Sunday, May 31, 2009

...the bears at banana bean brunch before baseball..

I got a funny feeling that i been here before. Except this time we were meeting up with a friend at the Banana Bean located on Greenlawn before our first Clippers game. A much different vibe than the Whittier location. I liked the interior better -- now if they could transplant this place over to German village. I have acquired an anticipation and excitement for dining at Banana Bean because of its eclectic menu which always introduces some new taste to my palette. This would be my 3rd time there and all previous times I'd tried something new. Betty and I also observed from our last brunch visit the coupled strategy of ordering a sweet item and a savory item for brunch. We were all set to order and I was hankering for one of their special bloody mary's only to learn that Banana Bean does not have a liquor license on Sundays. No worries - I just saved myself $8.00.

Our friend started off with the sweet potato fries. I acted like I was not interested in them when he ordered but when they came out I was the official sweet potato fry groupie. Very yums in tums.

sweet potato fries with mysterious "spicy island" sauce

Betty opted for the Banana Fosters French toast with Berries topped with a Captain Morgan Rum sauce. This was pretty tasty...but there was room for it to be amazing.

bananas foster french toast w/ strawberries topped with rum sauce

I opted for the seafood fare as always that BBC specializes in and ordered the Eggs Del Mar described from their menu as "...2 Poached Eggs atop House–made Creole Cornmeal-Dusted Crab Cakes, Seared Spinach & Roasted Tomato Hollandaise..."

eggs del mar no flash out of focus

eggs del mar w/ flash overexposed...

I wanted to love this meal but it ended up just being pretty good. I'm a true believer that most foods would benefit from a fried egg over it -- so crab cakes with poached eggs were tasty -- but the hollandaise had to be the blandest most uneventful I've ever tried. Imagine my delight thought when I inquired about hot sauce and they had the red El Yucateco. Secretly i was hoping they'd bring out the ya ya sauce that normally accompanies their fried plantains but no complaints here.

At the end of the meal we were all pretty content and looked forward to the promise that the day would bring. Betty and I need to get back to basics at Banana Bean and try their fish tacos which were amazing last time we had them. Word is bean!

It's more than a feeling...more than a feeling...

Fresh off our first Clippers game we decide to hit up Bostons after a rather tasty first introduction to it at the Yeah Yeah Yeah's show at the LC the week before. Our goal was simple -- try their nachos and their pizza. We ordered a half pep/half pineapple ham pizza picture below:

half pep & half pineapple ham pizza.

The pizza was pretty underwhelming and tasted like a slightly better version of Pizza Hut pizza. I was surprised since their pizza at the LC tasted so promising. I wonder if Pepsi owns the franchise.

Up next - nachos. I had scouted these out back when NKOTB was here as we had plans to originally stop here before that concert. These nachos were tasty. I give them props on what appeared to be refried black beans and a well topped-tasting nacho. Though their care and attention to each nacho was appreciated their salsa was weak sauce.

nachos with weak-sauce salsa...

This place is ideal if you're on your way to an event downtown. Not a bad place to stop in and grab a drink and an appetizer...but beyond that i might be weary.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I can't believe that I'm sharin a kebab with the most beautiful bear in the room...

Grilling season is here and I figured it was time to try my sister's marinade for the 2nd time ever. Her marinade recipe is below -- but I tweaked it slightly.

3 1/4 salad oil/vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs vinegar
2 Tbs honey
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground ginger

- blend all the above and marinade with chicken, fish, or veggies

I marinated the chicken and veggies for 1 hour. I cooked the kebabs for about 15 minutes on the grill and then plated them. The kebabs were delicious. I served them up with El Yucateco's Caribean hot sauce and was set. I will definitely be making these in the future and will be pondering marinade remixes as well.

post-marination skewered up kebabs

almost grilled kebabs

plated outside.

plated outside extreme close-up

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dedicated to Tip Top Columbus...CK presents Ohio Nachos...

Back in Columbus stocked with fresh tomatoes and jalapenos I decided to try another attempt at Ohio Nachos. We love Ohio Nachos from Tip Top with my only complaint being that the kettle chips are usually luke warm if even that. I gots to have my food at least warm but preferably hot and fresh. I originally tried to make a cheese sauce using shredded cheese and 1% milk but i couldn't get the cheese to a creamy consistency -- instead i used Trader Joes shredded quattro formaggio with green onions, tomatoes, fresh jalapenos and reduced fat sour cream.

hot out of the oven Ohio nachos: kettle chips covered with shredded quattro formaggio, diced tomatoes, green onions & jalapenos topped with sour cream.

These were very hot and tasty...Tip Top...if you're out know you want to heat them up. ;)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

pistacia bear-as...

I finally found time to stop by Pistachia Veras to try some of their well-reputed baked goods. I stopped by their store and was greeted by the friendly women from behind the counter. She let me try their specialty which is macaroons. I was given their signature pistachio one and was blown away. Typically when I picture a macaroon i think of a whipped egg white styrofoamy cookie with shredded coconuts. No such item was present at their store. I decided to splurge and purchase 2 sets of their 12 set macaroons for $16 each. We shared one set with Columbus Yogurt and his wife during the Cavs playoff game and had a second set to explore and taste on our own. Betty was eager to get her paws on the cookies.

The macaroons were tasty but slightly expensive. My favorites were the pistachio and the honey lavender. The cookies were puffy but chewy and the cream filling was delightful. These desserts would make a great gift or treat for a dinner party. When we get a chance Betty and I would like to go back and sample their other baked goods.

Jon Spencer's Taste Explosion presents...Now I Got Quesadillas...

Remixed -- but i ask again how you gonna mess with this. Whole wheat tortillas with shredded extra sharp cheddar, diced chicken and black beans with homemade guac and salsa to boot. John Spencer's Taste Explosion...word

preppin' in the kitchen with diced chicken, shredded cheddar, diced red onions & black beans

extreme close-up before grillage

quesadillas proper plated with salsa, guac, sour cream and the el yucateco trifecta.

Now I got tasty is more like it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

ladies and gentilemen...put your hands together for columbus's very own eat junkies!

There is a group of DJ's known as the Beatjunkies that take turns on the 1's and 2's aka turntables doing some pretty amazing DJ feats. Well Betty and I were the eat junkies in our kitchen the other night. Betty cutting up some jalapenos and garlic to remix into her amazing guac and your's truly following some new guidelines from Cook's magazine on marinade magic -- sauteing chicken on the stove with a lime marinade -- all to be mastered in to extremely delicious chicken nachos topped with a homemade corn cilantro salsa. I ask as always how you gonna mess with chicken nachos with homemade guacamole? You can't. I'm drooling just looking at the pictures...and of course El Yucateco trifecta got in the mix:

certified classic chicken nachos with guac and corn salsa

certified classic chicken nachos with guac and corn salsa close-up

pastafari...pastafari...pastafari preserve all taste...

Hibernating in the kitchen i freestyled some pasta salad for a cookout over at some friends -- using a vegetable radiatore pasta from Trader joes mixed with tomatoes, onions, orange peppers, black beans, bacon, red wine vinegar, cumin, brianna's santa fe dressing, and some shredded habanero cheddar cheese. Equal bites...just tasty.

pasta salad

Monday, May 18, 2009

itb remix f. big salad and bold hummus

With many leftovers from the weekend's festivities I had fun remixing them for numerous new meals this week.

indian turkey burger, hummus, pita chips & tomato cucumber salad with sriracha.

surly uncertainty about crab cakes...

Betty and I decided to meet up with Columbus Yogurt and his wife at Surly Girl Saloon one of our favorite bars in Columbus. At SGS I decided to expand my ordering horizon. The reason for the expansion was most likely due to a series of conversations with CY about pizzas and an on-going pizza feud between his preference for Figlio's pizza over mine for SGS. But this is not a story about pizza -- it's about a bear expanding his taste palette at one his favorite joints and the tragic tastes that would follow. Betty and I both ventured beyond our favorite italian sausage pizza and turkey sandwich with poblano mayo to try their BLT avocado and their special for the day which was crab cakes with poblano mashed potatoes and corn. Looking at the pictures below it's strange to think that food that looks so delicious would be so underwhelming.

B. L. T.& A

crab cake special

To make a long story short - the crab cakes were bland and had a rather slimy consistency accompanied with even more bland uninspired mashed potatoes. Betty's sandwich was lacking in quantity the tasty ingredients promised by the menu - namely the A - avocados. CY suffered the same fate. In general the lack of taste in the food could be made up in SGS's fine selection of beers but today would not be that day as we waited with empty cups for over 3o mints and no one offered to take our order for drinks. This was most likely due to our waiter needing to cash out but we really wanted to stay and have some more drinks...but felt uninspired to have to work to order them. The disappointment at SGS and El Vaquero recently have taken me by surprise -- and again bring to the paw-front the notion of taste bud evolution and or critical mass consumption. For me in the immediate future I will most likely take a break from dining out in Columbus hibernating to the kitchen until my taste buds make rhyme or reason of the recent misadventures.

let the indigestion begin...

This weekend Betty and I headed home to Dayton to celebrate my sister's engagement. The menu would feature a diversity of foods from your typical cook out to traditional Indian fare. I was up early assisting my sisters and my moms with the cooking and trying to pick up some new recipes and cooking tips.

Up first my middle sis was cooking up some of her delicious macaroni and cheese. She has remixed her recipe a number of times. Today we would be treated to a gruyere and white cheddar mac and cheese with chicken sausage and red onions. How you gonna hate on that?

Click on the thumbnail below to see me guide you through the mac and cheese creation process:
mac and cheese

My moms and my older sis prepped turkey burgers Indian style. What makes it Indian you ask? Turmeric, garam masala, hot peppers, garlic and cilantro -- yeah that's what's up.

Click on the thumbnail below to see Betty tell you all about the secrets of the ITB...Indian Turkey burgers that is...:


We also had the usual black bean dip.

I was excited to learn that I would be responsible for making a special run to Shri G Grocers to pick up what I believe to be the best samosas hands down.

Now they don't make them there -- Shri G works with a mysterious someone who works out of his/her home and brings them to the store in a minivan. That was all the info I had. Oh yeah-- samosas are $.75 each.

The day was a blur between running around town, eating yummy food, meeting future fam and catching up with old friends that I fell behind in the picture taking department. There were a number of other items that I did not get a chance to snap photos of including: cholay, ras malai, gulab jamun, a tasty yellow cake from ELE bakery and who knows what else I'm forgetting -- but in the end -- a good time was had by all and bear oh bear...I really shouldn't have eaten those last 3 samosas and 4 pieces of cake...

Friday, May 15, 2009

pizza my mind...

Betty and I made it out to campus after a spontaneous decision to check out the King Khan and the Shrines show at the Wex. We decided to hit up Flying Pizza or the pizza shop formerly known as. I can't recall the new name of the place -- perhaps it's Slice of New York? This was our first time there after discovering it had changed owners over a year ago and officially ceased to be Flying Pizza. Betty and I have gone back and forth about what our favorite pizza place is depending on the specific context but I always had a warm spot in my heart for Flying Pizza as my first pizza venture when I first came to OSU. They claim to be NYC style pizza -- which is a difficult thing to do since we're in the midwest -- and since they do pizza by the slice -- you really don't get a chance to get a fresh slide per se -- but all things considered I dig it. I had the usual 1 slice of cheese and 1 slice of pep-mush with some fresh parmesan on it. The pizza was pretty good. The new owner has kept the same formula with the pizza. Betty noted the sauce did not taste as sweet as previous and I commented how the pizza was actually more cooked through than I've ever experienced previously. For pizza by the slice -- the price is right --but Betty and I have found that we really enjoy the pizza when you order a fresh pie for carry out. It's times like this where I feel fortunate to live in a city with such a diversity of pizza joints that I each equally cherish for their unique tastes and dining environments.

2 slices of chee & 1 pep-mush

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Paul Bunyan couldn't down these lumbre jack burritos...

You know i might as well be the burrito king for as much as I post about them. This time around I was making use of leftovers and also using some ingredients given to me by a faculty member. I made blue corn soft tacos with peppers, onions & steak. The tacos had a layer of refried beans and chipotle cheddar underneath them. The accompanying salsa was a homemade concoction of lumbre, corn, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and lime juice. I am not sure what exactly lumbre is but if I had to guess -- I would say it was roasted green new mexican chili puree. It's heat was pretty potent that I really did not need the El Yucateco trifecta...but I like to sweat with my food. These burritos were very tasty with a heat that would've taken out the best lumber jack Mr. Bunyan included.

blue corn soft tacos with beef, green peppers, onions, refried beans, chipotle cheddar and lumbre salsa

for those wanting a closer look:

the truth about jekyll and hyde park grill...

Betty and I have been eating out way too much but there always seems to be something to celebrate or some new restaurant to try. This was the case Tuesday when Betty and I celebrated our 2nd Bearniversary. We were debating Thoms on Grandview or Hyde Park Grille and ended up deciding to try Hyde Park up in the Short North. We got there early -- i guess the restaurant does not open until 5PM -- and had a happy hour martini. Good blue cheese olives but something was off with my gin martini. Betty's was very tasty. Their happy hour menu is quasi-interesting in that everything on the left hand side of their menu is half off. We decided to try their scallops. As we waited at the bar -- our seats became available and were were taken to our patio seats which line High Street. I had some usual dining anxiety at first about downtown patio dining and it's proximity to the street and car exhaust along with potential heavy drafts that blow your napkin or menu across the street -- as had happened at Barrio Tapas -- but we were on the inner row of patio seats so all was good. I wanted to try a number of menu items to take in everything Hyde Park had to offer since we had recently been hitting up a number of fine dining steak joints including Eddie Merlots and Fleming's. We also ordered their sashimi tuna and lobster bisque as appetizers. Betty and I both decided to get petite filets and split a side of Gruyere gratin.

bread and butter

Bread was good. You get 2 different kind of bread rolls and a number of "everything" covered crackers.


Betty and I were so hungry when these came out I forgot to take a picture of the plating. These were very tasty cooked perfectly like butter served with a blue cheese walnut sauce. The serving was small however and I was glad we got the happy hour price on them for $5 rather than $12.95.

lobster bisque

I had to try this lobster bisque after loving Spagios. This soup was pretty good but seemed to have a strong cheese base that overpowered the rest of the flavors. I think pre-Spagios lobster bisque -- I would've enjoyed this more but Spagios has set the bar perhaps too high.

sashimi tuna app with wasabi oil and sriracha

When this came out i wondered where the other half went. I was perhaps a little disappointed with the tuna though nothing was noticeably wrong with it. Again I couldn't help but notice the small portions. This in contrast to other places where servings seemed larger and packed more taste punch. The sauces were boring to me but I love tuna so let's say I quasi-enjoyed this.

petite filet medium

Steak was tasty but was a little over cooked for me. I still enjoyed it though. As Betty and I were discussing the meal I wondered if perhaps I should start ordering my steaks medium rare because I also thought Fleming's also overcooked my steak.

potatoes gruyère gratin

Betty and I split this side and it was very rich and tasty. Complemented our steak perfectly. Again...I have a tendency to compare dining experiences and restaurants with one another...and I was hoping that Hyde Park might have some bold side comparable to say Flemings Chipotle Mac and Cheese. Betty and I really enjoyed our meal and it was fun to hang out in our old stomping ground to celebrate our Anniversary but at the end of the day with a pretty sizable bill we weren't so sure if we'd come back to Hyde Park Grille unless it was for drinks and apps or unless you're buying. ;)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

sometimes cowboys need a day off...but come on now El Vaquero...

It's a pretty common fact that bears who know me know I love El Vaquero. It wasn't always this way -- but after I experienced the 141 Pollo Ranchero -- Betty and I began a love affair with El Vaquero that's run over almost a decade. One of the few places I can always eat at no matter what my mood I decided some time last year to stop the 141 cold turkey and expand out and try their other menu items. On Sunday Betty fresh back from her Chicago trip and I decided to catch up at our favorite spot -- we go to the one on Riverside since it's so close by. We decided since the weather was nice to dine at the patio. Something must have been in the air or perhaps my credit card was trying to remind me of how much damage I had put on it this past month -- but the service was off and slow; the chips tasted gritty and stale; margaritas were watered down; -- and it took 10 minutes to flag down someone to order the hot salsa and take our dinner order. Was this the same place we loved so dearly? Where have all the cowboys gone? I tried to stay cool and Betty and I decided we'd split the fajitas vallarta. The fajitas vallarta consist of steak, shrimp, and chicken, with grilled onions, tomatoes, shrooms, and green peppers.

fajitas vallarta

accompanying side of beans, pico de gallo, mexican rice

After I sunk my teeth into my first fajita -- all my worries went away and I was good. Betty and I enjoyed the rest of our meal and attributed our experience to be the exception rather than the norm for a place that we frequent so often.

arise legumbre king arise!

I like to eat meat as much as the next bear does but I grew up eating veggies and the Indian bear staple was dal which is a lentil soup. I purchased a bag of Hurst's Hambeens 15 bean soup when we were at Jungle Jim's and I finally decided now was the time to get back into the soup business. The soup comes with a seasoning packet for what they describe as a cajun soup with sausage.

15 bean soup package

I wanted more specifics on what was in the seasoning package but couldn't figure it out so I decided to freestyle in true CK manner using the yellow dal my moms and grandma used to always make as inspiration. I began by throwing away the seasoning packet and soaking the beans for 8 hours.

beans hanging out in the water

I then threw them in a pot with 4 cups of water and 4 cups of trader joes chicken stock and let them come up to a boil. Time to prep the seasoning: I juiced 1.5 lemons. Diced up 1 onion and some cooked chicken breast. Smashed and chopped up 3 cloves of garlic and it was off to the frying pan.

As the beans were boiling for about 30 minutes I cooked down the onions, garlic, and chicken and then added the seasoning to the soup and let it continue to boil. I added various other seasonings including turmeric, some bay leaves, a little bit of kosher salt, some red pepper, a dash of garam masala and let it all simmer. I then let the soup cool down and refrigerated it over night so all the spices could blend.

Betty and I have been eating the soup all week and both of us have been really enjoying it. I cooked the soup Sunday and have lunch for the week. That's 10 meals between Betty and me -- come on now you can't beat that! It might be time to declare myself lentil king or better yet legumbre king! :)

jolly huevos rancheros...

I love eggs. I love refried beans.
Put them together. Jolly I will be.

I fried up a blue corn tortilla until it was crispy and brown. Layered it with the leftover refried black beans. Used the remaining chicken from the previous day. Threw on some shredded chipotle cheddar cheese. Added some chili spiked tomatoes. Then covered it all with a fried egg over medium garnished with mother amounts of onions and cilantro and yeah you guessed it. El Yucateco trifecta.

plated huevos rancheros CK style

closer look at the huevos rancheros...

aurora burrito-alis...

In case it wasn't apparent I have a tendency to remix leftovers into new culinary creations. Saturday night driven by a strange polar light from the skies in the north -- I took the leftover chicken and pepper tomato salad and flipped them into a mexican meal. I made 1 bean burrito with refried black beans, onions, and cilantro and another with diced chicken from the other night with refried black beans, onion, cilantro, and a pepper, tomato, onion, corn salsa. El Yucateco trifecto??? Of course. Muy Sabrosa! :)

refried black bean burrito and chicken burrito with tomato, corn, pepper salsa

Saturday, May 9, 2009

the goat cheese of breakfast morning...

Being sick for the week limited my cooking game and one of my biggest bear peeves is letting food go to waste. I squandered a yummy bag of fresh green beans this week and felt really bad. I was destined not to have the same thing happen to my precious goat cheese. This morning I was visited by the goat cheese of breakfast morning and I did something I normally don't do in Columbus as mentioned in previous posts -- I made an omelette. I did a 2 egg omelette with goat cheese, onions, and bacon. I plated them with a pepper tomato salad and rosemary seasoned potatoes. Hit them with my El Yucateco-trifecta and was in heaven. I love cooking breakfast! Betty missed out on this but I'm sure she's having good eats in Chicago.

B&W focus filter from picnik: goat cheese, onions, and bacon omelette, pepper tomato salad, rosemary seasoned potatoes; El Yucateco trifecta in the background; Seven Hills creme brulee blend in the mug.

kickin' it in the kitchen with 2 flip chicken...

I made some 2 flip chicken last night. For those not familiar with what I'm talking about -- I'm talking about grilling chicken on the stove but only using 1 flip to cook each side. 1 + 1 =2 flips -- not too complicated right. I usually do 5-6 minutes per side and the marinade and seasoning varies. Last night I needed to get rid of some lemons so I marinated the chicken in lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, and dijon mustard, and a little bit of this and that seasoning. For the sides I tried the Aunt Nellies Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage from Jungle Jims, a homemade goat cheese, tomato, pepper salad, and some browned potatoes with grilled onions.

2 flip chicken, sweet and sour cabbage, tomato, goatcheese, and pepper salad, and browned potatoes

The dijon mustard gave the chicken a mellow-winey-taste that complemented the cabbage and everything really tasted yummy together.

The only low part of the meal was the void of cooking for one since Betty was off to Chicago -- but all in all a good meal.

Friday, May 8, 2009

put 3Ts remix on repeat...hello hello hello...echo echo echo...

With my nose and eyes watering for the past 48 hours this bear was running out of energon in true transformer's fashion. Betty saved the day by remixing our 3Ts in true DJ on repeat fashion.

3Ts. Tator tots, tomato basil soup, tomato melt

You know the drill. Ore-Ida tator tots. This time Betty flipped a Tomato melt with American cheese on oatnut bread. No sandwich maker this time which made for an easier post dinner dish washing. And of course our new found favorite tomato soup Sierra Rica Tomato & Basil purchased from the Dublin Whole Foods. Got the taste on lock. I should be sick more often...not.

cholesterolking down for the count...

Trying to get back in the swing of things. Not sure if it's the fact that we're actually having an Ohio Spring this year. What I originally thought was a cold could have been tree pollen allergies in full effect. Take a bear out of the forest and the next thing you know he's allergic to it. I just hope that I don't get allergic to the kitchen because it's sure been awhile. Betty's been taking good care of me though.

Monday, May 4, 2009

cholesterolking gets a year older.

If you want to roll with Betty and Umberto look for us at Marcellas from 4:30-6PM and then Surly Girl Saloon from 6:00ish and beyond.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

UFC presents the El Yucateco breakfast throwdown

Finally got back to basics with breakfast Sunday morning. 2 eggs over medium on toasted white bread. One slice of toast had jarlsberg cheese the other had black diamond cheddar. 2 strips of crispy bacon along with a homemade tomato relish with onions to have on the side. This morning i was on a mission though to sample and try all the El Yucatecos. I recently added to my arsenal of El Yucateco hot sauces the Salsa Kutbil-ik de aka XXXTRA Hot Picante Sauce and the Caribbean Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero purchased from Jungle Jims.

Breakfast was delicious. At the end of the battle I still declare winner and still champion the El Yucateco green hot sauce.