What’s cooking in December? For a start,
there’s the new cookbook from Chef Todd Kelly of Orchids at Palm Court.
Kelly, the American Culinary Federation’s 2011 Chef of the Year, teamed
up with local food blogger/Midwest Culinary Institute graduate Courtney
Tsitouris of Epi-ventures to share recipes from one of my favorite
restaurants in the city, scaled down to prepare at home.
My dad graduated from UC’s engineering
college in the early 1960s. A poor kid from the South, he lived at the
YMCA and regularly found himself at the dinner table of his soon-to-be
in-laws so he could get a square meal. Today’s students face many of the
same problems — high costs and low wages — but these days they have an
embarrassment of cheap, good food choices.
I am having a seasonal panic attack.
November? How can this be possible? I just finished thinking about bug
spray and sunscreen, and now I’m supposed to be thinking about wrapping
paper and tinsel? Something is wrong here. Maybe the melting of the
polar ice caps is speeding up time! We’re hurtling into the future
without experiencing the present!
I’d learned through an accidental slip of
the lip that pastry chef Summer Genetti left The Palace this summer.
She’d been a star at that fine-dining restaurant, and leaving was a
tough decision. But for a young woman who’d started
soaring ahead in her career soon after she started at age 18, the focus
it had taken to get to the top was taking a toll. She’d grown up at
work, in the kitchen, putting in an incredible number of hours and
missing her twenties almost entirely.
Big news: Boca’s moving downtown to the
home of the long-loved and lamented Maisonette on Sixth Street. My
reaction is, “Yay!” in a word, but for everyone of a certain generation
who says yay, there are dozens of younger people who say, “Huh?” People who started college this year were
born in 1993. I have underwear that’s older than they are.
The recent Do Downtown Restaurant Week
was a big hit, at least for me. I had an exceptional three-course prix
fixe dinner at Orchids at the Palm Court for just $35. It was elegant
and delicious, and I couldn’t figure out why the place wasn’t packed. Well, if you are sorry you missed that
deal, there’s another chance right away with Greater Cincinnati
Independent Restaurant Week. Twenty-five local, independent restaurants
will feature three-course meals for $26.11.
“There’s no such thing,” the women at
Glier’s Goetta in Covington emphatically told me when I called to ask if
they knew anyone in town that sold vegetarian goetta. By definition,
she explained, goetta has pork in it. Ipso facto, there is no such thing
as vegetarian goetta.
Amazing opportunity alert! I know you’ve heard that Todd Kelly, the executive chef at Orchids in the Hilton Netherland Plaza, was named Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. This is huge, right? Cincinnati Chef Kelly wowed the judges with his Crispy Snapper dish and was named the best of a national organization of 20,000 chefs.
Palomino (505 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-1300), overlooking Fountain Square, has a new Tuscan promotion going on, and since I just had lunch there I can assure you that the menu items I tried were excellent, towering above the usual forgettable lunch salads was their Arugula and Pea Salad.
El Jinete is most definitely heavy on the Tex-Mex with just a little authentic Mexican food thrown in, and the quality of the food surprised me. I suppose I don’t usually expect much from a strip-mall restaurant, but El Jinete delivered.
I buy asparagus at the grocery store fairly often, and I’ll generally throw in an omelet or in a tangle of veggies and pasta. Not too exciting. Last week, though, I stopped at the Farmer’s Market in Bellevue, Ky., and grabbed a little bundle of purpley-green spears from one of the farm stands. As I was putting it away in the fridge later, I rinsed off a piece and nibbled off the tip. Incredible!
I had been asked to represent CityBeat as a judge at the annual Best of Taste of Cincinnati competition. For over a decade I worked for a restaurant that always participated in Taste and I suffered through every Memorial Day weekend foodfest in the heat and rain. One year we were lucky enough to win the “Best Damned Dish,” and, trust me, that can mean big bucks for the winner. So it was with confidence and experience that I drove through the rain up to Sysco in Evendale one early Monday morning.
May is all about Mom! They both start with M, right? If you are a mom, then you can say May is “all about me!” Taking your mama out for a Mother’s Day meal is a common way to celebrate, but with so many options, it can be hard to choose. As always, I’m here to help.
It’s April, and my thoughts have turned to cake. Now, mind you, I am not talking about just any cake. There are a lot of cakes in the world that I wouldn’t waste a calorie on. Bad grocery-store cake with super-sugary icing is nasty. It should never be served at home and is acceptable only at office birthday parties when you dislike the people you work with. If you like your co-workers even a little bit and have to have a store-bought treat, get donuts.
Does the nationwide “Starbucks on every corner” phenomenon invading the area make Starbucks less special? I don’t think it’s been special for a while. It’s become the place I stop for coffee on long highway drives, but if I have the option, I prefer a neighborhood coffeeshop every time. For instance, how about Mammoth Coffee.