(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

{by: alicia} Though my travesty of a phone decided to crash and wipe away all of my recent photos, I still managed to cobble together a post. VICTORY. Here’s a peek at what has been going on lately (if you’ve guessed lots of food/eating, you win):

{A wondrous lunch date at Katalina’s}


Pancake balls and tacos with a mini elote.

Let’s zoom up on those famous pancake balls. Try not to eat your screen.


Nutella-filled with a side of sweet and spicy bacon!

{Getting some culture with a side of booze}


{Satisfying a bunch o’ burger cravings}


Burgers from B Spot with a side of rosemary fries.


Philco’s burger & fries + slightly obscured huevos rancheros.

{Asian food for days}


Pajeon from Kaya with some old co-workers.


Spicy rice cakes and spicy tofu soup with the sis at Silla. Just give us spicy everything.


Rolls from Rishi Sushi.


A hot bowl of ramen from Rishi.

{Cold treats because the sun is still shining}

Campfire S'mores milkshake from Steak 'n Shake. ORDER THIS MAGIC NOW.

Campfire S’mores milkshake from Steak ‘n Shake. ORDER THIS MAGIC NOW.

This was mostly an excuse to eat cheesecake bites, but the pumpkin and marshmallow froyo was on point.

This was mostly an excuse to eat cheesecake bites, but the pumpkin and marshmallow froyo was on point.

In conclusion: Always backup your iPhone.


Bachelorettes Do the Bluejack Brewery in DC

{by alexis}–A few weekends ago, I spent the weekend in Washington DC for a bachelorette party. One of my oldest and loveliest girlfriends is getting married in two short weeks, and so we gathered in her favorite city to drink her favorite drinks before we dress her up in white and push her down the aisle. After a busy Friday night of pub golf, we drenched ourselves in coffee and rolled up to the Bluejacket Brewery in the Waterfront district for a little hair o’ the dog.

First of all, let me tell you this place is GORGEOUS. Its walls are huge, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, which let the light from the unbelievably beautiful day spill in from every angle.

bluejacket brewery dc bluejacket brewery dc bluejacket brewery dcThe space is wonderful. You feel like you’re outside while enjoying a cool beverage in temperature-controlled room with nine hundred foot ceilings. A few of us got a drink before the tour started, including a sample of the sour cherry beer. It was VERY different than anything I’ve had before, and tasty, though I’m not sure I’d love a huge glass of it.

1018141331_edited-1Afterward, we gathered up our party and ran upstairs to meet Ann, the fabulous general manager of the brewery, who delivered one of the best boozey tours I’ve ever been on — WHICH IS SAYING SOMETHING.

bluejacket brewery dc bluejacket brewery dcFor the next hour, we wandered around the various floors, between the stainless steel jugs, and in and out of walk-in refrigerators, all while sampling their specialties and learning all about the brewing process. I’m pretty sure fun was had by all.

bluejacket brewery bluejacket brewery dc 1018141436_edited-1 bluejacket brewery dc bluejacket brewery dcWe had about six healthy samples, and by the end of it all, I was far wiser about all the hard work that goes into delicious beer.

After another drink and snack, we hopped into racing Ubers and made our way back to the hotel for one last night on the town. I can’t wait to see this one get married in a few weeks, and I’ll be sure to share a few pictures of the event (with the bride’s blessing, of course!).

It won’t be long till I’m back, DC. I hope you’re even half as pretty as you were that weekend in October.

washington dcBluejacket Brewery is located at 300 Tingey Street SE, Washington DC, 20003. Contact them directly for information on tours.

Eating in Louisville

{by alexis}–You know by now that we spent our anniversary sipping bourbon and touring around Kentucky in the back of the limo. But you also know me well enough to know that no celebration in my house is complete without about fifty outrageous meals. While there, we ate at the Brown Hotel and 21c Museum Hotel, and both meals were memorable. Which is putting it mildly. Ready? Let’s go.

So, the Brown Hotel was, in a word, the bomb. The lobby was majestic, the service was impeccable and our room was enormous (shout out to my dad for nudging us into the upgrade!). Situated in the middle of downtown, the Brown is old-school elegance at its finest. While Joe was checking out, I crept up to the third floors to get a few stunning shots of the lobby.

the brown hotel lousiville the brown hotel louisville the brown hotel lousivilleI’m no architecture expert, but I can tell you with certainty that the space is truly beautiful. The ceiling was intricately carved, and the whole room was lined with enough arches to convince you that you’re standing in a European cathedral with a long history. Every inch of the wall was carefully considered, every detail executed with a precise perfection.

We had our first dinner (we’re hobbits) in the lobby bar space, and spent more than a few minutes silently, taking in the intricate room around us. There is a lot to see.

Do you wonder what we were eating in this first of two dinners. Behold: THE HOT BROWN.

the hot brown

believe it or not, this is a HALF portion

Their website has a whole PAGE dedicated to this holy grail of sandwiches. What you see here is Texas toast piled high with four slices of bacon, pecorino cheese, and FOURTEEN OUNCES of sliced turkey breast, so tender, I swear you could use a spoon. This recipe will be PERFECT for those Thanksgiving leftovers. The whole thing is smothered in a sauce made from spices in cream and butter. It is like bread and turkey soup and it was amazing. The hotel is credited with creating this masterpiece and it soon became a hit in all of Louisville, and on menus still you can find enough re-interpretations and homages to make your head spin. But this is the ORIGINAL sandwich. Worth a trip on its own.

So after a quick nap (digesting is hard work), we met my darling parents downstairs for our second and main dinner at 21c Museum Hotel. This place is bananas. The restaurant here is called Proof on Main (a nod to bourbon, of course), and caught my eye due to shout outs in national publications and an endless list of good reviews.

By the way, if you need a laugh, please check out the Louisville Yelp restaurant reviews. I spent more than a few days tormenting Alicia with excerpts and all-caps yelling via gchat. (Pro tip: your carbonara is SUPPOSED to come with egg).

Anyway, it was time for drinks. This time, we went for a round without bourbon, and mom and I chose classic prosecco. Because: bubbles. Joe went for a “smoky” cocktail that slowly grew on him.

proof on main louisville proof on main louisvilleForgive my photos: the lighting was very cozy, which means it was tough on the pictures. But that is a HOT PEPPER floating in that drink, not some delicate, sliced FRUIT. Peppers > fruit.

Next, we moved on to a beautifully presented charcuterie plate. We chose the tobacco duck, salami picante, the Mt. Tam, and the Kenny’s cheddar, along the country ham, which appears to no longer be on the menu. It was awesome, so sorry about that!


The salami was the clear winner because spicy and salty are meant for each other. The duck was not our favorite due to it’s strong tobacco flavor, but surely it was prepared well. The bread was tough and chewy and a great match for the meats. We also loved the grainy mustard and the rich cheeses. When I die, please bury me with soft cheese in both hands, so that I may have a snack on my journey to wherever it is we all end up. WRITE THAT DOWN.

After more prosecco and beer, it was time for dinner. Mom chose the garganelle, which I insisted on calling Gargamel because I am mature. She was a little afraid of the hog neck reference in the menu description, but it ended up being tender, flavorful pieces of pork. It was light on sauce which we as a family prefer, and delicious.

proof on mainJoe went for the Hog Chop because how often do you get to order hog chop? Also, he likes pork. The shelling beans on the side were some of the best I ever had, and I gave him puppy dog eyes at every opportunity so he would share. He did!

proof on mainA beautifully presented dish, don’t you think?

My father and I ordered the same thing, which is usually STRICTLY AGAINST THE RULES at my tables, but I allowed it this time because it was a bison burger. And they’re famous for it, and I had to have it.

Bison is so wonderful as a burger. It is velvet-y and smooth, like the cashmere of ground meats. Find one now and order it. It was accented by giant slices of bacon and a delightful strong cheddar. The chef recommends you order the burger cooked medium-rare, so both my father and I followed directions. I know a lot, you guys, but I certainly don’t know more than this chef.

proof on mainPamela (you know my mother is Pamela, right?) said that these were some of the best fries she’s ever had, which just goes to show that most folks are suckers for truffle sauce.

As we got ready to pay our bill, we got such a fun surprise!

proof on mainThis picture is tough, but THAT IS COTTON CANDY! That’s the dessert they bring along with your check! What pink fun! It was sweet and not too sticky, and made me positively giddy.

After we left, we wandered out into the hotel to take a look at the art on display. The hotel is literally a modern art museum.

The first piece was, at first glance, charming pastoral textiles mounted on the wall, though they’re actually made from a combination of fabric, thread, and paint. The artist is Gina Phillips, a Kentucky native, though she now makes her home in New Orleans.

21c museum hotelNeat right? LOOK CLOSER. What seems cozy and country is actually quite violent and more than a little scary.

21c muesum hotelOh, you know, eagles just swooping away with human limbs in their talons. THE USUAL. I do love the way the size of the textiles gives them a little perspective though. Very interesting.

Down the hall was a neat installation. You stand before a wall that has a projection of raining letters and, somehow, the screen knows you’re there, and the letters fall all around you. They spell out sentences, but we didn’t stay long enough to know what the whole piece meant to say.

21c museum hotel

Also, these charming guys were all around the hotel.

1011142123a_edited-1 1011142121_edited-1And don’t forget to stop and take a look at this man on your way out, who is SURE to give you nightmares. Tis the season!

21c museum hotelI kind of like his cloak, what with all the beading but…Yes, he’s scary.

The next day, we checked out of the hotel and headed out of Louisville a bit to brunch with some old friends who have recently moved to Kentucky. They suggested we meet at the Village Anchor, and GOOD LORD am I glad they did. This place was all kinds of adorable. Even the neighboring little town!


1012141312_edited-1Once inside we got to the business of brunch, and, after a late night of prosecco and cotton candy, the first thing on the agenda was coffee.

the village anchor louisvilleNo, your eyes do not deceive you: My coffee is served with a BOWL OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS. I enthusiastically dumped half the bowl in my mug and snacked on the rest throughout the meal. But I forgot all about that when our meals arrived. Camille went with the California Benedict. And as Alicia and I have yelled a thousand times before: You can’t. Go wrong. With Hollandaise. AND avocados!

the village anchor louisvilleBoth men ordered the grilled filet mignon with bleu cheese biscuits. This was by far the winner in my opinion. The biscuits were moist and flaky, the steak was cooked properly, and the bleu cheese sauce was rich and held it all together. IT WAS DIVINE. I basically tried to steal Joe’s plate, but he wasn’t having it.

the village anchor louisvilleI went with the Village Anchor French Toast. If it has the restaurant’s name in it, it HAS to be good, right? Well, it was! I ordered mine sans bananas because, honestly, bananas are from hell, but the strawberries, blueberries, and pecans were divine. The toast was sweet and a bit crispy around the corners, which was just how I like it. Go ahead and order this, yo.

the village anchor louisvilleWe wandered a bit around the little town, and then ran up to our friend’s new house to gawk at its loveliness and cry because we haven’t found one like it. Kentucky is beautiful this time of year.

1012141313a_edited-1And then we got on the road, to return to fair Columbus. It was another pretty drive, thanks to the leaves and the lovely views of Cincinnati. This will be our next weekend trip, but for now I’m dying to spend a weekend enjoying the city on my doorstep.


Hiking at Hocking Hills

{by: alicia} I’m not the most athletic person, but even I feel compelled every now and again to get some sort of exercise. I’m a big baby, so I prefer something low impact like yoga…or napping. Hiking is perfect because it can be as intense as you want to be (or not). This is why I found myself at Old Man’s Cave one recent Sunday. Not only was it a perfect fall activity, but the trails were just challenging enough to make things interesting.

Old Man's Cave -- Hocking Hills

Old Man’s Cave is aptly named because an actual man shacked up there in the 19th century. He was a hermit named Richard Rowe, and by some accounts he was buried somewhere nearby in an unmarked grave. Some interesting local lore, but there’s a lot of history that surrounds this area.

Since the cave is the most popular draw, we tromped down the main path and went along the trees to reach it, stopping to take many photos along the way.

Old Man's Cave -- Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills

Old Man’s Cave

Like most things, it was difficult to really capture the expanse of the cave and the enormity of it all. I tried my best, but it’s truly something you have to see in real life. Once you get past the cave, there are two paths you can pick from. Upper Falls and Lower falls.

Hocking Hills

I THINK this was Upper Falls.

We went to Upper Falls first, and on the way back towards Lower Falls we found a trail that went up into the hills towards Cedar Falls. We got pretty high up there, so I avoided the cliffs, while Thom lived on the edge (literally) to take some photos.

Hocking Hills

See, I like to take my photos AWAY from said cliffs.

It was maybe three miles to Cedar Falls (spoiler: I got turned around at one point and we went back after two miles), but we spent most of our time taking a gazillion snaps.

Hocking Hills

This tree was adorable.

Hocking Hills Hocking Hills

We made it all the way to the river before we headed back from whence we came. I was getting a bit fatigued at this point and needed all the snacks to refuel.

My hiking fuel of choice. The savory Kind bars are delish.

My hiking fuel of choice. The savory Kind bars are delish.

Once we connected to the main artery, we took the trail down to Lower Falls before calling it a day. At this point, my legs felt like rubber, but I was revived by all of the beauty around me.

Hocking Hills

Lower Falls

Next time, I hope to make it out to Ash Cave and Rock House, but there are closer trails on my list, so we’ll see. Keep your eye on this space.

Hocking Hills

If you would like to plan your own trip, check out this travel guide for trail maps and tips. Hocking Hills State Park is located on State Route 664 (follow the signs down through Logan) and closes at dark. We did not stay overnight, but  information on cabins and other accommodations can be found here.

Touring Bourbon Country

{by alexis}–As you may remember, my anniversary was last weekend. I love anniversaries (and birthdays, major and minor holidays, obscure holidays, and so on…) because I love any reason to celebrate. This year, we celebrated our second year of wedded bliss with a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, and a couple of stops along the bourbon trail.

My parents were headed down to Florida for an extended vacation (can I retire yet?), so they met us in Louisville to join in the fun. Because they are ridiculous and excessive, they decided that the only way to see the Bourbon Trail was from the backseat of a limo, capably handled by a professional driver. It’s not like I was going to argue. R&R Limos actually offers bourbon trail packages, so it’s clear they knew what they were doing.

r&r limousine lousivilleWe had a big breakfast at the Brown Hotel (more on that in an upcoming post), and the limo promptly arrived at 9:30 am. We cozied up in the backseat, and watched the countryside go by.

Riding around in the back of a limo is pretty okay. The company provided ice and water bottles, and we brought our own snacks. A handful of pretzels and a couple of Cheryl’s cookies will certainly cure any car sickness.

It turns out, the bourbon trail is pretty massive. There are more than a few distilleries in the area, and you’ll wind up doing quite a bit of driving. You can use either Lexington or Louisville as your home base. Lexington is a bit closer to the action, but Louisville won me over with their hotel and restaurant selection, and with what seems like a livelier urban setting.

After just over an hour, we arrived at our first stop: Heaven Hill. They are known for their Elijah Craig and Evan Williams brands, as well as their Bourbon Heritage Center. We got busy looking.

heaven hill

See all those big buildings behind the sign? They look like prison dormers, I know. Nope! They’re called rickhouses, and that’s where the bourbon lives while it’s going through the aging process. I’ll say I know quite a bit more about bourbon than I did last week at this time, but I am by no means an expert, so I’ll save the chemistry and history of bourbon for you to discover yourself when you head down to Kentucky.

Inside the Heritage Center are all kinds of exhibits, but what you see below was our favorite. You press a button, and stick your face in the end of that trumpet-looking device. A scented puff shoots up your nose to help you discern the differences between New Whiskey, 7- and 12-year-old bourbon. Such fun!

heaven hill bourbon heritage centerOnce the tour began, we got walking around with our fabulous guide Holly. She talked to us about the history of both bourbon and Heaven Hill, and then we wandered outside into the rickhouses. Apart from the house that allows tours, these buildings are entirely without electricity. The heating and cooling of the Kentucky weather is what makes the flavor what it is — so they let the elements have at the barrels. The buildings are MASSIVE.

heaven hill heaven hillHolly walked us through and told us all about how they handle these devilishly heavy barrels, answering questions all the while. This woman knew her bourbon.

Once we got back inside, it was time for the tasting! At Heaven Hill, you get to do this  inside their barrel tasting room, which — you guessed it! — looks like a giant whiskey barrel.

heaven hill tasting roomWe had a lovely set up with several samples as soon as we got there. I was SCARED. Whiskey is not exactly my drink, but I am an enthusiastic sampler.

heaven hillAs we got sipping, I was relieved to hear that drinking bourbon straight was not how it was intended, and that adding ice was the preferred drinking method. First, we tried a rye, which, like the bread, was totally and completely foul. Next, we moved onto the Larceny, and then the Elijah Craig fancy bourbon.

heaven hillPredictably, I liked the most expensive bottle the best. But I wouldn’t say I was converted yet. Actually, I’m embarrassed to admit that all we bought was some terrible bottle of egg nog (we are so close to the holiday season, I could pass out with anticipation), and let my parents take home a bottle of the Larceny.

Once back in the limo, we took a few winding country roads to the Maker’s Mark distillery.

This place was a thousand times busier (though that could have been due to our afternoon arrival), and unexpectedly gorgeous. They have a sort of compound with several small buildings scattered about the grounds, each one housing a different part of the process.

maker's markI mean, is this real life? I was pretty tempted to go run around the field looking for horses, but I had a tour to keep up with. We started with the distillery.

1011141347f_edited-1 1011141353a_edited-1This place was very loud and had a strong odor — not entirely disagreeable but it was certainly unique.

We moved into another room with giant vats of yeast-y whiskey. This room had an even stronger smell, and the yeast was…unsettling. You could literally see it foaming and bubbling. Joe kindly informed me that this movement was due to the teensy organisms eating and moving and multiplying. Charming.

maker's mark maker's markDon’t worry, we’re not breaking the rules! We were encouraged to sample the yeasty beasties, and I let Joe go ahead and take the plunge.

We gathered outside the loud building to ask questions.

1011141419_edited-1 1011141402_edited-1 1011141400a_edited-1I want to know why this place is so adorable and quaint! Apparently, the scarlet and grey paint job helps hide a natural staining that comes with the distilling process. Joe felt very much at home.

Next we went into the rickhouses. Very similar to Heaven Hill’s, though each distillery uses a different strategy to get their signature flavor. We stopped for a picture. I guarantee you’ll see this on my parents’ Christmas card this year.

IMG_2257_edited-1From there we headed to the bottling building. A surprisingly small operation for a name like Maker’s Mark. We saw the wax vats where they hand-dip the bottles every day. I was particularly taken with the building’s art: old Maker’s Mark advertisements!

maker's markOur next stop was, yes, the tasting room. Heaven Hill’s samplings had struck fear into my heart. You guys, bourbon is kind of brutal. I imagine it’s not too different than trying to eat coal. This time, I had four samples looming in front of me.

maker's markThanks to this handy little tasting mat, I didn’t have to do much note-taking here. On the far left is their Maker’s White, which is the distilled “new whiskey.” TOUGH. To the right is the traditional Maker’s Mark you can buy at any decent liquor store. This one was a pleasant surprise: I didn’t want to kill myself. The next is the Maker’s 46, which is supposed to be a smoother, sweeter version of traditional Maker’s. Lies. The last is the most tremendously terrible: The Cask Strength. You can’t even buy this bad boy outside of their gift shop. It is bourbon straight from the barrel: No dilution here. It’s supposed to be the smoothest, but that was another lie, and I generously shared my portion with Joe. And I’m not much for sharing.

We took this last glass of firewater into another surprise room. We know a little bit about this here in Columbus, actually.

maker's markYes, those are Chihuly glass pieces! They had a ceiling installation made for yet another rickhouse, and I admit it did cast a magical, warm glow over the room. Or perhaps that was 130 proof booze attacking my stomach. Either or.

Of course, this happy-making place dumps you out into the gift shop. But here is the best part: YOU CAN DIP YOUR OWN BOTTLE. It’s true! I was so inappropriately excited. I’m supposed to be an adult, and here I am clapping my hands with glee because I get to play with a vat of molten wax. I’m an infant. But check these out and TRY not to get excited.

maker's markmaker's markOf course, I told Joe we’d just have to buy some more if he planned on drinking bourbon, because that bottle could never be opened.

Even though I didn’t walk away a total bourbon convert, I had a wonderful time. The people we met along the way were all bourbon aficionados AND fabulously kind. They had an answer for every obscure question we asked! And I can get behind any group of people that takes booze so seriously. Thanks, Kentucky!

Columbus Italian Festival

{by: alicia} It’s been a year of firsts for me, as far as the festival circuit goes. This past summer I made it out to Festival Latino, and now I’ve managed to scratch the Italian Festival off my list. My sister had an extra ticket, and I had an idle afternoon, so we hopped in the Mini Cooper, making all sorts of “The Italian Job” jokes along the way. Typical behavior.

The priority was food (when isn’t it, though). Becker was on a mission to eat pasta and cannoli. DONE AND DONE.

Pasta from The Berwick

The pasta was from The Berwick and ah-mazing. What you see above is mushroom ravioli in cream sauce and the most delicious gnocchi in vodka sauce. I don’t even like mushrooms and wanted more.

And what’s a festival without a lemonade as big as your head?

Columbus Italian Festival

And food! Moar food!


Part two of the mission was spent in a ridiculously long line, but Becker would have done anything for a cannoli at this point. Once acquired, we made our way to St. John the Baptist Italian Catholic Church to join the crowd on the stairway.


Sister was molta contenta.


Afterwards, we stepped inside the church to check it out. There was a solo performance going on, so we took a seat and hung out for a minute. I admired the ceiling so much that I had to (sacrilegiously) take a photo.


The lovely interior of St. John’s.

Sister and I whispered that the church felt familiar, and later found out it was one of our late grandfather’s favorites, so this probably wasn’t our first visit. After that adorable coincidence, we wandered the festival grounds and checked out some of the booths. There was plenty of live music, rides for the kiddos, and tons of arts and crafts vendors. Italian Job completed, we made our way back to the car to plan our next heist: eating more things.

Miss the festival this year? No worries, there’s always next time. Bookmark the organizer’s  website for details about 2015.

Sunday Brunch at Ethyl & Tank

{by: alicia} It has come to my attention that we’re running out of new places to have brunch–we like long, lingering breakfasts, okay? Recently, Alexis and I had to get together to figure out some tech stuff (which meant it was going to be awhile), so deciding to do it over food was easy. The real issue was where and what food. After much thought, it occurred to me that we had talked about trying Ethyl & Tank once or twice, but never actually did it. Decision made, we gathered our laptops and met on campus for a long meal. But first, coffee.

Mocha for me, coffee for her.

Enormous mocha for me, thimble of coffee for her.

I think there was originally some foam art in my cup, so it was a little disappointing not to actually see it. No matter, the mocha was delicious. But if you’re looking for something a tad stronger, there is a Bloody Mary bar to cure what ails you.


While warming up with our beverages, we glanced over the menu and had the usual argument over who was ordering what (we get food envy quite often).

Ethyl & Tank MenuEver since our taco truck adventure, I have been having a love affair with anything that sort of resembles what we ate, so I immediately claimed the breakfast tacos.

Ethyl & Tank Breakfast Tacos

Egg, chorizo, avocado, lettuce, cheese, and cilantro sour cream on the side.

They weren’t quite as authentic (obvs), but they did the trick. While I’m a sucker for tacos, Alexis can never say no to corned beef and hash. Our server told us the corned beef is made in-house, plus it came in an iron skillet, so I think she made a good choice.

Corned Beef & HashWe stayed for awhile to solve our technology woes (still not solved), and I liked that though we were checked on often, we didn’t feel like we had to rush out. After a hilarious live chat with tech support (holler at Braxton C.), we decided to call it a day, but first we went upstairs to check out the second level.

Birdseye view.

Birdseye view.

There’s plenty of seating on the second level if you want to get away from the hubbub, plus there’s the added benefit of an arcade.


Real talk: I hate Rampage, but Street Fighter II is my jam–I was always Dhalsim. Those long limbs were unstoppable.


As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. I’d call it a coffee shop/pub/choose your own adventure. It’s really whatever you want it to be. Want to have a latte and do some work? You do you. Would you rather watch the game and have a brew? Go for it. A quick meal? They’ve got you. Need a stress break in the arcade? I think you know where I’m going with this, so I’ll stop and give you the details.

Ethyl & Tank is located at 19 E. 13th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio. Hours are Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.