Tag Archives: local

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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Pizza Harvest.

I’m not sure how folks mark the change from summer to autumn outside of Columbus, Ohio. The season is thrust upon us (whether or not the weather wants to cooperate) with the emergence of football season. Love it or hate it, high school and college football games become the center of my culture. And with the games come a new type of seasonal eating: pizza. This week, Maya and I are celebrating this any-season-but-best-in-autumn dish on Itinerant Foodies. Expect a little controversy (she’s very particular on what constitutes a “correct” pizza) and some zesty prose on this all-American favorite.

As a foodie in Columbus, I’m spoiled; rarely do I have to wait for a seat in my favorite restaurants. I did not fully realize this until I visited Harvest Pizzeria in German Village. While it’s typical for eateries in this part of the city to be filled to the brim, I was faced with such a wide demographic of eaters that one of two things must be true: either Columbus is starting to appreciate local fare or German Village is extremely hungry (pardon the pun) for a solid pizzeria.

The concept behind Harvest Pizzeria is simple: wood fired specialty pizzas are made with local ingredients and served alongside classic cocktails and salads in a hip and bustling atmosphere. In short, this is not a Friday Night Pizza Joint filled with preteens — or pre-made sauces. It’s quite the opposite. The drinks and dishes are designed for adults. And that heavenly tomato sauce? It’s made by hand from home grown tomatoes.

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Happy Plates.

For quite a few uncomplicated years, the perennial question, “What’s your favorite restaurant?” was blissfully easy to answer: I’d had crushes on various establishments before, but our college town’s worker-owned and -operated Casa Nueva was my first true love.

Casa championed local, seasonal produce before it was trendy to do so, and the resulting hearty, high-quality Mexican-style fare has developed something of a cult following among townies and students alike. On a recent whirlwind trip to Ohio, I cajoled two friends into joining me there for breakfast to see if the goods still held up; happily, the food was as great as I’d remembered.

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Cast and Crew.

Last night, despite some minor setbacks (including two recipes with the words “refrigerate” and “overnight” closely linked), I pulled off one of my most successful dinner parties to date. (As determined by my guests, all frequent diners at Café Moorhead). I definitely cannot take credit for the success; I had both a strong cast of characters (high-quality ingredients pictured throughout this post) and an amazing assistant director in Maya, who threw some great last-minute recipes (and gchat advice) my way.

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Hodge Podge.

As I’ve mentioned several times, this was my first year with both a vegetable CSA, and a successful garden. Both have expanded my eating horizons and forced me to digest foods beyond my typical poultry and butter. They’ve dictated my menus and forced me to spend Sunday afternoons making sauce or throwing several vegetables in the oven in a desperate attempt to avoid waste. I’ve also, as a result of the garden and CSA, found myself walking around with bags full of greens, to hand to unsuspecting passers-by or Stitch & Bitch comrades.

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Do The Reading.

This “tweet” got a lot of attention: After 2 Rosh Hashanah meals with BB’s family, what do I make his Jewish Grandpa for dinner? You guessed it: pork tenderloin. Sigh. Yes, twitter skeptics, one can tell quite a story in 140 characters.

No spoiler alert here. Yes, I did serve pork tenderloin to a non-kosher Jew during a week-long holiday that I thought lasted only a day or two. Thankfully, my guests, Baseball Boy’s grandparents, gracefully ate the food I prepared for them. Swine and all. (Though, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I did manage to include the holiday’s staple apples and honey in both a side dish and the dessert.)

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Truth be told, I was nervous about cooking for them as soon as the invitation had been extended. They’ve had us over for dinner several times, and their combined food knowledge way surpasses mine. Remembering excellent meal upon excellent meal I realized I had no idea what I could cook for them that would be some level above a microwave dinner.

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Fennel Me This.

Café Corner, a breakfast and lunch nook at 3rd and Pennsylvania, has changed substantially in the last several years. A girlfriend and I used to find ourselves there on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, to remedy nights of over-stimulation with coffee and egg sandwiches and to get free internet in the process. Since I was last there, the restaurant has made a name for itself, prettied up (and expanded) their menu, revealed their commitment to local ingredients, doubled its staff and tripled its seating, by adding a deck and several tables outside. Suffice it to say, it’s been awhile.

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A friend and I stopped in this past weekend. Although we went because it is one of the Dine Originals Columbus restaurants featuring a deal for (another) Restaurant Week, neither of us ordered the special. Instead, I was drawn in by the Fennel Apple BAC sandwich. Fennel, bacon, vinegar-kissed apples and cream cheese created a crispy good- and bad-for-you sandwich that I’ll definitely order again.

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Categorically Eating.

What constitutes a green restaurant? I asked our waitress this question, in the middle of the Saturday brunch rush. And this wasn’t the only question we (I) asked. In retrospect, I hope that I tipped her well. She must have hated us. She must have hated me. [Maya note: She didn’t hate us. Or if she did, she hid it very well. I.e., she was a good waitress.]

We left the Burlington Farmers Market (much to Maya’s chagrin; she could have snacked on cheese samples, specialty samosas and baked goods for another hour or so) in search of coffee and breakfast, and found ourselves at Magnolia Bistro, a restaurant that touted itself as Vermont’s first certified green restaurant.

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I work in an industry of marketing promises. All natural. No preservatives. Organic. Free range. Specialty. Most, if not all, of these claims cannot be verified, or, in most cases, are judged by standards within the industry. So the claim – one that, I admit, helped to get me in the restaurant’s doors – was one that made me curious.

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Before Coffee (B.C.)

On Saturday morning, after a full evening of rain (sleeping in a tent that was short the few pieces required to make it weather-resistant), Maya and I awoke and headed into downtown Burlington with a three-piece agenda: Find coffee, find a bar that showed the Arsenal vs. Manchester United game and, as an afterthought, find out where the Burlington Farmers Market resides.

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Burlington is so small that we found its Farmers Market even before we found a place to park.

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No Words Necessary.

A friend has been singing the praises of Cafe Bella for months now. While I was (gratefully) stuck with a 4:45 table on Valentine’s Day at one of my favorite spots in town, she was able to saunter, without reservations, into this understated restaurant. At a decent hour. On the Amateur’s Night of dining. For a meal that was a fraction of the cost of mine, and a lot less harried. That Cafe Bella wasn’t overbooked does not reflect on the quality of the food or service. Rather, it says plenty about the unwritten constitution of the place. I made my inaugural visit to the restaurant a few weeks ago, and am a fan.

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