It's finally starting to feel like fall -- and thank goodness. I'm looking forward to sipping some warm, spicy concoction in a coffee cup while walking down the street.
If you, too, are looking to get into fall food-wise, here are a few delicious ideas.
Visit Findlay Market (or your favorite farmer's market).: The seasons are changing and so are the crops from our community of local farmers. We are ideally located in Cincinnati to have locally grown seasonal produce, and fall produces an abundance of delicious items. Tomatoes and watermelons are yielding to fresh, local apples and squash. Don't abandon your farmer's markets just because the summer harvest is over; there are a lot of great options coming up soon. www.findlaymarket.org
Mita's: The aforementioned farm-fresh root vegetables are at the heart of several of Mita's lunch dishes. The roasted cauliflower with seasonal figs and pine nuts is nearly a meal in itself, and the quinoa, roasted carrot and beet salad is a delicately spiced taste of fall. mitas.co
Neltner's Farms: There's nothing like grabbing a pumpkin and some apple cider right on the farm. Starting Oct. 1, Neltner's hosts its fall festival, where you can get pumpkins (both for carving and pies), apples and other farm-fresh treats. For $5 on weekends, get a horse-drawn carriage ride to the pumpkin patch; on weekdays visit the farm store for your fall recipe needs. www.neltnersfarm.com
Ohio Sauerkraut Festival: Head to Waynesville (and get there early) to partake in Ohio's only sauerkraut festival Oct. 8-9. Available dishes with sauerkraut include sauerkraut pizza, fudge, doughnuts, cookies and pies. You also can get German sundaes (think mashed potatoes instead of ice cream) and egg rolls (sauerkraut instead of regular cabbage), cabbage rolls, Polish cabbage soup and lots of pork. www.sauerkrautfestival.com
Salazar: The Bruce Banner cocktail changes with the seasons. It always includes your choice of spirit (vodka, bourbon, tequila) over a giant fruit-and-tea-based ice cube. This time, bar manager Steven Clement has combined yuzu and cranberry to take this drink from summer into fall. The best part? It changes as the ice melts and combines with the spirit, so when you begin sipping the drink it's spirit-forward; by the end it's mellow, fruity and a little sweet. salazarcincinnati.com
The Rookwood: Something about this restaurant just screams fall -- is it the brick and wood, the hearty menu or the kilns? In the fall, I love chef Jackson Rouse's twist on comfort foods. Try the chicken and dumplings with confit chicken thighs and thyme gnocchi. www.therookwood.com
Jag's Steak & Seafood: Have an occasion to eat early? Try the “Seasonal 56” at Jag's, a fall-focused, three-course prix fixe menu offered only from 5-6 p.m. Try items like scallops in pumpkin beurre blanc, a harvest salad with quinoa, acorn squash, apple and Brussels sprouts, or caramel apple bread pudding. (There are three items to choose from for each course.) It's a great value at $38.56 per person. jags.com
Butcher Betties: Fall means tailgating, and Allison Hines from Butcher Betties, a big football fan herself, has everything you need to create the most delicious tailgate ever. Try bacon burger chili, white chicken chili, beer cheese, Buffalo chicken dip or chicken wings, all ready for your party. Find her at Friendly Market in Florence. www.butcherbetties.com
Wildflower Cafe: Truffle season is upon us, with black truffle harvest beginning in late autumn and white truffles coming into season in October. Celebrate truffles with Wildflower Cafe's truffled mushroom fonduta, with wild mushrooms, local eggs and cream, and 16 Bricks bread. www.wildflowergourmetcafe.com
Bonus: I usually write about only local stuff. But I have to admit some love for Starbucks' new fall drink -- and it's not the ubiquitous symbol of fall, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Try the chile mocha, with just enough heat to warm you up. (It's not nearly as sweet as a PSL.)