September 26, 2012


Nicola's has been on my foodie bucket list for a while.  I drive past it everyday on my way home from work and it stays on my radar.  My birthday happened to be on a Monday this year and I thought it nothing but serendipitous; considering Nicola's offers a $13 Bolognese special on Mondays nights. 

Normally, the Monday night special is only good in the bar area.  The bar area is really small and we had five adults and two kids with us.  They were gracious enough to seat us in the dining room and seemed to be serving the Monday night special to other patrons in the dining room as well. Although after dining here with 2 kids, I don't recommend it.  The atmosphere is rather formal and I'm not certain the staff are use to serving children. There are, understandably, no substitutions or alternative menu options for kids.

I started off in the bar area while I waited for the rest of my family to arrive.  I enjoyed a glass of the Le Gemme red blend and some complimentary marconi almonds along with the best green and black olives I've ever tasted.

I can't go any further in this post until I show you a picture of the bread.  Oh my, the bread basket that was probably made by angels and sent from heaven.  All of these unique breads are made in-house except for the the sourdough which is made by Shadeau Breads.
 My favorites were the little round breads topped with tomato, onion and cucumber (or maybe it's zucchini, I'm not really sure).  There was also a walnut bread at the bottom of the basket and it was delicious, it had the slightest sweetness to it and combined with the nutty flavor of the walnuts it was lovely and unexpected.

The $13 Monday special comes with a house salad of greens, tomato and a vinegarette.

The tagliatelle bolognese was delicious and definitely lived up to the expectations I had been building for months and months.  The meat sauce includes veal and beef and is finished with butter.  It is served over house-made tagliatelle, which is similar in style to a fettucine noodle.

We passed on dessert at the restaurant and went outside to enjoy some birthday cupcakes I baked. I'm so happy to have celebrated my birthday at Nicola's, I can't wait to go back for another big bowl of bolognese! 
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September 12, 2012

Peace, Love, Oktoberfest Mainstrasse

The sub-title for this post should read: We came, we saw, we peed our pants laughing at drunk people dancing.  Seriously, best entertainment ever.  I haven't been to Mainstrasse's Oktoberfest celebration in 10 years so I was pumped to check it out.  I walk into all food-focused street festivals with a "game-on" kind of approach.  I don't want to simply hang out and eat a little food and drink a little beer, I want to conquer the food booths.  Oktoberfest this past weekend was no different.  We were super-thorough and did a complete walk-through of the venue before we purchased one thing.

First things first...
We started out very German with Spaten Oktoberfest and a Bavarian pretzel with nacho cheese and an order of sauerkraut balls.  Unfortunately they did not serve a traditional beer cheese but we pushed through.  And perhaps spilled some of our own beer into the nacho cheese.

Next up was the feather fries.  If you've never seen or heard of these you need to check them out.  The picture will really speak for itself but it's basically a very thinly spiraled potato that is deep fried and then topped with nacho cheese sauce and ranch dressing, and I dipped mine in ketchup as well.  It was good, but not for the faint of heart and the portion could easily serve 3 people. 
The food was chosen in the order that we passed that particular food booth.  Next was the home-made donut booth.  I've heard stories about these donuts, apparently they're served at church festivals, I'm fairly certain they're made by the Knights of Columbus.  They offer powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar and they only cost $1 each, steal!
Funny story.  When I handed the girl my $5 bill for our order I accidentally dropped it in the tray of powdered sugar donuts.  There was an older gentleman working the booth and he was transferring the donuts on the table to another area. He simply picked up my $5, handed it to the girl, and went about loading the donuts into the tray...including the one my money landed on.  Like it was no big deal at all!  I can't say which flavor was better, I think I'm partial to the cinnamon sugar for the added flavor.
We noticed on our loop around the food area that one of the barbecue booths was roasting a pig and would be turning it into pulled pork at 6pm.
After the donuts we grabbed another beer and an order of pulled pork and sat down for some people-watching and music.
It was time to digest for a bit so we found the German band and tons of opportunities for people watching.  Some people were REALLY getting into the music.  We did some more walking and ventured into the arts and crafts booths, saw some cool sidewalk chalk and got our picture taken in one of those wooden things with the faces cut out.
I'm sure I'm getting the sequence of events a little muddied here but at some point (after the pork, I think) we noticed the Mr. Softee truck.  I can't remember the last time I had soft serve from Mr. Softee, this was meant to happen.  They were out of chocolate soft serve, chocolate shell and sprinkles.  Ugh.  But I went with a vanilla soft serve and cherry shell and it was unbelievable!
After the ice cream we topped things off with a potato pancake from Izzy's and eventually ended the night with a volcano funnel cake.  It was a regular funnel cake with a piece of cheese cake in the middle of it, topped with powdered sugar, strawberries and whipped cream.  I'm not too proud to admit the volcano was a bad idea, bad.
After this we basically looked at each other in disgust and decided it was time to go.  I got stuck getting into my car because I had to park so close to the car next to me so the lot could maximize on parking spaces.  Almost lost a foot.  I can't remember the last time I ate so much or laughed that hard.  I can't even begin to compare it to Oktoberfest in Cincinnati because it is so completely different and unique and beautiful in its own way.  It was a good time that I will not soon forget!