ALL/ EAT (out)/ EXPRESSO

La Grassa Coffee and Gelato

I love coffee and sweets.  That’s no secret.  I’d be hard pressed to pick between the two if someone made me.  Most days I can’t articulate clear thoughts (or say words) without coffee so I guess coffee wins.  Luckily, I don’t have to pick because La Grassa in Madeira serves quality coffee and homemade gelato! If you’re anything like me, you enjoy your coffee and your sweets together.  At La Grassa you can do just that.  Order one of each, or, get a little wild and try an Affogato (espresso poured on top of vanilla gelato) or some Espresso Chip Gelato! Either way, it’s a taste of sweetly caffeinated heaven.

Speaking of caffeine, La Grassa serves Intelligentsia coffee which is a well-known roaster in Chicago.  It’s direct trade, exceptionally roasted coffee that the baristas at La Grassa brew with skill. We enjoyed a few drinks on a recent visit; my husband loved his Cortado (espresso mixed with equal parts steamed milk) while I ventured into somewhat familiar territory with my Mocha.  

Now, I love my mochas.  It’s my go-to frou-frou drink.  But, I’m a real milk kind of girl; I’ve tried various kinds of nut and soy milks and I just can’t do it.  I don’t like the flavor, but even more importantly, I don’t like the texture.  I made that very clear when I was asked to try mine with oat milk.  Oat milk?! Gotta say I was hugely impressed.  The oat milk didn’t break up in the hot coffee and the consistency was super creamy and rich.  If you try to avoid dairy in your coffee drinks (regular or frou-frou), I highly recommend a coffee break at La Grassa.

Cortado

Mocha made with oat milk.

Minor Figures oat milk shipped in from Europe

Even more impressive than the coffee bar at this sweet little shop in the heart of Madeira, is the gelato which is made by hand using only the freshest ingredients by an owner who actually studied the art of making gelato in Italy! Yep, in Italy.  The secret to this gelato, in addition to the skill and knowledge of the maker, is the fresh ingredients.  Remember, I only write about places I like and we tasted every single flavor of gelato on that menu.  Each was creamy, not too sweet, and a celebration of fresh flavors in subtle ways.  From the Apple Cider to the Pistachio, from the Passion Fruit to the Salted Caramel, it was just so good and so refreshing.  I loved the slivers of rich chocolate, the taste of actual vanilla beans, and the boldness of real passion fruit. Even their chocolate and caramel sauces are made from scratch!

Cookies and Cream

Espresso Chip

After stuffing ourselves with gelato and coffee, we got a tour of the kitchen (which was clean and highly organized).  We were told that the question that drives the business is this: What are we using and how are we using it?  I have zero doubts about that.  The owner, who studied in Italy, has a manufacturing background which is reflected in his meticulous notebooks of perfectly balanced ratios.  Everything at La Grassa is thoughtful.

We ordered one of these cheesecake gelato pies for the holidays and it was delish!

So, whether you stop in for coffee, gelato, or both, I highly recommend a visit to La Grassa.  It’s a great location and an even better product.  Get your coffee and gelato to go or sit for a while with a friend.

GO THERE (La Grassa)! TRY THAT (Espresso Chip gelato, Passion Fruit sorbet, Latte, Cortado)!

ALL/ EXPERIENCE

Cincinnati Pedal Wagon: Mural Tour

I was recently invited to bring a group of friends downtown for a Pedal Wagon tour.  Full disclosure, I was a little bit reluctant about this one for some reason.  But, my blog is all about going and trying; if I don’t like something, I just don’t write about it.  It helps that I love golf carts, trolleys, and all semi-open, slow-moving vehicles (true fact), so it was pretty hard to resist a wagon.  Good thing I’m not likely to turn down a new experience because this one exceeded my expectations.    Pedal Wagon Cincinnati

As you know, I enjoy playing tourist in Cincinnati!  Even though I’ve lived here close to 17 years, I’m constantly discovering new places and new pieces of history.  Over the course of our two-hour pedal tour, we experienced, up close, incredible urban masterpieces.  If you’ve driven around downtown at all, you’ve likely caught a glimpse of these murals out of the corner of your eye.  The Pedal Wagon Mural tour provides a chance to see, and hear, in detail, about the creation of and images within these pieces of art.

Rise

Faces of Homelessness

Part of what really struck me was the variety of art.  As you can see in the pictures, some murals are lighthearted and colorful while others speak to social and political issues.  Artworks, the organization responsible for painting most of the murals, employs and trains local talent to create these larger than life paintings.  As a teacher- and a fan of Cincinnati- I love that young artists are transforming this city!

Cincinnati Toy Heritage

Ice Cream Day Dream

Part of what made our experience so great is the staff.  The staff at Pedal Wagon is truly professional.  Both our driver and tour guide were personable, kind, and funny– we adopted them into our group pretty quickly.  At times, we stopped, got off the wagon, and walked to various murals.  Each time, our guide gave us specific details about the history and painting of each.  He also knew quite a bit about Cincinnati architecture and answered our questions with ease!

Our guide.

The Golden Muse

The Cincinnati Strong Man: Henry Holtgrewe

In addition to admiring all the creative talent in our city and developing a deeper appreciation for ArtWorks– the Pedal Wagon is a great opportunity to spend time with friends in a super creative way.  We laughed, picked on each other for not pedaling fast enough, sang along to music (bring some tunes), waved at passersby, and took tons of pics.  One of my friends said she really enjoyed leisurely watching as the city rolled past us; it’s a much different experience when you aren’t worried about traffic, street names, and parking spots.

This crew is Lookin’ Good!

Don’t let cold weather keep you from booking a Pedal Wagon tour.  We went out in 35-degree weather and it did not dampen our day at all; in fact, we BYOB’d some hot cocoa, coffee, and chai tea as we snuggled in our winter jackets and pedaled away- it was perfect.  There really is something for everyone- history, art, Cincinnati, being with your people, and more.

Check out the Cincinnati Pedal Wagon website for options.  The Mural Tour is still happening, and the Polar Express is gearing up to go.  The guides are also pretty flexible, so even if you’re doing a Progressive Dinner tour and would like to add in some historical landmark stops along the way, they can make that happen.

P.S.- I am only posting pics of a portion of murals covered on the tour!  To see the rest and to learn the meaning of each, you need to sign up.  And, as always, if you like what you read here, please share!

GO THERE (Cincinnati Pedal Wagon)!  TRY THAT (Mural Tour)!