Black Friday Libations Tour: Columbus Edition (Pt. 2)

An older bottle of Scarlet Solstice from Brothers Drake Meadery, which
has been plying its trade in Columbus for nearly a decade.
One of the more unique aspects of our family tours lies in the fact that one of our party members who sports a severe gluten allergy (in fact, we tried to make a quick trip over to Merion Village's Bake Me Happy, but alas they were closed for the entire Thanksgiving Day weekend.)  That very fact makes our touring that much more interesting, as that puts destinations focusing on ciders, meads and spirits on our radar for possible visits. This was definitely the case when it came to Central Ohio's original meadery in the Short North's Brothers Drake.

Black Friday Libations Tour: Columbus Edition (Pt. 1)

Starting in 2015, various members of my family decided to break with the shopping tradition on Black Friday and instead embark on a brewery and spirits tour. With the Detroit and Cleveland (on last year's tour) covered, it seemed only natural to turn our attentions south toward Columbus this year.

In a way, however, this particular tour was 25 years in the making. That’s when my one of my now many brothers-in-law landed a theater assignment in Columbus in the early 1990s. During that stint, he happened to wander into a shiny brand new downtown area brewpub named Barley’s Ale House (easy stumbling distance from his Victorian Village rental) and was almost immediately hooked. From there, he gained a growing appreciation of the still fledgling local beer scene, one which was still dominated by Budweiser but dotted with a blast from the past (Hoster) as well as a few small upstarts like Barley’s and Columbus Brewing.

Also born at this time was his love for homebrewing; in fact, he bought his first homebrewing kit from Barley’s head brewer himself, Angelo Signorino. It is a passion that continues strongly to this day, with a particular interest in the classic German styles of beer and brewing. He eventually moved with his family to parts farther west, but he never lost his love for where it all started.

vinyl cOHvers: Thanksgiving Triple Treat

The holidays can sometimes make you want to shout
Thanksgiving week can be considered something of an F-week: family, friends, (Black) Friday, and of course, food.  In some cases, it will be a bit too much, and stretchy pants will be appreciated by many after chowing down on the usual holiday eatings.

With that in mind, I figured I'd break a bit from the food posts and get back to a post on another favorite hobby of mine in vinyl record collecting. Ever since my spouse bought me a turntable for a present a few years back, it's been a slow but steady Katy-bar-the-door in collecting records for the both of us.

My previous focus had been on specific local albums and the history behind them (including my last post in April on The Dulcimer Alliance and Lima, Ohio's Great Black Swamp Dulcimer Festival.) With so many more records in hand since then, I'm going with a sampler platter approach for future posts, where you can have a gander of three albums with some local Ohio roots, including some of the liner notes (often the best things about older records) and some general impressions. I also jazzed up the linked videos containing the selected songs as well with visuals and historical factoids.

Polaris Fast Casual: What´s for Döner/Little Lebanon Cafe

Give me a pair of blue jeans and T-shirt (such as this retro music/Ohio
Alison Rose model) any day versus fashionable apparel
For me, fashion (to cop a David Bowie lyric) is like a new dance which I don't know the name.  I mean, if I have to, I can pull out the sharp dressed man motif, but I'd much rather slum around in T-shirts and jeans (or shorts in warmer weather.)

Perhaps that's one reason why I don't venture up into the Polaris Fashion Place Mall too much, except maybe to grab some gift cards for some much-more-fashionable-than-me relatives and friends of mine. A mall food court wouldn't normally give me the urge to drop by either (though I did see that that concept can be done quite well during a stint in Malaysia), but a fairly recent arrival to the Polaris scene in the German street food oriented What´s for Döner was enough to drop by and ask "Wie gehts?"

The Power of Poké: Hai Poké

Are you a jack-of-all-trades or a specialist? You can make it work both ways
in the restaurant world (still from the movie "Five Deadly Venoms" as 

published in the book "Sex & Zen and a Bullet in the Head")
Recently, I was reminded about one of my favorite films from my younger days in the 1970's-era martial arts cult classic movie "Five Deadly Venoms" (highly recommended, especially if you're a martial arts movie fan that appreciates a more sophisticated plot line than typical.).

I won't go too deep into the movie's details, but the movie's base plot involves a dying martial arts master's final student, who was taught to be a jack-of-all-trades (familiar with all, master of none) in regard to his master's various styles. This student is tasked by his master to seek out the masters' prior students, each of whom were taught individually to be experts in one of their master's particular martial arts styles, determine if any had turned to evil and, with the assistance of the good Venoms, vanquish them.

In the restaurant world, either the jack-of-all-trades or singular expert focus can work if done correctly. An eatery that does a bunch of different food items well (we'll example Northstar Cafe here) can be equally as successful as one that does a particular thing expertly (the delicious momos of one of Columbus' most welcome newcomers in Momo Ghar.) Hai Poké, which was essentially this metro's introduction to a centuries-old Hawaiian dish, is another successful (and delicious) example that leans on the latter approach.

The Chocolate Cherry Connection: Pattycake Bakery

It's easy to go over old ground with places that predate my existence here in Columbus such as Pattycake Bakery.  Still, a brief history for those who aren't familiar or have forgotten how this quaint Clintonville bakery came into being might be helpful.

Established in 2003, this vegan bakery undertook the unique transformation to worker-owned co-op a decade later, adopting conscientious credos such as utilizing recyclable and biodegradable packaging, sourcing locally whenever possible, and using human power to deliver many of their goods via their bicycle-powered cart. While not an exact match, the bakery does remind me of one of my favorite places back in California in The Cheese Board Collective, another workers co-op which has spent more than 40 years selling cheese and, later, coffee, baked goods, and the pizza of the day (all veggie, with just enough made to sell out before the day's over) to hungry patrons in Berkeley.

I could say Pattycake has great pastries (and they do; more on that later), but it holds a little special place in my heart in that it helped ease the transition here to the Buckeye State. Ironically enough, it was another California transplant in Peet's Coffee (which had a brief and somewhat strange run here in Ohio, as I detailed in this blogpost) that set this up long before I had a notion that I would ever move to Ohio, much less heard of Pattycake itself.  

Motor City Touring: The Detroit Zoo

Our trip into Detroit to visit friends not only involved good food but also time spent with their precocious young daughters. With that in mind, we decided that a trip to the zoo would be a perfect destination for this short weekend visit.

Having been to a couple fine zoos relatively recently in the Columbus Zoo and the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington DC, we were tempering our expectations a bit. However, the Detroit Zoo, established in 1928 and currently run by the Detroit Zoological Society. was the very first zoo in the nation to display animals in cage-less exhibits, and ended up packing quite a punch in terms of the animals and exhibits in what seemed to an easily navigable layout.