Saturday, July 6, 2013

Le's Pho:

As we pulled the camera out to take some pictures of our sandwiches, as we are usually wont to do, David asked "Did you check the battery before we left?"

"No, but we haven't used it that much ... oh. Yeah. It's dead."

Our new camera, a Fujifilm X100S, is amazing, but man does that thing go through a battery charge like nobody’s business. David and I weren't upset that we'd have to come back to get pictures, though. It was just another excuse to come back and order another sandwich. Like we needed one!

I probably walked by Le's Pho dozens of times on my trips to and from Avril Bleh Meat Market, but until a few weeks ago, had never set foot inside. I don't remember who suggested we try it out, me or David, but ever since, we've been hooked.

These jalapeños are not messing around

I've only had one other sandwich that haunted my dreams like this one--a Terry's Turf Club creation that has long since been retired from their menu.

We've tried all their bánh mìs at this point, as well as some of their other menu items, and my favorite sandwich by far is the báhn mì đặc biệt. Cold cuts, pork, and a little pâté with cucumber and carrots, picked up with a generous amount of cilantro and some spicy-ass jalapeños. And it’s only $4.00! Le’s is a great inexpensive lunch.
Yo, sound the bell, school is in, sucka. This is a baguette you can't touch

While I've gotten sandwiches to go often, they are best eaten in the restaurant, as the bread (which is specially made for them by a bakery on the east side) is warm and crunchy from the convection oven they use. If you stop by, tell them we sent you; the couple that owns the place is as nice as can be.

Le's Pho and Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tom's Pot Pies:

We had just started reading Cincinnati food blogs when I learned about Tom's potpies. At that time, he was selling pies that everyone raved about out of a storefront on Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati, and I was instantly enamored with the idea of a place that sold nothing but chicken potpies.

Alas, right around the time we were set to go to Tom's to get a much coveted potpie, word spread that Tom's Potpies had closed, and Tom had vanished like a culinary phantom.

I was dismayed, but there was little I could do. And so I resigned myself to never getting one of Tom's potpies. Cue the sad "walking away" music.

A month or so ago, I saw an update from Neon's unplugged. I was so excited I almost hopped out of my chair. "DAVID! The potpies! The potpies!"

David, while mildly intrigued, was skeptical. "Are you sure it's the same guy? You've been chasing after these potpies for what, 5 years now?"

"I think so. And I'm going to find out!"

Alas, when I went the Neon's to try and get one, they were sold out. Once again, the potpie had eluded me. So when I knew they would be at Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar the following Wednesday, I pretty much begged the bar manager to save me one.

He held up his end of the bargain.

I finally get my pie. Photo courtesy Flourpower

Following that, I found out that Tom would deliver potpies downtown if you called and asked nicely, and gave him a day's notice. So I did the only sensible thing. I assembled some friends and had a chicken potpie party at one of our favorite downtown spots, City Cellars. 

A flock of chicken potpies

Bob ate his pie in about 5 minutes flat

So how were the pies? Well, they were worth the wait. Tom knows what he's doing. Flaky crust, moist, tender big chunks of chicken, and a medley of vegetables in a perfectly salted sauce. Potpies are $7 and worth every penny. You can reach Tom at 513-235-2400 for potpie orders. I'd recommend avoiding home games, as rumor has it that the Cincinnati Reds devour Tom's pies before each home game. 

You can't hide from me, Tom!

Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Busken's new Lite-Hearted donut:

I’m sure you remember my post last year about leaving Curiosity. I’m happy to announce that I’ve been working at Bluestone Creative since last July. You've probably seen one of their side projects in Cincinnati, called the Queen City Project.

A small shop of seven + one office dog, the guys I work with seem to have gotten used to my tales of crazy dinners, pop-up benefits and birthday parties for my cat. I figured they’ve earned a free donut.

So when Busken contacted me and offered the chance to try their new “Lite-Hearted” donut, I asked for a dozen to be sent to the office for us all to try. At only 140 calories, these donuts clock in less than half a regular donut, and come in adorable heart-shapes.

So how did the donuts rate? See below for the Boys (and girl) of Bluestone’s Busken Donut Determination:

Sean: “I eat glazed donuts more than any other type. This new low-calorie glazed doesn't taste different from the traditional one usually offered. Kinda gives a new meaning to "eat your heart out."

4 out of 5 donuts.

Andy is channeling his inner Ryan Gosling. "Hey girl, I hear you like donuts."
Andy R: 5 out of 5 donuts.

Andy V: 4 out of 5 donuts

Walt: 4 out of 5 donuts

Adam: 4 out of 5 donuts. Adam, much like our good friend Jeff, cannot stand artificial sweeteners or most “lite” products. He said it tasted pretty much like a normal donut.

Jack: 3 ½ donuts. Jack’s not a big sweets person to begin with, so 3 ½ donuts is probably the best Busken could hope for from him.

Laura: 4 out of 5 donuts. I wished that it had some sort of jam filling, though. Or sprinkles.

Maddie: I really want that donut.

After everyone (except for Maddie) had tried the donuts, I took a closer look at the ingredient list. Flour, Niacin, Iron, Riboflavin, Sugar, Olestra....

Wait. Olestra?

The Olestra?! Remember when P & G put it in Pringles and the subsequent *ahem* controversy from consumers who claimed to have experienced rather embarrassing side effects?

And Busken put it in their lite donuts. That I had just fed to all my coworkers. And both my bosses.

I sent David a panicked text. “Busken just tricked me into Al Rokering my entire office!”
David, of course, found my situation to be hilarious.

After some internal debate, (we'll all probably be fine...right?) I did warn the guys against eating an inappropriate amount of extra donuts, and can report no ill effects from any of us eating one donut. 

While I applaud Busken's efforts to make a guilt-free donut, there should really be a more prominent label on these, as Olestra is an ingredient that many consumers still try to avoid.  And while one donut probably won’t hurt you, I’d advise against trying to drown any Valentine's day sorrows by eating a dozen by yourself.

Busken will be passing these out for free (yes, free donuts!) on Thursday, so go try one--but I wouldn't overdo it.

Busken Bakery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Mission Eat Liquid Gold Nacho Party:

We were walking home from work, swamped with Golden Lawnchair planning. “Guess what else we’re going to be doing?” I asked David, while reciting the evening’s hefty to-do list. 
“What now?”

  “A Nacho Party!”
“You’re already planning one party. You can’t plan more than one party at a time.” David reasoned patiently.
“Can too!” I shot him a petulant look. 
“See, now this is why you’re at least half Pinkie Pie.” He said with an exasperated sigh, as I detailed out the nacho party plans. 
For those of you that aren’t fans of the TV show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” Pinkie Pie is one of the main characters. And she’s always up for a party. But when an opportunity for something like a nacho party comes up, who wouldn’t say no?

Mission tortilla chips had inquired if I wanted to review their chips. I requested enough to throw a nacho party. When they agreed, I took the party plan to Velveeta to get some of their newer flavors. I asked for a few bricks of each kind, maybe 9 total.
Ask Kraft and ye shall receive.
When you have 36 lbs of Velveeta, you build your cat a cheese fort 

From Mission, four large boxes arrived, filled with three different kinds of tortilla chips. Rounds, strips and triangles. From Velveeta, 36 pounds (yes 36) arrived, in the three newer flavors: Queso Blanco, Jalapeno and Mexican.

Indeed I do.

The nacho party was a big hit, as you'll see from the pictures below. I learned a few things about throwing a successful nacho party along the way, so without further ado, I present "Pinkie Pie's Nacho Party Tips."

Pinkie Pie’s Nacho Party Tips:

1. Remember the best nacho plates are built on a solid foundation. Don't skimp on the essentials, like chips and cheese and other desired toppings. 

2. Calculate how much time you think you may need to melt the cheese. Then double it. Have tools like a cheese slicer on hand to slice cheese into smaller pieces for easier melting. Consider melting the cheese in the microwave first, then holding it in the crockpot--it’ll save you some time.

3. Be prepared! Have plenty of tupperware ready for any leftovers, and plenty of cutlery and plates on hand. We had small paper trays which worked very well for a piled-high personal nacho plate.

4. Watch your cheese. From time to time, you may need to add more liquid (I prefer milk), especially if you are using a crockpot to keep your cheese warm. If you’re not paying attention, you may end up with some burny bits, which are not the best nacho topping.

5. Variety is your friend. According to David's calculations, there are 1,605,632 possible combinations of nachos from the toppings, chips and cheeses we had to offer, including regional delicacies such as Skyline chili and goetta.

6. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Have steam trays and ice buckets on hand to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. The one thing you don’t want to serve up at a nacho party is food poisoning.

No food poisoning here!

So what did we think about the Velveeta varieties and the chips? As for the chips, everyone preferred the strips above all, which is what I’d recommend for a nacho party, or if you are making chips and cheese dip. The rounds are nice, and have at-the-ballpark nostalgia, but the size is a little large for individual nacho plates. The triangles are better, but the strips are the best. Mission doesn’t go overboard with the salt on the chips either, which is great. We'll probably try their soft tortillas next time we make tacos.

As for Velveeta, the runaway favorite was the Queso Blanco, which seemed to have the best “meltiness” and was the most versatile on nachos. The Jalapeno does have a little kick, but it’s not unpleasant, and the Mexican reminded me most of original Velveeta.

Magical nacho mountain, courtesy 5chw4r7z