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Ice Cream Chronicles - New Interactive Map

As you may have noticed, a new interactive Google Map containing all the location and links to all my Ice Cream Chronicles posts is now acce...

Pick of the Liter: Combustion Brewing

One of the blaring headlines in the craft beer world to hit early in 2017 was one that might worry aficionados at first glance. Growth in what seemed to be at times an unstoppable juggernaut of a business model in the 2010s slowed dramatically in 2016: Brewers Association statistics noted that the segment grew only 6% in volume (compared to 12-15% in prior years) and ticked up only a notch (0.1%) in total market share.

What is somewhat hidden in the statistics is that the smaller segment of younger brewpubs and breweries that open up in under-served communities continues to boom. Typically, these establishments are much more tuned in to their surrounding community and, when done correctly, are transformed almost instantaneously into local hangouts. This niche is one that the newly opened Combustion Brewery and Taproom definitively falls into.

Tacos Twos-Days: Hass and Bakersfield

When I think of the concept of the food crawl, the taco is just about the perfect vehicle for an elongated effort. When I first got the foodie bug back in San Francisco, my first such quest was all the local taco trucks I could find within a week's period. Once I moved to Columbus, one of my favorite food related excursions turned out to be Columbus Food Adventures' Taco Truck Tour, which shined a light on something I hadn't expected when I moved over here but found quite exciting in Columbus' plethora of traditional taco trucks.

My first preference is almost always going to be the taco truck street taco, but being a fan of the taco concept in general, I like venturing into pretty much anything taco-related, whether it be traditional, fusion, or homemade (our own Filipino adobo shredded chicken tacos have become some our own dinnertime favorites.) This post covers two places I had been intrigued by for awhile in the northwest-based Hass Taqueria and the Short North's popular hangout Bakersfield.

State of Roamance: The Bates Farm Kitchen (Sandusky)/Georgetown Vineyards (Cambridge)

When you roam around the state of Ohio as much as we tend to do, you end up at a lot of places that are definitely worthy enough of a mention despite the one singular visit. This is the case with these two venues we had the pleasure of visiting recently in The Bates Family Farm up near the lakeshore in Sandusky and the combination Georgetown Vineyards/Southside Brewing in the foothills of Appalachia in Eastern Ohio's city of Cambridge.

The diner concept is one that has proven durable over the years, and usually those that sport a unique atmosphere or those that try just a little harder for something beyond the basic are the ones that grab your attention. The latter aspect is what drew us to The Bates Farm Kitchen during a recent visit to Sandusky.

Doubling Down on Graceland: Pat & Gracie's

Pat Murnan: gambling guru of Columbus and one of the most colorful
characters in the city's history (photo from the Columbus Dispatch)
As you may have noticed in my blog posts, the history behind an eatery is something I always try to include to some degree or another.  In some ways, that has been spurred on with my increasing interest in my current hometown's history, which has increasingly become an unofficial pursuit of mine since I've moved here.

One of the more interesting stories for me relates to a retail center I have found myself passing early and during my city travels. The Graceland Shopping Center, located close to where Columbus and the southern border of Worthington meet, has its origins in one of the most colorful and famous people from the Prohibition days in Pat Murnan.

As the story goes, Murnan, a railroad worker with a flamboyant personality, ended up winning ownership of a local casino club after one exceedingly lucky night. From there, he parlayed that fling with Lady Luck to emerge as Columbus' unofficial guru of gambling during the Prohibition era.

A satellite view of the Graceland area, as shown on Google Maps
Murnan created a stir when he started a romance with one Grace Backenstoe, who earned her keep near Murnan's main operation as the madam of a downtown brothel.  The two clicked so quite well, they moved up to settle in at Murnan's 700-acre horse farm in the Clintonville area. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Murnan dubbed their homestead Graceland in honor of his gal shortly thereafter.

As it turned out, both Pat and Grace Murnan would not see the year 1940, with Pat passing away in 1937 and Grace two years later. In 1952, local developer Don Casto announced that a retail center would be built on the land that the Murnans had called home.

Ice Cream Chronicles (Yr. 4): Saying Yo to the Froyo

It's International Frozen Yogurt month, you all!
With June being International Frozen Yogurt Month (I guess every food item has to have its day or month in the sun, right?) and our first bonafide heatwave upon us, I figured it was time to take these Chronicles into an area of the frozen confection world previously untouched in this blog.

Not that I've never indulged in this sweet treat prior to moving to Columbus, mind you.  In fact, I probably indulged a bit too much in the froyo back in California (thankfully, a heavy duty running habit I had at the time more than made up for that), and that perhaps is frozen yogurt's "problem", if you want to call it that. Even though yogurt connotes something that is fairly healthy for you, the basic self-serve setup makes it incredibly easy to load up not only on a lot of yogurt but also a Halloween's worth of mix-ins in one setting.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that concept, mind you...

Sandwiches Around The Statehouse: Elia Athenian Grill

In the early days of my blog, I did a small little series about the sandwich options around the Ohio Statehouse in Downtown Columbus. Unsurprisingly, the sandwich is a pretty popular lunch vehicle here, as major chains like Subway and Potbelly Deli battle locally established eateries to attract the numerous hungry workers employed in the area.

Perhaps as a testament to that steady demand, many of these places are still plying their trade in some form or another, though in some cases with a twist. For example, social-mission based Freshbox seems to do all its business these days by catering. Meanwhile, Milo's Capital Cafe, located deep within the Ohio Statehouse, has refreshed its concept into the farm-to-table focused Graze.

One thing that this very distinct subset of eateries has been a bit short in is a touch of a worldly element. AJ's Cafe had been a favorite of mine with its grab-and-go creations with a touch of Indian flair, but their departure in September last year left the excellent Peruvian sandwich offerings of Si SeƱor (which has since expanded into Grandview) essentially all alone in this world.  That's why the arrival of Elia Athenian Grill and its Greek-oriented quick grab options perked my interest initially.

Saisons from the Hocking: Rockmill Brewery (Lancaster, OH)

Back in 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting Texas and Austin's most well-renowned brewery in Jester King. The facility's Hill Country, farmhouse-style setting was most certainly rustic and peaceful; in fact, I noted it at the time as "second on the list of the most beautiful brewery sites I have ever had the opportunity to visit."

I figured at the time I would reveal what brewery occupied that number one spot in fairly short order, but as the saying goes, stuff happens. Thankfully for me and you the reader, that distinction still exists with the same entity, Rockmill Brewery, which is nestled in the hills surrounding a town established by well-traveled Colonel Ebenezer Zane back in 1800.

You typically can't see much from the winding country road as you approach this brewery, save maybe for the sign indicating you've reached your destination (majorly helpful advice: check their Facebook page to make sure the brewery is not closed for a private event; trust us, we know.) Once you pull in, however, you start garnering the pastoral beauty that imbues the brewery property.

Modest House: Bangkok Grocery and Restaurant

As regular readers of my blog may note, my spouse and I have no hesitation gravitating toward spicy hot dishes and cuisines. Add to that a relative of ours with roots in Thailand, and we do like to keep a specific eye out for some good Thai cuisine.

Columbus isn't really what I would call a Thai cuisine hotbed, and it became less so when one of our favorite restaurants overall, Westgate Thai and its collection mouth-burning heat combined with multi-note flavor profile dishes, decided to call it a night. We still miss Westgate terribly, but thankfully Southeast Columbus' Bangkok Thai has helped soothe our loss a good bit.

Ice Cream Chronicles (Yr. 4): The Second Time Around

"But you can't keep runnin' away from love
'Cause the first one let you down, no, no, no
And though others try to satisfy you, baby
With me true love can still be found
Love can still be found

The second time around
Ooh, the second time is so much better, baby"
"The Second Time Around" - Shalamar

An underrated factor in trending food lies in its visual appeal, especially in a world where Instagram continues to entice the eyes of millions of users. One of these foods that has washed ashore in the United States relatively recently is "pan-fried" ice cream, more commonly referred to here as Thai Rolled. Popular in many Asian countries, the basic frozen creation is created when a milk base is poured onto a very cold metal plate. Once solid enough, the ice cream is scraped off the surface into figurative rolls. Enhancements and mix-ins can be added in at various parts of the process.

As one might gather from the lyrics, there is a hint of redemption in this particular Ice Cream Chronicles post, and it comes with a relatively new arrival in Columbus' Simply Rolled.