Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our Day of (Discounted) Luxury

Friday we had pretty much the best day ever. And all at discount prices...
let me tell you how.
In the morning we had an Ashiatsu massage at Affinity Massage. The owner Mary Claire, was amazing and I would recommend anyone to go to her. Ashiatsu message is a massage performed totally with her feet!...but you would never know... it was honestly the best massage I have ever had. We got this deal through Groupon which you can sign up for online and they will send you a really good coupon everyday (that massage was something like 61% off) crazy!



Afterwards we went to Bacall's for lunch since we were up in that area....no discount prices...but restaurant review to come soon :)

After that I got my haircut at Tanya's in Hyde Park Square. Apparantly when you buy a house people LOVE to send you coupons for free stuff...including a packet of really great coupons from all kinds of local businesses....and one of them was a free cut and style from this nice upscale salon...sounds good to me! Arm and hand massage while you wash my hair? um..yes please!
Afterwards was a pre-dinner treat at one of my favorite places in Cincinnati, Yagoot! Being a "yagroopie" (aka being on yagoot's mailing list) usually gets you some perks...like getting to try a new flavor for free! The new flavor (banana) was totally delish. Tangy like the original with a slight banana flavor....Rob got granola and I got the special V-day topping...shaved strawberry and chocolate crunchies....both were very good topping choices.




Finally it was time for dinner and we had a $100 gift card to Mortons (cashed in a few credit card points)....Mortons is running a special right now that is a total steal.
For $99 for two people you get:
  • Two Salads
  • Two single cut filets with your choice of seafood: I got bacon wrapped scallops but took off the bacon (totally didnt need it!) and Rob got "colossal shrimp alexander"...
  • We also got two sides and if you've been to mortons you understand the size of these sides...we got mashed potatoes and asparagus to share
  • Then TWO desserts...creme Brule and Hot Chocolate Cake




of course with a bottle of wine, tip and a couple of cups of coffee, we paid above the $99, but still..what a great deal! And a table overlooking lit up fountain square at night..

anyway..that is the story of our day of discounted luxury...hope you enjoyed :)

Restaurant Review- Suzie Wong's

I've been dying to eat at Suzie Wong's and last night we finally got around to going. Also, any regular readers of this blog knows how I feel about BYOBs and this is one (for now)...word around the street is that they have applied for their liquor license...but there is still some time to enjoy the current byo status :) They do charge a $5 corkage fee, though.

Suzie Wong's is located where Seny used to be on Madison Road. It's a neat location.. a small(ish) place with big windows and dark red walls...very cozy. The wait staff is friendly & knowledgeable and I really like their wine glasses....which sounds silly, but it's kind of a big deal to me. I hate when you go to restaurants and they have awful wine glasses... but I digress...on to the food!


We ordered Crab Rangoon for an appetizer...maybe a little boring, but I don't care... I'm slightly obsessed. It was really really good. Hot, creamy and you could actually taste the crab, unlike a lot of places. Very good.

For dinner Rob knew what he wanted before we even got there and saw the menu...apparantly he had been reading about this dish around the food blogosphere and was really excited to get it...
Bi Bim Bap
Rice topped with beef, sprouts, spinach and fried egg served in a steaming hot clay pot, laccompanied with spicy red soy bean paste

He poked the fried egg and the yolk mixed in with the rest of the food....you could add as much or as little of the spicy red soy bean paste as you wanted depending on how spicy you want it. He couldnt stop talking about how tender the beef was... it was a really flavorful dish...and who doesnt love somethin served in a "steaming hot clay pot"

My dinner:

Malaysian Chicken in a Claypot
Chicken breast, sweet onion, green and red peppers, seasonal vegetables sauteed in a Malaysian yellow curry served in a country clay pot.

I asked our waitress if she had a suggestion and this came out of her mouth before I even finished asking the question.... sounded delicious to me too so I went for it. I've mentioned before that I thought I hated coconute milk until about a month ago at Rob's Birthday Dinner at Tellers when I discovered maybe I don't hate it...since then we have made a homemade red curry with (low fat) coconut milk, and now I ordered this...which was seriously delicious. So apparantly I actually love coconut milk...who knew? Anyway...this was just delicious...the complexity of the curry was something I hadn't tasted before. It was spicy and rich and I loved the way the brown rice soaked up the sauce after stirring it in. The chicken was also cooked perfectly...and again..who doesn't love a unique presentation.

Suzie Wong's...we certainly hope you're here to stay...we will definitely be back.

Suzie Wong's on Madison on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dear HP UA,

Dear Hyde Park Urban Active,

Please do at least one (preferably more than one) of the following:
  1. Buy more equipment
  2. Fix the equipment you already have, or at the very least put a sign on the broken ones. I got set up on 3 broken elipticals in a row last night before having to stalk girls by looking at their remaining time and just standing behind them waiting for them to finish.
  3. Maybe some of the enormous staff of sales people you have who are constantly selling additional membership to an already over capacity gym, could learn how to fix broken equipment instead.....and take a little break from overselling the place.

Members of Hyde Park Urban Active:

  • If you know the machine next to you is broken and you see someone get on it, mention the fact that it's broken before watching them set up their headphones and ipod, find a good station on the tv, etc... a quick "I think that one's broken" will suffice.

ok. rant over... for now..

Friday, February 19, 2010

Restaurant Review- Bottega



What a lucky girl I am! I was lucky enough not only to get away from the snow storm that is Cincinnati right now for a couple of days...but also to get to go to a foodnetwork star's restaurant for lunch. Michael Chiarella had a show I used to love (when it was on) on the food network...Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarella. Then imagine my delight when he showed up on Top Chef (another of my favorite shows) for the Master's edition. I was ecstatic to get to try his food but did NOT expect to walk right in and see him standing on the line working among the other chefs....so fun! I tried to take a few pics but none of them really turned out...

They brought the 8 of us to what I considered to be one of the best tables in the house. We were lucky enough to get a February day that was perfect enough to sit outside.

View from our table:

Now onto the food...oooh the delicious food.

First, some aps...
Rob and I split this:

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad marcona almonds, sieved egg, pecorino, whole citrus vinaigrette

This was so good... a little bitter from the brussel sprouts, rich from the cheese, light from the vinaigrette...seriously. so.good.

Rob's mom had this:


It was the raw fish selection of the day...which was tuna...on a huge salt brick... the size of the salt block is a little crazy, but I had a little bite of the fish.. yumyumyumyum....the longer you let it sit on the block, the saltier it got.

Just for the sake of pictures (I am not daring enough for this yet) was Rob's Dad's dish:

Wood Grilled Octopus olive oil braised potatoes, pickled red onion, salsa verde

On to lunch-

My delicious pasta dish:

Fusilli Lucani with veal, pork & porcini mushroom Bolognese, rosemary & Parmigiano Reggiano

Rob's Clam Dish (I had mussels and clams both for the first time ever this weekend...apparantly I'm big fans of both...pretty exciting!) The portion was generous, the noodles were tender and the broth was delicious...


And also a shot of the gnocci which was (to me) way more delicious than regular gnocci due to the ricotta. yumyumyum


Add in a couple of bottles of (seriously) delicious wine and I'd call it pretty much a perfect lunch... well almost perfect...Michael coming to chat with me at my table would make it 100% perfect :)

Bottega on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Day Exercise Challenge

All my life I have done something for lent... when I was in grade school it was something like be nicer to my sister or pick up my toys. In high school it was usually giving up soda or junk food. More recently I've tried to do something positive rather than give something up, like try to volunteer or do nice things for others... this year...it is going to be 40 days of exercise.

I feel like this is something challenging and also really positive. Rob, my friend/co-worker Nancy and I are taking on this challenge.... and there's no going back once it's written on the blog!!

Rules:
  • We must work out every single day for 30 minutes minimum for the 40 days of lent.
  • 30 minutes is the minimum and should be thought of as such. Most days can/should be more
  • Every day you have to enter your exercise into the official Exercise tracking sheet
Today is Day 1 of the 40 day Challenge.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Restaurant Review- Nada

In an earlier post I promised a restaurant review on Nada... so here goes!

First of all how can you not love the location...right next to the aronaff, in the middle of downtown with huge floor to ceiling windows...makes you feel swanky the second yo walk in...



Constantly what I hear about is the mac and cheese, so since it was my birthday I insisted that we get that as a starter.... gooood choice. Creamy and spicy with huge shells and a crunchy topping...straight from the oven in a piping hot pot. Pure heaven....


For dinner Rob had the mahi mahi tacos. Fried baja style with guacamole and pico de gallo. He loved the batter on the fish and the creamy guacamole.



I have been on a new kick where I give the waiter a couple of options and make them tell me whats the best... he said both and let me make my tacos a little combo platter...




I had two beef shortrib tacos and one pork belly tacos... They were both delicious but the pork belly was so rich...a couple of bites to get the flavor was enough. I had a lot leftover... We decided next time if we got tacos we would definitely split them with a salad on the side...because it was just a little too much meat for me..but the flavor was just delicious...I would also love to try some of the other things on the menus...especially some of their soups...

After dinner the waiter brought a huge plate of fried dough type things for my birthday... Probably enough on the plate for a party of 10...but very yummy...

In conclusion, it was a little pricey, in my opinion, for tacos... next time I think I would go for the drinks and a few appetizers with a group rather than the $16 tacos. But it's definitely a place I'm looking forward to going back to.

Nada on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tellers Beer Dinner

I took Rob to a Beer Dinner at Teller's for his birthday last week. It couldn't have been more perfect on both the timing and location. It was held ON his actual birthday and at a restaurant right down the street. yay!

Let me first tell you a little first about the concept of the dinner.

Tellers has beer dinners about once a month. A beer distributor comes and talks about the beer and Tellers makes special dishes to match each beer. I have to say, I've never really had beer paired with food before and was wondering how it would go....it was really really good, and educational and fun!

The beer for this tasting was dogfish head which is a small microbrewery in Delaware (look.... I'm in...Delaware...).. with some seriously tasty beer. When we got there, there were 3 large tables set up with name tags on them. This was one of the coolest parts of the dinner, we sat at a table in the middle of an older couple and on the other side a Dad with his son who was our age. We chatted with both duos easily all night and I think that really added to the fun. It also, however, distracted from my picture taking of all the courses... I felt silly taking pics with them at the table... not even sure why... I should have just explained the food blog...but oh well.

Lucky for me CityBeat was there to take some pics of the event:



It was a five course meal with a small tasting glass of beer with every course.
Let's just go through the courses....sorry again for the lack of pictures!


English Cheddar and Prosciutto crostini with a balsamic drizzle..paired with the 60 minute IPA
The cheddar was sharp, the crostini was crunchy and it was simple and exactly as you wanted it to be....and the IPA paired with it was a perfect starter.

Red Curried Coconut soup paired with Midas Touch.
I do not like coconut...I was not looking forward to this dish...it was the best dish of the whole night, in my opinion.... it was spicy and creamy and if it was an actual dish on their regular menu I would want it on every cold day of the winter. I need to figure out how to make this recipe at home...so much for hating coconut!

Spinach Salad topped with sliced red onion and drizzled with pancetta vinaigrette paired with indian brown ale... even though this is where the beer started getting a little darker, I really liked this one, I was very suprised...

Next was a roulade of tenderloin with cracked pepper crust, shrimp mousellinie and red pepper demi-glace paired with palo santo marron... this is where they started to lose me on the beer... a little dark for my taste...but the tenderloin was a wonderful medium rare and I love a cracked pepper crust...

Finally for dessert we had a chocolate pana cotta with candied orange paired with a chicory stout... again, the beer was a little dark for me, but Rob happily drank his and what was left of mine....and the pana cotta was absolutely.Perfect.

We also got to taste a few other beers from the dogfish head collection (red and white was my favorite!!) and learn so much about the brewery...

All in all it was SUCh a great time...and all this for $35/person plus gratuity.. totally worth it...ESPECIALLY for such a special occasion :)




Teller's of Hyde Park on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

hellllooo

Hi everyone:

I know I've been MIA for a while...but I've been super busy..and it's almost like once you stop blogging for a few days, it snowballs into a lot longer...

But speaking of snowballs... I'm all snowed in and ready to write some updates..

Obligatory Maggie in the snow pic:



And a warm delicious dinner:
Chicken covered with carmelized onion and apple and a little bit of mozzarella cheese...with a little bit of barley and broccoli on the side... Delicious!!


More updates to come soon... I promise :)