I don’t think Muslim extremists “hate us for our freedom,” as George W. liked to say. I think the hatred is directly related to our eating habits, specifically our gratuitous, flamboyant consumption of pig meat and organs. While some might react to the thought of putting any filthy pig meat in their mouth with the dry-heaving disgust most people experience when seeing a dog mindlessly eating its own poo, the crack-like hold pork products has on American consumers emboldens food manufacturers to continue making endless variations of pig products.
Downtowner Bawe Shinholster is a busy man — especially when I spoke to him just after Jeff Ruby’s Walnut Street Grille opened for lunch. The Grille, which has been hugely successful with dinnertime guests, opened to a pent-up crowd of lunchsters who couldn’t wait to try the new sandwiches, sides, and salads.
Trattoria Roma, which for years was directly across Walnut from the Aronoff Center, recently moved around the corner to join the new Cincinnati Restaurant Row on Sixth Street. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of the old Trattoria Roma, but my opinion has changed after a couple of visits to the new location.
Benihana Japanese Steakhouse, Palomino and Lavomatic, three busy downtown restaurants, recently hosted 10 Hughes STEM High School students for an unforgettable learning experience. Hughes STEM High School in Clifton, with its focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), ups the educational ante by incorporating a one-week intersession course twice a year to provide students with “outside of the box” educational experiences.
Chef Gina Puopolo and her husband Matt opened the doors of their fresh new burrito operation in April and they’re excited with the results so far. At the Lime Taqueria, the couple uses natural ingredients — many grown in their own garden — to feed lunch and dinner guests, as well as late-night visitors to Covington’s Mainstrasse.
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.
Though I had a couple bones to pick, Island Frydays is full of that cool Jamaican spirit. With good service, good food and good people, it’s a great place to go and try something different. Where else in Cincinnati can you find a full menu of Caribbean classics?
Chef Joshua Steven Campbell of the Mayberry restaurant (915 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-5999) and the Mayberry Foodstuffs grocery store/market (203 Seventh St., Downtown, 513-621-5555) is a native Cincinnatian, but his culinary travels have taken him to far-away places like the Royal Thai Culinary Academy in Bang Saen, Thailand, and Graycliff in Nassau, Bahamas.
The dining scene in the Gateway District is getting better all the time. Senate is a huge hit and the owners are opening a second destination next door. A Tavola Pizza is opening any day now, and I’ve heard rumors of more plans in the works. Lavomatic Café put the first fork on the neighborhood’s table and they haven’t lost their luster.
Did you even know that there was a café at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center? Neither did Jean Francois Flechet until he had a chance to propose opening a satellite site of his Belgian waffle empire there. Well, maybe Taste of Belgium hasn’t reached empire status, but it’s certainly growing in local impact.