CMH Gourmand

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

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Archive for the ‘culinary knowledge’ Category

When in Rome: The Art of Eating, Drinking and Traveling Abroad

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 12, 2014

I will modify the classic saying: When in Rome, eat as the Romans eat. While only in Rome long enough for lunch between connecting from plane to train, I was in Italy for an extended period of time. It was the first time in four years that I have the time and opportunity to travel the way I prefer: longer than a three-day weekend and with an opportunity to spend several days in one place to really drill down into a town to a point that I feel I know it well and feel like a local. The place I chose to cocoon was Monterosso al Mare in the Cinque Terre. I was in Monterosso about ten years ago as a detour during a Contiki Tour (for all of 6 hours). I told myself that if I came back to Italy, this would be exactly where I would spend my time. It as great. But let me back track to the big picture.

No matter where you travel, you can enhance your trip by doing a small amount of research to figure out what the locals eat and what foods are unique or special to the area. Just about every place has a style of food it excels in or some regional fruit or vegetable you won’t see on your table at home. Food defines a place and a culture. From the Aborigines of Australia to the neighborhoods of Chicago, every tribe has something that is unique that is worth trying and remembering as part of your experience. Figuring out these signature foods and seeking them out can really make a holiday more fun and enjoyable and more importantly connect you to the people and place you have invested your time and your money to explore. I’ve eaten bush tucker in Australia (ants, roots and more), Kava in Fiji, Bull Balls in Honduras, Poutine in Montreal, 13 Italian Beer Sandwiches in one day in Chicago, etc. etc.

If there is not a local food then there is certainly a local place – a diner, favored restaurant or tavern where the locals go and the tourists don’t. You can search Yelp and/or Trip Advisor or Rick Steves and/or Frommer’s to find these places but it is critical you to validate those suggestions with some local interaction. Ask someone, anyone when you arrive – a store clerk, cab driver, anyone you interact with about where the locals eat and you are bound to find a great spot that no one has written about that is as good or better than any place that is on the radar of everyone else.

I’ll use my honeymoon in Italy as an example.

A quick google search, supplemented my own knowledge and notes I made from the various travel guides I browsed before departure. I had be a good idea of what to look for that was unique with a minimal investment of time. I found overviews from Rick Steves, The New York Times, and Walks of Italy to name a few.

Italy, in particular, is a food lovers dream. While Italians might not be overly concerned with their trains running on time, they certainly take their foods very, very seriously. The first example of that is DOC. In a nutshell, for a food to use the DOC label they must be able to show that it was produced in a defined region, using specific methods while maintaining a high standard of quality. The Italians also have an upgrade of that listed as DOCG. The European Union uses Protected Designation of Origin in a similar manner. As a general rule, if you see this notation, you can count on a high level of quality. The DOC applies to (the items I ate in great quantity) wines, cheeses, meats and even pizza. Yes – in Italy, the best pizzerias take pride in displaying their DOC certificate and using DOC ingredients.

Speaking of Italy and food, gelato was a priority for me and this in particular is a food you need to do some research in advance to enhance your experience. First know the rules. It is OK to ask to taste flavors as long as you don’t taste too many and it is not too busy. Italy is very civilized in how it approaches ordering gelato. You pay for your treat first and then you take a ticket to have the order filled. How many times have your ordered ice cream only to find that you are balancing your wallet and other things while trying not to drop your cone. Know what you want. When you walk in to a good gelato shop it will be busy and filled with people who pop into one every day buzzing around like a beehive, so when to wander through the door like a deer in the headlights you need to know what you are doing. Don’t freeze at showtime – know if you want a cup or cone, and if you want 2, 3, 4 or 5 scoops and don’t be afraid to point if you can’t pronounce the flavor that looks good to you. Look for this phrase by the name of the shop – gelato artiginale. The Translated term is artisanal gelato – which means small batch, all natural ingredients and made fresh daily. Also keep an eye out of metal storage containers and serving scoops, plastic does not fly for holding or delivering the good stuff. Yet another term to look for is produzione propria which means made on premises.

There were definitely foods that I was on the look out for because I knew they would be unique to the regions I was in or at the very least the best of the best in the areas that excel at producing and extol the merits of their labors. Number one on the list – mozzarella di bufala or Buffalo Mozzarella. You can find this in the states – but it is typically really expensive, not overly fresh and rarely exceptional. In Italy, it is easy to find, almost always reasonably priced and exceptionally good. Having eaten enough pizza in Italy to the point that I opted not to order any in our final three days, I have decided the only thing that really justifies the intensity in which people rave about “real” Italian pizza is buffalo mozzarella – that shit is good and it makes the pizza.

Other foods I sought out due to my pre-trip research: Mortadella ham, speck, pesto and any cheese I could lay my hands on.

I think that gives you an idea of some of what a small investment in time can give you in return.

Something else that is work researching is making sure you know how to say a few basic food and transactional related phrases in the language of the country you are visiting. Hello, Goodbye, Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, How Much, and Check Please (otherwise it may never come). Those few phrases will grease the wheels of international exchange and reduce your likelihood of being perceived as an asshole.


I’m going to list our a few of our favorite places in Italy

Rome: Lunch near Termini Station
Da Tudini
Via Cavour
This place was chosen at random after looking at the menu and seeing there were plenty of seats. We had one of the best pizzas on our trip, a good pasta dish and one of the best salads as well. Our service was decent, if not a bit befuddled and confused with our table being traded off by 6 or more employees.

Naples
L’Antica Pizzeria – Da Michele
Via Cesare Sersale 1
This was a great old school pizza place. It looked exactly like I would have wanted a pizza parlor to look. Our pizza was good but we made an ordering error. We did not know this was the place mentioned in Eat, Pray, Love until we finished our meal. It was then that we saw the quote from the book on the wall which said that the pizza with double buffalo mozzarella was the way to go. That is what we wished we would had ordered.

Casa Infante
Via Toledo 258, Piazza degli Artisti 4-5, Via Chiaia 189, Piazza Vanvitelli/Via Scarlatti 84
Really good gelato in the quintessential gelateria.

Pizzeria Attanasio
Via dei Tribunali 379
Really good deep fried things and good pizza. The place was not crowded, as were our other two choices, but they did an incredible amount of carry out business while we were there which is a good sign that the locals liked that place.

We stayed in Naples for two days, that was more than enough time. Naples is the armpit of Italy, avoid staying there if you can. Our hotel there was excellent which helped a lot.

Monterosso al Mare

Where to stay
Albergo Marina Via Buranco 40
Owned by a great couple who provide breakfast and lunch everyday as well as plenty of beach gear including a kayak.

Where to eat
Da Eraldo
Piazza Matteotti
The owners of Albergo Marina (named after the wife) also have a tiny cafe just down the street named after the husband. The Antipasta for two is an artisinal delight and was my best meal in Italy. Read the Trip Advisor review for good photos and pics (just ignore the June 11th review, that woman is clearly an idiot).

Enoteca da Eliseo
3 Piazza Matteotti
I’ll defer to the Trip Advisor review for pics and details. Mrs Gourmand and I visited five nights in a row and only missed a sixth because they were closed. The local wine selections were deep, the grappa list was numbered in pages and the knowledge of the owners on everything in the shop was extensive. This was also where we discovered the concept of the bar snack (cicheti), which is ubiquitous in this region of Italy. Here the snacks were three small glass dishes with peanuts, capers and olives.

Pizzeria La Smorfia
Via Vittorio Emanuele, 73
I loved this place. They have 78 pizza combinations to choose from. I’m deferring to Trip Advisor again.

Our greatest discovery in Italy you ask? Lemon Fanta. We consumed this at almost the same rate and volume as we consumed wine (everyday, as often as possible). What makes this Fanta better than Fanta stateside. The sugar was real and there is 12% real lemon juice in each can or bottle. This was addictively good.


Now I’ll add some bonus content with a list of rambling general suggestions for traveling

    Yes you can travel with just one bag. I used a bag that converts to a backpack. Mrs. Gourmand received the same pack for Christmas and she used it on this trip with great success!
    Make copies of your passport, credit cards and all of your tickets to keep in your bag in case you lose your primary items
    Make a visit to a used book store to take some reading material you can leave behind when you finish each book
    Look at every travel guide you can find at / from the library before you buy one. I prefer Rick Steves for Europe and Frommers for elsewhere
    Sometimes I just pack a guide from the library and hope I don’t lose it
    Post It Tape flags are really handy, take some
    Stay at a bed and breakfast when you can, it is a great way to connect with people
    Try to travel off-peak (Mondays to Wednesdays) for better airfare and fewer crowded flights
    If you are like me and you have enough reusable shopping bags for a lifetime take a couple with you in your bag. They come in handy for lots of things: dirty laundry, an extra bag, extra padding if you need to wrap something to bring home or a unique gift (or trade) for someone you meet on your trip.
    Always take more socks and pens than you think you will need
    The best all around travel footwear in a pair of Merrill (Saugatuck Fisherman Sandal) or Teva closed toe sandals – light weight and easy to slip on and off – they are the perfect second pair of shoes, great for hiking or the beach
    Take a couple extra 1 quart ziplock bags. They come in handy for things like packing a lunch for the day (that you purloin from the breakfast bar) or covering dirty shoes before you pack them for the day
    When someone from the USA asks you where you are from, say Columbus. When someone from another country asks you where you are from say Ohio

Posted in culinary knowledge, Food For Thought | 2 Comments »

Belgian Waffle Chicken Sandwich at White Castle & and An Editorial

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 28, 2014

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First, old school advertising still works. At present, I live near a White Castle which I drive by 2 – 6 times per day depending on where my projects take me. Over the last week I perpetually passed by a sign for the new White Castle Chicken and Waffle sandwich. I did not want the sandwich. I needed the sandwich. How could I resist trying a fast food interpretation of an American classic, Chicken and Waffles.

So, I made my move, picked one up and brought it home to evaluate and rate with my able assistant CMH Tobias. My first thought was that the waffle was good. I had expected a Leggo my Eggo style waffle but the sandwich features a real deal, Belgian style waffle. It was neither too soft nor too hard. It fell in to the Goldilocks zone of just right. (A bit of post consumption research indicated the waffles originate from a company in Belgium which had been in the business since 1932). The gravy and bacon bits were an afterthought on my sandwich but complemented the flavor profiles well. Their true purpose is to serve as a brick and mortar to hold the sandwich together. The chicken patty was lightly breaded and kind of meh but still palatable. All together it was an acceptable fast food sandwich. I would not rush to get it again but I don’t regret my choice. I respect the effort made to try something different and off the beaten path. The only negative I can hone in on is the price. It was not worth $2.69. I’d say $1.99 might be fair market value.

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I offered CMH Tobias an opportunity to try the sandwich. His approach was different from mine. He ate the waffles first and the chicken second. I can’t say he wolfed it down as quickly as other items, but from our long-standing relationship and shared understanding, I believe he would rate the sandwich a B. (For future reference Tobias’s hierarchy of food starts at ice cream, then cheese, rawhides, almonds, beef, squirrel meat, other meat by products and then dog food). Since Toby refuses to participate in the labor economy he had no opinion on the price of the sandwich.

And now the editorial. White Castle gets a lot of snarky comments and snickers from a significant segment of society. I don’t think it is deserved. I’ve always had a soft spot for this underdog in the fast food wars. For the most part, the company has quietly gone about its business under the shadow of the Wendy’s, Burger King and the like. However, White Castle has done a lot of earn my respect. I’ll highlight a few of the items of note.

The company started in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas. It moved its corporate headquarters to Columbus in 1934 and has remained here as a family owned business for 70 years. That’s pretty local in my book.

White Castle was among the first employers to hire women and minorities. It was the first fast food restaurant as we know it. It has countless patents and food service inventions credited to the company. It has no franchises, each location is company owned. White Castle inspired a movie. So next time someone snickers at a slyder let them know you are proud that a local company has continued to stay in Columbus and stay true to its origins.

Posted in Columbus, culinary knowledge, Food For Thought, sandwiches | 2 Comments »

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

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 21, 2014

bike

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 »

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 »

North Market Cookbook Recipes and Stories from Columbus Ohio’s Historic Public Market

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 7, 2013

I have had a while to peruse North Market Cookbook – Recipes and Stories from Columbus Ohio’s Historic Public Market. It is written by Michael Turback, a well-known food focused writer. The forward is written by former Dispatch food editor, Robin Davis, the writer of the first North Market Cookbook. There are no surprises in this book – it provides a quick history of the market and recipes from many of the vendors, growers and personalities of the market. Local chefs and mixologists contribute to book as well.

What I like the best about the book – it is constructed to survive a kitchen or getting crushed on the couch with a slick cover and fold outs front and back for marking pages. There are over 100 recipes to choose from in six major areas: soups, small plates, salads and sides, main dishes, desserts and ending with beverages and cocktails. The best way to use this book to turn to the back and look for the names of your favorite purveyors or chefs and/or to look at the sections one by one instead of getting lost going through the book page by page.

If you have a favorite restaurant in town and a favorite North Market vendor then you are guaranteed to find a recipe that you will want to make and more importantly, that you will be able to make. Nothing is overly complicated or driven by extreme ingredients. If you are a North Market regular this cookbook would be a good fit for your bookshelf or kitchen counter.

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Posted in culinary knowledge, markets | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Food Truck Tour via Columbus Food Adventures

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 16, 2013

One might think that as writer and tri-creator of Taco Trucks Columbus and Street Eats Columbus (as well as my daily work with the food truck community) that I would be food trucked out. Quite the opposite. I found that I wanted a fresh perspective and different point of view on mobile food. I hoped to feel like it was my first taste into this culture again. I wanted to see the world of food trucks through fresh eyes once more. So instead of being my own guide, I opted to ride along on the newly added Food Truck Tour with Columbus Food Adventures as an anonymous rider and to listen to the questions “greenhorns” would have.

One might say, with the two websites in place, why would anyone want to go on a tour of food trucks when you can DIY. I would counter with – why wouldn’t you not want to take a tour? If you have never tried a food truck, then you want to do a tour for sure. First, the tour ensures you are sampling some of the best in the city. Second, you are being educated on the culture and nuances of the food truck world at each stop as well as additional background and commentary between each destination. Third, you typically get to meet the owners of the food trucks and have one on one time with them. Often they are creating a sampler of some of their favorite dishes to share with you to make a first good impression to get you to come back. Fourth it is fun. Fifth there are five trucks to try. Sixth it is a great way to meet new people who share a common interest….or at least a curiosity. And seventh, you will be full by the middle of the tour and definitely stuffed at the end.

So if you are a newbie to this world, the reasons above should sell you on the concept. But what if you are an experienced Taco Trucker or Food Truck enthusiast like me? In my own experiences, my personal interaction with food trucks for food has become pure hunter and gatherer mode…wham, bam, thank you ma’am of sir as I get my food and go. On the tour, I was able to go back to the good old days where I could sit back and leisurely enjoy my food while getting to know the owner and finding out why they decided to do this as their living. That was a big part of the joy for me in the beginning of my mobile food exploration phase where I could appreciate the personal connection between the customer and owner. The experience changes from transactional to educational and conversational. Plus, the sampler plates are often unique to the tour. Indecisive and don’t know what to order, these mobile amuse bouches (can I use that word?) will give you a quick and efficient sample of what the truck boss thinks is the best.

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The current tour presents a variety of menus and a mix of old pros and new kids on the block.

Our first stop was Ajumama which is based at the future site of Zauber Brewing in 5th Ave. Chef Laura Lee creates a mini sampler of 3-4 of her signature dishes. She is very articulate and passionate about her business and takes pride in explaining her Korean cuisine.

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Next on our route was Ray Ray’s, now based at Ace of Cups in Old North Columbus. The sampler here is a mix of brisket, pork, a rib, a chicken wing from Jamie’s new venture inside the bar and his personal favorite sidedish, a mini serving of greens (which he says he eats with every meal).

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Ray Ray’s former location is the new home of Mya’s Chicken. Mark the chef, owner and chief chicken fryer presents a slightly different sampler each time based on his signature items as well as what his daily special may be. And thank goodness, there is a biscuit, one of the best in the city.

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Our fourth stop was Aromaku the only Indonesian food truck in Columbus (and probably the only Indonesian food based experience to be had in central Ohio). There really is nothing like this in town. As a bonus, Aromaku shares a parking lot of Taco Nazo, one of the favorites of the Taco Trucks Columbus team so a little Taco Truck history is thrown in as a no calorie side dish.

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The fifth and final destination for our tour was Tokyo GoGo based at Brothers Drake in the Short North. In addition to getting an education on authentic Japanese style late night bar food there is an opportunity to try some very unique Ohio made mead in the process.

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The itinerary I joined may not be the same as the one you take on your tour but you can expect to try five or more of the best trucks in town and then be well prepared to continue on your own food truck adventures afterwards.

For more information on the Food Truck Tour, cruise over to the Columbus Food Adventures website.

Posted in culinary knowledge, Mobile Food, Road Trip, tour | Leave a Comment »

How To Find Food A Truck in Columbus

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 11, 2013

One person that responded to my poll a few weeks ago requested less about food trucks. Two people said they wanted to know more. How about if I just let you know how to find them on your own?

(Below is from a page I wrote for one the other websites I write for: Street Eats Columbus).


So you are looking for a food truck but can’t find one? What to do? Here are your options.

Food trucks are mobile in concept but such is not always the case. Almost all of the Taco Trucks in Columbus are stationary and keep standard hours – you can find most of them at Taco Trucks Columbus.

One of the most famous of Columbus Food Trucks is not mobile at all – and it started as a trailer. That would be Ray Ray’s Hog Pit.

However most street food vendors….are on the streets going from location to location looking for people to feed. In Columbus the business model for most mobile food owners is to schedule locations to serve lunch at Monday to Friday then supplement with a few evening locations as well as festivals and events on the weekends. These trucks look for corporate lunch locations with the goal to serve fifty to one hundred customers in a two-hour period as long as they have the permission of the property owner and the business site.

In the evening, they look for business sites that have a second or third shift of hungry workers or a bar with some patrons in need of a snack or two. Dick’s Den, Seventh Son Brewing and St. James Tavern host food trucks one to three days per week.

You can try twitter to find a food truck – if you know what the twitter address is and if they continually tweet where they are serving. This is not practical for most people nor is it helpful if you do not know what truck(s) you are looking for or want to look for.

The same can be said for Facebook. While many vendors post where they will be for the day or the week, if that is all they post the content soon becomes boring. Plus, with recent changes to Facebook you may not be able to find these posts in a timely manner. And again, you need to know the truck exists….to find it. Another downside, most people can’t access Facebook from their workplace computers….so finding a truck at lunch can be a struggle.

There is a website called Ohio Food Truck Finder which lists many of the twitter feeds for food trucks in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and elsewhere – this can be a good way to see much of the variety of vendors but it is not a complete listing and food trucks that throw in the towel or take a long hiatus are often in this stream as well.

The same group also coordinates mobile vendors for lunch at ten plus Ohio State University Medical Center locations. You can find a schedule -> HERE.

And HERE is a map of sites. The vendors currently serve lunch at most sites Monday to Friday.

App(lication)s exist to find food trucks. Some have come and gone (Hungerly) and others have come and fizzled (Eat Street, Roaming Hunger and Street Food (Columbus)). The only app / finder worth your time is (and it should continue to get better) Street Food Finder. What makes this the best? It works. It meets the needs of the Food Truck owners because it is easy to use and saves them time. It is good for customers because it is good food food truck owners, so there is actually current information on Street Food Finder which makes sure information is there to look at and easy to put to use. The creator of Street Food Finder lives in Columbus and consulted with Food Truck owners and Street Eats to make sure his product met the needs of everyone. It started as a chicken or the egg situation: if the owners don’t put information into StreetFoodFinder then customers won’t us it, but food truck owners had to be OK with putting in information when no one was using StreetFoodFinder so that people could see that it does work. Make sense?

Posted in culinary knowledge | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Who Are You? And Why Are You Reading This?: A Readers Poll

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 1, 2013

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This is post number 500 for CMH Gourmand. While you may know something about me, I know nothing about you. That hardly seems fair. Please take a few moments to do the poll below and I’ll share the results in the future.

Here -> is the link, tell me what you think. There are ten questions, one involves pizza and another discusses donuts.


May 2nd Poll update:
I am surprised by your pizza choices.

Posted in culinary knowledge | Leave a Comment »

ManBque: An Anthropological Analysis of an Urban Mens Movement

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 25, 2013

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A few months ago I was invited to ManBQue. A what the what? Man – B – Que. Simply put this is a gathering of men who want to celebrate and extol three things: Meat, Beer and Rock n Roll. This month I was invited again by Chef Ed Kowalski. I looked at the ManBque website, read his pitch and decided I may have to give this a shot. I have sampled Ed’s culinary work in several places over the last couple years so I knew I would eat well. And, I was honored, this was an invitation only event. I was uniquely qualified for invitation because I am a man.

A few disclaimers and notations before I begin. Most of my friends are women. The few male friends I have, while valued, would, like me, never be accused of being high-test, testosterone manly men. I can’t speak for them but for most men of the Midwest I must be an absolute conundrum. Well, a manly man would not use that word, he would probably just grunt or something. I just never fit in with roaming herds of males. What are some of my failings: OSU Buckeyes….who cares, sports – meh, cars and muscle machines – I drive a Subaru, playing lots of blood and guts video games – nope. Sporting a ball cap, driving a pick up truck, while wearing jhorts and engaging with other dudes in horse-play….is not something I can pull off. I never adapted to being in the pack. I dropped out of Indian Guides because it was too structured. I did a Fraternity rush my junior year of college and just could not drink the Kool-aid. The only man based group I have ever been associated with on a long-term basis is called Nerd Night which involves watching TV and eating pizza with a female librarian. There is one exception to this long history of lack of manliness. You might call this a fling. For two years I was a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose. I joined so I could eat a really good $2 hamburger and play pinball during lunch time and then walk back to work in two minutes. I was often the only one there. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the ladies but I don’t hang out at the Stitch and Bitch classes or watch Grey’s Anatomy. I have never been one to run with the herd. Usually, I just saunter off in the other direction and do my own thing. The only really macho thing I can say about myself is that I am an Appalachian Porch Hound Trainer.

So as cool as it may seem to gather as a tribe and worship Meat, Beer and Rock N Roll, three things that rank high on my hierarchy of needs, it is not by my nature to do so in an organized pack. But, because I care about my readers and I have a mission to explore the world of culinary trends I was resolute to investigate the ManBque meat up which is quickly becoming a world-wide thing. On the plus side of going, the April Manbque was at Savor which is close to my house and would ensure quick access to good beer. I also knew than Rin, the Beer Knowledge Goddess of Savor would smack down any out of control mantics (man-antics) and made sure I had someone to talk to in a pinch.

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I approached the location with caution. After parking, I heard the music of Bob Marley wailing through the air. I could smell smoke….of charring meat and cigars….. floating through the air. I followed these sensory clues to the back lot of Savor to find one green egg, three grills, 2 large speakers and twenty plus males from 22 to 62 engaged in grilling, eating, drinking, smoking and laughing. After taking a few more whiffs of the meats being cooked, I knew I was in the right place and my sense was I made the right choice.

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Rob the vice-president of the Columbus Manbque cell, seeing I was a newbie, greeted me and showed me where the communal beer cooler was. I tracked down Ed inside Savor buying more beer. I mingled among the members and listened in on some of their conversations. I asked a lot of questions. While this is a very fraternal group it is not a fraternity-style group…well probably not, I was told there is not any hazing or odd rituals. Members do not need to wear weird hats like in the Flintstones (I was bummed about this). The most common thread I found among each of these guys was a passion to eat meat that is cooked really, really well. After Ed was done preparing some exceptional bone marrow, he as both my host and the president of the Columbus chapter of Manbque explained more about the group both locally and nationally. Each month members bring meat to cook and share with the group as well as beer to do the same. Among the feast of meats I dined on: bone marrow, pork loin, bacon wrapped chicken breast, bacon wrapped shrimp, and several cuts of marinated and seasoned beef cooked to perfection.

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ManBque started in Chicago and has since expanded throughout the USA and abroad. More than just a manly meet-up, the group hallows the holy trinity of cooking meat, drinking craft beer and celebrating great rock n roll pretty seriously. Each of these three elements are respected for the skill of art and science it takes to craft them. The growth of these local ManBque groups has been expansive and is expected to become exponential after the release of a cookbook in the near future. While “no girls are allowed” this is not a he-man woman haters club. Locally there will be a mixed group meeting in June. In Chicago – there is an all female group with the same goals who have engaged in a competitive but friendly rivalry with their male counterparts. In Columbus, as the group continues to grow, Ed and company want to add in classes, special events and serve charitable causes too.

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There are a few rules to the group. New members must be invited by a current member. Meat-ups occur during the week, not on weekends. At the end of the evening (this is where I started to worry about the hazing part) new members are given their ManBque name while the group stands in a circle. I think there may be something to this ManBque thing. I had to cut out early, so I did not get issued my official ManBque name but…I would go back, to the pack, to do so.

Want to learn more?
ManBque.com
Facebook

Interested in membership? Contact Ed: e.kowalski@yahoo.com

Posted in BBQ, beer, culinary knowledge | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Time to Make the Donuts – Part II: OH! Nuts from OH! Burgers

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 10, 2013

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The donut scene is heating up. We mentioned Destination Donuts last time. A few local restaurants including Deepwood and Latitude 41 have dabbled in donuts on occasion and we have a few other folks in the research and development stages…..or so they say.

The pathway to donut pioneerdom is not always intentional, it sometimes the mother of invention. But before we go down that rabbit hole, let’s profile the man behind the donut. First thing you should know about Brian Thornton from OH! Burgers he is a classic food trucker. He epitomizes and balances the qualities of a pirate, handy man, entrepreneur and kitchen rat. He went to culinary school but his undergrad was not so culinary and he thinks as much as a chef as he does an engineer. He worked on the line at the Refectory and worked in an office in a factory. There are some polarities involved for sure. Oh, did I also mention, he is known as Thor.

When I first met Brian he said he was going to do a food truck. I lot of people tell me that (as I told myself as well). He was not sure how it would pay for it, but he would figure it out. Shortly thereafter he bought the defunct Hot Pita Truck (I did not think anyone would do so on more than a few occasions) and transformed it into OH! Burgers. If you have ever seen the old movie PT 109, where the ragtag crew first sees the beat up old patrol boat and then works on it to get it shipshape then you can understand my observations of Brian and his food truck. He tinkered and rebuilt, reconfigured and tweaked and eventually got it on the streets. His approach towards mechanics and the culinary arts are about the same: 1/2 mad scientist and 1/2 wizard.

His menu is simple, burgers and sweet potato chips. I experienced his scientific approach to chips over the winter of 2012. He kept at them. Changing one thing, then another, trying multiple variations until every aspect of the chips were what he wanted and then he stopped. Then he worked on sauces for the chips. The weird science of OH! Burgers continued when the concept of pickles crossed his mind. He learns, tests, tweaks, tests and refines. In a couple of weeks we had a wide variety of pickles.

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Then one day we were discussing other things he could do with sweet potatoes (he had a lot of them) and thought fritters might be a good offshoot. The fritters (they were good) became sweet potato donuts after short time. Then sweet potato donuts became more traditional donuts with flour instead of sweet potatoes as a base. The exploration continues. “What if I try this………”, “Today I found a really good flour so I changed up recipe” X to X+1…. Alton Brown and Galileo would be equally proud of this approach to culinary investigation. However, OH Nut donuts in one form or another or both are here to stay on OH! Burgers.

When can you find the latest refinement to mobile donuts? Brian often serves a three donut combo (one of each flavor) from the OH! Burgers food truck. On occasion, he takes over the back section and one fryer in the Ajumama Food Truck to pair his donuts with Ajumama’s Korean comfort street food.

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What types of donuts can you expect to sample? Bacon, Fruity Pebbles and mini M & M’s are frequent toppings. Krema Spicy Peanut Butter has appeared a few times. The current “money” donut has Tequila in the dough, a vanilla glaze on top and lime zest for flavor and fun. That is a winner. Watch for more “research and development” in donuts and more from OH! Burgers and the mighty Thor.

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As as side note, the infamous CMH Tobias has assisted in the donut review process. See below.

Photo 1: OH Nut sighted
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Photo 2: OH Nut requested
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Posted in culinary knowledge, donuts | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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