24 Small Plates in 24 Hours: Fourth Meal

Shelley Mann, Columbus Alive

10:23 p.m.: Bar at Bodega

The end is in sight, and with just two plates to go, I'm feeling optimistic.

After the welcome calm of Ocean Club, Bodega is packed for TeamTim Trivia. It's loud, raucous and warm in there. Very warm. I briefly consider eating on the patio, despite plunging temperatures and rain.

Bodega's chef Marcus Meacham has been following our adventure all day on Instagram. He's thrilled we're wrapping up the evening at his restaurant, and has the kitchen whip up special small-plate versions of the night's dinner specials as a nightcap treat on what I've deemed 24 Small Plates Day.

Meacham has developed a reputation for creating eccentric, often themed, weekly specials menus for the hip Short North bar, and our server is especially excited to tell us about tonight's. Only I don't hear a word he says. "They just need to be small," I plead. "Small. Please."

"Oh. Yeah, of course, we're going to make them small," he promises. I'm not sure he understands the desperation behind my plea.

As we wait for our food, we grab trivia answer sheets. Actually answering the questions, though, proves impossible-probably because our bodies are devoting every available resource to digesting food, leaving nothing behind for brainpower.

The first plate comes out, shrimp with mushrooms ($12), and it's actually a fascinating little dish. Spicy sauteed jumbo shrimp is paired with a puree of edamame and jalapeno (like a spicy hummus), portabellos and seared wild duck foie gras.

That's right: wild foie gras. Apparently, there are some wild ducks that will gorge themselves until they develop the prized fatty liver that typically requires force-feeding to achieve (and thus gets ethical eaters up in arms). Who knew?

The final plate is whisked out. On it are four hefty squares of gorgeous lacquered pork belly ($9) that's been glazed in a pineapple-soy sauce. Yes, more pork belly. On the side are a small pile of savory rice pudding and half an avocado encased in tempura. At that moment, the avocado might as well be a giant deep-fried volleyball. I briefly panic.

But then I close my eyes and eat, forkful after forkful.

And you know what? I finish, and even manage to enjoy it. But with that last bite, my competitive eating days are over.