On V.V. Summer Assignment, Day 2: Bloodbuzz Ohio

On V.V. Summer Assignment, Day 2: Bloodbuzz Ohio

What is hard about being a roadtripping blogger is that all your pearls of wisdom–the thoughts and ideas born on the road, inside its motion and pace–are diminished into imperceptible dots by the time you’re in a place you can write. Even thoughts that build into intricate cities of complexity, grounded–oddly–by a hybrid of reason, emotion and imagination. They amaze you. They affirm. They follow the queue of your music, the car in front of you’s license plate characters, the names of the towns you pass. Road thoughts. Inside of them, you swear they’ll never leave, like how a dream feels. Then: Gone.

Feigning pragmatism one day, I tried using the voice memo function on the phone, like Dale Cooper. I found it embarrassing, so I was brief. Upon playback, I had no idea what the complete thought was. My latest theory on this specific kind of blog writer’s block is that these thoughts are a side effect of an altered state, your brain trying to make sense of a massive influx of stimulation–to process it into some sort of order. Out of the car, the brain resumes normal functioning. It just wants to relax… it’s earned some down time.

But now, here, ready to write: I begin the challenging task of trying to conjure up all that can make one day on the road the experientially equivalent to months of daily-style living. These thoughts are one part of it. But they’re the after effect. So let’s look at some of the stimuli, starting with Ely’s To Go.

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It is such a delight to discover a gem like Ely’s right outside of Youngstown, Ohio. Not only does their all-vegan bakery make scratchmade, high quality treats, they offer a slew of thee best vegan product lines, like New York’s own Lagusta’s Luscious! Knowing about good vegan stuff (versus not that great vegan stuff) is like music taste; it counts.PicMonkey Collage3

I got the blueberry lemon scone and a sticky pecan bun and did the photoshoot in the car. It was a great start to Day 2. To find food value commonality in unexpected places is such a motivating reward. And I’m hooked on this feeling… and it’s not just the association it has with getting to eat delicious vegan food. Because vegan food is food is made with intention (to borrow from the yogis), it isn’t just about a moment of eating. It’s more than that; it’s a kinship to all living things. Mmm, delicious kinship. These treats were the real deal, by the way. PicMonkey Collage2

A fan of roadside attractions, I knew the world’s tallest Our Lady of Guadalupe statue in Windsor, Ohio at the grounds of the Servants of Mary Center for Peace was not to be missed. And my instincts were correct. The gorgeous mosaic-covered statute is certainly the most beautiful 50 ft. statute I’ve ever seen. The grounds also contains the world’s largest illuminated rosary that surrounds the Lake of Hope. I was the only one visiting this early morning and had the opportunity to tour the grounds and take plenty of pictures. The statue is spectacular in person, visually but also how it feels. In a place like this, the faith you have comes forefront–whatever version and degree it might be. Afterwards, I spoke with Pat who owns the farm that, by way of a series of miracles, became this sacred worshipping place. She gave me a lot of information on how this place came to be. I left with some Our Lady of Guadalupe swag, generously gifted to me, and the sense that I had just visited a truly special place.
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Following a dignified and contemplative ride west to Woodmere, Ohio, I went to the mall. {shudder} Yes–the mall. And not just any mall, ETON Chagrin Blvd has got it all Tiffany & Co, Brooks Brothers, Anthropologie, and… Vegan Sweet Tooth, an all-vegan bakery amongst the high-end retail.PicMonkey Collage4

There was plenty to choose from–different flavors and sizes of beautifully presented cupcakes. I circled around the glass display cases like a hunter, sizing up her prey.   PicMonkey Collage5

I finally selected three minis: vanilla lavender, chocolate salted caramel, and the red velvet with cream cheese frosting. As a gal who has eaten a ton of vegan cupcakes in her lifetime, Vegan Sweet Tooth’s cupcakes were outstanding. The cakes were moist and flavorful and the frosting complemented the flavors in the cake. It wasn’t just sugar overcompensation. Each icing was different, not just the same buttercream with different garnish. The Tiffany of vegan cupcakes, for sure. IMG_8495

I took a detour to Sugarcreek, Ohio, the “Little Switzerland of Ohio” to watch the “World’s largest” Cuckoo clock do its thing on the hour. I put quotation marks around “world’s largest” because I feel like they may be using the tall brick base in that calculation. Having been to Bavaria in Germany, I feel like I saw bigger? (Both of the cuckoo clocks in this post seem bigger.) Either way, Sugarcreek is a great detour with other cute stuff going on. But I wanted to eat something other than sweets today! I headed south towards Columbus for some satisfying dunch.DSC_0083

{Intermission: driving through crazy downpour / thunderstorm; playing Conversation 16 sixteen times; passing Xenia, Ohio of Gummo fame; experiencing aforementioned profundity; basking in freedom}IMG_8521

Columbus, Ohio welcomed me with a bright sky, which was so appreciated after the storm made it feel like 9 o’clock at night. I choose to eat at Portia’s Cafe because the I wanted a healthful option. I came for the veggies. And it helps that Chef/owner Portia, who was laying the smack down on GMOs at a neighboring customer’s table as I placed my order, rejects all the food evils that ail the world and its living things. The cafe is all-vegan, mostly organic, and all GMO-free. . . but Daiya rant in 3..2..DSC_0108

1: It bums me out to see Daiya on a menu like this. So what that it is vegan? It’s a packaged processed food. There is a time and a place for a minimal use of Daiya, on occasion… but not at a place for Portia’s standards. Sure, there was a point when Daiya was exciting (Yay, Melty cheese!) In fact, my old blog posts (2009) show the path of this excitement to, many stomach cramps later, my Daiya rants. It is out of place at Portia’s Cafe. And that’s a big compliment really. …And, after a nod to the housemade cashew cheese movement that is taking off in leaps and bounds, my Daiya rant is done.

Feeling the need for fresh and flavorful, I got their house specialty–Portia’s Cafe Pad Thai: crisp veggies on a bed of warm brown rice with their signature sauce. The sauce was outstanding–nut-based, miso, ginger, the almighty Bragg’s, a citrus burst and a kick of cayenne. I love a complicated sauce on simple veggies. DSC_0104

I saved room for the Citrus Parfait, thankfully. It was a heavenly creamy blend of citrus, banana, avocado, mango, agave and vanilla with a ground almond and date crumble, which could also second as a list of all my most favorite ingredients. Truly sublime. A welcome meal after a long day of driving. Cincinnati, here I come. PicMonkey Collage6