CMH Gourmand

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

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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Little Sicily’s: Pizza Worth The Drive

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 29, 2013

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The far east side is a bit of a wasteland when it comes to destination dining. There is no lack of choices, there are plenty of chains to choose from but nothing exceptional comes to mind when I mentally walk through my options for that quadrant of town. Years ago, I had friends who lived in Pickerington and the far, far east end of Broad Street. One was in town for the holidays and when we were looking at options to meet up, he suggested Little Sicily’s Pizza.

I had forgotten about this place. In days past, Little Sicily’s was consistently in my top ten list. I had their pizza countless times as carry out while visiting friends. I’d never dined in before and it had been years so I was ready to rediscover the place. Little Sicily’s is tucked in a very modest building near the intersection of Brice and Refugee Roads. It was so busy, I was unable to find parking and had to get creative to secure a suitable spot nearby. The inside is as unassuming as the outside, there are a few simple tables, some nick knacks on the walls with a few TV’s mixed in. All of the customers were long time regulars who the servers knew by name.

The menu is streamlined with a few choices: pizzas, sandwiches, salads, spaghetti with meatballs and lasagna. The only surprise on the menu was a gluten-free crust option. I wish I could elaborate more about the food but the only combination I have ever had is a large pizza with pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese. The extra cheese option makes for some serious thickness and weight. The sausage is thick and chunky. The pepperoni’s are liberally applied on top and sometimes layered on top of each other 2 to 3 slices deep. The crust and sauce are non-descript but serve as a suitable delivery method for the toppings.

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Little Sicily’s has been an institution in Brice since 1975 and exceeds the expectations of a typical neighborhood pizza joint. I typically avoid the Brice Road area with a vengeance but if I was within 15 minutes of Little Sicily’s, I would be strongly tempted to call in an order. The tagline on the menu is “The Pizza Worth The Drive” and from my observations, it looks like a lot of people make that choice.

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Little Sicily’s Pizza
2965 Brice Road
Brice, OH
614 868 1937

Little Sicily's Pizza on Urbanspoon

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Something different but loosely restaurant related

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 6, 2013

Confessions of a Non Buckeye Football Fan

I am one of the 1%, not that 1% the other 1%. I am among the people who don’t wear scarlet and gray throughout the fall and who don’t reply IO to the OH. I’m not the guy who daydreams about the perfect personalized fan plate. For years, I have been unable to answer the question – who are the Buckeyes playing this Saturday. I’ll use a conversation about the weather to throw you off track when I’m clueless about the stats for the season. Yes, I am that guy.

In this city one can be allowed to have a disinterest in professional football, even all sports for that matter. The good-natured folks of the 614 area code, with their Midwestern manners, will allow that aberration to exist as strange of a concept as it may sound. In their eyes, football apathy is like being a vegetarian, kind of cute but silly. However, there is one cardinal rule within 270. You MUST love the BUCKS. How could you not? How dare you not!

I’m not a hater, I don’t hate the game. I played football as a kid and wanted to have Archie Griffin’s number on my Jersey. Digging into my childhood photos there are plenty of images of a young lad, who still had hair, wearing an Ohio State Buckeyes jersey. My lifetime membership to the OSU Alumni Association is buried in my filing cabinet. I even tossed the football around in the stadium back when you could sneak in at night. Somehow, in spite of my upbringing Buckeye Football Fever never stuck with me. I’m not sure when I was inoculated but I’m more than happy to skip the game every Saturday.

I suppose I first noticed this when I stopped signing up for my alumni tickets. A few years after, I even stopped making an effort to watch the OSU Michigan game. That is the moment when I could no longer hide my nature. It was evident for all to see. I was no longer a Buckeye….not even trying.

I believe those like me, maybe forty or fifty in all, are an oddity to the rest of you. We share notes about the phenomenon of the Buckeye cult. It is odd to be on the outside looking in. We wonder about all of you and your zeal. We occasionally hit a tailgate or two to try to mix in with the crowd. However, while we curse the congestion of game day traffic our secret is that we love Columbus between the first kick off and the final whistle.

While the 99% are out worshipping the cult of Brutus we are enjoying an abandoned city. By timing your excursions just right the city is pretty amazing on a game day. I will highlight a few of the perks of being footloose and football free. The first thing you notice is driving is fun. The streets are abandoned; everyone is in the shoe, a sports bar or entrenched in their man cave watching the game. Parking is easy to find. No waiting at the gas pump. Life behind the wheel is good again.

Game day is a fine day for shopping. The aisles are empty. There is no waiting in the checkout line. All of the employees stuck working are excited to see you. You will be greeted with a GO Bucks and promptly asked for the score. At this point I punt and say “I’m not sure… my radio is on the fritz”. Saddened, they are still glad to see me and very helpful because they are very bored. All my shopping needs can be accomplished in one half of the time. Even during away games, if you do encounter any other customer, it is only as they grab and go at half time to restock on a few critical supplies so their disruption to my optimal experience is minimal.

However, the best perk of the day, is being able to go to any of my favorite restaurants (with one television or less) without the need for a reservation and enjoy any table I choose with the most attentive of wait staff. The restaurant business is a gut-wrenching on fall gridiron Saturdays. If the home team triumphs the restaurant can do well after the win is marked in the books. If the Bucks lose, well, there is no joy in Columbus and no patrons to be fed. So during those precious hours before the fate of the shift and opportunity for tips are determined your server is focused and aimed to please their only customer.

So all in all, despite being an outsider, membership in my small exclusive club does have privileges and the benefits outweigh the costs of being a football pariah. Go Bucks!

Posted in food | 1 Comment »

Happy Anniversary: Thank You Readers & The Seven Year Itch

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 28, 2013

I have been at this for seven years. A lot has changed in that time. I thank each of you who continue to read and hopefully enjoy the ongoing works and adventures of CMH Gourmand.

CMHG2hd

Posted in food | 4 Comments »

Creole Kitchen: An A for Authentic

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 21, 2013

A fortunate circumstance of my paid profession, is my proximity to Creole Kitchen. As much as I drool when hearing the mention of Chef Butcher’s Beignets, Étouffée, or other goodness, the hours and location on Mt. Vernon Ave., was just not convenient to my day-to-day travels in my previous work life. Now, I am a short five-minute drive away. This winter I have been getting lunch to go about once per week. I used the first three months of 2013 to study Creole Kitchen. These are my observations.

Let’s start with the location. As mentioned, it is off the beaten path. It my be mildly inconvenient to many food enthusiast’s outside of the neighborhood. The place is easy to miss buried in a newer strip mall in an old neighborhood. That is no problem for Chef Butcher, he has no problem getting customers through the door. He chose the location and the neighborhood to make a commitment to the community. Much like Franklinton, the King Lincoln District has been “up and coming” for a long time. Unfortunately the upward slope of that bell curve has been pretty flat, but Chef Butcher is a man of patience.

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Now a segue at the pedigree of the place. Chef Butcher was born in Louisiana. He had has cooked and “chefed” extensively in many places. He had a much written about run at Michael Oliver’s in the 1990’s getting some press and attention as one of the few culinarians in Central Ohio that could do Cajun and creole right. Even though Chef Butcher is advanced in years, he ability to move a line has not slackened after years of blackening.

The place is small, simple and spartan. There is standing room for carry out orders. While there is 2 to 3 small two top tables, unless it is very slow and not crowded, you wont find anyone eating at them. For those that know to ask and visit at the right time and crowd volume, there is a “Chef’s Table” back in the kitchen area. A few select people (I did it once) can eat at a beaten wooden table that seats 2-4 depending on the collective girths of the party. The kitchen crew includes a family member or two and the service counter is always efficient and often friendly if it is not too busy.

Here is an inside tip. Call your order in. The phone will often get picked up. If it is busy, it may ring forever or you might get placed on hold and forgotten about. This is not a negative reflection on the staff, there are just so many orders once can take and actually be able to fill them. If you do happen to walk in and place a “live” order don’t fret, you will still be served. If orders are backed up and you have time to kill, might I suggest driving to the Angry Baker on Oak Street to get a dessert to go. The round trip to and from Angry Baker to Creole Kitchen, with a few moments to make a selection, can be done in as few of 19 minutes. There is one advantage of just dropping in to place your order. There are always five to six really good daily specials (see some examples below) like a meatloaf sandwich.

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Now for the food. For whatever reason, the offerings at Creole Kitchen don’t photograph very well, so there will be little food porn. Take a moment to study the menu below and I’ll elaborate on some of the item you may want to try in a bit.

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Everything I have sampled is great. It tastes of true Louisiana roux. On may dishes you will be given an opportunity to choose how spicy you would like it on a scale of 1-10. The scale is more spice than heat, but a 10 will not sear your tongue, but it will tame and clear your sinuses in quick order. My favorites include the Mac and Cheese, Crawfish Étouffée,, Chicken Andouille sausage Jambalaya, the french fries and a simple Po’ Boy. I have not had an opportunity to try breakfast. I have heard it is great and often crowded so that being the case I’ll leave that breakfast to Nick.

The Mac&Cheese is simple, plain pasta with a think but saucy mix of cheese. It often serves as a buffer to the heat of another dish. It will remind you of the best diner or cafeteria Mac&Cheese from your formative years. Sadly, as simple as this dish is, and as much as it is a staple of The US of A, I rarely find one I like.

What is it about the fries that makes them so good? They still have the skins on them. They are like fair fries but a bit denser and yet somehow soggier at the same time. The fries also serve as a heat buffer when needed. If you look in the bottom of our carry out bag, you will always see packets of hot sauce to douse your fries in, in case you feel you need the kick.

What makes Crawfish Etouffee and the other dishes so good? I’m not sure. It is in the sauce and the simplicity of the ingredients themselves. The whole is always greater than the parts at Creole Kitchen.

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The Po’Boys are make better by their bulk – very large sandwiches for sure, but the clincher is the bread. It is toasted, lightly buttered and the slight crunch of the bread adds to the complete Po’ Boy experience and also keeps the sandwich from collapsing from the slightly wet fried proteins inside. I only have one bone to pick with the sandwiches. The Muffuletta on the menu does not meet my definition of the sandwich or my other eating experiences with them elsewhere. But, I’m not from Louisiana and Chef Butcher can run circles around me in any kitchen, school me up on a thing or three and probably whup my ass good too.

Here are a few more tidbit’s on the place. They make their own potato chips, served in a brown paper bag. These are a great choice to munch on if you think you will be waiting on your order for a while. You can also join the Creole Kitchen text club for a free bag of chips with your order. I will admit that I joined the club while I was placing my order the first time I tried the chips. It may not be a best practice but I was hungry and wanted to test the technology. The restaurant sells their own spice mix but I have yet to try it. If you do, let me know. They also support other local businesses including a cookie maker and a sweet tea company.

There is a lot more to like about Creole Kitchen but that should be enough to get you through the door. Creole Kitchen is too good and too cool to be forgotten but unless it is right in front of you, it can be an easy place to let fall by the wayside on your dining to do list.

Creole Kitchen
1052-B Mt. Vernon Plaza
King Lincoln District (The KLD)
614.372.3333 (FEED)

http://creolekitchen.biz

Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 7 am to 7 pm
Friday: 7 am to 9 pm
Saturday: 7:30 am to 9 pm
Sunday: Closed

Creole Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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VOTE CMH GOURMAND: 614’s Best of Columbus Survey (to March 31st)

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 17, 2013

I am asking for your vote. 614 Magazine is asking the citizens of Columbus to vote on their favorites throughout the city. CMH Gourmand is listed as one of the choices for Best Local Blogger in the People and Community Category.

You can click ->HERE<- to vote.

You do need to create an account with 614 to vote, this will take less than one minute.

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If you vote in 46 of the 108 possible category entries, you have a chance to win $3000 in groceries.
You do not need to vote in any other category other than Best Local Blog, if you choose not to. Therefore voting could take you as little as 2 minutes. Consider this to be like supporting your local NPR station – you are just supporting your local blogger.

I want to win. This is the first time I have been nominated.

During the campaign I vow to:

Run a clean campaign.
There will be no character assassinations of my fellow nominee's and there will be no sex scandals.
Because this will be like sweeps week, but longer, I am going to write a lot more content between now and March 31st.

If elected, I will:

Bring back Pizza Gran Prix
If I win by a very large margin – (defined as a blow out, where the next nominee is not even close), I will sing the song Elected by Alice Cooper Karoke at a place TBD before the close of 2013.
While there might not be a chicken in every pot, out of respect to my vegan friends, I will write about chicken or a chicken.
I will not sequester my posts for the rest or the year

How you can help:

Please consider me for your vote
Please share this post on Twitter, Facebook, as an e-mail blast to your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers unless you work for some lame state agency that forbids such things as forwarded e-mails.
Please let people know that have not read my blog, that it is worth reading and I am worth voting for. The best way to get up to speed and to drink the Kool-Aid of CMH Gourmand is to read -> THIS and THAT.

I would also ask that in consideration of the vote for CMH Gourmand, that voters consider the contributions made to Taco Trucks Columbus, Street Eats Columbus and WCBE Foodcast as a larger act of work. And finally, please consider, I get fat so that you don’t have to.


Update: I did not place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Thanks you those that voted. If you wanted me to win and are disappointed find more people to read my blog.

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Food For Thought?

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 26, 2012

This post is for the sake of discussion. See the photo below.

This billboard is at the corner of Second Ave. and Cleveland Ave. I drive by this intersection a few times a week while on the way to meetings as well as to add revenue to St. James Tavern. Looking at this billboard, my first thought was – hmm – not very good advertising. Then I started to think, wait a minute, maybe this is graffiti / vandalism / social commentary (i.e., the cockroaches? ). Then, when I stopped to get out of my car to snap a photo, I noticed this written among the bugs “Gov. Kasich says”. Hmm maybe it is social commentary. It definitely is intriguing.

As for my comments on Fair Food, it is good, if you know where to go and what to eat. We did a Foodcast episode on it a few weeks ago.

Readers, what do you think about any or all of the above?

Posted in food | 4 Comments »

Bloggers Exposed: So True It Hurts

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 30, 2012

Watch this, it is worth three minutes of your life. Really, dead on perfect expose of my world. I want to be the Grizzly Bear.

WATCH THIS NOW!

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Listen Up! One Hour WCBE Foodcast: Monday January 2nd

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 28, 2011

We have a really big show coming up. Twelve times better in fact. Our weekly five minute radio program is going to be twelve times longer for our special hour long (first of 2012) show.

The show airs on the dial at WCBE 90.5 FM, 1 pm on Monday January 2nd. If you miss it, there is no need to fear….the interwebs are here. Audio for each show as well as links are posted at WCBE FoodCast

This episode of Foodcast features an introduction of Mike Beaumont, our producer and sound engineer; the back story of our theme song, our typical ranting and four interviews with food folks that made a mark in 2011 and who plan to do more of the same in 2012. Our Liz Lessner interview has a world premiere announcement about a new restaurant venture (not the Grass Skirt).

So listen up. Tune in often and tell all your friends. Good Night and Good Luck.

Posted in Columbus, food | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Writer’s Block?

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 19, 2011

Sorry for another pause in content. Prepare for an onslaught of posts in the next two weeks. In the previous six weeks I left a job and started a new career, traveled in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Pittsburgh, Cleveland (x2), Huron, Sandusky and Zanesville. I have donuts, restaurants, wineries, breweries, food trucks and Green Bean Delivery to write about. I also gained 20 pounds in the process. I promised CMH Tobias I would stay home more than 8 hours in a row to get caught up with him….and you. As for the new gig, I get to take this, this and this to help Columbus mobile food vendors grow their businesses. Cool, fun….meaningful.

And I have a new blog to launch – Bricks of Ohio Blog (BOB).

Stay tuned or watch your RSS feed for more.

And finally, what do you think about WCBE Foodcast?

Posted in food | 2 Comments »

Gourmand, Interrupted: Prologue

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 30, 2011

There was a season of the show Dallas that was so bad, the writers decided to write it off by having a killed off character from the bad season walk out of the shower at the beginning of the following season to indicate the previous season was a dream. A dream – that was a stretch. If I could rewrite August for myself, I might do the same. I may share more down the road or it may be the longest of chapters in my memoirs after the “What in the hell am I doing in Honduras and how do I survive the next 12 hours” chapter.

This blog now returns to its regularly scheduled content….currently in progress. Expect something tomorrow.

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