CMH Gourmand

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

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  • Archives: August 2006 to Now

S.W.A.T.

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 24, 2015

SWAT

If you missed my article about the late Roger Gentile in Stock and Barrel, I’d suggest you read it -> HERE, before you proceed.

S.W.A.T. stands for Secret Wine Appreciation Tastings. These were outings by a small number of friends that traveled to the best wine regions of the world to learn about wines and stockpile the best of them. This small cadre of gentlemen was composed of the Who’s Who of Columbus’ upper echelon with the means to live large while expanding their collections. However, this was no collection of rat pack style playboys, this group was one and all, on a mission to do some good with their good fortune. For years, they have taken some of the best of their collections to make dream packages for auctions to support charities such as Recreation Unlimited. This group has largely chosen to remain in the shadows and well….secret. I’ll keep their identities classified but I will offer a small insight into what they do.

This group periodically gets together to share the company of each other, an excellent meal and too many bottles of wine to count. I was given the great honor to attend one of these lunches, the first after the passing of Roger, as a thank you for writing about the group’s defacto leader, heart, soul and chief instigator.

The group met at Worthington Inn for lunch. Lunch was of course, excellent. Each member brought a guest with them (typically new potential member) and some of their best wines. In my invitation I was advised to “make sure I had a way to get home after, just in case.” While I did not partake to that extreme, I did indeed have wines that I have never had and most likely will never sip again. Of the 50+ bottles on the table I spied a bottle from at least 20 countries with price tags greater than what I earn in a week, maybe a month in a few instances. The oldest bottle of wine was from 1974 the youngest was not from this decade. Each had a story of being a rarity, a tale of how it was obtained, or an epic on how it was “stolen” at auction.

In the past I have judged wines for competitions and poured wines at festivals but I never saw an array of alcohols of this caliber. However, my second favorite memory of this time involved a wine encased in tin foil to hide its identity. The experts around the table were asked to guess where the wine hailed from. After tasting, smelling and swirling there was no consensus. Guesses ranged from a specific region of France to a specific Napa Valley Vineyard. The man who poured this sample for everyone was a man who has hosted and supported this group over many, many years, Kamal Boulos from the Refectory. I was able to see the glint in his eye and a trace of a smile as he unveiled the bottle which was from none other than Ravenhurst from Mt. Victory Ohio!

My favorite memory of this meal was witnessing this fellowship of a group of old friends as we made a Toast to Roger Gentile, the leader of the pack. Roger made his mark with these fellas and they continue their work for charity so that his spirit will live on in their efforts.

Posted in Food For Thought | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

El Conquistador

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 16, 2015

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El Conquistador
5225 N High St, Columbus OH 43214
-parking lot of the Blue Pickle (bar)
west side of High Street, north of Graceland Shopping Center
614 804 0330
Open Monday to Saturday 11 am to 9 pm

Greater Clintonville now has not one (El Mantinal Latino), not two (El Mantinal Latino 2), not three La Poblanita), not four (La Moreliana) but now five Taco Trucks. When I first spotted El Conquistador I had hoped this was the original – which served Dominican dishes. Well, this trailer now has a new owner whose menu is traditional taco truck fare but it is well worth checking out. The trailer is based as the newly renamed Blue Pickle (formerly Porter’s Pub). As I approached the trailer, several Blue Pickle patrons without being solicited shouted out to me that the food was great and I should try it. That was a good sign. I sampled the Flautas (rolled, crispy taco) sometimes called a Taquito. Flautas are served in groups of four with plenty of toppings on top. These were great. This is definitely a spot I look forward to trying out more this summer.

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Posted in Clintonville, Mobile Food | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Hounddogs debuts new delivery vehicle

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 15, 2015

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In the early days of Hounddogs Pizza, the business had a couple of trump cards in their small business deck: they served pizza 24 hours per day and they had a kick ass car with a hounddog mounted on top. Starting January of this year, the business is no longer open 24 hours. And for well over a year, the iconic black limo with a hounddog mounted on top languished in a parking space unused. In March, it was finally taken to the scrap yard to open up a spot for the new car. Several cars with a mounted canine on top served as the calling card for the business since the early 1990’s but for the last several years that was a missing piece of the delivery pie. This week, we will start to see limited run by the new Hounddogs mobile. How many pizza delivery guys do you know drive a car with a historic car license plate? The hounddog on top is new (the original has been preserved) and was created by the maker of the previous versions. Many are unaware that the dog was modeled after the owners (now deceased hounddog).

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hounddogs

Posted in Columbus | 1 Comment »

Pay It Forward: Nancy’s Home Cooking

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 1, 2015

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Nancy’s has been a Clintonville institution for over forty years. A significant part of the tradition of the eatery has been serving the community. For years, the homeless knew they could come in for a meal, for some customers it was their only place for community and a place they could find a kind word with a warm meal, and for many years fire fighters knew they could expect a Thanksgiving meal delivered while they were at work away from their families.

The current version of Nancy’s is different on some ways from the Cindy King era (and I am working on a post where I try to sort out the good, the bad and the ugly of those differences) but that sense of service remains. The diner has started a Pay it Forward Program. Customers can buy a meal for someone who needs one – all they do is pay and write a few words of encouragement on a post it note. If someone needs a meal, they can redeem one of the post it notes. There are well over 50 post it notes on the wall waiting to be redeemed. It is a simple and direct way to serve the community the way this spot always has, one meal at a time.

Posted in Clintonville, Food For Thought | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Mallory’s Rib Shack

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 26, 2015

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Powers greater than myself may have led me to Mallory’s Rib Shack. First I received an e-mail asking me about Mallory’s Rib Shack and I had to report I did not know anything about it. Then a few weeks later, while out walking on my street, I ran into a person I have not seen in a couple of years and one of the first things she asked was “have you been to Mallory’s Rib Shack?” She has not been but it seemed to her that Mallory’s was the type of place I would frequent. That piqued my interest. A few weeks after I took a heap of left over building materials to the Restore (if you have never been drop in to check one out). Just a few blocks away (I drove right past it on the way to the Restore) was Mallory’s. I knew that if Mallory’s was open I was going.

Mallory’s is located near the intersection of Westerville Road and Innis Ave in a part of town that has seen better days. The building was once a Diary Queen. It has a drive through window, a handful of outside tables and a window to order through. Also on the plus list, a hand painted mural of a Rib Shack. While some of this might scare people away, these elements could only serve to lure me in. Since the closing and destruction of Woody and Jo’s I have been looking for a BBQ dive to meet my BBQ needs.

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On my first visit I took a cautious approach and just ordered a couple of wings and one of each side. Based on my many questions, perhaps my innate charm and the novelty of a fella from outside of the neighborhood dropping in, the owner gave me a couple of complimentary rib tips as well. Let’s begin with the sides. I tried Collard Greens with smoked turkey, potato salad, mac & cheese, cole slaw baked beans and fries. All of the sides were above average with the exception of the fries which looked and tasted to be out of a bag. The other sides were all clearly homemade. Off the lot, there are three that are well worth heading back for (which I did) the collards, potato salad and Mac and Cheese. The collard greens were some of the best I have tried. I have not had them with bits of turkey before so the novelty of that alone, makes them worth trying. The greens themselves were larger/longer/less finely cut than the typical and less cooked down. There was also a hidden kick of heat in them. The mac of cheese was the perfect balance of a blend of cheeses and cheesey consistency. Most mac and cheese in town (in my experience) is either too runny or too bland, not Mallorys Mac, in my book it runs best in show for local BBQ joints. Last, and in my experience, best was the potato salad. I rarely find a potato salad I want to have again but Mallory’s has quickly become my favorite. It is clearly “down home potato salad mixing thoroughly cooked potatoes with bits of egg, mustard, pickles and maybe a dash of mayo. Mrs. Gourmand who is a potato salad purist really liked the small amount I let her sample.

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I am not a huge chicken wing fan but I did like the wings especially the breading. On my second trip back I intended to get a slab of Turkey ribs but they were out (note that many not have any ready if you order mid-week). I did get a 1/2 slab of pork ribs and my consolation prize MeMe’s Special. The special is a great intro to what the shack has to offer. The special includes two wings, 2 pork ribs, 2 rib tips and your choice of a side dish for $13.50. The pork ribs I have sampled so far have been very meaty as were the meat tips. I’m still trying to sort out my feelings about the BBQ sauce at Mallory’s. As a certified Kansas City BBQ Society BBQ judge and culinary traveler I have sampled countless styles of BBQ sauces: Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, Texas. North Carolina (3 to 4 regional styles), South Carolina, mustard and more. This sauce defies categorization. It is moderate in consistency and does have a glue like cling to the bones, it has a trace of sweetness and a very light hint of brown sugar. It reminds me or a blend of an asian BBQ sauce and a sauce I have most often found in Cleveland on Polish Boy sandwiches.

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Mallory’s does a great job putting orders together. The meat area of the bottom of the styrofoam carry out container has a sheet of aluminum foil to hold the sauce and retain the heat. On top there is a sheet of wax paper to protect the sides. On top of the wax paper is a plastic bag with two slices of white bread in side – perfect boxing and presentation.

Mallory’s has been open about three years. The origin of the recipes come from father Ralph Mallory who came to Ohio from Luvern, Alabama. The tag line for the shack is “best soul food in Columbus”. I’ll have to visit a few more places before I can endorse that fully but based on my trips to date, the shack is a strong contender.

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Mallory’s Rib Shack
3386 Westerville Road
Columbus, OH 43224
614.269.8981
Facebook:MallorysRibShack
Open:
Wednesday & Thursday 11 am to 7 pm
Friday & Saturday 11 am to 11 pm
Sunday Noon to 4 pm

Posted in BBQ | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

My Take on Hot Chicken Takeover

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 14, 2015

Well, it took a while, but I finally caught up with what all of the cool kids have been talking about, Hot Chicken Take Over. It started out as a pop up and then popped over to the North Market. Things started hot and have gotten hotter with long lines and chicken selling hotter than hot cakes. The origins go to Nashville where hot chicken has been a thing for generations. (Authors note: I had hot chicken for the first time with Jane and Michael Stern of Roadfood fame back in 2007). The concept is simple so I will walk you through it with photos.

Step One:
Go to the North Market (early) and stand in line. The folks at Hot Chicken Takeover will count down the number of pieces left on a chalkboard so you can figure out your odds of getting chicken.

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Step Two:
Study the simple menu and make your selections. If you are not sure what you want, you can gaze at the communal picnic tables full of people eating various types of chicken so you can eyeball what seems best for you. Choices are light and dark, sandwich or dinner, hot or hotter.

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Step Three:
After you order you can self-serve a beverage for yourself and then step back to soak in the ambiance and gloat that you have ordered while others are just starting to stand in line.

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Step Four:
Wait for this guy, or another guy or girl to bring you your chicken, they will call your name.

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Step Five:
Get your chicken (check to make sure you have the right box, it will have your name and order written on it).

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Step Six:
Eat the food.

This is the sandwich. It comes with a double order of mac and cheese. A bit of cole slaw (which I called cold slaw or slop until I was 10). It comes with 4 pieces of bread. It also has a couple of pickles, they are a nice addition. I will also say the mac and cheese is exceptional – creamy, cheesy and tasty. Mrs. Gourmand who has a significant obsession with this dish found it exceeded expectations.

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These are the wings. Note the trend, they come with bread and pickles.

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This is the dinner, it looks a lot like the sandwich but it has two less slices of bread and does not have double mac.

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And this your dessert option – banana pudding.

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A word about the chicken. It is hard to find good fried chicken in town. Even harder to find hot chicken. The verdict – well done. The breading is just the right amount and holds he hot sauce well. The chicken is moist and tender with plenty of flavor. Check it out….and go early.

Posted in restaurants | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Seventy Five Years of Dairy: UDF, United Dairy Farmers

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 1, 2015

Spring has sprung and ice cream is on your mind. In my case, it never leaves but it is more on my mind after Easter. Although July is national ice cream month, May usually marks the beginning of ice cream season for most, especially once Memorial Day hits.

Jeni’s is a default community favorite and while they may be out of the picture for a brief interlude, the brand is still relatively new. We have other great places to try in town and I do have my favorite flavors and spots but there is also my go to ice cream when time is short and cash is crunched. While United Dairy Farmers means convenience stores to many, to me, it has always meant great ice cream. And in my humble and somewhat well-trained opinion, it is an exceptional ice cream, especially their Homemade Brand. I can’t say for certain what the first ice cream was that I had, but I can say the first I remember having is UDF and from when I was three to at least ten years old that would have been either chocolate chip or rainbow sherbet. As my tongue became more attuned to finer ice creams, Homemade Brand has remained a favorite of mine. In particular, Coconut Almond Chip. In the pint or by the cone (I now live a 2 minute walk from a UDF) this is the best value ice cream I have ever enjoyed and I consider it one of the best ice creams I have ever tried (- having sampled in 40 states, 12 countries and countless flavors).

One of my best memories and maybe my first food adventure occurred at the UDF plant in the mid 1990’s. I had planned an overnight trip to Cincinnati to visit all of the places I have heard of or read about (including the then exotic Skyline Chili) with the highlight being a tour of the UDF Ice cream and dairy plant in Norwood, Ohio. On the day of the tour, a scheduled group did not show up so it was just me and my companion with one tour guide for a very personal and detailed tour of the whole operation. The guide was overjoyed because he did not have to use a megaphone, he could just have a personal conversation with two people for the tour. We learned about how milk was processed and handled and watched ice cream being made. We sampled a lot of products. It was a really amazing tour. At the end, I received two place mats intended for kids (one showing how milk is made and the other how ice cream is made). I loved them so I had them both framed. It was a great day and that framed bit of dairy art is still a reminder that I cherish. So yes, I am still a big UDF fan.

That being the case, I am happy to share that May 8th is the 75th anniversary of United Dairy Farmers. To celebrate 75 years of serving many Ohio communities, all 182 UDF locations will offer 75¢ single-dip ice cream cones on Friday, May 8. That my friend is a good deal. Also, UDF will offer a Stock the Ice Box sale, where customers can purchase five 48 oz. UDF ice creams for $15 – also an exceptional deal.

The history of UDF is pretty amazing, but since I may be the only person interested in that I will just leave you with this -> LINK and this bit of trivia: when the first store opened in 1940, they offered a gallon of milk for 28 cents and a triple-dip ice cream cone for 17 cents.

UDF is always a good choice for ice cream and on May 8th, it will be an incredible value as well.

Original United Dairy Farmers

Posted in ice cream, Ohio | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Victor Ecimovich: Brewer Laurate of Columbus

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 27, 2015

Victor Ecimovich III is a name you probably can’t pronounce and may never heard of. While interviewing Ecimovich (at a bar of course) we were approached by Kelly Sauber. No slouch in brewing experience, Sauber brewed for Marietta Brewing Company for fifteen years, then started Fifth Element Spirits and West End Cider House in Athens. Sauber apologized profusely for interrupting but he wanted to “shake the hand of (Ecimovich) one of his brewing heroes.” Sauber shared that one of his inspirations to pursue brewing was the beer Ecimovich was crafting in the 1990’s.

Introduced to brewing when a friend threw in the towel on a home brewing kit, Ecimovich decided he would “like to give it a shot.” He always enjoyed cooking and figuring out how to make things so he quickly discovered that he preferred yeast and hops to his electrical engineering studies. On some level, he was fated to ferment since his grandfather had been a brewer for Meister Brau when it was a favored Windy City beer. Ecimovich found his way to the Siebel Institute’s brewing program (luckily located in his hometown of Chicago) “as an independent.” Ecimovich was one of only two students paying his way for an eleven-week course, the rest of his colleagues were sent by breweries from around the world. Ecimovich made an impression on his instructors so before he studies were over, he found himself brewing beer on weekends at Millstream Brewing in Iowa (a 3 ½ hour drive away). When offered the position Ecimovich recalls “I knew if I thought about it too long, I would talk myself out of it, so I just said yes.”

Ecimovich’s recollections of brewing with the traditional German brewers at Millstream sound (to this writer) like drill instructor scenes from the movie Full Metal Jacket. After a few years of training (or surviving the heavy handed hazing) in the traditional techniques of lagers, helles and bocks, Ecimovich found his way to a new upstart called Goose Island back home in Chicago. In 1994, Ecimovich, having never visited Columbus signed on as brewer from the Hoster Brewing Company in the Brewery District. During the hey day of the 1990’s the corner of High and Hoster was the place to be in Columbus in part due to the wide variety of highly regarded beers Ecimovich was brewing.

In the case of Hoster (closed in 2002) the glory days ended when, the Brewery District lost its allure as The Arena District and Easton caught and kept customers attention. In 2004, Daniel Myers partnered with Ecimovich (Vice President of Brewing) to buy the rights to the Hoster brand and recipes in order to revive Hoster’s signature Goldtop beer. Production resumed in 2005 with Ecimovich balancing overseeing offsite contract brewing of Goldtop (currently in north east Ohio) while working in the construction business.

Today Ecimovich finds it is “an exciting time for beer drinkers and brewers alike”. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Ecimovich (like his other band of microbrewing brothers) had to brew beer that “would win the hearts and minds” of a new wave of beer drinkers. If someone “tried a craft beer they didn’t like, you lost them” as a customer and a craft beer drinker. “Subpar breweries either had to get their act together quickly or go out of business” and many did tap out during the craft beer bubble of 15 years ago. Craft beer has changed a lot since then. “Thank goodness” say Ecimovich, “now there are so many bars with fifty taps, more breweries than I can count, and new brewery seems to open every month or even every two weeks.” Ecimovich equates the “old school” brewers and the new, bearded kids on the block, with downhill skiers and snow boarders doing half pipes – he can appreciate what the new brewers are doing but he is happy to keep speeding down the mountain doing what he knows best.


Gold Top

The Three Eras of Hoster Brewing

1836 to 1919
The Hoster’s were the first family of brewing in Columbus. The Hoster Brewing Company was open longer than any other brewery past or present. During the heyday of the beer barons of the 1890’s, Hoster was one of the top ten breweries in the country producing up to 300,000 barrels per year; in comparison Columbus Brewing Company (today) does about 12,000.

1989 to 2002
The brewpub located at Hoster and High was the center of nightlife, food and beer in the Brewery District until other entertainment areas stole the limelight and allure of the area. The brewpub closed in 2001 and brewing stopped in 2002.

2004 to present
While production has waxed and waned, Hoster Goldtop (a signature beer of all three eras) had been brewed and kegged our of town for limited consumption under the watchful eye and experienced palate of Victor Ecimovich. The most likely spot to find a pour of Goldtop is Quaker Steak and Lube at Polaris.

What is Hoster Goldtop?
Goldtop is a flagship from all three eras of Hoster Brewing in Columbus. The beer is a Dortmunder / Export Lager. The gold / pale lager is named after a city and a brewery in Germany – Dortmunder.

Posted in beer, beverages, Columbus, culinary knowledge, FooderHero | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

A Tale of Two Coney Island Joints in Mansfield (and a dialogue about Small Town Ohio)

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 20, 2015

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I was in Mansfield for business visiting Phoenix Brewing Company. I visited a brewery for work. Yes, that is pretty cool. I had only passed through Mansfield very briefly before. My inner nature is to explore any new place so I blocked out a little time to drive around downtown and get a feel for the place. About one minute into the journey I spied a sign for Famous Coney Island. Regular readers know that by the Code of Gourmand, I was obligated to stop – hungry or not. I did. I walked in 6 minutes before closing time (7 pm) to look around. The waitress (that would be the proper term here) asked me if I wanted to order. I said that I didn’t want to be a pain, so I would just look around. She said “sweety, go ahead and order it’s not problem at all.” There are not many places that would gladly welcome a customer that close to closing time. I also found out that the sign outside is somewhat new, the original sign was inside over the counter (from 1936) when coneys were 5 cents each (that is part of the reason they took the sign down).

Of course I ordered a coney. The coney dog is an institution in many towns, especially smaller towns and I always visit one when I can. There is culture to a Coney Island joint, the same as a diner. There are stools at a counter and a few booths. A simple menu and the banter of regulars served with the insights of the folks behind the counter that have been gained from decades slinging hot dogs or one liners at the same place. You can’t find that at many dining establishments. And those few places are disappearing every day.

The other thing I did was survey the menu for “the thing“. Just about every diner or Coney Island has an off beat dish that is unique to the place or a carry over from another time. A signature or iconic item that sets this place apart from any other place like it (and often there are a lot of place like it). Here the thing was pea salad. There was no description of what it was but I knew I was going to get it and probably enjoy it. The base of the salad was ice berg lettuce with a mayo based dressing, peas, shredded carrots, cheese, shredded cabbage and bacon bits. It tasted a bit like a seven layer salad. It was simple and it hit the spot. A comfort food classic.

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The place itself could have come from a Norman Rockwell painting. There was a small ice cream stall at the end. The walls were decorated with year books from the local high school, photographs from the old days, a soap box derby car, and the like. It was a decent meal. A respectable coney (no Oh Betty’s but what is) and a great pea salad. There are all types of culinary tourism. This type is where the food, while good, is secondary to the stories and the traditions. That is OK.

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I got back in my car, drove by a bakery that looked interesting, a place called the Squirrel Den (that sells candy and cards), an old school newspaper stand and a pizza place (Two Cousins) that claims to be the best in the world. All were closed. I would have liked to drop in to each. It took a minute to drive by those spots and that is when I saw something else on the other end of the square – Coney Island Inn. And oddly (it was after 7 pm) it was still open – until 8 pm, which in this case made it the Late Night Slice of Mansfield. I decided I needed another coney so I would know which was best.

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Coney Island Inn is a bit bigger, a lot less brighter and it has an in house Ohio Lottery sales counter. I grabbed a stool to survey the extensive menu – which may very well include every comfort food classic of the Midwest but I knew that I would only be having coney. I have standards, this was my second meal in 20 minutes. The dilemma I encountered was that they offer a regular coney and a King Coney (and foot long versions of each). It turns out the King Coney was a bigger, all beef hot dog and the coney was smaller and not all beef. I had to order both which I did with slaw and coney sauce. Then I asked the waitress if there was anything else I had to get and she suggested the rice pudding (with or without raisins and with or without whipped cream). The coneys were good (not Oh Betty’s good) and I would say better than what I had at Famous Coney Island (and less expensive). The rice pudding on the other hand was exceptional. I had good conversation with the other staff and the one other customer in the place (she sized me up pretty quick – “you’re not from around here are you, or you would know what to order”).

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I was glad I took a detour, I usually am.

So now for a short dialogue about small town Ohio. The impromptu adventure I had is something many people would avoid. Others would just write off these places or the places I could not get into as not worth their time because they figure the food is not up to their standard or because it is middle west bland. Sometimes the food might not be worth it, but again, each place has “the thing” and all have a good story or two that will connect you with the place. Both Coney Islands I visited have long histories in Mansfield and longer traditions.

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Actually Mansfield is not technically small town Ohio, but the town square sure feels like it so I’ll just use that as an excuse for my commentary.

Posted in Food For Thought, hot dogs, Ohio, Road Trip | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Por’Ketta: Mobile Food Trailer with Pork and Chicken

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 13, 2015

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Por’ketta

Facebook: Porketta
Twitter: PorkettaCbus
Instagram: Porkettacbus
Web:porkettacbus.com
614 570 1107

I’ve known Tony Layne for a few years and I have known his wife for a few more, meeting her for the first time when she started working for Pitabilities. They have a good thing going. In case you did not read this (exact) post on Street Eats Columbus I am posting here so you do.

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Por’ketta launched in March of 2015, serving to the last sandwich, ahead of schedule time and time again. The simple menu of pork and rotisserie chicken with a few sides may mean limited choices but it is heavy on quality and flavor. The trailer may be a bit harder to maneuver than a food truck but you will see it most places that mobile food can be found. And on a historical note, the trailer has some back story, it used to be a Ray Ray’s Hog Pit Trailer. We spoke to owner Tony Layne to find out about this business of getting pork to the people.

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1) In a few sentences, what do you want people to know about Por’ketta.

I would want them to know that we are a family run business. We love Columbus and promote it shamelessly. Also that our family’s love of food, gathering and community translate into our food. It is also important to note that we searched far and wide within Ohio’s borders to source the best local ingredients that we could find simply prepared with passion

2) What is Porketta (Porchetta)? How do you make yours?
Porchetta is the pig’s skin, belly wrapped around meat and layers of fat, usually with herbs and spices thrown in…all tied up around a spit. Usually roasted over an open fire..this is the traditional Italian method. My version is the belly piece with the loin attached, then we butterfly the loin, rub with salt, pepper, fennel, parsley, garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, roll it up, tie it up and let air dry under refrigeration for at least 24 hours, then roast for four and a half hours in a high low temperature combination, let rest for thirty minutes and then ready to slice. Very labor intensive, but yields very moist pork…there are no shortcuts to the method.

3) What inspired your menu?
This is an easy one I love cooking with fire..whether it be a grill, smoker, camp fire, Meat and fire are primal and treated correctly yield incredible results. So that is the method I choose..we have a Rotisserie on the truck, The items I chose also easy..I am a pork fanatic…such a versatile animal…so many different cuts, tastes and textures…I chose Porchetta because it’s the belly and the loin and nobody is doing it, enough said. A great roasted chicken, was my other choice it brings back such comforting memories of cooking with my grandmother. For our salads and sides, we wanted to make sure they were tasty and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Our dishes are not hidden in mayonnaise or heavy dressings. We offer both the pork and chicken as sandwiches, meals, and bulk to go items.

4) What inspired you to get into mobile food?

Thirty years in commercial kitchens, always wanting to do something on my own, but with five kids I chose security and stability for my family over the opportunity of starting my own venture. Finally the planets started lining up …my youngest was a senior in high school in Hilliard. My job with Marriott was starting to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day”…every day felt just like ever other. I was losing passion for the craft, finding joy only cooking for our weekly family dinners. One day I snapped , quit my job cashed in my 401k and decided to go into business with my wife and children…Mobile food is hot in Columbus…a lot of great food coming off trucks. With a lower cost to entry than a traditional brick and mortar restaurant my decision and direction was made.

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Sandwich 2

5) What did you do before Porketta?
Before this spent the last thirty years doing the Chef thing around Columbus….Umberto’s, the Clock, Crowne Plaza, the 55 group, R.J. Snappers and Marriott hotels…from mom and pop shops to corporate and everything in between

6) How did you get ready to launch?
I left Marriott shortly before Thanksgiving, and basically took the winter, while the trailer was being built out, to come up with the menu, work on branding, build the social media presence, obtain all the proper permits and documentation, purchase equipment, test recipes, try and find spots to park and sell our food at…and the list goes on. They say the devil is in the details…everyday we worked task lists to shoot for a mid March opening. And here we are!

7) Porketta is a family affair – tell us about team Layne and what each person does in the trailer.

Team Layne consists of my son Conner…who is learning the craft and picking so much up. I so proud of him, my wife Michelle who is our backbone, she runs the window and is great with our guests. My other daughters float in and out as time allows. Basically we all do what needs done. I couldn’t be working with a better bunch of people. (Writers note: Michelle worked for Pitabilities for several years so she is no stranger to mobile food customers).

8) You source from Matt Swint (Matija Breads) – where else do you source from?

Yes Matt Swint and his incredible breads…the best in Columbus. Pork was a tough one…to find an Ohio producer of the exact piece I needed was a daunting task so I turned to THE MAN..Albert Thurn…if anybody could find it he could. And he did, sourcing a farm in Sandusky, Ohio. He is my pork connect. Chicken had to be all Ohio…so we turned to Vitale Poultry. Produce comes from Midwest for the time being as spring rolls into summer much more Ohio produce will be used. we like to park at local breweries and tap rooms, because these high quality local beers compliment our food. Even our T-shirts were printed by Traxler. Local was key to our business model, sometimes more expensive, but always the right thing to do.

chicken

Posted in Locally Sourced, Mobile Food, sandwiches | Leave a Comment »

 
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