Saturday, 14 January 2012

Midweek Dining Experience at the North Market

After Wednesday morning's tour de cuisine of sorts, I was ready to make it through yet another long work day so I could decompress with an evening dining experience which didn't involve any cooking. Around 5pm or so, I joined some international Denison students on a trip to Columbus where we would later be seeing Shrek: the Musical at the Ohio Theatre. But first, we made a visit to my favourite Columbus foodie locale-- the North Market, where a diversity of flavour is consistently available.

As I walked through the unusually not-as-packed market (it was midweek and they close at 7pm), I tried to determine which vibe I preferred: one which was calm such as this or one where there were many more people and the crowd's energy added to the experience. I determined I preferred the calm, but with it being so close to closing time, I would certainly be facing one of two types of vendors: those that clearly couldn't wait to lock up and leave, and those who despite the near closing time found that last bit of energy to remain as personable as if they had just opened. Luckily, it was the latter that had its charm and added to the friendly atmosphere running throughout the market. All this said, I walked by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams knowing full well I'd need to get my dessert there. The flavours weren't different than the ones I had seen at the Short North location that Lauren and I went to, but I did notice the prices were slightly more expensive here. Even still, the convenience of having this variety amongst a larger context of variety with each of the North Market vendors would be enough to reel me in. After browsing the flavours, I eventually landed at Clever Crow Pizza, which I believe is one of the newer vendors to make its way to the North Market.

At Clever Crow, I purchased a slice ($3) of their cheese pizza. All told, $3 may seem like a ton of money for a single slice, but the cost is definitely built into the locally sourced and fresh ingredients which here include mozzarella, fontinella, parmesan, tomato sauce and oregano. In comparison to most other pizza sites, and as mentioned in the video above, the dough is made of cornmeal, resulting in a cornbread-style which has a slightly crunchy exterior and softer interior. As for the base, you get a crisp under bite as the smells from everything on top of the otherwise neutral dough are brought to your nose before you get to taste them. I'm not a huge sauce fan when it comes to pizza, but this in itself is special. In addition, I appreciate the construction of the pizza as it seems to nestle in quite well between those who prefer New York-style pizza (flatter and crisper to allow for more flavour) and those like me who prefer Chicago-style pizza (thicker and denser to allow for more toppings).

From there, I went to Bubbles, the Tea & Juice Company, where Boba and wheat grass are among the almost 100 items served in a variety of combinations.

Located at the North Market for about 6.5 years now, I've purchased drinks from Bubbles a few times and have never been disappointed. This time around, I got the Jazzy Pineapple, made with pineapple juice, pineapples, strawberries, bananas and non-fat yogurt. Blended to a smooth consistency and served in sealed bubble tea-type cups, this on-the-go drink is full of fresh ingredients and well worth the $4.50 I spent.

Now onto dessert, I again returned to Jeni's and was helped by a wonderful "Ice Cream Ambassador" (also known as a scoop shop employee, according to Jeni's website). Full of enthusiasm and considerate of the different offerings, this Ambassador suggested options that would best compliment the seasonal/limited edition flavours in stock. [I must also note this ambassador was the first to ask which flavour I wanted to eat first, realising the potential combinations and subtle differences with eating the choices in a particular order.]

Not heavily convinced by the Cumin & Honey Butterscotch Cake, I went instead for the Frankincense & Almond Cake (pictured at the top of this post), the almond cake crumbles of which had been soaked in honey. Paired with this choice was a signature flavour, Goat Cheese & Cognac Figs. In contrast to the Goat Cheese & Cherries I tried last fall, I especially appreciated the subtlety of the goat cheese in this combination, a subtlety not that far different than the goat cheese I had used in the pancakes earlier that day. Indeed, Wednesday was truly a foodie experience that came full circle!

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