Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Noshes and News 2.26.13

PizzaBomba Grand Opening Tuesday, February 26

The PizzaBomba food truck recently opened a storefront at 14 E. Fifth St. in Covington, and today they'll celebrate their official Grand Opening by giving away free slices of cheese and pepperoni pizza from 11:00 a.m. until they run out. If you love PizzaBomba's food as much as I do, rest assured their truck and catering operation will continue to operate. They've also added delivery to Covington, Newport, parts of Bellevue, Downtown Cincy, and Over-the-Rhine up to Liberty. The Covington PizzaBomba shop has a beer license and, better yet, an expanded menu that includes sandwiches, salads, pastas, and desserts. Although Grand Opening freebie slices are limited to cheese and pepperoni, you don't want to miss PizzaBomba's quirky combos and homemade breads and pastas, like this punchy yet ethereal Buffalo Chicken gnocchi! Find them on facebook, twitter, or via their website.

The Art of Food Opening at The Carnegie Friday, March 1

Food-inspired artwork will fill the galleries of The Carnegie in Covington through March 21. But  opening night for The Art of Food is the BIG deal. More than 20 of Greater Cincinnati's best restaurants will be giving out tastes of their food from 6:00 to 9:00. Now in its seventh year, this unique annual event delights all the senses - and it gets crowded quickly! To reserve your tickets before they sell out, click here.

Night Owl Market (NOM) Bockfest Edition, Friday and Saturday, March 1-2

This periodic gathering of food trucks, musicians, and other local artists in the parking lot at Main Street and Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine was a hit with the late-night crowd last year. NOM kicks off its 2013 season this Friday and Saturday from 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. in conjunction with Bockfest! Event details here, and more about this great entrepreneurial endeavor from Cincy Chic here.

I hear the Red Sesame Korean BBQ Taco truck will be in attendance at this weekend's NOM. Haven't caught up with this new Cincy food truck yet? Keep an eye out for them via facebook and twitter. Seriously, you'll want to check them out soon!

Pura Vida Nomadic Nights Underground Dinner, March 2

If you've been interested in checking out one of Cincinnati's underground dinners, Jose Navales of Pura Vida Pop-up is doing his second Nomadic Nights Dinner this Saturday. I missed the first one, but I have tasted his food, last fall at the OEFFA tour at Carriage House Farm. Navales is passionate about local food - and full of ideas. I'm betting this will be unlike any other underground dinner Cincinnati has seen yet.

Asian Food Fest Cookoffs at Findlay Market, Sundays in March, 1:00-3:00

Do you love Asian food - or just want to learn more about the diverse foods of China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and more? This year's Asian Food Fest is May 18 and 19 at The Banks, and leading up to it, like last year, Findlay Market will host a series of cook-offs Sundays in March, featuring congee (March 3), curry (March 10), rolls (March 17), and Asian BBQ (March 24). To enter, complete an entry form by the Friday before each event and bring 4 quarts of your dish. To taste, come and enjoy. People's choice and judges' winners will be awarded each Sunday. I look forward to being a guest judge for the curry cook-off, and hope to see you there!

Young Guns Awards

I've been learning about lots of young chef talent in response to my post last week about national website Eater's call for nominations for its Young Guns Awards. Eater's rules state they are looking for candidates who are under 30 years old OR (if you're over 30) have worked less than 5 years in the business. Please go to Eater's website to make official nominations and represent!!! And please continue to let me know your suggestions about our best and brightest upcoming talent in Ohio and Kentucky by contacting me. I look forward to sharing their names here - and learning more about them!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Call for Nominations - Eater Young Guns

The national website Eater is accepting nominations for its second annual Young Guns award, and I'd love to see Cincinnati (and surrounding cities) represent! I know there's a buffet of serious talent here in the middle of the country!!! Trouble is, I'm not sure who meets the "under 30" - OR has worked in the industry less than 5 years - qualification, and I'm certain there are lots more amazing up-and-comers out there than I've had the chance to meet yet.

Here's how Eater describes its search for Young Guns:

The aim of Young Guns is to identify the most promising up-and-comers in the restaurant and nightlife world, whether they're working as chefs or line cooks, sommeliers or bartenders, restaurateurs or maƮtre d's.

The criteria are simple. Nominees must be under 30 years of age (or have worked in their chosen field for less than five years) and must be currently employed in the hospitality industry in the United States. Though you most likely haven't yet heard their names, they must show extraordinary promise. These kids are the future, those that will soon lead the business but have yet to receive critical attention.

Eater is opening up the nomination process to the public! Click here and complete the quick form to officially nominate a candidate directly to Eater. Additional supporting materials can be emailed to youngguns@eater.com.

Meanwhile, please make some noise locally by sharing who you think are some of our best and brightest young talents by commenting on this blog post, posting on my facebook page, tweeting me @EggplantToGo, or emailing me at eggplanttogo @ gmail dot com.

Eater's deadline for nominations is March 15. Let's get a groundswell going before that, people! And I look forward to acknowledging our worthy nominees right here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Noshes + News 2.17.13

The Denver Chee at Tom + Chee Walnut St.

Tom + Chee Now Serving Breakfast

The little "grilled cheese and tomato soup venture that could," Tom + Chee is now serving breakfast at their Walnut St. store. Loved their take on the Denver omelet when I grabbed one last week. Breakfast sandwiches and stuffed French toasts galore! Downtown Cincy between 4th and 5th Streets in the Mercantile Building (next to Subway).

Six Reasons to Check Out Alfio's Tuesday Night

Tuesday evening (2/19) Alfio's buon cibo is doing an informal wine tasting of three Malbecs with a trio of their empanadas, which I loved on a recent visit to this cozy Italian-Argentian restaurant on Hyde Park Square (in the former Poco a Poco location). $20 for three bites and three pours, starting at 6:00 p.m.

Pierogies + Art at Park + Vine Friday Night

Every culture has its version of dumplings. In Poland they're called pierogies. Last week I tasted offerings from start-up Babushka Pierogies at Market Wines at Findlay Market with a friend whose mother-in-law was Polish. These were so good my friend bought extra to take home to her husband, knowing he would approve. Look for Babushka Pierogies at Madison's and Gramma Debbie's at Findlay Market plus vegan versions at Park + Vine.

Park + Vine, the "green" general store, vegan food mecca, and community gathering spot in Over-the-Rhine, is hosting a special Final Friday event featuring not only Babushka's Pierogies but whimsical pieces by artist and local farmer Emily St. Clair. Check out this "Secret Garden" opening Fri. (2/22) 6:00-10:00 at 1202 Main St.

New Non-Profit: Cincinnati Food Truck Association

I'm a big fan of the talented entrepreneurial folks in Cincinnati's great mobile food scene. They support each other in many ways, and now they've banded together to form an official non-profit. From the press release:

We are proud to announce the newly formed non‐profit organization, Cincinnati Food Truck Association (CFTA). The association is made up of small businesses that own and operate premium food trucks and trailers in Cincinnati focused on innovation in hospitality, high quality food and community development. The CFTA aims to reinvent food trucks vending in a way that is beneficial to Cincinnati, food truck entrepreneurs and their patrons.

Mission Statement: To campaign for safe, affordable and legal access to street food in metro Cincinnati area by fostering positive relations between street vendors and the residents and business of the communities they serve. Our mission is to create a market in which food trucks, trailers, vendors and patrons alike can work together for the betterment of the industry. The immediate goal of our newly formed organization is to work with the City of Cincinnati to increase the number of available mobile food vending spots within the pilot program. In addition, we hope plan food related events, create a welcoming environment for future Cincinnati food trucks, carts and vendors as well as create an online source with contact information, calendar of events and other relevant information.

Contact CFTA at:

Stay tuned to this blog for more news about Cincy food trucks and other great food in the city, and more frequent news updates on my facebook page.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Original Makers Club Launches in Cincinnati Tonight!

If you’ve been near the bustling intersection of 12th and Vine in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine in the last six months, you’ve probably seen this image prominently displayed across the parking lot on the wall of architectural firm A359. When I first laid my hands on a copy of the Cincinnati edition of the Original Makers Club guidebook, the woman sitting next to me at A Tavola recognized it, and wanted to know the story.

The “book,” as the OMC folks call it, is a 64-page, 7” x 10” paperback printed on heavy matte stock and packed with photos (no "advertorial") of 40+ independent Cincinnati businesses and other organizations. This is not your grandfather’s guidebook. Fitting, since every room in Cincinnati’s new 21c museum-hotel – not your grandfather’s hotel – will be stocked with one.

A Louisville start-up, Original Makers Club was founded by photographer Josh Meredith. OMC team member Mike Brady, who is also assistant to 21c founders Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown, is managing partner of the Cincinnati operation. (OMC hosted Steve Wilson's birthday party last night in Louisville, and I'll bet it was quite a bash.) OMC guidebooks are in the works for Lexington, where another 21c is under development, and Brooklyn, where OMC will partner with another boutique hotel not affiliated with 21c. Cover illustrations for all the books are by Brooklynite Jon Contino.

But Original Makers Club isn’t just about its guidebooks, which “members” pay on a per-page basis to be included in. Nor is it simply about dovetailing a printed product with a built-in method of distribution. (OMC books are also available free to the public at member businesses.) OMC is partly an aesthetic and lifestyle vision, partly an entrepreneurial collaboration, and partly an ongoing series of events. As Mike Brady told me, “It’s hard for most to grasp the concept until they see it active in their city.”

My curiosity was aroused last summer as I saw that a number of local, independent Cincinnati restaurants I enjoy and respect were choosing to participate. In addition to restaurants, OMC deliberately includes visual artists, floral designers, clothing stores, hair salons, city organizations, etc. in its “curated” mix, which ranges from Jean-Robert's Table to Park + Vine. (You can find a full list at the bottom of this post.)

Folks at one restaurant I spoke to said they decided to sign on for Original Makers Club in lieu of another pay-to-play organization, Greater Cincinnati Independents, aka Eat Local Cincy, which sponsors Cincinnati Restaurant Week (not to be confused with Downtown Cincinnati Restaurant Week), feeling they had outgrown GCI and hoping that Original Makers Club would help take them to the next level.

Nick Wayne, co-owner of A Tavola with his brother Jared, told me the selling point for him was the presence of OMC books in the 21c hotel rooms, which he thinks will reach a well-targeted audience of Cincinnati visitors who would be interested in what his business and others in Over-the-Rhine are doing. Nick and his wife stayed at Louisville's 21c the weekend they attended OMC's Boat Dock Dinner, and were impressed by the businesses they discovered using the "book" as their guide.

In my ongoing quest to experience one-of-a-kind dinners, the Original Makers Club Dinner Series caught my attention too. Especially after I watched this video of OMC’s very first such dinner, in a bucolic setting on a farm outside of Louisville, complete with a dapper Kentucky gent riding in on a white horse. The first of OMC's "traveling tables" was built for that event.

On a last-minute whim last July when I learned tickets were still available, I headed to Louisville for OMC’s second collaborative dinner, an "underground/pop-up" affair at what turned out to be a mansion overlooking the Ohio River. Although lightning storms prevented our planned pre-dinner boat ride on the Ohio River – complete with matcha tea popcorn snack – we happily huddled around canopied communal tables at the Greystone Estate for a low-country boil prepared by Louisville restaurant (and OMC | LOU member) Hillbilly Tea. The food, libations, and conversation were a delight. Eventually the skies cleared and we cast off the canopies to savor our summer evening overlooking the water.

The Original Makers Club team says that part of its mission is to embrace the culture of each of the cities in which it has a presence. The roster of Cincinnati OMC members is weighted toward downtown and Over-the-Rhine businesses, and my guess is that in holding its launch party tonight on Culvert Street (which I believe is sold out), OMC is embracing an edgier, more urban version of what OMC – and Cincinnati – can be.

Sounds good to me!

I'll happily stay tuned to see what else OMC and its Cincy partners are up to next (on either side of the Ohio River) . . .including yet another new photographic, communal, food-centric venture founder Josh Meredith has launched, called Forage.

OMC | CIN members:

1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, 21c Museum Hotel / Metropole, 3cdc (Fountain Square, Washington Park); Arnolds Bar and Grill; A Tavola; Bakersfield, Bouquet Restaurant + Wine Bar, Cincinnati Museum Center, Clifton Performance Theatre, Cork + Bottle, Digs, Django Western Tacos / La Poste, Brazee Street Studios, Blue Manatee Bookstore, Ensemble Theatre, Five Dot Design, Flow For Men, 4eg (Four Entertainment Group, which includes The Righteous Room, The Lackman, Mount Adams Pavilion, The Stand, The Sandbar, Alive One, Keystone Bar + Grill, Igby’s, Tap + Go), Framester, Japp’s, Jean-Robert's Table, La Silhouette, Local 127 / Lavomatic, Marti’s Floral Designs, Mica 12/v, Moerlein Lager House, Nada, Paolo Jewelers, Parlour Salon, Park & Vine, Queen City Cookies, Rookwood Pottery, Sloane Boutique, Smartfish Studio and Sustainable Supply, Spotted Goose, Studio N Photography, Switch Lighting and Design, Taste Of Belgium, The City Flea, Via Vite, Jaguar / Land Rover Of Cincinnati, Young Philanthropists Society Of Cincinnati