Thursday, 31 January 2013

FCC: Food and the Middle East

After a successful start to our second semester of the Food and Culture Colloquium, we continued our exploration of food and culture with a focus on connections between food and the Middle East. Yesterday, we welcomed Hanada Al-Masri (Assistant Professor of Arabic in the Department of Modern Languages), Jessica Elsayed and Saliba Ishaq of the Middle Eastern Cultural Organization (MECO), and Fadhel Kaboub (Assistant Professor in the Economics Department).

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Experiencing Columbus's Restaurant Week: De-NoVo

De-NOVO Bistro & Bar on Urbanspoon

This past Tuesday, I participated in Columbus's Restaurant Week via Manifesto Tusco Grato and Scotch Bar. Following a meeting and taste sampling of two new Snowville Creamery yogurt flavours (get excited, if you aren't already!) last night, Maureen (who most recently went with me to see Chef Carla Hall last weekend) and I made it to De-NoVo Bistro & Bar and the last night of Restaurant Week. Latin for "from the beginning, anew," De-NoVo opened about a year and a half ago. Just as is the case for Manifesto, De-Novo is owned by Yavonne and Wade Sarber of the former Vonn Jazz Lounge, with foodie friend Robert Harrison of the former Short Story Brasserie also as Executive Chef. The first of (currently) two restaurants, it very well seems that last night's dinner at De-Novo exemplified just how much of a revival of sorts the restaurant scene has been for these three, in the great food city of Columbus.

Friday, 25 January 2013

A Tour of Columbus via High Street

A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook message from one of my aunts in the Philippines notifying me that one of my cousins, Earl, would be arriving in Columbus at some point this week. Soon after, I learned he'd be flying in on a business trip from Singapore with one of his colleagues, Kevin, and would be staying in Dublin, OH. As if I needed another reason to head over to the Columbus area, the timing worked out perfectly with my schedule as well as Columbus's Restaurant Week (RW). Yesterday, after meeting Earl (for the first time, as far I can recall) and Kevin, we headed over to Oscar's Wine Bar & Bistro (located on 84 N High St in Dublin) [$25 RW menu]. With an hour and a half wait ahead of us, we went further down N High St to Tucci's California Bistro (35 N High St) [$25 RW menu] only to find out it would take about an hour before a table opened up. [Of course, I'm sure RW had something to do with not only the case in point as to why reservations are important, but why it was so difficult to find any parking on a Thursday night]. With this being their first time to Ohio, we quit Dublin and switched over to downtown Columbus, to a different High Street where eating options were much more plentiful and at least more familiar to me. If nothing else, the drive around and throughout Dublin and Columbus gave us ample opportunity to get to know each other. From differences in living in different parts of the U.S. and the rest of the world, to talking about their respective wives and families back home, to language, work, travel and (of course) food, there was plenty to talk about as I eventually introduced them to three of my favourite Columbus restaurants which awaited us with open seats.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

FCC: Second Semester Kickoff, Local Food Culture and Bystander Intervention

And I loosely paraphrase: "When it comes to moments like these, I sit and try and figure out how to connect pizza with equality and how that can be packaged and presented by one of those cat memes." Amidst sharing and discussing a story that's resonated with me ever since I read this article in early January, Grant Stancliff and our three invited guests to the second semester kickoff of Denison's Food and Culture Colloquium imparted notes of humour alongside a wealth of experience from off-campus, repackaging a publicly intimate example of hate speech and bystander intervention for our Denison crowd. In the end, and I emphasize here before I continue, the reality we all must face is that what happened to Joel and Ethan could happen (and has recently happened) to anyone else throughout the entire spectrum of identity.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Experiencing Columbus's Restaurant Week: Manifesto

Manifesto Tuscan Grato and Scotch Bar on Urbanspoon

Earlier today, I learned that Columbus was in the midst of a great opportunity for local foodies in the form of Restaurant Week. Essentially Columbus and Columbus-area restaurants come up with very inventive and tasty culinary options for each round of a three-course meal; for a fixed price, diners are then asked to select one item for each course. The result, which should be easier given the limited options, is a personalised experience of great gastronomic value. In a previous post, I raised my glass to the brilliance of the prix fixe approach to dining. For the kitchen staff, it's a bit more predictable; for the diner, it's a particularly economic opportunity to try something new and/or unfamiliar. And so, after one too many hours spent pouring over the many menu options (ranging from $15/pp-$35/pp), I settled on Manifesto Tuscan Grato & Scotch Bar's $20 offerings.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Hootie Hoo!: Cooking Demo with Chef Carla Hall

This past week, we welcomed all of our students back to campus, a welcome that meant ushering in the spring term and in my case, my sixth semester on staff. (Seriously, where has the time gone?) And after the slow to out-of-nowhere flurry of daily life (at least in our Division), I was more than ready for a mini-break. Cue then--as it might always seem--the food! A few weeks ago, a notice appeared on my Facebook news feed from Giant Eagle Market District with an opportunity to meet Top Chef Fan Favourite Chef Carla Hall. I quickly took a look at my calendar and reserved a pair of tickets without further delay. As it turned out, Maureen (who previously introduced me to the GEMD in Kingsdale) was able to join me for what I expected to be a great foodie experience, and so it was off to the market we went!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Sushi, Chocolate Torte and an Introduction to the Culinary Science Tech Program at COTC

Last month, one of my colleagues, Marilyn, had found an advert indicating a culinary showcase of sorts at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) located about 15 minutes away in Newark, OH. For some reason, however, there was a bit of a mix-up and it was actually scheduled for a different date. Given the long winter break and uncertain of what that date actually was, she took a look online earlier today and saw that of all days it would be taking place in just a few hours. All told, it took little convincing on either of our parts to head over and so we did just that after the end of this (only) our second day of the spring term. It was a decision we definitely did not regret.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Just Another Saturday in Columbus

Ever since my first movie going experience in France four years ago, I was convinced American theatres weren't as serious about the experience as their European counterparts. Well, earlier today, the Gateway Film Center, located on High Street within the University District, proved me wrong. The theatre room, in which I saw the limited release of Chris Colfer's screenwriting debut Struck by Lightning,contained a modest 22 chairs (all sold out by the way) arranged in three rows and a large movie screen. The anonymity one could have in solo movie watching was close to impossible--not that I was intentionally aiming to be incognito today--as the door into the theatre faced the audience, as if to be a welcoming experience into the cinematic cluster that will be spending the next hour and a half or so with a host of characters on the screen. In some manner of speaking, such was this familial movie going experience that in retrospect it would seem that many gatherings include some form of group dynamic and a shared activity of some kind. Of course, here I will always tout food as that shared activity, an activity to which I leave an empty chair for the next dinner guest to walk through the doorway. For this post, though, I'm the self-invited diner as it was. And the familiar spaces I walked into after the film were both located further down on High Street in one of my favourite areas of Columbus, the Short North.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Playing with (and Learning through) Food

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Joy (Snowville's Marketing Manager) who was in search of anyone who might be available later in the evening to help with an event at the Columbus area location of Earth Fare. The management of "the healthy supermarket," as it is tag-lined, expected anywhere between 100-125 people for its weekly Family Dinner Night. As luck would have it, my schedule happened to be flexible enough to allow me to help out and join in on the fun. Begun on May 13, 2010, and every Thursday since then, the FDN program offers a free meal for up to six kids with the purchase of a $5+ adult entrée. Along with a 1/2 adult-size portion entrée option, each kids meal also includes a serving of fruit and a bottle of water. A great and innovative program, it continues to operate with the recognition that "eating together, access, and affordability are keys to eliminating the childhood obesity epidemic." Moreover, it became clear throughout the event that food--the cornerstone of the supermarket and program--brought people and families together. But what was even more fascinating to me was the amount of learning that was taking place, learning that (of course) took place through food.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Inspired by Italy: Visit to Palumbo's and My First Multi-Course Meal of 2013

Inspiration and ingredients for my first multi-course meal of 2013
On December 1st, a new shop opened up in town that seemed to fill a void; though Italian cuisine wasn't unheard of here in Granville, the ability to find high quality, imported Italian ingredients was revealed to have been a bit of a tougher challenge when Palumbo's Italian Market moved in. Just barely a month later, I finally made my way to Palumbo's and drew inspiration from the available ingredients and Italy's diverse gastronomy to come up with a not-so-traditional menu for my first cooked meal of the year. On the menu: Antipasti Pizza Bread with Red Pepper Cream Sauce; Roasted Tomato and Basil Salad with Mozzarella and Citrus-Infused Olive Oil; Eggplant Involtini with Ground Beef and Ricotta; and Limoncello Gelée with Strawberry Cream Spheres and Orange Lemonade Granita, Garnished with Candied, Sugared and Chocolate Dipped and Drizzled Lemon Peels. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Pizza with Personality: Mikey's Late Night Slice

Mikey's Late Night Slice on Urbanspoon 

After my second round of handing out samples of Snowville products, this time here in Granville, I made my way to Columbus, just before the monthly Gallery Hop began. Usually, I take the time to restaurant hop and I take in the energy of the Short North when the lights are lit up and the shops and restaurants look packed. This time around, I had a different set of goals: to meet Mikey Sorboro, CEO of Mikey's Late Night Slice, and to try some LNS pizza. However, given recent local and national attention at Mikey's, I wasn't quite sure how crowded the place would get (and especially if it got crowded what the likelihood would be that I could meet Mikey). Not only was I able to try the pizza that was, in part, at the root of the recent attention given to LNS, but I was also able to interview Mikey and get some questions answered that I hadn't been able to find in reading others' articles about LNS and the attention to which I've been alluding.