Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Things, right now, are CRAY... wait for it... Z!

Kerrie and I are in holiday mode making gift boxes, work is just nuts, and the days just keep slipping away.

Fortunately, I found another Cincy gem by the name of The College Hills Coffee Company. My boss (whom I now refer to as DinnerRoll) and I went there for lunch a while back, and I recently took Kerrie there for breakfast.

As you can probably guess, everything was amazing. I tend to gush about coffeehouses, but this one really has made a good impression. The look, feel, food, and coffee are all excellent and -thank Budda- it's in a decent neighborhood.

I started with a classic Cafe Au Lait and Kerrie had a Gingerbread Spice Latte. Recently, I've been getting back into a lot of the coffees I used to love and drink all the time. Like the Cafe Au Lait... So simple in design but perfectly full flavored.

Kerrie and I each had a Sweet Cream Waffle with Maple Syrup. Waffles are a deal breaker for me. Waffles should be fluffy on the inside, and nicely crisped on the outside. I hate crappy waffles. Thankfully, the waffles seen above were borderline ethereal. They were magical. They were fuckin' awesome...

We chose a window seat while we were there and it gave me warm and fuzzy Cosmos-esque feeling from way back before Jeb, Baxter and I declared war on the powers-that-were.

Creepy, huh?

All things considered, The College Hill Coffee Company is an excellent morning stop. Kerrie and I have yet to go up there in the evening, but the vibe is hip, the food is good, and the coffee is down-right great. Yeah...

College Hill Coffee Company
6128 Hamilton Ave # 1
Cincinnati, OH 45224


Dink - Green Mind
Iggy & The Stooges - No Fun
The Crystal Method - Busy Child
L.L. Cool J - Going Back to Cali

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sad true culinary confession: I'm not a huge fan of seafood.

On the other hand, I love Calamari, I think Pulpo is almost perfectly delicious, and for some fuck-reason I like the taste of Squid Ink in pasta. And, like almost any other human being on the planet, I really dig shrimp.

A while back I brought home a bunch of shrimp from work and threw it in the freezer. Skip forward a few weeks and there I was trying to come up with some ideas for dinner last week. I had seen a recipe in some trade magazine and thought it sounded good, so I tweeked it a bit and... ta da!

Scampi with Cilantro Cashew Pesto over Linguini

Cilnatro Cashew Pesto
1 bunch fresh Cilantro
1/4 Cup Cashews
5 cloves Garlic, crushed
2-3 Sun Dried Tomato Slices, chopped
1 T Lemon Juice
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

16-20 Shrimp
Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced
White Wine for deglazing

For Pesto, combine first five ingredients in a mini-processor and work until chunky. Add Olive Oil a little at a time to form a loose paste. Season with Salt and Pepper.

For Scampi, Prepare Shrimp and wash under cold water. Heat Olive Oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add Shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Add Garlic and toss well, then deglaze with White Wine. Add Pesto and toss until heated through.

Divide Shrimp\Pesto mix into two portions and serve over Linguini.


Ann-Margret - There'll Be Some Changes Made
Eartha Kitt - If I Love Ya, Then I Need Ya
Dean Martin - Baby it's cold outside
Sammy Davis Jr. & Count Basie - She's a W-O-M-A-N

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Every week Kerrie and I go to Jungle Jim's to do our grocery shopping, and a sign posted outside makes me laugh.

I can't help but be taken back to that night in Vegas... or, rather, that morning after where Edwards was standing over McCaan just waiting for him to wake up.

Good times man, goooood times...

Fruit Basket

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bourbon Style Ribs with Baked Apples

Beastie Boys - Three MC's & One DJ
Tom Jones - She's a Lady
Barenaked Ladies - Wind it Up
P.O.D. - Boom (Crystal Method Remix)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Kerrie and I enjoyed a nice 2003 Monte Antico Italian Red wine this past week. For dinner, I had made a nice mixed grill with a rosemary demi-glace and this wine paired nicely. Later we had Brownies with a Chocolate Butter sauce and it still held up well without becoming bitter or overly strong. I did not, however, sense much of anything while sniffing. Maybe a hint of basil? Hmmm...


Thursday, November 09, 2006

All the people stared as if we were both quite insane...

Baxter recently wrote an interesting post about music influencing his work.

I'm listening to Herbie Hancock, the Complete Blue Note Sessions. This is Fabulous music. It's music that speaks to your soul. The kind of groove that can reach in to those deep dark places and pull out the most intricate thought.

I too, not to be too bandwagonesque, am frequently inspired and driven by music. So much so that I have 5 very specific mixes dedicated to daily toil in any given kitchen.

Prep001 - Daily
Prep002 - Weeds
Prep003 - The Bakery Tape
Prep004 - Pastry Chef
Prep005 - Southern Fried Prep

Sometimes though, I need to dig into the stacks of vinyl I have compiled for something truly inspiring. Tonight, for instance, I felt more mellow. So I'm listening to The Hollies' "Greatest Hits", the Velvet Underground's "Andy Warhol", and Tricky's "Blowback".

Earlier this evening, during dinner, Kerrie and I listening to Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey", Leonard Cohen's "Anthem" and the Fun Lovin' Criminals near-perfect rendering of the classic "We Have All The Time In The World".

In the end, it's gratifying to know I'm not the only borderline-obsessive individual consumed by the need for sound and rhythm to be at my creative peak.

The Hollies - Bus Stop
Brooke Benton & Dinah Washington - Baby, You've got what it takes
The O'Kaysions - Girl Watcher
Portishead - Strangers (Live in New York)
Bobby & Jimmy Purify - I'm Your Puppet
The Staple Singers - Let's Do It Again

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I'm not a fire starter, 'cuz I'm a bit smarter...

For all the times I've said how glad I am to be out of Bowling Green, there are a few things that I miss from there. One of those things I miss is The Corner Grill. I know, I know... But, it's "a thing". Once you eat there, work there, and practically live there, it's hard to let go of it all.

Not so much of a problem any more.

Many of you have heard me rant about the food at The Grand Finale in Glendale, right? Well, there is this dinky-assed-nasty dive bar directly across the street from GF called The Friendly Stop. Well, it WAS a dive bar until the people who owned the GF bought it and turned it into a pub\diner.

Don't get me wrong, this place is nothing spectacular. But it IS pretty amazing. Good food, a full bar, and a very liberal smoking policy. Basically, I've found my new Corner Grill...

We started with a half order of Fried Mozzarella ($2.95). Sure, not all that classy, but most certainly one of my favorite bar foods.

Kerrie had the Cajun Burger with a generous portion of french fries ($4.50) while I had their "Meat Loaf 2 Die 4" ($5.50) which Kerrie described as "A wall of meat". The food, and I'd like to be very clear about this, was very good.

To finish things off, Kerrie had a Guinness and I had a cup of coffee. As we sat back in our rickety wooden chairs and watched the blue-collar grunts and the old yuppie ladies eating their meals, we took in all the memorabilia on the walls: Post Cards, License Plates, Ancient posters from before I was born... With the final bill totaling $20.03, it was a perfect meal for a perfect fall day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Got to give it up...

OMFG! This is probably one of the best things that could ever happen to the internets.

First, I owe thanks to Kristy and Tom for turning me on to Fark a few years back. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's considered "useless news". To be honest though, it's the ONLY site I visit to read the news. And now we have the TFkitchen. Sweeeet...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Only Ones, Lonely Ones, Ripped up like Shredded Wheat...

This morning I had to do a catering order for some people at the University.

It always gets to me how creepy that place can be when it's deserted. At first, I got this eerie "Last Man On Earth" vibe.


I was in the Main Kitchen, locked away from anyone or anything that might be lurking around - or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when I heard some rustling around in the back of our deli. And for all the horror movies I've ever watched, I did the stupid thing of going over to investigate. Sure, it was just a maintenance guy collecting the trash but if it were a mutant vampire or, say, a ZOMBIE - I'd be fucked.

Annnnd I'm fucked!

But let's face it. I realized I was being paranoid, and got my act together. I made my special hot Cocoa (Three gallons of it) and filled up the coffee pots. I loaded up the cart and headed over across campus.

The room the catering event was being held in was literally THE furthest point possible from the Main Kitchen. After a lengthy jaunt across campus I was finally on the floor I needed to be on. And here is where it gets good...

While on the elevator, I was thinking about how Kerrie has graciously rented both Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead on DVD for me. Two excellent movies, but movies that tend to leave a unsettling feeling about the "what-if" factors of life. Still half-asleep and thinking of Zombies and Mutant Vampires, the doors of the elevator opened and I pushed my pastry filled cart out into the hallway. A hallway with one lone soul, dragging his right leg and limping. Yup - just like every stereotypical George Romero zombie ever created. What can I say? I froze and thought: You gotta be fricken KIDDING me!

This lone soul, incidentally, is a professor as the University. And as I started moving down the hallway, he smiled politely and said "goodmorning" to me. I stepped away from my cart and held a door to a classroom for him as he gimped around, but my initial thoughts were to "Just shoot them in the head! They seem to go down permanently if you shoot them in the head."

After I was done setting up, more and more people began showing up. Slowly wandering around, mostly lost and disoriented. It was seriously disturbing...

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my zombified morning.

Look! Here comes one of them now!

Misfits - Night of the Living Dead
Jay-Z vs Beatles - 99 Problems (Dangermouse Mix)
Lenny Kravitz - Always on the Run
White Zombie - I'm Your Boogieman

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Do you or Don't you want me to love you?

Alright, because of THIS my work-week has turned to THIS.

The "plant" described in the article was none other than U.S. Foods. Yup, U.S. is our sole provider of everything from Frozen Pizza Dough and French Fries to Cilantro and Eggplant. This crap has screwed up my whole week because NO deliveries went out Monday, and the Tuesday and Wednesday deliveries didn't have ANY frozen items. This, by the way, is in addition to the generally lousy service we get from these Asshats anyways. So yeah, it was real fun trying to make every backward ass thug and hillbilly who'sah lookin' fer sum uh that there high'er ed-ya-kay-shun understand that NO FOOD DELIVERY = LIMITED FOOD SERVICE. And NO, dumbass, we CAN'T send someone to the grocery store for some Soy Milk.

I suppose it's my own fault, too. I order mean and lean. If we don't need it, I don't order it. I don't over order and I never let stock build up. Hmmm... It's weird but since our Exec left for his Chemotherapy and I started doing ALL of the ordering, FLC and Inventory cost have dropped by almost 20%. Hmmm...

Moving on...

Tonight I made Linguini and Arugala with Fennel & Cabernet Tomato Sauce. It is a chilly rainy crappy night here in Cinci so a good bottle of wine and a plate of pasta never seems to fail me.

Recently, Kerrie and I have been enjoying a variety of wines from Wisteria Cellars. Basically, a good wine for a good price that holds up well for drinking and cooking. I write more about them as we sift through the stock. Yay!

The Beatles - Helter Skelter
Misfits - Night of the Living Dead
Massive Attack - Protection
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts - Bad Reputation

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Every time I see you falling....

Vanilla Fudge Milkshakes with Nestle Crunch Pieces

New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
Sweet - Little Willy
Sugarbang - Kiss Me
Paul Oakenfold - Starry Eyed Surprise
Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I can't forget this evening...

This has been a bit of a crazy week.

It started with the EgoCook getting fired, and escalated into a weird pseudo-drama involving a bald ex-con pizza cook, a sexual harassment claim, and a Tranny selling a bunch of illegal DVDs.

What does all of this have to do with me? Nothing. But I still have to deal with it every day because this crap has all taken place in the kitchen that employs me. I miss the days of Garde Manger where I didn't have to deal with all this shit. Yes, the days when all I had to do was show up, make a few terrines, drink espresso, and talk about music by the likes of Dean Martin, The Crystal Method and Badfinger.

It's weeks like this, though, that impede my ability to create a really groovy dinner experience at home. Tonight, however, was really good: General Tso's Chicken with Red Peppers & Juliened Snow Peas

What I would really like right about now is the Princess Chicken from Hunan back in Bowling Green. Princess Chicken is a very easy and plain recipe and -shock!- not like Hunan's. Dammit...

Also, it's going to be November soon and I'm getting in the mood for some of those rainy/snowy/roaringfireplace kind of meals.
- Pasta Bolognese
- Beef Barley Soup/Stew
- Beef Burgundy
- Coq au Vin
- Baked Pasta

Hmmm... What else?

Badfinger - Without You
Dean Martin - Remember Me, I'm the one who loves you
ELO - Do Ya?
Crystal Method - Trip Like I Do

Monday, October 09, 2006

Black Betty had a child, the damn thing gone wild...

So, I had Columbus Day off. Even though no one else had the day off, and even though I'm pretty sure Columbus was a huge prick, I had myself a great day off.


1.) Wandered around in my pajamas till 9:00AM. Check

2.) Went tooling around in Jungle Jim's for almost two hours soaking up all the foodie goodness. Check.

3.) Told two different reps to sod off for calling me on my day off. Check.

[Caught a little hell from Pepsi today for telling their rep to sod off, but since my boss was gone I got to do it again. Sweeeet...]

4.) Grilled some baby lamb chops for lunch. Paired with a hunk of French bread, this was the best lunch I have made for myself all year. A little salt, a little pepper, and 2 minutes on each side over low heat for a nice med-rare. CHECK!

Ram Jam - Black Betty
Kiss - I was made for loving you baby
The Cramps - Get your kicks on Route 66
Harry Nilsson - Jump into the fire

Saturday, October 07, 2006

...Cuz that's what being a superhero is all about!

Tonight: Dinner: Menu:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Creme Fraiche

Grilled Flat Iron Steaks
Roasted Potatoes
Asparagus Tips

Assorted "Butler's Irish" Chocolates
Red Table Wine

We Need To Put That Man Back In the Pulpit!

Fingathing - Superhero Music
Los Lobos - One Time, One Night
The Hollies - Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress

Saturday, September 30, 2006

You're On Fire, You're Burning Bright!

Shortly after moving to Cincinnati, Kerrie and I found this little Italian restaurant in Clifton by the name of Biagio's Bistro. To make a long story short, Biagio's is excellent.

Before I get going, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not talking about Biaggi's Italian Restaurant. Biagio's is a small, comfy and classy bistro with a limited menu of beautiful rustic Italian dishes. Started in 1999 by Biagio Lamassa, Biagio's was a perfect choice for Kerrie and I celebrate our first 2 years together. Dimly lit, roses and photographs of Italy for decoration, and some of the most amazing, yet utterly simple dishes possible.

Kerrie and I got there just before 6:00 and the place was close to empty. We chose a table near where the chef, Biagio himself, was working in plain view. Although there is a back kitchen, the chef works on a range of five burners facing the dining room. The first things you really notice as you walk in are the sight of the big guy working a range top, the sound of Italian opera, and the lovely but damn near overpowering smell of garlic.

Biagio Lamassa

BONUS: Watching the chef walk to the kitchen, while not even slightly busy, and yelling in jest to the cooks - "What the fuck is going on in here?" Oh yes, it's that kind of human touch that makes me feel like I'm in a real restaurant and not some homogeneous chain which filters the soul and love of food right out of every single one of it's employees. This place is REAL...

We started with the house Caesar Salads. Unlike most "Italian" places, there was a perfect balance in the dressing between the Anchovy, lemon juice, and Parmesan.

For the entrees, Kerrie had a heaping portion of Fettucinni Alfredo with Chicken breast sauted in White Wine. I had the Penne with peas and mushrooms in a rustic meat sauce. Both were ample in size, and the interior flavors were not drowned out by over seasoning. Simply put, dinner was delicious.

By the time we ordered dessert, the place was packing up. It fills up quick, but it never feels cramped. There is always room to breath, so to speak. For dessert, I had a cappuccino and a chocolate chip Canoli while Kerrie had the Creme Brulee. Both were sweet and filling, but very light and delicate in texture and flavor. Again, most "Italian" places don't even think twice about serving desserts that are hard, heavy, and usually straight out of a walk-in. The desserts at Biagio's were refreshing.

All in all, the meal was very well prepared and the price (for two people) was reasonable. $15 per entree, $5 per dessert, and my coffee was $2.50. Biagio's is a place I hope does well, and judging by the traffic that flooded in before we left - I'm sure they do.

Biagio's Bistro
308 Ludlow Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45220

Paul Oakenfold & Spitfire - Feed Your Mind
Frank Sinatra - Fly me to the moon
Joy Division - Dead Souls
Nescobar-a-lop-lop & The Camden County Band - What Goes Around Comes Around (Theme from 'My Name Is Earl')

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dig the Lowdown...

Every one of us has a favorite meal. Somewhere in the course of life we all stumble onto something that we can't get over. Something so desirable that no matter where we go, we're always looking for it. For me, that meal is Steak au Poivre.

Even now, as I write, I'm getting misty over my "first time". Sam B's in Bowling Green used to offer it as a daily special, and one night I was out (for whatever reason) and ordered it on a lark.

It was a simple strip steak, nothing fancy, accompanied by Garlic Mashed Potatoes and sauted vegetables. The steak though, cooked slightly past rare, came crusted with gobs of pepper and drowning in a thick brandy cream sauce. It was amazing...

Up until that point, I was of the mind-set that a steak was best cooking just to medium and topped with a dollop of red wine butter. I was changed that night back in 2001. To quote Neil Armstrong, staring at the moon: "You ruined me you bitch..."

The tragedy, though, is that very few places serve anything au poivre. And most places that do serve it do JUST pepper. Pfft. What's worse was that after about a year of steady service, Sam B's yanked the Au Poivre option from their menu. And I was sad...

So I started making my own.

My preferred method is as follows:

Steak au Poivre
Meat (Both beef and pork work wonderfully)
Butter Flavored Oil
Freshly cracked peppercorns (I like the soft green peppercorns)

1/2 Cup Dry Sherry
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Beef Stock (Broth will do just fine)
1 T Butter (Use real butter!)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Start by rinsing off the meal and drying thoroughly.
Crush plenty of pepper to cover one side of the meat generously.
Dip the meat in the Beyond, then press the pepper into one side of the meat.
Place the meat on a plate and put it in the refridgerator.

Heat a size-appropriate skillet to medium high. The pan should be hot enough to sear the outside of the meat, and for a nice crust, but leave the meat just above rare. Pork, though, is a different subject. Make sure it's cooked, you know, all the way...

When the pan is hot, place the meat (with the slightly firmed butter\oil) in the pan pepper side down. Quickly season the unpeppered side with kosher salt and -if desired- ground pepper. Once finished, place the meat in a pan into a 200F oven to keep warm.

Turn the heat on the pan down to medium and deglaze with the sherry. Make sure to scrape up the fond (All the good bits stuck to the pan) with a wooden spoon.
Add the cream and cook for a few moments until the cream is completely mixed and starting to bubble.
Add the beef stock and simmer lightly until thick.
When the sauce is ready, toss in the butter and stir until melted.

Plate the meat and pour the sauce over it evenly.



(Yes Jeb, that was supposed to be devil horns in ASCII...)

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes - Don't Leave ME This Way
John Carpenter - Theme from "Assault on Precinct 13"
The Hollies - The Air That I Breath

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It's time to party, let's party, there's gonna be a party tonight!

Again, I can't stress enough why you should NOT give your phone number to co-workers (Who are now FORMER co-workers) regardless of the situation.

Some nice pieces of ass...

Uh huh...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I only had a Corona...

Today, Kerrie and I saw Jackass: Number 2. A lively film, one which made me laugh and laugh and, well, cringe. Something about a guy dressing his crank up like a field mouse so as to get a snake to lunge at it was very funny, yet obviously unsettling...

When we got home, I had plans for a quick dinner. Quick being that I had all my prep squared away and made a little line for myself. With less and less time available to me per day, every meal I make at home is organized and prepared as if I were still at work.

Petite Flat Iron Steaks & Bourbon Glazed Ribs with Green Beans and French Fries

First I got a my raw materials together, then put on two pots of boiling water.
In the large pot I simmered the ribs for a time of roughly 30 minutes.
In the smaller pot, I blanched on some raw, cut potatoes for about 7 minutes or so. I drained them and let them rest for until my grilled items were finished.
While the potatoes were resting I blanched some green beans for about 5 minutes, then shocked them in cold water.
When the ribs were done, I set them on a sheet tray I had lined with partchment paper. I rinsed, then seasoned my Flat Irons, and took them all out to the grill. Before I went out to the grill, I started heating the oil in another pot.
I glazed the ribs with a bourbon sauce (Minor's brand to tell the truth) and put them on the rack, then I slapped down the Flat Irons and cooked everything evenly. (I like my steaks medium rare)
I went back in and set a small pan with some olive oil on the stove and began heating that.
When the steaks and ribs were done (Steaks = Marked, Ribs = Crispy) I set them back on the sheet tray (Now without lining) and put them in the oven, which I had set at 200F.
I threw my potatoes into the heated oil and my green beans into the pan with a little kosher salt and some lemon juice.
When the fries were done I drained them, then sprinkled them with some kosher salt and black pepper.
Last thing to do was dress the plate with all the items listed and pour some red table wine.
The whole thing took just about 45 minutes.

Minutemen - Corona
John Williams - Imperial March (Mambo Version)
Medeski, Martin, & Wood - Uninvisible

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thinkin' of a master plan...

It's rare in this day and age to find a great burger. A few come to mind (In'n'Out, Fat Burger) but are located on the other side of the fucking country.

So, upon reflection, it was nice to move to a town where there is an old timee drive-up. A place not corupted by clowns or creepy guys in drag wearing oversized "King" heads. A place truely untouched by time. For those of you who know Cincinnati, you probably know Jolly's.

Jolly's is amazing for the simple fact that they are not obsessed with a completely BULLSHIT menu. They serve burgers, hot dogs and fries. No salads, no baked potatoes, and for fucks sake, no unionized midgets!

Kerrie and I went to Jolly's last Saturday for fear that they might be closing for the season, but thankfully they will be open until mid-October. I had a double cheeseburger, large fries, and a large Root Beer. Kerrie had a Footlong Chilidog and a large order of fries. We sat, ate, and finished the whole thing off with a couple of cloves for good measure...

Jolly's Drive-In
650 Nilles Rd
Fairfield, OH 45014
(513) 858-2346

Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full
Bent - Magic Love
Chemical Brothers w/ Q-Tip - Galvanize