Category Archives: Websites

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

alt.eats.columbus

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted about many restaurants on hungrywoolf recently. This is because almost all of my eating-out time has been directed towards our new project and we are finally ready to share it with the world!

The idea for alt.eats.columbus came about during the research for our taco truck project. We kept discovering interesting restaurants and food shops that we had never heard of, and finding cuisines represented that receive very little attention. We wanted to promote them in the same way that we did with the taco trucks, not for any financial gain, but purely to share our enthusiasm and our discoveries and to encourage people to try something off the beaten path, (not to mention eat some great food).

Columbus has such a wealth of fantastic ethnic restaurants. I have blogged about some of them before, but in the last few weeks we have been eating Persian, Senegalese, Somali and Vietnamese food and it has been a blast. Lots of new flavors, learning about different food cultures and having an adventure instead of just a meal.

As with tacotruckscolumbus we have a map to help you explore. We know that our list is far from complete and so we also welcome suggestions. Tell us about your favorite hole in the wall restaurant. You know, the one that only you seem to know about. You can also follow us (and give suggestions) on twitter @alteatscbus

Check it out and let me know what you think.

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Filed under blogging, Columbus, ethnic eats, restaurants, Taco trucks, Websites

Blog Update

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As well as being packed with food events, this has been a technology intensive week. I have been playing with google reader (why didn’t I do this before?), my iphone, which isn’t new but I have some great new apps (love the new flickr and skype apps) and twitter (I could only resist for so long). You can now follow me at hungry_woolf, should you wish to. I intend to post mainly food related items and don’t plan on telling you that I have brushed my teeth or done laundry. You can also follow Taco Trucks Columbus at tacotruckscbus for updates on truck openings, movements and specials.

You may also notice the newly updated and tidied up the links section. I added more local blogs, removed some of the ones that I never have time to read and changed the categories. Did I miss any? What blogs do you regularly read? Are there any active local food blogs that I have missed? Please feel free to add suggestions in the comments section.

Anyway, it’s almost time to find my bike lights and and jump on my bike for the Night of 1000 Tacos. Lengua migadas and horchata at Jalisco – I can’t wait.

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You’ve seen Food Inc. Now what?

foodinc

I received this email last week:

My manager just watched Food, Inc the other day and now wants to eat grass fed beef and antibiotic free chickens and all that slow foodie stuff. I can’t think of many resources off the top of my head, do you have a list of information for our area (like the slow food webpage) that I could pass along to get him started?

I am sure there are other people who have watched Food Inc. or read one of  Michael Pollan‘s books who are interested in making some changes to their diet and/or food sourcing as a result but are not sure where to start. I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of places to shop, eat at and to get more information from. The list will obviously be Central Ohio centric, but if you live elsewhere it might still give you some ideas. I’m sure that the list won’t be comprehensive, so please feel free to add other suggestions in the comments.

One way to start is by reading more about the subject and if you haven’t read any Michael Pollan I highly recommend ‘In Defense of Food‘. I am currently reading Mark Bittman’s Food Matters:a Guide to Conscious Eating. Bittman covers a lot of the same ground as Pollan but his is more of a personal account talking about how he changed his own diet. Where Pollan gives the advice ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants’, Bittman goes into much greater depth giving a month of meal plans and recipes. Bittman calls his approach to food sane eating and urges readers to cook and to eat like food matters.

Useful websites and blogs:

Local Harvest Search by location for farmers markets, CSAs* and other local suppliers of organic foods. You can also shop online for things you can’t find locally. Lists food events, blogs and other resources.  
Restaurant Widow
List of Central Ohio Farmers Markets and CSAs*. Also has information on local restaurants and farmers market reports.
Indie Columbus has an ongoing series on sane eating, discussing how some local restaurants match up.
Columbus Foodie Lots of restaurants reviews, One Local Summer recipes and weekly farmers market reports.
Green Leanings Blogs about ‘One Local Summer’ – eating locally in Central Ohio.
CMH Gourmand – restaurant reviews and local food events and vendors.

*CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Buying directly from a farmer in the form of a subscription. You get a weekly share of their produce during the growing season.

flying J

Organizations you might want to join:

OEFFA (Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association). Promotes sustainable, ecological and healthful food systems. Lots of online resources, Good Earth Guide (searchable database of farms and products), farms tours,
Slow Food Columbus Active local chapter of an international organization. Meet other people interested in good, clean and fair food. Lots of food related events including dinners, monthly wine tastings and taste education events.
Local Matters Resources for finding local food and several great projects including, Local Food to Schools, Farm to Fork and Urban Agriculture.  Coming soon is Fresh Connect a Central Ohio local food guide including restaurants, markets, CSAs and grocers.

Great places to buy food

Farmers Markets (Clintonville, Worthington, North Market and other locations). Usually held weekly. 
North Market
– home of the Greener Grocer, Blues Creek Meats, North Market Poultry and Game, Jeni’s Ice Creams and other local food vendors.
Clintonville Community Market – member owned natural foods neighborhood grocery store. Stocks a lot of local foods.
Hills Market – One of the best ranges of local foods and also hosts a lot of food events including dinners, tastings, meet the farmer etc
Weilands Gourmet Market. 3600 Indianola Ave.
Wholefoods (2 Locations: Lane Ave & Dublin  Granville Rd.) Not as local centric but a lot of eco-friendly and ethical food choices.

You can also try to persuade your grocery store to stock more locally produced foods. Giant Eagle now stocks Snowville Creamery milk and if enough people ask for a product then they may respond to consumer demand.

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People to buy food from.

Blues Creek Farm Meats – one of the best suppliers for local grass fed meat.
2 Silos – pasture raised eggs, also has a meat CSA. Available at the Greener Grocer.
Snowville Creamery – Un-homogenized and minimally pasteurized Milk from Pomeroy Ohio.
The Greener Grocer – in the North Market. Supports local farmers and offers a weekly market bag
Hartlzer’s Dairy – Milk and Ice Cream from Wooster Ohio.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – Nationally acclaimed but locally made ice cream. Seasonal flavors based on local ingredients such as strawberry buttermilk.
Blue Jacket Dairy – fantastic locally made cheeses, sold at farmers markets and locally grocery stores.
Wayward Seed Farm – CSA and active at several farmers markets.

worthington inn

Restaurants to Eat at:

These are restaurants that make an exceptional effort to source local and seasonal ingredients.

Alana’s – North of Campus
The Northstar Cafe Short North and Bechwold
The Refectory – Bethel Road
Basi Italia – Victorian Village
Rigsby’s Kitchen – Short North
Blackcreek Bistro – Olde Towne East
Worthington Inn – Worthington
Cafe Bella – Clintonville
Dragonfly & On the Fly – South of Campus
L’Antibes – Short North 

Dine Originals is a group of over 40 independent restaurants in the Columbus area. Their next restaurant week is September 7th-13th. It is a great opportunity to sample many of the restaurants listed above.

Other things to think about are starting a garden. Columbus Underground has been featuring some local gardens, including Columbus Foodie’s impressive vegetable garden. If you don’t have space for your own garden you can get involved in a community garden. Here is a local blog about community gardening. Or if you want to start your own here is the Get Green Columbus manual on community gardening.  The American Community Gardening Association is headquartered in Columbus.

Please let me know what other great local food vendors, organizations and markets you have found and would recommend.

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Filed under Columbus, hills market, markets, North Market, Ohio, restaurants, slow food, Websites

99 Drams of Whiskey

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My friend forwarded me a post from the Accidental Hedonist blog asking whether any other food/ drink bloggers wanted to review her new book. I like whiskey, I like to read and I like both food and travel books, so I did not hesitate to ask for a review copy.

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99 Drams of Whisky is part travelogue, part history, and part a collection of tasting notes. In my opinion it is most successful at the latter but it cannot be categorical in its stated aim, the quest for ‘the perfect shot’ because it is not comprehensive enough. I found the travelogue tedious in places with too much recounting of mundane dialogue. And whilst I definitely learned more about the history of whiskey, Kate seemed to get bogged down in detail about things like taxation law, going into much greater depth than seemed necessary. We are initially advised to treat the book as entertainment but at times it strays too far towards academic. Subsequently there is too much contrast in tone and pace between the descriptions of the tax laws and the accounts of the wayward GPS. It seems that the book is trying to be too many different things and as a result does not fully succeed at any of them.

It was the tasting notes that really captivated me with each whiskey personified in often-laugh-out-loud eccentric characterizations.Famous Grouse is ‘the high-school cheerleader everyone was friends with but no one can remember what happened to after graduation’; Bruichladdich 10-year-old is ‘a morning person’, Bushmills White Label is the Julia Roberts of Whiskey and Glen Grant 25-year-old is the ‘Don Juan of Scotland’s spirit”. It is hard to pick a favorite but I loved the depiction of Redbreast 12-year-old pot still whiskey as ‘the secret restaurant tucked away in the back of a strip mall that only a handful of people know about. The atmosphere is great and the food divine, but no one is sure that they should tell other people about it because either it’ll become too crowded (and thus it will be impossible to get a table) or the increased production by the staff in the back will affect the overall quality of the place’.

Despite its flaws there is a lot to enjoy in the book and definitely some interesting insights and trivia, if you are willing to skim through some of the less engaging sections. I imagine that even whiskey aficionado would learn something from it. Some of the things I found interesting were the history of the Gin Act (and the staggering amount of gin that was drunk before then).  Understanding more of the history helps to illuminate how the current industry structure and I particularly enjoyed the elucidation of the legacy of prohibition on the US whiskey industry.

There is a lot of good advice for whiskey neophytes, including how to taste whiskey (blind), drink whiskey (with friends) and whether to add water (yes, if it is cask strength).  ‘Drinking whiskey is not about impressing others. It’s about enjoying yourself. And while an educated palate may help increase one’s exploration of whiskey, it is not a requirement’. Kate also expounds on whiskey snobs and obsessives and the perils of drinking 3 glasses of whiskey in an hour.

Overall I have to say that I enjoyed the book despite my gripes and my copy has many folded corners. I would recommend it for the tasting notes alone. One final gripe though is the title which did not to me represent the mission of the book. Throughout the book Kate says that she is trying to understand the mythical Mr Disposable Income a man reputed to have spent more than $70,000 on a bottle of whiskey. This quest to understand why whisky has such a status and mystique is a noble aim, but not the same thing as searching for the perfect shot. The title is also confusingly worded. Is she also questing for the history of whiskey or is the history just something additional? I may be accused of being overly literal and pedantic but it didn’t seem to fit and it bothered me.

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Filed under Drinks, Food Writing, Websites

Simply Living Lunch

Today I was invited to a fundraising event for Simply Living, with a group from Green Drinks.  I had heard of Simply Living and have seen their website in the past, but I did not know about the full range of programs that they are involved in. I had not realized that they are the parent organization of WCRS, the local community radio station or that they were a sister organization of Local Matters

The lunch was held at the Confluence Park restaurant and it was a shame that it was a gray drizzly day, because it a stunning setting, with a view of the Columbus skyline. I know a couple of people who have had their weddings there. 

As much of the food as possible was organic and/or sourced from local businesses including the Greener Grocer, Blue Jacket dairy, Omega bakery and Pistacia Vera bakery. 

 

Cheddar Cheese Tart and Salad

Cheddar Cheese Tart and Salad

It was a great opportunity to learn more about the organization, which supports so many wonderful local initiatives and to see how many people are actively supporting the ideal of ‘becoming the change we seek for the world’. It is easy to look for other people to take the lead and bring about change and Simply Living is an example of people taking action and trying to create change in their local community.

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Filed under Columbus, restaurants, special events, Vegetarian, Websites

Clambake and shrimp Boil

Last night I went to my first Columbus Underground event, a clambake and shrimp boil at the newly opened (and long awaited) second Banana Bean Cafe location.

I am a big fan of the Banana Bean Cafe but I don’t make it there very often because German village always seems further away than it really is and it is so small that you need a reservation for brunch. The new location (Greenlawn Ave) is much larger and seems like a great space (should have taken a photo). The building was previously the tavern on the lawn and the Banana Bean will now have a liquor license and longer opening hours. There is also plenty of parking. The old (Whittier Ave) location will only be open for weekday lunches and the new location will be the weekend brunch destination. I hope to check it out soon. 

The banana bean staff said that they were expecting about 35 people and ended up feeding 70, which probably accounted for some of the delays for food, but the patio was spacious enough and the drink specials kept people happy. It was fun to see some of the flying J dinner crowd and meet some new faces.

This was my first clambake, so I am not sure how the food really compares. For those of you who are not veterans of such an event it comprised crawfish, clams, corn on the cob, red skinned potatoes, onions, shrimp and andouille sausage, with some bay seasoning and served with salad, garlic bread and cocktail sauce. Tasty – especially the sausage. It was safer getting your food while it was still light. By the time the last basket came out, after dark, the limited candlelight meant that it was a bit of a lottery what you were picking up with the tongs. I think Patio lighting might be one of the snagging items. 

There was a lot of anticipation for the grilled scallops. I am not sure how many people realized that they would be served for dessert, with grilled pineapple, marinated raisins and rum sauce. The raisins tasted like christmas, the scallops were beautifully cooked and the pineapple was succulent but somehow the combination didn’t work for me. 

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Filed under Columbus, restaurants, Websites