Tag Archives: Columbus

Ten Things In 2012.

As 2013 rapidly approaches, we pause to take a look at our top food memories and discoveries of the year.

Jill: My itinerant adventures included a spring trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rice, summer visits to New York City and Cleveland (yes, a worthy destination) and a last-minute trip to San Francisco spurred on by World Series baseball. Below are a few things of note as I look back at the year that the world was supposed to end.

1. One-Course Meals.

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In 2012, I realized that while I may not be able to afford three courses of fine dining, I can create my own buffet of great eats by visiting several places for one course each. San Francisco was the perfect backdrop for this style of eating, and I found myself slurping oysters not once, but twice in the ten-day stay. The key, by the way, is to be upfront with servers from the beginning. And to tip a little extra before heading out for the next snack.

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Fried Chicken Find.

I’m not going to lie. I was on the way to Wendy’s for their #2 (regular size, Diet Coke, no mayo) when I saw Mya’s Fried Chicken saddled up to the Super Food Mart at the corner of Pacemont and High Street in Clintonville. I was feeling a little guilty about the whole drive-through thing, and was happy to find a reason to substitute it with a local (and trendy!) business for my lazy lunch.

In a food truck shuffle, Mya’s recently showed up to fill the void left by Ray Ray’s Hog Pit when they moved down to Ace of Cups. They have a basic menu of fried chicken and house-made (truck-made?) sides, and reviews, Tweets and blog posts about the place have been blowing up the internet.

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Higher Latitude.

Rooftop. Beer. Garden. Separately, I love all these things. So when the sum is greater than its parts and when the sum’s location is Latitude 41, well, I’m a happy gal. Ben’s astute eye on the goings on of Twitter alerted me of the Latitude 41 Rooftop Beer Garden. The happening was fortuitously rescheduled to align with his mom’s birthday celebration. (Hi, Cindy!)

The premiere event took place next to the fourth floor rooftop pool, allowing for delightful views for folks in love with both slow-roasted local pork and downtown Columbus, accompanied by live music from Jason Quicksall.

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A Dynamic Transformation.

When the folks at Dragonfly Neo-V announced late last year that they’d be changing their concept, I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by everything they claimed Till Dynamic Fare would become. They’d serve cask beers and wine on tap, but grown-up cocktails as well. Biodynamic burgers would live peacefully on the menu beside their celebrated classic vegan fare. And their target audience would grow immensely. No longer would they primarily serve vegans with extra pocket change; Till would become a place to bring your kids, your best friend, your grandmother.

The changes — dramatic and subtle — worked. I’d dined at the original restaurant twice in eleven years. (Don’t judge!) Now that Till’s in town, I’ve been twice in three months. And I can see myself going again, soon.

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Of God and Salads.

My interest in food that originates from the ground (and not, let’s say, the teet or the slaughterhouse) is relatively new. I remember interviewing a coworker about her favorite types of food and typing, with disgust, that she loves Spring and Summer because of the wares from her garden. She was team veggie. I was team butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork. Especially pork.

Two things changed. First, this damn locavore movement. I’d made some recent life decisions that propelled me from everything I’d known for three years. (I left a church.) Somehow I knew that my next step in life would involve community and food. I whimpered a few blocks over to my friend Susan (a master of both) who thrust that Pollan book into my hands. I’d be studying a new gospel.

Second, a prescription. Over the years, my experimentation with fresh produce brought me to an understanding with the Lord that heartburn and itchy lips were a sign from above that I should not veer from my butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork diet. In an act of defiance, I stumbled from my faith in pork and tried modern science. And my doctor giveth me Prilosec. And I was happy. (And fatter; not only could I consume tomatoes without pain, but also white wine: an entire food group I’d been fasting from for years.)

And guess what? Now I like salads! (And butter-rosemary-garlic-chicken-pork. You can like both! There’s a gray area in life, a concept that I’ve paid many a shrink to help me discover.)

There’s also a pink area. And a gooey and awesome bright yellow area, once you break open that heavenly soft poached egg (that somehow went straight from one of God’s creatures and directly into the kitchen at Sage American Bistro). This, friends, is my favorite salad in Columbus. It combines animals and plants. There’s no dilemma here: just eat it in a way that doesn’t involve lifting the plate and dumping it directly into your mouth. Try to use utensils. Each bite magically contains hearty smoky bacon in thick but bite-size pieces, that aforementioned warm egg, soft hidden morsels of goat cheese, pickled onion, freshly cracked peper and a tangy dressing. It’s cool. It’s warm. All salads should be like this. And once Michael Pollan is President of Food, Chef Glover needs to be given some sort of cabinet position involving pork.

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Friday Five: Winter Hashes.

When I see caprese salad, asparagus with hollandaise or cucumber salad on a winter menu, I mentally categorize the dining establishment as one of those whose walk-in coolers are filled to the brim with plastic containers of pre-made distributor-sourced foodstuffs. Side dishes speak volumes about how a restaurant sources its food and what makes a chef tick. Coleslaw year round? That guy spends his free time watching Dancing with the Stars. He drives an SUV and only gets emotional during professional sporting events. The chef who dabbles in broccoli rabe, kale and the beloved tuber lives a different sort of life. He (or she) probably dabbled in the arts — french horn? pottery? poetry? — before deciding to make a living hovering over his (or her) knives and cutting board, turning brussels sprouts and smoked meats from single notes to entire symphonies.

While there’s a difference between seasonal and local on a menu, my respect goes out to those who attempt one or both.

I’m not the most astute at observing (or writing about) trends, but I’ve noticed that the potato, in hash form, has received much attention on my favorite menus this winter. Has it always been there, and I’m just starting to notice? I can’t say. But it’s the perfect venue for cool weather veggies and my treasured winter meats, and is often the reason I choose a dish. Like snowflakes, each is unique. Let’s take a look.

1. Short Rib Hash at Buttermilk Channel, Brooklyn

With a 2:1 beef-to-potato ratio in its hash, Buttermilk Channel — one of my favorite stops in Brooklyn — definitely knows how to make a potato seem glamorous. Served alongside lightly dressed greens, the dish is well balanced: heavy meets light, green meets beige and brown. The beef is seasoned with cinnamon and topped with a salted egg. And the soft texture of the potatoes is embellished with crispy bits of beef, scraped from the bottom of the pan, reminiscent of childhood dinners of pot roast. And if one can ever be excited about carrots, this is the time.

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Occupy The Coop.

It’s a strange thing, I think. My neighborhood houses some of the most creative, passionate and interesting foodies, food writers and food innovators in Columbus. What Clintonville lacks, though, are great dining establishments. It seems that for every Sage American Bistro, Ray Ray’s Hog Pit and Alana’s, we have four or five fast food chains or straight-from-the-GFS-can joints lining our streets. So when food trucks arrived to my part of the city, tipping the fare scale from “boring” and “meh” to “interesting” and “delicious”, our elected officials’ first impulse was to enforce obsolete laws that push them out of our area.

Perhaps The Coop’s location at Cliffside and Indianola is too close to the Clintonville border with Old North Columbus for our legislators to care. Or perhaps relying on the oncoming cold weather was an easier food truck deterrent. (Sound familiar, anyone?) I’m not sure why the relatively new truck owned and operated by Angie Theado seems immune to archaic laws, but I am thrilled to have this truck as a dining option in my neighborhood.

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Mom & Pop Pizza.

I spend a good portion of my professional energy trying to make sure that the image of my place of employment doesn’t come across as “mom and pop.” I remove misspelled signs, try to explain correct apostrophe use to the employees and try (but often fail) to guide uniform standards that not only look clean and sleek, but are also actually worn by the staff. Ironic, then, that my favorite pizza joint in Columbus is full of wrinkles, inconsistencies and oddities. (Though, I must say, no spelling errors or misuse of apostrophes. Cheers, guys!)

Bono Pizza is a restaurant on the side of a beer and wine carryout off of Chambers Road in Grandview. The plates (usually) don’t match, there are no uniforms and the only part of a Bono trip that is consistent from time to time is excellent wood-fired pizza. I’ve already sung the praises of co-owner Peggy Yerkes, but in honor of Pizza Week at Itinerant Foodies, I’ve decided to focus on the place, itself.

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Friday Five: Yerba Buena

I’ve spent some time being jealous of my friends who work downtown. First, they don’t have to drive. (I’ve been known to loudly chant encouraging words to myself when dealing with the 315 and 270 merge on my way home from work: “I hate to change lanes, but I can change lanes!”) I dream of a simple bus ride and the company of a book or Twitter on my commute. A second point of jealousy is their access to El Arepazo, one of the best (and busiest) lunch destinations in Columbus. I’ve only been able to visit a few times (thanks, jury duty!) but every time, I swoon over their patacon (a Venezuelan dish of fried plantains topped with tilapia, banana peppers, avocado, lettuce and cheese) and drool over their cilantro sauce (available in mild and spicy). Alas, my work in the grocery land doesn’t free me to leave for lunch and my opportunities to shove my face full of their deliciousness are few and far between.

Happy news! While Carlos and the folks from El Arepazo haven’t done anything about my (relatively short) commute, they have made it easier for me to enjoy their wares, via their new food truck, Yerba Buena Latin Grill, which is parked on High Street near Glenmont on the north end of Clintonville. I visited Saturday and sampled most of the menu. I will be back. Often. Today’s Friday Five is a small selection of my favorite items from the truck.

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Skilled Labor.

When my friend Sarah and I used to play pool, our strategy was to divvy out two tasks: one of us would be “Trash Talk,” while the other ended up being responsible for “Skills.” We were mediocre, at best, and the trash talk definitely didn’t do much to help the game. In the food arena, it’s much easier for me to gain the ability to talk (in general) than it is to develop skills. I can read, taste and travel to be able to speak on a topic, but I lack the patience to actually make many of the things I love to eat. Ask me to steadily cut a crepe, dip anything into chocolate or pan fry something using only wooden skewers? No thank you. I’ll leave that to the professionals.

When I first learned of Freshstreet’s setting up shop inside of Mikey’s Late Night Slice to make takoyaki, I was bitter. Last summer, I’d grown accustomed to their food cart, bearing Japanese-style pork belly crepes, being within walking distance of my house on most Sunday afternoons. My inner trash talk was silenced this past Sunday when I encountered my first-ever taste of their takoyaki.

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