Following Foodie: You eat *what* with your chili??

September 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm 2 comments

Sorry for the sudden absence, but Sunday morning I was given the opportunity to go to Cincinnati for the remainder of the weekend, and that was something I wasn’t about to pass up!

My mom grew up in Cincinnati, my dad went to college near there, and Cincinnati is where they met. I myself have never lived there, but as most of my relatives live in the Cincinnati area, I’ve spent a lot of times there over the years.

Ann Arbor to Cincinnati is only 4 hours – a big change from the 8-9 hour drive that I’m used to! I’m not such a huge fan of driving by myself, or for long drive (this would be the longest drive I’ve ever done before), but I decided to rise to the challenge – I’d like to spend a lot of time down there, and I’d rather do the drive now than when there’s a million feet of snow on the ground…

Of course, I packed snacks for the road.

This was actually my first time trying any of the Pure bars. I have to admit, I wasn’t too impressed the first few bites, but the flavor did grow on me as I ate more of it. I think I’ll have to try another before I make a decision on them :)

I haven’t driven through Northern Ohio since I was little, so I forgot how…exciting…the scenery is. Most of my drive looked like this:

The drive took a little over four hours, because I hit a snag of traffic outside of Cinci – apparently outlets opened up recently, and a ton of people were taking advantage of the holiday weekend to shop. I didn’t stop at the outlets, but the stall in traffic did give me an opportunity to take a picture of this:

Yes, that is a large statue of Jesus rising up out of the ground. He’s known by the locals as “Touchdown Jesus”…

I stayed with my aunt and uncle while I was there – my uncle was working when I first got there (at what I’ll explain shortly), so my aunt and I had a nice afternoon together. We sat outside and chatted for awhile before deciding to go out to dinner. We went to the Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern, which I believe has a few locations across Ohio.

It was quite a nice and relaxed place to eat – it had a bit of a “sports bar” feeling to it, with a bar in the middle and lots of exposed brick and booths. The service was really good – my aunt and I ordered a salad to split, which they put into separate bowls for us.

We had the Double Nickel Salad, which had a really good dressing, bleu cheese, onion, and bacon (yes, please!). I wish the lettuce had been something other than just iceberg, but other than that, it was quite good.

I was starving for dinner (I hadn’t really eaten anything except for my road snacks), so I ordered the Rusty Bucket Burger, which has lettuce, pickles, tomato, onion, cheese, and relish, and is served with fries. No substitutions for me!

I liked the pickle/relish combo – sweet and savory. And the fries were really good – crispy and seasoned to perfection. I pretty much polished off the whole plate :)

Sunday night I got to experience something I’ve never witnessed in Cinci before, and that’s saying a lot! Every year the local radio station, WEBN, puts on a fireworks display and Riverfest celebration. WBEN started the festival 33 years ago, to celebrate their tenth anniversary, and it’s grown to be one of the biggest fireworks displays in the Midwest. There’s food and music and a general fair-like festival along the Ohio River (which separates Cinci from Northern Kentucky), but my cousin and I decided to just go for the fireworks. And although we got there just as they were starting, we didn’t let the crowd of nearly 500,000 people deter us – we got a spot right up front, so close that we even got covered in debris! This is also the reason my uncle was at work – he works in event planning and Riverfest is one of his biggest productions all year. Specifically, he works to put on the USO Riverfest Gala, which provides support for both the USO and troops that have been injured in the line of duty.

The fireworks were awesome. They’re unique in that they’re shot off a barge on the river and two bridges crossing the Ohio River – the “Purple People Bridge” and the “Taylor-Southgate Bridge”. At one point, “waterfalls” of fireworks even cascaded off of one of the bridges! Honestly, it was one of the most spectacular fireworks displays I have ever seen.

Afterwards I went with my cousin to both the Biergarten at the Hofbrauhaus Newport (the first Hofbrauhaus in America) and a bar near his college. There was a fair bit of alcohol consumed, and maybe a few wings as well :)

Monday we all had a bit of a late morning. My uncle had to go back to work, so my aunt and I took their dog, Ebbe, to Wags Park, a “swim club” for dogs. There’s a pond for the dogs to swim in, an agility course, lawn chairs for owners, and even a doggie bathhouse next door. It’s pretty impressive.IMG_3797

For lunch, we stopped at a Cincinnati institution, Skyline Chili, home of Cincinnati-style chili. Yes, Skyline is technically fast food, but it’s such a treat for me, that I just can’t pass it up whenever I’m in Cinci. Cincinnati Chili is definitely unlike any other chili. There’s typically no beans (and really no vegetables except tomato paste and maybe onions), there’s not a lot of heat (but there is a lot of flavor), and it’s served over noodles.

Skyline also has very distinctive cheese (all natural, I’m sure) – it’s bright yellow and shredded very thinly. Their plates of chili also have quite the amusing names – I had a regular-sized Four Way, because I had onions on mine. A Three Way is just the chili, spaghetti and cheese, and a Five Way adds onions and beans. Classy, right? Eaten with oyster crackers (which you can kinda see in the upper right corner), this is a little piece of heaven.

I also might have had a Cheese Coney, which is a chili dog with onions, cheese, and mustard.

Healthy? Nope. Delicious? Heck yes! (And I might have bought a few cans of the chili, but only to bring home for my brother!)

We lazed about the rest of the day (my aunt might have gotten me hooked on NCIS – we’ll see), and then for dinner, I drove over to Northern Kentucky to have dinner with my uncle and his partner (who is  a wonderful cook). Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures, but the meal of roast pork with potatoes and carrots, broccoli, rosemary bread, and ice cream for dessert was delicious :) Hopefully next time I’ll be able to take a few pictures of their house – they’ve lived in some interesting places (such as Hawaii and New Orleans), and their house reflects that. And that visit might be sooner than later – I think they convinced me to come down in two weeks, when Cincinnati celebrates Oktoberfest. It’s supposedly the biggest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Munich (Cincinnati has a lot of German history), and I haven’t been since I’ve been to the actual Oktoberfest in Munich – I want to compare!

Driving to my uncle’s house was also actually my first time ever driving through Cincinnati myself. And since the drive took me right through Cinci at night, it was a good time to do it – I love the downtown!

I drove back this morning, back into wonderful, rainy Ann Arbor. Not so excited to be back, actually. Visiting Cincinnati made me really think about my original plans, which were to move there – I’m not going to lie, I’m having some regrets right now. But at least I’m close enough to visit (which I’m planning on doing a lot!), and who knows what’s going to happen in the future!

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No coconuts today… Coincidence? Yeah, probably…

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