Einsteins to Katzingers and UC to OSU & Lots to Eat In-between

Life is funny! Sometimes. Other times…not so much!! I have heard people say what is your 5-year plan? Your 10- year plan? You can’t plan life. Life happens! I find it so comical when someone asks me that question. I have no idea where I will be and what I will be doing and neither do you! I heard a great quote years ago and for your non-religious but spiritual friend here it is…

“MAN PLANS AND GOD LAUGHS!”

It is so true. Don’t plan your life. Enjoy your life!

Something really, REALLY sad happened and it makes the above so true! And it goes to show how life can change on a dime. In a New York minute! Grab your happiness when you can. Where you can! Life is short! Appreciate everything!

The couple that bought my grandmother’s home in Wyoming. Caveat here. The nicest, most down to earth, salt of the earth people; lost their 23-year old son, and it shook me to my core. He was driving down a street behind an 18-wheeler and the car BEHIND him…the car he had NO CONTROL OVER hit him from behind with such FORCE that it shoved his car under the truck and killed him. I did learn that it wasn’t instantaneous, which I find a blessing and a curse at the same time. Blessing that the family gets to say their goodbyes and I DO believe people in comas can hear those words, right or wrong, I believe it, and you aren’t changing me on it. Curse because I just hope he was not lying there in pain, maybe it would have been easier to just go to those puffy clouds in the sky.

His organs went to save the life of others. I love that! Even in death, Charlie did something heroic to help others. He was a good kid. A sweet, kid. A real tragedy. Happens all the time, but when it hits so close to home and affects people you really care for, it hurts like the dickens! My heart goes out to the family.

I have spent my LIFE listening to my dad tell me it is unnatural for a child to predecease the parents and that there is nothing worse. He does not know this from personal experience. I am an only child. BUT…because he told me that countless times spanning several years, when I was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago, he was the one I feared telling the most. He handled it the best, but the thought of the chance that I could die before my parents and what it would do to them was excruciating to me. In a lot of ways, I was more worried about their fears than mine. And then to see these parents so torn…it just makes me think and put things in perspective. It forces you to take the time and say what is important, so my blog readers…I implore you to do the same. Life is short. Enjoy! Be happy. Tell the ones you love, how much you love them, how important they are because life can change on a dime and in a New York minute, and because I am a humorous soul at MY core…you know what I am going to say next…GO EAT SOMETHING YUMMY!!!! You deserve it!

On with the food and the blog…the heavy part is over reflect on these important words while you eat that chocolate brownie or drink that Fleur de Bee.

Onto the enjoyments of life…and reading the crazy tales of my life.

I came back from my trip to New York and I did very mundane things like bathe the stinky dog that smelled like a New York sewer and as much as I love the scents of New York there are some I CAN live without! Dulce and I went to Clifton and did our lovely long walk and she had to sniff out all the messages from all the previous dogs that she had missed spanning several days.

We ran into my friend Beth and her boyfriend David, which it was so nice to meet him after hearing about him for so long! They invited us back to their home for brunch.

We finished our walk and I went over there. I don’t know if it was the spontaneity of it, or the fact that their home was so reminiscent of a Cambridge home, or the food was so like the food of the Cambridge brunches I used to attend, but being in their home, with those foods, in that setting took me back to Sunday brunches in Cambridge, Massachusetts at my friend Philip Greenspun’s home and at my friend Sebastian Fixson’s home. Both MIT grads, both hosted fabulous Sunday brunches with MIT nerds and I say that with great affection!!! The guests were brilliant and came from across the globe and the food was intriguing, unusual, delicious, and worldly. The company of all these friends and their conversations were exhilarating. I actually did more listening than speaking at those brunches. I wanted to soak it all up!

Here I was at Beth’s and she was serving figs (which I couldn’t find in Cincy), fresh raspberries and a bowl full of grapes. Dolmades, stuffed grape leaves, which I adore! Then David made an omelet of sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and olives, which I replicated for the next three days because I enjoyed it and craved it so much!

It was a wonderful surprise and it was such a lovely day and such a great way to ease myself back from New York. I spent the day with a New Yorker and her beau!

That evening a small group of friends were being treated to a dinner at the Public Incline in Price Hill next to the Queen’s Tower (and Primavista) with an equally cool view of Cincinnati, and somehow, I was fortunate to make the list!

Here are the views and the fried pickles…they were yummy!

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My friend Stacey and I went to try Fusian in Kenwood. I had tasted their food at my friend Josh’s daughter’s graduation party. The guy behind the counter remembered me AND my order. It was so cool and eerie at the same time, but even more impressive. We had a great lunch!

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I think what I REALLY loved were their teas and I am not a tea person! They were delicious! And I loved being able to eat gluten free sushi!

That evening Shirley, Vivian and I sat on Shirley aka Trouble’s balcony and tried to solve the problems of the world while Shirley brushed all the knots out of my sister Dulce’s hair. I asked Shirley the secret of the dog NOT crying when she brushed her. She said her hair had a lot of knots so she was gentle because she sympathized!

9.11.

After all these years, I feel like every year I handle that day better and in the last few years I feel unaffected, but then I stay away from the news on 9.11. I don’t need to relive it again and again. I saw something on the internet about 9.11 and OH SO STUPIDLY clicked on it and it was the police officer or fireman ringing the bell in memory of those lost that day and it catapulted me back in time and how I felt that day. I wept! Uncontrollably. It hit me like a ton of bricks! And then I heard God Bless America and cried all over again. That is a wound that scabs over, but never fully heals.

Joan and Charlie invited me to brunch with their friend Amber. Amber and Joan met MANY years ago when they both were on a vacation to Italy and they were the only two in the group that had a true sense of adventure so they became the duo explorers and became fast friends and have remained friends for a long time.

Amber is a NYer! And she and I got to talk about food and chefs and she was impressive!! We sure had a great time discussing food! It was so much fun and so now I have made a new friend too!

After doggy sitting my sister Dulce for 10 consecutive days with a short break when Trouble took her, it seemed that the monetary value of LeVain’s chocolate brioche and hockey puck dark chocolate cookies was a priceless exchange, but I still felt like it was not enough for two people to be awakened DAILY by a dog that is a morning dog. 6:30 am. SO RIDICULOUS! You do not work, Dulce. No reason to be awake at the crack of f—ing dawn! Sleep late, pooch. Well, I invited Jo and Dave the doggy lifesavers over for brunch! Of course, she thought they were coming to see her. SHE IS SO SPOILED!!!!

Every other Monday, if I can, I go sit with my friend Mare who is going through chemo for colon cancer. She is such a trooper. I have a hard time going from my car to her seat in the room. Passing all those people with tubes everywhere…is hard, but once I get to Mare’s seat I am fine! And it means the world to her! And we have fun chatting up a storm!

I had a meeting at Children’s Hospital about a book I have written. Will keep you posted as it progresses!

Ruth Harriet comes to town, which means two things….BUSY and how much can any one human being eat?

My mom arrived and we first went and ate lunch down @ The Banks @ a place called Jefferson Social.

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We were able to sit outside and eat with Dulce in tow. We shared a con queso dip with chips. We chatted with a man who lived around the block and came to work there with his dog in tow.

Then we went home to my place and relaxed and then we ventured out to a place called Littlefield. It is a bourbon bar down in Northside that has great small plates. We aren’t bourbon people, but we are foodies.

We shared lamb meatballs with jalapeno fig jam

lamb meatballs

and then a BLP, which is bacon lettuce and peaches. They had a HUGE bourbon list and we passed on that and they had a really interesting drink list, which we decided to come back and try another day! They had this purple drink with an edible hibiscus flower in it. For dessert, we shared an upside down banana cake.

upside down bana cake

Friday evening we were invited to my friends Joan and Charlie’s place for cocktails and nibbles. The array of Asian food nibbles was quite interesting. We made plans to come back for Joan’s Venetian surprise for my mom.

Saturday, we packed it in tightly. We started at SIDEWINDERS for Mexican lattes and then progressed to City Flea to walk the booths of the local artists selling their wares.

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We dropped off Dulce and then went down to WCET for their Kid’s Club event.

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They had all these life-sized animals from a variety of shows walking among the kids. I volunteer @ CET and my mom used to in the 70s, so I asked if I could bring her back! They said yes, and so glad we did, because we were assigned to the face-painting table and she is an artist (aka my children’s book illustrator) and I AM NOT!!!! So, when kids asked to be a Bengal tiger, or get a butterfly painted on their hand…she could do it. I COULD NOT!!! They had little cutout designs for ME to place on faces and color in the lines.

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Here is some of her work…

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Then we went to UC Homecoming down on The Banks of the Ohio River. It was cool to go to it, and my mom a UC graduate loved it, but the floats were kinda lame. Apparently, because they had to drive the floats from Clifton to downtown and that is hard on a float, they don’t do a lot to them. People said when it is near the school the floats were MUCH different!

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My mom got her pic taken with the Cincy Bengal tiger! She was so excited!!!

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After the parade we went to Clifton and stopped at DRUNKEN BENTO to buy sushi to go. We were going to go to THAI EXPRESS and get pad Thai To me, the best Thai in Cincy but it was closed for a leak.

So, we went to another nearby place for a Bubble tea and we got SO much more than “Just” tea.

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There was “something” in the tea! I have no idea what, but something in there that made me delusional and my mom overly tired.

We slept it off!

We woke up and ate sushi and were happy and happy to be home!

The next morning we woke up and did our traditional thing! One does NOT, cannot, WILL not go to Burlington Flea Market without a SIDEWINDERS Mexican Latte in hand. It is sacrilegious to not have one!

So, we went to Burlington coffees in hand and wandered around looking for things to inspire creativity.

I found the perfect ring to hold my magic sand. If you want to know more…you will have to read the book when it comes out!

Then we came back to the condo for the last day at the pool! I love our pool and I love my pool friends!

Then I took my mom to THE COMET to listen to bluegrass music and share a burrito with me. I think she really loved it!!! The music. Not the burrito. It was her first EVER burrito. She is more an tamale gal!

The next day we took a long walk along The Ohio River so she could see all the wonderful things they have done along the river. They have done such a nice job.

My favorite is the metal swings looking out to the river. Dulce and Mom liked that too!

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Then my friends Tom and Linda came over to meet my mom and visit and chat. They had a wonderful time. I knew they would get along well and easily.

That evening we went to Django for dinner. I had the Cowboy Stew, which I really like with Southwest chicken and pork and served with jalapeno bacon cornbread.

My mom was REALLY digging the fresh combinations of spinach, tomato, onion, guacamole, verda crema on a rice cake with bacon. A real gem!

salmon from Django

The following morning we went to meet our cousins for breakfast at THE SLEEPY BEE and my mom and I shared the Avi omelet and the horrible sounding (to me) pancakes that ROCK, because the butter and the maple syrup and the fact that they taste good AND ARE HEALTHY is such an awesome merger!

Here we are with our family. AND this is real, true, blood family. Both of my folks are adopted but my mom found her birth family. They are so cool! I love them!!!

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After brunch, we went to get my mom’s haircut. She was begging to find someone good to cut her hair! Finally, she did.

Then that evening, she was going to get her surprise dinner at Joan and Charlie’s.

Here is the background story. YEARS ago, when I was backpacking through Europe after college, my mom came and met me in Venice. A restaurant named Madonna Trattoria or Trattoria Madonna was recommended to us. We ordered an appetizer of squid ink pasta with squid ink on top of it, and an entrée. The app was SO UNBELIEVABLY KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF GOOD AND SCRUMPDILLY-UMPTIOUS that we cancelled our entrees and ordered more squid ink pasta with squid ink sauce. EVER since that time…we have tried to find it, re-create it and it is NOT sold in this country. Well, it is in small packets that are NOT the same. We can find the pasta but not the sauce. I went back to Venice when I was living in Paris in 2004 and ate it again, but since then, nothing.

Fast forward to the present, Joan and Charlie spend a month in Venice and she brought some back and served it for dinner. I was stuffed but managed to stuff two full plates down into my belly…I was in heaven! HEAVEN! Now, I am craving it! Crazy good!!!

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And here is a pic of this restaurant with the magical pasta and sauce…

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The next day my mom and I took out our passports and traveled to Harrison, Ohio to go to the highly recommended vet named Laurie.

It was a bit of a poke and seemed even further for my mom and I, but the vet was a great gal. And she had a Boston terrier puppy mix there…OH SO CUTE!!! They called him Squishy. Isn’t he? He was like a belly full of jelly.

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Why is a puppy/dog/cat/elephant/hippo adorable with a large waist but people don’t think humans are? That really bums me out! They say everything goes full circle. I am hoping that the folks from the days of Rembrandts, Renoirs and Matisse paintings who were full figured come back into style one day! I am not saying super chubby, but cute chubby should be CUTE!

That night we went back to LITTLEFIELD to try the Fleur de Bee, which consists of Prosecco, Violette, St. Germaine and Raspberry. They’re insanely good. They knocked both of us on our ears, duffs, tushies, you name it. One drink. The edible flower was delish. I highly recommend it.

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Then we went home and I cooked a homemade meal and my mom set up the balcony for a candlelight dinner. She is so into the ambiance while you know me. I am so into the food!

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The following day we had the Sanibel Sandpipers over for a meeting. The Sanibel Sandpipers are a group of retired women in my building that I have gathered together to sew my Peri the pelican stuffed animal. Here they are with their red noses. I will explain the noses later.

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Later that evening and I do mean much later. Around 9ish, we went to dinner hop. We did it last Fall. We go to 2 restaurants and share two apps at both restaurants.

We started at a fairly new restaurant in Cincinnati called Salazar. The acoustics were atrocious. You can’t hear a damn thing! I hate, detest loud restaurants. I want to talk to the people I am with not shout and grin a lot.

Most people favor the little fried oyster sandwich with kimchi, radish sprouts, and garlic mayo. It was good but the bread overpowered it. Too much bread. My favorite was the duck leg rillette. It comes in a jar with four slices of Blue Oven bread, jalapeno jam, and pickled red onion and to merge all those flavors together is quite the symphony of tastes. I would go back for that one!

duck leg rillette

oyster sandwich

We left there and bellied up to the bar at Jean Robert’s Table. We shared a lobster salad, which was called the Red’s Lobster salad and contained cracker Jacks in it for the Cincinnati Reds. It turns into the Bengals Lobster salad when football season kicked into full gear. It was good. How can good lobster not be good? But I wasn’t in love with it. We had an oyster omelet, which I did really like and my mom was blah on it. It contained oysters, ginger, lemon, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and Kentucky’s sheep’s cheese. I enjoyed the medleys of all the foods together and there was an interesting texture to it all.

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The following morning we went to breakfast with my friend Lynn. She had found this cute little place downtown Cincy, which I am not sure I had ever been to and it was an eclectic little neighborhood. Lynn had read about THE CHEAPSIDE CAFÉ in the paper and I would have never found it if it had not been for her. It was in this tiny little, obscure, architectural gem of a building. The name comes from the street name and it was adorable. Fresh herbs were growing on a shelf. A mural sized photograph of a Cincinnati hillside covered a portion of the wall, while a wood structure captured the majority of the wall. Outside was a wooden teepee that we ate inside of it.

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I had the smoked salmon sandwich with cucumber, pickled onion, and herb cream cheese on salted rye.

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Lynn and my mother had the breakfast sandwich, which consisted of a fried egg, bacon, and pimento cheese on multigrain bread.

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I thought mine sounded better, but I thought theirs was hands down better than mine. Then we ordered some yummy, although espresso sized cappuccinos. Sorry folks, those capps need to be bigger! Because it is too pricey to drink two and one is just too small!!!

After breakfast we went to the Zoo. My mom had not seen the Cincy Zoo in over 20 years! It was so much fun to go there with her and see her face as she saw all the wonderful enhancements to our Zoo. I remember being at the Zoo with my mom as a young child.

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Then we went to Findlay Market, which we both marvel at the fact that when we lived here years ago, we didn’t take advantage of that market. It is truly fabulous! We bought food for dinner and then went home and had another dinner out on my balcony! My sunsets ROCK!!!

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The following morning we drove to Ohio State University for the OSU v. UC game! My stepfather has kept his OSU tickets since his college days. He’s now 76! Do the math! I stink at math! So, my mom and I had the tickets and we were going to see my stepsister’s oldest son who was a freshman at OSU. To me, seeing Matthew was a highlight!

But first, I asked to go to Katzinger’s!

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I was so ridiculously excited for a good Jewish Deli. I knew it wouldn’t be New York good, but I held high hopes! And it is really, really hard to compete with Carnegie Deli, Katz’s, 2nd Ave Deli and Eisenberg’s. It just is!

But when I walked in the joint. I felt like I was in a New York deli and that is such a beautiful thing.

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You can’t go wrong with a corned beef and pastrami sandwich.

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I had to try the potato pancake. Nice crunchy outside.

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And the rugelach was KILLER!!! I mean KILLER!!! And the bagels were VERY tasty too! We brought one home for breakfast the next day!

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Then we went to the game. We parked in China, but the transportation was so unbelievably good.

It was neat to see the stadium!

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My stepsister, Amy’s son, the freshman at OSU and I haven’t seen each other since he was a tot!

He is so adorable! Here is a pic of him with his Auntie Erin.

Matthew and Erin

And his Abu, which is Spanish for grandmother.

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Matthew is part of this group called O block. Here is a pic of where he sits!

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It is so cool to see the band write out Ohio with people.

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The seats were in a great location as you can see but they were MISERABLY uncomfortable. Benches with no backs! I cannot sit on a bench without a back for hours on end. I don’t sit on bar stools unless they have backs. I know what it will do to my back. Agony! You know I am not a complainer but that stinks for me.

A ex-UC football player sat next to us. He was adorable!!!

The next day we went on the Northside House Tour. It is so cool to see the unexpected gems and what people are clever enough to do inside and outside their homes.

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And then you just stumble upon a random cool house. Look at the top of this house!

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After the house tour we went to visit the Guggenheims who lived up the street from us and were one of my folks’ best friends when I was growing up! And my Uncle Jack, who has Alzheimer’s, who I never thought I would see again was home from the facility. They are really, really good people!!!

Then my friend Stephen threw a party for the pool people with yummy nibbles. My mom had a ball visiting with people.

We went to King Wok and I of course had the Moo Shu Pork. It was good and plentiful!

It has been there a long time and Polly Campbell gave it a good write up! My mom says she can’t find good Chinese food in Savannah. So there we were!

Last day my mom was here! My friend Jennie who my mother A-DOR-ES!! Came to breakfast. My mom made this breakfast of guacamole, feta cheese, and a fried egg on top. She placed hers and Jennie’s on a place of sourdough bread. I skipped the bread.

Here was her inspiration.

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We sat and talked and had a wonderful time! Then we went to Einstein’s so my mom could get bagels to take back to Georgia. They had a doggy bagel for Dulce! You know my mom got that for her. Then I took my mom to the airport. Hard to put your mom on a plane to go home and pack up a house and start a new life. My heart goes out to her on what a trooper she is being through this whole ordeal. So unfair. My stepdad is a REAL stinker!!!

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

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