Thursday, 9 May 2013
I learned way back in November that a new restaurant had entered downtown Columbus and had brought with it "French dining." And despite it automatically being placed toward (if not at) the top of my must-try list, it wasn't until earlier this week that I finally made my way over there. After being prompted by my CCCE family (here, I'm specifically referring to Beth, Erik and Marilyn) to select a restaurant for my farewell dinner, I spent quite some time going back and forth between simply wonderful and consistently rated restaurants throughout Columbus. I found myself, however, returning to Gallerie Bar & Bistro. Perhaps my Provençal-theme cooking demo last Friday with Marlaine or the fact that I'll be returning to France this summer (for the fifth time) to co-lead a program focusing on language and cooking or maybe my deep-rooted attachment to French gastronomy had something to do with that. Whatever the influence(s) may have been, the point is that we found our way to the Arena District, up the spiral staircase pictured above and were seated in a more or less secluded section of the restaurant, within its smart, modern and sophisticated aesthetic which fused so well with the rest of the concurrently built Hilton Columbus Downtown hotel.
Sunday, 5 May 2013
As I consider the importance of place and space on the diversity and culinary variation of regional French cuisine--in a word, terroir--I often turn to Provence as the first example of rustic, countryside cooking, where dishes are produce-heavy and light, pairing nicely with the sunshine and generally favourable, breezy weather. Provençal cooking as I've experienced it to date is at one end of France's wide gastronomic spectrum. Geography has a lot to do with it of course, including the culinary influences of its neighbours. Provence and southeastern France border northwestern Italy, and are particularly defined by ingredients and cultures of the Mediterranean; equally so, they are influenced by the spices and techniques of North and West Africa. This disposition for olive oil and chickpeas over the arguable prevalence for pork and cow-based dairy products were particularly well highlighted in a cooking demo I attended this past Friday with Marlaine at The Seasoned Farmhouse. Recently opened in Clintonville (the demo we attended was just the third to be held in the new space), this set of programming was created by chef Tricia Wheeler, graduate of the French Culinary Institute of New York and founder of Edible Columbus. And joining her was Shawnie Kelley Foy, author of 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go and owner of Wanderlust Tours. On Friday's menu: Provençal Chickpea Salad, Provençal Summer Herb Bread, and Provençal Herb Pasta. And paired with each dish was a different wine from the Côtes du Rhône appellation.
Saturday, 4 May 2013
Good evening, dear Reader. I've been under the weather lately and so much of my free time has been spent sleeping. (And for those of you who know me well know that I need to catch up on quite a bit of that..) In any case, I'm feeling much better now and am of course finding quite a bit of comfort through food. And while I have the energy (more so the memory), I wanted to catch you up on a dining experience from last Saturday. I received a call around 11am or so from fellow Gleek and Les Mis singing partner Amanda, who informed me that Elio, Damian and Alex were aiming to replicate for the first time her mother-in-law's recipe for Italian wedding soup, in celebration of Alex's birthday. With an invitation to join them, I went through my mental index of dishes to potential bring over and add to the occasion. For some reason, Italian wedding soup equated to lemons which yielded my first attempt at a limoncello cake with toasted meringue topping.
Saturday, 27 April 2013
As I pulled into the parking lot of The Crest Gastropub (1,2), I saw quite a few people enjoying springtime's sunny weather on the outdoor patio. And then I saw Abed who looked to be taking in the moment. I met recent OSU grad Abed and Dublin, OH native Dustin in early March at the annual meeting of Slow Food Columbus. Since then, I've been following the progress of The Crest which officially opened last night (following a successful soft opening last weekend), and of which Abed and his family are the owners and Dustin is head chef. Already, the early and very recent previews (1,2,3) had created positive buzz. That said, my initial review below appears to be one of the first post-opening pieces (at least the first to make its way over to Urbanspoon) to add to that buzz, hopefully providing the curious among you with a peek of what the experience was like in full force.
We've now reached the final days of the academic year and yet somehow the number of programs has been increasing, students are spending many more hours writing up final papers, and reviews and assessments are keeping more and more folks in the office. Amidst all of this, most of our staff was able to find a small window to enjoy a break and a meal, and of course the company through which food brought us together. On our menu: grape tomato and orange bell pepper salad with orange vinaigrette, blueberry salad with feta, muesli and citrus infused olive oil, handmade whole wheat tagliatelle with fresh marina, Italian dressing chicken, baguette toasts with pasta sauce and shredded cheese, Italian cheese trio (perline mozzarella fresca, grated parmesan and ricotta, blue, and for dessert dark chocolate mocha cake with Whit's frozen custards.
Friday, 26 April 2013
Following our visits to Cincinnati and Fairfield, our Food and Culture Colloquium field study trip group headed about 40 minutes north to Rue Dumaine in Dayton, where both their Americanised take on regional French (Provençal) cuisine restaurant and their emphasis on seasonal and local ingredients caught my attention.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
It took less than an hour from Findlay Market and our first stop in Cincinnati to get to the original, Fairfield location of Jungle Jim's International Market (there's a second, recently opened location in Eastgate). I've been to Jungle Jim's only once (this past August, as part of my visit to Cincy) and even then it was an overwhelming experience. This time around, we only had a little over two hours to explore the six acres of space, an establishment that I affectionately refer to as the Toys 'R Us for foodies. As most of our field study trip participants had never been to Jungle Jim's, and since there are no guided tours on weekends (because of the high volume), I put together a brief scavenger hunt that guided them through the market. Below, you'll find the scavenger hunt script, along with accompanying site photos to introduce you to different areas of the market. Of course, for the true Jungle Jim's experience, I'd encourage you to check out the market the next time you're in the area!