Restaurant Week, sponsored by The Greater Cincinnati Independents Group, will run March 16-22. Twenty-six restaurants will be part of the action, offering a three-course prix-fixe dinner menu for $26.09 per person. Some casual restaurants are offering dinner for two for only $26.09. This is an excellent opportunity to eat on the cheap (relatively) and enjoy restaurants you haven’t tried before.
Nationally, Cincinnati is getting some big foodie love. In January, Camp Washington Chili (3005 Colerain Ave., 513-541-0061) was featured in Bon Appétit as one of the 10 best chili spots in the country. According to the article, “You either love Cincinnati-style chili or you despise it — there is no middle ground.” It would have been nice if they’d described Cincinnati chili — those sweet cinnamon, clove and chocolate undertones — and let readers decide for themselves. But, alas, press is press.
In February, Cincinnati State’s Megan Ketover, adjunct faculty member at the Midwest Culinary Institute, was named Regional Pastry Chef of the Year for the Northeast Region of the American Culinary Federation. Ketover’s pastries are apparently as stunning as they are tasty. To get a taste of her creations, go to Cincinnati State’s Bakery Hill.
In food and art — this month, that’s a category — the Freestore Foodbank will be running their impressive Canstruction exhibit/benefit at three different locations (Weston Art Gallery, Taft Museum of Art and the Downtown Branch of the Public Library) from March 25 to April 6. Using cans of creamed corn, kidney beans and stewed tomatoes as their humble medium, Cincinnati’s top design, architecture, construction and engineering firms will work together to form massive, elegant sculptures out of stuff we would just mindlessly scarf down and digest. Following the exhibit, all the canned food will go to Freestore Foodbank. Find out more at www.freestorefoodbank.org.
On the national stage, President Barack Obama has brought back the cocktail hour. As he invites House and Senate leaders for cocktails, particularly the much-maligned stimulus-package-passing-cocktail party, the cocktail is enjoying a “resurgence,” according to the TheFoodChannel.com. But the economy also plays a role, because vodka goes further than wine (for some of us, at least). So all those Fox News reporters who criticized Obama’s party with headlines like “Obama celebrates spending binge with cocktails and wagyu steak,” might want to consider that he was actually being thrifty. OK, that’s a stretch, but presidents have been quaffing cocktails with cronies for millennia; at least he’s making it bipartisan.
Comfort food is also making a comeback, so it looks like a year of Manhattans and mac ’n cheese for all of us. In January, the cover of Gourmet magazine was a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Foodies across the country have taken note and announced a major return to food that is cheap and simple. (At times like this, food really feels like fashion, as in “make sure you’re eating that mac ‘n cheese in a Prada thong.”) The magazine noted that we’re going to see the end of “pretension” and complex cuisine and a return to simple, cheap dining. Nothing like a recession to bring us back down to earth.
But not all of us are on earth yet. Rachael Ray has just released Nutrish — “a perfectly delicious dog food” that's healthy, all natural and inspired by her “pooch” Isaboo. As irritating as this is, 100 percent of the proceeds do go to a good cause: Rachael’s Rescue, an organization that supports and donates money to national and local pet charities/shelters around the U.S. The new dog food can be purchased at Wal-Mart.
E-MAIL DINING TIPS AND NEWS: email@example.com