Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Avril-Bleh & Sons | The Best of Cincinnati’s Sausages
Review by: Michael Stern
Cincinnati got is moniker Queen City before the Civil War. At that time, it was the fastest-growing metropolis in the Midwest. Shortly thereafter, it outpaced Dublin as the world’s foremost pig processor. It then earned the nickname Porkopolis. There now are bigger cities in the heartland and places that produce more pork. But we don’t know of another opportunity to savor pork in so many unique ways. Some passions express uniquely local taste: goetta and liver pudding, for example. Ribs, ham, and bacon occupy inordinate space on restaurant menus and in grocery store meat cases. Of all the ways to savor pork, Cincinnati’s sausages dominate the local diet.
Every Sausage Known to Humans
Being from Chicago, I thought I knew a thing or two about sausage. But a browse through Avril-Bleh & Sons opened my eyes. The family-run meat market has been in the pork packing business since the 19th century. Its house motto reads “A link with the past since 1894.” This vintage butcher shop makes more sausages than I ever knew existed. These include bierwurst, bratwurst,and knockwurst. Yard sausage features plenty of garlic. Bockwurst hits the shelves only in the Spring. Want a regular wiener? Will that me natural casing or skinless? There are tiny links, oatmeal rings, liverwurst, kielbasa, andouille, and chorizo. Star among them all is the city’s beloved mett. Short for mettwurst, a mett is a cured, deeply smoked, rugged-grind sausage made with both beef and pork. It looks like a regular hot dog, but is twice as portly, firmly packed inside its natural casing. It snaps when you bit it and it radiates smoky flavor.
I cannot imagine a better place to enjoy a mett than at an al fresco table on the sidewalk just outside Avril-Bleh. This is where the shop maintains a summertime cart. From it, the appetizing aroma of grilling pork wafts through the neighborhood. Unlike the gigantic repertoire of Cincinnati’s sausages inside, the cart’s menu is minimal. It cooks kielbasa, Italian sausage, chorizo, brats, cheeseburgers, hot dogs and metts. Choose one of three kinds of mett: regular, hot, cheddar. Have any of them bunned with peppers, onions, kraut, and condiments. What a splendid taste of Cincinnati!
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