Sunday, August 7, 2016

Wednesday August 3, 2016: Taste of Hilliard: How to Successfully Navigate Food Sample Events
This year was perhaps my third or fourth visit to the event, and my husband, Andrew accompanied me. Our feelings after attending the first time were, 'a bit too crowded for our liking' as there's not a lot of room to move around, and being a family friendly event, lots of kids in attendance either in strollers or running all over the place. I wasn't sure we'd ever attend again. That being said, I was hoping for a night off in the kitchen (and Andrew didn't volunteer to cook), so we decided to cough up the $15 each for a chance to dodge strollers, motorized scooters, and all manner of people as we made our way around the two rooms in which the event is held.
To the event organizers' credit, at least the layout makes sense in that they (for the most part) kept the food vendors around the outside of the rooms and the various organizations on the inside.
Unlike last year when I attended with my sister and her friend, and I absolutely gorged myself, I decided to take a more organized approach. Here are my recommendations:
1) Arrive as early as you can. Vendors only bring a limited amount of food, and some definitely bring more than others. If you arrive late, you will either miss out on some items, or perhaps luck out and find a vendor who will give you multiples of their samples wishing to get rid of their inventory at the end of the evening.
[Taste of Hilliard runs from 4:30-7:30pm and I don't usually arrive much before 6pm].
2) Survey the samples before making your choices. Yes, you run the risk of missing out on something by not striking while the iron is hot, but it's also how you quickly fill up and then don't have room for the gourmet delights at a table in the adjoining room. For example, there were perhaps half a dozen different pizza places there. Unless you really like pizza (and have a bottomless stomach), you probably have a favorite one or two among them, so just get samples from them.
[I was a bit antsy watching my husband begin sampling straight away, but I stuck to my guns, for the most part.]
3) Finish one sample before grabbing a second. Most of the time you will probably have your hands full anyway, so unless you start pocketing your food (you can do this with the cookies though, which I definitely recommend), you probably won't be able to carry more than one or two things anyway. You could bring a tray and load it up with samples, but I've never seen anyone do that, and not sure they would allow it.
[I mostly did this, but occasionally juggled a couple items at a time.]
4) Start with the main courses and make all your selections before moving on to the desserts. That's the mom rule. Once you finish your dinner and eat all your vegetables, then you can have dessert.
[I had no trouble sticking to this rule and am glad I followed it, though I think I probably ate far more desserts than I did main courses, so perhaps I should have striven for a better balance.]
5) If you try and sample and aren't sure you like it, you don't have to finish it. This goes against the mom rule. 'Don't you know there's people starving in a third world country!' However, why waste valuable space in your stomach when there's so many different things to try?
[Dumped my crab cake (too bready) and a piece of salmon (found a bone). Finished everything else.]

6) Try new places before filling up on the ordinary (i.e., chain restaurants) or the places you've had time and again. For instance, McDonald's had a table. Most of us have eaten there countless times ever since our infancy, so it's unlikely they'll have something you've never eaten before.

[Though in my case I don't think I've ever had one of their apple pies, so I took the whole one they offered me.]
7) Don't forget to stay hydrated. To keep your hands free, I recommend grabbing a bottle of water (usually one of the vendors offers those) that you can stash in your goodie bag. Otherwise, you can get water at the bar and stash your empty cup in your goodie bag (but it's a hassle to keep going back for refills).
8) After you're full up on samples, walk around and check out some of the vendors. Though you may not be looking for a rest home for your parents or a new insurance provider, some have great freebies and it's always nice to network and have a chat with people from your community.

[Last year my sister and I brought home a ton of booty. This year I was a lot more selective and just grabbed a notepad, some measuring spoons (they were actually thrust on me), and a free magazine. My husband chose a plastic cup with a lid and a ping pong ball for our cat.]

9) Rather than go home and lie bloating on your couch regretting how much you ate, hit the trail. Hilliard's Walking Trail/Bike Path is adjacent to the parking lot and runs for several miles. Take a stroll and work off some of the calories. Your waistline will thank you later.
[We did this and I definitely felt a little less guilty afterwards.]

10) Each city seems to have their own version of this. Some charge a flat rate for all-you-can-eat, whereas others you pay at each vendor. Some have musical accompaniment and other entertainment, whereas others it's just about the food. It's fun to attend each event at least once, then perhaps only go to your favorite(s).
[We've attended Taste of Upper Arlington (now called Taste of Tri-Village), Taste of Worthington, and Taste of Dublin.]

Friday, August 5, 2016: 29th Annual Dublin Irish Festival

Tonight my husband and I attended the 29th annual Irish Festival. To be honest, I wasn’t really bothered either way. As hot and sticky as it’s been lately (welcome to July in Ohio!), I wasn’t sure I wanted the hassle of having to walk and catch a shuttle while carrying a backpack full of my work clothes and my somewhat heavy Nook tablet which I had used earlier in the day. However, since it was my husband, Andrew’s idea to attend, and since he so rarely suggests social outings, I felt his initiative should be rewarded. We arranged to meet up around 6pm, at which point we walked back to his car so I could deposit my backpack and lighten my load.

I was pleased that the one food truck I wanted to visit, Gosia’s Pierogies, wasn’t very far from the SW entrance. It was located in what they call the ‘Temple Bar Food Court,’ so named for the Bohemian section of Dublin, Ireland called Temple Bar. While I purchased my pierogies, Andrew got his dinner from the Celtic Pig. We took our food over to the Celtic Rock Stage tent and ate there while enjoying what can best be described as ‘Irish Rock’ by a group called Whiskey of the Damned. In fact, we were both so taken with them that Andrew decided it was time to sit and enjoy a Guinness while I got a cup of Pinot Grigio.

After they finished their set Andrew said he was quite happy to just walk around for awhile, so we browsed the many Celtic/Scottish/Welsh/British items for sale in the marketplace stalls. Not wishing to overspend before our big trip next week, I only purchased a small Ireland sticker (the kind they give you when you take a car over on a ferry crossing) and a super cute purse that looks like a little kilt (had a hard time trying to choose between red, green or purple tartan, but went with the green).
Having left Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream stand far behind, Andrew’s mouth started to water when we saw the Wendy’s booth had various size Frostys quite cheap, so we split a $3 medium, then wandered in and out of various musical areas and quite enjoyed listening to Solas while having our second drink of the evening. When in Rome….
Since it was getting so late and so near to the time that Gaelic Storm was supposed to go on (at 10pn), we decided to just stick around a little longer and hear a song or two to see what all the fuss was about. Apparently most of the other festival goers had the same idea as people were standing and sitting all sprawled out in the area around the tent as if it was the Fourth of July. When they finally did go on, we only stayed for one song and really weren’t impressed. Perhaps we built them up too much, or maybe they just had a slow start, but we weren’t drawn to stick around.

All in all a pretty great evening, and it certainly cooled down a bit once the sun went down (though it was still quite humid). I wouldn’t mind just going in the evening next year. After all, life is too short not to eat, drink and be merry!

Monday, August 1, 2016

A "Fair" Weekend

Friday July 29, 2016

This weekend we saw the latest Woody Allen picture, “Café Society,” which is pretty typical Woody Allen fare. Boy meets girl. Girl already has boyfriend. Boy falls in love with girl, etc. Being a Woody Allen movie you can probably guess it doesn’t end happily, but life doesn’t always have a happy ending, so at least it’s somewhat realistic in that sense.

I love how Hollywood was depicted in the early days of motion pictures (the sound era) when Ginger Rogers and Judy Garland were still ingénues, and the concrete was barely dry on the Walk of Fame. I would have loved to have been alive then when things were still exciting and new in Hollywood.
Paired with “The Great Gatsby” you’d have a perfect weekend of glitz, glamour and the golden age of Hollywood.

Saturday, July 30, 2016
Today we went to the Ohio State Fair. I last recall having visited in 2007 when I went with my sister and her family along with my parents who were visiting. Here’s what I remember of that day:

It was hot! (it's always hot during the fair).
Ashley and I paid .50 to see the world's smallest horse. We weren't allowed to take pictures, so I don't have evidence on film.
Ashley participated in one of the shows where they asked a bunch of kids to crouch on the ground in a row while a dog jumped over them - Evil Knieval style. Quite cute.
Ashley did the attraction where they strap you in and you get bounced around like being a bug in a web made out of bungee cords.

Ashley threw up in the hay wagon shuttle on the way back to the parking lot.

This year it was hot again, but only mid 80s, and a little cloudy early on.
We saw two shows - the Retriever dogs in Action (more discipline lessons than actual action; left after about a half an hour);
and the All-Ohio State Fair Band which do a show mid afternoon complete with drum majors taking turns showing off their baton twirling skills. I'm still waiting for one of them to throw up the baton and have it come down on someone's head (like it often did when Karen and I played with ours when we were young).

Sampled some of the bad-for-you, but oh-so-good fair food. I had a deep fried peanut butter & jelly sandwich and Andrew had a strip of bacon on a stick that had been coated in maple syrup, among other things (apparently not very filling as he later had french fries and a Klondike bar).

As far as animals go, we walked by the chicken cages (they were near a stall selling old printer blocks) and the sheep pens; also saw some very bloated cows.
My favorite thing was a tie between all the art & contest entries, and getting to tour a genuine tiny house (maybe 200-250 square feet) and an Airstream trailer (which was much preferable to me).

All in all a pretty affordable day out, especially as we brought our own water and just refilled our bottles at one of the water fountains. I only spent $8 on food, $8 on souvenirs (also won a free t-shirt), and $6@ on discount tickets.

 Have a good week & a great month everyone!