Pretty Fly for a Walleye: A Day in Port Clinton, Ohio

Marblehead Lighthouse, just one of the many attractions located in or along
Lake Erie near the town of Port Clinton, Ohio
With the Labor Day weekend at hand, millions of folks around the country will be getting in their last summertime vacation jaunts. For many in Ohio, this means a trip up to Lake Erie to ride the coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky or to enjoy the leisurely lake life on South Bass Island and Put-In-Bay.

Chances are if you're driving through here, you'll pass through the proclaimed "Walleye Capital of The World" in Port Clinton, Ohio. Lest you think that nickname is just a cute saying, community members back that up annually when they brave often windy and frigid temperatures on New Year's Eve to experience the Walleye Drop, a tradition that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  But that's not all this town of just under 6,000 has to offer the visitor though, as we found out recently.

Food Truck Dossier: Summer 2018 Roundup

The success of Food Truck Thursdays at the Columbus Commons is
just one sign of the prospering food truck scene in the city
Perhaps it's not terribly surprising for anyone who has been paying attention, but the local food truck scene has become a tough thing to keep tabs on.  There are some staples that have been around for seemingly forever (Pitabilities, Ajumama, and Paddy Wagon come to mind), there are new ones that have created quite the buzz (most notably, Cousins Maine Lobster).

Still others no longer seem to be around (Horn OK Please, which I rather liked) or moved on to other destinations and venues (Alice's Aebelskabels, which I wrote about previously, has moved to the land of aebelskilvels to Solvang, CA, while the well-loved Challah! has moved on to brick-and-mortar land with both Woodland's Tavern and Preston's Burgers.)  And with the plethora of businesses and spots around the metro hosting food trucks, it's pretty easy to not encounter the same food truck for months at time.

For a blogger like me, this means a lot of notes built up over time for a number of food trucks waiting for that next visit.  So I figured a change of strategy was needed - instead of comprehensiveness (which isn't as huge a factor with a medium like a food truck), I thought a roundup of some of the most notable experiences I've had with food trucks and carts would be a good way to go forward.

Reminds Me Of Home: Kuya Ian's Bistro

A turo-turo (point-point) or buffet style setup that you might see in a
Filipino restaurant or household hosting a big celebration
One of my adjustments in coming to Ohio several years ago was the changed demographics: as I found out at the Asian Festival, the Central Ohio region as a whole had up to 15 times less Filipino-American residents when compared to certain Bay Area cities. The lack of Filipino-oriented businesses of any sort was a little jarring, especially when it came to food: dishes that were both part of growing up and easy to obtain were things I would have to cook myself if I wanted them.

Then Red Velvet Cafe, owned by Krizzia Yanga, came to Downtown Columbus in 2015, with first a modest introduction of Filipino cuisine (sandwiches featuring Filipino-styled meats like lechon and bistek.) Later came the Filipino silog-style breakfasts (featuring an over-easy egg, garlic fried rice, and a Filipino-styled protein), which brought me memories of home and were eagerly consumed by both me and a host of others.  This success led to the opening of Bonifacio, whose modern Filipino fusion menu items as well as more traditional takes into the cuisine (with their region-focused and Boodle/Kamayan events) plus uniquely-styled cocktails have also been well-received by the public

With that said, many people don't know there's a second Filipino option on the northern end of the metro area, and it's an option that reminds me a lot of home for more than one reason.

Donuts and Development: Buckeye Donuts

The snapshot of the ongoing redevelopment of High Street next to
Ohio State University from earlier this summer
As you may have noticed, the students at Ohio State University are back. What had been a slow drip earlier in the month became a full cascade of youngsters last weekend, as almost all university freshmen and sophomores (who, with rare exception, are required to live on campus with recently enacted university policies) arrived into town to move into their new living quarters.

What some of those newcomers may not realize is that the High Street corridor that abuts the campus has been undergoing an ongoing longer transformation to "promote a vibrant, mixed use environment within a multi-block district centered at 15th Avenue and High Street", according to Campus Partners, an organization created by The Ohio State University in 1995 to "spearhead the revitalization of the urban neighborhoods around its Columbus campus."

Admirable goals, for certain.  But to this observer, the glossy sheen of new storefronts and chain-rich storefronts and luxury apartments to come has sucked and will continue to suck the distinctive character of the area to close to nil.

Cincy Travels Pt. 4: A Fifty-Fifty Brewposition

Just one of the several photographs one can find of famed highway US 50
at Fifty West Brewing, located on the eastern outskirts of Cincinnati
When it comes to US highways, Route 66 generally has the most ballyhoo and mythos attached to it as this country's ultimate road trip experience.  But based on my travels, I think US Route 50 might be the more satisfying road trip route.  Once stretching coast-to-coast, US 50 still meanders just over 3,000 miles through the middle of the United States, offering all manner of towns and cities of all sizes and just about every prominent geographical feature that this land has to offer, including a section in Nevada dubbed "The Loneliest Road in America."

Unlike the major Interstates, US 50 in Ohio is a pretty affair, playing tag with the Ohio River through Cincinnati. Once out of the Queen City, the route winds through forests and over rolling hills into the college town of Athens and then beyond, finally crossing over the river proper into Parkersburg in West Virginia.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, one can launch into a pretty fair tour of breweries nestled on this route, and we figured a visit to a couple of them would be a perfect coda for our Cincinnati weekend.

Cincy Travels Pt. 3: The Mmmm's Have it

This sign for Yost Pharmacy, which has served the residents of Mason since
1945, might be a future candidate for Cincinnati's American Sign Museum
Our trip to Cincinnati was an anomaly for us: other than the Cincy Brew Bus tour, all other places were either in the "possible" category or visited completely on the whim. This led to a mild bit of meandering as we explored the northern reaches of the area with stops in Middletown and Mason and knocked off a lot more stuff than we had even figured we would.

Cincy Travels Pt. 2: When You Goetta Wet to Get Even Wetter

A view of the Cincinnati skyline from across the river in Newport, Kentucky
Though it may not be as prevalent as other vehicles, the what I'll call "slab of something" side order can be found in many cultures.  For many in this country, a slab of bacon or sausage is common, but variations can be found with Spam and scrapple.

However, when it comes to the Greater Cincinnati area, the king of the plate in this little niche realm has to be goetta, a mush of ground meat, pin-head oats plus herbs and spices that originated with German immigrants to the area in the 1800s. We had a little sampling of this very regional specialty during our visit to the Sleepy Bee Cafe, a local eatery popular for its unique and often healthier takes on breakfast and brunch dishes. But for the full immersive experience, we figured we need to dive straight in to the frying pan with the 18th edition of the Glier's Goettafest.

Cincy Travels Part 1: Lechon with a Double Shot of History

One of the numerous gorgeous murals which dot Cincinnati's Over-The-Rhine neighborhood
In most of our ventures, my spouse and I have found the history behind our destinations to be as fascinating if not more so than the attraction or food and beverages we have the pleasure to experience.  This could not be more so the case with what might be our most extensive exploration of the Greater Cincinnati area itself, especially when it comes to the Findlay Market and the American Sign Museum.

Ice Cream Chronicles (Year 5): Bucyrus...This Is Truck 275, Over

As a younger lad, I was a huge fan of TV medical shows (something which may have come from my mom's love of the soap opera "General Hospital".)  I wasn't particularly picky, so I enjoyed the broad spectrum of shows from "Marcus Welby, M.D." to "Julia", progressing on to "Medical Center" and "Quincy, M.E.", and finally "Doogie Howser, M.D." and "ER."

But perhaps my favorite of the bunch may have been the exploits of paramedics Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto on the show "Emergency!" on the NBC Network. One of my favorite things about the show is that not every dispatch was necessarily worthy of a true 911 call, though there almost always would be one multi-alarm, disaster-in-the-making challenge in each episode.

While the hot weather around here can feel sometimes that there was a rapid-response service for rapid cooling relief, the true 911 is generally not the manner to call for that.  However, the closest thing for that might just lies roughly one hour north of the metro in Bucyrus, a town of roughly 12,000 people that celebrates the Bratwurst like few others.