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! 

Something a Little Different for a Food Blog…

I am sitting on a bench in Garfield Park as I write this. It’s quiet, and beautiful. Black metal arches line the middle of the park for a good two blocks. Trees surround both sides of the brick walkway, so you can hear the birds singing and the bustle of the city life and cars linger in the background. The tress provide enough shade and breeze to make your stay in the park last longer. There’s nothing to this park, just trees, benches and bushes. And it’s peaceful.

And as I am sitting here, in my head I’m running through my time here in Cincinnati thus far, writing down notes and thoughts in my Bloomingdale’s notebook. Food, oh lots of food I’ve eaten! And I still have a few more meals to go…. Another thing that has been quietly emerging as a theme of my trip, are my interactions with the homeless in the city. Now I’m from Denver, CO where there is no shortage of homeless people (I hope that didn’t come off as insensitive..), but I don’t interact with them much, especially now living in Parker. But here, I’ve had a few interactions that just brought my heart alive again, reminding me that my soul loves to help people. It satisfies me. Saturday evening, after my dinner at Kaze, I was walking back to my hotel when I passed a homeless man standing outside a donut shop with a sign asking for money. Now, for whatever reason there was a donut shop still open at 8:00 at night! And it was packed!!!

As I passed this homeless man, I had the urge to turn back around. I asked him if he wanted a donut. His name was Eugene. He said he would rather get something to drink. He was very surprised and grateful when I offered him both. We stood in line at the donut shop and talked. He was so careful about what he picked out, making sure he didn’t spend too much money. I didn’t care about that. I said he could have 2 donuts if he wanted but he said one would be just fine.

I left Eugene feeling happy that I helped him, but guilty at the same time. Why do I have so much when thousands of others don’t ? Yes, I’m very aware of the homeless people who just use money to buy alcohol or drugs, or the theories out there that they are too lazy to work or that they make more money begging on the street than some people do working a 9 to 5 job. But a lot of homeless people are veterans, especially here in Cincinnati. And it bothers me that veterans are homeless. And it should bother you too.

The next day,  I found myself walking through a farmer’s market at Fountain Square, totally unintentional! I was walking to the art museum when I stumbled upon it. Walking through, I couldn’t help but notice the line on the sidewalk leading to a table with boxes of pizza. The people behind the table were serving a slice of pizza and a bottled drink to each person that approached the table. Those people, I quickly learned were homeless.

The organization behind this is called Mazlow’s Army, founded by Samuel Landis, who had been homeless in Cincinnati for 20 years, and his wife, Susan, who had also been homeless in KY for a time. So this project for them hits very close to home and you could say is motivated by their experiences. What started as providing a handful of personal items such as socks, deodorant and other hygiene products, water etc. to a few people on the street, has emerged into providing several hundred homeless people with a slice of pizza, from a pizza place Cincinnati is known for, La Rosa’s. According to Samuel, they go through 500-600 slices of pizza in the hour they serve the homeless. They are out at Fountain Square every Sunday from 1 to 2 pm. They are very passionate about what they are doing, and by just listening to them talk to the people they serve, they are very well liked and appreciated in the homeless community. Most of them knew the Landis’ by their first name. They have set up a program to help the homeless begin to find their way out of it, by providing lists of resources for food, jobs, and places to sleep. They gave me a pamphlet that they give to the homeless as a resource for them. It is a basic needs guide, filled with the local resources that are available to them in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. Things like daily and weekly labor, a list of soup kitchens, places to get a shower, clothes or haircut, detox and treatment resources, healthcare and homeless shelters. There are even resources for them to get groceries. I was extremely moved by what these 2 people were doing in this city, as they aren’t just feeding people on Sunday afternoons for an hour, they are actually trying to help them get back on their feet. And they said they are hoping to make their way out to Denver within the next 2 years. Denver has a lot of resources of their own, but like Cincinnati, our homeless population is growing. There are over 8000 homeless people in Cincinnati right now. And Samuel was telling me that Ohio/Kentucky is considered to be ground zero for drug using and dealing, which makes quite the hurdle for a lot of homeless people to jump through.

The last interaction I want to mention, happened outside the coffee shop I went to for lunch today, the Coffee Emporium. He was standing outside of the entrance, selling the city’s homeless newspaper, Street Vibes. He asked if I wanted to buy the paper, and I told him I didn’t have any money. It was a very awkward exchange because the truth was, I did have money, but I didn’t have any singles and the paper was only $2. As I walked away from him, I reached into my wallet and grabbed my last $20, turned around and gave it to him, while telling him I didn’t want any change. He thanked me gratefully, and began to follow me down the sidewalk. He grabbed my attention, thanking me again and we began to walk the next two or three blocks together, him doing most of the talking. He was a very kind man, and I enjoyed meeting him.

Sometimes it can be hard to say no to someone asking you for money, it can also be hard to say yes because you really don’t know what’s going on in that person’s life or if they really do need the money. I get that, I have had those feelings many, many times. So giving your time and/or money to people or organizations is usually a gut-call.  If you are at all motivated to help the homeless in your community or live in Cincinnati, reach out to the Landis’ or look up their organization by clicking the link provided above. Every little bit helps, and you really can make someone’s day better by buying them a donut. 😊

Thanks for the read…

Untill next time…

Bon Appetit!

Findlay Market-OTR


Guys, The Findlay Market in OTR is an awesome Farmer’s Market! It is Cincinnati’s only surviving municipal market house, and oldest market to the state of Ohio. The market is built on land donated to the city of Cincinnati by the estate of General James Findlay. The market house bell, rung at the start of each market day, was brought from Cincinnati’s Pearl Street Market when the facility was torn down in 1934. The Findlay Market has been renovated at least 4 times since its erection in 1855. There’s your history lesson for the day! Yay!

The market about a block wide, with a long, enclosed building that houses dozens of local Cincinnati vendors: from meats and cheeses, made from scratch spices and fresh pastas, bakeries, prepared foods like pizza, Indian and Thai foods, and prepared salads. It was really cool, with tables provided throughout so people can come and eat lunch while they shop. 

On the south side of the market, are older buildings, houses turned businsees with a lot of local shops in them. From smaller grocery stores, to bake shops and holistic therapies, there was something for everyone there.

 On the north side, outside under white tents, is where all the magic happens: this is where all of the fresh fruits and veggies were.

 I realized that I didn’t have any food with me in my hotel for snacks or supplementation. I bought a “bag” of assorted apples of my choosing for $5. Pixie Crunch Apples, Susie Apples, Paduchah Aplles to name a few. And they tasted so fresh, crispy and sweet (I have already had like 3). I bought the apples from Niemeyer Farm, local husband and wife farmers here in Cincinnati. As it turns out, they have hundreds of apple trees, with over 80 apple varieties. Who knew there are so many variations of apples!?? One apple they have, has the skin of a russet potato, but the inside is a sweet, crisp, intense apple flavor. I haven’t had an apple quite like that one! 

I spoke with them for a few minutes, really kind people. I told them I am a huge foodie, and turns out they were too! The wife plays around with all kinds of recipes, mostly using the produce from their farm. People come to her at the market needing recipes for a certain dish and she’s right there to help them. She had folders full of recipes.

The apple farmer introduced me to the EMC, The Epicurean Merchantile CO. Located just to the east of the market, the EMC is an organic grocery store, selling all kinds of organic produce and packaged foods, reminded me of a smaller Whole Foods. I bought a package of rainbow carrots.

 To the back is their in-house restaurant, more of a deli, called The Counter. Locals to the market say it’s a must try. 


The owners of the EMC also had a spot in the enclosed building in the Market, called The Fresh Table. Ironically, they were on my list of vendors to visit! Small world eh? That a random apple farmer would point me in their direction not knowing I wanted to visit them. They had dozens of prepared salads, all house made with organic ingredients. I bought their black bean and corn salad with lime cilantro sauce and their lentil salad with pistachio. The lentil salad is very peppery and spicy, really good flavor. It has pistachios and dried fruit, really really delicious. I immediately called my hotel and asked for a fridge in my room after this venture.

I was very happy I made the trip up to Findlay Market, even in the rain! I love Farmer’s Markets. The culture that they bring, and the awareness that so many local farmers, businesses and entrepeneurs are trying to make their way in your community. If you’re out and about and see a local farmer’s maret, stop by! Support the small businsses in your community. And if your local to Cincinnati, make the Findlay Market a regualr stop for your shopping list.

More to come on my Cincinnati weekend! And thanks for the read 

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!