TRY SOMETHING NEW
Chef Rob Tamez’s rotating list of dinner specials at Loby’s Grille in Jackson Township will surprise anyone expecting standard pub grub, which Loby’s also does well. This entree—panko-crusted Lake Erie perch, topped with diced tomatoes and fresh basil, and served with creamy Parmesan risotto and grilled asparagus spears—is a typical winner, both visually and flavorwise. Expect a variety of seafood, alongside pork chops, rack of lamb and other meat-lover options. —Dan Kane
UNCLE HIGGINS IN ACTION: TOUR MINERVA’S DISTILLERY
The craft brewing trend isn’t the only thing putting Stark County on the map when it comes to handcrafted spirits. H&H Distillery (unclehiggins.com), tucked into a rustic storefront in downtown Minerva, is mashing, distilling and bottling by hand its signature Uncle Higgins vodka and rum. Many local stores carry the bottles ($20 each for 750mL), but like so many things, half of the fun is in the experience! Grab a few friends and spend an afternoon at the distillery 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday to take a tour of the facility and taste samples for just 50 cents.
VIVA ITALIA: ENJOY EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY OF GERVASI
Usually if you just close your eyes, you can imagine you’re no longer at home, but on vacation. Just a few tranquil minutes are enough to relax most people.
The last thing you will want to do is close your eyes at Gervasi Vineyard. Spending a summer afternoon or evening—make it both and spend the night in one of the villa suites—can be a perfect getaway to relieve the stress of the summer hustle and bustle. Gervasi is a slice of Tuscan living in our own backyard.
The Swaldo family, which opened the winery in 2010, has added to and improved the 55-acre property every year since. There are plenty of opportunities to spend time. For $19 a person, the winery offers Saturday wine and food pairing tours that include the history of the property and a tour of the Crush House, where the wine is made. It also includes five wine and food pairings, which are 1-ounce sample sizes of wine and small-plate appetizers. It’s the perfect way to kick off dinner at the Bistro, though.
Gaining an appreciation for the history of the property alone is worth the tour. Did you know Gervasi was the sight of a 1922 shootout between Dutch Kapler and his gang, and the Canton police? The 90-minute gunfight resulted in Kapler’s death and an interesting journey for his body after that. You’ll have to take the tour to find out.
In the summer, Gervasi is an easy place to spend an entire weekend day. The Piazza now is open with live music every Tuesday through Sunday evening. The pond on the property is a great place to grab a bottle of wine, secure a couple of the Adirondack chairs and get lost on a clear summer’s night.
Visit the winery on a weekend, and you almost are guaranteed to find newlyweds walking the grounds. The winery hosted more than 120 weddings last year.
GET YOUR GRUB AL FRESCO
There is truly nothing more glorious than enjoying nibbles and sips out of doors for brunch, lunch or dinner! When dining in the open air, the entire experience takes on a jovial mood that can’t be beat, even in the heat. This summer, add our 14 favorite outdoor spots to your al fresco itinerary.
Basil Asian Bistro 585 Market Ave. N, Canton basilcanton.com
Margarita’s Mexican Grill 45 First St. NW, Massillon 330-830-1300
Sylvester’s North End Grille 4305 Portage St. NW, Jackson Twp. sylvestersgrille.com
Main Street Grille 123 S. Main St., North Canton msgrille.com
The Barrel Room 7901 Cleveland Ave. NW, Plain Twp. barrelroomwinebar.com
TD’s TAILGATE GRILL 2234 Tuscarawas St. W, Canton tdstailgategrill.com
THE CANTON CLUB (special events) 101 Central Plaza S, Canton cantonclubevents.com
JERZEE’S SPORTS GRILLE 5260 Dressler Rd. NW, Jackson Twp. jerzeesgrille.com
EADIES FISH HOUSE GRILL & BBQ 6616 Wise Ave. NW, Plain Township eadiesfishhouse.com
JIMMY’S RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE 4262 Portage St. NW, Jackson Township jimmysonportage.com
PALOMBO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT 4100 Portage St. NW, Jackson Township palombos.com
PRESTIER PUB 1326 Whipple Ave. NW, Canton Township
91 WOOD FIRED OVEN 1983 E. Maple St., North Canton | 5570 Fulton Dr. NW, Jackson Township 91rg.net
CANAL TAVERN OF ZOAR 8806 Towpath Rd. NE, Bolivar canaltavernofzoar.com
There’s nothing quite like getting it from the source! This summer, support local growers and producers by picking up fresh fruit, veggies, meats, cheeses and more from local farmers at farmers’ markets and fruit markets. With nine farmers’ markets in Stark County (and countless stands), you have plenty of options—and each one offers something a little different. Canal Fulton, Gervasi Vineyard, Jackson Township, Minerva and the Mahoning Road Corridor offer farmers’ markets during the week. If Saturday morning suits your schedule better, try Alliance, Canton, Massillon and North Canton farmers’ markets. For the complete list, look online at visitcantonstark.com for individual websites.
EAT YOUR WAY THROUGH TOWN ON A FOOD TOUR
Who doesn’t love trying new dishes? Grab some friends and head out for a food tour. Canton Food Tours (cantonfoodtours.com) offers walking and van-based tours, exploring the Hall of Fame city and surrounding region. Each foray focuses on chef’s choice dishes and drinks. Tickets are $25 to $52 per person. Want a wider-ranging tour? Canton Food Tours also has brought its popular concept in Wooster!
Another adventure to try? Foodie Field Trips (foodiefieldtripsohio.com) offers tours exploring Stark County, Cleveland and other destinations in Northeast Ohio. These trips range from $60 to $85.
And if your sweet tooth gets the better of you, try Fannie May/Harry London Chocolates (fanniemay.com), which offers free, 45-minute guided chocolate tours in the facility on Lauby Road. Learn all about chocolate and end your tour with a free sample.
MAKE THE PERFECT MOJITO
•fresh mint leaves (5-10 per cocktail)
•Place fresh mint leaves (5-10) and three lime wedges into a Collins glass.
•Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime together, then add about 2 teaspoons of sugar (to taste).
•Fill the glass to the top with ice and pour in 1-1/2 shots of white rum.
•Top with 1/2 cup of club soda.
•Garnish with a sprig of mint and (optional) lime wedge.
GO HOG WILD
Homemade bacon is one of the easiest smoked meats you can prepare. This savory version is balanced with a hint of heat from cayenne and chipotle, a dark note from allspice and an herbacious undertone from thyme. If the pork belly you find is skin-on, you can slice it off using a thin fillet knife, or ask your butcher to remove it.
The optional pink curing salt called for here (not the same thing as pink Himalayan salt) adds color; it is available at Williams-Sonoma stores and online via Amazon.com. Before the smoking step, you’ll need to soak a cup of apple wood chips (preferably) or hickory or cherry wood chips in water for 1 hour. And you’ll need an instant-read thermometer. Make ahead: The spice mixture can be refrigerated up to 3 days in advance. The bacon needs to cure in the refrigerator for 7 days; the rinsed, drained bacon needs to air-dry in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours. The air-dried bacon can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. The cured, smoked bacon needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
—Jim Shahin, The Washington Post
• 2 1/2 pounds skinless pork belly
• 2 tablespoons kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
• 1/2 teaspoon pink curing salt (optional)
• Rinse the belly and dry it thoroughly. Trim it so that it forms a long rectangle. (Reserve/freeze the excess pieces to add to beans or greens.)
• Combine the kosher salt, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, allspice, chipotle powder and pink salt, if using, in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Add the pork belly and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Massage to distribute the curing mix evenly. Refrigerate for 7 days; turn the bag over once a day.
• Rinse the cure from the meat, and pat the meat dry with paper towels. Let the meat air-dry in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.
• Prepare the grill for indirect heat. If using a gas grill, turn the heat to high. Drain the chips and put them in a smoker box or foil packet poked with a few fork holes to release the smoke; set it between the grate and the briquettes, close to the flame. When you see smoke, reduce the heat to medium-high (450 degrees). Turn off the burners on one side.
• If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them on one side of the grill. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Scatter the wood chips over the coals. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.
• Place the pork belly on the indirect-heat side of the grill. Close the lid and cook/smoke for 1 hour. Slide an instant-read thermometer into one side of the belly; when the bacon is done, its internal temperature should register 150 degrees. If it is below that, smoke for about 30 more minutes, but don’t worry about the exact internal temperature of the meat; you are just giving it smoke for flavor.
• Transfer the slab of bacon to a cutting board; once it has cooled completely, wrap it in aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 week. Before using, set the bacon in the freezer for about 10 minutes; chilled bacon is easier to slice.
• Fry thin slices in skillet over medium heat for about 4 minutes per side, until crisp. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Makes 40 thin slices.
There are tons of things to do in and around Stark County this summer. Check out our list for a fun-filled summer.