Tag Archives: skillet

Earth Day Celebration 2010

The real work of Earth Day was done last weekend with a massive volunteer effort throughout Central Ohio. Almost 4,000 volunteers picked up trash, planted trees and worked in community gardens. Events like Thursday’s Earth Day celebration at Franklin Park are a forum for inspiration and education. The event gives non-profits and eco-friendly businesses an opportunity to explain their products, missions and campaigns. By trying to achieve a zero waste event we can teach people about recycling and composting and by offering healthy, sustainably produced foods we can introduce people to some fast food alternatives.

When I was asked to organize the food vendors for the Earth Day celebration, I started to think about the sort of vendors that would appeal to me at such an event. I wanted to focus on local, independent businesses and make sure that there were plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. I knew we would need to have more food options than previous years, because there are so few options close to Franklin Park. As this was the 40th anniversary of Earth Day we were hoping for more attendees than previous year’s, and if you want people to stay and listen to music on a weekday evening, chances are they are going to get hungry.

I remembered that the Columbus vegetarian restaurant blog Nothing Better to Do had featured a Comfest dining guide, so I contacted them to solicit some ideas. We invited some Comfest veterans:  Dragonfly and Wellness Forum as well as some of the favorite vendors from previous years: Wholefoods Market and Rad Dog, who were the first vendor to sell out. Another vegan option were the soups and turnovers from Lucky Ladle. I was a fan of the potato and spinach turnovers. Poor Shannon had her umbrella stolen the night before, but she was still all smiles. You can catch her at some of the farmers markets this summer.

Phat Wraps had an enticing display with all of their fresh toppings and they proved to be another popular choice. It’s fun being able to customize your own food. Their permanent location is in the OSU campus area on North High Street, but look for a second location opening soon.

A couple of festival newcomers were Portia’s Creations, featuring Kombucha Bob and Skillet Rustic Urban Food, debuting their new trailer. The pork belly quesadilla with salsa verde from Skillet was my late lunch, and it was delicious. Skillet is a great example of local, seasonal sourcing and they work directly with a number of farmers. I look forward to seeing the trailer out on the streets again soon.

Pattycake had beautiful cupcakes, flower cookies and their perennial favorites: snickerdoodles, oatmeal and toll house cookies. Taste of Belgium flipped crepes, cracked jokes, perfumed the air with caramelized sugar and handed out endless samples of their addictive Liege waffles.

A special thank you goes to Jeni’s Ice Creams and Columbus Brewing Company who gave out free scoops of ice cream and beer to volunteers. It’s amazing how long people will stand in line for a free scoop of ice cream, but it is wonderful stuff. Jeni’s is doing great work teaching people about seasonal eating through the medium of ice cream. It’s almost time for flavors that bloom.

Thanks also to all of the volunteers at the festival and the ever-patient Franklin Park Conservatory staff, especially the electricians.

Some other food highlights awaited those that made it over to the community garden. The live fire cooking theatre was in full swing and we found garden guru Bill Dawson showing off pizzas fresh from the outdoor oven.

Inside the education pavilion were a series of cooking demonstrations. I only made it to one, but I did get to listen to Devon Morgan (pastry chef at Alana’s) teaching us how to reuse and recycle ingredients in the kitchen. Devon showed us how to make chocolate nut balls with leftover cake trimmings and that’s the sort of recycling anyone can get behind.

Some more photos from the event are on flickr.

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Foodcast: Ingredient Driven Chefs

I wanted to draw your attention to the latest Columbus Foodcast. In this episode we interviewed two local chefs and explored the term ‘Ingredient Driven’. When Skillet Rustic Urban Food opened last fall their menu proclaimed that they were ingredient driven. That made us curious and we wanted to find out more. It seems that there are an increasing number of chefs in Columbus who make an effort to source locally, build relationships with farmers and discuss sourcing on the menu. For this episode we visited Skillet and interviewed the Chefs Caskey (father and son). We also interviewed Brian Pawlak the head chef of Deepwood Restaurant. Pictured below is one of the signature dishes he mentions in the interview, scallop wellington. We are hoping to make this a series and have a couple more interviews planned.

If you haven’t tried Deepwood or Skillet yet I encourage you to do so. Skillet is open for lunch during the week and brunch at weekends with meat centric hearty food. I posted this after my first visit there. Deepwood is one of my favorite places for happy hour, as their bar menu is excellent. They are also open for lunch and usually have a good value set menu for gallery hops. I have also been to a number of interesting special event dinners at Deepwood, including most recently a snout to tail dinner.

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Skillet

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Skillet‘s motto is rustic urban food. Their mission is ingredient driven comfort food – with an edge and they do it well. The food is familiar but with a creative twist. I was smitten immediately. What could be more comforting than warm vanilla and mascarpone breakfast risotto with pan-roasted peaches brûlée with bourbon molasses red eye gravy. Skillet is on Whittier Avenue in the old Banana Bean location. They have been open for weekday lunch and weekend brunch for two weeks, but as of Tuesday 3rd November they will be open for dinner until 8pm.

I waited to write about Skillet until I had been there a couple of times and by the joy of eating with friends I have sampled a large proportion of the menu. I have also established that my initial reaction was not a fluke. Everything has been at worst good and at best excellent. As the menu will be driven by the availability of seasonal ingredients (the owners are supplied directly by several farms), the menu will vary on a weekly or daily basis with some staples. The menu is available on the website and you can call orders in advance. Here’s a teaser.

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A few things to know about Skillet. You order from the counter and your food will be brought to you, similar to Northstar but without the number, as the restaurant only seats twenty. It is thus hoped that a large proportion of the business will be take out. Something I loved – there is a discount for two-wheel customers. Another thing you should know in advance is that you will be torn between telling everyone you know about it, and keeping it a secret for yourself.

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Pumpkin and black bean soup with roasted pepitas

Ordering at the large window not only gives you an insight into the goings on in the kitchen, but also allows you to chat to the chefs (when they aren’t too busy) and makes it easy to ask questions (and get answers) about the dishes and ingredients. The chefs certainly aren’t afraid of fat or garlic and while there are some vegetarian options, this is a small proportion of the menu.

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Shredded apple and farmer's cheese pancakes with rum raisin sauce

My favorite dishes so far have been the toasted sandwiches – the porchetta (I think I was sold on the wild fennel pollen) and the braised beef short rib with smoked gouda on grilled brioche. The beef was tender and rich, the fried peppers were spicy and the cheese smoky all offset by the light crispy brioche. I added some of the apple horseradish sour cream and the effect was to make my lunch companion jealous.

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Braised beef short rib and organic smoked gouda

Don’t neglect the side dishes. One of the gems of the menu is the crispy fingerling potatoes with burnt ends. Irresistible. Also at the moment they have pan roasted beets with goats cheese and almonds and they have some great breads. If you are lucky there might even be some homemade jam.

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The lunch menu is sandwich focused but the dinner menu will have some specific dinner entrees. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. Skillet is a great addition to the German Village and Columbus restaurant scene.

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Filed under Breakfast, Columbus, restaurants, soup