Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Olives – It’s an Upside Down Cheers – Affordable, Delicious, and Fun

Entrance to Olive's
      Olives Restaurant on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton is a fun neighborhood location that has a varied menu, though it bills itself as All-American, and a diverse clientele.  On the TV show Cheers, the bar was in the basement and the restaurant was upstairs.  Olives is the other way around.  The street level bar bustles and the menu is available there.  We’ve usually eaten downstairs in the restaurant area, which is cozy, eclectically decorated, but still reminiscent of a sports bar since there are TVs playing different sporting events.

      We’re determined to share Olive's with some new customers.  Here’s are the reasons.  One of the owners has always been working

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Do Tee Jayes, Cakeballs Ga-Lori, and Mojoflo Have in Common?

Neil and Eric went on an overnight trip to a party.  I was invited too, but I decided to stay at home as they said there would be a lot of people there.  It's not a very pretty sight to see all of those feet and legs in one place!

      We were in Columbus recently for my nephew Bryce's high school graduation party.  We stayed overnight and continued our tradition of meeting at Tee Jayes Country Place Restaurant for breakfast before returning home.  Tee Jayes is one of those standbys that serve up traditional breakfast fare in a variety of ways at a reasonable price.  

Breakfast at Tee Jayes
      There were six of us dining on Sunday morning at the Hamilton Road location (one of nine in Central Ohio).  We were greeted at the door by the manager and graciously seated at a round table by the hostess.  The décor is country, 80's style.  Nothing wrong with that as it works with the down home style.  Coffee and drinks were immediately offered by our waitperson and our orders were cookin'.  We had a sampling of five different plates among us.  Everyone was pleased and it got rather quiet when our selections were delivered.  

Corned Beef Hash
I had my usual, the Corned Beef Hash, which is always smooth and served with

Saturday, June 25, 2011

You Know That Kind of Place . . . ? It’s Terry’s Turf Club

      You know the type of movie where an older cop dreams of the bar restaurant that he’ll open on some coast when he retires after the last big case?  Usually, he doesn’t make it out alive from that last big case, but Terry’s Turf Club would be the place that character would love to open.  It’s not on a coast – it’s in the East End neighborhood, which is about fifteen minutes east of downtown Cincinnati – but its vibe is the reason behind its reputation since it’s number one on Urbanspoon for Cincinnati.

The Can't Miss It Entrance and Waiting Area
      We met up with friends at 3:45 p.m. on a weekend afternoon and that was smart since, when we left at 5:30 p.m. or so, the line outside the restaurant (it’s impossible to wait inside because of its interior architecture) looked like an hour wait.  We’d heard about it and that

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Making Color Trends Work for You

Well, I'm finally feeling much better but still taking it easy.  Just catching up with a few things around the office.  Neil's been waiting to share his third installment on the new trends, and it looks as though some of my favorite pillows already fit into the (color) scheme of things.

     Hopefully, you're excited about the new color trends and have already chosen your favorites.  Now you can use this list to choose accents, or as the basis to pair with other colors on the list (or your own).  Try choosing one of the Luminous Tones (such as Gladiola) and adding it to something as simple as black and white, which is always in style.  Or take a Cultured Neutral (Aqua-Sphere) and combine it with an Opulent Shade (Forest Moss).  Mix them up.  They're meant to complement one another.

Cultured Neutrals
Cultured Neutrals 
These are the new, or updated, neutrals that are great on their own or combined with any of the other colors on the list.  Think of them as

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Maribelle’s Tavern – 5 Minutes from Downtown so Don’t Miss Out

Dex is hanging in there and feeling much better.  We've insisted that he take a couple more days off to fully recover. 

Maribelle's Tavern Entrance and Patio
      We’re going to highlight, from time to time, some neighborhood restaurants that have loyal local followings, but may not be well known to the majority of Cincinnatians-Northern Kentuckians and may not be on Urbanspoon’s Top 10 listings.  

      First up is Maribelle’s Tavern in an area that used to be called East End but, after gentrification resulted in upscale townhouses and condos, is now referred to as Historic East End on Riverside Drive.  There’s still the East End neighborhood on Eastern Avenue, but it’s further

Monday, June 20, 2011

Midnight in Paris Charms or is it Paris that Charms?

      Woody Allen’s 738th  movie (or so it seems) Midnight in Paris is a romantic fantasy focused on a screenwriter who wants to be taken seriously and his selfish, craven fiancée who doesn’t seem to have much of a reason for being with him besides the fact that he’s sort of hers.  Magically at midnight, he’s driven into the 1920s when Paris was ‘a moveable feast’ and becomes acquainted with Hemingway, Dali, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and the Fitzgeralds among others.  He also meets the ‘art groupie’, as he calls her, who represents the spirit of the ‘20s and of the artistic muse.  

      Allen’s casting is, as usual, amazing.  Adrien Brody as Dali and Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald deserve their own

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Amy Winehouse – Do You Know The Way To San José? Belgrade May Show You

Amy Winehouse On Stage in Belgrade
      Last night, Amy Winehouse started off her European tour in Belgrade and things ended badly.  Actually, they didn’t quite start.  It was reported as an Internet story and we checked out the beginning of the concert on YouTube where she tried to perform “Just Friends” and another clip where she gave up on “Back to Black.”  Belgradians spent around $55 a ticket, which is about 12% of the average monthly salary in that city.  Remember, there was a terrible civil war there for years in the ‘90s and they were still shocked.  Hearing about it is hilarious, but seeing it

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What is it with the New Italian Films? See "The Double Hour" Now

      While Dexter recuperates, we’ll fill in our readers with some of our entertaining views.

      The Esquire just premiered Giuseppe Capatondi’s The Double Hour (La doppia hora) and it’s a must see for two reasons:  a plot that has two extraordinary twists and is still seamless, which is pretty tough for a romantic thriller (Tell No One from a couple of years back had a couple of loose ends when you had time to think through the whole story after the credits) and a terrific performance by Kseniya Rappoport, who deservedly won best actress at the Venice Film Festival.  Neil and I still want to see Super 8, though most everyone into movies wants to see it, and Midnight in Paris, though most everyone over forty who can still bear Woody Allen wants to see that, so we thought we’d choose something that wouldn’t be around long.  I hope we’re wrong and that it plays for weeks as I Am Love did last summer, but it’s already in the shoebox theatre so it’s not a good sign for a long run.  However, it was pretty packed for a late Saturday afternoon showing.

      The crowd was primarily 55+ and who most likely saw the first runs of the great French and Italian films of the 1950s – 1970s and this has that type of feel.  I Am Love was a contemporary and much more explicitly erotic turn on a story that might have been told by Luchino Visconti via Douglas Sirk/Ross Hunter.  The Double Hour plays with the same feelings of guilt and dread that obsessed and amused Hitchcock, but there’s also the extreme identification of the director with a blond muse playing a character wrestling with questions of Existentialism and existence that recalls Antonioni’s relationship with Monica Vitti.  After all, this is a movie that opens with a suicide and it’s about the only red herring in the story since it serves the atmosphere and creates a motif, but isn’t intrinsically connected to the plot.  

      What makes this so current is that the guilt and dread are valid for the characters and even when one major character is revealed to be very different from what we want to believe, though the writers, director, and actor are upfront about what is probably really motivating the character, we’re still hoping for a conventional happy ending and also crossing our fingers that the integrity of the film will be maintained to the end.  I cannot say much more about the plot except to reconfirm that it opens with a suicide and, yes, moves to a sequence involving a speed dating session.  It’s a thriller that plays with the situation of whether the lead female is being haunted, going slowly insane, or dealing with grief.  Rappoport and Filippo Timi have a strong, complex bond and that informs the ambivalence of their characters. They also are attractive in a European and Mediterranean way that Hollywood producers don’t understand because they aren’t glamorous, but are charismatic.  This was true for the secondary actors as well, a couple of whom were interesting in a way where you wish you could hang out with their characters a while longer, though it’s impossible in this type of suspense mystery format. The final image might be a homage to Polanski’s Repulsion since it focuses on the eyes of a character both fascinating and psychopathic.  An audience member behind me said, as the lights came up, “I just don’t understand the father.”  I wanted to say to him, “Lucky you,” but I knew he wouldn’t understand.

It's Not Usually All About Me

Sorry, but I've been under the weather this week.  A little feverish and not much of an appetite.  Neil and Eric finally insisted that I see the Doc.  They always go with me.  I guess they're afraid I won't report everything back to them.  Dr. Jaax said I have an infection that they're treating with an antibiotic.  Neil volunteered to give it to me with an eye dropper because I'm not too fond of pills.  (Actually, I usually hide them when they try to disguise them in my food...hee, hee).  The assistants also gave me an IV drip because I was rather dehydrated.  I know, probably TMI.  I'd think they were really cute if they didn't always try to stick things into me.

So, if you pick up a summer bug in the air, remember to drink plenty of water and get lots of rest.  I'm hoping to be back in full swing by early next week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The New Color Trend List

I've checked out the new colors.  Not bad.  I'm curious as to what you think.  

     We're still recovering from a financial crisis, fighting wars, and trying to remain hopeful about the future.  All that factors into what will be available for purchase in the coming year.  Most of these hues debuted at Fall Fashion Week earlier this spring so they'll start appearing in clothing starting this fall.  It may take a while longer for them to surface in home products, but keep them on your radar for when you see them.  You'll find some of them paired together in fabric prints, which is your cue to do the same with your fashions and interiors.  

      The ten color trends are listed with corresponding names from various

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Half Day Cafe...Try it for a Neighborhood Breakfast

I have a new friend in the neighborhood.  At least I'm trying to be friendly.  He seems a little scared.  I know Neil doesn't like him eating our flowers, so I'm attempting to discourage him.

The bustling Half Day Cafe
      Every neighborhood needs a restaurant or café for gathering.  For the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming, that place is the Half Day Cafe.  Eric and I were there late morning on a Saturday and the place was pretty full, swelling to capacity soon after.  We've been there a couple of times prior to the blog, so we were anxious

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When Did the Tonys Turn into the Oscars?

All dressed up and no play to go to.  Only the Tony Awards!

      Twenty to thirty years ago, the Tonys took two hours to broadcast and that included the numbers from the new musicals, some of the revivals, scenes from the plays, and the technical awards.  Nowadays, it takes three hours, the numbers from the revivals usually outpace the new musicals in terms of musicality and wit, and the technical awards (lighting, choreography, costumes, sets, etc) get relegated to side blurbs next to the commercials.

      This year, ‘My Tony Moment’ was introduced, the first being John Leguizamo’s.  He’s hilarious, incredibly talented, and more appreciated in New York than anywhere else.  Okay, great, but what about Kathleen Marshall (Choreography) or Brian Ronan’s (Sound Design) Tony moments?  Instead, theirs were abbreviated sound bites.  The stars – performers that most people would recognize, but wouldn’t spend $10 to see in a movie – were not edited in this ‘live’ broadcast even though most of them thank the same list of people – the names change, but not the relationships.  

Neil Patrick Harris in the opening number
from the 2011 Toy Awards
The numbers by Neil Patrick Harris and others were cute, but are an example of the side dish overtaking the entrée.  Please, show some of the actual performers from this season and can’t we see smidgens of the nominated plays?  Instead, we’ll have to hope that Lynn Meyers or Ed Stern can get the rights for a couple of these plays to show in Cincinnati in a couple of years.  

      Some of the coolest elements of the Tonys have been that they really are about cultural and ethnic diversity and theatre people can move and think on their feet so they’re generally witty, though quite potty-mouthed this year.  Go Sutton Foster for remembering what’s really important, i.e. the dresser who’s got your back and wants to follow his dream, and Mark Rylance for yet another wildly eccentric speech after winning for the second time.

Check out the complete list of winners here:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Take the Cake More Than Frustrating for First-timers

Paul came over to see me.  He talks about his friend Alex, but I haven't met him yet.  We like the same kind of food, so I'm sure we'd get along fine.

       I read that Take the Cake was now doing Sunday brunch.  We never ordered any baked items from them when they were downtown at Main and Liberty, but we had tasted some of their cakes at various events and the buzz about them was always good.  Our dear friend Paul wanted to join us for brunch and he was up for coming along on our new adventure.

      We drove past where Take the Cake was the last time we were in Northside and it wasn't there.  We parked (why is Northside still charging to park everywhere and at all times when it so desperately wants to be a destination neighborhood?) and wandered up Hamilton Avenue for a block when finally I called them.  The background was noisy and the person had no clue which direction we should go on the street (we were at Shake It Records, which is the prime destination for the neighborhood, and didn't see any street addresses).  A new person came on the phone to give us directions and we were on our way DOWN Hamilton Avenue.  It's basically across the street from Honey.  

      It was crowded and noisy as we entered.  No signs to seat yourself (or not) or to place your order (or not).  Confusing for first-timers.  We looked about for a table for three.  There were a couple of long wooden communal tables (reminiscent of Slims, when it first opened), other tables for two to four, and counter space in the back.  Graciously, a patron got up and gave us

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Taking Color Trends Seriously

Neil's really in to color and design, and Eric and I appreciate his efforts around the house.  We're always wondering what he'll do next.  I've heard him talking lately about a holiday theme.  I haven't a clue what that means but I think it somehow involves decorating, which he has explained to me.

Out of the Blue by Cindy Allman
     Forecasting color trends is a little like forecasting the weather.  There is what has historically happened, and then there's the unknown "storm" that can change everything.  We saw that happen with 9/11 when we were forced to look at how we were living, and our vulnerabilities that the event brought to the forefront.  We started focusing on our lives at home and looked to colors that were soft and safe.  Then, as we became more comfortable and secure (2004 – 2008), brighter colors started creeping into the mix until things became more uncertain and colors again became more grounded around 2009.  

      So, how do trends start?  Well, researchers at various companies start to study the cultural, political, and social influences of society to determine what we will want in the coming years.  Back in the 90's when I was working for Mercantile Stores, the fashion coordinators would make their yearly trek to St. Tropez to determine new movements.  They would return to unveil to the entire corporate office what they had discovered by visiting the markets and seeing certain color and design trends surface.  I was never convinced why they had to do this in St. Tropez (OK, I was jealous), but I now realize the significance of having those guidelines to work from.  Without them, designers and buyers have no place to take off from and ultimately deliver what the customer wants.  Whether you're dressing yourself, decorating your home, or hosting a party, you'll need to know what will be offered and what to look for.  And, that's what I'll reveal in a future post!  Look for it soon.

More of Cindy Allman's paintings can be viewed at:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mr. Red's Smokehouse — A Stand Out from the Reds' Home Field

It was a hot one!  Eric's working and Neil was off to the baseball game.  I had the option of staying out or coming in.  Decisions, decisions!  I decided to chase some bugs inside the house! 

Great American Ball Park
      Lisa and Angela joined me for a Reds game at Great American Ball Park recently.  We found our seats, waited a few innings, and then went about finding some satisfying food.  Lisa always goes for Penn Station and that night was no different.  I wasn't sure what Angela would find as she's usually pretty health conscience and nothing there would fit her organic boundaries.  But it was a "when in Rome" night for her and she was ready to down a hotdog and beer.  Wow!  
Angela's Disappointing Hotdog
She did, however, notice the Hebrew National brand and was ready for the almighty dog of dogs.  There was a look of disappointment after a few bites as it was missing that familiar ball park flavor and was perhaps too refined and natural for the surroundings and her lowered expectations for the evening. 

Mr. Red's Smokehouse Stand
      I was in search of something different and found it at Mr. Red's Smokehouse.  I first noticed the smokehouse stand on the way to our seats.  It's situated on the first base concourse with views of the Ohio River, Kentucky, and the stadium.  It's prime real estate that could keep you entertained

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sonoma Adds Mediterranean Fare to the Oakley Mix

Dexter Heading Out for a Picnic

Jan picked up Neil for lunch while I went on a little picnic in my park.

This restaurant has closed

     Sonoma American & Mediterranean Grill is a relatively new addition to Oakley Square.  Located adjacent to Dewey's Pizza and in the previous location of Kona Bistro (we still miss them), the space is simple with only a few changes to the interior.  

      Jan joined me for lunch.  We perused the menu as our server highlighted some of the favorite items.  We decided to share her suggestion of the Spanish Fried Cheese.  The cheese itself was rather bland, but combined with the greens, herbs, olive oil mixture, and pita bread we found it to be delicious and satisfying.  Jan chose the Blackened Fish on Toasted Marble Rye, while I went with another suggestion in the Kefta Burger.  The Tilapia was a light generous serving with tartar sauce...nicely seasoned and flaky.  My burger was a combination of beef, lamb, parsley, and onion on a fresh toasted Kaiser roll.  It was cooked to my liking and moist throughout.  We both chose the slaw as

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's Just Crepes Creates an International Flavor

Neil and Eric are heading downtown to the crepe place again.  I have birds and squirrels on my agenda for the day.

      When we first visited It's Just Crepes at their original location on Court Street back in the fall of 2009, Karrah and Keven Paizanoglou were running their new business along with one other guy.  We were impressed with their energy and the idea of basically a street vendor crepe maker in a storefront restaurant.  Keven, a Greek immigrant, created the concept while finishing his Master’s at NKU.  Karrah was the force behind making it happen, but they both have a sense of what works and constantly evolve the business to meet their customer's wants.  Customer service is at its best at It's Just Crepes.  We talked with them about how great the idea was and what their plans were for expansion.  Karrah immediately replied that they might think about franchising in 10 years!  Two short years later, they have opened two additional restaurants, one on 4th Street in downtown Cincinnati and the other in Crescent Springs, KY and the phenomenon continues to grow.  Karrah and Keven continue to be seen at the various locations, and it's always a pleasure to see them in action displaying their passion.

Exterior on Court Street

      Orders are placed as you enter and brought to your table.  You can watch them being made if you prefer.  Crepe making is an art, and no one is exactly like another.  The dining room is tastefully furnished with items from IKEA in a steel blue, orange, chrome, and white theme.  There are tables and counters at

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thanks WTF Cincinnati for the Recognition!

There’s nothing like being recognized, is there?  Another local blog WTF Cincinnati (I guess the WTF is a word I haven’t heard) put my picture in a story all about really different things going on in Cincinnati.  I think that is really cool and it makes up for the birds I’ve almost captured, but missed.  Like Eric said, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity!” and then he mentioned bush, britney, pelosi, mick, palin, and jay low, but I didn’t know what those meant either.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summerfair Cincinnati Exhibits June 3-5 at Coney Island

Opening the summer season for the 44th time, Summerfair features over 300 fine artists and cat people (I mean craftspeople) from across the U.S. and Canada.  The show covers the categories of painting, wood, ceramics, photography, fibers, leather, jewelry, and 2D/3D mixed media.  Regional performers and gourmet arts are also featured.  It's going to be hot this weekend but that's all a part of the fun.  Strolling around the park with friends and family, chatting with the artists, and finding a piece that you just can't live without are all a part of the tradition.  Unfortunately, I can't go.  They don't allow cats and dogs.  Maybe Neil and Eric will find me something special this time.  I think they're over buying me collars and food dishes.  It's the thought that counts though!  Check out the Little Black Dress Event on Saturday evening also.  It was inspired by Truman Capote.  He liked us cats, even though Audrey Hepburn refused to name hers in "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  He'd also like the fact that Summerfair goes beyond the yearly exhibit by supporting professional and emerging small arts groups and local individual artists.

      The event runs from 2 to 8pm Friday, 10am to 8pm Saturday, and 10am to 5pm Sunday.  Admission is $10 for adults over 12 including parking.  Have fun (without me)!

Bayou Bakery Works On Southern Charm In DC

It sounds as though the guys and Dale had a nice relaxing visit to Bayou Bakery.  It makes me want to stretch out and take a little nap myself.

      I read that David Gaus was the runner-up "Best New Chef for the Mid-Atlantic Region" this year in Food & Wine's annual contest.  Sometimes being second means that you try harder.  So, on our recent trip to DC, we wanted to check out his partnership in the form of Bayou Bakery in Arlington, VA.  

Order Line and Counter Space at Bayou Bakery
      It's a storefront located in the Courthouse area of the city.  Nothing fancy on our approach.  We entered a well thought out casual restaurant where you order upfront and find a table or counter space while your order is prepared.  Sounds simple, and it was.  Dale asked for recommendations from the staff member and he suggested the "Muff-a-lotta" sandwich and the daily BLT special.  She and Eric went for the BLT and I chimed in on the Muff-a-lotta.  Beignets are what are well known here, so we placed an order (3 to an order), one for each of us. Eric chose the Coconut Cream Cupcake and I went for the Red Velvet one.

BLT Daily Special
Muff-A-Lotta Sandwich
The sandwiches were all made with very fresh bread – mine on a sesame seed Italian roll and theirs on a baguette.  The ingredients all met with