As has become one of our Cincinnati traditions, we took in the Bockfest parade on Friday evening. We used to watch it from outside Mayberry, but they no longer exist. Instead we found a fish fry taking place outside of Old St. Mary’s in the parking lot and decided to enjoy a few Bock beers and enjoy the parade from there.
Waiting for the Parade
Goat Pulling Keg
What Does the Bock Say?
The parade was longer than I remembered it and overall Bockfest had a record year, so I guess that makes sense. Once the near hour-long parade was over we walked up to Bockfest Hall for a couple more beverages and some food. This year the hall was expanded outside with a large tent and a street closure, which was needed as the crowds inside the event center have been and continue to be very large. Fortunately the weather was great and we spent an hour or so outside enjoying the festival site and all that it offers.
The kids are really growing up quickly. And now we have a way to track their progress. Kim’s friend made a growth chart for another friend and gave it to her at a baby shower. Kim liked it so much she took a photo of it and convinced me to help her make one for ourselves.
Work In Progress
We bought the numbers and some paint from Michael’s and got a 1×8 board from Home Depot. I cut the board to size and spray painted it with a color called pistachio. From there I touched up the paint on the numbers, glued them to one side of the board, and added measurement lines on the other side with a paint pen.
On The Wall
After letting it all dry I added the kids measurements from their yearly doctor visits with a thinner paint pen. I put some mounting hardware on the back and hung it up on the wall outside of their bedrooms. I was able to get it all done in just a few hours of work on a recent snowy day and I think it turned out great.
Over the weekend we visited a couple of Mardi Gras events. First up was the Carnival de Levee at Newport on the Levee. Running from 1-6 on Saturday, the event featured aerial acrobatics and a Cajun band. It was billed as a family friendly celebration but my young kids were not impressed and the oldest just wanted to go to Gameworks instead.
After a few minutes watching the performers we all headed outside to enjoy the surprisingly nice weather. We discovered the Newport Express mini, trackless train ride which entertained the kids on a five or ten minute ride around the Newport on the Levee complex for $3.00 each. From there we moved on from Newport on the Levee. We’ve enjoyed other events there, but this was not one of them.
We had a little better luck with Sunday’s celebration, Mardi Gras at Findlay Market, unfortunately the weather was not nearly as nice. A tent was setup outside the market with bands playing throughout the event held from 10-4. Free samples of a traditional lowland seafood boil were given out and beer was available from the OTR Biergarten. Many of the booths inside the market had Mardi Gras themed decorations and special food offerings for the day.
Lagniappe at Findlay Market
We stayed for a couple of hours to enjoy some of the music and sample some of the food. Had the weather been better we might have stayed even longer, but the roads were getting icy and a major snow storm was supposed to be coming our way. At least the weather is looking better for Bockfest this weekend!
Saturday afternoon I was looking for somewhere to have lunch with my family and catch a basketball game on TV. I was delighted to walk into Habits Cafe and find not only that the game was on but that the sound was also being played throughout the bar and restaurant areas. Habits has two distinct rooms, one with a large bar dominating one side of the room, tables for various group sizes can be found throughout both.
I had been inside Habits numerous times before, but I think this might be the first time I’ve tried any of their food. The menu has a solid list of burgers along with a half-dozen salads and nearly a dozen sandwiches, burritos and fish & chips round out a very good-looking list of choices.
Godzilla Style Garden Burger
I went with the Godzilla style garden burger ($8.25) which is topped with pepper jack cheese, spicy onion straws and jalapeño mayo. Burgers are made with meat purchased daily from a local source and include a choice of beer, turkey, ostrich, and garden burgers. Each come with a side and I chose the Cajun fries. The garden burger appeared to be of the frozen variety, which I’m not especially fond of, but the toppings made up for it. It was not overly spicy but had enough of a kick to make it an interesting sandwich.
Texas Style Turkey Burger
My wife had the Texas style turkey burger ($9.00) which adds Swiss and provolone cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms, tomatoes and Worcestershire mayo. I tried a small bite of this sandwich and I definitely recommend the turkey burger over the garden burger for those who avoid red meat. That said I enjoyed the toppings on the Godzilla style better than the Texas style.
No kids menu is offered, but there is a grilled cheese and fries available for ($4.95) which was more food than our three-year-old could eat, even with the help of his little sister. Overall Habits provided good food, a really nice beer selection, and as a bonus the game was on all of their TVs. I will have to keep this in mind for future lunch needs.
I think I have found my music festival destination for this summer! The Nelsonville Music Festival takes place at Robbins Crossing historic village on the campus of Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, less than three hours from Cincinnati. The four-day festival offers multiple stages of music along with camping on site, kids activities, local art vendors, food, and a beer garden.
The 10th annual festival will feature over 40 bands including The Avett Brothers, The Head and the Heart, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, and Jason Isbell with even more to be announced. Tickets are just $100 for the weekend and children 12 and under are free. Camping is just $20 extra, but we are considering finding an offsite cabin around the nearby Hocking Hills State Park. Anyone want to join us?
I was recently sent a couple of boxes of the new Fiber One Meal Bars thanks to BzzAgent. These bars pack 10 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber while reducing sugar down to only 6-9 grams depending on the flavor variety. I received the chocolate peanut butter bars, a classic combo of roasted peanuts plus creamy peanut butter and chocolate flavored chips, as well as the strawberry Greek yogurt bars, roasted almonds are complemented by strawberry flavored fruit pieces and a Greek yogurt coating.
I have an almond allergy so my wife got to enjoy the strawberry Greek yogurt bars, and that she did. I think she went through the 5 pack in a matter of days. I think she really enjoyed the flavor of the bars and appreciated the high protein and fiber content.
Chocolate Peanut Butter
The chocolate peanut butter bars were all mine. I tend not to snack throughout the day, so I still have one or two of these left, but I did use them as a breakfast substitute a couple of times. The flavor was good, not as good as the chocolate chip and peanut crunch Clif bars that I love, but was more than acceptable. The peanut taste is a lot stronger than the chocolate, and I was surprised to find so few chocolate chips in the actual bar when compared to the picture on the box.
When I ate the bar for breakfast my stomach stayed full for just a couple of hours, so I think these are better suited to those who need a filling snack halfway through the day. If that is you, the Fiber One Meal Bar will curb cravings and give you the protein and fiber needed.
A week ago I had a rare lunch time excursion out for lunch. It was my brother-in-law’s birthday and he wanted to go to one of his favorite restaurants, Foley’s Irish Pub in Reading. It is located in the heart of the Reading Bridal District, something I had no idea existed until my visit to Foley’s. The area was a nice surprise that I may have to explore more in the future.
Foley’s looks like one of those bar and grills that has occupied the same building for many years. I have no idea if that is true or not, but it does look like it closed briefly in 2009 for a renovation and with new owners. The inside of the pub is decorated with loads of sports memorabilia and feels like a great neighborhood bar and grill with friendly staff and typical bar food offerings.
We started with an order of Mile High Nachos ($8.25), that was more than enough for our table of ten. I ordered Foley’s Club with the included side of chips ($7.99). Fries and onion rings are available for an additional charge. The club was piled high with thick cuts of turkey and ham along with both American and Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Mayonnaise came on the side, which is nice for the health conscious. The double-decker sandwich was tasty and filling.
Others in the group seemed to enjoy the massive cod sandwiches, burgers, various wraps, and wings. Fairly standard bar food is offered at Foley’s Irish Pub and not what you may expect at a more typical Irish pub, however everything that I sampled was good. Just don’t expect to find any bangers or corned beef.
I’ve been slightly obsessed with the winter Olympics once again this year. Obviously ice hockey is a favorite of mine, but I also really enjoy the freestyle skiing and snowboarding. The snowboard cross and ski cross events are also highly entertaining. If you have not seen either of those, it is like motocross but on snow. I would love to give it a try, though I have never seen a track open for the public.
Now I have just discovered something else that I would really like to try, ice cross downhill. Red Bull Crashed Ice is one such event just getting under way in Saint Paul, Minnesota this weekend. Ice cross downhill is basically the same idea as the snowboard cross and other similar events, but this one has athletes on skates over a frozen track. Think this could be an Olympic sport?
My wife and I were in need of a quick bite to eat this past Friday evening. We were originally thinking of having an appetizer at one of our usual spots near Fountain Square, but after finding somewhat large crowds we decided to stop at Al-Amir Cafe instead. My wife had tried Al-Amir a week or two ago and had positive things to say.
I was honestly a little skeptical after stepping into a tiny and somewhat dingy restaurant. However my wife reassured me and insisted that I try the chicken shawarma wrap that she had earlier ($4.99). On this visit she went with the falafel wrap (also $4.99). After placing our orders at the counter my wife took a seat at one of only a few tables while I waited at the counter.
I was able to see into the kitchen from the ordering counter and watched as the cook scooped the falafel and placed each ball into the fryer. He also put a couple of pieces of marinated chicken breast on the grill for my wrap. I always like to see food prepared to order. I’m sure this could add some wait time during the lunch rush, but our food was ready in less than ten minutes.
Each of the wraps was topped with onion, lettuce, tomato, and garlic sauce. We added a side of fries ($.99) which were also fried to order and plenty for the two of us to share. I think I liked the falafel wrap slightly better than the chicken shawarma, but both were really good. The last few bites were pretty messy but totally worth it. Don’t let the appearance of Al-Amir deter you from giving their delicious Mediterranean food a try. You are also likely to leave smelling like the food you just ate, but that is also totally worth it.
I spent a good chunk of this past weekend down at the Duke Energy Convention Center for this year’s Cincy Winter Beerfest. Many of the things I’ve said in the past years are still very true, this biggest of which is to attend Friday night’s session rather than the much more crowded Saturday session. Saturday was easily twice as crowded as Friday, if not more. I think the snowy weather on Friday may have deterred some last-minute attendees from making the trip.
Friday Night VIP Crowd
My wife and I opted for the Connoisseur ticket for Friday night, which provides access to the Connoisseur Reception Area with appetizer bites from a dozen local restaurants each paired with a rare or super premium beer. My family was down on the main floor for the VIP hour, so we pretty much went straight down to join them for that time. However that caused us to miss out on a couple of the food and beer pairings upstairs, as those seem to go pretty quickly. Next time I will plan to take full advantage of the Connoisseur area by skipping dinner before and spending the first hour or so upstairs.
Saturday I decided to volunteer my time to working the festival in exchange for free beer. I ran into some friends while checking in at the volunteer booth and they told me that they had been assigned to the ticketing area. I agreed to join them and soon found out that this could be one of the best kept secrets of the fest. Our job was to unwrap the sample glasses, fill them with the tasting tickets, and then hand them out as people entered the gates. However before that even started we were able to go around and sample beer from any of the open vendors for an hour or so.
Me And Penny Lane
A half hour before the gates opened we had to report to our position and get ready. It was actually somewhat tiring work and a lot of time on my feet, but it only lasted for a couple of hours. The gates opened to VIP ticket holders at 6:30 and then at 7:30 for everyone else. By 8:00 or 8:30 most people were already through the door. So at this time most of us were able to leave the post and offer to help the volunteers that were pouring beer.
From there I found a couple of booths that I wanted to sample and offered to help out. I spent the majority of my time at Oskar Blues and at Fifty West. A brewery rep from Oskar Blues gave me a couple of koozies for helping them out and I was allowed to get behind the wheel of Fifty West’s Penny Lane after assisting them (and drinking my fair share of Ghost of Imogene). I had just as good of a time volunteering for the fest as I did attending and I will be sure to offer my services again in the future. Long live beerfest!