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Monthly Archives: September 2012

An English Second Breakfast

Today – September 21st, 2012 – marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, prequel to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. In case you haven’t noticed, these books have been getting increased world-wide attention in recent years because of the Lord of the Rings movies, and the upcoming definitely-going-to-be-amazing trilogy of films of The Hobbit. In honor of the book’s publication, the official fan club has organized a world-wide second breakfast (one of several meals that hobbits eat throughout the day) at 11 a.m. sharp. We decided to celebrate our first breakfast by making a traditional English breakfast together as a family.

We replicated the ingredients as best as we could: baked beans, mushrooms, fried eggs, English sausage, grilled tomatoes, and toast. It’s a delicious, calorie-packed breakfast.

We purchased the eggs, beans, and mushrooms from the store. The tomatoes came from our garden – we grilled them face-down on our George Foreman grill, with mixed results. The English sausage we found at a butcher’s shop in western Pennsylvania. It’s not truly authentic, as it’s not imported from the UK, but it’s made in a similar style. We didn’t have any back bacon (bacon cut from the back of the pig, as opposed to the belly), but we did cook the eggs in the sausage drippings. We served the toast in a caddy that we bought on Portobello Road years ago! If you’re not used to making a full prepared breakfast, this one takes a little longer, but it’s well worth it.

In a little under an hour, I’ll be eating second breakfast in honor of the book, using some of the leftovers from this morning. What about you?

And if you want to take your celebration a step further, don’t forget that tomorrow – September 22nd – is Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthday in the books. So maybe another English breakfast is in order?

Beyond Breakfast With Nick: Mya’s Fried Chicken

The corner of Pacemont and High in Clintonville must have some sort of good energy/karma/luck/ju-ju for food. It was formerly the site of Ray Ray’s Hog Pit, which is easily Columbus’ best BBQ, if not one of its best food trucks. Ray Ray’s moved a little further south to a bigger location, and since late June it’s been the site of a new truck: Mya’s Fried Chicken.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I know the truck’s owner, Mark Tolentino. Mark has worked in catering for a long time, and recently took the plunge to open his own truck. I’ve always loved Mark’s work, so naturally I’m primed to like his food and want him to succeed.

Fortunately, the steady lines, plentiful media coverage, and regular reports of “We’ve sold out!” indicate that Mark is very much succeeding.

We’ve visited Mya’s multiple times since they started serving. Our first occurred at their grand opening on Saturday, June 30th, which came less than twenty-four hours after the windstorm that toppled trees and knocked out power all across central Ohio, all the while coinciding with a 90+ degree heat wave. On his opening day, Mark demonstrated his commitment to the Clintonville community by giving out meals to area residents without power.

I’ve heard many people say, since Mya’s opened, that they’ve had a hard time finding good fried chicken around town. When I really think of it, I don’t know where to go. Immediately I think of either heading to “Chicken Corner,” the intersection of 5th and Cleveland Avenues where Popeye’s, Church’s, and KFC camp out, or seeing what Kitchen Little is up to, or I think of trekking all the way out to Der Dutchman in Plain City.

I’m sure there are other good local places around Columbus, but Mya’s has become the center of my fried chicken universe. Mark uses a twice-fried technique. The first is a slower shallow fry that cooks the chicken through and darkens the bottom, while the second is a quick fry at a higher temp to crisp up the edges and give it a darker color.

You can order meals of white or dark meat, as half or whole birds, or as boneless sliders. I’ve had and enjoyed all of them. My preference is for the dark meat, and for the sliders.

The chicken can be flavored with one of two sauces: an herbed honey or a pepper and vinegar glaze.

Of course, when it comes to comfort food like BBQ or fried chicken, half the fun is the sides. Mya’s offers creamy coleslaw…

…green beans…

…and mac and cheese made with crumbs from their biscuits. Not pictured here: the smashed potatoes with pan drippings from the chicken. My personal favorite.

Mya’s has now become one of our go-to eats on the weekends. “What do you want for dinner?” “Let’s go to Mya’s.” You’ll be hearing that again and again in our house.

If you want to visit:
Mya’s Fried Chicken
3166 N. High St. (corner of Pacemont & High St., next to the Super Mart) (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 209-9004
Open Fri-Sun, 12-8p (keep an eye on Facebook for exact hours)

Mya's Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters | Columbus, OH

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (Facebook / @HCRtrailer)
3825 Indianola, at Northridge  (map it!)
(614) 427-3457 – you call or text orders ahead of time

Just this week we’ve been hearing from Clintonville friends that Hemisphere Coffee Roasters set up their truck along Indianola. Regular pictures of espresso and pour-overs started showing up in my Facebook feed, so Mrs. Breakfast With Nick and I stopped by while on the way to work.

Today is a bright and cool morning, perfect for coffee outside.

We spent some time chatting with Hans Hochstedler, the barista running the trailer. Hans’ in-laws started Hemisphere in Mechanicsburg, Ohio about ten years ago. They source their beans directly from the farmers. “We shake the hand of the coffee farmer,” their sign says.

As you can see from their menu, they offer a wide range of coffee drinks from the truck. Everything hot or iced, from mochas, cappuccinos, lattes, pour-overs, shots of espresso, and more.

Mrs. Bfast w/Nick ordered an iced chai with a double-shot of espresso. This is a favorite summer drink of ours, and Hemisphere’s was one of the best we’ve had in a long time. Beautifully pulled double-shot, very rich chai that isn’t cloying. Hans used Hartzler Dairy milk (from Wooster, OH).

I tried a pour-over of the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. It’s a light roast with soft earthy notes punctuated by tart fruit.

For the uninitiated, the pour-over method involves making single cups by pouring hot water from a kettle into a filtered cone. The cone shape and the thin spout optimize the contact time between the water and the fresh grounds, which then drips into the receptacle below.

This allows you to make single cups of any beans, and to fully feature the coffee’s flavor profile.

More coffee is always welcome in Clintonville! I’m already planning when we can re-visit to get more iced chai. Has anyone else been this week?

The Corral Drive-In | Hermitage, PA

Like it or not, summer is slowly winding down. Kids are going back to school, the weather is (maybe) turning cooler, football is starting, we begin thinking of donuts, apple cider, and all things harvesty. It also marks the time when The Corral closes for the summer. The Corral Drive-In is one of those many decades-old eateries that dot the American landscape. You can find it in western Pennsylvania where Mrs. Breakfast With Nick grew up. The restaurant is open only during the warmer months, so we automatically associate it with summertime ice cream stops or lunch after spending time out on the boat.

My father-in-law used to go here when he was younger, and not much has changed since then. He said that the biggest changes are the occasional repaint, and an enclosure covering the order windows. And that’s about it. The menu features burgers, fries, hot dogs, ice cream, all the favorite roadside eats.

The waiting area consists of old school desks.

The Corral is the definition of roadside: it’s a little shack sitting in a gravel parking lot along Route 18 in western Pennsylvania’s Shenango Valley.

Across the street are corn fields.

Everything is done by hand. Your order is taken by one of the local high school kids working there for the summer.

They figure out tax using one of the tables taped to the counter.

After you pay (cash only), you’ll get your order number. You can wait inside or outside in your car or at one of the picture tables nearby, until they call your name over the tinny, way-too-loud speakers.

The food isn’t fancy at the Corral, but chances are you weren’t looking for fancy. One of their features is the hi-boy, essentially a double-burger with lettuce, onions, ketchup.

You could also order the lo-boy, a single burger, and some fried mushrooms.

Or corn dogs and fries.

This is how you know the fries are good.

One of the draws of the Corral is the coffee stir, which is essentially a coffee milkshake. It’s rich and sweet. Perfect for a caffeine kick on a hot day.

But one of the main reasons people visit the Corral is for the soft serve. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been driving by the Corral and have been detoured by the comment, “Do you want some ice cream?” They serve chocolate, vanilla, and twist, and any experienced Corraler will warn you the portions are obscenely huge. I almost always order a small or a baby size. The photo above compares the large (on the left) to the baby cone (on the right). During the summer, I think it’s nearly impossible to finish a large without it melting away.

But that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

If you’re in the area, the Corral will still be open for while, so you still have a chance to say a good-bye (or two or three) to summer.

If you want to visit:
The Corral Drive-In
2190 N. Hermitage Rd. (map it!)
Hermitage, PA 16148
(724) 962-5392

Corral on Urbanspoon

Eleni Christina Bakery | Columbus, OH

Eleni Christina Bakery (Facebook)
641 N. High St., Suite 107 (map it!) (entrance is on Russell St.)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 461-0021
Open Thurs-Sat, 9a-3p
Cash only

Date of Visit: Friday, August 9, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: If you’ve eaten at Rigsby’s Kitchen or Tasi Cafe in past decade or so, you’ve probably eaten baked goods from Eleni Christina Bakery. The bakery is part of the same family of restaurants owned by the Rigsby’s (it’s named after their daughter), and has been supplying them (and other restaurants) with bread, croissants, rolls, and more.

ATMOSPHERE: Once upon a time, the bakery had a small retail counter. I remember years ago, when we lived in Short North and Victorian Village, walking over to get biscotti. As the bakery’s production amped up, the retail operation got in the way, so they closed it up. But within the past month-and-a-half, with a little rearranging and setup, the retail corner lives again.

There’s nothing fancy about the bakery, especially compared to places like Pistacia Vera or Mozart’s or Angry Baker. But the goods are, well, just as good. The intention overall is to create more of a grab-and-go experience.

FOOD: Much of the available items are smaller size and good for a delicious snack, like cinnamon rolls, biscotti, croissants…

…or beautiful loaves of bread to take home.

One of their signatures, and a stand-out on our most recent stop there, was their bacon cheddar challah bread. Their challah is top-notch; it’s used to make some of my favorite French toast in Columbus over at Tasi Cafe.

One of the folks at the counter called this a blasphemous piece of bread, given that challah is a traditional Jewish bread, and they’ve gone and filled it with bacon. It’s a delicious salty and savory snack. Surprisingly light overall.

In addition to some lunch sandwiches and all the baked goods (cookies, croissants, tarts, and beyond), Eleni Christina offers coffee of two sorts: get a prepared mug to go of Crimson Cup, or buy brewed and whole bean coffee from Thunderkiss.

SERVICE: The bakery has a great history to it, being tied with the Rigsby’s and their pioneering efforts to establish Short North as a world-class neighborhood for shopping and dining. The kitchen exemplifies the fun and hard work they’ve put into it, so it’s especially rewarding to see the bakery open up to more customers. The crew is more than willing to talk about what they do and share their love of baking (even though they’ve been working since the early hours of the morning). We spent some time chatting with Joe about what they were currently making, and he pointed out a few other details about the space. It’s been freshly painted, re-arranged, and there’s new local artwork on the walls. They even found a home for these giant Hulk hands, which have been sitting around the bakery for years and years.

OVERALL: Eleni Christina’s re-opening as a retail establishment is a welcome addition to Short North. The bakery is rooted in the history of the neighborhood, and they produce high quality and amazingly delicious baked goods. Getting to stop in (Thursday through Saturday only, mind you) lets you take in the craft of baking and meet some of the people who are passionate about it.


-> see more pictures of the bakery and other stops on the Columbus Food Adventures Short North tour

Eleni-Christina Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunrise Cafe | Yellow Springs, OH

Sunrise Cafe (Facebook)
359 Xenia Ave. (map it!)
Yellow Springs, OH 45387
(937) 767-7211
Open Mon, Wed-Fri, 7:30a-2p; Sat & Sun, 8a-2p (open 5-9 for dinner most days)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/Y
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Monday, August 13, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Readers have long been encouraging me to visit the Sunrise Cafe in Yellow Springs. The small Ohio town, less than an hour from Columbus, makes for a fantastic day trip, what with the shops, trails, parks, restaurants, and the always-enjoyable Young’s Jersey Dairy. And you can’t have a good day trip without a good breakfast. Fortunately, my readers haven’t steered me wrong.

ATMOSPHERE: You can find Sunrise on Xenia Avenue, the main drag leading through the center of town. It’s a fairly tight space, from the entryway full of 90-degree turns, to the smattering a tables in the front of the restaurant, and the thin corridor down the back.

The booths themselves are snug but not uncomfortable. For our family – two adults and two kids – we fit pretty tight together. But the high backs of the wooden booths create a nice little sense of privacy.

FOOD: Readers have given Sunrise’s coffee rave reviews, and I have to agree. It’s a special organic roast (fitting with the general mission of the restaurant), although I was a little surprised that it wasn’t from a local roaster. Still, it’s delicious, comes automatically with cold cream, and is served in tiny mugs. There’s something I really like about small coffee mugs. They cool  off faster, and if you’re a cream-and-sugar type like me, it’s easier to maintain that balance with refills. I know, I know, I’m completely over-thinking this…

I was in a bit-of-everything mood, so I ordered the Morning Fill-Up, a platter of eggs, meat, potatoes, toast, and two pancakes. All of it was very, very good: eggs and toast were spot-on, potatoes have peppers and onions mixed in. A reader suggested asking for the bison patties, which I did. They were dense and lean, but flavorful.

Mrs. Breakfast With Nick tried a couple half-orders. First were the huevos rancheros, a colorful and well-mixed rendition of the Mexican classic. Many versions of this don’t properly blend the ingredients, meaning the salsa is overpowering or the tortilla is dry. But this comes together nicely. And the egg was cooked just right.

These are the pancakes with my order. Sunrise’s cakes are thin and crispy. Most places go for thick and fluffy, but there was something I really liked about these. You get the pancake experience without stuffing yourself on carbs. The mugs of melted butter and real maple syrup help, too.

The Mrs. also tried a half order of the Sunrise Gravy and Biscuits. Like the huevos, they were very flavorful and came together nicely. The buttermilk wheat biscuit was dense, and different than we expected, but I liked it with the white, chunky gravy.

Our son ordered silver dollar pancakes from the kid’s menu. They’re just like the regular pancakes, but smaller, and again less filling.

A view of our table. Obviously, the baby bottle isn’t on the menu.

SERVICE: Our server was helpful, but he did seem a little rushed the whole time. The restaurant was full, with a line out front, and we could only see two servers total. They’re clearly a little pressed to keep up with everyone.

OVERALL: Sunrise exemplifies the overall feel of Yellow Springs: a little hippy, a little touristy, and dedicated to small town life. Using plenty of local and organic ingredients, the restaurant forges a delicious breakfast with a very good variety. Vegan and vegetarian breakfasters: Sunrise has you in mind, too, from sandwiches to omelets to sides. Gluten free breads are also available on request. All in all, this is an excellent spot to start a day of exploring Yellow Springs.


-> Yellow Springs’ Chamber of Commerce site:

Sunrise Cafe on Urbanspoon


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