Eating my way through Columbus, Ohio

I love looking out the airplane window and watching the buildings and cars get bigger and bigger as we make our descent and inevitable landing. What makes it even better is knowing that I’m home in Columbus. I know I’ve lived in New York City for 10 years (well, 10 years on Sept. 8), but there’s something about coming back to the place where I grew up, and settling right back into those old habits and traditions that just makes me happy.

Every Christmas, just like in the movie Christmas Story, my family goes to a little Chinese restaurant, Windchimes, for dinner. The best part about Chinese food is sharing, which my mom and I love to do (my dad on the other hand wants what he ordered, and only what he ordered! It’s usually something super spicy though, so that doesn’t bother us!) So, mom and I each get something different – one sweet, one savory – so that we can get the best of both worlds. After a trip to the dentist I made the suggestion of heading over to Windchimes for lunch – and it ws one of the most delicious ideas I’ve had in a while! I ordered the Windchimes beef, a version of beef and broccoli that also has baby corn. My mom ordered the sesame chicken. To start I had the spring roll, and mom got an egg roll. You can’t beat the lunch deal – the total bill was just over $20.

After lunch I went to Kenneths to get my hair cut. I’ve gone to Maryann at Kenneths for decades now! Even living in New York, I still come home to get my hair cut.  And then it was a trip to Kroger. It wouldn’t be a trip home if I didn’t go to the grocery store!

Dinner was the required trip to Max & Ermas for my favorite, favorite soup: Tortilla Soup. It is a bowl of cheesy, spicy, perfection.  I so wish I could get the soup in New York – but so far I haven’t been able to find anything even remotely close. I also got small order of the southern fried chicken salad – and both mom and dad ordered burgers.

We ended the evening at Movie Tavern. I have no idea why New York hasn’t thought of this kind of place yet! It’s a brilliant idea. Basically you have dinner and a movie all in one! You sit in a comfy leather “computer” chair, and are served a complete dinner – with beer or liquor if you want – all while watching the latest hit. We saw The Help, which was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

On Saturday, we had a family reunion of sorts. Nearly everyone from my dad’s side gathered at our house for sandwiches, beer and laughter! It was wonderful to see everyone  – especially my little twin  second cousins (or cousins first removed?). They’re not quite two, but the are adorable! The cousin’s  all continued the party down in German Village for a few more beers and the requisite fried food around midnight.

Today, after church we went to our other favorite restaurant – the one where literally everyone knows my mom and dad’s names: Carrabba’s Itallian Grill. The portions are huge, and everything is delicious. I know it’s a chain restaurant – but very few chain restaurants taste this good as far as I’m concerned! The Mama’s Mandola Chicken Soup is by far the best chicken soup I’ve ever had. The savory, spicy broth mingles with little pieces of penne pasta, fresh veggies and pulled chicken straight off the bone. Today, I stuck with the classics – a ceasar salad to start and the chicken parmesan. It comes with a ginormous chicken breast lightly tossed in breadcrumbs, and sauteed with a side of spaghetti pomodoro. My cousin Katie got the margherita pizza, a doughy-dough with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella with a little basil and olive oil. Dad got chicken picatta, a lightly fried chicken breast topped with a delightful lemon butter sauce. And mom got something that’s not on the menu… but she knows people. She got the pasta rambo, spaghetti topped with a tangy butter sauce, crab meat, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. For dessert, I had the seasonal special, Carrabba’s version of a berry pie topped with vanilla ice cream. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

Tomorrow I have to head back to the city… but hopefully I’ll have a chance to go to another one of my guilty pleasures: Arby’s!

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