Thursday, March 30, 2006

Coming Soon

I just wanted to take a moment to say sorry about lack of posts! I have been busy with my new job and with the wedding being moved up!

I am working on a few posts though. I have one coming soon on the book Night, by Elie Wiesel. I will also be doing a restaurant entry on Bon Vie at Easton!

Sorry for the wait!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Z Cucina

You may have heard of Z Cucina before if you ever read Columbus Monthly. It was voted best new restaurant of 2005 by Columbus Monthly and has received attention from other publications as well. It is a small restaurant located on Grandview Ave across from Figlio. Z is owned by Rick Ziliak, owner of Pastaria in the North Market. If you don't know anything about Pastaria, it is pasta deli of sorts. They sell homemade pasta, mainly ravioli and gnocchi. The ravioli they make is wonderful! Adam and I have made pasta from Pastaria and a couple of times so we were anxious to try Z Cucina.

A couple of weeks before Valentine's Day, Adam attempted to make reservations for us. We were put on a waiting list and lucky got a reservation. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of Z. It is kind of a mix of the trendy with the classic. All the tables have white tablecloths and candles. We were seated on the side of the restaurant that has the bar. The tables on this side are a little uncomfortable. They are the tall bistro type tables. Adam was a little uncomfortable in them.

Anyway, we started of course with drinks. Our server suggests a beer to us called Chamay. It is a Belgian trappist beer. A trappist beer is a beer that is brewed by monks. There are only 7 breweries in the world that can be called trappist. Adam loved Chamay and this has given him a new thing to obsess about, that being Belgian and trappist beers.

After drinks we started with an appetizer. We decided to try the Z Tavola, which is a sampler appetizer. It has 3 of their normal appetizers and 3 toppings for crostini which change from night to night. The 3 appetizer we tried were calamari, pan seared gnocchi, and mozzarella. The calamari was good. It was very tender and not over breaded or over fried. The mozzarella on the other hand was wonderful. It is homemade in the restaurant. It is topped with sun-dried tomatoes, red bell peppers, and basalmic vinegar. It is worth a trip to the restaurant alone. The pan seared potato gnocchi was also very good. It is pan seared in a butter sauce with mushrooms and sage. I think there is enough on the appetizer portion to made into a dinner! The crostini toppings for that evening were a mushroom mousse, artichoke and tomatoes, the 3 one is escaping me at the moment. We both really enjoyed the mushroom mousse. I think this appetizer would be best enjoyed with a group of friends. It was definitely a lot of food for just 2 of us, but I highly recommend it!

Since the appetizer wasz so large, we decided to skip salads and went directly to the entrees. Adam had the veal marsala which was accompanied by mushrooms and veal stuffed ravioli. If you enjoy veal you would like this dish. The veal was very thin, as it should be and the sauce was rich and tasty, but not too sweet. I think marsala can sometimes be too sweet. The ravioli, however, is the best part of this dish!

I went a similar route and had the beef tenderloin. I think this is probably one of the best things on the menu. It was served with steamed green beans and a kind of gorgonzola potato lasagna. Sounds a bit strange, but it was very good! The tenderloin was nice and thick, very juicy and flavorful. If you enjoy beef, as I do, you can't go wrong with the tenderloin.

Z Cucina offers a variety of dishes. They have several pasta choices as well as entrees. (Entrees being a serving of steak or fillet.) They have a daily fish option and also a duck entree that I have heard very good things about. I did not try any soup while I was there, but I have read other reviews that have raved about the daily soup offered there, apparently it is some of the best soup in the city(according to the Columbus Monthly review).

Z Cucina is an excellent spot for a quiet, romantic date or a great place to get together with friends and share a couple of dishes and drinks. I really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. I would gladly go again with anyone who wants to give it a try! Just give me a ring!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha

By Arthur Golden

I had been wanting to read this book for a couple of years when I finally picked it up about a month ago, because the movie was out and I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie.

While reading Memoirs of a Geisha, I really had a difficult time understanding the concept of what a Geisha is. I, like many other Americans, assumed a Geisha was a prostitute, but this is not exactly correct. The character telling her story, Sayuri, describes a Geisha as a "kept woman." I suppose this is an accurate description, but usually kept woman are married to the men that keep them, though I suppose not always. A working Geisha, on the other hand never marries. Geisha were beautiful young women who were masters of the Japanese arts of dancing, music, and tea ceremony. They used these skills to entertain men who paid them for their company. Though they were not prostitutes, there was a sexual aspect to it in the suggestion of bare skin and female sexuality. But a respectful Geisha would never accept money from a man for sex for just one night. They would instead set up a more long term relationship with a man, who would pay the Geisha's living expenses, classes, and give extravagant gifts in exchange for "privileges". The man was then called a Geisha's danna.

The novel follows Sayuri as a young girl when she is first sold by a man she trusts to start her training as a Geisha. She is very stubborn in the beginning and overcomes many obstacles to get where she ends up. The story is not just of Sayuri's life as a Geisha, but there is also a love story at the core of the book. When she is a teenager she meets an older man who becomes the focus of her life and the motivation for everything she does.

This book is wonderful in its richness of detail. The rituals and traditions that went into being a Geisha are described in a wonderfully unique way. Sayuri tells the reader what it was like to be a Geisha from the type of clothing she wore to the hair styles she wore to the food she ate, even to the different relationships she had with men. The novel truly transcends the reader to a different time and place. I lost myself in this book and had trouble putting it down.

I have not yet seen the movie. I did not rush out to the theaters after I had heard a few discouraging comments from people who had seen the movie and read the book. People who had read the book were terribly disappointed by the movie, however I am still interested in seeing the movie. First of all, I am just curious how different the movie is from the book. I also think the movie could assist me in visualizing things like the clothing and the setting. I also think that the movie just looks like a beautiful movie, visually.

I loved this book and I think you all would enjoy it as well.

Brazenhead of Grandview

After finding out that a couple of my friends are actually reading my blog I thought I best add some updates! So here you are, Brazenhead.

Adam and I frequent Brazenhead quite often! If you don't already know, Brazenhead in an Irish Pub located on 5th Avenue in Grandview. They have a nice selection of beers by tap, as well as by the bottle. Though don't go strictly by their menu as far as beers as tap, they seem to have more available than what is listed on the menu. Brazenhead as your typical Irish Pub atmosphere with unusual, mismatching chairs and all different sized tables. I do wish they had more TVs. They have a couple, but I think if they had more it would be a nice place to watch a game.

My favorite thing about Brazenhead is their burgers! They have awesome burgers! They have your run of the mill burger that has a choice of toppings. Adam and I tend to go for their specialty burgers. I like the Cracked Black Pepper Burger, which has black pepper in it of course and is topped with smoked mozzarella, though I prefer it with Gorgonzola. Adam seems to like the Blacked burger with is topped with cheddar and chili sauce. That's my Adam, he loves his hot sauce! If you order nothing else at Brazenhead, you have to at least try their potato chips, which can be ordered as an appetizer. They are homemade and come with this amazing garlic dipping sauce!! The chips are great to split with a couple of friends!

Brazenhead also offers happy hour specials depending on the day. Adam and I like to take advantage of their burger special Wednesday night. They offer $3 burgers from 4pm until 9pm. They are a little smaller than normal nights, but it is still plenty of food to fill you up, and what a great deal!