Category Archives: slow food

Yellow Squash Mustard Pickles

Many people, myself included fell in love with the yellow squash mustard pickles from last weekend’s Flying J dinner.  Zach and Mary Briggs are Slow Food Columbus members who lovingly made and generously donated the pickles for the event even though they weren’t able to attend the dinner themselves.

They gave me permission to share the recipe on Hungrywoolf, so for those of you who want to make some of your own to hoard for the winter or for anyone who has more squash than they can eat, here it is.

The recipe was adapted from allrecipes.com

1/4 c salt
2 1/2 lb young squash cut (they say rounds)
2 small onions sliced thin

2 1/4 c white sugar
2 c white vinegar
2 t mustard seed
1 t ground turmeric
1 t celery seed

In a large pan (one you will cook in), combine squash, onions, and salt. Mix well and let stand for 2 hours to release liquids.

When time is almost up, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, turmeric, and celery salt in a saucepan over medium/high heat. Bring to a boil.

Drain the salty liquid from the squash and onion mixture. Pour the spice brine over the vegetables, and let stand for 2 more hours.

Bring to a boil once again. Ladle into 1 pint sterile jars, filling with the liquid to within 1/4 inch of the top. Make sure rim is clean. Seal with lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a simmering water bath to seal completely.

2 Comments

Filed under canning, recipes, slow food

“Shake the Hand that Feeds you”

Slow Food Columbus’ third annual open air dinner was held at the Flying J Farm near Johnstown Ohio. Our run of good luck with the weather had come to an end, but such is the risk of any outdoor event and we ploughed on regardless. Contingency plans were put into action and our smiling host farmer Dick Jensen made quick work of moving chairs and tables to the barn.

Farm to fork is one of the tenets of Skillet’s ingredient driven approach and we were honored that the Caskey family closed their restaurant for the weekend to be a part of the dinner. They not only cheerfully braved the inclement weather but pulled off cooking in three locations – at the grill, in their mobile trailer and over the campfire.

The grilled cheese sandwiches were superlative and people are still talking about them. Brioche with Lucky Penny goat’s cheese, truffle oil and lightly dressed arugula. I’m not sure you can totally relive the magic without standing in a muddy field in the rain, but I know several people who’ve gone to Skillet for lunch this week to try.

The rest of the feast was spread out in the barn: burgers made with Flying J beef and topped with Blue Jacket dairy goats cheese, Flying J brisket, home-made pickles, arugula, ratatouille, tomatoes, panzanella, cabbage slaw, tomato marmalade and ciabatta rolls.

The beans made a grand entrance, delivered straight from the fire by farmer Dick. You can’t get more farm to table than that.

Dessert was freshly churned ice cream made with Snowville Creamery cream, and hand-churned by Warren Taylor and anyone else who wanted (or was coerced) to take a turn, from age 3 upwards. The ice cream was topped with Jeni’s delicious Ohio stone fruit compote (plums, peaches, apricots, and cherries).

The dinner was a wonderful embodiment of Slow Food’s mission of conviviality, bringing people together over food. Celebrating farm fresh ingredients, our passionate chefs and farmers and sharing a wonderful meal with old and new friends. We are still a relatively young chapter but it’s wonderful that we are already building our traditions – our annual open air dinner, camping and breakfast around a campfire, and the now required pawpaw liqueur.

Many thanks to everyone who helped to make the event such a success: Dick Jensen – Flying J Farm, The Caskeys – Skillet Rustic. Urban.Food., Warren Taylor – Snowville Creamery, Angel King – Blue Jacket Dairy, Abbe Turner Lucky Penny Farm Creamery, Mike Laughlin Northridge Organic Farm, Colleen Braumoeller – The Greener Grocer, Jeni Britton Bauer – Jeni’s Ice CreamsVino 100Ely Brothers Photography, The Molesky Family, Zach & Mary Briggs and all of the many volunteers who mucked in and helped set up, clean up, make breakfast, move chairs and churn ice cream.

There are more photos of the event here.

5 Comments

Filed under slow food, special events

Ohio River Valley Winery Tour

Wine isn’t the first agricultural product that comes to mind when you think of Ohio, so you would probably be surprised by how many wineries there are in the state, and the quality of many of the wines that are produced. June is Ohio wine month and it is a great time to explore or re-explore Ohio Wines. Restaurants such as Deepwood, Barcelona, G Michael’s and The Refectory will be featuring Ohio wines from June until November and some will be offering special menus and wine dinners.

Having been a fan of Kinkead Ridge wines since I first tasted their River Village Cellars Syrah at the 2008 Flying J Dinner, I wanted to see their vineyard and meet the producers. With the assistance of Andrew Hall, Ohio wine expert and author of the blog Oinos Nervosa I have been trying to organize a Slow Food wine tour of the Ohio River Valley (provisionally September 11th). Yesterday was a scouting trip to visit the wineries, drive the route and check out a proposed dinner venue.

Our first stop was at Valley Vineyards in Morrow Ohio which was first planted in 1969. Three generations of the Schuchter family operate the business, one of the largest vineyards in Ohio. With 30 varieties of grapes on approximately 100 acres, Valley Vineyards offer a wide variety of wines including ice wines and a vintage port.  With a large tasting room and two dining rooms Valley Vineyards cater well for visitors and hold special events and  cookouts during the summer. As we visited in the morning, with a long day ahead of us, we only tasted a couple of the wines.

Our lunch stop (and the proposed dinner venue for our tour) was at the Wildflower Cafe in Mason. A converted house, this small restaurant is run by chef Todd Hudson and focuses on local, organic and sustainable food. Many restaurants claim an interest in sustainability but Todd’s menu and sourcing make his commitment clear. This was one of two menu boards:

It was hard to choose but based on the claim that it might be the best in the world I couldn’t resist the burger. Wildflower Cafe get their grass fed beef from Webb Valley Farm 25 miles away. It was a very good burger: a juicy, well flavored patty, perhaps a little dense, in a soft pretzel roll with smoked bacon, herb mayo, cheese, greens, tomato and onion. The bacon was particularly good and the use of pretzel roll was inspired.

After lunch we headed south to Ripley Ohio. Ripley used to be an important tobacco center and is still home to the tobacco museum and festival. The collapse of the tobacco market caused some farmers to diversify into wine. Our first stop was the Meranda-Nixon winery, historically a tobacco farm and now a successful winery. As we arrived, we could see wine maker Seth Meranda out on the tractor in the vineyard.

His wife, Tina, was running the tasting room and cheerfully offered tastes quite a few of their wines. Like all of the wine makers we met yesterday she was friendly, happy to answer questions and to talk about their wines. All of the wine makers we met were very down to earth making Ohio winery tours comfortable to visitors with all levels of wine knowledge.

Meranda-Nixon are known for their Traminettes and their popular reds generally sell out. A newer experiment for them is Norton, an Ark of Taste product, more common in Missouri, and the oldest cultivated American grape. It won’t be ready until 2011 but we had a sneak preview. I particularly liked the Catawba, a blush light sweet wine from a grape that was traditionally grown in the Ohio River Valley. I think its going to make a fantastic summer spritzer.

From Meranda-Nixon it was a short drive to Kinkead Ridge. The actual vineyard is just outside of town, but the winery, only open to the public a couple of weekends a year,  is on a quiet residential street in Ripley. Kinkead Ridge does not have a tasting room and we were warmly greeted in their production room surrounded by tanks and barrels, with the smell of fermenting grapes that you only get in a cellar.

Kinkead Ridge is run by Ron Barrett and Nancy Bentley and you can follow Nancy on twitter @wineladyohio or read their blog. Ron was a wine maker in Oregon for many years but was looking for a new challenge and determined that the SW of Ohio had potential to produce world class vinifera. They first planted vines in the Ripley area in 1999 and had their first vintage in 2001.

Kinkead Ridge released two 2009 white wines this weekend, a blended River Valley Cellars white and a Viognier Roussanne. Their harvest of white grapes last year was very small and only produced 168 cases in total. If you want to try one of them you’ll have to act quickly. I thought the Viognier Roussanne was a lovely dry white, lightly fruity and floral.

Our final winery visit of the day was to La Vigna, a vineyard with a picturesque view set high up in the valley (first picture in the post). There was a live band and a large tent set up for people to relax and enjoy a glass or two of wine.

As at Kinkead Ridge, tasting was in the production facility and we were able to compare two different vintages of their red and white proprietary wines as well as see where the wines are made. The La Vigna white is 100% Petit Manseng and the 2008 oak aged vintage was much sweeter than the steel tank 2009. Of the reds I preferred the younger 2008 cabernet blend to the more heavily oaked 2007 vintage.

From La Vigna we had a beautiful drive along the river towards Cincinnati. We had a fantastic dinner at Local 127 that deserves its own post.

More photos from our trip can be found on flickr.

2 Comments

Filed under Drinks, Ohio, slow food, special events, Travel

Off the Menu: Flavors of Thailand at Nida’s Thai on High

This was the first in what we hope will be a series of dinners featuring unusual dishes and ingredients. Restaurants often shape their menus around the safe choices of what sells well. We hope to give chefs an opportunity to prepare dishes that they would not normally feature, either because they include less popular or unknown ingredients or because their preparation is too involved or impractical for à la carte ordering.

The first of the series Flavors of Thailand was held at Nida’s Thai on High and featured dishes from two regions of Thailand: Isaan and Central Thailand. Many of these were dishes that the chef prepares for herself and the staff.

We were greeted by a choice of two of the new spring cocktail specials, either a cucumber cilantro gin and tonic evocative of spring, or an as-yet-unnamed concoction of Cointreau, brandy and orgeat.  Such creative cocktails are the specialty of bartender extroardinaire, Vivian Loh.

The first course, confusingly named, soup no mai, was in fact not a soup but a spicy (and pungent!) bamboo shoot salad served with sticky rice.  Once you got over the initial funky aroma, it was an impressively well balanced dish, with mint as a refreshing counterpoint. It was very well received.

The kor moo yang was unanimously the most popular dish of the evening. It was marinated, grilled pork collar served with a spicy dressing and a side of sticky rice. Tender and extremely flavorful with a little char from the grilling. The staff quietly thanked us for giving them the chance to indulge in this special treat.

More pork – this time in the form of sai grog isaan, sour Isaan style sausage, and namm preserved pork. The sausage made with pork and sticky rice was well seasoned with spices and garlic. The preserved pork was one of the more challenging dishes, packed with very thin strips of skin and quite chewy as a result. It had taken the chef a week to make these sausages for us, with a lot of effort put into sourcing the authentic ingredients. The sai grog isaan was definitely the more popular of the two, although the preserved pork did have its fans.

The end of the Isaan dishes was marked with a palate cleanser of lemongrass juice. Sweet and not citrusy as one might think, it was fun listening to people trying to describe the taste – everything from nutty to floral to Fruit Loops(!) came up. One guest said that it was exactly the same as lemongrass juice they had bought on the street in Thailand.

Expecting the Central Thai dishes to be less spicy we had a bit of a surprise when we tasted the soup. It was easily the most spicy dish of the evening. Tender chunks of tilapia, cauliflower, carrot and green beans floated in a fiery, but delicious broth, that rewarded those that braved the heat.

Next up Gra Praw Moo. I don’t think I have ever seen chicken gizzards on a menu and there really was only one word to describe them – chewy. The slightly liver-y flavor was reminiscent of Thanksgiving gravy. The real reward for all that chewing was tender and tasty ground pork flavored withThai basil and aromatic spices.

The pad woon sen (bean thread noodles with tomato and tofu), was one of the simpler dishes. By this stage we were approaching the dishes warily, but there were no strange animal parts hidden in this one.

By the time we reached course number seven, waistbands were feeling tight. The kai pa loh was a rich stew, fragrant with chinese 5 spice and soy sauce containing melt in the mouth tofu and pork, hard boiled egg and shitake mushroom. This umami lover’s delight was a wonderful dish.

Dessert was num kang sai, Thai fruit and some red beans with coconut milk on ice. It was a simple, refreshing and popular end to the meal.

Many thanks to Nida, her chef and staff. We are very grateful to them for hosting this wonderful dinner and sharing these dishes with us. If this is indicative of Off the Menu events to come, we are really looking forward to future dinners.

If you would like to attend future Slow Food events please check the Slow Food Columbus website.

4 Comments

Filed under Columbus, ethnic eats, restaurants, slow food, special events

Earth to Table

Yesterday I wrote about returning to an old favorite cookbook. Today I want to write about a new one. I was given ‘Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes From An Organic Farm‘ for Christmas and it has become an instant favorite. It is a cookbook with beautiful photographs and enticing recipes but it is also a resource for seasonal ‘good, clean and fair’ eating. The authors Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann are avid proponents of Slow Food. Their recipes are focused on local seasonal ingredients but with the acknowledgement that there are some things that are worth the food miles.

The book is divided into four seasons and as well as recipes each season has a list of ‘what to eat’, a lengthy introduction, chef profiles, a ‘how to section’ and a ‘spotlight’. There is also an ongoing story about Bettina’s wheat growing project. She wanted to make bread from start to finish ‘I’m a Slow Food member after all, and practicing tastes a lot better than preaching’. The ‘how to’ sections include canning, foraging, farmers markets and planning a herb garden. The spotlights are seafood, meat, compost and dairy. Chef profiles include Thomas Keller, Dan Barber and Heston Blumenthal, the latter of whom Crump has worked for.

So far I have been experimenting with the winter recipes. I have made braised pork belly, maple molasses and beer bean pot and pickled fennel. I used mostly pinto beans that I bought at the State Fair. They made a wonderful comfort food dinner with some skillet cornbread.

For tonight I have made their beet horseradish relish to go with a beef fondue. Their instruction to peel the warm beets using a tea towel was a small epiphany yesterday, so much easier than my previous method of trying to peel them with my fingers. There are a lot of other tempting winter recipes: one-pot fish soup with rouille, rabbit stew with herbed dumplings, oatmeal molasses bread and roasted fingerling potato salad with watercress and horseradish dressing and I am sure that I will learn some other useful techniques in the process. I haven’t even let myself look at the other seasons yet!

Leave a comment

Filed under Food Writing, slow food

Cleveland Weekend

A trip to the Fabulous Food Show was the perfect excuse to spend the rest of the weekend exploring Cleveland. Our last visit following in the steps of Anthony Bourdain was a lot of fun, but only scratched the surface so I was excited to see and taste more. We were lucky with both trips: sunny weather, good friends and lots of great food. Cleveland is a wonderful destination for food lovers with lots of Slow Food friendly restaurants, a wealth of ethnic eateries and interesting neighborhoods to explore while you work up an appetite for another meal.

Cleveland is also a good destination for cocktail lovers. The Velvet Tango Room lived up to every superlative I had heard lavished on it, and was so enticing that we could not resist a second visit. The VTR serves classic cocktails in an appropriate setting and the menu, which you can’t help poring over, is a lesson in cocktail history. Not a flirtini in sight. The fact that they make their own grenadine, bitters, vermouth and ginger beer is one of the reasons that the cocktails cost $15 a pop (or $10 during happy hour). Many of the cocktails are made with egg whites and the amount of shaking involved also commands a premium. You should see the bartenders biceps! It wasn’t just the cocktails that were at hit. I would gladly go back just for the cheese fondue. I wish there was an equivalent to the VTR in Columbus, but for the sake of my bank account its probably good that there is not.

Highlight number two was the bakery On the Rise, which can be found in Cleveland Heights. You can see how sunny it was – hard to believe it was November.

On the Rise has a wide variety of breads and pastries and there was much to tempt us. I chose an almond croissant and it was definitely the best I have had since my trip to France in June. I am sure the pain au chocolat would have been equally good, but you have to get there early to score those.

Croissants weren’t the only baked goods of the day. We stopped at Presti’s bakery in Little Italy for an afternoon snack. I had a buttery buccalati with chocolate, almond and candied peel filling. I also bought some of their homemade panettone to bring home. I was assured that it would keep until Christmas but I have no illusion that it will last that long.

I mentioned Slow Food friendly restaurants and Cleveland seems to have more than its fair share including The Greenhouse Tavern, Luckys, Fire Food & Drink and the Flying Fig.  The Greenhouse Tavern is actively involved in their local Slow Food convivium and will be hosting a special dinner in honor of Terra Madre Day on December 10th. We had a wonderful meal there which included steamed clams with foie gras and a contender for the best chicken wings ever: Crispy chicken wings with roasted jalapeño, scallions and garlic, first confited and then deep fried. Many of the foods including the fantastic frites were cooked in a combination of duck fat and suet – a victory for flavor over calorie concerns. A four course chefs tasting menu is $37 which is extremely good value for the quality of ingredients, execution and portion sizes.

The Greenhouse Tavern also won a place in my heart with their food lovers loo. The restroom came equipped with shelves of food magazines and cookbooks. I’m not sure how wise it is to encourage people to spend any longer than strictly necessary in there but I admired the choice of reading matter.

I don’t think a trip to Cleveland would be complete with out picking up some treats at the West Side Market. This time we headed to Dohar Meats for some of their homemade sausage and bacon. Leaving it in the car is not advisable unless you want to dream about being stuck inside a sausage but it is very tasty.

It seemed that we saw and ate a lot – but I am still left feeling that Cleveland has a lot more to offer. Luckys and Lolita are high on my Cleveland wish list and I want to try Fire: Food and Wine for dinner (I just had a salad on this trip). I also purchased a copy of Cleveland Ethnic Eats which I look forward to using. You can probably tell that I am already plotting trip number 3. More photos on Flickr

3 Comments

Filed under Drinks, markets, Ohio, slow food, Travel

Ark of Taste Tasting at The Hills Market

IMG_6434

When Jill Moorhead, the Marketing Director for The Hills Market suggested holding an Ark of Taste tasting event at the store, I don’t think she had any idea what she was letting herself in for. The US Ark of Taste is a catalogue of over 200 foods in danger of extinction, and not surprisingly things in danger of extinction aren’t easy to track down. You can read about Jill’s scavenger hunt on the blog Itinerant Foodies.

To qualify for the US Ark of Taste, food products must be:

  • Outstanding in terms of taste—as defined in the context of local traditions and uses.
  • At risk biologically or as culinary traditions.
  • Sustainably produced.
  • Culturally or historically linked to a specific region, locality, ethnicity or traditional production practice.
  • Produced in limited quantities, by farms or by small-scale processing companies.

IMG_6433

While some of the foods came from such far corners of the country as Vermont, California, Minnesota and Hawaii, many of the ingredients were grown or produced locally. Most of the fresh produce came from the local Wayward Seed Farm. The choice of foods was based partly on availability and transportable and also with a view to what Hills customers might be interested in purchasing in future. Here is the list of foods that we tasted.

Souse – aka Hog’s Head Cheese (Thurn’s, Columbus, Ohio)
Pure Cider Jelly and boiled cider (Woods Cider Mill, Springfield, Vermont)
Jimmy Nardello sweet Italian frying pepper (pickled) (Wayward Seed Farm)
A flight of American artisinal sauerkrauts (Hawthorne Valley Farms, Ghent, NY).
Amish paste tomato (made into soup) (Wayward Seed Farm)
Hawaiian Alaea sea salt,
Gilfeather turnip – roasted with Tupelo honey
Green mountain potatoes – roasted with Tupelo honey
Early blood beets – roasted with Tupelo honey
Tupelo honey (Florida and Georgia)
Manoomin wild rice (Callaway, Minnesota)
Green striped cushaw squash(Sycamore Farm, Piqua, Ohio) – cooked with boiled cider
Pawpaw ice cream (Jeni’s Ice Creams, Columbus, Ohio)
Ground Cherries (Wayward Seed Farm)
Pawpaw autumn harvest chutney (Albany, Ohio)

IMG_6447

Jill also managed to procure two Ark of Taste wines (Hitching Post Pinks & Duxoup Charbono) and a non-alcoholic Ark of Taste drink called ‘shrub’ which is a colonial era drink made of fruit, vinegar and sugar by Tait Farm Foods in Centre Hall, PA. It comes in a variety of flavors and can also be used in cooking.

ark_wines

Each of the foods has an interesting history and associated food traditions and we were provided with information about each food. For each item we were asked to give feedback on whether we would want to eat it again, or whether we could understand why it was facing extinction. There was certainly a lot of discussion.

ark_taste

Clockwise from top left: Alaea traditional Hawaiian table salt (the color is from red volcanic clay), Jimmy Nardello pepper with souse, cider jelly and ramp crackers, the Gilfeather turnip from Wayward Seed, and the flight of artisanal sauerkrauts.

Wild rice is the only native grain to North America and this was one of the popular dishes. It was a light brown color and different to many of the more commercial wild rices. The pawpaw ice cream, which was served as a float with ginger shrub was also popular.

IMG_6446

We are extremely grateful to Jill for such a great idea and for all of her hard work and persistence in tracking down Ark of Taste foods. She was assisted by Jen Burroway, the chef at the Hills Market, who was challenged with coming up with creative uses for all of the varied and not necessarily compatible ingredients.IMG_6451

Ground cherries

More information about these Ark of Taste foods and many more are available on the Ark of Taste website. You can also nominate foods to join the Ark.

1 Comment

Filed under hills market, slow food, special events