Today marks the three-year anniversary of my arrival in Cincinnati. Three years ago to the day, we pulled up to the gates of the compound in a U-Haul that contained all of our material possessions. Thus began a surprising adventure in the Queen City that taught us more, and has been much more compelling, than we could have imagined, and certainly more so that we’d expected. A keen sense of expectation management has yielded a life that is quite enjoyable and satisfying.
So, it’s really fitting that I was recently interviewed for the 2009 Cincinnati USA City Guide, which comes bundled with the June issue of Cincinnati Magazine. Here’s what I had to say:
What’s your story?
I’m a NYC girl, and I’ve been living in Over-the-Rhine for the past two and a half years. I moved here with my fianceé when he got into the Urban Design & Community Planning program at the University of Cincinnati. We have a design studio and have started designing our own Cincinnati- and OTR-inspired art and home accessories.
What surprised you about Cincinnati USA?
The biggest surprise was that people were really interested in us and really wanted to make us feel at home here. People were really open to helping us figure out basic things.
Also, everyone says to go to Skyline, but we discovered that if you want the genuine “Cincinnati Chili Experience,” you have to hit up one of the independent restaurants. Our favorite place is Price Hill Chili.
As a newcomer, how did you decide where to settle down?
When we researched Cincinnati, we found that downtown and Over-the-Rhine sounded “walkable” and “livable.” Over-the-Rhine is a neighborhood where there’s a critical mass of all the things that I need to do and like to do, and I’m almost always on foot. I live and work in Over-the-Rhine, and that’s where I spend most of my money. There’s a regular crowd, a regular presence that’s comforting.
What are your favorite spots in Over-the-Rhine?
I love the Iris Book Cafe. It’s a really charming place, and in the warmer months they open up a beautiful courtyard in the back.
Our landlords also told us about Findlay Market. That has been one of those amazing finds for us. It’s so easy to get high-quality local produce there that our diets have improved drastically without us really trying. Once we started shopping at Findlay Market on a regular basis, we really started thinking more about eating with the seasons.
One of the things people overlook about Over-the-Rhine is that there are so many small businesses that bring you close to the source. At Shadeau Breads, for example, they make the bread and you can buy it warm. We’re become open to letting our lives be a little colored by our neighborhood. That’s a gift from the neighborhood to us.
If you’re smirking, that’s okay. I’m smirking at my comments, too, even though I also feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside right now. Move over, Jim Tarbell, there’s a new ambassador in town!