Foodie fun is sprinkled across Miami County, Ohio.
(Excerpt from a past edition of www.OhioTraveler.com)
Food is no longer a side dish to tourism, in many cases it has become the main course! It is best served at the regional level where originality and freshness are ingredients for success.
Miami County features seven wonders of foodie travel in Ohio. But it’s no wonder that family-owned and operated specialty shops simply know how to give you that extra touch that makes you want to come back again and again. The small town storefront is a treat in itself. Done right, it’s worthy of a snapshot to remember it by, much like a newfound friend.
Olive Oasis in Troy, Ohio has that allure. As you approach it from the sidewalk, it has a Mediterranean feel. Inside, you’re likely to meet its owner, Luke Schlumpf. He’s in his early 20s. His mission is to provide the region with the best olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The wide variety are fresher, by far, than what you’re likely to get at a grocery store. Plus, you can sample dozens of choices straight from Fusti’s imported from Italy. Luke has all the details including properties, countries of origin, health benefits and more. You can even be introduced to flavorful recipes that will make you a hit at your next dinner party.
Olive oil and bread go together like oxygen and lungs.
Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company is left of the hypnotic fountain and across the town square. Its founder and baker, Margaret Begg, is a true artisan in bread-making. She first experimented in her country kitchen and then at New York’s Culinary Institute of America followed by the National Baking Institute of Minneapolis. She apprenticed under a French master baker. Soon thereafter, her own reputation grew as an authentic artisan in bread making with complete knowledge of its science and physics. Today, her shop features a stone hearth oven from Verona, Italy. It also has a café and catering service.
Take a little country drive and relax to the scenery that leads you down a long shaded driveway to a quaint little building next to a family home. As soon as you enter, you’ll be greeted with a warm smile – likely by Janet Rissinger. Her Spice Rack in West Milton, Ohio is like visiting a friend down the street to get that rare herb you know you won’t find anywhere else. After a few minutes, you won’t know if you came to shop or visit. Regardless, you will walk out with whatever it was you were looking for and a feeling of warmth to boot. You name it, they have it and in any quantity measured for you right there.
Some private enterprises hit the big time. That’s what happened with Trophy Nut. Located down a residential side-street near downtown Tipp City, there’s an old brick building serving as the factory outlet store. Inside, you’ll feel the 50-year history. The oversized measuring scoops used to fill bags with chocolate covered nuts inside clear bins, the old-fashioned scale to weigh your purchase and the vintage machines that dole out treats are all remnant of a bygone era. Walk from one brick and wood room to the next and gaze at the bags, boxes, jars, bins and tins of chocolates, candies, dried fruits, snack mixes and nuts of all kinds and you’ll feel like you died and went to heaven.
But save the heavenly confections for later. Now is the time for a sinful indulgence around the corner at Sweet by Kristy. There’s a little table with a couple of chairs out front of the pretty shop that provides a picturesque view of one of Ohio’s loveliest small, small towns. Its sidewalks always bustle with pedestrians shopping. Many find themselves ducking into the tiniest of places and inside is Kristy, usually putting cupcakes into her oven. She says “best ingredients – best cupcakes” and they’re made from scratch, daily! She even has gluten-free cupcakes. But that’s not all; she also has turtles, caramel apples, whoopee pies, buckeyes, candies and even dog treats. The place is colorful!
Another handmade confectioner – fourth generation – is in Piqua. The Fort Piqua Plaza is an architectural gem. Inside the beautifully restored historic building are a multi-level library and Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees. It’s truly service with a smile, and a bright one at that! Watch and learn the coffee roasting process and absorb the aroma of beans from around the world roasted on site in old copper cooking kettles. Featuring coffees, cappuccinos and organic teas, the shop also has mouth-watering handmade delights from premium chocolates. Try the hand-wrapped caramels and old-fashioned brittles. If you have a gift basket to send someone, this is the place.
Speaking of baskets, our last stop is for fruits and veggies. You might as well throw in some country arts and crafts while you’re at it. The rafters have an unusual display of ornaments – historic metal tractor seats. Welcome to Fulton Farms, where locally grown fresh produce is picked and sold inside the rustic century barn. Bring the grocery list because it’s all here. You can even pick your own strawberries and peas straight from the field. There’s also a wide selection of canned items and all kinds of jams, preserves with no sugar added, salsas, grilling sauces and salad dressings. Plus there’s a dairy cooler and of course, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor! Say hi to Joyce Fulton, she’s usually chatting it up with someone.