A Summer Saturday

{alexis}

Somehow, it’s Thursday already, which means it’s almost the weekend again! There’s no shortage of things to do around this beautiful city of ours, but I thought I’d share a few of my most recent adventures.

I had a number of returns to make at Easton last weekend (not to mention it was Anthro day) and we got out the door early. Husband is, how you say, NOT into shopping. In fact, he loathes it. This can be a struggle in our relationship (what do you MEAN you don’t enjoy thumbing through forty-seven racks, item by item, until you find that one glorious dress marked 80% off because of a missing button?), so I’ve got to make sure there’s something in it for him. This time it was baked goods. Exhibit A:
cinnamon roll wildflower cafe

Isn’t it a work of art? After we finished at Easton (a record 45 minute trip!), we headed over to Clintonville’s Wildflower Cafe. We sat on the shaded patio, and split the beast you see above. It was more than enough for two people, and we fought over the last smears of icing. But we had more food coming.

huevos rancheros wildflower cafe

I went with the huevos rancheros, a favorite breakfast dish of mine (pro tip: add the tart jalepenos!). The dish was simple, and fresh-tasting, and made a perfect canvas for several modern streaks of dark red sriracha. The eggs were poached expertly and yolk spread nicely over the plate. Husband went a tad less healthy…

fried chicken wildflower cafe

Clearly the man is on a fried chicken kick (aren’t we all?). He said his chicken was cooked perfectly and had plenty of spice and flavor. I stole a lot of his potatoes, so I can attest that they were delicious.

The best part of getting up early on the weekends is that you have more time for fun! By the time we got back to German Village, I knew a small pup that was ready for some weekend fun, too, so we headed down to Frank Fetch Memorial Park.

frank fetch park

 I haven’t mentioned this park before, but we spend a LOT of time wandering around the flowers. The gardeners this year are exceptionally gifted. Everywhere you look there’s a new arrangement, baskets over here, trees and shrubs and expertly maintained flower beds. It’s a lovely, hidden gem. Indy loves it too.

photo 1 (9)

 Later we went to the Olympic Swim Club, which is closing soon. I was glad to make it in — my in-laws met each other here! I took only one trip down the slide — I don’t think my back or contact lenses were okay with even that. I did love the diving boards, including the high one!

olympic swim club high dive

It is important to PLUG YOUR NOSE, folks.

It was a lovely, busy summer Saturday. As I’ve said before, we’ve got to enjoy them while they’re here. What are your favorite, simple weekend activities?

Lunch with Calvin & Hobbes

{alexis}

Alicia is on vacation in the South this week, so here I am, lonely in Columbus, holding down the fort. Fortunately, I was able to corral her into a lunch date last week so I could send her off on her merry way. Readers, Alicia and I have undergone some changes in the last few months; specifically, we’ve both made exciting career changes. Yes, it’s true: We no longer share a wall. I am used to seeing Alicia more than my husband, so it’s certainly different to have to schedule these dates to catch up. But that makes for even more blog fodder than before, so the news is really good for you, readers!

Anyway! Last week we met at Ohio State to see the Bill Watterson Exploring Calvin and Hobbes exhibit at Sullivant Hall. It was a warm afternoon, and a stroll on campus was a great way to kill an hour; the scenery is unmatched.

sullivant hall ohio state

Sullivant Hall

Now, before you go crazy with the compliments, and slap me on the back in praise of my improving photography skills, know that Alicia took the photos. All of the photos. Yeah, yeah, I know they’re great. I GET IT.

So inside Sullivant Hall is the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, and inside that you’ll find the Robinson Gallery. You enter into a huge, bright lobby and walk up pristine, white stairs, and the gallery opens up before you. Oh, and the exhibit is free!

Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum & LibraryWe walked in and were confronted with wall after wall, frame after frame, panel after panel of a boy we grew up with and his stuffed tiger.

robinson galleryWe were immediately taken by that colorful piece on the left side. It was for a special collection, and was brightly watercolored. When I think of newspaper comic strips, I don’t immediately think of art in a traditional sense, but this piece was striking and cheerful.

calvin & hobbesThe exhibit was thoughtfully planned. The main story was told along the outer walls of the gallery, and began with Watterson’s artistic influences. The next wall talked about the syndication process, and the long wall detailed the climate of Calvin and Hobbes’ hometown, which was modeled after Northeast Ohio.

calvin & hobbesIt was great fun learning about Watterson’s inside jokes with his readers, and how they developed over time. I spent a good few minutes reading the section on how artists wrote for comic strips in the newspaper: the strips were laid out in the same way in every new installment, and planned in a way that the newspapers could make last minute cuts without sacrificing the story line.

calvin & hobbesToward the end of the exhibit, there was a case featuring some of Watterson’s favorite tools, and his witty descriptions on when to use them. Alicia and I were most taken with the white-out. You could actually see dollops of the stuff on the orginal panels.

bill wattersonWe quietly milled about, together and on our own. We cozied up to a nearby guide, eavesdropping to catch a fact here and there. Every so often, someone would let slip a laugh (but not ME, of course), though this gallery certainly deserved more glee than most.

Before leaving, we stopped at the duo’s final panels, saying goodbye once again, and out we went.

calvin & hobbesOff to do a little bit of exploring of our own.

Exploring Calvin and Hobbes will be at the Robinson Gallery at Sullivant Hall on the campus of Ohio State University until August 3, 2014. The gallery is open from 1pm-5pm.

Counting Crows at LC Pavilion

{alexis}

Last week, Wander & Whine took a field trip to the Lifestyles Communities Pavilion to see the Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket. This is one of Alicia’s favorite venues, but it was my first visit. I’ve told my husband before that I am too old for concerts now: the jostle, the over-priced beers, and the late-nights make me want to crawl underneath my down comforter. But this concert was exactly what I needed.

With husbands in tow, we met on the hill. We were joined by Megan, a blog favorite, and her husband as well. It was a reunion of sorts, and we were ready to celebrate. Here were are, before all that celebrating.

wander and whine

Yes, we realize we are getting “bombed” by…a guy in the back. We don’t care! But back to the celebration, do you see that beer in Alicia’s hand? THAT THING IS HUGE. I found out later that these things cost $11, yes, but they are close to 3 beers EACH. This means you need to pace yourself. Concerts are long, and you have to stand. TAKE YOUR TIME.

Soon, Toad the Wet Sprocket came on, and they were quite good! I was especially thrilled when they sang “Walk on the Ocean,” and I’m sure our neighbors were equally thrilled when I belted out my rendition. Do you know what Toad the Wet Sprocket looks like? I didn’t either. Here you go!

toad the wet sprocket

i did not take this picture

Here they are. They put on a good show!

The time between the two acts left time for more beer guzzling, catch-up chit chat, future plan making, and general merry-making. Thom and I argued over whether Adam Duritz dated Jennifer Aniston or Courtney Cox (answer: BOTH). And then it was time for the main act. We stood, and sang when possible, and bopped around. The crowd was into it, for sure.

counting crows at the lc pavilion

alicia is so mad about the quality of this picture

I couldn’t WAIT to hear “Long December.” I wouldn’t shut up about it all night. When are they going to play Long December. Is this Long December? They better play Long December. Of course, I had to make a run to the ladies’ (thanks, $11 beer), and I waited till they BEGAN a song I didn’t know. While gone, I heard the song end. I heard the round of applause. I heard another song begin, and then my phone started going insane in my purse. Guess what, people. THEY WERE PLAYING LONG DECEMBER. I bowled over several waiting patrons and sprinted back to the hill to hear the end. THE END. I missed the light attaching to the pearl, and all the best bits. What luck is this?!

In any case, they were quite good. I know my fellow concert-goers were a little bummed they didn’t get to hear Mr. Jones (thanks, Obama), and I don’t blame them. At least I had half of Long December to live off of for the rest of my life.

J. Avenue at Kenny Centre Mall

{alicia}

My friends are enablers, and I love it. Take Maria, for example. Last week, I casually mentioned my current obsession with Korean food, and it morphed into “Zomg, let’s eat all the Asian food. Okay?! Okay! PUT IT ON THE BOOKS. OKAY?!” This is why we’re friends, and although this reenactment is probably verbatim, I think there was a “Yassss” in there somewhere. I know, this is why I keep my chats off record and my friends insane.

Since I’m an expert in Koreaness (and made-up words, apparently), I advised Maria to meet me at Arirang. That way, we could eat in the little restaurant at the back of the store AND stock up on Korean groceries. That is using your noggin, my friends. So after consuming all of the bulgogi, gimbap, and banchan in the world, we had another genius idea: dessert at Belle’s Bread.

Despite going to Akai Hana every other day, Maria has never stepped foot into Belle’s so we had to put an end to the madness. One green tea twist cone later, Maria and I were leaving when we stumbled across a sign right across the way:

J. Avenue

And then we saw the display of solar-powered lucky cats. They were literally waving at us from the window. WHAT! How have I never been in this magical place? Is this new?! While Maria scarfed down her cone, I pressed my face into the glass (I’m sure they appreciated that) to see what other wonders were in store. A lot, as it turned out.

J. Avenue Columbus

SO MANY LUCKY CREATURES!

Somehow, I didn’t get the memo about the existence of the most adorable store in Columbus. Note to self: pay attention.

J. Avenue Columbus Japanese gifts

Do I need these things? Am I twelve-years old? I THINK I NEED THESE THINGS.

The store is divided into little sections with items ranging from (the most adorable) office supplies, gadgets, and even a million Japanese health and beauty products:

Japanese makeup at J. Avenue Columbus

GIve me one of each!

I love Asian beauty potions, and if I hadn’t just bought a bunch on Amazon, I would have tested all the things, but I didn’t need that kind of temptation. Wah.

J. Avenue Columbus

We also lusted over the dishware section for obvious reasons:

Dishes at J. Avenue

Adorable dishes featuring Maria’s hand.

I don’t know why one needs such a darling (see, I used something other than adorable here) design on the bottom of their skillet, but SIGN ME UP.

Salut Frying Pan

I swear, we were in the dish section for half an hour, literally eeing over things–or that was probably just me. Maria is having her first child any day now, and I need him to eat food from these (adorable, sorry!) dishes with tiny, child chopsticks:

Dishes J. Avenue

Also, he needs a bento box with those elaborate little lunches. Maria, are you listening to me?

And I know it’s only July, but this place was bursting with potential Christmas gifts. So many unique treasures to be had!

J. Avenue Columbus Ohio

J. Avenue Columbus OHI’m storing this under my hat for later (five months later to be exact). Friends, you can thank the genius proprietor(s) of J. Avenue for the Christmas/birthday/whatever gifts you will be receiving from me. And, ahem, I don’t mind this being reciprocated in turn…cough, hint.

J. Avenue is located at Kenny Centre Mall–1141 Kenny Centre Mall, Columbus, OH.

Fried Chicken Heaven at Double Comfort

{alexis}

I planned my weekend around our first visit to Double Comfort, a new fried chicken joint in the Short North. I ran FOREVER on Saturday (okay, a half an hour), and clocked an hour on the elliptical Sunday morning before brunch. All for a meal like this.

double comfort biscuits and gravy

YES. I will toil at the gym for many hours to guiltlessly order, hoard, and consume a plate like that. What you see is an insane helping of biscuits and gravy, which served as our appetizer. Yep, it was that kind of meal.

I am getting ahead of myself. Double Comfort just opened this past weekend. On Sunday, the family laid claim on a 14 foot table in the corner and got to say (almost) literally, “ONE OF EVERYTHING.” Full disclosure: the owners of Double Comfort are close family friends, but I assure you, everything is just as hyperbolically delicious as I describe.

Let me take you on a tour of the menu, beginning with this showstopper: Macaroni and Cheese Waffles.

double comfort macaroni waffleYes! That is a waffle MADE OF macaroni and cheese! Yes! It is topped with eggs! YES! Those are buckets of syrup twirling around the plates! (This is probably as close to living “Be Our Guest” as I’ll ever come.)

You know when you go out and order fancy mac ‘n’ cheese, and everybody fights over those chewy, baked pieces on the edge? This is like an entire plate of that! Every bite is chewy, crispy, cheesey and carby. Be sure to try with both syrup and hot sauce; the latter was my favorite for sure.

But there’s more! I went for the classic chicken and waffles.

double comfort chicken and wafflesDoused in another helping of syrup, this was a true delight. The waffles here are very sturdy, but not tough. And check out my “side dish,” a goat cheese and fried green tomato biscuit.

double comfort biscuitHave we talked about fried green tomatoes before? And how I am obsessed with them? I definitely haven’t yet preached on the beauty of goat cheese, which is easily in my top five favorite foods. Basically, this monster was created for ME (here’s where my parents would tell you I have a healthy ego).

But other people ate things too! Husband went with the classic fried chicken dinner. You choose white or dark, and the whole thing comes with fries, cole slaw, and of course, a slice of soft, white bread.

double comfort fried chickenThe chicken here is wonderful. Salty, but not overly so, crispy and rich. In the back you’ll see husband’s side of bacon cornbread.

Wait, there’s more! One of the crowd favorites was the eggs sardou.

double comfort eggs sardouThis is reminiscent, of course, to eggs benedict, but more outrageous, and possibly more wonderful. On the bottom you’ll notice the biscuits, topped with thick ham, collard greens, eggs, and hollandaise. Let’s talk about the collard greens: so perfect here. They lend an earthy crunch to an otherwise super-rich dish.

Husband thought the favorite, however, was the chicken-fried steak on a waffle (because if it’s good, it’s probably better on top of a waffle!).

double comfort chicken fried steakI MEAN. Are you having heart attacks looking at this? I only sampled a tiny bit, but husband went on and on about this. The chicken fried steak this, chicken fried steak THAT. I watched him steal a few bites while his sister was being social (as opposed to him and me, hunched over our plates, shoveling gravy into our mouths). He simply can’t be trusted.

We didn’t partake in any of the adult beverages, but they have them! Mimosas, and Bloody Marys and anything else you can dream up, all housed behind the charming bar.

double comfortI’m exahusted now, re-living and writing all of that. It was a memorable meal, and I urge you to get down there to try it. If you want company, you know where to find me!

Double Comfort is located at 505 N. High Street.

Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro

{alicia}

Though Thom and I grew up on the East Side, we rarely find ourselves in that neck of the woods–which is terrible, because his parents still live there, and now I feel super guilty. Anyway, we found ourselves in Reynoldsburg a few weeks back, on one of our rare pilgrimages, to visit some friends.

Heather was nice enough to let me pick the evening’s meal, and based on what I’ve read, it had to be Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro. The restaurant is housed in a renovated, century-old colonial style house with multiple dining areas and a pub on the upper level. I eat that kind of thing up (har har, unintentional pun), so I was even more enchanted by  the concept. Since it was a beautiful, summer night, we took advantage of the patio.

Pies Reynoldsburg Patio

From my focal point, I was obsessing over the fire pit area. If you’re just coming out for drinks, it would be the perfect spot to hunker down with a big group and some cocktails.

Pie's Reynoldsburg PatioFirst things first, we ordered refreshments. I didn’t get the memo about it being summer, and clung to my trusty hard cider which I enjoy any season.

Pie's Gourment Pizza Bistro Reynoldsburg

Once revived, I scanned through the menu and hyperfocused on the Margherita, though the pizza of the night (BBQ Chicken) was also kind of tempting. Right behind us was the smoker where the scent of roasting chicken was sputtering out in little puffs of smoke. Don’t punch me guys, I had to pass. Chicken on pizza confuses my tastebuds. Now if we were talking chicken separate from the pizza? That would be very nice.

Pie's Reynoldsburg Menu

While we waited, Heather was kind enough to share her Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts ($7)–these were ridiculous, and if I wasn’t so polite, I would have shoved her over and stolen the plate. I mean, LOOK AT THIS:

Brussels Sprouts at Pie's Reynoldsburg

I was able to keep my food jealousy in check because the pizzas came out quickly (you got lucky this time, Heather).
Margherita Pizza at Pie's Reynoldsburg

The tomato and sweet basil tasted very fresh, and I was a happy with my night’s decision. My husband got a custom pie of sausage and mushroom–they weren’t messing around with the toppings:

Pizza at Pie's Reynoldsburg

Somewhere under that mass of fungi is a pizza.

All in all, a very successful night out east. Perhaps this is just the kick in the pants I needed to go out there more often? Oh yes, and guilt over in-laws, can’t forget about that.

Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro is located at 7601 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, OH. Restaurant hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm to 10pm, and the pub is open Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm to 11pm.

Summer Cravings

{alicia}

Every other month, I go through a cycle of food obsessions–mostly predictable things. Like the second it’s October, I want soup and pumpkin-flavored everything (I am quite aware how basic I am, thank you). Then you’ve got the constants, like avocado and peppers. I WILL NEVER TIRE OF THEM. And then you have the absolute random, like the two weeks I ate hummus and hot buffalo wing pretzels every single day.

I’ve been all over the usual suspects this summer: sweet corn, my beloved avocados, stone fruit…but all this girl wants lately is refined sugar and Korean food. I blame this on my alarming addiction to sweets and all of the Korean dramas I’ve been watching lately (every episode involves eating). And no, I’m not fluent yet (I wish), so I’ve been overcompensating by consuming all of the kalbi (Korean barbecued short ribs) in the world.

Kalbi is usually on the pricy side, so I’ve been making do with the Trader Joe’s version (found in the freezer section) and the plate lunch at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ. Pro tip: get the spam musubi as well–trust me. Vegetarian friends, this would be the moment to avert your eyes:

Kalbi from Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Growing up, I couldn’t have Korean barbecue without Chilsung Cider, but since these are trying times, I’ve been drinking those tiny Cokes and convincing myself it’s not that bad for me. I don’t drink soda normally, so I’m hoping that particular obsession runs its course.

When I’m not punishing my body with red meat and sugar water, I’m filling the void with other confectionary delights. I finally placed an order with Rogue Bakery and holy smokes:

IMG_0716

Do you see this batshittery? The CMC was my favorite (who knew cornflakes went well in cookies), but the WTF got bonus points for its name and the madness within:

IMG_0763

I’ve also been having mad hankerings for the cut outs at Pattycake Bakery. I feel like I ought to just set up house in their parking lot at this point.

IMG_0804

“Yummy” is right, you beautiful bastard.

Remember my monocled friend from the farmers’ market? I think back to him so fondly that I’ve been on a mission to eat his entire family. Whoops.

Just in case you needed reminding.

Just in case you needed reminding.

My latest desire is to recreate a dessert I made (and annihilated) earlier this year. Here is my super secret recipe: plonk a Joe’s O (or Oreo) into a half-filled tin of cupcake batter (preferably vanilla) and then top with batter (you end up with about 2/3 of the tin filled). Then bake according to your box (or from-scratch recipe, you overachievers). You end up with this lovely:

IMG_9090

Coming soon: my sugar intervention and detox.