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by Staff 04.13.2015
 
 
suzie wongs

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Jellyfish; chicken and waffles; tiny desserts; a wine dinner at Bistro Grace; and our British intern went to her first baseball game

Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers (and the occasional intern) tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Ilene Ross: After a long, tiring week, all I wanted was someone to bring me food at home. Unfortunately, the delivery options in North Avondale are slim, limited to the usual chain pizza suspects. Luckily, I remembered that someone had told me that Suzie Wong’s in East Walnut Hills might deliver, so I called and confirmed. My son, his friend and I then proceeded to order a ton of food — Thai fish cakes, tofu with vegetables, edamame, crab Rangoon, and two types of chicken for the boys — and in a very quick 20 minutes the food was here. It was all wonderful. They’re totally going on my speed dial.
Nothing beats pie for breakfast especially when you can eat the whole thing, so Saturday morning I had an O Pie O strawberry-rhubarb personal pie with coffee. On Saturday night I went to a birthday party for my friend Rachel. Rachel’s annual “It’s my FREAKING BIRTHDAY” party is a huge, outdoor potluck affair with a band, firepit and a giant cake from Happy Chicks Bakery. Since Rachel owns Grateful Grahams, there are of course s’mores with our friend Stephanie’s homemade vegan marshmallows. Since I didn’t have time to make anything to bring, I stopped at Goodfellas Pizzeria for two giant pies. There were no complaints.
On Sunday night I met some friends at Sichuan Chili in Evendale. I had jellyfish with scallions and cucumber and noodles with pork and greens. The portions at SC are so huge you can share (or take home leftovers as I like to do).

Mike Breen: Saturday afternoon I had a late lunch at the newish branch of Taste of Belgium on Short Vine. We were told we’d just missed the lunch rush (at about 1:30 p.m.), which I was happy about (I hate waiting for a table). 
I’ve been seeing a bunch of commercials on TV for nasty fast food (that El Diablo burger with jalapeño poppers on it? Speedway advertising their many delicious food options?) and they make my stomach hurt every time I see them. The latest has been for White Castle’s chicken and waffle sliders, so I decided to try Taste of Belgium’s chicken and waffle dish to perhaps erase that memory. I loved it. The chicken is covered in hot sauce and the waffles are drenched in syrup. On paper it doesn’t seem like it should work, but it was delicious (even combining the spicy and sweet). The waitress also brought over a bonus waffle with whipped cream and chocolate that was made by mistake and that was also very good (obvs). My daughter got the crepes with chocolate and for some reason said she didn’t care for it (she loves chocolate chip pancakes, so I think she was just being difficult). I had a few bites and thought they were excellent. Now that I have a new appreciation for chicken and waffles (my memory was also tainted by having a taste of Lay’s chicken and waffle flavored chips a while back), I just hope I can avoid those White Castle commercials.

Anne Mitchell: I went to watch Johnny Chu, owner of AmerAsia Kungfood Restaurant, win the Cincinnati Arts Association's Overture Awards "Dancing for the Stars" benefit competition Saturday night at Music Hall. Johnny and his dance partner, Doreen Beatrice from Covington's Step-N-Out Studio, were AMAZING. They blew the crowd and the judges away. The event had dinner by the bite, and I had some delish bites, including an outrageously good beef tenderloin with horseradish cream from Prime 47 (newish on Walnut St.), and tiny little desserts (they're little! no calories!) from Lala's Blissful Bites. Nice folks, fun event! And here's a video of Johnny's smooth moves.

Pama Mitchell: We went to the first-ever wine dinner held at Bistro Grace in Northside. It was a five-course meal with Italian wines — starting with prosecco and ending with vin santo. Along the way were two excellent reds by the Italian winemaker Masi: Campofiorin and an outstanding amarone. Food wise, chef Rachel Roberts outdid herself with everything from a light soup-and-salad starter (wild mushroom soup and a salad of shaved shallots, pecorino and wild mushrooms) to a delicious pasta course (bucatini with house-cured guanciale and toasted bread crumbs) and leg of lamb to go with that amarone. On top of the delights for the palate, I was impressed by the service and the competence of the kitchen, which produced each course for the full house of about 40 diners with no long waits and with everything arriving warm and appealingly plated. And the tab was very reasonable at $55 per person, including everything except tax and tip. Owner Suzanne McGarry is to be commended for this successful launch of what I hope will be numerous wine dinners to come.

Hannah Bussell (editorial intern/foreign exchange student): I knew I was going to drink a lot on Friday night so I needed to line my stomach well. My party of eight chose Keystone Bar & Grill, as it’s just up the road from our house in Clifton Heights, and the Powerhouse mac and cheese off of their signature mac and cheese menu did just the trick — a combination of Buffalo chicken, brisket, jalapenos, blue cheese and a handful of potato chips mixed in a cheesy goo and stirred into a bowl of soft pasta curls. I was very happy to pay the full price for such an excellent meal despite getting the day wrong and thinking it was Friday when they do their special half-price mac and cheese offer (it's actually on Mondays until 11 p.m.). I ended up taking home half of it in a doggy bag as it’s so filling — a notion very new to me as we don’t do that sort of thing over in England.
Saturday after work I met my friends in Bakersfield OTR for a quick late night taco. I had the mole taco, which I always order, as I love the Oaxacan-style braised chicken and the pickled red onions. My friends ordered the pastor tacos, with chili-marinated pork that smelled delicious, but I’m very much an eater who gets stuck in her ways. I never stray from an order that I know won’t disappoint; I’m too loyal to the mole.
Sunday I went to a Reds match, my very first baseball game, which was very exciting. I was so into the game I failed to notice the sunburn spreading over my nose. I had to drown my sorrows over the Reds losing in a pint of Christian Moerlein ale in the Moerlein Lager House just over the road from Great American Ballpark. A cheeky cony from Skyline may have also occurred later on in the evening.

Garin Pirnia: Last month, the Contemporary Arts Center opened their new lobby, which was revamped to contain a cafe called Collective CAC. The lovely folks behind OTR and Northside's Collective Espresso head up the endeavor. Until now, Collective usually closed by 4 p.m. every day, but the cafe stays open until 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. Now the Kaplan Lobby has a retooled CAC store, elongated slanted wooden tables with outlets for your electronics and a bar. On any day, it's always free to stop by the lobby and work among the art. The cafe offers Collective's drinks, such as their famous cortado (espresso with milk) made with rotating beans, and the espresso comes out of a cool-looking chrome espresso arm. How arty. Their menu contains all-day breakfast (vegetarian biscuits and gravy!), but they also have sandwiches, including a double grilled cheese. The inside of the sandwich harbors warm goat cheese and thinly-sliced radishes, but the outer later has Tillamook cheddar cheese crispified on the bread — genius. Why has no one else every thought of this? Why haven't I thought of it? After all, my motto is, It could always be crispier." I also tried their caramelized onion tart: a mini tart with onions, Gruyere, microgreens and crunchy sunchoke chips layered on top. Note to self: Make sunchoke chips. Every Wednesday it's free to tour the museum, which is a good time to have a snack at the cafe and look at some world-class art.

 
 
by Staff 02.09.2015
 
 
quan hapa congee

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Dried pork congee from Quan Hapa, Eli's BBQ, Cancun, plantains and LaRosa's

Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food.  

Ilene Ross: It wasn't exactly cold this weekend, but most frigid winter days find me jonesing for a body-warming bowl of congee, a type of rice porridge popular in many Asian countries. On Saturday, I enjoyed a tasty bowl of dried pork congee at Quan Hapa in OTR. It's filled with chicken, and there's a poached egg hiding in there. On top is yummy fried pork, five-spice oil and green onions. Deeply satisfying, no matter what the thermometer says. 

Rebecca Sylvester: LaRosa's! Did you know LaRosa's garlic butter dipping sauce contains no actual dairy, so it's vegan/lactose-intolerant friendly? If you think about it too much it's super creepy, but if you just don't think about it then it is a delicious option to dunk your cheese-less veggie pizza. #thestruggleisreal 

Jac Kern: Yesterday I had fajitas and margs at Cancun, my home away from home. The Western Bowl-adjacent cantina is a great brunch alternative for lazy/antisocial people: fast service, standard but consistent Mexican grub, dim lights and crack-like frozen margaritas. Come hungry; leave stuffed, tipsy and with a frost-bitten tongue. That's basically how all of my (frequent) Cancun adventures go.  

Samantha Gellin: I ate at Eli's BBQ for the first time. The inside was packed so we ate at a picnic table inside one of their big white outdoor tents. It was like 30 degrees outside, so thankfully I was able to nab a spot right by a working heater, but it was still pretty chilly. But now I know what all the fuss over Eli's has been about: It's freakin' delicious. And seriously cheap. A meat-stuffed sandwich and two generous sides will run you eight bucks. That's it. There's not many other restaurants in Cincy (at least not that I know of) that are so generous with their portion size and yet so easy on your wallet. And it's BYOB. I mean, what else could you ask for?!

I got a pulled pork sandwich with a side of baked beans and macaroni and cheese. The deliciousness of everything made me forget I was cold. The macaroni is to die for; it's everything you want a side of macaroni to be with a barbecue dinner — super rich, creamy and calorie-laden. The baked beans were also delicious: savory, with hints of bacon and brown sugar and something more complex that I can't put my finger on. And the pulled pork was pretty much everything you've heard Eli's pulled pork to be: savory, tender and with just the right amount of sweet. Will I go again? Most definitely, but I'll wait until it's warm out. 

Jesse Fox: On Saturday I did a freelance photo job for Ena's Jerkmania and fell in love with their fried plantains. I had never even had a regular plantain before so I wasn't sure what to expect. The texture reminded me kind of of like a thinner version of French toast, a little crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle. They were great on their own but would have been really good with some agave nectar on, too — but that's probably the sugar addict in me talking. 

Garin Pirnia: I’ve been nursing a cold, so I decided to stay in this weekend and make a few things. First up was homemade chai tea. You just throw a lot of spices — crushed cardamom, pepper, vanilla bean, star anise, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves — into boiling water and then add black tea and brown sugar. When I bought the spices at Findlay Market a couple of weeks ago, the guy was like, “Do you work at a restaurant or something?” I don't.

Next, inspired by The Comet’s housemade ginger ale, I took it upon myself to make my own. A caveat: If you hate ginger you will not like this; it’s super strong. You chop up a few ounces of fresh ginger and let it simmer in water for 45 minutes, and then dissolve sugar into it, which makes a simple syrup. Just add carbonated water and you have ginger ale that tastes better than Vernors and anything else on the market.

Finally, I made bagels. Yes, bagels. It’s so easy! You mix bread flour, yeast, a pinch of sugar and salt and malt syrup (I use honey) in a mixer or food processor. Form the dough into a ball and wait for it to rise. Then you shape the dough into the semblance of bagels and flash boil them. The hardest part is forming the dough, but the most fun part is sticking toppings like sesame seeds and poppy seeds onto the bagels. You can get a little crazy and creative — anything goes. Bake 'em in the oven for about 20 minutes and, voila, bagels without weird stuff like yoga mat component/flour whitening agent azodicarbonamide. You can freeze the bagels to make them last longer. Damn, I should open a café.

Anne Mitchell: I ate a fancy dinner at Covington's 200th birthday celebration gala. For giant catered-meal food, it was great — especially the bundles of green beans tied up with red and yellow peppers. Bean bondage! Seriously, there was real bacon on the salad and bourbon in the chicken sauce, so bravo COV200. I hope the next 200 years are just as tasty.

Kristen Franke: This weekend, I had a lot of things. 1. Dollar oysters at Anchor OTR. Thursday nights are the best. We were seated by the window and ordered a dozen delicious little numbers. Their granita topping — basically caramelized red onions that have been frozen into slushy-like goodness — and the fluffy fresh horseradish are dynamite. Our kickass server also brought Sriracha, which is a game changer when it comes to oysters. 


2. The volcano roll at Ichiban (half-price sushi, hell yeah!) on Friday night. The roll features a tower of crab meat on top of a deep-fried eel roll. That and a standard spicy tuna roll and I was set. No, it's nothing stellar, but when your bill comes back with $10.57 printed on the bottom, it's hard to resist doing your happy dance.


3. Homemade meatloaf, whipped potatoes and crisp green beans at my dad's house. His meatloaf is essentially a giant, baked meatball made with soaked french bread, fresh garlic, Parmesan and parsley. Dip it in those buttery potatoes and you can just feel your soul relax.


4. Late-night spoonbread at The Eagle OTR. Eagle is fantastic late night. We arrived at 10:41 p.m. and waited 30 seconds for a table for four. Their maple syrup-soaked spoonbread goes GREAT with a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, an on-tap staple at this place.


 
 
by Maija Zummo 01.21.2014
Posted In: Events, Contest, Cincinnati, Vegan at 01:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_park+vineveganchilicook-off

Park + Vine Hosts Fourth Vegan Chili Cook-Off

Open to anyone for competing or tasting

The Super Bowl is just around the corner (I think), which means it's time to brush up on your snack (and snacking) skills. Get inspired, sample some chili or show off your cooking skills at Park + Vine’s fourth annual Vegan Chili Cook-off! 

Awards will be given for best one-gallon/four quarts of chili in first, second and third place. The all-star judging lineup will include Colonel De of Colonel De’s Gourmet Herbs & Spices; Julie Francis, chef and owner of Nectar Restaurant; Renee Schuler, chef and owner of eat well celebrations and feasts; and Mark Frommeyer, co-owner of Blue Oven Bakery. 

To participate, bring your fully cooked vegan chili in a slow-cooker to Park + Vine. Entries are limited to 20, so sign up here now! No need to register to eat, but tickets are cheaper if you buy them in advance. 

3-5 p.m. Sunday. $15 to enter; $10 to taste (if purchased before 7 p.m. Jan. 25); free for kids younger than 10. Entries are limited to 20. Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, parkandvine.com.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 10.23.2013
Posted In: Vegan, Events at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_park and vine

Park + Vine Hosts Fifth Annual Vegan Thanksgiving

Progressive-style vegan dinner Thanksgiving love fest

Park + Vine will be hosting its fifth annual vegan Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 21. 

From 6-9 p.m., travel from Park + Vine to other Main Street businesses for inspiration from local restaurants, chefs and food producers for a Thanksgiving meal centered around festive plant-based foods plus appetizers, soup, salad, entrees, dessert and drinks. 

Proceeds to benefit Uplands PEAK Sanctuary, which rescues and rehabilitates abused and neglected farmed animals. Tickets go on sale Nov. 1. parkandvine.com


 
 

 

 

 
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