Meranda-Nixon? Kinkead Ridge? Most people outside of Cincinnati — and many people in Cincinnati — haven't even heard of them. But they're two rapidly-growing vineyards in Ripley, an hour east of town, that are producing some of the most refined, complex and sophisticated bottles you'll find anywhere in the country.
It always sounds so exciting: Dining al fresco. Like you're planning on doing something daring, like dining naked. Or stealing away to your favorite Italian restaurant alone, dressed in nothing but a gamurra and camicia Botticelli-style. Of course, it really means that you're just planning to eat outside, a pretty pedestrian endeavor. But if you want to put a twist on the old outdoor dining angle, these local spots actually make al fresco as exciting as it sounds.
When I walked into Blue Ash's new Rising Roll an hour and a half after I'd called in my lunch order, I didn't expect to feel like I was walking into a relative's house. But I did. "There's our mystery girl!" the woman sweeping the floor said. "We were worried about you, thought you'd been in an accident."
When Kanak India opened in Montgomery six months ago, I was excited. Owned by the same family that owns Ambar on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton, I knew it would be good. Not surprisingly, it's a lot like Ambar. Which is fine, because we all love Ambar.
If you're in the mood to schmooze with strangers this month, there are quite a few communal drinking/dining experiences to get you out of your comfort zone and meeting new people — from "Euro-Chic" young professionals to not-as-chic UC professors. For instance, on July 9 the European-American Chamber of Commerce hosts "Euro-Chic" Happy Hour at Cumin. For $7, you can mingle with international and "internationally minded" young professionals.
I was recently at a restaurant in Chicago, Nacional 27, that served a Look-Better-Naked Margarita. (They also happen to serve the best margaritas in the country.) I appreciated the gesture and it made me think about all the dining opportunities to help you look better naked right here in our city. (It seems there are some things you don’t have to move to Chicago or the East Coast for; looking better naked is one of them.)
Halfway through the storm, it occurred to us that there was nowhere we’d rather wait it out than Wildflower Café. Maybe it was the warm yellow light, the wind blowing through windows no one had bothered to shut or the clanging and clinking of glasses and silverware from the 20-some diners next to us, all nestled together in one room.
From the long-awaited opening of Shhhhh to Newport’s Italian Fest, this month promises plenty of dining adventures. On May 15, Mayor Mark Mallory cut the ribbon for College Hill’s Shhhhh Restaurant and Deli (5915 Hamilton Ave.), an opening almost as anticipated as Bootsy’s. Maybe it was the intrigue of the conversion of an old, abandoned Woolworth’s store into a contemporary restaurant space.
I always forget that East Coast-style culture is a mere five-hour drive from here because we have Chicago. Geography is a technicality. In Chicago, you get your “coast” (waves high enough to surf), your fashion (more gladiator sandals than you’d find in Pat Benatar’s garage) and, most importantly, your food (Chicago’s pizza will always win out over New York’s).
Years ago on a visit to Israel I realized the complexity of their cuisine, a Zionist melting pot of Old World European Jewish cooking living in harmony with Arabic inspirations, like falafel, Israeli salad and hummus. I never thought I would eat like that again and, truth be told, I probably never will. But I had a taste of it the other night at Kinneret Cafe.