At Z Place, oenophiles sample a medley of newly discovered domestic and imported wine varietals along with handpicked pairings of complementary cheeses. Douse your mouth with red selections including the medium-bodied merlot—which harmonizes with tangy gruyere, parmesan, and gorgonzola—as well as the mildly fruity cabernet sauvignon, complemented with nutty and sharp cheddar and blue cheese. Feta, goat cheese, and asiago bring the tart notes of the sauvignon blanc to life like a lime playing a kazoo. Grab a grape-blooded partner for a sipping soirée within Z Place's charming pale-yellow and red confines, littered with an abundance of wine bottles, high-top tables, chalkboard signage, and a Persian rug.
A humble standalone shop with an impressive inventory, Pipkin's provides the area with locally raised produce, specialty groceries, fresh-from-the-plot flowers, and more. Using a 100-mile radial rule of thumb, the store trucks in juicy and sweet eats from Ohio, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and anywhere flavorful greenery grows. Food-pyramid summiteers can snag one of 20 varieties of apples ($0.99 per pound) or a few bunches of spotless bananas ($0.49 per pound), while pigskin fans can snag some homemade salsa and guacamole ($3.99–$5.99). Before the leaves fall and the sun burns out, families can also stock up on pumpkins—nature's emotional lantern ($0.39 per pound).
Voted the best stop for chocoholics by Ohio magazine, the Dayton-based Esther Price infuses its old-fashioned chocolate concoctions with dairy-fresh cream and butter—pairing rich cocoa with several fruity and savory flavors. Sample an array of aromas with the 18-ounce light and dark assorted chocolates ($12.30), with each box containing a sampling of Esther Price's most popular pieces—coconut cream, peanut butter cream, caramel pecans, cherries, almond toppers, and more. Other options include the chocolate-coated pretzels ($9.75), which come dipped in light or white chocolate, and the 8-ounce sweetheart mints ($7.55), which offer a decadent way to freshen one's breath before a hoverboat driving test. For those who prefer their sweets minus the sucrose, the confectionary also offers plenty of sugar-free options. Tentative tasters can use the Esther Price candy key to determine what flavors are contained within each morsel before tasting.
Blackberry tart. Banana-nut bread. Cinnamon-twist danish. They’re not decadent treats in a glass display case at the local bakery, but intoxicating aromas and robust flavors found at La Crema Coffee Company. Owned by Melissa and Dan Flohn, La Crema takes 100% Colombian coffee beans and transforms them into three dozen unique breakfast, afternoon, and dessert flavors such as chocolate raspberry, amaretto truffle, and bananas foster. For purists, the company imports unflavored blends from Central and South America, Indonesia, and Africa. It even vends a selection of non-coffee beverages, as well as hand-beaded coffee scoops and accessories for measuring coffee grounds or spooning them over breakfast cereal.
At The Learning Kitchen, highly trained instructors will help chop-happy visitors pick up handy tips for deft cuisine preparation. Grub-crafting students will slice, dice, and nibble-ize tongue-luring fare amid a sleek kitchen classroom. Top-notch boiling, frying, searing, and particle-accelerating equipment is on hand at 12 cooking stations as participants learn to wield quality knives and shurikens with nimble-handed dexterity. Chefs not only provide step-by-step instruction, but also teach useful chopping and sautéing techniques. A wide range of hands-on cooking classes is available, including a gnocchi workshop, neighborhood barbecue, vegetarian proteins, sushi rolling, and Thai. When dinner is done, students will sample their scrumptiously prepared meals in a sit-down dining area. Before they leave, students will receive recipe copies, saving them the trouble of scrubbing their hands free of ditto-machine wax.
In a dining room with blue walls and green booths, patrons of TC Thai Cafe can savor Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisine, all prepared without a trace of MSG. Cooks crush peanuts for pad Thai, simmer duck in rich panang curry with avocado, and blend fresh pineapple and cashews into fried rice. In cold weather, diners can warm up with bowls of flavorful Vietnamese pho.
Enjoy the crisp fall air while partaking in outdoor activities with two wristbands that offer unlimited access to a seven-acre “Explore Cincy”-themed corn maze. Visiting all of the corn-lined labyrinth’s stations rewards explorers with a prize. After mastering the maze, enjoy as many 25- to 30-minute hayrides as you can handle. The ride provides a relaxing tour of the farm and nearby pumpkin patch, where visitors are able to peruse and pick a pumpkin (cost of pumpkin not included with this Groupon). Families can wander along a 1,600-foot walking path as it meanders through a 7-acre sunflower field, while concessions such as hand-dipped caramel apples are available for purchase. The wristband also includes $1.00 off an All Museums Pass to the Cincinnati Museum Center. Free parking is offered to further guests’ carefree enjoyment of the autumnal entertainment.