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The very first thing I did after signing up to move to the far west of West Virginia for six months was to log on to Mapquest. I’d be living in an entirely new and unfamiliar area of the country, and I wanted to know where my husband and I could go to eat.

The options were limited. Charlottesville, Va., Asheville, N.C., Knoxville, Tenn., all cities with reputations for good food, are more than five hours’ drive away. It takes seven hours to get home to Washington and eight hours to get to Memphis. Only 21/2 hours away, though, was Columbus, Ohio, a city I’d never thought much about visiting, let alone considered a culinary destination.

Shows what I know.

The once-conservative Ohio capital has blossomed into a certified food lovers’ town, with serious cocktails and microbrews, pastries worthy of Paris, fantastical ice cream flavors – think peanut with toasted coconut and chili – and extraordinary food shopping. In November, food guru Michael Ruhlman, who had dismissed Columbus as “Applebee’s country” on an episode of the TV show “No Reservations,” very publicly revised his judgment, calling the city a worthier food destination than his beloved home town of Cleveland.