What’s better than starting off a weekend with an early morning trip to Findlay Market? Ummm…nothing. I had a Friends of Findlay meeting at 9:00am, which means a stop at Blue Oven Bakery on my way in because I don’t want to take the chance they’ll be out of English muffins when the meeting is over. And, bonus score for the day, the butter croissant were on sale for $2.
The Friends of Findlay Market is a volunteer group that supports the market as well as the Findlay Corporation by serving as outreach ambassadors, tour leaders, event workers, and all-around good people sworn to “preserve, protect, and promote” Findlay. I have the good fortune to serve as the chair of the Education and Civic Committee and give historic tours on Saturday mornings. You should come as I am a most excellent story-teller and it’s free. I talk a bit about General James Findlay, whose estate donated the land where the market building has been standing since 1852. I also tell a couple of bawdy stories about the Northern Liberties and why Over the Rhine is called Over the Rhine. You’ll learn about long-time vendors like Eckerlin’s who now have the sixth generation of family members working behind the butcher counter and have been at Findlay since the beginning. Then there are the young upstarts like Taste of Belgium that got its start in 2007 making liege waffles with a single waffle iron in the back of Madison’s Market and now has 5 locations around Cincinnati and Columbus. I talk about what’s new, what’s changing, what’s staying the same, upcoming events, and why everyone should buy fresh, local, and in season. Know your farmer, know your food.
So, I walked two laps around the exterior of the market and one straight up the middle of the building and met some new friends. The first was Benjamin Ranly and Philip Ranly of Injoy Food Stand. They serve fresh, crisp, fabulous Indian inspired dishes you can scoop into your mouth as you walk along the south side of the market. I tried the Tikkasala (chicken, Basmati rice, and veg) without cilantro, thanks to Philip
for listening when I said I didn’t like it’s taste. At $6 per serving the price was right for the first round of Findlay lunch. The guys are gracious and talkative and make all their customers feel welcome. I liked their mini-kitchen set up, it reminded me of an upscale push-cart ready to bring on the Indian hand-held servings just about anywhere. I wonder if they’ve had time to think about a catering side to their business? It’d be great to have them at a backyard party or wedding reception. So much yum. I’m guessing they’ll be at Findlay all summer.Look for them on the south side on Essen Strasse near Race Street. Benjamin and Philip…leave me a comment and let us know where else you’ll be.
A little further down Essen Strasse, just past Pleasant Street, I met Isis and Chris at Arepa Place Latin Grill. Columbian food is new on the Cincinnati scene and thank goodness it’s here. They serve arepas which are thick, ground maize rounds, split like a pita and stuffed with meat, cheese, beans, and plantains then grilled to melty perfection.
Everything here is scratch made, including a choice of sauces to pour over the top. They even have one sauce that is cilantro-free, yay! The servings are large enough to share if you want. Everyone working this booth had big smiles on their faces and I could feel the passion they have for the food they serve. Arepa Place is part of the new Findlay Kitchen where food entrepreneurs rent commercial kitchen space to roll out their product and will stay there until they are ready to go out on their own. They are open Friday – Sunday and their tent is across from Saigon Market.
I love the market as the rainy spring gives way to the sunny summer. The farm shed comes alive with more and more farmers every week bringing bedding plants, gorgeous fresh-cut flowers, and baskets of organic fruits and vegetables. Findlay is a colorful, thriving, living history anchor for Cincinnati and the OTR neighborhood. Come visit and get into the market vibe.