Road to Chicago

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Coffee from the car, the fog on the lake.
We had fun at Salt Fork park (we saw a buck! and it was very pretty! and I saw the milky way for the first time ever!), but when the temperature dropped down to 35 degrees overnight our K-Mart special sleeping bags didn’t really do the trick. So up at dawn to meet the fog, we continued our mosey along state route 40, through some small towns in Ohio. Based on a recommendation from Rich, we pulled off in Grove City, OH and visited Crema Cafe.

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Kevin, the shops proprietor, regarded us with a suspicious eye when we asked if he roasts his own coffee, but once we explained our “not from around here” situation he opened right up. He also poured me a lovely latte and made a macchiato for Neil, as well as talking us up about his Linea, the customer flow on Sundays, and his girlfriend’s wonderful bulldog, Gerty. Although our stop was brief, we could tell that Kevin had a well thought-out operation.

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After a much needed foray into some vegetables from the grocery store, we were off to Indianapolis. With less delay than we expected, we arrived and met the hospitable and down-to-earth BJ Davis, who showed us around her shop which would have been closed otherwise. She pulled us some great shots, first her new Nicaraguan single-origin and then her house espresso. She also talked to us about the realities of specialty coffee in Strip Mall America, where a 9th Street Espresso approach to coffee is simply impossible. Instead, she takes customer demands and turns them a little bit – so a “Molasses cookie latte” is made with real spices and Molasses, rather than a processed syrup. She also had us smell and taste the local honey and Hickory syrup (like a smokey Maple syrup) she used. Plus, she made me an awesome blood orange italian soda, and didn’t even mock me a little bit. In my opinion, the NY coffee scene could use a few people like her.

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The Mug-n-Bun special.
But perhaps more importantly than our adventures in coffee, BJ also showed us an adventure in burgers and root beer. She took us to the Mug-n-Bun drive-in, where they still brew their own root beer. I had the “Mug-n-Bun” special – which is a little ironic as it is not served on a bun – a bacon cheeseburger with everything on it served on white toast. Neil had an Indianapolis staple called a fried, breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. Both of us enjoyed the signature onion rings and the atmosphere. Plus we got a bumper sticker that says “I heart Mug-n-Bun food” so really, our lives are complete. We thought we at least had to make it to Chicago, but we were wrong!

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~ by neoney on September 19, 2007.

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