Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Sweet Tour

Got your Christmas cookies yet?

Sheila here, and we haven't plunged into the big part of our Christmas baking yet at my house, but my kids got a head start last Saturday at Servatii's.

I have a Servatii's gingerbread house on display at home, and for the first couple of days I had it, I couldn't keep my son Eric away from it. I was telling Gary Gottenbusch about it when I ran into him and his family at Germania Society's Christkindlmarkt, and he asked how we would like to come to their big bakery in Madisonville to see where they make the gingerbread houses and other sweet treats. Of course, we jumped at the chance.

Gary started our tour with a little history lesson on his grandfather's first Servatii's bakery and café in Muenster, Germany. Gary Gottenbusch opened up shop to sell his sweets and baked goods in the 1950's. Then Gary's dad, Wilhelm brought those delicious traditions to the United States with the first Servatii's on Observatory Avenue in 1963, and Gary carries on with his brothers Greg and Mark.

Once inside the bakery, Katie, Eric, and I saw bagels being made and Gary showed us the ovens where he can bake hundreds of cookies at one time. They're big enough to fit a couple of people inside (but much too hot!) In the cake decorating room, we saw several award winning women putting their touch on birthday and holiday cakes, and they took a few minutes to teach Katie some of their icing techniques. Katie and Eric decorated cookies, and my little guy was more than generous with the icing sprinkles. Gary wrapped up our tour by showing us the newest toy in the Servatii's arsenal. It's a state of the art water cutter, which uses computer precision to cut cakes in any shape the creative bakers there can imagine. We watched as it sliced a huge sheet of Key Lime pie into tiny squares with fancy edges. Servatii's is one of only two bakeries in the U.S. which has this water cutter technology. I asked Gary how important it is for him to be able to offer products which are different from anyone else's, and he told me, "It's all about the wow factor." With more than 400 products and so many awards on the mantle, it's no wonder Servatii's was placed in Cincinnati Magazine's Best of the City Hall of Fame long ago.

Katie, Eric, and I took home a big box of goodies, but best of all, a new family Christmas memory from a Cincinnati baking family whose kindness has no boundaries.

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