Thursday, October 30, 2008


when i was a kid we trick-or-treated every year with family friends. at the end of the night, all of us would dump our take on the family room floor and commence an intense, illogical barter, a monetary system where 4 packages of necco wafers and 5 pennies taped together by the old lady on the corner equalled one milky way (perhaps this would be an alternative to the government bail-out??). there were definitely candies to be coveted, sweets to be swapped, and the inevitable toothbrush to be tossed.

here are my top 5 confections to keep:
-kit kats
-reese cups
-mounds bars
-pixie sticks (or fun dip. any flavored sugar will do)
-smarties (gross, right? love 'em)

and the top 5 to pawn off on someone:
-bazooka joe
-lemon sweet tarts
-mary janes
-bit o' honey
-honorable mention: the handful of ritz crackers from the recently immigrated family who had not been informed about halloween.

so, what are your favorite and least favorite halloween treats? and what are you giving out this year?

one last comment - i loved dressing up for halloween. my favorite outfit ever was probably when i was scarlett o'hara, hoop skirt and all. when did kids stop trying? carrying a pillowcase and coming to my porch does not mean you are wearing a costume!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

the holy grail of donuts

i will never know what made brian suggest we stop at regina bakery on our way home from the grocery store sunday morning. it must have been divine intervention.

i have purchased their salted rye many times at the westside country fresh market, but have never bothered to stop at the bakery itself. it is pretty delicious, especially lathered with butter. so we snagged the last loaf. brian chose several donuts, and as i was perusing the cases for my selection, i noticed a familiar-looking dark brown nubby donut coated in glaze. i asked the girl the name, and when she said clunkers, the clouds parted and rays of heaven shone down. i am pretty sure i heard the hallelujah chorus.

clunkers were my favorite donuts as a kid, discussed previously in comments here. we got them from lloyd's or floyd's (can't remember exactly) bakery on north bend, which closed forever ago. the baker called them clunkers because they would stay solid when dipped in coffee. i always picture the spelling in my head with a "k" instead of a "c" for some reason, but i assume it is probably with a "c".

i immediately ordered 4, 2 for me and 2 for my mom. driving home i could barely contain my excitement and had to force myself to not devour them all. i hoped they would be the same as i remembered.

the regina bakery clunkers did not disappoint. were they as good as the donuts epitomized by years of searching and dreaming? no. but they are pretty damn good, especially if you are a fan of cake instead of yeast. those in love with glazed yeast need not apply. they are heavy, dense, rich - definitely worthy of the name clunker.

if you chose to stop by regina some sunday morning, you have chosen wisely.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


beth, eric, brian and i met up at blondie's saturday.

my first question was, is this menu copyright infringement?
let's assume not.

luckily, there was no live music. in the past, conversation has been rendered impossible by an acoustic singer/songwriter type outfitted with an excessively loud microphone.

i think this place caters to a different crowd later in the evening so it was pretty quiet when we were there. yet another sign that i'm aging here is that i like to go places early and it to be quiet.......

we got our server to find the texas game on one of the tvs, and bonus...buckets of miller lite are $10 on saturday nights. score!

i want to say that the last time we were all there they had very affordable other drinks as well. i wouldn't go expecting a wine list.

our appetizer was the greek dip, a refreshing combination of feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. fried pita was the perfect dipper. look at that grease soaking into the wax paper!

the four of us have actually ordered this a few times and each time its a bit different but always tasty. the fried pita is the usual constant.

for dinner i choose the mushroom and swiss burger with a side of onion rings. onion rings are not the usual accompaniment for me, but these were good and hit the spot. there was minimal sliding of a slippery onion out of its fried skin. my burger had the promised mushroom and swiss, plus some gravy. the meat itself was a bit dry, but tasty. overall, the sandwich rates a 4. not exciting, but not entirely bland either. i'm also a sucker for mushrooms. and cheese. glorious cheese. i had slight food envy when i caught a glimpse of beth's gyro. the gyro was quite good. this isn't a place where you would expect to find a tasty gyro. it had a nice amount of feta cheese, olives (which i don't really prefer, but they are easy to pick off) tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. the sauce was on the side. it was a good sized gyro too. meat was tender and sliced nice and thin. i would order this again.

overall, this was one of the cheapest nights out we've had in awhile. the bar wasn't too crowded, so we had great service and the buckets of beer kept coming.

blondies is located on northbend in monfort heights across the street from the krogers. i remember year ago this place used to be a fantastic sam's where i got my hair cut.

Blondie's Boardwalk Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

tragedy has struck

much to my chagrin, i was told today while purchasing my pints of pumpkin pie, graeter's has removed eggnog ice cream from its repertoire.

so sad.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the great pumpkin

this weekend, i saw the largest pumpkin pie i thought possible.i also ate pumpkin chili and a pumpkin cream elephant ear. i sampled a pumpkintini.

where, you may ask, did i find such a prodigious pumpkin panorama? no where else but the circleville 102nd annual pumpkin show. it is the sixth largest festival in the united states with an annual attendance in four days and nights of over 300,000. also known as "the greatest free show on earth", the pumpkin show features music, crafts, hog calling, the miss pumpkin competition, and food. lots and lots of food. the pumpkin chili and elephant ear were just a small sampling of the myriad of culinary creations offered by the vendors. the chili was flavored sort of like cincinnati chili, but chunkier with meat and beans. it smelled more like pumpkin than it tasted, but did have that cinnamony, spicy fall flavor. the elephant ear was of course delicious. you can never go wrong with fried dough, whipped cream, and sweet pumpkin topping. the pumpkintini (from tootles bar) was absolutely disgusting. it was a mix of vanilla stoli and some unidentified pumpkin liquor. it was the color of mcdonald's orange drink. it was left on the bar because i could not force myself to drink it.

and that large pumpkin pie? small by comparison to the 100th anniversary pie, which was 14 feet across and contained 795 pounds of pumpkin.

i was entirely impressed by the festival and the involvement of the town. other food highlights included cheese on a stick (exactly what it sounds like. deep fried.), birch beer (like root beer and cream soda had a love child), and glorious fried oreos and snickers bars (the origin of obesity in america).

i was inspired by the festival to make some pumpkin donuts. brian was inspired to invent a corndog that also has a layer of cheese. neither venture has yet been accomplished.

yes, the above picture is a manhole cover.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

pho food - mini review

jenn and i decided to try cilantro on clifton ave. yesterday for lunch. it was my first foray into vietnamese food. i asked the server about the different alternatives, and opted for the pho with thin rare beef. it was pretty delicious and i liked the sidecar of cilantro, basil and bean sprouts to add at my discretion. the saltiness of the broth was just to my liking and i finished almost my whole bowl, which was a huge portion. lots of noodles. i thought for sure i would not be hungry for dinner, but of course i was. jenn got the vermicelli bowl with veggies and tofu. she said she wished she had ordered one of the soups instead because it ended up being too many noodles when she ran out of veggies and tofu.
the price for my pho and the lime drink (which i don't recall the name of) was great - only $9.28+tip. for such a large meal, it was definitely a deal.
by no means am i an expert on vietnamese food, but i absolutely liked it enough to go back again.

any other suggestions for vietnamese in cincy?
Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro on Urbanspoon

family gathering foods

everyone has those classic dishes that somehow surface at every family function.

here are the top 5 foods most likely to be found at one of my family gatherings:

- green bean casserole. i don't know why, but my dad's wife believes this to be one of my favorite foods. i think it is because i had never had it before they got married, and i commented that i liked it. now i am in too deep. (as you might guess, she does not read my blog)

- jello, cool whip and fruit. the only component of the infamous jello salad that i actually like is the fruit. i usually take some to be polite and then spread it around my plate. although i did have a particularly tasty version this past sunday at brian and my godson's baptism. it had a bottom layer of pretzels. what a surprise of salty goodness!
-white zinfandel. for the last few years brian and i have been hosting thanksgiving. the first year i went to the trouble of selecting wines for each course with the help of L.R. at piazza discepoli. i ended up drinking the whole bottle of geil riesling myself and beth and i split the bottle of dashe zinfandel a couple days later with leftover cranberry upside down cake. so, white zin it is. my grandpa is so cute about it, i can't help but drink a glass when he buys it.
-sweet potatoes with marshmellows. my mom once told me it was a national law that everyone has to eat sweet potatoes on thanksgiving. she's such a liar.
-hamburger buns. whether paired with burgers in the summer or ham and turkey at christmas, they are the universal constant on the family buffet table, napkin-lined basket and all.
i can also say these dishes are served with a side of sacrifice, concession-making, and grins with bearing it. that's what family is all about.
what are your family's staples?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


my husband, brian (in blue), and i had the very distinct pleasure of attending a preview event at morton's this week (beth is out of town). Beth should go out of town more often, if it allows me to comsume free beer and food from Morton's. on october 24 at 6:30, morton's is hosting a chimay tasting. part of the proceeds benefit the make-a-wish foundation. i recommend you go. and not just because morton's bribed me with free food and beer, but because the food and beer are really good, and it's for a good cause. Look at it this way, not only to you get to sample some pretty tasty beer and great food, but you also get to help some kids realize their dreams.

i would like to start by saying, this is the first time i have been invited to an event such as this, and i wanted to make a good impression. be on my best behavior. I had to be on my best behavior also, which is hard for me when free alcohol is offered, but I did say please everytime they asked for more and thank you when they obliged. of course, that was immediately thrown neatly out the window by the fact brian and i arrived 20 minutes late. That was my bad, but some of us work 20 miles north of the city and we all know how hard it is to get out of the Mason area. Would it hurt to add a couple more lights and lanes out of uber-Suburbia? but it was for a good reason. brian got promoted that day(!), and was stuck late at work finalizing paperwork-type stuff. i couldn't drive myself because my car had overheated that morning and stopped in the middle of MLK at 7:40am, an experience i was not willing to repeat by tempting fate and driving downtown. Which was fortunuate for me because it is not cool to deal with a pissed off wife twice in one day.
needless to say, i was slightly flustered upon our arrive and i really don't remember much about the first beer, which was the chimay white. it was good, but i was kind of gulping and not really savoring, as chimay should be. it's made by trappist monks, which alone indicates it should encourage reflection and meditation. Fortunately, I have a stout memory when it comes to beers and this one did not disappoint. It was the lightest of the three, and pretty good. Those monks are on to something. Can I get an Amen!

we enjoyed salmon, capers and horseradish as well as tuna tartare canapes. julie described them as reminiscent of a california roll, and that is a perfect description.
the second beer to the table was the chimay blue, or grand reserve. this was by far my favorite of the evening. it's very smooth, with a caramel undertone. This was also a solid brew, it is smooth and really went well with the steak sandwiches. I am not a huge fan of the thicker beers. However, the blue was a nice mix of flavor and smoothness which made me want to have more. it started out as the abbey's christmas brew, which i can definitely see. it has a kind of warming fireside feel to it. interestingly, it can be stored up to 17 years and becomes more like a port over time. i have found old miller lites in the back of the fridge, and i can tell you, shelf life is unusual for a beer.

the blue was paired with petite filet mignon sandwiches. the meat was rarer than i usually fancy, but i didn't mind a bit. i think i would have preferred a thinner, less yeasty bread, but the sandwiches were still satisfying, especially since i was beginning to experience that warm tipsy fuzziness.
dessert was paired with the chimay red, or premiere. this is the original brew of the abbey, created in 1862. the pairing with the hot chocolate cake was inspired, because it rounded out the taste of the beer with a whole other, complex flavor. who ever thought i would drink beer with dessert??!! the red by itself was ok, but really complemented by the cake. The red did not disappoint either, it tasted outstanding with the hot chocolate cake. I would have to say that the experience of the food and beer was one of the best that I had ever had. Granted, I'm not as good at this as the wife, but you don't have to be a part-time blogger to know what it good and what it not and I assure you that the staff at Morton's knows how to deliver service and quality.annemarie from morton's kindly brought me chocolate mousse (she sensed my sweet tooth) to try with the beer, and that pairing was good, but the cake was a better choice. the mousse by itself, however, i loved. it was a bit denser than the typical mousse i've had, like pudding for grown-ups. lauren helped me nibble on it. i wish i could have finished it all, but i was stuffed.

the coolest thing i learned all night? in the bowl of each specially made chimay glass (goblet really), there is a shield etched in the bottom. this allows the beer to effervesce. who thinks of these things?? For everyone out there who doesn't spend a great deal of time looking at the bottom of their glasses unless it is empty and you are expecting it to magically fill back up; mine didn't magically fill up, but did with the help of Jason and Annemarie. God love em' and the drunk monks who have blessed the world with their sweet nectar.

i have been told morton's has a fantastic happy hour (sliders!), and also late hour to catch the after theater crowd. they also are sponsoring a hamburger special on sundays to benefit make-a-wish. i definitely plan on returning. a million thanks to annemarie and jason from morton's and lauren from wordsworth for the opportunity. i was also pleased to see wine me, dine me and 5chw4r7z and meet buy cincy. We will be going for happy hour some time soon, at least that is the plan and for those of you who haven't been to Morton's, you should go. As JJ from Good Times would say, the place is DY-NO-MITE!

p.s. i just want you to know, i am not a total free food whore. i had the chance to go to eddie merlot's last sunday on the drug rep's dime and passed it up to hang out at home with my dogs. i'm just saying.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


today we went to rudy's bbq mentioned here earlier this month. we're in new mexico right now. unfortunately they are having a wind storm/thunderstorms right now so no balloon fiesta for us. i'm actually quite disappointed seeing that this is the main reason we are out here. yet another case of hurricane winds in a state not near any water this year for me. hope that tomorrow is better.......

so the food is ordered cafeteria order your sides (hot or cold) and then your meat by the pound. we went with the moist brisket. the other alternative is the lean, but honestly its just not as good. out sides were the pinto beans and the creamed corn. normally i'm not a creamed corn kinda person, but let me tell you that this it the best stuff i have ever had. the meat is wrapped up and you're given a stack of loaf bread and 2 pieces of wax paper to eat it on. once at your table the sauces are available.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


my friend annie just sent me this link, and all i can say is, food is beautiful:

Sunday, October 5, 2008


krissy is in green
beth is in black
brian and i have season tickets to playhouse in the park with our friends jenny and john. this month's show being emma, the husbands decided to bail and beth and jessie stepped in. for dinner, we decided to go to nectar.

beth and i were the first to arrive at 6pm. and when i say first to arrive, i mean for the entire restaurant. i guess reservations weren't warranted after all.
seriously, that sort of thing is completely intimidating to me. i'm ok with eating dinner by myself, but being the first one in the place is hard for me. in fact i arrived a few minutes before krissy and stood outside.

our server was super nice and conversational, and we chatted with her about various things while we waited for jessie to arrive (jenny was meeting us for dessert only).

for a girls' night out, a little sparkle is always welcome, so we decided on a bottle of gruet blanc de noir, from new mexico.
i was interested in trying this as we are heading to new mexico next week and i hope to do a few wine tastings while i am out there. this winery appears to be located close to where we will be (santa fe and albuquerque).
for the first course, we ordered the artisan cheese plate.
the three cheeses (left to right) were a french cheese i didn't catch the name of (3 cream?), a 4 year aged cheddar, and an aged goat cheese. garnishes were fig chutney, chestnut honey, local concord grapes, quince paste, chorizo, and these amazing almonds. everything was so good. i couldn't even choose a favorite among them, although i was quite fond of the creamy french cheese and the fig chutney. everytime beth tried something, it was her new favorite. which is understandable.
its true. everything was my new favorite. looking back i have to say that i enjoyed the french cheese and surprisingly (to me) the fig chutney. i enjoyed the chorizo very much too......oh and yes the almonds were wonderful too.....see even looking back i can't pick a favorite.
for me, the entree was very difficult to decide on. i had it narrowed down to 4 and we started doing random number selection. i ended up with one of the starters, the scallops, as my entree. i did not regret the roads not taken.
the scallops were complemented nicely by the crispy prosciutto (i didn't know you could make prosciutto stand up straight - it's meat for god's sake!), a local bean and cherry tomato salad, and roasted garlic cream. it was divine, tender and light.

jessie ordered one of my second choices, which was the mediterranean plate. it also looked pretty yummy.

i ordered the fresh greens with a curry vinaigrette. it had local apples and a few other garnishes. the dressing was fabulous. sweet yet tangy. i was very satisfied. i second that - the dressing was fabulous.

the photo of beth's soup turned out really well. it even looks good to me, and i don't like beans that much. definitely not as much as beth.

i love beans, i could and often do eat them every day. this soup was exactly as good as you would expect. it was a white bean soup with basil.

finally, dessert, which in many ways, is the whole purpose of the meal for me. beth is somehow able to resist, but i never can. i was completely sold when our server mentioned the berry napoleon with lemon curd and basil and lemon sorbet.

looks and sounds fantastic, right? wrong. i was so disappointed. i'll start with the good aspects and move to the bad. the lemon curd was excellent, and the pastry flaky and enjoyable. the sorbet was interesting on its own. and there was pomegranate involved, which is fun and always evokes greek mythology for me. however, the overall execution, the harmony of the dish, was lacking. it was utter cacophony. there were too many competing flavors, too much tart and not a balance of sweet. i felt my mouth puckering. it was honestly almost unpleasant, overwhelming. but of course i ate it all anyway. i kept hoping i was just not getting the right combination in my mouth and eventually i would hit upon the bite that would allow me to see the genius of the dish. it never happened.

the spoonful of chocolate mousse i snagged from jessie was better, but still not great. very dark and rich.

overall, i thought nectar was extraordinary, ambrosial even, but next time i would skip dessert, which is really saying something for me.

Nectar on Urbanspoon

the world's most perfect vending concept

shameless plug for a good cause

my professional fraternity, kappa epsilon, sponsors a fundraiser for breast cancer research in young women. this year it is on thursday, october 23 from 6-10 at christy's in clifton. there will be special pink drinks and drink discounts, as well as raffle prizes. there is no cover. please spread the word - the more people attending, the more money for research!

havana martini club

oh, how the mighty have fallen.

i remember in my early 20s thinking the havana martini club was swanky and plush, with the dim light and humidor, older men in suits and cigars buying young ladies drinks, and smooth music like warm brandy. we would have cocktails there and finish up late night at shanghai mama's. it made us feel classy and sophisticated and adult.
much to my chagrin, my last visit to the club deflated these rosy memories. the dim lighting was still there, but the decor seemed stark and temporary. and there were men and music, but they were in jeans and gym shoes and dancing in a quite uninhibited fashion to dexy's midnight runners. i believe i may have seen a bachelorette wearing a 'suck for a buck' tshirt. we didn't even order a drink. we just bailed.

what happened?

is it the new location? is it the general acceptance of jeans everywhere these days? or is it that my perspective has changed?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

fancy-schmancy beer

so, a couple weeks ago we were at twist, enjoying some la chouffe beer. the gnomes were working their magic, because most of us couldn't remember large portions of the evening.

the slightly patronizing server made a big point of telling us that la chouffe is only available in cincinnati at jean-robert's restaurants. well, guess what, movado sporting beer wench*? we found it today at world market, less than 10 minutes from our house (i suspect jungle jim's also has it). i'd rather enjoy it on my deck than at twist anyway. i can wear jeans and a tshirt and pass out in peace. and for $4 less per bottle? hell yeah.

*actually our server was pretty nice, all things considered. i think there is a certain snobbery that needs to be projected in such a venue.