Shop Local Rochester: Merry Merry – Food + Drink + Play!

{ Left to Right: Archimage bad ass key chain, Abundance, Roc Brewing, + Hart’s. }

FOOD

look good

DRINK

feel good

TOYS

#Roc the holiday

#shoplocalroc

{ HAPPY HOLIDAYS! It is officially The Holidays. What better way to keep that flame alight than … to finish your holiday shopping!? Be it stocking stuffers + last minute gifts or snacks + party menu meals … Shop Local in Rochester, NY has you covered. }

I heart that Hart's is in The Holiday spirit.

I heart that Hart’s is in The Holiday spirit.

Last minute. Final touches. Do any of the following describe you??

  • Need stocking stuffers!
  • Buying last minute gifts
  • Finishing the holiday menu

Whatever you have left – these final days before The Holidays are critical. Best part is – they can also be simple! This past weekend, I traipsed around 2 compact, navigable, + diverse #Roc neighborhoods. Both have an incredible, quality selection of:

  1. food
  2. beverage
  3. gifts
  4. toys
Enjoy urban scenes while you eat deliciously prepared foods at Hart's.

Enjoy urban scenes while eating deliciously prepared foods from Hart’s.

Here is what I found to help fill you with jolly + joy:

MONROE AVENUE

ARCHIMAGE | 668 Monroe Avenue, 14607 | TOYS + GIFTS
Archimage, which was bustling on Friday afternoon, is nestled in the Oxford Mall (between Oxford + Goodman Streets on Monroe Avenue). Convenient off-street parking is located just off Oxford street! (Turn right if heading toward Monroe.)

  • ToysStep away from the Big Box store. Step into Archimage. You will find it. You will probably find more than one of it. And it will be well received. By child or adult.
  • GiftsBe it – jewelry, clothing (including baby clothing!), scarves, socks, candles, journals, instruments, speciality books, novelty items, soaps, trinkets, ethnic, natural, upcycled, handmade, unique. … Whatever it be, Archimage has.
  • 1-Stop-ShopThe entire store is a gift shop. Find your gifts + your cards + your wrapping papers here. { Find your happy place here. Truly. }
Wall upon wall of toys for the kid in everyone!

Wall upon wall of toys for the kid in everyone!

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

{ BONUS: Also visit – Aaron’s Alley. Huge selection of unique gifts, i.e. Gods ‘N’ Gladiators Roc T’s. Buy some thrift/vintage for yourself! }

ABUNDANCE COOPERATIVE MARKET | 62 Marshall Street, 14607 | FOOD + DRINK + GIFTS
Abundance, tucked off of Marshall Street { after Owl House } and with its own parking lot, is my go-to, small grocery store. I love their products, their deals, their mini-market + cafe, and that I always find every single thing I’m looking for, even if it is different or new!

  • FoodAn abundance of sales! From Abundance Sails { deals until January 6, 2015 } to Coop Deals … make your holiday happy + healthy, while giving back directly to our community.
  • Drink. Ideal for non-alcoholic beverages. Looking for a the local refreshment? Ouzon Soda is pristine, locally made, + refreshingly unique! What about the naturally sugar-free soda pop? Stevia options abound.
  • Gifts20% off stocking stuffer sale until Christmas Eve – Wednesday, 12/24! Abundant options include: hats + mittens, glass water bottles { my personal pick }, hand cut soaps, an alluring array of bath + beauty, and so much more!
Locally Made hand salve made by Rochester Roots!

Locally Made hand salve by Rochester Roots!

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAMBLOG

{ BONUS: You should know – Abundance sell items that are solely: Non-GMO, Natural, Fair Trade, Local, Organic, and/or IPM. }

EAST END

ROC BREWING | 56 South Union Street, 14607 | DRINK + GIFTS
Roc Brewing is 1 of 2 bars in Rochester I can confidently walk into, without anyone else, grab a pint, and drink. Which is exactly what I did this past Friday. The doors open at 5pm. On Friday, I walked in at 5:03 + the bar was packed. Talk about holly, jolly, + merry. Roc Brewing #Rocs it.

  • DrinkNine–nine–beers on tap when I arrived. Glutinous Maximus is gluten-free { and has a 7.1% ABV, holler } + it satiated by taste for the beers I’ve missed so much. Buy any of these beers for someone you love. They will respect you for it. And probably love you back. { Though I make no promises on matters-of-the-heart. }
  • GiftsWhich leads us to … The Greatest Gift Deal of the Century. { Kid not. } The Holiday Grumbler Special. That’s 2 Roc Brewing pint glasses, 1 empty mini-grumbler, + a gift certificate to have that grumbler filled on-tap … for JUST $22!!!!! Oh – then there are the T’s + the hoodies, the glasses + the art. Also ask about the Mug Club. { Which might be kicked … as in full! }
  • Unwind This past Friday, I learned that:
    • Roc Brewing now serves food!!!!!!
    • Roc Brewing serves the best gluten-free beer I have ever
    • Roc Brewing is doing a fundraiser for Verona Street Animal Society { which involves coloring books, it’s only $2, and you know I participated } Roc Gives Back in so many other ways, too.
An entire wall of gift ideas, for every occasion.

An entire wall of gift ideas, for everyone + every occasion!

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM 

{ BONUS: You should know – Roc Brewing has trivia for An Epic Trivia Extravaganza, from 5pm – 8pm Christmas Eve evening! }

HART’S LOCAL GROCERS | 10 Winthrop Street, 14607 | FOOD + DRINK + GIFTS
I Heart Hart’s. Hart’s Local Grocers will induce a nirvana-like state, and can best be described (by me) as a Wegman’s – Trader Joes’s – Specialty Market – Trifecta. This grocery, which rests just off East Ave on Winthrop St. and hosts its own off-street parking lot, is captivating. Mesmerizing. My only excuse for just having gone?? I get super excited for things I know I’ll heart … and so delayed gratification. I cannot wait to become a local in Hart’s Local Grocers! 

  • FoodDollop Frosting! I finally found it. As East Ave Wegmans has opted not to carry the gourmet, gluten free/dairy free/soy free/nut free/corn syrup free/organic frostings … I’m much, much elated to find that Hart’s does. Along with a myriad { understatement of the century } locally produced products. In fact, here’s a quick recap of the various food items I heart at Hart’s:
    • great gluten-free selection, along with accommodating other allergies
    • local items in isles + featured at the front, near the cash registers
    • all of your favorite, go-to brands
    • delicious sales
    • a cafe + a deli + a butcher + a coffee shop + a great place to sit, eat, + enjoy the #Roc views!
  • DrinkGet your craft brew here. And your favorite brand name, including a myriad of Rohrbach varieties. Especially delectable for picking up last minute host favors, party gifts, or regular gifts. If you can’t decide upon 1 local brew, check out Hart’s + let their selection entice and suede.
  • GiftsName a local food merchant in Rochester. They probably also sell at Hart’s. From Eat Me Ice Cream to Ouzon Soda to Hedonist Artisan Chocolates to Fuego Coffee to Coffee Connection to Dollop Frostings … that’s not even a fraction of your options. Hart’s is a 1-Stop-Shop, + it will mend any aching hearts you might have incurred throughout this holiday season. { This matter-of-the-heart, I do guarantee. }
Dollop frostings! Local products featured in the front + sold throughout the store.

Dollop frostings! Local products featured in the front + sold throughout the store.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAMNEWS & BLOG

{ BONUS: You should know – Hart’s features special Build-Your-Own Gift Baskets. Customize your own or buy one Hart’s made. What a great gift! }

Roc Brewing knows how to top { off } their Christmas tree.

Roc Brewing knows how to top { off } their Christmas tree.

As you finish your holiday shopping, remember to take a pic + hashtag #shoplocalroc to be auto-entered into the Shop Local Rochester Contest! { It’s best to post pictures to Instagram. When in doubt – also post to Facebook or Twitter. }

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL

Glutinous Minimus { I love that } gluten-free beer. INCREDIBLE.

Glutinous Minimus { I love that } gluten-free beer. INCREDIBLE.

So much love –

#happyholidays

#shoplocal

XO.

Shop Local Rochester: Myths, Gifts, + Favs!

{ To The Late Mr. “Klonks” Klondike. My forever Elf + Soul Mate. }

SHOP LOCAL 

myths

ROCHESTER

gifts

#shoplocalroc

favs

#ROC THE HOLIDAY

{ This holiday, a curly-haired elf named BESL gift-wraps your season with a whole lotta #shoplocalroc love. We’re dressing-up our normal categories — Lifestyle, Tips + Tricks, Week Wrap-Up — so you can #Roc The Holiday right. From now until 12/24, sprinkle the season with — Myths, Gifts, + Favs — and out-sparkle those snow crystals … just to show them who is boss. }

look good, feel good

MYTHS – Not your typical shopping. Why don’t we #ShopLocal more?? We already know that it’s:

  • affordable
  • unique
  • convenient
  • sustainable
  • fun

Because it’s not a part of our daily habits! Tiny myths we’ve learned along the way have become huge barriers that keep #ShopLocal from our daily routines. This season, BESL dispels these 5 mighty myths:

  1. no parking!
  2. too expensive!
  3. not a 1-stop-shop!
  4. out of the way!
  5. weird hours!

this weekend: rmsc holiday bazaar rwms ultimate women’s expo

{ I’ll be at rwms with ouzon soda sat! }

GIFTS – Not your typical gifting. Gift giving–great gift giving–shouldn’t have to be a mystery. The secret?

  • what
  • where

Knowing what makes a gift great + knowing where to find that gift are 2 very different things. They often contradict! { Many of the greatest gifts, are the rarest. } All season long, #shoplocalroc guides you to more satisfying gifts.

better than a star in the sky + 10 reindeer

Just look at all these resources!

{ Take the Pledge! }
Shop Local Rochester 

FAVS – Not your typical favs. Hidden gems. When shopping, we seek-out hidden gems more than a healthy cookie recipe we’re not ashamed to swap. { Or keep secret. } #ShopLocal is chocked-full of hidden gems! The best part? They’re:

  • directly in our neighborhoods and backyards
  • at familiar spots
  • even in our homes!

This season, here are BESL’s top picks:

  1. Festivals + Bazaars – 3 Weekends of Handcrafted, Fair Trade, Locally Owned Businesses
  2. Thrift – Let the Preparations Begin!
  3. Arts + Reads – Stay Classy
  4. Food + Drink – Hoppy Holidays: Get Cultured
  5. Secret Spots – Stealthy + Strategic

Shopping is inevitable this holiday season.
Make it fun + make it count with Shop Local Rochester.

#shoplocalroc

XO. 

Drink Local: Ouzon All-Natural Soda.

{Photograph taken from www.greeksoda.com}

OUZON

OPA! ORIGINALS GREEK SODA

FACEBOOK ALL NATURAL | WEBSITE 

“What about an ouzo flavored soda?”

~Phil Broikos, co-owner

WHO: Anastasia + Phil Broikos

WHAT: All natural Greek Soda. Makings in Dundee, NY. Non-alcoholic. Pairs nicely with alcohol. (Submit cocktail concoctions online!)

WHERE: Made in Dundee, NY (syrup)

WHY: Where ingenuity meets culture meets calculated risk meets why not

BUY: Grocery Stores. Restaurants. Check by Location Here. I found mine at Abundance Cooperative Market! Also at Wegmans (all of Monroe County).

SAY: OUZON (pronounced “OO-zone”).

EVENTS: Like on Facebook: OPA! Originals. Check for all Events. 

Greek Fest – Going on Now! 

Annunciation of the Greek Orthodox Church on East Ave: Thurs | Fri | Sat | Sun

Natural. Refreshing. Unique. Delicious. Anastasia Broikos, co-owner of OPA! Originals along with husband Phil, is everything Ouzon Soda oozes. Add to this: Effervescent. Inviting. Sweet. I met Anastasia at Abundance Cooperative Market during Earth Day Birthday. Tiny table near the entrance of bulk foods. Crowds clamored. Like me, I’m not sure they knew what for. I suppose exuberance. It flowed. From Anastasia, the petite woman originally from Queens, with a genuine smile + boisterous laugh. And from her clear, bubbly cups. At that juncture, it was Grand Central. Photographs. Pleads from Abundance for more. Old people. Young people. Laughter. I pressed the cup to my lips. Dainty bubbles fizzed. In that moment, I felt like family.

Family. Because Ouzon Soda is family. Engineered in 2009. Incorporated into OPA! Originals by 2010. Winner 1 year later in 2011 of the Beverage World Bronze BevStar Award for Best Carbonated Soft Drink. Managing a household with 2 beautiful girls, now 4 + 6.  Anastasia + Phil, Greek-Americans with complex ties to their heritage, truly run a family-owned company.

“I’m constantly pulling Barbie dolls out of my files,”

~Anastasia Broikos, co-owner

Both successful professionals (Anastasia in print media + Phil, a lawyer), put aside these careers + pursued a vision. As Phil explains, the Broikos’ decided to “give it a year.” With “calculated risk” as their strategy and “value judgement” as their guide, Anastasia + Phil navigated this epic endeavor. I’m tempted to say that Ouzon Soda was inspiration from the gods. But well, I think Phi’s father had more of a role.

“What is uniquely Greek?”

Go Greek. Phil is a Rochester native, + his dad worked as an engineer at Xerox. Happening upon a Greek inspired premium soda was a journey–a calculated one–before anything else. I’m no marketing major, but with 2 simples questions it’s evident that Phil carved out ingenuity by identifying a niche product with existing platform.“What is unique?” “What is the speciality [to each culture]?” Next, he + Anastasia invented. “What is uniquely Greek?” Oregano. Feta Cheese. Greek Wine. Greek Whiskey. Greek flavors. Greek ingredients. Greek products. Non-Greek still-popular products. Anastasia + Phil populated this matrix and, after ditching their diaper truck idea (someone sniffed it out 1st), they imbibed the ingenuity behind Rivella, a famed Swiss soft drink. Thank. God.

A Greek Ouzo Liqueur Inspired Soda.

Invention. Phil doesn’t actually love the taste of ouzo, an aperitif that is practically the national liqueur of Greece. The connection? Ouzon Soda tastes the way ouzo smells. (Genius.) More importantly? Both Anastasia + Phil love all-natural. The About page on their website www.greeksoda.com explains it best:

OUZON (pronounced “OO-zone”) soda is a premium all-natural sparkling beverage based on the flavor profile of ouzo, the unofficial national liqueur of Greece. The proprietary syrup for OUZON is meticulously handcrafted using pure cane sugar, and is infused with certified organic star anise to impart subtle notes of licorice.

By wishing upon a star is exactly how Ouzon Soda went from promise to pop. Ouzo liqueur smells refreshingly crisp, but the heavy taste doesn’t follow. Anastasia + Phil needed to capture a way to project this signature taste from anise, a Mediterranean herb responsible for the licorice undertones, and had to do it naturally.

All Natural. Made Local.

No Corn Syrup. Anastasia + Phil came up with the recipe for Ouzon Soda in their very own kitchen located in Penfield, NY. (Official headquarters of OPA! Originals. Unless you also count Starbucks.) They needed star anise, the Asian spice (not the Mediterranean herb), and they needed it to make a tea. When Phil reverse engineered this, the rest flowed. Cane sugar creates an all-natural syrup and: Opa!  …Too predictable? Well, Ouzon Soda is not.

  • certified organic star anise

  • star anise tea made in upstate NY (Dundee)

  • cane sugar … made from scratch

  • natural citric acid as a preservative

No corn syrup. No sodium benzoate (an artificial preservative). No chemicals. Just pure, homemade, all-natural, premium ingredients. As crystal clear as the Ouzon Soda they create.

OPA! Originals

Godliness. When Anastasia + Phil started OPA! Originals + invented Ouzon Soda, they did not just become entrepreneurs. Anastasia + Phil–married, with children, starting a business–became an entrepreneurial deity. What do we get?? Ouzon All-Natural Premium Soda. Whose taste + purity + authenticity embodies the very standards + traditions, culture + nuances the Broikos family generates. Godliness. Infused into every single last drop of Ouzon Soda.

Drink Local

With OPA! Originals located in Penfiled, NY, the makings of Ouzon Soda started in Dundee, NY, and with Ouzon sold all over Monroe County: Anastasia + Phil Broikos make Rochester, NY a city among the gods. Truly, we thank you so much.

Opa!

(had to.)

Now head over to your nearest retailer + drink for yourself!

#drinklocal

#allnatural

#Ouzon

#OPAOriginals

XO.