Sunday, September 25, 2016

Finally made it to the Cincinnati Food and Wine Classic for the Saturday evening "Feast in the Park." The best part definitely was the food quality. If any significant restaurant in the region wasn't represented, I didn't notice. And almost all of the top places made a great effort to showcase their abilities. (Boca underperformed, I thought, but otherwise the big names delivered.)
Jean-Robert de Cavel stole the show and my heart with his seafood stew. He and two or three assistants assembled a lovely dish with a potato base, a seafood-rich broth and a dash of spicy sauce for those who wanted it. (I thought the spice addition was perfect.)
It was a treat to see Suzanne McGarry there -- the owner of Northside's Bistro Grace.  Their dish was an ambitious "shrimp boil on a plate," as she described it.

Another highlight was a duck concoction on an edible, whole-wheat spoon handed out from a truck by a company that supplies duck to local and national restaurants and supermarkets, including Kroger here in Cincinnati.
DeCavel at work
The big disappointment was the lousy wine choices. All the important local distributors were there, in the wine & beer pavilion, and not one brought a really decent bottle of wine with them. The breweries performed much better, and even though I'm not remotely a beer drinker, I quickly switched from the pathetic, cheap wines to beer and even soft drinks.

The dessert pavilion with Summer Genetti and several other excellent sweets vendors made a terrific way to end the evening.

We liked the spaciousness of the venue -- moved from Washington Park to the riverside -- but were frustrated that even though the address was Yeatman's Cove, you could not enter from there. We parked at the Yeatman's garage and had to schlep quite some distance in the heat to the official entrance (and back of course, at the end of the night).

It was fun to see what was going on with this event, but once will probably be enough for me.

Pastry Chef Summer Genetti makes a pie

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A year later......

I'm still a healthy foodie, but just not a blogger.
Favorite Cincinnati restaurants:
Salazar, La Poste, Abigail Street, Metropole, Boca (not in any order)
Favorite new restaurant:
Favorite neighborhood places:
The Littlefield (thank goodness for this bourbon bar so near my house!), Bistro Grace and La Poste.
Favorite food shopping:
Findlay Market
Trader Joe's

Photo is from La Poste in Clifton

Monday, September 15, 2014

Running on empty

 I've had this blog since 2009 and it was quite robust for a few years. Then one of my best feeder blogs -- by the dining critic for our local newspaper -- deleted links to other local food blogs on her website. My readership dropped way off, to the point where it's half or less of what it used to be.
Not having readers takes the joy out of maintaining a blog. Not to mention I do have a day job as a journalism professor, which keeps me very busy.
So I'm going to take a break from this for a while. If and when my interest and energy revive, I'll start up again sometime in the future.
It's been fun........
Pama Mitchell, the Healthy Foodie

Monday, September 8, 2014

The real key(s) to health & happiness

First of all, health = happiness. Or at least bad health = unhappiness.
Therefore: safeguarding our personal health reigns supreme among life's priorities.
I don't mean that selfish regard for our own person trumps all other concerns, such as caring for our children, our aged parents, or others who need us.
But it should be evident that if the caregiver isn't well, the care given won't be adequate.

Okay so then, what are the keys to health (among the things that we can control or at least affect)?

SLEEP WELL. Hard to do? Yes but it's so important! My best advice about how to get sweet, restorative sleep happens to be another key to good health, which is EXERCISE DAILY.  While exercise is great for all kinds of outcomes -- such as weight control, stress relief, cardiovascular health and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes -- one of its less touted benefits is that you will fall asleep faster and sleep more restfully if you exercise to the point of sweating for at least a half hour each day.
And what else? Here's where the healthy foodie comes in. EAT WELL! That means don't eat junk; eat nutritious food, and make sure your daily diet includes vegetables. Potatoes do not count! Green things, preferably. Learn to love broccoli or spinach or green beans.

Finally, pay attention to your body and get all your recommended screening tests. That means having a dermatologist look you over (DON'T TAN!!), getting regular mammograms (F) or prostate exams (M), and anything else that may apply to your personal situation. And then...enjoy life!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Best places to buy wine online

More than likely, there's plenty of good wine available in your local retail shops. But unless you live in Manhattan, NYC, the selection is not going to be truly comprehensive. If you would like to try out-of-the-ordinary wines -- many of which can give you great bang for the buck -- or sample small-batch, boutique bottles, online wine shops offer wonderful options.

I've always liked, but thanks to a recent article in Food & Wine magazine, I've learned about a few other really interesting sources for Internet shopping.
Check out, for instance,, based in Napa Valley, which offers one terrific bottle per day at eye-popping discounts. Or includes all kinds of info about their wines, including suggestions for food pairing--which you can do in reverse, by typing in the food you want to serve and you'll get just a few specific suggestions (not something generic like cabernet sauvignon with steak). earns kudos for its user-friendly navigation system.
To see Food & Wine's article about online wine shopping, click here.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A perfect recipe for late summer

This is the time to make a big pot of GUMBO. All the veggies you need for this recipe are bounteously available at your local farm market or farm stand.

Shrimp, chicken and sausage gumbo

Seafood and Chicken Gumbo
Fresh okra is seasonal (late spring until first freeze), but you can also use frozen okra in this recipe. If so, eliminate step 1 below and add frozen okra in step 3.
(Serves 4-6)

1 lb. okra, trimmed and sliced (about 4 cups)
4 T canola oil or butter, or a mix, divided
2 andouille sausages, made from pork or chicken (optional), sliced
1 medium green pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 T flour
4 cups chicken stock, heated
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 T each chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried) and parsley
1 large bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 lb. uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined), crabmeat, or chicken (boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces), or a combination
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Tabasco or other hot sauce, ore more to taste
1.      Heat 2T oil/butter over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add okra and sauté, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes until “roping” (thin strands of white substance) subsides. Set aside.
2.      Heat remaining oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage, if using, and cook until just beginning to brown. Stir in pepper, garlic and onion and sauté until veggies turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
3.      Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, herbs, salt, and reserved okra.
4.      Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
5.      Stir in shrimp, chicken and/or crabmeat, cover and cook another 5-10 minutes until meat is tender. Be careful not to overcook shrimp.
6.      Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf, stir in lemon juice, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Add more salt if necessary.
7.      Ladle into bowls over white or brown rice. Pass more hot sauce at the table.

Without sausage, a lighter dish

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer treats, continued: Bell Peppers

Like most cooks these days, I rarely pick up a green bell pepper, preferring instead the other colors. My favorite, at least to eat raw, is the orange pepper. But there's one dish in my repertoire where only a tangy green pepper will do: gumbo.
I'm about to make a batch of gumbo -- with shrimp, crabmeat, chicken and andouille sausage -- and will post that recipe soon. But today there's an article in the Food/Dining section of the New York Times extolling the virtues of the green pepper.
Here is one of the recipes accompanying the story. It's a Basque dish that the author says can be used as a side, a main (perhaps with the addition of some meat) or a condiment.
Peppers and tomatoes: Piperade

RECIPE: Piperade
Makes about 3 cups

  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped, about 2 cups
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, stem, seeds and ribs removed, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (or substitute hot paprika) 
NOTE: You also can mix red/yellow/orange peppers with the green, which makes a colorful presentation

Cut a small X into bottom of each tomato. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add tomatoes and cook until skin begins to wrinkle and peel at the edges of the cuts, about 30 seconds. Drain, rinse with cool water and peel off skin with your fingers. Roughly chop tomatoes and set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add onions, peppers and salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and peppers have started to lighten in spots, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté for 1 more minute.
Stir in tomatoes, sugar and piment d’Espelette, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until tomatoes are starting to fall apart and peppers are soft but still hold their shape, about 15 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens like a slightly runny relish, about 5 minutes more. Adjust salt.