Hey y’all! Every fall I head home to Ohio for a chance to enjoy family, friends, football and food. I decided to share some of my favorite moments from the trip with you.
Let me state for the record that I love southeastern Louisiana. I consider it my permanent home. However, there is nothing like fall in the Midwest. It is truly the best time of the year. It is harvest time, so all the summer crops are coming in and are plentiful. The summer heat has given way to cooler, more comfortable temperatures. The trees are changing and mother nature is putting on its own fireworks displays on the hills and in the valleys. The woods explode with beautiful hues of green, brown, red, gold and even rich dark purple. The fall also brings football to nearly every high school and college in the Midwest.
I make a point to return home to northeastern Ohio (the Youngstown area) each fall to get my fill of all of those special things fall brings. I usually base this trip around back to back home football games at my alma mater, Youngstown State University. I love to watch my beloved Penguins play two games at YSU’s Stambaugh Stadium (or as we call it the Ice Castle). It’s great to see old classmates, colleagues, and other familiar faces and places in Youngstown. This year we enjoyed the game, tailgating and a quick picture with YSU’s new President and former Head Football Coach and Athletic Director, Jim Tressel.
Food is a huge part of the Ohio trip. It is a chance for me to get some of my favorite foods from home. The first thing I need to mention is the cheese from home. There are a lot of dairy farms in northeastern Ohio. And where there is milk, there is bound to be cheese. There is a cheese shop not far from my father’s house that I love. I have remembered going there since I was a little kid.Yaggi Cheese House is a place where you can get the very best of what local and regional cheese makers have to offer. In fact every year they help me pack up a big bag of my favorite cheeses and other goodies to take back to Louisiana with me.
Back home we have a lot of really great grub. We have some really good Steakhouses and sandwich places (whether they are bars, family restaurants, or diners). We have quite possibly the best Amish restaurants in the country. My particular favorite at home is a place called Dutch Valley. Now at this point, you might ask “What is Amish food?” Amish food is basically homestyle stuff like fried or baked chicken, ham, pot roast, fresh vegetables (like peas, corn, carrots, green beans), mashed potatoes, noodles, gravy. You know kinda like the stuff you eat on holidays. The Amish eat this stuff everyday. It is really something.
Another cuisine that is well represented back home (especially in Youngstown) is Italian cuisine. Many places do great Italian fare. Pizza at home is the best. In Youngstown you don’t get pizza from Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, or Domino’s Pizza. You get it from the bar or “mom and pop” place around the corner. My favorite pizza place in Youngstown is The Elmton. This place is part neighborhood bar part classic Youngstown family restaurant. They have a pretty wide menu that includes broasted chicken, sandwiches, sides, and of course pizza. They also have great pierogis. This place is a must stop whenever I am home and it never disappoints!
We also manage to do a little cooking of our own when I get home. I usually like to make breakfast when I’m on vacation. A big part of my Ohio breakfasts is a regional breakfast meat called krepples. My Louisiana folks would describe krepples as “being like Hog Head Cheese, except that it’s not”. I know this is a horrible explanation, but it’s the best I can do on here. We also like to whip up our own pizza’s and Calzones while we are visiting the family. It’s a great way to relax and bond. It’s also a great way to get a full stomach. Whether it is in Ohio or Louisiana, I am always down for that!