CMH Gourmand

Culinary Discovery & Misadventures in the Ice Cream Capital of the World (Columbus)

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Whoa: Moe’s Original Bar B Que exceeds expectations

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 21, 2014

It has been a long time since I felt I had a new discovery or that I had beaten to the scene the other online and offline choices you have for your culinary voyeurism. After a long dry spell, I have a scoop. The thrill of the chase is the ultimate reason why most food writers blog. That moment of discovery when you walk through the door and find that you have found something worth writing about and that you get to be that person that opens a door to a new adventure for someone else. So here we go with Moe’s.

Moe’s had a few things going against it. It is a BBQ joint. So many in central Ohio have tried but so few have succeeded at doing BBQ well. And by doing it well, I mean doing it right. BBQ joints frequently excite me at the beginning then quickly disappoint me at the end. The next challenge is the space. Moe’s is in a spot in downtown Granville has witnessed several concepts come and go. The one successful concept in the spot occupied by Moe’s was long ago a place called Brew’s Cafe. You may have heard of that place – everyone loves it and fills the place day after day after it moved down the street.

Business took me to Granville and one of the bonus’ of owning your own business is being able to pick where you meet and who you dine with. The original plan was to meet at Brew’s but while checking the hours of operation I found that a new BBQ place had just opened down the street. This changed the plan.

I hoped for the best but prepared my palette for the mediocre. It is not fair to visit a restaurant open less than 2 weeks and rate what they can or can’t do, but I was ready to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m happy to report this rookie delivers.

The first sign of potential was the sign at the front door – see below.

thanksgiving sandwich

That’s right a Thanksgiving sandwich! Take the best food day of the year and compact it into a sandwich by using a simple bun as a base then adding smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce and a drizzle of white BBQ sauce. I had to get this….but I was conflicted. I mean I can’t properly judge a BBQ place by a smoked Turkey Sandwich so I decided to go in-depth into the menu. Fortunately, Moe’s menu is set up to make grazing easy. So here is what else I ordered in half pint servings: baked beans, mac’n cheese, marinated cole slaw, potato salad, banana pudding, collard greens, skillet corn (relish) , Mississippi Mud Pie (Pudding), squash casserole, corn bread…..and a side of ribs.

Take a look at my spread below:

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Before I go into detail on the above let me share with you why some people consider me the devil. My lunch companion is working with a personal trainer and by ordering the same sandwich as I did – he had already broken all of the rules he with given for the day for calorie consumption. Then I had him help me try the sides. (Then later in the day I took him to wineries and a Moonshine Distillery). Maybe I am the devil, all I know is the devil in the details and Moe’s does the details right. I did offer to write a note to his trainer explaining that his client had no chance by hanging out with me.

The place looks and feels like a BBQ joint (or kind of like a BBQ themed Chipotle restaurant). There are rolls of paper towels on each table – all real BBQ places add that touch. The aesthetics are all rural, industrial and music themed. The furniture is sufficiently wooden, etc. Moe’s could be in North Carolina, Texas or ……Alabama. That’s right greenhorns, Alabama. There is an Alabama style of BBQ which I was schooled in several years ago by the Coop Dawg and O’Pa (might sound like a sitcom but they are real people). Moe’s does “Bama BBQ” as intended. Want a sandwich “Bama style”? Here is how you do it add: BBQ Sauce, White Sauce, slaw and pickles. White sauce uses Mayonnaise as the base instead or tomatoes and/or vinegar.

The owners go by the name Gallagher and they have bounced around BBQ country a bit but they missed Central Ohio and wanted to come home. The way for them to return was through owning and opening a BBQ restaurant. So taking stock of their different backgrounds the menu reflects their history by mixing several styles. The main dish BBQ entrees are Alabama style. The side dishes are inspired by the kitchens of North Carolina and the ribs are strictly St. Louis style. Regardless of what style you subscribe to the whole of the menu is greater than the sub of the parts, or the sides.

So back to the food. The Thanksgiving sandwich was exceptional. The turkey was perfectly smoked – just enough smoke in the meat to add flavor but not enough to dry out the turkey. As for the sides each one reflected the style one would expect at a picnic in North Carolina. My favorites were the Mac ‘n Cheese and the corn relish. Both were properly seasoned and flavored and if going up against other of their ilk they would have come in best of show. The mac in particular, had just enough sear and crunch caressing the cheese to make it just right for me.

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The slaw was a mix of long shards of cabbage and a sweet yet sour dressing. The banana pudding featured an out of the box vanilla wafer on top in a manner I would describe as old school. The St. Louis style ribs were true to the style, expertly rubbed and with meat that was tender and easy to pull from the bone. The cornbread had a corn muffin quality (which is how I prefer it) and paired perfectly with all of the sides and all of the sauces.

And about the sauces – there are several styles and levels of heat and all are made in-house. Also in the house – a great bar on the second floor and plenty of local beer including Buck’s from Newark and Homestead from Heath. There as a lot to like about this new kid on the main block of Granville and I look forward to the Gallagher’s growing their business and refining the menu to meet the meat needs of the community. I think this place is going to be a hit. And I was so glad to find a Bar B Que joint that did not disappoint.

Moe's Original Bar B Que on Urbanspoon

Posted in BBQ, Ohio, restaurants, Road Trip, sandwiches | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Zen State – Brunch: Purple Chopstix; Athens, Ohio

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 4, 2014

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Over the last few years, I may have gotten a bit cocky about my knowledge about eating in Athens – my North American Home away from Home. In fact, as you will read in a later post, I developed a very happy rut of a cycle of places that I visit over and over again. Until one day when Dr. Balbo, Medicine Woman mentioned “why didn’t you go to Purple Chopstix?” “Purple what the who?” Apparently it is the Bees Knees of downscale hippy dining in the locavore mecca of Athens. Not only had I never eaten there, I had never heard of it. On my recent Bachelor Sabbatical to Athens, I was determined to try out the place. Unfortunately, I started my journey of discovery in a non Zen like state. Purple Chopstix Sunday hours on their website indicated that were open to 1 p.m. and I was running late in picking up my companion for the trip, the vice president of marketing and creative endeavours for Ohio Pop. In theory, we did not have time to make it before closing, but I was focused on meeting my need to dine at this place. Thank goodness for the Nelsonville Bypass, light traffic and good weather because we made it a few minutes before 1 pm. I was happy to see that the proprietors had hand written on to the hours sign closed….1:30 pm which allowed me to not feel like a complete douchbag for coming just before the door shut.

Upon arrival, my companion was a bit skeptical about my choice of dining establishment for first lunch. He was very hungry to the point of pre-crankiness and by nature he is very focused on the appearances of things and design. The exterior of the place would best be described as unassuming. While I am a variant of hippy my companion is anything but and I think he experienced minor discomfort when we saw the sign below.

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So of course I banged the gong. We waited quite some times and the gong was not responded to so I barged into the room and asked the most hippy looking person if it was OK to seat ourselves. It turned out that person was a customer but a very pleasant young lady then took care of us and gave us her favorite table for two. You can see the table below, the booth we sat in reminded us of an old train car dining station. I am happy to report I could fit in. Looking out the window I saw a peaceful, babbling brook, many trees, some interpretive art and an odd assortment of eclectic items decorating the landscape including numerous block pavers (expect a post about that in Bricks of Ohio Blog soon). I knew the second I sat down I had found my new spot.

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However, Purple Chopstix only offers a buffet on Sundays and we were arriving at the end of service. Some of the dishes were already wiped out and the rest looked unassuming at best. I was concerned that my dining companion would be displeased but to the contrary after we loaded up on our first plate he was completely in a blissful state I rarely see him in unless we are both intoxicated. The first item he sampled was a mini crepe which was exquisitely well executed. My first bite was a curry dish with vegetables and tofu. We quickly devoured our first round of breakfast items, salads and biscuits and returned for more. While my dining companion enjoyed coffee, I went out the patio area to explore and check out the landscape. I was pleased to see there were a few patio tables for use in better weather. I was pleased indeed.

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I’d write more about the food but our friendly server shared that the buffet is different every week. We stared at the regular menu long and hard then made a verbal pact to come back in the future for three days in a row so we could explore the dinner menu in the depth it deserved. My colleague Jared from Nothing Better to Do, wrote a fine post on this spot a few years ago which I will share -> HERE. The next day we ran into our server again at Farmacy, where she also works and she once again served us well by helping us find the best place in town to restock our supply of spirits for the rest of my sabbatical. I look forward to writing about Purple Chopstix in-depth later this year. In the meantime – please share your experiences here and let me know what to order on day one.

Purple Chopstix on Urbanspoon

Posted in Athens, Locally Sourced, Ohio, restaurants, Road Trip | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Back on the Donut Trail: McHappy’s, Athens Ohio

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 2, 2014

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While this is bad news for the Dining Duder, the donut trail is back. And this was as unexpected for me as you. I was minding my own business with no intention of consuming a donut when I noticed that McHappy’s offered donuts. I was visiting a new Athens favorite, Purple Chopstix (suggested by Dr. Balbo, Medicine Woman) when I noticed that McHappy’s was open via a sign advertising donuts. While I have driven this stretch of Richland Ave. many times, I never noticed McHappy’s nor did I have an inclination to look – I was always on my way to somewhere else. I’m glad I dropped in.

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Dropping in was a pure whim. In fact my passenger tried to dissuade me from doing so because we had just filled up on a buffet. The place does not look like much from the outside and we had a challenge finding the door since is largely a drive through business. However, I was focused on finding out what this bakery was all about and I needed to stockpile provisions for our next several days at Lake Hope State Park. The moment I waked through the door, I was glad I did so. The first doughnut my eye spied was an Ohio classic – maple glazed cake donut. It was at this point I decided a full dozen was in order. In addition to two maples, I added several other varieties including a new one for me – Applesauce. I also picked up a cinnamon roll, a apple fritter and a peanut butter egg. This mass of sugar was a good value. If you are even more value oriented, McHappy’s sells bags of day old doughnuts for $1.99.

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To cut to the chase, in comparison of all of the other Ohio Donut Trail entries, McHappy’s rates a solid B. None of the regular donuts stood out or where craveable. I expected a lot, perhaps too much from the Applesauce donut since that style was new to me. It was good but what I think I liked the most was it’s star like shape. The winner of everything we tried was the apple fritter. It may place in the top five in the fritter category to date. I should note a few disclaimers about McHappy’s. We purchased the donuts around 1 pm and we did not try any until about 5 pm so they were not at their peak freshness. McHappy’s is a five location chain operating in Athens, Belpre, Marietta and Parkersburg. And for some reason, which no longer makes sense we nicknamed the lady that served us Biscuits McGillacutty.

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McHappy's Donuts and Bake Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Posted in desserts, donuts, Ohio, Ohio Donut Trail, Road Trip | 1 Comment »

Tyler’s Pizzeria and Bakery

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 29, 2014

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I’m not sure when I first heard of Tyler’s. It was brought back to my attention when my esteemed colleague at Columbus Food Adventures shot me an e-mail that highlighted the wood-fired aspect of the business. I then put Tyler’s on my very long and never completed to scout list. A month later, after dropping off some friends at the airport I found that I had time to kill and was much closer to Reynoldsburg than I ever get so that was the day.

Tyler’s is located deep in the heart of Reynoldsburg, in fact, I think it was the first time I been to the burg other than any sections attached to 270. That being the case I was hoping that Tyler’s would be a destination, because otherwise, I knew I would never have any legitimate reason to return.

Tyler’s is located in a nondescript building with simple signage. It could have easily been Tyler’s Barber Shop or Tyler’s Comics if one was driving by and did not know to look for it. I parked then spent a few minutes to search the web on my phone to see if I could find any suggestions on what to order. (At this point you are thinking….order a pizza idiot) but I do have an obligation to be thorough so I wanted some guidance, even from Yelp. I found very little on the place. Also, I must admit, when I see the term wood-fired I initially get very excited then quickly recall the many wood-fired disappointments I have experienced to date. Wood-fired often means wood flavored or wood smelling or would have wished I had gone elsewhere. I did not want to be disappointed but I was ready for it.

Walking in, the inside looked much like the outside – simple and plain. There was a sample board from which the sole employee cut off some items for me to try. There were all good. Then, I spied a Pepperoni Roll. I knew I would get one of those haven just spoken to Gary Seman at This Week about the subject a few days before. I saw many things that I wanted so I take home with me so I started with my initial order and then when I was given the price…which seemed like a steal, I added several more items to my bag of goodies.

So you are asking yourself, dude, where’s the pizza? Well in seems that Tyler was not in when I was there. The young lady at the counter has worked for him for two years and has learned a lot about baking but she was still learning the art of making pizzas in the oven so she suggested that I hold out until I could have one made by Tyler. I am sure that his apprentice could have made a fine pie but I respected that she wanted me to try one from the master so I opted to get some more bakery items instead.

This was my final stockpile of goods: butterscotch chip scone, chocolate croissant, blueberry muffin, pepperoni roll, Cornish pastry and a cookie bar. Verdict each one would finish best in show or close to it in their respective categories. A few highlights from above. The croissant was light, flakey and perfectly balanced in the proportion of chocolate to croissant. Cornish pastry, who in the heck makes these in Ohio? If you have never had one, go here to fix that little problem of yours. Mine had exceptionally buttery and flakey crust with a fine mix of spiced and seasoned meat and vegetables inside. As Jimmy Fallon might say…So Good, So Good.

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And let me back track to the pepperoni roll. While Omega Bakery is still my favorite place to get this West Virginia staple, Tyler’s comes a close second. One bonus on the roll I tried was a strip of charred cheese about the length of a dollar bill and the thickness of my little finger attached to the bottom and never removed after it came from the oven.

Based on the baked goods, I have no doubt that the wood-fired pizzas will not disappoint me when I do get back to try them. One more thing gave me hope. Having gained the confidence of the apprentice I was allowed to get a close up look of the wood fired oven. Take a look. Doesn’t that give you hope and a warm feeling inside?

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Tyler's Pizzeria & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Posted in bakery, desserts, pizza | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

A Deal, a Shill and an Appeal

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 7, 2014

DealDeck

We begin with the deal. It is the Dine Originals Deck. For $20 you get 52 cards, each with a pretty good deal. Most of the deals are $10 off a certain dollar amount of food purchased. So, if you use two cards, you get your money back. Anything over is saving you money. There are a few non restaurant deals, one is a buy one get one free tour of Watershed Distillery. It is a bargain at full price so well worth consideration. Reviewing the deals in the rest of the deck the best offers are from Basi Italia, Bodega, Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant (Brunch only), Deepwood, Katalina’s, Pistacia Vera and The Top. So doing some quick math, I will probably save at least $50. Get the deck.


And now, the shill…….

In seven plus years of CMH Gourmand, I have been pretty hardcore about NOT shilling. I receive about one offer per week from someone asking me to hawk their wares, try out their restaurant, link their product to the website, etc. In 99% of the instances I say no thank you. On occasion I have accepted an offer for a meal or a product I already believe in and when I do, I disclose so in the post.

In the case of E-bates, I was not approached at all. Well not really. Mrs. (soon to be) Gourmand hooked me up with E-bates shortly after we hooked up. The concept is pretty straightforward. You sign up with E-bates and use their site as a portal for the other online shopping you do. So when I shop at L.L.Bean, Amazon, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Peets Coffee, Ghirardelli, etc. I can expect to get 2 to 4% of the purchase price back and sometimes more.

As a person who freely self admits that there is at least a 50% chance that my obituary will read “was struck by a car while bending down to pick up a penny” my Scottish heritage kicks in hard when a deal is to be had. As Mrs. to be Gourmand and I often say, “only a sucker pays full price”. Well I say that and she rolls her eyes in agreement. Since I do most of my shopping online the cash back accumulates quickly and can be paid to me by check or paypal.

So why I am sharing this other than the fact it is a good deal and only loosely food related? Well, Mr. Gourmand is saving up for a honeymoon to Italy and a new house in Old Worthington or Clintonville. Any referral I make for E-bates puts $15 in my savings account and saves you money. And any referral you make….puts money in your pocket. Bazinga!

Click the link below to make a donation to a worthy cause – extensive gelato research in Italy and extensive home improvement in central Ohio.

Show Gourmand the Money


And now the appeal.

I am listed as a candidate for best blog in the community for 614 Magazine’s ColumBest. It may be debatable if my blog is the best but it is one of the oldest. So I humbly ask for your consideration in the voting process. I would like to place third this year. You can vote -> HERE.

I’m CMH Gourmand and I thank you for your support.

Posted in Gastronomic Stimulus | 1 Comment »

The Road Warrior: Angelo Signorino Jr. – Brewer, Biker, Beloved!

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 21, 2014

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I debated whether to write about Angelo. Not because he doesn’t deserve a wagonload of kudos but like, me, he’d rather stay out of the spotlight and the limelight and practice his craft quietly. I mean he does work underground for part of the week. A couple of things tipped the scale for me. First, I recently wrote about Dan Kraus from That Food Truck and in the process of that I decided to add a new occasional series with the category heading – Fooderhero. There are many people in our community that have been quietly growing and planting seeds of greatness and Angelo is definitely at the top of the list.

The other thing that guided my decision was a story that Angelo recently told. He rides his bike to work nearly everyday, even in the weather we have had this year. As he was sharing the story, he described how he had the snowy Olentangy bikeway to himself and while riding along appreciating solitude and scenery he saw a Blue Herron. He then observed, for some people having a moment like that would be the highlight of their day as they commute to a job they don’t love. However, Angelo does pedal to a job he loves and he engages in his craft with a passion that is infectious. Angelo bikes to Barley’s Ale House #1 a few days a week and to Barley’s Smokehouse and Brewpub a few other days per week. At each destination he creates exceptional beers served from towers, engines, casks, barrels and firkins.

Angelo serves as a role model in many things he does. He has biked to work for years, commuting by two wheels long before others considered making that type of commitment. As for brewing, he has engaged in that trade for over twenty years. And while the volume of award-winning beers he has helped craft are well worthy of the accolade of being a Fooderhero, what really tips the scale is all of the encouragement and support he gives the rest of the brewing community. I’ll provide a few examples. If you see a bike parked in front a brewery afterhours, there is a good chance Angelo is inside sampling a beer, buying a growler or sharing beercraft lore with someone. There is also a good chance he is laughing. In the not so distant past, he was en route to meet his wife for dinner and just before his destination, he noticed that the lights were on at Four String Brewing so he popped in to see how Dan Cochran was doing. At that time, Dan was working fulltime during the day and then fulltime at night brewing and growing his own business. Angelo, without a prompt, spent 30 or more minutes helping Dan mash (that is the pre beer mixture that requires a lot of intensive physical work) while he waited for his dinner to get plated. As a third and final (but a mere drop in the bucket for what Angelo has done in the craft community) example, as much as Angelo loves people, he (like me) is an introvert so spending time in the public eye on a brewing day is not the most energizing activity he could engage in. Yet he does it like a pro. For Columbus Brew Adventures, Angelo walks guests through the history of Barleys in the course of four beers. Each beer has a great story and Angelo is a master storyteller. Interspersed with the information is the most memorable, distinctive laugh I’ve ever heard. It is a laugh of pure joy, passion, inspiration and celebration. And by the second beer there is not a person in the room that does not love Angelo. I have listened to him speak about the beers Barley’s brews over twenty times and I could listen to the spiel another 200 more. Each time to shares his tales, I learn something new and I get the satisfaction of watching 14 people transformed from casual observers to passionate craft brewing evangelists in less than 30 minutes.

As if the above was not more than enough there are a few more things I would like to share. Angelo started in beercraft as a part-time worker at the Winemakers Shop, which inspired two generations of home brewers and more than a handful of the brewers in practice at breweries around town today. Angelo is a lover of food and a long time supporter of the local restaurant scene, but it is in the arena of Food Trucks that he has excelled as a supporter. You are as likely to see his bike parked at a food truck as at a brewery and he offers the same infectious support to these new businesses as he does to every brewer he crosses paths with.

So as a tip of the hat to Angelo, I am only showing his bike in the post, instead of one of my many photos of him in action so he can stay under the radar. Cheers!

Posted in beer, beverages, culinary knowledge, FooderHero, Sub Dude | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

First Bite: Froglegs at Rice Bowl Restaurant

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 17, 2014

I have eaten many interesting proteins in my time including but not limited to: yak, venison, quail, shark, kangaroo, ostrich, emu, alligator, ants, slugs (Australian Bush Tucker Tour), a fly (not on purpose) and so on. Considering the many Chinese restaurants I have dined at, it is mildly shocking that I’ve never sampled frog legs.

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I wrote about the Rice Bowl last November after my first trip there. Now that I have had a chance to work though much of their Americanized menu, I decided that I wanted to see how their traditional menu fared. I asked several of the servers and a few dishes were consistently suggested. Every staffer I spoke too strongly endorsed the frog legs. I was game for it. My order of 8 to 9 frog legs (I lost track) was more than I bargained for. While billed as an appetizer, it is easily a meal by itself. The legs are served on a deep bed of sautéed and strongly seasoned onions and fresh jalapeno peppers. The long-legged frog parts are meaty and much larger than I expected. They also tasted much better than I was prepared for. As for the flavor, the best approximation I could share would be 85% perfectly cooked and moist chicken blended with a bit of crawfish. The breading on the frog legs was the best I have encountered on any fried product in a very long time. The seasoning included a good amount of black pepper. For texture and taste the best example my palette could backdate in my memories was the KFC original recipe of my youth (not what exists now).

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If are looking to expand your bucket list of animal parts eaten, this is a an easy path to take. As for the mainstream menu items I tried (on my first Rice Bowl carry our order), the eggs rolls are still my favorite in town. They are served with a small amount of the house citrus / orange dressing. The sauce is so good. SO GOOD! I also tried the house lo mein, the noodles were clearly homemade and the mix of several meats and vegetables was generous.

So to update for those tracking my adventures. I have had four perfect visits to the Rice Bowl and my first frog legs were so good, I doubt I will find any better in town.

Posted in restaurants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Ice Man Cometh: Dan Kraus – That Food Truck

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 14, 2014

Some of you have heard of That Food Truck. The name might not be memorable but the owner is. I met Dan when he first started building the truck in 2012. I’ve watched him finish out the truck, saw his first day serving to the public and was happy to see him featured on Nightline and noted as a Tastemaker in Crave Magazine back in 2013. Dan is the real deal. His guiding passion is the art and craft of cooking. He butchers his own pigs, smokes his own meat and never considers cutting a corner that would compromise his “order up”.

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For the last several months, Dan has been hanging his hat at Seventh Son Brewing Friday nights and Saturday Noon to 5 pm. Dan loads up his smoker with wood on Friday and keeps smoking through Saturday afternoon. Out of those hallowed smoker doors come brisket, chicken, pork and occasionally lamb. Oh, the lamb. The food is amazing. But the story behind the meal is even more intriguing.

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You may have noticed it has been very cold all winter. That has not hindered Dan. Schools and businesses may close. Seventh Son was even hit by a truck – but Dan has continued to press on. Rain or shine, cold or colder, Dan monitors his smoker all night and throughout the morning. He checks on his meat every 45 minutes to one hour. You may be scratching your head at this point so let me elaborate. Dan takes cat naps in his truck all night, getting up to check his temperatures every hour. If he loses his fire or his temperatures go under his target mark, he will need to cook an additional four hours to make up for every 1 hour he loses. So how exactly does one comfortably sleep in a food truck? Well, one does not. See the photo below as Dan demonstrates how he spends his late night Fridays and early morning Saturdays.

Before
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After (Dan places himself on the counter, note it is shorter than he is)
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One night the interior temperature dropped below 20 and Dan could see ice on some of his inside equipment. Is he tucked under layers of blankets and buried in expensive Arctic explorer style parkas and snow pants? No way. Only one thing protects him from the elements – Carhartt. So next time you grab something to go from Dan or complain about the walk from your office to your car, think about the journey your sandwich made to get to your belly and throw an extra dollar in the tip jar. Dan earned it.

Posted in culinary misadventure, Food For Thought, FooderHero, Locally Sourced, Mobile Food, sandwiches | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

My Editorial about the Crest on WOSU’s Columbus Neighborhoods

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 9, 2014

I have been a huge fan of WOSU’s Columbus Neighborhoods since the series launched a few years ago. As a lover of Columbus and history, the series has been fun and informative. So when the Clintonville episode premiered I was glued to my seat absorbing every factoid and cherishing every minute of it.

As a writer and a person that creates content for a radio show, I understand the limits of time and space constraints to the daunting task of presenting every possible person, place and event in a community over the course of over two hundred years. So while a few segments ran a bit long on one subject or another, I say to each their own and kudos as well as a job well done on the episode.

With one exception.

The Crest Gastropub had a very long segment as part of the program. I’m no hater of the Crest but I was a bit irked that a business with barely a year in the community would warrant so much air time while our other long time food businesses were left out. Granted there was a 1/2 second frame with an image of Nancy’s but that was it. As for the Crest, it is a story about the future of Clintonville and I want the restaurant to thrive and succeed and continue to do better. However, I am more interested in the food businesses that have held the line for decades in our community which has been restaurant deprived since my earliest memories.

Again, there is no way all of what I will list could be presented in the few minutes that were devoted to the Crest, but I would have loved to have seen a montage or brief mention of each of these places instead as a tip of the hat to these small family businesses which have been the heart and soul of the Clintonville Community.

Villa Nova has been a gathering place for decades. The original owner came back to save the business from failure and since then it has never looked back. It has done so well that it could buy the parcel of land next door, knock down the original Just Pies location and pave it over with a parking lot to fill with customers to take their cars off the neighboring streets.

Just Pies original location is gone but what a great success story. The business has garnered national attention by just making pies.

Moving south down High Street the new Mozart’s in the old Beechwold Tavern space. The building has served as home to many businesses over the years. It was a hot spot in the 1930′s as a tavern and dance hall. It survived other less exciting purposes afterwards. It was vacant for a long time until Cord Camera picked it as a location but then they moved to the revitalized Graceland Shopping Center. The building was almost home to a national fast food chain but luckily Anand Saha from Mozart’s put all of his chips on the table to get the building first. He has restored the charm and character of the place and made it a true community treasure. The story of an immigrant who came to Columbus with little more than a dream and grew a business over twenty years that has done so much for the community is a more compelling story that the Crest.

Or how about the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Columbus, Whole World Bakery and Cafe? Nancy’s Home Cooking has been the unofficial Town Hall of Clintonville since the mid 1970′s, while it is not the same place in our hearts as when Cindy King was alive and Ed King was behind the grill, it still is a community icon with countless stories connected to it such as catering weddings, feeding the homeless, making special meals for firefighters and so on.

Weiland’s Market was just a meat market at the original location when I went there to pick up supplies while I worked for Knight’s Ice Cream in the 1980′s. It has since blossomed into one of the best gourmet markets in town and it revitalized a strip center which was on the downward spiral for years. Round all of this out with Dante’s Pizza and Gatto’s Pizza and you have over 200 years of food history in just a few businesses.

I’ll add a few more places in. Flippos, was a burger and shake restaurant named after long time TV personality Flippo the Clown. It was located on High Street, just a bit north of East North Broadway where Donatos is today. I used to go there after T-Ball games as a kid. The Marzetti’s plant on Indianola may be too industrial to be a sight for sore eyes, but the company has an incredible history in Columbus including a nationally known restaurant decades ago. And while Clintonville received a bad rap for being unwelcome to food trucks (not really true) the rise of mobile food owes some debt to a community which supported Ray Ray’s, Mya’s, The Coop, Boston Berts and others through the years.

It is not all about food, but there was a lot in Clintonville that was overlooked in favor of the new whippersnapper on the block. So for non food related memories I would have liked to see a mention of Clintonville Academy (since 1978 – guess who was in the first class of students there) and the original Columbus Zoo which has a few buildings and bridges still hidden away in Beechwold.

To repeat. Good Job WOSU Neighborhoods you did a fine job of compressing 200 years of history in less than 1 hour but I think you could have represented the history of our community better with a brief mention of a few of the businesses listed above and less time devoted to the Crest. Maybe there are some gems in an extended edition DVD that will come out in the future. If not, I hope you will have an opportunity to come back to Clintonville to profile more of the history that was missed out on. The would mean the world to the hearts of those of us who have lived our lives here and made it a true community.

Posted in Clintonville, culinary knowledge, restaurants | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Back to Crest Gastropub for Breakfast/Brunch

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 5, 2014

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It seems that there is a little bit of a love/hate relationship with Crest Gastropub. Some people love to hate it, other hate to love it and many people love the friction between those two groups and the rest. It does not seem that things have changed much since my last visit there. And as most of you know breakfast is my sixth favorite meal (Brunch is fifth, Snack time is fourth, Second Lunch is Third, then dinner and finally lunch). However, I had a $40 gift card taking up space in my wallet and I had not had any quality time with the Dining Duder in quite some time.

Taking a lesson from the duder, who frequents the Crest frequently, we opted to arrive at opening and watched the place fill to capacity in about twenty minutes. I did a little Crest research to prepare for my visit. I read then disregarded the Yelp reviews and took a look at any other recent articles to look for common themes. The only writer I have a good sense of palate for is G.A. Benton since our tastes seem to be consistently aligned so I reread what he had to say but popped through the door with an empty stomach and an open mind.

First we will analyse aesthetics of the place. It looks great. For brunch, it seems they feature live music instead of Muzak. The quality of the musicians was good but the volume was too loud (and not because I am too old). It was difficult to hear our server and occasionally our conversation. Neither the staff nor the musicians seemed to pick up on this. In my book, anything other than light background music is too much. The conversation with a meal and sometimes the quiet of a meal, is as important to me as the meal itself. I was sad to see the wood serving boards are still in use. They look worse for wear and still serve no practical purpose.

Service was fine, it met expectations but I have yet to visit and have expectations exceeded. As is often the case, the first two beers I tried to order were not available. Not a big deal if the Crest is going through beers that fast it is good for them and the craft beer community. I’m not sure how they can figure out a way to have their printed menus keep up with their beer sales.

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Now for the food. What I really wanted to try was the coconut quinoa porridge but this was not available. The duder ordered the Shagbark chili made with adzuki (hails from Japan) and black turtle beans, with cilantro and sour cream. The beans and the chips all come from Shagbark Seed and Mill in Athens. My pre entrée order was honey-glazed cheese balls which never disappoint. The great balls of cheese are made with fried Lucky Penny chevre goat cheese dipped in honey with slivered almonds and a scattering of micro-greens to mix with the leftover honey. My main was the Ohio bison burger with pancetta, house made boursin cheese, charred onions & mixed greens on a brioche bun. It is a fine burger with very good sweet potato fries. But not craveable. I will still take a burger from nearby O’Reilly’s over just about anything. The Dining Duder and I were both happy to see the Lebanese flavors of the chef and the Mediterranean / Middle Eastern traditions of the owners making more appearances on the menu so we shared the Mediterranean breakfast. This includes grilled halloumi, lebneh, olives & hard-boiled eggs with hummus & pita. Loved it for being simple and sophisticated at the same time. Halloumi is a cheese made with goat and sheep’s milk. Lebneh is a style of strained yogurt that is perfect for dipping and mixing with other foods.

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So decent food, good beer list and still some things to hammer out to move on to the next level but considering they have less than a year in the game, I think they are doing well. One final note, the house made hot sauce on each table is a great addition to the flavors on the plate and the feel of the place. I look forward to the summer and seeing what the Crest can do with their gardens.

Posted in breakfast, Clintonville, restaurants | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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