Monday, February 28, 2011
Our family has a soft spot for Henry D. Thoreau, the New England author whose books have inspired the love of nature in many of us.
Walden Pond in Massachusetts, as I am sure most of you are familiar with (at least as a title of a book), is a special place to our family. Both my husband and I went to schools not too far from this infamous pond. Because of that, we have many fond memories of swimming across the pond with dear friends, visiting it during all the four seasons, taking our children there to make their own memories.
Best of all, both of our children learned how to swim at Walden, in the sandy, shallow end of the pond. How cool is that?
And so when we saw that there is a pond named after our beloved author who spent a whole lot of time by one of our favorite places, we had to check it out (and I am naively assuming that the pond was named after the author...I could be wrong!). It sits in the middle of Walden Waterfowl Refuge at Blendon Woods Metro Park.
Yesterday's spring like weather was perfect for a little outing. The sun was out, the temperature hovered around 60 degrees, birds were chirping wildly.
Thoreau's lake is only 0.3 miles from the nature center at Blendon Woods - an easy walk on a paved path that leads visitors to two separate viewing areas. These hide-outs allow us to watch the wildlife in and around the pond. There were several kinds of birds there yesterday: ducks, geese, even a white swan.
I can only imagine how lovely Thoreau's lake will be in the spring time with vegetation bursting out of dormancy. It's not far away now... I think we can all feel it in the air.
4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road
Westerville, OH 43081
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
It was not the most ideal day to go to the zoo, I admit. The temperature was hovering freezing, and getting colder. The rain was steady, and starting to change to wintry mix (my favorite term, but not my favorite kind of weather). But the kids were out of school, and we had talked about going to the zoo on this very day for two reasons. One, we had not gone there yet. Two, it's free-admission day (who can say no to that?). And as long as it was not a blizzard out there, we were going to the zoo.
The main attraction, of course, was the polar bear. The zoo made it easy for us to find the bears with large white paw prints on the ground leading us to them from the entrance. These arctic beasts were fun to watch, but I did wonder how they felt living in a place with virtually no snow, or ice. And with a lot of crazy people watching and taking pictures of them. But that's another story.
We also wanted to visit the Asian elephants whose original home-land, I am quite certain, is the same as mine. Sadly, they had just lost one of the adult elephants, Coco, a few days ago, so the zoo is down to four elephants. The youngest, Bodhi is barely two years old. He's adorable, and lovely to watch. He is one of the few male elephants in this country (one of about 20, I was told). Most elephants in the US are females, or so I learned today.
We wandered around a bit more, knowing that we had to return for a more complete visit. But we will save that for a warmer and dryer day! Plus we had a date that we could not miss.
Aside from this President's Day freebie, the zoo admission fee is half-price through the end of February. Parking is $5 regardless of when you go, however.
I have my reservations about zoos in general, but the Columbus zoo seems to be as good as one could get. And with children who are always hungry to see and learn about animals, you just can't go wrong making a trip to this worthwhile place.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
4850 West Powell Road
Powell, Ohio 43065
P.O. Box 400
Monday, February 21, 2011
It's not often that my husband, the man in a white coat who does not get to discover new places much, suggests a dining destination for the family.
Today was one of those rare days. The kids were out of school, and we were heading north (I guess I go north more than I realize) to visit some animals at the zoo for the first time (more on that later!).
My husband suggested that we all meet for lunch (also a very rare event) at a brand new place to me: Cafe Ephesus.
We all enjoy middle Eastern food quite a bit, and have not gone to any place that we could delight in that type of cuisine here in Columbus (I know there are many, but not sure where to go).
The children were delighted to dip pita bread in hummus and fresh yogurt flavored with fresh dill.
We also got a couple of their Kabab lunch items that came with rice pudding to end the meal. Our daughter shamelessly devoured some pomme-frites (I just can't bring myself to writing the English version down here. We were at a Turkish restaurant people!).
I would go back here in a heart-beat...if it was not so far out of our way. But again, maybe I do get up north more than I realize...
6720 Perimeter Loop Road
Dublin, OH 43017-3202
Sunday, February 20, 2011
As far as I know, there are two food co-ops in town, one in Bexley, and the other in Clintonville.
Whenever I can, I do prefer to get groceries from food co-ops such as these ones. I have been to a few in my life. Santa Cruz, our old hometown, doesn't have co-ops per se, but does have a plethora of natural food stores. There are so many of them that I believe Whole Foods will have to fight hard to stay alive there.
At any rate, I am pleased that we have a couple of choices here. In the winter, especially, when most farmers markets go into hibernation mode, these markets continue to supply us with local (and not so local) healthy choices of food supplies. I appreciate the labels specifying which products are, indeed, locally produced (I am still learning about our Ohio producers, after all).
These tiny stores are often packed with everything from baking soda, to locally baked bread, to herbal tinctures. They also have staples such as garlic, onions, pasta, rice, and frozen items in the freezers.
The Bexley Co-op has a good selection of books as well as fresh produce. The Clintonville Community Market might be a bit larger of the two, with more bulk herbs it seems. Both places have knowledgeable staff who can help you find what you need if you are not familiar with the products or the brands.
I might be one of the few customers out there who is happy with less choices of goods. I don't do well when I am faced with 100 kinds of cereal, or 20 brands of jams. I do just fine if you give me two or three quality choices, and that's what these places offer.
And for sure, you know that you are supporting the community and producers closer to home. Nothing wrong with that!
Bexley Natural Market
508 North Cassady Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43209
Phone: (614) 252-3951
Monday - Friday 10am - 8pm
Saturdays 10am - 6pm
Sundays 11am - 5pm
Clintonville Community Market
Clintonville Community Market
200 Crestview Road
Columbus, Ohio 43202
Open 7 days a week
Friday, February 18, 2011
I had my first bowl of Pho in Columbus at this restaurant, almost a year ago. It was a request of sorts, for the realtor who was kind enough to show me around different neighborhoods (for 8 hours!) to assuage me that there is good Asian food in this city.
That bowl of pho was good enough. And that was when I was introduced to this place, but had not been back until today.
I don't get up 'north' much, you see. But work had me moving about this morning. By the time lunch time rolled around, I was only a mile away from this little noodle house, and I was famished.
Instead of ordering another bowl of pho, I opted to try something different and ordered Dan Dan noodles. The Dan Dan I have had in the past had been nooldes with spicy peanut sauce. Not this one, it turned out. It was a good plate of noodles, but I would not have called it Dan Dan noodles.
This experience won't prevent me from going back to Pho Asian Noodle House, however. They have a lot more to offer there, including a perfect glass of Thai ice tea to remind me a little bit of home.
Pho Asian Noodle House and Grill
1288 West Lane Ave
Open 7 days a week
11am - 10pm
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
We have found the kind of pizza we know and love: thin crust, chewy yet crusty dough, delicious sauce, and not too much cheese to top it all off.
Bexley is a little city with a lot of pizza places (and banks, and ice cream parlors... not much else really!). We had tried two other places before we landed at Anthony's Pizzeria on Pleasant Ridge Avenue.
Thomas, the proud owner of the pizzeria, pointed out to us a picture of his 5-year old self making pizza dough. Food has been his family business for a long time. Before opening this place 8 months ago, they owned a catering business that included pizzas, calzones and stromboli, among other goodies.
The pizza idea came when his father met a man in Florida who made the best pizza he had ever had. The Floridian, Mario, actually grew up in Connecticut, so there was a bit of the East coast/ Italian blood running through him. Thomas' father acquired the recipe for the dough, and perfected the sauce, and the rest is history.
Coming from California where pizza is prized at about $20 a pie (*gulp*), and usually not a good one, it is a breath of fresh air to enjoy a good slice, at a reasonable price.
Thomas and his family purchased the location from the previous owners at the same location, so they kept the name Anthony's. But the pizza and subs...all their own creations.
I am not sure of other great pies in and around Columbus...I am sure there are a few. I must say, however, that Anthony's is a competition that will be hard to beat.
Anthony's Pizzeria and Subs
602 Pleasant Ridge Ave
Columbus, OH 43209
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Last week, through Columbus Underground, I found out that there is a new bakery about to open in my neck of the woods.
After being iced in for a couple of days with little children running around the house putting me on the verge of insanity, it was time to venture out into the world, and say hello to the new bakery: The Angry Baker.
First, you've got to like the name, right? Or be curious, at least? Vicki, the owner, and baker, is far from being angry when I visited the bakery today. She was busy behind the counter making lunches and taking croissants out of the oven. But she was not angry. If anything, she seemed rather serene. (There is a story behind the name in the ColumbusUnderground article).
An unfinished Menu Board, looking pretty against the brick wall
The bakery is on Oak St, right across from Yellow Brick Pizza (a place I have yet been to), in the Olde Town East area of town. Being new here, I can only say that these two eateries and a few other businesses on Parsons St, seem to be giving Olde Town East a bit of a come-back. A great reason to rejoice!
The Angry Baker offers a variety of baked goods as well as breakfast and lunch items. I left with two scrumptious looking things: an oversized eclaire and a vegan brownie. I am kindly saving the latter for my children for their post-school snack, but the eclaire? In my tummy. It was one of the better eclaires I have had in a long time. Maybe ever, actually.
The Angry Baker
891 Oak Street
Columbus, OH 43205
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The warmth and aroma inside Cherbourg Bakery was a wonderful way to spend a little time on this icy, grey day!
Here are just some images from my visit there earlier today.
Needless to say, if you have not tried it, you have to go. Soon!