Archive for March, 2011

March 27, 2011

Local Business We Love: Sweet Peace Bakery

Hey all you lovely people! We hope everyone has had a relaxing weekend. We’ve been hard at work in the kitchen prepping for some events coming up, but we wanted to share our interview with another of our favorite local businesses – Sweet Peace Bakery! If you haven’t checked out these vegan goodies, you can grab them at Park+Vine, where you can pick up a pint of Phro*Zen to eat along with them ūüôā Anyway, I’ll let you read more about this fabulous bakery run by one sweet woman.
So, first of all, introduce yourself – what’s your name, and what do you do?

My name is Mary Beth King. By day I am the campaign manager for Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati and then I bake up the vegan goodness out of the Sweet Peace Bakery kitchen and occasionally teach a yoga class.

Q: What inspired you to start your business?

Mary Beth: I became vegan about 5 years ago, maybe more… who’s counting right? Upon becoming vegan I soon realized that my dessert options were few and far between. So, I started baking. I love dessert and couldn’t see not having sweets in my life. I was also going to vegan potlucks sharing the desserts I’d made. It then dawned on me that vegans other than myself shared my cravings for dessert. Thus, Sweet Peace Bakery was born.

Q: What are some of the challenges or opportunities you’ve come upon in regards to your business?

Mary Beth: Some of my favorite things about having a bakery (business) is the opportunity to meet new people, talk about veganism, and most importantly to me, give back. I have donated items recently to an Eve Center event, Habitat for Humanity, Sycamore Schools, and Ohio Citizen and Action. I’m not always in a position to donate baked goods, but always do what I can.

Q: I know I’ve definitely got some favorite Sweet Peace treats – “Betterfingers” are one of those favs. Do you have a favorite?

Mary Beth: My favorited thing to do is fill private orders. I put love into everything I bake, there is something special about knowing that my baked goods are going to a wedding or a birthday or anything really to celebrate a joyous event.

Q: The “Betterfingers” are sort of a replacement for Butterfingers, right? Are there any other “substitutes” (that we often think are much tastier!) that you make? What has the response to those vegan options been like?

Mary Beth: I have the Oatmeal Dream Pie, replacing the Oatmeal Cream Pie and a Voreo being a more cake/cookie Oreo. I sell quite a few of them!

Q: Finally, a little more about you – are there some things unique to Cincinnati that you really enjoy? Do you have any favorite vegan spots around town, or favortie vegan dishes people might not have tried yet?

Mary Beth: Look out for the Sweet Peace VW Bus coming soon! It should make it’s way around Cincinnati this summer.

I spend a lot of time supporting the arts and other local non profits. I have season tickets to the Aronoff Broadway Series, do all the Know Theatre shows and try to catch whatever else is happening theaterwise and Ensemble and Shakespeare.

I love grabbing brunch at Melt or the Thai pumpkin soup at Myra’s.

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March 23, 2011

Local Businesses We Love: LW Photographics

It’s no secret that we’re wild about Cincinnati, community events, and local living in general. It also comes as no surprise that a whole lot of people don’t see the perks of living in Cincinnati – I’ve been seeing a whole lot of those “Cincinnati’s Just OK” bumper stickers lately. When the people that live here don’t appreciate our city, who will?? Well, I personally hope that the revitalization of the Over-the-Rhine and downtown areas will bring about some more¬†positive attitudes about the worth of the city, and if the overall upswing of the growth there doesn’t make someone a little more jovial, maybe a drink at any one of the unique and well-appointed¬†bars¬†in the area¬†will.

So, why the rant about Cincinatti naysayers? Because there are so many unique and wonderful things about our city that could really change that “Just OK” attitude, if you’re willing to take a look. A whole lot of those unique and wonderful things are the local businesses we’re surrounded by. I interviewed a local photographer that’s created a business out of her passion for looking at things from a different viewpoint to start us off, because, well, I personally¬†love her work, and I thought that maybe – just maybe – someone out there might see Cincinnati from a different viewpoint, too.

Q: First of all, introduce yourself! What’s your name, and what do you do?

My name is Laura Wendling, and I’m the girl behind the camera of LW Photographics. I shoot a lot of artistic photography, but also do freelance photography.

Artistic photography is my means to break away from the everyday routine of life. It challenges my mind to see everyday objects from a new perspective and effectively convey this perspective to others.

Freelance photography gives me the opportunity to capture a variety of local events around the Cincinnati area. It is important to me to add a modern, urban-chic edge to the photos of local events I shoot. By doing so, I hope to allow the viewer to see things through a new set of eyes. 

Q: How long have you been in photography? Did you study it in college, or pick it up through practice?

Laura: I’ve been interested in photography for quite a while as a hobby, but only recently started LW Photographics. Prior to living in the Cincinnati area, I lived in a small town community. When I moved to a more urban area, life began to move faster. I realized that being able to ‚Äúcapture moments‚ÄĚ became really important to me.

I went to school for cartography and graphic design at an environmental resource college in southwestern Ontario. Throughout my post-secondary education, I really developed an eye for detail.

After completing the cartography program, I studied urban planning at University of Waterloo. 

Q: What inspired you to create a small business out of your photography?

Laura: I decided to start LW Photographics when a lot of my friends and family were taking interest in the artistic based photographs that I was capturing. It gave me a great sense of satisfaction to see how a photograph would take their minds off all the busy-ness of their fast-paced, modern lives to appreciate the seemingly insignificant details of the word around them. 

Q: What has been one of the challenges you’ve run into as far as small business goes?

Laura: When I first started LW Photographics, it was a challenge to figure out the best way to connect with people that shared common interests.

As I became more and more involved in freelance photography, I began to develop relationships with local businesses and artists. This has really helped get my art out into a number of areas in Cincinnati, including OTR, Northside Cincinnati and Hyde Park. 

Q: What are some of the positive experiences you’ve had with small business, or photography in general?¬†

Laura: One of the most positive experiences I’ve had is my involvement in OTR. OTR is truly a unique community. Small businesses work together and welcome each other with open arms, instead of competing against each other. It is truly a family, a close-knit community. People are willing to help and support each other.

Q: Are there things about Cincinnati that are uniquely challenging or that have a positive influence on your work?

Laura: Cincinnati is such a diverse area, which makes it a really exciting area to photograph. Within a twenty minute drive you can find a wide variety of ‚Äúbackdrops‚ÄĚ such as street art, historic buildings, skyscrapers, rural and natural areas.¬†

Q: What are some of the most unique images you’ve captured thus far?

Laura: My most unique and most popular series is my ‘froot.loop’ series. It consists of seven photographs that were captured within a two week time span.

People have said they really like the series because it brings them back to their childhood. The colorfulness of the photographs really lightens the viewers overall mood. I think it gives them a much needed distraction from the regular stresses of life.

Q: What do you hope to do in the future with your work – any projects lined up?

Laura: I hope to continue to have photography shows throughout Cincinnati, and I’m constantly looking for host venues. Also, I hope to continue to working to promote local businesses through photography. I really enjoy working with local business owners to capture unique, promotional photographs of their businesses.

I’ve also just started a new website, which combines my love of photography with my strong value I put on living a healthy lifestyle. The website is called LW Foodographics and will feature recipes and fitness tips that endorse my nutritional and fitness beliefs. I plan on writing articles about local food and health-oriented businesses to give people in the Cincinnati area a better idea of what healthy options are available in the local area.

Any local health-oriented businesses that are interested in being featured on LW Foodographics, can connect with me at kearnsee@gmail.com

What’s the best way to keep updated on latest LW Photographics news?

My two main methods of keeping people updates is through the ‚Äúnews‚ÄĚ section on lwphotographics.com and my twitter account (@lwphotographics). Also, check in regularly at lwfoodographics.blogspot.com

Any Cincinnati galleries and businesses that would be interested in displaying some of my photography or having some photography of their business done, can connect with me at kearnsee@gmail.com

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March 21, 2011

Ooh la la almond!

Spring is officially here as of yesterday, and we are so ready to enjoy it! In the spirit of new growth and beginnings, we’re revealing our first gourmet flavor: Almond Fig Awakening

Almond Fig Awakening, the first flavor to be released in our gourmet line. Fancy teacup not included.

It’s creamy, dreamy almond Phro*Zen with sliced¬†dried figs that really accentuate the sweetness of the almond. In short, it’s a¬†fancified, animal product free, delicious little indulgence. It’s rather fitting that the fig tree is a symbol of sweetness and abundance, no? It’s also a symbol of prosperity and good luck. In fact, it was a sacred fig tree that Buddha sat beneath when he found enlightenment, so eating a fig in your ice cream can’t be all bad!

It’ll be hitting Park+Vine and Meals-To-Go freezers this week, along with more flavors. Keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter to find out where and when you can get it!

For those o

March 19, 2011

From Omnivore to Meat-No-More: An Interview With a Crabby Vegan

We know not everyone who reads this is vegan – in fact, not everyone who writes this blog is vegan (namely Meg). But, whatever my eating habits may be, I do want to understand more about food and what it means to people, whether they’re vegan or not. After all, it’s our goal to create an¬†ice cream that anyone, no matter their diet habits or restrictions, will enjoy, so you’ll see interviews with people from all different backgrounds here to help round out our foodie education.

For anyone who hasn’t tried a vegan diet, it’s probably pretty difficult to understand exactly what that would entail. Well for all of the omnivores out there, next time you’re at the grocery store, try looking for strcitly vegan foods. There are some obvious “no-nos” if you’re vegan – stay¬†away from the¬†dairy case, and the deli – but take a look at the back of that box of cookies, too. That long list of ingredients probably includes a whole lot of non-vegan stuff that vegans have to watch out for. That pasta? Might have some of those ingredients too.

Brian, a fellow Cincinnatian and blogger, has made the switch from omnivore to vegan, and he’s run into more challenges than you can find in the grocery aisles. He blogs about what it’s been like for him to shift to the vegan diet, why he did it, and much more – but I’ll let him tell you more about it for himself.

Q: For those that haven’t read your blog yet, give us a little background. When did you become a vegan?¬†

Brian: I became vegan in April of 2010. I changed over from a full on Omnivorous lifestyle. I literally changed overnight from eating meat, cheese, drinking milk, and avoiding most vegetables like the plague. I tend to overdo things, so instead of trying to phase into it, I stopped all animal based products when I returned from a trip to Colorado. From the next day on, I began the process of figuring out what exactly I got myself into.

Q: What was the inspiration behind making that change? 

Brian: My wife was 4 months into Yoga certification training, and had already given up red meat, and was moving towards a vegetarian diet. She had been enlightening me to the concept of¬†“Ahimsa”¬†and bringing to my attention the real workings of the meat and dairy industry. I’ll admit, I was pretty sure those industries were not squeaky clean, but I’ve always been of the mindset that meat and milk come from a grocery store, and thats about all I needed to know.¬†¬†¬†

Q: Have you faced challenges with adhering to a vegan diet?

Brian: I have and continue to face them. When I started, I had no idea what I was doing, so I was first challenged with what I could eat. I spent about two weeks eating PB&J and pasta. Granted, PB&J is probably the worlds perfect food, but I was sure I could not keep eating it. Over time we learned how to cook and shop, and have begun to amass a library of things to make. But it is still a challenge, as food in general is not a simple as it once was. 

I was¬†surprised¬†at how little I missed milk, and how much I missed things like¬†hot dogs¬†and hamburgers. I’ve been seeking to replicate and find the perfect¬†substitute¬†for them, but realize that those are not going to leave me satisfied, and I need to find other things I love, instead of trying to reproduce the old desires.¬†

Q: Have you experienced any positives associated with veganism?

Brian: I feel healthier, and I dont have diners remorse. I did in fact love fast food, but would literally feel ill at times after picking something up that sounded good at the time. In December I had noted that I had lost 30 lbs since adopting the new dietary lifestyle. I have a greater appreciation for Organic food, and am now seeking out how we can eliminate preservatives and artificial ingredients completely from our diet. I’m better¬†educated¬†about what goes into food, and the myths of why we need dairy. I feel at least I am not contributing to industries that are preying on the fact that our nation is and will continue down a path of gluttony. Oh and I’ve met some cool chicks.

Q: Are there things that you miss aside from certain foods that you miss about being an omnivore?

Brian: I travel quite a bit, and I miss being able to go out to dinner, and order a meal without just settling for the one thing on the menu that is or can be easily veganized. I miss going to my wifes inlaws for Sunday dinner and having to eat “around” the items that were cooked. I miss the convenience.¬†¬†

Q: What’s one thing someone who is vegan should know about those who aren’t?¬†

Brian: I think that most people who are not vegan have no idea why anyone would want to become vegan, nor would they be aware of the ideals that the vegan has adopted. So I treat anyone who would challenge me with smiles and respect. They don’t know me or anything about me, so I will give the benefit of the doubt, and happily explain my position. I don’t judge, or pass judgement. This is my choice, my life.

Q: What’s one thing that someone who isn’t vegan should know about being vegan?

Brian: I’ve learned to view this like anyone else who has a personal lifestyle that may not align with mine to simply respect another persons lifestyle. And we¬†aren’t¬†all flaming liberals. But most of us probably are.

Q: What would you like people to know about the vegan lifestyle?

Brian: I think you can guess the theme of my comments, and it is really about respect first. I’m not a preacher, and tend not to bring my personal opinions on how others choose to life their lives. I realize just because everyone does something,¬†doesn’t¬†imply that it is right, but since I tend not to try and sell my lifestyle, I just ask that others do the same. I would offer to others that I am just like them, I just choose to make different decisions when it comes to dining, shopping, etc. Its hard to pick us out from a crowd. We are like real people.

Q: Are there issues concerning the vegan lifestyle that you find surprising? exciting? confusing? 

Brian: I have a friend who eats meat/dairy but does so in a somewhat responsible manner. He buys his meat from a local farm, drives almost an hour to another farm for his milk, and pays upwards of $4 for a dozen of organic eggs, that I suspect are laid by chickens hanging out by the pool, and reading trashy romance novels. OK, the meat still results in the death of the animal. The milk? Well I didnt ask if it was given up freely by cows who who got pregnant because they were promiscuous. But if the chickens are really living the good life, why not enjoy their product? But then is that exploitation the problem? 

Am I really making a difference by avoiding the whole wheat bread from Subway because it has honey? Is this better for me than the vegan choice of Italian? Would honey as a sweetener server me better that high fructose corn syrup? 

A friend of mine has been vegan for 20+ years but he eats honey. Perhaps by some he would have to give back the vegan membership card. 

Q: Anything else you’d like to add? A favorite vegan dish you can find here in Cincinnati? A favorite recipe?¬†

Brian: I could go on and on here, but since we are head there tonight, I should point out that I love Skyline, as it was probably the only place that I continued to frequent before and after turning vegan. I was happy to find out there pasta is vegan, so having a 5-way with veg chili (no cheese) is one of my fav’s. Besides that, Melt, Amma’s Kitchen, and now¬†Shanghai¬†Mama’s are our current fav’s in the city.

To read more about Brian’s experience, keep up with him on his blog: http://crabbyvegan.blogspot.com/

He’s also listed on our blogroll at the bottom of the page, and he’s on twitter! @CrabbyVegan

I’ll write again soon! Enjoy the weekend! Love.

March 16, 2011

Stick with us…

I love getting mail. You know what I love even more than getting mail? Getting stuff in the mail, packages, and boxes of stuff, and today was one of those glorious days when I arrived home to a brown box at the door. It was addressed to Phro*Zen LLC, which still makes me smile like a geek, so I opened it. What was inside? Samples of soymilk? A golden ice cream scoop? That “As Seen On TV” shake weight I’d accidentally ordered at 3a.m. last weekend? No. Better. Here’s a photo:

I haven't felt such an affinity for stickers since elementary school when I wouldn't have known the word "affinity."

Well, that’s a really small photo, but I¬†promise they’re really cool, and I’ll get a better photo up when I figure out what went wrong with this one. Dern technology. Anyway, you may have noticed that they’re not all our signature green shade you’re¬† used to. That is because we’re starting a gourmet line (the purple sticker will be on the front) and an allergy-friendly line (the blue sticker{inspired by one¬†little dude named Kai}¬†will be on the front, with “allergy-friendly” written in the white ring arounf the logo). We’re expanding, and it’s so exciting. We hope you’re all excited too! These new pints will be rolling out soon, but you can watch for updates here, and everywhere else we post on the web (Facebook, Twitter).

I’ll write again soon! Have a wonderful day all! Love.

March 15, 2011

A small moment of realization

After a long day of work that led to a long commute home that led to a long evening of work in the kitchen, I decided to take a half hour break and flipped on No Reservations. While a slightly squidgy-around-the-edges but still so entertaining Anthony Bourdain toured me around India via my television screen, I reflected on my day of work, and how it still wasn’t over.

New flavor for spring...working on perfecting it, then I'll announce what it is.

As my eyelids started getting heavy at the thought of doing it all again tomorrow, a Delta commercial came on. It’s not very often that I actually pay attention to ads, but this one caught my attention for whatever reason, and I’m glad it did – not because it made me want to fly Delta, but for a little quote. Somewhere in all of that nonsense that I can only assume was about legroom and peanuts, the voiceover made a remark about the wind, and when you’re a pilot, you learn that you need it to lift you. “The thing you push against is the thing that lifts you up.”

I was stunned for a few moments at the thought that the same company that had frustrated me and kept me stuck in terminals so many times had just presented me with a realization. I work really hard at everything I do, and I often feel exhausted (hey, who doesn’t, right?) despite the fact that the work is never done. But when I think about it, that work, those things I push against, whether it’s making recipes better, or stretching the limits of my often sleep-deprived days, are also what allow me to do what I love.

I won’t pretend I don’t have a long way to go, and a whole lot of changes to make, but at the end of a day as long as this, the ultimate reward of the work is beyond any description. In essence, the experience of creating new flavors, and making our recipes better so that maybe someone who tastes our ice cream will smile, lifts me up. Everyone who supports us, everyone who has gotten us this far, and everyone who will be with us as we grow, you lift us up, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

We’re all working hard, especially today, but when I get to make ice cream, it’s not so much work as it is a reward when I think about the people who are along with us to raise a spoon. Thank you. Love.

Check back for an interview with another local blogger that went from omnivore to vegan!

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March 14, 2011

Join us, won’t you?

Hey everyone! Before everyone gets started on their busy schedules for this week, we wanted to invite you to an event we’ll be serving samples at this Friday, March 18th. We’ll be serving up a couple of flavors at the Malton Gallery in Rookwood from 5-7, and we’d love to see everyone there! There will be art to check out and ice cream to eat – what’s not to like?!

Malton Gallery website: http://www.maltonartgallery.com/index.php

We’ll write again tomorrow – see you then! Love.

March 12, 2011

Tell me more, Please

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to meet one of Derek’s friends who happened to own his own catering company/food venture. We got to talking and I learned more about why he started, what inspired him, and a little bit about his experiences, and I asked if I could share. Ryan, being the driven, and intelligent person that he is, was willing to teach me a little bit more about what he did, and the interview follows:
First off, let‚Äôs have an introduction ‚Äď what is your name and what do you do?
I’m Ryan Santos and I run a weird little catering company called Please. (http://www.pleasetoeatyou.com)
We specialize in multi-course dinner parties under 50 people. Along with a bunch of other unique food/cocktail services.
How did you get started in the food industry?
I went to UC for graphic design and spent a few years out of school doing that. ¬†The whole time i had a full time hobby at home of learning how to cook, which stemmed from being diagnosed with a severe case of¬†Crohn’s disease. ¬†Part of one of my treatments involved an extremely strict diet, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free. ¬†Without an array of specialized products available as they are now, I learned to cook everything from scratch. ¬†From then on I was hooked.
What were you doing before you started your own business?
Ryan: I worked in restaurants.  A lot of the time working my restaurant shift and then coming home and doing catering. I still spend time in restaurants cooking to continue to learn and grow, especially in places with a very focused point of view or speciality.
Why did you start your own business? What got you interested in food?
Ryan: The severity of my health has caused me to become self employed. ¬†Anyone with, or knowing someone with Crohn’s knows you can feel great for weeks and suddenly one morning be bed ridden for a week, or more. ¬†While I’ve had chefs who’ve been super understanding, my health is often so up and down that being self employed is really the only choice for me and my health.
Aside from the story above of what got me interested in food, just the idea that you could be both creative but also it was a physical act of working.  Being burnt out on sitting at a desk all day doing graphic designy stuff, the thought of working up a sweat and chopping and burning myself, as oddly as it sounds, sounded awesome.
Have you ever run into any challenges as far as providing options for guests with dietary concerns?
Ryan: Almost none at all. ¬†Though I don’t have dietary restrictions any more with my health, coming from that back ground, I have a sympathy for people who have REAL allergies or restrictions, and will gladly take on the challenge. ¬†We work with our clients to provide them everything they want, and our underground dinners cater to them as well. ¬†While maybe not EVERY dinner would be appropriate, we have no problem doing a¬†vegan¬†dinner or anything along those lines. I think our willing to embrace restrictions instead of cursing them like a lot of chefs, are one of the factors that make us unique. ¬†We approach them as creative challenges and not restrictive annoyances.

You struggled with some dietary concerns yourself ‚Äď how did you handle that, and what have you taken away from that experience?
Ryan: Well it taught me how to cook! ¬†And like i’ve said above already, i think it’s given me a unique perspective and appreciation to creating dishes for people who suffer from health based¬†food allergies¬†and restrictions.

What are some of your favorite vegetarian or vegan foods that you’ve created?
Ryan: Well don’t tell anyone, but most of the dinners i’ve done have been vegetarian. i find it just as easy to cook the food we do as vegetarian as it is to cook with meat.
I don’t know that I have a favorite dish, because of the format of our dinners and our desire to push ourselves creatively, we typically don’t ever repeat a dish. so as soon as we make a dish and like it, it’s as quickly replaced with something new.
What do you think could be improved about vegetarian or vegan food, or what challenges have you come up against in working with it?
I think it suffers from the “crunchy granola” stigma. Along with kind of being a mandatory menu item that might not have as much creativity or passion as other dishes on a chefs menu.
We create dishes. ¬†We are aware of our dinners restrictions but we almost never label a dish as meat, vegetarian or vegan. ¬†Most people who’ve eat our food that is vegetarian, at the end of dinner say they never even realized it was, until someone had made a mention of it.
Anything else you want to add?
Ryan: I think that’s it. I’m excited to bring Please to Cincinnati, and please help us spread the word.
Find us on facebook at:   http://www.facebook.com/pleasetoeatyou
And sign up for our underground dinner series in collaboration with the Brush Factory which is beginning¬†April 1st, and then will be bi-weekly starting in May, along with quite a few more casual food events. ¬†We’re keeping a list of interested people and then will email details about dinners and events as they come up:
A favorite tune to cook to?
Ryan: When i’m cooking alone, more often than not it’s Beach House. it falls somewhere perfectly between relaxing and energetic.
if i’m cooking with the Please crew, oddly enough, i rarely get to pick the music.
A favorite place to stop and visit in Cinci?
Ryan: I always try and stop in the Brush Factory design studios, to
see what Rosie and gang are up too and i usually dont leave cinci without a trip to La Mexicana, the taco truck on queen city blvd.,
the party source to oogle expensive bourbons i wish i had or Camp Washington for a cheese coney.
In essence, Ryan inspired me in many ways. He is doing exactly what he is passionate about doing, and I want to do the same. His drive to learn more and his absolute dedication to what he does is something I strive for. Watch him go on Twitter, too, @pleasetoeat. For more on Crohn’s Disease, visit here:¬†http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001295/ I’ll be adding some links to some food allergy sites, as well as keeping everyone up to date on what I can concerning our donations, etc. Thank you for reading! And a huge thank you to Ryan not only for sharing your insights and story, but for the amazing meals I’ll be eating this spring thanks to your cooking. Love.

 

March 10, 2011

A quick look back…and forward…?

Waaaay back last summer, when Phro*Zen was mostly an idea and not so much a reality, we started our little “scoop events.” We would bring a cooler of our ice cream, some hand-crafted business cards, a couple scoops, and a whole lot of hope that not everyone would think we were crazy, to the sidewalk in front of Park+Vine. Ellen, myself, Derek, and a few other helpers along the way would sit out front scooping up samples for anyone that would take them just to get the word out about Phro*Zen – and that along with some seriously great press and outside help has done the trick!

Our little sample events have gotten bigger (which we love!), meaning we get to give out more ice cream, and talk to more people about what we do, why we love it, and how we can make it better. Most recently, we sponsored a Yelp! event. Yep. A Yelp! event. I couldn’t believe it either, but here’s some proof.

Shoddy cell phone photo of Ellen and me at Below Zero
Alex Shebar, the fearless leader of all things Yelp! here in Cincinnati, puts on quite the party and we were excited just to be there, let alone be a sponsor. We met so many great people while we were there! We ran into a few Phro*Zen faithfuls (good to see you Zack and Jessica!) as well as a few new and friendly faces. Overall I think it served as a great reminder of why we do what we do. We love to talk with people, learn more about the community we’re lucky to be in, and what we can do to make it a better place (one scoop at a time, eh?).
A big thank you goes out to Dan Korman of Park+Vine for getting us started and continuing to support us. Another thank you to Alex Shebar for reminding us how sweet it is to be a part of Cincinnati nightlife.
Check out Yelp! for more events you’ll want to go to here in Cincinnati – there’s more going on than you’d think!
And check back here for news about our next scoop event, which is coming up very soon! More on that tomorrow. . .
Love
March 9, 2011

Introducing our Feature Flavor for March!

Well, I don’t know how we got here so quickly, but March is upon us – and so is this month’s Feature Flavor! For those of you who don’t know what that is, we choose a local business to work with every month in order to promote local living, and create a flavor based around one of their products.

This month, Jess Prussia, owner of Last Bites Bakery, helped us to create “Last Bites Peanut Butter Bliss,” which consists of a “buttercream” ice cream base, a peanut butter and chocolate frosting swirl, and pieces of Last Bites chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Essentially it’s a whole lot of delicious all in one bite, and you can find it at Meals-To-Go now, with a delivery coming to Park+Vine this week (watch for tweets and Facebook posts).

March's Feature Flavor Match-up

In honor of the collaboration, I asked Jess a few questions about her busines –¬†and what better way is there to celebrate International Women’s Day then to learn a little more about one awesome woman?! Read our interview below:

So let’s start with the basics. Introduce yourself Рwhat’s your business?
Jess: I’m Jess Prussia (that’s obvious). I’m the lucky mom of 2 awesome little boys (Max and Eli–my #1 taste testers), a Sunday School Coordinator, freelance writer/ graphic designer, Interior Designer on occasion, baker, and a Graphic Design student. I started and run Last Bites Bakery. The bakery is part of the “cottage foods” industry, which basically means I currently work out of my home in College Hill but sell my baked goods at retailers around town.

Where can we find your delicious desserts?
Jess: Park + Vine, Sitwells Coffee House and Baba Budan’s all carry LBB stuff on a regular basis. I also run the Pop Up Swap Shop and Last Bites Bakery Bake Sale every Saturday at 1200 Main Street downtown (next door to Park and Vine). I always have a wide assortment of baked goodies there from 11am-3pm. I also take private orders of course, even ship to out-of-towners!

When did you start your business?
Jess: The idea came to me years ago when I tried a vegan cookie for the first time (I was newly vegetarian at that point). It was, in a word, disgusting. I was determined from that point on to make vegan desserts that tasted fantastic that anyone would enjoy…but keep it vegan to stop giving vegan baked goods a bad name! So in March of 2010 I decided one night to just make it happen. I was selling by May at Sitwells.

Was there some inspiration behind it?
Jess: Mostly the gross vegan cookie at first. But then I went vegan myself in October of 2009 and discovered I could make super good vegan cupcakes. My friends and family were freaking out about them and kept telling me they’d sell…and wouldn’t you know it? They do!

What are your favorite things about being part of Cincinnati, both as a business and a citizen?
Jess: I’ve basically grown up here. I’m an import so to speak, but I’ve been here the majority of my life. I love Cincinnati. There’s so much culture here, so much variety, so many amazing places to go, and so much potential for an even cooler future. I love how easy it is to get involved in the community around here, and I adore how tight-knit each community is. The Swap Shop is in OTR. I once lived on Walnut so have a huge place in my heart for the Main Street strip…I love being a part of that again.

What’s the most unique/awesome thing about your business?
Jess: I feel like this would be a great place to say something uber cheesy like “there’s a little love in every cupcake”, but really I just make the stuff I love. I wouldn’t sell what I wouldn’t eat. I try all my new recipes out on vegans and non-vegans alike before I’ll attempt to sell them. I give away just about as much as I sell because I like making people happy with delicious baked goods.
 

What do you hope to achieve in the future?
Jess: I want a storefront. I’m working on it at the moment, and hope to one day reside in the pop-up location that I’ve been running on the weekends. It’s a lot of work, require a lot of money and a lot of time, and I don’t have most of those at the moment. So I’m losing sleep over trying to find a way to make it happen, but I’m determined and I have a lot of super amazing people on my side working with me to see this dream come to fruition.

What’s your favorite vegan goodie that you make?
Jess: I love the Peanut Buttercream cupcakes, but mostly the icing. Whenever I have leftovers, I like to dip apples in them. It’s delicious. I also make a chocolate cherry cupcake that I fill with cherries and top with a little bit of vegan buttercream icing and MORE cherries. It’s delicious. Seriously. I may have to go make some right now…

Anything you’d like to add? A favorite song to bake to, a most-loved vegan social spot around town, etc.?
Jess: Lately I’ve been baking to She & Him. Anything I can shake my hips to or sing along loudly with is great in my book! But there is always, always music involved in my baking. Can’t bake without it. Or without a kid hanging off my leg typically….

As for favorite vegan social spots? I’d have to say Park + Vine is a favorite. I’m a big fan of Melt as well in Northside. I like vegan food. It’s delicious. More people should try it.

How to contact Last Bites Bakery:

To order some baked goodness, check prices, find out what’s going to be at the next Pop Up bake sale, specials, get on the mailing list, or just talk about what you did today, email me at Jess@lastbitesbakery.com or check the website out at www.LastBitesBakery.com and click on “contact us”. Don’t forget to stop by the bake sale and Pop Up Swap Shop (and check out the facebook page for that for more info on the Pop Up Swap Shop end of it…it’s a fantastic way to get rid of stuff, get new-to-you stuff, meet your neighbors, and hang out with me!).