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Archive for the ‘Vegetarian Friendly’ Category

The White Castle Impossible Burger: A CMH Gourmand / 614ortyNiner Joint

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 30, 2018

I received a text from a colleague suggesting I try the Impossible Burger at White Castle. Based on the location of this venture, I decided it was a great opportunity for another joint evaluation with the esteemed 614ortyNiner.

I actually thought the location of this Impossible Burger to be a bit….improbable. A White Castle at SR 161 (Dublin-Granville Road) and Karl Road? This is an area that has not been known for food innovation since the early 1990s. However, I did confirm the venue via an Impossible Burger locator and found that the Impossible was not only probable, but true, it was indeed at this White Castle as one of the first sites in the city.

What makes a burger impossible? It is a vegetarian burger which has been challenging all types of food businesses to create a tasty sandwich using their creation as a base. Their philosophy, if you want to make a good burger without meat, it is possible to get people to eat more of them and this consume less cows and such.

The mere mention of an Impossible Burger and White Castle in the same sentence is likely to make a large percentage of the population snicker to the point of derision. However the two Venn diagrams of non believers are unlikely to have much overlap. On one side we have the Foodies and the general White Castle haters who see no value in fast food in general and “sliders” in particular. To that Venn diagram I say, dig a little deeper and you might find something that is not worthy of ridicule. I have editorialized in the past about my respect for White Castle as an innovator in food technology, work force development and etc. While I do not go to White Castle often, I have been a sucker for their breakfast sandwich for many years and typically I am drawn to any new menu item the company offers like a sailor to shipwreck by sirens.

As for the other Venn diagram in this online soliloquy, those that snicker at attempts to offer vegetarian alternatives to our military/industrial/oil/meat-focused complex economy I say, look to the future. The things that give use cheap meat are getting more expensive: gas, water, land, cheap feed, agribusiness, etc. Add to that, there is a lot to question about what is going into the meat we eat. It has been a decade and about seventy pounds since I was a six day a week vegetarian but I respect a good vegetable based burger and will support any effort to make such palatable to the masses. We need it. Me more than most.

Fast food is the perfect environment to try out a good vegetable based burger and of course Columbus with our long-standing reputation as the premiere food test market is the place to do so. This is not the first time White Castle has come on board with a meatless burger (some way they have been doing so since 1921). They debuted their veggie burger years ago and I was there to try it. White Castle still serves a veggie burger and it is still 99 cents – that it has persisted is a win.

In the case of the Impossible Burger, the approach appears to be more high-end than the typical slider. Both 614ortyNiner and I approached this taste test with great seriousness. Also, without planning to do so, we both used the same approach in our ordering. We each got a “standard” slider, a veggie burger, an Impossible Burger/Slider plain and an Impossible Burger with cheese (the default cheese for these is a smoked cheddar). We both wanted to start with a baseline and work our way up so as to fairly compare the Impossible Burger to what else is in the White Castle Universe. The FortyNiner shared he had limited experience with White Castle since he grew up and lived a large part of his life on the Bay Area. So on this trip not only did he try an Impossible Burger he also tried a regular, nothing added, run of the mill, plan White Castle Slider (I had mine with jalapeno cheese). We progressed in our burger consumption and made similar observations. The prep time for the Impossible Burger is about two times longer than the other items. The burger patty is about 2.5 times thicker than a standard slider. While we know it is a vegetable based burger, it does not really look like one (unlike the White Castle Veggie Burger which has visible vegetable parts in the patty). We do not know what vegetables are in this burger but we both thought it has a slight aroma of mushrooms as well as a slight hint of mushroom in the flavor profile. The patty was textured somewhat like a hamburger but was light and fluffy. It was edible, neither horrible or delicious. The Impossible Burger with cheese was significantly better than the plain Impossible burger. We both thought this burger would benefit from more add on’s, such as pickles. It was at the moment we both agreed to this pickle upgrade that we noticed the marketing poster shows pickles with this burger….so we say, make sure you get yours. We also noticed that the onions served with the Impossible Burger were very different that the typical finally diced and fried slider onions. These were bigger, wider and looked and tasted like they came out of a microwave. To make the product cycle lifespan of the Impossible Burger – Slider edition longer, this product would benefit by having the addition of the standard White Castle heap of onions.

Does this Impossible Burger actually accomplish the impossible of being a great burger? No! However, it is a passable product if you add on the right add on’s. In particular, I have always felt that any White Castle slider was a case of the whole being much greater that the sum of the parts so adding more parts to your Impossible Burger is the right call. I do, think this burger is destined to fail. The origins of fast food as well as the reality of fast food today is based on two elements – food served quickly at a low price. I’d also suggest dumping the smoked cheddar cheese, you can’t taste the difference and a standard slice of American or Jalapeno cheese will help them cut down the price. For the Impossible Burger to succeed it will need to reduce the price and the cook time by one half so it can be assimilated by the masses. Thanks for the assist 614ortyNiner.

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Posted in culinary misadventure, Food For Thought, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Happy Dog, Cleveland

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 24, 2018

If you read my various posts in the CLEGourmand category you know I am a BIG fan of Cleveland. The people and the neighborhoods have an unquantifiable character that Columbus does not have. A part of it is pride, a big part is loyalty (supporting the Browns, Indians and Cavs is often very hard) and other elements that would best be labeled je ne sais quoi.

What led me to Happy Dog was a text from a native Clevelander. To say the text was provocative and inflammatory would be an understatement. The texter is a lifelong friend of the Grumpy Old Man (a “victim” of some Gourmand southern Ohio adventures) and in spite of being a corporate man has some very left leaning tendencies. He too has experienced a three lunch afternoon with me in Athens and knows my unwavering devotion for O’Betty’s Hot Dogs. In spite that (and in spite of him being at least a lukewarm fan of O’Betty’s) Mr. Suit stated (profanity, swagger and other off-color commentary edited to protect the innocent) Happy Dog is better than O’Betty’s.

Clearly these were fighting words so I requested photographic documentation and asked for less graphic commentary. I also did a lot of Googling and researched this so-called better than O’Betty’s Hot Doggery. Online, Happy Dog looked to have some merit although this assertion of “better than O’Betty’s” was clearly the rantings of a mad man but I placed a visit high on my to do list for my next Cleveland trip. Eventually, I made my way to the hallowed doors of Happy Dog.

I immediately took a shine to the place. The location I visited is in the Gordon Square neighborhood, which has a fair number of hot spots (like Brewnuts) but is still rough enough around the edges to have some character and a sense of communal community. The outside is nondescript other than covered bike parking and a sign that could easily be mistaken for a dive bar or dog groomers. The inside had an old, multi-generational, pleasantly battered feel so familiar to many of my favorite Cleveland haunts. I scooted CMH Spouse and CMH Griffin into a booth so we could begin the critical and crucial work of determining our order.

The Happy Dog menu is both extensive and simple. Step One: choose a base of hot dog (100% beef or vegan), burger, tots or fries. Step Two: review a list of fifty plus toppings, dips and etc. to add to your hot dog or whatnot. These include but are not limited to items such as Japanese Yum Yum sauce, top-secret Fry sauce, bourbon pork and beans, pimento mac & cheese, vegetarian lentil chili, Fruit Loops and so on. You then take an order sheet and check off what you want added to each item you care to dine on. The depth and variety of toppings was impressive but I do have one criticism. As a graduate of Hot Dog University and a visitor of the Mustard Museum, I am concerned that only three mustards are listed on the menu. Cleveland alone to home to two hot dog worthy mustards – Bertman’s Ballpark and Stadium Mustard and I could see neither on the menu. Less than ten offerings of mustard goes against the underlying philosophy of Happy Dog. This could be rectified with the placement of a variety of mustards in a communal area.

An eclectic order of hot dogs, fries and tots were ordered and found their way to our table.
The CMH Family found all to be satisfactory. My wife, who holds high standards for many things and who maintains a very high tolerance for my advocacy for food adventures in establishments and neighborhoods she finds to be both suspect and questionable approved of Happy Dog. She is on the record as stating, with equivocation, their fries are the best she has ever had. Both she and I concurred that the fries were better than O’Betty’s. We liked the diversity and quality of the toppings. I thought the vegan hot dog / sausage I had (I ordered a regular hot dog too…..duh) was the best vegan / vegetarian fake encased meat product I have ever consumed. (I tried a lot – especially during a two year period when I was a five day per week vegetarian). I would have liked the buns to have been steamed or lightly toasted (as is the O’Betty’s way). I am still of the opinion that O’Betty’s executes a slightly better total hot dog but Happy Dog is a strong number two for best in the state. Also, it is not fair to compare the two especially since Happy Dog has at least seven times the square footage as O’Betty’s and my Athens hangout has more experience in the hot dog trade. So while Mr. Suit was wrong, he was right is determining that Happy Dog is a most superior spot for hot dogs and much more (live music, cocktails, deep beer list and while most items are locally sourced, because they want the best, they vegan dogs comes from Seattle). We all win when we go to Happy Dog or O’Betty’s. And we all lose when we put ketchup on a hot dog.

I visited Happy Dog on Detroit Ave. in Gordon Square.

Posted in CLEGourmand, hot dogs, Ohio, Road Trip, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Ho Toy: A Downtown Discovery, Oh Boy

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 8, 2018

Over the last decade I have occasionally driven by the classic Ho Toy sign and wondered about its origins. Due to its proximity to the former Lazarus Department store I just assumed Ho Toy was defunct long ago. A post by my colleague, Joe, the 614orty-Niner concerning Columbus restaurant history let me know it Ho Toy is still serving the public. Since Ho Toy was indeed open and like me, Joe had never dined there before (which is saying a lot considering he worked just around the corner for many years) this was clearly a call to action. So a text was sent and a lunch date was set.

The Ho Toy name goes back to 1959 when it opened at its original location on Town Street. In 1980, it moved the current location at 11 West State Street taking over a former two story Burger King location. The decor dates to the 1980’s or even earlier and it’s Burger King roots show: formica counters, vinyl booths (now covered with plastic sheeting), Burger King style primary colors in the background as well as the carpeting and flooring with some faded Chinese paper lanterns added for character. During the heyday of Ho Toy both floors were busy and up to seven servers would work the front of the house. Today a busy shift might see two servers in service. What Ho Toy does consistently deliver is Americanized Cantonese Chinese comfort cuisine classics.

The current owner purchased the restaurant in 2003 (a few years before Lazarus closed) after working in the kitchen for many years. He incorporated Thai cuisine into the menu. Joe and I opted to work as a team by ordering three items from the menu: Lo Mein, Chop Suey and Phad See Ew. We chose Chow Suey since it is the epitome of a dish created for the American palate. Joe brings considerable expertise to this table having grown up in the Bay Area with Filipino parents, trips to authentic Chinatown restaurants were part of his formative years. And like me, his formative years also included a fair amount of La Choy Chinese food and a liberal amount of Spam and Vienna sausages.

We found the Chop Suey to be more than passable. We both commented in the freshness of the vegetables as well as the chicken in the dish. I was most intrigued by the fried rice offered with the entrée. It was a deep brown with just a trace of vegetables incorporated into it and had a very light, un-fried flavor to it. Looking at some Yelp reviews for Ho Toy this presentation of fried rice seems to have created a lot of ire with some customers over the years who were unable to wrap their heads around any non traditional approach to a non traditional Chinese dish.

The Lo Mein featured fresh vegetables and offered no surprises so both Joe and I found this dish to meet expectations.

Moving on to the Thai side of the menu, I dug in to the Phad See Ew. I was offered the choice of mild, medium or hot on my space level. Since I was not familiar with the baseline heat of Ho Toy I opted for medium which I would rate at a 6 on a 10 point scale for heat and spice. This dish combined wide egg noodles about the size of a tortilla chip, broccoli, carrots, napa cabbage and eggs in a flavorful brown sauce.

I had visions of a Kahiki racing through my head when I ordered a lunch time Mai Tai. However, there was no umbrella and a only trace of alcohol in the pint sized concoction I was served so my dreams were dashed.

Overall we found the menu to resemble the Lake Woebegone of Chinese and Thai food, everything was above average at an average price. If you are a downtown worker or visitor Ho Toy is worth dropping in for a nice lunch with a side of time warping travel to the 1980’s or earlier. If you happen to host a progressive retro dinner club, this would be the right environment to eat your daddy’s Chow Mein. You will also find a bit of dining history from other places on your table.

Our server was friendly and diligently answered my numerous questions about pretty much everything.

When you make you haj to Ho Toy, I’d suggest a trip to the second floor. In my case, it was necessitated by a need to go to the only functional restroom but I discovered a nice view of the Statehouse (see the photo below) as well as some interesting bathroom “humor” (see the photo below the majestic view).

Ho Toy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

CHOP 5 Salad Kitchen

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 23, 2018

Curry bowl

It seems fitting that CHOP 5 would decide to set up in Columbus, in particular, the Polaris area. The stretch of Polaris just east of I 71 has been flooded with food concepts both old and new over the last few years. CHOP 5 adds a healthy addition to the mix. The menu focuses on custom made salads, bowls and wraps. If you miss the demise of salad bars throughout America, CHOP 5 will give you hope and healthier ingredients to choose from. It is also fitting that a salad based franchise would call Columbus home. Many sources cite Columbus as the home of the salad bar as we know it (Jack Bowman’s Steak House) and definitely the rapid expansion of the concept via Columbus based Wendy’s, Rax and others in the 1980’s.

There are five core ingredients in each offering with the option to add more as you progress down the assembly line to complete your dish. When CHOP 5 opened in 2016, there were five owners who choose Columbus as their test market for this fast casual concept. I was unable to locate more locations on the website so the concept may still be in the test phase. So far, it seems the concept is passing the test. In spite of the newly opened Sweet Carrot as a neighbor, the place had a steady pace of customers coming in the door. In addition to the core offerings, there is a kids menu, soups, snacks and cookies to complete the menu. Ordering is easy with plenty of support from the staff who guide you through the creation process.


I tried the featured item of the month, the Curry Chicken Bowl. After a long, meat-filled winter, the crunch of heaps of vegetables made me feel just a tad more wholesome. The serving size and quality of ingredients in the Chicken Curry Bowl seems like a fair value for 8.99.

There are those that say there is no free lunch. Well, when you are a blogger, you occasionally get offers for tastings and other free stuff. I typically decline most offers but over the last eighteen months, the persistence of the marketing company that works with CHOP 5 wore me down and the photo of the bowl looked very appealing, so I am glad I accepted the offer. If you are looking for Chipotle style experience, with a lot more vegetables, CHOP 5 is a good choice.

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

Yellow Brick Pizza and the Old Towne East Eating Intersection

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 10, 2016

Welcome to Olde Town

Checking over my list of favorite pizza places, I noticed I had not written about Yellow Brick Pizza. My apologies. Yellow Brick is an Old Towne East Icon part of the Oak Street Boom, which unfortunately has not spread farther out. Opening in 2009, the place quickly established itself as a hot spot with good pizza and a craft beer collection with depth and breadth. The pizza is described as East Coat style with Rhode Island influences since one of the owners worked in a few Rhode Island pizza shops. The dough is hand stretched with a medium thickness to the crust and a signature thick dough ring. For the non-traditional eater in your life, Yellow Brick offers plenty of gluten and vegan friendly options for pizzas including gluten-free crust, vegan cheese and Textured Vegetable Protein sausage. Wondering about Rhode Island Red Sauce? It is featured on a few of the pizza options to give the sauce a bit of heat and kick. The specialty pizzas offer a wide variety of combinations many of which stretch the genre of traditional pizza toppings to great effect.

Yellow Brick Slice

Most pizza places offer a few mundane salads as an afterthought, not the case for Yellow Brick, I have found each of their salads to be exceptional. My favorite salad there and probably my favorite salad in Columbus is described below.

Kale Salad

All of the ingredients in this salad compliment and contrast well with each other providing a mix for flavors, textures and crunchiness. The red peppers in the salad are not just slices that have a bit of marinated flavor as well. Even my bean avoidant wife was happy to gobble down a few bites.

Add in some Arcade Super Awesome upstairs in the evening for extra distraction and Yellow Brick is well worth a planned night out on the town.

Yellow Brick Info

Yellow Brick Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Speaking of town, this block on Oak Street in Old Towne is a mini entertainment district. Starting with the business that started things off – one of my favorite spots Angry Baker

Angry Baker

Old Towne Tavern also offers good food and selection of local and regional craft beers.

Old Town Tavern

And perhaps a new location will mean a bit of a rebirth for Camelot Cellars and an option for non beer drinkers on the block.

Camalot

Posted in beer, Best Pizza in Columbus, pizza, vegan friendly, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Small Bite: Wendy’s Black Bean Burger; Big Picture Why Fast Food needs a Veggie Burger and why they aren’t working

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 14, 2016

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Ok, well one of many things you may not know about me, I have a strong internal calling to try out new veggie burgers at fast food places, especially when created by locally owned White Castle and Wendy’s. In my past, I had the fortune to do product sampling for both companies and tried a few veggie burgers at each over the years. (Please note previous White Castle Veggie Burger research -> HERE

So let us now cut to the chase. The new Black Bean Burger at Wendy’s looks and tastes like a Morningstar Farm Black Bean Burger I have tried many times. It includes some bean chunks and a few pieces of corn mixed in for variety. The price was $4.49. It rests on a very nice looking bun and is complimented by some fancy pepper jack cheese with some fluffy and pseudo artisan greens that had the taste and consistency of paper. Visually everything looked good. The flavor profile would best be described as bland and mostly flavorless – a good source of fiber and that is the best positive I can comment on. As served it is 560 calories and 24 fat grams. A Wendy’s single with Cheese is 550 calories and costs less.

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Now that the review is done, we can discuss the socioeconomic and philosophical points about fast food veggie burgers. I’ll add some additional background. I’m not here to attack veggies burgers. I lived off them multiple times per week throughout the first decade of this century. I used to drive to the Morningstar outlet store in Worthington to save a few dollars on patties and see what new products where out there. I had a great fast food veggie burger at an Australian Hungry Jacks (Burger King) in Melbourne in 1989. I have tried them throughout the USA and the world, mostly out of curiosity. I believe in the teachings of Michael Pollan and others (although I certainly do not practice those beliefs in this second decade of the century) that we are better off as individuals and as a society if we “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Our health and planet improves when we do so. I get it.

The key to making a fast food veggie burger work is to do what White Castle did to make the first fast food burgers work in the 1920’s – make them cheap and sell them by the sack. An expensive, fancy veggie burger does not drive consumption the way a dollar menu burger would or should. Anyone that is not a veggie person is not going to pay that price point for something they do not want. Someone that does want a veggie burger is going to pay three times as much at Northstar but get a better product with better nutrition. Give it a fast food veggie burger a basic bun, a slice of cheese and a nice pickle, plop it on the value menu then give it a generation to sink it and it will work by altering the eating habits of consumers with the balance of price and convenience. Make it (and price it) for the masses so the masses will eat it – better for business and maybe better for body mass. While this may seem far-fetched, it is good business sense. In India – where few eat beef, Burger King has been progressive and aggressive in launching a vegetarian line of sandwiches that are doing well – I’d love to try any of them here. In that subcontinent – Wendy’s offers a potato patty which by description and with a bit of research sounds better than their black bean offering here.

Posted in culinary knowledge, culinary misadventure, Food For Thought, Gastronomic Stimulus, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

New at White Castle: Veggie Slider and Desserts on Sticks. Verdict: Does Not Suck

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 7, 2015

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There are a few things I am a sucker for: loose change lying in a busy street, a smart dame and new items at White Castle. You may recall my previous investigation involving the White Castle Belgian Waffle Chicken Sandwich. This time my investigatory reporting was hindered by the lack of my trusty assistant. CMH Tobias was unable to eat pending surgery so I had to have Mrs. Gourmand step in to aid my culinary journalism. However, she was hindered by her own condition (knocked up by this writer) so that her olfactics which are heightened off the charts normally are further expanded by her pregnancy hormones. My own drive to investigate was augmented by a strong desire to eat something other than pizza (the defacto food de jour at Chateau Gourmand since November due to the odd food obsessions and peculiarities that come with knockupedness). ((Oddly, with some reflection, I have observed that I have eaten like a pregnant person since at least 2010)).

I stalked the White Castle Veggie Slider since I first read about it “coming soon” six months ago. While starting my journey through the drive thru lane I noticed a sign for dessert on a stick! How could I not get a few of those as well.

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I picked up my order and drove home with an excitement to begin my investigation. My first reaction, after reaching into my sack of research, was a snicker when I looked at the size of the packaging of the desserts. I guess I should have expected something pint-sized from White Castle but I was a little shocked by my first impression on the size of my subject matter (see below).

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I ordered Gooey Butter Cake and Fudge Dipped Brownie desserts on sticks. While the packages looked small, the prize inside was even more petite. This caused me to laugh a bit more as I walked the treat to Mrs. Gourmand to sample with me. Exceeding both of our expectations these pint-sized desserts were really good. Both had a dense cheesecake style quality and plenty of flavor. For two good bites each, both were well worth the 99 cent price.

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Excited by being two for two so far in the testing process I proceeded to the Veggie Burger to which Mrs. Gourmand made it clear that her services were no longer available. The first thing I noticed was the thickness of the patty. The veggie burger is just over 2 times wider than the standard White Castle slider. My next observation – the burger looks like a burger. It is round. It is the color of a typical burger. While I don’t know the pedigree of the innards, it tastes similar to a Morningstar or other higher grade veggie burger. I also liked the distinct packaging that comes with the product. I’ve sampled many a fast food veggie burger (my favorite hails from the Australian version of Burger King – Hungry Jacks) and this one is a keeper. Although I would suggest ordering this with cheese and seeing if a pickle can be placed on top for extra flavor. The only downside to this (which I noticed on a previous trip) is that the buns on non slider tend to be dry or to have a corner that seems a bit crunchy or stale vs. the alluring steamed moistness of a slider.

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I have photos of some of my research below. First I compare the size of a veggie slider and a standard slider. You can also see the difference in color.

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Next take a look at the Veggie Slider box. White Castle does a great job with their packaging and branding. The example below is a fine example, nice graphics and color coding to set products apart.

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Posted in desserts, Food For Thought, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Green Bean Delivery to the Rescue

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 18, 2014

green bean 1

* Update and special: Hey Readers, you can use this code: 15CMHGml for $15 off your first Green B.E.A.N. order if you are a new customer. This deal expires August 27th 2014. *

As you have been reading Mrs. Gourmand and I have been living on fast food, pie and Pasta with Jam Sauce. Having become a bit hazy on what a vegetable might be, I felt it was time for an intervention. Going back into the CMH Gourmand Wayback machine, my memory was prompted by -> this <- post on Green B.E.A.N. delivery from back in 2011.

The timing was good because I was contacted shortly thereafter by Green Bean to see if I wanted to take them for a test drive again (good seremdipity there). Green Bean is as easy to use as ever, maybe even easier. A few things that I noticed this time around was that they stay very active with their blog with plenty of recipe ideas for the in season produce coming your way. The selection process is still quick as a few clicks. You get to pick the frequency of your deliveries. You can start with the default of weekly or you can pick and choose what weeks produce will come to your door. Speaking of which you can leave very specific instructions for where to leave the bin when dropped off and control when and how you are reminded about delivery dates, specials, etc. Your order starts with a weekly update of what is currently in the core delivery and then you can adjust your order from there by increasing or decreasing each item. You can also select from a broad range of other local, fresh and/or organic ingredients to add to your order including staples like milk, cheese, snacks and etc.

Mrs. Gourmand and I opted for the standard bin with no adjustments because we wanted lots of green items and because we also wanted to challenge of cooking some items that were not on our regular rotation at the grocery store.

So this is what we received in our order:

green bean 4

If you can’t see all that is in there, this is what we received:
4 apples
3 peaches
grapes
mixed tomatoes
kale
cucumber
leeks
raspberries

This quickly translated into several quick and easy salads with little to no effort on our part. It was also helpful because Mrs. Gourmand was still using a walker when this was delivered. This made me think that this could be a great gift for someone you know that has a busy schedule or has broken a leg or fallen ill and can use a little fresh (and easy) food in their life. So let Green B.E.A.N. help you think outside of the box – both their delivery box and you your rut of items you get at the store to eat healthy and support local food businesses.

Posted in Food For Thought, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Portia’s Cafe

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 10, 2014

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There is a chance you made a New Year’s Resolution to eat more mindfully or with a healthy focus. Or maybe you are a vegan or have a gluten intolerance and find dining out a frustrating experience. Regardless of your path, if you are looking for the most alternative way to dine in Columbus, Portia’s has you covered.

The street address is a little less than ideal but the location is well suited for the mission of the cafe. Clintonville is home to the oldest Vegetarian restaurant in the city, Whole World Natural Bakery and Restaurant. If there would ever be a community that would and could embrace Portia’s it would be Clintonville.

With the exception of honey most Vegans would find that cafe would find acceptable. The ingredients used are largely organic, generally free of gluten and GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). The Cafe has assembled a menu that is accessible for carnivores and raw foods fans alike. Now at this point, I think some of you may be a little intimidated and wondering how you would fit in eating all of this “weird food”. Well, if you had to pick a place for your first foray off the eaten path, than Portia’s is the place to dine. The staff are friendly and knowledgable and answer inquiries in a way that you know there really are no dumb questions. Even the menu is helpful, with instructions on how to eat a lettuce wrap. Another example of the philosophy of Portia’s is the approach to ice. Water is served but ice is only added on request (a good bartender or foodie will tell you some of the possible health issues related to ice makers).

As for the food some of what I tried was really good and some was average. Nothing tasted like leaves and twigs which for many would be a surprise but hopefully this will give some the courage to try Portia’s as their gateway meal to healthy eating.

For your first bite, I would suggest the appetizer sampler which will allow you to choose a selection of small bites to try out before you move forward in the menu.

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Portia's Cafe on Urbanspoon

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

Brown Bag Deli: Deli-icious

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 6, 2014

menu

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

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

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

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

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

sandwich

Brown Bag Deli on Urbanspoon

Brown Bag Web Site

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