CMH Gourmand – Culinary Columbus & Central Ohio

Eat, Drink, Repeat: Food Blogging since 2006

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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

VOTE CMH GOURMAND: 614’s Best of Columbus Survey (to March 31st)

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 17, 2013

I am asking for your vote. 614 Magazine is asking the citizens of Columbus to vote on their favorites throughout the city. CMH Gourmand is listed as one of the choices for Best Local Blogger in the People and Community Category.

You can click ->HERE<- to vote.

You do need to create an account with 614 to vote, this will take less than one minute.


If you vote in 46 of the 108 possible category entries, you have a chance to win $3000 in groceries.
You do not need to vote in any other category other than Best Local Blog, if you choose not to. Therefore voting could take you as little as 2 minutes. Consider this to be like supporting your local NPR station – you are just supporting your local blogger.

I want to win. This is the first time I have been nominated.

During the campaign I vow to:

Run a clean campaign.
There will be no character assassinations of my fellow nominee's and there will be no sex scandals.
Because this will be like sweeps week, but longer, I am going to write a lot more content between now and March 31st.

If elected, I will:

Bring back Pizza Gran Prix
If I win by a very large margin – (defined as a blow out, where the next nominee is not even close), I will sing the song Elected by Alice Cooper Karoke at a place TBD before the close of 2013.
While there might not be a chicken in every pot, out of respect to my vegan friends, I will write about chicken or a chicken.
I will not sequester my posts for the rest or the year

How you can help:

Please consider me for your vote
Please share this post on Twitter, Facebook, as an e-mail blast to your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers unless you work for some lame state agency that forbids such things as forwarded e-mails.
Please let people know that have not read my blog, that it is worth reading and I am worth voting for. The best way to get up to speed and to drink the Kool-Aid of CMH Gourmand is to read -> THIS and THAT.

I would also ask that in consideration of the vote for CMH Gourmand, that voters consider the contributions made to Taco Trucks Columbus, Street Eats Columbus and WCBE Foodcast as a larger act of work. And finally, please consider, I get fat so that you don’t have to.

Update: I did not place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Thanks you those that voted. If you wanted me to win and are disappointed find more people to read my blog.

Posted in food | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Food For Thought?

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 26, 2012

This post is for the sake of discussion. See the photo below.

This billboard is at the corner of Second Ave. and Cleveland Ave. I drive by this intersection a few times a week while on the way to meetings as well as to add revenue to St. James Tavern. Looking at this billboard, my first thought was – hmm – not very good advertising. Then I started to think, wait a minute, maybe this is graffiti / vandalism / social commentary (i.e., the cockroaches? ). Then, when I stopped to get out of my car to snap a photo, I noticed this written among the bugs “Gov. Kasich says”. Hmm maybe it is social commentary. It definitely is intriguing.

As for my comments on Fair Food, it is good, if you know where to go and what to eat. We did a Foodcast episode on it a few weeks ago.

Readers, what do you think about any or all of the above?

Posted in food | 4 Comments »

Bloggers Exposed: So True It Hurts

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 30, 2012

Watch this, it is worth three minutes of your life. Really, dead on perfect expose of my world. I want to be the Grizzly Bear.


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Listen Up! One Hour WCBE Foodcast: Monday January 2nd

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 28, 2011

We have a really big show coming up. Twelve times better in fact. Our weekly five minute radio program is going to be twelve times longer for our special hour long (first of 2012) show.

The show airs on the dial at WCBE 90.5 FM, 1 pm on Monday January 2nd. If you miss it, there is no need to fear….the interwebs are here. Audio for each show as well as links are posted at WCBE FoodCast

This episode of Foodcast features an introduction of Mike Beaumont, our producer and sound engineer; the back story of our theme song, our typical ranting and four interviews with food folks that made a mark in 2011 and who plan to do more of the same in 2012. Our Liz Lessner interview has a world premiere announcement about a new restaurant venture (not the Grass Skirt).

So listen up. Tune in often and tell all your friends. Good Night and Good Luck.

Posted in Columbus, food | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Writer’s Block?

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 19, 2011

Sorry for another pause in content. Prepare for an onslaught of posts in the next two weeks. In the previous six weeks I left a job and started a new career, traveled in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Pittsburgh, Cleveland (x2), Huron, Sandusky and Zanesville. I have donuts, restaurants, wineries, breweries, food trucks and Green Bean Delivery to write about. I also gained 20 pounds in the process. I promised CMH Tobias I would stay home more than 8 hours in a row to get caught up with him….and you. As for the new gig, I get to take this, this and this to help Columbus mobile food vendors grow their businesses. Cool, fun….meaningful.

And I have a new blog to launch – Bricks of Ohio Blog (BOB).

Stay tuned or watch your RSS feed for more.

And finally, what do you think about WCBE Foodcast?

Posted in food | 2 Comments »

Gourmand, Interrupted: Prologue

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 30, 2011

There was a season of the show Dallas that was so bad, the writers decided to write it off by having a killed off character from the bad season walk out of the shower at the beginning of the following season to indicate the previous season was a dream. A dream – that was a stretch. If I could rewrite August for myself, I might do the same. I may share more down the road or it may be the longest of chapters in my memoirs after the “What in the hell am I doing in Honduras and how do I survive the next 12 hours” chapter.

This blog now returns to its regularly scheduled content….currently in progress. Expect something tomorrow.

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A Radio Show and Slight Summer Siesta

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 30, 2011

Posts will be sporadic this summer. In exchange for less written content you will now get more audio Gourmand. Starting July 2nd, listen to FoodCast on WCBE. I share the table with great talent: Andy Dehus, Johnny DiLoretto and Bethia Woolf. Behind the scenes taking care of recording and making sound decisions (as well as deleting my bloopers) is the magnificent Mike Beaumont. Ten episodes are complete. Each covers a theme starting with BBQ.

You can keep track on Facebook as well.

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Johnnie’s Beef and Status Report

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 23, 2011

One of the top 100 meals in the world consists of the following:

“Beef, wet (dipped in au ju), hot (giardiniera pepper mix); Chicago dog (comes with a handful of fries); Ice (lemon Italian ice), large.

Johnnie’s Beef
7500 West North Avenue
Elmwood Park, IL 60707-4140

This meal never fails me, ever. I drove eight miles in the rain after a long ten hour day of driving in Chicago and hot doggery to have this meal. It was great, and it was simple and it made me happy. This is one of the best meals anyone could eat anywhere. It is also a true taste of Chicago.

Posts are going to be sporadic for a while. I have plenty to write about but not much time to do it. It is also Taco Truck and Street Eats season so there is lots of tracking and eating and updating to do for the world of Columbus mobile food. Click on Taco Trucks Columbus and Street Eats Columbus to watch the growth of these mobile food kitchens.

On CMH Gourmand there is a lot of donut information coming your way and pizza places and several miscellaneous things I have not had time to write about. Stay tuned.

Posted in food | Leave a Comment »

A Food-Based Mailbox Mystery

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 13, 2010

And now for something completely different.

Some readers may recall the Eat Trout Mystery. I have a new one to add to the files. We will call this CMH Gourmand and the Case of the Placecard Quandry.

A couple weeks ago, late at night, on an evening that might best be described as wretched an unusual occurrence transpired. I was slumped and dazed on my couch with a very concerned CMH Tobias bringing me every toy he could locate. I heard some shuffling on my porch and heard the clunk of my mailbox closing. There was no knock at the door, this was intended as a stealth mission I suppose. I did not bother to check, for a variety of reasons. We have a new mail person on the street who is having problems getting mail to the right houses so I thought it might be a neighbor bringing a wayward letter home.

The next day I found what looked like a post card in the mailbox. I set it aside and forgot about it for days. When I finally picked it up I determined it was a placecard from a restaurant with no postage, address label or other mailing information. It is not unusual for me to get restaurant materials but it is unusual to have it personally delivered. It is also very unusual that the card is from La Bombonera in San Juan. See exhibits one and two below (the front and back of the card).

The odd thing is as follows: Seven people know the significance of this restaurant to me. I may have suggested it in passing to a handful of people traveling to Puerto Rico. No one in this small group of insiders has been to Puerto Rico this year or did the late night delivery of the card to me. I searched the interwebs to see if I ever wrote about La Bombonera or mentioned it in the public record – negative.

I have no idea where this came from or why. If I could dust it for fingerprints I would. I am happy to have the card for the good memories but I am perplexed by the manner of delivery.

While I continue in my puzzled and perplexed state let me share a bit about La Bombonera. This cafe is located in the heart of Old San Juan. It opened in 1902. I have a menu that a friend stole for me (sorry restaurant owners). The place is a bit run down but is full of class and character. The menu features Puerto Rican and Spanish dishes. Waiters are decked out in tuxedos, the clientele are mostly regulars and all were probably born before 1950. The fresh squeezed orange juice is prepared in front of you and pairs well with the hot climate. Pastries are over the top good and trace their roots to Majorca in Spain with items such as grilled Mallorca (rich, buttery, yummy pastries).

Puigy Abraham
La Bombonera
Cafeteria Mallorca
259 San Francisco Street
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Posted in food | 2 Comments »

Why Mobile Food Matters

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 4, 2010

What is the skinny on Street Food? Mobile food vending has exploded in Columbus over the last two years mirroring a national trend. I fell into the world of Taco Trucks on a whim with my good friends Bethia and Andy. We started a website called Taco Trucks Columbus and spent 2009 engrossed in all things Mexican street food. It was a great experience. I learned about parts of town I had never traveled and made very special friends among the owners and the enthusiasts I would not have met in my day-to-day life. This year Street Eats Columbus was created to track and promote the growing non-taco truck vendors that are popping up all over town.

Why has mobile vending gone vogue across the country and especially in Columbus? To quote the 1992 Clinton campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid”. A brick and mortar restaurant costs a lot of money to get going: rent, utilities, (in Columbus) a complicated and confusing series of building and business codes, long hours, etc. The failure rate for new restaurants for the first year is 25% or greater and cumulatively over three years 60% or more. (Other studies report a failure rate as great as 90%). The restaurant business is hard going in good times and perilous in a recession. If you pick a poor location – you are stuck with it.

For many people, getting a loan is the hard part. In a risk adverse economy, money for a new business can be in short supply. Start up costs for a food cart, Taco Truck or trailer kitchen can range from $30,000 to $100,000 or more. Finding used, serviceable equipment is easy so if you are a do it yourselfer and a good cook, you could have your own business for a fraction of what a restaurant would cost. Mobile food means mobility. If you have a bad location – you can move in an hour. If you know where a concentration of hungry people is – you can go there. Mobile operations have smaller menus and usually a quicker turn around for product. Most operations cook what they need for the day or week with little or no food going to rot. This is good for eliminating food waste but a bit frustrating for folks new to street food when they find an item is unavailable.

A food entrepreneur with a good idea can test it out with minimal risk when their cafe is on wheels. A strong concept can spawn additional food carts or a loyal following that will follow the owner to a brick and mortar location. In San Francisco, a good number of mobile food vendors are making six digit profit margins per year. Mobile food can work if you do it right. Another positive of going mobile is customer interaction and instant feedback – chefs love this and often feel disconnected from their customers in a larger operation.

Here are a few local examples. Super Torta II is one of the oldest Taco Trucks in the city. Last year they opened a restaurant near their location. Skillet, a darling of local food enthusiasts, started a mobile operation to spread the gospel of their food first, local, in season cuisine to other parts or town and untapped audiences. Ray Ray’s Hog Pit in Clintonville has grown a loyal following serving BBQ until in runs out (it often does before posted closing hours). Owner Jaime Anderson previously operated restaurants but has found mobile food to be more rewarding and less hassle.

There are some challenges to what I may have painted as a sure thing, slam-dunk profit magnet. Winter weather shuts many of the vendors down or reduces their hours. More than a few Columbusites have a fear and loathing of “street meat”. Some people believe that the food and workspaces are unsanitary. In my experience, I am happy to take chances with a kitchen and cook I can see in operation verses a hidden kitchen and preparers I cannot see. In the world of Taco Trucks, I would often tell people to order one taco and watch how it is prepared and if they see something that scares them – they are only out $1.25. I prefer my odds with a mobile vendor. There are other “perception” problems as well but these are slowly being addressed and acceptance is growing.

Mobile food is not new to Columbus or our country. It was a pathway to being a business owner for early 20th century immigrants selling sausages, hot dogs and more. This food fed factory workers throughout the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s spawning creations including Italian Beef sandwiches, Po Boy’s, hot dogs and more. Mobile food fueled a transition to fast food establishments and a new way of eating. Today, entrepreneurs are relearning and expanding on something old while adding new elements to street fare with vegetarian, locavore and new immigrant food options.

The culture of street food is growing in Columbus. In October, there were two well-attended mobile food events (Food Truck a Palooza at The Ohio Historical Society and Food Cart Food Court at Wonderland). The response to these food cart conglomerations and demand for more of them was overwhelming. Several of the vendors ran out of food. It can be a good thing when supply does not meet demand as long as people keep wanting more. This bodes well.

Now it is time to drive my subject matter home. Why does mobile food matter? The ability to go out and cook food one believes in promotes diversity and innovation in the food the rest of us eat. Entrepreneurs that would not have a chance with a brick and mortar location are getting the opportunity to follow their dreams while we benefit from new menus instead of safe stagnation. Columbus has long sought an opportunity to find an identity. With support and designating some permanent food court areas, our city can establish a niche on the culinary map. Food and food styles identify a city (Chicago: Hot dogs, Pizza, Italian Beef Sandwiches), New York (hot dogs, Reuben’s, bagels), Philadelphia (Philly cheesesteaks)….. You get my drift. We may not find our signature sandwich but we can blow away our old moniker of fast food capital of the world by becoming known as a progressive, innovative food town. Mobile food can be part of that movement. If we eat it, they will come.

Posted in Columbus, food, Gastronomic Stimulus | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »