Friday, May 30, 2008

gajah wong

i haven't really posted anything in awhile, so here is my review from yelp of gajah wong, which is quite delicious and worth checking out...
"i was not sure what to expect, as i have never had indonesian before. we hypothesized in the car as we were navigating northside (aka unable to find the restaurant and driving around in circles) that it might be like thai or maybe chinese with a french twist. however, it was not anything like that. it was really delicious, and a combination of flavors i had not experienced start with the cocktails, i had a pimm's cup. it was cool and refreshing, not too sweet. i have never had a cocktail with a cucumber in it. for dinner, there are different sauces and then you chose the meat. i had shrimp in a sauce called adhun, described as 'grandma's recipe'. it also seems that the side dishes differ based on the sauce chosen, because we did not all have the same sides. there are also other entrees, such as a beef-oriented dish called rendang. the rice came in a banana leaf teepee. for dessert, i had a ginger cake (which was pretty big- probably better for two. or i was just stuffed from dinner), but the real star was the kahlua cake a few people in our party chose. the restaurant has a great atmosphere and a fantastic outdoor patio. i will definitely be back to enjoy some drinks on a summer evening.the other location of the restaurant is in indonesia. our server told us the name translates literally as 'elephant man'. somehow i feel something is lost in the translation.
my only caveat is, it was more expensive than we expected. but it was worth it."

p.s. i had brought my camera to take pics of the food and restaurant, but my dumbass forgot to put the memory card in. urg!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

seasonal eating

i was playing on the internet tonight and found this;

its not as comprehensive as i would have liked when i opened the link but it could be fun to play with.

an observation

my friend amy just got back from 10 days in morocco, and she had an interesting observation. grocery stores in the US don't smell like food. kind of makes you wonder...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


the question arose recently among my friends if a pickle still is a vegetable, or if through the pickling process it becomes something else entirely.
the first question becomes: what is a vegetable? i attempted to consult my freshman biology book on the subject, but found it lacking any reference to the term "vegetable". a quick search on wikipedia (i know, not entirely reliable) explained why. the word "vegetable" is a culinary term, not a botanical term. the word "fruit" on the other hand can be a culinary term or a botanical term. botanically speaking, fruits are fleshy reproductive organs of plants, the ripened ovaries containing one or many seeds. many botanical fruits are not edible at all, and some are poisonous. in a culinary sense the word "fruit" is only applied to those botanical fruits which are edible, and which are considered to be a sweet or dessert food such as strawberries, peaches, plums, etc.
in contrast to this, a number of edible botanical fruits, including the tomato, the eggplant, and the bell pepper (!) are not considered to be a sweet or dessert food, are not routinely used with sugar, but instead are almost always used as part of a savory dish, and are salted. this is the reason that they are labeled as "vegetables".
on a total side note, the question "the tomato: is it a fruit, or is it a vegetable?" found its way into the supreme court in 1893. the case addressed whether a tomato was classified as a fruit or a vegetable under the tariff act of march 3, 1883, which required a tax to be paid on imported vegetables, but not fruit. the case was filed as an action against edward l. hedden, collector of the port of new york, to recover back duties paid under protest. the court ruled unanimously that a tomato is correctly identified as, and thus taxed as, a vegetable. the court acknowledged that botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit.
anyway, back to the pickle. perhaps it is a question of nutrition. pickles contain the same amount of nutrition as the regular cucumber, albeit a great deal more sodium. not that nutritional value has any bearing on vegetable status - look at corn and iceberg lettuce. after consulting the history of the pickle provided by the new york food museum, i interestingly (i know "interesting" in this context is subjective) discovered ancient sources refer to the nutrional benefits of pickles and claim they have long been considered a beauty aid. cleopatra attributed her good looks to a hearty diet of pickles. also, before amerigo vespucci set out to explore the new world, he was a pickle peddler in spain. since food spoilage and the lack of healthy meals were such concerns on long voyages, he loaded up barrels of pickled vegetables onto explorer ships. hundreds of sailors were spared the ravages of scurvy because of his vespucci's understanding of the nutritional benefits of pickles.
so i've now spent a lot of time talking about pickles, something i don't even particularly care for. although i am intrigued by pickled fruits. i may try my hand at some pickling later this year. i can accept pickles as a vegetable in january.

where everybody knows the vegetables' names

if you are a westsider who is looking for a produce department team who knows what a mango fruit or zucchini is, i recommend country fresh market. it is in the plaza where drug emporium used to be. they have a great selection, knowledgeable staff (well, not always the cashiers), and you are unlikely to encounter a cart traffic jam. i made the mistake of going to western hills kroger on a sunday, and that is a disaster i will never repeat.
country fresh has stellar prices (mangos 3 for $1 - remarkable!) that are ablaze in fluorescent paint across the windows. i particularly enjoy the fresh herbs by the bundle, deli counter that actually has prosciutto, and miscellaneous pastas and cheeses. they carry some of my favorite things: mcvitie's caramel digestives, nikos mythrias (i have to doublecheck the spelling on that) cheese, windy acres farm's toasted corn, and take-n-bake crusty breads. the best part is they have pay-less-eat-more voortman's cookies by the pound, right by the register. i never leave without picking up some coconut creams and some windmills (please tell me you know what windmill cookies are!).

p.s. i am not sure if this country fresh market is associated with the one in beechmont.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


that glorious time of year has arrived again, when every corner of the westside is peppered with placards and church parking lots are littered with discarded split the pot tickets - festival season! the season kicks off this weekend with st. catharine's and our lady of victory. let's just take a moment to pay homage to the wonderful diversity of fatty, fried festival foods, including the 8th wonder of the world, funnel cake. the ecstasy of pulling bars and bells tabs, fingers sticky with powdered sugar and grease, is tantamount to nothing. french fries, fried pickles, corn dogs...and who can resist a fried mars bar? the insatiable american curiosity for the chemical reactions that take place in a deep fryer is amazing. the beautiful thing about festival food is, it is the perfect complement for the ulimate catholic fund-raiser, beer.

Mangos and Green Peppers

So Eric and I started talking about Krissy's post about green peppers earlier this week. He said that his grandmother (note another grandparent in coversation) used to call green peppers mangos as well. This resulted in me doing some googling. I found several different web pages that all stated about the same thing;

GREEN PEPPERS AND MANGOS The word ‘mango’ is used in some areas to refer to green peppers or stuffed green peppers. Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri...........Usage of 'mango' for green peppers seems to have originated with coal miners in eastern Pennsylvania (1870s +) - and spread with the mining industries, and then with the miners families as they migrated to new areas and found new jobs. But why the word 'mango' for green peppers? Many of these coal miners were of Eastern European origin, and it has been suggested that the word may have a Slovak origin. The English 'dialect' of the Appalachian region with its unique pronunciation, grammar, and word usage is due in large part to the immigration of miners, engineers and others from so many countries coming together in one area and being relatively isolated in the small mining towns. They came from Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany, Scotland, Wales, Greece, Turkey, and Syria to name a few - so the word 'mango' might have been adapted from one of these languages. Also, in many old cookbooks, 'mango' would sometimes be used to refer to a pickle, especially of melons or cucumber (resembling pickled green mango?) 'Mango' was also a term sometimes used to refer to cantaloupe in many old cookbooks)............

I learned something new article even stated that this is common in southern Ohio. Calling green mangos green peppers is something that I won't be doing anytime soon, but maybe the westside isn't as backwards as people think afterall.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

a vegetable i love to hate

green bell peppers. i hate them. i was over-exposed as a child and have never recovered. my grandma mary (yes, it's another story involving my grandparents) put them in EVERYTHING, from breakfast potatoes to chicken salad to thanksgiving stuffing. yuck. similar to the way they are exploited by airlines and red lobster to bring flavor to otherwise tasteless dishes, my grandmother shamelessly touted peppers like a sideshow hawker. i can't even stand the smell of them.

i will also have you know, i once asked a produce department employee at kroger for a mango, and i was presented with a green pepper. no wonder people think the westside is backwards.

sayler park and swordfish

i popped my farmer's market cherry today and dragged brian to the sayler park farmer's market. sayler park is an absolutely beautiful neighborhood, and the market consisted of a few tables in the park facing some gorgeous victorians. i visited carriage house farm's table first. i had actually met richard stewart a couple weeks ago at the program at imago in price hill, which is where i got the idea to go to the market (more on imago later). i bought some icicle radishes, which i had never seen before, and some spinach. the next table had heirloom tomato seedlings in solo cups. despite the fact i will probably make a disaster of rearing it and will likely yield no fruit, i could not resist purchasing one - cherokee purple. it sounded exciting and interesting. it's my first attempt at an actual fruit/veggie. the herbs are not going too well, so we'll see.

for dinner i utilized my spinach and radishes as a side dish for dill and garlic swordfish on the grill, complemented with fat tire amber ale. the fat tire we picked up in colorado. very yummy, although brian did not eat his salad. he had extra potatoes to make up for it.


Sunday, May 11, 2008


this may be difficult to believe, but i have lived on the westside almost my whole life (i lived in mt. lookout for a few years during grad school, and i served my time in clifton during undergrad) and have never eaten at cancun, the premier mexican restaurant of western hills. i'm not sure if i was deterred by the fact i don't like mexican or by the fact it's attached to western bowl. the situation was rectified last night, however, when brian suggested it for dinner.
the first pleasant surprise was the restaurant did not smell like a bowling alley. i enjoyed a tequila-laden margarita while i perused the extensive menu. i had the vallarta special, which was chicken enchiladas, pico, guacamole, and sour cream. brian had the carne tampiquena, which was comprised of seasoned ribeye and a chicken enchilada. he also had a beef burrito. the food was actually good. i normally don't like corn tortillas because they seem soggy, but these were firm and the dish had a nice blend of flavors. cilantro made the pico fresh and light. brian even said he liked it more than don pablo's, which is very high praise indeed. overall, it was a very positive experience. i might even go back for the live mariachi music on wednesday nights.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

my gyro

first, i would like to say how insanely jealous i am that beth and eric are in argentina.

now that's out of my system. dinner tonight was gyros at sebastian's. definitely the best gyro in cincinnati, possibly in all of north america. the place is tiny and tiled in aegean blue and orange. what can only be described as a log of meat rotates on the warmer to tender delectability and is shaved for sandwiches by alex, the owner. his grand-daughters work behind the cash register and deliver baskets of greek goodness to the tables. they have wonderful gyros, greek fries, tiropita, spanakopita, baklava, and my favorite, kataifee.
sebastian's only takes cash and the line is usually long. it's worth it.

Greetings from Buenos Aires

We made it to Buenos Aires the other day. The food here is magnificent. I've also learned a few things along the way as well....

First, Chitterlings (or chittlins as we say) are not that bad as long as you are not thinking about what they are. Wikipedia describes Chitterlings as "the insestines of the pig that is prepared as food." The ones i tried (unknowingly at first) the other night were those of a cow. It was suggested to me that I splash some lemon on it to increase flavor, it worked and tasted good. My previous experience with this food involved a smell so foul during preparation the thought of actually eating it was not an option. So the other night we ordered a parrillada (the Argentines actually pronounce this "par-ee-sha-da" because they pronounce the Spanish "ll" as "sh") -- see link below for more info and a picture -- it was too dark to take one at the time. Essentially a grilled mix of beef, chicken and sausage.

We also learned that when paying with a credit card you can not add tip on. This resulted in a fairly embarssing and involved conversation between the waiter and me. Now I know.

The local beer is Quilmes -- we ordered it today for lunch to try it out. Think Schlitz.

Here is a picture of lunch -- thin flat bread with either chicken and steak (in our case) with toppings. Mine had tomatoe, red pepper and olives and Eric's had ham, cheese and egg.

I'll try and post more exciting pictures later this week.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

a new book

i actually ventured to the EAST side today to meet a friend for lunch at bronte (i love their chicken salad). i poked around joseph beth a little bit first, had a bridget jones moment when i almost fell down the big staircase in the middle of the store (texting and walking don't mix!), and finally happened upon he said beer, she said wine. i paused and thought about how the fates were smiling on me.

i have only flipped through so far, but the general idea is marnie old, a wine educator, argues food pairings with sam calagione, founder of dogfish head brewery. pretty awesome and inspiring - i see a pairing party in the near future. my husband might even buy into it.

later, i was perusing june's food and wine, and there it was again, beer vs. wine. i think someone is trying to tell me something...