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

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I don't know why I found this so amusing, but the second I saw it laying on a prep table at work I knew I had to save it.


...great for kids?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Those are people who died...

On August 15'th of 2006, Ray Lindstrom kicked the bucket.

Not a common household name, but one I'm thankful I know. You see, my man Ray was the creative force behind my favorite guilty pleasure: Cinnabon.

I love cinnamon rolls. My favorite of all the breakfast oriented pastries, a good cinnamon roll and a freakishly huge cup of coffee are my preferred way to start any given Saturday morning.

Since moving to Cincinnati, I have found three places to get exceptional cinnamon rolls all in close proximity to the apartment.

The first we found was Cinnabon. Name\brand recognition and always a sloppy gooey mess. Too bad they are priced so damned high.

Next came Bee's Donuts, located almost directly across from Jungle Jim's. Classic raised cinnamon roll with a perfect fondant coating. Very reasonable pricing too. Kerrie and I frequent Bee's more than any other bakery in Cincinnati.

Finally, and possibly the most impressive, comes from Graeters Ice Cream over there in Tri-County. Graeters has the "gourmet" cinnamon roll. Apparently, baking them in a muffin tin and covering them in streusel constitutes "gourmet". Hey I'm not complaining though, because these things are some bad muhfuhs...

Tri-County Mall
11700 Princeton Pike
Cincinnati OH

Bee's Donuts
5353 Dixie Hwy
Fairfield OH

11511 Princeton Road
Cincinnati OH

Jim Carrol Band - People Who Died
Devo - Girl U Want (Tank Girl Version)
St. Germain - Sure Thing
A Tribe Called Quest - Can I Kick It?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

On the count of three drop your body like it's hot!

I miss Ann Arbor.

Many fond memories come from times raiding Ann Arbor. Scrounging for vinyl. Police Trainer at Pinball Pete's and of course, the food...

Off all the places we would hit on a standard Ann Arbor run, Jerusalem Garden was one of the best. They make an AMAZING cup of Turkish coffee, and the best Chicken Shawarma evar...

Recently, I got a bunch of pictures back from my brother from an Ann Arbor run back in '04. As I sifted through all the pics of Skool Kids in Exile, Cafe Felix, and JG, I immediately got a craving for that perfect chicken.

So yeah, we had Shawarma last night and it was X-suh-lent!

Chicken Shawarma
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2-3 T Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
2 t Curry Powder
1 t Kosher Salt
2 t Pepper
1 T Paprika
1 T Malt Vinegar

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Place Chicken in zip-lock bag and add marinade.
Allow to marinate overnight.

I prefer to broil the chicken, but as you can tell from the picture they grill it.

Serve with Pita, Saffron rice, and Hummus.


"It's like a lapdance for my tongue!"
- The Simpsons
"These are the things that drive me crazy..."
- Big Audio Dynamite
"Are you going to stay away or go at them bandit: REYNOLDS STYLE!?!"
- Jason Lee

Punjabi MC & Jay-Z - Beware the Boys
Jay-Z - 99 Problems (Dangermouse Remix)
Big Audio Dynamite - B.A.D.
The Mar-Keys - Last Night

Monday, September 11, 2006

You're an explosion! You're Dynamite!

If there is one thing I really like, it's Vodka. I'm pretty sure Wes will back me up on that, right after he unloads a long rant about how I tried to kill him with it.

Being a fan of Vodka, I always keep a bottle of 100 Proof Stoli in the freezer. It's just about perfect as a cure-all for any craptacular day you might have, and it makes a hell of a pasta sauce...

Penne alla Vodka

1 T Butter
2-4 Cloves Garlic, smashed and chopped
1 Shallot, minced
1/2 C Vodka
1 C Prepared Pasta Sauce
1 T Herbs of Choice (I used both Oregano and Basil)
3/4 C Heavy Cream
2-3 T Grated Parmesan

Cooked Penne
Myzythra Cheese

Start by gently browning the butter in a medium size saute pan.
Add the Garlic and Shallot and saute quickly for a few moments, until soft and fragrant.
Add Vodka and cook until reduced by about half.
Add Pasta Sauce and stir until combined, add herbs.
Add Heavy Cream and cook until slightly thickened.
Add Parmesan cheese and cook a few minutes more, just until thickened.

Toss with Cooked Pasta and garnish with freshly grated Myzythra Cheese.


Traditionally, this dish is made with both Ham and Prosciutto. Now, I love a good slab of pork but in this instance, it's ALL about the Vodka. You don't want to kill that flavor, right?


Arctic Monkeys - I bet that you look good on the dancefloor
Paul Oakenfold - Faster Kill Pussycat
Johnny Cash - The Man comes around


And this is for Edwards. Oh, don't be so... shocked.