July 25, 2011

Skinny Pig

I dined at Skinny Pig in East Walnut Hills on Friday for an early birthday dinner.  First pictures, then my mixed review.
It's BYOB, I brought a bottle of Shiraz/Cabernet and they provided the wine glasses and also offer water, lemonade and soft drinks.  Since it was Friday night the grill was open and they had a separate menu for grill items; sweet corn on the cob, bacon wrapped drum sticks and flat iron steak.  I had my heart set on trying a blue corn flat bread so I ignored the enticing grill menu and stuck to my guns.  I did order the corn on the cob and topped it with lots of butter and a dash of salt, juicy and grilled to perfection. 

The adobe pork flat bread (as beautiful as it was!)simply did not agree with my palate.  It was topped with sliced pork, cilantro chili peaches, red onion and a lime avocado sauce.  I understand that everyone has different taste buds but I think this generally lacked flavor, or at least lacked flavors that complemented each other well.  I assumed the pork was going to be a smoky flavorful pulled pork, which would have worked well with the peaches and avocado sauce.  I really needed something a bit more savory to balance the sweetness in the peaches and the tangy tartness of the lime avocado.  The onion did add a little flavor, though.  Perhaps the mushroom pate flat bread would have been more up my alley?

My dinner-mates both ordered from the grill and I am happy I was able to have a taste of both the bacon-wrapped drum sticks and the flat iron steak- delicious! (as you can probably tell by the picture of a plate with one bite of steak left)  As let down as I was with my dinner choice, I can see myself returning for grilled fare and one of their salads which have had great reviews.  You can't beat $10 for a flavorful, perfectly prepared steak and a side salad.

I wanted to try some of the strawberry soft serve ice cream but the restaurant was uncomfortably hot and service started to slow down a bit after all the tables filled up.  We headed somewhere else instead:  Rolo McFlurry's are delicious:)
The Skinny Pig on Urbanspoon

July 10, 2011

Yelp Eats Iron Chef Cook-off

I attended my first Yelp Eats event last Thursday.  Yelp organized a local iron chef cook-off at Eat Well, a local catering company on Monmouth Street in Newport.  The event started at 7 and the place was packed by the time I arrived.  I managed to maneuver my way through the crowd and check out the offerings. 

My first stop was the Iron Horse table which included a chilled creamed corn soup and a couple varieties of hummus with pita chips.
I tried several tasty dishes and took a lot of (blurry!) pics.  If I had another arm I would have snapped a picture of everything I tried, but I was afraid of dropping my food and making a scene in an already chaotic environment.  In addition to Iron Horse I also tried a delicious vegetarian lasagna from Bella Luna, fettuccine alfredo from Blinker's tavern (nice but could have used a dash of salt), and a couple bites of buffalo chicken mac'n cheese from Keystone.  I was a little carbed-out by that point but later in the evening someone brought out a tray of goetta-dogs, yum!  Oh, FYI, there is more than one way to make a smoothie...

Around 7:30 it was time for the cook-off to start and the DJ announced that the secret ingredient would be goetta, yay!  The chefs included: Chef Matt from Virgil's, Chef Josh from Mayberry / The Skinny Pig, Chef Steven Shockley from Date, Chef Mark of Parker's Blue Ash Tavern and Chef Bella Dolce from Roxy's.  I was standing in front of chef Stephen during the prep time so I didn't get to see what all the cooks were up to, but the aromas that filled the room were amazing!

Chef Stephen prepared goetta meatballs, dredged in egg wash then bread crumbs and fried.  The goetta balls were served over what appeared to be a beet and cabbage Greek yogurt slaw and topped each with a poached egg. 

I visited the judge's table while they tasted a couple of the dishes.  At this point the room had become quite smoky from the open flames and I decided to make my exit.  Thanks to a Facebook status update by 365 Cincinnati (one of the judges!) I learned that chef Josh won the competition. 

I can't wait until my next Yelp Eats event.  July 11-17 is Yelp's "tasting week" in Cincinnati.  Several local restaurants will be offering a 1/2 price menu on selected appetizers, entrees and desserts.  Check it out!

July 4, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Happy 4th of July!  In honor of our nation's independence I would like to share one of my favorite, most crowd-pleasing recipes.  It's perfect for summer parties and I don't think I've ever ended up with leftovers when I make this.

First things first, ingredients:  One yellow or white cake mix, 2 pints of strawberries, a handful of blueberries, 2 small boxes of vanilla instant pudding (or 1 large box), 1 small container of whipped topping (not from an aerosol can). 

First bake the yellow cake.  I use two 9-inch pans to decrease the baking time but this part really doesn't matter.  After the cake is done cut it into small square pieces.  While the cake is in the oven cut up the strawberries and make the vanilla pudding according to the directions on the box.  Once the pudding is mixed and set, gently fold in a container of whipped topping. 
After you have everything baked, mixed, and cut you can then begin the layering process.  First start with a layer of cake on the bottom, followed by strawberries and then top with the pudding/whipped topping mixture.  Repeat this 3 times.  I use a glass trifle dish but you can really use any type of large serving bowl or cake pan; you may need to decrease the number of layers depending on the depth of the dish.

The American Flag design on the top is optional, I was feeling very festive today.  If you are not a strawberry fan you can make a trifle dessert with just about any combination of sweets.  Strawberry shortcake happens to be one of my favorite desserts but I have also made this dish with brownies, pudding/whipped topping mixture and heath bar pieces.  The possibilities are endless.  Now, go celebrate!

July 3, 2011

Norwood Delite- Blueberry Softserve

If you grew up going to King's Island as a kid you probably partook in your fair shair of blueberry softserve at the Huckelberry Dairy in (what used to be) Hanna Barbera Land.  This is one of my most fond memories of King's Island; even more so than the Beast or the waterpark or Amazon Falls.  In recent years I'm guilty of going to King's Island and consuming 2 large blueberry softserve cones with rainbow sprinkles in a matter of an hour.

So, you can imagine how my eyes lit up when one of my friends informed me, very matter-of-factly, that a local dairy bar in Norwood serves the same blueberry softserve.  And you don't have to pay a $50 admission first!?!  I assumed maybe King's Island had some sort of rights to the blueberry softserve but then I learned that they purchase the mix from Trauth Dairy and don't actually make it themselves.

Anyhoo, a lot of back-story here but that's just how much I love this ice cream!  Unfortunately the Norwood Delite Creamy Whip version was not exactly the same as King's Island. I think they put in too much flavoring resulting in a vibrant, almost electric blue color.  King's Island's was always more of a light baby blue.  The flavor itself was the same, just too much of it.  The consistency was also a little different which could have something to do with the quality of the machine they use.  It wasn't quite frozen enough and didn't have that light, almost fluffy texture to it.  But the rainbow sprinkles were perfect!

Another difference is that Norwood Delite does not have the ability to mix blueberry and vanilla softserve on one cone; which is my preferred combination.  This is why I had to get mine in a cup with a cone on the side.  I ended up spooning the ice cream from the cup into the cone myself; there's nothing better than the last bites of the bottom of a cake cone filled with softserve ice cream.  It's all part of the softserve experience!

Even though this blueberry didn't measure up, I'm planning to go back to see if the quality depends on who makes it becuase it's definitely worth a 2nd chance.  And I love corner dairy bars so it's never a wasted trip.  Norwood Delite has a long menu to choose from and there was quite a bit of traffic at their window.  They are located on Forest Avenue in Norwood close to Sharpsburg Elementary school and off of Smith Road, if you're in the area I recommend stopping by.  (If you're not sold on the blueberry you should at least ask them for a sample to taste:).

Norwood Delite Creamy Whip on Urbanspoon