Friday, April 25, 2008

#14. Shopping in Hyde Park Square

There are lots of cute boutiques and restaurants in Hyde Park Square. Two of my favorite shops are Knickers of Hyde Park and Originalities. Knickers is well, a lingerie shop. The owner is the sweetest person in the whole world, and super helpful. In addition to the undies, bras and nighties, Knickers sells cards, books, and fun gifts for pampering, brides and moms to be. They wrap gifts SO beautifully, you'll feel bad opening them!

Originalities features works by local artists. Definately check out the drawings of local Cincinnati churches, parks and hang outs.

INFO: Hyde Park Square, Erie Ave. and Edwards Rd., Cincinnati.

#13. Busken Bakery

Show me a person who doesn't like Busken cookies, and I'll show you a communist. Seriously. Who can resist smiley faces, or hearts/jack o'lanterns/christmas trees depending on the season?

INFO: Madison Rd. & Edwards Rd. Cincinnati, OH and other area locations. Open 24 Hours! (513) 871-2114.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

#12. Zip's Cafe

Zip's Cafe in the Mt. Lookout neighborhood of Cincinnati is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. Sure, it's just a hole in the wall burger joint, but these burgers have been known to be the downfall of many a vegetarian. In operation since 1926, Zip's consistently wins awards for the best burgers in the city. I once lived three doors up from Zip's, and it's amazing I didn't gain 87 million pounds. I have many happy memories of walking outside at night, and being greeted by the delicious aroma of onion rings. MMmmm!!

The menu is simple, but that's all part of the charm. On a recent visit to Zip's, I enjoyed a Zip Burger with cheese and pickles, and chili cheese fries. They also have black bean burgers, if you insist on remaining a vegetarian, awesome fish sandwiches, chili and macaroni and cheese. There is always a soup and dessert of the day.

There are several booths lining the walls, and long tables where you can dine in close quarters with Cincinnati's finest. The back room (and by room, I mean closet) has bar seating. Sitting back there guarantees you close access to all the beers on tap, but you won't get to see the train that runs around the ceiling ledge in the main part of the restaurant.

Zip's is packed every night for dinner, usually with a line out the door. It's worth the short wait to get a seat, and the staff is always friendly. Just make sure you watch out for your kids. According to a sign inside, "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy".

INFO: 1036 Delta Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45208. 513-871-9876.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

#11. Bridge Walking

When I started this blog, the orginal goal was to go out and experience all the fun things, new to me or otherwise, so I could write fresh blogs. Great idea I had to start this in the winter, right? Anyway, just for fun, today I bring you a fun thing from last summer, that was unfortunately a one-time event - walking the new 280 bridge in downtown Toledo.

I have this friend, J, who is amazing for several reasons, including her love of doing semi-nerdy things such as going to bridge dedication events. I had been excited about the bridge opening for a couple of weeks. The City powers that be were planning a fun run across the bridge, a dedication ceremony, and then the rest of the day, they would allow pedestrians to walk across it, before opening it to the first vehicles that evening. It sounded fun to me, but I feared my not so nerdy friends would think I had really lost it this time. Luckily, I received a phone call early in the morning, the day of the bridge spectacular. Normally, such a phone call on a Saturday morning would not be a welcome occurance, HOWEVER, it turned out to be J, asking me to not make fun of her, and would I be at all interested in attending said bridge festivities. Well OF COURSE I would!!!

We headed downtown, and found the special shuttle buses that would take us up on the bridge, let us off to walk across it, and then collect us at the other end to return us to the parking area. It was a beautiful day, and J and I (and some of her family who came as well) took tons of pictures, and relished in The Most Exciting Day in Toledo, 2007.

Monday, April 14, 2008

#10. The Jewel of Toledo

I have had good and bad experiences with Indian food, but I am pleased to tell you the Jewel was one of the good ones. There are only two Indian places in Toledo, which makes me miss Cincinnati, where there are decent Indian places all over the city. I could not wait for my appetizer, Aloo Tiki:

Now, if you're not familiar with Indian food, you'll find that a lot of it looks like green mush (usually saag (spinach)), orange mush (could be anything from masala to curry) or hot pink (tandoori chicken). I usually frequent the Indian buffets, which are sometimes labeled, sometimes not, and it usually doesn't matter anyway, since I am really bad at remembering the names of things.

Back to my appetizer - it was basically a samosa (potatoes and veggies), only less fried, covered in a spicy green sauce, and served over crispy wonton-ish strips, covered in yogurt and strawberry (maybe?) sauce. It sounds odd, but it was DELICIOUS!! Two of my dining partners ordered the aloo tiki, and one had the samosa appetizer.

On to the main course!! I usually get chicken tikka masala, which is kind of pathetic, since it's not really that authentic (it was invented in London, apparently), but I don't care, because it is damn tasty!!!! Also, half the time, I could say screw the chicken, and I'd just eat the sauce and rice for hours and hours (another reason I'm a fan of the buffet!) The Jewel serves the entrees in individual metal bowls, resting on candle holders, so the deliciousness is kept warm while you eat your first helping.

Next time I am going to be smart like my dining buddies, and order a glass of fresh mango juice. It was fabulous!! The Jewel's naan bread was also the best naan I've ever had. It was warm, buttery and soft - the perfect addition to my dinner.

I promise you, Indian food is fabulous!! At least try it once, for me. And take me with you, if you're around here!!

INFO: 6711 Airport Hwy Holland, OH 43528. 419-865-9500.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

#7b. Sunset Update 1

Tonight on my way home from dinner, I was distracted by the gorgeous sunset!! Right here in OHIO! The only problem was trying to find a spot where I could get a good picture of it. Here is attempt #1 anyway, at finding beautiful sunsets in the OH.

#9. Tony Packo's

This is the original Tony Packo's Cafe in Toledo. My boss prefers this one to the one downtown by the ballpark, because that one is, "filled with too many yuppy lawyer types" at lunchtime. I have to agree that there is some charm missing from the new ballpark Packo's, but the food is still the same.

Speaking of the food, Tony Packo's features Hungarian specialties, such as their signature hotdog with chili and pickles & peppers. I personally, am a fan of their stuffed cabbage. Their mac and cheese is tasty as well.

I think Packo's is great and all, but when I'm craving meat on meat, what I really want is Skyline Chili, which is still on my list of places to review. Trust me, an upcoming special is planned, but I need to drive myself 2ish hours away to get to a Skyline these days.

Tony Packo's is Toledo tradition at its finest. It was mentioned several times in the show M*A*S*H, and famous people from Jamie Farr to former presidents have eaten there, and signed their names on a hotdog bun to be memorialized on the wall forever.

Paired with a day at the zoo or a Mud Hens game, Tony Packo's definately gives you a taste you won't find anywhere else! You might have to be a true Toledoan to fall in love, but it's definately an experience to try.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

#8. The Ugly Duckling

One of the great things about this part of the world is all the fun local dives. The Ugly Duckling is one such place. The Duck (since we're all friends here, and are comfortable with nicknames) features typical bar food, chicken chunks with a billion toppings, and a pretty extensive beer list, considering that it's in the middle of nowhere, and to most people around here, Budweiser is a "fancy" beer.

You can even become FAMOUS at the Duck! For the small task of consuming ten chicken chunks coated with "Annihilation" flavor hot sauce, you can have your picture taken and posted on the wall! Just make sure to drown the flames with a nice Blue Moon, my Duck drink of choice.

The Duck also features daily specials, and as you can see from the picture, the special on Fridays is all you can eat perch. What more could you ask for?

Friday, April 4, 2008

#7. Watch beautiful sunsets?

A lot has been going on lately, so I apologize for the lack of blogging. I know you have all been on the edge of your seats, awaiting my latest update, and have been at a loss lately for fun things to. WELL, to start off with, I almost moved to Kentucky. How devastating that would have been for this blog, although I assure you, there are many fun things to do in Kentucky... such as tractor pulls... and the Kentucky Derby.... and well, I guess I don't have to worry about that now anyway, since it's not happening.

I have also been on vacation! The photo above was NOT taken in Ohio, rather, in Key West, Florida. One of the big draws down there is to go watch the sunset every night. While it is indeed lovely, I felt a bit silly clapping for something that happens EVERYWHERE, on a daily basis, but when you haven't eaten anything substantial, and you're on your second bucket o'rum, you tend to go along with things and not ask any questions.

The vacation was fun, but my snowbird days are over, and it's back to the OH. My mission though, is to find beautiful, northern sunsets. I know they exist. Sometimes, they are covered in gray gloom and doom and clouds, but they're out there. Stay tuned!!