokes and Pea Shoots( they must have been plentiful at the farmers market on Union Square).
Our first full day in the city took us to an outdoor, rope, sculpture display, in Madison Park, several art galleries, displaying Jeff Koons and another with Elsworth Kelly, and an afternoon at MoMa. That evening three of us ate dinner at "Sandro's", expensive and excellent Italian. "Sandro's" has a printed menu, which the server said is for show, and an extensive group of specials. I began with the most outstanding grilled octopus and potato salad I have ever enjoyed. It might have been the best single dish I had on the whole trip. The virgin olive oil and spices set off every flavor of all the ingrediants. The Ossobuco, which was my main course, was fine but everything dimmed, that night, after the salad, maybe a bottle of Chianti effected my taste buds or clouded my mental reations. Marilyn split an artichoke salad and then devoured a large portion of "Scaloppine Limon".
Next day, before the 3 PM cloud burst, and a trip to our rooms to dry, we spent serveal hours at the Met. Musem plus a burger and shake lunch at the 86th St. "Shake Shack" and shopping on the upper East side. Dinner, again for 3, was at "Atlantic Grill" 3rd Ave and 77th St. Here, after a 3 way split of 2 "farmers salads" I had my first Soft Shelled Crabs, a dish to be repeated several times. Marilyn stuck with roast chicken but did help all of us decimate an order of Profiteroles.
Friday, after a subburban deli lunch, we headed to Poughkeepsie and our Granddaughter graduation at Vassar College.

The whole family stayed at the Marriott Courtyard, at graduation rates, and ate the first two nights at restaurants chosen by our son and the graduate. Friday night was "Babycakes" a campus area eatery which did manage to russle up some decent Soft Shelled Crabs.
Saturday we toured the campus, spent time in the Vassar Art Museum, which has a very nice collection of varrious period art, and helped Lilly, the granddaughter, pack for her departure. "Crave" 129 Washington St. was our destination, 11 strong, for dinner. I have never heard of this, nor other spots, but was pleasently surprised by this chef run establishment, in a renovated, neighborhood house. We have eaten at the CIA( Culinary Institute of America), on several occasions, but "Crave" topped anything that the aspiring chefs at the school turn out. My dinner consisted of Tuna Tartar, a wonderful Mushroom Polenta and a dessert of Canolli with fresh raspberries. Marilyn went with a pasta, this time Cavatelli with a tomato and veal sauce.
The rain stopped, the sky cleared and a wonderful graduation took place, in a natural ampitheatre, on the Vassar campus, overlooking a man made lake, Sunday morning. The event was followed by "area of interest"( English, Math, etc.) receptions, ours featured catering by a local Greek Restaurant. The afternoon was spent with roommates and family's as all graduates were getting ready to move themselves into their next life stages.
Dinner Sunday night was arranged by Lilly's other Grandfather at "Crew". A lively bar and restaurant run by two graduated from the CIA. Again I had Soft Shelled Crabs, ending my time in New York State and possible the season for this dish. Marilyn had a burger with all the trimmings.

I'll save Boston and the trip home for another posting, and hope this one makes it to the Blog page.