Home Authors Posts by Donna Covrett
As I remember, it was “Eggs Baked in Tomato Cups.” It sounds a bit fey, and I’m sure that was part of the appeal. It was the first recipe I ever made from the pages of Gourmet magazine. I was all of 7 years old, and as my grandmother Millie told the story (and retold it), I woke up at the crack of dawn one morning, quietly shuffled past my sleeping cousin, and went downstairs to the kitchen where the issue lay on top of Millie’s tiny kitchen secretary.
Good news: The Palace Restaurant in The Cincinnatian Hotel has been updated. Creamy textured ivories—upholstered chairs, carpeting, and linens—have replaced the dark mauve, blue, and terra cotta color palette from the hotel’s 1987 opening. The pillared dining room, with its warm woods and bright Frederic Bonin Pissarro paintings, has gone from dark, dated luxury to clean, comfortable elegance. But that’s not the only reason to redirect your attention.
Wearing slippers and bed hair, I give the carton of Snowville Creamery whipping cream a gentle shake, pour a shot into my cup of coffee, and watch as it makes a volcanic rise to the top, bubbling and swirling and reaching tendrils across the surface of the cup’s dark roast.
In my ideal world, life really is a musical. Groups do break out in faultlessly choreographed numbers at the train station; love is found, exalted, and lost to a song. I’ll even break out in song when inspired by everyday moments. Years ago, when one of my sons was ill, I sang Mary Poppins’s “Spoonful of Sugar” in its entirety at his bedside.
Since the age of 16, I’ve had a frequently recurring dream. The setting is always the same: A small village in Italy, a cottage overlooking the sea. I don’t possess any of my fair German attributes; rather I’m olive-skinned with dark hair (and since it’s my dream, I resemble a young Sophia Loren).
I’m not Jewish, but my place of worship is a Jewish delicatessen. In New York City it’s Katz’s or Carnegie; in Cleveland, Corky & Lenny’s. The object of my affection is a pastrami sandwich. Done right, it is the best sandwich in the world. Why am I telling you this? Because I can’t stop thinking about the pastrami sandwich at Virgils Café. All the signs indicate that it’s true love:
Todd Hudson, the chef and owner of The Wildflower Café stares at me just long enough to consider whether I’m as much of a simpleton as I sound. I’ve stopped him on his way through the dining room to ask why he chose to build an entire menu around organic and local food. “Because it’s the right thing to do,” he says.
Silver Spring House is Mo Egger’s favorite restaurant. Ranked No. 1 on his Top 10 restaurant list (posted on his blog as a foil to my list in the annual restaurant issue), he’s dined at the Symmes Township establishment “hundreds of times”—sometimes several times a week. No one could accuse Mo of being capricious. He even orders the same meal—the Spring House Chicken—every time. “I’ve never really looked at the menu,” he admits.
Smudgy black rivulets of mascara have made a Tammy Faye Bakker mess of my face. This is not due to an unswerving devotion to the Lord on my part but rather a hissing, seething platter of spicy sizzling beef in the center of the table. The plate was delivered two minutes ago with little flourish by the bistro’s lone server tonight, a Chinese woman whose hyper-focused style of service suggests it may have been honed under the guidance of a kung fu master: mostly swift and nimble, occasionally unhurried, but always quiet and economical.