This winter, melt away boredom with soothing spa treatments, cozy dining spaces and hot activities for kids and grownups.

We've got 62 ways to heat up your life, your look and your palate- because chilly weather is no excuse for social hibernation.

KITCHEN HEAT

When it comes to crafting a hearty dish, these chefs rule. Diners flock to them for stick-to-your-ribs cuisine-but where do they head for some comfort cooking? Three chefs share spots worthy of bundling up and venturing out to for a warming meal on a frigid day. -Carrie Schedler

Jeff Headley, Park Creek Kitchen

The Dish: Pho with tripe at Mi Li Cafe, 5858 Emporium Square, North Side

The Comfort: "It's got a wonderful broth with a lot of earthy flavors," says chef Headley, who eats there every Sunday. "It's like Vietnamese chicken noodle soup to me. You can taste the ginger and soy and a lot of the fresh, herbaceous flavors."

Rick Lopez, Knead

The Dish: Pastitsio at Anna's Greek Cuisine, 7370 Sawmill Rd., Dublin


The Comfort: "It's familiar," says chef Lopez. "It's a casserole with pasta and béchamel, so there's a lot of nutmeg, which is such a wintry flavor. It's hearty and hot, so when you finish eating it, you're definitely very full, like you want to take a nap."

Vicki Hink, The Angry Baker

The Dish: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Basi Italia, 811 Highland St., Victorian Village

The Comfort: "Those are all of my favorite fall flavors," explains Hink of the dish with roasted mushrooms, arugula and sage-pumpkin pesto. "The sweet potato gives it a great color, and it has an earthy, creamy smell to it. There's enough to eat and take some home for early-morning leftovers."


CHILL OUT WITH:

Ian Huffman

Cold Career:
Ice technician for Columbus Arena Management

Chill Factor: Huffman, Nationwide Arena's designated ice man, has a slippery job. To maintain smooth skating on the 1-inch sheet, the ice temperature must hover between 20 and 22 degrees. Not an easy feat for the 28-year-old former Chiller Ice Rinks tech after factoring in humidity, dew point and the body heat of thousands of fans-all of which can alter the state of the ice that takes two to three days to create using 14,000 gallons of water. But did we mention he gets to drive the Zamboni?

Couch or Ice? "During the season, I'll take the couch any day," he says.

Favorite Non-Hockey Winter Activity?
"I love sitting down and watching football. I'm a football-first guy."

The Icy Edge:
"I use a computer to monitor not only the temperatures of the ice, but also the air in and outside of the arena," Huffman explains. "Humidity can be the worst. If the air is not dry enough, the snow lying on the ice will absorb that moisture and make it tough for the puck to slide."

Winter Survival Tip: "Something my uncle told me when I got a license. He said, 'Never let your gas tank get under a quarter when you're driving in the winter. If you get stranded, you can at least have some gas in your car.' " -Interview by Ben Zenitsky

COMFORT IN A BOWL

Why do we start craving soups and stews the minute the air turns chilly? Because eating them sends warm, fuzzy comfort vibes coursing through your veins. Here are four you have to try this season. -Shelley Mann


Starliner Diner's Starliner Chunky Chili
$5/cup, $7.50/bowl

This soul-satisfying chili could easily win a backyard cookoff. The long-simmered concoction has ground beef in a chili pepper-spiked tomato sauce topped with crumbled jalapeno cornbread and a heap of shredded cheddar. Stir it all together and you've got a bowl of chili so thick, your spoon will stand straight up in it. Just like it's supposed to do.

Da Levee's Chorizo Pozole
$5/small plate, $7/large plate

Owner Justin Boehme makes big batches of his soul food stews-a rotation of chowders, jambalayas and etouffees-ahead of time and serves them over rice. His pozole, a traditional Mexican stew, is made with ground Ohio chorizo, browned in housemade hot sauce, that he simmers with hominy, corn, black beans, cilantro, lime, garlic and a special mix from North Market Spices. "It's a super light and very healthy dish," Boehme says.

Spagio's Lobster Bisque
$5/cup, $7.75/bowl

For more than two decades, this Lobster Bisque has been a beloved mainstay on chef Hubert Seifert's menu. Each batch is made from scratch based on Seifert's own recipe, starting with a stock simmered with fresh, whole lobsters, says Spagio chef de cuisine David Toth. That treatment infuses the bisque with an intense, pure lobster flavor many bisques lack. It's garnished with big hunks of lobster claw meat, a dollop of crème fraiche and snipped chives.

Katzinger's Chicken Noodle Soup
$2.50/bowl

You won't find a soup simpler and more pure than this. It starts with a clear, golden broth made from scratch each day with whole Ohio Gerber chickens simmered with vegetables and herbs. That flavorful broth is served (sans chicken and vegetables) with fluffy egg noodles. Columbus native Ted Allen is a fan-the Food Network chef waxed poetic about Katzinger's Chicken Noodle paired with a pastrami Reuben on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate."


good curling, eh!

Learn the popular Canadian pastime

"Curling's not as easy as it looks," says Gordon Webster, a native of Canada and president of the 8-year-old Columbus Curling Club. But it is fun to learn, he adds. At the headquarters on Silver Drive, Webster and other volunteers teach novices the basics of this strategic sliding sport-how a slight wrist turn can put the right curl on a stone, or that a good sweeper can carry a stone an extra 12 to 15 feet. A few things every aspiring curler (or curling fan) needs to know. -Beth Stallings

1. It's a social game. "The winner always buys the loser a drink," Webster says, pointing to the three tables in the club's warm room, each designated to a different sheet (or curling course). After a game, opposing teams gather at the same table for a friendly chat.

2. There's lingo. For momentum, curlers push off of small curbs called hacks at each sheet end. The house is the target-like ring (the center is the pin or button). The hog line is the line just before the house-for a stone to be in play, it has to cross this point. And the titles of the four players (in order of throwing) are the lead, the second, the vice and the skip.

3. The idea is simple, the strategy is not. Two teams of four face off on the ice, each team throwing eight 40-pound

granite stones per round trying to knock the other team's stones out of play, and also hit the center of the house. The closest wins a point for the round. "Curling's a game of millimeters," Webster explains. "We work with eighths of an inch." Sweepers speed up or slow down the stone and also get the best workout, pushing down with 80 to 85 percent of their body weight, he notes.

4. Everyone is welcome. Take a class, encourages Webster (just don't forget to dress in layers-it's a brisk 40 degrees in there). Or catch a game from the comfort of the warm room during league nights through March, or the upcoming bonspiel (tournament) Beers of the World from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. columbuscurling.com

fire and ice

Pick up a hobby that will help you master the elements


Fire Play

Glass is the one medium in which an artist literally breathes life into his work.

"Your breath is actually part of the making process," says Trevor Fruchey, a pro blower who teaches at Glass Axis, the Grandview nonprofit with roughly 150 artist members.

Remember that divine possibility when you step in front of the furnace, which heats to more than 2,000 degrees-it's like standing on the sun's surface in a wool parka. Glassblowers get used to the heat, says Fruchey, and they adore it in the winter. First-timers need a little coaxing.

Fruchey and other instructors at Glass Axis help newbies stand their ground through numerous different "hot classes," which work with furnace-fired molten glass. If you're new, take the tumbler course for $65. Under heavy (and welcome) supervision, you'll gather glass from the furnace, shape it with steel and wooden tools, and put your breath into the rod. You'll even get to choose the colored glass chips that will tint your take-home cocktail glass.

"Glass is like really hot Play-Doh," Fruchey explains. "You can make it do whatever you want it to. And you're playing with an open flame-which is alwys fun and exciting." glassaxis.org


Freeze Frame

Trey Justice and Greg Butauski re-imagine frozen water as cresting dolphins, liquor luges and seahorses hiding in kelp. They see ice crystals as art.

The professional carvers behind Columbus ice sculpting company Rock on Ice teach chefs, culinary students and curious novices to create masterpieces from ice blocks weighing as much as 300 pounds using grinders, chisels, and even blowtorches.

Sculpting ice appears intense, but the key to success is simple.

"Once you learn how to cut straight, everything else is easy," says Justice, who makes apprentices master perfect 8-inch cubes before advancing.

At a hands-on novice class ($300 by appointment), Justice explains the industry's 10-step design process and helps students create a basic sculpture, such as a fluted column, using a band saw, die grinder and chainsaw. He'll provide the gloves, but be sure to don waterproof footwear.

Oh, and don't forget to record your work.

"That's the thing about a temporary medium," he laments, "you've got to take a picture."

rockonice.com-John Ross


chill out with:

Lonnie Thompson and Ellen Mosley-Thompson

Cold Career:
Distinguished Professor of Earth Sciences and Senior Research Scientist, and Distinguished Professor of Geography and Director, both of the Byrd Polar Research Center, respectively

Chill Factor: World-renowned paleoclimatologists, this husband-wife team studies climate change through ice core sampling in some of the Earth's coldest places-including a recent 42-day Antarctic expedition for Ellen, 64, amid 20-below nighttime temps, and 58 expeditions to 16 countries, including Greenland, for Lonnie, 64. "We're putting together a history of the planet Earth as it's recorded in glaciers around the world," Lonnie explains.

Couch or Snow? "We like to go out and walk our dog, take a hike or be in the office," Ellen says.

Favorite Non-Polar Winter Activity? "We are fortunate to live close to Whetstone Park. We love taking our dogs (three rescue terriers)," says Lonnie.

A Piece of Peace: "It's wonderful to be out on an ice sheet," Ellen says. "In many of the places I've been, we were the first people there. You have a footprint in an untouched part of the planet."

Winter Survival Tip: "If you don't have your head covered, you're going to lose a good portion of the heat," Ellen says.

-Interview
by Ben Zenitsky

melt away


Relax with hot spa treatments

Rest & Renewal Ritual

Heat-seeking relaxation is exactly what I wanted-and got-from Woodhouse Day Spa's Rest and Renewal Ritual (80 minutes, $125). It's an exfoliating body scrub (I chose the zingy "Asian" lemongrass-mimosa scrub, but massage therapist Dulci said men tend toward the more bracing "Moroccan" blend), a 10-minute soak in a tub of lavender-oil-infused hot water, then a relaxing (but not muscle-decimating) massage (with special care paid to those pesky neck and upper back muscles). The result? Warmth and energy from the inside out.
woodhousecolumbus.com

-Jane Hawes

Caribbean Therapy
Body Treatment

For shedding an exoskeleton of windchill-hardened skin, Lennonheads has the perfect Aveda antidote. The Caribbean Therapy Body Treatment (120 minutes, $95) is a full-body exfoliation with a rough cloth (and serious elbow grease), a languid mango-and-coconut-butter massage and a toasty seaweed mask to pull out lingering impurities-all on a heated massage table. Plus, there's a facial massage using scented lavender oil to destress and eucalyptus and peppermint oils to detox. You'll spend the next week unable to stop touching glowy arms and skin. lennonheads.com

-Carrie Schedler

Organic Candle Massage

Let a massage therapist work out all your kinks by soothing candlelight with Charles Penzone's Grand Salons' Organic Candle Massage (60-90 minutes, starting from $95-$130). Choose one of three massage candle scents-honey ginger was my favorite-and enjoy the fragrance while the therapist works warmed oil from the candle into your skin. The high-quality oil leaves your skin supple and smelling amazing for hours. And the candle is yours to enjoy at home, for its glowing light or another massage. charlespenzone.com

-Kristen Schmidt

Sedona Mud Body Wrap

On-the-go ladies who need an excuse to slow down will love The Retreat Salon & Day Spa's Sedona Mud Body Wrap (60 minutes, $150). It starts with an all-over body brushing, followed by a warm mud masque and cocooning in a heat blanket snug enough to be comforting, but not restricting. I was wrapped up nice and warm for 20 minutes as the iron-rich clay went to work detoxifying and moisturizing skin, plus improving circulation. A bonus multi-vitamin firming mask massaged into the eye and lip areas is also applied (the collagen in here gives an extra lift, too). After a hot shower rinse, almond lotion locks in moisture for caress-worthy skin.
theretreatspa.com

-Beth Stallings

Mystic Nirvana

"Are you ready to be more relaxed than you've ever been in your whole life?" asks Mukha Custom Cosmetics & Medi-Spa owner Tim Maurer at the start of my centuries-old holistic Mystic Nirvana treatment (60 minutes, $100). His buildup was dead on, as attendants simultaneously massage feet and face/shoulders, finishing the latter with hot towels. After a chakra-awakening soothing scalp rub comes the main event: a trickle of warm neem oil dropped on my forehead (known as the third eye) along with an arm massage, creating an out-of-body sensation as relaxing and rejuvenating as an afternoon nap. mukhaspa.com

-Beth Stallings


hot and lathered

Everything is old-school at Old Familiar. The classic-rock soundtrack is broadcast in the dulcet tones of vinyl and appointments are taken via a rotary phone. The vintage barber chairs even sport little flip-top ashtrays, though the thirtysomething proprietors might not remember the days when everyone smoked in public. Best of all is the throwback attitude. At the barber shop, the conversation is colored with off-color jokes and a close shave is the only indulgence a real man needs to warm up in the winter.

My Shave Deluxe ($35) began with a hot towel and several rounds of lotion and lather. Barber Josh Wilbur kept the banter relaxing-an important step when he's got a straight razor in his capable hands. Moisturizer and a rolling cream facial followed, along with more blissful minutes under those steamy towels. And thanks to the sting of traditional aftershave, I left smelling like Don Draper, which is exactly how I felt-comfortable, confident and old-school cool. oldfamiliarbarbershop.com -Brian Lindamood

blades of steel

More hot shaves in Columbus

Blue Star Shave ($35) with hot steam towels, cool eucalyptus towel and massage: Blue Star Barbershop, 2144 Polaris Pkwy., Polaris, 614-547-0690, bluestarbarbershop.com

Straight Razor Shave ($35) with hot lather, beard-softening massage and steam towels: The Mug & Brush, 2433 N. High St., North Campus, 614-263-5518, themugandbrush.com

Presidential Shave ($90) with hot towels, esthetician's steamer and cooling facial: The Noble Baron Gentleman Barbers, 21 N. High St., New Albany, 614-245-8493, facebook.com/noblebaron

Hot Happenings


Liven up gray days with a few ways to keep out and about and active. -Taylor Swope

Melt: Tracey Gardner never intended for her trademarked workout Tracey Gardner Method-which combines strength and endurance moves to blast up to 1,000 calories in an hour-to become so popular. "It was never supposed to be a business," she says, "I just wanted a place for people to come and be happy all year." The mirror-less New Albany studio is kept dark and warm with aromatherapy steamers. The routines, she says, are adaptable for a variety of skill levels, including people trying to get back into shape. traceygardnermethod.com

Swelter: Curious what it's like to walk through a rainforest or desert? Save on the exotic airfare and head to Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' rainforest and desert biomes for an authentically climatized escape. The spaces are maintained by horticulturists who understand the climate for each terrain, says executive director Bruce Harkey. fpconservatory.org

Sweat: Here's the deal: Show up at Ace of Cups north of Campus the first Saturday night of every month, and get ready to dance your butt off. "There's no iPods or computers. It's turntables and vinyl records … and a bunch of sweaty people," says Adam Scoppa, one of the creators of the monthly retro Heatwave dance party. Just be sure to come early-the crowd is capped at 300 and a line usually starts at 10:30 p.m. facebook.com/heatwavecolumbus

Blush: In the world of burlesque, a tag-team of two different troupes appearing together is a rare occurrence, says local performer Viva Valezz. But that's exactly what her group Velvet Hearts! will do with other local burlesque troupe the Ooh-La-Las. They'll come together on Nov. 10 at Wall Street Nightclub for a risqué fairy-tale show where the sexy ladies will express their inner princesses and queens. vivavalezz.com

Warm: There's still time to grab a pint and catch "The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart," which runs through Nov. 4 at the CD102.5 Big Room. The interactive play, performed almost entirely in rhyme, hails from the National Theatre of Scotland and takes place in a working pub-that means a cash bar for the audience. wexarts.org

skid row

How to drive in the snow

Between growing up on the ice-covered roads of Anchorage, Alaska, and two decades spent instructing drivers in high performance, Todd Snyder knows how to handle winter driving. "If you're paying attention, if you recognize where you're driving and adjust your speed, you shouldn't be in a situation," says Snyder, chief driving instructor at the Mid-Ohio School. But if you do find yourself out of control on a slick road, this racing veteran offers a few steps to get back on track.

-Ben Zenitsky


1. Correct: Look where you want the car to go. "Most of us, when the car is about to go off the road, look to where we're about to hit," Snyder says. "If the eyes are focused on the right spot, the hands and feet will follow." When the car starts to slide, he adds, steer into the slide, the same direction the car is heading.


2. Pause: Think of the rear end as a pendulum, he explains, meaning at some point it will slow down and stop moving one direction (hence the pause) and come back the other way. When this moment hits, it's time for step three.


3. Recover: While the car rights itself during the pause, bring the steering wheel back to center. "If I don't do that, the rear is going to snap back in the opposite direction, or possibly spin out," Snyder says.


Take a Brake: When a car loses control, drivers will instinctually be tempted to slam the brakes. Some people recommend pumping them, but Snyder says that's an increasingly outdated technique now that most vehicles on the road have anti-lock brakes. If the car is in a slide, Snyder advises against using the brakes at all. But if the car enters into a spin, just remember this simple rhyme from Snyder: "When in doubt, both feet out."


chill out with:

Tom Burns

Cold Career: Director of the Perkins Observatory

Chill Factor: With no atmosphere to hold in heat, space can be a cold, cold place, but that doesn't intimidate Tom Burns, who's run the Ohio Wesleyan observatory for 20 years. The 60-year-old's been hopelessly in love with astronomy and its cold shoulder since he was 10. "And I don't know why I wasted the first 10 years of my life," he quips.

Couch or Snow? "I'm an outside person year-round, but I like the winter because you can carry less-all you need is a tarp-and the bugs are dead," Burns explains.

Favorite Non-Starry Winter Activity? "I love seeing the Columbus Symphony Orchestra."

Winter's Edge: "You have all these really fabulous constellations (such as Orion battling Taurus the bull). If you are out in dark, rural skies the Milky Way is visible. What binoculars will do for you is take that beautiful, silvery band of light and turn it into more stars than you've ever imagined. In January you get the best view because it's right overhead."

Winter Survival Tip: "The feet are the first to go. Get yourself some nice boots that raise your foot off the ground. They used to call them moon boots. You also want a moonless night [for stargazing] if you can arrange it."

-Interview by Beth Stallings

Uncoop the kids

Great news, parents: There's no need to go stir crazy at home with the kiddos. Columbus offers plenty of (indoor) places where kids can stretch their legs and minds.

- Melissa Kossler Dutton


See: It's a great time to catch cold-loving creatures, such as tigers, wolves and polar bears, at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, says spokeswoman Jennifer Wilson. Her tip? Eat peanut butter before breathing into the sniff port where visitors get nose-to-nose with polar bears. They love the smell. Plus, the Wildlights holiday celebration kicks off this month on Nov. 16. colszoo.org

Tour: Holiday production is gearing up now at the Anthony-Thomas Chocolates factory, meaning it's the perfect time to catch a bustling tour (kids $1, adults $2). Admission is also good toward a candy purchase and, "We always have $1 bags of candy," says Candi Trifelos of Anthony-Thomas. Go ahead and promise kiddies a treat for good behavior-every visitor gets a free buckeye. anthony-thomas.com

Play: Looking to socialize but not up for hosting? Plan a play date at Piccadilly Modern Play & Creative Cafe in Bexley, a serene space where kids can goof around and parents can visit over a cup of coffee. Try kids' movie nights and parents' night out events as alternatives to a sitter. "Events make it easy for parents to get their shopping done or enjoy an evening out," owner Allyson Morena says. piccadillydally.com

Learn: Kids will never suspect they are learning at AHA! A Hands-On Adventure in Lancaster or at The Works, in Newark. They'll get immersed in dramatic play and art at AHA!, and they'll be challenged to think scientifically about racing a car or illuminating a light bulb at The Works. Plus, the reasonably-priced museums are open on many holidays when schools are closed. aha4kids.org; attheworks.org

Create: Start an art project with your child at local kid-adult studios Creation Nation (think ceramics and fused glass, including drop-in ornament sessions) and Creative Art Studio (where you can dabble in a variety of media). "This helps them in later life-wrangling an idea and putting it on paper or canvas," says Creative Art Studio owner Anna Kuenzli. creationnationoh.com; artwithanna.org

LEGO the heat

There's artistic potential in these colorful children's toys, which you can see at the Columbus Museum of Art's "Think Outside the Brick: The Creative Art of LEGO," opening Nov. 9. The exhibit showcases the creative power of LEGOs with original sculptures, paintings, dioramas and even local LEGO contest winners. The crux of the exhibit is "In Pieces," a series of photographs by Dean West integrating specially-sculpted LEGO bricks, created by Nathan Sawaya. The idea is to compel the viewer to dissect each element of the picture, says Nancy Colvin, the museum's marketing and communications manager. If play is more your thing, there's also time to catch COSI's LEGO Castle Adventure, which features LEGO replicas of real European castles (big enough for the kids to explore inside), along with life-size knights, dragons and a jousting course. "Kids can also build a castle wall, and then test the forces of strength with a catapult," says COSI's Jaclyn Reynolds, adding there will be an interactive bricks and building event Nov. 17 and 18.

-Beth Stallings

layered effect

John O'Meara is adept at dressing in cold climates-he scaled South America's tallest peak in 2011, and attempted to tackle Mt. Everest's 29,035-foot summit in May. "I've camped outside at 30 below many times," says the Metro Parks executive director. He shares the fine, yet simple, art of keeping warm when the temps drop. -Beth Stallings

"Dress for the activity you are doing," he advises. If you're standing around,

dress warmer. And pick materials that wick away moisture. "If you stay dry, you are going to stay warmer."

"For really cold weather, you want some sort of long underwear," preferably made of a modern wicking material, he says. And cover feet with a good pair of wool socks.

"Then I go with a fairly light layer next-a shirt and pair of pants, depending on the activity," says O'Meara, who is typically active when outside.

"Next, you always want a waterproof layer for the outside," he says, suggesting a modern Gore-Tex material or wool because "they stay warm when wet." Down, he adds, does not-noting it's a great below-freezing layer when there's less chance of melting snow.

"A good hat and good gloves are invaluable," he says. "Think more about function (than style). Be warm. You'll look a lot better if you are warm than freezing in the cold."


chill out with:

Paige Ludwig

Cold Career: Special Olympics Ohio marketing and development director and annual Polar Plunge participant

Chill Factor: For Ludwig, jumping into a freezing cold body of water isn't a quirky hobby, it's part of her job. She's been running the annual Special Olympics fundraiser at various locations around the state, including the upcoming plunge at the zoo on Feb. 16, for more than a decade. "I figured, if I'm asking people to do it, I need to do it myself," says Ludwig, who took her first chilling dive in 2000. She's done at least one a year ever since, including a 10-degree Lake Erie plunge that required dynamite to break the ice.

Couch or Snow? "Generally inside, but my job lends itself to being outside a lot," she says. "I do like the snow, as long as it's not bitterly cold."

Favorite Dry Winter Activity: "Going out to dinner with friends. Figlio is my favorite, but we go wherever. I just try to keep busy to make the time go."

Cold Feet? "No, I've never regretted it. It's an adrenaline rush once you get up the nerve."

Plunge Survival Tip: "Bring a friend, and wear the least amount of clothing possible. Heavy sweatshirts make it colder. Oh, and have fun-it's for a good cause." -Interview by Beth Stallings

Cozy Up


During the chilly winter months, all anybody really wants to do is curl up under a blanket on the couch. But really, there's no excuse to hibernate 'til spring. We've found a few restaurants that are just as warm and comfy as your living room. -Shelley Mann

Fiery

No matter what dining mood you're in, we've got a fireplace to fit the bill. At Grandview's Third & Hollywood, a massive stone fireplace with roaring flames serves as the restaurant's centerpiece, whereas Hyde Park in Upper Arlington maintains a homier feel with a space carved into several small dining rooms-each with its own glowing hearth. At The Jury Room, a fire lit all winter long is the perfect backdrop for a cocktail or two.

Intimate

In the absence of a fireplace, the next best thing is body heat. Snuggle up with your significant other at restaurants where the seating is, shall we say, a little more on the cozy side. Basi Italia's dining room has tables set so close together, knee- and elbow-grazing is guaranteed. DeepWood's round booths make it easy to scoot right up next to your date. And Alana's is always romantic, especially if you request to sit in the teensy wine room.

hot and steamy

Nothing's sexier than steamed-up windows. We adore Grandview's Chocolate Cafe, with clouded-up floor-to-ceiling windows that literally make the place glow during the winter months. And it's hard to see inside ZenCha's Short North location on frosty days thanks to a thick curtain of fog created, no doubt, by all those pots of hot tea.

heat index

Is all this hot talk leaving you parched? A few ways to quench that thirst.


Hot

Mozart's Bakery & Piano Cafe's piping hot, spiced Glühwein ($6) with red wine from Höpler Winery near Vienna, is sweet with cinnamon, then clears the senses with clove. A holiday favorite of the owner's Austrian wife, it's a delicious way to purge an icy chill.

Also try: Crazy Goat Coffee's Maple Spice Latte ($3.60-$4.60) made with steamed real maple syrup; or 5 Bean Coffee's Loose Leaf Artisan Tea ($2.95) that uses Ohio-grown peppermint


spicy

Don't be fooled by the sweet aroma or mild first sip of the Testarossa ($14) at Rigsby's Kitchen -the peppery punch will hit you. To spice up the Negroni-style cocktail with sweet vermouth and Campari, mixologist Nicolene Schwartz infused Watershed vodka with goodies like grapefruit, jalepenos and peppercorns.

Also try: The Jalapeno Spiced Agave Margarita ($12) with jalapeno-infused agave nectar at M, and Knead's Jalapeno Hemingway ($8), a spicy take on the classic daiquiri

fiery


It's a drink and a show-a 151-doused fig is set afire and suspended over the snifter rim of De-Novo's Toasted Fig ($12). The dessert cocktail is just as exciting on the palate: a play between sharp rye whiskey, sweet fig nectar and bittersweet Cointreau.

Also try: The Brulee Germain ($10.25) and Smoked and Burnt ($10.25)-both of which use fire to caramelize bourbon sugar at Eleven
-Ben Zenitsky

Fired up

How to cook out all winter

One thing to love about wintertime barbecuing-standing in front of an 800-degree coal-fired grill on a frigid day means never having to worry about wearing a coat, says Cameron Mitchell Catering executive chef Jamie Kline. "As long as you have a little bit of wind breakage, it works out pretty well for whoever's on the grill," he says. The Ohio State tailgating veteran shares lessons learned from the nearly 50 outdoor parties he's catered. -Carrie Schedler

To Build Heat: Using fire or coal is a matter of personal preference, Kline says. Charcoal grillers should add an extra inch and a half of briquettes if it's below freezing, but gas grillers can proceed as normal.

For Great Marks: Add an extra 3 to 4 minutes to your direct-heat cooking time to get a good sear when temperatures drop.

Protect Yourself: "Be in a well-ventilated and covered space, but not in direct wind," Kline says. Keep the grill covered when you're not using it, and move it away from snow to prevent rusting. And don't even think about grilling inside your garage-the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is too high.

Seasonal Skewers: Go for winter squash, potatoes or forest mushrooms-but before you hit the grill, give veggies a quick pre-cook in your oven. "With starchy vegetables, it just helps everything cook more evenly," Kline says. He also loves using his charcoal grill in the winter to slowly smoke big hunks of meat, like brisket.