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Louisville, Kentucky: Rhymes with Buoy-ville

7 Mar

A quick recollection of our whirlwind trip to Louisville last week. All we did was relax, sleep, eat, drink, nap, eat, and drink some more. It was awesome. And decadent.

Monday: Hour long massages at Apex Massage in St. Matthews. Kim and Emily were awesome and got the mini-cation off to the perfect start. We checked into Inn at Woodhaven and was floored by the gothic revival architecture and the total hospitality of the innkeeper, Marsha. Great room, with an awesome bed and linens, and a spa tub for two, more on that later!

We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so we hightailed it to Bourbons Bistro (I think “Bourbons” is plural, not possessive) where we both had a flight of “Old Favorites.” The last three were far more memorable than the first three and we were surprised at how drinkable the Wild Turkey was. We dined on an assortment of appetizers which included fried green tomatoes, fried oysters with horseradish aioli, shrimp and grits in a gravy like sauce, and a lobster pesto grilled cheese (pic: bottom left).

  • Old Taylor 6yr. 80°
  • Old Forester 100°
  • Wild Turkey 101°
  • Evan Willians 7yr.
  • Old Fitzgerald 1849
  • W.L. Weller Special Reserve

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Taste the Future

16 Sep

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend this week’s Taste the Future event to benefit Columbus State Community College’s scholarship program. (Thanks Hungry Woolf!) I’ve watched the set up of the event (mere weeks after I arrived in Columbus) and always admired the culinary offerings from attendees’ Flickr sets and such. This event struck a personal note too because I’ve been a student at CSCC in the Economics and Mathematics departments and have always been impressed with the level of engagement and effort the instructors invest. From a very personal perspective, I absolutely believe that a couple years at a junior college is a good investment for a wandering young adult (or in my case, a mid-aged adult). I am so very pleased and confident that the proceeds from this benefit will provide extraordinary opportunities for young adults. Onto the food!!

One of the many highlights of the evening was G. Michael’s signature Shrimp and Grits. I heard about this dish even before I arrived in Columbus in August 2007 and despite indulging in many mouthwatering offerings each time I’ve been to the restaurant, I still had never had the dish! Well, the time finally came: warm, creamy grits set off by a perfectly done (not mushy, not rubbery) sweet jumbo shrimp, dressed in a tomato-y, smokey, scallion, butter sauce. Good heavens. In this same area, B was so impressed with City Barbeque’s Mini Pulled Pork sandwich that he was itching to go for seconds. (Was it pork? The CSCC menu says chicken.)

I was pleasantly surprised by a couple dishes, particularly from places that I consider groceries, like Kroger and Giant Eagle. Above is Carrot Souffle and Sauteed Crab Cake from Market District at Giant Eagle. The carrot souffle was phenomenal, like a combination of sweet potato pie and carrot cake. This was the first of many crab cakes for the evening and put the others to shame, there’s actually crab in there!

This is (was? cuz it’s now in my belly?) Brewers Yard @ Kroger’s Mini Surf & Turf. Do you see the size of that scallop? It was literally half the size of B’s iPhone. Tender scallop and beef, not too oily, not too salty, and great flavors from the asparagus and mushroom salad.

These tiles are Cameron Mitchell Catering’s Watermelon Gelee with lump crab. This was the most elegant dish of the evening. You can’t really see the rose-y pink gelee on the red background but the thin layer of clean crispness really paired well with the creaminess of the avocado. A touch of diced tomato, a sprinkle of toasted black sesame seeds, and the sweet, tart, nutty flavors really dressed up the lump crab. I should have had two…

I do have to admit that as the light was beginning to fade, I was as well: having only slept four hours the night before and only four hours on the 22 hour, two layover trip, I was really itching to kick off the heels and be horizontal. But not before I grabbed an Auddino’s “Doughssant” to take home with me! Can I just say, “WOW!” Crispy! Flaky! Sugary! Buttery! GAH! I ate this sucker in three bites for breakfast while hiding in the kitchen because I was feeling selfish and didn’t want to offer B a taste. I’m a bad girlfriend. No, wait, I was doing him a favor, helping him avoid sweets and grease and refined carbs, yes.

Other highlights of the evening included The Refectory’s Scallop Pomponnette with Sauce Bonne Femme (like a scallop shaped mousse flavor burst!), Limitedbrands’ Bacon Buckeye (was it pretzel pieces in the peanut butter that made this salty/crunchy delicious? or the Magic Shell like coating of chocolate? or the crisp crumbled smokey bacon?), and finally, Luce Enoteca’s Smoked Corn Gazpacho (smokey anything is delicious but smokey corn? Mmm!). It is so rare for chefs to get an opportunity to taste each others’ creations so it was great seeing tall white toques bobbing around the area sampling everything and drawing inspiration. Next year!!

Out and About: Cleveland!

15 Sep

With all the hustle and bustle of prepping for my trip to China, I didn’t get to post about B and my trip to Cleveland. It was *almost* a purely eating and drinking trip and it was loads of fun! Our first stop after a leisurely start to the drive was Great Lakes Brewery. Missed out on the sampler (it’s not on the menu!) but downed two very refreshing pints of Oktoberfest. Protip: order food only to tide you over. We had a tiny Lake Erie walleye sandwich and my cheese & cured meat plate was bland and disappointing. We were biding our time for the afternoon’s main event, happy hour at The Velvet Tango Room.

(Anyone know how to get the text out from between these two pics? The br tag isn’t working for me!)

Despite a leather bound phone book of a menu, I knew that I wanted their acclaimed Gin Fizz. Simply made with freshly cracked egg white, gin, simple syrup, and what looked to be both lemon and lime juice, it is a serious pain to make right. Our bartender shook the darn thing with extra cold perfectly formed ice cubes for a good five minutes resulting in a cocktail with the texture of a meringue milkshake. At first sip, I was completely transformed. It was smooth, sweet yet tangy, with barely any hint of the oft dreaded juniper. B started off with a Sazerac then moved onto an Old Fashioned and finished with the Daiquiri pictured on the left. I had the Gin Fizz, a ginger syrup/whisky something, and finished with a sour. Forgive me for the lack of photos for the bar was fairly dark inside and I’m barely passing Photo 101!

We caught an Indians game (I’m not getting into how I feel about this team’s name, nickname, or mascot…) and B got on the JumboTron! Afterwards, we headed back to East 4th for some midnight snacks at Greenhouse Tavern.

The absolute must order item was the Crispy Confit Chicken Wings tossed in chilies, garlic, and scallions. They turned out a little too salty for us but we thoroughly enjoyed the heirloom tomatoes on toast, really simple and very tasty. We also had Devils on Horseback* which were bacon wrapped dates stuffed with almond slivers and chocolate. It was a surprisingly sweet, salty, chewy, crispy, flavor and texture combination. We also had the Pork Pâté Maison with pickled veggies and grainy mustard.

For lunch the next day, we returned to East 4th for a little of the Michael Symon hype. And it’s not all hype. Lola is beautifully designed, spacious on the inside, comfy and well shaded on the patio, and how can you resist the smell of smoked meats wafting through the air? B and I shared a bowl of the tomato and basil soup which the kitchen was so nice to plate separately for us. We both liked it but both agreed that we would have liked a swirl of creme fraiche or thinned yogurt to set off the salty sweetness of the soup. We also shared the beef cheek pierogies with a horseradish cream sauce and mushrooms. Three small bites of UH-mazing. The filling was moist and tender and the texture of the dough matched the beef cheek so it combined so well in the mouth. The slight bite of the horseradish cream offset the rich braising liquid and the perfectly cooked mushrooms added just the slightest hint of crunch to the whole dish.

So what could possibly top the pierogie? This brisket sandwich with cucumber, pickled onions, and an awesome cumin greek yogurt. The flatbread was crisp and really showcased the brisket. The crisp veggies and the tart yogurt toned down the meatiness of the sandwich, but damn, adding cumin to the greek yogurt was ingenious. So with full bellies we hit the road to come back to Columbus. (I drove there AND back!) A return visit to VTR is an absolute must (apricot sour!) and everyone we talked to said that Lolita cannot be missed.

* Reminds me of the excellent documentary, “The Devil Came on Horseback,” about the genocide of black Africans at the hands of an Arab government in Sudan.


29 Aug

Oh my little fledgling bloggy.

I regret having to taper off my posting after so much excitement you’ve brought me recently; not to mention, the perfect excuse to order another course (!!) or to take an eating centered day trip. Unequivocally: I am not abandoning you. I’m traveling to Shanghai for a couple weeks and there will be MANY eating and drinking opportunities to document. However, I’m not entirely sure what internet connection availability I will have. I didn’t bring my own personal machine so I’ll have to rely on an outdated PC and probably very limited DSL. That said, I am SO EXCITED to share with you all the deliciousness that will occur! I’ve got soup dumplings up the wazoo, grilled pigeons to pick over, and savoury soy milk to slurp for breakfast. Photos galore!

In the meantime, I took Asiana Airlines from Chicago’s O’Hare to Incheon Seoul for a five hour layover (where I’m sitting now, updating). I left ORD’s international Terminal 5 (servicing Royal Jordan, Etihad, Aero Mexico, Asiana and other airlines) at 1am and the only available edibles was McD’s. Not so great from a foodie perspective, but it made for AWESOME people watching. The Arab Muslims, Eastern European Muslims, East Asians, West Europeans, were all chowing down on some Big Macs and fries. Great scene. 

I was personally holding out for what was promised to be the best economy class airplane food in East Asia. There was indeed bibimbap for dinner. And it came in a CERAMIC bowl, absolutely unheard of! AND there was REAL silverware!! Certainly delicious for in-flight. Pics forthcoming!

Forgive me for cutting this short, Incheon’s duty free stores beckon. Toodles!

Out and About: Highlands Nature Sanctuary

24 Aug

B and I just got back from a overnight trip to a nature preserve, Arc of Appalachia Preserve System’s Highlands Nature Sanctuary. Our friend Mandy has been living down here (about a ninety minute drive, southwest of Columbus) since the winter and has been encouraging us to come down to visit. We weren’t able to spend very long down at the Sanctuary, but we fit in a short hike through the gorge (and caves), played with the assorted animals on the farm, collected farm fresh eggs (I held a just-hatched, warm, egg!), and spent the night in a room perched atop the gorge. B’s commentary to my photos in italics.

On our trip to the Sanctuary, we passed through the southern Ohio town of Bainbridge, home of the first U.S. dental school, which raised questions about the history of oral hygiene. The drive was beautiful with rolling farmfields and numerous moo cow sitings.

Our bedroom with 270-degree windows was like sleeping in a treehouse. At the Sanctuary Farm, I renamed, Sepo, the farm dog, “Serpico.” Serpico approved.

The Sanctuary’s limestone valley walls were covered with clinging plants found no place else in Ohio. Mandy showed us a hemlock tree estimated at more than 1,00 years old.

For dinner, we cooked hotdogs and smores over a fire beneath the full moon. About 9 chickens slept in the tree branches above our heads. I fed Serpico hot dog ends. Serpico chased my car when we left the farm.

Serpico and B are buddies.

Queen City Day Trip!

17 Aug

In the name of getting some driving practice in, B and I took a quick foodie trip to Cincinnati on Saturday. We bypassed the fine dining and drinking establishments like Boca, Tonic on Fourth, and Local 127 in favor of a rapid fire itinerary. We planned on a quick tour round Findlay Market and Jungle Jim’s, maybe a quick trip to Mt. Adams for the views, and made an exception for Terry’s Turf Club. We didn’t make it to Mount Adams since *someone* was a little enamored with the meat selection at Eckerlin and Krause’s (ahem, yours truly). But we did manage to squeeze in forty-five minutes of quality Jungle Jim’s shopping. As for Terry’s Turf Club? It was good, much better than Thurman’s, but the wait is just as prohibitive. I’m remaining true to a Rossi burger and Five Guys in a pinch.

Jungle Jim’s Haul:
Four Kinder Bueno (two regular, two white)
Seven Kinder Snack bars
One pack of Kinder Duplo bars
One pack of Bob’s Red Mill wheat berries

Findlay Market Haul:
Eckerlin’s Homemade Goetta
Eckerlin’s Homemade Breakfast Sausages
Eckerlin’s Garlic Franks
Weisswurst from Krause’s
Smooth Liverwurst from Krause’s
heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market
round of seeded bread from Skirtz & Johnston
danish with apricot jam and goetta also from Skirtz & Johnston
We also shared a beer in the biergarten which proceeded to give me the worst allergic reaction I’ve had in a loooong time.

Out and About

10 Aug

Good grief. I’ve been eating out non-stop this past week. I love not cooking as much as anyone else, but geesh, it’s ridiculous. RECAP!

Monday: The Metropreneur launch at Due Amici, then dinner at the Rossi, shared a burger with B.
Tuesday: Had a Fudha to use up at G. Michael’s so we went for happy hour. $3 Boddingtons! $6 appetizers! See pic below: pan fried sweetbreads with grits in a basil oil, fried green tomatoes, and bacon wrapped pork tenderloin on a biscuit.
Wednesday: B’s birthday lunch at Smith&Wollensky, rib eye, truffle mac&cheese, mushrooms, broccoli, and a salad. Dinner of corn nuggets and fried cheese curds at the Ohio State Fair during the DEVO show. Beers at Short North Tavern to celebrate.
Thursday: Breakfast at German Village Coffee Haus. Goose Island White City at St. James and Taco Bell… yeah.
Friday: Taco Truck Tour with Columbus Food Adventures.
Saturday: Okonomiyaki stand at Tensuke for lunch, Level for dinner, and then Wicked with my bro. And maybe afterward, I snuck in a slice or two from Mikey’s Late Night.

WHEW!! I am fatty pants. I am eating nothing but vegetables for the next week straight.