ohio food love
Now that I’ve given you a full overview of all the cocktails I drank while I was visiting Ohio (here, here, here, and don’t forget the DIY Cocktails giveaway!), I thought I would give you a little snapshot of the rest of my time in Columbus and Athens, OH because it was so much more fun than I thought it would be! After my sister and brother-in-law treated me to a lovely lunch at Rigsby’s Kitchen, they took me to Jeni’s Ice Cream. It. Was. Amazing. If you live anywhere in the Columbus vicinity, you have to check it out. My absolute favorite ice cream place in the world is Toscanini’s in Boston (if you weren’t aware, New Englanders take their ice cream very seriously), but Jeni’s gives them a run for their money.
Jeni’s is a little bit cheaper (you may need a small loan if you go to Tosci’s more than once a month), they make all their stuff from scratch, and they just have a fun, quirky sense of humor (just watch their video on their website). They have a number of standout year-round flavors, and the summer seasonals they were featuring when I was there are spectacular. The Salted Caramel, Buckeye State, and Bourbon Butter Pecan were my favorites of the signature flavors, but they also have some really interesting flavors like Bangkok Peanut. I truly loved all the seasonal flavors that I tried, but my favorites included Rhubarb Cardamom, Rockmill Golden Ale & Apricots, and Brambleberry Crisp. But don’t take my word for it, try them out for yourself! The staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating and I think between my two visits, I tried at least two-thirds of the flavors. Don’t foresee a trip to Columbus anytime soon? I just found out Jeni has a cookbook that just came out and can’t wait to try it out!
The next day we headed to the Athens farmer’s market and I fell head over heels in love with the bread from Avalanche Pizza. This pizza joint makes the most fantastic bread but they only sell it at the farmer’s market in the warmer months and the day before Thanksgiving. Now, if I were an Athens resident, I would protest and hold vigils and do whatever it takes to make the bread available year-round because I just can’t imagine knowing how good that bread is and only having access to it for a few months out of the year. They had a large number of samples out (Ohioans, ya’ll know how to do samples right!) and my absolute favorite was the Super Mushroom, but apparently I wasn’t alone there because it was all sold out. We settled for a loaf of Leek a Choke (artichokes, roasted leeks, and parmesan) which was fine by me because it was amazing. I kept suggesting we get two loaves, but my dear sister and brother-in-law must have thought I was joking and totally underestimated my need for this bread because we somehow ended up with only one loaf. If I lived there, I would buy 5 loaves every Saturday and store extras in my freezer.
We packed up our Leek a Choke and some picnic fare and headed to Shade Winery in Shade, OH with a friend of my sister’s. Did you know wine is produced in all 50 states (in Hawaii it’s a pineapple wine…)? Established in 2004, all of the winery’s grapes come from Ohio, although only the Vidal Blanc is entirely estate grown. It’s a beautiful winery, with a wraparound covered porch with plenty of tables all situated in a very pretty, relaxing setting.
We sidled up to the bar inside and went through a full tasting. The experience itself was a lot of fun and definitely worth the trip, although the only wine I really liked was the Vidal Blanc. Several of the wines are very sweet, apparently a plus in the eyes of most of the locals, but not really my thing. The most interesting was definitely the Schnuckelputz, which is basically a ginger beer (although they market it as a wine since it’s a winery). The owner and vintner explained that people either love or hate the Schnuckelputz, and unfortunately I fell in the latter category, but my sister, who’s in in the former, came to my rescue and finished mine for me. After the tasting, we headed to the porch with a bottle of Vidal Blanc, some delicious local goat cheese, our Leek a Choke, and some more goodies from home. The rain storm that came through made the lunch even more perfect, providing a symphony on the tin roof.
For my last day in Athens, we headed to O’Betty’s Red Hot, a hot dog joint with a lot of attitude and spunk, with another friend of my sister and brother-in-law. The hot dogs on the menu are named after various striptease and pin-up models from the first half of the 20th century. I don’t think I’d had a real hot dog (’cause I’m guessing a tofu dog doesn’t count) in nearly 15-20 years, but was pretty excited about the Sally “Hide & Peek” which is basically the BLT of hot dogs. These dogs, made from 100% beef in natural casing in Cleveland, are totally unlike the hot dogs from the ball parks of my youth. There’s real substance there and they snap when you bite into them. It’s no surprise this place is so popular. The staff were incredibly friendly and the ambiance is also pretty amusing – it’s basically a museum of hot dog paraphernalia inside, including a 1950s picture of two weiners: one in a tutu and one in a g-string….
After lunch we headed back to Columbus where we hit up Jeni’s for more ice cream, then dinner, and then back to the airport for me. It was, all in all, a wonderful trip. Not only did my sister and brother-in-law treat me to a slew of fantastic food from their kitchen, we have a blast making loads of cocktails, and I discovered that you don’t need to go to big cities like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco to have a fantastic foodiecation.
Do you take foodiecations, where one of the primary reason for the trip is to have new food experiences? Where would your dream foodiecation be?