CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Gattos: Columbus Pizza, Clintonville Icon

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 13, 2019

Gattos Pizza was founded in 1952 by brothers Jimmy and Joe Gatto. It is the oldest continuously operated pizzeria in Columbus by that, meaning the same family at the exact same location for almost seventy years. Without an ounce of exaggeration, you can not create a place like this anymore. There are a few pizza shops that have a lightly longer history but Gattos are among our founding families of pizza.

Mounted on the wall, is a large black and white photo showing the view out Gatto’s front window taken shortly after the business opened. Today, looking hard at the photo one will see little has changed from that photo. The original vulcan gas oven was replaced by two newer models to increase production and the business started taking credit cards in June of 2019 otherwise you could be in the 1950s. The majority of the employees over the years have been Gatto children, cousins and close friends which has continued a persistent family atmosphere to the pizzeria.

The founding Gattos grew up in Flytown, the Italian part of Columbus that is largely the Short North today. Joe’s family was living on the south side (near the original Donatos would begin in the 1960’s) when the pizza shop opened. “It was Uncle Jimmy’s idea and they chose Clintonville because the north side was growing” per Vince Gatto, a second generation Gatto who runs the shop today. Jimmy had experience working in bars and the family as a whole had a lot of restaurant experience.

Vince started working at Gattos when he was 10, wiping pans and rolling dough. He took the bus from the south side to Clintonville every Friday and Saturday to work until he was old enough to drive. Vince, his brother Joe (Joe Gatto II) and a cousin, Bill Fulcher (whose mother was a Gatto) bought the business from Joe and Jimmy in 1983 after years of working in the shop. At the time all three had full time jobs so they divided up days and responsibilities to keep the Gattos going. Vince took over many of the operational duties of Gattos in 1993 when he was one of 50,000 employees laid off from Sears on the same day. Today (2019) Joe II is no longer at Gattos and Don comes in once per week.

Vince says there are too many stories to tell from being a family run business in the same neighborhood for almost seventy years however a one day does stand out. In the early 2000’s a hurricane force storm stuck Columbus and especially Clintonville very hard causing the area to lose power for an extended period of time. Vince had the day off which he had started with a memorable day of golf with friends. He decided to check on Gattos because of the storm. He he called in he was told that they were getting ready to close the store because the power was out. Vince told the employee on the other end of the phone to “stay open and keep answering the phone” and he would be right there. He spent the rest of the day rolling dough by hand (like the old days) and prepping pizza which they could still cook out of their gas ovens. It ended up being one of their busiest days ever since no one else was open. By the end of the day, they had little product left which was great since they had no working refrigeration.

A great Gatto’s tradition is the annual “Sausage Party” which started in the late 1990’s. Every year, during the third week of December a collection of friends, family and long time customers gather to spend a day making Gatto’s sausage, often up to three hundred to four hundred pounds. Everyone takes some home to serve for the holidays.

The sausage recipe hails from Sicily and was handed down to the pizza shop by Vince’s grandfather. As is often the case of Italian and Sicilian sausage recipes, the mix has a hearty dose of fennel which is the common denominator for the handful of long time Columbus pizza purveyors who still make their own sausage. When asked why he continues this labor intensive endeavor, Vince responded he has tasted other commercial sausage over the years but never found anything he thought tastes better. Another unique property of the sausage used on their pizza is cutting it into rectangular slices instead placing on the cheese as crumbles.

Gatto’s also makes its own dough from scratch as well as meatballs, sauce and the only salad dressing they offer, Italian. It is a hands on, labor intensive business following a model no new pizzeria would follow. Today the challenges of continuing the legacy are changing eating preferences, more competition, less available parking and nearby demographic of grad students and new residents who do not have the same tradition of going to Gatto’s by default. Those that have not discovered Gattos’s are missing out on good food and time capsule experience. Those that grew up with Gattos would benefit with a pizza to rediscover the shop and to confirm that nothing has changed over the decades.


And a here is a bit to connect the dots.

Pizza Community

Joe Gatto (founder of Gattos) and Romeo Siri (who started the first pizzeria in Columbus) were best friends since their Flytown days and continued to frequent be visitors to each other’s businesses and homes throughout their lives. Tommy Iacono (Tommy’s Pizza) and Joe Gatto (Senior) were also great friends who saw each other almost daily when they retired and frequently played golf together for decades. A binding part of the original Columbus pizza community was that most of the shop owners from the 1950’s and 1960’s as well as their suppliers grew up together in the same tight knit neighborhood, attended the same churches and frequented the Italian American Golf Club (based at the Riveria Country Club for decades) when they could find a day off.

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Posted in Best Pizza in Columbus, Clintonville, culinary knowledge, pizza | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Adriaticos OSU Campus (2.0) Carries on the Legacy of Great Pizza

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 7, 2019

I have some history with Adriaticos, almost anyone that attended The Ohio State University or worked at the OSU Medical Center does as well. When rumors started to circulate that the original building of Adriaticos was going to be demolished and the future of Adriaticos, at least on campus was uncertain there was some community despair. As one of my favorite pizzas I experienced some trepidation. A scenario involving an off campus location offered some positives such as less traffic and parking challenges but morally, I had some struggles knowing a relocation of that nature would steal an important source of sustenance from OSU students and decrease the productivity and morale of medical center staff by a minimum of 11%. An off campus location would compromise the character of the place. I’m not sure what magic staffing formula owner Greg Fortney uses to recruit and retain staff but the attitude and service provided by the largely college aged staff has always been top notch. Moving off campus would have compromised that equation. When it was later announced that a location had been secured just around the corner, there was much rejoicing.

However, I still had worries. Many restaurants lose a element of je ne sais quoi when moving to a new location. Such is not the case here. The original Adriaticos could never be recreated but the new location preserved as much as it could. First, the new Adriaticos is just a few hundred feet from the original spot. Salvaged from internment in a landfill, the original front door is mounted in a place of honor situated between the bathrooms in the new location.

The original location offered cramped, bare bones seating often surrounded by stacked boxes of supplies and ingredients, the new location offers plenty of seating. A larger kitchen allows for an expanded menu but no change in the flavor or quality of the pizza. There is an expanded beverage selection, especially on the craft beer side of the menu, which means no settling for a bottle of Bud Light. There is a bar with plenty of TV screens (a bane for me but I’d like the place to stay profitable). On a final note, and what I am most excited about, is a full case of well crafted gelatos, filling a former desert like dearth of dessert options.

Parking nearby for picking up a pizza was never easy in the past but the worst case scenario was having to pay a quarter at a meter nearby if you could not get one of a handful of designated spaces. Today the new location offers a handful of additional parking spots but most conveniently, guests with pick up orders can park in the loading zone directly in front of the entrance which makes access to Adriaticos that much easier. Adriaticos has more than survived the transition to the new location, it is thriving more than ever without losing any of the qualities that made it a great pizza parlor.

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

In Memoriam: CMH Tobias One Year After (The Story of our Greatest Adventure)

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 25, 2019

(This is food related, Toby and I had many food based adventures together and he is the only life form on the planet that could steal an Oh! Betty’s Hot dog or Donald’s Donut from me and not face my avenging wrath).

A year ago today at 1:44 PM my most loyal and best friend passed on. I posted about it that day. I miss Toby, very, very much. I still have many memories of our times together. Our very best adventure was an epic road trip around the country in 2010. I never got around to writing about the trip in detail. The day after his passing, I copied and collated all of the tweets from our adventure. It was a good way to reflect on one of our best times while adjusting to his absence from my life. It also gave me some focus as I tried to deal with my grief. To balance out the hurt of our toughest time together, I share a story of our best!

The first day after he was gone was the hardest. After 14 plus years together – all of the background routines of our life together were gone: waking up, feeding Toby breakfast, letting Toby outside, going for a walk… daily rituals that had been on autopilot forever. When I was home, he was my satellite usually within ten feet of me anywhere in the house. It was his job to finish any near empty yogurt cup I had. It was his job to clean plates and later the floor when CMH Griffin came into our lives. I could not leave the house without telling him (A) “be back in a little bit” or (B) “going to work” so he could determine if he was going to (A) nap or (B) sleep for eight to ten hours. I knew he would be at the door waiting for me every time I came home. After he was gone, the first time I came home and he was not there – was the most painful moment of his loss. Even when I was not doing something with him, he was always the background noise in my life. As someone who worked at home during Toby’s last 5 years I was now truly working alone everyday. We created a silent rhythm and low hum together and now there was only silence. Adjusting was hard, I did not have to save plastic bags for scooping poop, food scraps became scraps not mealtime supplements. His hair was still everywhere and several tenacious strains are still embedded in odd places today.


Prologue

In April 2010, at the very start of the darkest period of my life, I decided to take a Travels with Charley style trip across the county with my beloved porchhound Tobias J. Dog. While we had been on several in state adventures I was not sure how he would hold up to the rigors of a multiple week cross-country adventure. I did a lot of preparation for the both of us. I created a special area in the passenger area of my beloved 1998 Subaru Impreza Outback (I was also not sure how well it would hold up either) for Toby. This set up would allow Toby to sleep and have an area to sit instead of rolling around the car. This included a gigantic sleeping bag to fill in the leg spaces between the driver and front passenger seats and the back passenger seats. Also in this configuration were two bungee cords connecting the headrest bars of the two front seats to create a barrier between the driver’s area (mine) and the passenger compartment (Toby) area. This worked most of the time. Toby frequently had his head mounted on the center armrest so he could watch me and what was coming via the front window throughout much of the trip. The cargo area in the back was stocked with a tent, dog food, snacks, rawhides, water, etc., to sustain us for at least two weeks. I also had a national hotel guide for Motel 6 which allows dogs to stay for free. I had some goals: spend a lot of time with Toby (23/24 – 7), visit all the fly over states I had missed, visit four eateries that had been on my list at least a decade, explore any park or roadside oddity that struck our fancy and have fun. We did not have a set itinerary just a rough route and a determination to never double-back along the way. I had plenty of maps, an atlas and printed sheets of information on parks, restaurants, and etc., to guide us on our quest. It was one of the best experiences of my life and it is one of my greatest of Toby memories. My schedule rarely allowed me to spend the amount of time Toby deserved to have with me so this trip was part of an amends to him for the time I has missed with him during our relationship to that date.


The story of our greatest adventure was recorded via Tweet. I created a twitter account – @CMHTobias for Toby to serve as a a play by play account of our adventure.

Below are twitter notes of our trip with some of the the best of the photos interspersed.

This was the description on the CMHTobias account.

I am an Appalachian Porch Hound. I go on road trips with CMH Gourmand. He drives, I dictate the tweets and we both eat.

Tweets: 263 Following: 7 Followers: 81

Our adventures were announced April 25th 2010.


Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 25 Apr 2010
I have been told that I will be traveling around the USA for two plus weeks. Response: Pant, Pant Tail wag.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 14 May 2010

Does Toby want to go – yes – he jumped a 5 foot fence to get into the car while I was packing…

Ipods and magnets don’t mix. Glad I checked the ipod before I left – looks like we will be going to the Apple store in Memphis today… FRAK

Leaving right now – Adios Columbus….and ipod.

Hey we are back getting the charger for the laptop. Let’s try this again. Restarting the mileage counter.

If confused in text CG = @CMHGourmand and CT = CMH Tobias…CT barks “go already!!”

Sign on road says Hell is Real. So is the horrible gas I am having in the car this morning.

Two lessons so far: trackpants are not good for drying hands. KY is not OH.

Now taking requests after cabaret versions of I Can’t Drive 55, Take It Easy, WKRP in Cinn, and BJ and The Bear theme.

@racheltayse um clarification we alternate driving and tweeting Toby has amazing paws

There are Kangaroos in KY. I think they should stick with bourbon. Nashville in sight.

Road sign says Fireworks and Beer. I wonder how close the ER is?

(Travel Notes for May 14th). It was a horrible downpour from Cincinnati to Memphis. Traffic was so bad that I got off at a random stop for BBQ and for both of us to pee. In Memphis, my first stop was an Apple store to try to fix my I Pod but since the power was down, there was little they could do, so I bought a new one. It took me about 30 minutes driving in circles to get to our hotel. It was a long day. Toby was excited to stay at the hotel. I had to leave him there while I went on a food run.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 15 May 2010

CT milestone: marked territory in three states: OH, KY and TN.

Motel 6 in downtown Memphis – dogs stay free. Worst towels and pillows in the history of accommodation. Glad I packed my own

Short story: 30 GB iPod is dead Jim. New emergency nano loaded for the road. Less than ideal Apple Store service but apple ntwk is down

Long story if the network was up could have made an appt in Oklahoma city on Sun to get-if in stock-30 gb iPod for $137 or 10% off replacement

Last night rain and ride of the Valkeries style lighting but we stopped to enjoy BBQ at Charlie (RIP) Vergos Rendevous and Gus’s Fried Chicken

CT ate bacon in Graceland’s parking lot to honor Elvis. On to Little Rock.

Left Toltec Mounds State Park and now near the Little Rock Farmers Mkt waiting for the Flying Fish to open for Po’ Boy per Chef Garms rec.

(Note: Chef Drew Garms did great work at Details in the Short North in 2009 and he gave me some good road food suggestions)

BBQ Shrimp Po Boy at Flying Fish was awesome capped with a Boulevard Bread Co chocolate chip cookie

Riverwalk area in Little Rock is incredible. CG likes the mixed use smart design, CT likes the dog water fountains.

RT @cmhgourmand Alma, AR – Spinach Capital of the World. And big Popeye billboard. Oops identity crisis

Billboard says “Roland is thinking about Arby’s. Roland, Oklahoma not our @Roland3k

Lil snack at Robertson’s Hams #4, 50 miles east of OKC-dress your own ham sandwich with homemade sauces, jerky, jalepeno sausage frakin good

At Sid’s Diner for an onion burger; suggested by George@Motzburger Motz, Chef Drew Garms and the two El Reno Police cars out front.

The Sids burger topped with homemade slaw was one of the greatest burgers of my life, owners and staff were the best!

Intersection of Garth Brooks Ave and Route 66 – can’t be more heartland America than that.

I think that owning and driving a Subaru might be illegal in these parts….it was made in Indiana OK nice Oklahoma pick-up drivers.

CG: Traveling with a Tobias is 1000x easier than traveling with a child or most people.

New addition to the team a plastic pink hippo found on the road in Arkansas (Note: I gave this to a co-worker when I got back)

@cmhgourmand & @cmhtobias = roadweary roadwarriors, 1239 miles in 36 hours.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 16 May 2010
CT: New Benchmark – Marked Territory in 4 states: TN, MS, AR and OK. Dog tired now.

Replying to @elrenoburgerday
@elrenoburgerday beyond awesome!

A dog is a mans best friend, a boy and his dog, get your paws off that = inspired by 1000’s of yrs of human canine relations & road trips

The mementos on the fence at the Oklahoma City National Memorial are the most moving part of the site. 😦

OKC is way underrated, we like: medians with trees, river trail with dog friendly walks, the historic heritage area-great houses and FOOD!

(Note): I did eat at Chef Drew’s Restaurant in OKC but did not connect with him there other than by text.

Drinking a beer at Bricktown Brewery in OKC, phone tag with Chef Drew Garms, he sends his regards to Columbus.

The Vietnamese hostess at Sand Hill Winery has marketing persistence that would put anyone to shame-sold me a bottle of wine in 2 min

@Hungry_Woolf I am ashamed to go into detail but it was best to give up early or she would have sold me two cases

Motel 6 in OKC on 44th was a great value, the slightly chewed rawhide CT forgot was not a good tip.

Saw on the road many, many OK wildflowers, the worlds largest cross, near Groom, TX, and the Jesus is Savior Travel Center and gas station.

Passed by a large wind farm in OK, looks as good or better than other towers. If an oil state can do wind then why not Ohio.

After 200 miles of signs that said “free 72 ounce steak” at the Big Texan we are eating at Deyers BBQ in Amarillo instead. Think CT wanted steak.

CT on dog food hunger strike so late night taco truck run for mulitas with cabeza (head) and masisas (cheek) due to @cmhgourmand influence

@SlowFoodCMH but @cmhgourmand is trying to make me eat dogfood. 😦

The shower unit at the Amarillo Motel 6 is so compact, efficient and sleek it must have been designed by NASA or the midget div. of IKEA.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 17 May 2010

We are now in mountain time. Hola New Mexico.

Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa, NM is cool even for a non car nerd. Bozo’s Garage is famous for restorations inc. lime green 74 Gremlin

Here I am: http://maps.google.com/?q=35.080420,-106.609025
Catching up on tweets at Two Fools Tavern in Albuquerque, NM drinking a Monks (From Abbey Brewing Co.
(Note: coordinates which appears above are for the restaurant which is now closed)

Backtrack: in OK randomly drove down Ellison Ave/St in EL Reno and OKC…I reckon some of us kept moving when the ox cart broke.

WOW moment of the day the vista looking towards Santa Fe on 285 and I had the road to myself.

Santa Fe will be base of operations for a while. Going to Farmers Mkt and Taos via some wineries tomorrow.

(Note: because we both needed a break, we spent two days in Santa Fe)

In honor of nerd night I listened to Eugene Sledge on The Costs of War courtesy of iTunes U.

(Note: Nerd Night is a group of people who get together to watch a show on Monday nights. At the time we were watching The Pacific about Marines in WW2)

The iPod Nano is a bit unwieldy on my old Belkin car adaptor but it works. It would have been a long ass trip with out my music & podcasts

radio stations out here scare me, maybe I don’t pay attention at home – Is over 1/2 the USA crazy, angry & afraid of not having the right god?

@Belkin and how! If you can use you vast resources to legislate a national frequency just for my iPod I would be obliged.

There was an Ellison Ave in Albuquerque too, is there a family secret I was not told.

We went to Petroglyph National Monument this afternoon. The Ranger gave CT 4 dog biscuits. Then we went to the dog park down the street.

Wish we could stay in Santa Fe until May 22 for the three-minute film festival.

@SlowFoodCMH negative the Heavener runestone a few states back…well that is another story

@SlowFoodCMH um you want me to record myself getting shamefully bloated and drunk, see the earlier responses

Reading a good story by @eating_wrong about the New Mexico Beef Council’s gate to plate tour. Seeing the meat cycle can change things.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 18 May 2010

Stopped at Clines Corners travel center yesterday, home of the “worlds best fudge”, CT loved the peanut butter fudge.

The staff at Clines Corners are incredibly diverse, from all over the world, I enjoyed speaking with my server from South Africa.

So many people are interested in getting a Tobias we have formed the Appalachian Porch Hound Preservation League, @cmhtobias president

(Note: Everywhere we would go, people would ask about what type of dog Toby was and where they could get one – as some of you know, he was truly one of a kind).

Motel 6 is the hotel of the proletariat, these are the “American People” pundits keep speaking of, diff. is I really meet & speak with em.

Trying Yak chili, goat milk squeaky curds, marinated goat milk Feta, and a got a tamale for CT at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

Sign says “candy, ice cream, beef jerky”, CT says stop.

@trx0x yak meat rocks! Better than Bison and rivals goat.

CG second Wow, vista in RT 68 from Dixon into Taos, NM, CT first bow-wow swimming in the Rio Grande River Gorge on the way back!

Dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery in Santa Fe sampling: 7 of their micro brews, Diablo Margarita, chips with fiery salsa, & platter

Tequila Diablo Margarita: four white liquors, gold tequila, lime juice and cranberry juice-16 oz Long Island Margarita

En route to Taos: Chiripada Winery the first in NM, good wines spoke with the owner as he was rebricking the floor.

At @Vivacwinery in the am, they have good wines-86 and 88 in wine Enthusiast, a few awards and some incredible homemade chocolates

Lunch: Michaels Kitchen & Bakery, a Taos institution since 1974, wish I had gotten the atole pancakes with blue corn flour saw that too late

CT had the kiddie burger at Blakes Lotaburger, 75 locations in NM, there are independent burger joints everywhere.

Blue Corn Beer Flight: honey wheat, blonde, Atalaya Amber, RdRunner IPA, End of Trl Brown Ale, Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Cask Ale, Sp Bitter

CT wow dos: Pablos chipotle and green chile beef jerky-like canine crack. At SR 503 and 68 between Taos and Santa Fe. Eat local, eat often.

Tomorrow Greenchile Cheeseburger at Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe then off to Utah.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 19 May 2010

At Real Food Nation just outside Santa Fe, this is a Slow Fooders dream restaurant http://www.realfoodnation.biz, great staff.

Taos was a hardcore, hippy hitchhiker Mecca, they were everywhere, we have not picked one up yet we are always going in the wrong direction.

As the Real Food Nation folks say: vote with your fork! CT liked the tofu and free range eggs.

As it turns out Chef Kim Muller at Real Food Nation is also the Slow Food Santa Fe president so I saw the kitchen, farm, and garden.

Now at Bobcat Bite for their world-famous green cheese burger, it is 1 mile from Real Food Nation.

The view from the counter at Bobcat is great! I can see trees, mountains and the almost done bird bath. Regular customers are real nice.

The parking lot of Bobcat Bite has lizards, CT almost caught two.

So long Route 66, we are glad so many people are preserving the heritage of this highway. If anyone sees the hubcap we lost it is a donation

Took 550 to Aztec ruins in Aztec, NM, now off to Utah.

View on 491 in NM and CO was incredible, I could see for what seemed like 100’s of miles. We are staying in Monticello UT, ran short of Moab.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 20 May 2010

We had a late dinner at Tacotime a small chain where each location makes their own tortillas, etc. Supplemented with @Realfoodnation leftovers

NM was the first place that felt really different: landscape, attitude, pace. Like terrior influences wine, land shapes people.

Things I do on the road that I don’t do at home: sport a ball cap, wear trackpants (I make fun of those people), sing, enjoy driving

Aligned ourselves with a pair of French Bon Femme Cougars in Moab, they were smitten with CT but CG said @cmhtobias is priceless-can’t have.

Moab is booked, no room at the inn or camp for CT. Sign at the Moab Visitor Ctr lists places to shower. People are camping in their cars

My Dirty Franks shirt is a great conversation starter, I have talked at least one person into visiting.

I was mistaken a for Alton Brown twice today. If Food Network wants me, my show is: Around the World in Eighty Meals.

Sign on the road: Old Menu, New Waitresses

iPoding Mountain Stage podcasts for 1st time. The Hooters did a great cover of Boys of Summer. Now more convinced Neko Case & I are fated

Arches National Park was great, we beat the rush and CG got two 5 minute hikes in while CT was being spoiled and lizard hunting.

Happiness: When you have about 30 miles of gas left and the next town is 25 miles away.

I keep seeing this name all over the NM and UT: Kokopelli. Who are these prolific people.

Steinbeck called his mode of transport Rocinante. We have dubbed our 98 Subaru Impreza Outback – Roo, (The Insect Slayer).

Lost another hubcap. Took the last two off, now instead of looking like an east coast greenhorn, the car and I look like rugged drifters.

Late dinner at SLC icon, Moochies Meatballs and More Had Atomic Meatball sandwich with handmade Feta and a Philly cheesesteak-awesome

Took CT on a walk at Liberty Park. CT Law of Attraction: any body of water: mud puddle, fountain, pond, etc. will attract a Tobias.

LOVE SLC: hippy chicks galore, light rail, tree lined streets, great food scene, 2 well written indie weeklies, mtns. SLC had me at hippie.

@itinerantfoodie there are abandoned couches lining the streets of SLC….these folks are all right.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 21 May 2010

Open all of 10 days, I found myself at Epic Brewing to try their Brainless Belgian Golden Ale. Good stuff.

The organizational zealot in me loves the grid street system of SLC. Tomorrow 300 East, 300 South for baked goods.

Multiple attempts by CT to enter the cockpit area from the crewcabin today. CG is consulting with Homeland Security for tomorrows drive.

After a walk in Pioneer Park, doing bakery research: Gourmandise and Carlucci’s.

@AmandyAnderson CT liked Carlucci’s cookies the best. Both bakeries were exceptional.

Visited the aviation museum at Hall Air Force Base outside SLC.

Lunching at Johnny B. Goode’s in Pocatello, ID. Steak Fingers with tater tots and peanut butter milkshake to share with CT.

Best peanut butter shake ever.

Refused an offer to buy my @surlygirlsaloon “Bacon is the new black t-shirt. I need all the clean clothes I have at this point.

Also at Johnny B. Goode’s: Iron Port a pre carbonation soda mixed by hand. Fry sauce a mix of ketchup and mayo, an ID icon.

@tgoodnight wish we had time to go NW, we are aiming for Jackson tonight and Grand Teton tomorrow.

Here I am: http://maps.google.com/?q=43.495486,-112.045918
Note: 500 Lindsay Blvd, Idaho Falls

CT almost caught a snake snack on the Snake River.

Cool name: Psychedelicatessen.

Uh oh, in Jackson Hole. CG has fallen in with a pack of Australians at the wine bar.

Another restaurant name: Ante pas Thai. I don’t make em up.

@SlowFoodCMH they worry about stealing their beers, though once again the international sensation of CT is amazing. He goes to Oz if I go.

Now dining at Mountain High Pie – Thai pie: seasame sauce, mozzarella, chicken, green onions, cabbage, cilantro, carrots and peanuts. (pizza)

Washing down with a Grand Teton Brewing Co Workhorse wheat ale.

Snow in Jackson Hole – no camping tonight. Another night in our euro/Ikea styled Motel 6 with NASA designed shower, this rocks for $50.

CT would like the thank Motel 6 in SLC for the welcome pack-biscuits and a rawhide as well as the rangers at Arches for the treats.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 22 May 2010

CT sleeping in the car. CG braving a dangerous whiteout at Jenny Lake in the Tetons, heading back to the boat dock like a wimp.

CT not sure if an Elk is a wild beast or a very large Tobias. Not sticking around to find out.

@JennyBrodie Snow and a brief window of microhail. The boat ride back was “refreshing!”

CT is a huge fan of Elk Jerky. The clerk at the Buffalo Meat Co is from Maldavia as is desk clerk at my motel. Turns out they are roomies.

Tonight one of us dines at Sweetwater Restaurant in Jackson Hole & then searches for local microbrews while the other searches for varmints.

Beat the crowd to Sweetwater: starting with homemade bread, beef barley soup.

Sweetwater cocktail: sweettea infused vodka, homemade lemonade,
a splash of Sprite, and a homemade candy cane to stir: make that a double

Sweetwater: next course, Buffalo slider with sage au jus.

Now eating Elk Ossobucco perfectly paired with garlic mashed potatoes and green chile mac and cheese. Survey says: all awesome.

Carry out desserts from Sweetwater, for CT-Elk bone, for CG bread pudding. Food coma has begun.

The sun finally came out so we are at Phil Baux Park playing with some Wyoming Porch Hounds.

Weather looks better today, off to Yellowstone.

Yesterday we stocked up on baked goods at The Bunnery. http://www.bunnery.com

Some roads closed at Yellowstone but the snow makes for a nice glaze on every thing. CT is obsessed with Elk.

Here I am: http://maps.google.com/?q=43.468462,-110.791435 Old Faithful.

Famous duos in the parks: Yogi and Booboo, Shaggy and Scooby, & @cmhgourmand and @cmhtobias

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 23 May 2010

CG Native American name: Dances with Dogs.

@Morningglorycof CG Native American name: Dances with Dogs. Alas missed you.

Yes Charley (Travels with Charlie) was obsessed with Moose. It seems that CT is also enamoured with horses, he wants to eat Elk and woo horses

Take a wrong turn in Wyoming and it will take about 30 minutes to diagnose and 30+ minutes to fix.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 24 May 2010

Late dining at Montana Brewing Company in Billings, Montana. Like that they have old school board games in the bar.

CT is worn out. His m.o. At home is sleeping 16 hours+ per day not being awake the whole time on this whole trip.

Wretched weather: hrs of heavy rain (6 in), fog, winds up to 45 mi per hr, tornado watches, Flood warnings. Things that make me say frak.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 25 May 2010
Breakfast: Fry bread Indian Taco. Fry bread is like an elephant ear but not sweet.

Rain also let up in Broadus Montana long enough for CT to take a big run in the town park. Sheriff clocked him at 25 mph.

Drive to the Black Hills wiped out CG. Stopped at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City for a refresher and snack.

When the sun came out, the wind picked up to 45 MPH.

Saw the Crazy Horse Memorial. CG has wanted to see it since it was on Real People. Who remembers that show.

The Black Hills are a playground – nature, good diners, wineries, good hikes, and more.

There were only 50 people at Mount Rushmore – I guess everyone else heard about the flood warning….opps.

Took a stroll with CT in downtown Rapid City, SD. Pretty cool downtown with statues of the presidents on each corner.

Had a snack at the Firehouse Brewery in downtown Rapid City. Good beer, average food. Great Atmosphere.

Sorry to be a twitter sh*tter, no internet access today. Expect the same tomorrow. Our mission, find a Runza.

Yesterdays lost tweet. Big Rain in Big Sky Country. At least Roo is not encased in mud any more.

@madisonjps Thanks. Would have enjoyed speaking with you some more but I had to pee really bad after the boat ride : ). (Note: people I met at The Park on the freezing boat ride)

Badlands was serene today and SUNNY! CT almost snatched a Prairie Dog gal pal.

Now in Valentine, Nebraska.

CT with combo car cabin fever and car sickness-multiple Kamakazie attacks from crew cabin to cockpit today. Car went into neutral twice.

CT won the car wars and rode shotgun for the rest of the morning.

You can have NPR or iPhone coverage not both. Radio off, Cowboy Junkies on.

Runza: kind of like a White Castle Hot Pocket.

Car exterior: 35% mud, 41% bug parts, 14% road grit, 10% parts of car I have lost.

I thought I hit a bird 5 or 6 states ago…. Looks like that was the case, nasty. : (
(Note: found it embedded in the grill of the car)

Interior of car: aroma is what I call essence of APH, with faint scents of rawhide and mud.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 26 May 2010

I was told that Yia Yia’s Pizza on “O” Street in Lincoln, Nebraska was great gourmet pie, I was told right. Hipster heaven hangout.

One of CG’s favorite books is My Antonia by Willa Cather. Driving through Nebraska today hitting some of those spots.

If the role of Ohio was being cast for a movie, Nebraska could get the part.

Battle of Wills: while driving today CT made a second foray into the cockpit – while going 75 on 218, CG had CT in a headlock for 30 minutes.

New anti Tobias/Terrorist cockpit defense system being tested out in Roo today. Maybe an extra bungee cord will do it.

Comment to hotel guest terrified of Tobias: “He would hurt a flea, squirrel, or any varmint, but you are safe if you carry no ice cream.”

Nebraska History Museum is really good. The World War II at home exhibit was exceptional.

Lunch at Oso Burrito on O Street. Good Thai Peanut Burrito, great Sioux City Root Beer with cane sugar.

We are driving part of the Lewis and Clark Trail in Kansas.

Not surprising: CG’s uncle served time at Levenworth for arms smuggling. Surprising: He escaped. Just drove by the prison.

ToTobias we’re not in Kansas anymore.

CG: 1st food book I read was by Calvin Trillin. He said Arthur Bryant’s BBQ is the best BBQ & best Rest. in USA. After 15 yes, I am here. (Kansas City, MO)

@CMHTobias http://maps.google.com/?q=39.003831,-94.444050 we found a Paw Paw tree while walking at Henry Clay Kritzer Park.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 27 May 2010

Departing KC for CMH

KCLC in St Lo is great radio.

Entering IL.
After significant debate, CT will be in the passenger seat for the rest of the trip, his smile of victory is a bit obnoxious.

Hello IN. CT has resumed hostilities, this time….GAS. : (

ETA for Tobias 6:30 PM, may do a dinner stop in West Jefferson or Los Potosinos.

We picked: Ann & Tony’s Italian comfort food. (West Jefferson OH)

Stats: drove 5933 miles, 16 states (CT marked territory in each), 14 days, 5 national parks, 2 lost hubcaps (NM, UT), avg cost 108 per day.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 2 Jun 2010
Final epic trip thought: what CT needed fit in a copy paper box; what CG needed fit in the trunk. Simple is best.


Our route included these states (in rough order): Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi (for about 25 minutes), Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and back to Ohio. We drove from Kansas City to Columbus in about 12 to 13 hours. For whatever reason, CMH Tobias was really ready to go home by the time we got to Kansas City so instead of taking the slow road home we moved with a great focus. I should also mention, I had the Subaru from February 1998 to December 2012 and I really loved that car too, it still has a lot of life left when I sold it. I hope that someday I can take a trip like this with my son so that he has a chance to have similar memories with me.


NOTE: Our next trip was to Marietta OH for a BBQ Festival just a short time later – here are some of the memories from that:

Next adventure is to Marietta on June 11 & 12 to judge for the Brick Street BBQ contest. CT staying in a historic hotel eating leftovers

CT is not sure about elevators but he is certain he is the most popular dog at the Lafayette Hotel. This dog is an attention magnet.

Judging is done. CG is bloated and disoriented. CT is wondering why there is only 1 1/2 lbs of BBQ scraps to consume (took 45 seconds).

Stopping at Donalds Donuts in Zanesville on the way home. Might be the best donuts in Ohio. Donut or Doughnut that is the question.

Why was it so quiet in the back while I got gas? CT was eating the donuts. He got 3 including my favorite.

Translated from dogspeak: donuts are the new squirrels.


Epilogue: I compiled all of this in the 48 hours after Tobias passed. To say I was heavy-hearted would be an understatement. Doing this gave me something to focus on about our time together. The giant green sleeping bag you see in some of the photos was used on many of our trips together. For our last night, I unrolled it so we could sleep together one last time. Then I moved it to the living room while we waited for the vet to come to our home. It gave him a sense of comfort and familiarity as I held him while he passed. I no longer have the bag since it was shared ownership and because a lifetime of cleaning would never remove the dog hair from it. Today, when I do get to hit the road, which is not often, a little bit of him remains with me. Even though I clean my car regularly, some of his velcro like hair continues to turn up in unlikely places. So as long as I have my Subaru, I’ll have Toby with me. (My last Subaru served me over 14 years and I’ve only had my current one a few years). A year later, a big hole remains in my heart, I miss Toby dearly and have thought of him each day. As the months progressed on the reminders decreased – there was less dog hair when I swept and in the dryer lint trap. The area of grass that he killed with his toxic pee in the last months grew back after a lot of work by the following spring. I gaze at the box with his ashes everyday I am in my office. I still feel the loss. If the thoughts go dark I lighten up thinking of our cross-country adventure and find some joy knowing some of his adventures will live on here.

Post Script: A Dog and his Boy and the Boy’s Little
Boy

In April of this year we moved to a new house. I said goodbye to the the small amount of ashes I left in the backyard of our old house. On my last afternoon there, I took the wooden box that holds the bulk of his ashes and set it on the back porch rail so his spirit could sunbathe in one of his favorite spots a final time. As I cleaned the old house before leaving I would find Toby hairs in unusual spaces. For each one, I took it outside and made sure it was in the sun instead of a trash bag. As we adapted to our new house which has much less square footage I continue to find Toby hairs intertwined in the threads of old clothes I was purging and placing in the donation pile. Each one of his hairs was safely escorted to the back yard so they can become a part of our new home and “Toby” can feel the sun on a good day. I’m sure I looked odd to the neighbors as I would walk out of the door solemnly holding something they could not see, placing it on the ground like the most delicate and precious item in the world and then pausing for a few words or a flashback of a memory before I went back into the house.

When CMH Tobias passed I was concerned about how it would register with my son, CMH Griffin. The passing occurred while he was at daycare as was the plan. I did not tell him what was happening. He did pet Toby and say “bye Toby Dog” when my wife took him to daycare that morning (and I was trying not to weep because I knew I would be saying good bye in a different way in less than five hours). The absence of Toby did not really register with Griffin. At the end of the week, Griffin “borrowed” my cell phone which has a screen image of Toby on it. When he saw the image he said – “theres Toby Dog. Hi Toby Dog”. We did not have to have the talk about Doggie Heaven, I was happy to sidestep that. Griffin was not old enough to have a deep connection with Toby but he had just enough to retain a memory. A year later, when Griffin looks at photos of dogs, he can tell the difference between A dog and THE Toby Dog. My hope is he will have a slim memory of Toby for the rest of his life but not so much that he will always have a sliver of hurt like I do.

Toby played an important role in Griffin’s development. During our last year with Toby, Griffin had significant speech and language delays which was a source of much duress for my wife and I. One of our first glimmers of hope when our struggle with Griffin’s speech and other issues were at the darkest moments was when Griffin said his first sentence, “Go away Toby Dog.” Toby was not a dog to me, he was my very best friend. Originally, he was not the dog I wanted but he was very much the dog I needed. In a small way, he continued his legacy by helping Griffin before he did indeed go away. Thank You Toby Dog. We Love You. You were a once in a lifetime porchhound. I’m more than OK with not having a dog in my life right now but not having my consistently inconsistent companion and best friend, that was also a porchhound is a loss I still feel.

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A Very Big Night at Ambrose & Eve

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 12, 2019

I had a very big night at Ambrose and Eve.

I have consumed one to five meals per day for my entire life which is now one half century but only a handful of those meals are memorable. As a point of reference I am listing my other memorable meals in short order. 1998: Wine Dinner at Lost Planet Pizza and Pasta. 2002 Dinner with friends at the Minh Minh in Melbourne. Although we had a reservation and three bottles of BYOB wine at our table, the owner was determined to flip each table every thirty minutes. We assertively declined to do so until we finished our last bottle. Due to our assertive, but polite determination to enjoy our meal and resolute stance that we would not be treated like an assembly line we received a round of applause from the rest of the diners when we departed because we stood our ground. The food was good. The wine was great. The commentary from our server was surreal. 2004 Lunch in Cinque Terre with friends I made in Europe. I vowed to return to the same spot someday and I did for my honeymoon in 2014. 2008 The First Slow Food Shake The Hand That Feeds You Dinner. 2008 During the third or fourth day of a massive power failure in Columbus a feast made with all of the collective food getting ready to spoil gathered and prepared by an elite group of “foodies” in Victorian Village. 2011 My third Hot Dog Palooza Party. 2012 A whole pig pork roast led by Dan Kraus (of Baba’s) in my backyard. The guests included many of the best food truck chefs in the city and it was epic. I now add wonderful dinner at Ambrose and Eve on June 8th 2019 to this list.

A memorable meal can not be created and in this case it was not my goal but I did stack the odds in my favor (although not consciously). My wife and I rarely get out of the house. We do not have the budget or time to do so and our schedules often do not align well but in this case we had free baby sitting and a special occasion to observe. Specifically for me, I had a Saturday off. For the last six years I have worked nearly every Saturday and have only had a handful of Saturdays followed by a Sunday off. And to be honest, as a small business owner, I did not really have the whole Saturday off – but I only worked for an hour and that was close enough.

From an exceedingly long list of places I would like to try out one place stood well above the rest, Ambrose and Eve. It us run by the chef team of Catie Randazzo and Matt Heaggans. Both are excellent chefs. Both are friends and former clients. I had several opportunities to walk though the space during build out but never had an opportunity to dine in for dinner. I knew my wife would enjoy the experience. Because we rarely get an evening for us, I wanted this to be something we would both enjoy. Back in the “old days” we used to explore next places together all of the time but as parents, the few times we do go out we look for Griffin friendly spots (a 3 year old without an off switch) and as a rule, stick to a few tried and true places due to wanting Griffin Friendly places. As an added bonus, the date in question was my birthday and I had vowed for over a year that I would not work the weekend in question. In an attempt to thwart my wife trying to create any surprises, I did not tell her where we were going for dinner until the afternoon of our evening out. I did tell her who was going a few days before and she strongly approved the guest list. Getting ready to head out for dinner I was in an exceptionally good mood. I had finished spending almost four hours with my son at Chuck E. Cheese for quality guy time. I rarely get to spend any time with him on Saturdays so for the two of us to have that block of time together doing something he was excited to do was awesome. And….we did not eat while we were there so I can still say I have never eaten at Chuck E. Cheese. On most Saturdays I feel of guilt for being away from Griffin for most of the day and until recently often all day. I did not have that on my plate on this Saturday.

When I was considering my guest list, I weighed in several factors. First, having a guest list was exciting because typically when we are out on the town we are either with family or have a short window to get back home. For this occasion, we would be with adults and having adult conversations and adult food and with no need to cut food for anyone else and we had no kid gear to pack. I decided that a party of the six would be the perfect number. Not too many people nor too few. It is the perfect size for a restaurant -> parties of eight are harder to place, larger than that is a pain in the ass and I do not want to be a pain in the add to Matt or Catie….they know where I live. Also six is a good number for having good conversation and for exploring a menu in depth without someone getting lost in the crowd.

There is a long list of people I would like to have dinner with, people I have not seen in years or people I might like to know better, but for this day, I wanted my party of six to be a sure thing=. I invited Angelo and Kathy Signorino and Lenny and Joan Kolada. Angelo and Lenny are people I have worked with for nearly every Saturday for the last six years so how could I spend a Saturday without them. Angelo is the head brewer at Barleys and Lenny is the owner of Smokehouse Brewing and Commonhouse Ales. I knew both love to eat as much as I do and we would have plenty to talk about, both are great conversationalists. I know Joan pretty well too and can not think of many people that I would consider to be as kind or thoughtful. I had only met Kathy once or twice but knew her well enough to know she would be an excellent dinner companion. I was pretty sure none of us had eaten at Ambrose and Eve so I made a reservation.

We all approached the meal with the same mindset. We also started with a cocktail – none of us ordering the same thing and as seems to be a default setting, Angelo surmised that ordering a bottle or two of Prosecco was in order. Eventually we got around to ordering and did so with breadth and depth.

We started with:

CRISPY BRUSSELS
Garum, honey, pecorino

MUSHROOM BORDELAISE
Local mushrooms, Shagbark grits, red wine

SMOKED FISH SPREAD
Ritz crackers, cucumber relish

Ritz crackers with the dish (which I could not eat) of course, it was the perfect thing to serve and we all appreciated and celebrated that.

HEARTS OF PALM
Roasted beets, beet romesco, citrus salad, pistachio dukkah

It was nice to be surrounded by people that all appreciated beets, which so often are unappreciated.

I think we ordered….

PORK RIBS
Fish sauce caramel, celery root curry

However I am allergic to fish and because I was eating and talking so much, I did not take any notes as is appropriate for an enjoyable dinner.

We also ordered both bread options.

TOAST AND JAM
Stratcciatella, housemade jam, olive oil, soft herbs, focaccia

CORNBREAD (I loved this dish more than all others, and that is saying a lot)
Maple, pimento cheese, watercress

It seemed that Chef Matt had an extra order of the cornbread in the kitchen so he sent that out after we inhaled the first. I am fairly certain I ate all of it on my own and that point my memory and judgment may have been suspect.

Also, Chef Matt seemed to notice there were a few items we did not order so he somehow used his spider sense to determine that he should send out an order of ->

CUCUMBER CARPACCIO
Szechuan peppercorn vinaigrette, shiso, pumpkin seed, black togarashi

It was amazing. There was not dish we ate that anyone in our group of six thought was less than excellent but this one seems to be the sleeper hit of the evening. We almost ordered it but hesitated yet Chef Matt knew that we would be remiss not trying this, and he was right. It is a simple dish of razor thin slices of cucumber with the the right amount of vinaigrette drizzled on and pumpkin seeds which perfectly complimented every other flavor on the plate and a modicum of black togarashi to knock it out of the park.

We also ordered EGGPLANT PARMESAN (Oven dried tomatoes, capers, pecorino, thyme, tomato butter sauce) from the dinner menu. Everyone was fairly stuffed at this point but I strongly felt that not ordering the Fried Chicken Supper for Two (I could have been gluttonous by ordering the Four Person Supper) which includes several pieces of perfectly fried chicken, perfect green beans in the tradition of haricots verts, potato salad (which was delicious and borders on having the consistency of smashed potatoes) and the absolute finest biscuits I have had in my life, and I mean that, the best biscuits with no other contenders a close second. I only ate one half of one biscuit at the restaurant but I ate three for lunch two days later with nothing on them and they were still amazingly perfect.

At some point Chef Matt sent out an order of Carolina Hot Chicken (not Nashville, Carolina), that was consumed with a focus.

At this stage of the game all of us were full. I knew some of the chicken was going home (and a few green beans for Griffin who loves all fruits and vegetables) but in the spirit of Shackleton and Mallory I mustered the courage to make the group continue on. I ordered a cherry fry pie with ice cream for dessert and carefully dissected it into small portions so that each person could have a bite. Using his great wisdom, Chef Matt sent out some incredible (and completely vegan) chocolate mousse which we consumed slowly but surely, mostly by force of will.

Between bites, we enjoyed great conversations and good company. It was enjoyable to explore a new place together as a group. We wondered about some of the dishes and discussed what we enjoyed about each. We shared stories of past meals and adventures and in doing so what felt like 45 minutes was nearly four hours. I do not think I have had such an enjoyable evening since my wedding over five years ago.

Days later, it seems all of us are still thinking about and talking about this meal, which means we did it right. It was also enjoyable for me to eat and enjoy the food of Ambrose and Eve created by two people I have a lot of respect for. Catie was at Preston’s (one of their other restaurants that evening) but Matt made time to come out to see us. I was glad to see him enjoying what he was doing and I think he had at least the slightest of smirks seeing and hearing about how much we enjoyed the fruits of his labors in the kitchen. During our meal, Keith and Yanka Smith formerly of the Green Meanie Food Truck stopped in at the bar for a snack so Jamie and I had a chance to catch up with them. The Green Meanie was one of the food trucks that catered our wedding and we had not seen Keith or Yanka in almost four years. I saw a few others that I knew throughout the course of the evening and it was nice to see my circle of people….which has a very far radius these days, making the same decision to try Ambrose and Eve and love it. It was the most social evening I have had in many years. I do not think I could have experienced anything any better – food, service, company, etc., everything was what I would want it to be. It was a perfect night out and I was with the perfect people to share it with, especially my wife.

It will probably be a while before I have a night like this again, but I hope it will be sooner instead of later. Ambrose and Eve is a special space. Years ago, the Galaxy Cafe was the place for my posse, a place we dined at several times per month. We loved the food and became fast friends with the owner and and staff. I felt at home in the Galaxy space(s). I was always part of the place instead of an anonymous satellite. The Galaxy sometimes had aspects of being our private club. Alana’s was a restaurant I enjoyed very much, it was never THE “place” for me like the Galaxy but I loved the approach to food and ingredients that Alana incorporated into her menu. Ambrose and Eve is a rough fusion of the spirits of these two places and in doing so, and because of my personal connection to the Matt and Catie, I believe that Ambrose and Eve is going be my special place for the decades to come.

Thank you to my wife, Lenny, Joan, Angelo, Kathy, Matt and all who made it such a memorable night. For anyone that has seen the movie Big Night, the evening felt very much like the last meal in that film. I had bits of the soundtrack of that movie in my head as I drove home. Or maybe that was the cocktail I had at Antiques on High.

If you care to have a memorable meal, or at least a very good one, get yourself to:
Ambrose & Eve (Brewery District)

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Reflections on Anthony Bourdain and his demise

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 8, 2019

June offers several of memorable dates for me. My dad died on Fathers Day while I was talking to him on the phone. He was in a country far away and there was nothing I could do about it. It was not how I wanted him to go and at the time, in his mind, he was still just one winning lottery ticket away from changing his life. In my mind I needed to refine a covert operation and deliver another big bribe save him. I will never forget that day.

My beloved CMH Tobias died on June 25th, 2018. It was my choice to pick the time and the day of his demise, that did not make it any easier. I knew his time was coming but I wanted it not to be my birthday and I wanted it to not be be Father’s Day. He held on long enough to get me past those days but more importantly, I gave me his company for one more of each.

Anthony Bourdain died on June 8th 2018. June 8th is my birthday, a date I never willingly admit to or share with anyone. I have often fled the country to avoid conversations about or observances of, said date. It is a day I go to lengths to try to live unobserved and avoid being “bothered”. When I woke up on my birthday in 2018 the first words I heard were….”Anthony Bourdain killed himself”. For many, many reasons, I will never forget the date of his death. On the flip side, it certainly took some attention away from me, which is always my goal. Thanks for the favor Tony but you took it too far. June seems to be the month for my own personal ides of March more often than March, et tu, fate?

To the best of my knowledge, no tell all book has been written yet, dissecting his life and presenting a theory of what caused him to kill himself: was it a shattering relationship; the burden of success; doing too much and too often for too long; did he drift back into drugs; did he just have a really shitty day? Again we will never know. I can’t speak for every person that has ever killed themselves nor can they, but I can say, at least observationally, no one ends their life for one reason. Most often it is an accumulation of bad things. Or it can an accidental pushing too far on a bad idea or their brain literally turned on them at the wrong moment, maybe even for split second. It could be he changed any meds he was on and the meds turns on his neurochemistry like a hairpin turn. It happens more often that we are told – listen to the disclaimers on pharmaceutical ads on TV Don’t try to understand it. If you have been lucky enough to be sane all of the time, you will never be able to understand what a misfiring brain feels like or the loss of logic and reason it creates.

When Bourdain died he was in France, one of his favorite places, with some of his favorite people, eating some of his favorite foods and truly on top of his game with Parts Unknown. And then, he killed himself. What unknown part(s) of him took him to that dark place so quickly and destructively? We will never know and he probably did not know even up until the very last seconds that he would take himself that far into the darkness.

Reflections on mental illness: If you are smart, creative and have a “heavy heart” the ways of the world will chew you up. You can be surrounded by people yet feel isolated and alone because few if any, even those in your current circle can see the world as you do. And most often not one of that circle can comprehend seeing it through the same lens. We can live similar lives but not the same life so the combination of DNA, life experiences, luck or lack thereof, privilege or lack thereof, etc., can not be replicated well enough for one person to understand another person’s life or how their brain has processed it. Explaining mental illness to someone who has not experienced it is like speaking in two unrelated languages or for a sighted person trying to decipher braille without a guidebook. It is a recipe for frustration on both sides of the conversation. Everyone has bad days, sometimes people feel down in the dumps but most do not understand hardcore, bona fide depression. Bourdain once mentioned that if he was not doing what he was doing he would probably have been a good air traffic controller – my intuition is that his mind was attuned to seeing many things coming at him at the same time and the interconnections between things. That is a great skill for a chef. However when your brain is wired this way, you can see the infinite possibilities…you also start to see the infinite challenges, and then the infinite problems and finally infinite barriers….and it can spiral from there. Even a great air traffic controller can have a day with one plane too many or too few that throws everything out of synch, starting an unrecoverable spiral. When all the dominos fall at once you can’t stop it. That may have been what happened to Bourdain, some random thing took his brain from 100 mph to 666 mph in a flash and he could not stop it, or he did, but too quickly.

What should we remember about Anthony Bourdain one year after and all of the years after today? First, that he loved his daughter. Second, anything else he did that you valued. For me, it was his book Kitchen Confidential, a refreshing voice in the world of food writing. Refreshing because it came across as authentic and genuine – a rare thing in our food celebrity culture. I think each of his shows had value but his great work was Parts Unknown which fused food with culture and personalities with a narrator’s voice that could ask questions he had not already determined the answers to before he asked them. Most food celebrities focus on themselves, or technique, or the superficial aspects of food but Bourdain saw that food was secondary to the stories and experiences of the people that create it and the passion they have to use it as a way to connect with others.

Here are some other memories. I think this article -> article from the Guardian did the best summary of Bourdain to be found out there in the cyberspace.

Here are some of his better quotes:


It’s a lethal error to always critically evaluate meals. I’ve certainly learnt to take food less seriously and try whenever possible to experience it emotionally rather than as a professional or critic. I like nothing more than seeing my daughter Ariane eating and liking food.

When you’ve seen what I’ve seen on a regular basis it changes your world view. I’ve spent such a lot of time in the developing world, I was caught in a war in Beirut, been in Liberia, the Congo, Iraq and Libya and realised how fast things can get bad, how arbitrary good fortune and cruelty and death. I suppose I’ve learnt humility. Or something.

The great Warren Zevon was asked, close to death, whether he had any important words of wisdom to pass on and he said, “Enjoy every sandwich.” I definitely enjoy my sandwiches, given how low I fell and how likely it was that there was going to be a different and tragic outcome. I’m a pretty lucky man. I enjoy my food and presenting Parts Unknown. I have the best job in the world.


This is the Best of the Best of lists:

And this is something I was not aware of but found to be fascinating, his special connection to -> Cajun country,

Reading through scores of articles and information after his passing, I came across an obscure source where he listed his favorite Paris picks. I think he would want others to have them as a reference. I am lucky to have willed myself to travel the world extensively (but not to the Bourdain level which was my ideal). One of the final fifteen places on my bucket list is Paris. If I make it to “la Ville Lumière” I will think of him as I experience a few of his favorite foods there.

La Comptoire

LAvant Comptoire (next door)

Le Dome – shell fish tower

Rue Mouffetard (markets)

sandwiche Jambon

As a final consideration, what Bourdain understood or at least figured out later in his career, is that food is not the most important thing. Food is a bridge to conversation – we all have to eat and most of us have a passion, at least at some level, about at least one type of food. As a bridge to conversation, food gives us a commonality with the person on the other side of the table. This can open up the possibility of a conversation, a friendship or even a better, an understanding of a person, community or culture. This is what Bourdain used food for in Parts Unknown and that is a lesson about food few people learn in their lifetime.

R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain, may you know a peace in your passing that you could not sustain in your life.

Posted in culinary misadventure | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

How Fairlife Saved My Life?

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 4, 2019

Over the last year almost every day in the Gourmand household has felt like running a marathon and then being told at the end, that we had to do the same thing the next day. We moved a few weeks ago and have been without a kitchen for three weeks as of the writing of this post and we are looking at a minimum of two more weeks of washing dishes in the bathtub, eating what will fit on a toaster oven and grilling any day we can. When I was contacted by fairlife with the enticement of getting samples of a new product I replied very quickly – YES. A free meal is a big deal based on our current life circumstances and definitely with my current budget (got any loose change anyone).

The fairlife® nutrition plan™ is now available in Central Ohio. I received two chocolate replacement shakes which are part of this plan. These are intended for people working toward a healthier life style (sure, that is me). The shake base starts with fairlife ultra-filtered milk (which is lactose-free and has 50% more protein and 50% less sugar than regular milk). The milk is then blended with real cocoa. The end result is creamy and very much rich in chocolate flavor. Each 11.5 oz bottle has 30g of protein, 2g of sugar, 730mg of calcium (most of the recommended daily value for a person of my age) plus eight essential vitamins & minerals. All of that adds up to only 150 calories and tastes really good. I tested the chocolate milk CMH Griffin drinks against a sample of this and he gave it a big thumbs up.

As for saving my life, I forgot that I asked them to send me a sample. I came home late one night, starving from not eating all day (it happens) and I found a fairlife box in our refrigerator. When I opened it I found quick access to food and chugged one in three seconds. Free food that tastes good is a big win in our house. While I am not a nutrition plan person, I would gladly give this a try since it is essentially like drinking a good quality chocolate milk. As a long-term bonus for fairlife, I did not know the brand existed until I got the e-mail offer from them. After that I started to notice that it is everywhere, including right next to the milk I buy for Griffin at Kroger every week. Thanks for the freebie fairlife I will try your stuff more often now.

Posted in food | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Reflections on Taco Trucks Columbus Ten Years Later

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 4, 2019

One half score years ago, in the cold depths of winter and at a kitchen table in Victorian Village the Taco Truck Columbus website was launched / conceived. As one of the three creators of this large body of work, the passage of time feels more like four score and seven years ago. The world, Columbus and my world view in particular are very different now than in that place long ago but not far away.

By my recollection, the seed for this project began in January of 2009. Bethia Woolf and I were talking about an assignment she had for a class at Ohio State. She was thinking about writing a paper about authentic, non Mexican Latino restaurants in Columbus (there are quite a few). This sparked a memory of a taco truck I have driven by on Morse Road many times over the preceding month. I was surprised that it was open in the winter. I was starting to wonder how many Taco Trucks might be in Columbus. And, I had never eaten at one in Columbus and only a handful anywhere else. When I wondered this out loud the focus of Bethia’s research paper shifted and so did how we would be spending a lot of our time for the next few years.

Doing some Google searches, asking the Columbus Underground community about any Taco Trucks that others had spotted and locating a short-lived blog about Taco Trucks a list of eight to ten was compiled for us to seek out. The two of us set out to locate these mysterious mobile food purveyors in the dead of winter. We climbed snow banks, I stumbled through conversations using very rusty Spanish and we discovered lengua and horchata. It was quite a day.

As we were rehashing our discoveries of the first mission, Bethia’s boyfriend Andy became intrigued by our adventures and joined in. Over the course of a month, we had documented well over twenty taco trucks and trailers. This was amazing to us. First, it was winter and in 2009, there was no significant mobile food in Columbus so the concept of so many trucks serving incredible Mexican and Central American cuisine was mind-blowing. We as self anointed food explorers, open to eating all type of “weird” things, had no idea these trucks existed. As motivated as we were to seek out and devour new tacos, new tortas and boldly go as far as the west side we were concerned that few if any others in Columbus knew about these trucks. They were hard to find, frequently had inconsistent hours and more often than not there were language barriers that has to be sorted through. At this point what was intended to be a class paper or in my case, a single blog post, called for, maybe even demanded a website. At the start, we hoped we might find up to ten, by March, we had a list of almost forty.

We wanted to list all of the trucks we found and tell their stories but we believed that more was needed to get people to seek out this mobile businesses. It may seem odd today, but in 2009 many people in Columbus were wary of mobile food, let alone immigrant “street meat”. We wanted to take away some of the hesitations people would have about trying these trucks on their own so we added a map, listed out key terms, etc. We kept finding more trucks and the site kept getting bigger. We learned a a lot along the way. We found taco trucks, and trailers and buses offered much more than tacos. We found foods from all regions of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, and more. It turned out that about 10% of the population of Columbus was Latino and there were rich “hidden” communities on the West side and the Morse Road/Cleveland Avenue corridor. We met people young and old, poor and….less poor but always rich in experience and passion.

To help people embrace these small businesses on wheels, meet-ups were coordinated. Then a Night of 1000 Tacos , then a Night of 1001 Tacos, and television appearances with Johnny DiLoretto and so on and so on. Ten years later, Taco Trucks are common place in our community and no longer the new and novel “adventure” to people they once were.

There were a lot of outcomes from Taco Trucks Columbus. Bethia and Andy started Columbus Food Adventures and offered a tour of some of the best Taco Trucks in Columbus for many years. Many of the trucks received a much needed boost in customers and acceptance. I believe that the interest in taco trucks helped pave the way for more types of mobile food in Columbus, starting in 2010.

I have many memories connected to Taco Trucks Columbus. The most poignant involved Lidia from Los Potosinos. When we discovered her original trailer, it was tucked behind a car wash in a bad location on the west side. I discovered some of best chicken I have had in my life. When we first met her, she was making a handful of dollars each day. She did find a better location, but not before she and her family were evicted from their apartment. I will never forget the day she invited us to share some chicken with us. We were not prepared for her to send each of us home with mounds of food made just for us while she packing up her belongings to move due to being evicted. That act moved me in many ways, I will never forget it. It was humbling.

I met countless people I would not have met while discovering Taco Trucks. I befriended the owner of Taco Nazo and learned about many of the things he does to support the community. I even arranged for him to serve food at my work place at the time. In this instance, it was the first and in many cases, probably the last time any of those co-workers had truly authentic Mexican food.

Our early morning TV appearances with John Diloretto led to a radio show called Foodcast including him on WCBE for three years. In my case, I became even more interested in mobile food. I attended Hot Dog University to learn how to operate a hot dog cart. I wrote a business plan to run a food truck rental business which indirectly led me to the Food Fort, an incubator for mobile food vendors that I ended up working for. I also served on the Mobile Food Advisory committee for the city of Columbus helping to create the regulations that govern trucks today. I received a Community Award at the second Food Truck Festival for my work with the mobile food community, so yes, this inspired a big part of my life for several years. I also began to appreciate the middle school Spanish classes I ignored, the high school Spanish I endured and the college level Spanish I never thought would have a practical application later in my life. Just being able to say a few words in Spanish opened up a new world to me. I learned a lot, I had a good time and I met some wonderful people. All of this as the result of being curious about one taco truck that I could easily ignored or forgotten about, or more typically written off as not worth the effort.

Here are links to a few selected Taco Truck adventures.

Taco truck trek viva la vida taco

Los Potosinos

Taco Truck Tour

We had not had an opportunity to update Taco Trucks Columbus in over two years. It is not due to a lack of desire, just a lack of time. I wanted to do a “Taco Truck Census” and update the list of active trucks, with hours, and etc., but again, there is just not time to take on a project like this right now. My hope is that a collective effort might be orchestrated that we could update the list of trucks in time for the 2020 Census with a few “census workers”. That might happen, we will see. If you want to volunteer to be a taco census worker, make a comment and maybe we can figure out a way to update information for the new decade.

Posted in culinary knowledge, culinary misadventure | 2 Comments »

Pats Donuts & Kreme (& Pizza?!), Lima: Ohio Donut Trail

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 20, 2019

My schedule for 2019 so far can best be described as chaotic with a strong dose of frenetic. That being the case, you will be introduced to another character in the Gourmand Universe. Long time readers are aware of the Grumpy Old Man, CMH Spouse, CMH Griffin and Mr. Suit, we now have the addition of Father of Elation (FOE).

FOE is a doctor and was sent to Lima for a week by his practice. Fortunately he had me to give him some unsolicited suggestions on how to spend his free time (away from his wife and three kids). One of the suggestions FOE did take me up on was Pats Donuts & Kreme. Pat’s has three locations in Lima. One of the locations is open 24/7 and offers pizza in addition to donuts. I knew this could create just enough interest to spur FOE into action so he was sent to do my bidding.

His report was as follows: “Pizza was quite good. Crust just the way I like it, thick and doughy but crisp.” An observation was made about how it is easier to order pizza toppings without a spouse or children present but I will not elaborate on that to keep FOE out of trouble. In regards to the donuts, the report was “…took me back to my childhood and the Holmes County institution Norman’s Bakery. I got a chocolate Creme stick and cinnamon fried cake. High marks for both.”

It should be noted that FOE fell asleep mid report and had to continue his report via text the next day.

Other items of note about Pat’s: 1) FOE did not bring any donuts back for me – so he is on probation for future scouting missions 2) Pat’s has been family owned since 1983. 3) Pat’s serves ice cream, sandwiches and other items in addition to donuts.

Pat’s Donuts & Kreme

If you have been to Pat’s or another Lima donut institution Mello-Creme, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Posted in donuts, Ohio, Ohio Donut Trail, pizza, Road Trip | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The Search for Great Gluten Free Pizza in Columbus….(has ended?)

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 28, 2019

In July of 2018, CMH Spouse and I were tasked with making some dietary changes for CMH Griffin to see if he might benefit from any of them. We were highly motivated to make this work. One of the items limited from his diet is gluten. I love gluten. CMH Spouse LOVES gluten. Griffin was a fan as well. He has a foragers sensibility to food selection and he likes to eat everything, especially most fruits and vegetables but he has very special place in his evolving palate for pasta and pizza. We did a lot of researching and my wife has engaged in a lot of trial and error to find reasonable substitutes for CMH Griffin. Some have been successful, some have been mildly disappointing and more than a few have been dismally horrible. Our great challenge was pizza. We made it our mission to make sure our little man would not miss out on this staple of our diet which is often a key component of our weekly food pyramid. We also needed to make sure we could eat what CMH Griffin has as well, to ensure he was not suffering but to also prevent him from dumbing down his pizza palate.

We were determined to leave no pizza stone unturned in our quest to make sure our child would have access to not just good gluten-free pizza but very good and we dared dream that we might even find great pizza in the process.

We established these criteria to allow us to guide CMH Griffin on this gluten-less journey. Some of these were added later after a lot of trial and more than a bit or error.

1) Will Griffin eat it
2) Will he eat a lot of it
3) Does it taste good to us
4) Is it still edible 4 hours later
5) Is it edible the next day
6) Can you reheat it
7) Can it be eaten cold without regret
8) It can not cost a fortune.

We have not tried every gluten-free pizza out there, but we have tried most. We have not tried every recipe for homemade gluten-free crust, but we did try a few of the best according to the internet. While this is still a work in progress, these are our findings so far – these are presented in order of best to not so much.

The default toppings for CMH Griffin are either ham and pineapple or pepperoni.

1) Iacanos: So far there is no gluten-free pizza that holds a candle to Iacanos. This was a slam dunk the first time we tried it and it has never failed us since. The pizza pie crust/shell is one of the few things they do not make in house. I have not been able to determine who they source their shells from. We do know from observation, they us use high quality cheese and other ingredients including house made sauce. They cook the pizza longer than most other places but not too long. The crust is thinner. The combination of this crust and longer cook time seems to be the key to gluten free pizza success. Iacanos gluten free pizza tastes great later in the day and is still edible 24 hours later.

2) Pizza House We are two for two on this one. Very good. I liked this more than their regular pizza we tried side by side the first time.

3) Donatos: This is a strong third place finisher but still does not come close to Iacanos. Because we can have this delivered to our home, this has become a frequent flier into our kitchen table. I have decided I like the gluten-free version slightly better than the gluten version of Donatos. The crust is not thicker but it seems denser. It seems to have a trace more flavor. It holds up very well to the next day test. CMH Spouse says that because the cheese goes to the edge, the crust is less disappointing. We like this one, probably more than we want to.

4) Kroger: Not Krogers or Kroger’s by the way, Kroger. The frozen, thin gluten-free Kroger brand pizzas are value priced and a frequent emergency lunch for our little man. The sauce is a bit weak, but overall, this one has the best cost to benefit ratio of any pizza we tried. It has earned a strong fourth place ranking.

5) Teritas: Good. Mainly due to the quality of ingredients and a longer cook time. We have only tried this once. If the location was closer, we would have more empirical data.

6) Masseys: The main failing for this was, and it may seem nuts to say this, too much toppings. The toppings to pizza ratio for Massey’s is always above industry average. In the case of a gluten-free pie, it takes away from the pizza by not allowing it to cook evenly especially the crist. This is still a good gluten-free pizza but to better test this one out, next time we will get cheese only.

7) Tarantos: I can’t remember anything about this one except that it was consumed fairly quickly. We need to test this one more.

8) Hounddogs: I am a long time, unapologetic fan of Hounddogs Pizza. The first gluten-free pizza we had here was the best individual gluten-free pizza we have ever had. Unfortunately, we have never been able to get another gluten-free pizza from here that was 75% as good. We see the most inconsistency here. The gluten-free pizzas range from good to OK depending on who is manning the oven. This is a heart breaker we had the best but it appears to have been a fluke.

9) LaRosa’s: This chain does a good job of making sure their gluten-free pizzas have a special prep area, cook sheet, etc, to minimize cross contamination with gluten. We liked this one but we did not love it and we can’t recall why.

10) Mellow Mushroom: Mellow Mushroom gets a lot of points for providing a lot of detail about their gluten-free pizzas – how they make them, where they make them, using a separate kitchen, etc. As for delivery of the product to the table, our service was horrible causing me to complain stridently and the pizza itself, was worse than the worst frozen pizza you have ever tried. I rank this a firm D-. I would give it an F but I did not spit it out.

We still have a few more to try on our list. If you have tried any of the following, let me know your thoughts in the comment section. This is what we are still curious about trying: Pizza House, Marcos, Harvest and Mama Mimi’s.

These are our general complaints about most gluten-free pizzas.

A) They often have a grainy texture

B) After a short period of time, they develop a paste like texture and consistency

C) They have a “nuclear shelf life” measured in minutes and sometimes seconds after they come out of the oven. They get noticeably less appetizing after an hour and often are inedible 4 to 24 hours later, even in the most perfect conditions.

D) They lack gluten


Special Thanks to CMH Spouse and CMH Griffin for persevering in our quest to find a decent gluten-free pizza.

Post Post Script: Friends have strongly suggested trying out the following places, so we will soon: Pies & Pints, Blaze and Goremade

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Culver’s, Swensons & Preston’s, OH My!: A Study and Discussion of Hamburgers with a Culinary Dream Team

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 10, 2019

Even though I have a great apathy and lesser antipathy toward Facebook, sometimes it can be a useful tool. A post I made about Ritzy’s led a to a vigorous discussion about the restaurant (much of it mildly disappointing), the hamburgers they make and hamburgers in general. As the hamburger discussion starting to roll out of control Culver’s and Swenson’s were mentioned several times. Some people had tried one or the other, a few both, but one young man by the name of Kenny, had not experienced either burger and was unsure on his stance about Ritzy’s burgers. When that comment dropped, the decision was made to help Kenny with this deficiency by arranging a K-Dog’s Burger Bash which was a progressive dining on hamburgers. Since we all LOVE Preston’s we opted to include it as an additional burger joint. Prior to embarkation and because there would be children present we opted to drop Ritzy’s at the last-minute to save time, money and calories. Kenny shared he had made it back for a second run at Ritzy’s and found the burgers lacking, so we sent the place packing. (Authors note: I felt mildly guilty about dropping Ritzy’s. The next day I went in for ice cream which was great on previous visits but was disappointing, poorly scooped and portioned and over frozen, ice cream).

We set a date and the deed was committed to. I had an absolute dream team to objectively try Culvers, Swensons and Prestons.

Our line up:

First, the guest of honor, K-Dog, Kenny Donnelly of Kenny’s Meat Wagon. The Man, the Myth, the Meat. Most people are not aware that Kenny killed a bear with his bare hands while cooking an egg….when he was seven.

Joe Arcilla the 61Forty-Niner blog and his partner in crime Chris.

Laura Lee, accomplished chef and the owner/operator of the Ajumama Food Truck

Matthew Heaggans, accomplished chef, some say divisive, of Preston’s and Ambrose & Eve with his fine dining companion Cindy. Those that listen to Chefs in the City on WOSU may know Matt by other names: Chris, Dave, etc. But it is Matt. Matthew if you are nasty.

Ed Kowalski, accomplished chef and one of the men of ManBque Columbus.

Matt Swint, of Matija Breads and his family. Fun fact about the Swint clan, they can eat an entire pig is less than seventeen minutes.

And me, trust me, I was not there as eye candy, I was a charity case for this group.

Our first stop was Culver’s in Powell. If you are not familiar with the chain it started in 1984 in Sauk City Wisconsin. It has grown into a small Midwestern empire. They are known for their Butter Burgers and to some extent their custard. We took a team photo then placed our orders.

Our overall consensus was: meh. Not bad but not impressive.

These were some concerns and lessons learned:
-the burger should be hot when served – not all were
-the cheese should be melted, to the point of infusion, into the patty, here the cheese did not experience that level of heat
-the bun should be toasted – not all were toasted to satisfaction
-a disparate ratio. Size does matter. Most people ordered singles. This started a discussion on the “ratio” in particular the bun to burger ratio. The ratio was slightly off here. This is where we were indoctrinated in the Swint Doctrine, concisely stated as “always get the double” delivered with a smirk by the guy that ordered a double burger melt – ensuring both the right ratio and a properly toasted bread. If you get the double, you increase the odds of a good ratio.

Another take away from Matt and Cindy. The Culver’s in Pickerington is the best in Central Ohio and the Culver’s in Hilliard is better – at least in the heating and toasting arenas.

An additional interesting feature at Culver’s was a screen telling the story of their burgers. Propaganda for our group? Maybe.


Next, we found ourselves spread out in the parking lot at the recently opened Swensons in Powell. We were able to stay in touch by text and I made the rounds from car to car, confusing the “runners” but we had to defer most of our discussion of Swensons to our next stop. Laura told us to get nutella shakes, I listened and it was a good decision. Cindy suggested I try the Potato Teezers, I completely forgot and regret my over sight. The teasers blend potato, cheese and jalapeno – how could that go wrong, in my book it can only go right. But I will have to wait to know.

General pluses on Swensons from the group: great shakes and happy to have cheese curds and potato teezers as snacks.

On the burger side, the group liked Swensons as a whole, greater than Culver’s as a whole, but some of the sum of the parts were off. A few people can not wrap their heads around the brown sugar in the burger (and the bun?). However, the ratio was considered to be better and having followed the Swint Doctrine, I was not disappointed. Overall, Swensons was more than meh and much more for some.


We then made our way to the Preston’s at Woodlands Backyard.

Collectively, we love Preston’s. I have not really written about Prestons because I can’t be objective about it. I have followed Matt Heaggans career, in part because he was a client when he started his path of Culinary greatness in Columbus – including but not limited to Swoop Food Truck, Flatiron, Rossi and a pop up at the Hey Hey. (Here is some more on Matt from the past.) Teaming up with Catie Randazzo, the two have made great additions to the city with Preston’s and Ambrose and Eve. Even though we were all full, we ate Preston’s because the burgers are that good.

It was here, with all of us together again that we discussed but did not need to debate what made a good burger. In spite of being in a collective food coma, we were able to have a meaningful and unanimous conclusion on what makes a great burger. Here are our criteria:

1) The “ratio” specifically the bun to burger ratio. It is not an exact percentage but biting into a burger you know if you have too much or too little bun or burger in the first bite. Let’s call this the Kowalski Goldilocks ratio. If the ratio favors much more meat than bun then that would be properly labeled the Kenny Directive.

2) You can’t have a good burger without a good bun. No Discussion needed here. You cannot have a good burger or sandwich without good bread.

3) The bun should be toasted. Alton Brown, my former doppelgänger would have some science to support this but a lightly toasted bun makes for a better burger – it holds in the juices and everything. It just takes a few seconds.

4) Cheese please. You could have a burger without cheese, but why would a sane person do that. The cheese should be properly melted so it integrates into the nooks and crannies of the patty.

5) Temperature: A well done burger is OK but it hides some of the flavors, the same with medium rare anything else is OK and good to serve. Just make sure it arrives to the diner with more than a trace of heat and properly melted cheese.

6) It should have mayo – mayonnaise to be formal. Mayo protects the bun from getting soggy and retains flavors. It may be the reason I like Whoppers (not discussed among this group) because of the ketchup to mayo proportions.

7) The meat to fat ratio in a burger should be 80 lean meat to 20% fat. Collectively this assortment of chefs has almost 100 years of kitchen experience, I will go with that.

8) Pickles. A hamburger should have pickles. I would add, they should be good and more than two but no greater than four, but you can decide your own number.

There are a few more finer points we could have considered like should there be sesame seeds on buns or not. We did not all agree on the need or lack thereof for onion. All in all, I would declare our mission a success.

In this instance, I would add a ninth truth.

9) A good burger is better enjoyed with great friends.

The year 2018 did not deal the best set of cards to the Gourmand household and as much as I tried to reshuffle them, we just never got a better hand. The biggest loss for 2018 was a lack of quality social time with friends and family. It was good to start 2019 with a legitimate good outing with great people tackling the very real challenge of making people eat too many burgers.

Posted in culinary knowledge, culinary misadventure, hamburgers | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »