Sunday, November 14, 2010

Warm Up with Middle West Spirits

Did you know that a mere hour and a half trip up 71 will take you to an independent, small-batch vodka distillery? Our friendly neighbor to the north Columbus is home to Middle West Spirits, owned and founded by Brady Konya and Ryan Lang.

I had the pleasure of giving their OYO vodka a try this summer on a tour of Columbus, tasting it side-by-side with some Grey Goose. Bringing both vodkas to my nose, I could immediately smell a difference. The OYO had pleasant hints of cherry, and the Grey Goose smelled a lot like nail polish remover.

The OYO goes down much smoother, with lingering hints of said cherry and oak, and of course a zinging burn. The Grey Goose? Decidedly more chemical tasting in comparison.

As if that wasn't enough, Jeni's Ice Cream has collaborated with Middle West, bringing hard liquor and ice cream together in frozen matrimony. The resulting flavor is called Oakvale Young Gouda with OYO Vodka Plumped Cranberries. I have yet to try it, but based on my own research of other Jeni's flavors, I can't imagine it's anything short of delightful.

If warming up to a bottle of locally crafted vodka sounds good to you this winter, check out Middle West. They're open to the public every Wednesday from 5 to 7 pm, and tours can be arranged at other times. They've even got a nifty list of cocktail recipes just waiting to be whipped up on a chilly November night.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pho Sho

Public Service Announcement: Pho Lang Thang at Findlay Market is "soft" open for business. Their grand opening is November 14th, but if I were sitting in your seat right now, I wouldn't wait until then to get my hands on some pho or a bahn mi. Just bear in mind that they're tweaking the menu, preparations and service before the day they officially open their doors. Don't go in there guns blazing, ready to mouth off on Yelp if your experience isn't absolutely perfect. Go in peace, go for lunch and go hungry.

I had a bahn mi today with fried tofu. I'm ashamed to admit that this was my first bahn mi ever, but if this is any indication of what I've been missing, I'm going to make them a regular part of my diet. The pickled veggies were sweet and tangy, and the french baguette had a beautiful crunchy crust. There's a sweet/salty thing going on that makes me go weak in the knees. I chased it with a rich Vietnamese iced coffee, drip-brewed right at my table.

Pho Lang Thang has every indication of being a wonderful addition to Cincinnati's food scene. There are things there that make my little food-obsessed heart go pitter patter, like a short glossary of Vietnamese terms at the bottom of the menu, and the bottle of Sriracha at most tables. As if all of that wasn't enough, they're planning to add delivery service in the near future. They're also looking for customer feedback, so if you do go there and you have suggestions, let them know. It's not just the right thing to do, it's the Lang Thang.