Life is so interesting sometimes it is dull and other times not so much! I was originally going to tell you about the attack of the ladybugs on my balcony and how I spent hours polishing my almost black silver. I know I should join the ranks of millions that gave theirs away but I just love it when it is all sparkly. I went to this really cool antique car show down at Spring Grove with over 300 antique cars. I went for a jog and there were all these cars. They were so cool! So big, beautiful! I was also going to tell you that I decided to pull out canvases that I bought when I lived in NY and attempt to paint. I sat on the floor and turned the pics I was trying to paint upside down to see if I could paint them from another perspective, because I was taught if you can’t paint what you see…turn it upside down. My mom came to town and said, “Did your friends kids paint those?” I replied, No. She gave me this look of you poor, pathetic child. What she said was, “You are immensely talented in so many ways, but painting is not one of them!” Love you too, Mom!
Now, this is where life gets interesting. When my mom comes to town. We have this tendency to chop off our heads and run around like chickens. When I lived in Manhattan she showed up like clockwork every 3-4 months with a grotesquely large list of things to do and restaurants where she wanted to eat. We would get up early in the morning and just start running. We went till we dropped late at night. It reminded me of the National Lampoon movie, Vacation scene where Chevy Chase looks at the Grand Canyon and says, Next! My mom usually showed up when I was babysitting a cat that lived in a 10-million dollar apartment with neighbors that included Hugh Jackman and David Bowie.
Now that I live in Cincinnati, she shows up once a year or once every two years with a relatively long list. The good part about the list is that it is full of restaurants she wants to try. The bad part about the list is that we both eat and somehow she stays skinny and I gain the weight for the two of us or so it feels. I go out for 3-mile runs to alleviate the weight gain and she sits on the couch and nibbles on leftovers. No justice.
This trip she brought my four-legged sister Dulce. Dulce is Spanish for sweet. We were concerned about abandoning her the first day so she went with us on our first food outing. TACOCRACY. It is tucked into a building down in Northside across from the now defunct Honey. The sign reads Northside Airport, but there really is not an airport out back. If there was you know I would be a daily customer. In the back they sell clothes, make-up, bicycles, but in the front they sell these amazing gourmet tacos. I think I have told you I am addicted to the duck taco.
I told my mom to order whatever she wanted because I live here and I can go there all the time and lets face facts if it isn’t eyeballs or pig’s feet. I eat or will try virtually anything. So, this is what my mom ordered.
DUCK-sweet and savory duck slow-cooked with dried apricots & juniper berries, paired with an extra sharp Vermont white cheddar,
in a house-made crunchy corn tortilla with our “pear de gallo” salsa and romaine lettuce.
GREEN CHORIZO-locally made chorizo, cooked “green” style w/roasted poblano & serrano chilies, in a soft white corn tortilla w/extra sharp white cheddar & chihuahua cheese, uncured black pepper bacon, grape tomatoes, romaine lettuce, scallions, salsa verde & crema.
MUSHROOM MEDLEY- a collection of wild, seasonal and local ‘shrooms roasted with a smoky black truffle-balsamic glaze, on a flour tortilla with Chihuahua cheese, baby spinach, onion & grape tomatoes and rojo salsa.
We loved the duck and the green chorizo. The mushroom medley was very good but the others were our favorites.
We came home and hungout until we were ready for dinner. You think I am joking. Wait till you see how much we have eaten since she arrived. It is ridiculous. The fat specialist is definitely going to be writing me after this blog.
I have discovered this hole in the wall joint in Clifton called Thai Express. The gals are literally from Thailand and they have the biggest woks I have ever seen in my life! They make the best pad thai I have ever had since I lived in Washington, D.C. We also ordered the satay, which was good, but it was the pad thai that was so yummy!
Then I defrosted a hockey puck from LeVain’s in New York that I had bought for my mom. It was dark chocolate with peanut butter chips. It was good, but it didn’t knock her socks off, but my chocolate brioche would have!!!
Next day, we tried to recoup, but we had a long journey of food coming up! I took my mom to the unveiling of my dad’s Tennis Hall of Fame plaque. My stepmonster was certainly unnerved by the appearance of my mother. But my mom supported my dad’s tennis career and my stepmom made him stop playing so who should have been there? She was her usual delightful self not speaking to me. She couldn’t even say hello. OH so lovely, NOT! She was nice to my mom, she was nice to my Uncle and she was deplorable to me. Go figure.
We left there and went to meet my Aunt Barbara at Teller’s for dinner. She wanted to hear the dirt. She wanted to hear if there was a cat fight. Terry’s Turf Club and Zip’s are known for being the best burgers in town, but Teller’s has a really good burger. My friend Alex was checking out burgers and discovered that little kernel of goodness. Big juicy burger with cheese, white cheese, no clue what, bacon, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, onion so yummy.
And then…I know this will shock you, but I went to Graeter’s and bought a caramel apple. I split it with my mom. I can share.
If you haven’t noticed we are the folks that have to have a bite of something sweet after we eat. Even if it is only a bite. We need that bit of sweetness.
Next day, I took my mom to Knickers of Hyde Park to get her a miracle bra. Oh what a hoot! They really are not geared to the smaller set, but the gals there Jenny and Julie are so great! My mom didn’t find her perfect bra. She put one on hold and we were off to meet my friend Jennie at Green Papaya. We ordered a spider roll, which is a soft shell crab. Yum! We ordered a spicy tuna roll. We ordered two specialty rolls. Green Papaya Roll which is: shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, mango, cream cheese wrapped w/ green soy bean topped w/ spicy mayo, crab stick & tempura flakes. And a Rainbow roll, which is California roll Topped w/ assorted fish & avocado. I love Green Papaya. It is not Nobu, but the sushi is consistently good. The staff is good and friendly and it is a nice atmosphere.
We left Jennie and the fascinating conversations of narcissistic personality disorders and the variety of ways it affects partners who have it.
We raced down to Holtman’s Donuts to meet my friend Mindy and her four out of five kids. Love her kids. The oldest is at college. They are home schooled for the first time this year. I told them to figure out how eating donuts can be a school project. Does it have to do with math, science or how could it be homework? You all have to know if there is a way for me to rationalize eating something good, I will.
So Mindy got a peanut butter and jelly donut. It was pretty tasty. My mother tried the chocolate donut with peanut butter swirled on top. I tried the cheese crown and let me tell you. Mine was the best! I was expecting it to be cheese filled but tucked in beneath a layer of cheese filling was a thick layer of the crumble part of a crumble coffee cake. Oh baby, baby! I was not expecting it. It was such a lovely surprise.
I then went home and ran with my mom’s pooch. I felt like I was running in the center of a large Firestone tire. I was moving slower than molasses. I can’t imagine why?
Then I came home and we ate leftovers. I knew with my mom in town, I was going to be permanently full.
Next day, Sidewinders for Mexican Lattes. We crave these drinks! We have tried a dozen times to duplicate it in the privacy of our homes and to no avail. I can’t figure out the secret. The recipe says it is espresso, chocolate, cayenne and cinnamon. A friend/chef suggested Mexican chocolate. Still doesn’t taste the same. I just can’t figure it out. And I desperately need to because I cannot afford to drink a $5 coffee on a regular basis.
However, it was a bonus day! My mom and I met my friend Libby who is a pastry chef at Bonbonnerie. The weather was so nice we were able to sit in back garden at Sidewinders and be with Patrick Swayze. He is the Sidewinders rabbit. Bet you thought there was more in my Mexican Latte than I alluded to originally.
We left Sidewinders and grabbed my sister. Remember, she has four legs and we took her to the new fabulous dog park at Washington Park. She was being coy and shy and so in a feeble attempt to get her engaged with the other dogs. I ran around the park and had all the dogs chase me. My sweet little sister shyly followed. The other dogs just thought I was the head dog and that afternoon I was!
That evening we went to this awesome little Chinese restaurant on Hamilton Avenue in College Hill called Chung Ching. It is a dumpy looking place. The write up in Cincy Mag gave it five out of five stars. Definitely not for décor. We shared a Moo Shi Pork and Szechuan Pork and veggies. Maybe because they moved slowly and we waited 30 minutes for the food or maybe it was just that tasty. I did get a fortune cookie with no fortune. Scared the crap out of me. The waitress ran and got me another one. The blank one was better!
Saturday morning we woke up to pouring rain. The only way to remedy it was to treat ourselves to anther Mexican Lattes at Sidewinders. We then went to something called City Flea that was in the Can-Loft Building in Northside. Cool space. It was a bunch of booths thankfully in a large space indoors and the items ranged from vintage clothing, to trinkets, to food, to cookware. The folks selling their wares couldn’t have been nicer if they tried, which I thought was a brilliant selling tool and one all retail folks should adopt. We tried a sample muffin that was a chicken potpie cooked into a muffin in muffin form. Clever!
Then as a gift to my mother the HUMONGOUS football fan, I called a college buddy and had him get us tickets to the UC football game. It was pouring outside. I was dreading it. The things we do for our mothers! Luckily, and thankfully the seats were undercover. We made it through the third quarter before we left. Go BEARCATS!
That evening we went to this hole in the wall authentic Mexican restaurant in Reading, Ohio located in the heart of the bridal gown district and one of the largest bridal gown districts in the country. There sits Margarita’s! I ordered a green enchilada. Yum. My mom the connoisseur of Mexico and Mexican eats and their authenticity said it was one of the best green Verde sauces she had ever tasted. Then I did a Tex mex thing and against my mother’s judgment I ordered a plate of nachos with cheese and chorizo. So simple and yet so delicious. Then to drink we ordered Horchatos. It is a Mexican rice drink. It sounds blah, but trust me on this one. It is delicious and sweet and the first time I ever had one was when I was traveling in Barcelona. A couple named Jay and Nini, who I met over there, suggested I try it. I drank it every day after the first day. I just loved it. They were a cool couple. They lived in San Diego and sold their condo and took the money from the sale and decided to take five months and travel around the world. Then he was going to MIT for an MBA. I was in graduate school in Boston at the time so we met in Barcelona and became fast friends. He always dared me to eat crazy things with him. I would eat certain things but not others. He kept saying that Chinese people would eat anything! He and Nini were Chinese. And you know what, I think he was right. And I am so glad he introduced me to the Horchato!
I know it is starting to look like my mom and I have a Mexican Latte issue because we were there for a third straight day, but it was our tradition to pick up a Mexican Latte and drink it on our way to Burlington Flea Market. We LOVE Burlington. It is open from April to October and it is the third Sunday of the month. It is booth after booth of antiques, treasures, and pure crap. I love to walk through it. I have bought tables, chairs, mirrors and probably so much more there. I try to go religiously!
We came home and called my crazy friend Trouble to come over for a few hands of RumiQ, my favorite game. Then I made us tossed salads for dinner. Living in NY, I learned to make a kick ass good salad and I always, always, always make homemade dressings. I am sick of romaine lettuce. I use butter, green leaf or red leaf lettuce. I slice a little onion into it and then depending on mood or refrigerator contents, I usually throw in some variation of the following. Tomatoes, avocado, ham, hard-boiled egg, bacon & cucumber. Dressing. I had a friend in Atlanta named Peyton who spent a year abroad in France and taught all of us this simple and yummy French dressing recipe that I do not have precise measurements, but just play with it. Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar and oil. Mix and serve.
Next day, my mom went out and so I did things around my condo and went to meet my friend Viv and her dog, Button. I took my sister along with me. Button and Dulce walked in circles smelling each other’s tushes. Can you imagine if we behaved that way? I came upstairs and started to cook for my family dinner party the following evening. So far, I had eaten rather normally since the evening before, but that was getting ready to go to pot because my mom was going to be ready to eat out soon. I could sense it. She made this huge proclamation that we had eaten Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and we were running out of nationalities. It was time to eat Indian. My favorite Indian in Cincy is Ambar India. When I left Cincy in the early nineties my friend Swami was the only one who owned an Indian restaurant. I moved back years later and there are so many here I couldn’t begin to count them all.
We ordered the Saag Paneer, which is the spinach dish with cheese. My mom loves lamb so we ordered Lamb Korma with cream, cashews and raisins. It all was delicious. I was terribly nervous when she ordered it. You order on a scale of one to six and six is the spiciest. It is crazy spicy. So spicy I tend to do a 1 or 2 and feel like a wimp. Not my mom. She went for the middle of the spectrum, but it ended up being just fine. Great Indian. A bit pricey, but really good.
The Indian gave my artsy, fartsy mother a boost of energy and she decided to do what she always does when she comes to town. She began to rearrange my knick-knacks and move things around my condo. After many years of observing this, I learned to move them back how I like them after she leaves town. If I remember to do it. Apparently, I don’t care enough to stop her in the first place!
After a spicy Indian dinner one requires a little sweet. My mom spoke of this amazing caramel milkshake she had on Sanibel and I had a killer one at Mr. Bartley’s in Harvard Square so I bought some Haagen Dazs, Dulce de Leche ice cream and made us milkshakes. Now, I have yet ANOTHER thing I am addicted to and love. And again, I am going to have to go for a run in the morning or I will weight a bazillion pounds the way I am eating.
Tuesday morning I woke up and began to cook. I have this friend named Alston who lives down in Lexington and she is a fabulous cook. She once told me her favorite cookbook was something called Bluegrass Winners. It is a cookbook of all these yummy recipes from the horse farms of Lexington. There is so much in that cookbook that is yummy, but one of my favorites is this dish called Chicken and Sausage Supreme. It is chicken, sausage and sautéed mushrooms in this brown sauce or roux and it is simple but yummy.
I have never ever made bread in my life. Okay, I have made beer bread, but I had never made a French baguette and I found a recipe to make a 4-hour French baguette from scratch. I thought, who better to experiment on than family.
Then I made Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa’s, apple pie, except I didn’t make a homemade crust. I cheated and bought that at the store and then instead of the criss cross apple pie covering I made a crumble like a coffee cake topping. It didn’t look so pretty, but it tasted delicious. I had none leftover.
Main course was the chicken and sausage supreme. The veggies included a mashed butternut squash that was sweet due to brown sugar and maple syrup. Then I roasted asparagus with Parmesan cheese. I had homemade bread and then apple pie with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
My mom was adopted and found her birth mother many years ago and had a relationship with her. She died (my mom’s mom) and my mom kept in touch with the family via phone, emails, and they invited us to a family reunion. They are so awesome. For my mom it was the pieces of the puzzle that explained her. They all have the same fingers! It is so weird to look at my cousins’ hands and see they look like my mom’s. I have Holzman hands.
For me, meeting these folks was like meeting my kindred souls and explaining my personality to me. I was so nervous to attend the family reunion. We were outsiders and foreigners, but they couldn’t have been more welcoming and they are just so fun, so nice and so easy to be with, so outgoing, and spunky with hearts of gold. I feel so lucky to have discovered family. And family that I like and connect with so I have been fortunate enough to spend time with them, and I was now having them for dinner so my mom could spend some time with them too.
We had a ball. Every single time after I am with them I call my mom and this time I could look at her face to face and say I LOVE YOUR FAMILY! Our family.
We went in search of her dad. We connected with his kids, and for a while they were so great and they dropped us like a hot potato. My mom wanted to meet her dad. Even if he never knew it was my mom, his daughter, she didn’t care, she wanted to meet him. We tried to do it, but they just blew us off. It is such a shame. What is really eerie about that is that we saw family pictures from my mom’s half sisters and my mom and I look so much like them that if we put our baby pictures with theirs…we weren’t sure we could tell the difference.
Makes us want to meet him and them even more until they blew us off. I don’t know what concerns them, but it is a shame for my mom, but at least she met the other side of the family. They ROCK!
Well, I am going to stop for now. My mom is still in town and so I have plenty more foodie adventures to share with you!
Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….