Diner: The Nosh Pit

Kitchen Surgery Part II

May 16, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Last month my column echoed a theme that seems to keep building in the national press. Since that column, olives have been recalled for botulism, milk for being over-fortified or under-pasteurized and cheese risotto for salmonella threats.

In fact, even the pet food scare I mentioned has transformed into a potential problem for humans. As reported in The Washington Post, on April 30 the FDA announced that small amounts of pet food tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical not intended for human consumption, had been used in chicken feed on some farms in Indiana. A few days earlier, they said that hog farms in six states might have received tainted pet food for use as feed as well. But don't worry, says the FDA. Since we're omnivores it should pose "minimal risk."

If you ask me, any risk is too great when it comes to what goes down my gullet, and we all know how much credibility the FDA has these days.

But all is not lost! Rather than just leave pondering your plate, I thought I'd give you a fighting chance to know what's in the food you put in your mouth and offer a short list of a few of the local companies producing foods with a transparent chain of custody.

Findlay Market is a great place to hit for all sorts of organic and local food items. You've got Madison's and Turner Farms for organic produce. And you can get a variety of organic livestock from Dobbs Hill Farms. They raise completely organic livestock with no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers used. Inside the main market-house, Busch's Country Corner offers Amish poultry that has no preservatives, hormones or chemicals.

You can get organic peanut butter, spelt bread and vegan baked treats from Clifton Natural Foods and Wild Oats always has a variety of organic produce and meat products.

And don't think you have to stay home to eat safely. Lots of local restaurant owners are using local and/or organic products. Downtown, Fresh is using organic meats and nitrate-free bacon for its sandwiches and salads. Julie Francis of Nectar in Mount Lookout uses local and organic ingredients on her menus. Todd Kelly (Orchids at Palm Court) and Jean-Robert de Cavel (JeanRo Bistro, Pho Paris, Jean-Robert at Pigall's and Greenup Café) also take the opportunity to use as much local fare as they can. On the West Side, Ron Wise of Rondo's has worked with many local growers over the years in order to keep his seasonal menu innovative.

There are so many chefs using local and organic ingredients these days that there isn't room to list them all, but this will give you a good start. Hell, you can even get started with a cup of locally roasted coffee at Brutopia in Clifton.

Seny, a Spanish tapas restaurant is scheduled to open in East Walnut Hills at the beginning of August. Owner Travis Maier says, "We hope to broaden the horizons of the Cincinnati restaurant scene by giving diners a taste of Spain in the true form of tapas ... not 'tapas style.' " ... Gratitude Restaurant is scheduled to open on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton this summer. The restaurant will offer a completely vegetarian menu and will be the first in the Cincinnati area to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association.

CONTACT LORA ARDUSER: larduser(at)citybeat.com