Sunday, December 8, 2013

Foodie Excursions in Cincinnati, OH

I visited Cincinnati for a couple of days during the summer. I have a friend who lives there, and he has the same kind of love and enthusiasm for his adopted hometown as I do Pittsburgh, so it was about time I went and checked out the city for myself.

On my first night, we went to Nada, a trendy downtown joint, for Mexican and margaritas. I had heard good things about Nada before so I was looking forward to trying it out. My friend and I split two orders of tacos: shrimp and pork belly and both were fantastic.

Pork Belly Tacos at Nada (Cincinnati)
Pork Belly Tacos

Shrimp Tacos at Nada (Cincinnati)
Shrimp Tacos

On my second night we dined at Nada's sister restaurant, Boca, which happens to be my friend's favorite restaurant and had recently relocated to its current downtown space, right next to Nada. I somewhat wish I had taken photos of the interior of Boca because it is elegant and luxurious with an old-world charm (you can find some professional photos here). Over a bottle of fancy wine, my friend and I split the signature Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, topped with scallops, which were nicely done. I also had the Mediterranean Sea Bass, served with a bouillabaisse sauce, braised leeks, and mussels. The sea bass itself was pan roasted to crispy goodness. The service at Boca, like its food, was also top-notch.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts at Boca (Cincinnati)
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Mediterranean Sea Bass at Boca (Cincinnati)
Mediterranean Sea Bass

Before leaving Cincinnati, I made a stop at Findlay Market, an awesome public market in Over-the-Rhine. There, I found my favorite place in Cincinnati: Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices. Talk about a kid in a candy shop! Colonel De carries an impressive (500+!) collection of spices, herbs, blends, rubs, salts, and more. Many of these products I have never even heard of, and some are the shop's own creations. The Colonel himself was there—great guy, by the way—and I spoke with him for some time about recipe ideas. I only picked up a handful of items that I knew I could use, but I would really love to try out some of his specialty spices sometime in my recipes, once I figure out how to use them. Luckily, Colonel De offers online shopping.

Colonel De (Cincinnati)
Colonel De

Colonel De (Cincinnati)
Colonel De

Colonel De (Cincinnati)
Colonel De

All in all, it was a lovely visit to Cincinnati with good food, good company, and a really good find!

Nada on Urbanspoon Boca on Urbanspoon