This year I was selected as a finalist in the Saveur Blog Awards, in the category of ‘Most Groundbreaking Voice’. Because of this, I was invited to Cincinnati by the Saveur Magazine team to see, taste, and drink all the best of what Cincinnati (and northern Kentucky) had to offer. And it was a real treat!
Wineries, breweries, distilleries, restaurants, markets – we saw and tasted it all. And, while I didn’t win my category, it was a wildly memorable trip, made better by being able to share it by my better half and all the other finalists who were there! Here’s a few of my favorite shots: consider it a photo journal of sorts.
We stayed at 21C Museum Hotel which had a fantastically curated exhibit of modern art, “Dress Up, Speak Up: Regalia and Resistance.” Which, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know was right up my alley. They had some amazing work by Kehinde Wiley, Bisa Butler and Athi-Patra Ruga (among many others). It was a museum quality exhibit, and free for anyone to wander through and enjoy.
The art was not confined to the hotel either. Downtown Cincinnati and the area just north of that called Over the Rhine (where we spent a lot of time in) is loaded with massive, colorful murals. Coupled with the beautiful architecture, it was a treat to walk and drive around these areas!
The first day we toured around the Findlay Market, an indoor/outdoor market that is the oldest continuous market in the United States. We sampled delicious waffles from Leige, Belgium; hummus from a wonderful Lebanese grocery; and phở from a Vietnamese cafe. Later in the week, I went back to enjoy some of the other treats including locally made chocolate, arepas, and to buy some gorgeous pottery from a local pottery studio. There’s something at the market for everyone!
During the trip we visited a number of local drinking establishments: bars, wineries, breweries and distilleries. Cincinnati has a plethora of good drinking options and one of my favorite visits was to the Skeleton Root Urban Winery. Not only do they have a gorgeous space in which to enjoy their wines, but they are using locally grown heritage grapes to make some of the most unique wines I have ever tasted. As they said, “We make wines you’ve never tasted before.” Blown. Away.
During the trip, there was lots of chances to meet and connect with the other finalists. On the Thursday we put our creative juices to work in creating charcuterie boards together. It was inspiring to see how others create and the tips and tricks they use to craft the beautiful food pictures they’re all shooting; I came home with some new ideas I can’t wait to put into practice!
The actual awards ceremony was hosted at one of the most unique venues I have ever been in – the American Sign Museum. Surrounded by an overwhelming array of neon signs, we had amazing food (including a shrimp and grits station!) and celebrated the best food blogging out there.
Friday afternoon we toured Northern Kentucky, visiting two of the newest bourbon distilleries in the state. They were a wildly unique taste of the small, craft operations that are reviving the area’s distilling traditions.
And perhaps one of the best parts was to having the time to get away, learn about somewhere new, have a mini break from the ‘regular life’ to recharge and be reminded of what an amazing opportunity it is to be here on this blog, creating delicious food, writing about it, and sharing all of that with each of you. I’m looking forward to what’s next as the journey continues here!