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Archive for the ‘cheese’ Category

Beer and Cheese – The New Peanut Butter and Chocolate!

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 26, 2008

Pace Hi Carry Out in Clintonville closed in February. The signs of demise were there for a long time – they just never seemed to be able to keep things in I stopped going long ago. Having the wine displayed in the window made me wary as well – you could not do anything worse to a bottle of vino.

UPDATE: Pace Hi reopened August 2008 with new ownership and a lot of work invested in new coolers, stock, etc. This is a great rebound for this part of Clintinville.

I often wonder if a new business concept called Hops and Curd – a high end beer and cheese store might work in Clintonville.

OK – the concept of wine and cheese is well sold.

But beer and cheese…. not so much. I believe beer and cheese is the undiscovered peanut butter and chocolate of the 21st century. So that is why I am posting this post…to build a groundswelling of support for this advanced idea.

And as it just happens – Constance and Kent at Hills Market will be offering a Beer and Cheese Tasting on April 17th – check out the Hills Market web site and get on the mailing list for more details. I have attended two Hills Market wine and cheese tastings – both were wonderful so I expect the beer and cheese pairing to be just as good. The format for the wine tastings has been 6 pairing of wine and cheese with a appetizer for each. The Beer and Cheese tasting will probably have the same format. The cost would be no more than $35. As a bonus, you typically get 10% off anything you buy at that store following the tasting. It a great deal. See my post about the December tasting for more information.

To further sell pairing beer with cheese check out the site below:

A link with all you need to know about beer and cheese

So what do you think – is it time to open Hops and Curd during a recession?


Posted in beverages, cheese, culinary knowledge, food | 6 Comments »

North Market – good to me and great for Columbus

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 19, 2008

59 Spruce Street
Short North

This is what 12 samples of chili look like….

I survived the Fiery Foods Festival at the North Market on February 16th. I had the opportunity to be a judge for the Chili Competition. I sampled 12 chilis in the professional category (with offerings from Alana’s, L’Antibes, Basi Italia and others.) One of the offerings had Mako shark in it…..yep, shark. There was a brief moment of terror on my part. As I was taking my first spoonful, the ingredients were being listed off. Shark was not the the first item mentioned. I am allergic to fish – but maybe not shark as it turns out. After a short pause, it was back to work for the amateur competition and another 12 chilis. Other judges included G.A. Benton from Columbus Alive, Miriam Bowers Abbott from the Other Paper, Lisa – the Restaurant Widow and other local notables. I was in great company. Special thanks to Mary Martineau (marketing director) and David Wible (executive director) for having me there and listening to me ramble on about food. Their continued hard work keeps the market vibrant and appealing to Columbus natives and visitors. Sopressata – did a superb summary of the festival and she (Heather) was able to cover the wing eating contest which I missed out on.

The next day I was at the North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show across the street at the Columbus Convention Center. Many of the people in line to pick up passes were asking me about what to do in our fair city. I had a lot to tell them with North Market on top of my list. Several attendees waiting in line overhead my comments and mentioned their own visits to the market the day before and how impressed they were with what we have here in Columbus.

North Market is a treat for those of us that live here – offering a home to Jeni’s Ice Cream, Curds and Whey, and so many other great independent vendors. The market also supports incredible food events – the Ohio Wine Festival, the Saturday Farmers Market, and the Fall Harvest Festival. All of these North Market endevours put Columbus on the culinary map and keeps it there.

At the Fiery Foods Festival, I spoke with some of the volunteers that do so much to support the market by helping with events….I may have to get my ass in gear and pitch in as well.

Anyway, if you have never been to the North Market, now is the time to support this community asset. I usually go early in the morning on a Saturday to scoop up some farmers market specials, then I pop inside to stock up on cheese, free samples and usually a Jeni’s Ice Cream sandwich for later. On Sundays, I like parking for free near Goodale Park, then walking over for lunch which I take upstairs so I can watch the market in action below.

Posted in cheese, chocolate, Columbus, culinary knowledge, ice cream, markets | 3 Comments »

Hills Market Holiday Wine and Cheese Tasting

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 5, 2007

The Hills Market
7860 Olentangy River Road
Worthington Hills
(S.R. 315, just North of I-270)

The Hills Market continues to host great food events. I stumbled into the Holiday Wine and Cheese Tasting on November 29th. Hills does a Thursday wine tasting which is 4 pours for $2 from 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM. I thought I had shown up for that but it turned out that I landed into something much better. As luck would have it, there was a cancellation and I was able to slide in.

For $30, this is what I sipped and supped on. The pours were generous and the samples were sized to please.

J. Laurens Cremant de Limoux (French sparkling wine) – may pre date champagne…

paired with – Brie Le Chatelain (French)

Wolfberger Cremant d’ Alsace Rose (French bubbly)

paired with Wenleydale with Cranberries (British – well liked by Wallace and Gromit)

Elizabeth Spencer Sauvignon Blanc 2006, (California)

paired with Mountain Gorgonzala (Spain)

Clean Slate Riesling 2006, (Germany)

paired with Chevre (goat’s milk cheese) (USA)

Juan Gil Monastrell 2006 (Spain)

paired with Spanish Romano

Galil Mountain Shiraz/Cabernet 2003, (Israel) – Kosher Red Wine…really

paired with Boursin with Cracked Peppercorn (France) – Kosher as well

As if this was not enough, the staff mixed in some tapa like appetizers. The best of the bunch was a halved fresh fig (received that day) stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in prosciutto. This was so good, I groveled for a leftover sample. These two figs were worth at least $5 to me.The event started at 6:30 PM and intended to wrap up at 8:30 PM. We were all having so much fun and good conversation that we lingered past 9 PM. As a bonus we each received a 10% coupon for the market.

The event was created by wine coordinator Constance Begue and cheesemonger Kent Rand. Each offered plenty of commentary on the wine and cheese sampled as well as everything their departments had to offer. Hills plans to host events like this once a month. I’ll be back.

I mentioned Stinking Bishop cheese to Kent. This is a cheese other local cheese shops have told me they could not obtain. Kent called me Saturday (two days later) to let me know he would have some for me by Tuesday. As a bonus he gave me a print out with extra information about the stinky cheese I wanted.

I also stumbled on a good source for cheese and other gourmet information while looking for a Stinking Bishop link. The Reluctant Gourmet has all types of good gastronaut information.

The Hills is worth a visit any time as an alternative retail chains. Sign up on their site with your e-mail to receive updates on special events and an occasional excellent coupon.

Posted in cheese, markets, wine | 2 Comments »

Mail Order Cheese, Chocolate and Brownies… oh my!

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 2, 2007

Dedicated readers may recall my run to Amish country a few months ago. I drove by a sign for Steiner Cheese (a place I had never sampled) but I did not have time to check out their store because I was trying to get to Pearl Valley Cheese before closing time. Shortly after this cheese trip, I read that Steiner won several awards at the Ohio State Fair for their cheeses….drat.

I could not let this missed opportunity slip by but alas, I had no time to drive back. I did some research and found I could order online.

Steiner Cheese

I ordered the Farmer’s Cheese, Aged Cheddar and Aged Swiss. All three were great. The pricing was reasonable even with shipping added in. The Aged Cheddar was my favorite and the two pounds I ordered did not last a week.

I should mention that Pearl Valley does mail order as well. I tried them out a couple years ago and they did a fine job. The only downside with them is they sell in gift packs online.

On a related note, at about the same time I ordered from Steiner, I ordered chocolate from my favorite mail order chocolate company – Bissingers.

The photo of the chocolate did not come out so well. However, this is a photo of 1 pound of chocolate. If you order from the catalog at select times of year, Bissingers will send you a free pound of chocolate – Milk or Dark. I have tried different things with this free chocolate over the years, but my favorite thing to do is break off a piece of dark chocolate (I don’t bother with milk chocolate) and spoon on some chunky peanut butter. The best regular catalog item is the Almond Nut Bark. Bissingers Chocolate is among the best dark chocolate I have tried anywhere. They are based in St. Louis (I discovered them while there for work) and trace their roots to French chocolate making in the 1600’s.

A final find. Dayton’s Dorothy Lane Market does mail order – which for me means mail order Killer Brownies. If you place an order, say Sandie – via the Gourmand sent you.

Posted in cheese, chocolate, culinary knowledge, Ohio | 2 Comments »

More Amish Cheese Please!!!!

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 25, 2007

I make a run to Amish Country at least once per year. My mission – cultural appreciation, nice scenery, antiques, fresher air… all possible reasons. I go for cheese, anything else is secondary. You can’t throw a cow without hitting a cheese factory in Amish Country. Here is my lowdown on three of the best.

Ohio Barn

This barn is in pre Amish country – in Utica, near Velvet Ice Cream.

cheese place

First stop is Guggisberg Cheese Factory – which was my first taste of Amish cheese years ago. You can buy their rounds of baby swiss at most Kroger stores but this spot is still worth a visit. The factory is located in Charm which is quintessential Amish Country – buggies on the road and Amish peddling all kinds of things by the side of said road. You can get a variety of free samples at the cheese store. There are also good prices on popular Guggisberg cheeses. One of the best deals and the most adventuresome is the variety bag of different samples, usually including some of their less popular cheeses and bacon bit cheese. Mmmm – bacon. Guggisberg is small and a bit cramped. It usually is crowded – so plan on some extra time to maneuver through on the weekends.

tower of chesse

This is the cuckoo clock tower at the Guggisberg factory – part of the Swiss aura you will find throughout this part of Amish Country.


Heini's Mural

Continuing with the Swiss motiff here is one of the murals at Heini’s Cheese Chalet.


Heini’s has the largest selection of cheese and the largest number of free samples – probably about 60 types. There are three freezer rows to walk through and all of the sampling is self service using toothpicks. It can feel a little bit like you are part of a herd of cattle, but the variety is good and during the week – there is not much of a crowd. You can also sample a variety of fudges and other products here as well. Don’t get discouraged when you see the line – not everyone is standing in line for the cash register – most are just stocking up on free cheese.

Heini’s large complex also has a store with all types of food and food related products as well as a deli/sandwich counter. This is a little off the beaten path in Millersburg but worth the effort. If you use back roads when leaving – you can avoid most of the backlogged traffic in the center of town (on Saturday and Sunday). Hey English, if you are looking for cookie cutters shaped like the 50 states – this is where to find them.


Kauffmann’s Country Bakery

Kauffman’s Country Bakery is located across the road from Heini’s. It is stocked with excellent breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and all kinds of fresh Amish foodstuffs. If you need bread to go with your cheese – this is the place to get it.


Pearl Valley Cheese Factory

Pearl Valley is my favorite place of the three. Pearl is not always on the map and it is very off the beaten path (on SR 93 between Baltic and Fresno) for most of Amish Country. This is a very plain operation – nothing fancy – no costumes, no Swiss towers, and no flash like their competition. It is all about the cheese here. The staff are friendly and they do not hold back on the samples or sage cheese advice. You can usually expect to find a charity bake sale going on here during the summer to support a local school or organization. On my last trip here (July 2007) – I arrived 10 minutes after closing and they still let me in and offered samples even though they had put everything away for the day. That was impressive even after a long day of cheese chewing. They do a good mail order business as well. I really like their aged Cheddar and Colby cheeses.


Pearl Valley

Posted in cheese, culinary knowledge, food, Ohio | 5 Comments »