Saturday, April 30, 2005

Camp Washington

Camp Washington

The story of America is the story of self-governance and the “social compact” that we somehow have all agreed to. In NYC, that often seems to mean little more than every person for himself or herself. My journey to Cincinnati is the tale of a rather different society. Perhaps it does show that there is some hope for America and (perhaps) some actual differences between Red and Blue states…

Our highways are divided into various lanes. For some there is the fast lane(s) and the slow lane(s) but for those "in the know” there are traveling lanes and passing lanes. Like most states, in Ohio there were many posted signs saying that if you're not passing you should stay to the right (and thus keep the passing lane(s) open for passing). What was nice was that people actually complied. More interesting was on the drive into downtown Cincinnati, through 675 and 75 South, some electronic signs indicated that there was an accident at Exit 7 and the left lane was blocked. These signs posted this info about 4-7 miles in advance of the accident. What was truly amazing is that everyone (and this was rush hour with many cars on the road) stayed in the right lanes (except for 3 cars out of thousands). There is no doubt that if this was NYC that many drivers would have driven in the left lane “until the last possible second” and then try to merge into the right lane(s). Thus blocking the left lane for any emergency vehicles and (based on queue theory) really slowing everyone down. What should have been a nearly endless traffic jam instead turned into a rather minor slow down.

Part of the social compact is that good restaurants are hard to find and that the best ones don’t change their location and décor. Camp Washington Chili is an exception to that rule. The place has been around since 1940, but the current building is new and modern. The food was good. Cincinnati-style chili, a slightly sweet all-meat chili (e.g., no bean) served over spaghetti. In this case, there are options for beans, onions and shredded cheddar. They also serve hot dogs with “Coney” sauce. My only complaint was I would have preferred the spaghetti more al dente.

Columbus Ohio

Tuesday it must be Columbus... Ohio...

The trip from Zanesville to Cincinnati was easy and took us through Columbus. Lunch was at the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA). Museum food ranges from often horrid to the occasionally sublime, but it's usually, in all cases, overpriced and served by unhappy attendants left over from some defunct grade school cafeteria. The food at CMA was very good, and for the quality of it, very reasonably priced. First, the menu was limited to 2-3 entrees plus a few soups. While the café itself, called the Palette Café, was open from about noon to 3pm, the meals are only served until 1:30. Least you think that a limited menu and limited service hours are an issue, I can assure you they are in fact the very hallmark that guarantees quality. There was a warm wild mushroom soup with roquefort, and a chilled almond peach soup; both were great. I had some salmon cakes with a balsamic vinegar reduction and some haricots verte. Everything was very reasonably priced, served on very interesting china, and served not by wage slaves but by museum volunteers (Women's Board members) ensuring that the service was charming, friendly, and so forth.

The museum ( itself is a nice collection of American and European Masters; there was also a nice selection of traveling shows (e.g., Monet to Matisse) and a special hands-on exhibit for kids. For those who know me, my eyes were drawn to their sculpture garden, as well as sculpture placed around the outside of the museum and within a brightly lit “ballroom.” The Louise Nevelson was inside and very interesting. Outside there was an interesting abstract Henry Moore (three piece reclining figure; draped 1975) and some other work, maybe one by Julian Schnabel but it was hard to tell as the info “plate” was rather faded…

Much of the entire trip has been marked by some wind and rain, and the trip through Columbus was no exception. After leaving the Museum we journeyed a few blocks to German Village; an area in the southern end of Columbus where many people of German descent settled and built homes and businesses using similar architectural styles including buildings of modest size constructed of brick. The rain precluded much photography and stopped us from walking about. I did make a quick driving tour of the area and stopped by the welcome center (Meeting Haus) to see a short video on the area. What was noteworthy was how much of the area survived intact and that the preservation of the area dates from the 1950s. After avoiding Starbucks and indulging at a local clone (Cup of Joe) I headed west to Cincinnati.


It's been a few days since I've had net access... In Cleveland now and will visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tomorrow.. What's has happened between Zanesville and Cleveland? Just stay tuned... more later..

Monday, April 25, 2005

Back to Ohio (for the very first time!)

I left NY/NJ a day late given the weather (snow, hard rain, and so forth) and some personal concerns about taking such a long journey. So it was Sunday morning when I left for Ohio. About 7 hours later, a quick jaunt down I-80 and there it was, "Welcome to Ohio."

What does Ohio look like? It looks like America; for some that's bad I'm sure, but for me it was more like reassuring.., the Home Depot here looks just like the one in Brooklyn... and I already speak the language. And there is a sacrament that we all share, theist or atheist and no matter how we voted in the last election cycle. That sacrament is food.

Sunday night brought me to Barberton and the famous Barberton Chicken. 5 famous places to choose from... I chose Hopocan Gardens; it was good, better than good in fact. The chicken came in several size portions from regular to large to extra large to family size, and also broken out by white and dark meat. I had a large order of thighs and legs (~$8) and a large order of Chicken Paprikash with dumplings (~$9) and a pitcher of Diet Coke ($4.95). Everything came with sides. I had apple sauce, fries, mashed, and slaw (mayo free, acidic, and sweet). What I didn’t have was the hot sauce… to much time on the road for anything spicy that night. Then it was on to the hotel, a clean and well-located Motel 6 near North Akron.

Monday a.m. ... The breakfast special ($1.99) at the local Steak and Shake and then a quick ride to Mansfield and the Jones Potato Chip Company for some "warm" chips, and then a ride to Porky’s Drive-in for some great treats like a Hot Dog with Coney sauce (rather spicy onion and tomato sauce with some Italian seasoning), sauerkraut balls, and homemade chicken soup. The owner was a very nice gentleman who took the time to say hello and gifted me a Porky’s Mug, which I shall bring back to Schnack. Then I took a ride through backcountry farmland (Ohio Route 60 and 36) with water hazards (there were some high water signs and high water due to recent heavy rains). Very pretty all in all... very nice and very much NOT Brooklyn. We stopped by the Killbush Sweetshop for some amazing ice cream (a local brand called Smith and Ruggles ) and then the Interstate (I-77 to I-70) to Zanesville, where I'm typing this now... Probably will not have net access the rest of the trip so the next writeup maybe in a few days... (Don't try to call me either, the rent-a-car isn't able to charge my cell phone for some reason either..)

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Dine in Brooklyn is over, but once again, helped us bring in lots of new people. Our $19.95 lunch for 4 or dinner for 2 will continue to run through the end of this weekend. Then it (as well as the Mac N Cheese) will also go off the special menu.

This weekend we have Grilled Chicken Hero w/ lots of garlic and herbs.  It's also part of the Nogales Plate (hero, 2 chili tacos, small salad).

The boss will be away from April 23 to May 2nd; he is visiting Ohio and tasting all sorts of great American road food to help finish our plans for a road food menu all summer..

Monday, April 11, 2005

Dine In B

Dine In Brooklyn is here, 183 Places you can get a 3 course dinner for $19.55--- At Schnack you can get a  3 course dinner for two people!! Or lunch for 4 people.. WOW..

Monday, April 04, 2005

2 years..


Today was a big day.. for a few reasons. It was our 2nd anniversary. How did we mark the day? By arriving this morning and finding that the security gate didn't work and it took Alan and crew a few hours to get it working again. Thanks Alan!

After that it was business as usual!