Diet debauchery: my nostalgic weekend food binge

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I spent the weekend in Athens, Ohio, home to my alma mater, Ohio University.

I went to visit one of my old roommates/friend who lives and works in Athens, and to see OU’s CHAMPION HOCKEY TEAM participate in an American Cancer Society charity tournament. The opposing team was the Ohio University Ice Ghosts, a team comprised of entirely former Ohio hockey players.

The current Bobcats won both games, but the Ice Ghosts gave a good performance and all the money went to benefit cancer research.

Although hockey was the intended reason for the trip, another–and frankly, larger–impetus for the trip was to revel in the love I have for the Athens food scene.

Athens has a nice mix of food offerings, but it leans heavily on catering to the college student crowd. I didn’t get to all the places I wanted to, but I managed to hit the high notes.

First stop, after checking in at the hotel (more on this later), was Donkey Coffee and Espresso. Routinely voted best coffeehouse in Athens and Ohio, Donkey was my third home during college. If you couldn’t find me at the college newspaper office, or in Scripps Hall (the journalism school HQ), I was at Donkey. During finals week they, graciously, stayed open 24 hours. I slept there on more than one occasion. The couches may be scented like old hippies and coffee, but Donkey has the best beans and service out there.

liz_donkey(I really love my Donkey coffee. Photo by my friend Angie P.)

Pre-hockey game, dinner was at O’Betty’s Red Hot, a great hot dog museum/restaurant. Each of O’Betty’s creations are named after, or inspired by, burlesque dancers or pin up girls of years past. O’Betty’s slogan is, “The weenie with the wiggle.” My favorite is the Tempest, which comes slathered in habanero salsa made at another local restaurant, Casa Nueva. You can see O’Betty’s menu here. I don’t have a photo to share because, well, I was eating and photos of half-eaten hot dogs aren’t that appealing, are they? Anyway, another thing I really appreciate about O’Betty’s is you can substitute a “shy” (vegetarian) dog for any of their creations. I love that the meatless option is called “shy.” When I was veggie it was a great alternative.

Then came the hockey game. Awesome. If you’re a Bobcat hockey fan I don’t need to elaborate. Yes, since it was an alumni charity game there was no fighting, although a couple of the guys did a faux scuffle after an attempt at the goal. But you could clearly see them smiling as they “fought.” Really it was more like an intense hug that included jersey pulling.

ice_ghosts(Photo from my Twitter feed, @EMLundblad)

Post-game meant a stop at The Union, a local dive bar with excellent bartenders who aren’t skimpy with the alcohol. It’s a must stop for me when I’m in Athens. Also, the stage at Union has hosted some of the best bands. It is one of the best places in town to hear live music. My group didn’t get to sit at out favorite booth (the one crammed in the nook under the stairs leading to the second floor stage level), but it was still a great time. I ordered a Manhattan, which is my father’s signature drink. I think I’m one of few children who grew up thinking maraschino cherries should taste like bourbon.

manhattan(Photo from my Twitter feed, @EMLundblad)

After round one at Union we walked a couple doors down to Goodfellas for a cheap slice of pizza. Again, no photo. Grabbing Goodfellas was a tradition after every hockey game during college. And no, that isn’t a euphemism.

Final stop of the night (Saturday) was Tony’s Tavern, which is considered a townie bar/grad student bar. This is the bar where all the student newspaper workers would go if they put the paper to bed before last call. Tony’s claim to fame is the Hot Nut, a warm shot of coffee and alcohol and magic. I don’t really ask, I just down it and ask for another. This picture is deceptive. It is in a small plastic shot glass, but it’s more like a double. As I said, Athens bartenders aren’t skimpy.

hot_nut(Photo from my Twitter feed, @EMLundblad)

After round two, I was done. There was about a half glass of beer, but I was just done. No worries, someone else finished the beer. We don’t waste in Athens. I’m about seven months away from my 25th birthday and I think I have reached the point where I’m “old” when it comes to drinking. I’m not a crazy person when I drink, I don’t do funny things like put lamp shades on my head or pull a wild Beyonce-esque dance move. I own a mirror, I know the rhythm that comes with my skin tone. It is strictly the chicken dance and the Macarena for me, thank you. Anyway, the night ended around Midnight-Thirty.

Spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express. I love their beds and pillows. I didn’t want to leave, but then I remembered brunch. On to Casa Nueva, a killer employee-owned restaurant. Casa has a restaurant side and a cantina side. The cantina puts on great dance nights and has great music. For brunch I chose a full order of huevos rancheros, two corn tortillas covered in sautéed veggies and two over-easy eggs slathered in housemade salsa verde. Casa makes a range of fresh salsas, but the verde is a favorite of mine. It came with homefries and a tangle of salad greens and herbs.

casa_brunch(Photo from my Twitter feed, @EMLundblad)

There were a lot–A LOT–of places that I didn’t get to on this visit, but there will be more. I can’t really see myself living in Athens now, but I love returning to visit. It never fails to soothe and surprise me. While Cleveland is my heart’s hometown, Athens is very much a kindred spirit. Plus you find graffiti like this in Athens and it reaffirms your faith in humanity. The Doctor is everywhere!

fezes(Photo from my Twitter feed, @EMLundblad)

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