Assignment In Punxsutawney (Cont.)

Richard’s been in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for hours, reporting on the hoopla surrounding Punxsutawney’s Phil’s celebrated weather forecast. You can read his tweets from the Gobbler’s Knob here.

Alas, today Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. I’ve got news for him — we really can’t take six more weeks of winter. In fact, the last four weeks of winter have felt like four months of winter. If we have six more weeks like that last four weeks, the stolid people of the Midwest will need to be dipped in buckets of lard to try to repair their brittle skin, moved wholesale to the Caribbean to bring a little sunshine-induced vitamin D to their lives, and subjected to mass counseling to convince them that the world is not an unremittingly gray, wet, windy, and brutally cold place unfit for extended human habitation.

Fortunately, the toothy, tubby rodent is not a proficient prognosticator. According to an analysis, Phil is right only about 39% of the time. This better not be one of them.

Surprises At Alana’s

Last night Kish and I went to dinner with our friend the Bahamian Pilot at Alana’s Food and Wine. It was a chance to rediscover one of Columbus’ really good restaurants.

We’ve been to Alana’s before and had good meals, but it had dropped off our radar screen. Its location — on High Street, just a few blocks north of the OSU campus — is an awkward one for us, because there’s no easy, direct, quick way to get there from New Albany. After last night’s meal, I realize I don’t care if we have to endure a byzantine drive to get to this place. It’s definitely worth the trip.

IMG_1752Last night Alana’s was debuting a new menu. We noticed that the appetizer and entree lists both contained the single word “surprise” and a price. We tried to cajole our friendly waiter into spilling the secret, but he wouldn’t. If you wanted to find our what it was, you had to order it — and take a great leap of faith, because you’re really trusting the chef and the breadth of your palate.

I thought it was a cool idea, so I took the plunge and ordered both surprises. It turned out to be an inspired decision. The appetizer was stuffed peppers with a delicate filling and a zingy, gravy-like sauce that demanded to be mopped up with bread and savored. The entree was a big, hearty cassoulet with lots of duck confit, a duck breast that was fall-off-the-bone tender, sausages, and huge lima beans that were both crunchy and infused with meaty flavor. When the waiter revealed that there was a surprise on the dessert menu, too, we had to give it a shot — and we went three for three. It was a kind of thick peanut butter and jelly brownie that went well with a post-dinner cup of coffee.

Alana’s also has a wine menu that features a good selection at reasonable prices and a cool bar area. It’s always on the Columbus top ten restaurant lists — and as I saw last night, its place on those lists should come as no surprise.