Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cincinnati, Ohio: A Travel Recommendation

This is really hard for me to say (because you know how much I hate Ohio), but Cincinnati really isn't that bad. We've said, if we had to live here again (Lord help us), we would live in Cinci and A would commute... because there really is that much more going on in Cinci compared to the Dayton area. It's a college town for one... also has MLB, a nice river running through dt, and some awesome (local, not chains!) food. 

Of course, my number one thing to do in Cincinnati: Eat. Duh. 
We've tried some awesome spots, the majority of them being in this trendy part of town called OTR or Over-the Rhine. 

Some definite musts include:

The Senate
Really fun, local, small, young atmosphere. SUCH a different menu - kind of a gourmet pub food - they serve all these gourmet hot dogs (no, not ONLY hot dogs, calm down), truffle fries to die for, duck fat fries also to die for, oysters, and mussels. What more could you want?! No lie, Alex ordered the 'Lindsey Lohan,' (yes, mainly for the jokes), which is a beef hot dog topped with goat cheese, carmelized onions, bacon, arugula, & balsalmic. 

Same atmosphere as the Senate. This place has tacos, tequila, and whiskey... and THE BEST GUACAMOLE known to mankind (and I make some good guac). You order single tacos, so they are cheap, and you can try all the different varieties! 

Taste of Belgium 
Waffles. Must. Eat. Waffles. 
(and drink some Belgian Beer!)

There's a cute little wine bar right beside Bakersfield, but I can't for the life of me remember what it's called. It's a great place to stop before dinner or if you're waiting on a table. 

Other restaurants to try include A Tavola, Abigail Street, and Venice on Vine.
Basically, just walk down and around Vine Street and pick a place. However, do not go toooo far North. It goes from awesome to scary in a block. 

You can venture outside of OTR and hit some other fun spots, including:

This place gets SLAMMED. And while it is connected to the real Hofbrauhaus, for those of you who have been to Munich, you'll be disappointed. But there is some German food, or versions of it. The most authentic part is the music.. and dancing on tables.

Moerlein Lager House
Better German food than Hofbrauhaus, but not some crazy atmosphere. This place looks like a normal bar/restaurant with some really nice outside seating. It's right next to the baseball stadium, making it convenient for games.

Restaurant and sushi spot right next to the stadium. 

Enoteca Emilia
Random spot introduced to us by a friend. We went here for New Years and had some awesome food and wine. 

And last, but not least, what every Ohio-an says you have to eat....

Skyline Chilli
The pictures alone make me want to vom. Have you seen the enormous amounts of cheese?! We have yet to try it, but it is on the list. I would go to the original one because it's at least cute and looks like a normal restaurant, not like McDonald's. But eek, talk about a heart attack.

Hofbrauhaus - technically over the river in Kentucky

Food @ the Senate - Mussels - Duck Fat Fries - Truffle Fries - Senate Burger - Lindsey Lohan

Besides eating, the only thing I really think you should do or see in Cincinnati is a Reds Game, or a few. Tickets are cheap (free for military!) and you can take in your own food and beverages, make a night out of it. The stadium for us is about an hour away and we still manage to go to a game a week (although I am gladly trading this for a short walk to Camden yards in about 23 days!). 


There's also hockey... but only go if you're desperate!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Eating in Chicago: Part Two

We started this weekend off right... by leaving the great state of Ohio!
Matt and Laura were in Chicago for a conference and since our trip to Hawaii to visit them was canceled, we decided to visit them while they were close!

Just like our last trip to Chicago, we spent the majority of the time eating our way through the city. I was not quite as good about taking pictures though. 

Night 1: The four of us ate at Le Colonial, a French Vietnamese place recommended by some of Laura's friends. The anticipation was high, so for me, it was a bit of a let down. It was just eh. After, we went to meet some of Matt's co-workers at Hubbard Inn, a bar. Mind you, it was 11pm in Chicago (midnight our time). I am also 27 weeks pregnant. We got there to find a LINE of people waiting to be let in. It was below 20F. Yea, not my cup of tea. Matt tried to schmooze his way to the front of the line by dropping the whole military line. It didn't work... not until we mentioned there was a baby on board did we get let in! Go Gray! The 4 of us bypassed the line and went right in. I ordered water (surprise) and was not so pleasantly surprised after taking a huge gulp and finding out the hard way I was given a vodka water! Quite comical.

Morning 1: A and I woke up early (scratch that, I woke up early, starved, and made A get up) and walked to the Corner Bakery for breakfast number 1 (yes, these days, I eat multiple breakfasts.. shut it!). It was just eh, but held me over til the real deal. After Matt and Laura got up, we walked to brunch at Little Goat. Both A and Laura heard it was good. And it was was. So, so different. But good. I'm glad we went. However, if we lived in Chicago, it would not be a place I regularly go. During our hour long wait (it was THAT popular), we went to Haymarket Pub & Brewery for drinks. When our table was finally ready at Little Goat, we ordered some crazy stuff including the ooey gooey cinnabun (not ooey or gooey enough for my liking), bull's eye french toast (w/crispy chicken, sweet onion brioche, and bbq maple syrup), shrimp and grumpy goat grits (w/braised pistachios and brussel sprouts), and the fried pickle (w/hummus, roasted red peppers, prairie fruits goat cheese, naan, tzatziki). The menu also has crazy stuff such as waffles with bananas, peanut butter butter, and bacon maple syrup, crumpets with chorizo maple syrup, and much, much more. It was a novelty. A one time stop for me, not a regualr weekend brunch spot. But I'm glad we went. We have been dying to eat dinner at Girl and the Goat, a sister restaurant just across the street, but it books up months in advance. boo.

Afternoon 1: We headed 4 miles outside of the city for 'the best' Chicago deep dish pizza at Pequod's. Last visit, we visited Giordano's, as recommended by our friend who lived for years in the city. He did not recommend Pequod's. But he should have. This deep dish pizza was AWESOME. One million times better than Giordano's. Turns out, he used to work there though... and didn't recommend it. hmm. I've decided not to inquire any further.

Night 2: I made reservations at MK Chicago, a restaurant I read about on Epicurious. While my pictures stink, the food was amazing. I had the skatewing with hollandaise, spinach, and sunchokes (have I mentioned that I LOVE SKATE. This is something you have to try!). A had the veal with leaks, trumpet mushrooms, and a balsalmic sauce. Laura had the whitefish & lobster with roasted bell peppers, scallions, sourdough croutons, and lobster broth. Matt was a disgrace and ordered the chicken... which is too boring to describe. We also had brussel sprouts and TRUFFLE FRIES. Have you ever had truffle fries?! This was my second time and they were different, but just as good as the first. Truffles, mmmm. After, we headed to Clark Street Ale House, a bar I found halfway between our hotel and MK. It had a huge selection of beers so the boys went nuts. Funny pregnant thing #2 happened here. The entire weekend, we noticed all the bars were basically sausage parties, meaning ALL MEN. We also noticed this last Chicago trip. Well, we got to Clark St. and I was holding a table while the three drinkers could order. I got asked (again, almost 7 months pregnant), to join this table of a few guys for a drink. I thought, my God, you must really be desperate if you're asking the pregnant girl to join you. Turns out, they were. Next broad that walked by, the waitress, was then asked the same thing. She, however, said yes, and got a free beer out of the deal. 

Morning 2: We skipped breakfast and instead went for an early lunch at Pastoral, an awesome spot I discovered last time with honestly the best sandwiches we've ever had. We took them to go and drove home to watch basketball and beat the snow storm. Of course, we had to stop and stock up at Bagel Fair in Indianapolis since there are NO BAGEL SHOPS in Dayton (what in the world)!

Ahh Chicago - we really, really, love you.

Home agani, home again.. with a bit of snow... 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hollywood Beach, Florida: A Travel Recommendation

I definitely wouldn't choose to go here again. The location worked for us because we flew in to FLL on our way to the Keys and had a day to kill before our friends arrived. It was MUCH cheaper than staying in Miami, but still not inexpensive. The beach was clean, nice, the water amazing, weather perfect. But overall, just eh. Still overpriced. A little trashy. Nothing special.... except for...


They were SO good I'm not even embarrassed to say we ate there twice in less than 24 hours... yep. That's saying something. We NEVERRRRRR eat at the same place twice! They were THAT good. 


We had the Korean Short Rib Tacos with Kimchi Slaw - AMAZING. You must order.
Calamari Tacos - Also amazing, but they were on special.
The fish tacos - just ok. 
The Korean Short Rib Nachos - do it!

Monday, March 18, 2013

key lime king!

Before we got to the Florida Keys, A was definitely most excited about the key lime pie extravaganza he was planning. Surprisingly, this excitement continued throughout the entire trip. Like a trooper (closet fatty) that he is, he managed to eat two different pieces of key lime pie a day, excluding the day we spent in Key West, where we he ate 3! 9. He ate 9 pieces of key lime pie. What an animal!

4 of the 8 pieces sampled

@ Mrs. Mac's - Biggest let down. This was our LAST piece and we thought it was going to the best...she did claim 'world's best.' 

@ Mattheessen's in Key West

@ Key Lime Pie Factory

And the winner is: 


It definitely had the best atmosphere... can you really beat key lime pie on a beautiful and barely occupied beach?! 

A thrilled with his first piece of key lime pie, which turned out to also be the best! 
Overall winner, factoring in atmosphere, weather, taste, garnishes, etc. 

What to Avoid: Deep Fried Key Lime Pie & Key Lime Pie on a stick. Everything else is a go!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Eating Our Way Through Chicago, Illinois

To celebrate our birthday (27 and 31!) we drove to Chicago for the weekend to eat and watch a few shows! It was freezing, but it was a greattttt trip. LOVED the city! There was so much to do - a very nice change from O-hio.

A picked out an amazingly delicious bagel place on our drive to Chicago - Bagel Fair in Indianapolis. Best bagels... ever?!

Chicago was freezing.... that's 1F not including the wind chill. -20F with the wind chill. And snow! Eek!

Soft pretzels with beer cheese sauce and spicy mustard at Emerald Loop for a quick snack and a soccer match!

One of the many stop at Intelligentsia - best coffee shop in Chicago. 

My Birthday Dinner at Graham Elliott Bistro - Seasonal Pickled Veggies and Almonds, Oysters, Beer and Cheese Risotto, Duck Confit and Fromage Blanc Flat Bread, and...

Diver Scallops in Vietnamense Broth with Sweet Potato dumplings. 10! This place gets at 10! 
The banana split is supposed to be awesome for dessert, but at this point we were much to full!

The Book of Mormon from the creators of South Park was ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS. Good choice, A!

A's Birthday Breakfast - More bagels at NYC Deli in Chicago

Drinking coffee and taking in the view in our awesome window seat @ Hotel Monaco in the Loop

 Before the snow

Had to try the famous deep dish pizza pie in Chicago. We ate at Giordano's, recommended by Ryan, a former Chicago-an. Delicious. Not like any other pizza we'd ever had. But good. Don't think I could eat this type of thing every time I wanted pizza, but good.

More coffee and King Crimson tea @ Intelligentsia

A's Birthday Dinner @ Trencherman - a Restaurant Week Participant. Started: Gnocchi with Ricotta Cream Sauce and Ham

Skate Wing with Yuzu and Bacon & Hake with toasted hazelnuts, melted leeks, and piquillo broth. Both were to die for.

Dessert at Trenchermen - Coffee Cake with Chai Tofu Ice Cream and Smoked Meringue - Different... veryyyy different!

Pig and Fig @ Pastoral - Only sandwiches, but A claimed this his favorite meal of the weekend.
Serrano Ham, Bleu Cheese, Greens, and Figs. Our last meal in Chicago.

Prosciutto Panino - Fresh French Bread, Prosciutto, Greens, Parmesan, and Fresh Cracked Pepper

27 and 31! 

Pastoral - An amazing Artisan Cheese and Wine Shop that also makes the most amazing sandwiches! GO!

Snowy Chicago - 'The Loop' - on our last day