Wining and Dining in Northeast Ohio

First a little history.   “The Father of American Winemaking”, Nicholas Longworth, was an Ohioan who began importing vines from Europe to his farm in the hills around Cincinnati in the early 1800’s.  Today there are 135 wineries across the Buckeye State, according to Donniella Winchell of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, and in Northeast Ohio […]

First a little history.

  “The Father of American Winemaking”, Nicholas Longworth, was an Ohioan who began importing vines from Europe to his farm in the hills around Cincinnati in the early 1800’s.

 Today there are 135 wineries across the Buckeye State, according to Donniella Winchell of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, and in Northeast Ohio there are more wineries per square mile than any other part of the state.

 Autumn is a great time for an Ohio Road Trip to the Northeast Ohio wine-country.  Vineyards and orchards are bursting with fruit.  Forests are filled with golden leaves; there are covered bridges that span lazy streams.  It’s a feast for the senses. 

 Speaking of feasts; even if you don’t drink wine you can enjoy some of the food and atmosphere of the wine country by visiting several of the vineyards that have restaurants located in the middle of their wineries.  Many also offer non-alcoholic grape juice along with wine tasting.

 Two of the best examples of restaurants-in-a-winery that I have visited:

 Tarsitano Winery in the Conneaut Creek area.

 Tucked away on a country road, not far from a covered bridge is a cedar-sided two-story barn.  The first floor serves as a combination sales-room, tasting area and café where they serve lunch and dinner from Wednesday through Sunday.  The café is small, only seating about fifty people.   Reservations are strongly recommended most evenings.

 On a beautiful fall day they open up both huge doors on the barn/café/winery and replace the doors with floor to ceiling screens that lets in not only fresh air, but the smell of ripening grapes in the nearby vineyards.

 They make all their own pasta and sauces and grow many of the ingredients they serve.

The menu features things like Riesling Rosemary Ravioli that is stuffed with artichokes and special cheeses in a garlic olive oil sauce and accompanied by a grilled breast of chicken or sirloin tip steak.   Other specialties of the house include pepper-crusted steak and Cremillini mushroom ravioli in a sun-dried tomato sauce.   The garden salad is a healthy and beautiful mixture of different types of lettuce and other greens.

 Cooling on a nearby windowsill is a tray of fresh loaves of bread still hot from the oven.…

.you can read the rest of the story in the October 3rd edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer or on their web site at www.cleveland.com

A-Maze-ing Autumn in Ohio

One of the newest additions to the autumn scene in Ohio is the corn maze.   Farmers have found a new method to make money by letting visitors get lost in their corn fields.  Some of them are real works of art when seen from the sky, say in an airplane or helicopter.  But on the […]

One of the newest additions to the autumn scene in Ohio is the corn maze.   Farmers have found a new method to make money by letting visitors get lost in their corn fields.

 Some of them are real works of art when seen from the sky, say in an airplane or helicopter.  But on the ground it just seems like a puzzling set of lanes cut through a few acres of corn.  Some of the lanes end in a dead-end while others take you through a winding course that eventually ends up on the edge of the field.  It’s a lot of fun for youngsters and adults on a crisp fall day.

 Mazes have been spreading across the countryside since the first ones appeared in Ohio in the 1990’s.  And they aren’t just made of corn.  There are mazes made of bales of hay and straw.  Some parks offer year-round mazes made of shrubs.  But by far the most popular are the cornstalks.  Farmers set aside a couple acres of their corn crop, then lay-out a maze design and they are ready for business.  When Halloween is over, they can still harvest the corn in the field so they make money twice from that field.

 There are many wonderful and unique corn mazes in the state.  Just check your local tourist and convention center.

 Here are a couple of my favorites:

 The Lorain County Metro Parks, Carlisle Reservation offers both hayrides and a corn maze on weekends through Halloween.  You can learn more by visiting their website at www.loraincountymetroparks.com

 One of the biggest farm mazes is Derthicks Farm in Mantua, Ohio.  They offer six different mazes with over five miles of trails.  You can visit their website at www.derthickscornmaze.com

 Also be sure to check out local orchards.  Many of them also offer hayrides and mazes during the autumn season.

Biggest Flea Market in Midwest

In the Saturday, September 19th edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer I report on one of America’s largest flea market.  Here is an excerpt: Local folks call it the “Midwest’s Largest Flea Market”.  It is a claim that is hard to dispute.  The flea market is located over the Ohio line in Indiana and covers 100 acres. […]

In the Saturday, September 19th edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer I report on one of America’s largest flea market.  Here is an excerpt:

Local folks call it the “Midwest’s Largest Flea Market”.  It is a claim that is hard to dispute.  The flea market is located over the Ohio line in Indiana and covers 100 acres. On a good day they will have over 900 vendors set up in neat rows and an auction barn with more than a half–dozen auctioneers all chanting at the same time making it sound like the Biblical Tower of Babel.

 Tour buses from surrounding states help fill the parking lots each Tuesday and Wednesday.

 In the auction barn you can find everything on the auction block from a wooden cigar store Indian to a broken down 1930’s version of a Maytag washing machine.

 The auction started in 1922 and the flea market followed a couple of years later.  It has continued to grow over the years and today attracts an estimated half-million visitors to the small town each year.  Depending on the time of year, the auction barn has seven to ten auctioneers each selling different items, their chants competing with each other as they attempt to sell off the week’s accumulation of auction items that have been brought to the barn to sell.  The auction sale starts at 9 AM on Wednesday morning and runs until mid-afternoon when the barn is sold out.

………You can read the rest of the article in the September 19 issue of the Plain Dealer or read it on line at their website, www.cleveland.com

Ohio's Best Spots For Autumn Leaves

                                   “..Now Autumns fire burns slowly along woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt.”   …Irish Poet, William Allingham About this time of year I start getting phone calls and emails about the best places to see autumn leaves in Ohio.  I have several favorite destinations, all of them an easy […]

                                   “..Now Autumns fire burns slowly along woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt.”

 

…Irish Poet, William Allingham

About this time of year I start getting phone calls and emails about the best places to see autumn leaves in Ohio.

 I have several favorite destinations, all of them an easy Ohio Road Trip.It’s hard to beat the experience of autumn in Ohio’s Amish Country. It has the smell of apples and dusty leaves.  Cool winds, push cloud castles across the sky, sunlight streaming through the clouds.  There are the cries of flying geese hurrying to a destination of which only they are aware.

  Just about any side road in Geauga, Holmes, Wayne, or Tuscarawas County can be a living Currier and Ives Lithograph.  Horse-drawn Amish buggies trot down color-splashed lanes and across bridges over streams with dancing diamond-like reflections.  It is a place where cattle graze in rich pastures.  Rolling fields of scraggly corn shocks stand sentinel over disorderly rows of golden pumpkins.  Winding country roads with neat white homes and barns punctuate the end of less-traveled gravel lanes   Roadside produce stands are laden with the season’s harvest in a cacophony of color

.The perfect place to start exploring if you have not visited the area before is at the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, home of the cyclorama, entitled: “Behalt”, an enormous painting that fills an entire room and tells the story of the Amish and Mennonite Faith.  This is a wonderful place to learn about the Amish who still live in a horse-and-buggy culture and where the friendly staff will give you directions, maps and offer suggestions about where the best vistas are to be found.

 Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center, 5798 County Road 77, Berlin, Ohio 44610, 330-893-3192, www.behalt.com

 Another favorite destination when I go in search of the colors of fall is southeast, to Marietta at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers.

 There is something wonderful and also melancholy in the deep-throated blast of a horn on a riverboat splashing its way up and down these historic waterways.

 The 157-foot long Valley Gem Sternwheeler cruise boat has been a fixture for over two generations at this junction of two great rivers…

 The Valley Gem offers scenic cruises each autumn from Marietta, where the Northwest Territory began, up the Muskingum River, and through the historic Devols lock and dam.  On a fall day it is a beautiful, relaxing way to see our state in all its Buckeye glory.  Captain Jason J. Sands, the second generation of his family to pilot the Valley Gem, grew up on this boat and he gives a wonderful commentary about the history and makeup of the river and the countryside unfolding along the banks as the boat paddles its way upriver leaving in its churning wake a mist where rainbows dance.

 Valley Gem Sternwheeler, 601 Front Street, Marietta, Ohio 45750, 740-373-7862, www.valleygemsternwheeler.com

 In northeast Ohio the beauty of autumn just adds to the charm of the seventeen covered bridges of Ashtabula County.  Many of them are located on quiet country roads where the only sound is the rustle of leaves drying in the wind and the song of a rippling stream passing beneath the structure with the occasional rumble of wheels crossing the bridge.   

 .   There is also the covered bridge festival that is always held the second full weekend in October in the county seat of Jefferson, Ohio. While Ashtabula is Ohio’s largest county in square miles it is still very rural and offers many miles of forest and winding roads that come alive with color in the fall of the year.

 Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival, 25 West Jefferson Street, Jefferson, Ohio 44047, 440-576-3769, www.coveredbridgefestival.org

You don’t need to go east in autumn.  Discover the beauty of an Ohio Autumn.

 

 

Racing Through Last Days of Summer

Looking for a thrill before summer ends?   My story in the Saturday, September 05 edition of the Plain Dealer will tell you how… “Huron County is one of those mostly rural counties here in northern Ohio.  It’s a place of farms and small towns with tree-shaded streets.  The Firelands Museum in Norwalk is one of […]

Looking for a thrill before summer ends?   My story in the Saturday, September 05 edition of the Plain Dealer will tell you how…

“Huron County is one of those mostly rural counties here in northern Ohio.  It’s a place of farms and small towns with tree-shaded streets.  The Firelands Museum in Norwalk is one of Ohio’s oldest museums.   But Norwalk also has another attraction that brings thousands of visitors to this community each year.

 Do you want something to get the adrenalin pumping? To hear the howling thunder of automobile motors pushed to their limits?  To smell the smoke of burning rubber?  How about taking the family car out to a race track where you can put the pedal to the metal and see just how fast the old jalopy can really go.  You don’t have to have any racing experience; just a driver’s license.  You race against the clock or another driver who is also living his or her fantasy.

 It happens Wednesday evening through the end of September at the Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk.  Summit is home to the National Hot Rod Association and its president, Bill Bader, Sr., where such names as John Force, Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps pack the race track’s 38,000 seats several times a year. 

 Normally, Summit Motorsports Park  hosts bracket racing or other special events like Pontiac Weekend, Fords at the Summit Weekend, The Good Guys Blue Suede Cruise and the popular annual Night Under Fire.    But since 1975 they have also dedicated selected dates each year, usually on Wednesdays,  to allow racing fans and wannabe race drivers to use the track to race just about anything they drive, from home-built racers and motorcycles to even a family car or truck. one of Ohio’s oldest museums.  …..You can read the rest of the story in the Plain Dealer or go to their website, www.cleveland.com