Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Dilly of a Deli

You already know that Peter's favorite animal is the pig. But I think we'd both agree that our favorite food group is cheese. That's right--not dairy--just cheese. Peter proposed to me by planning a picnic in Alms Park that consisted mostly of cheese along with its best friends bread and wine. I'm not sure if he got the cheese from the Dilly Deli on that particular occasion, but it's a meal we recreate there frequently.

The Dilly Deli has come a long way over the years since it relocated to the Mariemont Strand. It started out as just a small storefront and has now expanded into a charming restaurant, wine and cheese shop. The part store-part restaurant atmosphere is crowded, cozy, and reminiscent of a European cafe. You can eat inside, outside (they've got a nice outdoor fireplace for chilly evenings), or just carry out a selection of delectable goodies like we did last night.

Part of the fun is just perusing all the lovely selections of none too ordinary foodstuffs. A beautiful array of cheese is at the forefront, with a staff ready and willing to help you find the flavors and textures just for you. Then there are all the beautiful jars of honey, jam, sauce, tapenade and countless types of crackers, flatbreads and other "bases" for the cheese and other accompaniments. What I love is that you'll find hidden containers throughout the shelves that have small samples of the various crackers so you can get just a bit of a taste before making your selection. Last night I sampled varieties of crackers that tasted like red wine, lasagna, and vanilla. And I took much more than my fair "sample" share of almond cranberry biscotti.

If you choose to eat a more traditional meal, you'll find everything from gourmet salads to homemade soups to delicious sandwiches. I highly recommend the Mariemont Gobbler if you're in a sandwich mood--turkey layered with Brie and lettuce on a baguette, topped with the truly special ingrdient, Cranberry Fool (you'll have to look up that one yourself). I'm also a sucker for the Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus Salad. I've never tried any of the entrees, but they offer things like seared Ahi and Grilled Ribeye, as well as all kinds of pasta dishes.

Last night, we of course ended up mostly with cheese, some of which smelled like sweaty feet but tasted pretty darn good all runny and oozy (make sure to eat this and all cheese at room temperature). We had some crackers of course, and the last bowls of Tuscan Bean and Chicken with Wild Rice Soup the deli had to offer. Oh yes, and Peter threw on a Chicken Salad Sandwich for good measure. All in all, the perfect meal.

If you're wondering, yes Peter cringed at the title on this blog entry (maybe I should just stick with the straightforward restaurant names as I've been doing). So what, Mr. Big Time Creative Director, does "dilly" mean anyway? All he could tell me was that Ned Flanders uses the expression "dilly of a pickle" when he's in a tough spot.


The damage: $35 or so, and we've got tons of cheese and crackers still left for tonight's snacks

Watch out for: service can be a little bit slow, so go on a night when you don't have anywhere particular to be at any particular time

Food: 4.5 forks

Romance: 4 kisses, because with all that wine and cheese, how can it not be "romantical?"

Dilly Deli
6818 Wooster Pike (in the Mariemont Strand)
Cincinnati, Ohio 45227

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