CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Archive for the ‘tour’ Category

Food Truck Tour via Columbus Food Adventures

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 16, 2013

One might think that as writer and tri-creator of Taco Trucks Columbus and Street Eats Columbus (as well as my daily work with the food truck community) that I would be food trucked out. Quite the opposite. I found that I wanted a fresh perspective and different point of view on mobile food. I hoped to feel like it was my first taste into this culture again. I wanted to see the world of food trucks through fresh eyes once more. So instead of being my own guide, I opted to ride along on the newly added Food Truck Tour with Columbus Food Adventures as an anonymous rider and to listen to the questions “greenhorns” would have.

One might say, with the two websites in place, why would anyone want to go on a tour of food trucks when you can DIY. I would counter with – why wouldn’t you not want to take a tour? If you have never tried a food truck, then you want to do a tour for sure. First, the tour ensures you are sampling some of the best in the city. Second, you are being educated on the culture and nuances of the food truck world at each stop as well as additional background and commentary between each destination. Third, you typically get to meet the owners of the food trucks and have one on one time with them. Often they are creating a sampler of some of their favorite dishes to share with you to make a first good impression to get you to come back. Fourth it is fun. Fifth there are five trucks to try. Sixth it is a great way to meet new people who share a common interest….or at least a curiosity. And seventh, you will be full by the middle of the tour and definitely stuffed at the end.

So if you are a newbie to this world, the reasons above should sell you on the concept. But what if you are an experienced Taco Trucker or Food Truck enthusiast like me? In my own experiences, my personal interaction with food trucks for food has become pure hunter and gatherer mode…wham, bam, thank you ma’am of sir as I get my food and go. On the tour, I was able to go back to the good old days where I could sit back and leisurely enjoy my food while getting to know the owner and finding out why they decided to do this as their living. That was a big part of the joy for me in the beginning of my mobile food exploration phase where I could appreciate the personal connection between the customer and owner. The experience changes from transactional to educational and conversational. Plus, the sampler plates are often unique to the tour. Indecisive and don’t know what to order, these mobile amuse bouches (can I use that word?) will give you a quick and efficient sample of what the truck boss thinks is the best.

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The current tour presents a variety of menus and a mix of old pros and new kids on the block.

Our first stop was Ajumama which is based at the future site of Zauber Brewing in 5th Ave. Chef Laura Lee creates a mini sampler of 3-4 of her signature dishes. She is very articulate and passionate about her business and takes pride in explaining her Korean cuisine.

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Next on our route was Ray Ray’s, now based at Ace of Cups in Old North Columbus. The sampler here is a mix of brisket, pork, a rib, a chicken wing from Jamie’s new venture inside the bar and his personal favorite sidedish, a mini serving of greens (which he says he eats with every meal).

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Ray Ray’s former location is the new home of Mya’s Chicken. Mark the chef, owner and chief chicken fryer presents a slightly different sampler each time based on his signature items as well as what his daily special may be. And thank goodness, there is a biscuit, one of the best in the city.

Our fourth stop (ownership has changed (2019) so I was requested by the new owners to remove mention of the truck in question from this post because (I speculate) they were concerned a post from 2013 might hurt their brand. So I will say that in 2013 the only Indonesian food truck in Columbus (and probably the only Indonesian food based experience to be had in central Ohio or Ohio as a state). There really is nothing like this in town. As a bonus, (name removed) shares a parking lot of Taco Nazo, one of the favorites of the Taco Trucks Columbus team so a little Taco Truck history is thrown in as a no calorie side dish.

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The fifth and final destination for our tour was Tokyo GoGo based at Brothers Drake in the Short North (this changed in 2017). In addition to getting an education on authentic Japanese style late night bar food there is an opportunity to try some very unique Ohio made mead in the process.

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The itinerary I joined may not be the same as the one you take on your tour but you can expect to try five or more of the best trucks in town and then be well prepared to continue on your own food truck adventures afterwards.

For more information on the Food Truck Tour, cruise over to the Columbus Food Adventures website.

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Posted in culinary knowledge, Mobile Food, Road Trip, tour | Leave a Comment »

When Worlds Don’t Collide: Taco Trucks Columbus and Columbus Alive

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 22, 2010

Quesadilla and tacos at Taco Nazo

The Taco Trucks Columbus team recently spent a weekend taco trucking with G.A. Benton, Becky Zimmer and Jodie Miller from Columbus Alive. We had a great time together eating tacos, tortas, tostadas and more at six of the best street food vendors in Columbus. It is always a pleasure to introduce someone to a new taco truck experience but it is even better when the people you are with already “get it” and do not need to be coaxed, encouraged or begged to step outside their culinary comfort zones. The Alive crew are experienced eaters who were more than glad to engage in exploration with us.

Jodie and Becky at our third stop

At Don Pedros, order of operations: Photograph Panbazo, Eat Panbazo

It was also rewarding to step back from the experience at times. There are some activities that are inherent to food writing, including: taking a lot of photos before the eating ensues, ordering as many items as possible to share so a menu can be explored in depth, endless questions for our cooks and hosts, telling stories of restaurant adventures past and present and the eventual breaking point when you try one taco too many. This is not a venture for the wary, inexperienced or the non-committed. Having a group of experiential food explorers on the team was fun. It brought back memories of the first weekends of exploration when Taco Trucks Columbus was born in 2009. I had forgotten what it was like to hit three or more trucks in an afternoon. While sharing our stories with GA Benton I was able to relive some of the best days of the past year. We were also able to introduce our Alive colleagues to Quicho, Lydia, Grace and other friends we have made during our taco traipsing. Food brings people together like a melting pot and it can coax people with different opinions and experiences to the same table.

before......

...after

There is some talk of bad blood between newspapers and bloggers or a war between print and electronic media. In my experience that is not the case in the capital city. We may use different media but our aims and means are the same. Our joint mission is to educate people inside and outside of 270 about the incredible diversity and quality of food Columbus has to offer. This is not propaganda we are prophesying, this gospel is true and we want all of you to believe it. In the case of taco trucks, we have had a hand from The Dispatch, Fox 28, Channel 6, The Big Bass Brothers, and others – we might not be on the same team, but we play the same game and we observe good sportsmenship in the process.

The article about our adventures should be in Columbus Alive on April 29th. If you want to share in the taco tour experience, join us on April 24th for a tour of the best of west side.

The Latino population of Columbus is expected to reach 10% in the 2010 census. Their culture and cuisine adds to the richness of our community. Columbus has about thirty taco trucks at the present compared to zero in Cleveland, a handful of Gringo/fake out Taco Trucks in Cincinnati and few, if any, in the rest of the Midwest. These mobile food vendors are uniquely concentrated in the capital city which shows the diversity and depth of cuisine our city has to offer to visitors and residents. Come join the team.

al pastor y pina a la Los Guachos

Posted in Columbus, culinary knowledge, events, tour | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Cow to Cone Tour: Local Foods Week Day Four

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 6, 2009

If you have not heard of Jeni’s Ice Cream then you live under a rock with no access to print media, television, the webernet or me. I have been tracking the artisan ice cream crafting of Jeni Britton (Britton-Bauer now) since she scooped her primordial ice creams at Scream ice cream in the last decade. I have written and blogged about Jeni’s in many media over the years. Of course Jeni’s is pretty critical to my whole “ice cream capital of the world” campaign. So when I saw that a Local Foods Week tour was being offered at the Jeni’s plant I moved with haste to lock in my spot. I was one of twenty callers that called in time. Over 50 people were on a waiting list for the tour.

It is good to see good things in our world. Jeni’s is an example of a good person that did good work and as a result has achieved splendid things. Having the Bauer team on board helped a lot to build the business. I have often seen great success happen for people that were not so great. Such is not the case here. Jeni’s ice cream is one of the major pins that has places Columbus on the culinary map. You can expect to see a Jeni’s ice cream cart at any local event that promotes Columbus and good food, especially if there is a charity involved. I think the world of these folks. In the world of Ice Cream the baseline is good, so any ice cream maker can pretty much just show up and do well. Jeni has never been content with doing well, she constantly pushes the threshold for quality of product, service and flavor.

I am not cresting over the hump of Local Foods Week too well. It has been a massively busy time for eating and writing since August with almost daily events, meetings, dinners, etc., so I am starting to waddle and wane. Therefore for I am taking the lazy but timely approach of just posting photos and letting you fill in the gaps. More details on the tour just seems cruel to those that were on the waiting list.

(After the photos, I am recycling parts of a magazine article I wrote on Jeni’s years ago for people that do not know the Jeni’s Ice Cream history).

Jeni discusses and shows some of the fresh ingredients used in the ice cream recipes

Jeni discusses and shows some of the fresh ingredients used in the ice cream recipes

Fresh pumpkins delivered by Adam from Wayward Seed

Fresh pumpkins delivered by Adam from Wayward Seed

fresh beets

fresh beets

Ohio Organic Family Farms whipping cream and Ugandan fair trade vanilla

Ohio Organic Family Farms whipping cream and Ugandan fair trade vanilla

Ingredients end up in one of two tempermental Italian Carpigiani Gelato machines making ice cream in 10 gallon batches

Ingredients end up in one of two tempermental Italian
Carpigiani Gelato machines making ice cream in 10 gallon batches

ice cream samples galore including the exclusive Dean and Deluca flavor

ice cream samples galore including the exclusive Dean and Deluca flavor

reprinted by me with my permission:

Jeni Britton laid the foundation for her artisan ice cream career before she graduated from high school. She was among the first employees when Graeter’s premiered in Columbus. Later, Jeni walked across the parking lot to work at La Chatelaine where she learned the art and craft of making fine French baked goods and developed an appreciation for new flavors and culinary styles. Jeni opened Scream Ice Cream in 1996 with a passion for making ice cream her way. The shop had a good four-year run, but Jeni wanted to improve on her business concept and develop a craftsperson’s approach to fine ice cream. To advance her art, she took the famed Penn State Creamery Ice Cream course, studied with an Italian gelato maker and traveled extensively in pursuit of ice cream excellence. She then opened Jeni’s Fresh Ice Cream in 2002.

Over time she has made the business a family affair by adding her husband Charly Bauer and brother-in-law Tom to the fulltime team. Collectively, Jeni’s has continued to develop a loyal local and national following with an innovative concoction of flavors. Instead of relying on a lot of syrups and sugars, Jeni’s combination of special recipes and unique ingredients allow the natural flavors to come out to your taste buds. There are seasonal variations and signature flavors; an appetizer of flavor examples includes Sweet Corn with Black Raspberries, Bartlett Pear with Riesling Sorbet and Strawberry Rose Petal. These cutting edge creations caught the attention of the culinary critics on both coasts resulting in a Food and Wine Tastemaker Award in 2005, an appearance on Roker on the Road and numerous magazine articles.

Constantly cooking up these creative flavors allows for challenges and opportunities. The focus on local, natural, and seasonal ingredients causes Jeni to constantly forage for new purveyors and products. She has developed strong relationships with local farmers to obtain items such as milk and honey to meet her specific requirements. This quest for fresh ingredients led Jeni to be chef chair for the local branch of the Chef’s Collaborative, an organization that promotes chefs and farmers working together to create markets for local foods.

Preparing the components for an ice cream recipe is labor intensive. Everything is made in house including the marshmallows, pralines, sauces, and such. Interns from the Graham School mix the hard work of separating mint leaves with reminders from Jeni about how important math is to getting the right combination and ratio of flavor in each batch of ice cream. Jeni even experiments with the OSU diary science program in her quest for ice cream perfection. One day, she would like to own her own organic diary – she is that passionate about her product and what goes into it….. from Cow to Cone.

Posted in ice cream, tour | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Elevator Brewery Tour: Local Foods Week Day Three

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 6, 2009

On day three of Local Foods Week (Monday), I opted for a tour of the Elevator Brewery in downtown Columbus. The brewery is located in an old warehouse about 2 blocks from the Elevator Restaurant (it is almost a straight line from door to door, if you pause for cars). For $20, I got a T Shirt, a pint glass (which I could fill for free that night) and an hour long tour with a lot of questions and answers mixed in with several samples of beer and some malt to munch on.

The brewery is observing the tenth year of beer production. They completed the relocation of their production facility from Marysville to downtown Columbus in early 2009. For a few months, the Elevator brewers were operating two breweries as the new brewery ramped up for production at full capacity. The first Columbus batch of beer was started December 31st of 2008.

I have read that the recession has seen an increase in microbrew consumption. This seems to be true of locavore beer pourers as well. Sales and production of Elevator beers by July 2009 were the same as all of 2008.

For more background on beer crafting and touring at the Elevator, I suggest reading this article from Columbus Alive on the Elevator Brewery

The bad news is that I went on the tour and you did not. The good news is that the tours are now offered on most Saturdays by appointment. Give Caleb Amos a call at 679-2337 (BEER).

Posted in beer, tour | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »