No better way to cap of the Thanksgiving weekend is with the holiday tree lighting at Fountain Square. The 60-foot Evergreen was wrapped with over 20,000 lights and kicked off a series of winter festivities Downtown.

In addition to the tree lighting, which was put on by Macy's, visitors could skate with Santa on the U.S. Bank Ice Rink, shop at CinciDeutsch's Christkindlmarkt, and receive goodie bags from Procter & Gamble including tissues, shampoo, tooth brushes and pet food.

Lighting the tree on Fountain Square.


The first-ever German Christmas Market debuted on Fountain Square this weekend. Presented by Cincideutsch, the Christkindlmarkt featured authentic hardwood market booths and offered the Queen City with a traditional German town square shopping experience. 

A dozen booths were filled with Bavarian sweets, pretzels, cakes, and trinkets, as well as hand-crafted wood ornaments and Rookwood pottery. Another booth was filled entirely of gifts from Germany, offering advent calendars, chocolates, toys, clothing, and many other imports. Mecklenburg Gardens offered an array of German street food, such as bratwurst and mettwurst topped with sauerkraut, and everyone's favorite, fried pickles and potato pancakes. Glühwein, a warm mulled wine, was another treat during this chilly weekend.

The highlight of Christkindlmarkt were the German verbiage totes and mugs that Cincideutsch created with Saint Ursula’s Academy Design Program. Each item featured a word in German that does not directly translate into English. On one side, a graphic of the word is printed in the style of a German artist. On the other, the definition is displayed on the corner of the bag, along with the artist's name. At only $5.00 each, I snagged a few for myself and for Christmas gifts.

Founded in 2011 by native German speakers and Americans who had lived in Germany, Cincideutsch is a group of Cincinnatians that aims to promote modern German language and culture in Cincinnati.


"As we express our gratitude today, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." 
- John F. Kennedy

Thanksgiving 2012 was quite possibly the best one yet. Celebrations with friends over homemade meals, laughter over eclectic commentary of football games, and partaking in festivities around the city; I couldn't have asked for a more perfect holiday.

5chw4r7z and Ms. 5chw4r7z in the kitchen.

Jeff and Becky brought a chocolate torte for dessert.

Apple cider pie, pumpkin pie, and chocolate mousse pie.


One of the best known works of Beethoven welcomed the newest member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra: Music Director Louis Langrée. If you enjoy the animated enthusiasm of Cincinnati Pops Conductor John Morris Russell, you will definitely love Langrée. With the passion of his work spouting from his fingertips, watching Langrée conduct brings a refreshing new livelihood to the tunes of classical symphony.

The show, Beethoven 9, took place at Music Hall and was the first symphony composed using voices in a performance. Bass soloist Morris Robinson shook the walls with his stunning, powerful voice. 

Morris Robinson
I was also thrilled to listen to the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus as they belted out a mesmerizing "Ode To Joy."

The concert of a lifetime, Beethoven 9 runs November 15, 17, and 18, and is a must-see performance to kick off your holiday season.  

Check out Tweets and pictures from the concert, which was part of One City, One Symphony at: #ocos2012


Thursday night, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation featuring author Howard McEwen speak about his latest novel:
Wrath - The Life and Assassination of a United States Governor.

William Goebel, a politician from Covington, Kentucky, was the only Governor ever to be assassinated in office. Wrath explores and contrasts the upbringing of Goebel and his assassin from boyhood to an adult. While their paths did not cross until the night of the assassination, McEwen finds symmetry in the characters and transitions their stories back and forth with ease.

Based on a true story that takes place in post Civil War Kentucky, I was fascinated with hearing familiar street names, landmarks, and politicians of the era. Drive past some of the settings today and you will find historical placards marking the Stevenson house or the spot where Goebel fell when shot. With McEwen's top notch imagery and character development, I keep expecting to see a smug Goebel coming around the corner whenever I walk through Covington.

One of my most recent late night page turners, Wrath illustrates how hard upbringings can sculpt a man's outlook on society. I found myself sympathizing with and cheering for Goebel throughout his struggle and his ruthless yet passionate rise to power. Intrigued? Get a copy of Wrath and see for yourself. 


My friend Jeff, author of the blog A Dork and His Pork, hosted a small rendezvous to share his new recipe: made from scratch pizza pies.

Each guest had personal sized pizza made from hand-tossed dough and freshly prepared sauce. Everyone was responsible for bringing their own ingredients. I selected sweet peppers, mozzarella, and bacon, while others brought specialties like fig, goat cheese, and pineapple. I was fortunate enough to try a few bites of each.

Like everything that comes out of Jeff's kitchen, the pizzas were extraordinary! He perfected the method of toasting the bottom of the crust in a frying pan, then baking it in the broiler for a few minutes. This resulted in a crisp, solid crust with molten, savory toppings.

Jeff also treated us with homemade gherkins that put all other pickles to shame. You can find the recipe on his blog.


This Sunday at Japp's Annex, six sandwich chefs took part in a competition for the warmest, gooiest, tastiest grilled cheese in Cincinnati.

With eclectic combinations like buffalo bleu cheese with chicken, fried green tomatoes, four cheese, or cheddar with salsa and sour cream, each chef showcased their secret recipe.

The cook off audience had a chance to sample each of the grilled cheeses and vote for their favorite using a token handed out upon arrival. There was also a panel of Cincinnati food bloggers serving as judges to award the best grilled cheese the coveted Golden Spatula award.

In addition to piping hot sandwiches, Molly Wellmann was mixing up Bloody Marys behind the bar. She fixed me an incredible drink loaded with veggie garnish.

While each of the grilled cheeses was uniquely delicious, my appetite was won over by the fried green tomato grilled cheese. The texture, the savory flavors that changed with each chew; it was a cold weather winner in my book.


Cincinnati's beloved sushi restaurant, FUSIAN, made the move to its new home at Sixth and Vine Streets this week. Located right next to Tazza Mia, I look forward to seeing people flock here for lunch along Downtown's busiest intersection.

With a fresh, naturally posh look, FUSIAN's new decor gives the eatery an upscale feel while still showcasing the environmentally friendly business.


An open kitchen allows customers to watch ingredients being prepared, as well as a longer serving  space for walk-the-line sushi creating. You will still find all of your favorite smiling faces, including Zach, Josh, and Steve, working behind the counter to bring you some of the most scrumptious sushi in town.

A gorgeous view of bustling Sixth Street, ample seating arrangements, and compostable garbage receptacles are just some of the new highlights of FUSIAN. While my food has always been made with love, it tasted extra delicious being served in their new home.