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Headed to Taste? Here are 9 must-eats

Posted: 5:15 PM, May 26, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-26 17:15:40-04
Headed to Taste? Here are 9 must-eats

It's Taste of Cincinnati time again, and this year there are even more options than usual.

As always, restaurants from around the city will offer their best dishes, and some high-end restaurants will have limited-run offerings. For this edition, local caterers will show off their talents, too, on Monday in three-hour increments.

RELATED:  Download WCPO's guide to Taste

There are so many choices that picking only nine is a challenge. As always, I'm looking for things that are a little more difficult to get -- there are no chains in this list.

Expand your horizons! Here's what I'll be trying at Taste of Cincinnati this year.

APPETIZERS

Kate's Catering and Personal Chef Services: Pork Belly and Blue Cheese Gougeres

Gougeres are a combination of pastry dough and cheese that puff up into airy bites. Combine crisp, cheesy pastry and savory pork belly? I want to start every meal with these.

Urban Vistro: Porkopolis Sweet and Sassy BBQ Rinds

What is more Cincinnati than pork? Throw in a nod to the classic local chipmaker Husman's flavor, and you have a winning, munchable, crunchable combo that is great for walking around Taste.

Alfio's Buon Cibo: Buffalo Chicken Empanada

Served at Alfio's sister restaurant, Che, these Buffalo Chicken Empanadas are great. It's a taste of Argentina with an American flair, spicy with a cool kick of homemade blue cheese.

ENTREES

Forno Osteria: Pork Milanesa Panino

Featured on Forno's brunch menu, this breaded pork cutlet with arugula, tomato and lemon-caper mayonnaise on Blue Oven "Bad Boy" bread sounds like more than a bite -- it's something good to share with friends.

Jeff Thomas Catering: Colorado Lamb Spare Ribs with Honey Chipotle Apple Coleslaw

Lamb spare ribs? Yes, please. Jeff Thomas Catering always has unique offerings. (If you've been to any food-related events in town, you've likely had his food.) Spare ribs are a perfect dish for Taste: You can walk around with them, and it's a nice-sized portion. Sweet-spicy coleslaw is a fine accompaniment to rich lamb ribs.

Empanadas Aqui: The Hairy Arepa

An arepa is a flat, thick pancake made out of masa, which is similar to cornmeal. These pancakes are fried to a golden brown and topped with all matter of things -- in this case, carne mechado (simmered steak with seasonings, onions, peppers and leeks) and gouda cheese. They're a little messy but classic street food.

DESSERTS 

Bella Luna: Blueberry Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

This Best of Taste award-winner is one for a reason. Imagine a generous portion of soft, custardy bread pudding studded with chocolate chips and blueberries and a rich caramel-y sauce. Save room for this one.

The Jaded Fork: Buckeye Brownie

The Jaded Fork is a fixture at farmers markets around the city and also has a catering service. Try the rich, chocolate-and-peanut-butter take on a brownie. This is the kind of item I'd wrap up in a napkin and save for later. (But if you need immediate gratification, I'll understand.)

streetpops: Thai Basil Lime pop 

I'm hoping that Memorial Day weekend will be hot, considering the cool weather we've had lately. If it is, you will want a streetpop, and the Thai Basil Lime is like a margarita in popsicle form. It's a great complement to the delicious Asian fare at Taste of Cincinnati!

Bonus: Taste Experience

Though each restaurant is featured only for a limited amount of time, you have some prime opportunities to taste some of Cincinnati's best. Try some Firey Lionhead Meatballs from Huit, a Samosa burrito from Melt in Northside or any of Jenny's Homemade Cookies.