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Written by Terrah Kocher
Sunday, May 08 2011
Vine + Table: Queen City Cookies
This local bakery produces a cookie so beautiful, so divine, that it belongs in a museum, but it’s much better in your mouth. Learn more about the lady behind these couture cookies.
It all began with a magazine — Martha Stewart Living’s December 2008 issue, to be exact – that transformed the trajectory of Peggy Shannon’s future. Inspired by a picture of artisan molds, a passion for baking and unbridled flavor combinations, her company, Queen City Cookies was born into existence.Fourteen states, 32 stores and various catalogues later, Queen City Cookies continues to break the mold of artistic, delicious, edible, perfection.

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During my first encounter with the buttery shortbread cookies, I found myself in a unique predicament: To eat, or not to eat? I was holding the most beautiful confection ever – a hand painted cookie caressed with porcelain “fairy dust” icing, surrounded with white piping and shaped to perfection from an incredulously detailed mold. It was more than shortbread and sugar. I caressed a work of art; a hand-painted masterpiece. Carefully, I placed the artisan cookie between my lips. The soft, sugary icing with crisp tender buttery shortbread was exquisitely divine.

“Our ingredients are fresh, local and organic whenever possible,” says Shannon, whose cookies are made to order, from scratch, using prime, natural ingredients of wheat flour, rich European butter, sugar, farm fresh eggs, salt and Lemon zest.

Many say that the cookie is simply “too beautiful to eat,” but I profess that by not consuming this treat would be to miss out its true essence and artistic splendor.

“The cookies are a work of art, but I don’t think anything is ever too pretty to eat,” says Amy Hunter, Queen City Cookie’s publicist. “The beauty is part of the enjoyment. A perfectly ripe strawberry is beautiful, but no one would ever hesitate to eat it. What I love about Queen City Cookies is that because of the artistry you can taste the butter and in the case of my favorite cookie, the rich white chocolate icing. I love knowing that each cookie is handmade and packaged by someone who loves what they do.”

Shannon has a cookie design for everyone and every occasion. She even offers personalized molds. All of the information can be found on her Web site www.queencitycookies.com.

050911FOOD2.jpgRegarding the artistic expression of each design, Shannon’s Web site says it best:
 
We do not offer mass-produced products devoid of personality or artistry. Each cookie is meticulously created for you and should be considered an original work of art. Like an original masterpiece, each cookie expresses its own unique beauty. Queen City Cookies are hand made from replicas of historic molds carved by artisans as far back as the 14th century.”

Even the facilities surrounding the bakery contribute to the overall enchantment of the Queen City Cookie brand. Shannon’s business originally started in the basement of her home – a statuesque piece of Cincinnati history, one of three remaining Jergens’ Mansions, built in 1890, located on millionaires corner in eccentric Northside.

“As the company grew, we needed more room, and moving off the property just didn’t feel right,” said Shannon. “So we began the renovation of our carriage house, a beautiful space boasting 11 foot wide windows. The building overlooks a pristine yard blooming with 100 rose bushes, nine-foot wind chimes, and the dogs who come to work here, too; it’s a beautiful, peaceful, inspiring setting that translates into everything we do.”

050911FOOD3.jpgNo detail has been spared when it comes to the cookie’s brand. From the double-sided silk ribbon, biodegradable peanut packaging to the enchanting story on the back of every cookie clad greeting card. Every last detail is purposeful and well thought out, adding to the overall enchantment of Peggy’s products.

“I have the best graphic designer in the planet,” boasts Shannon of designer, Lisa Ballard. “Lisa completely brings such energy and beauty to everything we do in a way that reflects the fun and approachability of our cookies, all of my employees do.”

Blessings that Make up the Queen City Cookie Story

The success of Queen City Cookies is made up of chance encounters, talented artists and trustworthy confidants.

Averse to appearing vulnerable, one of Shannon’s greatest qualities is her willingness to say, “I don’t know,” and ask for help. This character trait led her to reach out to friends, even strangers, who ultimately helped shape the success of today’s product. Shannon noted that Doug Faulkner, co-owner of Take the Cake, recommended an icing that she says, “radically changed the design and flavor of our cookies, and I’m so grateful for his recommendation.”

050911FOOD5.jpgWhen it came to refining the overall flavor of the cookies, it was the honesty of a friend that made all the difference. “Anne Evans, Executive Director of the Governor’s Mansion for state of KY came in to pick up an order. I wanted to share our latest cookie with her. She tasted it and very honestly told me she hated the flavor. Instead of being devastated, I began brainstorming; this moment led to the shortbread base that make our cookies so popular today,” says Shannon.

And finally, when perplexed about how to go forward with new packaging, Shannon reached out to Liz Grubow, vice president/group creative director of LPK Beauty. “Liz kindly came in and gave me really great ideas about how to display cookies. Shrink wrapped as a piece of art, which really started the ball rolling on our designs and overall shelf-life,” said Shannon.

Today, the cookie is divinely perfect from its pristine packaging, to its tantalizing flavors and gorgeous moldings.

050911FOOD4.jpgPerfect for all occasions, including weddings, corporate gifts and fundraisers, cookies are made to order. Price is based on size and type, ranging from $4.50 – $10, even $20, per cookie.

Order online at www.Queencitycookies.com. Available locally at NEST Hyde Park on Michigan, Joseph Beth booksellers, Nordstrom’s e-bar, in Northside, at Sidewinder Coffee & Tea, and the Picnic & Pantry.

 WATCH THE VIDEO OF MY QUEEN CITY COOKIES BAKERY TOUR – http://youtu.be/IRBM9ihCkTw

Call (513) 591-0022 or email her at corporate@queencitycookies.com for gift suggestions and to place an order.


Terrah Kocher
About the author:
Terrah Kocher is the food and wine columnist for Cincy Chic and owner of TK PR & Marketing in Cincinnati, specializing in online marketing for small businesses, non-profits and gourmet food and wine stores.  Contact her at TerrahK@gmail.com.
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Last Updated ( Monday, May 09 2011 )
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My girlfriend, super-mom and super-woman, Elizabeth Barber, made delicious homemade burrito bowls and was nice enough to share the recipe with CorkStories! She made up most of the recipe as she went along (like a true chef),  and says it’s amazingly good. Note from the chef: “I didn’t have chipotle seasoning, which obviously means it wasn’t as spicy as the real Chipotle, but we hardly noticed. The recipe is for my typical order: rice, chicken, black beans, mild tomato salsa, lettuce, and a little cheese. Hope you enjoy!”

Wine recommendations for this dish from A Bottle or Two’s David Pustinger, are: *click the links to place your order on A Bottle or Two’s website.

  • Laxas Albarino – a Spanish white wine. Its grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks, thus creating a light, citrusy wine that pairs nicely with lime flavors in this dish.
  • Abad Dom Bueno Mencia – $17 Presentation of butterscotch, seasoned spices, black cherry and tobacco. A dry Mencia with a full body. You may notice tastes of cinnamon, black mulberry and blackberry preserves. We suggest having this wine with risotto, port wine and glace reductions or pot roasted half racks. *notes from A Bottle or Two
  • Louro do Bolo GodelloAnother Spanish white grape, round and aromatic with flavors of lees, pineapple and lemon in the nose, as well as a bit of smokiness and oak spice.
  • Gazela RosePortuguese wine, $7 (winediva.ca describes this wine as having “a prickle of vivace bubble on the tongue…aromas of juicy cherry, red berries, vanilla and hints of peach pit…juicy, lively acidity to balance the sweetness. The bright peachy/berry flavours return on the palate with a zesty finish.”  Sounds yummy!

You can read more about A Bottle or Two’s online wine services in my column, “Vine + Table” featured in Cincy Chic

From Snooth.com

Chianti Wines
The Sommelier Says: These light red wines are bright and earthy, making them excellent choices for pairing with this recipe

Viognier Wines from California

The Sommelier Says: These medium bodied white wines are aromatic and fruity, which allows them to work well with this dish

Arneis Wines
The Sommelier Says: These white wines are aromatic and dry, allowing them to work well with this meal
Read more: http://www.snooth.com/wine-pairings/better-bean-burrito/#ixzz1F6eLfAth

HOMEMADE BURRITO BOWL RECIPE (by Elizabeth Barber – blog)
Cilantro-Lime Rice
1 box white rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. butter
3-5 dashes of lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro
Cook rice according to package directions using chicken stock instead of water. Add butter, lime juice, and cilantro before serving.

Seasoned Black Beans
1 can black beans
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 clove chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Combine ingredients and simmer on low 30 minutes to one hour, stirring frequently.

Grilled Chicken
1 chicken breast
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Add olive oil to grill pan and cook chicken on high until no longer pink and slightly charred.

Homemade Salsa (Recipe courtesy of Ashley Barden)
4 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 lime; squeezed
3 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 onion; chopped
1 small green pepper; chopped
Sugar to taste
Blend ingredients in food processor. Pulse about 15 times.

Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
Chopped Romaine Lettuce

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