Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh Where, Oh Where Have My Clementines Gone?

Several times a week, Jeff's alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m. and he heads out to the produce wholesalers to buy our fresh fruits and vegetables. It's important to get there at such ridiculous hours to get the best deals for our customers. Early morning is when a new truckload of tomatoes or several pallets of apples may have just arrived. Either way, timing is everything, and we love getting the best produce at the best prices for our customers.
Until a week or so, we were enjoying fresh Clementines from California. Clementines are actually a variety of mandarin oranges that originally came to the U.S. from Spain and Morocco. When a harsh winter in 1997 destroyed the Florida orange crop, a market developed in this country for clementines. Since then, California has become our domestic source for clementines from November through January.
So in the last week or so, our customers have began asking, "Where are the clementines?" The last of the California clementines trickled in during early February, but now the only clementines available are from overseas. Because of logistics involved in shipping fresh fruit from Spain to Cincinnati, the wholesale prices we would have to pay right now are exorbitant. Sure, we could buy the clementines at twice what we paid in January...but do we want to take such a risk? Let's say we buy 10 cases of clementines at twice our January price. Our customers come in and see that the price they were expecting has doubled. Some of the customers don't care--because they love clementines and will pay whatever they need to pay to have them. But maybe more than half the customers who would like clementines at the January price just pass them up and opt for oranges instead. After a week or so, we're left with several cases of clementines that we can't sell. Those "several cases" are our profit...If we throw them out, we throw out our profit. As much as I love clementines, that just doesn't make sense.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How to Host a Bockfest Party

Cincinnati has a tradition of celebrating its 1800's beer heritage with a special brew that is tapped around the time of Lent. This year, March 6-8 has been designated as Bockfest in downtown's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Early March seems like a perfect time to honor your German heritage or hoist a mug of Bock beer. At our house, we jumped the gun a bit and have created our own holiday called Febfest---in 2010, we celebrated this past weekend.
It all began 15 years ago when Barry decided we needed a reason to get together with our friends during the grey, cold days of winter. We love the fall Oktoberfests around Cincinnati so Barry suggested his own version of Febfest. Why not get together when we all have cabin fever and share traditional German food and drink with our good friends? Gem├╝tlichkeit at its best...and so it began.
We've found the best Febfest features food from local small businesses. We start with limburger cheese from Gibb's at Findlay Market and follow that with a "radi" (fresh Daikon radish thinly sliced and salted) from Country Fresh Market in Hartwell. Next come the sauerkraut balls made from Avril's ingredients, and then we serve fresh sausages from Kroeger & Sons at Findlay Market. The main course features wiener schnitzel again made from Avril's fresh veal and served on mini-buns from North College Hill Bakery. The sandwiches are accompanied by potato pancakes made with potatoes and onions from our own Daisy Mae's Market. Dinner concludes with homemade apfelstr├╝del baked with Daisy Mae's Granny Smith apples. Of course, the entire meal tastes better when accompanied by a Christian Moerlein beer or a Bockbier from your favorite local brewery.
So, you see, it's possible to have a German celebration with the help of local Cincinnati small businesses. Try it--shop locally, celebrate internationally, and have fun with good friends, good food, and good drink.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cincinnati Pride

Recently A.A. Gill wrote a piece for Vanity Fair about Kentucky's Creation Museum. In the article, Gill directly connected this tourist attraction to Cincinnati and claimed that it might be "the biggest thing the citizens of the 'Queen of the West' have to tell a tall tale about..." When he wrote that Cincinnatians have "meager pickings to boast about...," he stirred the ire of many a proud Cincinnati resident. Little did he know that he awoke the sleeping giants of the tweeting and blogging world. In a few minutes, links to the article flew around the internet and instantly Cincinnatians stepped up to defend their territory.
I began to reflect on the "meager pickings to boast about..." The world-class Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops. A "Top 10" Zoo. Corporate leaders like Procter and Gamble, GE Aviation, and Kroger. Historic architecture. Unique geography and neighborhoods. Restaurants as good as any in the world. Professional sports. Art Museums. Union Terminal. Oktoberfest. Opening Day. Tall Stacks. And, of course, Findlay Market.
Implying that Kentucky's Creation Museum is a reflection of Cincinnati is like saying that the Mars 2112 Sci-Fi Restaurant is a reflection of New York City. We know better.
Hey, Cincinnati...If someone wants to pick a fight, we've got your back.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let the Good Times Roll!

After 2 days of battling Mother Nature's fury, Daisy Mae's is open again for business at Findlay Market. The heavy snowfall was a little too much for our trailer so we were unable to open on Tuesday and Wednesday. But today's a different day, and our carts are fully stocked and in place with fresh produce. As they say in New Orleans, "Let the Good Times Roll!"
Speaking of New Orleans, that's sure to be the place to be in the next few days. It's Mardi Gras time so it's party time in the Bayou. You may not know it, but it's also party time at Findlay Market. We're celebrating Mardi Gras on Sunday, Feb. 14 (Yes, bring your Valentine).
This will be the first Findlay Market Mardi Gras for Daisy Mae's Market...But we've heard stories already of the competition among the merchants for best decorations and costumes. Special menus will be prepared, 4 bands are ready to entertain, and the beer and wine will be flowing. Not to be outdone, we're planning our decorations and gathering our beads at Daisy Mae's. We're also gearing up for the debut of the Veggie Gals! It will be worth a trip just to see this fun-loving bunch.
Grab your Valentine and come on down: Let the Good Times Roll!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

SnOMG !!!!!!!!!

With Super Bowl grocery shopping in full swing, the last thing we want to see at Daisy Mae's Market is snow. We're an outdoor fresh produce vendor at Findlay Market so we're used to dealing with rain and even some cold temperatures. We've got tents and heaters so unless we get to single digit temperatures for several days in a row, we're not too worried about keeping the fruits and vegetables protected. However, we ARE worried that some of our customers may be reluctant to venture out in snowy weather. When snow is in the forecast, Cincinnatians run to buy bread and milk, and then they hunker down until the snow catastrophe has passed.
Now I didn't exactly grow up in the Snow Belt, but my family did teach me how to have fun when it snowed. We'd pile in the station wagon and head for the local golf course where we'd spend hours going up and down the hills with our sleds. When I got a little older, my uncle let me try his old wooden skis, and it wasn't too long until I was hooked on skiing. Besides the family sled-riding, I remember a college spring break road trip interrupted by a blizzard where my friends and I ended up stranded in a "dive" motel in the middle of Kansas. To 20-year-old college students, that was a blast and I'll never forget it. I also remember the Blizzard of 1978 at Miami University that shut down Oxford for a week, and an ice/snow event in the late 1980's that kept us without power in Cincinnati for a couple days. Both of those may sound miserable, but we'll never forget all the fun we had during those times.
Even as adults, I've had some great snow memories...trips to Colorado for skiing or spontaneous wine and cheese parties with snowed-in neighbors...building snowmen and forts with our kids...walking at Winton Woods when the trees glistened with icicles...
As we listen to weekend forecasts that may disrupt your shopping or Super Bowl plans, just remember that snow can make great memories. Snow seems to freeze the images in your mind so that you'll never forget them.
Have your kids ever said, "Remember the time we went to Findlay Market in the snow?" They haven't? Forget the hunkering down---Have fun in the snow...Go sled-riding, skating at Fountain Square, shop at Findlay Market, and make some new memories! (And don't forget: You're going to need a carrot for that snowman!)