The Ice Cream Chronicles (Year 3): Looking Out for the Lake

The town of Millersport, Ohio, announces itself fairly early over the horizon; in a state with many a water tower, this sleepy, little lakeside town of just over 1,000 people has two water towers sporting its name.

These days, the atmosphere this hamlet seems dazed and sluggish. Part of it was the weather on this day, the sludgy, moist air preceding an approaching storm front is all but guaranteed to keep people indoors during the peak sunlight of the day. But there seemed to be a bigger factor overlying my travel this day, more of a mental drag for me but much more physically and emotionally tangible for the residents surrounding nearby Buckeye Lake on edge for well over a year.

Columbus Coffee Chronicles: Going Gaga over the Baba (Budan)

Local knowledge is valuable, whether picked up in brief and fleeting tips from a helpful native or acquired over actual residential time in an area.

But you could have a good chunk of both in hand and still not know quite the full story behind the similarities...or is that differences?...between Cup O' Joe and Stauf's.

The front of Stauf's flagship Grandview Heights location
As I begun the long distance dating process with my spouse-to-be, I received piecemeal information about both places. I knew Stauf's roasted some pretty mean coffee beans - one of my favorite long-distance dating phase gifts from my spouse was a pound of Kaldi blend beans, which worked quite well with my then newly purchased Bialetti Moka Express. And I knew that their Grandview store in the historic Bank Block served up breakfast and lunch goodies (including one of the more delicious black bean burgers we've had) as well as had all the coffee equipment one could ever want.

Who Needs Sam Malone? Staas Brewing Company (Delaware, OH)

Delaware, Ohio, has become a favorite day trip of ours to escape the Columbus metro for a bit, for both the old (we love moseying through its various antique stores), the fancy (the great tasting menu of Veritas Tavern), and the new (Delaware's newer of the town's craft breweries in Restoration Brew Worx.)

However, we're still finding new stuff to acquaint ourselves with in this town of 36,000. Our most recent trip gave us some new vinyl for our stack of LP's in Pat's Endangered Finds record store. Also, it brought us through the doors of Delaware's original entry into the new wave of Central Ohio craft breweries in the form of Staas Brewing, located just off the main downtown strip.

Sauntering around South Bend

The requisite University of Notre Dame picture: the Golden Dome tops the
campus' Main Building, where most administration functions are housed
When the average person hears the term "South Bend", they will most likely think of a certain Catholic university with a considerable sports tradition. For us, our most recent visit to the area (and my first ever) was part of a recent little weekend trip focused mainly on family activities. However, it did give both of us a chance to sample some of the offerings of a city that looks a lot more small-town than its population of just over 100,000 will let on.

Comfy in Clintonville: The Crest Gastropub

We admit freely that we were not terribly impressed with our initial breakfast-time visit to The Crest a couple months after its initial opening in 2013. There were a number of factors in play at this time, including the copious hype that came with its initial opening, those who wished the no-frills watering hole this eatery replaced (The Crest Tavern) was still around, the ironing out the kinks in regard to timely service (granted, that wasn't easy considering the initial crush of interested diners) and visibly harried servers, and food that didn't quite seem to live up to the price we paid. We made the decision then to come back after a few months to see if they had found their legs.

As it turned out, our intent of just a few months for our next visit ended up being more like a couple years. That was definitely not the goal, but eventually enough sightings of a less-than-packed front parking lot, the implementation of brunch service (our favorite meal to enjoy together,) as well as the opening of The Crest's well-received second location on Parsons Avenue close to the Nationwide Children's Hospital campus got it through our heads that it was time to give the eatery a second chance.

Ice Cream Chronicles (Yr. 3): Treat Tasking in Pataskala

Not too long ago, and only noticed by a select few people, a sliver of life from the past died. A milkman ended his route.

Gary Bocock, who along with his father kept this highly appreciated service for numerous decades, couldn't make the math work when the price of gasoline exceeded the price of the milk he was delivering. According to the article by Mike Harden of The Columbus Dispatch, about 150 people said their tearful goodbyes to their favorite dairy deliverer on his last day in late March, 2008.

Thankfully for the folks who live in and near Pataskala, the other dairy endeavor of Mr. Bocock and his wife Karen, is still going strong.

Food Truck Dossier: Alice's Aebelskabels

Food Truck: Alice's Aebelskabels

My First Thought: "Hmmm, isn't that supposed to be Aebelskivels?"

Reality: It is misspelled, but for a VERY good reason.

Nothing Like Opening Day! (A Farmers Market Pictorial)

For me, the opening of Farmers Market season in Ohio brings me as well as many others a measure of joy. As much as the winter season may try to fight back (as it did during the opening day of the Clintonville Farmers Market this year), the opening of these markets for me means the warmer, sun-laden months will soon be winning out.

While the Worthington Farmers Market is my favorite area market, I enjoy visiting all the markets around the region whenever I can. I was very happy to recently drop by the opening days of two of the area's markets.

First off, an old standby in Downtown Columbus' Pearl Alley Farmers Market:

The Griswold Effect: Homestead Beer Company (Heath, OH)

The Griswolds arrive at Walley World (Image from
In the 1983 movie "National Lampoon's Vacation", the final sequence starts with the Griswold family's battered station wagon pulling into the vast (and empty) parking lot of their ultimate goal; the giganto-family amusement park Walley World. The head of the family, Clark Griswold (played memorably by Chevy Chase), parks the car about as far from the amusement park entrance as one could.  When asked why he parked so far away, Clark responds, "Right, right...and at the end of the day, when the lot's all full and everybody is fighting to get out of here, we'll be the first to leave."

Walley World, uh, cold beer on tap is down that away...
Driving into the rather substantial parking lot of Heath's Homestead Beer (a member of the Columbus Ale Trail) gives you a touch of that same feeling. You can park seemingly far enough to run off enough a full beer pint's worth of calories to the building that hosts this Licking County brewer. But there's definitely no need to be a Griswold in this case. Drive up slowly and park close, and get ready to relax.