When Steve and I pulled into Cincinnati last week, I had three foods on my list of must-eats considered to be distinctively “Cincinnatian.” They were goetta, Graeter’s ice cream and Cincinnati’s version of chili. We happily found and sampled all of them, plus another as a delicious bonus.
- Goetta, and specifically Glier’s Goetta, is pronounced “get-uh” and, according to their website, it “is a German breakfast sausage that blends the textures and flavors of pork, beef, whole grain steel-cut oats, fresh onions, and spices. It is slow-cooked daily and perfectly prepared when browned and served.” Glier’s produces 1,000,000 pounds of goetta each year, and 99% of it is consumed right in Cincinnati. That likely explains why the rest of us have never tried it. It is definitely an acquired taste, but I thought it was pretty good. You don’t expect your sausage to be crispy/crunchy, but goetta is, so be prepared for that. I do recommend that you try it. “When in Rome . . . .,” right?
We had it both mornings we were in the city. First at Hathaway’s Diner on the first floor of Carew Tower, and the next morning at the Symphony Hotel. I didn’t hear of anyone who made their own goetta at home. Glier’s definitely has this product firmly in its grasp.
2. Graeter’s Ice Cream is distinctive because of the French Pot Process used in making it. Read and see photos of that process here. Categories of flavors are: seasonal, classic, signature chip, low glycemic and sorbet. THE absolute signature flavor is Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, and I can testify that it is truly wonderful. Steve and I shared a scoop after our dinner at Montgomery Inn Boathouse (a place you will read more about in coming days). We also went into a stand-alone Graeter’s location in Fountain Square — just to browse, of course.
3. Cincinnati has a highly unique chili recipe. It is served over a plate of spaghetti pasta and is topped with grated cheddar cheese. In this form, it is referred to as a Three-Way. The chili itself has a cinnamon hint to it, and some speculate that cocoa is also included. If you add a layer of beans OR onions, it becomes a Four-Way, and if you add BOTH beans and onions, it is then a Five-Way. I had been warned that “nobody likes sweet chili,” so we chose the Five-Way. I could still taste the cinnamon, but the beans and onions helped to make it more similar to the chili from my neck of the woods. In this category, as with Glier’s Goetta and Graeter’s Ice Cream, Skyline Chili appears to have a tight grip on the market. There are other places around town serving chili, but Skyline is a local favorite. Camp Washington Chili was also recommended, and we’ll have to try it on a return visit. So much to see and eat. So little time.
As for the bonus, we had dinner one night at The Eagle on Vine Street, just a couple of blocks from our hotel, and decided to order their spoonbread. Oh my goodness. It is made in an iron skillet like cornbread but is less dense. Then while it’s still hot, it is smeared with a generous serving of maple butter that seeps into the bread and makes it totally worth the calories. While you’re at The Eagle, go ahead and splurge on their fried chicken. EXTRA good.
When you go to a new city, I urge you to do your homework and find out what special dishes the locals enjoy and determine the best places for trying those foods. It will enrich your visit tremendously.