Looking Back on 2014

It’s been quite a year for us! Since meeting you, we’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, and made more than a few changes between the two of us. We’re grateful for all of you, readers, as well as the wonderful people we’ve met in this world of Columbus bloggers. Tonight, we’re going to eat too much, wear a few too many sparkles, and toast with too many glasses of champagne. But, before it’s entirely behind us, here are some highlights from 2014.

{Alicia’s Year at a Glance}

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February: First blog post on Wander & Whine
March: Anniversary trip to New Orleans where I ate and saw all the things
May: Roadtripped to Nashville (Pt. I + II)
July: Spent a day in Savannah | Lounged in Hilton Head | Fell in love with Charleston | Ate everything in sight
August: Started a new job
September: Looked back on an amazing summer
October: Took in the beauty at Hocking Hills
November: Wandered to NYCProceeded to eat everything

*My Most Popular Post: Made LOCAL Market
*My Favorite Post of Alexis’: Helloween at Double Comfort. She was live texting me during the event, and the sheer drama and YELLING made me laugh out loud. Plus, the gif she uses from Clue–“Flames on the side of my face”–was too perfect.
*My Favorite Post to Write: I had a lot of fun compiling my favorite places in Las Vegas #tbt. Rereading it makes me want to plan another visit!


{Alexis’ Year at a Glance}

village lights | wander & whine

February: First blog post on Wander & Whine
March: St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago
May: Had some hits and misses in San Diego | Birthday celebrations left and right
June: Started a new job | Was an audience member at Cash Explosion 36 hours in Vegas
July: Spent a week in the Thumb
September: Cheered on the Columbus Clippers
October: Toured Bourbon Country | Ate well in Louisville | Bachelorette Party in D.C.
November: Further adventures in D.C.

*My Most Popular Post: Fried Chicken Heaven at Double Comfort
*My Favorite Post of Alicia’s: I have to say I love Alicia’s obsession with Tacos Hass. I STILL haven’t made it up there (Dublin, why are you so far!), but when I get there I know exactly what to order!
*My Favorite Post to Write: Has to be my visit to 16-Bit Bar + Arcade and Dirty Frank’s. It’s my favorite bar in Columbus, and, NBA JAM.

Thanks for reading, today, and all the days. We promise to keep it coming in 2015, and we hope you’ll go along for the ride!

NYC Food Diary

{by: alicia} If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I did my fair share of eating on my recent jaunt to NYC. For those of you who missed out, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Since my time was limited, I was on a mission to have some favorites that I can’t eat otherwise. Namely, Shake Shack:

Shake Shack

Santa, if you can hear me, I’d love a location in Columbus for Christmas. Having to go through life without these concretes, cheese fries, and burgers with ShackSauce is a cruel existence.

Also, what’s up with the lack of Korean fried chicken in my neck of the woods? There is nothing more bomb than chimek, and Bon Chon knows how to do it properly. Everything is double fried, crispy, and that spicy sauce is to die. Washed down with some Hite…omg, I could live off this.

Bon Chon Chicken

Just kidding, Santa. I need a Bon Chon for Christmas as well.

I was also on a mission to have my fill of dessert. Some of these treats are worth the plane ride alone. Like the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery. Screw the cupcakes, guys. You don’t want to miss this. I didn’t even think I liked banana pudding. That is, until I consumed this fluffy, whipped dream.

Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery

Wahhhh! I miss you!

We also stood in the world’s longest line for a crack at some goodies from Momofuku Milk Bar (worth it). Even typing the name brings a wistful tear to my eye. The fact I can’t eat their cereal milk soft serve on any given day makes me want to SOB. And the birthday cake truffles. UGH, THE TRUFFLES. Do yourself a solid and order some for Christmas.

Cereal Milk Soft Serve from Momofuku Milk Bar

Omgggg, the cereal milk soft serve lives up to the hype.

Unpictured are the goodies I got from Sprinkles, but here’s a shot of some Baked By Melissa. These bite-sized cupcakes are all the rage, but I am strangely unimpressed. Maybe they were too small for my taste.

I mean, these were good, but...

I mean, these were good, but…

There were also some delicious surprises I encountered. After the disastrous news that the wait at Clinton Street Bakery was two hours, we went across the street to Ariel’s for what turned out to be a tasty breakfast.

Breakfast at Ariel's

I also missed out on the honey toast from Caffebene, but their strawberry cream waffle was an excellent consolation prize:

Waffle from Caffebene

And we stumbled upon this casual spot on the Upper East Side devoted to churros (called Le Churro, natch). Churros are underrated, I say. Would it be greedy to add a Le Churro to my Christmas list on top of everything else? I didn’t think so either.

Le Churro

You can pick your dipping sauce–I went with hazelnut chocolate.

To me, a huge part of travel involves the food. This also applies to souvenirs.

Foodie souvenir

My spoils from Milk Bar and Korea Town.

Who needs another shot glass or some kitschy thing they’ll never use? Not me. The only problem is my stash was gone 48 hours after I returned home. Whoops, but that’s what Expedia is for, right? On to the next, I say. I’m not sure where/when that will be, but you can be certain I’ll be eating everything in sight.

Wandering NYC

NYC

{by: alicia} The last time we spoke, I was heading out to attend a conference in NY. That was over a week ago. My absence can mostly be attributed to falling ill (DO get your flu shots, people), and projects ramping up at work.

But I thought it’d still be nice to do a quick photo essay of some of the highlights from my trip. Just as I suspected, a majority of my time was spent working, but I managed to squeeze in some fun. There was really no game plan (other than the 800 things I planned on eating), so I spent most of my free time tromping around the city, and making the odd stop at the New York Public Library or whatever struck my fancy.

Made my way into the Met.

Like this sexy beast.

What I love about NYC (among many other things) is the absolute randomness of the people and its surroundings. Like the Hare Krishna who insisted on blessing me (um, thanks?) and this next photo that could only be described as genius:

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM in NYC

Genius.

Yes, I had a cupcake or three (plus a bonus cookie for dessert). I needed the extra fuel for the massive amount of walking I was doing. No complaints on my end. I love to explore whenever I’m in a new city, and I actually enjoy walking when it’s not frigid out. The weather was in the 50s and 60s that week, so I really lucked out. I also love New York at Christmas, so it was a double bonus to see that everything was already looking festive–even though I kind of hate how early it comes about.

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Shut up and look at the nice lights, Scrooge.

Skating at Bryant Park

Skating at “Brr”yant Park.

Seester came down to see me once the conference was over, and we positively frolicked about much to everyone else’s dismay:

This might be my favorite photo of sister and her boyfriend. I cannot stop laughing.

This might be my favorite photo of sister and her boyfriend.

Becker and I have similar interests, so you can only imagine the amount of fooderies we visited in that small window of time. I think at one point we had like three desserts in a span of an hour–it was AWESOME, and worthy of its own separate post (done and done).

The rooftop bar at my hotel was also awesome. Overpriced as all get out, but not a bad spot to have a nightcap. I mean, the Empire State Building is right in front of you. Not much to complain about.

Strand Rooftop Hotel

Photo stolen from Becker.

That is, until it’s time to go back home.

Alexis Goes to Washington

{by alexis}–It hasn’t been long since my last trip to DC, but this past weekend, we went back to celebrate the marriage of one of my dearest friends. Yes, it was a busy few days, with rehearsal dinners, too-tight heels, and about a million champagne toasts, but we did have enough time to do a bit of sight-seeing. In case you missed my jam-packed Instagram, I thought I’d share a few — okay, more than a few — of my favorite snaps from the memorable weekend.

We landed on Thursday, and, while we waited for our room at the Mayflower Renaissance, we did a bit of wandering.

washington dc washington dc washington dcAnd it took a little doing, but we did finally find that big White House.

the white houseAfter a margarita-fueled rehearsal dinner, we rested up for the main event the next day. And check out the bridal bouquet that B carried down the aisle, from Uncloudy Studio!

bridal bouquet from Uncloudy Studio in DCYou know I’m a sucker for flowers, and these are TO DIE FOR. The textures are so varied and complex, I had to force myself to keep from snatching it from her perfectly manicured hands. Fortunately, I did get to carry my own miniature version. Here we are at the head table for dinner.

1107142001g_edited-1Turns out, we clean up pretty nice, but we’ve got nothing on the bride and groom.

1107142019a_edited-1I confess to shamelessly clinking my glass to stage this picture. Sorry, B!

The next day I woke up unpredictably fresh and chipper, so we started the day’s tour at the Library of Congress.

the library of congressWe wandered down past the Capitol. The scaffolding on the dome really brought down my pics, so I’ll leave it to google to prove to you how pretty the building is. Eventually, we found our way to the Botanic Gardens, and look at this treasure inside!

the botanical gardenThe view outside wasn’t too shabby either.

1108141411b_edited-1We made our way into the Air & Space Museum just a bit down the road.

smithsonian air and space museum

We even managed to track down the Saturn V. My grandpa worked on the development of the booster, so we were pretty moved to stand before it, especially given the size of the thing.

Saturn V at the Air and Space MuseumLater, we caught the game at a sports bar near the hotel, and I even got to catch up with the fabulous Sofia, behind one of our favorite blogs, Caviar & Quarters. She’ll whip you into prime financial shape!

It was a busy weekend, but we got to see a lot of beautiful things, even during our short visit. Weddings are such fun on their own, but add in a setting like this and they really shine. And really, what’s better than watching one of your closest friends say “I do”? I can’t think of a better reason to drink a few bottles of champagne.

CMH -> JFK

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Me in NYC, Circa 2012. IT’S BEEN TOO LONG.

{by: alicia} I think when most people are about to go on a business trip, their to-do list looks a lot like this:

{Normal person’s list}
-Bring business cards
-Confirm hotel reservations/flights
-Pack laptop/phone/chargers
-Grab marketing materials for conference
-And so on and so forth

Then you have my list (my fellow foodies will understand):

{An excerpt from my actual NYC planning list}
-Shake Shack
-Momofuku Milk Bar
-Bon Chon (EAT ALL THE CHIMEK)
-Popbar (I don’t care if it’s cold outside)
-ACQUIRE CRONUT AT ALL COSTS
-This list goes on for like 10 more pages

Priorities, people.

Though there will most certainly be work during this trip, I’ve scheduled time for play (code word for eating). My sister’s on the East Coast now, so she’ll be joining me for some gallivanting this weekend. Feel free to stalk my Instagram if you’re in the mood to vicariously eat what I eat! I’ll be back with a recap next week.

I know Alexis is a teeny bit jealous of my upcoming New York wanderings, but she’ll be taking a trip of her own this weekend to Washington DC. I’m sure her Instagram will also be hopping, in case you’d like to tag along with both parts of our dynamic duo.

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!

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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!

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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.

cincinnati