OK attempt #2 my first post posted then went blank and NOTHING posted.
I first would like to THANK EVERYONE who made the journey and took "The Roads That Led To Cincinnati" that weekend. I was great to see so many "old" friends and meet many "new" friends.
I also must in all seriousness THANK, CTD, BB & BRH for their encouragement leading up to the event itself. It was a HUGE struggle for me. I had been so looking forward to the event, and planning this was fun, but after mom's passing it really took the wind out of my sails and I wasnt sure how the day would go, or if I wanted to be there. I have been lost the past 9 weeks. Mom always loved to hear about RF adventures and loved looking at the photos from various events. She even went on some of the more milder adventures with me. (NO Greg she couldnt do 15 in 1 day)
I have truly enjoyed reading all the different paths taken by the various participants to reach the ultimate goal of the Cincinnati Style Chili & Coney Crawl.
Eckerlin & Alabama Fish looked like TRULY OUTSTANDING places to enjoy. Eckerlin's does make some of the best Goetta in the Queen City. My eyes glazed over when CTD posted they make over 500 lbs a week. I thought making 5 lbs every two weeks at home was ambitious.
The OTR section of Cincy has a very colorful past and can be a VERY troubling spot in the city, but there are bright spots in the neighborhood and as you all witnessed it can be a nice place. (although you wouldnt have wanted to do that "picnic" after dark
Ok ok ok enough with the prelims onto the MAIN EVENT.
I was so nervous and excited when I walked into the hotel lobby and the place was PACKED with roadfooders, that I totally forgot to take any pictures of the wonderful pastries not only from Servatti's but from RF's own Pie Diva, and YES she deserves that title. Those pies were AWESOME!.
After a few minutes and making sure that every one was present and accounted for (even with BB & CJ coming out in their PJ's and "claiming" to be sick
we headed out onto the adventure that led us here. The search for CHILI, GOETTA, CONEYS, ICE CREAM and HOOKAHS!!! (No not Hookers in a North Eastern Accent either)
The first planned stop of the day was Pleasant Ridge Chili. This unassuming "little" place has been consistently placed in the top "Best of" lists that pop up year to year around this town.
The RF crowd at PRC
My goal was to order the same thing in each place so i could compare Apples to Apples and Goetta to Goetta. So my plan was to order a small 3 way, 2 Coneys and an order of Goetta at each place. I changed my plan and this is where my day started to "fall apart". I ordered a bowl of chili (to get the true flavor of the chili by its self.
I ordered 2 Cheese Coneys (with mustard and onion of course)
and an order of GOETTA
I dont know what happened, the food arrived quickly and was hot, but this is where it started to change for me. After 3 bites of the plain chili and a couple of bites of the Coney and all of the Goetta, my stomach started churning and I made a quick trip to the bathroom and thought for sure I was going to lose my "breakfast" after a few moments gaining my composure in the restroom I was able to exit and could rejoin the group but the event put a SERIOUS hamper on food enjoyment the rest of the day.
My opinion of Pleasant Ridge Chili was"
Ambience a solid B
Food Over All ????
Chili - the taste for me was over powering salty and agressive, maybe with spaghetti it would have been better, but plain was not good for me.
Coney - The dog reminded me of a Vienna Sausage it was mushy and the consistency mixed with with chili made for an un pleasant experience.
Goetta - They make their own Goetta here, and they use Steel Cut Oats instead of Pin Oats, but the flavor was AWESOME and I really enjoyed the chew of this Goetta. So an A for Goetta.
After hitting "NEXT" on my GPS with fat fingers it skipped over Jungle Jims and sent me hurling (with Several people following me) towards Newport and Dixie Chili, when I saw the Western edge of downtown Cincy I knew something was a miss so i drove down I71 to I471 to I275 and then on to Jungle Jims. Sorry for the detour yall but I thought you would like to see Cincy from all angles.
As CTD has already spoke about the TRAM I will speak about the railroad over pass that it sits on. Before the eastgate location of Jungle Jims opened Jim had the tram sitting outside the fairfield location forever. He had a great vision of using it for a tour of the facilities. Well that has yet to happen, but in buying the eastgate location and trying to set up a "picture" in his head he envisioned the tram coming from the jungle filled with animals and as CTD said all the animals came two by two. Well how do you get a tram suspended in the air?? Along comes the city of Cincinnati and their aging infrastructure issues. The railroad overpass that the tram sits on was actually part of the western hills viaduct and train yard system. the structure was deemed obsolete and needed replacing, the city was going to pay to tear it down. In steps Jungle Jim and he bought the structure and disassembled it from its previous location and reassembled it at the eastgate Jungle Jims and put the tram filled with animals coming two by two out of the "jungle". The tram in its original life was used at the Cincinnati Zoo in their jungle adventure trek, which again ties in the animal theme.
CTD mentioned the Port O Let bathrooms, and they started this at the fairfield location and these are actually better than farifields.
The drywall spackled wall with hand painted men and women sign is a nice touch, but once through the Rumpke (another Cincinnati Company) Port O Pottie doors are some of the nicest bathrooms in ANY gas station / groccery / mega mart in the country.
Right next to the bathrooms is the Jungle Jims Theater where you can go in and catch a video presentation of the History of Jungle Jims, from the very first back of a pick up trucksales platform to the 2 MEGA Stores and everything in between, it is a cool little piece of history to watch and the popcorn is free.
Now for those who have been to the fairfield location, the hot sauce department is marked out by a bright red fire truck, and under the truck is the hot sauce department, the truck at the fairfield location is an acutal out of service farifield ohio fire truck. At the eastgate location the fire truck used is a 1942 Seagrave US Navy Fire Service vehicle and the Giant Jet engine is the actual cowling from a DC 8.
Once we left the hot sauce department we moved on to WJ's favorite part of the whole place "The WALL of HOOKAHS"
Darn if he forgot his drivers license and couldnt partake of any of the fun.
Now this location does not have the animatronics that the fairfield location has, but hey that place has been there longer and Jungle Jim is still adding to the new place.
In the fairfield location the seafood market is located under a replica of the SS MINNOW, well the eastgate location doesnt have the minnow but it does have its own cool boat.
and what "Coastal" location would be complete if there were no Shantys
The smell of the seafood made you feel like you were walking in a beach town, now if they only added sand to the floor. The eastgate location does not have the HUGE FRESH fish section that fairfield has,I am not saying that the seafood at eastgate is not fresh, I am saying eastgate doesnt have the aquafarms that fairfield has, you cant pick out which blue gill you want out of the hundreds swimming in the tank (at eastgate which you can at fairfield)
One of the animatronics that has been installed is the HONEY department, and YES I LOVE me some honey. EVERY container of honey was from somewhere in Ohio.
The hive "buzzes" with bees as the bear chases the bees around the bottom of the hive.
Past the honey and it is time for the New York Delis, Jungle Jim style. You can sample ANY of the deli meats in the case, ever want to sample a $299.00 a lb ham from Spain?? come to Jungle Jims and get a sliver of heaven.
Several years back Cincinnati celebrated its Bicentennial celebration. One of the events was called the "BIG PIG JIG" concrete flying pigs were adopted by local businesses, organizations, people and decorated. Then the pigs were placed all over down town Cincy and there was a map and a guide to whose pig was whose and where they were located. Many of these fine swine have remained in Cincy others have disappeared, Jungle Jim uses his to mark his fresh PORK section of the eastgate location.
There are MANY more things to see and do at Jungle Jims, we only had about 90 minutes, you could spend HOURS on a saturday and waddle out of there stuffed full f all the free samples offered.
One of my favorite sections is CANDY LAND, marked by a LIFE SIZED Jelly Belly PT Cruizer, M&Ms NASCAR Race car, and several other LIFE SIZED vehicles. I found a rare treat there. Jellied Raspberries, as a kid after school we would go to my Grandmothers house, and she would walk us down to the local penny candy store, where we would get 50 cents worth of jellied raspberries, then walk the block down to the rivers edge and for another 25 cents hop in the ferry that crossed the river from Aurora to Petersburg, KY. For that 25 cents you could ride the ferry all day (as long as you didnt get off) So for 75 cents we had an afternoon on the water, and tasted those sweet raspberries. I rarely find them any more and when I do it is like a little slice of heaven. So I bought 5 bags and have savored them SLOWLY.
After Jungler Jims the schedule took us to Newport, KY and Dixie Chili. Now Dixie is the second oldest of Cincinnati's Chili Chains (Emperess is oldest) and the Newport location is a newly remodeled version of the former location. it is bright and clean and everything a chili parlor should be.
After the "SHORT" hike from the wonderful parking spot CTD found us (10 miles away)
(I had recently had a cyst removed from my right heel and was not supposed to be walking on my foot) I got to Dixie as most of the group had their food and were enjoying it, My stomach was still unsettled from the earlier stop so I only got 2 coneys with mustard and onion.
Then as were we finishing eating Buffetbuster annouces our next stop was a "Short" 4 block hike from our current location. I was thinking to myself that (1) I WAS NOT going to walk to Graeter's, but then something else was nagging me, I knew that the chili stops in Newport were only 1 block from each other, but I knew i purposely didnt choose the Newport Graeter's location so that we had a break between stops. BUT off the group walked towards their next stop Graeter's.
I took the opportunity and started to walk gingerly back to my car, well before I could get to my car the group caught back up to me and said that the Graeter's location was no longer there, and then they looked at the agenda address and our next stop was Graeter's in Fort Thomas, NOT in Newport, yes it was only 1 1/2 miles away, but Newport is not that big of place and with 3 stops in a row any distance helped.
So off to Graeter's and my favorite
Cheese Crowns, If only CTD knew about these babies ahead of time Schnecken would be far from his mind. A cheese crown is one of those happy accidents, like when reeses dropped their chocolate into somebodys peanut butter, or some bodys peanut butter into someones chocolate. A new and wonderful creatio is was born, well the cheese crown has a smiliar story line. One morning a Graeters baker was in the process of making gooey cinnamon rolls, and another was mixing a batch of cream cheese filling for their dainishs when "OOPS" you got your cream cheese filling in my cinnamon roll, what should we do now?? BAKE IT and TASTE IT of course, and Viola a Cheese Crown was born.
After Graeter's the schedule was originally to hit another chili parlor in Newport, and thenhead over to the American Sign Museum, well I purposely scheduled that stop with the knowledge that if we needed to we could skip the chili parlor and go to the sign museum. Which is what the group did.
When I called the "sign museum" from the phone # posted on google, I got this nice older woman who was slightly confused over setting up a reservation for a group to get a personal tour of the "sign museum", but after asking someone in the back ground she told it would be "NO PROBLEM" for our group to get the personal tour at that time. I even got a confirmation code. The morning of the tour I called the # I now had for the sign museum to verify everything was a go, and the very nice gentleman said "WHAT TOUR????" after discussing it with him I said I even have the confirmation code, "Sir, we dont have confirmation codes or numbers!" He asked when i set this up and I had told him a week or two back, I spoke to nice older lady, she said she was a Senior Volunteer.... Silence on the other end of the phone "Sir, we dont ever have "Senior Volunteers"... I always answer the phone a schedule everything. I am now panicked/pissed/sick to my stomach/ foot hurting when he tells me that the group is more than welcome to come in and view the museum, but there would be no way to get a private tour or for a group of our size to join the public tour at 2pm. So we left it that the group would come and visit the museum that afternoon. 10 mintues later my phone rings and it is the gentleman from the sign museum and he solved the mystery. He googled his museum and noticed that the entry had the phone number listed incorrectly. the number listed was for Cincinnati's Museum Center at Union Terminal, and they did have a tour scheduled for our group, but on the tour sheet is was written in "Sign Museum". the volunteer didnt know that they were seperate locations and not related to each other. So she just filled in the blank with Sign Museum and scheduled the group.
During everyone's trip to the museum, I took a small detour from the group for a few minutes. My Mom's cenotaph (Memorial Marker) is at Spring Grove Cemetery, which is about 1 mile from the museum, and the stone had just been cut with her dates that week. So I took a few minutes and located her cenotaph, left her a cheese crown on the stone (she loved those things) and broke down and cried.
I finally gained my composure back and headed down to Camp Washington Chili to meet back up with the group, I walked in and didnt see anyone I knew (I was still clouded up) so I sat at the Roadfood Table (the roadfood review is under glass rght above the table) little did I know that in the back of the place was the group, they had finished the museum a little early and had already ordered and was eating.
I ordered a coney and some goetta (my stomach was sort of feeling better)
The goetta was a solid B+ and the coney was a little on the weak side, not much chili at all on the thing which helped my stomach. So a grade of B for Camp Washington.
Michael, Lisa and Ed joined me after they had checked into their hotel room, and as we sat there here comes the whole group from the back of the place. How I missed them who knows, but I enjoyed spending the time with Michael and Lisa and getting a chance to meet and talk with Ed.
(Even if I filled their heads with useless Cincinnati Civil War Trivia and the location of Cincinnati's Subway System)
post edited by CajunKing - 2014/05/08 00:16:12