What I Learned This Week: #102

Monday, May 5 – Sunday, May 12

The Week in Things We Still Love About Russia: Vodka. We can all agree Vodka is good. This week the Wodka Bar opened in OTR providing a small menu of Pierogies and other Russian/East European inspired dishes and Vodka. The pierogies are the outstanding – you can also get them at the late night pierogi window attached to Wodka bar or at Findlay Market. I had a vodka cocktail called “Collusion” so the place also has a sense of humor. The owner Sarah Dworak was in the house soaking up compliments from a small group of us at the bar during their soft opening. I’m looking forward to finally having a healthy relationship with the Motherland.  (Cue the Dr. Zhivago theme!)

A quite proper collusion.

The Week in the 21st Century is Cool: My battery died in my work’s parking lot so I texted my most prepared co-worker knowing he would have jumper cables. I was surprised to see him walking toward me, not driving toward me. He was fiddling with a small box, and I assumed he had a mini bar in his car and was bringing cocktails to help us pass the time waiting for AAA to show up. In fact, he held a portable jump starter, a box about the size of box of pasta. The hook up worked exactly like hooking up a dead battery to a live running battery. My car started up. He unhooked the cables and walked away. Done. The combustion engine hasn’t changed much in the last 100+ years, but everything around it has.

jump starter
21st century power!

The Week in Mother Nature’s Tricks: I’m counting myself lucky that the poison ivy I got this week only covered a small portion of my arm. I’ve had it BAD before. Poison ivy is one of the grossest, usually non-life threatening ailments a body can have. It’s really a showcase of things you don’t want to happen to your body. It burns, itches, oozes, and then crusts over. And, for the most part, you just have to deal will it until it runs it’s course. It’s really just gross.

poison ivy
Actual rash not shown

The Week in Ingredients: This week I learned about different bean pastes. (And yes, I am proudly including this in my week’s highlights.) I often cook the classic Chinese dish Mapo Tofu, a salty and spicy dish made with tofu and ground pork. I have always used black bean paste, but traipsing around the internet looking at Mapo Tofu recipes, many called for Doubanjiang, a bean paste. At the Saigon Market in Findlay Market I went searching. The owner is Cincinnati’s ambassador to Asian cooking, helping customers find what they are looking for and dispensing cooking advice. He says Doubanjiang is Korean soy bean paste and though he didn’t have that, he had the Chinese version.

Doubanjiang is earthier tasting than the black bean paste and it definitely elevated my Mapo Tofu.



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