Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ballet Met Nutcracker

A quick nod to the Ballet Met Nutcracker performance. We have seen the Nutcracker ballet in several cities: Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, to name a few. This one, the Columbus Ballet Met's, simply blew us away!

This traditional Christmas performance is already good as it is originally intended to be. But the version that Ballet Met puts on is splendid. Several comical characters are added (think the grandmother!), and some very creative props and dances add the extra wow to the show (think Arabian coffee, among others).

Bravo, team Ballet Met. If you have not seen it yet, and have the tickets, you are in for a treat!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Bexley Coffee Shop


In the spirit of the holiday season, here is shout out to another Bexley gem of a place: The Bexley Coffee Shop.


This unassuming café is everything a neighborhood coffee shop is meant to be. Proprietors, Paulette and Sean, make you feel welcome as soon as you enter the door. They will, by order, make you a cup of what might be the best coffee in all of Columbus. I kid you not.


The reason behind this? They roast their own coffee (named Red Bike Coffee Roaster). Few people might know about this because they currently make small quantities just for the café's needs and only replenish when necessary. They do have enough, however, for people like me to take a pound or two home to extend that strong, nutty flavor experience in the comfort of my own home.


Beyond the daily caffeine requirements (they do have teas and other beverages as well), Bexley Coffee shop is a small mecca of local arts and locally produced goods. Sean and Paulette carefully select interesting handmade items to intrigue and inspire their customers.


With a cup of coffee in your hands, you can browse the selections and grab that perfect holiday gift for your loved ones. What could be better? No crowds, no nonsense. And you are supporting the local economy!


I must not forget to tell you about the baked goods they have on the offer as well. Again, local bakers are present here: Pattycake Bakery, Sassafras Bakery, Sweet Thing Gourmet (jams and biscottis), among others. Whoever invented pastry and baked goods must have known that their two best friends are named Coffee and Tea.


I was also happy to see handmade art pieces by my dear neighbor, Abby Feinknopf whose talents I adore. She was one of the first people in Columbus who took me by the arms (literally) and showed me around some of her favorite 'gems' in the city. For that, I do owe her!







So, if you have a minute, or two, and are hungry for that 2pm coffee break (or whenever else that may be), stop by this sweet spot and say hi to Sean, or Paulette, or both. They are always there with big smiles along with that perfect cup of coffee with your name on it.


The Bexley Coffee Shop
492 Cassady Ave.
N. Bexley, OH 43209


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sweet Thing Gourmet


There is jam, and then, there is Sweet Thing Gourmet jam.


I have always had a fondness for jams in general. They dress up toasts in the morning, add sweetness to buttery cookies, and can be surprising good in salad dressings.


I heard about Mark and Kyla and their jams before I met them in person. Because we live in the same town, it was not too long before I was introduced to them, along with their deliciously creative jam creations.


During the farmers market season, the couple and their three children can be found at several markets around Columbus. They always have a variety of jams to sample (my daughter's favorite reason to go to a market), as well as their homemade biscottis beautifully packaged and oh so good with a hot cup of tea.


It was a beautiful cold morning when I popped in to say hello the Sweet Thing team. Mark and Kyla were elbow deep in their jam making session, in their home kitchen. The scent of warm apple cider and raspberry filled the whole house.


"We are making Raspberry Jalapeño and Apple Cider Jelly!" they announced as I entered.

Dozens of already packaged jam jars decorated their counters and tables, ready to be shipped to the expecting customers. Sweet Thing Gourmet operation was in full swing!


I got to witness first hand the artisanal quality that these jams receive. The are made in small batches, and everything is done by hand.  Even the labels are designed and printed out of their home office, sealed and packaged individually as well.

Back home, I already have a few jars. Some are open, and some are going into gift bags for the holiday season. Everyone that I have shared the jams with have not only loved the products, but want to know the history behind them.


My husband, who does not throw out words of compliment easily, tasted their Peach Jam with Samos Saffron recently. He paused after the first bite, studied the jam jar once or twice, took another spoonful straight into his mouth and blurted out:

"That is the best jam I have ever had!"

Coming from my life-partner, who I know so well, those words are pretty powerful.

"I know,"
I said. "The people behind the jam are really great, too," I added. "They put their souls into the jam."

I have seen and tasted it myself.

Sweet Thing Gourmet can be found in several stores in Columbus (including Whole Foods, and Celebrate Local in Easton), or you can order them online and have them delivered to you.  I am one of those people who enjoy making my own holiday gifts, but I have no qualms giving these jams out to my family and friends. It makes a difference that I know the hands behind the jars, and the souls that get put into them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Village Lights and Bierberg Bakery revisited


We missed it last year: the night when German Village puts on a little show with thousands of luminaries along the sidewalks where stores and galleries stay open late into the night. It's a festive way of welcoming the holiday season, Columbus-style.


We missed it last year because it was cold. I know, it sounds a little sad that we wouldn't venture out just because the thermostat didn't peak beyond 20 something degrees. But remember, we were newbies to the midwest winter; our thin skin was adjusting to the drastic changes of the season. We took a rain check and promised to try it again next year.

And poof! Just like that, here we are a year later. That rain check became more literal than we would have liked. The precipitation started coming down in the late afternoon, testing our courage to experience our first Village Lights. The air was warm, however, despite the rain. We had no excuse. Besides, I needed to introduce my family to the best kept secret in Columbus this time of year (well, maybe not such a secret anymore!).









No matter the temperature, or precipitation, dear fellow Columbus residents, the Village Lights in German Village, and a visit to Bierberg Bakery should be on your early December agenda (the former, you will have to wait for next year, but the latter, you still have until the rest of the year to experience).
The bakery will warm your body, and the lights, your soul. Here's an early happy holidays to all!