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Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Lumpia: Return Travels to Cincy (Final Chapter)

A bicycle-oriented mural in a neighborhood (Over-the-Rhine) that is
full of creative and colorful murals
Our final Cincinnati trip post includes the third prize in our fun little contest package we won from the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as some odds and ends that added a nice little tree topper to our quick weekend jaunt to the Queen City.

As mentioned in our original Findlay Market post, the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood is one that is in flux, still transitioning from a neighborhood people tended to avoid to one where the concerns of newcomers and longtime residents clash in the oft-repeated gentrification debate.

Crafty Types, Church Brews and Zoo Lights: Return Travels to Cincy (Pt. 2)

Signs of Christmas were everywhere in Cincinnati, including the Cincinnati Zoo
This second of three blog posts naturally contains one of our prize package receipts from the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, and it was perhaps the most anticipated one as will be explained later in this post. As noted in our last blog post, we were hardly going to stick strictly to  our prize winnings, so we added in one of the more unique brewery settings in Ohio for a nice combination of Christmas shopping as well as one of the first breweries in Buckeye State focusing on sour beers.

The blog/website Ohio Explored mission is a a basic one: to awaken people to the beauty of Ohio. One of their most popular methods of achieving that resides in their Ohio Maker Mart, which feature local artisans of food, arts and crafts creations. Due to a last minute from one of my blogger colleagues, we figured out the winter edition would be in Cincinnati that very weekend, at a location that worked out perfectly with our catching up with the area's brewing scene.

Goetta Gets You Stuff: Return Travels to Cincy (Pt. 1)

Who knew that going down for Goetta would lead to nice surprise
Several months ago, we made a jaunt for the heck of it a couple hours to the south for a quick little weekend in the Cincinnati area. Suffice it to say, we had a pretty lovely time of it, with our first samplings of an area staple Goetta at Goettafest, visits to The Findlay Market and the American Sign Museum, and some Queen City brewery hopping.

We weren't exactly planning on returning this year (as they say, plenty of places to go, so little time), but it turned out (unknowingly) at the time that a friendly little hashtag on one of my social media got the attention of the folks of the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, enough so that they picked us for a lovely little travel package back to come back to the Queen City. Suffice it to say, we were very happy to be picked as winners, and we decided the holiday season would be a great time to come back for a quick pre-Christmas vacation.

Nothing Can Take Me Away From Wor Sue Gai: Rice Bowl

While Almond Boneless Chicken (aka Wor Sue Gai) is a huge
Michigan cult favorite according to this Eater.com article,
its origins apparently go back to right here in Columbus, Ohio
As I have written before when it came to my saga when it came to Downtown Columbus-based Ho Toy Restaurant, American-style Chinese food is something I don't generally seek much these days. However, it did and does fill an important role at my family gatherings, so it will no doubt continue to hold random craving status for the rest of my dining life.

Of course, a little bit of history and circumstance can overcome the random craving frequency, as it did with a dish I've generally seen as Wor Sue Gai on menus here. Frankly, I didn't know what that exactly was and had no desire to ask, until I stumbled upon the Eater.com article linked in the photo caption above. As explained in the article, this dish, which has acquired a cult popularity in Southeast portions of Michigan, has its roots in Columbus, Ohio, with old school places like Ding Ho and Wing's (via Bexley's Far East Restaurant.)

When I saw that the dish was essentially "fried chicken and gravy", that struck me as an ultimate kind of comfort food, maybe even something like Jollibee's Chickenjoy.  Add in a cold day filled with constant snow flurries and the possible indication that a restaurant that I had always wanted to visit might be on its way out, and I figured it was time to proverbially kill the two birds with one stone.

Silly Notions Negated Splendidly: Service Bar

The basic Hamburger Combo from In-N-Out was a go to in my later fast food days
Back in a seemingly more distant younger day, I justified my fast food leanings with a reason that sounded good at the time, if you were trying to pack on 5-10 pounds of weight per year (which, sadly, proved to be prophetic.)  I surmised that those fancy, visually stunning, incredible tasting, generally more reasonably portioned dishes from restaurants my family could never ever afford were a ripoff. I mean, when you could get a truly filling value meal of sandwich, side and soda pop for around $5, why would I want to spend dozens of dollars more on something that would require a trip to the local fast food place later to sate my hunger?

Ahh, you silly, misguided younger person. To paraphrase a quote from Red, the convict played by Morgan Freeman in one of my favorite movies ever in The Shawshank Redemption, "I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are." But thankfully in my case, I didn't need a meeting before a parole board to learn my lesson that there is a happy medium; I just needed a couple meals at Service Bar.