CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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No Menu Mondays at The Market at Italian Village

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 9, 2018

Let us begin with a quick overview of The Market at Italian Village before we get into the meat of the matter. The Market at Italian Village or Market IV which I sometimes hear people say, opened in the summer of 2014. It creates a European flair by combining the services of a butcher, deli, bakery, wine shop, bar and cafe offering small plates and entrees for lunch and dinner. You could, in theory, tell your spouse that you are going out to pick up some milk but in the process get some fancy cheese, a nice snack and a refreshing cocktail while still bringing a glass jug of Hartzler Milk home so as to not have your errand excuse tainted.

No Menu Monday was my first visit to the Market (really). Here is the concept for No Menu Mondays, starting at 4 PM the kitchen serves one-night-only experimental items created by Chef Tyler Minnis. The menu items change weekly allowing the cook team to flex their creative juices and have fun while showing off what they can do. The menu is hand written with some highlights on the wall mounted chalk board. On some Mondays there are also some pairings with classes. The night I dropped in there was an Amaro (Italian liqueur) making class that CMH Spouse and I would have loved to have attend but our schedule did not cooperate.

Speaking of CMH Spouse, this outing was also a date night. We do not get many of those. Our disposable income is nearly non-existent as is our unencumbered free time. Our schedules and energy levels rarely overlap. When the possibility of a date night does come up which is a rare opportunity, it is hard for us to justify the cost of a sitter and meal/activity since the cost of a few hours away would pay for a speech therapy session and an occupational therapy session both of which are not cheap and not covered by insurance. On past date nights we have: bought a cell phone, picked out a treadmill and at least 80% of the time if a meal was involved, one or both of us has had some type of gastronomic distress shortly thereafter. On this magic Monday, we had an in-house sitter, a school orientation we were both required to leave the house for anyway and (disclaimer) I had a credit to cover part of the meal from the kind folks at The Market at Italian Village. Plus this was a Monday which is often the only day of the week where both of us have our schedules remotely line up.

The No Menu Monday format turned out to be the perfect fit for us. We both were able to go to a place we had never been to. Since we were walking in for a menu that had never existed before and would not exist again, we had both no expectations of what we might have and a guaranteed unique experience that we could not exactly replicate again (which is great because we are unlikely to have another date night for at least six months). Most importantly the way No Menu Monday works ensured that we would get to work as a team – evaluating the menu together, deciding what the best candidates seemed to be as well as which were both mutually acceptable. If you are familiar with the Tom Cruise film, Oblivion, this may make sense, in my mind I constantly hear the phase from Mission Control “Are you still an effective team…Jim.” Yes, yes were are. CMH Spouse and I have way too much practice with team work. We planned our wedding and honeymoon in less than two weeks both of them perfectly executed and under budget. We sold two houses, moved twice and bought one house in eight months. Then things started to get complicated. Three days after we moved into our house she fell down the stairs breaking her ankle thus requiring three surgeries, eleven screws, a few metal plates, months of physical therapy and some interesting scooter rides at stores around Columbus. Within a week of her being “released” to walk independently and off her pain meds, she was pregnant with CMH Griffin. Griffin was born exactly one year after she broke her ankle so I often tell people I kept my wife incapacitated for a full year. The pregnancy and the post pregnancy had a lot of complications. Passing by that, raising CMH Griffin has had more than the average share of challenges. We have been in almost constant teamwork and problem solving mode for our entire marriage. So it was refreshing to have a teamwork exercise where the most pressing problem was how to maximize the probability that we picked the very best menu items for our tastes!

On to the meal. We started with Toast! Not your typical hipster Avocado toast but a very good house made bread, toasted and topped with fresh peaches, tomatoes, arugula and other tasty tidbits on an olive tapenade base. The verdict -> great!

Moving on along, we had a charcuterie plate with an assortment of meats, sauces, berries, pickled beans and other things, cheese, whole grain mustard and the best pork rind I have ever crunched on. This was paired with a plate featuring more house made bread. This was a huge hit as well.

Our main course was a shared plate of ravioli. My wife makes her own and she is of strong Italian descent so the standard is very high. The marinara inspired sauce with this dish was a winner as was the base of pasta it coated. This was the favorite of our selections for the evening. My wife was a bit concerned about the corn in the sauce but found it added a needed bit of sweet to the entree and although outside her realm of tradition, she embraced this in the dish.

We wrapped up with a dessert of a homemade ice cream sandwich with homemade cookies. This was just enough to ensure we were both stuffed without being incapacitated.

We had a very good meal with no mishaps which if not a first, is at least a rarity for at least our parenting years of our marriage. We will collectively take that as a win. Thanks for getting us out of the house, at the same time, No Menu Mondays.

If you care to supplement the musing on my No Menu Monday experience, The Market often posts photos of No Menu Monday menu items on their Instagram feed.

Market Italian Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Lost & Forgotten Restaurants Podcast with This Week News

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 7, 2018

I was on a podcast with This Week News where we discussed lost and forgotten restaurants of Columbus.

Of course, I led off with The Galaxy Cafe

You can listen to the Podcast -> HERE (part 1 at least).

Which leads to some questions for you enlightened or mournful readers.


What Columbus Restaurants do you miss?

What Columbus Restaurants are you afraid of losing / would rock your world if they closed?

What is the Columbus Restaurant scene missing or what do you think could do well with an encore performance (a resurrected restaurant)?

Posted in CLOSED, Columbus, culinary knowledge | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Wrapping up Book Week: What I would read again if I had the time.

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 1, 2018

I have always disliked the word foodie and have never wanted to be associated with it in any context. There are a lot of foodies out there and when I hear the term, I twitch a bit and then think of -> this.

If you are interested in good food writing as something both intertwined with and outside of the act of eating, these are the books I’d consider.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I’m reading Kitchen Confidential this week. I finally got it from the library, having requested in on the day of his death. At some point in the next year or so, I will write something about him. But before I do I feel I need to reread this book and watch every episode of Parts Unknown now that I know the outcome of his life so I can look for clues for understanding its end. I don’t believe any of us will know that and I think there is a good chance he did not know either. In some cases your mind is not your own and that may have been his fate. In my opinion, many food writers do not have an authentic voice. When I was trying to learn how to write my professors and in some cases editors, did not allow me to have my voice in what I wrote, instead pushing me to be generic and inauthentic in my world view if I would not say it, I would not write it either, computers can do that. The only person whose writing and view of the world (at least looking at him from the outside) that I connect to on all planes is Anthony Bourdain. I’m not sure if I would have liked him in person or at certain stages of his life, but I oddly think that we would instantly understood each other. I am sorry I did not get a chance to meet him. I would have been interested in what he had to say off the record and the camera and the cuff. When asked the typical question of who you would like to have dinner with living or dead, he would be one of my top three choices. And if I could do such a thing, I would ask him about his final days. I would want to see if he knew what path he was going down to his end or if was just a random misfire of fate. So far Kitchen Confidential is as good as I remember it.

American Fried: Adventures of a Happy Eater by Calvin Trillin

This is the first food book I read. I want to say it was suggested to me by the Grumpy Gourmet. I really enjoyed this book and because of it, I went to Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City.

The United States of Arugula by David Kamp
This is the best food history of the United States I have read. It is well written, informative and a book I have in my book shelf for reference.

Between Meals An Appetite for Paris by A.J. Liebling

I’ve never been to Paris (but I would very much like to go). Although this is about the city in 1926 to 1927 the best of the traditions and culture of food in Paris have changed little since then by all reports. This book opened the door for modern food writing and makes sure to get the story of the people who make the food right.

The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K Fisher

M.F.K. was a complex woman. I’m not sure if I could have endured her for longer than a meal at a time but I have a lot a respect for what she did in her time. She is the reason I have the CMH in CMH Gourmand. In additional to being the airport code for Columbus I wanted to do an homage to M.F.K. This book is probably her best and feels that it is from her heart.

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection by Micheal Ruhlman

I have not read all of Ruhlman’s books but of what I have, this is the best. The hero of this book is Michael Symon, I wish he would have avoided most of his Food Network and other projects after and stuck harder to his restaurant roots but at least he is still a Clevelander through and through.

American Food Writing – edited by Molly O’Neill

I wanted to like this book more than I did but there are select stories in here that I would not have found otherwise, in particular, by M.F.K. Fisher and H.L. Mencken. I wanted to like Molly O’Neill better as well. She is a good writer and a hometown heroine – Clintonville of all places. When I read her memoir I was turned off by many gaps and gloss overs in the narrative. I wanted a writer to have more angst, humor is often borne out of adversity and as someone that had to fight hard through a male dominated industry and New York to boot, there had to have been more dark moments. Bourdain and Sedaris can capture those moments and run with them, in the case of her memoir it read like she hid from the dark places.

The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars by Joël Glenn Brenner

Even though I like Mars candies much more than Hershey, the two companies could not more diametrically opposed in all things. Mars is truly an evil empire and this book spells it out in a most delicious way.

Posted in Food For Thought | 1 Comment »

Char Broil Great Book of Grilling: 300 Tasty Recipes for Every Meal

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 31, 2018

I do not cook as much as I like or as I was accustomed to in a previous life. However, I still grill enough that I do not feel I have atrophied at that skill as well. When offered a copy of Char-Broil Great Book of Grilling: 300 Recipes for Every Meal I said yes, please. The book was released earlier this year just in time for prime grilling season. I was looking for inspiration and hoped to find some in this book. Apart from a few Guy Fieri quotes, I did find what I was looking for. The recipes were easy to follow and in some cased offered quick tips on how to enhance the flavor of the dish of avoid common mistakes.

Recipes are divided into these categories: appetizers & snacks; beef, lamb & veal; pork; poultry; seafood; vegetables, sides & salads; desserts; and marinades, sauces & rubs. The book leads with some basics for grilling including safety tips and some very handy charts covering grilling temperatures and times for various meats. There are also reminders for grill cleaning and basic care (something I need to be better in following but at least I am not abusive).

The color photography for the completed recipes is very good quality and as you progress through the different sections you will find morsels of information, quotes and etc., related to the recipe or general section you are going through. There are some in-depth features in the book as well such as how to grill a whole turkey (page 200). If you are struggling with something new to grill, the 336 pages in this book with cure that problem faster than you can cure your own bacon.

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The Brew Your Own Big Book of Clone Recipes

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 30, 2018

The Brew Your Own Big Book of Clone Recipes was released in May of this year. If you are struggling to find a gift for the home brewer in your life, get him or her a Columbus Brew Adventures gift certificate and a copy of this book. It was produced by Brew Your Own magazine which has helped home brewers clones recipes from their favorite breweries since 1995. The book features 300 recipes that have been tested and retested and troubleshot by the magazine.

So what is a clone beer you ask? Is it related to Star Wars in some way? Thankfully, no. Clone beers are created to very closely resemble the famous and infamous commercial beers they are modeled after. In the case of Brew Your Own Magazine, they often work with the actual brewers to make sure they get the recipes right. So why would a home brewer want to make a clone of someone else’s beer? There are many reasons. For some it is an homage to the beer that inspired them to start brewing. Sometimes it is price, they don’t want to pay retail for a beer they love. Other times, it may be to create a beer that is no longer on the market or impossible to find. In some cases it is a quest to take that base and tweak it just a bit to determine the what if’s of brewing.

The book has a brief forward and overview of the philosophy of clone brewing then very quickly jumps into the actual recipes. These are the 17 categories the beers are divided into: Pale ales, India Pale Ales, Specialty IPA’s, Amber ales and lagers, brown ales, porters, stouts, Imperial Stouts, Barleywine and strong ales, Belgian Style ales, British style ales, European ales and lagers, North American ales and lagers, Pilsners, fruit, spice and vegetable beers (pumpkin), Sour, Wild and Wood Ages beers and Winter beers. If that seems like a lot, it is, the book is 272 pages. You will find a wide variety of beers in here including Dogfish Head, Southern Tier, etc. This definitely not a book for beginners but it is worth having as a reference or inspiration for anyone that have the home brewing bug. I also like the title, when I was a young lad, I recall there were a lot of Big Books of __________ but I never saw one of beer. Now I can take that off my bucket list.

(I was offered a free copy of this book by the PR firm working with the publisher and I responded to that e-mail query very quickly. My vocation puts me in almost daily contact with home brewers and home brewers whose hobby has gotten out of control causing them to then start breweries, so I knew I would find a good home for this book when I was done with it, some day will actually make one of these recipes).

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Del Sroufe: The China Study Family Cookbook

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 29, 2018

I met Del Sroufe in the mid 1990’s. The first time we crossed paths he was making vegan baked goods in a small bakery tucked away in the back of the Clintonville Community Co-op. I was intrigued by him choosing to make vegan items but I soon as I tried one, I did not care, so I took close to a baker’s dozen away and ate most of them. I’m not always the brightest bulb so at that early moment in my culinary life I equated vegan with fat-free. So when I took the last one to my girlfriend at the time she was flabbergasted that I offered he such as thing not because it was vegan but because she could see the grease from the item saturating the bakers paper it was on as I handed it to her. She was on a diet and I had apparently consumed about 90 or more fat grams during my drive to deliver my treat to her.

Not to be discouraged by something like reality, I kept going back to Del to try more things (although fewer at one time and with more moderation). In doing so we struck up conversations about why he had decided to shift to mostly vegan foods, what got him into baking, etc. In our fourth or fifth conversation, he mentioned that he was starting to work on a book and it was kind of hard. As a fellow writer I encouraged him to keep at it and did not think much of it. That interchange fell off my radar but my connect to Del did not. I took some of his cooking classes and work shops. I sent a lot of people to his new business. I’d run into him more often at the library than anywhere else. Then lo and behold I heard about Forks Over Knifes and that he was connected to and working with the founders. In 2012, he released the Forks Over Knives Cookbook and things really took off for Del. I’m very happy for him.

This year we have been looking at a lot of what we eat and how we might change that to help CMH Griffin with some of his challenges. That prompted me to check out The China Study Family Cookbook. Other than the fact that Del is the author, there are a lot of things I like about this book. Just as I did to Del, I immediately took a liking to this book. The recipes are written and displayed in an easy to use manner. Each listing has color coded icons at the top so you know what types of ingredients (grains, legumes, roots, etc.) you will be using and what dietary audience the dish is intended for. Most recipes include Recipe Tips which give the reader/user suggestions such as things to consider if you want to change-up some of the ingredients in the recipe such as if you want to sub in broccoli for asparagus. Additionally there are also Notes for the Cook which share tidbits related to the techniques used in the dish or general factoids of knowledge to use the ingredients more effectively, etc.

There are also general knowledge areas in the cookbook to make sure you have basic skills or at least a refresher course to help you execute your recipes more effectively. Short overviews are provided in using equipment and tools properly (blenders, non stick cookware, knives, etc.). There are also helpful sections on how to integrate cooking with the kids to make it a family experience and ideas to get different ages to participate. The book as a whole is worth taking a look at and since it is written by someone who cooks for a living and teaches classes on it, the material has already been field tested and is conveyed in an easy to use manner. Good Job Del! Now how about working on some fat-free vegan muffins that taste like that have twelve sticks of butter in them. Tweaking the way you eat does not need to strip out flavor or feel like a chore it can be fun and help you feel better.

Posted in food | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

The Columbus Ale Trail is a book among other things

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 28, 2018

Have you heard of the Columbus Ale Trail? Did you complete Volume 1, 2 and/or 3? Are you working on Volume 4? I am one of the founders of the project and have invested about 60 to 100 work hours each year to make it happen. While I have not yet published a book…Book, I suppose in some sense, this was my first book project. Each year I have helped get it to print doing various duties and for the last two years I have been a project manager of sorts taking care of gathering the content, editing it, determining the formatting and special features, deciding on the lay out, how the maps will be put together, etc. Each late March / early April I can count on having one or two really shitty weeks pushing to get all of this to print by deadline and I can always count on some last-minute glitch to come up the make sure we are cutting things right to the wire. The greatest challenge for Volume 4 was when I came to get the final copy of the book and do last-minute proofreading so I could hand off the USB of the product for the printers at noon. I arrived at the designers house at 10 AM to discover he thought the turn in day was the day after and the maps had not been started yet. In that situation only one thing could be done – take a shot, pull up two chairs and start making two maps from scratch. The maps look pretty good considering they were created in less than ninety minutes. As for the proofreading, I can tell you where the errors I could not catch in the twenty remaining minutes are located.

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the case of the Columbus Ale Trail we were not flattered by the Route 33 Brew Trail, a product of the Fairfield County Convention and Visitors Bureau (aka Visit Fairfield County). Their first version was released in May of this year. It was not an imitation it was an outright copy (wording, layout, formatting, etc., etc.) to the point of being blatant intellectual property theft. When I met with their executive team in June they seemed baffled that I would have any concerns about what they presented as some type of misunderstanding. It was an absolutely frustrating experience to get stonewalled. At the time of this writing they have never provided a feasible explanation as to what happened. There are only two plausible options: 1) They made a conscious decision to copy the ale trail or 2) Their designer decided to make a twenty plus hour project a two-hour copy job and over-billed the good taxpayers of Fairfield County. Anyone that has put the two books side by side has come to the same conclusion, there is no way to accidentally copy whole paragraphs.

The end result is that they have now produced a new version of their Brew Trail which is closer to being an original work and by report they dumped 3500 of the 6000 copies they printed earlier. The bigger consequence of their lack of remorse and in my opinion professionalism and class in dealing with the situation is they and their Brew Trail have a big black mark with the craft beer community in Central Ohio. I could further explain the damage that was done, but by doing so, I would once again be doing them a favor for free.

Last year over 2370 people visited all 38 brewery sites listed in the Columbus Ale Trail (Volume 3). If you conservatively estimate that $6 was spent at each brewery then each brewery saw at an absolute minimum of $14,220 in business for a listing that cost them $600. A minimum total revenue for the craft beer community as a whole is $540,360. That is a minimum because that number does not count the people who only went to four, eight or any number less than 38 breweries. I’d settle for 1% of the revenue as compensation but I can assure you I have not seen anything remotely close to that. What I did earn was the respect of the people I worked with to have made this happen for the last four years. So if you happen to have an inclination to steal the creative property of the Columbus Ale Trail, you are making a lot of people very angry. That can not bode well for anyone or any organization, that is classic bad Karma.

That is one story of the Ale Trail, there are literally thousands more and most of those are significantly more upbeat and positive.

Posted in Food For Thought | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Book Review (and Cultural Discussion): Cook Your Marriage Happy

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 27, 2018

I have been receiving many offers for books to review over the last six months. I have declined all of them for various reasons, but most importantly, I don’t have the luxury of time to read for fun. However, this book title caught my eye: Cook Your Marriage Happy by Debra Borden LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) aka The Sous Therapist. The pitch was well written but what clicked for me was the blending of two worlds psychology/therapy and cooking. In a previous life, I earned a bachelors degree in Psychology and then went on to get 1/3 of a Masters Degree in Social Work supplemented by other graduate courses in counseling. I worked in a related field for nineteen years. I have also been the informal counselor to the local food truck industry and breweries for the last seven years. The concept of cooking therapy held some appeal. More importantly, a cook book is not complex reading and can be consumed and evaluated quickly. Most of the reading I needed to make time for in 2018 is very complex and clinical and sometimes depressing. I felt I could take a minor reading break and still stay on theme.

The basic premise of this book to present a marital issue with a heading such as “Cook Your Financially Frustrated Marriage Happy. The writer/therapist presents the issue in a broad sense then a few details on how issues may arrive by a couple not having the same style or being in synch. Recipes are presented to cook through the issue often with a punny title or one laced with innuendo such as Tune in and Talk to Me Tacos or No More Monotony Meat Loaf related to the topic.

The book was a fast read since is was about one-half recipes. At the end I did not find I had more insight on couples therapy, cooking or how I would actually do this in my own marriage. Would have liked more therapy examples or more detailed recipes and ideally both. Overall, I’d give this a C+. It was not a waste of time to read it but had I found it at a book store, I would have skimmed it for a minute and put it back on the shelf.

The background message in this book, which I agree with, is that cooking together is a good recipe for a good marriage, it promotes teamwork and communication but it also reinforces that on occasion one person has to lead and the other needs to follow to get a task done and depending on the dish (or the family crisis) – who is the executive chef and who is the sous and we will change who is calling the shots based on what skill set is needed for what is in front of you as a couple.

To sum up, I did not connect with the book on a personal level, but it did cause me to think of the culture of cooking, specifically kitchens. Many in the restaurant industry refer to it as a sickness, something they can not get out of their blood. Those that love it hate the hours, more often than not do they not earn much and get burned out by a community that has a high rate of substance abuse and other dysfunction that leads to constant staff turnover. In spite of those things, there is a strong if somewhat incestuous community and sense of purpose in a well run kitchen that is addicting. And it is a place where things will quickly fall apart if everyone can not get on the same page, even if they think the ship is going on the wrong course, they have to blow with the winds or walk the plank if they want to survive.

(Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book via a PR promotion. I do thank the author and the publishing company for the opportunity to check out the book. I will make sure it finds a good home).

Posted in Food For Thought | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

It’s Book Week at CMH Gourmand

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 26, 2018

There was a time, long, long ago, in a lifestyle far away when I read many of books of all varieties and types on a weekly basis. I may have read three books in the last five years. I do not have much unstructured free time in my life so when I have it, the choice is choose between reading a book or sleeping or trying to find something to do that generates money to pay bills. I do miss reading books the way I used to. I hope others still read. I know a good many of book clubs out there are really secret happy hours but I don’t have time for that. But I do have hope for other bibliophiles out there.

I don’t read blogs like I used to either. In fact, most people do not. Although all types of studies and statistics show blogging continues to grow, it is not what it started out as which is a Web Log, information and stories with an authentic, personal spin on it. Marketing people will harp on the need to blog to drive web traffic and increase SEO etc., etc. Studies show about 43% of blog readers just skim content and do not read the actual post. I certainly understand that, we are all pressed for time and a lot of blog content out there does not seem genuine, more often it is self promotion or boiler plate (did I get enough work count, buzz words and links to attract promotional dollars) written to attract Google Bots or ad money.

All of that being stated, I though this would be a good time to reconnect with writing in some way. Last year, during the early dog days of August, I created Sandwich Week in a mad grab for ratings and to challenge myself to create more than one post per month on this dying media.

There are other reasons why I choose this month / week for Book (writing) Week. Twenty years ago I was paid to write for the first time for a publication call the Columbus Web Observer. I then went on to do a lot of freelance work for publications throughout Ohio that would typically go out of business or change format a year or so later. I had a giant article on Ice Cream in Ohio Magazine nineteen years ago. While I always enjoyed writing it was never more than a supplement to my income. I really wanted to be a travel writer but I could never connect to anything that would stick or try to pretend I could support myself doing i and I did try hard to land with Frommer’s and Rick Steves. My early content was more about the web and how to use it but in time I found my best shot at getting published was food so I stuck with that. Eighteen years ago, I started my masters degree in Library and Information Science. I learned a lot in the program but I did not accomplish my primary goal of getting the degree, a job at OCLC. I did not accomplish my back up option which was the presidential merit scholar program which would have had me spend one year with the Social Security Administration and one year with the Library of Congress….because my advisor forgot to send in his recommendation. While all of this was distracting me I overlooked the fact that for a one year period that was a shortage of librarians that could have finally gotten me to Australia as a citizen. I was so focused on one goal I forgot about the other, I missed that window by two months. Fifteen years ago I saw my first book deal fall part (pizza) and fourteen years ago my second (regional sandwiches). Twelve years ago my pal Saucisson Mac suggested that I take up blogging so I did. August has been the alpha and omega of many major events in my life. In some aspect each August I await a Charlie Brown moment of something important to being pulled away as the last second.

I the spirit of the above, I thought I would write a bit about books this week (all with a food focus) to try to reconnect with this old school media. I will also use some of my library training in my analysis and treatment of these books using some of the following criteria where I see fit and most likely somewhat randomly.

American Library Association Selection Criteria

Examining and Evaluating Books / Reference Sources

Evaluating Internet Sources

Most good writers will tell you if you want to be a better writer, you should read. A few good writers will tell you that you can’t be a good writer or even a good person unless life has punched you hard in the face a few times. As a “master” of the library and information sciences, one of the things I learned was to objectively and critically look at all types of media to assess it’s information value, credibility, authority, etc. In the world of so called fake news this is an invaluable skill because I have a very strong and effective bullshit meter and can sniff out fakery pretty quickly.

And now….Book Week.

Posted in Food For Thought | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Cuco’s: A Columbus Classic

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 21, 2018

These was a time, in a Columbus neither long ago or far away when our choices for Mexican food were Chi Chi’s, Garcia’s or Talita’s. The only plus of that era was that we also had Zantigo. Today, our vibrant Latino population gives us access to phenomenal taco trucks, authentic restaurants, grocery stores and even a tortilla maker. But during the transition of the 1990’s a little place called Cuco’s on Henderson Road came on my radar. It started as a grocery store with a small taqueria in the back. Over time, the grocery space shrank and the square footage of the taqueria grew. Then a patio was added and expanded. Then, because this is Columbus, the food truck capital of the Midwest, a food truck for catering was added too. Throughout this journey to the mainstream Cuco’s has not cut quality and many of the dishes are still authentic to tradition and culture.

Strangely, I have never written about Cuco’s in the history of this web log other than a very brief mention in 2008. How bizarre. I can thank the Grumpy Old Man for leading me to Cuco’s recently. The Grumpy Old Man often views me as the bane to his existence with my constant plying of hipster stouts, fortified Shiraz and challenges to his world view. My one redeeming quality with him is my ability to obtain/purloin old bricks. The three readers of CMH Gourmand that are also Bricks of Ohio Blog fans may know my ability to sniff out old bricks for repurposing is legendary in very small circles. Having recently acquired a large quantity of Hocking Block for his needs, I proposed that he compensate me with lunch. As fate would have it, on the day in question, he was having work done at Midas on Henderson Road so he offered either Neighbors Deli or Cucos since both were within walking distance. What a Sophie’s choice for me. I opted with Cuco’s because it dawned on me it had been at least 18 months since I had been there. We agreed on the destination thus the deal was done!

There are several bonus features at Cuco’s that ad value. My favorite is the salsa bar which offers several choices of self serve salsas as well as pickled carrots, onions and such. Cuco’s was one of the first places in town where one could consume real deal fish tacos. Breakfast is served most days of the week as well. The meals are filling, the melted white cheese is addicting and the prices are a reasonable value. Their chips are always fresh and free. There is a lot to like about Cuco’s.

The Grumpy Old Man has spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico and when he goes he is quick to share the running total of how many pork tacos he has consumed at our favorite taco purveyor in Old San Juan, Charlie’s Taco’s. Both he and I have high standards for Mexican and Latino fare and our standards were not compromised in any way during our lunch. We shared barbacoa tacos and tinga. I had some caldo de res (beef soup) to boot. I also introduced The Grumpy Old Man to the concept of the salsa bar, a feature he had not been aware of….how bizarre. I’ll end my post encouraging you keep am old school Mexican restaurant rotation even through we have added so many great new places over the last decade. I’ll also thank you for keeping an old school blog in the rotation even though we are oversaturated with other medias to choose from, I still think writing and stories trump excessive photos and emoji’s.

Cuco's Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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