January 21, 2013

It's January, why am I writing about Oktoberfest Zinzinnati?

If you read my previous post, you know I was on the injured list for a while.  Recovering from knee surgery shouldn't have kept me from blogging, but it did.  Certainly didn't keep me from eating!

The weekend before my surgery was Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and I went on both Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday was super-windy and chilly but I went during the day on Sunday and was able to embark more-fully on food adventure.  One of my friends found out Julie Niesen Gosdin of Wine Me Dine Me was doing food tours at Oktoberfest and it turned out to be an informative little food frenzy. I'd say I got a different taste of Oktoberfest than I have in years past; pun intended.

Since it's been a while, some of the details have slipped my mind but I tried to remember at least the name of the dish and what I liked about it.

First off, can't go to Oktoberfest without a cream puff.  Honestly, I don't really like cream puffs. They're ok, but it's not something I crave or feel like I just have to have.  My sister, on the other hand, can't get enough cream puff.  She insisted this one from Schmidt's of German Village had a slight taste of pickles in the custard. I concurred.
If I'm not mistaken this is a Rivertown Oktoberfest, in the fun and festive Oktoberfest Zinzinnati plastic stein.
And some goetta mac and cheese.  I can't remember which food vendor was selling this item but I think there was only one doing so.  I'd definitely get this again but would probably split it due to its heaviness.
The goetta reuben, or goetta Brawny Lad as I like to call it, was the most unexpected hit of our little food tour.  I wasn't sure it would be that great but this was one flavorful and satisfying sandwich.  I will be getting this next year for sure!
I forgot to snap a picture of my cinnamon sugar pretzel from Heidi's Strudel before I devoured more than half of it. These pretzels were buttery and soft and amazing and I can't believe this was the first time I tried it.  I tried the plain pretzel as well as the cinnamon sugar, both get two thumbs up.
The next two items were both from Hey Hey.  The chicken and noodles didn't meet up to my high expectations.  Perhaps a little too salty and not enough of a natural chicken flavor. 
Hey Hey's potato pancakes more than made up for it, though.  These delicious little nests of shredded potato and spices made my day! 
Served with a side of sour cream and apple sauce...
Just for the record, most of this food was split between three people during our food tour.  I really think that's the best way to go about experiencing the most variety and bang for your buck with food festivals.  You get enough of the food to taste it but you don't end up so stuffed that you can't enjoy it.  I'm happy I got the chance find some new favorites!

January 5, 2013

Newport Kroger Wine Pairing Dinner

When you think of a 5-course meal with wine pairings what restaurants come to mind?  Nicola's? The Palace?  The Orchid at Palm Court?  Yep, that's what comes to my mind.  I've been to a couple of those restaurants and had lovely experiences.  But would you believe that Newport Kroger Marketplace provides the same thing for a fraction of the cost? It's no secret I can't say enough good things about the culinary team at Newport Kroger; quite unexpected from a grocery store chain.  I frequent the Friday evening wine tastings at the Newport Kroger Liquor store but Kroger has recently started offering a full wine pairing dinner once a month. 

The progressive meal is prepared by the chefs and a representative from a wine distributor chooses the wine to be paired with each course.  There is a brief overview of each type of wine and why it pairs nicely with the course. 

Here is the menu from November's wine pairing dinner.  The pictures are in the order each course was served, so fairly self-explanatory.  The cost of the meal and wine pairings is $20 a person or $30 for two people.

I enjoyed each course but the home-made artisan bread was my favorite part of the evening. I'm looking forward to many more wine pairing dinners in the future.  It's always exciting to see what the chefs put together for each month's menu. 

December 1, 2012

What I've been eating lately...

What can I say? Recovering from surgery can make you lose your sparkle.  If you look at my blog archives, you'll notice I kinda took the month of October off from blogging.  At the end of September I had ACL revision-reconstruction on my left knee. Basically I had a "re-do" of a surgery that was performed a little over five years ago to graft a new anterior cruciate ligament in my knee.  I didn't re-injure my knee but the existing graft wasn't doing it's job and being the active person I am, I didn't want to risk a re-tear.  So far, things feel pretty good and I'm getting back to my normal activity levels. 

Now, don't go thinking that just because I went AWOL from blogging means I skipped out on the food scene all together.  No sir, no m'am.  Over the past couple months I have done my more-than-fair-share of eating, especially foods of the comfort variety.  I snapped a lot of pics but this is just a small fraction of it.  The lack of physical activity and need for comfort food has made me a little thicker than normal but I took that liberty without feeling too much guilt.

Here's what I was up to.

A quick stop at La Mexicana in Newport, KY for a light lunch.  Or what I thought was going to be a light lunch.  I had dinner plans and figured 2 tacos was a reasonable amount of food that my appetite for dinner wouldn't be spoiled.  I was wrong!  I ordered one chicken taco and one barbacoa.  The barbacoa, while full of flavor, was on the heavy side.  Lunch, not so light, but very delicious and satisfying. 
I went to The Rookwood for girl's night one Wednesday evening.  We lucked out with some relatively nice weather and sat on the patio.  I'd only been here once before and we sat inside.  I had NO idea they had such lovely outdoor dining; complete with 2 levels of deck area and 3 swings.  You never know when you'll feel like breaking out into a swinging fit. I ordered the fries with Grippo's seasoning.  These are probably one of the most addicting things I've eaten in a long time, just like the potato chips.  Come on, how do they manage to create a perfect balance of sweet, salty, tangy and spicy?  It's magic. We also split an order of the deviled eggs, a cheese board and I had a cup of the chili.  It was delicious but a tad too salty for my liking.
I made my way back to Lavomatic for dinner.  I've been there a handful of times but this was my first since the renovation and updated menu.  We started with the bacon jam and goat cheese spread, served with crostini.  A very rich, savory sweet start to the meal.  I recommend this plate and would order it again.  It was a bit heavy for 2 people. For my entree I had the swai fish tacos.  I remember these being more basic last time I ordered them.  There was a bit too much flavor going on here with the mayo and slaw.  I would have preferred those items on the side. 

I've been trying to get to Buona Vita for almost a year.  My last attempt was back in early January 2012, my friend and I walked through the front door and were faced with an hour wait.  I thought about it off and on over the last several months and after a co-worker started talking about it I had to make a trip.  The side salad was perfect and I loved the balsamic dressing, not sure if it was house-made or not, but I don't really care because I liked how it tasted.  I ordered a small pizza with Italian sausage, mushroom and banana pepper. It's my favorite topping combo for pizza.  So since it was just me, I went for it!  I want to go back and get some better pics and do a full post on this place since it's such a gem, my first trip was great and I'm looking forward to a second.  They had a special on desserts, pumpkin torte with apple gelato.  Yum!  And just the right size that it wasn't too much of a good thing.

About a week later marked my first trip to Dorothy Lane Market.  I'd been hearing about it over the last several months and overall it was a cool place.  They might charge you a little more for a bag of Doritos but they make a spectable of dipping their own apples in caramel for goodness sake!  That more than makes up for it.
I also had my first taste of Jeni's Splendid Salty Caramel ice cream.  Wow, I can see what all the hype is about.  Salty caramel seems to be the in-flavor right now, and I'm a fan of many varieties of salty caramel things. Jeni's lands near the top of my list but for the price of admission, I won't be going often....if you know what I mean!$$$
We did ROTM (Restaurant of the Month) at Eli's Barbecue in October.  I was hosting, but I'd already been so it was kinda anti-climactic.  My first stop was over the summer and it was such a pleasant surprise to experience their outdoor seating area, I felt like I was somewhere in the middle of the deep South, for sure.  Not quite the same experience dining there when it's 40 degrees outside but the food is still amazing.  I had the pulled pork sandwich and an order of cheddar jalapeno grits. This was my first time ordering the grits and I will forever and always choose this as my side item.
The following week I went to Japp's for an afternoon of fun as they were hosting a grilled cheese cook-off in the Annex.  My friend Sharon was one of a handful of local food bloggers who helped judged the event. This is a shot of one of the participant's entries, pretty sure this one was pesto-inspired.  They had a special on bottomless mimosas, $15 for as many as you can drink.  I managed about 6 pours, victory!  I've heard Japp's will be hosting cook-off type events like this in the Annex over the next several months.  It's a laid back good time and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.