Sunday, August 29, 2010

Las Piramides - Huber Heights, Ohio

I scored a $20 gift certificate to this place from eReach Big Deals for only $10, so Mr. FvF and I treated ourselves to dinner Friday night after haircuts.

I've never had sub-par food or service at either of the Las Piramides locations (there's also one in Centerville), and this visit was no different. I talked to mister into venturing out and getting something different than a burrito. Here's the thing, eaters - when you go out for Mexican, don't go vanilla with your order and ask for a burrito or tacos. Unless you're getting real barbacoa (face meat!) in them, there's not much the kitchen can do to make those things fancy or different than you could have almost any place. Luckily, Las Piramides marks their chef's specialties with a little sombrero, so you know what the best bets are. So, the Mister went for the Chorizo Pollo - a seasoned, grilled chicken breast covered in crumbled chorizo and queso blanco.

I opted for the Enchiladas Rancheras - three corn tortillas stuffed with blended white cheese, covered in carnitas (shredded pork) and grilled peppers and onions, alongside guacamole salad and rice.

We were actually both a bit floored at how great the food was. Mr. FvF is a former Texan and is super picky about two things: barbecue and Mexican food. Even though we've had some great Mexican food at other local spots, he said this was by far the best he's had since living in San Antonio. Everything was perfectly seasoned, nothing overcooked, and the portions were somewhere between above average and big-fat-fatty. The service was tops, too. Not much of a language barrier, and the servers didn't mind answering questions about the menu, and came back to check on us often.

Also, they make a mean mojito, and had a mariachi playing some slow jamz for all of the lovers in the house. This kind of thing sometimes annoys me, but he was actually really good, and not all in your face when you're trying to eat. Mr. FvF thinks that guy gets more ass than David Lee Roth.

5 out of 5 sporks!

Las Piramides #2 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Simple Suppers - Flip Mode: Mesquite Chicken Tacos

Next time you decide to have taco night, ditch the ground beef and seasoning packet and try something equally quick, but much tastier.

We had some leftover corn shells, an avocado, regular staples like cheese, Dei Fratelli black bean & corn salsa and black beans, and Dot's Market had their house-marinated chicken on sale for $1.99 a pound (they do this at least once a month). They breasts are huge (that's what he said!), so one can easily feed two people. I tossed one of the mesquite chicken breasts on the grill for about 8 minutes per side, shredded some cheese, sliced up an avocado and called it a day. Viola. Dinner in yo' face in about 20 minutes, with negligible prep.

Chicken Cordon Bleu in white wine cream sauce

Cheese, wine, butter and cream. Those words should send anyone's heart a-flutter, if for no other reason than artery-hardening palpitations. They'll also help a gal gain the necessary pounds that she may have mysteriously lost, days after being told not to have any weight fluctuations in order for her wedding dress to fit perfectly. A note to all brides starving to get into their dresses: NYAH-NYAH!

2 boneless chicken breast halves
2 slices honey bourbon ham
2 slices swiss cheese
1/2 C a/p flour
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
1 tsp chicken bullion
1/2 C white wine
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 C half & half (or heavy cream)

Pound out the chicken breasts until they're a uniform thickness, usually about 1/4". This helps everything cook evenly. Lay them out flat and put one slice of ham and one slice of cheese on each, and roll them up (almost like a burrito) until the fillings aren't visible and secure with toothpicks.

Get a covered skillet warming on medium-high heat while you do this next step. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt & paprika and tumble the bundles in it until they're coated on all sides. Now, melt your 6 tbsp of butter in the skillet and once it's all melty, place your chicken bundles in. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes on each side until they're completely browned, then add the wine and bullion, move heat to low and cover. Let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes (more if the chicken was thicker than 1/4").

Transfer the chicken to its plating destination and get started on the cream sauce. Mix the cream & cornstarch and slowly whisk it into the skillet with the remaining liquid. You may also want to dial up the heat a bit to help the thickening process. Continue whisking until it's the consistency of a thin gravy and ladle it over the chicken.

I realized all too late that a cross-section would have made a much prettier picture, but we had big hongries. So, you'll have to take my word for it that it was magically delicious.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Southwestern Pork Kebabs

Finally, a recipe! The FvF household has been in such a tizzy lately prepping for our upcoming marital bliss that coming up with new recipes hasn't been at the top of my priority list. But, Dot's Market has butterfly pork chops on sale for a song, so I wanted to come up with something different than souvlaki to use it for.

We're getting pretty excited about our trip to the Riviera Maya, too, and I figured I might try something with a little Mexican flare. I made a marinade of orange juice, olive oil and the typical things you'd find in taco seasoning and gave it a whirl. Here's what you'll need for that part:

1/2 C OJ
1/4 C olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Other stuff you'll need:
Cherry tomatoes

Mix all of those together in an airtight container and set aside. Trim your chops of fat and cut into 1" cubes, toss them into the marinade, replace the top and give it a good shake. Marinate for at least 4 hours or better yet, overnight.

Once they've marinated, thread them onto skewers (don't forget to soak wood skewers for at least 20 minutes), interlacing them with cherry or grape tomatoes. Give them a little squeeze of fresh lime juice and place them on a hot grill (about 400 degrees) for about 4 minutes per side, until there's just a bit of give left to the pork. Let them cool for a moment, the squeeze a bit more lime juice on them and dust with fresh chopped cilantro.

The truth is, I wanted these to be really amazing, but they were missing something. I didn't marinate overnight like I normally do, so I think that may have taken away from the flavor. This marinade also didn't have as much oil in it as most marinades I make, so the pork dried out a bit, despite not being overcooked. I think some sort of richer, maybe dairy-based sauce to drizzle over before serving would have suited them well. If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears!

In the end, though, I'm a sucker for grilled veggies (okay, grilled anything) and a colorful plate - so it wasn't a complete disappointment.

Snack time: Walgreens Cafe W Mozzarella Sticks

Last weekend Mr. FvF and I had to pick up a few things and knew since it was only 3p.m., dinner time would not come soon enough to keep our hongries at bay. We don't tend to keep much snack food in the house except for nuts and fruit, but that just wasn't going to cut it. Walgreens had their Cafe W frozen stuffs on sale for $2.50 each, in your usual assortment of appetizers, like pizza rolls, chicken wings and egg rolls. We grabbed the mozzarella stick, took them home and tossed them in the oven for about 10 minutes.

The result: super tasty. The exact same stuff you'd find under the TGI Friday's name or any of the sort, which is basically the same stuff you'd get in any restaurant (except maybe Christopher's, whose cheese sticks are better than the average bear's). We used some of the Dei Fratelli Homestyle Marinara for dipping, which provided a nice, sweet opposition to the seasonings in the breading.

A++, would put into face again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Free fries at Penn Station!

Penn Station East Coast Subs is holding a fan appreciation event tomorrow - Wednesday August 18. Visit any Penn Station and receive a small order of fresh cut fries. No purchase necessary! But, if you've got big hongries - might I recommend the chicken cordon blue sub?

Be sure to sign up for their email list, too - they send tons of coupons.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Table Scraps 8/12/10

Friday the 13th - Spooky specials at Skyline! Tomorrow, the Dayton Mall location of Skyline chili will be serving up 13 coneys for $13. Get your Pepto ready!

Christopher's Restaurant is continuing their themed Thursday dinner specials, featuring "Miami Valley Grown Meals" for $18.95 per person.

Greek Isles Deli on Airway Rd is now offering a Greek buffet on Fridays. This is word-of-mouth news, so I don't have specifics, but it's on my list of places to check out.

Had lunch at DoubleDay's in Cross Point Center again yesterday, and discovered that they have the best fried pickles...ever. They're breaded in panko and what appears to be grated parmesan cheese. Full of win.

Still working my way through the Dei Fratelli tomato products sampler that I got. Mr. FvF and I both adore these pasta sauces & salsas. No artificial ingredients or preservatives, and much lower sugar content than a lot of their mainstream competitors. They actually taste fresh, like REAL tomatoes, not like doctored up tomato paste. Looks like Dayton-area Kroger stores are carrying the brand now, too!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Marketplace - Kettering, Ohio

There's a little place out on Wilmington Pike where I like to buy my dad cigars, browse around their wine selections and peruse the Greek food & novelties in a small freezer area in the back. I always salivate over the baklava, spanakopita and tzatziki sauce, but I'm always on my way somewhere else and have no way to keep them frozen.

As I should have figured, Pa FvF has made nice with the owner of The Marketplace, George, over several years of being a good customer to their humidor. Pa loves to tell everyone about Food vs Face, because he's better than your dad, and proud as a peacock. After telling the proprietor about my blog, George insisted that Pa take one of his gyro kits, along with homemade tzatziki sauce home and pass it along to me to try and review.

After a long day of swimming and spotting doppelgangers at the pool last weekend, I invited my friend Tim from YouIndie over to have dinner with us and check it out. I made a little souvlaki for myself, grilled the pitas quickly and oven-warmed the lamb for the boys, and we all made gyros. Since I don't really dig on lamb, I have to take their word that it was a big handfull of "hell yeah." The pitas, although they came to me frozen, tasted as fresh as the day they were made when allowed to thaw and plopped on the grill for a minute. The tzatziki was out this world! The perfect accompaniment, better than Ticket's, and much, much better than any I've ever made. I wonder if I might be able to talk George into teaching me his family recipe?

We'll be having the sauce again tomorrow when we make feta steaks (basically, gyros with sirloin instead of lamb), which I'll have photos of since I missed the chance when we had our first go'round with the sauce.

All of the products still had the price tag on them, and under $10 for 4+ gyros and tzatziki is one hell of a deal. I'll definitely be back in to stock up on a few of these finds. Although I take pride in my culinary craftiness, sometimes it's just better to let the pros do the work. Keep up the great work, George!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tea Cozy Cottage - Mariemont, Ohio

I hate bridal showers - even when I'm the bride. The hokey games, the cheek pinching accompanied by embarrassing stories, everyone staring you down waiting for you to open their gift, the idea that it's gauche to get a bit drunk. No thank you.

Instead of all that garbage, I decided to get a couple of my best gals, my mom and my sister together and head to my friends Michelle & Chris's tea house, The Tea Cozy Cottage in Mariemont/Eastern Cincy. In case you're not familiar, the traditional British afternoon tea consists of more than just a cup of tea and a lump of sugar - it also involves a bounty of snacks! My sister and I had gone to here a little over a year ago and were so impressed with the food (which is all made in-house, from scratch), we raved about it to everyone.

They do two weekends of sittings each month, each with a different theme. This weekend's theme was American Girl, so it was all very kid-friendly food - but by no means pedestrian. The first course was cold strawberry soup. I'd never had a sweet cold soup before - it was like sipping dessert. Very fresh taste, and a nice perky start to the courses ahead.

Next was the extra cheesy quiche. I lovelovelove quiche, especially crustless quiche because I feel less guilty about eating it. Sometimes, people try to cram so many ingredients into a quiche that you can't even taste the wonderful base of the dish. Not the case with this one at all. It was perfectly baked, warm and fluffy and a perfect ratio of eggs and cream to cheese and seasonings.
Next up were two sweets - a raspberry scone with creme fraiche and a mini cake made with Oreos.

The scone was tops! Buttery and just enough crunch, and the fruit added a sweetness without being syrupy like some jarred preserves. And let's be serious - I would slather creme fraiche on top of almost anything. The Oreo cake was super cute and inventive. The icing was a bit much for me (I've never been a huge icing fan), but was tasty and a little buttery.

The final course was a three-tiered tray with mini fresh fruit skewers, smoked gouda, cucumber sandwiches, Fluff & peanut butter sandwiches, monkey cups (monkey bread in cupcake form) and a S'mores tart.
All of the sandwiches were great, of course the gouda was aces, and the sweets were amazing. The monkey cups were a lighter version of the artery-clogging monkey bread I remember as a child, but in a good way. Layered at the bottom were some caramelized pecans that tasted good, even to a gal who's not a huge pecan fan. We were all struggling to get around to the S'mores tart with our full bellies, but we still managed. It was very rich, but a nice way to end the meal. The chocolate ganache was incredibly creamy and tasted almost exactly like hot cocoa.

What? You want to know about the teas, too?
They were all fantastic! Tea Cozy Cottage has a menu of over 70 teas and you can choose as many as you like, and share them amongst your table. We tried Coco Mint, Blackberry, Blood Orange, Caramel Apple, Cinnamon Spice, and maybe some others I don't remember. The teas are all different varieties including black, green and white. I can't remember which flavor was in which category, so I won't embarrass myself by trying to figure it out. The favorite was definitely the caramel apple, but that one was great mixed with the cinnamon spice as well. I also tried one of the iced strawberry green teas that Michelle had on the menu just for that afternoon. I've never been an iced tea drinker, but I could drink this stuff every day. It didn't require any sweetening and was very light & refreshing.

The proprietors do this part time because they're passionate about it, which translates to it being done very well. I'll admit that they're old friends of mine, but it doesn't make me too bias. If it wasn't worth it, we wouldn't have taken two car loads of people an hour south to Mariemont. Michelle is such a warm and cheerful gal, she just makes everyone feel welcome and relaxed. Regardless of personal relationships, I've never had service that good anywhere. Everyone had a wonderful time, and it was certainly more fun than any bridal shower I've ever been subjected to. My friend Ginger can't wait until her daughter is old enough to enjoy an afternoon tea there with her. Tea isn't just for fancy ladies any more. Every time I've been, there have been children of all ages, and even men, enjoying themselves.

5 out of 5 sporks!

Tea Cozy Cottage on Urbanspoon

Hot Head Burrito - Dayton, Ohio

In a dinner pinch earlier this week, and wanting to avoid the grocery at all costs, we grabbed the Hot Head Burrito coupons that come in Reach Magazine and bellied up there for our evening meal after some shopping.

Sorry to say, there are no pictures. Frankly, I was feeling lazy and it's kind of hard to make a burrito look good. It's either all wrapped up or half-eaten. Mr. FvF opted for a spicy steak burrito with black beans, Hot Head sauce and other fixins, and I had two hard pork tacos with black beans, pico and guacamole (kid's meal - so I also got a small beverage a cookie). I've had their pork before and it's surprisingly good for a fast food joint, so I was perfectly pleased with my meal. Everything was pretty fresh, and all of the flavors were bold enough without being overpowering.

The Mister had never had a "fast food" style burrito, like the kind that Hot Head, and more notably, Chipotle serve up. So, he was a bit put off by the amount of rice that was in it. But, that's pretty much how it goes. All of that rice helps hold the burrito together and makes it the gigantic meal that it is. When I first asked him how he liked it, he said he wasn't crazy about the sauce and thought it was bitter - but later admitted he may have just gotten a bad bite and the sauce tasted better to him after a few more bites.

Big ups for having 4+ diet drink options, because Diet Pepsi is vial. I had the diet peach green tea, which was tops - but they also had Diet Mt. Dew and Diet Dr. Pepper. The staff was also super friendly and chatted us up while we were ordering, but not to the point that you wished they would shut up and just take your money, already. With the coupons, it was only about $9 for both of us to eat and be full, which somehow makes the food taste a little better. It wasn't the best fast-Mexican I've ever had, but I've certainly had much worse - at a higher price with poor service. I've never been impressed with Chipotle or Qdoba (or anything else of that ilk), so I'd just as soon go to Hot Head any day.

4 out of 5 sporks!

Hot Head Burritos on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 6, 2010

All up in your tweeter

Heeeeeeey you guuuuuuuuys! Did you know Food vs Face is on twitter now? You can find your trusty ol' FvF right here, complete with all the food porn and dirty jokes you've come to know and love. I've also finally taken the time to buy up my domain, in case "Terence" starts feeling froggy. No need to change your bookmarks - the old blogspot address will still direct you right along to

I promise to try to keep the updates steady, but with my upcoming wedding, the pickins may be a bit slim. Bear with me - it'll pay off later when I have dozens of photos of Mr. FvF and I eating our way through the Riviera Maya in Mexico!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Will the real Food vs. Face please stand up?

Last night I was informed by the fine folks over at UrbanSpoon that some ass hat named Terence tried to claim ownership of the Food vs. Face blog. Obviously, they're smart enough to check these things out when Dayton's #1 blogger is already attached to said food blog.

Nice try, Terence. I'm Godzilla to your Tokyo, son. I wouldn't make the mistake of trying to covet my precious blog again, unless you want things to get seriously Thunderdome up in these internets.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hickory River Smokehouse - Tipp City/Dayton, Ohio

We decided to have a date night Saturday and finish off Restaurant Week with one of the two-for specials. We thought about Bahn Mai, but would rather go when we can order anything on the menu. Thought about Beef O'Brady's, but that wasn't exactly a place I was dying to try. We finally settled on Hickory River BBQ, what with Mr. FvF missing the Texas BBQ he'd grown so accustomed to. The deal was two large brisket dinners (each with cornbread, a cobbler and two sides) and soft drinks for $20.10.

The mister chose the ranch beans and mac & cheese as his side, and I chose the cole slaw and cottage cheese with mine. For dessert, he had a blackberry cobbler and I picked peach for myself.

The ordering style is cafeteria style, like a lot of BBQ joints. you order at the counter, pick your sides and whatnots as you go down the line, and pay at the register at the end. Normally, their large brisket dinners with the same sides are only $9.50, so we were basically just getting the cobblers and soft drinks for free. That said, this was a hell of a lot of food for just over twenty bucks.

Bad first impression. We were "greeted" by someone who wouldn't know their menu if it bit her in the ass. She was clueless about the RW special (which was listed nowhere within the restaurant that we could see), and none too happy about answering questions. After only my second question, "Do you make your own slaw?" she sighed, rolled her eyes and yelled to the line cook, "Do we make our own slaw?!" That guy was the friendliest during our whole visit, letting me know it was not dairy based, but made with a sweet vinaigarette and was with a try. We passed through the line and got to the register. When someone walked up and opened the drawer, I greeted her with a friendly "hello," to which I wasn't even met with so much as a glance. Strike two.

A slightly friendlier gal rang us up, and was reminded by another not-so-friendly staffer that we needed to pick out two cobblers because it was included in our special. I tried to thank her for reminding us, but was again met with silence.

I ordered my brisket with sauce on the side, because - as I've noted before - good barbecue should be able to stand on its own. I noticed the brisket had a good bark on it, but not much of a smoke ring to speak of. Anxious to see if the line cook was right, I dug into the slaw first. Spot on! I normally don't care for vinegar-based slaws, but this one was tops. It was much sweeter than City BBQ's. Such a sweetness that the dressing almost mimicked the house dressing from Old Hickory - which I believe I've mentioned, I'd bathe in.

I started into the brisket next. It was so dry without sauce that I couldn't finish it without a mouth full of soda. That's simply a sign of overcooking. I had a little piece of fat hanging off the side, covered in bark, so I tried that. It had been cooked so long that even the FAT wasn't overly moist. It was just okay with the sauce - but I'm not looking for "just okay" when it comes to brisket. Mr. FvF's ranch beans were pretty tasty, and the mac & cheese was very similar to Stouffer's (which isn't a bad thing). Once I opened up my cornbread, I noticed that dryness must have been a theme I wasn't privvy to, considering it was bone dry and at least one day old. Very rarely can you see a photograph of something and tell that it's stale or dry, but I think this pic gives a fairly accurate representation.

That, I figured, was fine, because now I could save my gluten-fail for the cobbler. Yet another lost cause. The crust didn't seem fresh or at all flavorful, and the filling was comprised of that gelatinous goop that you can buy by the can at Kroger and HARD peaches. Of all fruits to be hard - really, a peach?! I might give a little wiggle room for someone serving an apple pie or cobbler with firm fruit, but not a damn peach. They're soft by nature. I'm not even sure where in nature one could find a peach this firm.

Overall, the food was "meh" and the service was dreadful. We definitely won't be back.

2 out of 5 sporks!

Hickory River Smoke House on Urbanspoon