Category Archives: Uncategorized


Regular Hungrywoolf readers and the beady eyed among you may have noticed a change this week. The Hungrywoolf blog is now redirecting to our Columbus Food Adventures blog. We have also transferred the entire Hungrywoolf archive over to Columbus Food Adventures.

We decided that five blogs was one too many, and while taco trucks Columbus, alteats Columbus and street eats Columbus each have their own niche, we found ourselves wanting to post the same content on Hungrywoolf and Columbus Food Adventures. To simplify things slightly and avoid overlap and duplicating posts, we decided that merging the two blogs was the best way forward.

The Columbus Food Adventures blog will bring you Columbus food news and events, restaurant reviews and occasional home cooking. We will continue to share food experiences that excite us. The blog will have two main authors – myself and Andy with occasional guest posts. As well as the Hungrywoolf content there will also be some updates and news about tours and other Columbus Food Adventures special events.

We have some great posts in the works so we hope you will visit again soon. You can also subscribe to this blog via rss or follow us on twitter and facebook.

Hungrywoolf will live on on twitter and facebook.

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Thank you for reading!

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Fiery Foods Festival

The Fiery Foods Festival is a fun North Market event with competitions for chefs, amateur cooks and crazy people who want to see how many hot peppers they can eat. Appropriately held in one of the coldest months of the year, the Fiery Foods Festival is definitely a winter warmer. Many of the vendors get into the spirit promoting their existing spicy products or creating something for the occasion. The Greener Grocer had an amazing array of peppers, Taste of Belgium had shrimp and grits waffles and Jeni’s were highlighting their spicy ice creams.

For children there was face painting, sombreros and maracas and the lovely Ms Kelley sporting a hot pepper costume and handing out chili shaped cookies from Mozart’s Bakery.

Upstairs there was so much chili in the air it was enough to make your eyes water. I had been asked to judge the Chef’s chili competition and was in the esteemed company of Johnny Di Loretto (Fox 28), G.A. Benton (Alive) and Miriam Bowers Abbott (The Other Paper). When I saw the line up of Chefs entered I knew it would be competitive event. We tasted 15 chilis at a furious pace and judged them on aroma, flavor, texture and an overall score. By the end with faces glowing and beads of sweat on our foreheads, one might have thought we had just worked out.

Unsurprisingly there were a lot of strong contenders and also a lot of variety in seasoning – one strong on texas barbecue, one very cinnamon-scented, one Italian chili and several paired with a mini cornbread. At the judges’ table we could not hear the announcements and played an interesting game of  ‘guess who’s? [I don’t think we did very well]. You can see the full list of entrants and read about the other competitions here.

Second place went to a pork and white bean green chili soup made by Michael Ciotlola, now retired but formerly chef at La Scala and Luce. His chili, while perhaps not the most traditional, was extremely fragrant and flavorful and tasted like Mexico in a bowl with lots of tomatillo, corn and cilantro.

The winning chili was the last one we tasted. It was presented with a taste of marshmallowy Mexican hot chocolate which was a welcome treat after 15 samples of chili.

The final chili was made by Reymundo Rico from Cafe Corner and he had spent the previous week perfecting his recipe. His “pazoli” chili was a great blend of moderately spicy chili with an undertone of mellow corn. The ingredients included slow-roasted, garlic-rubbed pork, cilantro, red pepper, sea salt and pork sausage basked in a “pazoli sauce” made with guajilla and ancho chilies, roasted purple tomatoes, roasted garlic, red onions, hominy, kidney and black beans. It is currently on the menu at Cafe Corner so I recommend that you stop by and try it for yourself. Who knows, maybe he’ll be wearing his robe!

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Filed under judging, North Market, special events, Uncategorized

National Popcorn Day

It seems that almost every day is designated a ‘national food day‘. Some dates have multiple honors, today is National Cheese Lovers day, National Granola bar day and National Buttercrunch day. Tomorrow is national New England Clam Chowder day and so it goes on. Yesterday I read on twitter that it was national popcorn day. That was all the excuse I needed to make some caramel corn for a movie night with friends.

We had a couple of popcorn epiphanies last year. The first was thanks to Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters. Bittman taught us how to make our own microwave popcorn and we haven’t looked back since. No weird additives or artificial flavors, no messy pan to clean up, just a brown paper lunch bag, some corn kernels and a tablespoon of oil.

The second popcorn epiphany was a result of our Cincinnati road trip. Colonel De Ray from Herbs and Spices at Findlay Market sold AD some truffle salt and he has been addicted to truffle salted popcorn ever since. Amazing how much flavor you get from a tiny pinch of salt. You can find truffle salt in Columbus at Curds and Whey in the North Market.

Anyway, back to last night. I wanted something sweet to accompany the movie and used David Lebovitz’s recipe for caramel corn. I used toasted almonds and popped my popcorn in the microwave, but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. My ongoing frustration is that my candy thermometer only works if the ‘candy’ is 3 inches deep, which it never is unless you are making industrial quantities. This leads to a lot more guesswork than I would like.

The caramel corn turned out perfectly, crunchy and not greasy. A slightly burnt sugar taste which was popular but for which I blame the candy thermometer. I would definitely make it again, but when there are plenty of people to eat it up, so that I don’t  have the temptation of eating it for breakfast.

For the record, caramel corn goes really well with coffee, but is not part of a nutritious breakfast, and the movie we watched was Funny People, which I enjoyed.


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Experiments with the Momofuku Cookbook: Pork Belly & Buns

While we were waiting for our simmering pigs heads, we decided to attempt one of David Chang’s more straightforward recipes: pork buns. I say it is simple, because we took the short cut and bought the buns. This meant that all we had to do was roast some pork belly, make some quick salt cucumber pickles and steam the buns.

Like the pig’s heads the belly came from Bluescreek Farm Meats at the North Market.

The belly which Chang says can be used ‘for ramen, pork buns and just about anything else’ is rubbed with sugar and salt, refrigerated and then roasted for a couple of hours, which left us plenty of time to eat before the heads were ready.

The buns came from Columbus Asian Market on Bethel Road. We couldn’t find buns as thin as those shown in Momofuku so used the only plain steamed buns we could find. Maybe next time (when we aren’t busy boiling pig’s heads) we’ll try making the buns.

The cucumber pickles are made with sugar and salt and no vinegar. They are ready in 5-10 minutes. We couldn’t find the specified Kirby cucumbers so used full sized ones.  The other accompaniments are hoisin sauce, thinly sliced scallion and Sriracha.

You can tell I’ve been to too many taco trucks – my first idea of how to use the left over meat was to put it in a corn tortilla. Amazingly after all that butchery and boiling pig’s heads I was still up for eating pork the next day. As Chang says, that pork belly is good for just about anything else.


Filed under North Market, recipes, Uncategorized

Competition: Holiday Cookie Class

Now that thanksgiving has passed tis the season for holiday cookie baking. This is a tradition that I am still getting used to. In England Christmas entertaining is focused on christmas cake, mince pies and savory foods like sausage rolls. You may be offered festive baked goods but they are generally imported traditions from other countries like the German lebkuchen or Italian panettone. Here cookies seem a key part of holiday festivities, entertaining and gift giving and the array of cookies is amazing. Decorated sugar cookies or gingerbread are holiday favorites, but there are a wealth of enticing cookies.

If you would like to expand your own cookie repertoire here is your chance. The Inn at Cedar Falls is hosting a holiday cooking baking class. The cosy Inn is a perfect venue for such an event. After the success of our competition this summer Ellen asked if I would like to host another competition for them.

This hands-on class is led by Joan Heitman, breakfast cook at the Inn. The class runs from 11am-2pm on Wednesday 9th December. Innkeeper Ellen and Joan will carefully select five different recipes for you to make and eat. The class includes instruction, recipes, lunch and a box of cookies to take home. The value is $55 per person but you could make a trip of it and if you want, you can also spend the night and save $25 off the regular rate of a room, cabin or cottage.

This is a great excuse for you and a friend to spend the day exploring Hocking Hills. The class is on Wednesday 9th December so you must be free on that day. The competition deadline is noon on Friday December 4th. Please answer the following questions and email your answers to hungrywoolf @ hotmail . com (Email your entry – don’t leave a comment).

What cooking class is the Inn at Cedar Falls hosting in January?

What dessert recipe is featured on the Inn at Cedar Falls website?

What is your favorite holiday cookie?

The winner will be picked at random from all of the correct entries and will be announced on Friday afternoon.

An old family recipe for sugar cookies, and one of my early recipes.

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Three Hungry Woolfs

My parents just left after a lovely week long visit. I am sad to see them leave but luckily they left lots of treats behind including three jars of marmite (2 special editions) which will help to console me. As well as marmite, chocolate and christmas crackers I also have a pile of new books and christmas presents to look forward to.

Except on skype I don’t get to see my parents very often and it was a couple of years since their last visit to Columbus. It is not surprising that I had a long list of restaurants and food places that I wanted to take them. It was a chance to share some of my favorite places, for them to experience first hand some of the places they have read so much about, and an excuse to try somewhere new. The highlight was probably our omakase dinner at Kihachi which felt like a mini vacation in Japan. We also had lovely dinners at Alana’s and the Refectory Bistro (excellent value at $24 for 3 courses) and a cosy drink at Nida’s. Alana does a fantastic job of showcasing Ohio produce in a creative and interesting way. The highlight of the dinner were the sweetbreads that topped the risotto du jour, but I also loved the broccolini dish that I had and golden beets with almond skordalia.

White bean brushetta at Alana's

Lunches out included Rigby’s for their blue plate special and of course there was an obligatory trip to a taco truck (Los Potosinos), followed by dessert from Otro Rollo, fantastic sweet bread fresh from the oven. We also took a trip to the Winds Cafe in Yellow Springs, which we combined with a fascinating trip to the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Westcott House in Springfield (photos).

Somewhere that was new to me was the fifty year old institution that is the Top Steakhouse. It had been on my restaurant wish-list for a while and I thought my parents would enjoy the step back in time with the classic decor and menu. They did and so did I. It really is a taste of another era with steak diane, oysters Rockefeller and shrimp cocktail, accompanied by the background pianist. Unfortunately we were seated in a room that used to be a private bar and it didn’t have quite the same atmosphere. The steaks were delicious although they seemed to be cooked to the chef’s whim regardless of how they had been ordered. Going to The Top is a good excuse to stop in at Wings for a night cap as they have the largest collection of single malt scotches in Columbus. I enjoyed trying the Wild Scotsman black label.

Shopping trips included the North Market (fish, eggs, vegetables and a rosemary tree), Katzinger’s (cheese), Pistacia Vera (cookies and cakes), Jeni’s (Ice cream) and Thurns (pork chops, smoked trout and bacon). We couldn’t resist stopping for coffee and cookies at Pistacia Vera. The almondine and lime ginger cookies were the favorites of the day and the winning Jeni’s flavor – blackstrap praline – I think my father would have packed some to take home if he could.

Cheeses on display at Katzinger's

Our visit to the North Market was well timed: Chef David MacLennan from Latitude 41 was at the Wayward Seed stall cooking up pork belly, pickled beets at rutabaga mash. The recipe for the delicious mash (with turnips, cream and pear) is on the Wayward Seed blog. We bought brussels sprouts from the Rhoades’ and celery root at the Greener Grocer.

My parents were intrigued by the peanut pumpkins (Galeux d’eysine)  having never come across them before. The pale salmon colored skin is covered in protruding warts which look incredibly like peanut shells. Apparently they are great for cooking although I have not tried one.

In between all this eating we also had a lovely time at the Franklin Park Conservatory, admiring the Chihuly, Poinsettias, koi and orchids and walked around the Topiary Garden. Photos on flickr.

As well as a lot of eating out, we also had some delicious dinners at home. From top left: Thurn’s smoked pork chop with celery root puree and an acorn squash baked with bacon and maple syrup (an excellent James Beard recipe); home made bread; english style fish pie (fish and hard boiled eggs in a white sauce topped with mashed potatoes); a salad from my garden with arugula, nasturtiums and mesclun greens. I also shared some of my home canned tomato sauce from the summer. One of my requests for my parents visit was a bread making lesson from my dad. He has been making bread my whole life and I wanted a practical class, my previous attempts not having turned out as well as hoped. Although my father makes bread by feel and not measurements, he gave me some good tips that I think will help.

We also made mincemeat, ready for mince pies and traditional english christmas puddings. These were made to a very old and secret family recipe and this is the first time that I have been entrusted with the recipe. The puddings were steamed for 8+ hours and can then be kept for years as they improve with age. AD is skeptical about aging desserts but I made one for this year and one for next year. The smell of fruit, spice and alcohol as it was simmering away made the house smell warm and festive.

For thanksgiving we were invited to AD’s family for a traditional thanksgiving dinner with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie. We also had some of the best mashed potato ever – apparently the secret was baking the potatoes and using lots of cream. One of their traditional family accompaniments was oyster stuffing – a new dish to me – and obviously very popular.

I hope that you were able to spend thanksgiving with family or friends. This was very different to last year’s thanksgiving but both were fun. There are many different ways to feast and to be thankful.

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An Ode to the Gingerbread Macaron


As I child I loved gingerbread. I eagerly helped my mother roll the gingerbread dough, cut out snowmen and reindeer shapes, and when she wasn’t looking I would nibble the scraps of dough. I loved the aromatic mix of exotic spices and the magic of gingerbread houses.

In recent years my taste has been soured by overpowering artificial candles and sickly sweet spiced lattes; garish green and red sparkly cookies have disappointed me with their superficial charms.

Today I had a cookie that is enough to make me put up with department store lines, canned Christmas music and cold gray days. Today I fell in love with gingerbread again.

While the gingerbread macaron may be somewhat inconspicuous next to cassis, peppermint, and its other colorful peers in the display case at Pistacia Vera, its subtle coloring belies a tantalizing treat. Without unnecessary candy cane or pumpkin embellishments the flavor of this simple cookie quietly encapsulates the warmth of holidays, home and childhood memories. It is fragrant with the scent of cookie dough, sugar and spice and all things nice. It is light as air, and its air smells festive.

This delicate mélange of sweetness and spice begs to be eaten with mulled wine, hot spiced cider or hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows softly melting into the froth.

You too can fall in love with gingerbread again, and drink hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows at Pistacia Vera. The mulled wine you will have to make at home. Some other new fall flavors you can fall in love with are the apple cider and orange and ginger pâte de fruits but you will have to wait until November for the pumpkin pecan cheesecake.


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