Tag 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?


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

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?


Filed under Columbus, street food, Taco trucks


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.


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

Cupcake Craze Columbus


2009 has been the year of the cupcake in Columbus and while the cupcake bubble may have burst nationally, Columbus is bucking the trend. The Dispatch first reported the growing Columbus cupcake trend in 2007 but this year has seen two Cupcake Camps and sales of cupcakes booming. 2009 has also seen the opening of Sugar Inc Cupcakes in Dublin and two new stores for Bakery Gingham.


The Cupcake Podcast has just gone live – so make (or buy) some cupcakes, have a cup of tea and sit down for a few minutes to meet some Columbus cupcake enthusiasts and find out  why everyone loves cupcakes so much. We interviewed Amanda Ellis from Bakery Gingham and some of the organizers, judges and participants from Cupcake Camp Columbus, including Jennie Scheinback from Pattycake Bakery.

The Revenge of the Cupcake Camp Columbus was held on October 10th at the North Market. There were around 40 different cupcakes made by 24 bakers and the categories were: harvest, halloween, vegan, Ohio pride, best decorated and best North Market inspired. The early afternoon venue allowed for pre-gaming.


My favorite cupcake was the winner of the Best North Market inspired category. It was Oishii Yoshi cupcake made by Stacie Sells of Little Darlin’ cupcakes. Inspired by Nida’s sushi, it was white chocolate wasabi with sake soaked plum and sesame seeds. Sounds bizarre, tasted divine. No overdone piles of frosting, not too sweet and subtle flavors that left you guessing.


The winner of the best decorated category was the Frostop root beer float cupcake.


The harvest category featured a lot of pumpkin, zucchini and apples, which with the halloween category lent a very seasonal feel to the event. The interpretations and variety were really fun.


The next cupcake camp is planned for February – so it will be interesting to see what seasonal categories there are. There are a lot of creative people in Columbus. You can follow Cupcake Camp on twitter and there is a flickr group where you can see photos from both of the 2009 cupcake camps.



Filed under Columbus, competition, foodcast, North Market, special events

Pattycake Bakery and Wine Pairing at Hills Market


One of the great things about the Hills Market is that you can get Jeni’s ice cream, Pistacia Vera and Pattycake Bakery goodies all under one roof. Add that they are licensed to sell liquor and that they have a great cheese selection and you don’t need any more reasons to go. This event was the same formula as the Pistacia Vera tasting I went to in February: delicious desserts, some interesting wine pairings and enough sugar to leave you twitching. The difference was that Pattycake desserts are all cholesterol free…. make without any dairy or eggs.

Jennie Scheinbach the owner of Pattycake Bakery gave an overview of Pattycake Bakery and introduced each dessert with a brief description, playing down their vegan credentials to such a degree that anyone unfamiliar with Pattycake might never have known that everything they were eating was free of animal products.


The evening was a family affair as Jennie’s Dad is a wine distributor with Natural State Wines and he collaborated with the Hills wine director Constance Begue on the wine pairings.

We started with a pineapple right side up cupcake paired with a very inexpensive Australian sparkling wine (De Bortoli Brut $10.99). The cupcake and bubbly gave a celebratory feel to the event and it seemed like a rendition of ‘happy birthday’ wouldn’t be out of place. As cupcakes go this wasn’t too sweet as most of the sweetness comes from pineapple juice. It was topped with a pineapple chip and the proverbial ‘cherry on the cake’. Next was an almond sesame banana whoopie pie paired with more fizz – this time a sparkling sake. The Moon River sparkling sake comes in a bright blue bottle and apparently is the first sparkling sake available in the US. I enjoyed it and thought that it would make a great cocktail ingredient. Whoopie pies are a Pennsylvania Dutch treat and Pattycake make them in a variety of flavors. This one was slightly reminiscent of banana bread with some added texture from the sesame seeds.


The next course was one of my favorite pairings. ‘Betty’s Apple Cake’ with cashew coconut whipped cream and a cream sherry to drink. I’m not sure if Jennie explained who Betty is, but the cake was delicious and the cream sherry a great match for the autumnal spices. I think it would be good with other cakes too.  I heard someone suggest that the cream looked like hummus, which it did in color. It tasted very different though, light and sweet and nutty and while I wouldn’t forgo real cream, it would be great for both vegans and dairy allergies.


By dessert number 4 I was glad I had ridden my bike up to Hills! It was chocolate time – a dessert called XO (hugs and kisses). Most of the desserts we had are only available on special order but XO are regularly on sale at Hills. This warm chocolate brownie-like creation was served with a silky smooth soy ice cream and paired with a sparkling Italian red wine (Casali Rosa di Rosa). Sweet but still refreshing it went well with the chocolate and I would certainly have accepted a second glass. Anyone skeptical of vegan desserts could be won over by this one.


The final dessert was a sweet potato pie with praline pecan topping and it was accompanied by a vintage character port. This was probably my least favorite sweet of the evening. I think it is hard to make a vegan pastry that can match up to a traditional one. Result: good for vegans – but not for butter lovers. I might steal the pecan praline idea for my pumpkin pie though!


If you haven’t tried any of Pattycake Bakery‘s offerings I recommend visiting either their Clintonville store, or picking up some of their delectables at The Hills Market. You can also find them at some local coffee shops. Here’s something that’s fun: buy some of their tollhouse cookies, feed them to the most stalwart carnivore you know and then enjoy telling them that they just enjoyed something vegan. Be warned, they may not believe you.


Hills have a fun event coming up on November 12th: A dinner featuring the entire Thanksgiving spread from the final issue of Gourmet Magazine, with wine, for only $35. They also have regular wine and cheese tasting and beer tastings.

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Filed under Columbus, hills market, special events

Ethnic Columbus


Columbus is often thought of as a white bread town, territory of generic chains and home of the fast food giants White Castle and Wendy’s. Dig around though, and between the Olive Garden’s and Applebees you can find some fantastic independent restaurants and (the point of this post), some ethnic gems.

Last week in two days we ate Colombian, Korean and Vietnamese food and had some proper boiled bagels for breakfast. Stretch that time period out to a couple of weeks and you can add in Thai, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Mexican. Columbus also has plenty of Middle Eastern and Greek offerings as well as a wealth of small Somali and Ethiopian restaurants. This winter I am hoping to start exploring Somali cuisine and would love any recommendations of places to start. The only cuisines I haven’t been able to find in Columbus are Sri Lankan and Moroccan. If anyone knows of any please let me know. In the mean time here are some recommendations of places that I love and you should try.

Yau’s Asian Bistro (1493 N. High Street) was recently reviewed by G.A. Benton in Alive. Conveniently close to campus it offers many of the standard ‘Chinese take-out’ offerings but lots of more interesting dishes as well. They also serve bubble tea and plenty of good vegetarian options. The dish pictured is the famous spicy salted squid, one of my favorites. Yau’s, as many of the restaurants in this list, is somewhere you go for the food and not the stylish interior and like most of these restaurants they do not have a liquor license.


Arirang Oriental Market (1526 Bethel Road) was recommended to me by a reader (Thank you Molly). You would never guess that it has a restaurant in the  back. You order at the front counter and then find a seat and wait to be signaled to when your food is ready. The menu was mostly translated from Korean but we did ask for some guidance. It is extremely clean, good value and I am looking forward to going back and trying some more dishes. I ordered the hot and spicy beef soup with noodles and we also shared a Korean (mung bean) pancake. The soup was perfect for a frosty night and the pancake the best I have had. We were given three side dishes including the requisite kim chee. I had previously wondered why Korean restaurants give you the side dishes at the same time as your food (usually I would prefer them to nibble on while I wait). When my cauldron of soup arrived still at a rolling boil, I was glad to have sometime to eat while it cooled down.


Mi Li Cafe (5858 Columbus Square) is our go-to for Vietnamese food. Usually we head there when the craving for a bahn-mi sandwich hits but I have eaten everything on the menu including sam bo luong, a drink made with seaweed and ginko nuts. Friday was a pho dac biet day  (noodle soup with beef, tripe and meatballs) although I was secretly coveting Donna’s bo kho (beef stew). I have heard great things about Indochine but I haven’t made it there yet. Soon.


The Columbian food I mentioned was from the taco truck El Manantial Latino which has just moved to a new location at Lane and High. On this visit we had the Colombian tamale – larger than a Mexican tamale with more meat and vegetables inside. It comes wrapped in a banana leaf rather than a corn husk. The menu offerings vary daily so it is best to ask what they have.


If I want to make an effort for Thai food I go to Bangkok on Refugee Road which also has an eclectic grocery store. Apart from the drive they also close early, so more often than not I find myself eating Thai food at Nida’s Thai on High. As well as being extremely convenient Nida’s has the advantage of serving cocktails and sushi. It is the most atmospheric of the restaurants I have mentioned. The dish pictured is the tasty appetizer Mee Krob.


I haven’t yet mentioned Mexican Food — and you know what I am going to say: yup, taco trucks. Many of these will stay open this winter serving steaming hot atole to go with your tacos. Don Pedro’s are currently offering a Thursday special $4 pambazo’s and the pambazos alone are worth the drive. Seriously craveable. My other favorite trucks include Los Potosinos, Los Guachos, Taqueria Jalisco and Taco Nazo, but there are over 30 to choose from. Closest to down town are Junior’s (on 5th Avenue) and Chapis tacos (near Broad and Souder).

I should also mention Japanese, of which my favorites are Sushi Bistro Masa and Kihachi. Both of these are in Dublin and whereas most of the other restaurants I have mentioned are places I would go on a weekday evening. The Japanese restaurants are for more of a special occasion, especially if you want to take full advantage of the more exotic offerings. Pictured are some fried salmon balls from Sushi Bistro Masa.


Last but not least bagels. Blocks Bagels, with two locations in East Columbus are the closest thing I have found to New York bagels in Columbus. Boiled before they are baked, Blocks have been making bagels in Columbus since 1967. They have over 20 flavors as well as a sandwich counter and the bagels are as dense and chewy as they should be.


So there you have it, plenty of places offering hot steamy bowls of soup, spice and carbs to keep you warm this winter. I know that this list is far from extensive, so please feel free to share other ethnic favorites and hidden gems.


Filed under Columbus, restaurants, soup, Taco trucks

Dine Originals: Competition


This week is the second Dine Originals Restaurant Week and lucky for you, I have been given a $25 gift voucher to giveaway on Hungrywoolf.

Dine Originals is a group of 40 Independently owned restaurants, varying from casual to fine dining. They are mainly in Columbus but include some out of town restaurants such as the Inn at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills. You may remember that from my last competition.


As you can tell from the ‘Best of‘ list on Hungrywoolf many of my favorite restaurants in Columbus are Dine Originals. Personal favorites include Alana’s, Pistacia Vera, The Refectory, G Michael’s, Rigsby’s and Basi Italia.

I heart Pistacia Vera

I heart Pistacia Vera

This week I took advantage of some of the Restaurant Week lunch offers and had 3 course lunch at Deepwood and a sandwich lunch on the patio at Cafe Corner. This afternoon I am going to Pistacia Vera for a birthday tea. I can’t wait.

Lunch at Deepwood

Lunch at Deepwood

The next Dine Originals on my wish-list to try is the Worthington Inn, one of the restaurants that does a great job promoting and sourcing local ingredients. Where is the next on your list?

To enter the competition please post a comment saying which Dine Originals restaurant you would most like to visit and why? It can be somewhere you have always wanted to try, or a restaurant that you have previous visited and long to return to.

The competition deadline is Sunday 13th at midnight – the end of Restaurant Week. I will select at winner randomly from all of the entries that give a restaurant and a reason to dine there.


Filed under Columbus, competition, restaurants