CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Archive for the ‘beverages’ Category

Market Street Soda Works

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 25, 2016

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When I heard about the opening of Market Street Soda Works in Newark, I was excited to check out what they had to offer. The challenge was finding the time to do it. The business opened in June 2016 in the revitalized (and still under construction and development) downtown Newark. In a world where we walk into a grocery store and find ourselves overwhelmed with options or open a restaurant menu with ten pages it is refreshing to find a place that does just one thing…..carbonated beverages.

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Before I move on, let’s settle one thing. A century old debate is whether Pop is Soda or is Soda Pop? In some parts of the country the use of the “wrong” term can be grounds for ridicule. I go on the record as being a Pop man. Soda Pop when condensed to just one word for efficiency is best served with the term Pop. Pop is pop….no debate about what it is. Whereas Soda can be soda water, a soda fountain, baking soda, etc., etc. Pop sends a clear message and soda sends a mixed message about the subject at hand. That being said, I fully support Market Street Soda Works in both name and mission. Using the KISS principle….Keep It Simple – Soda.

Owner Tim Argyle has a life long love of root beers, red pops, apple beers and the like. Tim has curated an impressive assortment of over 100 sodas from all over the country. In my extensive Pop (soda) research I have not found a better selection anywhere in Ohio. In addition to what is on the selves the Works offers four sodas on draft. These are supplemented by a soda fountain to accent those sodas with ice cream to create tasty floats. All in all the end result is a carbonation conundrum – what to drink and what to take home.

I found more than a few sodas (pops) that I have never been able to locate in the Buckeye State. Seeing everything on display I was thrilled to see old regional soda companies from around the country, many from the 1920’s are still popping around. I was also excited to see some many new “craft” sodas that have popped up in the last few years mirroring the rise of craft beer throughout the country. Pre-Prohibition most communities has a local brewery and a local pop – often times created in the same place. Drink local works just as well with beer as with pop in my book.

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Market Street Soda works is open Tuesdays and Fridays 11 am to 8 pm to align with the Farmers Market schedule. Food trucks set up near the entrance to offer a food option to pair with the pops. If you are anxious to excite your taste buds with new flavors, Market Street Soda Works is well worth the drive to Newark.

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Market Street Soda Works
14 E Market St, Newark, OH 43055
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Posted in beverages, Ohio, Road Trip | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Mad About Making Cider at Mad Moon Cider!

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 29, 2015

One of the best things about Columbus Brew Adventures is the diversity of people I get to work with and learn from. Several months ago I met Peter Moon, one of the owners of Mad Moon Cider at a tasting. After trying his products and hearing a bit of his story, I knew I had to get some tour groups into his space. I tested out the concept with private groups over the winter and each trip there was a crowd favorite. At each tour, I picked up a bit more of his story while meeting his wife and cider making partner Sally. I really became hooked on the craft of craft cider.

When Peter mentioned that they sometimes need volunteers to help with cider production I promptly volunteered. Then the stars and the Moons aligned and I had my opportunity to report for duty. Our team was small – the two Moons, myself and a fella I think may one day become a folk legend, Vic. I’ll digress about Vic for a bit. Vic has been there, done that, survived countless mishaps and misadventures and somehow thrives on doing great acts of endurance and physical strength – most of this seems to be fueled by a daily regimen of honey, apple cider vinegar and some assorted juices. As I observed at the end of my service, if Vic had lived in an earlier era, we would today measure speed and production on Vicpower, not horsepower.

Anyway, step one of cider production is the sort apples. In our case, we had some multiple 800 lb crates of apples that had been stored over the winter. While these apples make great cider, they also require significantly more sorting than other batches. If you have heard the phrase “one bad apple spoils the bunch”, it is true and we had to search for them among 1000’s of apples in each crate.

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As the apples get sorted into milk crates and buckets, the apples go down a chute of a device that looks a lot like a chipper to get mashed into apple pulp.

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The pulp gets wheeled over to get crafted into sheets of “cheese”. The job of the cheese maker is to take scoops of pulp, and using a plastic mold and cheesecloth, create squares of apple pulp to stack on other squares to slide down to a press to squash (with 1000’s of pounds of pressure) to create juice.

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Once the press gets going, the juice really starts to flow (down a long open trough) to a bin. Once the bin gets to a certain height, a pump gets switched on to transfer the juice to a holding tank (during my tenure I think we made about 300 gallons over four hours). After the pressing, the square molds are unfolded to start the “cheese” making process again. After the pulp is mashed, the residual looks like a very dry energy bar made by an eighties era hippy.

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All in all, I was a great afternoon. If you are familiar with the story of John Henry (there is a statue down where my kin reside) if there was a production contest between a machine, Vic and myself, Vic would beat the combined efforts of the machine and my human self. It was hard, messy work but worth the effort. You can see my work shirt below….taken near the beginning of my labors.

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For my efforts I was rewarded with good company, a nice lunch and plenty of cider to take home.

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Others things I could do in the future include bottling and capping, using the equipment you see below. The capper is pretty amazing, it was made out of a broken drill press Peter picked up for $50 (worth more than that by weight alone at a scrap yard) and mounted with a special capping mold he found on the internet. The MacGuyvered tool works like a charm. In fact much of what is in the cider house is customer made, crafted, reverse engineered and conjured up which is the nature of any small start up business. Mad Moon has a lot a stories to share and these are just a few of them. (FYI: the next Columbus Brew Adventures Tour to Mad Moon is August 30th).

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Posted in Behind the Counter, beverages, culinary knowledge, Locally Sourced | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Victor Ecimovich: Brewer Laurate of Columbus

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 27, 2015

Victor Ecimovich III is a name you probably can’t pronounce and may never heard of. While interviewing Ecimovich (at a bar of course) we were approached by Kelly Sauber. No slouch in brewing experience, Sauber brewed for Marietta Brewing Company for fifteen years, then started Fifth Element Spirits and West End Cider House in Athens. Sauber apologized profusely for interrupting but he wanted to “shake the hand of (Ecimovich) one of his brewing heroes.” Sauber shared that one of his inspirations to pursue brewing was the beer Ecimovich was crafting in the 1990’s.

Introduced to brewing when a friend threw in the towel on a home brewing kit, Ecimovich decided he would “like to give it a shot.” He always enjoyed cooking and figuring out how to make things so he quickly discovered that he preferred yeast and hops to his electrical engineering studies. On some level, he was fated to ferment since his grandfather had been a brewer for Meister Brau when it was a favored Windy City beer. Ecimovich found his way to the Siebel Institute’s brewing program (luckily located in his hometown of Chicago) “as an independent.” Ecimovich was one of only two students paying his way for an eleven-week course, the rest of his colleagues were sent by breweries from around the world. Ecimovich made an impression on his instructors so before he studies were over, he found himself brewing beer on weekends at Millstream Brewing in Iowa (a 3 ½ hour drive away). When offered the position Ecimovich recalls “I knew if I thought about it too long, I would talk myself out of it, so I just said yes.”

Ecimovich’s recollections of brewing with the traditional German brewers at Millstream sound (to this writer) like drill instructor scenes from the movie Full Metal Jacket. After a few years of training (or surviving the heavy handed hazing) in the traditional techniques of lagers, helles and bocks, Ecimovich found his way to a new upstart called Goose Island back home in Chicago. In 1994, Ecimovich, having never visited Columbus signed on as brewer from the Hoster Brewing Company in the Brewery District. During the hey day of the 1990’s the corner of High and Hoster was the place to be in Columbus in part due to the wide variety of highly regarded beers Ecimovich was brewing.

In the case of Hoster (closed in 2002) the glory days ended when, the Brewery District lost its allure as The Arena District and Easton caught and kept customers attention. In 2004, Daniel Myers partnered with Ecimovich (Vice President of Brewing) to buy the rights to the Hoster brand and recipes in order to revive Hoster’s signature Goldtop beer. Production resumed in 2005 with Ecimovich balancing overseeing offsite contract brewing of Goldtop (currently in north east Ohio) while working in the construction business.

Today Ecimovich finds it is “an exciting time for beer drinkers and brewers alike”. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Ecimovich (like his other band of microbrewing brothers) had to brew beer that “would win the hearts and minds” of a new wave of beer drinkers. If someone “tried a craft beer they didn’t like, you lost them” as a customer and a craft beer drinker. “Subpar breweries either had to get their act together quickly or go out of business” and many did tap out during the craft beer bubble of 15 years ago. Craft beer has changed a lot since then. “Thank goodness” say Ecimovich, “now there are so many bars with fifty taps, more breweries than I can count, and new brewery seems to open every month or even every two weeks.” Ecimovich equates the “old school” brewers and the new, bearded kids on the block, with downhill skiers and snow boarders doing half pipes – he can appreciate what the new brewers are doing but he is happy to keep speeding down the mountain doing what he knows best.


Gold Top

The Three Eras of Hoster Brewing

1836 to 1919
The Hoster’s were the first family of brewing in Columbus. The Hoster Brewing Company was open longer than any other brewery past or present. During the heyday of the beer barons of the 1890’s, Hoster was one of the top ten breweries in the country producing up to 300,000 barrels per year; in comparison Columbus Brewing Company (today) does about 12,000.

1989 to 2002
The brewpub located at Hoster and High was the center of nightlife, food and beer in the Brewery District until other entertainment areas stole the limelight and allure of the area. The brewpub closed in 2001 and brewing stopped in 2002.

2004 to present
While production has waxed and waned, Hoster Goldtop (a signature beer of all three eras) had been brewed and kegged our of town for limited consumption under the watchful eye and experienced palate of Victor Ecimovich. The most likely spot to find a pour of Goldtop is Quaker Steak and Lube at Polaris.

What is Hoster Goldtop?
Goldtop is a flagship from all three eras of Hoster Brewing in Columbus. The beer is a Dortmunder / Export Lager. The gold / pale lager is named after a city and a brewery in Germany – Dortmunder.

Posted in beer, beverages, Columbus, culinary knowledge, FooderHero | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Rambling House Soda Pop: The Toast of the Town

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 17, 2014

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Rambling House Soda Pop is definitely a family affair. The business is owned and operated by husband and wife John and Jen Lynch. John’s brother works in operation full-time crafting soda and all of the many tasks that are needed for soda making and bar management. John’s dad is involved in the business as well. It was a long rambling road to get to Rambling House. John has operated a nano brewery in a garage at his house for about a decade. He made great craft beer and soda to share with family and friends. Every year John and Jen host a party with beer and soda as the focus of the evening. I was able to attend once and I was instantly enamoured with the beverages.

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The family had planned to open a brewery and eventually secured a building they thought would be a great location to grow a small brewery and taproom. However, even a small brewery requires a large amount of capital and over the course of the last two years many other breweries have tapped into the local market making the scene much more competitive. John has always been dedicated to his dream so he picked up a job at growler shop and started working for a local brewery to expand his knowledge and experience. Last year, the family decided to take a different path on the way to their dream. They decided to focus on craft soda and operating the building as an event space.

Last year, during Comfest, they decided to roll out their sodas and use the festival to get feedback on their different flavors and recipes. The sodas were a hit. Shortly after, they started transforming the space into a production facility, bar and music venue. Rambling House now offers a full service bar with a focus on local spirits and craft beers as well as cocktails which highlight their craft sodas. The space itself has become a destination for bluegrass and folk music with the place popping four to five nights with great local and regional acts. The Lynch’s have also partnered with Paddy Wagon and Tatoheads to provide food on peak days. It is a great venue. (Sidenote: Galaxy Cafe fans of yesteryear will be happy to know that Ricky Barnes plays Bluegrass in the house on occasion – se blurry photo below).

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A few months ago I interviewed John on Foodcast so you can listen and learn more at the link -> HERE.

You can find Rambling House straddling the border between Old North Columbus (known to some as So Hud) and Clintonville at Hudson and Indianola. Since the John and Jen are long time Clintonvillians the space also shows their committment to keeping their business uber-Local. Soda selections include Cola, Root Beer, Sasparilla, Orange and Ginger Ale. The sodas can also be found at Weilands and The Ohio Taproom where they can be purchased in growlers. They drink well on their own or in a cocktail.

The best place to check out the sodas is at Rambling House itself before, during or after a show.

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Rambling House Soda Pop
310 East Hudson Street
SoHud

Posted in beverages, Clintonville, cocktails, events | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

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

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 21, 2014

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I debated whether to write about Angelo. Not because he doesn’t deserve a wagonload of kudos but like, me, he’d rather stay out of the spotlight and the limelight and practice his craft quietly. I mean he does work underground for part of the week. A couple of things tipped the scale for me. First, I recently wrote about Dan Kraus from That Food Truck and in the process of that I decided to add a new occasional series with the category heading – Fooderhero. There are many people in our community that have been quietly growing and planting seeds of greatness and Angelo is definitely at the top of the list.

The other thing that guided my decision was a story that Angelo recently told. He rides his bike to work nearly everyday, even in the weather we have had this year. As he was sharing the story, he described how he had the snowy Olentangy bikeway to himself and while riding along appreciating solitude and scenery he saw a Blue Herron. He then observed, for some people having a moment like that would be the highlight of their day as they commute to a job they don’t love. However, Angelo does pedal to a job he loves and he engages in his craft with a passion that is infectious. Angelo bikes to Barley’s Ale House #1 a few days a week and to Barley’s Smokehouse and Brewpub a few other days per week. At each destination he creates exceptional beers served from towers, engines, casks, barrels and firkins.

Angelo serves as a role model in many things he does. He has biked to work for years, commuting by two wheels long before others considered making that type of commitment. As for brewing, he has engaged in that trade for over twenty years. And while the volume of award-winning beers he has helped craft are well worthy of the accolade of being a Fooderhero, what really tips the scale is all of the encouragement and support he gives the rest of the brewing community. I’ll provide a few examples. If you see a bike parked in front a brewery afterhours, there is a good chance Angelo is inside sampling a beer, buying a growler or sharing beercraft lore with someone. There is also a good chance he is laughing. In the not so distant past, he was en route to meet his wife for dinner and just before his destination, he noticed that the lights were on at Four String Brewing so he popped in to see how Dan Cochran was doing. At that time, Dan was working fulltime during the day and then fulltime at night brewing and growing his own business. Angelo, without a prompt, spent 30 or more minutes helping Dan mash (that is the pre beer mixture that requires a lot of intensive physical work) while he waited for his dinner to get plated. As a third and final (but a mere drop in the bucket for what Angelo has done in the craft community) example, as much as Angelo loves people, he (like me) is an introvert so spending time in the public eye on a brewing day is not the most energizing activity he could engage in. Yet he does it like a pro. For Columbus Brew Adventures, Angelo walks guests through the history of Barleys in the course of four beers. Each beer has a great story and Angelo is a master storyteller. Interspersed with the information is the most memorable, distinctive laugh I’ve ever heard. It is a laugh of pure joy, passion, inspiration and celebration. And by the second beer there is not a person in the room that does not love Angelo. I have listened to him speak about the beers Barley’s brews over twenty times and I could listen to the spiel another 200 more. Each time to shares his tales, I learn something new and I get the satisfaction of watching 14 people transformed from casual observers to passionate craft brewing evangelists in less than 30 minutes.

As if the above was not more than enough there are a few more things I would like to share. Angelo started in beercraft as a part-time worker at the Winemakers Shop, which inspired two generations of home brewers and more than a handful of the brewers in practice at breweries around town today. Angelo is a lover of food and a long time supporter of the local restaurant scene, but it is in the arena of Food Trucks that he has excelled as a supporter. You are as likely to see his bike parked at a food truck as at a brewery and he offers the same infectious support to these new businesses as he does to every brewer he crosses paths with.

So as a tip of the hat to Angelo, I am only showing his bike in the post, instead of one of my many photos of him in action so he can stay under the radar. Cheers!

Posted in beer, beverages, culinary knowledge, FooderHero, Sub Dude | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Brown Bag Deli: Deli-icious

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 6, 2014

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In the tale of the two deli’s of German Village, the story has been lopsided to Katzinger’s. It is a saga of north vs. south. Katzinger’s is the destination Deli on the main drag. Brown Bag is tucked away in a side corner on Whitter on the south end of German Village. Brown Bag is smaller and offers a more limited selection but it feels like an insider’s secret hangout.

What does Brown Bag bring to the table? It serves up much more than the name would suggest.

Take a look at the menu board above. In addition to a wide selections of sandwiches (cold, hot, toasted, grilled, vegan, vegetarian and more), you can build you own sandwich, choose from a selection of salads, soups, flatbreads, homemade sides and more. The sides are more than the typical potato and macaroni salad. The fresh selection of sides varies and it is always challenging to decide on just one. Deviled eggs are a standby and always in good supply. The dessert choices are deeper than one would expect from a kitchen this size. I’ve never encountered a dessert here that I did not like.

A few other options deserve a shout out. Brown Bag has the largest variety of gourmet potato chips I have encountered outside of Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati. The same applies to the number of gourmet craft soda pop to choose from. If you want ice cream, you can always find a pint of Jeni’s in the cold case.

The Brown Bag may be the Cinderella of German Village eateries and area delis, but it is well worth repeat visits.

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Brown Bag Deli on Urbanspoon

Brown Bag Web Site

Posted in beverages, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

A New Chef at Latitude 41

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 13, 2013

I have written about Latitude 41 before. As a quick recap, the restaurant is located in the Renaissance Hotel downtown. While many people have low expectations for hotel restaurants, the Renaissance and their culinary partner Chef Dean Max, have very high expectations. The hotel sourced several very impressive chefs to date, including one of my personal favorites the departed (and missed) Chef David MacLennan. (Note: The downtown Hilton has Bill Glover at the helm so hotel restaurants in Columbus are bringing back the hey day when hotels restaurants were THE destination for diners).

Michael Koenig became executive chef at Latitude 41 in July. He brings over 20 years of culinary experience to the kitchen. Restaurants on his resume include these bay area notables: Café Delluchi Kuleto’s Restaurant, Scala’s Bistro, Restaurant Zibibbo (Palo Alto) and the Renaissance Stanford Court Hotel restaurant. Some local residents will want to know that he attended Michigan State University so we know the chef is well grounded in midwestern palates and football etiquette. The chef credits his mother and her Lebanese heritage for teaching him about food and ingredients. As with previous chefs at the restaurant, he is committed to sourcing local where possible and integrating those flavors into dishes. I had an opportunity to sample a tasting dinner with the Chef and I was very impressed with what he had to dish out.

Chef Koenig continues to source local when possible and plans to expand on that commitment with a larger roof top garden and if the stars align – a chicken coop for fresh eggs for the restaurant. If that happens, I hope to write about that and hope not to report that a chicken tried to swim in the Renaissance’s pool. Chef is also looking into adding a beehive to the mix on the rooftop. I like how he thinks.

A few notable local purveyors featured in the menu. Watershed bourbon is a star ingredient in the house made caramel sauce. Empty Watershed bottles were used for water at our table which was a nice aesthetic and good repurposing to boot. SaraBee Honey is also incorporated into some of the dishes for sweet results.

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Favorites from previous menus will continue including the Lobster Mac & Cheese but we should expect to see some changes in the menu as well as weekly specials based on what is fresh and in season. I have always enjoyed the flat breads at Latitude 41 however I now look forward to rediscovering them since Chef Koenig has changed the dough recipe and is focused on the dough being prepped by hand instead of rolling pin….that is old school and should make a good thing even better. Chef Koenig has interests outside of the kitchen as well. He has an interest in making mixers for the bar and makes an excellent Limoncello, both regular and creamy.

I asked the Chef, how his transition has been to Columbus. I know for me, if I was in the bay area as long as he was, I would have a little trouble transitioning to the Midwest. Chef reports that he has adapted quite easily to life in the capital city, he has discovered some fine restaurants and as well known, the cost of living is much more palatable. He also enjoys being a 4 1/2 hour drive from family instead of a transcontinental flight. Welcome to Columbus Chef, I look forward to the new ideas you bring to the table.

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Latitude 41 website

Posted in beverages, Locally Sourced, restaurants | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Brewed Awakening

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 7, 2013

So what have I been up to you might ask? Well, I moved back to a buzz cut, finally conceding that I have more head than hair now. I neglected to mention that I won a Vendy Award and last and very much not least have you heard about Columbus Brew Adventures.

Brewed awakenings

I have often immersed myself in a subject to learn more about it. I became fascinated with Australia so I got myself there six times for a total of 4 1/2 months, visited all the states and territories and make several lifelong friends in the process. Then I wanted to get a job at OCLC and improve my research skills for writing so I earned a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science….well, I did become a better researcher. And as you readers know, a few other things caught my attention: donuts, pizza, Food Trucks and such.

And now…..Beer and Business.

Partnering with (and learning a lot, every day) Bethia and Andy from Columbus Food Adventures we have been working on and since September 7th running beer tours. There have been countless meetings with brewers throughout the area. Even more e-mails and phone calls. There has been a good amount of time “product” testing as well. The brewing community is a great group of people – passionate about their craft and growing a craft beer culture in our city. I am honored to be able to work with these business owners and immersing myself into their culture. I am learning about more beer and myself every day.

Our downtown brewery tour has been very popular. We explore four breweries and even through I have done my research, I learn something new from each place we visit and each brewer we work with every time I guide a tour. We have also run a tour out to Licking County to visit Brews Cafe, Granville Brewing, Homestead Beer Company and Buckeye Lake Brewery. We made a run to Rockmill Brewery, Dancing Tree Distillery and Jackie O’s in Athens. As fun as that tour was, I was amazed that a couple drove in from Dayton to join us for a multiple hour tour and then drive back home. We are adding more tours this month to explore the breweries of Grandview and our local distilleries. Other ideas are fermenting as well. Pizza and Beer sound good? Maybe a progressive tour of a league of restaurants?

And of course, our tours include food to go with the beer. As you can guess, we take that part of the tour pretty seriously too. As for our beer tourists, each group has been fun to guide around. From craft beer neophytes, to home brewers and beer experts everyone has enjoyed the tours, tried beers they might not have tried before and even at places they might have visited on their own, taken something away they would not have without being on the tour. We learn something at each brewery be it history, how ingredients influence the brewing process, or sampling a beer flight that showcases twenty years of microbrewing in Columbus. In every case, I guests leave wanting to explore even more and go back to try these places again.

In the process I have learned to drive a 14 passenger van, initially felt like a freshman at Food Tour University, lost the company cell phone (which was one of the top 13 worst days of my life), and every day found myself nudged further out of my comfort zone. While learning I have found that there is so much more to learn, I guess that makes sense, beer has been around since the 5th century BC. I knew a good deal about beer before I walked down this road. Now that I jumped into the brewing culture of Columbus I find myself in the catbird seat observing something I believe is going to become a big part of the character of Columbus, a craft beer and distilling culture that will earn a lot respect in the industry. Columbus Brew Adventures is exactly that, an adventure. Care to join us on one?

Posted in beer, Behind the Counter, beverages, cocktails, Food For Thought, Gastronomic Stimulus | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Small Bytes: Pistacia Vera – Brunch and Other Stuff

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 17, 2011

I had an axe to grind regarding brunch at Pistacia Vera. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pistacia Vera and I think the world of Spencer and Anne. Here’s the thing, as you know, I am not a fan of breaking fast (reasons outlined logically in previous posts). I might even be the Grinch of breakfast. I was miffed during the most recent Dine Originals Week. Historically my Dine Originals Week ritual is to get the $10 Pistacia Vera tasting box to cap off the week. Well, last time there was no box just a brunch deal. Hrumph!

I started to hear high praise for the brunch options from many credible sources. I am not a fan of quiche (only because it is so often prepared poorly) but quiches as well as Shirred Eggs and a Cottage Ham & Brie Sandwich were repeatedly mentioned in my presence. Hmm. Sandwich on a Pistacia Vera Croissant….I could do that and sniff out these other offerings in the process.

I went on a reconnaissance meal with my diner-in-chief. I was happy to see Jim Budros sweeping the front walk at the German Village shop (Jim is a BBQ Master, Pizza Purist and father of Anne and Spencer). Looking at the menu, I was hooked so we committed to two dine in brunch options.

We tried the Shirred Eggs: two eggs, baked in cream with parmigiano, oregano, garlic, herbs, and tomato fondue. This is served with a toasted, sliced croissant and house-made preserves.

The verdict? Superior, perfect, excellent. This now on my top three breakfast/brunch picks (the other two being the Pattycake Bakery Orange Sticky Bun and the Egg Sandwich at Explorer’s Club).

Selection number two was the Cottage Ham and Brie Breakfast sandwich: smoked cottage ham, fromage d’affinois, Dijon mustard, cornichons, fresh greens on a toasted whole wheat croissant. Thoughts on this one? Also excellent, easy to share and conveniently, could hold its own in the lunch category.

These two entrees made for a great meal, but there is much more than makes brunch at Pistacia Vera special and well worth the effort. Columbus is fortunate to have several excellent coffee roasters. One that tends to stay off the radar due to a consumer unfriendly approach to opening hours is Cafe Brioso. Pistacia Vera serves several Briso blends and sells bags of ground Briso coffees. Having access to this coffee to drink and buy at more customer friendly hours is a boon. Pairing Pistacia Vera with Brioso is genius.

Maybe this is starting to read like a commercial or product endorsement? Well, this paragraph is brought to you by Pistacia Vera Preserves. My modest serving with the Cottage Ham and Brie sandwich was good enough to inspire me to purchase two jars. If you are reading this before Christmas, a few purchases at Pistacia Vera could cure your own Grinchness or make you the hero of a holiday gift exchange.

And, let’s not forget the primary reason to visit Pistachia Vera – chocolates, macaroons, tortes and more, oh my! We opted for a pre-brunch appetizer of a Buche de Noel (Christmas Log). A slice of log is a great way to celebrate the season and Pistacia Vera makes the best in Columbus.

Humbug? I am now the Grinch who ate breakfast. Thanks Pistacia Vera. One final, but vital note. the Hot Chocolate at Pistacha Vera is the best in town. Better and less expensive than Northstar and Jeni’s. This proclamation may be sacrilege to these two culinary holy cows but if you charge $4.50 for hot chocolate it should be orgasmic, Pistacia Vera hits the mark at $3. Now I am off to put antlers on CMH Tobias.

Pistacia Vera
541 South Third Street
German Village
614.220.9070

Pistacia Vera on Urbanspoon

Posted in bakery, beverages, breakfast, chocolate, desserts | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Rusty Bucket Wrangles Rogue Root Beer

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 27, 2011

I get many incredible offers. Most come from people in African countries that will give me millions of dollars just to help transfer some money from their country to ours to cut down on paper work and avoid hassle for the estate of a deceased relative with a horribly misspelled name. Some offers come from Russian mail order brides and maybe related to that, it seems that there are some medications I should be taking, I that I can get cheaply. Maybe I should consider the mail order bride option.

The type of offers I would like to get would include: Hey, you are awesome and resourceful and blindingly creative, here is a job that does not suck; or yes you really should write for us, starting now, because you are not boring or pretentious. These offers don’t come and years of trying for them have not yet been productive.

So when the Rusty Bucket asked if I wanted to drink root beer and get some remuneration for my trouble I was curious. I read further. It seems that said root beer was Rogue Root Beer. That fact changed no thanks to yes, pretty please PDQ. As fate would have it, I had Rogue Root Beer in PDX (Portland) recently which was a highlight of five days that were a low point.

I get an interesting array of offers from the food industry that tempt my wallet and threaten to stretch the scope of my blog and my ethics. I almost always say no. The Rusty Bucket offer was perfect. I knew I liked the root beer. I did not know I could get it in Columbus so that knowledge was a gift to me. Rusty Bucket is a locally owned company and aligned with Cameron Mitchell Restaurants so I could support them without hesitation. I knew I was going to rush out for root beer anyway so for the price of gas and a mug of root beer – game on! Yes, I will write for root beer so here we go.

It seems that if you are planning on going Rogue, Columbus is the place to do it. Rusty Bucket charmed this Portland-centric purveyor of tasty drinks into sending most of it’s product line here for serving. This is unique for Columbus and Ohio and the Midwest and most of the country for that matter. The only other states that have Rogue Root Beer are Oregon and Washington. You can pretend you are in Portland while sitting inside 270.

I am not a big pop drinker (we say pop in Columbus, accept it, move on). I NEED to have a coke with pizza to complete the experience. However, I am an absolute sucker for a good Root Beer. I have invested a good deal of time searching for the perfect root beer experience. I found a few that are worth traveling for – Virgil’s Root Beer and Sioux City Root Beer were my brews of choice.

Why might you want to make the effort to try Rogue Root Beer? Because they make it right and because Rusty Bucket pours it right. Rogue approaches their root beer with the same attention to detail and devotion they invest in their craft beers. Their root beer is made with 100% pure dark brown sugar. It has a nice dose of Sassafras. This is draft root beer, served from a tap into a cold, frosted mug with just a bit of foaming head. It may be the most perfect root beer experience in town. Visions of childhood bike rides to the Clintonville A&W drive-in come to mind when I take a sip. To appeal to the child in you or the child tagging along with you, Rusty Bucket also offers kid sized mugs and root beer floats in both sizes.

If you want to completely go Rogue, Rusty Bucket serves several Rogue beers on draft. You can also sample Rogue’s other roguish spirits including Dead Guy Whiskey, Spruce Gin and White Rum. A daily drink special involves soaking a giant chunk of pineapple with brown sugar, vanilla beans and Rogue white rum, then adding some ice and more rum. Yum.

On Tuesdays, a featured drink is the Rogue Spruce Gin Gimlet. I had not been to Rusty Bucket for a while so I decided to try out multiple locations in my root beer research. For your first Rogue run I suggest trying out the Lane Avenue location and hoping that Katie is tending bar when you walk in. She knows all things Rogue and can talk you through your choices while you enjoy a frosty root beer.

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