Neon & Steel [And Some Food]

Neon & Steel [And Some Food]

I woke up in Cincinnati, Ohio and went to bed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This means that, likely, I will spend tomorrow evening in my own bed. New York. Though I am squeezing in brief stops as I pass through, this excursion is winding down. But I still need sustenance and things to look at along the way home. And in that capacity, Rooted Juicery + Kitchen is a heavenly stop.

This is one of those “airlift eateries,” one that I wish could be reborn in New York where I can visit it over and over.  It is teeming with flavor, freshness, and life.  Simple but perfectly executed.  I got a macadamia cheese spread on a light and airy slice of organic bread, topped with sweet potatoes. And possibly the best smoothie I’ve ever had: The Fountain of Youth with pineapple, mango, dates, orange juice, coconut water, aloe water, ginger, coconut oil, chlorophyll, and “warrior” protein. A perfect breakfast.  

Perfect, yes. But could it be more perfect? Yes again. A raw “Samoa” with a walnut shortbread base, coconut caramel filling, house-made superfood chocolate. A few bites like this just wakes up your entire body. 

I took another picture of it because I couldn’t believe how good it was. 

They had other raw treats ready to go to. 

Before I headed out of Ohio I needed to make a stop.  Last time I was in Ohio I wasn’t able to check out the American Sign Museum, so I was happy to be passing through Cincinnati at a time when the museum was open. I really love vintage neon signs… car-culture stuff, roadside attractions, and related Americana but also this fused with principles of science: electricity, chemistry. And of course, art and visual expression. 

The museum is chronology of signage in America. And though it isn’t a huge museum, it is very thorough, spanning 100 years.  Of course the neon signage is the big star.  

This museum was a great overview of sociology through the lens of signs, if one wishes to intellectualize it. Or–it’s just cool. There is another “neon graveyard” in Las Vegas that I need to get to as Vegas is the neon capital of the country.  There’s also The Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles, which has a mix of collections from the past and new neon art.  But better, seeing it on the road, still in use. 

I remember Howard Johnson’s.  The eatery. And the Met. “HoJo”

I made you a gif(t).

I got into Columbus, Ohio with the idea of possibly wasting several hours. Only because I really wanted to try Eden Burger, and they are only open from 5pm to 10pm. Food blogging and road trips can be tough that way. You have these isolated opportunities that can be missed on account of things you cannot control: time and store hours.  Instead of wasting 3 hours, I moved onward. First I stopped at these concrete corn sculptures. 

Ok, I also stopped at Pattycake Bakery. They have been around since 2003, early days for all-vegan bakeries. In fact, they were a very early website bookmark in a time that I did not do any vegan reporting.  I did blog about them for the first time in 2009, which feels like lifetimes ago. I went here as a throwback. 

I got two cupcakes. Vanilla for now and lemon for later, as well as a whoopie pie. The one that tastes like a devil dog. 

Is that a steel bridge? Well I must have made it to Pittsburgh, which has a ton of bridges. Pittsburgh has a lot of steel stuff (Some historian I am.) After some yucky accommodations last night in Cincinnati, I splurged on a posh highrise room across from the football and baseball stadiums. It is, after all, my last night on the road. I also gladly valeted the car and set out on foot for some exploration and dinner. 

The shimmering PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) building showing off its glass.

The United Steelworkers building is doing the same. 

I wound up on the south side, which was your average bar and restaurant strip catering to the young hipsters. I hate going to these places but often they are where the vegan options are. Like Double Wide Grill‘s veggie menu. They had this option of creating a “TV dinner” style entree which I thought was neat.

But alas, I missed cohesion. The flavors didn’t complement each other and the piles were lukewarm. And it was a bit overpriced considering.  (Notice I did not mention the $12 smoothie I got for breakfast being overpriced. I will pay happily for quality.) But that was my fault. They had many vegan dishes I could have chosen. I just wanted the vintage cafeteria tray.  On my plate: shoestring fries, un-vegan cornbread, coconut rum tofu topped with diced mango (yummy), asparagus, a terrible fruit cup, and BBQ pulled seitan. 

Back in my fancy room, a cupcake as I stare out at Pittsburgh. Goodnight, PA. It’s good to be north of the Mason-dixon line.