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Paulaner Biers Pair Well with a Bavarian Focused Father’s Day. Prost!

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 11, 2022

Father’s Day gift giving is no small task. Typical and non-typical fathers are challenging to buy for, offering no hints or preferences about what they might want to have. I my case, I am very clear about my desires, I don’t want any presents and I don’t want a card unless it is homemade. What are sons and daughters and maybe mothers to do? For me, I want experiences and father/son time.

A conflation of ideas, events and opportunities inspired me to create this post. This is my sixth rotation being on the father end of Father’s Day. I love being a Father, it is been the greatest gift of a lifetime and I can not imagine a more fun son to help me learn about what it means to be a dad. However, I harbor a dread of Father’s Day. My dad died on Father’s Day in a foreign country while I was talking to him on the phone thousands of miles away. There was nothing I could do. He died alone with the phone in his hand There are no words for that circumstance. This year is the tenth anniversary of that moment. So I had a need for distraction.

Fate stepped in at the just the right time. The distributors of Paulaner beers contacted me to see if I was looking for any Father’s Day content. I was not planning on a Father’s day post but I was certainly interested in an opportunity to drink a beer. My dad was always up from a free beer (as long as it was not one of those fancy hipster beers). Earlier in the year, the company contacted to write about new sustainable packaging they have in the pipe line for Paulaner. As a recycling nerd, it was hard to say no, but the earth friendly packaging had no beverages to fill it so I reluctantly had to decline (quid pro….no). Even though I am now out of the beer and pop business it is still a stretch for me to write about non local beer. I crossed this Rubicon (<- read about my earlier Paulaner musings) before, plus I am a master of rationalization so second time around was no problemo or kein problem (bitte schön). The prize was an opportunity to try three Paulaner beers I have never sampled. So other than free beer, how do I tie this together into a theme? Here we go.

My dad was no drinker of craft beer. He did drink a lot of beer. It was usually Bud Light but in his final days it was likely Honduran Cerveza Salva Vida. However, sharing a Paulaner would have been an easy sell to Senor Senior CMH Gourmand-dad. While the Ellison’s were kicked out of Scotland about 1690, his mom’s side of the family was first generation German. When my dad was in the army, he was stationed in Germany and most likely drank many a Paulaner Pils to explore his heritage. Sliding that Paulaner down the bar would have had a 110% acceptance rate. But what about the other three beers in my bounty?

Paulaner Münchner Lager ABV 4.9%, This beer drinks crisp with notes of malt, a touch of hops and a slight sweetness. This is a popular beer in Germany even outside of Munich which says a lot in a very competitive field where most citizens stay true to the beers of their city or region.

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen ABV 5.5%, Consistently ranked as the #1 Wheat beer in Germany, you will find this as a highly ranked beer on any rating site. This is a perfect example of this style, so you will pick up aromas of banana and clove. If you are not a hop head, you won’t find the bitterness of hops in this hefe-weizen (but it has hops because that is the law of the land). This beer pairs well with the summer and fall. Hefe-weizen’s were cloudy before hazy beers were cool. Don’t forget that.

Paulaner Grapefruit Radler ABV 2.5%, Last year, I was smitten by the Paulaner Weizen-Radler (Non-Alcoholic). The Grapefruit Radler left me wanting more as well. This has an extra 2% ABV but does not drink like a beer. It is perfect for hot summer days, mowing the lawn, sitting on the beach or any other scenario when you want flavor, and less alcohol means more of everything else. I was impressed with this combination of grapefruit flavoring with a Münchner Lager. It was refreshing but not too sweet.

The first two beers would be an easy pitch to my dad while giving him a better flavor experience and a bit more ABV. I’d have a harder sell with the radler but telling him it a cooler choice than White Claw would get at least one into his system before he started worrying about his cronies poking fun at him.

Now that the beer is covered let’s jump the Bavarian Shark with some localization. If I was going to do something with my dad today, we would stick with the Bavarian theme. I’m an experience oriented gifter (not grifter) so as an alternative to his daily rounds with the groundlings at El Dorado’s Food and Spirits (beware there be monsters), I’d drag him out of that watering hole for a day on the town. We would start with a pre-game of Paulaner beers at lunch, paired up with an assortment of encased meats from Hungarian Butcher and Thurn’s. The beer of choice for this carnivore’s feast would be the Paulaner Münchner Lager.

(I have not had an opportunity to write about Hungarian Butcher yet and that is my failure. If you have not been, stop reading this drivel and go now. Dan Varga is a superior chef that had a dream of running a true butcher shop showcasing family recipes. The passing of his wife added fuel to the fire to make this dream happen and he delivered. I’ve known Dan for a decade. I think the world of him. I think even more highly of what he crafts in his shop. Before I knew him, he cooked at 90% of my favorite restaurants from 1991 to 2011. Go see him and buy as much as you can carry. (As for the Bavarian connection it is only 639 KM from Munich to Budapest). Thurn’s should be a secret to no one, but if you have never been – go, knowing that the same family has been practicing the trade for over 130 years. Enough said.

Next, we would head to Gemut Biergarten for a few beers on the patio. There is a lot to like about Gemut. What I like the most is that in a world overly focused on IPA’s or what is the new beer the week, Gemut chose a style, owns it and delivers a great experience.

(More back story here. Many of the folks at Gemut practiced their craft at Four String. A few became friends and were always there when I needed a favor or a last minute tour stop. It was devastating to see them loose their jobs with no notice in 2018. It is great to see many of them working together at Gemut and doing well in an industry still taking hits from a global pandemic and supply chain challenges.)

Our final destination for the day would be Germania, which is a true hidden gem not just in the Brewery District but in Columbus. I spent years telling the story of Germania in a tour I created about the Brewery District. Germania is a club with so much to offer, but in this case, our target is their curated menu of hard to find German beers as well as the notoriety being the only place in Columbus that consistently has a Wooly Pig Farm Brewery (one of the best breweries in Ohio) beer on tap at prices that seem like charity. I encourage you to seek out a public event at Germania and/or become a member of the their beer club. There is nothing pretentious about Germania, it has been a local club at the same location for a lifetime. It riffs a bygone era of camaraderie that is lost in our society. I’d have a hard time pulling my dad out of Germania at closing time. That is amazing because the Venn diagrams of our preferences and personalities never had more than a 2% overlap. We don’t suffer fools gladly and we (would have) both enjoyed Germania.

If you are looking for Paulaner beer for Father’s Day, here is a -> beer finder <- to facilitate your own Bavarian feast.

If you are looking for me, I’ll be with my 6 year old on Father’s Day, enjoying every second of it and maybe an occasional sip of Paulaner Grapefruit Radler.

Posted in food | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Pizza Gourmand = Aficionadough on Columbus Underground

Posted by CMH Gourmand on April 12, 2022

Hello my loyal three fans. You may have noticed my posts are few and far between. But have heart, you can still get a fix of my infrequent adventures with my Aficionadough monthly feature on Columbus Underground. The one year anniversary of my column is in May. If you have missed out, you can catch up on articles both old and new -> HERE.

I’d like to say that I came up with the name. I gave Columbus Underground one stipulation when I came on board and that was I wanted the column to have a name. I submitted several possible names that I was not thrilled with to generate the brainstorming process and the gang delivered a good moniker. The articles have been well received and have generated a lot of click bait. My story about Dover style pizza resulted in a deluge of emails (some started initially as deeply offended). The feature I did about Pepperoni Rolls may have placed me in the sights of the Steubenville Mafia. While just writing about one type of food my seem limiting so far I have not struggled to find some new take for each article I craft. And yes, there is a Columbus Style Pizza.

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A Review of the Reviewers of Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History – A Special Festivus Edition

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 23, 2021

Hello Loyal CMH Gourmand Reader(s)!

My book, Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History has been out in the world for 13 months.  I am happy to report that I have crossed the $1 per hour threshold for profits.  The book has garnered largely 5 star reviews on Amazon.  Reviewers in other venues are not as generous but still fair.  The toughest reviewers are on GoodReads which makes sense since that is a cadre of book nerds that frequently read books. None of the sites allow me to provide feedback to the reviews so I am using this Festivus blog as my venue to respond to reviews to date.  To those that provided 5 Star reviews, thank you for being kind.  For those of your that provided any review, thank you for helping the inter-web algorithms that sell books.

Columbus Pizza A Slice of History Image

Now to answer the critics.

This is a review from the Columbus Metropolitan Library listing for the book.

Fascinating history of pizza in Columbus. I had to subtract half a point for not including an index; this makes it very difficult to refer back to specific restaurants. I would have enjoyed more reviews on the food, but unfortunately that is not the focus of this book. Looking forward to checking out some new pizzerias!

Dear CML Patron,

Yes, I wish there was an index too, however, History Press is a small company and indexing well costs a fortune.  It also creates a nightmare of extra work when you need to update the book on a shoestring budget and tight timeframe.  The bibliography for the book serves many of the functions of the index by listing what pizzerias were featured in each chapter.  And yes, no reviews of food in a history book.  Opinions on food tend to not be as evergreen (and are much more polarizing) than just stating the facts. For reviews and opinions, please read my Aficionadough column in Columbus Underground.  Thank you for reading the book.

On Amazon, there are a lot of reviews.

Dominic (who later changed his name to Nick)
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, needed an editor though
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2021

Really great book to talk about the history of Cbus Pizza. A lot of names I recognized or know. Biggest complaint was that the author isn’t the best at organizing his information. Tended to jump around and overall could have used a better editor. Also he failed to uncover that ________ pizza (who prides themselves in their homemade sausage), bought their dough frozen for years! Might still do it.

Dear (Domi) Nick,

The book is organized in chronological order and chapters list out what years are covered,  you can’t get more organized than that for presenting information. As for jumping around…. again the book is in chronological order by pizzeria. Finally and what puts your review on the Festivus list, it is poor form to take a dig on a local restaurant in a book review, I appreciate your purchase but you get 1 star for the unneeded slight of a local pizzeria.

The other irksome review on Amazon comes from O – So – Fluffy.

3.0 out of 5 stars good but
Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2021

i was disappointed that there wasn’t any info on more of the osu campus area places i remember from college. perhaps they were chains and not local so they didn’t qualify for the book? and unfortunately, all the pictures were black/white. that said, i don’t regret buying it but would not give as gift

OMG, WTF OSOFluffy.  Thanks for the purchase.  Your own review answers your questions / concerns – Yes there are countless pizzerias that resided on OSU for 0 to 10 years I did not write about.  There have literally been 100 on or near campus since 1950, most have come and gone and many were chains.  OSU spots that were mentioned were: Adriaticos, Catfish Biff’s (RIP after the book was published), Papa Joe’s and Tommy’s, that is good representation.  There were a few OSU pizza places I would have liked to include but there was not enough information available.  The one place I wish I could have included, because it was dear to so many, was the Venetian. I do have enough details now, that if I get to update the book in the future, it will be included. I don’t regret you buying the book and I would not trust you buying a gift for someone based on your fear of capital letters and punctuation.  Keep an eye out for my book, Every Pizza Place that Ever Existed, followed by, Every Place OSOFluffy Ate at OSU: A Comprehensive Guide to Mediocrity.

In Goodreads, two reviews mention the word redundant.  All I can say to that is, there is certainly redundancy in the book, but please keep in mind, it is a history book and one can not assume that readers will read the book cover to cover, so on occasion some information was repeated to make sure the context was understood.

I will be the first to admit that the book is good (B), but not great (A).  I outlined some of the challenges I had in writing the book (try writing a history book during Covid sometime and get back to me) in this post when it was released.

I know the book has inspired some positive actions over the last year.  I am aware of at least six groups of people that have decided to try a different place from the book each week until they complete their quest (that is 50 plus places!). Many people have emailed me with fond memories of pizza in Columbus.  For those of you that look down on the pizza offerings Columbus has to offer, let me offer you a cautionary tale.  Countless people who have moved from Columbus to Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and all destinations west of the Mississippi, long for even the most lowly of a Columbus Style Pie and they recognize and appreciate the difference between a classic Columbus Style Pizza and a lackluster pizza that just happens to be cut in squares.

Although Covid has limited my ability to promote the book in the traditional way, I have had the opportunity to discuss it on WOSU twice, online with the Bexley Public Library and in person at the Grandview Public Library as well as a sports podcast and online forums. For those of you that read the book, thank you.  For those that gave it as gifts (even with the shame of black and white photos) thank you.  Most importantly to those that emailed me with your own history, thank you for sharing your stories.

Now for regular Festivus.  My main grievance is directed at the large minority of humanity who made a conscious choice to make a global pandemic worse than it needed to be. They are why we can’t have nice things.  To those that disdain safety protocols, treat service workers like shit, disrupt airline flights, and feed the beast of Fox News I bid you a gigantic fuck you and an endless supply of black coal.

My other grievance is to those that consciously opt out of recycling.  It is not difficult to recycle in Columbus and it is not rocket science to recycle correctly.  If you can make one positive pizza change in 2022 remember that the box top of the greasiest pizza is still recyclable so cut it off and put it in your blue can.

For those of you not in the above categories, I wish you a happy holiday and better 2022.

Posted in food | 3 Comments »

My Magnificent Memorable Meal at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 12, 2021

It was 6 pm on a Wednesday. I had just wrapped up a client meeting at the Downtown Newark Library and I was ready to hit the road west, back to Columbus. (By the way, the library is a beautiful building well suited to the task). A common theme in many support groups is H.A.L.T. = don’t make decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I was hungry. I am pretty much always angry (in an existential sort of way), I have not been lonely in this century but I was alone, which is a rarity and I was definitely tired. The rays of the sun relentlessly tried to blind me through my sunglasses and visor as I tooled along SR 161 when I recalled that Ray Ray’s Meat + Three was nearby. In fact the exit to it was about 4 seconds away. A quick tap of the breaks and short lived turn signal found me on target to Ray Ray’s.

I plied my way through the door knowing exactly what I wanted to order, a sampler. I then paused a bit while I pondered on my side choice options. Here I decided to go for that bridge too far. The sampler showcases multiple meats so good sense would dictate one or maybe two sides. I opted for three. I did show restraint by getting one dessert instead of two. Then just as I was completing my order, I decided that I would live it up by having my monthly alcohol allotment with a Rockmill Brewing White Ale.

The sampler including the following: Brisket, BBQ Chicken, Sausage, Pork Belly, Pulled Pork, Pickled Onions and Pickles. Three sauces, to use as I see fit were included. As a Kansas City BBQ Society Certified BBQ judge, professional food judge and lifelong eater every single item on this samples was perfect. My sides were macaroni and cheese, corn pudding and a Scotch Egg. Once again, each was excellent, the dishes showcasing the epitome of perfect for what I prefer about these sides. I will expand more on the Scotch Egg as the end of this dispatch.

I sat in silence, at a picnic table by myself literally sucking all of this in. I wanted to enjoy the moment but I also wanted to get home in time to tuck in my son and share a few of the best bites with CMH Spouse. The weather was perfect, on this final day of August it was neither hot nor humid, there was no threat of rain and a light breeze kept me cool and blew most of the insects away and kept them at bay. It was also refreshing not to eat from my kitchen counter/office or out of a bag. I soaked in the peace, the quiet, and the food. In my mind, my sole thought was a recurrent, “this is so fucking good”. I’m not often prone to profanity but the quality of this meal warranted more adjectives while the pleasure centers of my brain blocked my ability to think of anything more eloquent. In this altered state of consciousness, I think I may have started to mouth, then mumble and finally, possibly audibly articulate “this is so FUCKING GOOD!” over and over again, when a figure appeared in my peripheral vision.

It was not figment of my imagination, it was Jamie “Ray Ray” Anderson himself. I waited for him to say “Sir, can you please stop scaring my guests”. Instead, he said “I thought I saw you, I have not seen you in forever, where have you been?”. My stock answer to this question is I got married, I have a six year old son and also, Covid. He asked if this was my first time visiting and I, much to my shame since the place is well established now, said yes. He asked why I did not call ahead for VIP treatment and I shared that this literally was a spur of the moment trip. We talked briefly about the food. However, since my brain was still fogged by pure joy, I could not produce any fan boy assessment. All I could jumble out was, “the chicken is great, the pork belly is great, the brisket is great…..” I was too out of clinical practice to go into to detail about how the brisket was the perfect. Neither too tough nor too tender. Sliced to the optimal thickness. Just enough of a smoke ring to add to both appearance and flavor. I did not tell him that I have not had a better serving of chicken in my recollection, and on and on.

What Jamie and I did speak of was happiness. The joy of being able to spend time with our families. The joy of after a very long journey feeling that this project and his assorted businesses were hitting the mark he wanted them to without taking away from family or lowering the high bar he sets for what is served. We spoke of the dream team that has created at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three including, of course, Chef Bill Glover. Jamie also spoke of the how this business threw in a new variable – being a property owner. Buying / investing in property is a different dynamic as well as a choice/act he is proud of.

Jamie mentioned that he was doing a special tasting menu for Scott Woods, local writer and poet whom we both follow with an interest. Scott was kind enough to give my book an unsolicited shout out a few months back, which was much appreciated. Since Scott and I were unlikely to cross paths again in the near future, I was happy to be able to drop by his table and thank him both for the endorsement and for his contributions to our community.

In short summary, my meal at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three was magnificent! That was no surprise but why is this blog worthy? I have written about my most memorable meals before, most recently in June of 2019, and this ranks within the top seven without hesitation. The Meat + Three concept is a blend of some menu items you have seen on the Ray Ray’s food trailers for years, with specials and extra dishes a full kitchen and meat cutting area can provide in a fusion of best parts of Central Texas BBQ joints (think Lockhart Texas) and classic Nashville Meat and Three eateries.

I had no plan to write about Ray Ray’s Meat + Three because my decision to dine there was spur of the moment. I just hoped to have a good meal. Don’t get me wrong, apathy and Ray Ray’s are words that will never be paired together for me. I have been dying to eat there since it opened in June and I heard about the eatery’s development since shortly after birth of the concept. What made this meal magnificent is the same thing that drives me to write (much less now that in the past), which is the human component. I was not Jamie’s first customer but I was among the first. I might not be the first to write about him, if so, then I was second to write about him and what he set out to do years ago. I have watched that journey and eaten the results along the way. What made this meal magnificent was being able to see the arc of Jamie’s story land where he is today and see him experience joy first hand. In the world of food, Ray Ray’s Meat +Three is the equivalent to shooting a three pointer to win a national championship in the last second of a game. As Jamie departed he noticed I has set aside a few choice bites to take home from my wife. He insisted on making a VIP to go bag for Mrs. Gourmand. It was an honor to have him curate a trophy for me carry into my home. I really lucked out here. Not only was I the hero when I walked through the door but his care package included the two things I wanted to eat but did not order – greens and homemade bread! I asked Jamie, many years ago what his go to item was at Ray Ray’s and he said without hesitation, it was greens, he eats them everyday. So there you go kids. If you eat your vegetables everyday good things may happen.

This is not a story I set out to write. But it is a story I felt compelled to write about as I walked to my car after my meal. As I looked down at the parking space by my car I saw two pennies waiting for me to plunder. Those that know me well know that I love to find loose change and that I will one day die picking up a penny from the street. It was at that moment of everything coming together for me, that I felt the need to turn around a take a photo so I would have an image to go with the story I knew I needed to write.

Ray Ray’s Meat +Three Details

Sidedish: The Scotch Egg, The Bee and Me.

The first photo you see below was me trying to emulate the photographic styling of Mr. Tony Layne – The Man, the Myth and the Legend behind Porketta and the creator of high end food pornography. This bee was fascinated with the Scotch Egg I ordered at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three. I was happy for the bee to focus on this while I focused on the rest of my meal. By the time I circled back to this round orb of cardiac concern, as the last item of my meal, the Bee was gone. I took one bite of the Scotch egg and was instantly beyond full. At this point, I noticed the bee was now prone by the tray. Unmoving but not dead. I believe he overdosed on the sweet sauce of the Scotch Egg. His inability to move and absolute lethargy turned out to be a prelude to how I would feel about 30 minutes later. I understand and respect the bee’s bliss and hope he was able to fly away on his own power by the next day.

Ray Ray’s Meat + Bee

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Covid Confessions: Confections, Crackers and Corporate Food

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 22, 2021

One score and 500 days ago a global pandemic brought froth a new plague to this nation.  It could have been an opportunity to unify to fight a common foe, but it quickly devolved into another offshoot of the culture wars.  So here we are today, few of us sadder, very few of us wiser and so many people gone before their time.

I have had this post on the back burner all of 2021.  I was waiting for the right moment to drop this to my 43 fans.  Well, the criteria kept changing.  End of the pandemic….nope. The date Ohio hit herd immunity – negative. Griffin completing a whole week of Kindergarten….not even close.  The day we used up all of our pandemic meat supply…..I just found some sausages buried at the back of the freezer. So today, I have decided that it is the week that CMH Spouse and CMH Griffin have two negative Covid Tests in a row so we can end quarantine a bit sooner.

The year 2020 started out with great promise.  After years of running Columbus Brew Adventures, I was ready to go to new adventures and very much looking forward to spending more time with my family.  Brew Adventures created many opportunities and connected to me to countless wonderful people. It also allowed me to do what I enjoy which is study a new culture, learn it’s mores and traditions and eventually hope to be accepted into yet another tribe, this time the community of craft brewers, distillers and their ilk. Brew Adventures gave me the flexibility during the week to make my son school and other schedules work. The trade off was most weekends away from my wife and son and that much time away had become untenable and less profitable. So as 2020 dawned, I was looking forward to more family time.  I certainly got that.

In mid March I sat alone at the bar of Rockmill Tavern. The first elements of the lockdowns were getting ready to be implemented which canceled guide training for a tour I created, the Brewery District Walking Tour.  I had planned to help start things off right for the season then ride off into the sunset.  That did not happen.  I did decide to pass out old Hoster Brewing bottles as thank you gifts for my veteran guide team.  I figured it could be a month or two before I saw them again (wrong) and I wanted to complete my hand off’s so I could feel I accomplished something for the weekend. I wore a new mask my wife made for me the night before when I headed down to the rendezvous.

I sat at Rockmill’s bar talking to John at the bar. He comped me a my favorite sandwich (to celebrate a hoped for return of tour season) of the era, the Spicy Chicken Sandwich so I bought a beer and tipped more than appropriately.  It would be my last meal inside a restaurant.  (John would go on to be the manager at Rockmill working many a 100 hour week, then Rockmill closed for summer of 2021 but has a planned return in the fall). Between bites, I handed off the bottles – mostly on the sidewalk.  When I finally walked out the door around 2 pm that Saturday – I looked down Front Street to the right and saw no cars or people.  I looked to the left and saw the same.  One thought came to mind.  We are fucked.  This was clearly going to last more than a month.

I drove home along empty highways and looked for more stay in place supplies as I pulled off 315 getting ready for the lockdown after I closed the garage door.

I’m sure I’m adding to the cliches of Covid but it did change the lives of myself and my family. We are now well beyond a year of the strange, surreal days of the beginning of the shutdown. I recall coming home from work and never going back, being excited to find a pack of napkins when all the paper towels were gone, calling my friends when I found disinfectant wipes off the beaten path at Lowes. We partnered with our neighbors to maximize grocery runs and shared supplies. My wife made over a 1000 masks in record time. I watched friends lose their jobs, businesses and outlook on the world.

I also watched people dig in, double down, reinvent themselves or their businesses while keeping calm and carrying on. The moment that made the pandemic the most…real…. to me was when we had to cancel our joint family weekend in the Hocking Hills with our old neighbors.  No O’Betty’s, No Little Fish, No West End Cider House, No Avalanche Pizza, No fun, No (Lake) Hope.

If you want to read the diary of the restaurant that white-knuckled it through the downs, speed bumps, and more downs of the last 500 plus days, check out the Instagram feed of Smokehouse Brewing which provides a daily play by play of what it is like run a restaurant and brewery when all forces are focused against you.

As the contrarian that I am, in 2020 when everyone else was gaining the obligatory Covid ten pounds, I dropped thirty.  I then put on much more than that when restaurants started to reopen in 2021.

There were some unusual and unexpected things that were good for the morale of our family.  The best decision of record in the Covid era was 100% from my wife – a giant inflatable swimming pool which she bought the second the lock down was announced, they were unavailable a few weeks later. It ensured we all had a little exercise and a lot of recreation and it became the only effective way for CMH Child to engage in Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy – there is a lot you can do with Zoom, two parents and a pool with our outstanding team from Bridgeway.

As a family we had worked hard to get Griffin to the right school for him and Covid took that off the table quickly just after the positives of that decision were starting to kick in – online school sessions were an effort in futility for us.  We had worked hard before Covid to limit his screen time for many reasons, but eventually as spring started to wane, we had to relent.  This was a difficult and stressful pill for me to swallow.  And this meant much more exposure to childhood programming which I despise.  I’d rather watch four hours of Fox News than one episode of Ryan’s Playhouse, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, or the ilk.  One night as I was in the other room in a deep mental fog, I heard some familiar Australian accented phrases in the background.  I wandered into our living room to see a family of cartoon dogs.  I was saved by Bluey which I view as highly as Calvin and Hobbes. This is an absolutely perfect cartoon for children to watch.  The writing is good.  The humor is universal.  I never feel pandered to and the associated merchandise is very limited. The show models functional family behavior without feeling like someone reviewing the script said, “Oh, shit, we forgot to throw in an insincere 10 second value lesson in this episode.”  For me, it reminds me of an earlier era when I was a wayward traveler roaming Australia as often as I could.  There are many episodes of Bluey I have watched at least thirty times and I gladly look forward to watching a hundred more times. For those inclined to “give this show a go” my favorite episodes in order are: 1) Sleepytime, 2) Dunny, 3) Baby Race and 4) Ice Cream.

I listen(ed) to a lot of Pandora while working from home, not uncommonly with a sick child in the next room.  My very unexpected Pandora station which accounts for 90% of my listening time is Rox Radio which is almost exclusively British Female R&B singers of the last last two decades: Rox, Sade, Duffy and the like.  Strange to most, but true.  Have no fear, I still get Metallica and Iron Maiden in sufficient, although occasional, doses.

Now on to food, which is what we are here for.  What is my truest Covid confessions? Skittles.  I had forgotten about Skittles, those round little bursts of fruit flavor.  I’m not sure how the first bag found it’s way into our locked down home.  It could have been a left over from a neuron mapping exercise my wife does with her AP Psychology students but I can assure you over the last 500 days, we have never been a Skittleless home.

Next and this is specifically for me, Hershey Special Dark with Almonds Nuggets. The Special Dark Bar became part of the Hershey’s line up in 1971.  My first exposure to it came among the piles of Halloween candy during my youth.  The Hershey’s miniatures were always a mild disappointment when found among regular sized Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, Mini Almond Joys, Popcorn balls and bullseye candies.  The small, bite sized bars where viewed as the cheap man’s way out of bringing joy to the preteen masses.  However, I always hoped for mini Mr. Goodbars and  during those not so wonder years, the Special Dark Bars.  I would gladly trade 2-3 of the standard Hersey Miniature chocolates or offer an even one on one exchange of a Krackle for a Special Dark with my prepubescent peers. I liked the exotic nature of the Special Dark and I would save them to savor as the last of my Halloween loot. I also figured out these were great dipped into a jar of Skippy peanut butter. In my twenties, when I discovered dark chocolate was not so hard to to come by, the Special Dark became an afterthought. However, during Covid shortages, I found that Kroger was never short of Special Dark Nuggets because most people did not discover what I did in their misspent youth.

I then realized, I had never put any thought into what made Special Dark special. It is not like Hershey has a Regular Dark, Undervalued Dark bar or Cleveland Browns Bar. As it turns out, from 1939 to 1971, the bar we know as Special Dark was called Hershey’s Semi-Sweet bar. Clearly the name change was needed.  The Special Dark Bar has higher percentage (45%) of  cocoa solids, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter than milk chocolate. So it is indeed special.  Add in a sliver of an almond as found in the nuggets and it is practically a health food.  

What I found I missed the most during our restricted interaction with the world of restaurants was Taco Trucks and authentic Mexican Food.  In my last in store shopping run at the beginning of the Pandemic I picked up a discounted bottle of Herdez Guacamole Salsa.  It quickly found itself buried in oblivion in our pantry until one day when I was desperate to eat something remotely different from our standard fare.  I hoped for the best when I dumped the Guacamole Salsa on a pile of hastily made nachos.  I was instantly surprised by the flavor and light, spicy heat of this product.  Then I decided it was worth trying again so using the power of online ordering at Kroger I looked for other Herdez salsas I might like as well.  I tried several and never felt any were a bad decision.  In fact, when I look at the very important quality to price ratio that I apply to all mass produced products, I think Herdez is hard to beat. Tied for first on my Herdez Hierarchy is the Queso Blanco Dip. The price is right.  The heat is just enough without overpowering anything else and in a dire emergency it goes great on potato chips.

Not featured in the photo with this post but a rediscovery nonetheless, Wheat Thins.  We always have a box on hand.  They don’t go stale, they don’t break easily and they are never hard to find at a store. They were not a pre pandemic staple but in our house there are now a few things we always have a spare of: loaf of bread, toilet paper, paper towels, peanut butter, Parmesan cheese and Wheat Thins.

There have been other discoveries along the way.  For pick up meals, we have yet to find anyone that does better than Iaconos Pizza and Cuco’s for ease and speed from order to pick up. Kroger and Giant Eagle curbside services have been a valued asset to our family and something that will persist after the pandemic is really over. The biggest discovery is not mind shattering but important.  I have been embedded with my wife, son and my wife’s dog almost 24/7 for well over a year and I would not trade that for anything.  I don’t want to kill them and they don’t want to kill me (however my wife does watch a lot of Dateline episodes and listens to an insane number of true crime podcasts). I don’t think all families, pods or domestic partnerships feel that way after 500 and counting days embedded together.

What are your Covid discoveries, confections, connections or conundrums you care to share?

Posted in food | 4 Comments »

Over One Million Served

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 28, 2021

 CMH Gourmand Logo

Today (June 28th, 2021) is the day, page view One Million happened on or about 10 AM EST. It took just short of fifteen years to get here. My first post was August 28th, 2006. A few years ago, I when checked the numbers I thought I had a long shot of hitting 1 million by the fifteenth anniversary if I could get my traffic to trend back up to their heyday. I knew with life, parenthood, lack of frequent posting etc., that would be a long shot, but Covid gave this blog an upshot in readership as people who were very bored started reading more often and older content. So here we are two months ahead of a schedule that I figured was a bridge too far.

The one million page views were made by just over 287,000 unique visitors. The best month for traffic was January 2009 which was pretty much where I peaked in life in general. The most page views of one post in a single day was 3685 on April 22nd, 2020 for a pizza post I did. No surprise there, people became really interested in pizza during Covid. And the post with the most traffic over time was a post I did about the history of Pizza in Columbus (October 5th, 2008) – it is also the most copied…or paraphrased.

There have been 1861 comments, 785 posts and I have 41 uncompleted drafts which are story ideas for rainy days. I do not know who has viewed the most posts the most often but I can tell you Cindy Leland has commented the most. Thank you Cindy!

One million is a nice milestone but in the world of blogs, one million is exciting if you get that in a month or two, not 15 years. In the heyday of Columbus Food Blogs, some may recall Lisa The Waitress, whose blog hit one million views pretty early. I am the last of the older school of old school bloggers who blog for the sake of blogging and while I may be a bit burned out, I will not fade away quite yet. I am not ready to go gently into that good night, or any night for that matter.

Let’s talk about another food entity that has served millions……..billions. McDonalds.

McDonalds used to maintain a running total of how many billions of hamburgers they served the world over and this number would be updated on their signs at regular intervals.

In 1958, the company reported 100 million served. In 1961, it was 500 million. In 1963, it was One Billion served! The year 1993 saw the official number hit 99 billion. In April of 1994. McDonald’s announced they would change the sign to Billions and Billions Served (because they were tired of updating the signs). Please note – McDonalds counts each hamburger patty as a serving so the Big Mac got those billions up faster than the Hamburglar can get to the drive thru window.

Thank you for your viewing

Posted in food | 2 Comments »

Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History -> On Sale TODAY! – (and backstory of writing the book)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 9, 2020

Here we go! In December of 1950, the first pizzeria in Columbus opened. Seventy years later – the story of pizza in Columbus is here.

Today is the day. My book, Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History is officially released to the world…… to buy, purchase, gift, re-gift, barter, etc.

If you have already purchased the book, thank you. I’m told Amazon is a bit backed up, but you should get your copy soon.

If you don’t have a book – they should start to appear in large bookstores – like Barnes and Noble this week. You could purchase the book on Amazon. online. If you want more money going to a non mega corporation you can order directly from the publisher History Press / Arcadia Publishing.

I’d also ask you to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc. I won’t make a lot of dough no matter how many books are sold but please consider sharing this link and let’s hope the book sells like Preston’s Burgers. Here are a few reasons why selling books is important to me.

Reason 1: There was a lot of skepticism that pizza in Columbus rates a full book – a large volume of sales would be a very good – “I told you so!”

Reason 2: I have been blogging since 2006. To the best of my knowledge I am the last of the O.G. food bloggers that is still blogging at my original site – which is where you are. I’ve also stayed true the to original concept of a blog – a personal web log. I have not monetized the site. I have not weaponized CMH Gourmand by going for click bait of negative reviews, etc. In my opinion, most importantly this has always been a food first site not a place to build my brand, stroke my ego or try (and surely fail) at any type of cult of personality. If this post gets a lot of exposure I will finally cross the 1 million views mark for this blog – fourteen years and a few months after posting my first post. Blogs are no longer the darling of your spare time in a world where you are tempted by so many images and bright shiny things. Reading beyond the first few sentences seems like a forgotten skill nowadays. Blog traffic in general had nosed dived over the last five years, even for really good blogs that post multiple times per week. etc. It would be nice to wrap up 2020 on a strong note and hit the million view mark.

Reason 3: The most important reason has nothing to do with me. Mom and Pop Pizza shops that serve what I call Columbus Style pizza are an endangered species of business. For many, but unfortunately not all, Covid has increased their business, it a few lucky cases, two times more traffic than normal. However more than a handful of independent pizzerias are looking at their accounts and wondering if they can keep the doors open in 2021.

Independent Pizzerias have stiff competition from chain/macro-pizzerias that have the deep pockets to ride out the Corona Virus. They can bring on more staff, saturate the market with coupons, pay for advertising and offer free delivery. In the book I detail the reasons why many shops may not make it to the third or fourth generation. I truly want people reading this book to make a conscious effort to support or discover their local mom and pop pizza shop.

As with anything I have done in my life I have analyzed, rethought, dissected and otherwise outlined things I might have done better or wish had played out differently in the course of writing this book. I will share some of these musings below.

Interviews: Throughout my writing career, I have never found it a challenge to get someone to talk about their restaurant. When I had my business, I would gladly accept interview requests from anyone knowing that press is free advertising. The one exception to this rule turned out to be pizzeria owners. For many I contacted you would have thought I was this kid from Better Off Dead. Calls – don’t work. E-mails – nope. Dropping in on the business on a slow day and at an off peak time….zilch. Mailing a letter, yes it happened. NO INTERVIEW FOR YOU. I did not get a return to sender but no reply. One person received a free copy of the book Columbus Italians, which comes from the same publisher – to provide a sense that this was a serious endeavor. Negatory. One business that I have a long relationship with never responded to any requests. Another person missed our planned interview three times. A large local pizza enterprise which was contacted several times sent me one low quality image and told me to read the owners book. This was truly a chase.

On the flip side some were more than generous with their time. Rich Folk from Massey’s pizza was always quick to get back to me with questions, images, and etc. He set up an interview with the Pallone brothers, the semi-retired owners of Massey’s which was a blast for us all. One of the things that Jimmy Corrova of TAT has learned from his almost 90 years in the business is hospitality. He could not have been more helpful. His daughters were gracious when we were in the doing a photo shoot during a lunch rush. When all was done I brought my photographer lunch only to find out that Jimmy comped the bill – needless to say our server received a very good tip. The Panzera / Lombardi family, especially Nick Panzera were very helpful and all it cost me was a copy of the 1969 yellow pages listings for hotels in Columbus. The extended Angeletti of Ange’s Pizza were helpful and very supportive cheerleaders for telling the story of pizza in Columbus.

Brock, the general manager of Tommy’s in Dublin was able to connect me with some helpful contacts and information from the Iacono family and long time employees. Jeff Aufdencamp of Mama Mimi’s was my first interview and has continued to be a supporter. Not to give away a surprise but we are working on a project readers may enjoy. Brad Rocco of Bexley Pizza Plus – who I would call the Dean of Pizza in Columbus, was generous with his time and remains a vocal supporter. Tom Iannarino of Terita’s Pizza was the first person I interviewed that I cold called. If you have not had Terita’s Pizza you should try it, it is worth the effort. There are many more to mention and for those that are not listed – thanks.

The two interviews I wanted the most, I was destined not to have. Richie DiPaolo was regarded by many to be THE pizza historian of Columbus. I can never fill his shoes and I wish I would have had the forethought interviewed him for an article I wrote about Columbus Pizza years ago, just before he passed away. The other interview I wished I could have squeezed in was Doral Chenoweth, the Grumpy Gourmet. He was my inspiration and my friend. I followed up on an interview request with him just days before he died, so I missed that deadline. I still miss him.

Leonardo’s Pizza was the first pizzeria to go to up to 9 locations before anyone else. It was a training ground for several pizzerias we enjoy today. I tried, and tried, and tried to get an interview and could not make it happen. I found some information using other sources including auditors records but I did not get the story I wanted. I think that is loss for us all.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Library: Libraries are the arsenals of democracy and we need them now more than ever. In my case, I was one trip shy of completing all of my research for the book. My planned trip to get some more images from 1963 to 1975 was cancelled by Covid, so I had to do without.

Photographs: Plan A was to have the magnificent Jodi Miller shot some of my key photos for the book starting in February of 2020. A new baby in the household and Covid put the kibosh on that. We did get the photograph I wanted the most for this book, the mural explaining the history of the TAT Airline at TAT Ristorante. It was an almost impossible shot, but she got it. She also comped me an older shot she had of pizza at the Italian Festival. That photograph inspired a section of the book I had not planned on. In the end, I had enough photographs to get the book to print from my blog archives, friends and a few favors called in. At one point if I had just a few more high quality color images I could have had a “centerfold” of color photos in the center. That did not happen and that is OK.

There were a photos and images that did not make it into the book due to size, clarity, and etc. There is one photo I really wanted to have in the last chapter but I missed the deadline – I have it posted below. Dante’s during Covid.

Here are a few others I would have liked to have seen in the book.

Terita’s Pizza Man
Jimmy Massey’s Drive In circa 1958 – courtesy Whitehall Historical Society

Go forth and tell your friends and let’s sell a bunch of books to keep Columbus Pizza on the culinary map!

You can buy from the publisher Arcadia Publishing / History Press

I’ll be posting other places where you can buy the book on my Instagram Account @CbusPizzaHistory Vendors include book shops, pizzerias and The Ohio Taproom.

Posted in Best Pizza in Columbus, Columbus style pizza, culinary knowledge, food, restaurants | Tagged: , , | 26 Comments »

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:

Garum, honey, pecorino

Local mushrooms, Shagbark grits, red wine

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.

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….

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.

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 ->

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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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 »

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.

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