Oktoberfest Columbus

{by alexis}–Okay, if I have to embrace this season change thing, I’m going to go full swing into the most wonderful of all fall festivals — Oktoberfest. And so, last Friday, Joe and I grabbed giant steins, and met up with some family on the fairgrounds. But we did not go gentle into that good night, summer. Not even close.

Actually, this is my first time at an Oktoberfest! I’m not sure why: Autumn is the most beautiful of seasons, and beer is the most divine of beverages, so I can’t guess what took me so long. But this relationship is escalating quickly: Just two weeks ago Joe and I booked a hotel room in Munich for Oktoberfest 2015. YES. THE REAL DEAL.

You think I’m crazy, right? Booking a hotel room 12 months out? I mean, you can’t even see flight schedules more than six months out. Well, I’m not crazy: I am WELL-RESEARCHED. The hotel rooms in Munich go quickly and for way more money than they’re worth during the festival of all festivals, so of course we found a refundable-rate and booked.

So, naturally, I had to practice!

oktoberfestThis was obviously our first stop. We were right at home with these Schmidt’s mega-beers.

Once we ran out of toasts, I had a chance to look around. The grounds were lovely, and festive.

0926142023e(1)_edited-1 0926142021a_edited-1 And it was PACKED. There were people from one end to the next, with ticket and beer lines wrapping in and out of the tents.

Even with all that chaos, everyone seemed to be in a great mood! We met lots of new folks and became best friends forever with a bachelor party from California. Yes! They had flown all the way out from LA for THIS Oktoberfest! And what pleasant gentlemen they were!

Later, we walked through the marketplace, checking out all the wares, German or otherwise. I even ran into the folks from CollarDoos! Sadly, they had to leave Scooby at home, but I must say, I was quite taken with the buckeye bowties they had at their table.

Obviously, by now it was time for eating, and my sister-in-law and I took a good hard look at the pastries. Check out these delights from Juergens Bakery from — where else? — German Village!

0926142056a_edited-1 0926142056_edited-1Somehow I avoided their siren song and stuck with a GIANT helping of sauerkraut, which I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My mouth is literally watering while I type.

And then it was time to wait in that long line again.

0926142117b_edited-1Joe played photographer while I fell in love.

0926142126a_edited-1Is this happiness or what?

We wandered over to the band (of which no decent pictures exist), and proceeded to dance. Dancing, for me, is a series of enthusiastic, sometimes-rhythmic hopping. I look ridiculous but I have a great time; I think my friends had a great time laughing at me, too!

It was the most fun I’ve had in a long while. Sadly, you’ve missed Oktoberfest this year if you didn’t make it out last weekend, but if you’re ready to do the real deal, you’re welcome to join me in Munich. Oktoberfest 2015, here we come!

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Columbus Food Adventures’ Taco Truck Tour

{by: alexis & alicia} We market ourselves as a Columbus lifestyle blog, but between us and you, loyal readers, we have a focus on eating. You may have noticed that Alicia and I will research restaurants, wait in line, and travel to all ends of the Earth for that next great meal. But we’re lucky because honestly, we don’t have to go that far. A few weeks ago, Columbus Food Adventures asked us to attend their taco truck tour and, after several frenzied rounds of “OMG TACOS” via gchat, we happily accepted and picked a date.

columbus food adventures wander and whine

Alicia was far more excited than she looks. Also, check out her donut sweater!

For the record, I was being instructed to do “my best Jordan Catalano lean” and only succeeded in duplicating his indifference–and even that didn’t last very long. I don’t think Jordan ever squee’d at a plate of crispy pork. He probably brooded in a corner, and closed his eyes like it hurt to look at it. Whoops, sorry. Just as Jordan Catalano is great at leaning, I’m great at going off on tangents. BACK TO THE FOOD.

We showed up on time and and ready to eat everything in sight. Now, kids, if you check out the Columbus Food Adventures website, you’re going to get some important details, but you’re not going to get the route. We’re going to follow their lead and share you with our dishes, but not necessarily the stops on the tour. We can’t give away all their secrets! And we wouldn’t want to deprive you of the expertise and camaraderie of the tour guide, Andy Dehus, either!

After piling into the van, Andy whisked us away to stop number one (there were five plus a bonus stop).

We started with a classic taco truck, prepared by a Latino chef for a Latino audience, as was described by Andy. These trucks aren’t trucks in the sense that you can’t drive them all around, like many of the taco trucks you’re familiar with. They’re stationary. Each truck has a specific regional focus, which allows for a bajillion of them to exist in a small area.

taco truck See those sauces lined up in a row? This was a common theme to the trucks we visited–multiple sauces ranging from mild to spicy. Alexis and I are are huge fans of avocado, so we made a beeline for the avo sauce all day despite its lack of heat.

The typical tacos served here are smaller, and made using corn tortillas instead of flour. The first taco we had was filled with chorizo, which, as I stated in another post, is not really my bag. But THIS chorizo. Here. Look!

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The chorizo was removed from its casing and grilled up for us. The accompanying radishes and cucumbers were perfect ways to test the various spicy sauces. Here, we started what became of chorus of “YEP”s, and “UH-HUH”s we yelled through full mouths. HOLY CHORIZO.

Our next stop was at a more locally well-known truck nearby. You may be familiar with Los Guachos brick-and-mortar space in Columbus or Gahanna. Andy ordered us all a gringa, which is now a word that causes conversations at W&W headquarters to devolve into a series of nonsensical yelling and near-fainting. It is that good. A gringa is a flour tortilla with caramelized cheese, a few veggies, and al pastor, which is a pork layered together on a vertical grill and sliced off for serving. BEHOLD THE GRINGA.

gringaI’m having trouble even writing right now with this picture in my eye-line. It was so cheesy, the pork was so flavorful, we both lean toward choosing this as our favorite of the whole tour.

What’s crazy is the combination of flavors that made this dish really sing, like, what do you mean there was pineapple in there? There were also garnishes that took these to another level. See the bowl in the bottom righthand of the next photo? That contained habaneros and onions in soy sauce. We piled this wondrous concoction on top of our gringas and doused them with sauces. The result was an explosion of flavors and spice that made us audibly gasp. 

IMG_2135It was hard to leave the prospect of more gringas behind, but we had more food to eat. Our next truck focused on Oaxacan cuisine, and Andy ordered us all a tlayuda. Well, that’s not exactly true; each tlayuda is ENORMOUS, so we split one amongst four tour-goers, and still had more than enough to eat. This tour won’t allow you to go hungry.

tlayudaIt’s a bit like a pizza, actually. On the bottom you’ll see the tortilla with a spread of black beans which is then covered with lettuce, tomato, avocado, chorizo, and another delicious slice of meat. Eating this one was a bit of a challenge as the tortilla didn’t cut especially well with the plastic fork, but Alicia and I were more than happy to take matters into our own hands and use our teeth like the daintiest of cavemen.

Meanwhile, we got to sip some horchata, which is a sweetened rice milk drink. This was a delightful companion to the spicy tlayuda. While everyone was finishing up, Andy brought around another plate of beef tongue for us to try. He assured us it was excellent as a taco filling, so we didn’t shy away.

Alexis is kind to say that, because I most certainly shied away at first. But, seeing this was a food adventure and all, I plucked up a little courage and was so glad I did. Everything we ate was delicious, and the tongue wasn’t an exception.

beef tongue tacoIf it doesn’t look quite full, it’s because Andy was offering samples to the whole tour. You’ll get more than this!

I went first. Believe it or not, this is my DELICIOUS GIVE ME MORE face.

IMG_20140921_191617Alicia was spurred on by my expression and went for it, too.

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You can actually see my reluctance here.

But after all, we both agree: TONGUE IS DELICIOUS. My only exposure to tongue is my father’s cautionary tale of ordering a tongue sandwich on a European flight. (What person orders tongue on an airplane? Oh, my dad does!) This was tender and flavorful, and the texture was just like any other, non-frightening meat part. Don’t be scared of the tongue, you guys! And here’s a spin on a familiar motto: LISTEN TO YOUR TOUR GUIDE.

Next we moved onto what Andy described as an old faithful taco truck. We were each served an individual gordita, and it’s about a jillion times more delicious than Taco Bell’s version — even I didn’t think that was possible! This time, carnitas were served in a soft pocket of corn cake. It’s griddle-fried, so parts are crispy. It was so good we, um, forgot to take a picture. Here! Feast your eyes upon my half-devoured gordita!

Plus, the avocado sauce here was actually spicy! Bonus points all around!

gorditaSorry about that, readers, we got a little over-excited.

And with good reason! This was our second favorite item of the day (nothing could top gringas). What’s funny is before we received our gorditas, we didn’t think we could possibly eat another bite. Hilarious joke. We inhaled these. Then we had a whispered conversation about whether or not it was bad form to order another one. We decided it was seeing that there was one more stop to be had.

Our fifth stop was for dessert, an icier version of ice cream called nieves (which means snow in Spanish). Andy checked out what flavors were available and recommended the nuez (nut). Seeing that all of his suggestions were on point, we had to listen to him.

These teeny cones were like a revelation: At first bite we thought, oh, sure, is good! And then with each bite our eyes got wider and our commentary grew from quiet “yum-o’s” (sorry this is how we actually talk), to all-caps-worthy yelling.

This was such a refreshing (and delicious) way to end the tour.

IMG_2150Well, at least the eating part of the tour. Right around the corner was a Mexican grocery store called La Plaza Tapatia. This place was a treasure trove of freshly baked goods, a meat department, vats of peppers, an entire CANDY ROOM, and many more amazing things. Seeing that this was a popular spot, Andy took us around the perimeter of the store, pointed a few things out, and gave us 15 minutes to run amok.

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The entire experience was four hours, and it flew by in a blur of eating and discovering delicious things we wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Alexis and I wholeheartedly endorse Columbus Food Adventures, and if tacos aren’t your thing, there are many other types of tours available here. You can even buy tickets as a gift (I’m winking really hard at all of you).

(I’m hoping that note means Alicia is buying me tickets for Christmas.) I can’t say enough good things about our experience. You don’t just get bussed from one delicious, ridiculous snack to the next, you get a bit of history at each site. I mean, that’s why they call it a tour, dopes. I’m flattered that you’re still reading this, all fifteen hundred words, but how bout you stop, and go buy your own tickets. You won’t regret it.

Happy Hour at El Arepazo

{by alexis}–There’s no shortage of great places in German Village to celebrate the happiest of hours, but I’m always more than thrilled to try the new one. It was this spirit of adventure that brought Joe and I to the new El Arepazo location for happy hour late last week.

We both found ourselves home a touch earlier than usual and quickly headed out to enjoy a sunny, late summer (yes it was too still summer!) happy hour. El Arepazo only opened early last month, so it was our first trip to the restaurant.

The first thing we noticed was the sheer size of the place. There seems to be room after room, and every wall is covered in bright, unique art. There’s a pool table in one of the spaces to encourage socializing and maybe even a few friendly wagers. Toward the back there is a ceviche bar that allows customers to order a quick bite while waiting for carry out.

IMG_20140922_194025 IMG_20140922_194010 IMG_20140922_194054The space is hip, clean, and welcoming. Happy hour lasts from 4:30 to 6:30, but only at the bar. Naturally, we found ourselves sliding into the tall chairs.

el arepazoThere were a number of tvs around the bar space, which makes this a comfortable place to watch a game or two. Joe’s obsession with college football helps me notice this type of thing.

Because I’m in denial regarding the season change, I went for the Corona on tap. Joe chose a Cuca Fresca. I mean, it had chili pepper on the rim. Like moth to a flame.

el arepazoWe also ordered a couple of tapas: the chorizo al vino, the Peruvian ceviche, the champinones rellenos, and the croquetas off of the regular menu.

IMG_20140922_193414 IMG_20140922_193502 IMG_20140922_193553 IMG_20140922_193832To be honest, I’m not super into chorizo (or sausage in general — save for Bahama Mamas), so the first dish wasn’t my favorite. The ceviche, on the other hand, was the winner of the evening. It was packed with flavor, and was perfect served up on the tostadas. The happy hour dish is slightly smaller than the regular menu’s full-price listing, so you may want to consider sizing up on this delicious bad boy. The mushrooms, like the chorizo, paled in comparison to the ceviche, though you can’t go wrong with anything stuffed with cheese. Which leads us nicely into the croquetas — our second favorite plate. The chicken and ham inside these was molten and gooey and just what you expect. The spicy cilantro sauce was a wonderful topper, and if you fall in love, you can even buy a bottle! I gave Joe my puppy dog eyes in the hope that he would let me spear the last croqueta, but I guess he’s immune to my charms after all.

So we were full, yes, but not too full for more drinks! That’s the point of tapas, right? I ordered another beer, but Joe went for the happy hour margarita. This is the star of the happy hour menu, and the best value. Outside of happy hour, this behemoth goes for $9, but between 4:30 and 6:30, you can practically steal it for $5. Let me tell you, this thing should be more than $5.

el arepazo margaritaLook at it dwarfing my beer! It is huge! Joe gave it two, giant thumbs up.

After the margarita it was time for dessert. And I ordered my favorite!

red stripeThis beer takes me back to white sand and impossibly blue water. Can’t a girl get a direct flight from CMH to MBJ? Get on it, airlines.

I’d definitely head back to El Arepazo for happy hour. Great drink prices and delicious snack foods make it a great place to relax and unwind after work. And now I’ll know where to go in February when I’m snowed in and missing that hot, bright sun.

El Arepazo Tapas Bar Grille is located at 515 S. High Street. M-Th 11am-2pm, 4:30pm-10pm; Fri 11am-2pm, 4:30-11pm; Sat 11am-11pm; closed Sunday.

Weekend Whimsy

{by: alicia} Monday already? Come on, now! I know it’s cliche to harp on about how Mondays are the worst, but they really are. It’s especially bad when you had a nice, relaxing weekend full of random side adventures like playing Alice in Wonderland at the Topiary Park.Topiary Park ColumbusI didn’t even know the place existed until a year ago when I came across a photo on Instagram. I had been meaning to go all summer, but you know how that goes. Since our nice days are numbered, I dragged Sister along to take advantage of yesterday’s sunshine.

Topiary Park Columbus

Topiary Park Columbus

Topiary Park Columbus

She wasn’t quite sure what to make of this, and I quote, “These are creepy.”

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Hmm, she might be on to something.

Topiary Park Columbus

Suspicious.

Creepy or not, these topiaries were pretty cool. Anyone who can turn a hedge into a work of art gets a thumbs up in my book (oh hai, Edward Scissorhands). And despite her initial reluctance, Sister quickly warmed up. Next thing I knew, she was frolicking and prancing about the so-called creeps.

Topiary Park Columbus

The madnesss taking hold.

I poke fun, but even I couldn’t help but get into the act.

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Oh hey.

After taking a billion pictures, the hunger pangs couldn’t be ignored, so we said goodbye to our statuesque friends and drove a few minutes to our lunch destination:

Hot Chicken Takeover Columbus

I have been dying to try Hot Chicken Takeover since they sprung onto the food scene a few months ago. Sister and I had an amazing meal at Hattie B.’s when we went to Nashville, so we wanted to relive the experience.

Hot Chicken Takeover Columbus

So far, so good.

In essence, the experience was relived from the minute we walked up, because the line wrapped around the building! We took this in stride, though. It was such a beautiful day, and since we were waiting on Alexis to join us, we could afford to be patient. If we learned anything in Nashville, it’s that it’s worth waiting in line for hot chicken. And It really wasn’t that bad, maybe 25-30 minutes, and my W&W counterpart strolled up just in time to order with us.

If you’ve never been to HCT, you may be surprised to hear they are only open during the weekend from noon until four (or until they sell out). Orders are placed at a window, and while you’re waiting for your name to be called, you can help yourself to the complimentary sweet tea and water. This is also a good time to stake a place at the picnic tables, or you can take it as carryout. You do you.

Hot Chicken Takeover ColumbusWe chose to stick around, and in not too long, we were seated and presented with containers of spicy deliciousness. All of us ordered Hot, which is the second spiciest option. If you can take the burning, you will want to order Holy. If you don’t like spice (let’s not be silly), there’s an option with none of the cayenne pepper (Cold), but let’s not talk CRAZY. Don’t worry about us–Becker, Alexis, and I did a stellar job at demolishing our food.

Hot Chicken Takeover Columbus

How did it compare to Nashville? Well, pretty damn good. The chicken was spicy in that delightful face-burning way, and I daresay I preferred their mac ‘n cheese over what we had at Hattie B’s. The coleslaw scored bonus points for not being mayo based (I hate the stuff). Instead, the dressing was a sweet, cooling vinegar which made this a perfect foil to offset the spice.

See, how can I not be expected to live for the weekend when I can’t even eat this stuff during the week?

The Topiary Park is located at 480 E Town Street. (Columbus 43215) and open daily from sunrise until sunset. There are ample parking meters along the street.

Hot Chicken Takeover is located at 1117 Oak Street. Hours are noon-4pm on the weekend. They’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign to acquire a mobile kitchen, so be a pal and donate a buck or two!

Thursday Ramblings

{by: alicia} It’s been a couple weeks since my pity party about the weather changing, and I’ve come around (but barely) by focusing on what’s fun about autumn. People think football is fun, right?

Ohio State Buckeyes

Last weekend, Alexis kindly gave us tickets to the Buckeyes game since she’s a fancy staff/faculty member. We had so much fun–mostly because we were busy being ridiculous and not actually watching the game. To everyone whose earshot we were in, we apologize for our inane topics of conversation and me (accidentally) throwing my bratwurst. Whoops.

Blog favorite Megan was also in attendance, and we had a grand old time spending a majority of our day at the tailgate, walking eight hundred miles, cramming into my clown car, and ending up at the barcade (where we nearly conked out while our husbands played Off Road). To think I had ever worried that I wouldn’t see her or Alexis once I left my old job. I feel like we see each other more than ever!

It helps that we make an effort to plan girls’ night once a month. Our last outing was at the newish Cray Eatery & Drinkery. They are located in the old Wonder Bread building and specialize in sliders and batshit infused vodkas. We made sure to dabble in all the things.

Cray Eatery

Fried green tomatoes, fries, and fried olives–I detect a pattern.

Gummy Bear Martini from Cray

A whimsical gummy bear martini.

Cray Eatery

Like 900 sliders.

When the weather gets chilly, all I want to eat is comfort food. I made this happen recently with brunch at the aptly named Double Comfort (Alexis’ review lives here).

Double Comfort

Fried chicken as far as the eye can see.

And by indulging at a new place by my neck of the woods called Mezcal Cantina & Grill.

Mezcal

Fries + tacos throw me off, but I will allow this.

I also bought myself presents in an attempt to put me in an autumnal mood. When I say presents, I mean frivolous groceries. (Also a bonus sweater cape. Ask Alexis to tell you about her BLARDIGAN.) I came home recently with bags bursting with pumpkin-inspired goodies (damn your siren song, Trader Joe’s!), and now I want to stock up on some holiday candles (said in the voice of the SNL Target Lady).

But that doesn’t mean I’ve completely embraced fall. I’ve been desperately clutching at some of my summer favorites while I still can. Favorite number one is iced coffee. One chilly morning last week, I had my seat warmer on while I sipped my freezing drink–talk about denial.

Since I can no longer find Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate at TJ’s anymore (shaking fist in rage), I have been on the hunt for decent replacements. Remember our chat about Fresh Thyme? It was there I found High Brew, which isn’t too shabby when on the go.

High Brew

But even better is the homemade coffee concentrate I made earlier this week–BEST ICED COFFEE I’VE HAD ALL SUMMER (technically it’s still summer, guys). And it’s so stupidly simple. I can’t believe how long it took me to try this. All you do is coarsely grind some beans until you have 3/4 cup, combine it with 3.5 cups of water, cover it, let it sit at room temperate for 24 hours, strain, and serve.

I used my French press which made this even easier–just make sure to save the plunging part for the very end. I stored this concentrate in mason jars and combined it with twice as much milk and ice (use a 1:2 ratio).

Okay, I’ll calm down now. Let’s talk about summer favorite number two: ice cream.

Graeter's Coconut Chip--ah-mazing.

Graeter’s Coconut Chip–ah-mazing.

Um, I really ought to consider my own affogato now that I’m eying these photos side by side. And sorry, no ice cream recipe. My standby is called “go to the store and buy a pint.” I stubbornly refuse to let ice cream go. Weather be damned. One time, I made my sister go to Handel’s with me during a blizzard. That is commitment, and I’m sure she secretly thought it was worth it. Right, Becca?

Some things I have let go of? Open-toed shoes and shorts. Despite my penchant for iced coffee and iced creams, I don’t actually like feeling cold. I’m officially a walking contradiction. The saga continues.

Brunching at Lindey’s

{by alexis}–The best part about hosting out-of-towners is that I get to play tour guide, and usher them to see (and eat!) the best Columbus has to offer. You may remember my good friends Suzanne and Nick from my first blog post ever. This time, they jetted in from Boston to catch the Virginia Tech game (Suze is a dedicated hokie), and after all that football (and maybe a few tears), we were ready for an extravagant brunch the next day. Lindey’s was really the only choice.

We rolled ourselves out of bed late — even Indiana Bones slept in! — and headed out the door. I love surprising guests: they are always shocked to learn we’re walking to the fancy brunch place! Yes, we in Ohio have walking neighborhoods, too!

lindey's

Their building is the picture of charm, don’t you think? The windows, the awning — it all works together. I love the design so much, that I actually used their font as inspiration for our wedding invitations! True story!

I love Lindey’s, but know they cater to a particular crowd. We were hustled out of the waiting area so the host could cheerily sit some of his regulars. Just be aware.

As hungry and tired as we were, we opted to skip the wait and eat in the dining room. The patio is beautiful, but after being exposed to the elements for most of the previous day, I was happy to soak in a little a/c and get out of the sun. We started where you should always start at brunch: Carpaccio. capraccioI’ve had it before here, and I’d be happy to make this a meal on its own. Everything about this dish is a win: the portabella strips are an earthy pairing, the chipotle aioli has an unexpected kick, and the arugula is the perfect crunch and bitter balance. Honestly, I’d like to wrap all this up like a burrito and eat it, but I have a feeling that might be frowned upon.

Suzanne and Nick chose an heirloom tomato flatbread, which was magnificent in its dollops of cheese and delicate vegetable slices. The flatbread is crispy, light, and makes a perfect appetizer. lindey'sOur main dishes were next up, and they did not disappoint. Suzanne went for this beautiful salmon salad, and reported back that the fish was cooked well, with lots of flavor. lindey'sWe all had a bit of a fight over who got to order the huevos rancheros, but lucky Nick won. He loved the pork belly, citing its crispy texture. I love pork belly, but have had more than a few super fatty pieces, but not here! Nick assured me that this was not one of those incidents.

lindey'sJoe went for the classic benedict. Honestly, the man is a sucker for hollandaise, and can you blame him? Hot butter and egg? I mean. Don’t fight it. lindey'sI ordered the crab & eggs, and it arrived in its own charming, little skillet. The potatoes were perfection: not too salty, and not bland, and the egg was cooked to perfection. And the crab was delightful. It’s rich and sweet and why don’t we always have this at breakfast? Mine came with its own generous helping of hollandaise which took the decadence up an extra notch or two. lindey'sFull and happy, we rolled ourselves home. I’m pretty sure I convinced Suzanne and Nick that fine dining exists outside of the East coast, and so do tree-lined cobblestone streets. Lindey’s is a reliable and beautiful neighborhood gem. Just don’t miss the carpaccio.

Lindey’s is located at 169 E. Beck Street. Sun-Thurs, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-11pm.

How to Tailgate Like a Pro

{by alexis}–For many, fall means pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, and a variety of plaid. Here in Columbus, fall means football. Even I get wrapped up in it, now, and since I spend so many of my Saturdays outside in the sun (or wind, rain, and sometimes even snow), I thought I would share with you my tips for a successful tailgate. Follow my lead, and you’ll be comfortable and prepared for whatever comes your way — win or lose.

ohio stadiumBig 10 football has always been a part of my autumns. I spent four glorious years at Michigan State University, and moved to Columbus shortly after graduate school. Here’s the thing: You guys here in Columbus are crazy. “Fanatical” does not begin to describe the level of fandom I have experienced here. I admit to being a little frightened during my first football season.

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Who wouldn’t be scared of that sky?

And then guess what I did? I married one of you! Joe lives and breathes OSU football, so of course I would pick up an interest. As a student at MSU, my attention waned usually around the first half of the second quarter, and a group of girlfriends and I skipped out for nap time. But now, you’ll find me at the stadium five hours early, red cup in hand. I have perfected my loud clap (though Joe still has me beat), and I frantically check the MSU score whenever I can get service. I’m not quite one of you, since I still prefer green, but I’m right there with you.

148863_10102572947090224_689197163_nAnd I’ve learned a lot, thanks to Joe, a few of his college buddies, and his ever-prepared sister. So, without further ado: How to Tailgate Like a Pro.

1. Let’s start with the most important: FOOTWEAR. Girls and their shoes, I know, but really: the quickest path to misery begins with a blister. Choose a shoe with a lot of support. Rely on an old favorite: Today is not the day to break in those new leopard sneakers you picked up at Target (LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES). When you’re shopping for comfort, don’t cheap out: These aren’t the type of shoes that are thrown together in two months to match the latest spread in Lucky magazine. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on something with more craftsmanship. In my Clippers post, I shared with you my all-time favorite walking shoes, a version of the Clark’s women’s Wallabees. clark's women's wallabeesI’m also a big fan of these Hush Puppies loafers that took me through the rain and cobblestones of Italy. These shoes are genius: they come in a million colors, and several different widths (some of us have feet worthy of a sideshow tent, you know).

hush puppies

This is the kind of footwear you need to be thinking about. Check the weather forecast. Is it raining? Good, break out the Hunters you bought after seeing Kate Moss at Glastonbury. Also, I suggest skipping the flip-flops. They offer zero support, and you stand a good chance of having your toenails ripped off by the crowd while shuffling to your seat.

2. Think about the rest of our outfit in the same way: Comfort should be your first priority. I have seen so many girls sporting what amounts to denim underwear, and — style aside — that just can’t be comfortable after the fifty flights of stairs it takes to find your seat in the C-Deck. You want something loose-fitting and breathable. If you’re unsure, try repeatedly standing and sitting in your questionable item: Are there love handles where there once were none? Did your tank top crawl steadily up your torso? Go with something else, something bigger probably. I sized up in this new Where I’m From tee, that I picked up from Devoted last week.

where i'm from3. I want to touch quickly on makeup. It’s hard to keep a good face on when it’s 85 degrees, and you’re baking in an oven called the Shoe, but it just takes some planning. Try a face primer. I am a longtime fan of Clinique’s Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector. It makes everything stay put even when I’ve got sweat dripping down the backs of my ears. How’s that for a lovely image?

4. For the love of God, do not forget sunscreen. I swear, every time Joe goes to the game without me, he comes back with a sunburn the size of Texas and just as red. I have used Cetaphil’s daily moisturizer under my makeup nearly every day of my damn life, and I’ve never gotten sunburned watching a football game. This goes for men too. NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE IT.

5. Think about transportation. Are you planning on dropping six beers or a bourbon slushie? Awesome, you do you, but PLEASE think about how you’re getting home. This goes double for 8 pm games that empty at the same time as the bars. Joe and I are huge fans of the bus: It is cheap, reliable, and if you miss one, there’s another 25 minutes behind that one (unless it’s the aforementioned night game). Uber and Lyft are now becoming staples in the area, alongside the classic taxicab that is perfectly functional if you can manage to snag one amidst the swarming masses of humans in red.

6. Also, I need you dopes to eat. Have a BIG, hearty breakfast (jello shots don’t count) before you have your first drink. It will give you energy, and prevent that drink from going straight to your head.

7. On that note, please drink water. Try to chug a few water bottles at various points throughout the day. Is it hot? Drink twice what you normally would. (I mean drink twice the water, you delinquent.)

8. This may seem obvious, but look at the weather report, yo. Is it raining? Not the best time to wear your leather jacket, probably. You have a raincoat right? What’s wrong with you; go get a raincoat. If you refuse to conform to even these most basic of societal pressures, you can always swing by a drug store for a pocket poncho.

9. Before you leave, grab a few squares of toilet paper and put them in your bag. You’ll be happy to have them when you find yourself in a row full of stalls with empty cardboard tubes and not a square to spare. While you’re at it, grab a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer. Paper towels are the first thing to go after the TP.

10. Prepare yourself for port-a-potties. It’s going to happen; steel yourself.

11. Pack only the essentials in a small, hands-free purse. You want free use of your hands for cheersing and high-fiving your way through the day. For me, the essentials are always chapstick, a tube of concealer, my phone, ID, a few credit cards and my health insurance card. Bring only the things you know you’ll need. In addition to your own convenience, many stadiums are cracking down on the size of women’s bags, and you don’t want to be given the impossible task of getting rid of your bag at the last minute.

12. Contributing to a tailgate? How generous! While scouring Pinterest, keep in mind food safety. For example, mayo-based dips and salads may SOUND like the perfect tailgate addition, but you’ll have second thoughts after your dish sits a few hours in the sun.

enhanced-buzz-8710-1381950704-1913. While you’re planning your food contribution, be sure to use disposable containers. You’ll lose track of anything you brought after the game, and you’ll not want to clean and haul it home. Convenience is key.

14. Do throw out your trash. No, the curb doesn’t count. We’re all adults here, and you know what to do.

15. If you’re meeting folks after the game, agree on a rendezvous point. With all the people, cell phone service can be unreliable, and it’s next to impossible to look for and find someone in that crowd.

So there you have it! If you follow my tips, you’ll be comfortable and safe, and ready for all-day (and night) fun. Both Alicia and I will be tailgating and attending this weekend’s game, and we hope to see you out there!

Did I miss anything? Please leave any other tailgating tips you can think of in the comments; I may be a pro by now, but I’m always eager to learn more!

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