Cecile (Levy) Weil passes away

Cecile Levy WEIL, age 109, passed away March 6, 2010, beloved wife of the late Harold A. Weil, devoted mother of Arthur and Virginia Weil and Ralph and Irmgard Weil, loving grandmother of Ted Weil, Wendy and Andrew Vogel, David and Chie Weil, Richard and Jamie Weil and Nancy Weil, also survived by 7 great grandchildren.

Graveside services Monday, March 8 at 1:00PM at United Jewish Cemetery in Walnut Hills, 3400 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45207. No visitation at the family residence. http://www.weilfuneralhome.com

Excellent Store for the Care of Your Knives

Misono This message is mainly intended for my brothers and sisters in the culinary profession, but I suppose anyone needing care for their knives would benefit…

After recently purchasing a handmade Misono chef’s knife (a gyutou), I was heartbroken when it slipped out of my knife-roll and fell to the floor, landing point-down, at which point the KnifeSafe in which I stored the knife sprang open so the point of the blade absorbed the impact (good job, KnifeSafe).

The very tip of the blade broke off, and there was a significant bend to the left at the tip (especially bad since I am right-handed), rendering the blade useless, or so I feared. I decided to pursue getting the knife repaired.

I was led to A&R Grinding (by Paul down at Restaurant Equipment Outlet), so I called A&R. A&R never called me back (good job, guys). When I mentioned my knife woes to my brother-in-law, he recommended a place he’d seen “down on Monmouth” in Newport Kentucky. Armed only with vague directions, no name of the store, and high hopes, I set off. I found it without problem (even found a close parking space), and stopped in to speak with Kendall.

He took my knife and provided excellent “bedside manner” – complimenting the quality of the knife & the blade – and offering assurances that he’d be able to fix the bend.

We discussed how he’d undertake the task. His first response was to say he’d try to tap it out, but upon further consideration decided that the best course of action would be to grind it a bit. Japanese steel is different than Western steel and may not accept tapping as well as grinding.

Because the edge on my knife is a specific (unusual) angle, I was nervous about grinding. Kendall reassured me that he’d be grinding from the TOP (non-blade side) of the knife, so the cutting edge would not be touched at all.

I left the knife with Kendall and went to Dixie Chili for lunch. I hereby declare that Dixie Chili is the best food to eat while waiting for your knives to be sharpened or repaired.

After lunch, I went back to the store to pick up my knife and I was amazed at the result. He’d ground the top of the knife down to re-sculpt the tip of the knife, and it looked nearly perfect. A small adjustment, and I was all set.

The total cost? $2.00. Yes. $2.00. When I expressed amazement at that price, Kendall said, “Well, I charge $2.00 to sharpen a blade. What I did to your knife was pretty much like sharpening it, except on the top. I figure $2.00 is fair.”.

Cecil Clark Cutlery Company (alternately known as BladeMatrix), and (strangely) showing a link to Queen Cutlery Company in Google results) is located at:

833 Monmouth Street
Newport, KY  41071-1820
859-291-2541

If you stop in, please tell Kendall I sent you!

Happy Mouth – March 2010

cocktails-sign On Saturday, March 13, 2010, the Happy Mouth Supper Club met at The Rookwood for dinner. It was Tracy’s month to select, and also her birthday.

The group met at the downstairs bar for “craft cocktails” before dinner.

What “Craft Cocktails” in Cincinnati means to me, a short essay by Andrew Vogel:

Craft cocktails, or “scratch cocktails” (implying that the cocktail is made from scratch – a term I prefer because it lacks the pretense of “craft cocktails”) are a throwback to days of yore when fresh-squeezed juices, house-made simple syrup, premium spirits, and precise measurements were the norm. These cocktails are, perhaps, the antithesis of the bar scene we saw in the movie Cocktail. (Why we ever left the high standards of the old days is topic for another post.)

The experiences I’ve had with “craft cocktails” in Cincinnati make it clear to me that we don’t have the full implementation of the spirit (no pun) of “craft cocktails”. Sure, local wine lists now include cocktails (which I think is just dandy), but too often, the places in Cincinnati seem to substitute fresh lime juice for mixes, make their own simple syrup, call ‘em “craft cocktails”, and jack the price.

What are hallmarks of craft cocktails in Cincinnati?:

  • Commoditizing simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water) by adding virtually undetectable amounts of ingredients (like lavender or juniper) to it. The percentage of simple syrup in most drinks is fairly low, and the percentage of lavender in most simple syrup is extremely low, so the flavor simply isn’t there.
  • Slow service (holy smoke – bar service at Rookwood was so… slow…! Sadly, this seems to be the norm.)
  • $9 for a $4 drink
  • Pretense

That being said, the selection of drinks on the menu at The Rookwood appears varied and interesting, but ultimately, the palette of ingredients is limited so the resulting drinks end up being fairly routine. Plus, $9 to take a chance on an unknown drink is cost-prohibitive for many people.

After waiting too long to have my order taken, I received a “Com Tollins”, The Rookwood’s twist on a Tom Collins. It was made well, but not better than a similar cocktail I’ve had for less than half the price. Ultimately, what matters to me is not riding the wave of the latest fad, but what happens in your mouth – what’s it taste like? And, I found that the difference between a premium-priced “craft cocktail” isn’t worth the price difference for a “non-craft” cocktail made with non-well spirits.

It is interesting to observe how fads come in and out of fashion, and how hangers-on are quick to jump to the latest fad. (From a culinary perspective… Remember foams? Yeah, I am glad that fad is over!) I suspect that in 12-15 months, we’ll be done with “craft cocktails”. Perhaps by then we’ll be back to “flair bartending”! 😐

So, I am not impressed with this fad of “craft cocktails”. Still, I acknowledge that being able to charge $9 for a $4 drink is smart marketing.  (Open wide and say “glug”!)

Until I find a place that embraces the full-spirit of “craft cocktails” in Cincinnati, I’m declaring Cincinnati a “half-craft cocktail” town.

Here ends the short essay.

However, hanging with friends was very nice. We were a big group, nearly filling the bar seats before we moved to a private upstairs dining room for dinner.

The Rookwood took very good care of us upstairs, and the food was good. I enjoyed a chicken dish with polenta, brussels sprouts, and bacon. Everyone else seemed to enjoy theirs as well!

Another successful Happy Mouth! Happy Birthday Tracy!