December 2009 Issue
Eat, Drink & Be Merry
Give the gift of good taste with these culinary gems made right here in Ohio.
As Ohio Magazine editors, we travel the state in search of the people, places and things that make our big cities and quaint villages unique. Not surprisingly, many of our favorite finds come straight from the local kitchens in these destinations. Here, our picks for some of the best Ohio-made products for food and wine fans, transplants and anyone else hungry for a taste of home.
No Two are Alike
Wendy Kromer is a master of sugar, spice and everything delicious, and her perfectly crafted confections have graced the pages of Martha Stewart’s magazines and books for years. Straight from her kitchens in Sandusky, these gingerbread snowflake cookies are topped with royal icing and sparkling sanding sugar. The cookies arrive individually wrapped and tied with a ribbon. $28 per box (4 cookies per box) wendykromer.com.
Ice cream in December? Definitely. Especially when it is one of the amazingly creative and delicious flavors from Columbus’ revered ice cream maven Jeni Britton. Because she uses locally produced ingredients for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, her choices change with the seasons, but signature favorites such as salty caramel, black coffee and Thai chili are always available. Six pints for $70 jenisicecreams.com
Take a que City Barbeque is a favorite of Columbus residents in need a slow-smoked fix. Due to kitchen renovations, the company’s popular BBQ by Mail service is temporarily on hold (it should be available again in early 2010), but you can still send your que-obsessed loved ones the taste of three of City’s sauces. The Sauces and Such Variety Pack includes the sweet and tangy original formula, the spicy kick of Brush Fire and the sweetly smoldering flavor of Sweet City. The sauces come packaged with City’s seasoning rub, too. $17.95 citybbq.com
Do you know someone who goes to bed each night just so he or she can get up and savor the pleasure of that first morning cup? For the caffeine junky on your list, Two Roasting Joes Coffee in Chillicothe roasts beans to order and ships them promptly so the flavor isn’t lost before they arrive. Their Local Pack is a celebration of the company’s southern Ohio heritage, and features their signature blends, including Shawnee Sunrise (a two-bean blend of Columbia and Sumatra beans), ChilliCoffee (a two-bean blend of Ethiopian and Sumatra beans) and Scioto Settlers Brew (a three-bean blend of Costa Rica, Sumatra and Papua New Guinea beans). $19.99 for eight two-ounce bags tworoastingjoes.com
Fruit wines — those made from fruits other than grapes — take some ribbing on the playground for being less sophisticated than their grape-based counterparts. But don’t write off the raspberry wine from Quarry Hill Winery in Berlin before you taste it. Beautifully balanced and made from raspberries grown right on the winery’s site, this wine is an elegant choice by the glass for those who enjoy a sweeter wine or served as a dessert wine next to a slice of chocolate torte or raspberry cheesecake. $15.99 quarryhillwinery.com
Oakvale Farms in Madison County has amassed a devoted following of locavores and cheese lovers obsessed with their superior cheeses made on their farm from the family’s well-tended dairy cows. The Farmstead Cheese Sampler includes one-pound wedges of Oakvale’s Farmstead Gouda, Caraway Gouda and Habanero Heifer, not to mention a handy box of crackers so your cheese party can begin posthaste. $44.99 oakvalecheese.com
The Berlin Fruit Box Company in Berlin has been making baskets for more than 150 years, but we think their latest Buckeye Basket collection might be their best work yet (or at least their most homegrown). Made from buckeye wood from Ohio’s forests, the Buckeye Wine Basket is just the right size for displaying a bottle of your favorite vintage. Or, up the Ohio ante by filling it with a bottle of Buckeye Red, a semi-sweet blend of Concord and other native grapes, from nearby Quarry Hill Winery. $39
Fondly called the “tea lady” in Athens, we suspect that Maureen Burns’ gentle disposition is a testament to the calming effects of a good spot. Her business, the Herbal Sage Tea Company, offers a selection of creative tea blends for all tastes. We particularly like her red tea, a tasty blend of herbs and spices, for the winter season. Rooibus has South African roots and low tannin levels, is rich in vitamin C and boasts antioxidant power to help the body fend off the cold and flu season. $6.99 for two ounces www.herbalsage.com
Scoring a double win — first on the hit, hardcore cooking competition Iron Chef America, followed by the title of Best Chef Great Lakes Region at the 2009 James Beard Foundation awards — has made Cleveland native Chef Michael Symon a household name across the country. Last month Symon’s first cookbook, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen
(Clarkson Potter) hit the shelves. The pages are loaded with recipes that reflect the influences of his Greek-Italian-Eastern European heritage and are directed at time-strapped home cooks who want to cook like a top chef. As Symon says, “If I can’t finish a dish in two pans, I won’t do it.” $35 clarksonpotter.comSouthern Hospitality
Goetta, that unusual combination of pork, steel-cut oats, onions, herbs and spices, is enough to make some native Cincinnatians’ mouths water. Luckily for transplants and other long-distance fans of the city’s regional fare, this Web site makes it easy to share the classic flavors of the Queen City with friends and family across the country. The choices include the usual suspects: Glier’s goetta, Skyline Chili in a can, Graeter’s ice cream, ribs and sauce from the Montgomery Inn and even Worthmore brand’s mock turtle soup. CincyFavorites.com