Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Food of Love

When you're a devoted tennis fan living in Cincinnati, Christmas comes twice a year. Six months after the knit sweaters and gift exchanges, 64 of the top players in the world come to the Masters Series tournament in Mason. It's tournament season again, and I'll be celebrating the holiday all week long at the Lindner Family tennis center.

Like other holidays, we celebrate tournament season with traditions. Every year, I forget to apply the appropriate amount of sunscreen and I get a sunburn someplace funky, like the left side of my nose or my kneecaps.

And it wouldn't be tennis tournament time in Mason without a Waffle House breakfast. I love waffles. I love breakfast. Tennis players love waffles too, and I love me some tennis players. When I find myself eating breakfast at the same place as the highest ranked doubles team in the world, I know I'm eating the breakfast of champions.

Dad took this picture, I can't take credit for it. Roger was out practicing Sunday in all of his glory.

Tournament food is usually obscenely overpriced, but a smart girl like me should be able to find some decent eats without breaking the ATM card.

I could go on and on (and on) about tennis, but I'm hungry. Pictures and stories of waffle house, tournament food, and tennis to follow. I love this game.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quick Bites Around Cincy

Taste From Belgium
Everyone you know has had these authentic belgian waffles already, and like everyone you know, I thought they were tasty. The guys working the Findlay Market stand burnt it when I asked them to warm it up. It was still delicious.

Burger at Arthur's
Everything I wanted in a burger. I ordered mine with cheddar; the little sister got hers blackened with blue cheese. Hers was better.

Blue Wolf Cafe
This is a hole in a Montgomery strip mall wall. You won't see it from Montgomery road because it's overshadowed by Los Portales. Open for breakfast and lunch, the menu has all the usual suspects- salads, wraps, and sandwiches. There are a few surprises, however, like the veggie quesadilla. Mine was crisp and stuffed with peppers, tomatoes, onions, and more unusual items like shredded carrot and chunks of potato. Homemade daily specials. Fresh food. Yum.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Young's Jersey Dairy Farm

After a marathon of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the food network, Dad and I were ready for some heart-clogging, deep-fried, chicken-and-coleslaw kind of food. I spent an afternoon researching various establishments in the area and discovered Young's. It's just north of Yellow Springs on route 68. After picking mom up from the Dayton airport, we found this dairy mecca and settled into a nook of the cavernous dining room.

The walls are adorned with farming paraphernalia and cow-wrangling equipment. The crowd looked like everyone I'd ever seen at Bob Evans. We place our order and then came... quick bread, applesauce and coleslaw? Yes, please.

I ordered the fried chicken salad. I usually refrain from ordering salads with shredded cheese and croutons, but I set my standards aside and decided that it must be okay if it comes with fried chicken. It was.

Crispy on the outside, slightly buttermilky-sweet, and tender on the inside.

Dad ordered a combo platter, and our waitress informed us that dessert was included with his meal. Hot dog! We shared the strawberry shortcake. The shortcake was powder dry. The ice cream was creamy-heavenly.

If Young's is anything, it is a slice of Americana. Just make sure you order your Americana ala mode.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Busken's Mountain Cookie

Wednesday is culinarily important for two reasons- the Dining section of the New York Times is published and Busken bakeries across Cincinnati sell the glorious confections called Mountain Cookies. It's not really a cookie; it's more of a meal. It has everything a growing girl needs- oatmeal, raisins, chunks of chocolate, and walnuts. Besides, everybody needs a little something extra on Wednesday. If it weren't for Frank Bruni's restaurant reviews and Mountain Cookies, Wednesday would totally suck.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

...And the Pursuit of Pastries

I spend my free time, which is a lot of time when you don't have a job, looking for new foods to eat. Pastries are my specialty. I've had scones draped in cherry icing from BonBonerie, flaky chocolate croissants from Frieda's, and muffins from every bakery within a five mile radius of my home.
And so I begin my pursuit to call myself the Pastry Queen of Cincinnati, (won't that look nice on a resume) a title I feel qualified to assume once I try enough of the city's best baked goods. I have a healthy head start, but where do I go next?

My goal is to get to know the city's bakeries, neighborhoods, and breakfast institutions. I want to eat my way across town and lick my fingers when it's all over. What are your favorite Cincinnati baked goods? No pastry is too great or too humble-- croissants and doughnuts are on equal footing here, as long as they are made with love.
Your input, suggestions, and moral support are all welcome! Have you had your pastry today?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder

I am not a red meat kind of girl. I'll eat it when it's the star of a menu, but give me a salad topped with a delicately balanced poached egg, a veggie pizza dripping with mozzerella, or better yet, a chocolate croissant, and I'll call it a good meal. Consequently, I'm hopeless at the meat counter. I ask with some uncertainty for a boneless pork shoulder, around two and a half pounds, pretty please. I expect to be sniffed out as a non meat-worshiper and dismissed with a shout of,
"Get out of here, veggie lover! We don't serve your kind!"
Instead, the butcher tells me he'll bring it out and disappears into the Back Room. I hear saws whirring. I am handed a glorious, glistening hunk of pork the size of my head. I place it in the passenger seat of my car and drive it home to meet its destiny.

"Trim excess fat from pork shoulder."
Right. After a ten-minute wrestling match with the pork, it has surrendered a wad of fat about the size of my fist. The remaining fat is tucked away in impossible folds of pig meat. I give up.

The pork is in the slow cooker now, peppered and salted, sweating in a
little sauna of onion and chicken broth. In approximately four hours, it'll be
ready for a wheat bun, a little mayonnaise, and a lot of love.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Baby Dill

So this is an actual pickle found in our real-life pickle jar.

I know people see Jesus in their toast and stuff, but doesn't it look eerily

The better question is, what does this pickle want? Escape? A life's fulfillment as relish on a steamy, beef patty hot off the grill?

I assume the pickle was eaten and enjoyed by one of the pickle-eaters in my family. (Pickles for me? No thank you.) We can all honor its memory here in the world wide web.

Thanks, pickle. You're one in a million.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Freeze Dried Rambutan

Like you, I had to google “rambutan” to find out what it is. It’s a spiny fruit blessed with an excellent PR agent. I imagine a stern woman with square-framed glasses sitting at a desk, calmly answering e-mails and requests on rambutan’s behalf. She’s even gone to the trouble of creating a website, You will find detailed instructions on how best to open the rind and consume the fruit inside.

The back of my re-sealable bag of freeze-dried rambutan, purchased from the reputable Trader Joe, claims that the fruit contains the mysterious, fifth taste “umami.” Like you, I have heard of this umami and so far, I still don’t understand what it is except MSG that doesn’t give you cancer.

Judging by the photos on rambutan's website, it looks like a scary lychee. Mine look like kix with elephantitis, but they taste delicious.