Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recent Events Around Town

Its been very busy around Columbus since my last blog and the great weather has been a perfect complement to the events. First there was the Ohio Wine Festival, held at the North Market in downtown Columbus. This event features about a dozen Ohio wineries. The proprietors of these wineries share the same passion for their craft as those in the more notable wine regions of the U.S. However their disadvantage is typically that they do not grow their own grapes and therefore lack a hands-on component that most wine-masters consider the core of good wine making. Additionally, many west coast wine masters have had wine crafting in their blood for many generations. This is a huge advantage as wine crafting is as much an art form as it is a business. The event started at 6:00p but since the weather was nice and we had nothing else to do, Misty and I headed down to the Short North area a few hours early to eat some lunch, have some Jeni's ice cream, adult ice cream as Misty calls it, and drink some cocktails. In retrospect, the cocktails were probably not a good idea prior to wine tasting, if you know what I mean...

As we sifted our way through the crowd I tasted wine from around 8 wineries (about 4 too many). Some wine was respectable and some could have been used to strip the paint of my deck. Along the way I ran into an old friend and colleage, Robin. He and his wife own the Wyandott Winery, here in Columbus. I found a couple of their wines to be respectable enough to purchase. All in all I headed home with about 5 bottles and a headach. But it was still an enjoyable.

This past weekend was the Columbus Jazz and Rib Fest. This is one of my favorite events; as you know I LUV RIBS and the Jazz goes down pretty easy too.
This event hosts around a dozen competative rib burners and probably an equal number of local and national Jazz bands. Misty, Caleb and I attended the Rib Fest this year. Misty's not a rib eater but Caleb was a big help as the portions are typically quite large. We sampled ribs from Armadillos (my favorite from last year), PigFoot and Big Boned. All were different and all were great. Although we did a good job of stuffing ourselves, Caleb still had enough room for a ear of roasted corn. Hmmm, yummy stuff!
With full bellies and feeling relaxed thanks to some good jazz we headed home for the evening. Of course we had to take one more look at the Columbus skyline. You gotta admit, it was looking pretty good that day.
Do you have a good rib adventure to share? Do you have a love for jazz? What's your favorite wines? I'd like to hear from you.
Today marks the beginning of the Dublin Irish Fest, the last big party of the summer in our neck of the woods. You'll definitely be hearing from me soon.
See you next time!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another Ribfest in the Books...

As the summer of 2009 continues to fly by, this past weekend marked the 5th anniversary of the Kuamoo Ribfest. This years invitation highlighted some of the many people who have attended past events. This years family vacation (see blog entry AN-TIS-A-PA-TION - Headed West), pushed the date of the Ribfest back a few week further than usual. Unfortunately this resulted in quite a few regulars not be able to attend. We also missed our party pals, Chris and Wendy, who moved to Phoenix earlier in the year. Although our crowd was smaller it was still a fun event and a beautiful evening to sit by a fire.
When preparing for the party there are always a lot of detail to take care of. Aside from a couple of days of cleaning, Misty and I work hard to make sure that everything is in order.

There's the entertainment, which revolved around the photo album containing my blog entries for my Motorcycle Trip to Utah. I also displayed many of my photos on our TV which was a great media for a picture book. It also gave me a chance to use the built-in USB feature on the TV. Displaying the pictures in using this feature was a snap.

Next, although it's technically a BYOB party, we are fortunate to have quite a few friends that are excellent brew masters and are willing to share their craft at our party. This years brew was provided by our friend Paul, who served an excellent IPA. Paul came over earlier in the day to setup so that everything would be in order for the party. A cooler, some ice, a little CO2 and we were ready for the test. Aaaah, Pauls IPA was an excellent addition for the party and was enjoyed by many throughout the evening (as well as the next day in my case).

Then there's the fire, an ever so important part of any of our outdoor parties. I like to start the fire before the crowd arrives so that the smoke is minimal by the time we're ready to sit down and relax. Normally, in July, our evening temperature would be in the mid to upper 70's, however this year it's been much cooler and will likely be in the low 60s by nightfall. More wood and beverages was the easy answer to the unseasonably cool temperatures. It was a perfect night...

Last but not least, there is the food. As the parties namesake indicates, ribs were the main fare. The ribs were supplied by my favorite local BBQ place, Smackies, in the Columbus Square Shopping Center. I like Smackies rib quality and you can't beat their "buck a bone" Saturday deal.

Accompanying the ribs were many tasty dishes supplied by our guests. No one walked away hungry that night...

We had lots of great guests this year. Unfortunately I wasn't able to photograph everyone. Many were families that Misty and I had the pleasure to get to know while coaching past youth hockey teams. Hockey parents often form a tight nit group over the years as we continually see each other in some rink somewhere. This particular group we've known for more than my two years of coaching (inside joke). Misty and I cherish the bonds that we have formed as hockey parents but most of all we've enjoyed the opportunity to coach their boys.

We were happy that Shelly, a good friend and last years team manager, could join us so that we could celebrate her birthday. We attempted to surprise her, although it's hard to sneak 20+ people into the kitchen without her noticing. But we sang her Happy Birthday then Shelly blew out the candle on her cupcake from Pink Moon, a favorite local cupcake shop.

The party continued with lots of stories and laughter. Mike and Sandy posed for a picture but Mike was caught here holding an empty beer glass. I think that's a major party foul.
It also looks as if Misty and Mike are having an entertaining conversation that Tom and Mark are enjoying. Perhaps Christine and Sandy are also finding it humorous.

A party at the Kuamoo's wouldn't be right without Misty's famous Cosmos. Her use of pineapple infused vodka with PAMA liqueur has always been a crowd pleaser, but this year she added a little twist by placing a bourbon soaked cherry in the bottom of the glass. The cherry subtly complemented the normal sweetness of the drink, making an already great drink, even better. For those brave enough to eat the cherry, the cool night got a little warmer. After a few of these crimson concoctions it looks like my camera got a little out of focus.
As the night wound down Mark did an excellent job tending the fire, just perfect for an "adult s'more"(the secret is the dark chocolate) and the perfect way to end a great night of food, beverage and friendship. Thanks to all who were able to make it this year.
Next year we'll do it all again. For all you brew masters, this is your first notice to prepare your best brew as we will be featuring our first brew-off. But before you get too focused on next year don't forget to stop by before the Dublin IrishFest in two weeks. That always a party to remember.

See you next time!

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 4th in Dublin

The Fourth of July is a holiday that most Americans celebrate for various reasons. The festivity may involve family, friends or public gatherings. Popular culture would have you believe that the gala is a birthday party for the country. Flags wave, bands march and bystanders cheer. The parades are pageants, visible spectacles for all to applaud and enjoy. Although the original intent of the day was to celebrate our countries Declaration of Independence, I think it's now widely accepted as a great excuse to PARTY!

The day started early with the neighborhood parade. It was a wonderful time to get away from the everyday stresses that life can bring and enjoy the entertainment of clowns, floats and neighborhood bands.

Whether painted on smiles, reluctant smiles, or uncontrollable smiles, there were certainly lots of smiles and that's one thing that makes this day so very special. Although this day is full of magic and enchantment, let us not forget to thank our veterans who have served our country in the armed forces, our active duty soldiers that continue to serve, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy the many freedoms that we have today. One such soldier is L. CPL Wesley Davis, the son of a local business associate of my wife's. Wesley lost his life in Iraq while in combat with the Lima Company; part of the U.S. Marines. My family and I are forever indebted to Wesley and the many others who have fought and died for our country.

God bless you all!

As the parade dispersed, the next event on the agenda is the annual Frisbee Dog Competition. There were many fans watching this fun event, including other dogs. Perhaps these were dogs in training, spying on the competition for next years event, or maybe they just enjoy watching the other dogs at work.

The competition was made up of many breeds with just as many attitudes. This playful pooch, a black Border Collie would taunt the crowd each time he made a catch. As you can see he also loved the camera as he would make sure to stare right into the lens with each pass.
The German Shepard breed was well represented this year. Their hang time was impressive as they leaped high into the air to snag each disk. Also impressive was their ability to travel long distances in pursuit of their prize.

There were many more dog breeds that rallied a cheer from the crowd. Although these dogs were running lap after lap, chasing a plastic disc, it was obvious that the dogs were having the time of their lives showing off for their masters as well as the crowd.

It was no surprise that the winner of this years competition was an Australian Shepard. This breed of natural herders is built for running and certainly has endless energy, but there was no doubt that the crowd favorite was a dog named Rockets Red Glare (Hmmm, sounds like a stage name to me). Rocket is a Boston Terrier; you heard right, a Boston Terrier! Who would have thought that a Boston Terrier could compete with the "big dogs" in a Frisbee competition. However this dog was amazing, running as far as the German Shepards, short legs but a blur and eyes a bulging. This small dog with a big heart stood with the best of them and raised many a cheer from the crowd. GO ROCKET!!!

As the day was coming to an end, my wife and I headed over to Coffman High School to watch the fireworks. We strategically picked a great vantage point, unfolded our chairs, cracked open a bottle of vino and listened to the music of Boyz II Men and The Four Tops while we waited for nightfall. A drizzle continued to fall which concerned me from the photographic perspective, but as luck would have it, as soon as the fireworks started, the rain ended. A slight wind, moving away from our position made it a perfect night for photographing fireworks. For you photo-techies, the following pictures were shot with a Nikon D 300 at an exposure of F16 for 6 to 8 seconds.
These setting worked well to show a
moderate amount of spread without too much over exposure.
All in all it was a great day for family and friends. I hope your July 4th was as enjoyable as ours. If you've had a July 4th experience that you would like to share, shoot me a comment.
Happy 4th and see you next time for The Kuamoo RibFest.