Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Experience Columbus Days! 25%-50% discounts on Columbus Dining & Attractions, Oct. 9-12

I am so bummed that we'll be missing this event. (Then again, I've still got three blogs from Restaurant Week that I haven't done!) But Hawaii calls and I must answer...

I do have to tell you about it though, so that you can go and report back to me. Maybe some of the Dishing-It-Up! Columbus contributors will go and post their experiences? That would be awesome! Hmm...is that a challenge?

Here is the info from the Experience Columbus website:

"Columbus is THE place to be during Experience Columbus Days, Oct. 9-12. Get 50% off admission to the city's top attractions and entertainment when you show your Experience Columbus Days Discount Flyer. In addition, the 40+ restaurants of Dine Originals Columbus are offering 25% off your food bill for two people. Visit www.ExperienceColumbusDays.com to view all of the details and to print a Discount Flyer. "

Make sure before you go to any of the events or restaurants that you have your flyer. That is how you'll get the discounts. http://experiencecolumbusdays.com/pdf/ec_days_card.pdf

Check out the list of participants! There are a ton of places/attractions that are participating and it appears that everyone in Dine Originals is participating!

I cannot believe we are missing this! This and Grandparent's Day at Bryce & Blake's school too! But c'mon! It's Hawaii!!!

Have a great time!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

TasteCasting - Donatos Hand Tossed Pizza

Bob and I had the pleasure of attending our second TasteCasting event on Tuesday night. We met at the Donatos at Easton Town Center, 4055 Morse Crossing. We were there to taste the newly released “Hand-tossed” pizza.

First let me say that Bob and I are relative newcomers to this group. This being only our second event we really only knew a few people. But everyone so was great to us. And I had the particular pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger that is new to Columbus, Vanessa Druckman! She had previously commented on one of my posts, and I checked her blog out and started following it. You should take a look. This is Vanessa’s blog http://chefdruck.blogspot.com/. We also met other members we had not met before that were just so nice! Thanks Jason (http://www.greatestcityofall.com/) and Joe (http://www.jlh-photo.com/) for great conversation!

Okay, on to the food! We were there to taste Donatos new “Hand-tossed” pizza. This pizza has been three years in development. Donatos has paid intensely close attention to the crust, the sauce, the cheese and even the pepperoni. All are different from their other pizzas.

Being our own hometown pizza, Bob & I are both big Donatos fans. Bob’s preference is the Founder’s Favorite which sports pepperoni, sausage, ham and yellow peppers. We like the thin crust with the famous edge-to-edge toppings. We were looking forward to trying this new pizza.

The evening began with Tom Santor of Donatos telling us a little of the history of Donatos, and the history of the hand tossed pizza. The Donatos new hand tossed pizza has a traditional pie cut as opposed to Donatos square cut pizzas. I’ve mentioned the new sauce, pepperoni and cheese already. In addition, the pie comes with your choice of one of two dipping sauces; either sweet Italian marinara or buttery garlic.

The display of food was lovely. They brought out a variety of Hand Tossed pizzas for us to try. Also available for tasting was a gorgeous super sized Chicken Harvest Salad. This happens to be my favorite salad that Donatos or any other pizza place for that matter, makes. And what makes it even more delicious and incredible? It’s the vinaigrette that you get with it. O.M.G. It is so freaking good! It is T. Marzetti’s Apple Vinaigrette. We horde this dressing in our house. I always ask for extra when I get this salad (sometimes you have to pay for the extra, sometimes not). Then we use it for veggie dip, baked potatoes; heck, at this point I could probably figure out how to frost a cupcake with it! I love it that much! And you want to know the coolest part about it? I know the dude who created it! Yeah, I do!!! Jared Prosek is a rock star in my eyes! Did you catch that name? Why yes, that is the son of our own “Meow”. How cool is that? But I digress. Get me back on track. I tend to wander off when you mention the apple vinaigrette.

In addition to the pizzas and salad, they had their chicken breast strips with a sweet, smokey bbq sauce. Later they would bring out dessert pizzas.

After shooting some pictures and giving everyone else time to get their shots, I zeroed in on the spinach pizza. I love anything with spinach in it. This had the new hand tossed crust, fresh mozzarella, roasted all-white meat chicken, roasted garlic, and roma tomatoes and was lightly brushed with olive oil in lieu of sauce. This was just awesome! The thicker crust has a chewy texture and I liked that. This pizza just rocked!

Next I went for the hand tossed pepperoni pizza. Along with this we were served hot from the oven thin crust pepperoni pizza. That was great for comparison. And side-by-side you sure could tell the difference in the sauce (a bit sweeter on the hand tossed) and the pepperoni (spicier on the hand tossed). If I had to choose between the two, well I guess I’d have to walk the plank. They were both good. Really good.

The hand tossed serious cheese was yummy. It had just the right amount of sauce so that it let the cheese be the star. And was it ever. It was so gooey and stringy and everything a cheese pizza should be! Just ask Elizabeth! She sure was enjoying it with a big smile on her face!

It was tough to follow that with the hand tossed fresh mozzarella Trio Pizza. I just love the fresh mozz, but the sausage is always just a hair too spicy for me. I know; I am such a wimp!

I had never tried Donatos chicken strips before and they were really good! I was quite impressed. Just strips of moist, juicy chicken that is lightly breaded. Very good with the sweet bbq sauce they had with it.

I’ve already told you how I feel about the salad. But I sure as heck don’t want you thinking I’m getting all virtuous on you. My gosh! I still have 3 visits from Restaurant Week that I haven’t posted yet! And stuff since then! My sister tells me I’ve been a lazy blogger lately. Hmmm….there she goes with the “big sister” routine again. Anyway, Casey Pierce from the Donatos test kitchens comes out with two kinds of dessert pizzas; Apple Timpano and Cinnamon Timpano.

The Apple Timpano is a crust filled with whole apple slices and topped with a brown sugar streusel and caramel sauce. The edges are folded up along the pizza and kind of pleated. Reminded me of a galette. And then there was the Cinnamon Timpano; crust baked with cinnamon sugar and topped with a creamy white icing. The edges are folded up in the same manner. The apple is delicious. Just delicious. But the Cinnamon. My knees started shaking. I began to feel weak. It was clearly evident to me that I needed a second piece!

In fact…….where is that phone number for the Donatos near us? How do you pronounce “Timpano”? Oh, no problem; they’ll know what I’m talking about.

So thanks to the folks at Donatos in Easton for inviting us for an evening of tasting. It was great fun!

FaceBook is Donatospizza

A Note About TasteCasting

Bob and I attended our second TasteCasting on Tuesday night.

First of all I need to take a minute to make sure that TasteCasting and blogging are understood. When I told you all about TasteCasting, I hope I was clear that when we do this we do not get paid. However, we do not pay for the food either. An advantage for the restaurant is that this is an opportunity to showcase their products and announce new ones, for instance. We in turn get the word out via social media.

There has been criticism that a TasteCaster cannot give an impartial review if they are not paying for the food and therefore this destroys their credibility.

Okay, most of you reading (I think anyway) know me. I am about as straightforward as they come. I have opinions and I express them. I try not to be harsh about it, but if I have a criticism I will try to present it in a constructive way.

That being said, the only blog posts on Dishing-It-Up Columbus! where I have not purchased the food are the TasteCasting posts. And it is pretty obvious which posts these are, as they are labeled, “TasteCasting”. If there is any confusion on that please leave me a comment.

I look at the TasteCasting posts as a completely different kind of post than my regular ones. I think of them in a category by themselves.

But if there is anyone that has a problem with me participating in the TasteCasting events, please let me know. Dishing-It-Up Columbus! is first and foremost for me. This is my priority.

Thank you to each and every one of you that reads this blog. I really do appreciate you coming to Dishing-It-Up Columbus! This is my passion and I love sharing it with you.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Don't Cry For Me Indochine- We Didn't Forget You

It's very rare that food moves me to tears, it's not that I'm that picky, it's just that it has to be THAT good to evoke those powerful emotions.

Or have a generous helping of jalepenos on it. At Indochine Cafe today it was a little of both.
I have to start out with saying that Jean and I went to Indochine WAAAY back in April, it was actually one of our first NTT before they even had a name. Unfortunatly, I thought she wrote the review since she had the pictures and she thought she sent the pictures and I was just being a lazy bum again.

It wasn't until this last week when I emerged from two major projects in my life (moving and a new menu at work) that we realized that we hadn't posted anything!

I'm not sure how you could ever forget anything as good as Indochine Cafe. Set in an "interesting" part of Hamilton Road, most people would pass it right on by. But beneath it's simple, but well kept exterior is the pride of a family, a culinary gem, and the realization of the American dream.

Family owned and run by Amp and Phuong Mi, he's from Laos and she's from Vietnam, they came to this country to escape the regimes of their home countries. Once you enter, you become a part of the family as well. (today Amp was making me try his own lunch that he had been trying to get back to all day!) And let me tell you... Can this family cook! Fresh, soul stirring food made by people who truly believe in what they are doing.

Back in April, Jean and I got a plethora of dishes, (all in the interest of the blog of course!) and even today I still got too much food! It's so hard to choose and even harder to not stuff myself stupid.

We started with the Cha Gio eggrolls and the Laotian style Goi Du Du, a green papaya salad with fried pork skins, tomato and cabbage. The Goi Thit Bo, grilled beef with onions, herbs and chili lime sauce is a favorite at our house.

You can't talk about Vietnamese cuisine without pho being the first thing discussed. Indochine's pho, as well as all their other soups, is heavenly. Fragrant broth, heaps of noodles, perfectly cooked meats and with the pho, a heaping side plate of basil, cilantro, jalapenos and bean sprouts to add as you see fit. The homemade rice noodles in chicken soup, Banh Canh Ga, are tender yet chewy, enrobed in a rib sticking chicken soup. Mi Xa Xiu, egg noodles with bbq'd pork are in a chicken broth that is lighter, but still fragrant and dotted with fried shallots and cilantro.

Not in the mood for soup? I'm just getting started... Bun Cha Gio Thit Heo Nuong is rice vemicelli with grilled pork, lettuce, carrots, daikon radish, bean sprouts and herbs with a sweet and spicy dressing and chopped.. egg rolls. Not kidding. This dish has a couple hot eggrolls chopped up and placed on top for an extra layer of texture and flavor. This is also my go-to dish for take out since it it just as good cold as hot.

Last, and most certainly not least is what brought me to tears today: Banh Mi.

A true product of two cultures as the result of colonization, banh mi is a crusty French baguette, split, smeared with butter and topped off with daikon, carrots, cilantro, jalapenos (hence the crying) and your choice of meat. I usually get the bbq pork and pate, but we all know how I feel about pate...

While there isn't anything in the way of desserts, you have to try the Ca Phe Sua, coffee topped off with condensed milk, or the Tra Thai, smoky, sweet thai tea with cream. You'll need some milk fat to tame those jalapenos..
You can call for weekend specials, and if they are anything like what the owner was eating for lunch today (squid stuffed with ground pork) you won't be disappointed.

Open Tuesday-Sunday 11 am to 8 pm, make sure you don't stuff yourself stupid (unless you want to) at this hidden gem.

Indochine Cafe
561 South Hamilton Road
Whitehall OH 43213
(614) 231 7357

Indochine Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 11, 2009

Restaurant Week - The Banana Bean Cafe

Bob and I really enjoyed the Banana Bean Café when we went a few months ago. And I certainly enjoyed it when L3 and I did a NTT there. I’ve wanted to get back. But as happens with so many things we want to do, it just slipped away among all the things we need to do.

I was surprised to see that they weren’t on the Dine Originals’ website for Restaurant Week. They participated in the spring. And I know that they’ve held blogger events there. Then I heard through the grapevine that they were indeed participating. I have no idea why their menu was not listed. That was a major faux pas for whoever dropped the ball. In my estimation, the Banana Bean Café is one rockin’ restaurant. And I think everyone should go there at least once, I’m just sayin’.

As soon as I found out they were participating, I added them into the roster of our game plan. Originally we had planned to take a respite tonight and eat at home. *gasp* I know, I know. (I’m tellin’ ya, this Restaurant Week combined with the steroids after surgery is making my ass even bigger! As if…)

With Bob needing to head out of the house tomorrow morning at 0:dark30, he was wanting an early night. He’s doing the “Tour de Donut” ride just west of Troy, OH. Yes, my sixty something husband is riding his bicycle in a “timed ride” (not a race, he tells me) that takes five minutes off your total time for each donut eaten. He will be riding this with a friend that is 20 years younger, another that is 26 years younger, and yet another that is 53 years younger. I’m bettin’ on the 14 year old! By sheer consumption of total donuts ingested!

I digress. Back to the Banana Bean. So I asked Bob if he could get home a little earlier than normal and we’d hit happy hour for their $2 margaritas. We’d grab a quick dinner and be home for him to fine tune his bicycle, “the Mistress”. And he could get to bed early.

The Banana Bean has Happy Hour 4pm-7pm Monday through Friday. During this time they have $2 house margaritas and Hemingways, $1 Bud Light and a complimentary basket of chips and house-made salsa. If I'm remembering correctly, it is habanero salsa. Too hot for me! But I love the chips. Warm and salty. Mmmm.

The last time we were at the Bean we ate on the patio. It was just starting to be nice weather and we really wanted to eat outside. The patio was bland and boring, but it was outside. It kind of hit us that it was maybe an afterthought. Like, “oh yeah, we can call that a patio”.

Boy, were we surprised and happy to see the changes they’ve made to it. It is now called the “Parrot Head Patio” and it is bright and happy and a fun place to eat (other than the cigars & cigarettes). We sat under an umbrella and ordered up a couple of $2 margaritas and perused the menu. Now check out this deal. For Restaurant Week Banana Bean is offering one small plate & two brunch items for $20.09. That’s crazy! The brunch menu items run anywhere from $9-15, with most being in the $12-15 range. And they have added quite a few new items to the menu, making it even more interesting and fun!

For us the small plate was a no-brainer. We absolutely, positively, indescribably, simply must have the “Flash Fried Sweet Plantains”. At least that is my point of view. Lucky for me Bob agrees. I would need therapy for God knows how long if I went to the Bean and didn’t get plantains. Unthinkable!

That decision having been made, we moved on to looking at the brunch items. (What Bob and I did previously was order several items from the small plate menu and share. That was a great way to try things. We’ll definitely be back to do that again!) There were so many choices to make! New items that screamed to be tried! Old items that you want to have again because they knocked your socks off the first time around! If nothing else, Restaurant Week is sharpening my decision making skills!

I simply had to go with one of the new items, the “Lobster Hash”. Griddled Lobster & Red Bliss Potatoes, two Poached Eggs, Green Chile Hollandaise, and Simple Salad. This dish was absolutely awesome! The potatoes were perfectly grilled with crunch on the outside and fluff on the inside. The lobster sauce had big chunks of lobster and the poached eggs were right on. Topped with the green chile hollandaise…oh my. No simple salad was served, but I didn’t even notice it til I started writing this post! So apparently it wasn’t necessary. And another thing about Banana Bean is that the serving size is huge, but you most certainly are not sacrificing quality.

Bob ordered “Espresso Steak & Eggs” - Cocoa & Coffee Rubbed Flat Iron Steak, Two Fried Eggs and Skillet Potatoes. The steak was extremely tender; like melt in your mouth tender. Again, the potatoes were perfectly grilled and his eggs that were ordered “medium”, were actually medium. He cleaned his plate. And was he ever a happy guy!

We saved some of our plantains for dessert. That’s what we do. We eat half before and half after. Works for us!

So here is the summary: Restaurant Week at The Banana Bean is an amazing deal! We had Flash Fried Sweet Plantains - regularly $6, Lobster Hash - regularly $15 and Espresso Steak & Eggs - regularly $15. So we had a thirty six dollar meal for $20.09! Thank you Banana Bean Café and thank you Dine Originals Restaurant Week!

But let it be known that visiting the Bean even when it is not Restaurant Week is a great value. The food is just incredible and the portions are generous to a fault. And it won’t break the bank to eat there. The service is friendly and the atmosphere fun.

We certainly plan to go back multiple times. There are so many items on the menu that both Bob and I want to try. And we are anxious to take friends there that have not had the pleasure yet.

So look for us soon, Banana Bean! We’ll be back for sure!

The Banana Bean Café
340 Greenlawn Avenue
Columbus, Ohio

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jean's making me hungry!

So I tried my hand at baklava ... can you smell it???

I'm so enjoying the blogs this week Jean. I hope to scope out some restaurants for lunch downtown soon and let you all know about them.

Restaurant Week - The Clarmont

It's funny. The Clarmont has been around forever. Longer than I've been around, anyway. And I think I've only been there once and that was many moons ago. But when I saw their Restaurant Week menu I was all over it. Lobster? Heck yes! I am so there!

So I called my big sis and asked her out for dinner. Lobster? Heck yes! She was so there! (Hmm...well, we're sisters afterall.)

We were the first ones for the dinner seating, which begins at 5pm. Hell, you tell us there's lobster in the pot for us and you'd better get out of our way!

Stepping into The Clarment is like stepping back in time. It has such a grand old feel to it. Like you're going to look at the bar and see Frank sitting there talking to Sammy. You know what I mean. It is just "old time cool".

Our server was a pleasant young lady named Megan and she took good care of us. Dare I say we had pretty much already decided on what we were going to have? The Restaurant Week menu states:

(Two) 1 and one quarter lb Whole Maine Lobsters and one side dish
6oz Bistro Filet and a Seafood Cake with two side dishes

What I didn't realize was that it also includes a salad. What a nice surprise. A crisp mixed lettuce side salad with a ripe tomato wedge started off the meal. Bread service was a basket of warm crusty bread with butter that also hit the spot.

And then came the main attraction. Arm yourselves with melted butter! These crustaceans were gorgeous! I believe I heard Elaine whimper. But I seriously could not attend to her because I was swooning on my own side of the booth. Sister, you were on your own at that point.

Elaine informed me that she had never tackled a whole lobster before. She asked me what to do. I gave her what I thought to be pretty darned sound advice. "Separate the lobster at the joints and treat it like a giant crab leg." That's all she needed to hear. She was off and cracking! Each time she would retrieve an especially intact huge hunk, she'd sing out, "OOOhhh, look at this!" She was only on the other side of the booth from me. Like I couldn't see her cracking and retrieving and dipping and eating...and then moaning? I had to have it announced for me? (Uh, but then if memory serves me correctly, maybe I might have been doing the same thing to her?) Hmm...must be that sister thing again.

Then there were the sides. I'd hate to forget about them because they were very good. Elaine had a baked sweet potato and I had a regular baked potato. When I saw her potato come out I immediately wished I'd gotten the same. I just forget how good a baked sweet potato can be. And The Clarmont has a special butter for them. Megan told us it had brown sugar, citrus and pineapple in it. Elaine gave me a bite and it was really good. I need to remember this and try to recreate that butter. My baked potato was perfectly cooked and served with choice of butter and sour cream. Choice? I think I'll just have both, thank-you-very-much.

We plowed throught those lobsters like nobody's business. We had lobster gunk and butter up to our elbows. At one point when I cracked a claw, a lobster bit flew through the air, across the table and landed on Elaine's chest. No worries. She shot lobster juice at me a time or two and I didn't complain.

Now having finished this feast you would think we'd be begging for mercy. Not us! Oh gosh no. Elaine declared it was time to look at the dessert menu. Well, there is no dessert menu. Megan rattled off an amazing array of pies and such, but when she said "creme brulee" Elaine stopped her. Creme brulee it was. And deliciously decadant it was. Oh the creamy cool goodness with the snap of the caramelized sugar on top. Just perfect.

In fact, this whole dinner was perfect! Lobsters, potatoes (i.e.carbohydrates), creme brulee and an evening with just me and my sis! (And yes, just so you know, she is like half my size but she can pack away the food like no tomorrow...did I mention she is my idol?)

Just perfect!

The Clarmont Restaurant
684 South High Street
Downtown at the Corner of
Sycamore and High
in German Village
Thom Coffman, Propietor

Clarmont on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week - The Burgundy Room

Oh Boy, Oh Boy! Restaurant Week just keeps getting better and better! I wish Restaurant Week lasted 2 weeks because I'm having trouble scheduling all of this incredible dining time!

Last night Bob, a good friend of ours and I went to the Burgundy Room. What a treat! My friend Jenny has been telling me how good this place is and this is the first time we've been there.

Note to self: Listen more carefully to Jenny. The 70's apparently did not ruin her taste buds, they perhaps enhanced them.

First of all I like the space in this restaurant. The tables are not stacked almost on top of each other. There are booths and bistro tables and regular tables. You can sit at the front of the house or in the back, or there is always the bar. It's well done. I hate when the tables are so close together I can't get through easily. I know I'm not the only pudgy gal in this city, so I can't be the only one with that complaint! But that is so not a problem at the Burgundy Room. We chose a high sided booth so we would be able to have conversation while enjoying our meal.

Of course we started with the wine flights. Even though that is not part of the Restaurant Week menu, how can you go to the Burgundy Room and not have a wine flight? Right. I thought you'd agree.

Each of us ordered a different flight, suiting our different tastes. Our buddy ordered a flight of whites, I did Rieslings, and Bob of course had big reds. I love wine flights. They are so much fun. You get a taste of four different wines and might then decide to have a glass of what you like the best.

Okay, so on to dinner! Our first course was a choice of "Wedge Salad with Applewood Bacon, Heirloom Tomatoes, Candied Walnuts & Gorgonzola Dressing" or "Yellow Tomato Gazpacho". Our friend got the soup. After much haranguing about how long I was taking to take the photos and that his soup was getting cold *yuck, yuck*, he said it was delicious.

Bob and I ordered the wedge salad. It's been ages since I've had one. And it was so good! I'd forgotten just how good. See, I'm a big fan of iceberg. I know. I know. How untrendy can I be? Stick a straw hat on my head, a toothpick in my mouth and dress me in overalls! I just like it, darn it! Anyway, the bacon was crunchy and salty and the candied walnuts were a fantastic foil. Good salad!

Course two was "Seafood Paella", "Vegetable Lasagana with Wild Mushroom Bolognese" or "5 oz Strip Steak with Blue Mashed Potatoes, Haricot Verts and Lemon-Thyme Butter". Lordy! What is not to like about any of these?

While they all sounded delicious, there was no contest for me. I knew before we even got to the restaurant that I was having the Seafood Paella. I was so excited. I was like a little girl in the back seat asking, "Are we there yet?" And it was soooooo goooood! There were clams, mussels, scallops and the most delicious saffron infused rice. Oh I think I wept a little while we were eating. But did the men notice? Of course not.

Bob was digging into his entree, the Strip Steak, potatoes and haricot verts. And with good reason! The steak just about melted in your mouth. The mashed potatoes had blue cheese in them and just the right amount, too. Not too much to be overpowering, but enough to be present and noticed. And the beans were perfectly cooked.

My other date was feasting on the Vegetable Lasagna with Wild Mushroom Bolognese. And feast is an apt descripitive. The dish came to the table screaming hot. The cheese and sauce were still just about bubbling. And when he cut into it the chunks of vegetables and the mushrooms in the ragu were clearly visible. This dish was a beautiful thing.

But wait! There's more!

Course three...dessert. Can I just say...dear God in heaven. Strawberry shortcake...the shortcake was made by Elena Christina bakery (just incredible) split and filled with fresh luscious whipped cream and covered with sweetened macerated strawberries. Just delicious!

Bob had the Chocolate Mousse and a flight of Port wines. The mousse was smooth, deep chocolate with a rolled wafer cookie and a strawberry atop. The mousse was wonderful, but paired with the port, well that just sent it right over the top.

All three of us totally enjoyed our meal. And our server, Andy was the bomb! He was just great. He talked to us about the menu, his favorites, and steered us in the right direction (although I really don't think there could have been a wrong direction here).

Get to the Burgundy Room if you haven't been there. Listen to Jenny! Ask for Andy. And have a simply wonderful evening.

We did.

The Burgundy Room Short North
641 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Burgundy Room on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Restaurant Week: Pistacia Vera


I have found Heaven.

Utopia, if you will.

It exists. In a place in German Village.

Right here in Columbus Ohio.

It's name is "Pistacia Vera" .

I kid you not. And no, I am not being over dramatic. Okay, I admit that sometimes I have been known to exaggerate a smidgen here or there. Artistic license when telling a story maybe. But not here. I totally swear on all that is carbohydrate that I am not inflating the truth. Really.

During Restaurant Week in the spring I had wanted to get to Pistacia Vera to try their dessert sampling. But as I said in an earlier post, we weren't well prepared for the rounds in the spring. So this time it was first on my list. And by first, I mean first. Remember we tried to go Monday?

I was so determined that Bob not forget that this was written in stone that I reminded him like a bazillion times. He has the patience of a saint. He never got testy at all...well, except for that one time. But I digress.

We had lunch at DeepWood yesterday and then headed to German Village to locate my destination. I was so excited that I was finally going to get to try their macarons. And months earlier when Dine Originals was offering their gift certificates I had purchased one for here. So I had that baby tucked in my purse as well.

*Note: You cannot use any coupons or other discounts on Restaurant Week offerings.

I had spent that $10 certificate about fifty times over. I'm like that. I just keep respending something like that over and over in my head. You get the shopping rush without all the guilt. But then when it comes down to decision time, it can make it a bit rough.

First of all, when we walked into the shop I fell in love. I love the clean crisp atmosphere of the bakery. I love the pristine cases with the macarons lined up like little pastel soldiers awaiting orders from the baker general. I love the cakes and tortes on shelves underneath, providing support and backup for those macarons. I love the tiers of pate de fruit; each a more stunning gem than the one underneath it.

And I love the pistachio sculpture. Oh, how I love that sculpture.

I want to live there.

But Bob pulled me back from the brink of pastry insanity that threatened to claim me. I had to make a choice. The Restaurant Week assortment allows you to choose two of the many flavors of macarons.

How could I possibly make a choice? Please! don't make me choose. If I choose one I might offend the others!

What? Am I crazy? ...wait. Don't answer that. But the decision was excruciating. You look at the options and tell me what you think!

12 seasonal flavors include:
chocolate, mocha hazelnut, strawberry rose, orange apricot chamomile, caramel pecan, pistachio, lemon, white chocolate coconut, lavender honey, mint chocolate, black raspberry & Madagascar vanilla bean

Yeah, I thought so. Back to reality. We made our choices and the gals packed them up for us. But wait! We were so close to Elaine's work that I couldn't in all good consciousness drive by with these in the car and not stop and share. Bob agreed. And afterall, I still had that certificate in my purse. So I chose two macarons for her, the mocha hazelnut and the pistachio, and we dropped them off. I had a text before we even got home. She was smitten.

So Bob and I set off to sample our treasures. We split each and every offering. For our pate de fruit we had chosen the cherry kirsch and passion fruit. For the macarons Bob chose black raspberry and I decided on the lavender honey (sorry remaining soldiers...but I'll be back).

Our Restaurant Week sampler included the above pate de fruit, the above macarons and lemon pinenut tart, chambord flourless truffle torte, raspberry plum frangipan, carmel peanut butter feuilletine, pistacio honey nougat and choice of two beverages (hot coffee or hot tea).

Upon completion of the tasting menu my knees were weak. The beauty of the desserts is what first captures your attention. Then the tastes are so incredible I really don't even know how to describe them in a way that would do them justice. (But the macarons absolutely totally rock!)

All of the choices were pretty awesome. For me the macarons ruled. The lemon pinenut tart is to die for, but then I am a fool for lemon curd and this is fresh squeezed lemon curd! The pate de fruit simply must be tasted to be believed. It is the absolute essence of the fruit.

I've got to stop! Just go to Pistacia Vera and try them please. I promise you that you will be so happy you have found them.

I know I am!

Pistacia Vera
541 South Third Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Open: Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 7 pm & Sunday 10am - 5pm

Pistacia Vera on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Restaurant Week - DeepWood: An American Tavern

Yesterday I neglected to share the link to the Dine Original's site. I apologize for the oversight.

This afternoon Bob and I decided to have lunch on the way home from my post op appointment. We took a look at some of the offerings from the Restaurant Week’s menu and zeroed in on DeepWood. I’ve read several very good reviews and have been anxious to try it.

Well let me tell you it did not disappoint in any way. We fell in love the minute we walked through the door. DeepWood is located on North High Street, just north of the North Market. (That’s a whole lotta norths!) We were immediately greeted upon entering the dining area and taken to one of the high, almost private booths. (Great ambiance for sweethearts.) The furnishings are fun. There are the aforementioned booths, round tables, square tables, seats at the bar and booths at the front window with pillows. The wood on the floor and bar is absolutely beautiful. It is such a warm and inviting atmosphere.

John, our server, was exceptional. His attention to detail was truly appreciated; he even anticipated our wants/needs before we did! He was absolutely charming.

We began with drinks while we looked at the menu. I chose the house made lemonade, and it was perfect! It was tart, but not overly so. Obviously fresh, and ice cold just the way I like it! Bob was going to go with a glass of wine, but when he saw the Black Bicycle Beer he changed course. This beer is smooth, dark, full of flavor, has a creamy head and is not too sweet. According to Bob, it is what Guinness aspires to be.

For my starter I went with the Chef's soup. Today it was tomato bisque. Mmm...it was the essence of summer. This soup was smooth and creamy with such a lovely bouquet. Each spoonful was pure bliss.

Bob went for the Pork Rillette. Usually this would be pork, slow cooked and mixed with enough fat to form a paste. In general most rillettes are served cold, as a spread with toast points, much like a pate. DW's rillette was more like shredded or pulled pork. Alongside the small bowl of rillette, there were indeed 3 toast points, a small mound of whole grain mustard and mache dressed in a light vinaigrette. This was divine. What a delightful appetizer!

John brought us a basket of bread in between the first and second courses. The lavash was light and airy with a wonderful assortment of seeds. The walnut bread was a dark brown bread which may have had molasses in it. Served with butter sprinkled with maroon sea salt, both of the breads were delicious. But to my palate, the walnut bread rocked! I do believe I could have eaten an entire loaf. Good thing he didn't offer it!

My entree was a no brainer. Bob even took one look at the offerings and stated the obvious. No contest, I was having the Country Fried Chicken. I adore all manor of fried chicken. I even love the Colonel. That is how loose and easy I am when it comes to fried chicken. I simply cannot say no. And this was so way ahead of the Colonel that I may never look back after today. DeepWood's chef has a way with chicken. It was moist, juicy, and so flavorful that I swooned. Right there in my seat I swear I swooned. And to put earrings on the elephant, it was served with a dish of homemade gravy. I know...I know...it was the stuff dreams are made of. Along with that was a haricot vert potato salad. The dressing was made with the same whole grain mustard that was served with the rillette. This was incredible!

Bob's choice was the Steak Sandwich. This was perfectly cooked, tender skirt steak on a house made baguette with smoked cheddar, arugula, and served with pomme frittes (french fries) and house made ketchup. This was excellent also, but I think he was secretly jealous of my chicken! Seriously, the skirt steak melted in your mouth. The ketchup was quite the star, and every single crumb was gone. So I ask you, how bad could it have possibly been?

The dessert offering was just the perfect way to end this feast. We were presented with ice cream and cookies. The cookies were baked to order and were still warm. The scoop of vanilla ice cream between the two cookies was just beginning to melt. Heaven, I tell you.

What a delightful meal! Our first visit will most definitely not be our last. As we sat enjoying our meal and listening to the cool jazz playing in the background, we could think of so many people we needed to tell about this place. How could we not have been here before? And why was it not packed?

On our way out we stopped to chat with another couple that was just beginning their meal. As I suspected, it turned out to be none other than Hungrywoolf. What a pleasure to meet her! We had a brief, but lovely conversation and then we were off to our next stop...Pistacia Vera...more about that later! Take a moment to visit Hungrywoolf's blog at http://hungrywoolf.com/about/.

And do yourselves a huge favor and visit DeepWood. Look for us! I know we'll be back, and soon!

DeepWood: an American Tavern
511 North High Street
Columbus OH 43215

DeepWood on Urbanspoon