31 December 2014

Grandpa's Cheese Barn

Wild horses couldn't drag me away from a business called Grandpa's Cheesebarn while driving north on I-71. Normal people could make a two hour drive to Cleveland without cheese curds. I can't. So I stopped at Grandpa's Cheesebarn off Route 250 in Ashland.

This family-run business has been open since 1978, with the original owner's family history in the Ohio dairy industry stretching back to the early 1900s. The shop is stacked to the ceiling with cheese from Ohio, house-label mustards, jams, jellies and breads. Most everything is available to sample.

There is a small lunch counter inside the Cheesebarn that makes sandwiches, soups, salads and milkshakes. Your sweet tooth can also be satisfied next door at Sweeties Jumbo Chocolates, which makes fudge, candies, nuts and other sweets.

The cheese is Ohio-produced, and much of it takes on classic styles - cheddar, gouda and Swiss (more properly, Emmental). Cheeses are dusted and studded with herbs and spices of all varieties.

Curds likewise come in an array of flavors. The grilling cheese, a domestic approximation of halloumi, was excellent.

Grandpa's Cheesebarn is adorable. It's worth a stop whether you're buying cheese to take home or simply satisfying a craving on a two-hour road trip.

Grandpa's Cheesebarn on Urbanspoon

10 December 2014

Momocho Mod Mex

Momocho Mod Mex puts the modern spin on Mexican cuisine in the heart of Ohio City. Chef-owner Eric Williams, a two-time James Beard nominee, operates a restaurant that's fun, festive and flavorful.

The menu is chock full of vegetarian dishes, including the ever-popular flavors of guacamole. There is an extensive gluten-free menu. The chef whips up guacamole with traditional ingredients, and offers variations loaded with fresh ingredients that put a spin on the classic dip. Current options include goat cheese and roasted poblano guacamole, and a jicama, pineapple, habanero and mint guacamole.

The decor is fun. The darkly lit venue is covered in black and white photos of luchadors and unnamed figures in a style akin to the Day of the Dead, as well as some amazing looking low-rider bicycles over the kitchen and the entrance.

Servers did a good job handling a large party. There were minor issues with pacing and handling explicit instructions from diners when business picked up. Service was pretty good if short of outstanding.

The taquitos at Momocho are nothing like the ones endlessly spinning under the hot lamp at your local gas station, or buried in the back of your college fridge. Fillings included roasted beets, spinach, spicy peanuts and queso fresco, or roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and salted pepitas, both served with a chunky pico de gallo. The ingredients change with the seasons.

The bar offers excellent margaritas in a different flavors and formulations with an excellent menu of tequila and mezcal. Beers are mostly Mexican with a domestic beer made in a Latin American pilsner style.

Momocho Mod Mex on Urbanspoon