Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A-Team Chili:

Winter in Cincinnati means different things to many people. To David, it means that he’s in for another season of fighting with his rear wheel drive Mustang in the snow. To my Dad, it’s time to break out the jeep, attach the snowplow and help out some grateful neighbors.

Me, I have a thing against winter. I suppose it really isn’t Winter’s fault that I’m short and my jean hems drag the salty, mucky ground, or that I spend most of season glaring out the window at the frigid air, wearing my winter coat indoors to be comfortable. Winter is what it is and doesn’t care what nobody thinks. I still don’t like it. I want my flip flops back.

To recap: winter to me means that I wreck my jeans and my winter coat gets a workout. I also eat chili and soup. A lot. Probably while wearing my coat inside. Potentially glaring out the window at the frigid air.

David was making a nice tomato soup for me for awhile, but sometimes tomato soup doesn’t cut it for lunch. Resolving to eat out less and cook at home more and eager to continue using our Le Creuset French oven, we decided to make our own chili.

I spent Saturday morning scouring recipes on the internet to find a good chili recipe. I found some solid recipes. Nothing was wrong with them, except I wanted our first batch of homemade chili to be a little less conventional.

I began to think of unusual, tasty things to put in the Chili and drawing up a list. Dark beer! Chipotle peppers! Ground bison! Camel meat!

“You know…” David remarked from the futon, doing his own chili research. “Making a chili is not like assembling the A-Team.”

“Whatever. Garbonzo beans!”


“Fine, well I still want the camel and bison meat in it. It will be delicious, you’ll see.”

Camel is a very interesting meat. It is very lean and red, and smells delicious when you are browning it. Don’t feel bad for the camel, camels are not very nice animals. They have cranky, sour dispositions. I would be too if I always had sand stuck between my toes.

it is important to sort dried beans. Seriously. David found two pebbles. Dental work is expensive.

Camel, one of the tastiest Jerks of the animal kingdom

The chili came out very nicely for our first try. We are now on our 4th batch. We’ve been messing around with the meats and the spices. I firmly believe that we will stumble across the perfect chili by the time winter is over.

we finish with a roux to thicken the chili

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bar at the Palm Court:

Happy hour at the Bar at the Palm Court is a pretty nifty secret downtown. You don’t hear much about the Bar, located at the Hilton in Carew tower.

Orchids at the Palm Court is the main restaurant, followed by the Grille—which is a little more casual. As far as bars go, though, it doesn’t get much classier. Softly lit with incredibly high ceilings,the 1930’s art deco in Carew tower is very interesting and impressive to look at. An entire wall of mirrors also conceals a door to the kitchen. The staff are constantly appearing and disappearing in to it.

Happy hour runs Monday to Friday, 4-7, with gin and vodka based cocktails ½ price. (Which means $5), and select appetizers ½ off as well. The appetizers featured include the Hummus (normally $8, HH $4.); Spicy sriracha wings ($12, HH $6.); 3 Mini burgers ($8, HH $4) and a few others.

We tried several cocktails as well, including Orchid’s Orange, made with Hangar One mandarin blossom vodka. Hanger One seems to be the bars go-to vodka, and David and I approve. I still am puzzled by Morton’s decision to make their $12 martinis with Smirnoff vodka.

As far as the beer list goes, it’s not spectacular, but it’s not depressingly sparse either. A lot of domestics, a few imports. The standouts on the list include Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Warsteiner, Guinness and Christian Moerlein.

I ordered the mini burgers (very tasty) and the wings, which were more sweet than spicy but still delicious. David went with the tuna tartare ($11). He really liked it. We also got the hummus and a side of fries to share. And yes, we had leftovers.

little tartare sailboat

I like the space that the bar is in. If I stopped by after work for happy hour, I could get two cocktails, mini burgers and be out of there for under $20, including tip. And if I recall the strength of the cocktails correctly, you probably wouldn’t want more than two. They make them strong.

Bar at Palm Court on Urbanspoon