Friday, November 28, 2008

Top Chef - Episode 3 - FOO-FOO-FOOD!

This week on Top Chef - let's jack with the chefs!!!

The guest is another molecular gastronomy guy - Grant Achatz - from Alinea in Chicago.

The quickfire - they gave them each a page from the Top Chef cookbook and said they had to make a recipe and modify it. Then midway through - jack with them! Now they have to make it into a soup - of course - sponsored by Swanson (product product product).

During judging - Grant is a bastard!!!! It's fabulous!

There were some really interesting soups and I have to say the ham & egg soup really sounded good! But Leah and her white asparagus won...what do you think?

Next up a challenge for the Foo Fighters! They have to make Thanksgiving dinner for the Foo Fighters and their entire crew with microwaves and toaster ovens. How ridonkulous is this????? Are these challenges really necessary? Hell - I'd rather have the gas station food challenge again!

(Side note: this week on Inside the Actors Studio - Harry Potter! What's next? The Jonas Brothers)

Jeffrey is a chef at the Dilido Beach Club - I swear it said DILDO beach - ew ew ew!

Not only were they cooking with microwaves - it started raining on them! hahahahaha

Tom - the gay bear icon - Colicchio! Wow - Team Rainbow is so brave! (Don't know what a "gay bear" is - see the photo at the left.

Team Cougar - stuffing bad, potatoes not cooked, great mac & cheese and good ham (yeah - i like that guy with the tats), turkey is good - arianne the cougar is safe for a week!

Team Sexy Pants - vegan stuffing is a hit, yams with burnt mallows good, turkey not as good...(seems like cougars won the dinner)

Dessert Off:

Sexy Pants - tiramisu and a peach crisp - they like fabio's tiramisu with pumpkin and the crumble!
Cougars - peach cobbler, parfait and a smore - they hate the "barfait" and the rest

Cougars won the dinner, Sexy Pants won the dessert - but what matters more??????

(Side note: Daniel has his party underwear on - just fyi)

Hey - Sexy Pants and their dessert and vegan stuffing won!

On the chopping block: Ariane (turkey), Beaker, Team Rainbow guy (smores), Tattoo guy, Surfer Jeff, curly haired guy we never hear from but made mac & cheese with bacon and Daniel & his party underwear

Judges Panel - Chef Tom is bitchy tonight!

Ariane's turkey was good
Jeff's spoonbread sucked
Daniel's potatoes weren't cooked enough
Beaker (Carla) wasn't happy with her cobbler - but it's not going to put her in danger
Jeff's pumpkin mousse wasn't good (oh he's in danger)
Team Rainbow guy's smores sucked - his vanilla cream looked like spit

Okay - they're basically saying - Team Rainbow guy is out - but will they throw us a curveball?????

I just realized I've watched like 12 hours of TV today...but I also raked the leaves and did laundry. I watched The Office reruns, Days of Our Lives, 2 eps of Celebrity Rehab, The Elf and now Top Chef. But hey - isn't that what lazy vacation days are for? I also got 3/4 of my Christmas shopping done thanks to the interweb! See - 12 hours of TV mixed with wireless internet CAN induce productivity!

This is a long commercial break and I'm too tired to hit the fast forward on my tivo. Now good God - isn't that lazy? I'll type about it but I won't remove my fingers from the keyboard long enough to push a button that is 5 inches away.

Oh and I choreographed my dance routine for tomorrow's hip hop class - Womanizer by Britney Spears. I was a little annoyed with her - she didn't dance much in this one...but I managed.


The world would like the Foos to cook Thanksgiving dinner rather than either TC team - WTF?

Eugene, Mac & Cheese, Beaker, Ariane - all allowed to leave! We're left with Daniel (potatoes), Jeff (mousse) and Rainbow (smores).

No curve ball - Team Rainbow is down to 1. Bye bye smores guy...






Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cafe Bella - If you're in Mason - check it out!

So - gotta love Restaurant.com - I went on a buying spree and got a bunch of gift certificates at 80% off! One of them was for Cafe Bella in Mason - I didn't know anything about it - but I checked out their menu and it looked very good! So my friend and I decided to give it a try!

The interior is nice and warm - I really like it. Lots of red and gold... It's a small spot in a strip mall but it's really cozy once you're inside.

There was an all-you-can-eat pasta special that sounded great - only $11.95 for salad, bread and pasta! The regular menu options were all very tempting as well...we had a hard time selecting an appetizer.

We were figuring out what we had to spend so that we could meet our $35 bill - not really that difficult there - but we wanted to be sure we got a good sampling!


To start with I tried the lentil soup - it was not very good. It really just tasted like minestrone (their other soup option) with lentils instead of pasta. It had a bit of a curry taste but other than that - nothing really that interesting.

Scott got the pasta special so he got the salad...


Looks pretty simple - but it was very very well dressed. There were also tomatoes and pitted greek olives. We both enjoyed it quite a lot! Next up - the entrees! With the all-you-can-eat there were 4 options... Scott went for chicken/zucchini/marinara for the first bowl...oh yeah - he went for 2 bowls!


Scott did get a 2nd bowl - he got fettucini with marinara and meatballs. I forgot to take a picture but it wasn't noteworthy. The meatballs - in my opinion - weren't good. They were like rolled up balls of hamburger - no seasoning. I wouldn't get that again.

I chose the Pork Tenderloin Norcina. It was really great. The pork tenderloin pieces were very thin and the cream sauce is made with brandy and I'm definitely thinking there was some garlic in there as well. There were also mushrooms in the sauce. It was served with a few red potatoes cooked very nicely and some green beans (a little underdone for my taste).

We knew the bill had to be $35 so we had tried to plan ahead and wanted to save room for dessert. They had a lot of offerings but we chose the apple tart with vanilla gelato. It was pretty darned good! I liked the puff pastry and my friend liked the middle (I thought the apples weren't done enough). The gelato was definitely the best party though - it is homemade and has a very rich vanilla flavor!

Overall, the meal wasn't too die for - but we did enjoy it. The selections were unique and the quality was there. The portion sizes were solid as well. The standouts were definitely the chicken zucchini pasta meal ($12!) and the gelato - yowza!

Cafe Bella is also "mediterranean" - so for dessert for example - they also had baklava and hummus is an appetizer choice
. We stuck to the italian side for the most part - but I'm sure the other is good as well.

Overall - we went over our $35 by quite a bit - the drinks are pricey ($9 for a martini). But I'd say for the pasta special - it's a great deal. I don't know that I'll be back just because there are a lot of other places I like just as well closer to my neighborhood - but I'd recommend to people in the Mason area.

I'm gonna be quirky and say 2.75 stars...it's a nice place but maybe a little expensive for the overall appeal. But I did like it and the food was tasty - I think I'm getting stingier with my ratings ;-)

Cafe Bella
5948 Snider Rd. (@ Tylersville Rd)
Mason, OH 45040
513-770-4141

Cafe Bella on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top Chef Night 2 - Spoiler Alert

This will be a shorter blog than the first one - cuz I'm tired and just got home from the 18th Supper Club!!! What a fun time!!!!! Well - until we left - we got pulled over right out front of the door of the party! Ugh - mortified! We went the wrong way on a one way - it's OTR and I had no idea...But Supper Club - fun time, great food, even better company!

Okay - Top Chef - Rhadika "Cincinnati Girl #2" wins the hot dog challenge!!!! They had to make hot dogs - like MAKE them! I wouldn't even know where to begin!!!! There seemed to be some good ones!!!

Now they have to create a "New American" lunch menu...Surfer boy steps up and organizes the group - thank goodness! There's an appetizer group, entree group and dessert group. Observations:

* Fabio is hot - that voice.
* Ostrich eggs - WTF? That's a big ass egg!
* "I'm not a baker" - then why are you in the dessert group????
* Wow - cooking at Craft! NICE!
* Judges are NY Chefs that didn't make the show - MUWAHAHAHAHA!
* Fabio needs a tan - where's Tanlicious from Project Runway?
* WTF was he talking about olives?
* Bitter chefs with a big old side of bitter butter!
* That lady looks like Beeker

















* Fabio and his olives are different
* I want the spoon cornbread
* Chocolate wontons = yummm
* Avocado mousse = blech
* Fabio is an idiot! He sounds like Borat...
* "I just wanted to celebrate the season" - what a bunch of hooey!
* So were they olives or not?
* Hosea and his bad crab
* Ariane and that overly sweet crap
* Padma spits...hahahaha
* Jill and her crappe quiche
* As my friend said, "Jill swallowed a big bucket of duh"

Damn - Jill and her crappe quiche got the boot! I thought for sure Ariane would get das boot!

So back to Supper Club - what a fun time!!!! I really enjoyed it - I hope all the folks that were there stop by my blog and say hi!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bloggin Babes Buyin Birds & Beans!

So tonight - "Get in mah belly," "Veggie Options" and I decided to have a Cinci Blog Babe Convention at Floyd's in Clifton!

Aren't we adorable? Veggie was taking the picture - she's a little camera shy...

We had all been chatting and decided to have a bloggers night out to someplace new. We wanted to try the Baltic place in Mason but it closed - so we decided to go for Floyd's.

The specialty at Floyd's is the chicken - you should actually call ahead a couple hours to
reserve your bird!

The other girls will be writing their blogs too - so I'll just enlighten you about my selections! I chose the hummus (or hommos on their menu), the spanokopita and a half chicken. I decided to try a nice variety!

The hummus was delish!!! Very tangy - definitely could taste the tahini in it. Although - I'm now partial to Sabra brand - but for a more authentic kind - it was good.

Next up the spanokopita - very good. Everything there is pre-made for the most part. They showed us all of the sides ahead of time so we could make a more informed decision. The spanokopita just looked awesome - so I decided I had to have that... It was very good - the phylo was light and crispy - the spinach & feta mixture was almost "meaty". I really liked it.

Next up with the chicken - it's spit roasted and very full of lemon & garlic. I like the flavor but it was a bit dry - which can happen with white meat chicken.

Lastly - dessert! We couldn't skip that. The girls each went with baklava - I decided on the Lebanese pancakes - two pancakes filled with creme fraiche, topped with pistachios and syrup. I have to say - it was fab-u-lous! Dipping in the clear simple syrup is essential - the rest isn't that sweet - so that's a perfect balance!

Overall - it was a great meal - my bill for 2 sodas and all of the above was $26 - but I did order 2 entrees so I wasn't surprised. The menu is a bit spotty as far as the offerings - tonight - no falafel, kibbi or any of the specials.

The company helped - we had a great time and I think this is just the first of many blogging dinners for these babes!

You might be asking - Heather - you didn't mention any beans? Your headline says birds AND beans! Well...the side they're famous for is Lima Beans. Now you're saying - I don't like lima beans! Who does? Well - let me tell you - you'll like these! They're great!

I'll give Floyd's a solid 3 star - good food - very unique and I always like when the food is unique and ethnic.

Floyd's
127 Calhoun St.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45219
513.221.2434

Floyd's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TOP CHEF!!!!!! It's baaaaaaaaaaaaack! Spoiler Alert!

Okay - yes - I'm blogging about Top Chef. Is it a restaurant? Well no - but it's for foodies! I like to watch and share my thoughts throughout the show...and now...onto the show!

I'm giddy! Top Chef is back! We even have 2 Cincinnati girls on there - will one get eliminated right off the bat?

Lauren is a chef at Jag's and Radhika is from Cincinnati...

Quickfire - someone is getting eliminated!!!! Apple peelin bitches!

* Fabiano is hot! (thick accent)
* Bloody apples are gross
* New York was practically mincing them!
* Both Cinci girls are in the bottom 4???!!!! AAACK!
* They're showing Lauren (red tank top) a lot - ruh-roh!
* Cinci Girl 1 (Radhika) is safe!
* Verdict - buh bye Lauren - oh poor 'Nati girl! We barely knew ye! Well Jag's isn't my favorite place anyway...

Knife Block!!!!!

Next challenge is picking knives with different locations on them...teams are in pairs by ethnic neighborhood. Little Italy, Chinatown, etc...they gotta make a dish inspired by their location.




* Team Rainbow! hahahaha
* Greek and those who wish dey were Greek!
* Okay - Carla's a whack job - she wants to be led by her spirit guides???
* Friend noted "the chick that doesn't know middle eastern - looks middle eastern"
* Oh yeah Patrick - pick something you've never worked with before - that'll work!

THE KITCHEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhh...look at the toys! (Plug for GE Plug for GE)

* mmmmm plantain!
* mmmmm hummus!
* wait - latin guy is supposed to do indian and he's making tsatsiki which is Greek - WTF?\
* yeah dummy - don't use something you've never used before!
* run jeff run!!
* marketing award winner - freecreditreport.com - those things are genious!!!!
* jean georges - holy balls! he's awesome!
* Richard is hitting on Tom - aren't we all?
* i hate deconstructed anything
* blonde needs to bleach her brows - yikes!
* foam is back!





Top Chefs:

* Stefan (europe guy #1), Jamie (team rainbow girl), Jill (scallop girl), Jeff (surfer hair), Hosea (didn't know brighton beach), Leah (non descript brunette), Daniel (odd beard) and Eugene (latin making indian thinking it was greek) - congrats!

Who's getting da boot?

Who's winning?

Pulled into the judges table -

Winners: Stefan, Eugene, Leah - STEFAN WINS!

Winner of first challenge has gone on to win all but one season!!!! WOW!!!

Losers: Patrick & Ariane

Ariane - can't cook risotto or middle eastern
Patrick - uninspired chinese

I'm hoping Ariane goes -

There's Padma workin that scar...

Patriotism abounds - at least among text messagers - The world is rooting for Team Rainbow over the Euro Duo.

Well - Patrick is the first bootee...meh...he wouldn't last long...

This year on Top Chef - Martha Martha Martha!

So are y'all excited? Are you watching? Talk to me!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hideaway - Don't Hide!!!!

Saturday was a day in Northside for my friends and I! During the day we went to Melt, Nvision and Ali's Boutique!

Then Saturday night - the Art Academy (okay - not Northside), The Hideaway, Northside Tavern and Gajah Wong.

Tonight's blog is all about The Hideaway!

I've been before but this was a treat because 2 of my friends had never experienced it! Take a look at my profile picture - they have tons of kitchy items all around the restaurant. String art, velvet paintings and yes - a commemorative State of Iowa tin! I'm from Iowa - thus I decided to
borrow it momentarily for a photo prop.
We started out the night with this really great beet salad! It had goat cheese and hazelnuts. Yes - those are hazelnuts not garbanzo beans (cuz I was a little confused). There was a great dressing and the beets were very fresh.

The best thing about the menu at the Hideaway is how fresh and unique it is. Our party of four ordered a vegetarian tamale pie, flank steak sandwich, chicken pad thai and mussels with pasta. Where else can you get 4 such unique dishes????

The food is not perfection - it is all fresh and tasty and the prices are so affordable! The steak sandwich is $8 and the most expensive steak special is $18.

There is also a high abundance of vegetarian options - which is always refreshing! Now it is a BYOB - which hey - is great! And if you forget - stop by the Tavern and you can get a bottle of wine there or you can bring drinks over!

The steak sandwich was good - friend #1 really enjoyed the onion bun. They are also served with these delicious "creamer" potatoes. If you haven't had them - it's a must have!
Friend #2 enjoyed the mussels - I'm almost a little jealous - I really like mussels and they looked very tasty!

Friend #3 is a big fan of pad thai. He said it wasn't as good as Ru Thai's - but it was still tasty (no photo - it was blurry).

Lastly I went on a limb and tried the Vegetarian Tamale Pie. The pie was a bit dry. The tomato "salsa" was cool and very tasty - the rice was fine. I asked for sour cream which they quickly and happily brought. It helped the dish a lot.

Again - the dishes aren't perfection - but they are very very unique! They're refreshing and healthy and I love it!

Every time I go - I can't wait to come back again and try out something else. A very solid recommendation is the Cuban sandwich - always have good luck with that.

If you're a vegetarian looking for new options - check it out! If you are anybody else and just want something different - you should check it out too!

I give The Hideaway a refreshing 3 stars!

The Hideaway

4163 Hamilton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45223

5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Phone: 513-542-2444

Hideaway on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chicken on the Run - hold the Chicken

Friday night - me and a friend were headed up to Jag's and decided after our extravagant night at aqua that maybe we should go for something cheap! I've heard about Chicken on the Run in Deer Park for quite some time so we decided to give it a whirl.

I had mistakenly assumed that Chicken on the Run would serve fried chicken! Turns out they started as a fried chicken delivery but that has evolved throughout the years to a sit down restaurant and bar.

The funny thing about Chicken is kind of the lack of chicken on the menu. They have a grilled chicken sandwich and a few things like that but no fried chicken. Now I'm hearing maybe I should have gone for the wings - but I didn't know that.

Please note the "Chicken Hoagie" on the menu below -

there's no chicken on it! I took a pic of the menu because they don't have a website.

The menu is standard bar food fare - the inside is bland and has lots of wood paneling. It's all pretty boring with little character.

I had a Danny Boy (patty melt) and my friend had the Gregor Club (chicken/turkey double decker).

I also decided to get an order of their homemade chips that come with a side of BBQ sauce.

The food was pretty blah - I'm used to a patty melt on bread where it's all melted together - this was on a bun.

I do think its a fun place to go if you live around there. It's a cute neighborhood hangout for Deer Park.

I do have to say - the chips were FABULOUS!

The BBQ sauce was sweet and spicy - really really great.

And - there was a real hottie in the kitchen! hahaha - hey - I can't help it! I think his Dad was the main guy behind the bar...but wow...I was hoping he was on the menu! Yeah - I said it - I went there!!!!

So - overall - nothing outstanding - but I'd go back for 2 reasons - the chips and the cook!

If I'm in Deer Park and want to go out for a couple of beers and a snack - I'd definitely stop by the Chicken again...

So - 2.5 stars to the Chicken...

I have heard that I should try the wings and the chili - now if someone could just help me with the guy!


Chicken on the Run
7255 Ohio Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45236
(513) 791-6577

Chicken on the Run on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Amazing Quality Unique Astounding

Amazing
Quality
Unique
Astounding

What's it spell????

aqua!!!!!

Seriously - what do you have planned for the weekend? Drop all the plans and get your sweet ass to aqua!

We had planned to go to Nectar for the "thank
you" dinner that was owed to me. We walked
down and were told that tonight was a special dinner party and they were booked for the evening. (There were over half of the tables open - they couldn't fit us in? Whatever...)

So - we walked 2 steps and went to aqua and THANK GOD WE DID! This was literally one of the best dining experiences EVER. GO GO GO!

We started with island style ahi tuna poke and the fried tofu with spicy peanut sauce. They are both pictured in the blog. The poke - A-FREAKIN-MAZING. Click the picture - the chunks of tuna were HUGE and soooo fresh. There was this wonderful sauce and all served on
top of crisp and salty/sweet plaintain chips. Seriously - I can't tell you how good it was. I'm not even a huge fan of raw tuna but I was NOT sharing this!

The tofu - also excellent! Perfectly fried but not a drop of oil on them - light, crispy - just wow - again! Good sauce.

But if you're getting an appetizer - get the POKE!

Next up - first course - to the left - warm napa cabbage salad for my friend and I tried the
Dynamite Roll (Aqua is known for their sushi). The salad - again - crazigood! It was so refreshing and different. It's the way the whole night was - just unique and delicious. The salad had a warm bacon vinaigrette that just made it perfection on a plate. It looks like any other salad - but whoa - trust me - it's not!

The sushi - wow - if this is a hint of their sushi - I can't wait to go back! The Dyanmite Roll was $7 - which is the same price as a salad - so good swap out. The mayo was dolloped on top and then it was sprinkled with this fantastic spice...DELISH!

At this point - we're thinking - WTF - when did aqua become the best place in town? I mean this food had such different flavors and was very fresh - plus it's not a chain! w00t! And we hadn't even gotten our entrees yet?! But we were in love!

So the entrees - first they all looked soooo good! We had a very hard time deciding. Guest 1 chose chicken, chicken, chicken - a

trio of chicken all prepared differently (stuffed, braised and pan roasted). Guest 2 chose the macadamia nut crusted sunfish (a holdover from the old menu). I chose the seared black cod (lobster on cod - really - 'nuff said).

I tried the chicken - it was good. I tried the sunfish - it was better. But the cod - I'm biased - it was the best!!! I mean - this was delicate, flavorful, sweet, succulent and just perfection! I enjoyed each bite - savored it - relished in it!

After dinner - we got dessert - one option was a bread pudding with a side of Kahlua hot chocolate to pour overtop. Wow - the chocolate sauce was amazing!

So - as I've said - I kind of liked the dinner. Seriously - it just kept getting better throughout the evening! Now how about the extras?

Ambiance: aqua is pretty and has great art and 3

very unique seating areas.

Service: OUTSTANDING! Misaki was our waiter - he was perfect! Extremely knowledgeable and friendly and very attentive.

(that's my cod/lobster to the left - wow - i'm so sad I don't have it now)

Value: It isn't cheap - but I think there are a couple of ways to go about aqua. If you want a nice dinner and are prepared for $40/person (without alcohol) - you can do that! If you're not on that kind of budget - you can still do Aqua! Wednesday is half-price sushi (although it's much busier) and you could definitely get a combo of 2 (appetizer/salad/sushi) or just go for sushi and split an entree and you can probably come in around $25/person.

But again - let me tell you - get off your butts and get them into aqua. The food was so special - I really can't wait to go back. I honestly think it was better than Pigalls. Is that possible? Pigalls is obviously fabulous - but this was just different. I know I'm overusing that word - but it was. Pigalls is always great but tends to have a consistently heavy taste - this was all light and so flavorful!

So I'm giving aqua an unprecedented 5 stars!!!!! Now granted - I didn't pay - which always helps but it was just fantastic!

Stop by and tell Brian you heard it from the Food Hussy! (And ask for Misaka - he's great)

aqua
1020 delta ave.sqaure
cincinnati, ohio 45208
513-919-aqua (2782)



Aqua on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 3, 2008

Does this make sense? Oh well - at least the food was good.

So I have to start this review with a story because it's why I even went to Annabel's.

My friend offered to take me to lunch as a thank you! Well how nice! He wanted to take me
to Annabel's in Mt. Lookout. Then on the way -





he realized he didn't have his wallet. So his "thank you" lunch ended up coming out of my wallet! But alls well that ends well - he's taking me to Nectar this week as a second "thank you".

Now - the lunch. The top is the japanese salad with salmon and the next photo is the Mexican sandwich. The food was tasty...the salad was unique and friend really enjoyed the dressing. Although - post-hangover - he said he was still hungry when the salad was gone.

The Mexican sandwich that I had was really tasty. It contained pork, cheese, onion, salsa and avocado. I honestly couldn't taste the cheese. The pork was cooked very nicely and the salsa/avocado was great. The bun was very floury - which I wasn't a fan of. It was served with semi-stale tortilla chips and some (presumably) homemade salsa.

After all that - there was this wonderful Pecan Tart that had been rudely staring at me from the corner of the counter all lunch. Well - I'm not one to back down from a damn tart - so I felt it 100% necessary to order a slice. It was fabulous!

Said friend ordered a buttermilk cake with pistachio - neither of us were big fans. I thought the cake was dry and he thought the whole thing was a bit rich.

So overall - what are my thoughts of Annabel's. They don't have a website - but I have included shots of their menu. If you click on the images you can see them full size.

That said - it's expensive. The total bill on my "thank you" lunch was $40! Granted - we each got a drink (soda/iced tea), entrees and dessert.

It's a cute place - nothing special in the ambiance department. Pretty sure everything is "homemade" - which is nice and unique.

The other thing about Annabel's is the hours. They're open 9-2 Tuesday-Friday and 9-3 on Saturday. If you're a Hyde Park lady that lunches - I guess you can go there - but for the rest of us...not so much.









So there you have it - good food and a fresh taste. Fairly expensive and less than ideal hours. But if you're looking strictly at the food - 3 stars. The pecan tart was excellent and I can't wait to stop by for a slice of that again.

Annabel's

Neighborhood: Mt Lookout
1004 Delta Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45208
(513) 417-8669