thursday things – what i ate on vacation

On my trip back east, I flew 5,393 miles, drove 850 miles, and ate an incalculable number of calories. Well, I’m sure they are calculable, but I think it’s best not to calculate them.

In Boston I had the best lobster roll that I’ve ever eaten in my entire life at Neptune Oyster. It’s also the only lobster roll I’ve ever eaten in my life, but it is the dish that every piece of lobster I consume afterward will be measured against.

We wandered around Boston’s own Little Italy, and snacked on some pastries from Modern Pastry. We had breakfast Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery, where her infamous sticky bun lived up to its hype.

We had and an amazing dinner at, Myers + Chang some pretty legit barbecue from Sweet Cheeks Q (despite the short ribs being a bit tough, and not being able to try their biscuits because apparently they are made of gold and they don’t give them to you for take out, even if you’re going to pay a lofty $10 for them).

Oh, and we probably ate our weight in Pinkberry. Pinkberry is famous for a reason, people. Their amazing luxe toppings, which I gave a variety of less-than-appetizing names to describe them…they taste way better than they look, by the way. But I’m sure you can think of some creative names based on their looks…

Anything??? Anything at all?? No???

We did some touristy things too… visited the Boston Museum of Science, a brief walkthrough of Harvard University, and a Duck Boat Tour of Boston… all in all a pretty great time.

Then, I ate my way through Ohio, while visiting the family of course. I even earned a “most frequently visited place” on facebook for Mr. Freeze which as far as I’m concerned is the best soft serve ice cream ON THE PLANET. It appears my beautiful nieces and nephews agree.

If you ever find yourself stuck in Toledo, Ohio (I pray you never do), you must go to Mr. Freeze. Assuming it’s summer, and they are open. I recommend anything, but the Hot Fudge Cake and Strawberry Shortcake sundaes always hold a special place in my heart (and belly).

In Columbus I usually have the same lineup – Northstar Café, China Dynasty, Pattycake Bakery, Pistacia Vera, Happy Greek, and then whatever else I can fit in. Le Chatelain, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, etc… You can check out the best spots (according to me) to eat in Cbus here.

Now I feel the need to go on some sort of intense workout/cleanse routine, but I’m sure that feeling will pass. I’m excited to get back to baking this weekend… I’ve got a pie crust ready to go… just no clue what exactly I’m going to do with it…

In non-vacation news…

I’ve been drooling over Shannon’s “Best Oatmeal Ever” over at her blog A Periodic Table. I pray that I get the motivation to make it over the weekend.

and these chicken cheesesteaks from How Sweet It Is

Oh my gosh… and THESE bars from Savory Simple… everything I love all smooshed together into one glorious dessert bar.

and even though it’s still a thousand degrees out, I’ve got Fall Fever and started my Fall Flavors board on Pinterest.

I-O

Happy Halloween! Before we begin Ohio Part Deux, I just wanted to let you know that cake balls are still exhausting to make. Also, white chocolate does not coat as cleanly as candy coating, so if you were thinking you might try it… just buy the right stuff :)

In addition to raining for the entire time that I was in Ohio, the rain also decided to follow me to the desert. What a jerk, right? On the up side, I got to see a rainbow right over our house. So I guess that makes it worth it? … No gold though. Bummer…

So back to the second installment of WHAT TO EAT IN COLUMBUS …

To review, the places we’ve discussed so far are:

Pistacia Vera – french macarons

Pattycake Bakery – sticky buns (saturdays) & whoopie pies, and sugar cookies

Jeni’s – ice cream

Northstar Cafeeverything… especially cookies, cloud pancakes, and burgers; NOT flatbreads (thanks, bff)

 If you missed part 1, you may view it here

Since people need real food, too, check out Happy Greek. It’s the best (that I’ve had) in Columbus. I mean, maybe next to the gyro cart that hangs out near the gateway in between the bars and BFF’s apartment… but that’s another story altogether.

Happy Greek is located in short north. On top of having an amazing happy hour with $4 martinis and super cheap apps, their spicy chicken pita is amazing and their gyros are pretty solid, too. Actually, all of their dips are great… except the eggplant one, but I’m sure that people who love eggplant love that one. It’s just not really my thing. My fav is the spinach feta dip (which I have yet to recreate and I have not been able to find anywhere else), skordalia, which is garlicky-potato dip, and they have a pretty solid hummus and tzatziki as well, served with their warm, fluffy pita bread. They also have saganaki (flaming cheese) which is next to impossible to find in Phoenix. I’m going to spare you guys because we forgot about taking it before we smashed the food, and it’s all half eaten by the time we took the picture… oops?

Thanks to Serious Eats, I had to try a new place this trip too. A hole-in-the-wall pizza place called Rubinos. They serve a pizza with a cracker-thin, yet surprisingly crisp, crust adorned with the usual suspects of pizza companions – pepperoni, sausage, etc… We got there like 8 minutes before they closed and had to get it to go – it’s not the kind of pizza that really travels well so BFF and I sat in her car and ate it like savages. Worth it. Needless to say, no pictures available… Actually, maybe SE has one I can borrow…

photo from seriouseats.com. NOT MINE.

In fact, since I was feeling a little “under the weather” when we went, and we were forced to eat it in BFF’s car in the rain, while trying not to make a mess or burn myself with the molten cheese, you can check out SE’s much more romantic sounding dissertation here.

Another new place I tried on this trip was the Rossi, which is a cute little bar/restaurant right on High Street. A little pricy, but not bad. BFF LOVED the pizza, which I didn’t really see anything amazing about. I must’ve been missing something though because she really really loved it… maybe I’ll have to give it another shot. Our dining companions got a glorified ham and cheese sandwich and some AMAZING braised short ribs. They do have an interesting, fancy-pants cocktail menu, though, and it’s a cute little place that’s probably worth checking out. Again, a little bit on the pricy side… just sayin’.

Not to regress to pastries, but La Chatelain in Upper Arlington has AMAZING french pastries, fresh fruit tartlettes, baguettes, mousse, etc… also killer french omelets in the morning.

No trip to Columbus is complete without a stop at North Market, which has fresh produce and food vendors galore (and a Jeni’s booth). I missed it this trip, maybe that’s why I left Ohio feeling so unfulfilled…

I totally forgot to photograph, and tell you about, China Dynasty (also in Upper Arlington) – get the sesame chicken, szchuan green beans, and potstickers. So yummy. If you visit their website, don’t hold their jingle against them. Just give them a try :)

Last, but not least, my one honorable mention in Toledo is Cake-in-a-Cup. You may recognize them from Food Network’s cupcake wars. I was expecting this to be just another overrated bakery, but these cupcakes were seriously good. Of course, my favorite was the peanut butter… the frosting on top was DIVINE. Although the snickerdoodle cupcake was good, I didn’t think the marshmallow frosting was the right match for it. The cookies-and-cream cupcake was another winner, with a whole Oreo cookie hiding inside! $2.50/ea is way cheap in the gourmet cupcake world, so definitely give this place a try if you ever find yourself in Toledo, OH.

 

O-H

Apologies in advance – WP and/or my browser are having a few … issues … today. So some of the pictures are blurry, some of the formatting may be off, just wanted to get it DONE and posted :)

Once upon a time ago, this blog began as a way to chronicle a trip that BFF and I made to NYC. In that spirit, I suppose it’s only fitting to provide you with our food guide to Columbus, which is a trip I try to make at least once a year. It’s not necessarily a “best of” Columbus, but definitely my/our favorite places to eat. So if you ever find yourself in that area of Ohio, you’ll know what’s worth stopping for. Even if it is going to torrential downpour during your entire trip. Come to think of it, it rained for the entire NYC trip too… hmmmmmmmm. [ WARNING: All of these pics are phone-cam ]

the birthday girl –
Except that one… stole that one from my sissy.
 
Let’s start at the beginning – We started off the trip in Toledo celebrating my niece’s 7th birthday. Honestly, it had been so long since I saw my nieces and nephews I kinda thought they wouldn’t even remember me. They may not have at first… but they warmed up pretty fast. I guess that’s what counts, right?
 
There was a slight hitch in my plans to head to Columbus, caused by some random delinquent throwing a giant rock through the back window of my rental car. WHO DOES THAT? Seriously! Of course I didn’t have the rental insurance… I mean, honestly, who buys that anyway?
 
It should be covered by the credit card I used to rent it… but still. It was a bit of an ordeal to swap cars out. I taped up the window totally ready to run my errands without a back window and worry about it later, but every little bump I hit caused more glass to shatter… if you’ve ever driven in or around Toledo, OH (or anywhere in Michigan/Ohio), then you will know that the roads are a little bit bumpy… just a bit… 
 
After driving all over town in a busted up rental car, to more than one rental car location, I finally found a location that was able to switch the car out for me.Side note – why can’t anyone at Budget ever answer their phones? Is there a reason only one person is ever working at any location at any given point in time? Can they really not afford to have a second person on staff? Really?? What happened to customer service? That’s a whole separate rant altogether… let’s move on to the more delicious side of life, shall we?
 
Mmm, pancakes.
 
I got into Columbus late Tuesday night, so my first official food stop was the following morning for my Cloud 9 pancakes and BFF’s favorite Prosciutto & Poached Eggs at Northstar Cafe. We hit the one in Easton (the prosciutto/eggs isn’t available at the one near campus). The pancakes are so fluffy I could die, and come adorned with sliced fresh bananas.
 
If you’re looking for something more savory, the prosciutto and poached eggs come on garlicky rosemary focaccia with arugula…. oh, and it’s amazing. Seriously. So good.If you find yourself at a Northstar that does not have the prosciutto & eggs, feel free to give the frittata a try. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.
For lunch, even if you’re not a fan of veggie burgers in general, Northstar’s veggie burger will change your life. Even the fiercest carnivore’s mind will be blown at the awesomeness that is the “Norhtstar (veggie) Burger”. Somehow, their regular burger is EVEN BETTER (also not available at the campus location – but if you’re being touristy, you’d probably rather be in the Easton area anyway).
 
If we’re still in breakfast mode here, Pattycake Bakery has sticky buns that will make your knees buckle. Unfortunately, they’re only available on Saturdays, so I missed them this trip. No worries, though, I still found $20 of baked goods to take back home – including my favorite sugar cookies in the whole world, a classic whoopie pie, and peanut butter cake ball… No big deal…pic from pattycakeveganbakery.com 

pic from pattycakeveganbakery.com

Lingering on baked goods for a little while longer, let’s discuss the french macaron shall we? Are you all familiar with these wonderful little pastries? The cookies are basically made out of almonds (or pistachios, or another nut), sugar, and egg white, then you put a buttercream or ganache in the middle and voila – bite-size happiness. Your place to find these, and other Parisian delights, is Pistacia Vera.so nice of it to stop raining long enough for me to take this picture…

In addition to macarons, they also have a variety of tarts, nougats, croissants, pain au chocolate, and palmiers. But you must try a macaron. Must. Let’s revel in their splendor a moment, shall we?

Are you reveling?

Despite that it was cold and rainy my whole trip, I still had to stop at Jeni’s and try all the flavors. If you’ve been around awhile, you’re already familiar with my deep-seeded love for Jeni’s.

My top 3 are, of course, salty caramel, buckeye state, and askinosie chocolate. Feel free to sample them all, they don’t mind. I am pretty sure I sample all of the flavors every time I go, otherwise how could you possibly make an educated guess about which to choose? I did learn for the first time on this trip that I can sample the ice cream sandwiches too, which I did not know. So of course I had to sample those as well.

Below are: Salty caramel, dark chocolate, and buckeye state for me (in back). Cherry lambic, vanilla bean, and lemon yogurt for BFF (in front – since she took the picture) :)

I know there is more to eat in life than breakfast and dessert (besides a Northstar burger), but if I cram all of that into one post it will be too big to read… Assuming it isn’t already too big to read…

 So, TO BE CONTINUED….