Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: Cincinnati 2013

Eckerlin Meats: Gotta get Goetta…

During my brief stint in the Queen City, I wanted to sample one of those signature regional dishes exclusively found in the city of Cincinnati: Goetta.  Goetta, for those of you as unacquainted as I was, is a breakfast patty style sausage of German American origin believed to have been developed by working class German immigrants in the mid 19th century.  Composed of ground pork, beef, onions spices and steel cut oats, the dish is a holdover from times when meat budgets had to be stretched out over several meals.  Today it stands as a cultural nuance unique to Cincinnati, and worthy of a sample.

Shortly after the Bearcats game, I made a bee line towards the historic Findlay Market in search of a place called Eckerlin Meats, rumored to have the best Goetta in town.  In continuous operation since 1852, Eckerlin has been a family butcher shop for over 160 years, likely the oldest establishment I have visited on my travels.  As I press into the tiny storefront, I’m greeted by Christa and her husband Bob, the 5th generation owners of the cozy butcher shop.  With an enticing array of house cured meats tucked behind glass cases, I motion towards the Goetta, shelved in a long, pressed loaf.

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After sharing my story with them, they generously offer to fire up the cooktop (already shut down for the day), and crisp up a few slices for me.  Bob tells me that they go through about 500lbs of the stuff here a week at Eckerlin’s, and the city of Cincinnati consumes some 2 million lbs of the dish annually.

Already pre cooked the Goetta crisps up quickly. Christa presents me with a golden browned slice of the meat, along with a Goetta and egg breakfast sandwich.  Crispy on the outside, the interior is chewy and filling, with notes of onion and mild spicing.  After sampling both offerings, the dish most closely resembles scrapple or haggis.  But the savory profile of pork and beef pairs perfectly with a few eggs, and this makes for one fantastic breakfast accompaniment.

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Before I leave, I have Bob vacuum seal a few pounds of the stuff for me to take back to St. Louis.   After a long night out on the town, Goetta deserves a shot in the vaunted hangover breakfast rotation and I’ll have a few chunks in the freezer ready to go…

Eckerlin Meats Website:

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Cincinnati vs Purdue – Bearcats bury the Boilermakers…

It’s an early wakeup call in Nashville. My iphone starts a frenzied dance at 5:30 and I rub my eyes trying to fight off a few extra cocktails with Dave and Merritt the night before.  It’s a four hour ride into Cincinnati from Nashville, and I lose an hour to the time zone shift.  With a noon kickoff looming, I’m on the road by 6am, with slim margin for error.

The roads are quiet on Saturday morning, a few errant truckers are the only ones out this early.  I cruise effortlessly up Interstate 65 north, right through the heart of Kentucky Bourbon country.  For a moment, I consider ditching the Bearcats game entirely, instead spending the afternoon nursing a few caramel filled drams of Buffalo Trace, Four Roses and Woodford Reserve whiskeys.  But that’s another trip for later this year, and the exotic allure of southern Ohio beckons me northward.

After a few more hours, I finally cross the Ohio River into Cincinnati and zip towards Nippert Stadium.  Skirting the western edge of the sprawling campus, I flow past the fraternities lining Clifton Avenue.  Hundreds of students are crammed onto the lawns playing beer pong in the morning sun, and a hand painted sign reads “Honk and we’ll do a shot”.  I salute their spirit, and lay on the feeble Volkswagen horn as I drive by.  Scouring the side streets for free parking, I eventually rub a few bumpers shoehorning into a tiny space on Riddell Road.  With kickoff looming only thirty minutes away, I have to hustle over to campus and find a ticket.

Unsurprisingly, a ticket proves easy to find and I snap one up for $15 and press into the packed stadium.  Built in 1924, Nippert is one of the older venues in college football, but sits in stark contrast to the ultra modern architecture surrounding the field.  The Cincinnati campus at large is a fascinating dichotomy of design.  Home to dozens of traditional Georgian style brick facades, these buildings are now flanked by ultra modern, sleek steel structures – a cause championed by their well renowned Architecture & Design School.  In fact, much of the newer construction on campus is a who’s who of contemporary “starchitects”, including commissions by notables such as Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi and Michael Graves.

Entering the stadium, however, it’s quickly evident that somewhere along the line I missed the memo about the game being a “white out”, where all the fans have chosen to wear white to support their team.  Donned in a black polo shirt (a traditional color for Cincinnati), I now find that I blend in closer with the Purdue fans in attendance.  Certainly never a good look.

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As the game kicks off under the scorching afternoon sun, the Bearcats go to work on the Boilermakers.  After the teams trade a few initial interceptions, Cincinnati dual threat quarterback Munchie Legaux, among the better names in college football, starts carving up the Purdue defense.

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The mercury is touching 95 degrees, and I retreat to the shade underneath the grandstands and watch the game from a standing room only section on the concourse.  With a City Barbecue tent nearby, I decide to put their “Texans are jealous” slogan to the test.  After a few bites of the $8.50 pulled pork sandwich,  it’s surprisingly passable cue’ for stadium fare, but I can assure you that nobody from Texas is actually jealous.  A draft Yuengling from a nearby concession, however, is an oasis on a hot day, and I gulp the ice cold lager down heartily.  Cincinnati now joins the elite ranks of three universities I have visited that sell beer in the stands (West Virginia and Louisville being the other two).

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As the second half winds on, the Bearcats extend their lead.  After the third frame, they sit comfortably in command at 28-7, and some of the sunburnt crowd starts filing out of the furnace for cooler environs.  I find a cushioned seat under the shade of the grandstands, and watch the remainder of the contest as the Bearcats cruise to a lopsided 42-7 victory.  Nursing a cool Yuengling and watching Purdue get stomped proves a satisfying way to spend the afternoon.

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Full Clickthrough gallery below:

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