Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Comforts of Home or Good Finds in Eastern Kentucky & Cincinnati, Ohio

I recently went home for the first time in a while to visit my family for Thanksgiving. During the two weeks we were in America, my husband and I drove a lot, covering 8 states in only 14 days… It was a whirlwind tour to say the least, but we had an amazing time and got to explore a bit for new discoveries. We also had a couple of days of beautiful snow while we stayed with my parents in Eastern Kentucky and I couldn't resist sharing the photo above which was taken just a short walk from my childhood home - practically the back yard. Isn't it beautiful in the snow?

While some of the things I really enjoyed at home are new to me, others are old favorites however they might be new to you… These are just a few things I thought were worth mentioning from my time in Cincinnati and at home in Eastern Kentucky.

Eastern Kentucky
  1. ALE81 (aka A Late One) is a childhood favorite - it's basically highly caffeinated ginger ale, but it's only found in Kentucky and the surrounding areas as far as I know. I'm delighted to see that many restaurants are now serving the diet version, which I love! If you're ever in Kentucky, be sure to make it ALE81, but if you're not in Kentucky, I'm delighted to report that you can now buy it online!
  2. Kentucky Legend Hams - I didn't eat this, but the name alone is worth a mention!
  3. Jolly Pirate Donuts are my favorite donuts in the world… Yes, I even love them more than Krispy Kreme. Jolly Pirate is in Ashland, Kentucky and has been a favorite of mine since I was 9 years old and used to get donuts there every time I had to go to Ashland for a doctor's appointment when I broke my ankle… Over about 6 months time with the cast on my foot, I acquired a massive affection for these donuts and they're just as good as I remember. Oh, and there's a pirate on the box - Argh!
  4. My parents took me to a place called The Black Barn while I was home and it was amazing! Housed in a barn in River, Kentucky just a short drive outside Paintsville Kentucky on US23, The Black Barn is kind of like a local farmer's market of sorts selling homegrown produce, canned vegetables (in mason jars - this is home cannin y'all), old fashioned sweets & food products and arts & crafts. This is as free-range, organic, fresh & local as can be - most of the veggies are grown in a garden by the owners. Can't get more local than that! While I was there, they were unpacking a shipment of specialty cheeses for Christmas from Amish Country… YUM! 
Cincinnati, Ohio

  1. While we were visiting family in Cincinnati, my husband and I had the pleasure of revisiting some of the places we used for our wedding, merely by coincidence. We started one night with drinks at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza, where we spent our wedding week. Then we moved on to a big family dinner that just happened to be at the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner, The Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse. Situated on the Ohio River, this particular location boasts a gorgeous view, but the Montgomery Inn name is well-known throughout the Cincy area for the best BBQ in town… If not the world. It's pretty darn good - as in lip smacking', bib wearin, you're gonna need a few extra wet wipes for your face afterwards good! If you're in Cincinnati, it's a must, but if you don't have time, you can actually just buy the barbecue sauce to take home.
  2. Cincinnati is known as the 'Queen City', but it should be known as the 'Chili City'. There's Gold Star, Skyline and for those in the know, places like Price Hill Chili, one of my family's faves. If you've never been to Cincinnati before, don't fool yourself into thinking that if you've had one chili you've had them all - these are different. They taste different and it's served in a number of ways… On spaghetti, on mini hotdogs called Conies or in a bowl with oyster crackers and cheese on top. It's my understanding that most families are strictly one or the other: Skyline or Gold Star. My family is Skyline with the occasional Price Hill Chili trip, but I think both are worth trying for the true Cincinnati experience and you can buy them in cans or frozen in most grocery stores these days.
  3. While you're at it, if you're eating your way through Cincinnati, you must try LaRosa's Pizza (not pictured)… It's unlike any pizza I've had anywhere else and though I didn't get to eat it this time around, it truly is like a Cincinnati cult classic that's worth mentioning!
  4. If you ever find yourself anywhere in Ohio, a buckeye is a must. It's like peanut butter dipped in chocolate. Yum! You don't have to visit the Buckeye State to try this tasty treat - lots of people make them, especially during the holiday season. Click here for a recipe.

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