Here Comes The Shun

Remember 2020? That was, among other things, the year of the heroic retail and restaurant worker/owner, braving a very uncomfortable period of uncertainty and stress from both panicked consumers, the closure of dine-in services in numerous communities, and facing a virus whose true virulence and death- and long-term-complication-causing impacts are still being discovered even midway into 2021.

Well, as things wobble around precariously back to whatever new normal emerges, these workers have returned back to their typical status of not being thought of highly at all. Many politicians would have you believe they’re all just being lazy, getting fat while sucking up government handouts versus being a gainfully employed “good American.”

(FWIW, $300/week unemployment checks over one year is $15,600; full-time minimum wage in Ohio gets you nearly $3K more than that. And neither amount will get the average adult even a bare-bones living in Ohio or pretty much any state in the Union…but I digress.)

People are back to being more enthralled by someone like Richard Branson, who recently rode a wave of enthusiasm with his recent trek to the edge of space. In spite of his proclamation that his mission was “to turn the dream of space travel into a reality – for my grandchildren, for your grandchildren, for everyone,” the reality is these flights are almost exclusively going to be the realm of the well-heeled/well-connected for now.

And whether you take the optimistic view of Ars Technica or the dour view of The Atlantic, the reality is those with the money and/or fame will be deemed the heroes, not the everyday worker. Even in places like the former Communist Soviet Union, folks like Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin got the parades, not the local corner store clerk in Moscow who handled shitty customers with grace and aplomb for years on end.

Many retail and hospitality businesses are looking for workers to come back to the fold, but despite politicians’ claims, I believe there aren’t as many available to go back. Many have simply moved on to new jobs – colleges like Columbus State had grants for individuals to learn new skills, and many took them up on it. The rise of remote teleconferencing and similar has generated a whole new field of jobs which unemployed people filled. A few hearty souls have even ventured out and went into business for themselves during this period. More tragically, some former retail and restaurant workers have died or have acquired long-term complications from a bout with COVID, or are dealing with similar circumstances with a family member in their care.

Some are finding challenges to getting back to the working world, especially families with children who were challenged by schools going to remote learning or the shrinking of child care options.

And even those folks who are riding unemployment benefits until they are forced back into the workforce – can you really blame them for doing so? Is minimum wage and almost certainly lack of benefits worth the passive/aggressive (or in some cases, just darn aggressive) attitude people who were against masking regulations and/or vehemently anti-vaccination? Or worth wading back again into the COVID-19 muck, now driven mostly by the more contagious Delta variant (even many Republicans, with wide speculation about the reasons why, have done a complete 180 in regard to encouraging vaccinations.)

Amidst this, another group of people came up in my mind recently, a group which has had trouble even obtaining a chance for gainful employment in better times in order to better their life circumstances.

Continue reading “Here Comes The Shun”

If Life Was Only Parfait

I have written about Belle’s Bread before on my previous blog in 2017, when I was out exploring the excellent ice cream scene in and around the Columbus metro. Since then, I have learned they have much more than a mean soft-serve ice cream swirl, offering a number of cakes, breads, cookies and coffee drinks to tantalize the taste buds.

For those unfamiliar, this Japanese Bakery is but one of several culinary gems located in the Japanese Marketplace complex in the Northwest neighborhood of town. Their French-inspired baked goods have earned them praise on a national level from such media outlets like Food & Wine Magazine. Their existence isn’t exactly what the casual consumer might expect for Central Ohio, until one realizes that the American headquarters for one of the largest Japanese automakers, Honda, is just right up US Highway 33, a relative stone’s throw away in Marysville.

Up until just a few days ago, I hadn’t indulged in their picture-perfect confections behind glass windows. The weather actually justified something like their divine soft-serve ice cream, available in either vanilla, matcha, or a swirl of both, a perfect balance of slightly sweet and lightly bitter.

This time I went with the Strawberry Parfait, and this immaculate construct lived up to its pleasing exterior – light airy pillows of layered cream that floated on the tongue, and fruit flavors that glided in subtly.

As enjoyable as this first parfait experience was, I realized that the better selection for my state of mind at the time might have been better suited for my usual vanilla/matcha swirl.

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The Great Chili-Crisp Off: Volume 1

Three of our five contenders in our first (and hopefully, not last) Chili Crisp-Off.

The first non-standard-condiment I remember digging lay in the Chevy’s Fresh Mex chain of restaurants, which started in Alameda, CA back in 1981. Their salsa which they included with their freshly fried batch of tortilla chips was a revelation, equal parts chunky and chewy, spicy and savory – it was tough to NOT overload on chips while waiting for your main food orders came to your table.

Since then, the flood gates have been open in regard to various hot sauces, salsas, and other condiments that were at one time not almost impossible to find in the standard grocery store. My spouse and I have had our periods where one of them has ruled the roost in regards to favorite accompaniment to the main meal, but lately, that honor has fallen into the realm of the Spicy Chili Crisp. Continue reading “The Great Chili-Crisp Off: Volume 1”

A Little Introduction

A refresh of a slightly shopworn model Howdy! If you are reading this, most likely you are familiar with my former blog as The 614ortyNiner. And even if you aren’t, the introduction applies equally in this case. I moved to Ohio from California early in the 2010s. As you may have figured out from my previous blog name, there was an underlying theme of my … Continue reading A Little Introduction

A Hole-y Unlikely Tale: The Donut King

Little did I know it at the time, but this Ube Ice Cream filled donut from The Parlor Ice Cream in Sacramento, CA, was just the tip of the iceberg of a fascinating tale As I was watching the 2020 documentary movie “The Donut King” (which I streamed recently on Hulu), I realized I had already experienced a bit of the latter half of the … Continue reading A Hole-y Unlikely Tale: The Donut King

The 614ortyPlatter – A Trip To The Farmer’s Market

Farmers Markets proved to be a bright spot for us duringthe pandemic year of 2020 One aspect that helped make 2020 much more bearable for us was the continued operation of a few select various Farmers Markets around the area. While some farmers market within the 270 Loop of Columbus decided that it wasn’t feasible to run the usual market festivities, Clintonville and Worthington, with … Continue reading The 614ortyPlatter – A Trip To The Farmer’s Market

The 614ortyPlatter – Columbus Restaurants of Yore (Vol. 1)

It was great while it lasted – the bar at the gone-before-it-deserved-to-be-gone German Village restaurant Ambrose and Eve According to an article published on Modern Restaurant Management in 2019, 80 percent of all restaurants go out of business within five years. Many disappear from the landscape without much of a care by the dining public, but a select few stay around long enough and/or put … Continue reading The 614ortyPlatter – Columbus Restaurants of Yore (Vol. 1)

The 614ortyPlatter – Movie Night!

“Ulam: Main Dish”, a documentary looking at Filipino-AmericanRestaurants around the United States, is but one of thefood-related movies that we’ve found entertaining. If nothing else, pandemic living made us realized how much of a role entertainment plays in our lives.  Obviously, the absence of live, in-person events was felt by everyone, from the performers to the venues which hosted them to people who attended them … Continue reading The 614ortyPlatter – Movie Night!

The 614ortyPlatter – Hopping Down The Bunny Trail

Easter Munching with Rum Hot Cross Scones from Worthington’s Sassafras Bakery Growing up in a Catholic household as a kid, Easter and the period leading up to it was something of a “weird” observance from a food perspective.  Yes, we did observe the fish on Fridays deal (though the very-Midwest fish fry was not a thing), but we didn’t necessarily observe the fasting portions of … Continue reading The 614ortyPlatter – Hopping Down The Bunny Trail

The 614ortyPlatter – Top Chef Top Songs

Avishar “Danny” Barua creating some magic on thecocktail end of things at Columbus’s Service Bar Those in the know in the Columbus area are distinctly aware of Avishar Barua, of Service Bar Kitchen, and his way with mixing the “mundane” with the magical.  Those who have seen his creative takes with lCheesy Brisket Crunch , Po’ Boy, the (Not) Pad Thai, or Fish Fillet know … Continue reading The 614ortyPlatter – Top Chef Top Songs