A Year of Chefs…Queen City Style

written by Ilene Ross
photography by Gina Weathersby

If you’re like us, you can NEVER get enough of our stellar Cincinnati chefs. Not only do they cook delicious food and look fine while doing it, they are integral members of our community, especially when it comes to doing good works. In our minds, there are no more worthwhile charities than those that benefit children, and one that is near and dear to our hearts is The de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation. We’ve gathered together a group of some of The Queen City’s most talented chefs to put together a calendar to benefit this important foundation.

The de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation (formerly 7 DAYS for SIDS) is an organization founded by Jean-Robert & Annette de Cavel, a dedicated group of volunteers, and local restaurateurs. Their mission is to raise funds for research, education, and outreach, as well as for the Tatiana de Cavel Scholarship at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State. Annette and Jean-Robert lost their daughter, Tatiana to SIDS in June 2002. Their wish is that no family should have to experience the same devastating loss.

The eat.play.give. Friends and Family Brunch and Silent Auction is this Sunday, October 14th. This family friendly event benefits the foundation and features food and beverages from Greater Cincinnati’s best chefs, restaurants, and purveyors. Participants include: Jean-Robert’s Table, Queen City Cookies, Daveed’s Next, Mayberry, Taste of Belgium, The Coffee Emporium, Jean-Philippe, Chocolatier, Keegan’s Fresh Seafood, Oriental Wok, Cumin Eclectic Cuisine, Orchids at Palm Court, eat well Catering and Takeaway, La Poste Eatery, Keystone, Riverside Korean, Velvet Smoke BBQ, Otto’s, Bouquet, Via Vite, Jeff Ruby’s, Senate, Sung Korean Bistro, Winecraft, and Nicholson’s.

Not only is this a time when our food community comes together to support this valuable foundation, it is the first time that that our 513{eats} calendar will be available to purchase. Proceeds will benefit the foundation, and we are proud to make this contribution. Please join us at the brunch, purchase a calendar, spend freely at the auction, and most of all, have a good time. After Sunday, the calendar will be available on our site for $39 + 6.5%sales tax +s/h, and you’ll be able to see exactly WHO is featured throughout the rest of the year!  But you’ll all purchase one on Sunday, right?  Purchase your brunch tickets at www.eatplaygive.net


Magical Mystery Tour- Le Diner en Blanc Cincinnati

written by Ilene Ross
photography by Gina Weathersby/Kiwi Street Studios

A long time ago in Paris, a man named François Pasquier decided to invite a few friends to the Bois de Boulogne for a picnic. In order for everyone to find each other in the park, they were all instructed to dress in pure white. The event was such a huge success that the following year each person invited a few friends, and, well, you get the picture. The event quickly morphed into “le Diner en Blanc” -The White Dinner- with people dressing in all white, packing the most elegant of meals, and descending upon an unknown landmark until the very last minute for an invitation only “pop-up” evening.

Flash forward a quarter of a century, and after the hugely successful, tres chic Diner en Blanc danced it’s way around the European continent for a while, it’s finally landed in the Queen City, with this past Saturday night’s inaugural event.

For weeks in advance we plotted and planned. We scoured boutiques and our favorite vintage haunts for elegant attire. We hit farmers markets, gourmet shops, and wine stores for the finest comestibles and champagne. And we questioned. Where would the highly anticipated soiree take place? Would our table setting win one of the highly coveted prizes? And of course, the question on everyone’s mind; would the weather cooperate? And it did. In spades. On one of the most picture-perfect evenings, we all showed up at our designated pick up spots, boarded our buses, and off we went. It was only when we were all comfortably ensconced in our seats were we informed of our dining destination. The lovely Lytle Park in The Lytle Park Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  We were delighted!

In no time at all, dozens of buses surrounded this jewel box of a park, and the tastefully clad crowd emerged. From tutus to top hats, boas to bustiers, people had gone all out. As a jazz band lured us in, the 1000+ throng quickly set about arranging tables and chairs, linens, the finest of china, crystal, and silver, candelabras, sophisticated floral arrangements, balloons, and of course, the most delectable gastronomic fare. We commenced with the traditional white napkin wave, and the dining began! Food and spirits were all shared, as they were meant to be, and people naturally flitted from table to table to catch up with friends.

As dusk descended, we were provided sparklers for even more of a festive touch, and a D.J. took over the music duties so that revelers could hit the dance floor.  Giant balloon lanterns were launched into the clear night sky providing a magical effect, and under the watchful eye of President Abraham Lincoln, we boogied the night away.

{Photo diptych above of Abraham Lincoln and dancing scene courtesy of Jens G. Rosenkrantz, Jr. Thank you Jens!)}

{find this post shared on honest cooking’s blog as well}

Squeezing Out the Last Little Bit of Summer

The long summer days are quickly dwindling away, and the kids are heading back to school. But the garden is still bountiful, and there’s always time to get in one more barbecue with friends. This refreshing twist on the traditional Gordon’s Cup Cocktail is not only perfect for entertaining, it takes advantage of the delicious vegetables that nature has on offer. So, stir up a pitcher, take your place by the grill, or on the chaise lounge, and enjoy the few sultry evenings we have left.
You may remember some of these images from our story ‘en famille’ from the Summer Issue starting on page 246.

photography by Gina Weathersby/kiwi street studios
written by Ilene Ross
recipe courtesy of Brett Zwolinski/babas corner

Variation on a Gordon’s Cup
Recipe type: cocktail
Author: courtesy of Brett Zwolinski
Serves: 1
  • 1/2 of 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
  • 2- 1/2 inch peeled cucumber rounds
  • 1 small stalk and some foliage fennel
  • 1/4 cup gin {preferably Hendricks}
  • 1 1/2 T simple syrup
  • 1 cup cracked ice
  • 1 pinch crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 pinch crushed sea salt
  1. To make the simple syrup, stir 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil for 1 minute. Cool, then chill (can be stored for later use).
  2. Put lime, cucumber, and fennel in a cocktail shaker and muddle until the lime is juiced and the cucumber and fennel are pulpy.
  3. Add gin, simple syrup, pepper, salt, and then ice. Cover and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour contents-do not strain-into a rocks glass. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.

You can also find this post on the Honest Cooking blog, where we are honored to be guest contributors.

Community at it’s Finest

 photography by Gina Weathersby/kiwi street studios
written by Ilene Ross

Last week’s Ohio Valley Greenmarket (put on by Edible Ohio Valley) was touted as, “A Celebration of Community and Sustainability,” and it was indeed that, yet so much more. The combination of distinguished speakers, (such as Niman Ranch co-founder Paul Willis) local food, outstanding programming, (taking place in some of our city’s most beautiful parks) and of course, cooperative weather made for a weekend enjoyed by both young and old.

It was that sense of multi-generational community that we enjoyed the most.  From the traditional pig roast on Friday night at Winton Woods to the Farmers Market at the stunning Glenwood Gardens on Sunday, it was a pleasure to see families of all ages.  We were delighted to see that at the Sunday Market there were activities that gave children the opportunity to make a true connection to their food.  There were bee keeper lessons to learn and mock pizzas to make. The area’s local farmers set up stands filled with the freshest summer produce and meats, and several food trucks stood by, ready to feed famished shoppers. Saturday was devoted to flower gardening and design.

It’s events like this that give people the chance to slow down and form relationships with the people who grow and prepare their food, or, if we’re so inclined, educate us to do it ourselves.  So much more than our weekly market, this combination of education, entertainment, and commerce sent us home with so much more than full tummies, a full digital card, and full re-useable shopping bags; It sent us home with warm hearts and a sense of community that we can never get by mindlessly pushing a cart through a big box grocery store.

Farmers Market at the Glenwood Gardens on Sunday

Chef Jose Salazar . A Little Lagniappe

photography by Gina Weathersby/kiwi street studios
written by Ilene Ross

Primarily heard in Southern Louisiana, this term is widely used in shops and restaurants,
and refers to “a little something extra.”

Primarily heard in Southern Louisiana, this term is widely used in shops and restaurants, and refers to “a little something extra.” Be it a gift with purchase, or a dessert on the house, it always brings a smile to the face.

Recently we were visiting one of our favorite chefs, Jose Salazar, at The Palace at The Cincinnatian Hotel to shoot him (with a camera of course) for our story on herbs. We were about to wrap, when Chef Salazar received a phone call and asked us if we could hang out for a bit; his morel purveyor was on his way in with a stellar haul. Well, he certainly didn’t have to ask twice. Even if we did have plans, for this, they would be altered. Knowing Chef Salazar’s attention to detail, these would be no ordinary morels, and sure enough, when the purveyor arrived, massive fungi in tow, we were not disappointed. We caught a whiff of the intense, earthy smell as soon as he came through the door. We all stood around, mouths agape, in awe of the sheer size and perfection of nature’s bounty. Chef was like a kid in a candy store.

If you’ve ever purchased morels before, you know that it’s practically unheard of to find an intact specimen in the bin of your local market. Their extremely delicate structure means that it’s nearly impossible for them to survive the transportation process from forest floor to store shelf with all of the jostling and handling in between. But these were pristine. We needed to get a few shots before we learned what Chef Salazar had in store for them.

Back in the kitchen, Chef paired our meaty morels with some pan roasted cod, baby carrots, and both green and white asparagus. Of course, the picture-perfect shot always comes before our sated appetites, so we set up a make-shift photo shoot in the alley behind The Palace, hauled up chunks of apple wood from the Cincinnatian cellar to add a rustic touch, and captured the giant mushrooms in all of their glory. And then we dined.

{A few behind the scenes shots from our fancy, high tech set. The light was beautiful.}

You can also find this, our first, post on the Honest Cooking blog, where we are honored to be guest contributors.

My Menu On Honest Cooking
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