Eat & Drink: A year in photos

Meghan Ralston, Columbus Alive

1. That time I made a beer trophy

We were doing a special issue on beer that included drinking contests. The initial idea was to get a trophy cup and fill it with beer, but it turns out that's not how trophies work. See, they have this rod that runs all the way through the cup and is mounted into the base of the trophy; while they may be pretty, they are definitely not water-tight. So I went to plan B, which was taking a tiny beer mug and duct taping it to a trophy base that I got on clearance. It wasn't stable, but with the help of our intern Matthew Lovett, who poured the beer, we managed to get the shot. And while several people have inquired, no, it didn't hold up long enough to give to anyone.

2.The year Mughdal Darbar replaced the Taj Mahal

Throughout college at OSU, I loved going to the Taj Mahal. So when it closed I was bummed out. But as luck would happen, it reopened this year as Mughal Darbar. The new digs are lavish, and the food is phenomenal. I was so impressed, I had them wrap up everything I photographed and then took it home. My boyfriend Ty and I feasted for days.

3.Theyear I met Jeni

The first time I met Jeni Britton Bauer was at her headquarters in Harrison West for a photo of the Jeni's Company Band. While she wasn't in the photos, she still hung out the whole time and gave me an amazing tour of the place, including the brand new ice cream vending machine they had just gotten for the Columbus Airport. I was the first non-Jeni's person to lay eyes on it.

The second time I met Jeni was at the North Market, shortly after the floor plans there were altered and many booths had moved. We took photos of Jeni in front of her new shop counter. Just like the first time we met, she was charming and easy to talk to. She also knew exactly how to pose without me giving her direction. Working with her was a total breeze.

4.That time they made me the most ridiculous grilled cheese I'd ever seen

I had gone to Bodega to photograph their famous Monday Night Special, a grilled cheese for only $1. So I was surprised when the chef brought out this beast. While I couldn't use the photo for the story, I still took pictures of the insane grilled cheese just to prove to my co-workers that it exists. We ended up using them for a story in Crave, but this is the first time Alive readers will see it.

5.Theyear I learned meatballs can be gorgeous

When I was told we were doing a cover story on meatballs, I was a little concerned I might not be able to make meatballs into an enticing cover image. But I was completely wrong. I saw six different meatballs that were much prettier than I had anticipated. This Gallo's shot is an outtake that never ran, but it's still one of my favorites.

6.Theyear 16-Bit opened

An old school arcade within walking distance of work? Yes, please. It was a long wait for 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, but it may have been worth it. Now that it's open I never want it to close.

7.Theyear I met the couple who own The Good Frank

Tyrone and Marcella Jackson are amazing people. They are friendly, caring and, most of all, fully invested in the community. The couple met me in front of the Clintonville Community Market where they were setting up shop for the day with their three kids in tow. While they started up the grill, I chatted with them and held their youngest. On top of great photo subjects, Tyrone and Marcella were great conversationalists. I felt like I really learned about them, their family and their business philosophy. It was a pleasure.

8.Theyear Star Lanes opened

An upscale bowling alley just sounds cool. When I got there and saw that almost all the lanes are lit with blacklights, I was sold. They had lots of fun colors all over the alley and restaurant, so finding spots to take photos was easy. My favorite was using the ball rack to place a Turkey Club sandwich. Looking at it still makes me laugh a little.

9.That time we pretended to be drunk

Pretending to be drunk is harder than you'd think. Especially when it's 10 a.m. on a Monday and you're in your office with at least seven other publications' worth of staff watching you. But yeah, I think we pulled it off.

10.Theyear I learned about French-pressing beer

I'm not a beer drinker, but this sounded awful. As it turns out, it was actually really pretty. Jesse Tigges was the brave one to try it - with some success. I guess I've just never thought about French-pressing beer.