30 November 2007

New Fun

And I'll be doing vege-matarian dinner at acclaimed restaurant Rosendale's tomorrow evening. As the great philosopher Paul Westerberg once said, "I can't hardly wait."

Uptown Market

Uptown Market is the new tenant in the spot formerly occupied by Mill Street Deli/China Way (the bizarre combo that it was). The inside is completely redone, and Uptown Market should bring a nice option for uptown dining, especially when they get a liquor license.

The main focus of the restaurant is local, seasonal produce (a la Alice Waters). Rumor has it that even the alcoholic beverages will even be local rather than global to keep up with this concept. The menu will be determined by arrangements between the restaurant and local farmers, and there will also be a focus on organic ingredients.

I started with garbanzo fritters (pictured above), lightly breaded with smoked Gouda, ginger and garlic served in a sweet chili sauce. The cheese was the cement holding the fritters together, both physically and as a flavor element by adding a delicate element of smoke that took the flavor to an unexpected but wholly rewarding place.

And how could I refuse the sauteed seasonal vegetables at a place that puts the emphasis on seasonal vegetables? The dish consisted of red and green peppers, yellow squash, zucchini and mushrooms seared in olive oil and a touch of red wine atop a bed of wild rice. The mushrooms were delicious.

The lunch business was relatively active. The staff was a little light considering the amount of people who were eating lunch. The place is newly opened, so hopefully they are just determining the correct staffing levels for certain days. The staff said they would stay open for lunch as long as business permits, and then they would reopen at 5:00 pm for dinner.

I'll definitely give the place a thumbs up, though. Although they offer a limited vegetarian selection, it is well prepared food that is worth paying a few extra dollars to eat. It is a huge improvement over the greasy MSG slop and bagel sandwiches that were churned out by the last establishment, and the interior upgrades are definitely noticeable. Check it out, and check out my pictures below.

Uptown Market

29 November 2007

Newest Brewest

There are no shortage of new beers in the holiday season. Winter is one of the best times of year to experience the widest range of malt beverages that most appropriately compliment the holiday fare.

My first experience with holiday beer comes from Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewery. This brewery is an institution not only in Ohio but also in the United States, operated by the Conway family. They are a pioneer in the craft brew movement, and the Christmas Ale showcases their talets. The strong brew highlights flavors of ginger, honey and pine with a surprisingly clean finish. Enjoy it with a stocking full of goodies.

If anybody would need winter warmer beers to make the nights fly by a little faster, Norway would probably be Ground Zero. Nogne O ("Naked Island") produces craft beer in the Scandinavian countryside, and God Jul ("Winter Ale") is their holiday offering. The beer is medium bodied, with sweet caramel/chocolate notes and a heavily roasted finish.

Tommyknocker Brewery achieved cocoa notes in their winter beer through another methodology...namely they added roasted cocoa beans to the brew kettle along with honey to give the brew a definite chocolate character. I've never been a huge fan of Tommyknocker beers, but the Cocoa Porter definitely separates itself from the rest of the portfolio.

Holiday beers allow brewers to show off their craft alongside artists whose naughty side shows through in clever Christmas packaging. British artisan Ridgeway produces a plethora of cleverly packaged holiday beers, including Santa's Butt, Lump of Coal and the Bad Elf series. Criminally Bad Elf is one of four different elven brews, and it is a thick, viscous beer with a vinous character and enough alcohol to remove nail polish. These are interesting beers in a free speech forum because the state of Connecticut banned the beers because they have Santa Claus on the label. Buy these beers to give the finger to the censor police.

Outside of holiday beers, winter is also a great time of year for Abbey style ales. The high alcohol content and aggressive flavors temper the winter chill nicely. Abbey ales are derivative of the Trappist ales, a series of beers developed by monks in Belgium. Konings Tripel is produced at the only Trappist brewery outside of Belgium, across the border in neighboring Holland. The beer displays a rich golden hue, and it has a more delicate yeast influence than its Belgian counterparts. When you finish this beer off, there should be about six more Trappist breweries left in order for you to sample your way across the Catholic beer palette.

Not all Abbey ale producers are Trappists. Some, like St. Bernardus, have Trappist roots that go back as far as any of the other breweries' Trappist affiliations. The Prior 8 is the double ale, and it has all of the bready notes, fruity flavors and herbal bitterness that mark this classic style.

St. Bernardus also crosses genre lines with their Christmas ale. The beer has a dark, rich, opaque appearance, and it displays a thick head, notes of clove, ginger, apples, figs, cinnamon and oatmeal. I don't know how to say "Merry Christmas" in Dutch, but I bet it sounds something like St. Bernardus Christmas ale.

Belgium produces other styles of beer apart from the Abbey ale style. Other brews from dynamic producers like Rodenbach make the nation the birthplace of some of the world's most exciting beers. The newest offering from this legend is the Redbach, a blend of nearly three parts sour ale mixed with one part cherry juice. The native yeasts and barrel aging give the beer an unmistakable character. The combination is a spicy, refreshing tart cherry cooler with hints of tree fruit that is absolutely divine.

Domestic producers don't shy away from Belgian character, either. Stoudt's Beer, from Pennsylvania, always tastes better to me because the brew master is a woman. I can't confirm or deny the influence the woman's touch has on the brewing process...I can only tell you that the ladies don't make bad beer. The Triple Ale (made in the classic Belgian style) has strong citrus flavors that punch through the complex malt and flowery hop aromas. I would like to check out the brew pub that is part of Stoudt's, although it has a limited vegetarian menu. I'm sure the beer more than makes up for it.

Avery Brewing also tries their hand at the Belgian style with the Beast. This is a Belgian grand cru style ale with a whopping 16.4% abv. The beer displays fantastic tastes of brown sugar, orange rind, maple syrup and spices. It will age as well as any others.

There are, of course, many other beers available that fall outside of the previously discussed categories. I'm a little behind the curve, but Weyerbacher released an Octoberfest styled beer in their Autumn Fest that was a great beer made in the classic style. This beer has the classic malt character that marks the brews from this time of the calendar year. Weyerbacher is another brewery that always makes great beer (including a number of Belgian-styled offerings), and they are well worth checking out.

You end up naming many locations as great epicenters of brewing before you come up with Quebec. But French Canada is home to great brewers like Unibroue and McAuslan, and these beers are so good you'd think everybody in Germany and Belgium was being inspired by the artisans in Quebec rather than the other way around. The St. Ambroise oatmeal stout is a former World Beer Championship gold medalist, and this beer is definitely a winner, with notes of molasses and charcoal that develop into a knockout beer.

Speaking of world classics, few names in British beer supersede Harviestoun. Old Engine Oil is the name of this producer's opaque brew, a mass of chocolate and coffee bitterness tempered by the English knack for creating some of the world's greatest beers. The latest offering is actually aged in old Scotch barrels, giving the beer a ripe peat character that makes this beer truly an experience. Enjoy it with a stinky piece of cheese as recommended by the brewers.

Much like beer with chocolate notes, beer can get coffee notes from a variety of sources. Bell's Java Stout accomplishes this task by combining their outstanding stout with the finest Sumatran coffee. The roasted coffee and malt notes create a marriage that is made in heaven (or Kalamazoo, Michigan).

Lagunita's takes a similar approach with their Capuccino Stout. Lagunita's relies on a local roaster to provide them with the best coffee, and this beer is slightly more delicate than the ebullient Bell's Java Stout. This taste is driven more by malt and less by coffee than the Bells counterpart. Both are excellent.

New Holland goes about adding character to their brews in a different manner...barrel aging. The dragon's milk is a strong ale with a support consisting of roasted oak underneath a midpalate of plums, licorice and caramel with a bright hop finish. This beer is considered their flagship, and as a result, it is very tasty.

And we'll finish the trip off with the progenitors of some of the world's biggest beers: Stone. The main offering from these loquacious craftsmen is the Arrogant Bastard. They do many different versions of the bastard, including October's Double Bastard, made from twice the malt and hops of its little brother. The marketing campaign behind Stone will tell you that you will not like this beer. If you think Budweiser is only acceptable for beer battering, I'd track down as many of these bottles as I could get my hands on and don't buy their clever ploy to keep the Bastard all to themselves.

Newest Brewest

28 November 2007

Sue Like a Real American

When it rains on the Hogan family, it pours on the Hogan family! First his son gets in trouble, and now Mrs. Hogan (actually Linda Bollea) is filing for divorce from Hulk Hogan, asking for massive alimony and real estate settlements from the troubled entertainer. Who knows how it's going to shake out, but I'm guessing that season 5 of "Hogan Knows Best" should be a doozy.

President Musharraf is now former-General Musharraf. Many doubted that he would step down from the position in order to begin civilian rule. Now he has to try and work his way through the unrest in his country and the crisis of leadership that is brewing in his nation. It's too bad American citizens will be unable to reap the benefits of having their chief executive relinquish his role as military commander anytime soon.

Bad news continues for Blackwater in Iraq with the newest lawsuit accusing the hired goons of being hopped up on Chris Benoit levels of steroids. I wonder if they are being sued by Mrs. Hogan's lawyers.

Slate continues to slather the Web with multimedia election projects including a candidate map related to campaigning, rating previous candidate experience (both claimed and actual), interactive and constantly updated polls by state and country, candidates by cartoon coverage, an index of candidates separated by political futures values, candidates by cartoon, and the one-stop shop election scorecard that features any number of articles, videos and other random election element that will fill your 2008 election jones. It's only 341 days until you get to pick Bush II's replacement...much like Santa Claus, it's getting closer every minute.

Even though Fox News is reporting that recent developments have closed the door on fetal stem cell research, the jury is still out on that one. Who ever knew the Fair and Balanced Express would take a biased approach to news reporting?

Finally, in technology news, Microsoft Vista performance sucks compared to a service pack upgraded version of Windows XP. As reported many times before in this blog: Microsoft Vista is not good.

27 November 2007

Tackling the News

You had to be outside of the loop to miss the story of the death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor. The gifted athlete never found himself far from trouble early in his career, but recent reports saw Taylor staying on the straight and narrow. This is a tragic event. I looked for some insight from the medical community, and I discovered that the 7-hour surgery might have been an effort to keep Taylor's leg intact rather than amputating his limb. This would be one more complicated detail in a life beset by bad decisions if it were in fact true. I wish everybody involved nothing but the best...hopefully, Taylor was able to outrun his life problems one last time.

If at first (in the Middle East) you don't succeed, try, try again. Following on the heels of the rolicking success story that is Iraq, President Bush has jumped with both feet into the eternal quandary that is peace in Israel. Never mind that he has ignored peace in Israel for the entire tenure of his Presidency...Bush really needed to try and start an endeavor with less chance of success than democracy in Mesopotamia.

Pakistan is back at the forefront of the battle between U.S. interests and the evangelical distribution of democracy. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is openly critical of the American-backed leader Pervez Musharraf, and his opposition is throwing a monkey wrench into another experiment in democracy that is going horribly awry for American interests. America always supports democracy...as long as democracy always supports American interests. Elsewise, Bush will mail Sharif back to whatever Saudi Arabian hole he crawled out from to deliver his rebuke of our party-line towing General Musharraf.

If you've been trying to sell your house, chances are you don't need a Wall Street analyst to tell you that the economy might be headed into a recession. Definitely don't bet your home against that one.

Those who don't believe that FCC regulation has screwed up the broadcast airwaves will be happy to learn that they are trying to backdoor their way into legislating cable television. Just keep your grubby mitts off of my HBO programming and I'll leave you be (for now).

Finally, in news of the what the f%#@!, a British teacher in the Sudan is being held for allegedly insulting Islam by naming a teddy bear in her classroom after the prophet Mohammed. This egregious act was considered slightly more insulting than the fictional act of a Chicago teacher whose class named a stuffed animal "Bartman the Bear" and equally insulting as a Romanian teacher naming a stuffed animal "Ceausescu the Bear."

24 November 2007


Chrissie Hynde might have sang "My City Was Gone" about her hometown of Akron with the band The Pretenders, but by opening an upscale vegan eatery north of downtown Rubber City, she's doing everything in her power to bring the phoenix back from its ashes.

Hynde, who lives out of town and out of country currently, partnered with local restauranteur Dan Duplain, the owner of Fedeli's in Canton, and chef Scot Jones (also from Fedeli's) in her former hometown to create Vegiterranean, an Italian inspired vegan eatery that operates under the slogan, "World peace starts in the kitchen."

Vegiterranean combines a sleek, polished metalic interior with vibrantly flavorful eats. There are assorted appetizers, soups, salads, paninis, pizza and pasta alongside a well selected domestic, French, Spanish and (naturally) Italian wine list.

The restaurant seems to be open for late breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can't say how the dinner menu differs from the lunch menu, but I would have to imagine for a few months it will be brutal trying to get a reservation at night. I got in with little fuss at lunch.

I started with stuffed Italian banana peppers filled with fresh herb risotto and soy mozzarella with a fresh basil lime sauce (pictured above). It was delicious...and deceptively spicy. The heat of the pepper was well contrasted by the citrus and green herb sauce that tempered its spicy character.

The creamy squash soup was earthy, rich and loaded with cinnamon notes and flavors as bright as the color of the vegetables. The radicchio and romaine side salad with white beans, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette was classically prepared with an artful arrangement of tomatoes.

My entree was the cashew cream penne pasta with wild mushrooms, asparagus and herbs. It was a vegan mushroom cream with an underlying sweetness that was also excellent. I didn't get a chance to try the portabella panini, which came with roasted red pepper, caramelized onions and creamy pesto sauce. It looked delicious, however.

The place had just opened for lunch business recently, which might explain why the lunch service was dragging. The floor might also have been short staffed. The only complaint I really had was that the service could have been both quicker and more attentive.

But the food and the interior more than make up for this shortcoming, which will hopefully be addressed soon. Everything on the inside is metal and glass, and they have a great patio where the bar windows flip out for outside patio bar service. The walls are decorated with portraits of famous vegetarians including Paul McCartney, Alec Baldwin, Morrissey and the proprietor herself Ms. Hynde. I didn't see it in the restaurant, but perhaps a picture of the delicious Natalie Portman would pique the appetites of some of the other diners. That's purely based on my own personal ramblings, however, and not on any concrete scientific evidence.

As an interesting side note, the food is also prepared kosher, so for future reference, all Akronites interested in kosher vegan eats for Pesach will know where to look.

I'm upset I missed the opening event. Hynde rode out on a Harley and was serving food dressed up as a cocktail waitress. I'll have some pictures up shortly that will at least make you think I was there.

Definitely check this one out--it's worth traveling to search this one out. Akron does have a number of other great vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly eateries including but not limited to my other favorite the Mustard Seed. But unlike the Seed, there's no market to support Vegiterranean. They will have to rely on a faithful diet of customers from a city that in the past was thought to be gone (in Pretenders songs, anyway).


Vegiterranean on Urbanspoon

16 November 2007

Lucky House

Cheap Chinese food can be a dangerous proposition. You really don't know if you're eating gobs of MSG or fried mystery meat, and if you choose poorly, you'll be paying for it in the morning. If you are looking to avoid the MSG hangover, I can attest that Lucky House in Westerville is a safe option.

The staff is gracious...and seemed to speak little English. They screwed up my dinner order by putting fried rice with it when I ordered steamed rice. Other than that minor detail, the staff was very attentive. I enjoyed the Chinese shorthand written on the table to keep track of who ordered what.

But the food is very good considering its price, and it's MSG-free with a decent number of vegetarian dinner and noodle options. My appetizer was the sesame noodles (pictured above), a Chinese classic noodle dish served at room temperature or slightly chilled in peanut sauce with sesame seeds. The plate is enormous and had to be shared by the whole table.

My dinner was Szechwan tofu, made in the classic spicy brown sauce with
green peppers, carrots and onions. It was tasty and also amply portioned.

The decor is pretty classic 1970s Chinese restaurant cheese. The table cloth is paper, and most everything on the walls and ceiling is red. This might explain the massive takeout business done at Lucky House.

It might not be the highest end dining, but you do squeeze a lot of value out of the chow here. Check out the pictures below.

Lucky House

Lucky House Chinese on Urbanspoon

15 November 2007

Carfagna's Kitchen

Carfagna's the grocery store has given birth to Carfagna's the restaurant. The traditional Italian eatery offers dine in and take out options served up in a very casual fashion.

The grocery store prominently features a deli. The restaurant is less carni-centric than its meaterrific cousin (although the grocery also features pasta sauces, select produce and a fairly comprehensive Italian wine selection). They make pasta, pizza, soup, salad and (no vegetarian) sandwiches.

The pasta dishes come with a side salad that consisted of the typical crudites in an Italian vinaigrette. I ordered the rigatelli arrabbiato (pictured above), which was a pile of large, ridged pasta tubes served in a spicy marinara sauce. The name of the sauce comes from the Italian word angry (arrabiata), and the peppers angrily shine through the brightly flavored tomato sauce. The pasta order also came with a small, nondescript piece of garlic bread.

There are many other vegetarian pasta selections, including a gorgonzola fettuccine alfredo, vodka sauce pasta, cheese ravioli tortellini and manicotti, gnocchi in tomato cream sauce and fried mac and cheese. The portions are almost big enough to share, and the prices are relatively cheap. I spent $9 for the pasta with all the trimmings and a large drink.

The pizza was very good. There is a traditional wood burning oven that makes medium thick crust pizzas. The crust is buttery, and some of the toppings are exquisite. Some vegetarian options (sorry, vegans) include a veggie pizza with sweet onions, roasted red peppers, portabella mushrooms, roma tomatoes and mozzarella, the straight cheese pizza, five different veggie-friendly white pizzas, margherita pizza, Mediterranean pizza with red peppers, kalamata olives, spinach and pine nuts, as well as a goat cheese and spinach pizza.

There is also a decent selection of wine available by the bottle and glass, in addition to beer and soft drinks. The prices and the service speed make it more attractive lunch option, but the wine probably makes it a cool option for dinner.

Check out the pictures below...and check out the pizza for me.

Carfagna's Kitchen

Carfagna's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

14 November 2007

Mountain Goats with Bowerbirds

Last night, the hottest ticket in the Ohio area (imho) was not in Cleveland. It wasn't in Columbus. It wasn't in Cincinnati, nor was it even in the Buckeye state. It was in fact across the river from the Queen City. Nestled amongst the drinking halls and strip clubs in Covington, Kentucky, the twin bill of the Mountain Goats and John Darnielle's favorite band the Bowerbirds was in fact the coolest show on a Tuesday night.

I have seen the Goats (or the Goat) play many times in many forms. I caught a set with thousands at the 2006 Pitchfork festival. I saw them perform in the intimate Union in Athens. The Mad Hatter in Covington, where last night's show was, is a bit larger than the Union, with slightly better sight lines, and it is far more intimate than the outdoor ambiance of Pitchfork.

Bowerbirds were better than advertised. The folky three piece featured Beth Tacular on accordion and bass drum, Mark Paulson on violin and bass drum, and Phil Moore on guitar. All three sing, with Paulson deferring to Tacular and Moore's more frequent leads.

The group harmonizes beautifully, and their indie-folk stylings should really be getting more attention than they do. Imagine Peter, Paul and Mary crossed with an organic, rock-driven polka with a Calexico-tinged bluegrass vein and you'd be rolling down the correct alley.

The Mountain Goats set was brisk, featuring many numbers from the latest two albums as well as many numbers from the older catalog. This group was a trio, unlike the more common solo or duo version of the Goats. The set was 75 minutes tops including the encore. It seemed like the audience was hungry for another set, or at least a few more tunes, but what are you gonna do? John seemed to be a little irked by all the video and photo coverage (Blame Pitchfork coverage, not me, bud...I've been on board for the long haul).

The banter was the classic dry Darnielle delivery. The audience had a few of the classic dim wits who always call out for their favorite numbers from their billy goat log, and John gave his typical annoyed response to the repeated calls for numbers not on the planned set list. Hopefully they'll learn. This was the only complaint I had about the crowd that came out to see the greatest vegetarian songwriter this side of Paul McCartney.

The set was solid, but certainly not the best batch of Mountain Goats I've ever seen. The albums are absolutely magnificent, showcasing Darnielle's penchant for writing clever tales about himself or fictional characters that go through more terror or laughter in a given day than others experience in a lifetime. But at the show, he seemed preoccupied with something that kept him off his A game.

However, the concert did have some great moments. The performance from Bowerbirds was great, and even a B+ Goats show beats an A+ show by most other artists any day. Darnielle is a dynamic performer whose live act trumps the studio product. Unfortunately, sometimes his live performance suffers from the bipolar nature of his complicated personality.

I'll load up some of my video later. I'll list some clips below, including a great full version of "This Year." Also be sure to check out the pictures.

Mountain Goats

09 November 2007

Lemongrass Fusion Bistro

Lemongrass, Columbus' first Pan-Asian concept, is nestled along a busy stretch of High Street. The menu features Japanese, Chinese and Thai offerings that are deliciously prepared. I managed to get an enormous lunch for less than $25 tax and tip included. As the great philosopher Borat once said, "Nice!"

I started with the pan seared veggie dumplings, which were pot sticker-esque vegetarian dumplings stuffed with Asian chives and other greens in a ginger sauce. There were two dumplings, served with a visually striking presentation that was touched up by paper thin carrot strings and a small sprig of parsley.

The mixed vegetable sushi rolls were also phenomenal. The sushi rolls were made from avocado, cucumber and carrots. The composition and execution of each individual roll varied, making each bite interesting.

The egg-free tofu pad Thai (pictured above) was also excellent. Pad Thai is a dish that can often be a bland, boring introduction to Thai flavors for the American palate, but the Lemongrass version was a cut above, with the trademark lime, peanut and pepper flavors shining through the finish. The portion was large and very filling.

Lemongrass is open lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. They do both dine in and carry out. The carry out is probably very convenient, although the atmosphere of the dining rooms are an added perk to eating on site. Also, parking in this area can be a disaster at night, which is why I cheated and parked at a meter during off lunch hours, when both Lemongrass and the area were both surprisingly busy. The staff was helpful and friendly.

Check out the pictures below.


Lemongrass Fusion Bistro on Urbanspoon

08 November 2007

Welcome to the Jungle

He's ba-ack! Mere daysd before he would rejoin his team on the field after being suspended for the first half of the season, wide receiver Chris Henry rejoined his team where they are usually mired--in the middle of a controversy. Henry was involved in a dispute with a parking lot employee over $5. Who dey think gonna convict them Bengals?

Speaking of controversies, America's favorite goon squad Blackwater is back in the news, this time involving reports of Blackwater thugs shooting three guards protecting members of Iraqi media in a balcony, killing two of them and wounding another unprovoked. Blackwater is rumored to be coming up with a new slogan: Shoot first, answer questions later.

Pat Robertson is endorsing America's mayor Rudy Giuliani for President. Robertson, the controversial television personality, is urging Christians to support Rudy despite his past record of supporting things that run contrary to most of what Christians are supposed to believe in. Apparently the 700 Club will get behind any candidate that supports the doctrine of Christ--marital infidelity, abortion and screwing public servants. Rudy for President!

What is lacks in controversy, the latest stock dip certainly makes up for in creating an image of certain economic doom. Analysts predict that the stock drop may be an indication of a forthcoming economic problem. Who could have imagined a forthcoming problem under leadership like this?

Finally, in another type of controversy that just won't seem to go away, China is brewing up a new batch of toy quandary. This latest batch comes in the form of date rape drugs contaminating children's toys. The real issue here is how did China come up with this idea before the Catholic Church came up with the idea of GHB on children's toys?

07 November 2007

Wrestling the News

Traffic accidents are now going Hollywood...Hogan. Apparently Nick Bollea, Hulk Hogan's son, was driving like a real American when Bollea was charged with reckless driving after he was in a car wreck that came after he was racing another vehicle. The accident led to serious brain injury to the passenger riding with Bollea. Little Hogan is dropping a serious Atomic Leg Drop on the Hogan P.R. machine!

The war on terror is entering the realm of unintended consequences, with the U.S.A. Today reporting that 15,000 people may be unfairly caught in the dragnet that is the terror list, and these innocent people are unable to get their names off the black ball list. Who knows how they are going to solve this quandary, and who knows how they are going to get Don Imus, Rosie O'Donnell and Dog the Bounty Hunter added to the list? I wish them all the best of luck.

Congress has finally banded together and overridden a veto by George W. Bush. This particular bill addressed water, education, labor and veterans programs, and it marked the first successful challenge to the Presidential veto during Bush's tenure. Now all Congress has to do is oppose an issue that means more to me than water issues, education, labor and veterans programs--like Iraq, maybe?

Pervez Musharraf's crackdown in Pakistan has missed one outlet in his nation's communication sphere--the internet. Pakistanis thirsty for information are increasingly turning to the Web to get information in the turbulent country. I wonder if the Pakistani Drudge Report is as reliable of a source of information as the domestic Drudge Report.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Alan Colmes voice of opposition in the Middle East, is continuing to thumb his nose at American interests after he announced that 3,000 centrifuges were being used in Iran to enrich uranium that could be used to fuel nuclear reactors or a nuclear bomb. Americans are threatening further sanctions if Iran doesn't change course, and Ahmadinejad is threatening to deliver the commencement speech at Columbia this summer if Bush doesn't reconsider his position.

The Hollywood writers strike has not only screwed the fans of sit-coms, talk shows and other programs. Now, it might start to screw the other people that work on the sets of these programs, from cameramen to grips, from lighting to catering services. As long as geniuses like Charlie Sheen and Aaron Spelling can still eat, I'm sure most people in L.A. won't lose any sleep over the issue.

Hall of Fame coach Don Shula is suggesting that if the Patriots finish the season undefeated, there should be an asterisk next to the record because of the Pats' role in the Spygate incident. I wonder if the holder of the sans asterisk record has any reason to be biased about the accomplishment.

Finally, in what must be the most bizarre story of the day, two college students were arrested for kidnapping and assaulting a teenager who owed them money for drugs. The two students burned the victim with freshly baked cookies, spanked him with a paddle, poured urine on him and shaved part of his head in an effort to get money from the person. According to future Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the acts are not torture in his humble opinion because the kid probably deserved it. Mukasey characterized the actions as essential in the war on terror. He was quickly confirmed by Congress, later waterboarding the pot money out of the kid and giving it back to the two poor frat boys.

06 November 2007

Betty's Food and Spirits

I'm sure I wouldn't be the first (or the second or the third or the fourth) to note that Betty's Food and Spirits in the Short North has good vegetarian food. But they do. So I did.

There are plenty of pics out there...so I didn't take a camera with me. Actually, I wasn't planning on eating, so I didn't take my camera with me. But details, details.

Aside from that, the vegan pan seared shitake, portabella and button mushroom wrap served over Asian slaw served over mixed greens and a Pale Ale Asian sauce drizzle was quite good. This was one of many vegetarian options on the menu, which also offered black bean hummus, quesadillas, fried plantains, cheese ravioli in pesto and vegetables, Asian stir fry, mac & cheese, veggie burrito, falafel sandwich and various other vegetarian delights.

There is also a nice (albeit small) bar with a good selection of beer, wine and drinks that serves as the centerpiece of the establishment. The neighborhood has many other bars and restaurants that are fun if you manage to avoid the flock of yuppies and other dregs that gallery hop through the area. I didn't, so I recommend doing so.

It's a good place. They provide good times. Don't go on a weekend and it should be a little more low key.

Betty's Fine Food & Spirits on Urbanspoon

The Larry King Show

It's official...Larry King is a feeble, old fool. The poor septugenarian is suing some hucksters who swindled him out of millions in life insurance scams. The case documents make Larry King look like a textbook mark in a con game. His interviews don't make him look much better. Pity the pathetic, senile dolt!

Pakistan continues to spin into chaos after President/General/Comandante/CEO of Pakistan, Inc./ All-Around-Good-Guy Pervez Mussharraf suspended elections and implemented emergency rule. When Bush hijacked an election and violated the rule of law, Americans barely blinked. It's good to see somebody standing up in Pakistan to Musharraf, the devil we know in the region rather than the devil we don't that will replace him. How will this nation address the problem? Look for either Pakistan to hold elections to appease critics in Washington, or Bush will suspend elections domestically in 2008 a la Musharraf in order to continue his crusade on Islamofacism.

Nominee Michael Mukasey is waterboarding his way into the position of Attorney General after he agreed to uphold future Congressional law on the controversial torture tactic, passing the Senate Judiciary committee vote and virtually putting him in office before the legislative branch goes on holiday. Somebody should waterboard the spineless Democrats who jumped ship
on the blockade of Mukasey's nomination so they can appreciate his opposition to (most) torture.

At least John Conyers, One of those Dems with a spine actually is going to challenge the infallibility complex in the White House regarding the partisan U.S. attorney terminations. Who knows if anything will stick to the Teflon White House, but at least somebody is using their position in legislature to oppose the course of our rudderless nation.

Finally, at the curious intersection of media and sports issues comes the story of sound being pumped into the Colts/Patriots game Sunday afternoon. Whether Indianapolis or CBS is responsible for the gaffe, one thing is certain--the Patriots are one hell of a football team.

02 November 2007

Happy 200th Post

How does a blog commemorate its 200th post? A big party? Cake? Human sacrifice? At Nothing Better to Do, I will mark the occasion by lampooning the news and mocking those in power, those in positions of social prominence and random jerks on the street. Happy 200th!

The controversy-free nomination of Michael Mukasey for attorney general has run into a roadblock of...well, controversy. Mukasey is uncertain as to whether or not waterboarding is an act of torture, and Prez Bush believes that Mukasey is being treated unfairly on Capitol Hill by lawmakers who want him to commit on the issue. I'll say it's unfair! In celebration of the 200th post on this blog, I'm having my cake and eating it, too. Why should the boss of the judicial system not be afforded the same luxury?

From now until January 2009, election stories will be a staple of the political media sphere. The seemingly invincible Democratic party may be going out on a limb, showing their Achilles heel to Republican campaigners by considering a tax increase on wealthy Americans before the coming elections. Luckily for the Dems, none of the Carnegies or Rockefellers vote for their party anyway. Their problem may be convincing the working man that typically does vote Democratic that Hillary is just like one of them, and has their best interests in mind. Good luck with that one! John Kerry proved in the last election that only an idiot could lose to Bush, and the party should have their ineptitude perfected by 2008 to duplicate that kind of successful failure.

The donkey party is also working on hammering out their stances on another key component of their voting base--illegal immigrants. Despite the fact that illegals can't vote, there is a cultural connection between many of the first generation Latinos in the U.S. and the positions taken by the politicians. Democratic candidates also had to do their best in defining their positions to differentiate between illegal immigrants and space aliens like Dennis Kucinich.

On the other side of the fence, Mitt Romney's chief advisor on counterterrorism is in hot water because he is an executive at controversial sercurity firm Blackwater. Jesus Christ (of Latter Day Saints), does anybody in Romney's camp not think the media would point these slimy relationships out before the election? Was Chuck Norris too busy to take on the role of security chief because he was filming a new season of "Walker, Texas Ranger"? At least Walker never kills civilians!

In the Hilarious Party news, comedian Stephen Colbert will not be included on either the Democratic or Republican primaries for President in South Carolina, the only state in which Colbert is running, in a move that is seen by some as a funny plot to sell his book. Who knows what would have happened, but I bet that Colbert would beat the pants off of Tancredo and Gravel. And unlike Kucinich and Giuliani, Colbert actually means it when he says something funny.

The showbiz industry is getting worried now that the writers may go on strike. Now that there is nothing but reality television and "Law and Order" on television, how will they replace the geniuses that created brilliant vehicles like "Shaq's Big Challenge" and "Kid Nation"? Oh, that's right...reality TV has already made writers obsolete. At least I still have HBO.

In sports news, Martina Hingis is retiring from tennis ahead of news of a positive drug test for cocaine. Tennis officials who stated that cocaine is not a performance enhancing drug obviously never saw Steve Howe or Doc Gooden throw a baseball.

The crazy news department begins with reports of Don Vito, the drunken uncle on Bam Margera's MTV show "Viva La Bam," being found guilty of sexual assault of a minor. I don't know what's more shocking...Vito molesting little girls, or the parents of little girls letting them within five miles of this lunatic.

Finally, a couple vacationing at Disney World was robbed at gunpoint by a clown. I can't wait to see that mug shot or to hear that APB go out.

01 November 2007

It Was Good to Have Known Yu's

I was saddened to learn that last night was the final curtain call for Yu's Fusion Bistro in Lewis Center. This place was a fantastic concept in a less than ideal location, and it's a pity that last night was the last time I'll get to dine at this quality establishment.

Yu's carefully crafted Asian fusion cuisine. Unfortunately, they were tucked away in a plaza on Route 23, far away from the mainstream. The place wasn't visible from the intersection of 23 and Powell for anybody without eagle eyes. If they were located in the Polaris area, or even better, in the Short North, this place would have had people lined up out the door. For those who missed Yu's, it's too bad you just drove by the spot.

The bartender was an absolute talent. He does not drink, but he carefully considers flavor profiles to create drinks with complex tastes that compliment the cuisine. The mangotini was delicious. The lychee saketini, made from gin, sake and lychee liqueur, was divine, as was the pomegranate cosmopolitan.

The food was as good as the drinks, too. I started with the vegetarian spring roll. The presentation of a dish commonly prepared at other eateries was elevated by the with cool rice noodles at Yu's.

I was even impressed with the black and white scallops, so much so that even though I wouldn't eat them, I would photograph them.

My main entree was a spicy tofu (pictured above), and it was absolutely outstanding. The carrots, onions and pea pods were also in the dish. It was excellent.

It is too bad that that this is the last time I'll get to dine at this place. Some of the employees will move to Windchimes Chinese Restaurant, which shares the same ownership if not the carefully crafted menu. Hopefully the concept can be reborn in another place with better success. Unfortunately, all that lives on is the memories and the pictures below. Check out the pictures.