Food

Best of the City 2008

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Frozen Yogurt

Cincinnati gets a bad rap for being years behind trends, but when it comes to tingly-tart frozen yogurt, we were decades ahead of Pinkberry. The sour style yogurt first appeared in downtown locations of Busken Bakery in 1977. Busken’s new Yagööt in Rookwood Commons serves up live-active culture fro-yo in original and coffee flavor. Get your Yagööt with up to three of the 19 toppings—fresh fruits like blueberries, kiwis, and mangos; nuts; cereals like Cap’n Crunch; and chocolate chips—whirl it up in a shake, or make a meal of it with a salad plate. Modern ghost chairs and tables in vivid orange and green make the whole experience that much cooler. 2737 Edmondson Rd., Norwood, (513) 351-2222, www.yagootyogurt.com

Double-Decker

We asked our favorite heating and air-conditioning service man where he finds a lunch that keeps him going, and the answer was clear: a ham and roast beef double-decker from the Red Fox Grill. Served on toasted white, wheat, or rye, with lettuce and mayo, and topped with dill pickle slices, it’s guaranteed to fill you up, whether you’ve been installing new compressors or just updating a spreadsheet. And if you don’t care for that combo, or any of the 50 other options listed, fear not. Like the menu says, “Please ask if you do not see what you are looking for as not all sandwich combinations are shown.” That’ll fill you up. 232 E. Sixth St., downtown, (513) 621-7924

Spicy Tuna Roll

Made with maguro (raw tuna fish), mayonnaise, and togarashi (Japanese hot pepper), this roll appears on almost every sushi menu, but our favorite is at Miyoshi. Owners Junko and Masashi Nishizume understand the delicate balance of tuna to mayo, and they don’t skimp on the spice. 8660 Bankers St., Florence, (859) 525-6564

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Drop that pack of Chips Ahoy! and let Donna Phelps of Donna’s Gourmet Cookies ease your cookie confusion. Her chunky all-natural creations are stripped down to the basic ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and chocolate. Phelps, who sells her sugary treats at farmers’ markets all over the city during the spring and summer months, claims there’s a “secret ingredient” that makes her cookies better than everyone else’s. We don’t know what it is, but we’re pretty sure it isn’t partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil. 10774 Montgomery Rd., Sycamore Twp., (513) 489-9600

Restaurant Worth the Drive

From tapas to full dinners, classic preparations to the featured “theme menu of the month,” El Meson Restaurant’s menu is nothing less than the Castro family’s dissertation on curiosity, exuberance, and community. We’ll gladly make the drive for a plate of the blazing Gambas al Ajillo (traditional Spanish tapas of shrimp and chilies). But Ecuador is featured this month, and there is much exploring to do. 903 E. Dixie Dr., West Carrollton, (937) 859-8229, www.elmeson.net

Charcuterie Plate

Chef Anne Kearney’s charcuterie plate at Rue Dumaine is a cut above the rest. Kearney’s meat mastery is evident in delicate lamb sausage piquant with garlic, coriander, and fennel; juniper-scented venison tenders bresaola-style; flaky smoked trout rillette; and a chicken liver pate rich with fat back, bacon, apples, and Calvados brandy that may be—in the best way possible—your undoing. 1061 Miamisburg-Centerville Rd., Dayton, (937) 610-1061, www.ruedumainerestaurant.com

Trail Food

There’s a civilized way to refuel along the Little Miami Trail. In tiny Corwin you can sit down to scones with clotted cream or a lovely prawn salad. When the Copple family bought the Corwin Peddler ice cream shop two years ago, they brought a British sensibility to the place. Along with soups, salads, and burgers, there’s Cornish pasty, beef-and-ale pie, and afternoon tea. Plus there’s ice cream from Young’s Jersey Dairy and bikes to rent, so you can work off the calories of a ploughman’s lunch. 69 Maple St., Corwin, (513) 897-3536

Dairy Stand

When a family has kept a business going through five generations, you can bet they’re good at what they do. Such is the legacy of Gibbs’ Cheese and Sausage. Jeff Gibbs is the guy in charge these days, and has expanded the offerings to include jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup, all-natural peanut butter, and more fudge flavors than you can shake a spatula at. Still, it’s the meats, cheeses, and farm-fresh butter and eggs that have attracted shoppers since Jeff’s grandfather brought the family biz to Findlay Market in 1922. 130 Market House (Elm Street end), Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 421-7459

Martini

Even Café Bella manager Kirk Knoechel would recommend wine with the Mediterranean fare at his neighborhood restaurant. But word’s out about the perfectly tangy and sweet Lemon Drop Martini he serves. He won’t reveal any secrets, but Knoechel used to bartend at the Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, Jag’s, and the Montgomery Inn Boathouse. For Bella, he’s also created mango, raspberry, and grapefruit Bellinis with fresh fruit, in case you’re interested in branching out. 5948 Snider Rd., Mason, (513) 770-4141, www.cafebellamason.com

Smoked Salts

Be on the culinary cutting edge at your next dinner party by seasoning your menu with smoked salts from Herbs & Spice and Everything Nice at Findlay Market. Proprietor De Stewart (better known as “The Colonel”) carries five smoked varieties: mesquite kosher salt, bourbon sea salt, apple sea salt, alder sea salt, and hickory sea salt. Stewart encourages customers to shop the market then return for recipe tips. Here’s one: For the best salmon ever, top with a mixture of bourbon salt and maple powder before baking, broiling, or sautéing. Market House (Elm Street end), Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Stalls 133–135, Over-the-Rhine, (513) 421-4800

Custom Snack

Urban lore has it that to get the hottest bag of Grippo Food’s BBQ chips at the bodega you need only shake; the heavier the bag, the more seasoning—and heat!—inside. At the Mt. Airy plant of Cincinnati’s sole remaining potato chip company, you can get 1.5 pound bulk boxes in X Hot ($4.75) and XX Hot ($5). Sales Manager Jerry Hawk has seen customers “shaking the bag” in stores. “I laugh when I see it,” he says. The heat, however, is no laughing matter. 6750 Colerain Ave., Mt. Airy, (513) 923-1900, www.grippos.com

Fish Sandwich

Katrina Mincy’s dearly departed Findlay Market soul food outpost has been reborn in a Court Street storefront christened Flo’s Plate Full of Soul. Lovingly prepared, hit-the-spot food is prepared now by Mincy’s children Leigha Scott-Axom and Darryl Scott. The fried whiting sandwich (just $4.99) is a mainstay. Dusted in natural corn meal and perfectly seasoned before being deep-fried in canola oil, five pieces of crunchy-on-the-outside, hot-and-tender-on-the-inside whiting are piled onto buttered, grilled Texas toast. Drizzle with hot sauce, repeat for lunch tomorrow. 133 E. Court St., downtown, (513) 421-3567

Import Bottled Beer Selection

Dilly Deli Café offers 60 cold brews and another 327 in the market area. “I don’t want to offer what can be found in the supermarket,” says beer manager J. Peanut Kahles. We recommend a Chimay Trappist Premiere. 6818 Wooster Pke., Mariemont, (513) 561-5233, www.dillydeli.com

Apple Dessert

Melissa Mileto and Doug Faulkner of Take the Cake serve a mind-blowing apple cake—an old Mullane’s favorite. Served as either a caramel-butter cream layer cake or a bundt topped with a salty caramel glaze, it’s filling enough to eat for breakfast. 4137 Hamilton Ave., Northside, (513) 241-2772

Culinary Freebies

You have far-ranging cultural tastes. You are interested in gourmet cooking and are dabbling with wine pairing. Or, you are cheap. No matter. The chef demonstrations at Second Sunday on Main in Over-the-Rhine offer many things at once: cooking demonstrations (and samples!) from chefs like Cristian Pietoso and Jean-Robert de Cavel, wine tastings, recipes, restaurant coupons, and invitations to wine tastings from City Cellars—all for free. From May to September. www.secondsundayonmain.org/

Frozen Coffee Drink

Baristas might loathe making these labor-intensive concoctions, but we can’t get enough, especially if it’s Coffee Emporium’s Glacial Mocha. Ghirardelli chocolate frappe powder, two shots of espresso (go decaf if you don’t want a buzz with your sugar high), your choice of milk, and ice are mixed into a frothy shake that gets poured into a 12-, 20-, or 32-ounce cup lined with Ghirardelli chocolate sauce. It’s a perfect antidote to a humid summer day, but no one will object if you order one for breakfast in the dead of winter either. Don’t forget the whipped cream. Three locations, including downtown, 110 E. Central Pkwy., (513) 651-5483

Mongolian BBQ

Do you like it spicy and meaty? Or mild and vegetarian? BD’s Mongolian Grill has the ’cue to get you through. Pile on your own combination of meats, vegetables, pastas, seasoning, and sauce, then watch as chefs prepare the blend on a table-sized grill. It’s quick, though not necessarily fast, food. And there are no mysteries here, which pleases those of us who are squeamish about ordering from an eclectic menu and thrills the intrepid eaters who crave exotic ingredients, like calamari or bamboo. 8655 Mason Montgomery Rd., Deerfield Twp., (513) 770-4330, www.gomongo.com

Short Ribs

Girdled with fat and cartilage, short ribs all but disappeared from most restaurant menus by the 1980s. That is, until a few years ago, when they made the leap from homely to haute. With a patient braise, those nasty bits dissolve, rendering the meat absurdly rich and tender, as in Chef Sean Daly’s luxurious low-country version, which he makes at Hugo. Infused with a woodsy voodoo of a marinade, Daly’s short ribs manage to simultaneously comfort and haunt. 3235 Madison Rd., Oakley, (513) 321-4846, www.hugo-restaurant.com

CSA/Produce Co-Op

“Eating locally grown food is completely within the reach of folks living a classic suburban lifestyle,” says Earth-Shares president Jeff Lydenberg. The Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) of Earth-Shares at Grailville offers both working and non-working shares, half or whole shares, and convenient pick-up times. Certified organic since 1980, members enjoy fresh, tasty, and sustainably grown beans, greens, tomatoes, and potatoes. Beats the supermarket. Earth-Shares at Grailville, Loveland, (513) 467-8006, earthsharescsa.org

Gyro

We searched the city for the best gyro, and Mythos Grecian Grill at 100 East Fourth Street is the clear winner. The latest and largest Mythos beat its two closest competitors (Sebastian’s in Price Hill and Mediterranean Foods in Clifton) because of the consistency of Mythos’s tender lamb, fresh onions, herbs, and pita bread, and especially their tzatziki sauce. The others were good, but Mythos was always good. 100 E. Fourth St. downtown, (513) 381-3042

Smoothie

We hunted relentlessly for a smoothie that slaked our thirst and filled us full of healthy nutrients. Total Juice Plus is the best, hands down. Packed with fresh fruits and juices and “heart smart” (meaning non-fat or low fat), every one comes with two free additions (choose from 13, including brewer’s yeast, oat bran, and ginseng). Plus, the proprietors get a genuine kick out of serving you a healthy alternative. One more thing: They taste awesome. 631 Vine St., downtown, (513) 784-1666, www.totaljuicecincy.com

Festival Food

The Cincinnati Hispanic Fest, which began 15 years ago on the grounds of Su Casa Hispanic Ministry in Carthage, attracts more than 35,000 people during its weekend run at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. Expect to stand in line for Argentinean ) empanadas (fried meat pies), Ecuadorian hornadoSeptember 12 & 13, 2009 (513) 948-1760, cincinnatihispanicfest.org

(grilled pork wrapped in bread), and more.

Food Blog

Cincinnati Locavore is the go-to source for foodies who care where their vegetables come from. Get info on hometown producers, recipes, and links to local-eating resources. Seeds of change? Yup. www.cincinnatilocavore.blogspot.com


U-Pick Farms

Apples: Irons Fruit Farm

This fourth-generation farm’s greatest variety is its apple crop, several of which (Red and Gold Delicious; Jonathan and Melrose) are designated U-pick. Call ahead for crop supply and hours. 1640 Stubbs Mill Rd., Lebanon, (513) 932-2853, www.ironsfruitfarm.com

Sunflowers: Gorman Heritage Farm

The annual early October Sunflower Festival here deserves save-the-date status, with a pumpkin patch, hayrides, crafts, and music. The flower-cutting garden is open late May through September. 10052 Reading Rd., Evendale, (513) 563-6663

Pumpkins: Barn-N-Bunk Farm Market

Bustling from Thanksgiving through Christmas, the U-pick pumpkin patch gets overrun during its Fall Festival Weekend. Load up the kids and take a drive to the country and get all autumnal on your way. 3677 Wayne-Madison Rd., Trenton, (513) 988-9211

Christmas Trees: Young’s Jersey Dairy

The farm arms visitors with saws, sleds, and a choice of five tree varieties. There’s pre-cut, too, but you can get those anywhere. Drive an hour north and work off that turkey hangover. 6880 Springfield-Xenia Rd., Yellow Springs, (937) 325-0629

Berries: Hidden Valley Fruit Farm

The blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries rule here. Berry season is June through September, so don’t forget about this beautiful, expansive farm come summer. 5474 N. State Route 48, Lebanon, (513) 932-1869

* Please note that the information listed in this section was accurate at the time the issue went to print in 2008 and that addresses, menu items, company status, etc., may have changed. Please contact the companies to confirm details.

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