By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

On this extended holiday, its time to count our blessings — and also to get a glimpse of what the rest of the world knows about us now, thanks to the Travelling Foodie, Raymond Cua, who spent four days in Covington, eating and drinking his way around the region.

Raymond Cua (Photo provided by the Travelling Foodie)

Cua, who is based in Toronto, founded the Travelling Foodie, a travel and lifestyle digital magazine, in 2014 — and since then has explored the world. BLINK brought him to the Greater Cincinnati region. He stayed at the Coppin Hotel, which he highly recommends, and sampled some special food and drink. He wrote about his experiences and also shared reviews, videos, and photos with his legion of readers.

Travelling Foodie features detailed travel guides and itineraries, restaurants, local cuisine and recipes, and things to do and accommodations. Its vision is for “people to realize the beauty in this world we live in and get a taste of what it has to offer in aspects of travel and nature, food and drinks, and lifestyle and events.”

As he says “he travels to eat — and eats to travel.”

Its especially good to see ourselves as others see us.

With Cua’s permission, I am sharing specifically what he had to say about Northern Kentucky:

Taste foods unique to Cincinnati Region

Double Decker GLT with chips. (All photos compliments of the Travelling Foodie)

Most people are surprised to learn that the Cincy Region has its own local foods.

German and Greek immigrants have brought their cuisine and created dishes to adapt to the region.

Foodies will not want to leave Cincy Region without trying these iconic dishes like the Cincinnati chili, goetta, and buckeye candies.

At Anchor Grill, you can try different goetta dishes including goetta omelette.

In fact, New York Times food critic Helen Rosner listed Anchor Grill’s double decker GLT (Goetta, Lettuce, Tomato) as one of the best things she’s eaten in the decade.

This 24-hour diner was named best diner in Kentucky by Food Wine Magazine.

At Gold Star Chili, you can try different dishes of the iconic Cincinnati chili from chili salad and loaded chili cheese fries to cheese coneys (hotdog sandwich with chili) and the classic 3-Way (spaghetti, chili and shredded cheddar cheese).

If it’s your first time, I recommend going big and get the 5-Way which is the 3-Way plus beans and onions for the full Cincinnati chili experience.

Kentucky Bourbon

Did you even visit Kentucky if you didn’t have bourbon?

Kentucky is the Bourbon Country after all.

And Northern Kentucky is the North’s Gateway to Bourbon Country.

In the Cincy Region, Northern Kentucky makes it easy for you to enjoy Kentucky Bourbon by having The B-Line.

Don’t miss New Riff Distillery in Newport

This NKY self-guided Bourbon Trail is comprised of 5 Craft Distilleries, 8 Bourbon Bars and 6 Bourbon-centric Restaurants, including Coppin’s at Hotel Covington.

If you’re a bourbon or spirit lover, you have to visit New Riff Distilling in Newport, one of the best craft distilleries in Northern Kentucky and an award-winning anchor of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.

At New Riff Distilling, they not only serve bourbon but also rye whiskey and gin.

They also have some unique and specialties whiskeys like the New Riff Winter Whiskey made with malted oat and chocolate malt, and the Balboa Rye Whiskey made with a local heirloom grain (balboa rye) grown by their corn farmer in Indiana.

For the full experience, I highly recommend doing their Bonded Tour, which includes a tour of the distillery and a tasting of six New Riff whiskeys from straight and single barrel to bourbon and rye.

Stay and dine in the Best Hotel in Kentucky

Looking for where to stay in Cincy Region?

Farmer’s Omelette— smoked ham, aged cheddar with beef fast breakfast potatoes.

Named the Best Hotel in Kentucky by U.S. News and World Report, Hotel Covington is conveniently located in downtown Covington.

This boutique hotel is located in the historic Coppin’s Department Store and pays homage on its namesake restaurant Coppin’s Restaurant and Bar.

I stayed at their Coppin King, a charming 350 square feet room with Flat screen LCD, a stocked mini fridge, in-room safe and a desk.

An extra touch in the room was having two tokens for complimentary coffee at the Artisan Coffee Bar in the Hotel Covington lobby.

You’ll also want to dine at Coppin’s, one of the best restaurants in Covington, for some hyper-local dishes like the Farmer’s Omelette.

Enjoy farm-to-table dining

Farm-to-table dining has grown as people become more interested in knowing where their food comes from, and the Cincy Region has plenty to offer.

When you dine at farm-to-table restaurants, it’s not only about eating what’s fresh and seasonal, you’re also supporting the local farmers and growers that produce them.

On the table at Baker’s Table: BTB BLT, Summer beans, Orchard Fruits, BLINK Cocktail

Chef David Willocks and designer Wendy Braun put Newport, Kentucky into the culinary map with their farm-to-table restaurant The Baker’s Table which was in both USA Today and Eater Magazine’s list of Best New Restaurants in the US.

The Baker’s Table started as a simple concept of being a brunch restaurant that uses local produce and makes 100% of their bread, and has transitioned into a dinner restaurant serving Prix Fixe dining only.

But don’t fret because, in October 2021, they opened a casual neighbourhood spot, a bakery, cafe and pizzeria, just across The Baker’s Table so you can still enjoy their farm-to-table options for breakfast and lunch.

At The Baker’s Table Bakery & Pizzeria, all the breads are made with organic, stone-ground, whole grain flour, and they feature local flour exclusively.

With all the bread and kitchen setup, it was a natural extension to make pizza which gives them a way to incorporate local produce from their farmers.

While in Cincy Region, you definitely must-try their farm-to-table pizza (the dough is very flavourful on its own!) and treat yourself to some airy fluffy doughnuts.

Imbibe in rare spirits older than 50+ years

Cincy Region is home to one of the most unique liquor shops I’ve been to.

Enjoy ‘old’ bourbon at Revival — with Brad Bonds

When you step inside Revival Vintage Spirits, it’s literally like a museum for impossible-to-find antique spirits and spirits from a bygone era.

You feel like you’re in a Willy Wonka shop but for rare spirits.

In this case, Willy Wonka is co-owner Brad “Dusty” Bonds, America’s foremost vintage spirits collector and one of the most passionate people I’ve met for spirits.

Revival Vintage Spirits is also female-owned with co-owner and Covington City Commissioner Shannon Smith, which is quite refreshing to see in a male-dominated industry.

“We shop in people’s trash and make it your treasure,” says Brad while showing me dusty old bottles of whiskeys from the 30s and 40s.

The oldest I saw in their collection is a 1870 rye with a deteriorating cork leaving a low filled rye as most have evaporated.

A rare treat. Jim Beam 1986 Harp Seal with Baby Seal Whiskey

What’s amazing about Revival Vintage Spirits is, while restaurants and bars charge highly for vintage spirits, Revival makes these rare spirits very accessible and affordable to the common person.

At Revival, you can try a vintage 1986 Jim Beam pour for $5, or a rare Cuban cordial from the 30s for $25 per half ounce (where it might cost in the hundreds elsewhere).

You can spend hours just sitting at the bar, enjoying a vintage spirit tasting surrounded by rare spirits while chatting with Brad.

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Other places of note in Cincinnati

Cua definitely got around. He also made special note of Greater’s Ice Cream, the legendary but closed Maisonette living on through Boca and its elegant fine dining French Restaurant, Knox Joseph Distillery, the only female-owner distillery in Ohio, and Salazar Restaurant and Ghost Baby underground bar in Over-the-Rhine.

He said, “What I really loved is how the Cincy Region has unique attributes and offerings in a culinary perspective. There are more than enough places to keep any travelling foodie happy for a long time, especially with all the spirits involved.”

Cua “had such a fun and delicious time” on the trip to the region, understands he just “scratched the surface” and hopes to return.

He sent his readers to the meetnky website so they could learn even more about what Northern Kentucky has to offer.

You should probably check it out, too — there are always new things to learn about the place you live and love.


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