Saturday, December 29, 2007

Toledo Area Sushi
More and more sushi joints are popping up everywhere you turn. I have not yet tried the smaller ones but I did recently try Nagoya. Nagoya is a combination Japanese steakhouse and sushi restaurant. We sat in the lounge and ate only sushi. Our most enjoyable roll was the queen and I roll with grilled sea bass and asparagus. The “shows” at the hibachi tables sounded like people were having great fun! The sushi was very good and we had a nice meal.

Our very most favorite Toledo area sushi restaurant is Kotobuki. This was one of the first places in Toledo where you could get sushi. It is still very consistent and delicious. Last night we had the firecracker roll which is a Philadelphia roll with a very spicy crab topping. It is very enjoyable. The other unique item at Kotobuki is the ginger ice tea. Surprisingly we could not find this at the other restaurants we tried. Kotobuki is a very relaxing experience. You leave feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed.

The other sushi restaurant we enjoy is Yoko. This is the first place we ever had the Ohio crunch roll. It is a Philadelphia roll that has been lightly breaded and deep fried so it comes out hot. It is best enjoyed at the restaurant rather than take out because it loses its heat and crispiness.

We've also enjoyed hand made sushi at Tea Tree Bistro Lovely decorations are found in this Asian Fusion restaurant. They are better known for their Chinese and Cantonese dishes and have a wide variety of delicious menu items.

When you eat sushi, be sure to eat the pickled ginger with it. Ginger has so many fabulous health benefits. Most commonly known are digestive benefits – it is often used to quell morning sickness for pregnant women. However it also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help people with osteoarthritis. Ginger also protects against colorectal cancer, diabetes, asthma, ovarian cancer, and boosts your immune system. For more detailed information about the health benefits of ginger see

Monday, December 17, 2007

Some Great Toledo Area Middle Eastern Food

You can always count on great food at Beirut , Byblos , and Poco Piatti – they are all owned by the same family. Byblos and Beirut have essentially the same menu while Poco Piatti’s menu is a little more varied. I love ordering the flaming cheese at Poco Piatti – not only is it fun to watch, it is delicious!

Recently, I was in Ann Arbor and ate at Charlie’s Mediterranean Cuisine (formerly La Shish). It was de-lish! The photo above shows how they serve shish kabob. My friend and I enjoyed a large platter of hummus surrounded by freshly cut veggies – there was so much we each took some home. I also tried the lamb chili which was perfectly spicey yet slightly more watery than I usually like it. The lamb gave it great meaty flavor. Oh and the bread they bring out is warm and very fresh-tasting.

At my home, I hosted a neighborhood dinner preparing Greek chicken with green beans. Everyone enjoyed it so much; they encouraged me to post the recipe here. Since I rarely use a recipe, I will simply write out how I made this.

First, I took about ½ cup per person of green beans – it ended up being a mixture of fresh and frozen. I spread them in a roaster pan and mixed them with Sofo’s gourmet pasta sauce . Then I added about one pound of chopped onions, carrots, and celery, lemon juice and cumin (sorry, I don’t have the amounts). On top of this mixture, I laid the Greek marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts from House of Meats (about ½ pound meat per person). Covered the roasting pan with foil and baked for about one hour; then removed the foil and baked for another 15-20 minutes until the chicken was browned. I think this would also be great with potatoes (red skinned or Yukon Gold) added to the green beans.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rockwell's Steak House

I had the most amazing shrimp cocktail for $12.95 and most tender steak at Rockwells. Located in the Oliver House 27 Broadway St, Toledo, OH, Tel: (419) 241-1253, this restaurant is somewhat pricey yet deems a very high quality meal. The photo above is of my friend’s steak which was ordered well-done. The point is it was so tender you could still push it down easily with the fork. Shrimp is served with four huge shrimp with dry ice and water so it is foggy – beautiful presentation.

Other offerings on the lunch menu were brie almondine for $9.85, crab cakes appetizer for $10.95, grilled shrimp salad for $9.99, Ceasar salad with tuna or chicken for $8.99, three flatbreads which the waitress described as pizza: steak & bruschetta for $9.29, seafood scampi for $10.29, and pesto veggie supreme for $9.29. The sandwich offerings were USDA prime burger, open faced ribeye & onion for, crab stuffed portabella, Rockwell’s club, and steak, cheese & onion; all sandwiches are $9.95 and are served with delicious hand-cut Rockwell’s fries.

Entrees on Rockwell’s lunch menu included Duck al’organe for $13.95, lamb chops for $17.29, Mahi Mahi for $12.95, lobster pot for $17.95, seared Ahi tuna for $12.95, Monteray Jack chicken for $11.95, and all entrees include asparagus with hollandaise sauce.

On to Rockwell’s signature prime beef. The 6 oz filet was $27.95, 12 oz filet was $37.95, house cut was $28.95, New York Strip was $34.95, Delmonico ribeye was $32.95, and the cowboy steak was $39.95. Our waitress said they get their steaks fresh from the Chicago stockyard. It seems like they use a lot of butter when cooking the steak and they may also help explain why it is so tender. Hope you enjoy your trip to Rockwell's Steak House!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Toledo Area Hanukkah

When there are three empty bottles of oil in the recycling bin of a nutritionist, you know it must be Hanukkah! Actually, I used the last drop from one bottle, a friend brought her own to fry her delicacy, and I then used one bottle for the latkes. Hanukkah is about oil. Back in 165, Judah Maccabee and his small army successfully defeated the large Syrian-Greek army who had refused to let the Jewish people pray in their manner. After their mission was accomplished, they wished to rededicate the Temple yet found only enough oil to last one day. It would take over a week to travel to the next village to get more oil. Yet this tiny amount of oil lasted eight days and nights which was enough time to keep the ever-lasting light until more supplies arrived. As in most Jewish holidays, our food is symbolic of our memories and rituals. During Hanukkah we eat fried foods to remind us of the miraculous oil.

This year in Toledo, one of the celebrations, Hanukkah Palooza included a latke (potato pancake) lunch at Temple B’Nai Israel There were five varieties of latkes made by Simply Delicious Catering. We sampled regular, vegetable, sweet potato, Greek, and one with lox and scrambled egg in it. It was such an experience to have so many delicious latkes in one setting! When I attended Temple Shomer Emunim’s Hanukkah Dinner, their offerings included mushroom latkes. This is the first year I’ve had so many varieties. They were all wonderful!

I know Chabad House had a Chanukah at the Mall celebration but I was sadly unable to attend this year.

Most recipes for regular potato latkes include potatoes, eggs, flour, onion, salt and pepper. But I found a recipe the uses an apple instead of onion – this would be helpful for those who find onions disagreeable with their digestion and/or palette. Here is the way I make latkes. First I whisk together eggs and whole wheat flour – one egg for every pound of potatoes I plan to use and one tablespoon flour per egg. Then I add some kosher salt and cracked pepper. Next I wash the potatoes – about ¼ - ½ pound of potatoes per person. I find the Yukon Gold potatoes work well for latkes, and I never peel potatoes. In the food processor, I shred the potatoes and add them to the egg/flour mixture, and then add frozen, chopped onions (½ as much as the potatoes). This batter can be made up to one day ahead of time. When it is time to fry, pour enough oil (canola, peanut, or sunflower oil work best) into a fry pan or electric skillet and heat to about 350-375 degrees. When the oil is hot, gently place a scoop of batter (about ¼ cup) into the grease. Do this until the pan is filled without the latkes touching each other. I just read a recipe that talked about making the latkes crispy by using a “splat method.” This means you throw the batter as hard as you can into the grease – to me it sounds messy-er than usual and dangerous. When the latkes are brown on one side (about 2 minutes), turn to the other side until brown (about another minute). We use no-sugar-added applesauce and reduced fat sour cream as accompaniments.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My Favorite Toledo Area Italian Restaurants

My Favorite Toledo Area Italian Restaurants
We are very fortunate to have so many options in this category. My list includes Mancy’s Italian Grill, Ciao!, Bravo, and Biaggi’s. Their greatest commonality is infused olive oil to dip very high quality bread and freshly prepared, fresh ingredients. They all also have delicious salmon dishes that are cooked perfectly – not overdone. I’ve had the best eggplant parmesan at Mancy’s Italian Grill . Unfortunately, they’ve taken this off the menu; but it had the crispiest eggplant layered with ricotta cheese in between with delicious red sauce and high-quality mozzarella on top. I’ve never had it that way, ever. If you’re reading this Mancy Boys, please bring this back on your menu. Lunch at Mancy’s Italian Grill is a different menu with options of Due where you select smaller versions of two items – it’s a perfect afternoon retreat!

Ciao! is also a delicious experience; they’re not open for lunch but dinner is fabulous. There are weekly specials that include new, interesting items and the regular menu so you can order your favorites. A delicious, different pasta is the smoked chicken tortelloni. It’s creamy, cheesey, and thoroughly enjoyable. Because it is so rich, it’s best to split this or plan to take half home for tomorrow. Although I find left-overs never taste anywhere near as good as when first served. A great benefit of Ciao! is the Birthday Dinner Promo:
“An Extraordinary Birthday Discount As Our Way To Saying Thank You For Choosing Us And Happy Birthday! Join Us On Your Birthday And Receive Up To 50% Off Your Meal. This Offer Extends To Anyone On Their Birthday And Is Based On The Number Of People In The Party, For Example 2 People Dining 50% Off, 3 People Dining = 33% Off, 4 People Dining = 25% Off And So On.
Offer extends to the food portion of the bill only and proper id is required for proof of birthday. Not valid with any other promotion.”

Bravo and Biaggi’s are newer additions to our area and both are incredibly wonderful, too. and I once sat at the kitchen bar at Bravo with my daughter who was three at the time and we had a great time interacting with the chefs. Biaggi’s has the best spinach salad I’ve ever tasted.

I should add I recently tried the new La Scala on Airport Hwy and was rather disappointed. The eggplant parmesan was greasy, and my friend’s tri-sauced manicotti was very over-sauced. The dipping oil had this snake-looking thing in it which turned out to be a tasteless garlic paste. The service was mediocre at best. But the decorations were lovely, you would think you were in a different world when you sit down in the dining room. I’ve heard others had a better experience so I plan to try them again. Please let me know what you think about this new restaurant.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Support Local Business

Support Local Business
Toledo, Choose Local is a new organization dedicated to encouraging people to spend money only at locally owned businesses. This sounds like a valuable mission because studies indicate every dollar spent locally brings 2 dollars back into the local economy. They are conducting an event this week where you:

“Pick up a Local Business Scavenger Hunt playing card at any participating Toledo Choose Local member business (see below). During the Buy Local Week, visit the participating businesses listed on the playing card to win a prize. Players must receive a stamp from each of the businesses by visiting that business! Receive a stamp at every participating business and win a pre-selected prize from any participating business! Receive a stamp from 8 out of 15 of the businesses and you will be entered in a raffle to win one of 3 amazing prizes!”

I only wish they would have garnered more participating businesses. Participants (and their respective prizes) are: Curb’s Candle Co. - $10 gift certificate, Downtown Latte – Free lunch (includes sandwich & drink), DIVA Restaurant - $10 gift certificate, Flying Rhino Coffee & Chocolates – 1 pound of coffee, Glass City I - $10 gift certificate, Glendale Flowers & Gifts
honey I’m home - $10 gift certificate, Manhattan’s Restaurant - $10 gift certificate, Metroparks Toledo Farmhouse Gift Shop, Murphy’s Place - $10 gift certificate, Organic Bliss - $10 gift certificate, Pam’s Corner – Free lunch
Phoenix Earth Foods Co-Op - $10 gift certificate, Scarpe - $10 gift certificate
Vespa of Toledo – 10% off motorcycle oil

An attempt at compiling a list of locally owned businesses was difficult because all the lists end up including chains. I tried to find restaurants and the best lists were found at and . Unfortunately, you still have to weed through the chains but there are many restaurants represented in these links.
If anyone participates in this game, please let us know what you think of it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We’re starting with my favorite delicatessen, PJ’s Deli. PJ’s has delicious, fresh sandwiches made with high quality meats, cheeses and condiments. You can name your own sandwich combination and select the type of bread you want. They also have large baked potatoes with a variety of toppings. My favorite is chicken salad with cheese sauce – this has got to be super fattening so if you are watching it, you may want to split this. PJ’s has delicious soups that vary but they always have chicken noodle, vegetable and matzoh ball. In the winter, their chili is perfectly seasoned, the right consistency, and can be topped with freshly shredded cheddar cheese to provide some creamy mellow-ness.

One of the best features of PJ’s Deli is the salad bar. Salad bars were once popular and every restaurant seemed to offer one. Now, very few restaurants offer salad bars and if they do, there are not many toppings to choose. PJ’s has over 30 toppings and homemade specialty salads like seafood salad, the best potato salad in Toledo, macaroni salad, cole-slaw, tuna-mac, spaghetti salad, pea and bacon salad, waldorf salad, and my favorite, broccoli salad!

If you’re planning a meeting or gathering, PJ’s has great catering trays and box lunches. They are located at 500 Madison Avenue, at Superior, in the basement of the Spitzer building. Sometimes parking can be challenging but it is fun (and healthy) to walk the streets of downtown Toledo. Their website is

I should probably disclose to you that PJ (Polly Jo) is my cousin and she lets me eat there for free. I would probably eat there more often if I had to pay but I often feel bad not paying so I try to limit my free meals.
Welcome to Toledo Area Food Blog! As the name implies, this blog is about food that is found in the Toledo area. While restaurants will be a large part, so will grocery and specialty food stores, food-related events, and even food found in people’s kitchens. My name is Rebecca Liebes and I am a self-proclaimed Foodie. I am very passionate about food. When it comes to food, I love to eat, cook, shop for it and see what others are eating, cooking and shopping for. Oh, and you may want to know that I have a doctorate degree in human nutrition and I am a registered dietitian.

The Toledo area has a wealth of food opportunities and lacks documentation about this on the internet. So here we are! I would like to mention The Toledo Blade reviews restaurant’s weekly. Their reviews are very informative and you can search their archives to find out about a restaurant prior to eating there. But this is a more subjective take on food in Toledo – a foodie-nutritionist’s perspective.

I also look forward to your feedback and comments on these posts. If you are interested in something in particular, please ask. Sometimes I will make assumptions that may or may not be the case. I am trying to veer away from the usual nutrition related dietitian-speak and focus more on the food; although my training and education undoubtedly drives food selection, subconsciously.