A Little Bit of Culture from Cincinnati, OH


It’s no secret that I love big cities. The culture of them, the busyness, the up tempo that seems to fill the streets. The many many restaurants, bars, wine clubs, coffee shops, sports arenas, marketplaces, performance art venues and street performers, museums, parks, residences of all status ‘and businesses that make up a big city. There is usually so much to explore and not enough time to do it in. That was my experience in Cincinnati, OH. There is real urban, city feel to Cincinnati. I could have easily spent a whole week there and still have not seen and done everything the city has to offer. I spent really, 2 days there. But in my two days, I walked around the city, soaked in all that was going on around me, and ate some pretty good food. I had some very tasty wine (Malbec was my wine of choice in the Queen City), ventured into a coffee shop or two and wondered through a couple of farmer’s markets. I also found my way to the CAC, the city’s Contemporary Arts Center, which offers free admission to all. I have gone back and forth with how to share this part of my trip with you, the culture and life behind the city of Cincinnati. What I would really love to do is to just share with you the pictures I took, and do my best to explain what they are, how they made me feel, any history behind them and what they mean to and/or the city. 




 

There was a ton of personal art around the city. Some would say that a bit of it was graffiti, but I thought it just showed the culture of the city, and some history. I just wish I would have taken more pictures of it!

Over-the-Rhine was my favorite part of the city, hands down (and I stayed by the river!). It was an actual neighborhood in the middle of the city. It reminded me a lot of the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO, where the businesses were on the ground level and residences were above the business in these old, original architectural buildings. I ran into a couple guys while riding the street car back down to my hotel, who had lived in the city for over seven years. They said that that was the purpose of OTR, to have the residences be above the businesses. Ideally, that’s where I’d like to live if I lived in the city. Of course, I would like to love above a coffee shop ☕️😝😋 I loved all of the old architecture in this city. I love residence buildings that have fire escapes! There’s so much beauty and history inside all of those old buildings that are being made new again.



Cincinnati was a real fascinating place to visit. While researching the city before my trip, I was intrigued by its history. How fast it grew as a city, not only in population, but in politics, literacy, and education by the end of the 1800’s. The role it played in the meat packing industry, emerging as a leader in pork manufacturing. And the huge impact the Ohio River had in settlers traveling to Ohio, Kentucky and Sourhern Indiana. Many businesses, hotels, restaurants and taverns were quickly built along the river to help accommodate those traveling along it. Farmers would use the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to send their crops down to New Orelans, which was their biggest market at that time. Beginning in the 1830s, ethnic Germans began to settle in Cincinnati. German and Irish immigrants mixed with Americans from both North and South to create a very diverse and worldly population, not to mention adding diversity to the food in Cincinnati! 

Today, many major corporations have their national or regional headquarters in Cincinnati, companies that include Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Cinergy, Macy’s Inc., E. W. Scripps Company, Totes Isotoner, and American Financial Group. Cincinnati remains the cultural center of southwestern Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southern Indiana. The city boasts two major professional sports franchises, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals. Numerous theaters operate in the city, including the Aronoff Center for the Arts — home of the Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Opera– the Emery Theater, the Taft Theater, the Showboat Majestic, the Playhouse in the Park, the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and Music Hall. 


More than one hundred art galleries exist in the city and the surrounding area. The most prominent ones are the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, and the Taft Museum. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is known for its successful breeding programs. The parks! Court Street Park, Garfield Park, Fountain Square, Riverfrotnt Parkand Sawyer Park, all give its walker by’s a glimpse into the city, and it makes you feel like you’re home, at least for me they do. I feel home in big cities, on park benches in the middle of car horns and birds chirping, of chaos and peace. That’s where I find the most joy. 

I learned something about myself during this weekend in Cincinnati, or maybe I was just reawakened to it. Two things I know deep inside of me. One: I love, I mean seriously love, cooking, and trying new food. And I loooove sharing food and hosting people in my home, having them around my table, feeding and serving them, nourishing my soul with my closest friends and family. And even though I’m stuck in a place of fear and sorrow when it comes to opening up my home, I know I can get back to a place where I am comfortable again. I just need time. I always want my door to be open, and my table available for anyone who wants to come over. And two: I really enjoy and almost need to help people, in some capacity, and it was brought back alive inside of me as I wrote this blog post. And I know that’s why I enjoy my job at the hospital so much, because I am helping people, I am serving people, unconditionally serving them, at a time when they are probably the most vulnerable they will ever be. And I know there are vast amounts of ways to serve people other than at a hospital. My husband and I are actually working on a way for me to be able to pursue both of these things, these two passions, in one capacity. How can I cook, travel and taste new adventures, while serving others? Well, we have a pretty good idea what that’s going to look like. 😝🤗
Until next time…

Bon Appetit! 

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My Food Experience in Cincinnati, OH

pastries at coffee emporium

I have to say, trying to find a true vegan restaurant in Cincinnati was very, very tough. As in, there aren’t any, well downtown that is. And does someone who eats a vegan diet have to only eat at vegan restaurants? No, of course not. In fact, I know vegans who regular steak houses because they have amazing baked potatoes, sweet potatoes and salads. So regular in fact, that the owners and wait staff are on a first name basis with them. But, I write a vegan blog, and my whole purpose in traveling to other cities is to find those hidden gems in the cities I travel to, not the typical places that exist around the country; the Chipotle’s and Tokyo Joe’s if you will. We all know those establishments are great places to eat and have good options for those who eat vegetarian and vegan. But I want to find the places that are either hidden in the city or aren’t obvious choices for plant based food. 


So what did I find in Cincinnati? I learned that Graeter’s Ice Cream and LaRosa’s Pizza are pretty much city staples. And well, honestly, people here in Cincinnati love their meat! They are very serious about. So many award winning steak houses around the city, not to mention Cincinnati Chili (for those unfamiliar with what Cincinnati Chili is, as I was until a couple of months ago, it’s basically chili poured over spaghetti noodles. Make it a 3 way by adding diced onions and grated cheddar cheese). And there are quite a number of pig statues around in the restaurants as well, which I learned is to recall Cincinnati’s annual Flying Pig Marathon and the city’s’ nickname of “Porkopolis”. The city’s nickname dates back from the mid 19th century, when the Cincinnati meat packing industry led the country. There is an actual historical importance of the pig industry in this city. 


I know vegetable eaters probably don’t care much about that fact, but it is a big part of this city’s history and I felt like I needed to share it. We can’t ignore a part of history just because we don’t like or approve of it. However, healthier, plant based options and restaurants are creeping their way into the city of Cincinnati. 

Restaurants like Melt, which is dubbed a humble yet hip spot delivering health-oriented sandwiches, salads & entrees with a global bent, are making a statement with their food. Every local I asked about where to find vegan food pointed me to Melt. This is the place to go if you want that vegan Cincinnati Chili. They offer a fabulous black bean chili that they make in house-with chocolate and all! They also have an incredible vegan mac n’ cheese and offer alternative proteins like tempeh and seitan. Even though they serve meat and dairy cheeses as well, they are building a name for themselves as the “vegan’s place the eat” in downtown Cincinnati. With now 2 locations, find them on the north side of town or at their new location in the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). 

I ate at a restaurant called Kaze (pronounced Ka-zay), that was a Japanese Sushi Bar/gastro pub/beer garden, located in OTR. That type of restaurant is new to Cincinnati. But they had a fabulous roasted vegetable bowl with rice and miso butter. It was loaded with fresh veggies like red potato, mushrooms, broccoli , brussel sprouts, carrots, seaweed, radish, green beans and celery. It was to die for. And enormous, I couldn’t eat all of it. But I gave it my all that’s for sure. 😂They also had a few selections for vegetarian sushi. I had the kito roll, which was sweet potato, asparagus and avocado. And instead of using soy sauce and wasabi to eat it with, the chef provides a chimichuri sauce with this particular roll. So yummy!! I wish I would have ordered more….

If you’re looking for a light lunch with a more urban feel to it, check out the Coffee Emporium, a neat coffee shop located at the south side of OTR. Phenomenal coffee, ☕️ as they roast their own beans in house and have dozens of varieties. My brother in law would love this coffee shop! 


I had an iced coffee and the rich flavor it had was out of this world. It was very refreshing. They also have hummus pita sliders, pitas topped with hummus, sliced tomato and sliced green apple. I never would have thought to combine hummus and apple but it worked really well. Hats off to whoever has thought of that! 

My last night in Cincinnati, I ate at a place called Maplewood Kitchen and Bar. Located right by my hotel in the Central Business District, it was kind of an accident that I stumbled upon it. But happy that I did. Known for their extensive brunch menu, Maplewood Kitchen has a sit down restaurant feel to it, but you actually walk in, order your food then sit down. The bartender said that it just helps the whole place run smoother, especially mid week when all the business folk have to eat and get back to work after lunch in a timely manner. I sat at the bar however, where it can be full service if that’s what you desire. I am really enjoying sitting at the bar, because being a party of one it’s a less awkward place to sit and you can socialize with others around you if you want to, or not! There are no set rules. Plus, they keep the wine at the bar…..

The Maplewood Kitchen has a fabulous power bowl with quinoa and farro, avocado, tomatoes, beets, crunchy green beans, grilled corn on the cob, and arugula. For you vegetarians out there, they can add two poached eggs to it if you like. This bowl was crunchy, filling and satisfying. It had amazing flavor too, with a slight hint of pepper in every bite to give it some kick. 

I also ordered their wild mushroom toast with whipped goat cheese, but they were out of it. So I settled for their tomato toast. It was extremely creamy and tasty, especially with that tang of goat cheese mixed with the juice from the tomatoes. Num! Tomatoes are a good second to mushrooms.😝

There is a pizza place that I was trying to get to, but because of the holiday weekend it was closed multiple days. The Kitchen Factory, formally known as Northslice Pizza, serves traditional New York style pizza by the slice or whole pies. But they also have a vegan menu, offering vegan pizza, vegan meatballs and their own vegan mac n’ cheese. So if your ever in the mood for pizza and in the north side of town, give The Kitchen Factoy a try. They have late night hours with a late night menu as well. 

Check out my post for 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab for a mellow place to hang out for lunch or drinks at night! 

Walking around the city all weekend, shopping and eating food, total dream. I cannot believe this is my life! 

Until next time… 

Bon Appetit! 

1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab-OTR


Walking up Vine Street in the very up and coming  OTR-Over the Rhine Neighborhood- I stumbled across this wine and coffee bar called 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab. It had began to rain outside and I hadn’t had lunch yet (my initial plan was to eat at Findlay Market but hadn’t reached it yet), so I went in for a peek and immediately I was in love. A very cozy, place with maybe 7 or 8 tables, and a bar was all that fllled the open space. Old brick walls accented one wall, and the ceiling had a vintage loft look to it. There was plenty of shelf room for the many bottles of wine, and a slightly elevated coffee bar sat behind the wine bar. That was it! This place took pride in serving the best cups of coffee and lattes, as well as wine.




I wanted to have a glass of wine (no judging!) and decided on one of their flight options. I was served 3 different glasses of red wine, Syrah to be more specific, each glass had a little bit more of a sample size in it. The neat thing that this place does is that they number the glasses one thru three, and you get to guess which of three glasses of wine is based on how they taste. The answers were on a card that the bartender puts behind the glasses. You are allowed to use the wine menu’s description of the wine, but nothing else. I got one out of three wines correct. Yep I need to drink more wine so I can get better at those blind tastings! 😜


The owners of this place just opened up a restaurant a few blocks away in the OTR called Pleasantry. It’s a farm to table type place and it’s actually located on Pleasant Street! Any way, 1215 actually offers small plates and brunch plates made by the chefs at Pleasantry. They offer fresh made bread and oils, desserts and quiches. No real vegan options, except the bread and oils (olive and truffle oils). I chose to try their ricotta, pesto and pecan bread. Made from fresh made from scratch ricotta, home made pesto and pecans, spread across a toasted baguette made the perfect snack! The earthy flavors in the pesto really brought out the flavors in the wine, which is how I was able to figure out the one glass of wine in the mystery flight! 


If you’re ever in the OTR and need a lite and tasty snack, a gooooddd glass of wine and excellent service, hit up 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab! 

Until next time….

Bon Appetit! 

I’m in the Queen City!

I am going to let you in on a little secret….I have a pretty real fear of flying. Which, for those who know me and know my family, is pretty odd, because I am not new to flying. Far from it, actually. My grandpa worked for United Airlines his whole career and we flew a lot growing up. I loved it when the airplane would take off, it’s the coolest feeling. But, ever since I had my first child, the fear of flying has crept in. With every bit of turbulence and glances out the window, my blood pressure goes up, I clinch my seat and pray.

1366x768-life_jacket_demonstration_2174775

My grams told me, when I confided in her about this new fear of mine, that the reason I am now afraid to fly is because I now have something (or someone) I would be leaving behind if I were to suddenly die. Those someones she’s talking about are my 3 little kids. I was married to Levi, my husband for 7 years before having kids, so I guess she doesn’t think I would be leaving him behind if I died hahaha! But, I learned very quickly, that once that little cart comes down the aisle and those lovely airline attendants are offering me my in flight beverage, that a glass of red wine makes that fear go away very quickly. I am just saying….don’t judge.



Well, I made it to my hotel last night a little bit after 8, checked out my amazing view of the city with a backdrop of the Ohio River, and both sports stadiums poking in my city view on the left and right sides. I hadn’t eaten all day, so I ordered a quick veggie sandwich from an outside restaurant (room service is just too expensive for what you get!), watched the movie “Because I Said So” and crashed at 10pm. I really don’t think I moved once, with those poofy down pillows, tight hotel sheets hugging me, and the silence….awwwww. I woke up at 945 this morning, and began planning my day today…after coffee of course.

I had planned my trip, tentatively before I left Colorado, but today it’s cloudy and cool. The buildings and the old architecture in this city are so beautiful! I really could look out my window all day, reading a book and drinking coffee. It really would be the perfect day. But, I am writing a food and travel blog, so I probably should eat a few things and maybe discover what this wonderful city has to offer don’t you think??!! The last time I was in this beautiful city I was smack dab in the middle of my eating disorder, so I am looking forward to going out into the city with a healthy view of life and food. My plan is to head out and walk about 18 blocks, or the equivalent of 25 minutes according to Google Maps, to Findlay Market which is a Farmer’s Market in the middle of the city. I also plan to visit the OTR-Over the Rhine neighborhood- a well-known neighborhood right by the market. More detail to come on both of those. Stop back and see what I am up to this weekend! And thanks for the read!

 

Until Next Time…

Bon Appetit!