CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Panzera’s Pizza: A Story of Persistence and Pluck

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 19, 2020

Panzeras Pizza

The origin of Panzera’s Pizza reads a lot like a Horatio Agler rags to riches tale. The Panzera family immigrated to the Grandview area in 1955 just before Nick Panzera observed his fifth birthday in his new home country. They arrived from the Abruzzo / Abruzzi section of Italy speaking little English and immediately set themselves to work. Nick, started working at Tedeschi Italian Bakery (at Third Ave. and Doten) in Grandview. Initially he was bagging bread but over time he took on many other roles. Nick and some of his brothers would sometimes work at nearby Leonardo’s Pizza as well. When Nick was 12, Tedeschi Bakery closed so he and brothers were out of a job in the case of his brothers, one of their jobs). In late 1964, Nick and brother Phillip with the help of many family members decided to run the bakery space as a pizzeria and called it Panzeras. It was a small operation open seven days per week with one oven and dough mixed by hand….managed and operated by 13 year old Nick Panzera.

One of the keys to making this work was one of Nick’s teachers, George Sotiris Georgas. As Nick was getting ready to open the pizzeria, George kept asking him questions about what items would be on the menu and how much Nick was planning to charge for each specialty offered. Nick was surprised by a stack of menus given to him by George who make the on the schools mimeograph machine as a surprise for opening day! George also knew that Nick was working late nights at the pizzeria so he arranged for Nick to have a “job” in the school book room which allowed Nick to sleep and/or study the first two periods of the day. The first $5 sale at Panzera’s Pizza was from George and it was framed on the wall for years.

In 1966, older brother and business partner Phillip was working at the nearby quarry but it was laying off employees. He came to Nick and said “I’m moving”. Having just moved to a new house, Nick was confused and asked Phillip why he would so move again so soon, to which Phillip explained he was not moving to another house, he was moving to California to find work. At this stage, Nick was 15 and in high school and didn’t feel he could run the business on his own. He considered putting the business up for sale but after a less than desirable offer he decided to figure out how to make it work. He decided he would start advertising but knew before he could start marketing the business he needed to upgrade everything in the pizzeria so he could increase his production volume. Nick worked with Stan Becker a salesman at Wasserstrom to order $10,000 of equipment: another oven, a mixer, slicer, double door refrigerator, pots, pans etc everything needed to allow a few people to make a multiple pizzas at a time at a faster pace. At the time, Nick was 15 so Stan told him he was too young to sign a contract. Nick replied to Becker that his dad would sign it but Stan knew his dad did not speak English. So Nick countered that he would read the contract to his dad. In the end, Nick signed the contract with his dad’s name while Stan looked the other way.

After the new equipment was in place, Nick worked with a customer to print 10,000 menus including coupons. Then Nick loaded up a car to drive his nieces and nephews around the Grandview neighborhoods dropping them off at one end of the block and picking them up at the other side to deliver fliers throughout the area. People started calling in orders and dropping in the first day of flier delivery leading to some very busy days. Phillip came home to visit shortly thereafter and was amazed at the stacks of pizzas waiting to be picked up in the shop.

Nick got married in 1969. He started buying rental properties in the area to expand diversify his income. Many of the pizzeria’s customers were police officers and they would often say “Nick you should be a cop”, so when Nick turned 21 (1972) he applied for the police academy and was accepted. Eventually Nick’s wife told him he had to give up at least one business so he decided to sell the shop to Fred Lombardi and his wife (Nick’s sister) in 1976. Fred had worked at Panzera’s (and Leonardo’s Pizza) for years including managing the shop since Nick started working as a police officer. (Nick was once called Panzera’s Pizza in response to a robbery call items stolen included the frame dollar bill from the first sale at Panzera’s).

Panzera’s Pizza moved a few times since opening in 1964, in 1983, Fred Lombardi moved the shop to the present location at Grandview and Third Avenues. Today, although Fred is “retired”, which seems to mean he is working what most would consider a normal work week Fred remains a fixture in the kitchen. Fred is still at Panzera’s making dough, sauce and preppy pizzas. Many of the extended family have worked at the shop over the decades. The recipes are all Panzera family recipes with no changes since 1964. None of the recipes is written down all are passed along by one person showing and expecting the other person to continue doing. Panzera’s still makes their dough, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce and many other Italian specilaities from scratch. Fred passed on the pizza peel of day to day operations to his son Carlo many years ago and today guests can often find Fred, Carlo and (grandson) Andy kneading and tossing the dough behind the counter.

A non pizza menu item that has been popular since the 1980’s is the Monster Sub which is a fusion of a Italian sub and meatball sub wedded between two buns. Another thing customers can count on at Panzera’s is Nick dropping in several times per week (when he is not visiting brother Paul at Paul’s Pantry just around the corner). You will find a lot of important things at Panzera’s that are not on the regular menu: three generations of family that are proud of their pizza, connected to their neighborhood and their customers in a way that few businesses can compete against. All of this because a 13 year old needed a job and the extended Panzera/Lombardi family always helped each other out to keep the family business going. That alone, is worth a visit, the pizza is a bonus.

Historical side dish:

Phillip Panzera came home from California to visit the pizzeria shortly after Nick expanded the kitchen operation and started his marketing blitz. While Phillip was walking in, he noticed a man walking out of the nearby insurance agency, which was a new neighbor to Panzera’s. At the same time, the insurance agent in question did a double take noticing Phillip as well. Each sensed they knew each other and after a lot of conversational sleuthing figured out they had met in Italy, during World War II (over twenty years before) when the jeep the insurance agent was riding in picked up a hitchhiking Phillip on a dirt road far from Grandview, Ohio and the United States.

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

(Product Review): TheCrazyCap and the quest to keep water clean

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 31, 2019

CrazyCap Bottle

I am the father of a four year old boy. Nothing on this planet seeks out dirt, grime and general chaos with more gusto than a four year old boy….except maybe the three year old version of the same. When CMH Griffin (CMH Son) entered the world of daycare when he was just over two years old we began a year of guerilla warfare with germs. For the first three months of school he was out sick (home with daddy) more often than he was in school. Making it to school three days a week was a GOOD WEEK! As the person that “never gets sick” I was sick more often over that 18 months than I had been in the previous 18 years, I even picked up a case of Foot and Mouth Disease (yes, eww).

We are doing better at Daycare/Pre-School today but in the course of a school day he is embedded with up to twenty three other chronic germ machines and so his his water bottle. When I saw the Crazy Cap pitched in a back to school press release, I volunteered to take one for a test drive for my family to see if it could survive the four year old challenge.

Here are some of the Crazy Cap selling points!

– The deep UV LED provides 500,000 water treatments during its lifetime

– CrazyCap’s battery lasts up to 1 week, comes included with charger

– The CrazyCap can be used to sanitize any surface. Simply shine it on cell-phones, laptops, tablets, etc.

– CrazyCap is compatible with most 9, 12, 15 and 17 oz insulated stainless steel bottles. In case you don’t have a compatible bottle, the brand also offers double-walled, vacuum-insulated bottles that are designed to keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12

– It contains deep UV LED sterilization technology to destroy microorganisms completely (unlike traditional filters, which trap but do not destroy). Purify your water on the go and keep your go-to bottle sanitary at the same time

– “CrazyCap’s makes sure that your bottles do not smell funky or moldy. It is our guarantee!!”

All of the above seemed impressive.

I tested this out at home from fall to Christmas break. Overall, I found the product easy to use and understand. The charger was easy to use. A color coded light system in the cap helps you understand what the battery level is in the CrazyCap and it allows you to determine what level of sanitizing you want to use. An added bonus of the CrazyCap is it can be used to sanitize items other than your water and the bottle itself, you can use use in on keyboards, phones, and etc. This could be a handy item for a camping trip or an emergency preparedness kit (if you keep the charge fresh).

CrazyCap with charger

There were two downsides for the “back to school” uses for this bottle and they mainly apply to the audience I tested this with. While this would be a good back to school item for a high schooler or even an older middle school child, I would not suggest this for young children, especially those in daycare and probably elementary school. First, the CrazyCap is not dishwasher safe which means it is not kid safe nor exhausted adult proof. Second, there is a warning not to look directly at the CrazyCap UV light…..you know that is bound to happen with a toddler and even some teenagers and adults. I do think this would be a great gift for the techie in your life.

To find out more about CrazyCap check our their website -> TheCrazyCap.com

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(Product Review): TwentyFifty Compostable Spoons

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 25, 2019

Compostable Spoons

True Fact 1: I am a recycling and sustainability nerd who would like to progress to being a zealot.

True Fact 2: I am a sucker for anything FREE!

When I received a press release about TwentyFifty compostable tableware I was beyond intrigued so I made a pitch to test drive some of their product. I also asked if I could run a contest to help get the word out about their products and what their mission is. The company said yes to both of my requests. If you want the opportunity to have a box of compostable spoons sent to you so you can try them yourself, follow me on Instagram at: CMHGourmand and you can participate in my Instagram contest on January 1st – to help make your own New Year’s Resolution to be nicer to our planet. One commenter to my New Years Day Instagram post about these spoons will win a box of spoons.

TwentyFifty is a San Diego based company with noble purposes. One goal is to create methods to allow cutlery to be made around the world using locally sourced grains.

Named after the year 2050 – the year the population is projected to reach 10 billion and when it’s estimated that the amount of plastic waste in the ocean will exceed the amount of fish – the brand has one mission: to stop, or at least significantly reduce, plastic pollution. They are doing this with cutlery. The first, and only, compostable alternative to single-use plastic you can compost in your own backyard compost pile.

A few facts about plastics that I hope terrify you. As a parent of a child I hope has a liveable world after 2050, here are a few things that could keep me up at night.


Over 40 billion plastic utensils go into landfills and oceans every year.

There are about 300 million tons of plastic that are produced every year with half of them estimated to be for only single use and they are then dumped in the oceans after use. This then creates an underwater smog of plastic debris and this then affects the seabirds and marine life that ingest it which can then affect the health of the people that consume the affected animals later.


From a documentary that was filmed by a journalist Craig Leeson, a director of A Plastic Ocean discovered discarded plastic bottles on the ocean floor while he was filming whales underwater in the India Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka. He then traveled to about 20 locations so as to show the effects of plastic on the marine ecosystem and his documentary then talks about how the plastic in the ocean breaks up over time to become tiny pieces called microplastics. This then enters the food chain and it brings toxins into the fatty tissues of the fish and other animals which will then be transmitted to human during consumption. – from The Heart Beat

There are other compostable cutlery options out there but most require a lot of energy to produce and then break down after use. The design of the TwentyFifty fork, spoon or knife allows it to be fully decomposed in a typical home composting bin within 30 days. You could even stick one in the ground of your garden and let it release nutrients into the soil after eating some of your garden produce at a picnic – how do you like that for cycle of life?

Spoons side by side

If you are searching for a real alternative to single use plastic that is a win/win for the environment, TwentyFifty has a sound solution for you. I received a box of 12 that I tested out in various ways for typical things my family does at home and away. The spoons are both aesthetically pleasing and practical to use. They hold up well to any use I could think of and did not add any aftertaste or discoloration to foods. I soaked one in a glass for four hours and it was still usable. After one hour of soaking, it showed no signs of wear or decomposition, at 4 hours, it was pliable and could be broken with some effort but still retained its shape. The spoon is made with a mix of wheat, corn and soy flours. I was impressed after my thorough usability testing and am excited to see what other products that will produce over time.

Box 0f Twenty Fifty Spoons

Posted in Product Review | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Enrico’s Pizza & Restaurant since 1988: An Immigrant Story

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 30, 2019

Regular or even infrequent visitors at Enrico’s, are often on a first name basis with Tiziana who runs the front of the house of this small, modest restaurant tucked in a strip development on the border of Dublin. She and her family commuted a long way to start their business, they are all first generation Italian immigrants to central Ohio. They settled in Grandview in 1968. Tiziana’s mother, Angelina, worked as a seamstress and Ottavio, her father, found work in construction. Both parents liked to cook so when Tiziana’s uncle opened Dante’s Pizza in Clintonville in 1973 it was only natural that they would lend a hand. Her mother’s brother, Joe Apollino, had arrived several years earlier and learned the pizza business working a variety of positions at Leonardo’s, an iconic Columbus pizzeria chain.

All of the family members worked at Dantes at different times over the years. The family, now including Tiziana’s husband Rick, decided to open Enrico’s in March of 1988. (Guess where Rick met his wife…..while working at Dante’s). The restaurant started as a largely scratch kitchen and has remained that way since day one. They make their own dough, sauce, pastas (especially beloved ravioli’s), house salad dressing, meatballs and sausage. One thing they do that few shops still practice is grinding their cheese from blocks of provolone instead of using shredded cheese. They have not changed a menu item since opening in 1988 and if they did “our customers would tell us.” It has always been a word of mouth business, they do not advertise and don’t offer coupons. Enrico’s has a loyal base of regular customers who plan in advance for the two times per year the business closes for a week for vacation. Tiziana says one of the best aspects of running the business is watching families grow up with Enricos by seeing customers bring their children and then seeing the next generation of children grow up and bring their own children in. Special orders are not uncommon with some customers asking for their pizza “extra crispy”, or triangle cut, or with all the pepperoni on top. Long time customers are familiar seeing Tiziana by the front counter greeting customers while “mom and pop” are in the back in their kitchen whites cooking away. Where does the name Enrico come from? The restaurant is named for one of Tiziana’s cousins from Abruzzo. They have visited each other in their respective home cities many times over the years. Maybe one day one of Enrico’s children will continue the tradition of coming to Columbus, starting a pizza place and naming it in honor of a relative.

Posted in Columbus, Columbus style pizza, pizza | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

(Product Review): Belle Chevre Goat Cheese Cream Cheese

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 25, 2019

Long time readers know that I am a sucker for cheese. Few know how much I love goat cheese but it well established that I love free cheese. In this instance, I was offered cheese I would gladly pay for next time I go to the store in the form of Belle Chevre cream cheese made from goat’s milk.

When I received this box I was vaulted to cream cheese heaven. Inside were eight different cream cheeses to try so I took my mission very seriously. In order of my taste preference these are the samples I received: Fig, Original, Honey, Roasted Red Pepper, Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice (it’s not just for coffee anymore) Garden Veggie. I am still holding on to the Coffee Cream Cheese (unsampled) for unspecified and perhaps secret baking project.

My spouse was a bit skeptical of cream cheese made from goats milk. Also, her superhuman sense of smell confirmed that these cream cheeses did originate from goats, not cows. For her this fact was neutral, but for me, it was all goaty goodness.

Belle Chevre goat cheese cream cheese has some distinct advantages over standard cream cheese. Their goat cheeses are naturally gluten free and a one ounce serving offers five grams of protein which is more than double that of regular cream cheese. Compared to cow’s milk-based cheeses, goat cheese is lower in fat, provides more calcium and has two and a half times the protein. That is something that helped me rationalize eating a whole container in a day.

For my rigorous testing I did several head to head comparisons of Belle Chevre and standard cream cheese. Thinking of the creaminess and spreadability of typical cream cheese as a percentage or curve, the Belle Chevre cream cheeses were about 75% on the spectrum between regular goat cheese and regular cream cheese leaning more toward the cream cheese on the scale. Belle Chevre is dense but lighter and fluffier. It is less likely to “stick” and embed itself with it’s companion be it a bagel, salami, or whatever. The goat cheese flavor is present but not pronounced and pairs exceptionally well in the fig flavor in particular. True fact: I made my favorite sandwich of the year with a next day leftover piece of steak, the fig cream cheese and some just out of the bag sandwich bread from the store. It was simple but amazingly delicious. Over time I noticed the unused portion in each container tends to settle overnight bringing the remainder to a flat baseline by the next day which is value added for people like me that do not like big divots in the center of their dairy packaging but instead like a constant horizontal level awaiting the next knife or spoon.

Belle Chevre on the right

My most common test was to try the different versions of the goat cheese cream cheese on bagels, with one half of the bagel covered in Belle Chevre cream cheese and the other half spread with “a national brand cream cheese”. The Belle Chevre was always an even substitute and often a superior option depending on my flavor preference. My least favorite of what I sampled was the veggie. The veggie chunks in the cream cheese did not add to the flavor, for the most part, they just added some texture to the lump of cream cheese in my mouth. You can use Belle Chevre cream cheeses interchangeably with anything that would feature cream cheese and in my experience you will find it a flavor enhancer to whatever you are eating with it. In my research, it really excels in any baking recipe which calls for cream cheese, especially with the cinnamon flavor (which is why I am holding onto the coffee cream cheese for a future creation).

Belle Chevre is a company I have tracked for several years. They make great products and have an inspiring origin story. Their artisan cheese makers have been handcrafting traditional and original goat cheeses since 1989, combining old school European cheesemaking techniques with innovative approaches. All of this happens in Elkmont, Alabama under the chief cheese, Tasia Malakasis. The company is woman owned and led. It has won many accolades including a best dessert award for a goat cheese cheesecake and a feature on Oprah’s O List. To learn more about Belle Chevre click -> HERE.

Locally you can find Belle Chevre at Giant Eagle Market District and Meijer as well as in my refrigerator, but please do not take any of my Belle Chevre fig cream or I will give you an old copy of Who Moved My Cheese as a punishment.

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Dante’s Pizza Serving Clintonville Since 1973

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 1, 2019

Joe Apollonio immigrated to Columbus from the Abruzzo region of Italy at age 14. He spoke little English and started working and going to school as soon as he arrived after settling in with relatives in Grandview. His first job was as a dishwasher at Romeo’s Pizzeria (5th and North Star) which was the first pizzeria in Columbus. This was also his first exposure to pepperoni, a very American invention, but he grew to like it over time. Joe worked with Romeo Sirij, one of the founders. Romeo had grown up on the east coast and brought what he had learned about pizzerias when he moved to Columbus as young man. A friend of Joe’s from school, Paul Panzera, told him about an opening at Leonardo’s Pizza so he started working there (the original location at West 1st in Grandview) and moved up the ranks. As Joe’s English language skills improved and as Leonardo’s continued to grow into the largest independent pizza chain in Columbus he was asked to be a manager at the Worthington Leonardo’s and then the Kenny Road location. Joe could not have asked for a better foundation and apprenticeship in Columbus style pizza.

As he was starting a new family he needed more income and wanted more control over his work hours so by pooling funds from his brother, sister and other family members he opened Dante’s Pizza in March of 1973. The location had been home to several restaurants over the prior years. The previous business had some struggles and had lost favor with the community so Joe knew he would need a different name and would need to very quickly establish the quality of his menu. He named the restaurant after his brother, Dante. At the start, most of the labor was via family members including his niece Tizianna who now owns Enrico’s Pizza. Many of the employees feel like family with at least two, Shirley and Pat, there for over thirty years.

Little has changed since Dante’s opened in 1973. Transactions are still cash and check only. The decor and layout are functional. Pick up customers can watch their pizza being assembled and cooked through the glass countertop. Dine in guests have about a dozen four top tables to choose from and it is not uncommon for all or most of them to get pushed together to serve a soccer team or large family. The pizza dough is made fresh daily. The pizza and spaghetti sauces are made in house as well as the signature Italian dressing and many other items. The sausage is made locally using a recipe Joe has used for decades and it remains a favorite topping for long time customers. After two heart attacks and an open heart surgery Joe is still coming in early to prep the business for the day, start sauces, knead dough and deal with deliveries but now he is typically gone before the first customers come through the door.

As is the case for most “old school” pizza shop owners Joe was a regular at The American Italian Golf Club at the (closed) Riviera Country Club and often played with the Gatto’s who own a nearby pizzeria. Joe has enjoyed seeing several generations of Clintonville families returning year after year and watching their kids become adult customers who bring their own children in. Joe foresees no changes at Dante’s. It will remain a cash business. Additional traffic from delivery services is too complicated to consider for this small pizzeria tucked in a corner spot within a busy shopping plaza. Dante’s will remain a time capsule of the 1970’s and that is the way everyone likes it.

Most important for my slice of history, Dante’s was the source for the very first slice (square that is) of pizza I consumed as a young four year old in Clintonville. I vividly recall eating this very tentatively sitting on the landing that divided the staircase from the first floor to the second floor. I do not know why I choose this for my dining spot. I do recall being unsure, almost wary of pizza…..that did not last long. As I grew up, Dante’s pizza was a frequent feature on Friday nights in our household and in fourth grade, at the newly created Clintonville Academy (the original location which is Wildflower Cafe today, we would have Dante’s Pizza for lunch in a shared art space, multi-purpose room, play area either once per week or once per month (my memory is hazy with the years). It was here I first learned the utility of sharing square slices and the importance of trying to avoid the smaller corner pieces for my pizza allotment among the group. It is interesting how one food can imprint in a person’s mind in such a strong manner but such is the case with pizza.

Dante’s Pizza
3586 Indianola Ave.
Clintonville
614-268-5090
(Bring cash!)

Posted in Columbus style pizza, culinary knowledge, pizza, restaurants | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Another Elite Eating Hack: Rockmill Tavern Beet Bahn Mi

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 25, 2019

I did not expect another elite eating hack in 2019. Nor did I expect said hack to present itself at Rockmill Tavern but when serendipity strikes, it should not be dismissed. I would like to say I could take credit for this culinary advancement but, like the other elite hack, this higher plane of consumption was created by another. I can say, I was present for the inspiration and I had the second ever sandwich created with this configuration.

Rockmill Tavern does a fine job with meaty dishes and they have always offered vegetables that your momma would not need to bribe you to eat but over the last year, the kitchen has been very focused on creating destination level dishes which showcase vegetables. Hence, the a new lunch menu addition, the Beet Bahn Mi.

You may be familiar with the famous Vietnamese Bahn Mi Sandwich – the best version I have encountered in Central Ohio is at Mi Li Cafe. Rockmill Tavern took that inspiration and put their own spin on it for their weekday lunch menu. They ditched the meat and replaced it with braised golden beets then add Vietnamese pickles and garlic miso aioli layered between two halves of a wonderful Maitja Breads Ciabatta Hoagie Roll. No one needs to beat me to get me to eat this Beet Mi, it is an excellent sandwich as presented. However, it just so happens that Rockmill Tavern makes an exceptional pork belly and if the place is not too crowded and you ask nicely they will add pork belly to this sandwich. The end result is AMAZING. Now you have another Elite Eating Hack for Rockmill Tavern. Thank you Chris for this gift to humanity. Thank you to Rockmill Tavern for allowing us to eat this.

My other inside tip – always order the pasta special, you will never be disappointed but do make sure you order bread to go with it.

Where to go:
Rockmill Tavern
503 South Front Street
Brewery District, Lunch Time

Posted in culinary knowledge, sandwiches | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Product Review: Folios Cheese Wraps

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 20, 2019

As a food writer, blogger, mystery shopper, social media person and more, I get a multitude of press releases to try new food items. Sometimes these pitches offer free samples. Often the sample is barely enough to get a true sense of the product or the offer itself is unappealing. While I will write for food, I would prefer more than one bite per byte. In the case of Folios Cheese Wraps such was not the case – their pitch was strong and the product seemed appealing.

In my hierarchy of pitch responses, the word FREE might get my attention, but the word CHEESE will demand my attention.

New Jersey based Lotito Foods is a specialty foods manufacturer and importer of Italian foods. They were kind enough to send one each of their three varieties of Folios. At first I was a bit skeptical. The products have the magic marketing words of Gluten Free and Lactose Free but typically for me, free in this context does not demand my attention. Lactose Free cheese (?), I pondered (very quickly) how that was possible. Before I became emotionally invested in the outcome I decided to see how I liked the cheese by tasting it as is immediately out of the package. It tasted pretty good, not how I would expect lactose free to be. (In case you are thinking…duh, why would you wonder, I have a BA not a BS). So here is what the Folios website has to say about how this is possible.

“Folios are naturally lactose free. The wraps are made with aged cheese; during the cheese making process, enzymes naturally convert the lactose to lactic acid over time. Typically, people with lactose sensitivity can still eat aged cheese, like Parmesan, Swiss, and aged Cheddar.”

Continuing my detective work, I wondered what made these folios functional as a replacement for gluten filled wraps – how could they be more rigid than a slice of cheese yet sturdy enough to hold fillings. My hunch was that there was something unnatural involved, so I checked the website again. Here is what I found for ingredients for each.

Cheddar: Pasteurized milk, salt, enzymes and annatto coloring.

Jarlsberg: Pasteurized part-skim milk, cultures, salt, rennet

Parmesan: Parmesan Cheese made from non GMO pasteurized cow milk, enzymes, and salt.

Ok, nothing unnatural here. The only thing I did not recognize was Annatto, which some Googling indicates: “is the ingredient used to dye cheese bright yellow, orange or bright red. Annatto is a natural ingredient, created from the pulp of the Achiote tree seed and is used as a natural food additive for cheese, as well as other foods”.

So far so good. The directions suggest letting the folio rest for 5 minutes before using (instructions for my use are similar). My testing suggests that letting the cheese acclimate to room temperature does allow one to enjoy more flavor but it is not critical to the cheese experience.

Each folio slice is placed on a piece of parchment which for at least short bursts of time in a microwave and conventional oven held up well and did crisp the cheese if needed. Each of the three types has recipe suggestions on the package for the specific variety of cheese folio in the package. I tried some of these out and I created some of my own. The Jarlsberg made for a good wrap with tuna salad. The Parmesan did well as an extra layer of cheese on a frozen pizza and it performed well as an Italian style wrap. The Cheddar was a good all purpose wrap for lunch meats and vegetables. I tested a sample of each with my resident expert on the eating habits of a four year old, CMH Griffin, and he approved. He liked the Jarlsberg the best of the three.

Each package has four servings each. The size, shape and consistency are comparable to a typical wrap (see the image at the end that compares a paper towel, flour wrap and folio for size). The cheese flavor is good. The only challenge I had was trying to figure out how the PEEL & RESEAL feature on the front side worked but by the third package I had it mastered.

Currently, Folios are a bit hard to find in the marketplace. They are available locally at the three Central Ohio Fresh Thyme locations. They can also be purchased online: Supermarketitaly.com

Folios serve as a good substitute for someone looking for a wrap without gluten or for a person that appreciates a more portable cheese source.

Gourmand tested, (CMH) Griffin approved

Posted in cheese, In the Grocery Store | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

R.I.P. and Reflections on The Grumpy Gourmet, Doral Chenoweth

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 17, 2019

The King (of local food writers) is dead. The Grump is gone.

Doral Chenoweth, best known locally as the Grumpy Gourmet, missed his first deadline, when his passed away on Sunday (September 15th). I had not heard from him for a while so I checked in with him via Facebook earlier last week. I hope that if he did see my message, he knew he was in my thoughts.

The “Grump” was the “food critic” (a term we both detested) for the Columbus Dispatch from 1982 to 2000 as both the Grumpy Gourmet and Doral Chenoweth. His writing was engaging, authentic, personal and reflected his wry and sometimes subversive sense of humor. I miss him, he was a true free spirit, revolutionary, big thinker and old school journalist that shared countless stories of misadventures and mishaps he survived throughout his life. Before the Dispatch he wrote for the Columbus Citizen and the Columbus Star.

I first met him in the early 1990’s when he would invite readers to share a meal with him and assist in writing a review. We dined at Chef’s Place in Hilliard. At that time, I was fumbling for way to become a writer of some sort and because I enjoyed his style of writing so much, I jumped at the opportunity to eat with him. I was not disappointed. He was the curmudgeon I expected but also a caring person who offered me a lot of wisdom and some tip sheets on food writing. Later in life, I dined with him socially, instead of professionally, at Bono Pizza which was operated by his good friends Bill and Peggy Yerkes. I then visited the Grump at his home many times where I had the opportunity to sit in his office filled with countless stacks, piles and shelves of books, articles and archives galore. Peggy Yerkes was still in his life, this time, as a caregiver for his wife and later the Grump himself. He loved ham salad from the Hills Market so I would take a quart with me whenever I saw him as my tribute.

The mold, if Doral could ever be temporarily confined, was broken when the Grump was born, we don’t have writers or personalities like the Grump anymore. He did shape my style of writing in many ways. He did not compromise on using his own “voice” in his writing which mirrored how his spoke. His approach, at least later in his Grumpy Gourmet days was to visit a place several times before he wrote an actual review and where possible, if he could offer constructive feedback, he did so, with the goal of making the place better. We both were of the opinion, that a bad restaurant did not need a poor review as extra help in closing but only rated such a negative review if the owner(s) needed to be knocked down a notch or two or if they were resting on assumed laurels.

I have been reading a lot of old Grumpy Gourmet columns over the summer (you can too by reading through the Columbus Dispatch Archives via the Columbus Metropolitan Library) which has brought back memories of my own misspent youth when I always looked forward to what he had to share each week. Later in my writing life there were more than a few times I would receive a call from the Grump beginning… “Ellison, I have an idea……” He was never 100% sure about this blogging thing but I took some satisfaction in his statement that I “was one of the good ones, and did it for the right reasons.”

The Grumpy Gourmet is unlikely to Rest In Peace, my guess is that he is already Ranting, Inciting and Pranking wherever his soul may be.

Goodbye Grump, it was a good ride.

(If anyone has any memories of the Grumpy Gourmet, please post and share with the rest of us).

Posted in culinary misadventure | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

The Best Basement Brewing Museum I have ever seen…..

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 8, 2019

Due to a curious chain of events (certainly not the first time for me), I found myself in a brewing museum in a basement. Well, maybe not a true museum but an incredible curated collection of artifacts accumulated by Ed Heller in forty odd years of brewing in Columbus and Central Ohio, mainly at August Wagner Breweries. How does one find himself in such a place? In my case by being a “connectrovert” – finding ways to connect people and opportunities as well as asking the right question at the right time in the right way. The story starts with me in my role as Vice President (and non-resident historian) of the Brewery District Merchants Association. A member had a question about a giant Brewers Alley sign that was in his building. An individual was interested in making a good home for this sign and after asking a few questions to “vet” that it would be a good forever home for a historic sign, agreements were made to transfer custody. In the process of this back and forth, I found out that the mother of the person asking for this sign was the daughter of Ed Heller who was a local brewmaster and she had “a few things” in her basement including a Brewers Year Book from 1950. Without trying to hide my excitement I asked if I could invite myself to see this treasure trove of Breweriana and the deal was done. Well, maybe I put a lot of icing on the non cake that is me, by asking if I could also invite my friend and colleague Curt Schieber the author of “Columbus Beer: Recent Brewing & Deep Roots“.

Flash forward to this morning when Curt and I, two perfect strangers to these very kind people, found ourselves in a nicely finished north side basement looking at relics of the August Wagner Breweries (and other places) and hearing about the long career of Ed Heller. He lived an incredible life. As the oldest of nine children, Ed had to leave school in the 8th grade to find work. Eventually, through a lot of hard work, perseverance and saving a lot of money for the time, he found his way to New York city to earn a prestigious Brewmasters certificate. Being a brewer on the South Side of Columbus would have made him one of the most respected citizens of his era. He lived into his 90’s surviving throat cancer in his late 40’s and being unable to speak and then another cancer, heart attack and more later in life. For many years his family lived in one of the brewers houses on Front Street which in itself created so many memories including going to the brewery on Saturdays so that the brewers could make snowballs out of the melting ice in the brewery for children to play with.

The assortment of photos, signs, glasses, bottles and more in this basement space told more than just the story of a brewer, it tells the story of a important part of life in Columbus during his career. Our hosts Angie and Greg shared so many stories with Curt and I that I lost count. More importantly the four of us connected due to a passion for celebrating and preserving history. Much of what we saw were items that easily could have been discarded or separated over the years but keeping all of this together created a wonderful longitudinal story.

This was truly a treasure trove. Curt, spent three years working on his book but had never seen the majority of what we were looking at and hearing about today so he was thrilled with having access to this hidden history. One thing we collectively lamented on is that most families loose so much of their history and connection to the past by not having someone with an interest to pass it on to the next generation. Increasingly there is no one in the present that wants take on the role of family historian and archivist. Today Curt and I got lucky. I am sharing a few of the many photos I took below.

Posted in beer, culinary knowledge, culinary misadventure | 2 Comments »