Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the holy grail

once upon a time, jknepfle charged me with the task of seeking the holy grail, promising me the rewards would be rich should i succeed at this quest. legend tells of the holy grail being nestled deep in a valley in the land of delhi. my first attempt failed miserably, as the way was shut and the chamber dark and empty. my second endeavor proved worthy, and banners ceremoniously welcomed me, proclaiming my triumph.
the cavern was lit with the light of glowing crests and keno screens. as was bespoken, the bounty was indeed plentiful. i was served twisted pretzels with a glorious, golden sauce, slightly spicy and a perfect complement.
illustrious paul goebel created reuben wontons, full to the brim with corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and the dressing of a thousand islands. i found the combination gratifying, although my companion brian did not find it so.also presented was an incontrovertibly succulent beef patty cloaked in bleu cheese, garnering a 5/6 on the gradation governing all burgers in the kingdom. the accompanying barbeque sauce was neglected as it did not captivate the palate.a brew bubbling with blueberries was brought to me. it was overly sacchariferous and not the divine drink i remembered from my youth in the countryside of clifton. perhaps my youth or intoxication had rendered me indiscriminate.
Holy Grail Tavern and Grille West on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 26, 2009


brian and i are too poor to eat sushi at beluga before his brother's shindig, so we decided to check out sushi westside style at sakura, the japanese steakhouse (complete with hibachi) and sushi bar that opened where dante's used to be. we have heard mixed reviews about the food and service, so we needed to see for ourselves.

i haven't been in dante's since i was a kid and went there for breakfast with my grandparents after church, but i am pretty certain the chandeliers in the dining room are the same. no matter. the interior is much more minimalist than the heavy red and gold i remember.

sakura gets points for cocktail creativity. i have never before had a wasabitini.

composed of ciroc vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a dissolved "pea of wasabi", the effect is quite scintillating. very pleasurable and unusual, like the essence of sushi in a glass. one was enough, though. it's drink a lot of.

first course was the jj's salad - spicy crab and cucumber. held together by something i suspect was mayonnaise, which gave it a heavier flavor and texture than one would expect from crab and cucumber. brian really liked it, although he struggled with his chopsticks transferring it from plate to mouth.

we ordered the eel and cucumber roll, smoked salmon, and bluefin tuna. all were fine, nothing out of the ordinary. the fish was probably not the freshest i have ever had, but it was by no means bad.

we were pleased with the service. it was efficient and i was never without water. and the sushi chef was friendly. sakura is connected to poppy's by a glass wall, where there is a distinctly different menu. we saw club sandwiches going by to be delivered to the bar. there was live music and some folks were dancing. in 10 years it will be a great place for us to hang out.

band member telling me "no photos, please". awkward.

Sakura Steakhouse and Sushi on Urbanspoon

beluga: not a review, a rant

pop quiz:
you are out at a swanky night spot with some girlfriends. you walk into a room where a dj is playing and have a seat at one of the tables. a few minutes later, someone asks you if you know this is a private party. do you:
a) apologize, explaining you were unaware
b) leave the room and enjoy the dj in the front room instead
c) get up and start dancing provocatively in the middle of the room
d) two of the above
e) none of the above

while you ruminate on your answer, i would like to tell you this is not a review of beluga, the swanky night spot in the above scenario. this is a review of bad behavior by adults who should clearly know better. last night, my brother-in-law's girlfriend hosted a party for him at beluga, with a dj set up in one of the back rooms. my brother-in-law is freshly arrived home from boot camp and is leaving again monday. four girls walk in and sit at the table next to me. nicki (brother-in-law's girlfriend) tells me she has no idea who they are. i casually tap one on the arm (the one wearing leg warmers) and explain this is a private party for my brother -in-law, etc. she says she didn't know, chats with her friends for a second, and a few minutes later they get up. they get up and start dancing. no one else is dancing. they continue to dance and hang out for an undetermined amount of time, as brian decided it was time for us to go.

ok, i know it's a club. i know there was a dj (that nicki was paying for) and the room wasn't completely packed with people wishing my brother-in-law well or roped off in any way. but, what the f? at least introduce yourself to the guest of honor if you're going to crash his party.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

bison burgers

i headed north to columbus last weekend for a conference. i have one rule when eating out in another city: it can't be anywhere that i can eat in cincinnati. ted's montana grill fit this requirement and promised bison burgers.

ted's (founded by ted turner) is interesting because it is very eco-friendly, you know, for a chain restaurant that serves burgers and chicken fried chicken. the straws are made of paperboard. the toilets flush two ways; up for liquid and down get the picture. they are 99% plastic free. that's admirable.
the ambiance in the restaurant is great. dark wood paneling. big bar. very masculine, but not oppressive. bowls of pickles on each table.
we all ordered bison burgers, which are served up 25 different ways and all are presented with an american flag stuck in the top (obviously removed pre-photo).
the burgers were a good size and full of EXCELLENT flavor. not at all greasy. mine had bleu cheese, mushrooms, and bacon, which i paired with rancho zabaco dancing bull zinfandel. (seemed appropriate.) the bun held up well to the giant burger. the fries were also amazing. fresh cut and not overly oiled or overly browned. this is kind of blasphemous, but i think i like them better than terry's turf club. shh...they may revoke my cincinnati blogging privileges.

for dessert we shared the strawberry shortcake, which i easily could have eaten all by myself. the shortcake was real shortcake, not that spongy crap kroger's tries to pass off as shortcake. the berries and syrup were fresh and not too sweet. i think the server mentioned they were organic strawberries and never frozen. a perfect ending.*must give props: all photos are the handiwork of my fellow pharmacy student andy, who kindly humored my blogging habit. thanks, andy.

Ted's Montana Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

good friday at dewey's

somehow, it has become a good friday tradition that we eat at dewey's; two years in a row constitute a tradition, in my opinion.

two years in a row, brian and i have arrived first at dewey's.

maybe since its a holy day is how things like that actually happen. if you note in the previous post we were just as shocked.

as you may guess from the picture above, i find the green lantern to be a pizza far superior to mere mortal pies. look at the crust, brimming with delicious artichokes, pesto, and goat cheese. phenomenal. behold the power of the green lantern.
dewey's salads

candied walnut and grape. i didn't care for the dressing. much too thick.
i had the peppercorn ranch. sometimes (often times) i tend to get what i know because i like it. this salad is something i order every time i am at deweys. i see everyone else order the Greek/Mediterranean and it always looks so good. but every time i still order the peppercorn ranch. its good. it does have bacon (as you can see) and friends have ordered it without it and also liked it. the dressing is the right consistency and good flavor.

eric and i split a small make your own pizza. we like things spicy so we have jalapenos with chicken. simple, spicy and tasty. this is something else that i order often (not every time) as pizza toppings.

Dewey's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

pottsville, pa: second star to the right, and straight on till morning

i have discovered the tinkerbell of beer; light, effervescent, and slightly sassy. deliciously girly, yuengling lager might just be my new favorite summer beer. founded in 1829, yuengling is recognized as america's oldest brewery and has remained a family owned company for the duration.

look at that sparkle!

i could drink a number of these. easily.

Monday, April 13, 2009

memories of breakfasts past

the perkins across from western bowl holds a lot of memories for me. late nights playing cards, family breakfasts, a cloud of cigarette smoke. my two most vivid memories: one i've already related here, and the other is the morning after junior prom when my friend sally's* screams echoed through the restaurant, horrified at the discovery of the large hickey on her neck which earned her date the nickname "jack the hoover vac".
much to my dismay, the easter morning breakfast planning committee dropped the ball this year and we ended up at perkins.
i have to say perkins has cleaned up its act since the old days. i'm sure the smoking ban has helped out immensely. the restaurant was clean and our server extremely courteous and on the ball.
i ordered the deli ham and lot of cheese omelet. it was fine, lots of ham. the hash browns were, i imagine, sort of like eating forkfuls of that mulch made from old tires.

brian's "tremendous 12". disappeared in 24.8 seconds.

the most disappointing aspect of the breakfast was the appalling lack of strawberry jam. remember when perkins used to have the little racks of jelly on every table? well, i guess the over 60 club stole one too many to stock their pantries, cause now the jelly comes on the plate. one measly dollop for four pieces of toast. and i don't even like grape. i'm sure if i asked, our kind server would have brought me strawberry, but that's not really the point.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Perkins Family on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 11, 2009

easter bliss

i have a confession to make. every year for lent i give up chocolate, and it is really hard. i eat other desserts, have fruit in my ice cream flurries, but, to quote a recent blockbuster movie, "it’s like… a human only living on tofu. it keeps you strong, but it never… fully satisfies". that is how i feel about not eating chocolate. my sweet tooth is never fully satisfied.
hence my confession. no, i did not cheat and give in to temptation. but i did go to the fawn unchaperoned and spent OVER $100 ON CHOCOLATE. i feel tomorrow morning will be much like this scene from chocolat, in which alfred molina gorges himself on chocolate and passes out.

easter favorites:
- chocolate caramel marshmallows
- dark chocolate opera cream eggs
- coconut goodies
- dark chocolate foil wrapped eggs. simple and divine.
- reese's peanut butter eggs. duh. i've witnessed brian put down six of these in one sitting. true story.

i could go on, but better stop. i would also like to add, this lent i discovered my professor is actually the devil. he opened his box of peanut butter patty girl scout cookies, kept offering them to me, then set the open tray on the table right in front of me for the duration of a 2 hour meeting. salivating ensued.

what are your easter favorites? and what are you happy to finally be able to eat tomorrow?

happy national cheese fondue day

so i was watching the news this morning and learned that its national cheese fondue day. after a little research i learned that there is a food for everyday of the year that you could celebrate. tomorrow is grilled cheese day. my birthday is national cherry popsicle day. i wonder who comes up with this stuff?

here you can send your own e-card celebrating national cheese fondue day.

springtime in westwood

it's a little bit like heaven.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

the green fairy

i apologize for how...affected...this next sentence sounds. a few years ago while i was studying in prague, i encountered absinthe for the first time. and when i say "encountered", i mean saw it in the real world, not a book or movie. i have to admit, i completely wussed out and did not try it. the tales of the green fairy and madness were enough to quell my thirsty adventurism.

i kind of forgot about it until i saw "green fairy tales" in gourmet this month, which basically says the reports of hallucinations, etc, are greatly exaggerated. first created by pierre ordinaire (which sounds like a made-up name, but is actually real) in the late 18th century, absinthe came into vogue in france after phylloxera knocked out wine as a competitor. distilled from wormwood, absinthe contains thujone and 60-70% alcohol.
thujone is thought to be the cause of "absinthism", a condition characterized by hallucinations, sleeplessness, and convulsions, which led to the ban on absinthe in the early 20th century.
Dirk W. Lachenmeier (et al) apparently has looked into the toxicity of thujone quite extensively, since most of the scientific literature i found was authored by him. in one publication from 2006, absinthe was prepared according to traditional recipes to test the thujone concentrations. they found that the preparations did not contain levels of thujone above the current legal limit of 35 mg/L. it is thought that absinthism was actually caused by adulteration of absinthe with toxic plants such as sweet calamus or tansy. adulteration with antimony and copper sulfate is also a possibility, or it could have been good old fashioned chronic alcohol intoxication. also, the hypothesis that the structural similarity between thujone and thc caused stimulation of the same receptors in the central nervous system proved erroneous after experimentation.

wormwood has a very interesting history, insanity and cut-off ears aside. medical use of wormwood can be dated back to an egyptian document from 1552 bc. the name "wormwood" is derived from its anthelmintic properties. pythagoras recommended wine-soaked wormwood leaves to alleviate labor pains and hippocrates used wormwood extracts for treating menstrual pain and rheumatism. shakespeare even mentions it in romeo and juliet (act I, scene 3) "for i had then laid wormwood to my dug, sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall... but, as I said, when it did taste the wormwood on the nipple of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool, to see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!". yeah, we're talking about weaning.
during the french conquest of algeria (1830-1847), soldiers were given wormwood to prevent parasites and fevers. on their return to france, the soldiers discovered absinthe to be a tasty substitute.

previous to the ban, absinthe was defined by swiss law to be "every spirit drink, without regard to its method of production, that contains aromatic compounds of wormwood herb in combination with other aromatic compounds derived from plants such as anise and fennel". today's recipes are similar.

so now i am even more curious. and less afraid. an absinthe cocktail seems mysterious and intriguing, i won't pass it up next time.

for more complete info, look here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

unsanitary tap dancing

while watching doris day and ray bolger cavort across the screen in april in paris, it struck me that mr. bolger is tap dancing on a food preparation area in the bowels of a french oceanliner.

that's just plain unsanitary.

online recommendations

anyone use thoughts?

i am not sure how i feel about it just yet.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

keystone bar and grill

this place is just cool. if i had an older brother, i'd want him to be just like keystone bar and grill - listening to classic rock, a photo of johnny cash on the wall, rooms decorated with original artwork. i'd like my super cool older brother to make mac and cheese with things like potato chips and spinach in it and name his creations after bands like nirvana and green day.however, i would like the mac and cheese to taste good. i can't say quite as much for the keystone grill. i got the plain old lovin' spoonful, and i wasn't feeling the love. it was ok, but really kind of bland. i had to ask the server to bring salt and pepper to the table, and even that didn't help much. what a disappointment.

my sandwich, however, was quite scrumptious. i'm a sucker for a turkey reuben and this one was well put together as well as visually stimulating, with marble rye and red cabbage slaw. the sandwich that intrigued me the most but i doubted my ability to actually consume was
the duveneck, "an open face sandwich with potato salad, pastrami, corned beef, sauerkraut and whole grain mustard stacked on marble rye". that's a lot of crap on a sandwich.

other random notes: mac and cheese is half price mondays, quesadillas half price on tuesdays. we sat by the fireplace and i hit my head twice on the mantle. i was unimpressed by the barbecue sauce. our server kept bringing me water, which increased her tip exponentially. somehow all my pictures were out of focus. i did not buy a painting, although i could have because the canvases were all for sale.

Keystone Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

cod and god, week 4

i'm so behind. fish fry photos are piling up and i can't organize myself sufficiently to process them. so here, in brief, is the our lady of lourdes fish fry. lourdes is where i attended grade school, as did my mother. that's the westside for you.
first, the menu. salmon AND crab cakes? wow. i should have stuck with the fried cod, but i was lulled in by the siren's call of the crab cake.
crab cake = dry inside and crispy outside. i also got take-out and forgot to pick up condiments, so i didn't even have tartar sauce to alleviate my desert-ed crab.
mac and cheese = stouffer's.
fries = meh.

yummy (previously) frozen cheese sticks. a creative twist to the normal fish fry fare.
finally, fried shrimp. cocktail sauce would have been a delightful addition.lourdes gets points for breaking out of the normal fish fry mold with unique offerings. the salmon did look pretty tasty and i wish i could have sampled some of everything. they were also very well organized by the boy scouts, with separate eat-in and take-out lines.
again, no beer. what the heck?