Monday, January 8, 2018

MidiCi:

We were very excited when it was announced that MidiCi was coming to Cincinnati, but also a little apprehensive. At that time (last year at the end of March), David couldn’t eat much of anything, and especially not pizza. It was a real bummer, because David is very particular about his pizza, and MidiCi’s wood-fired ovens can make pizza one of the best ways.

Midici


But, we were hopeful that by the time David was well and able to eat cheese, regular bread and tomatoes and salt again, the restaurant would be open for business - and that's what happened! Lucky us. MidiCi has been open since mid-December.

We checked out the place with our good friends Bob and Erin Marie a little after they opened.

Midici

I am particularly thrilled about one appetizer - the burrata with melon and prosciutto. Three of my favorite things, all on one plate. There’s a reason this appetizer is one of the most popular. It combines some really nice flavor profiles for a light, shareable appetizer. Unless you are dining with me, then you got to get your own.


Midici
I like a 'lotta burrata

Midici

The meatball appetizer is a little heavier and we’d advocate splitting it, especially if you are also ordering a pizza. Seasoned well, with tender meatballs, crunchy bread and a nice vibrant sauce, you can’t go wrong here.

Midici 


The drink menu is a good balance, there's a bit of something for everyone, I have ordered a drink twice now called “A Moment in the Sun” made with limoncello, vodka and lemon juice with a sugar rim. David appreciates the lighter options like an Aperol spritz. 



Midici


Midici 


Which brings us to the pizza. We ordered three pizzas between all of us, The Margherita, The Meats and The Hawaiian. All had excellent crust and structure, the only thing we’d love to see more of is a little more browning on the mozzarella. 

Midici
Spoiler alert: It's good 'za

Midici

The interior of the restaurant has been decorated with care, including an indoor fire pit, a tree and lots of little details that will keep your eyes entertained while you wait for your meal to arrive over a cocktail or spritz.

Midici


Midici
It's the little things - look,..purse hooks

It can be a little confusing to order if you visit for the first time, but just head towards the cash registers in the middle and let them walk you through it. Some of the staff were still getting trained up while we were there, so be patient - it’s worth the wait.

Midici

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Senate Blue Ash:

This post is significant for several reasons. One, we are sure that many of our readers have been following our journey this year from our last few posts. Two, this couple of hardcore urbanites actually drove out to the suburbs for brunch. Twice.

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Quick recap: In January, David was diagnosed with Stage 5 Kidney Disease, and we were advised that the best treatment for his condition was a kidney transplant as soon as possible or he'd need to undergo dialysis in the next few months. We immediately started a strict renal diet and a donor search. As unfortunate as this diagnosis was, we were lucky beyond belief to have amazing friends and acquaintances that stepped up to help spread the word and volunteered to be donors. Because of everyone’s efforts, we were successfully able to avoid dialysis, giving David a much better life expectancy and outcome.

There were several matches for David, but ultimately, our very good friend Rich gave us a gift we can never say ‘thank you’ enough for. The fact we were even able to go to enjoy brunch is owed to Rich. So it was fitting that Rich was honored at Senate a few weeks back by being the very much coveted ‘Dog of the Day.’ 

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This is what a hero looks like in real-life: Rich Hill surrounded by 'Rich Hill' dogs!

Senate in Over-the-Rhine is one of the OG restaurants, but the Blue Ash location just opened up earlier this year. It has a similar feel and many of the same menu items, but also features a wonderful patio, call-ahead seating, and brunch.

We visited on two occasions, once with our good friends Bob and Erin Marie Schwartz, and once with Rich, his wife Maria and their adorably feisty daughter, Vivian (Parents take heed, Senate Blue Ash is exceptionally kid friendly: a park right outside, high chairs, and even kid-sized menu items).

Let’s start with the pancakes. We need to talk about these. There are two versions of them on the menu, ‘Birthday cake’ and ‘Neapolitan.’ One is slightly more ridiculous than the other.

Both times we visited, we ordered the pancakes for the table, which is what we recommend. Birthday Cake Pancakes are covered in a funfetti glaze, sprinkles and crushed up birthday cake Oreos.

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One Sugar Mountain Supreme for the Chubby Bunny. Pancakes are under there...somewhere.


The Neapolitan Pancakes are slightly more conservative, with local strawberries, vanilla creme anglaise and crushed cocoa puffs. Still, it’s a great start to a shared meal and a big commitment for any one person to take these two dishes on.

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Next, the ‘Goetta Superstar.” Goetta is delicious. Pair it with melted cheese, velvety scrambled eggs, creamy avocado and a toasted brioche bun and you’ve got a hit on your hands. Get. This. Sandwich.

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The Eggs Benedict, served with lemony hollandaise, gently poached eggs and savory ham atop the  best English muffin in the city (made by Blue Oven Bakery) is worth the trip to the restaurant alone.

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The Chilaquiles also were very flavorful, balanced, not too spicy, and a great option for vegetarians. Personally, we found ourselves looking for some additional protein in the dish, but this is a lighter choice among some heavier brunch items, and also ideal for sharing.

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David had been eyeing the Sunday Burger since our first visit, and it didn't disappoint. Two beef patties, cheese, bacon, and a sunny side up egg, all served on a light and fluffy brioche. The breakfast potatoes are delightfully crispy and lightly seasoned with truffle.

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A burger cross section is worth a thousand words

Even one of the more tame options (Bacon, Egg and Cheese Muffin) stands out, due to the aforementioned Blue Oven English Muffin.

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We closed out our second meal with Biscuits, Gravy and Eggs. Seasoned well, with flaky biscuits and a nice proportion of sausage-to-gravy, this is another solid brunch choice.

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Finally, there’s a drink called Frosé, (frozen rose with a few additions) which is ideal to sip out on the sunny patio.

We highly recommend making the trip out to Senate’s new location, and thanks to Rich, his family and our many friends, guess what:

We’re back.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Biscuits Make it Better:

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It’s hard to believe it’s only been a few months since our world went upside down. There’s been a lot of progress and we are very grateful - the size of the response to David’s need for a kidney has been humbling and donors are now being tested. In the meantime, we’re trying to keep David’s blood work stable. It is easier said than done and relies heavily on a very special meal plan.

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If his values get worse, we’re looking at dialysis or, you know... death. There are no ‘cheat days’ on this diet. Since we enjoy eating out and cooking lots of things, it has been very challenging.

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What, you don't own a microgram scale too?

Fortunately, David already created a program that uses the USDA database to reference values on nutrients, so he’s been able to put items on ‘yes’ and ‘no’ lists. The ‘yes’ list is extremely short, for some good reasons. Kidneys filter out a lot of bad things that can build up in the body. David’s are barely operating, so that means he can't eat what his kidneys are not able to filter.

The first and biggest to watch is potassium. If potassium gets too high, the outcome is death with basically no symptoms beforehand. This has already sent us to the hospital once. Despite the interesting people watching at the U.C. ER on a weeknight, we are hoping to avoid more trips.

Second, phosphorus. Phosphorus and calcium have a working relationship. When phosphorus gets high, bones start to decalcify, also not a desirable outcome. Cheese is one of the highest sources of phosphorous, which makes pizza (one of David’s favorite foods) essentially the devil.

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Third, sodium. Fluid retention is one of the biggest signs of dialysis need, and sodium excess contributes to it. To add insult to injury, sodium also elevates blood pressure, which hurts kidney function and David does not have any of that to spare.

Lastly, protein. Proteins metabolize into nitrogen based compounds, some of which are toxic if not filtered out by a working kidney.

Easy-peasy, right? Just don’t eat any meat or other high protein foods, avoid foods high in one or both of those two chemicals and banish the salt shaker.


If only. Potassium and phosphorus not only occur naturally in many “healthy foods” (greens, grains, fruits, nuts, beans) they also are used very heavily as synthetic preservatives or additives in the food industry. A real kick in the balls: they also are not required to be labeled on a product's nutritional information. Grocery shopping just got a lot more complicated, folks.

People love salt, and for good reason. Salt is tasty. But the amount of sodium David is allowed to have per day is extremely small, 1400 mg. That’s the equivalent of one bowl of broccoli cheddar soup from Panera. With no bread. For the whole day.

Even baking at home is particularly difficult, because so many recipes use baking powder, or as we have named it, “Death in a Can.” Industrial baking powder is primarily baking soda* with monocalcium phosphate, although some formulations contain potassium bitartrate. Do those ring any bells? It’s basically the worst things in powder form.

Despite all the barriers, David managed to create a biscuit recipe that won’t kill someone in stage 5 CKD and is enjoyable whether you are on a special diet or not. It’s hard to get around the sodium issue, since biscuits without salt are inedibly bland. But, a single biscuit can be worked into a sodium budget for the day if room is made for it. And the great part is that if you make them yourself, you can decide how much salt you’re comfortable adding.

Biscuit Recipe:

Makes 8 - 9 large biscuits

1 lb. (454 grams)
Cake flour**
1 slightly rounded tsp. (6 grams)
Baking soda*
1 level tsp. (4.5 grams)
Citric acid
1 level tsp. (4 grams)
Salt
1 pt. (454 grams)
Heavy cream
Optional: 2 Tbsp. (28 grams)
Butter for topping


* Always keep baking soda separate from baking powder in your mind. Baking powder is the bad stuff!
** Important: Do not use self-rising flour. It is premixed with salt and -- you guessed it -- baking powder!

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 500 F.

Whisk dry ingredients. Incorporate heavy cream by stirring briefly (less than 1 min), just until no dry flour remains. Dough will be loose clumps at this stage (below).

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Turn out onto a dusted working surface, press out firmly to dough slab of 1-2" - 3/4" thickness. Fold over on itself a few times, forming a rough square shape, then press out again.

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Cut into rounds, gently combining scraps to form remaining biscuits. Place onto light colored baking sheet, brush tops with melted butter if using, and bake in oven for 12 minutes.

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You deserve rounds
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Transfer to towel-lined basket, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve while still warm.

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Estimated nutritional information:

Serving size: 1 large biscuit
Calories: 355

Protein: 5 g
Fat: 19 g
Carbohydrates: 41 g
Sodium: 375 mg
Potassium: 90 mg
Phosphorus: 74 mg