Vinyl COHvers: Lima, Dulcimer Hotbed of the Country

"Vinyl COHvers" is a regular blog segment centered around my vinyl record collecting hobby and specifically focused on those albums with an Ohio-centric focus.

As I've come to discover, the state of Ohio can hold its own in terms in the world of music. Of course, Cleveland touts its Rock and Roll connection, made famous by radio deejay Alan Freed and codified in its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, Dayton proved to be the hotbed of funk for many years as bands like The Ohio Players, Slave and Zapp sizzled the R&B charts in the 1970s and 80s.

The Cleveland Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (photo courtesy of
On the local level, I've personally come to know and enjoy Columbus and its own diverse music scene, getting enjoyment from both national (exampled by Twenty One Pilots and Lydia Loveless) as well as local favorites like Angela Perley and the Howlin' Moons and Mojoflo,

Lima, located in the northwest reaches of the state, may not pop into mind as a music hotbed, being best known for its railroad, oil, and school bus manufacturing industries. However, the city has its intriguing own place in the musical world: those of a certain age and/or family makeup will recognize this city as the home of the fictional William McKinley High School from the TV series Glee.

That's all well and good, but what if I said that Lima could once rightfully claim the title of dulcimer hotbed of the country, as host to one most important festivals to feature this unique instrument? I certainly would not have suspected this myself, had I not uncovered the vinyl album featured in this blog's "Vinyl COHvers" segment, which led me to a very fascinating journey of discovery afterward.

From Computer Sci to Pizza Pie: Halwani Cuisine

As my time residing in Columbus continues to climb, I've come to realize that you can find pretty good examples of almost any style of pizza you care to name. Of course, Columbus has its own style of pizza that I've grown to highly appreciated, and my spouse and I have found quite a few favorites throughout the metro area of many different styles and price ranges.

Occasionally, you'll find an example that doesn't quite fit into a neat package, and this was definitely the case for us with Halwani Cuisine in Columbus' Fifth by Northwest neighborhood.

Destination Dayton: The Wright Stuff and A Little Hop Funk

While "The Gem City" may be Dayton, Ohio's official nickname (for an interesting look at the origins of the nickname, check out this article by Yellow Springs-based radio station WYSO 91.3), it is the city's motto, "The Birthplace of Aviation", that most people latch onto.

Two prominent examples of this aviation bent lie in Wright-Patterson AFB as well as its resident popular destination for plane nerds around the world in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Other hints of this heritage lie in the mascot of the University of Dayton (the Flyers) and one of the most prominent craft breweries in the area in Warped Wing.

Of course, the king daddy of all this lies in the form of two local natives with the last name of Wright, who hauled their winged construct from Ohio down to Kitty Hawk, NC, for the first ever heavier-than-air powered aircraft flight in 1903. This history, and a lot more than you might expect, is available for viewing at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

Ice Cream Chronicles (Yr. 4) - Who Could Ask For More?

At the Coppa....Coppa Gelato...the coldest spot north of Scioto (okay, I can hear the collective groan out there.)

To get serious again, I had always considered gelato something of a sipper, much like a higher gravity beer: it's something you take a little time to swirl around your mouth and savor. Not that you can't savor its frozen cousin ice cream, but I'm definitely more likely to gobble down ice cream a lot faster depending on the circumstances and the quality..

This is until I spied one of the chalkboards at Westerville's Coppa Gelato, which conveniently points out that a serving of gelato has roughly half the calories of a comparable serving of ice cream.

Whoa!  Maybe I've been going at this the wrong way the whole time.

The Smell of Success: Middle West Spirits

As I wandered deeper into the inner works of Columbus' Middle West Spirits distillery space, I fully expected the sight of shiny tanks and coppery stills, and the taste of sampled spirits, to be my prime attention-grabbers. Those did grab my attention indeed, but it was surprisingly my sense of smell which moved to the forefront of my thoughts.

"Mmmm, so nice....smells like a bakery," I mused, as did many fellow Columbus-area food bloggers who I had joined on this day to take this special tour.  We learned that the flour smell came from the ground wheat from around the town of Fostoria, Ohio, considered some of the finest in the country and just one of many signs of this distillery's local-when-possible focus. It was definitely not an experience I had anticipated for this particular tour, but it is this reaction that helps explain the passion behind and the evolution of the city's first micro-distiller.

The grinding of some of the finest Ohio wheat leads to the smell
of distilling success at Columbus' Middle West Spirits

4 Years, 6 Months and 9 Days in the Life of...G. Michael's Bar & Bistro

Like its resident eatery G. Michael's Bar & Bistro, Columbus' German Village
neighborhood has hints of a horse-oriented lifestyle scattered about
One general guideline I have about restaurant-related posts is that do my best to get more than one lone experience. However, exceptions do exist: one of the main ones comes in relation to vacation excursions, where a second visit may never be in the cards and my general impression may persuade or dissuade you to visit yourself.

The other main exception lies in fine-dining experiences, where another singular experience may be all we get (as my spouse and I observed, we are a decidedly unfancy couple in general.) For example, we felt the tasting menu of Delaware's Veritas Tavern, which my spouse and I agreed has been one of our best dining experiences in Central Ohio, was definitely worth a shout out (with Veritas' upcoming relocation to Downtown Columbus, we're definitely aiming to make a return visit,)

Belle of the Bowl: Brassica

Back in when I lived in the Bay Area, I always made a point to visit the Liba Falafel food truck whenever it was feasible. As good as the falafel itself was, their unique toppings (all made from scratch by truck owner Gail Lillian) found on their so-called "falafel bar" (including but not exclusive to spiced carrot ribbons, cardamon and dill pickles, and harissa hot sauce) elevated your sandwich or bowl to unexpected heights.

Lillian has retired the truck as of 2016, but her falafel and toppings bar lives on at her brick-and-mortar location in Oakland, CA. I would love to try their brick-and-mortar one of these days for nostalgia's sake, but that pursuit I admit has lessened significantly when Brassica arrived upon the local Columbus scene.

In the Shadow of Giants (Pt. 2): Big Beer vs. Big Beers

When it comes to Budweiser plants being the only game in town, the cities of Fairfield, CA (as detailed in my last post on Heretic Brewing) and Columbus share that distinction. Established in 1968, the Columbus-located production brewery predates its west coast counterpart by about 8 years.

Unlike its California brethren, however, Columbus' Budweiser plant opened up with some brewing competition in the area, mainly in the form of August Wagner. At that time, Wagner, which launched in 1905 as Gambrinus Brewing and Bottling, held the unique distinction as the only brewery in the city established prior to Prohibition to actually survive and function as a brewery after the law's repeal.

The Brewery District-located King Gambrinus statue, said to be modeled on
longtime Columbus brewer August Wagner, is the most prominent reminder
of Wagner's pre-Prohibition-era brewery remaining in the city
Six years later, Anheuser Busch emerged as the lone area brewing presence. Beset with aging equipment and financial problems, August Wagner Brewing was forced to shut operations early in 1974. Since then, Budweiser reigned as the only commercial brewer in the area until the second iteration of Columbus Brewing, started up by current Temperance Row Brewing brewer Scott Francis, set up shop in 1988.

Nowadays, Columbus' craft brewery roll call numbers closer to forty, but even combined they almost certainly don't compare volume-wise to the local Budweiser plant's roughly 10 million barrels of production in 2015, according to this Dayton Daily News article.  Perhaps it's only appropriate that the Columbus craft brewery within closest stone's throw of the city's "Big Beer" representative comes at the term from a completely different direction.