The aspiring young chefs are eager to please, eager to show off their skills, and their food is (relatively) cheap. What could be better?
The mini-restaurants run by culinary arts students at both Monroe County Community College and Owens Community College are back in business this week, and the talented young cooks will be cranking out the best food they know how to make.
The meals prepared by the second-year students at Monroe will be in the form of buffets served every other Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Services/Administration Building dining room, dubbed Cuisine 1300.
Global cuisine will be featured at this Friday's buffet; the remaining themes will be Ethnic Celebrations (March 16), Great American Barbecue (March 30), and American Regional (April 13).
Each meal is $18, and some are already sold out. To reserve a space, call the school's ticket hotline at 734-384-4272. The campus is at 1555 South Raisinville Rd. in Monroe.
At Owens, the students run the Terrace View Cafe, which is open for lunch most Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (with the last seating and the last take-out meal served) at 12:15 p.m.
Service begins Tuesday with country captain chicken as the entree. On Thursday, they will offer a choice of grilled fish with passion fruit-ginger sauce or grilled pork and pineapple curry.
The rest of the calendar includes blackened redfish (March 13), a choice of pork shashlik or lamb chop with balsamic vinegar (March 15), a choice of braised rabbit with mash or braised beef tongue (March 22), chicken with Brunswick stew (March 27), Mediterranean squash stuffed with rice, ground beef, and lamb (March 29), seared breast of chicken with pinot noir demi-glace (April 3), a choice of lamb shanks with garlic or smoked duck breast on Waldorf salad (April 12), paneed (lightly breaded and pan-fried) tilapia with tropical "seashell" salad (April 17), and tapas (April 19).
Each entree comes with an impressive-sounding appetizer, vegetable, and dessert, but we frankly don't have room to list them all here.
The cost is $8.50, and reservations are required at least one week before the date of the meal at 567-661-7359 or owens.edu/terrace. The campus is at 30335 Oregon Rd. in Perrysburg.
Great news for lovers of Asian food. Actually, three bits of great news for lovers of Asian food.
Great news No. 1: Wei Wei Noodles has reopened for business. Actually, this is old news -- they reopened in December -- but as the saying goes, it's news to us.
Owner Wei Zheng was arrested last September and held on charges of being in this country illegally. He came to the United States with his mother in 1991, when he was 17. His case is now in the hands of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Mr. Zheng believes no action will be taken one way or the other until at least July. If the court rules against him, he faces deportation.
Wei Wei -- it is also known as Wei Wei Seafood -- is at 1202 N. Reynolds Rd. in a building that almost defines the term "unprepossessing." While it has legions of fans for its familiar Americanized Chinese food such as General Tso's chicken and mu shu pork, it is also known for its more authentic Chinese offerings such as cold jellyfish, tripe, chicken feet, and beef short ribs with black pepper sauce.
Great news No. 2: Lai Lai Asian Mart, which bills itself as northwest Ohio's largest Asian grocery store, has opened at 3205 W. Central Ave.
We can't speak to whether Lai Lai is actually the area's largest, because there are several other well-stocked Asian markets in town, but it is certainly big. It features large sections of spices, noodles, rice, sauces, drinks, hot sauces, frozen foods, and produce that is generally hard to find anywhere else except in the other Asian markets.
Great news No. 3: The Toledo area's lack of a Vietnamese restaurant (other than the pho served at Wei Wei) has long been a source of irritation and longing for local food lovers, but all that has changed now. Pho Viet Nam recently opened at 3636 Upton Ave., serving up eight different kinds of pho plus other Vietnamese specialties.
And if it's soul food you crave, they also have that: everything from fried catfish to fried chicken to pork chops, smothered or fried, and plenty more.
Eat soup. Feel good about yourself.
Toledo SOUP has its inaugural event next Sunday, March 4, as a way to support charities or individuals by eating soup.
Here is how it works: Volunteers make soup, which we are reliably informed will be both "hearty" and "homemade." Fine people such as yourself will come to eat the soup, along with salad and bread, for $5. Then, when everyone is sated and soup-happy, the assembly will vote on which charity will receive the money raised by selling the soup. It's the democratic micro-grant process at its finest, plus soup.
The event will be in the Davis Building, 151 N. Michigan St. The doors will open at 5 p.m.; artists, entrepreneurs, community groups, and nonprofit organizations will make their case for why they should receive the grant beginning at 6 p.m.; and at 6:30 p.m., it's soup.
Ah, for the carefree days of college.
For the last 10 years, Bowling Green State University students, faculty, and community members have come together each month (purely in the interest of academics) to sample and discuss the style and characteristics of a number of different beers.
On Thursday, the group will convene at the Black Swamp Pub in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, 1001 E. Wooster St. in Bowling Green, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their first beer tasting. In honor of the event, they will re-create the theme of that inaugural night, Irish beers.
And on April 5, the group will meet at the same place to taste beers that have a connection to baseball. The tastings run from 5:30-8 p.m., and generally cost $7-$10, depending on the beers.
Meanwhile, The Andersons store in Maumee will have its own beer tasting Saturday from 1-3 p.m. This week's theme is Belgian beers, and the store will offer samples of Chimay Red, Chimay Tripel, Chimay Blue Reserve, and Duvel for 50 cents or 75 cents per sample.
And if wine is more your thing, that same Andersons store will present what it calls the Battle of California Reds, Napa County against Sonoma County, on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. First up is a St. Supery Merlot (Napa) vs. a Ferrari-Carano Merlot (Sonoma). Round 2 belongs to Cabernet Sauvignons: Stratton Lummis (Napa) vs. Rodney Strong (Sonoma). The samples are $2 each, and may the best grape win.
One last thing
In honor of Pancake Day, IHOP restaurants will give away -- that's give away -- buttermilk pancakes to all who want them on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. In exchange, the restaurants will encourage their patrons to make a voluntary donation to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals or other local charities.
The real Pancake Day, of course, was last Tuesday, the day before Lent began -- the tradition was to eat rich foods and sugar before the season of austerity and reflection. But IHOP did not have time to raise money for the hospitals for a full month before then, so it pushed its version of the day to this week. Which is fine, unless you gave up pancakes for Lent.
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