Visiting Cincinnati

I’ve lived in and around Cincinnati Ohio for most of my life.

I was born on the west side of the city, moved back to the east side where I spent my childhood, rehabbed a house in northern Kentucky (just over the river from downtown Cincinnati) as a young adult, and now live in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati.

I know Cincinnati very well, but realized last week that I’ve probably grown overly accustomed to it, and take it for granted now. More than I should.

Last week, my friend Amit came to visit Cincinnati from his home in Grand Cayman Island. I gladly accepted the role of his tour guide while he was here, and got to (re)experience Cincinnati through a visitor’s eyes.

Naturally, our exploration included lots of Cincinnati food places… We ate at Skyline, LaRosa’s, Graeter’s, Jean-Robert’s Table, Pepper Pod (I know, I know!), and York Street Café (in Newport).

People were welcoming and kind. From the owner of the Graeter’s franchise who, upon learning that Amit was an out-of-town visitor, immediately inundated him with samples of different ice creams, to the server at the Pepper Pod who wanted to be sure that Amit tried their goetta… Everyone represented their city well.

When we went to Findlay Market and the market manager took us under her wing (and even shared her birthday cookies with us); the owner of Eli’s BBQ made sure we were well-served (and dined with us); the gift of plump, sweet scallops; and ordering a couple Cokes from one of the stands and receiving a whole cheesy bread along with it.

We saw the production of DEBBIE DOES DALLAS: THE MUSICAL at Falcon Theater. Amit was blown away by the enthusiasm and energy, and got a nice feel for the community theater environment in this town.

Arriving at Jungle Jim’s just three short hours before they closed, we were told by the greeter, in a funny-serious way, that we’d better hurry up if we wanted to see it all! Amit didn’t believe her, but when it took us nearly an hour to get from the front door to the wine section (and that I showed the map and said we have more than 3/4 of the store to go!), Amit became a believer. We enjoyed a few samples from the olive bar, too. The young lady behind the pastry counter who gave Amit his first ever Buckeye (sweetened peanut butter enrobed in chocolate). These are experiences we’ll remember.

Amit attended on of the classes I teach at Midwest Culinary Institute. My students were hard-working, dedicated, and still found time to chat with Amit and pose for the pictures he wanted to take.

Everyone at all of these places was amazing, generous, and kind to us. Amit commented to me more than once that he was astounded by how outgoing Cincinnatians are.

And you know what? He’s right. I am proud to be a Cincinnatian.

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