I moved to Cincinnati from New York City in 2009 for a year-long contract. Then, and in the many subsequent visits I've made since, I was floored by the small local food businesses and farms. Yes, the city's restaurant scene may still have a little ways to go, but their market scene is already stellar.
There are farmers markets everywhere—several daily—with plenty of farmers and home "cottage" businesses to supply them. And since we couldn't pay a visit to each and every one, we ultimately settled on the popular and highly recommended Hyde Park market.
On Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Hyde Park Square closes down automobile traffic so that the almost 40 vendors can set up shop. Live music is amped from the greenery and families walk with leashed dogs and rambling children, sitting on the lawn to listen and let sticky foods drip from their fingers.
Obviously fresh produce is in abundance, all from local, organic growers. And while right now variety isn't quite at its peak, there's still plenty to be had. Bergefurd's Farm had the first of this season's sweet corn we spotted, which they guaranteed was super-sweet and only the beginning of what's to come. From Can-Du Farms, we snagged some delicately papered purple tomatillos and fingerling potatoes. The latter proved buttery and smooth when we later wrapped them in some local bacon and roasted them crisp. Hazelfield and Finn Meadows farms blew us away with the variety and bowl-you-over juiciness of their tomatoes, the likes of which I have yet to spot out east.
Many more local farms were doling out cucumbers, summer squash, peppers, potatoes, and bushels of fresh herbs. Long stems of garlic bulbs and yellow and red onions were in abundance. The salad greens, already sold out, were reportedly amazing. So, yeah, the produce rocks.
But the thing is, the produce is just the beginning. We grabbed some grass-fed lamb and beef from Grassroots Farm and Foods, loaded up on honeys and syrup, and plan to return next week for some goat's milk fudge and a dozen types of hummus.
Which is how our slideshow grew to encompass a whopping 27 images. Yes, go to load up on the produce, but stay a bit to explore the particularly delicious prepared goods, talk to all the vendors about their amazing companies, and bring lots of cash and a soft bag to schlep it all home.