Left at the Fork

the road | the food | a new direction

Maverick Chocolate, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

We enjoy Hershey’s milk chocolate as much as the next guy… actually, we probably enjoy it much more than the next guy. Most chocolate enthusiasts find Hershey’s sour and gritty. Try as we might, we have no idea what they’re talking about. We really don’t think it’s about nostalgia, either, but who knows. That said, our catholic palates embrace the “good” stuff as well, especially the interesting, nuanced bean-to-bar chocolates crafted by artisans like the folks at Maverick Chocolate. Continue reading

Checking in at: Bouchard’s, Cincinnati OH

The mother and son team of Renee and Jodi (Bouchard? Miller? We see them listed online both ways) arrived in Cincinnati, and then the Findlay Market, from West Virginia, in 2007. Their deal is fresh pastas, flat breads, and sauces, as well as baked goods like pies, cookies, brownies, and cobblers. Some is available to eat on the spot, all is available to finish off at home. Continue reading

Checking in at: Gramma Debbie’s Kitchen, Cincinnati OH

Gramma Debbie has been selling her somewhat odd combination of comfort food and sort-of-health food in the Findlay Market since 2010. Some of her food is ready to eat on the spot; much of it is ready for you to cook or heat at home, like marinated chicken breasts, stuffed peppers, and turkey burgers. Continue reading

Churchill’s Fine Teas, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

Even if you’re not a tea drinker, we urge you to step inside Churchill’s Fine Teas in Cincinnati’s Findlay Market, for at least a moment or two. The heady aroma of tea leaves, spices, and herbs is fairly intoxicating, and the shop is an oasis of calm amid the bustle of the market. Look around, admire the tea sets and tea cups, all the while inhaling, inhaling, free of charge. Continue reading

Eckerlin Meats, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

Cincinnati has a number of signature foods, but perhaps the most exotic and regionally focused of them is goetta. First things first: it’s pronounced as if the o wasn’t there, i.e., getta, and it has German roots. OK, so what is this goetta? It’s a sausage-like loaf of meat and oats that is sliced and fried in a pan, usually for breakfast. Continue reading

Greyhound Tavern, Fort Mitchell KY

REVIEW

Think of a Southern state known for fried chicken. Yep, we thought of Kentucky as well, for the same wrong reason. Truth is, Kentucky DOES have excellent fried bird, despite the stuff that sends the good Colonel spinning six feet under. Want first-hand proof? Come to Fort Mitchell on a Monday or Tuesday for family style fried chicken dinner as served by the Greyhound Tavern. Continue reading

Our First, and Last, Taste of Pappy Van Winkle

We both enjoy bourbon more than the average casual drinker, but we are not geeks about the corn whiskey. We currently have, sitting in our liquor cabinet, bottles of Jim Beam, an artisan bourbon called Angel’s Envy, and a blue corn bourbon which we picked up at the distillery in New Mexico. We usually have a bottle of Maker’s Mark around the house as well. We even have some wretched tasting “white dog,” made in New York, which is clear, unaged corn whiskey. Sounds like we’re really drinkers, doesn’t it, but those bottles will last years. Continue reading

Checking in at: Braxton Brewing Co., Covington KY

Evan Rouse began brewing beer in the family garage at the age of 16, creating a product he was not yet legally permitted to consume. His skills improved, his reputation spread, he gained experience in the local microbreweries and, eventually, in 2015, he opened Braxton, using a garage theme in homage to his teenage hobby. Continue reading

Camp Washington Chili, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

This is it, the one you’ve read about, by national acclaim the ne plus ultra of Cincinnati chili parlors, the only one to be honored by the James Beard Foundation. Camp Washington Chili has achieved that level of fame where future success is guaranteed no matter what they put on the plate. Consider it a bonus that the restaurant still makes an effort, and continues to serve quality grub. Continue reading

Gold Star Chili, Cincinnati OH

We well remember our first taste of Cincinnati chili. We were summering in Washington, D.C., our first jobs out of college, and a friend told us about a place that recently opened up in the ‘burbs (Virginia, we think) that served something called Cincinnati chili. Chili, we knew – spicy hot, cumin-scented, but what did Cincinnati have to do with it? Continue reading

Checking in at: Hofbräuhaus Newport, Newport KY

The beer at Hofbräuhaus was a real blast from the past for us. Most of you are probably too young to remember the days before microbrewing. Believe it or not, there was once a pretty simple choice for budding beer drinkers: standard American bland lagers or, if you wanted something with flavor, imports, usually from Germany. Those German beers, like Beck’s and Lowenbrau, were good, but when microbrewing became a thing in America, we all left them in the dust for the fresher local beers, brewed in hundreds of different styles. Continue reading

Taste of Cincinnati, Cincinnati OH, May 27th through 29th 2017

REVIEW

Either you love urban street festivals or you don’t. They’re not for everyone. We’re street festival veterans and you can put our names down among the lovers. In our New York days in the ’70s, we’d never miss the annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, or the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival. It usually takes years of festival-going to learn each festival’s strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading

Checking in at: Villa Barone, Robbinsville NJ

The place was absolutely mobbed Saturday night! Never seen it this busy. Villa Barone has a tendency to be a noisy restaurant — there’s no carpeting — but when it’s filled to the max, and there are people waiting for tables, it is absolutely deafening in here. They were running a bit behind — although we had a reservation we still had to wait almost half an hour for a table. We didn’t really care much about that — we’re pretty easygoing — and what can you do if folks linger? Continue reading

Graeter’s, Clifton, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

It doesn’t seem that long ago  — if you wanted to sample Cincinnati’s great home-grown ice cream, you had to visit Cincinnati. Louis Graeter began selling ice cream in 1868 and, over the ensuing decades, the Graeter’s company expanded, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the company pushed out to the wilds of Kentucky and Columbus with franchised stores. That’s also when they began making their ice cream available in supermarkets. Continue reading

Skyline Chili, Clifton, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

If you’re coming to Cincinnati for the first time, you undoubtedly intend to sample the famous Cincinnati chili you’ve heard so much about. Have you done lots of research? Do you have time and transportation? Then you’ll probably wind up at one of several well-regarded independent chili shops. Otherwise, you’ll be dining close to your hotel, which means you’ll receive your initiation at one of the almost two hundred Skyline Chili restaurants in the city and suburbs. Continue reading

Checking in at: Rhinegeist Brewery, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

Cincinnati has a long history as a brewing town. In the old German-settled neighborhood known as Over-the Rhine, at the turn of the 20th century, there were 38 breweries. The largest of them was Christian Moerlein Brewing. Eventually, they would all go out of business, leaving hulking manufacturing facilities and warehouses behind. Continue reading

Chili Time, St. Bernard OH

REVIEW

It was 1943 when Pete Vidas opened Chili Time on Vine Street in the Cincinnati enclave village of St. Bernard. Of course, chili was on the menu but Chili Time was by no means a chili-only establishment. The burgers, especially the big production Timeburger and Big Time, were famous, far if not wide. Eventually, Chili Time moved across the street to its present location. Continue reading

Annie’s Ice Cream, Jim Thorpe PA

REVIEW

We prefer driving trips to flying trips. It’s true that the “getting there” eats into the “being there” time, but we are diehard proponents of the old saying, “Getting there is half the fun.” We enjoy the driving itself just fine but we take it slow, stopping often along the way wherever and whenever we please. Sometimes we stop for local sights, or a state park, or a bit of local history. Most of the time, though, we stop for food. Continue reading

Dinner in the Vineyard, Wagonhouse Winery, South Harrison NJ

REVIEW

A very pleasant surprise! We really didn’t know what to expect from a dinner hosted by the South Jersey Wagonhouse Winery when we signed up, but certainly not one as enjoyable and accomplished as the one prepared by Chef James Malaby. Chef Malaby’s own restaurant is named blueplate (lower case theirs), which can be found about five minutes up the road from Wagonhouse in the community of Mullica Hill. Continue reading

Convention Grill, Edina MN

REVIEW

The food is good at Convention Grill. Very good, in fact. But it’s not the best part of the 1930s-era art deco burger-and-malt joint. We love the old, original short-order grill up front as you enter, the mirrored main dining room with red-and-white checked plastic tablecloths and black-and-white floor tile, the uniformed waitresses who tend to customers with old-fashioned concern. We’ll go further and say that the woman who served us one Labor Day at lunchtime was simply the finest waitress we have had anywhere, at any time. Continue reading

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