Friday, August 24, 2012

Defining Moments

When one reaches a point where it is time to make a change, (see previous blog post, ‘Hitting the Reset Button,’) the ideal scenario is to know what that next thing is to be. There are those who have their life all mapped out, and nothing has ever thwarted their hopes or dreams and all their plans always work out just the way they wanted them to.I congratulate those people.

Hmmm. Does that happen a lot? Of course that also means, there wasn’t a lot of room for spontaneity either, so that’s the flip side on that. I’m really only saying I just had absolutely no idea what I was going to do next with the extra time I was about to have. (The word 'Void' comes to mind) ..'to fill the void I was about to have' might fit here.

But I did know a few things, doing nothing was not going to work out real well for me, doing something which didn’t challenge and excite me wasn’t going to do it either. I knew I wanted to keep making a contribution into the lives of others, and I wanted to be out with people, challenge myself, and maybe have some fun.

I thought back to some defining moments. I don’t consider myself a creative person. But there is an area of creativity I can relate to…

Defining Experience #1 
A few years back, I went to Columbus for something and had heard I should try Jeni’s Ice Cream. I’m not one to turn down good advice, unless I don’t feel like following it. I liked this advice though.
I really love the creativity of Jeni’s Ice Cream …. (Small genuflect to Graeter’s in Cincinnati. I bow to Graeter’s.  I’m forever a fan of Graeter’s by far superior to all, premium ice cream. It is hands down, second to none, the best ice cream in the world. Please Cincinnatians no Graeter’s /Aglamesis’ debates.) BUT, for the sheer creativity of flavors, Jeni’s is the best, and the quality is right up there too. When I speak of creativity I’m referring to the mix of salty and sweet, using typically savory flavors in their sweet ice cream and using all fresh, as local as possible, ingredients. I fell in love with Jeni’s flavors, concept, colors, logo. Here are some flavor names in case you are new to this topic: Salty Caramel (their #1 flavor), Thai Peanut, Wild Poached Pear, Limeberry, Wildberry Lavender, Pistachios and Honey. I mean when you walk in they are standing there with a handful of tasting spoons, they know you aren’t trying one flavor and walking out again. It’s an experience!

Defining Experience #2.
I happened to read a Facebook question from someone I follow who is a cook and only posts  about food, I’m a foodie. It was a local person. And the person asked her followers what is their favorite popsicle flavor. People were answering things like ‘cherry, grape etc.’ and so I was going to tell mine. Which until that moment was ‘banana’ if anyone is keeping track of trivia of my life. And then this happened, two people chimed in with answers which befuddled me bing, bing, first one, then the other, and I felt like I must have been living in outer space, because I had no idea of what they were speaking. It was as if a foreign language was appearing. And all of a sudden my little answer of “banana”  was not going to cut it. I had to find out what this thing was they were talking about. Because now people were answering with their favorite STREETPOP flavor. And I just did not know what is a “Streetpop” ????? This was disconcerting and I had to make it my mission to find out.

Guess what I learned ? Streetpops are like Jeni’s Ice cream except NOT in Columbus, NOT Ice Cream, NOT as expensive, and NOT as fattening! Wait this is starting to sound not at all like Jeni’s, maybe I should say what they are. They are popsicles. They are local in Cincinnati. They are where the people are! (This is key, this makes them really part of my defining moment.)

They are exotically flavored in the manner of Jeni’s ice cream, Oh, there it is, that’s what I was saying up there, about being like Jeni’s but not. Same principle in that they use oft-times savory flavors in their sweet popsicles and use fresh and as local as possible ingredients to hand make their popsicles. They sell them from carts wherever what is happening is happening. But also Streetpops has a store at Main and Liberty in OTR. They have about 20 flavors or more, and are constantly making new ones. Usually they have 6-7 flavors with them on a cart if you see them out and around. They are only $3. each, a steal.  How about thai basil lime, raspberry lemon, habanera banana, chocolate chili pepper or just coconut? Go get one….you know you want to try one.

But I was thinking I really really liked that Streetpops thing, I was obsessed until I found them and could try one myself. The idea of those flavors together and the colors, really appealed to me. Here is the other idea which appealed to me. At the time I didn’t know Jeni’s had a food truck. They are mobile now. But I saw that Streetpops could go wherever people are gathered.

There is a store in town selling highly touted sandwiches of bread with cheese and various ingredients in between. These are spoken of highly all around town. But you know what’s wrong with that store? It doesn’t move. If there is an event at intersection x/y and that store is 20 blocks away, people aren’t going to make the trip for that. But if I were rolling in a vehicle and could pull up to where the people are…. But then next week if what is happening is a different location, and I could pull up there, then I’m always going to be where my (potential) customers are. But that store is in a fixed location. I discovered I like the concept of a rolling restaurant. And my own creative (!) juices began to flow. The ones I thought I didn’t have.
As much as I’m a huge fan of the Jeni’s,  Streetpop’s, (and Graeter’s,) of the world, I know my creative bent is toward the cooking side of the foodie world, not the baking or sweets.

So that’s the direction I’m turning my (newly found) creative energies. The idea of putting flavors and colors and new combinations together is something I can do, and with a mobile kitchen can take it directly to where people are gathered!!

It's great to know what I'm moving toward and great to be headed there.
My brother-in-law has become my business partner. We’ll save that story for another post. We are in the process of having our kitchen built into our truck  and there is a story there too. Hint: always check references!

But we’ll be on the road soon! Thanks for following along.

Make the best of today, that’s what I’m doing.


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