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

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Slow Food Columbus: Snails Slide South

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 13, 2008


At some time or another, a food blogger will beg forgiveness for not posting or not posting well. That time has come for me. (CMH Gourmand is a pro bono blog). I have been swamped professionally and personally – mostly for the good… I think : >, for several months. So I ran away to San Diego for the Food and Wine Festival to get caught up on my writing in between meals.

 on the farm

On November 2, eighteen members of Slow Food Columbus headed to tour Athens. The trip was coordinated by members Alyssa, Liesl, and Arlene. The symbol of Slow Food is a snail. So we called the tour “Snails Slide South”. I’ll take a little credit for the name. I have posted a lot about Athens. I must admit I have always been smitten with Athens, especially the food scene.

So what is Slow Food? A quick answer is it is the opposite of fast food. The general concepts of Slow Food are: knowing where your food comes from, knowing who is growing or preparing it, eating local and seasonal food when possible, and getting to know the people at the table while you enjoy as well as learn about what you eat. Slow Food links well with the Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan posts from a few weeks ago.

A picture is worth a thousand words, Slow Food deserves much more than a sound byte / bite, so I am going to show you my Snails Slide South photos to help explain what the Slow Food is about. We have a very active chapter in Columbus with over 90 members. Check out the Slow Food Columbus blog to learn more about upcoming events and how to become a member.

Another benefit of Slow Food is fine friendships. I have the honor to call the Columbus Convivium leaders Colleen and Bear Braumoeller my friends and co-conspirators. Colleen has started working at the Greener Grocer at the North Market which is a natural extension of Slow “Fooding”. See Colleen below doing some Slow Food / Greener Grocer field research.

 In the Field

My best Brit, Bethia, aka Hungry Woolf is a member as well. She writes excellent posts about many of the Slow Food events and eating adventures.

Our first Stop was Village Bakery (268 East State Street).

 Village Bakery

We started with brunch, basking in the sun on the patio of Village Bakery’s night time pizza place – Del Zona Pizza.

Del Zona

I opted for the Huevos Rancheros.

 Huevos

In between good food and conversation, we had the opportunity to hear from the people behind the counter at Village Bakery. We learned about their business, food philosophy and how they connect with the community. We were also able to ask questions and sample some of their baked goods. Village Bakery was packed with people waking up from Halloween the night before so our speakers alternated with each other so they could cover the kitchen.

 Lecture 1

It was a pleasure to met with Christine Hughes, the owner of Village Bakery. She is a prime mover in the Athens food scene. She is also growing the Green Plate Club to help improve school lunches and food education in Athens schools.

lecture 2 Hughes

Christine then headed with us to Green Edge Gardens about 15 minutes outside of Athens for a farm tour. We toured the growing area for their multiple varieties of mushrooms (which are used at several of my favorite restaurants in Columbus). Christine helped us understand the connections between local farms and business.

 Mushrooms

We then moved on to see their microgreens (as seen with my Huevos Rancheros).

Micro Greens

I encountered something I had never seen before, this plant with the colorful off shoots is called Freckles.

 Freckles

We wrapped up with a tour of the fields to learn about the variety of crops Green Edge grows as well as the innovative techniques they use to produce their mostly organic produce through Ohio’s often variable four seasons.

After the farm it was back to Athens to visit Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, for a microbrewery tasting and tour.

 Jackie O’s

Jackie O’s brewer, Brad Clark, poured through their microbrewed beers, offering samples of each and telling us the story of how each beer came to life, often with the addition of local ingredients.

 brews

 brews

We also had an opportunity to eat an example of Slow Food in action. Jackie O’s incorporates spent wheat used in brewing into their house made pizzas.

 pizza

Bear, is our bourbon expert. He does not have much affinity for beer in his spirit world. However, he discovered a Bear friendly beer at Jackie O’s – Joe the Plum.

 Bear Beer

Hmm, looking at the ingredients it is easy to see how this beer has courted Bear’s taste. Joe the Plum is an excellent example of Slow Food in action. The wee comes from Village Bakery. The mix is soured with local micro flora. The 10.5% alcohol content might help a bit as well. However, I believe the key to the magic the brew brings to Bear is it’s aging process. And, the use of the barrel promotes recycling.

 Barrel aged

After sampling Jackie O’s selections, we were able to go behind the scenes and tap into the brewers knowledge of the beer making process.

 Brewing

At the end of our tour several of us walked to Casa Nueva for a sample of salsas and appetizers before hitting the road back to Columbus.

Many of the Athens restaurant owners and food purveyors grew their roots at Casa Nueva, which is an employee owned cooperative restaurant. Looking at the back of the “Casa” menu, there is a long list of local suppliers. The cooperative mindset continues after people leave Casa to start new businesses. These folks continue to work together to support each others ventures instead of competing for consumer dollars. This is how they are growing sustainable local eating one bite at a time.

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5 Responses to “Slow Food Columbus: Snails Slide South”

  1. hungrywoolf said

    Great account of a wonderful day in Athens. Thanks too for the accolade. I have also been remiss posting about the Athens trip, but I did put some photos up. http://www.bethiasphotos.fotopic.net/c1607772.html
    I will (cheekily) take advantage of your post to add a couple of things that really struck me.
    One of the themes at the Village Bakery was looking at the true cost of food, but just the monetary cost. Their is a link about this on their website.
    At the village bakery, I was really impressed by the fact that they can tomatoes for their marinara sauce and spend the summer putting up vegetables for the winter (peppers, tomatoes, chilis, sauerkraut etc). Also the lengths that they go to to make things from scratch – they are starting to make their own tempeh and picking and grinding heirloom corn for their tortillas (as seen in the huevos rancheros). I think Bob said that they use 4000lbs of tomatoes a year.
    Similarly at the brewery – BC told us how he picked 60lbs of pumpkins and roasted them with sugar and spices for his pumpkin beer. All of these people go to great lengths for local and high quality products.
    At Green Edge gardens I was impressed with their use of labor saving technology to keep down costs – such as using reemay as a crop cover to insulate, let in 90% of light and keep out pests. The mushroom house was pretty cool too!

  2. and since you have modestly neglected to plug your foodcast – Here is another Athens food place O’Betty’s Red Hot.
    http://columbusfood.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=401812

  3. Carolyn T-W said

    Gourmand – have you ever posted your casa piece?

  4. Mini Review in “Athens Food Tour – Roadtrip to Ruin” August 2008.

  5. [...] was a day trip highlighting the Village Bakery, Green Edge Gardens and Jackie O’s Pub and was documented by CMH Gourmand. We seem to have very good luck with the weather in Athens, or maybe it is always sunny there. Trip [...]

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