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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Photos: 161 Diner’s new brunch menu

The good folks from Whole Food Market’s 161 Diner invited me back last weekend to sample some items from their new brunch menu. They revamped old favorites and introduced a couple new goodies to the menu. I had an enjoyable (and very filling) time on my last visit, so I gladly accepted their invitation to return.

In case you’re not familiar with the 161 Diner, it’s a diner counter in the prepared foods section of the Dublin Whole Foods Market. They serve all the diner fare during the week, including milkshakes, beer, fries, and burgers; on weekends they serve brunch to a fairly constant crowd.

The new menu dropped a couple old items, including the sweet potato biscuits (“They had their run,” said prepared foods manager Nathan Drake.) New additions include a range of sandwiches, a green omelet made with kale, the return of corned beef hash, a revamped biscuits and gravy, and a new benedict. Nathan and sous chef Vanessa also improved the plating of their dishes.

The drinks were good as always. I enjoyed some coffee. My son insisted I take a picture of his chocolate milk.

My son chose the oatmeal with fresh fruit off the kid’s menu. It’s nothing fancy, as far as oatmeal goes, but he loved it. Generous topping of cinnamon.

A woman seated next to us ordered the French toast with cinnamon cream cheese and pecans. When the cook carried over this golden tower of toasted goodness, dripping with syrup and cream cheese, I couldn’t resist asking to take a picture. She told me that the dish was, well, awesome.

If you’re read my blog even a little bit, you know I’m a sucker for a good eggs benedict. So I immediately gravitated toward the gravlax benedict. Gravlax is a cured salmon. Nathan explained that it’s a Scandinavian process that involves curing the salmon in salt, sugar, and dill for about 3-4 days. He does it in-house at Whole Foods, then slices the salmon thin and layers it in the benedict with beautifully poached eggs, arugula, and fresh hollandaise. The resulting fish is salty and a little bit sweet, with a definite essence of dill to it. The taste is clean and fresh, and a great choice for a benedict, although it’s a delicate flavor, so it was slightly overpowered by the hollandaise. But there’s a lot to like about this new menu. If you’ve never been to the diner, take the opportunity this weekend!

You can find 161 Diner to the east side of the store, in prepared foods. The Whole Foods Market is located at 3670 W. Dublin-Granville Road. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, 10am-2pm.

Photos: stuffed pancakes

It’s spring break! So let’s make some breakfast. In rural western Pennsylvania with my wife’s family, we decided to make some stuffed pancakes. It’s as easy as, well, making pancakes. Heck, you could accidentally make stuffed pancakes if you dropped bacon or sausage into the pancake batter.

We started with some thick-cut bacon from a nearby smokehouse, Willie’s Smokehouse.

We just added bacon today, but we’ve frequently done it with sausage, too. You need to cook your meat before adding it to the pancakes. The batter cooks too quickly to thoroughly and safely cook the meat as well.

This time around, we cheated and used a boxed pancake mix, but we made up for it by using eggs from a local farm. They can’t be beat.

Another benefit to being in Amish country: inexpensive (and delicious!) maple syrup.

Like I said: making stuffed pancakes is easy. You can crumble the bacon and sausage into the batter, or you can lay the bacon strips on top before flipping.

Laying the bacon strips whole in the batter creates little caves in which the syrup can pool. Stuffed pancakes give you the great mix of savory and sweet. The texture combines fluffy pancakes and crispy meat, too. If you’re bored with the usual pancakes, give these a try!

Spalding’s Bakery | Lexington, KY

Spalding’s Bakery
760 Winchester Rd. (map it!)
Lexington, KY 40505
(859) 252-3737
Open Wed-Sat, 6:30a-12p; Sun, 7a-12p
Accepts cash only
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 7:20 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Early on a Sunday morning – earlier than normal, given that we had just sprung ahead into daylight saving – I convinced my youngest brother Greg to drive out to a little bakery he had told me about in Lexington, Kentucky. My two younger brothers and their families, all of whom live in Lexington, had had donuts from Spalding’s Bakery before. The best donuts become local legends in their own right. In Columbus people whisper, “Are those Der Dutchman donuts? Are those from DK Diner?” In Lexington, apparently, the equivalent is, “He brought a box from Spalding’s.” So it was that Greg and I trekked out to this tiny, nondescript little bakery, across an industrial road from the biggest peanut butter plant in the world.

ATMOSPHERE: The space, while newer, is about as simple as can be. Cream-colored walls. A few pictures. A couple display cases loaded with donuts (clearly the focal point of the room). A low, white counter with an old cash register. When we visited, there were two people seated at a table off to the side, there as fundraisers for some local cause. It was a little funny and awkward, as they sat there silently, crammed behind the small table together at 7 a.m.

Just behind the main wooden case, many more donuts stay on trays, yet to put out for display. Other shelves were loaded with boxes, already filled and labeled, just waiting to be picked up.

FOOD: Oh, the donuts. If you look at their reviews on Yelp and UrbanSpoon, Spalding’s is clearly one of those places that’s beloved by locals, but suffers from the dual reviews of “these are the greatest things on earth!” / “everyone says they’re the greatest things on earth but they don’t live up to the hype!” This is typical of incredibly popular restaurants and bakeries, and hard to avoid when loyal customers are passionate and vocal. The key is to keep your expectations up, but not too high. (Besides, if you’re trusting everyone else’s opinion to judge the best ____ in the world, you need to think about judging things for yourself more often.)

All of this is to say that these are some delicious donuts, especially when they’re soft and warm in the morning (the benefit of braving the time change and visiting early). We nabbed a mixed dozen-and-a-half: blueberry, cinnamon roll, apple fritter, chocolate cake, creme-filled, chocolate glazed.

Their signature are the glazed donuts. Sweet, misshapen, and delicious. Krispy Kreme has nothing – NOTHING – on Spalding’s.

SERVICE: There was also the bonus of meeting the sweetest, most grandmotherly woman alive. If this place is run by the Spalding family (I’m guessing), then she must be Grandma Spalding. She was incredibly sweet, making jokes with us and suggesting donuts to try. She added up the order by hand on a notepad, then rang us up at the old register (they take cash only, btw). When I asked how early she arrived there that morning, she said about 3:30. “But I wasn’t the first one here,” she added, “Being a grandmother has it’s perks!”

OVERALL: I’m still learning the Lexington breakfast scene, but from what I’ve tasted, Spalding’s seems to be the top spot for donuts around town. The hours are limited – only until noon, Wednesday to Sunday – and we’ve heard multiple reports of donuts selling out quickly. But it’s worth the early morning trek for a box or two. These are donuts as they should be made, and by a business that’s over 100 years old. Worthy of your support!


Spalding's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Photos: a tour of Auddino’s Bakery

This is a little bonus post to go along with my recent one about Auddino’s Bakery. When we visited the bakery, Mr. Auddino offered to take us on a tour around the facility. The pictures I took mostly show rack upon rock of bread, so I thought I’d save them for a separate post.

The back rooms contain shelf after shelf of fresh-baked bread. You can imagine the smell.

He kept taking us into rooms further and further back. Just when I thought we’d hit the back of the facility, he’d squeeze us through another doorway to find another half-dozen people hard at work.

It’s an incredible amount of baked goods they produce.

Much of this baked in one of several large ovens.

One of the more impressive machines makes the rolls, hundreds and probably thousands of them. We watched the dough balls move along all the levels of the conveyor belt.

And out one end.

Where they’re slid into trays for further proofing. The conveyor belt quickly retracts, dropping the dough right into their slots. Someone (just to the right of the picture) then pushes the tray out of the way with a stick, making room for the next one.

We also saw the upstairs of the facility, where they make the donuts. But because production was done for the day, I didn’t take any pictures. But this is at least a taste of what we saw that day!

Auddino’s Bakery | Columbus, OH

Auddino’s Bakery (Facebook)
1490 Clara Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43211
(614)  294-2577
Open Mon-Fri, 6:30a-4p; Sat, 6:30a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 10:15 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Ah, Auddino’s. Chances are, you’ve eaten some of their product, whether you know it or not. This Italian bakery provides bread, rolls, pizza dough, and more for many restaurants in and around Columbus. You’ve most likely seen their white vans with the red, white, and green logo about town. But don’t just consider them a wholesaler; they’re so much more than that.

ATMOSPHERE: Perhaps you’ve driven by Auddino’s facility on accident, not realizing that it’s more than just a wholesale production facility. It’d be easy to assume that, given the big brick walls, the multiple loading doors for trucks, and the general location down a narrow side street just off the interstate, tucked in amongst warehouses and hotels near the Ohio Expo Center.

But Auddino’s is in fact the best of both worlds. They’re a big wholesale operation, but they’ve retained the mom-and-pop feel of a small neighborhood bakery. Enter the front doors and you’re faced with shelves of breads, rolls, pasta, sauces, and most importantly: donuts, croissants, and cookies.

FOOD: The real star of Auddino’s Bakery are their donuts. They’ve got a huge variety: cream-filled longjohns, glazed cake donuts, frosted crescents, jelly-filled, sticks, fritters. I didn’t taste anything that I didn’t like, so I give it all a strong recommendation. But pictures will speak more than words in this case, so let me just show you.

One of their unique contributions to Columbus donut culture is the glazed croissants (lovingly termed “cronuts” by CMH Gourmand). It combines the wonderful flaky texture of a croissant with the light, sugary coating of a glazed donut. Simply stellar.

Leave the gun…

I enjoy bringing home a mix of things. We leaned toward the cake donuts, plus one of the smaller croissants. (The croissants come in large and small sizes.)

Another one of our favorites are the ever-elusive lobster tails. These are crispy, flaky pastries filled with a thick, sweet custard and dusted with powdered sugar. We’ve visited multiple times and always missed them, until this one, glorious visit. Each bite involves crunching through the pastry to get through that rich custard.

SERVICE: The Auddino family is very kind and welcoming. It doesn’t take long before you feel like a part of the family. You’ll find the parents, their kids, and grandkids there. During one recent visit, my son hung out with one of their grandkids, watching cartoons while I chatted and took pictures.

OVERALL: It’s dangerous that Auddino’s is so close and easy to access from my house, because I can see justifying a quick trip there just about any weekday morning. For those of you on the west side who don’t have easy access to the deliciousness that is Auddino’s: fear not. The Auddino family told me that they plan to open a cafe in Hilliard in the spring of 2012. Stay tuned!


Auddino's Italian Bakery on Urbanspoon

Photos: slow cooker apple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal

Inspired by this recipe we found on Pinterest (yes, I joined), we set out the crock pot last night to make some overnight steel cut oatmeal. It never occurred to me to make breakfast overnight, even though we’d made plenty of pulled pork in the crock pot.

The recipe is fairly simple: steel cut oats, butter, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, apples, and salt (we skipped the flax seed). Pour together in the crockpot, stir, and leave it cooking on low overnight.

Steel cut oats are simply whole oats that are roughly chopped. This makes them ideal for an overnight recipe, because they take longer to cook. Instant oats would turn completely to mush.

For an incurable morning person like me (one who refills the kettle for coffee the afternoon before), this recipe appealed to the excitement of waking up with a hot breakfast ready to go.

We upped the butter and sugar quantities in the recipe, and I think that led to some excessive caramelization around the edges. Next time, we’ll try the suggested amounts. That said, this made a delicious and filling breakfast. Not too sweet, wonderful texture from the oats. I’m already looking for a morning to try it again. Great for Saturday mornings, or even to have a hot breakfast ready to start your Monday.


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