By Terri Weeks
Posted On: May 11, 2015
Barb Cooper, founder of Cincinnati Food Tours, became a tour guide rather accidentally. As owners of Daisy Mae’s Market, a fresh produce store on the perimeter of Findlay Market, Barb and her husband Barry often found themselves answering questions and giving recommendations to shoppers. Sometimes the questions were basic inquiries, such as the location of the restrooms, but other times people wanted specific recommendations on where they could find a good bowl of soup or a cup of coffee. Barb recalled a culinary tour she had enjoyed with friends in another city and decided that Cincinnati needed something similar. And although Findlay Market is Ohio’s oldest public market, Barb observed that first time visitors were often intimidated and could benefit from a tour.
The Taste the World at Findlay Market tour has all the ingredients of a good culinary tour: a brief history of the market and some of its merchants with several samples mixed in. Most of the 90-minute tours are scheduled for either Wednesday mornings or Saturday afternoons. While Saturdays at the market are bustling with activity and several street vendors, Wednesday tour group sizes tend to be smaller with a more intimate look at the market. A friend and I opted for the quieter Wednesday morning tour.
Our tour started at Daisy Mae’s, then took us to six different stops around the market. Findlay Market spans two city blocks in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and includes an indoor market building, several storefronts in the perimeter buildings, and street vendors. I love that the building facades reflect the vibrant colors of the produce found throughout the market.
While you’re admiring the hues, be sure to look up inside the market building at the red iron framework. Barb told us that this is the original framework of the market which was initially built as an open-sided pavilion.
Findlay Market has a pleasing combination of vendors that sell raw food and prepared food. Newer start-ups dwell side by side with merchants that have been in business for several generations. Barb works with about 20 different merchants that sell prepared food and provide samples for tour participants. She selects six of those for each tour, which means that each tour is different.
Participants can take the tour multiple times and taste something different each time. Our first stop was Fresh Table, a chef-owned operation that specializes in sustainable, local, and organic food. Founder Meredith Trombly, spoke to the group for several minutes, then gave us a sample of her Blueberry Bliss salad which contains feta cheese and fresh mint leaves.
Our other stops included Velvet Smoke BBQ, Cincinnati’s only championship barbecue; Taste of Belgium where we sampled their amazing waffles; Churchill’s Fine Teas, one of my tea-loving family’s favorites; Dean’s Mediterranean Imports; and Cake Rack Bakery. We loved not only the opportunity to sample the food, but hearing the merchants’ stories. My friend and I agreed that we already loved Findlay Market, but this tour further enhanced our appreciation of it.
For more food tours, Find It Here. at Ohio.org.