Back up after the blackout

Finally! Since being without power at my datacenter (actually, my computer room (actually, my spare bedroom)) since Sunday, September 14, the power finally came back on last night around 1:00am. Trying to get things back to normal around here…

The webserver is back (obviously), the Personal Video Recorder (PVR) is back, and my Network Accessible Storage (NAS) stack … needs some attention. It booted but all the drives (over 1 terrabyte) are not back online yet. That may be part of the NAS’s internal boot-up verification process, or it might be a problem. Will diagnose — and fix — this evening when I am back in Cincinnati (I am currently in Lexington Kentucky).

UPDATE: The NAS stack is back up and running. Doing final configuration checks to ensure that it’s re-integrated into the server network, but it’s looking promising.

09/17/2008 Wine Dinner at Midwest Culinary Institute

Chef Matthew Winterrowd
Wines hosted by Chip Emmerich of Burnet Ridge Winery

Welcome
Cold Smoked Salmon Cheesecake with Beet Crust and Radish Salad
Russian River Vin Gris Pinot Noir 2007

Shrimp, Basmati Rice, Okra, Tomato, Coconut
First Course
Shrimp, Basmati Rice, Okra, Tomato, and Coconut
Lake Erie Pinot Gris 2007

Crab, Mango, Avocado, Lime
Second Course
Crab, Mango, Avocado, and Lime
Patianna Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Monk Fish
Third Course
Monk Fish, Roasted Parsnips, Corn, and Chives
Melange a Trois Chardonnay 2006

Chicken
Fourth Course
Chicken, Herb d’Provence, Spinach, Chantrelles, and Bread Pudding
North Coast Pinot Noir 2005

Beef Tenderloin
Fifth Course
Seared Beef Tenderloin with Rosmary, Brussel Sprouts, and Dauphinoise
Super Tuscan 2004
&
Purple Trillium 2005

Apple Tart
Dessert
Roasted Apple Tart, Cardomon Ice Cream, and Chamomile Golden Raisins
Jackson Triggs Vidal Icewine

Wendy's Vacation Review: Iberostar Cozumel

This review was written by Wendy.

I spent 7 nights at the Iberostar Cozumel with my brother in the beginning of September, sandwiching luckily between Gustav and Ike. This is a perfectly nice hotel on a mediocre beach but nearest the best scuba diving reef I’ve seen. Skip to the end if you’re easily bored; stay with me if you want all the details. I have stayed at the Barcelo Beach and Dreams Tulum resorts in the Mayan Riviera and at the Barcelo Palace in Punta Cana for all-inclusive reference.

We booked through our local travel agent Anna at OK Travel, GoGoTours was the group. Flew American Airlines right into Coz, laying over in Miami. The second leg into Coz is on a little turboprop, but it was very smooth. Nice to land right in Coz and not have to deal with the Cancun madness and ferryboat ride. No problems with the flights or airport, van from Olympus Tours was there to bring us to the hotel. It’s about 20 m south of the airport, quite a ways from town. Check in was a breeze and our room was ready. We were in 8114, nearest the beach and the pool on the South side. It was quiet and clean, small as others have noted but perfectly acceptable. The closet does not give you a lot of room to spread out clothing, but how much stuff do you need? It’s not a fancy place. The minibar was full and the safe worked fine. Each room has a nice balcony and hammock out in front. We did find some tiny ants in the bathroom, but they didn’t seem to bite and were nothing more than a minor annoyance (and my Deet skin spray did not deter them at all).

Continue reading “Wendy's Vacation Review: Iberostar Cozumel”

IRON HORSE INN reopens!

Closed since early January 2008, the IRON HORSE INN in Glendale Ohio has recently reopened. The building has a storied history, and it is great to see it open again under new ownership. Wendy and I have dined there twice as guests of the restaurant. This is a “preview-review”. Both of our meals have been in the upstairs dining room, so this review focuses on that space.

The IRON HORSE INN has clarified the vision of the restaurant, envisioning it now as two distinct eateries contained under one roof — downstairs presents a fine dining menu while upstairs has re-adopted the original name of the restaurant “Bracker’s Tavern” (which is slightly confusing…) and offers upscale bar food. It is possible to enjoy an informal meal with a cold beer or a nice glass of wine upstairs or to dress up and enjoy the fine dining options offered in the formal dining room downstairs. The downstairs dining room also features a chef’s table that, while not located in the kitchen, promises as-yet-unknown (to me) special treatment from the chef.

The exterior of the building has been spruced up — and it needed it since it had been neglected. The restfully-colored exterior is invitingly lit and the restaurant beckons with a warm glow. The patio out front is a great place to get a drink and a meal on a comfortable evening. Entering the front doors of the restaurant, you can either climb the short set of stairs to the second floor (an elevator is available and the entire restaurant is handicapped-accessible) for an informal meal or meet the front-of-house manager straight ahead, whose desk is placed at the French-door entrance to the downstairs (formal) dining room. The manager’s desk is imported from Vietnam and is decorated with crushed eggshells (really! — we checked this out with Robin, the owner) and is prettier than you would imagine.

Upstairs, there is a new sitting area just past the top of the stairs that provides a nice place to wait for a table, should the need arise. This new sitting area replaces a small dining room that was wasted space most of the time, and it houses another of the eggshell-decorated furniture pieces. The dark green walls, exposed ceiling beams, and long dark-wood bar of the dining room create a comfortable lodge-y feel. The tables are well-space, so your dining neighbors do not become your dining companions.

The kitchen has received a face-lift with the appointment of Chef Stefan Marcus as Working Chef in charge of the kitchen. His team puts out creative, confident dishes that give testament to Chef Marcus’ years of experience. The kitchen demonstrates restraint — there are no superfluous ingredients or garnishes on the plates. In conversation with Chef Marcus, his enthusiasm for the new venture is evident and infectious. He’s got big dreams for the IRON HORSE, and appears to be in a good position to make them come true.

In our meals there so far, we’ve sampled Jerk Chicken Quesadillas, Crab Cakes with house-made Remoulade, Clam Chowder, Buffalo Chicken Penne with a bleu cheese sauce, and a couple different Paninis with Sweet Potato Fries. Everything has been top notch (standout favorites include the Buffalo Chicken Penne, the Crab Cakes, and the Sweet Potato Fries) and the menu offers sufficient variety to remain interesting for some time. I don’t know if they run specials upstairs or not; on our two visits (one of which was a preview) there were no specials.

They offer “Funny Name Wines” in Bracker’s Tavern, too… an ever-changing selection of value wines with, well, funny names. While I think the idea is somewhat hokey, it seems to work and the couple different wines we’ve tasted have been very good values and reasonably drinkable.

For the most part, the IRON HORSE INN feels like an established restaurant, mostly free of the “opening jitters” experienced by some new places. However, on our visits, there have been a few issues ranging from menu grammar & spelling errors (“Tuna Tar-Tar”, anyone?!), the lack of short descriptions (or even just regions) on the “Funny Name Wines” list, and a few service issues (the wrong entrees were delivered to our table on one visit) reveal that this is, in fact, a new restaurant with a few growing pains.

But the IRON HORSE INN is worthy of your visit right now, and will continue to grow and mature through the startup. It might just become your new (old) favorite restaurant.

(We will eat downstairs soon and I’ll post about that.)

Contact the IRON HORSE INN at 513-772-3333.

HAPPY MOUTH — September, 2008

This was Wendy’s month to pick, and she changed things up for us quite a bit… She told everyone to prepare for “potentially the most expensive Happy Mouth ever”, and that our evening would start at Paul Sturkey’s MESH Restaurant. We all met at the appointed hour for drinks, appetizers (I had their excellent foie gras appetizer), and socializing. After a while, Wendy escorted everyone outside and told them that we had reservations in the private room of the best Swedish restaurant in the area.

It took a moment for everyone to realize that Wendy meant the cafeteria at IKEA, which sits just a few moments away from MESH.

Far from being our most expensive Happy Mouth, Wendy’s outing was one of the least expensive (and most fun in recent memory!). Good choice, Wendy!