Category Archives: Ohio

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

Weldon’s

It is often asserted that Columbus is the ice cream capital of the world, and while the city has a very good case,  including the rest of Central Ohio does make a stronger argument for ice cream dominance. Weldon’s have been producing ice cream in the same location for 80 years and their Millersport store, overlooking Buckeye Lake would be another jewel in the crown.

My first visit to Weldon’s was a welcome reward for a long, hot bike ride through seemingly endless cornfields. Entering the store you have the sense of stepping back in time: painted wooden benches, an old juke box with three plays for a quarter and home-made ice cream drumsticks. Samples of their many flavors are given on a metal spoon.

The most popular flavors are always available but other flavors rotate. Some like Rocky Shores, Mudd Island and Buckeye Blitz seemed appropriate for the location. I chose brown cinnamon peach and craw dad tracks and was particularly enamored with the brown cinnamon peach and the drip catcher was useful on a 95º afternoon. The brown cinnamon peach was a smooth creamy blend with a good balance of the fruit and spice flavors. The craw dad tracks was a creamy vanilla ice cream with pecans and caramel.

Weldon’s is definitely worth a stop if you are in the Buckeye Lake area and may even justify planning a day trip around. Buckeye Lake, man-made as a feeder lake for the Ohio and Erie Canal, is now a state park with plenty of opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming.

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Filed under ice cream, Ohio

Maid-Rite

Today I went back in time, back to an age when fast food and drive-ins were a novelty. I had this taste of vintage Americana in Greenville, Ohio, a small town better known as the home of the Kitchen-Aid mixer.

For the uninitiated (and that will include most people who don’t hail from Iowa), a Maid-Rite is a loose-meat sandwich, which means it’s ground beef that hasn’t been formed in to a patty so it’s similar to a sloppy joe but without the tomato sauce.  The tradition of Maid-Rites started in Iowa where they are much more well known and dates back to the 1920’s, but the Greenville restaurant opened in 1934.

Maid-Rite sandwiches are small and a standard order seems to be at least 2 or 3, with stories of people eating double digit quantities. The meat is cooked in two special trough-like steamers. The buns are pulled out of a separate steamer, the bottom half is spread with yellow mustard, piled with meat and then topped with finely chopped onion and slices of pickle. A classic Maid-Rite is $1.50 and for 15c extra you can add cheese, making it a Cheese-Rite. The menu is limited with a couple of variations on Maid-Rites, ham and cheese or chicken and egg salad sandwiches. There are no french fries, only bags of chips but you can wash your sandwiches down with beer, soda or a milkshake.

I’ve been hearing stories about these legendary sandwiches for over a year and the visit was long anticipated, but as I gingerly unwrapped the crinkly white paper, I was worried that it could not live up to the hype. First appearances were not promising. Maid-Rites are not the most attractive of sandwiches and the soft white bun looked squashed and crumbled, even though it had only travelled a few feet from the counter.

I picked it up, trying to prevent the crumbly meat from falling out of the squishy bun and as I did I got a waft of beefy goodness. Things were looking up. The sandwich is extremely soft and the only crunch is from the onions and pickles. The flavor is surprising, much sweeter than I expected, with a touch of black pepper.  The seasoning is a secret but guesses include beer, cola syrup and mustard.

It’s a satisfying sandwich that disappears quickly and I was soon on my third, understanding how they can become addictive. By the third one I had also worked out a method of holding it so that I didn’t lose half of the filling.

In addition to its craveable sandwiches, the Greenville Maid-Rite is also famous for its chewing gum wall. The exterior walls on both sides of the restaurant are covered by wads of chewing gum left behind by the patrons of days gone by. It’s disgusting but also strangely captivating and I’ve never seen anything like it.

After 76 years the owners have just opened their second restaurant in Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami University). The food will be the same, but they are hoping that chewing gum tradition won’t be replicated.

You can find Maid-Rite at 125 N Broadway Street, Greenville, Ohio (937.548.2251). If you are taking your Maid-Rites to go, or planning to freeze them (such is their following that people often do) you can request a cold bun. By the time you reach your destination the hot meat will have sufficiently steamed the bun.

More photos on flickr.

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Filed under Burgers, Ohio, sandwiches

Local 127 – Cincinnati

As the only working chef in the US who is also a Master Sommelier, Steve Geddes is an anomaly. Achieving the honor of Master Sommelier is impressive enough as there are fewer than 200 of them worldwide, but Steve decided that where he really wanted to be was in the kitchen. He moved to Cincinnati last year and is now head chef at Local 127, a restaurant that opened in the fall of ’09.

As well as being so accomplished, Steve is also a genuinely nice guy. Knowing that he was a Master Sommelier, we asked for some advice on wine pairings. Not only was he was happy to offer guidance on wines and answer questions about the menu , but he also talked with us at length about becoming a chef, suppliers, rare breed Ossabaw pigs and even sent out some samples of their amazing copa and lardo. Later, when he saw us peeking into the kitchen he said ‘come on in, that’s why we took off the doors’. Like I said, a genuinely nice guy, and passionate about sourcing, sustainability and the local food economy. Where possible, the food on the menu comes from within a 127 mile radius and Steve tries to support local suppliers as well as farmers by, for example, procuring his spices from the Colonel in Findlay Market rather than purchasing them from a wholesaler.

The menu has a ‘cured and pickled’ section with seven house made options to choose from.  We went with the chef’s choice, a selection of four of the seven. Clockwise from the top they were smoked chicken with pickled radishes and a Madeira sauce, a velvety smoothy chicken liver pate with Riesling gelée and pickled pears, smoked golden trout from Idaho but house smoked and a pork terrine with picked beans. They were served with thin crispy toasts.  My favorite was the lightly dressed and very moist trout, but I thought both the pate and terrine were excellent too. Only the smoked chicken failed to excite, mostly because the sauce was a little overpowering.

We decided to share some small plates rather than ordering a main dish. First out was potato skins with crispy pork, cheddar and chives topped with a surprisingly light but very cheesy foam (they would be a really good bar snack). Next was sublime house made gnocchi- large, pillowy-soft, pan seared dumplings with buttery sauteed mushrooms, vibrant pesto and salty parmesan which gave the dish a wonderful range of flavors. Both the pan searing and the puffed rice added an appealing contrast in texture. While potato soup sounds like more of a winter dish, this chilled version was refreshing, soothing and surprisingly flavorful. The bowl, sans soup, arrived at the table with a small mound of potato salad and a swirled pattern of green garlic dressing. The soup came separately and was poured from a mason jar by the server. The fourth small plate, a herb risotto with smoked chicken, preserved lemon and puffed rice was another winning dish. The smoked chicken was better utilized here and the dish was light and spring-like, but satisfying. The preserved lemon gave a fragrant citrus aroma.

Full as we were it was still hard to resist the lures of the local cheese plate, especially as we had some red wine left. All of the cheeses (Tomme, Barren Co. Blue and Kentucky Rose) came from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Kentucky  and were all new to me. The Tomme was rich and creamy, the Barren Co. Blue was a Stilton-esque tangy ripe blue and the Kentucky Rose was a light, buttery blue. They were served with honeycomb, thin apple slices, pecans and raisins.

Overall, it was an exceptional meal. Service was generally very good and my only real criticism of Local 127 is that the decor seems mismatched with its farm to table mission. The menu has a rustic feel both in content and design and the aforementioned mason jar service furthers that impression, but the decor, most of which is inherited, is too polished and has something of a slick ’80s hotel feel. A more eclectic decor, similar to FARM Bloomington would have been a better fit with the ethos of the kitchen. Inconsistent aesthetics aside, Local 127 is definitely worth visiting if you are in Cincinnati. I will be looking for excuses for another trip soon.

Also noteworthy was the attached bar named Tonic on Fourth which has an interesting cocktail and punch menu. They make a lot of their own ingredients such as bitters, grenadine and ginger liqueur. There is also a limited selection of food available in the bar.

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Filed under Ohio, restaurants