Out On The CAT-walk: Ill-Mannered Brewing (Powell, OH)

CAT(Columbus Ale Trail) Brewery: Ill Mannered Brewing Company

First Impressions: "This is a like a cocktail party...but with pints of beer."

Reality: This Powell-area nano-brewery, located a few miles north of the Interstate 270 Beltway that loops through the greater Columbus area, crams a lot into their not-quite 1,000 square foot space, including a bar area, tables and chairs, a three-barrel brewing system, and two six-barrel fermenters.

This growth reflects the interest that this relative newcomer to the Columbus-area brewing scene has generated. At peak capacity, this leads to a very lively and interactive atmosphere that is very much an extrovert's delight; those who don't find themselves a seat end up spread throughout standing throughout the entire space pints in hand, making it easy to listen in or engage in conversation. It doesn't hurt that the co-owners of the brewery aren't shy about engaging their customers as well. A small patio area in front also provides some extra room for visitors to kick back and relax or engage in more chitchat.

Behind The Groove: Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza

In my life, I really haven't had too many real-life interactions with women named Natalie. In fact, perhaps the most "intimate" (and that is a huge stretch of that word meaning) encounter with someone named Natalie was the ex-10,000 Maniacs singer Natalie Merchant, who put on a fun concert with the Columbus Symphony orchestra at the Columbus Commons in July, 2013.

This situation has changed over the past couple years, and this seems to be destined to be a fairly long-lived relationship. This Natalie not only has a way with music, but also crafts some pretty tasty pizzas to boot.

Preview Event: Cocktails & Pulutan - Bonifacio Restaurant

I admit to a little bit of culture shock moving from the Bay Area to Central Ohio when it came to population makeup: I basically moved from an city where nearly 25,000 people were of Filipino heritage to a whole region where there were 2,500 or so scattered around.

Not surprisingly, Filipino food has been a little harder to find in the wild here. I learned shortly after my arrival of a Filipino restaurant near the Columbus/Reynoldsburg border in Chuchay's, but their location wasn't the most convenient to where I was living and the eatery shut down soon afterward. Other encounters have been rare but very welcome: the original Red Velvet Cafe in Reynoldsburg, and two food trucks in the form of Mya's Fried Chicken (courtesy of special pop-up events by owner Mark Tolentino) and, more recently, Asian Persuasion.

Perhaps the most welcome addition for me (and many other area diners) has been the downtown Columbus branch of the previously mentioned Red Velvet Cafe. Owned by Krizzia Yanga, the cafe not only brought the very appealing original cupcake/coffee pairing that fueled the original location for so long, but also brought local diners a taste of Filipino cuisine with their weekend brunch service.

The Ice Cream Chronicles (Year 3): High Interest CD's

It didn't seem right to let National Ice Cream Day without an ice cream related post, and in a way, Worthington's Cookie Dough Creamery is the perfect candidate, at least from a historical standpoint.

National Ice Cream Day dates back to 1984, when a Joint Resolution of Congress started the scoop digging on this annually tasty day for both ice cream purveyors and their sweet tooth customers alike. It was also 1984 when ice cream juggernaut Ben & Jerry's took up a customer's suggestion and started serving the combination of their vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate chip cookie dough at their scoop shop in Burlington, VT. As they even admit, the combination seemed like a "no-brainer", as millions upon millions of kids (and probably many thousand parents) have sneaked away gobs of cookie dough for tasting from the mixing bowl prior to baking.

I admit to having a obsession with this flavor when the company finally released it in pre-packed pints in the 1990s.  At times, I would eat only the vanilla ice cream so I would be left with the hunks of the dough at the end, saving what I thought was the best for last. At the time, I (along with many others, I suspect) probably would've been a sucker for a pint filled with triple or even quadruple the dough chunks.

Well, it's 2016 now, and cookie dough lovers now have places like Cookie Dough Creamery to satisfy their mixing bowl dreams.

Alt Eats Galore - Columbus Food Adventures, and a Sidney Surprise

A month ago, I was honored to be mentioned in a posy written by longstanding local blogger CMH Gourmand in regards to local blogs worth following. In my little summary/questionnaire that I filled out for the post, I mentioned that in terms of overlooked area restaurants, I thought the African restaurants were as a whole overlooked, and that we needed ourselves to start exploring that part of the Columbus culinary world.

Well, we got that effort off to a fine start when we were invited by Columbus Food Adventures to join them on a tour that was actually on our "next-to-do" list: the Alt Eats Tour.

As regular readers of my blog may know, my spouse and I are big fans of the Columbus Food Adventures food tours, run and owned by Bethia Woolf and her husband Andy Dehus. Founded in 2010, the tour company continues to thrive, adding a Downtown Old Worthington walking excursion this year to a diverse selection of tours that combine sampling of the city's tastiest treats with history, both in terms of the featured restaurants as well the surrounding neighborhood.

Nerd Times: "Weird Al" Yankovic (Palace Theatre, Columbus, OH)

The original billboard announcement of "Weird Al" Yankovic's tour stop at
Columbus' Palace Theatre was well within the realm of his 2014 "Word
Crimes" parody hit, but it was corrected a couple days later
Most anyone who pays attention to the world of pop music and pop culture in general has heard of "Weird Al" Yankovic. From his debut as a 16-year-old on the comedy/music-oriented Dr. Demento show, the now 56-year-old performer from Southern California has carved out decades worth of work in the comedy and musical parody worlds. 

In fact, this large time span makes it easy to forget just how much work Yankovic has cranked out over the years. The perfect proof of this was the video segments that were broadcast on the big screen between the songs performed on his current "Mandatory Fun" show on July 6th at Columbus' Palace Theatre to realize this fact. Not only has Yankovic been as spokesperson on the pulse of pop culture, he has in fact become a reference point in that very same culture. The video segments shown on the big screen this night ranged from the reverential to the mocking and everything in between, with Yankovic both the giver and taker of such.

Food Truck Dossier: Nothin But Nadas

Food Truck: Nothin But Nadas

My First Thought: With "nada" meaning "nothing" in Spanish, we have Billy Preston here, right? (Nothin' but nadas leaves nothin'...okay, it's a big stretch, but that's how my mind works.)

Reality: The food truck's name really doesn't lie: this trailer serves nothing but freshly fried up empanadas with various fillings. Despite a noticeable warning sign about the empanadas being super hot, I've found they generally are sufficiently cooled off enough after a couple of minutes to be handled safely by both hand and mouth.