Category Archives: Columbus

So long summer

The pools are closing, the kids are back in school and yesterday I saw pumpkins and apple cider at the farmers’ market. It’s officially the end of summer. For me it seems to have gone by in a flash – I’ve been going full throttle all summer on our new business start up – Columbus Food Adventures. We officially launched in July and the summer has been a whirlwind of tours, promotional events, emails and learning how to run a business. So far, it’s been a lot of fun and we are enjoying sharing some of our favorite foods and culinary experiences with adventurous food lovers.

With hindsight a couple of decisions I made in the spring were mistakes – signing up for a CSA and joining a pool. I’ve been too busy to do much cooking or eating at home, and lazy afternoons with a book have been been extremely rare. Each week, I have diligently collected my CSA, felt guilty about the vegetables in the fridge, packed the freezer with fruit and lamented all the things I wish I had time to cook.

As well as the tours, there have been lots of research trips, meals with friends and the launch of another new blog – streeteatscolumbus.com . Columbus is undergoing a street food explosion with new trucks appearing every week. Street food has been a theme for us this summer. One of our favorite new street food vendors is Foodie Cart and we especially love it when they set up outside Mouton for breakfast. Here is Misako preparing one of their creative Japanese crepes.

streeteatscolumbus, foodie cart

One of the other things that I haven’t had enough time for this summer is blogging. There have been lots of events and meals that I wanted to post on hungrywoolf that never made it online. One of them was the Food and Wine celebration, a fundraiser for Veggie U at the Culinary Vegetable Institute. I was extremely lucky to be offered a free ticket at the last minute. We had some amazing food, celeb spotted, watched a cooking demo by Jonathan Sawyer, hung out with the fine folks from Jeni’s ice creams, and ate and drank the night away.

Slow Food Columbus out did previous years with two wonderful open air dinners  in 2010. The stunning Girasole dinner, kindly hosted by Val Jorgensen was a fundraiser for the Terra Madre delegates. It was an amazing banquet with a long table set between two rows of sunflowers. More photos including lots of food shots here.

slow food columbus girasole

The annual ‘Shake the hand that feeds you‘ dinner at the Flying J farm was a more low key event with the Caskey family from Skillet presiding over the grill and campfire. Many of the guests camped overnight and breakfast was almost as good as the dinner itself. (more photos)

This summer the organizers of the popular Goodale Park music series experimented with a series of community potlucks hosted by local blogs and themed to fit with the music. I was involved both with the taco trucks themed pot luck and the hungrywoolf ‘Grown in Ohio‘ potluck. Great music, friends and food.

Other fun food (and even some non-food) related events were a day at the state fair where I ate pig wings and deep fried mashed potatoes; Pecha-Kucha under the stars; Shadowbox’s open air showing of ‘Back to the Garden’ at Schiller Park; the Doo-dah parade (and the adventures of the keg-bike); Roman Holiday al fresco at the Wexner Center; lots of bike rides courtesy of Mr George and Mojito-Madness the brain child of CMH Gourmand.

Mojito madness was a quest for the best mojito in the city which necessitated many hours of drinking and lots of tasty snacks to keep the team motivated. It was hard work, but I was happy to help. In fact, I might just make myself a mojito this afternoon to make a farewell toast to the summer of 2010.

What have been your food highlights this summer?

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Filed under blogging, Columbus, Columbus Food Adventures, CSA, street food

Goodale Park Music Series – Potluck

The Goodale Park Music Series is one of my favorite things about summer in Columbus. It’s a recipe for relaxing Sunday: great music, friends, running into people you know, sitting under a shady tree, people watching and enjoying a picnic lunch.

This summer the Goodale Park Music Series also features a community potluck. Each week is hosted by a local food blog and has a theme to reflect the music. This week the band is Columbus favorite The Spikedrivers and Hungrywoolf is the food blog sponsoring the potluck. Our theme is grown in Ohio.  It’s a perfect time for us to bask in the glory of Ohio’s bountiful harvest and to be grateful for our farmers and our gardens. I’m sure the farmers’ markets will be bursting with color and flavor over the next few days providing lots of inspiration.

I will be making some fruit and vegetable dishes with produce from Wayward Seed farm. At the moment it looks like it will be a corn and zucchini salad and a bowl of fruit salad or sliced peaches.

I hope you will be able to join us at the potluck (and if you do, please come and say hi.) Bring a dish to share, your own drinks and a plate and fork.

Potluck starts around noon. The Music starts at 12.30pm. Here is the Facebook event page.

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Filed under Columbus, Ohio, special events

No Reservations Columbus

michael kimura kihachi columbus

Columbus made a brief appearance in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations ‘Heartland’ episode this evening. The fly-by visit was great exposure for two of our local talents but caused much consternation in the twitter-facebook-CU sphere, mostly due to Michael Ruhlman’s comments about Applebee’s and his apparent surprise that good food was to be found in Columbus. (he should know better, he’s from Cleveland)

mike kimura sushi columbus

The two local talents featured were Chef Michael Kimura of Kihachi, and Gary Robinette “the MacGyver of Pizza” from Clever Crow.

kihachi columbus no reservations

Kihachi, far from being in the middle of nowhere, Mr Bourdain, is found very close to 270 and Sawmill, tucked in a strip mall at Federated Boulevard. Anyone who reads alt.eats, knows that I am a fan of obscure restaurants in strip malls and Kihachi is one of many that are worth seeking out. Kihachi is one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants in Columbus. It is also one of the best restaurants in Columbus and so it was no surprise that Bourdain gushed about the food. Coincidentally I went to Kihachi for dinner later on the very same evening that Bourdain was there. You can read about that dinner, and several previous Kihachi dinners on this blog. The photos in this post are from my most recent meal there, and one that I have thus far neglected to blog about. On that visit we ordered from the menu, choosing mostly from the exceptional daily specials.

clever crow, gary robinette, circus bar, pizza

Clever Crow, working out of the kitchen at the Circus Bar, had only been open a few weeks before Bourdain’s crew came to town, but it has received accolades from day one. It’s pizza but not as you know it, so put your pizza preconceptions aside before you try it. Its distinctions include the crispy yet thick cornmeal and 200-year-old sourdough base, the housemade sausage and pepperoni, the unusual and creative flavor combinations and the sheer weight of toppings. It amazes me how the crust manages to stay crisp and firm even when loaded down with cheese and sausage. Gary places an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients and offers weekly specials such as the Greek: Mozzarella, Roasted Red Pepper, Kalamata Olive Tapenade, Feta and Fresh Rosemary.

My current favorite (pictured above) is the corn pizza with lots of cheese, sweetcorn, purple (yes, purple) potatoes and caramelized onions. You can order full or half pizzas or just a slice, or you can get two different halves in the same pan, which is what we usually do. Half a pizza is really filling. The only downside of this great-artisinal-made-to-order-thick-crusted pizza, is that it isn’t quick to make. Luckily it’s located in a bar, so take some friends and plan on drinking a couple of beers while you wait. This is definitely not fast food.

clever crow, pizza, circus bar, Columbus, no reservations

Contact:

Kihachi, Federated Boulevard,  2667 Federated Boulevard, (614) 764-9040 (closed Sunday)

Clever Crow, Circus Bar, 1227 N. High Street 614.421.2998 Tue-Sat 4-10pm

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Filed under Columbus, ethnic eats, Ohio, restaurants

Announcing Columbus Food Adventures

I haven’t been posting as much on Hungrywoolf in recent weeks as I would like, but I think I have a good reason. I’ve been working towards the launch of a new venture, my new business – Columbus Food Adventures. Starting July 27th I will be offering small group food tours of Columbus. We are starting with three itineraries: a Short North walking tour, a van based taco truck tour and a van based alt.eats tour. More itineraries will be added during the course of the year and we will also be offering private group tours.

Food tours are the culmination of so many of my interests and passions – travel, food and pride in the city that I now call my home. I first had the idea to offer food tours in Columbus over a year ago, when I was trying figure out what to do next. At first I wasn’t sure that the idea was viable but over the course of the last year the signs have kept pointing in this direction. We had a staggering turn out to our taco truck tour in April; research revealed a relative lack of tour options in Columbus; and national recognition of the Columbus food scene kept growing. In addition more and more people, from friends to journalists, started asking us to take them on tours. It was clear the demand was there.

Everyone I mentioned my idea to was so enthusiastic about the possibility of food tours in Columbus that the idea gradually took on a life of its own. Before I knew it I was signing company papers and shopping for a van. It’s already been a huge learning curve, but it’s very exciting.

I have had a wonderful response and support from business owners, tourism and restaurant organizations and I am thankful for our fantastic partner businesses. I can’t wait to show them off.

I hope that you will help us to celebrate the launch of Columbus Food Adventures at the North Market ‘s Dispatch Kitchen on July 22nd 6-9pm. Please leave a comment if you plan to attend.

The website is www.columbusfoodadventures.com and you can follow us on facebook or twitter.

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Filed under alteats, Columbus, Columbus Food Adventures, ethnic eats, Taco trucks, Websites

Mobile Food Mania

Columbus is in the midst of mobile food mania. Following the lead of cities like New York, LA and Portland, the trend of gourmet food trucks is hitting the streets of Columbus.

Last year when we started the website tacotruckscolumbus.com, we thought that we might find up to ten taco trucks – we grossly underestimated. Since then, trucks have come and gone, but overall the popularity and number of taco trucks have steadily grown. There are now forty taco trucks, making Columbus the taco truck capital of the Midwest. No other Midwest city can rival the number and variety of taquerias gracing our city streets. They’re not just Mexican either – there are Honduran, Salvadorean and Colombian trucks too.

Rad Dog‘s hot dog cart is a well established vegan friendly street food option, but now, hot dog carts and taco trucks aren’t the only mobile vendors offering good value and delicious food on the streets of Columbus.

Ray Rays BBQ truck opened this winter in Clintonville and has had a strong following ever since, winning hearts and devoted fans with their pork, ribs and brisket. You can keep track of their hours and location on facebook.

Skillet’s mobile kitchen is an off-shoot of their Whittier Avenue location and can be sporadically found at O’Reilley’s autoparts on High Street. They offer such delicacies as short rib sandwiches and pork belly quesadillas. You can find out what’s on offer when and where by following them on @skilletrustic. If you are lucky, you may find The Lucky Ladle soup cart at a farmers market or special event.

Mikey’s Late Night Slice pizza truck is a spin-off of their fixed-abode parking lot location near Bodega. As the name suggests, look for the pizza-slinging truck, late at night, or on facebook.

Columbus has three Caribbean food trucks: El Rincon Latino on the East side, Red Snapper which can be found at Pearl Alley Market on Tuesdays and Fridays during the summer  months, and Dave’s Caribbean Food Truck, which appears outside Skully’s on Sunday nights.

New kid on the block is Three Babes And  A Baker, a cupcake truck, currently displaying their beautiful wares at the junction of High and Gay, downtown. They bake the cupcakes in the truck early in the morning and today were doing a brisk lunchtime trade. Hours and location are updated @3babesandabaker.

Eagerly anticipated is the soon-to-be-launched Japanese crepe cart – Fresh Street. They should make their debut appearance any day now. To be first in line follow them @freshstreet

What did I miss? I’m sure there are more, and I can’t wait to see what other trucks pop up.

What’s on your mobile food wish list?

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Filed under Columbus, street food, Taco trucks

North Market Apron Gala

When I volunteered for the North Market Apron Gala Mary told me that I would be assigned the role of ‘Apron Fairy’. She assured me that it would be fun. All I had to do , she informed me, was hand out stickers to the best aprons, oh, and wear a set of wings. Dressing up is not my forte. Halloween costumes fill me with dread and the last time I appeared in public as a fairy was in the 1970s (see exhibit A).  But, I love the North Market and if supporting the market meant wearing wings, so be it.

As a not-for-profit organization, the apron gala is an important annual fundraising event for the North Market. It’s a big event and the fierce competition between the vendors ensures that there is a fantastic spread of food. At the last minute I was asked to be a food judge as well. [I’m learning (a little slowly perhaps) that one shouldn’t always say yes to these requests] Of course, I said, I’ll be walking around anyway, I can handle both.

It was harder than I expected: crowded market, sticking-out-wings, trying to juggle a camera, pen, list of foods, stickers, plate, fork, glass as well as trying to make sure I didn’t miss any of the best aprons and that I tasted all of the food (there was A LOT of food) in time for the winners to be announced.

Despite the ‘pressures’ of being the apron fairy and a food judge, the gala was fun. I saw a lot of friends, ate  wonderful food and enjoyed working with my fellow judges Walker Evans (Columbus Underground) and Brian Wilson (Senior Development Chef at Bob Evans). Sadly I didn’t have time to watch any of the Edible Columbus cooking demonstrations, but I did try one of Tricia’s appetizers radishes with butter on bread.

As apron fairy I picked 12 of the best aprons that I saw during the evening. I tried to select the people who had made their own aprons, or obviously put a lot of thought and effort into their aprons. The winner was chosen by audience applause. The winning aprons were the ‘spill baby spill’ couple, who received loud cheers for their topical BP themed aprons.

At the same time I was apron spotting I was also trying to make sure that I tried all of the appetizers, main tastes and desserts. The appetizer course was the mostly hotly contested and the judges deliberations were lengthy. The winner was the Candy’s shacks panko crusted deep fried shrimp with mole sauce and orange. Other strong contenders included the Omega crawfish bread, Taste of Belgium waffle with buffalo mozzarella and Hania’s mielone (chicken croquettes with a cheesy center).

The winning main taste was the buffalo and foie gras slider with duck fat fries from North Market Poultry and Game. It is the one dish that people have not stopped talking about since the event. Mine looks somewhat squashed. That may or may not be because I had to snatch it out from under someone’s approaching hand. Pretty – no, a deserving winner – Yes.

For a much better picture of the winning slider I refer you to Columbus Foodie. Becke was also gracious enough to give me her Pure Imagination Chocolatier dessert (below) as there were none left for me to judge. Unlike other food judging competitions, the judges don’t get a preview or have samples set aside, so I was lining up for waffles and chocolate cups just like everyone else. The winning dessert was the bananas foster from Omega, and the winning display was the Greener Grocer, neither of which, sadly, I have pictures of.

This was the 14th annual apron gala. Its a great event for a special place. If you value the North Market and want a chance to try foods from all of the vendors, enjoy an open bar and have fun with friends I encourage you to plan on attending the 15th apron gala next year. I’ll be there, with or without wings.

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Filed under Columbus, judging, North Market, special events

Cooking with Basi Italia’s John Dornback

I will admit that I have a big soft-spot for John Dornback, the talented chef and owner of Basi Italia. Johnny was the chef for our last two Slow Food open air dinners and as well as cooking up delicious food in far from ideal circumstances (a folding table in a windy field), his enthusiasm helped to make each event both relaxed and fun. When I lost my job last year, I went to Basi for a commiseration dinner with a friend and Johnny insisted that both my dinner – and a strong drink were on the house. It was an act of kindness that made the world seem a much brighter place.

Basi, is a tiny Italian restaurant hidden in an alley in Victorian Village. Once you find it, you are rewarded with great food, a cosy atmosphere and in the summer one of the best patios in Columbus. From the first Monday in June you can enjoy the patio at lunchtime too.

Johnny was a last minute stand in for the North Market cooking class last week, but as we sat down to a class of bubbly and a beautiful  plate of hors d’oeuvres you would never have guessed that he had only been given 24 hours notice.

We started by learning a dish that is one of of Basi’s most popular. The zucchini appetizer is so beloved that I don’t think they will ever be allowed to take it off the menu. It is a simple dish with but its one of those simple dishes that really works. Whenever people talk about Basi they invariably mention the zucchini appetizer.

If you want to try replicating it at home, here’s what you need: matchsticks of zucchini (these are cut by hand at the restaurant), sliced almonds, lemon juice (ideally meyer lemon juice when, and if you can find it), olive oil, salt, parmesan and fresh flat leaf parsley. The secrets are to use plenty of olive oil and to toast the almonds in the olive oil to flavor the oil before you add the zucchini. Once you get some color on the almonds, you add the zucchini to the pan and keep tossing it in the oil. You are just trying to warm the zucchini and not saute it, so it really doesn’t need much time. Probably the biggest pitfall is overcooking the zucchini. Salt to taste, toss in lots of chopped parsley and serve with parmesan. Johnny used sheets of thinly sliced parmesan but shavings would work fine too. The zucchini appetizer was well paired with a New Zealand blended white.

The main course was a salad, although the word salad seems insufficient to describe it. Steak, roasted corn, roasted vidalia onions, jicama, avocado, gorgonzola, green godess dressing, romaine, roasted cherry tomatoes and roasted fingerling potatoes. Lots of flavors but they were surprisingly harmonious on the plate. The roasted ingredients can be prepared ahead and then reheated just before you assemble the salad. The heat of the roasted ingredients wilts the lettuce and the jicama adds some crunch to the salad. Because there was oil on the roasted ingredients the dressing, made with pureed roasted shallots, cider vinegar, poppy seeds and honey, was almost oil free.

Johnny gave us a lot of advice on cookings steaks. Most importantly making sure that you bring the meat to room temperature before you try to cook it as this is key to getting a good sear. He used a spice rub (fennel seed, brown sugar, oregano, basil, mild chili and red pepper flakes) which also helped with the sear, and you could hear the ooos and aahs as people tasted it. Johnny used a large piece of sirlion and seared it for four minutes on each side before transferring it to a 450ºF oven fro 5-7 minutes. As well as bringing it to room temperature before you cook the steak, its also important to let it rest before you serve it. Johnny cooked the steak instinctively but also gave advice to those who rely on meat thermometers: Don’t forget that it will keep cooking after you take it out of the oven, so take it out before it reaches the desired temperature.

Dessert was a pineapple brulee with tiny meringues, and a buttermilk sauce. The sauce was made with a simple syrup infused with mint and ginger whisked together with buttermilk. Mint and pineapple is a fantastic combination and it was a light and refreshing summer dessert.

It was a great class, Johnny’s informal style of cooking with a focus on quality ingredients and simple flavors is both accessible and inspiring and his passion for cooking and life is infectious.

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Filed under classes, Columbus, North Market, recipes, salads, Vegetarian