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.
Former President Clinton is a vegan. Does that surprise you? I mean, this is a guy who used to stop during jogs to get a Big Mac. Now he’s given up meat and dairy products and has reportedly lost 24 pounds. So clearly this vegan thing is gaining some momentum. It’s super healthy, animal friendly and makes you skinny. What’s not to like?
There are two spots you’ve got to try downtown, especially if you’re a macaroni and cheese person. Don’t laugh! There are people who count macaroni and cheese as one of the holy sacraments, because when it’s done right, it’s heaven.
Dee Felice Café in Mainstrasse had a waiting list on Saturday night. Why’s that remarkable? Well, because it’s been two weeks since the Jazz club banned smoking and, once upon a time, the cool cats of Jazz would not have gone smoke-free without a fuss. So it was in a spirit of celebration that we sat at the bar on Saturday night, waiting for the music to start.
Mayberry Foodstuffs (203 E. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-621-5555) is billing itself as “Cincinnati’s newest urban grocery store.” It’s definitely that … and more. Foodstuffs is the latest venture from Josh Campbell, chef/owner of Mayberry Restaurant on Vine Street and World Food Bar at Findlay Market.
Last week we covered family-friendly dining suggestions to accompany holiday activities. Date night is a little different. I don't want to be the one to say that Scuba Santa's not sexy — hey, roly poly people in wetsuits might be just the ticket for some. But when you're fueling up for fun under the mistletoe, I think I have some better ideas.
When you’re headed out for holiday activities, there’s no one-size-fits-all restaurant recommendation. If you’re going to Holiday of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, you’re probably not going to want the same pre- or post-event dining suggestion as a couple headed to date night under the mistletoe. So here are a few activity-specific, family-friendly recommendations that might help during the holiday happenings ahead.
The only smoking I want with my breakfast is the bacon. Maybe the ham, too, but no cigarettes. With the indoor public smoking ban, of course, you Ohio diners have taken smoke-free eating for granted for a few years now. But in Kentucky it's still a big bone of contention. I recommend checking out Fort Wright Family Restaurant, where last year when they remodeled they went smoke-free. They lost some business as a result but gained many new customers like me.
Findlay Market is serving up some new specialties these days: The long-awaited Vietnamese diner Pho Lang Thang is up and running, as is Sushi Bears, with an extensive menu of vegetarian and vegan sushi and stir fries. Fresh Table opened last month and offers ready-to-serve takeout with a focus on healthy, sustainable ingredients.
November already ... it doesn't seem possible. On the plus side, this is the month of my favorite holiday, National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. Ostensibly designed to make room for your turkey, it also serves the valuable function of making all those coagulated condiments and remaining bottles of raspberry beer you really didn’t like go away. Nov. 15, people. Celebrate!
During his recent visit to Cincinnati, Michael Stern — who explores regional food for books ('Roadfood') and public radio's 'The Splendid Table' with ex-wife Jane Stern — told me Aglamesis ice cream was on his must-try list, so we headed to Oakley to visit the shop. "It seems like when you say you're coming to Cincinnati, there's a group of people who insist you have to try Graeter's, and then there's another group that says you have to try Aglamesis," he said. "What's the difference?"