Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Claddagh is an Irish word (it means a stormy beach) as well as a place in Ireland near Galway, on the rocky west coast of that country. One of the vendors at Findlay Market is Claddagh Farms, which sells homemade sauces, jams, jellies, herb mixes and more.
They have a granola with whole, roasted almonds and steel-cut oats that has become a favorite nosh of mine. And their homemade tomato (pasta) sauce is loaded with garlic from their fields. If you get there soon, you may still find bulbs of fresh garlic. It is SO much better than the stuff you get at the supermarket, you will be amazed.
Let's sing the praises of the Mediterranean diet! It's mostly plant based, with protein coming from beans, fish and a little bit of meat now and then. Most nutritionists have come to the conclusion that it may be the healthiest way of eating in the whole world.
Olive oil forms the basis of many recipes from the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, with Italy, Spain and Greece being the major exporters of the golden-green oil. (California olive oils are not to be ignored, either.) Some of its health benefits include:
- Reducing blood pressure
- Inhibiting the growth of some cancers
- Moderating the risk of developing diabetes
- Lessening the severity of asthma and arthritis
- Even helping your body maintain a lower weight
A great source for a wide selection of olive oils and other prepared foods and delicious ingredients is Dean's Mediterranean Imports (108 West Elder St.) at Findlay Market. Dean Zaidan, who hails from Lebanon, has operated the shop for years but recently expanded the store and renovated the floors above it, where he now lives. Dean is a friendly, fun guy, so be sure to ask for him when you stop in.
OPEN ON SUNDAY, TOO!
Four of us had dinner last night at Mecklenburg Gardens on University Ave. in Clifton, and met the landmark restaurant's new chef, David Bach.
Bach helped Sean Daly open Hugo's in Oakley a few years ago and then moved on to other restaurant gigs, including Nada, the downtown Mexican place that's part of David Falk's restaurant group . "When this opportunity [at Mecklenburg) came up, I grabbed it," Bach said.
He's been there just two months and the menu is still the same as it's been for awhile. Here's hoping that Bach will be able to put his own twist on the German-accented cuisine without straying too far from the formula that has kept the restaurant perking along since its reopening in the mid-'90s.
Pictured above are the pecan-crusted walleye and a chicken strudel.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I just returned from the first annual Farmers Fair on Greenup Street in Covington, where I met the chefs from downtown Cincinnati's newest--and most exciting--restaurant. Chefs Steven Geddes (in photograph at left) and Kyle Johnson (far right) were passing out copies of Local 127's menu amid the booths staffed by Kentucky farmers, artisan food producers, Elk Creek winery, Dojo Gelato, and more. They found no better place to schmooze with likely customers than at this locavore event. In fact, several of the restaurant's food sources were represented at the fair.
Local 127 (127 W. 4th St., formerly Jean-Robert at Pigall's), calls itself a "New American eatery" that "provides only the freshest ingredients, prepared with a respect for tradition using the innovative tools of today."
The menu, divided into SMALL and LARGE plates, looks like a healthy foodie's dream: plenty of vegetable based dishes, and much of the meat is healthy too because it comes from farmers who treat and feed their animals humanely and healthfully. The result is lean, high protein, low fat meat full of minerals and "good" fats.
Some menu items to whet your appetite: Squash soup with garlic chips, pumpkin seeds and parsley; "risotto style" rice with mushrooms, herbs and preserved lemons; Waldorf salad with apples, walnuts and Riesling soaked raisins; chicken two ways with red bliss potatoes, eggplant and shallot puree; Atlantic halibut with wild rice, wilted spinach and lemon. (Note that the menu changes daily based on what the farmer-sources have to sell.)
I chatted with the chefs (pictured with friends Brent Balika, second from left, and Ike Like) and learned that they plan to open a wine bar in the coming weeks or months and also will expand to include lunch service. As of now, Local 127 serves dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays.
We have not gotten there yet, but will do so ASAP and report in detail about what these foodies are dishing up that night.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
2 ½ cups diced or chopped aromatic vegetables*
½ cup chopped red pepper
3 T canola or olive oil
1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 18-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper or ground chipotle chili (optional)
¼ cup lightly chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)
* Any combination of onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, carrots and/or celery
Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan; add aromatic vegetables and red pepper; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms and 2-3 T of water, cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover, stir, cover again and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add beans, tomatoes and thyme, stir well and cook until heated through.
Add spinach and seasonings, stir until spinach is wilted.
Serve over pasta, brown rice or polenta.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I don't know any better place for an inexpensive, healthy lunch near U.C. (where I work) than Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro. (No website so no link.) Most of the time, I carry out a couple of the "soft rolls," pictured above. Try both the pork and shrimp or the tofu--they're equally tasty, chock full of lean protein and crunchy raw veggies, and they come with a sweet, tasty peanut dipping sauce. They're only $1.70 each! It's enough lunch for me.
Bigger appetites should try one of the noodle bowls, also pictured. They also make salad bowls--fewer carbs and calories, and quite filling.
Cilantro is at 2510 Clifton Avenue, across from Hughes High School and a block from the U.C. Law School building.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
If you've been reading your Starbucks paper napkins lately, you've noticed that the coffee chain (finally) has gotten rid of trans fats in their pastries. They also claim to have eliminated artificial flavors & dyes along with high-fructose corn syrup.
Those are steps in the right direction. But as I stand in line looking at the pastry case, I still have a hard time seeing anything I should eat--fat and calorie-wise. Once in awhile they have a pastry that's promoted as healthier--whole grains, fruit-based--but most of the time, not.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
The salad included mixed greens, sliced strawberries, crumbled goat cheese, shaved Parmesan and toasted almonds with a black pepper-Dijon vinaigrette. And of course the chocolate topped it off.
Try this at home, and amaze your family and/or friends.