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Photos: North Market Coffee Roast 2014

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Yesterday North Market hosted the third Coffee Roast on a perfectly beautiful spring day. This year the event moved outdoors to the farmers market plaza (and the date was pushed back from March), with the roasters lined up in front of the market. Together as a family we beat most of the crowds by hitting up the event just as it started.

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We strolled up and down the lines, saying hello to some favorites and trying a couple new roasters. Like every good event – and every day, let’s be honest – we started with a stop at One Line Coffee. Mrs. Bfast w/Nick is there often enough that she knows the baristas by name; they were pulling delicious, delicious shots of espresso.

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Down on one end stood Das Kaffee Haus‘ table, complete with their modified ambulance (labeled the Emergency Kaffee Unit) parked nearby. DKH is located in Lithopolis, but their coffee can be found around Columbus at places like Milestone 229 and the Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant. Amy and Joe (aka Frau Burkhardt and Herr Joseph) told me their place is modeled on the European coffee shops they’ve encountered while traveling and serving abroad in the military.

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And of course we were on the lookout for Jason and Emily from Thunderkiss Coffee. They’re the coolest. Also, their coffee is great. Some of my favorite in town. Jason has a small but mighty roasting operation; you can find his beans at restaurants and on store shelves all around town.

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Strolling down the line we took in brews from Crimson Cup, Backroom Coffee Roasters

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…plus Silver Bridge and the newer Roaming Goat Coffee. The fun thing about this event is that everyone is excited to talk about coffee – and not just their coffee, but coffee in general. And you could witness nearly every type of coffee prep available.

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Dayton-based Boston Stoker has established their presence in Columbus with a shop near OSU’s campus. Like a couple other places, they displayed coffee beans for smelling or to reference the colors of the roasting process.

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Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, one of the mainstays of the Columbus coffee scene, was on hand with a tiny electric roaster. The portable setup roasts in small sample batches, allowing them to treat the same beans in different roasting lengths quickly.

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Rich the roaster showed me samples of his roast in progress. The machine roasts in 80 gram batches.

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The most unique offering of the day came – not surprisingly – from Cafe Brioso. They served two excellent hot brews – some of the standouts from the morning – but they also featured coffee sno-cones.

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Yes, coffee sno-cones. J. J. explained they used a rare Ethiopian Nekisse bean, cold-brewed, mixed with a dash of Ohio honey, and served over shaved ice. It was as delicious as you’d expect. I think we have a new definition of summer in Columbus.

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Further down the line – right next to Snowville Creamery with their samples of milk and yogurt – we found Actual Brewing‘s roastery crew in full swing.

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They make superb beer, really strong coffee roasts, and they’ve got some of the best beards in the biz.

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The event space indoors was dedicated to coffee education, with Brioso’s crew kicking off a demonstration of espresso preparation. On the other end of the room, baristas from a mix of shops made espresso drinks for customers.

We couldn’t have had a better day for the event. The move outdoors and to a Sunday (see photos from 2012 and 2013) offered more space and prevented longer lines. The one thing that confused me was the branding of it as a “brunch.” When I hear “brunch” I assume there will be food involved, but what that really meant was “you can go into the market to find food.” Many vendors had special $5 brunch bites, but the market opens at noon on Sundays (the Coffee Roast started at 10), so a majority of the stalls were closed during the first half of the event (although the newly moved and re-branded Taste of Belgium was hopping). I was also a little disappointed that attendees were given generic North Market mugs, and not the fun branded ones with colorful Clinton Reno artwork like years past. I know it’s gimmicky, but I like having a memento that references the specific event.

Aside from those details – it was a wonderful event that really featured Columbus’ great coffee roasters and brewers. We have much to be proud of, and our coffee keeps getting better and better.

Photos: Brewing Beer at North High Brewing

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Where does a craft beer enthusiast go for his birthday? He brews some beer with friends! A couple weeks ago I gathered with a group of friends at North High Brewing to make our own batch. North High is Columbus’ first brew-on-premises shop, which means you can brew, ferment, and bottle beer under the guidance of experienced brewers.

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I’ve been to North High a number of times already – their bar has some great history behind it, which you can learn about on Columbus Brew Adventures downtown tour – but this was the first I’ve brewed there. The brewhouse is a separate room from the bar, with eight brew kettles centered around a chandelier with 21 bulbs symbolizing the 21st Amendment (the repeal of Prohibition).

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The process took about three hours total. We began by copying down the recipe, then heading into the brewhouse to be begin boiling water. North High lets you brew in 15 gallon batches; their system uses steam to heat the kettles, which speeds up the process.

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Another streamlining step is the use of extracts in brewing. Extracts are concentrated syrups that save on boiling time. North High uses primarily extracts, but not exclusively. We added about three pounds each of caramel malts and peat smoked malts.

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These were measured out…

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…and then milled right there are the brewery.

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We loaded the grains into muslin bags.

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And then these were steeped in the hot liquor (aka the hot water), much like tea.

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Then the extracts go in. On the right are the thirty pounds of amber malt extract. On the left is the five pounds of Ohio honey. The honey helps round out the big, malty body of the wee heavy. It gives the yeast something feed on during fermentation, and it just plain tastes good.

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Honey and extract into the tank!

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Throughout the boil we added pelletized Fuggle hops in small, calculated amounts. Fuggle is a sweeter English hop – appropriate for a Scottish style like the wee heavy.

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While you’re brewing, there’s down-time to check out the bar and order some food or drink.

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North High usually has about 10 of their beers on tap, plus a good selection of other breweries. They also run special brews like this one: their wee heavy on firkin with vanilla bean, cocoa nib, and bourbon-soaked oak chips.

By that point, brewing was done. The beer just had to cool and get filtered into the fermentation container. We’ll be coming back soon to bottle it.

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But the fun didn’t stop there! As it was dinner time, we hit up Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips in Grandview (look for a separate post on that soon). It was lots of fried goodness.

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And then we rounded out the evening by hitting up Zauber Brewing just down the road. All in all, a great birthday celebration – especially getting to hang out with friends and make something together.

North High Brewing on Urbanspoon

Photos: Cravings Carryout Cafe relaunch

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One of our favorite discoveries from last year – Cookie Cravings Bakery – celebrated a re-brand and a revamp this past weekend. Newly christened Cravings Carryout Cafe, the cafe has new signage, branding, and a new menu. They dropped the “Cookie” from their name because they do so much more. The cookies are still there, but the focus is now on sandwiches, wraps, and  other sides, all highlighting the neighborhood carry out element.

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Owners Matt, Lindsey, and Joan Tewanger have made some small changes to the space. You’ll see new equipment, shelves, and menu boards.

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This includes a new retail shelve with T-shirts, granola, plus growlers and bags of Thunderkiss Coffee.

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The boards showcase the new menu, replete with rolls, burritos, sandwiches, and sides.

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There’s iced and hot coffee, plus juice and tea. I completely forgot to photograph the third board that highlights specials.

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We stopped in about half an hour after opening on Saturday, and already they were busy. Matt was working his magic in the back.

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Cravings added some more seating in the side yard, with has great promise for spring, summer, and autumn breakfasts, especially when there’s a welcoming fire in the fire pit.

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We knew we were going to visit over the weekend, but the promise of bronuts pretty much guaranteed we’d come searching. What’s a bronut? It’s a brioche donut. Cravings makes killer brioche, and they’ve mixed the dough with lemon and rosemary, fried it, and iced it. The donuts were perfectly soft, fluffy, and warm. Ours disappeared in a matter of seconds.

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And then it was on to the sandwiches. Oh, the sandwiches. They were beautiful and delicious, stacked high on golden brioche rolls.

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We started first with the Breakfast Roll, featuring cheddar, bacon, a fried egg, and a rosemary aioli. We barely managed to sneak some bites while our boys devoured it. Our five-year-old (who is not picky, but knows his stuff) said it was one of his favorite sandwiches.

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We also snagged a plate of the sausage biscuits and gravy, made using Bluescreek Farms sausage. It was thick and chunky, served with a soft biscuit, and just what you would ask for in biscuits and gravy.

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Our favorite of meal was the BLT. Like the breakfast roll, it was served on a beautiful brioche roll.

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The sandwich was stacked high with thick-cut bacon, greens, a basil mayo, and these stunning tomatoes. We did not expect to find tomatoes like this in March. Usually  you get those sad, tasteless, translucent ones in the winter, but these were dark and red. Matt roasted them to perfection.

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With the firepit going in the side yard, they set out a cute little smores kit.

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So after brunch we enjoyed some smores roasted over the fire.

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All in all, it’s an exciting new stage for the restaurant! Congrats to Matt, Lindsey, Joan, and the crew!

If you want to visit & connect:
Cravings Carryout Cafe
227 E. Third Ave. (off Fourth St. in Italian Village)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 725-0090
Find them on Facebook and @CravingsCafe614
New hours are Tues-Fri, 11a-7p; Sat & Sun, 9a-3p

Photos: Columbus Brew Adventures Distillery Tour – Part 2

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This post continues from Part 1 of my post on Columbus Brew Adventures‘ distillery tour. Our third stop on the tour took us to Grandview to Watershed Distillery. We gathered in their front room, where Greg gave us an overview of the business and shared their particular take on distilling.

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One of Watershed’s signatures is their Four Peel Gin.

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Greg passed around bottles of the key aromatics added to the Four Peel, letting us guess what was what. The Four Peel includes orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lime peel (sorry, I spoiled it for you).

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He then took us back into the production space, showing us everything from the stills to the bottling and labeling machines, to their storage, barrels, and even the new milling room.

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A batch of gin was boiling away, so Greg opened the hatch to let us sniff. It was like sweet, floral mulling spices. Afterward, Greg took us back to the front room to sample the gin, the barrel-aged gin, and their bourbon.

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From there, it was time to hit up our last stop: Till Dynamic Fare. At Till we were treated to a cocktail and some food. The bartender Branden created a special cocktail that day using Watershed gin.

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I appreciated getting to sample the gin previously, and then see it at work in a cocktail. I’m no expert on cocktails, but I enjoyed this one, and that seemed to be the consensus around the table.

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Chef Magdiale Wolmark prepared a special spaetzle to complement our cocktail, with bacon, spinach, goat cheese, and an egg. We devoured it. The meal and cocktail was a nice, quiet way to wind down the tour and talk about what we had seen that night. Jim then took us back to Middle West, and we departed from there.

I’ve both taken and led Brew Adventures’ downtown brewery tour already; my knowledge lies more in the beer realm, but I learned a lot on this tour. It gave me an even greater appreciation for what these distillers and mead makers do. Like many elements of the Columbus culinary scene (meat, spices, coffee, beer, etc.), these businesses are made up of individuals who are passionate about and proud of what they do, and we got a glimpse of it.

I highly recommend the Distillery Tour, if you get the chance. The tour runs alternating Thursdays; you can get more information here.

Photos: Columbus Brew Adventures Distillery Tour – Part 1

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Last week I took part in another one of Columbus Brew Adventures‘ offerings: the distillery tour. The tour makes four stops total, visiting a couple distilleries, a meadery, and a restaurant that features their work in a cocktail. It started very appropriately at Middle West Spirits in Short North; Middle West is Ohio’s first micro-distillery. Jim got the tour going with an overview, then he turned things over to Josh, who took us around the space, talked about MWS’s mission and style, then had us sample a couple of their spirits.

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Josh spread out the sampling. He began by having us compare a sip of Grey Goose vodka to Middle West’s signature OYO vodka. This helped frame Middle West’s mission to “build spirits around a palate,” as Josh said. Meaning that their vodka is not meant to be the plain, tasteless, clear spirit like most vodkas. Instead, it’s built to have a flavor, which is pulls from its Ohio wheat base.

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He also had us sample the honey vanilla bean vodka, which is one of my favorite offerings from Middle West, and then he led us around the distilling operation. It’s a small but mighty space. The walls are lined with barrels of aging spirits, alongside vinegars from Tavern Vinegar Co., a collaboration between Middle West and Cleveland chef Jonathon Sawyer.

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We were fortunate to see some of the distilling in progress. Here’s 190 vodka coming off the still.

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Josh finished the tour by sharing a sample of their deliciously smooth bourbon. The three samples provide a nice contrast: the wheat-based vodka, the flavored vanilla bean, and the aged bourbon.

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We walked next door to our second stop: Brothers Drake Meadery. Brothers Drake has been preaching the mead gospel around Columbus, and their bar has become a favorite spot to enjoy some unique drinks, live music, and some Japanese food truck delicacies. We were led through the small production area by Justin, one of the assistant mead makers.

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Justin even poured a glass of some unfiltered mead in-progress; it has a foamy and sweet taste.

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It’s easy to think of mead as just an overly sweet dessert wine, but Brothers Drake demonstrates the variety of meads available. We sampled their Wild Ohio and Bergamot Blue meads. The Wild Ohio is a semi-dry mead, while the Bergamot Blue is spiced with scarlet bee balm and blueberries from Ohio.

That’s the beginning of the tour; read on for Part 2!

Photos: Lunch at Founder’s Brewery

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Over Christmas break we traveled up to my hometown of Grand Rapids, and any visit there usually includes a stop at Founder’s Brewery. I’ve written about Founder’s before, but only from the perspective of enjoying their beer, and prior to recent renovations.

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Since that visit, Founders has expanded their production facility, the front patio, the seating area, the gift shop… well, everything. The space is still beautiful and open, with lots of natural light, a big long bar, and plenty of tables. The live music stage has also been raised.

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One of the additions is a small expansion of the seating area in the former space of the gift shop. It wasn’t as big as I expected, but more seats are more seats. They also installed a second smaller bar (not pictured); it’s the original bar from Founders’ first space.

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You sometimes have to play the wait-and-hover game to find a table. We expected lunch to be less busy, but I’m guessing everyone had the same idea, to stop in for lunch when on winter break. After a short wait, we found a group of diners packing up and snagged their table.

The first order of business was buying a round of Founders Sweet Repute, the latest entry in their Backstage Series of specialty brews. Sweet Repute is a wheat wine (a strong and typically malty ale containing at least 50% wheat on the grain bill) that’s aged in both bourbon barrels AND bourbon barrels that held maple syrup. So, sweet and boozy is the name of the game. I loved the Sweet Repute: it’s rich with a 12.6% ABV bite.

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My brother also ordered the oatmeal stout on nitro tap. The addition of oats to the beer lends a wonderful smoothness.

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This smoothness is compounded by the nitrogen. A nitro tap uses a majority of nitrogen when carbonating the beer, rather than the standard carbon dioxide (so it’s technically nitrogenation and not carbonation). There’s typically the beautiful “waterfall” effect after the beer is poured, where you can watch the tinier nitrogen bubbles cascade upward to the surface to form a soft, pillowy head. Nitrogen bubbles are smaller and they don’t infuse into the liquid as well, so they help produce that creamy mouthfeel that pairs especially well with stouts.

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But it wasn’t just beer for lunch! We sampled a variety of Founders’ deli menu, too. I’m a sucker for a good reuben, so I had the Rubin’s Reuben. It did not disappoint: crusty rye bread sandwiching corned beef, 1000 Island, Swiss, and pungent but not overwhelming sauerkraut.

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There’s also Charsie’s Reuben, which substitutes turkey, havarti, cole slaw, and sourdough with a load of veggies like spinach, tomato, red onion, and avocado.

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Finally, there’s the toasted Founders Cheesesteak, with roast beef, provolone, peppers, onions, mayo, and a surprising bite of horseradish. Their menu says it’s their most popular sandwich.

Almost all sandwiches are available in half or whole; it’s really a better bargain to get the full. Plus, the sandwiches are excellent. It’s a nice balance between Founders’ solid beer line-up and good bar grub.

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At the end of lunch I requested a sample of another taproom-only special: the Infiltrator, a clear, golden triple IPA that starts sweet and then punches you with bitterness on the back end. I loved it, but having this first would have ruined our palates for lunch.

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One of the major points of renovation was the addition of giant outdoor patios, partly covered and with two big firepits. This eliminates the small amount of parking out front, but in the warmer months will easily double the amount of space for customers.

In summation: I already knew Founders had great beer. Now I can confirm they have great food, too.

Photos: Latitude 41′s new fall menu

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Last week, the Mrs. and I were invited to sample Latitude 41′s new fall menu. The night was hosted by Chef Michael Koenig, who took over as executive chef a few months back.

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We started with appetizers of bacon popcorn. Popcorn = yes. Bacon = very yes.

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We also started with an assortment of jams, butters, and pates, most notably the maple butter (made with Snowville cream) and the bacon butter.

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Plus olives and bread.

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Chef Michael also treated us to some of his lamb bacon, made with Bluescreek lamb and seasoned with cumin, nutmeg, cayenne, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Very, very delicious.

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He then served us a hearty banana squash soup.

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He brought out a banana squash, just to show us its size. A banana squash that size yields about a gallon of liquid, enough to allow him to make the soup without adding any cream.

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The meal was complemented by a wine tasting, ranging from a bright pinot grigio to a much richer and heavier sirah and a pinot noir.

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The salad – very light and sweet – is topped with apples, feta, hazelnuts, and a lemon honey vinaigrette.

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Of the entrees, we tried the veal osso bucco with baby root veggies on a bed of polenta.

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Our favorite of the night was a pair of seared scallops on a saffron risotto.

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We finished the meal with a little trio of desserts, from a tiny red wine truffle to an apple rum bread pudding, and the real stand-out: a PB&J pot de creme. I’ll never look at PB&J sandwiches the same again.

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As a parting gift, Chef Michael shared some of his homemade sauces: a limoncello and a caramel sauce made with Watershed bourbon.

All in all, it was a delightful meal for both the food and the company. Chef Michael is continuing Latitude 41′s streak of producing innovate and surprising food.

Photos: Kolaches With Karina

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It’s Kolaches With Karina! Last week Friday Karina Nova and I hit up Kolache Republic for our September Breakfast With Nick segment on 10TV. The visit gave us time to chat with Doug Sauer, one of the owners, and Ben Russell, one of their employees. Also, it made me fall in love even more with kolaches.

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You can learn more about these sweet-but-not-too-sweet little pastries by tuning in this Saturday morning, but if you’re not in the know, a kolache (pronounced “kol-LAH-chee”) is a Czech pastry that’s made its way to the U.S. over the years through Czech immigrants. It’s become especially popular in a number small Texan towns, which is how it came to Columbus.

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Karina and I spent the morning with Doug and Ben, bothering them while they tried to run their business.

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We caught them just after the morning rush, as they prepped for lunch. Here they are rolling out fresh kolaches.

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The great thing about kolaches are their versatility: the dough is a neutral enough flavor that the filling can be nearly anything, from, well, pumpkin to buffalo chicken.

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Doug makes a fresh batch of dough daily. He said its flavor and texture is more like a dinner roll: lightly sweet and fluffy.

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In addition to the smaller sweet versions, they roll out larger savory ones.

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The inside is a generous dollop of the good stuff. This is their signature bierock, with ground beef, cabbage, onion, and sauerkraut.

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The kolache dough is the right texture for wrapping it around the ingredients.

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The end result looks a little like this one: the breakfast kolache, with scrambled eggs, sausage, and cheese. It’s this perfect little hand-held breakfast.

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When Karina and I were hanging around, they started making the lunch special of buffalo chicken.

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Seriously, just look at these! Other specials include taco kolaches, braised pull pork, and a Cuban kolache with pork, ham, onion, mustard, and pickles.

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Tune in this Saturday morning on 10TV to see Karina and I chowing down on kolaches and chatting with Doug and Ben!

Photos: Columbus Brew Adventures downtown tour | Part 2

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The second half of the Columbus Brew Adventures‘ downtown tour (you can read about Part 1 here), took us to Italian Village to Seventh Son Brewery. We live close to this area, so it was with much anticipation that we watched the former garage space being renovated into a brewery and bar earlier this year.

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Seventh Son employs a very open design: a big patio out front, large picnic tables near the bar, plus a fenced-in beer garden out back. It provides ample room for sitting, and from what I’ve seen, they need it.

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At Seventh Son we were guided by brewer Colin Vent. Colin’s culinary background shone through as he talked about the composition of Seventh Son’s beers, and the meticulous care he takes in honing each recipe.

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Colin walked us through some of the science behind brewing, all the while passing around cups of barley in different stages of roasting. He had us taste each one, to get a sense of how the grain changes when its heated, and how different combinations can be used to build the profile of each beer.

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He also passed around leaf and pelletized hops, which are the bittering agent in beer. They balance out the flavor to keep it from being just bunch of fermented sugar water.

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We even got to view some of his yeast strains under a microscope, to better understand the types of yeast and how they ferment beers in different ways.

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And then, it was time to sample!

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We sampled a flight of four beers: the pale ale, the Stone Rapid brown ale, the Summer Farmhouse amber, and the imperial stout. All excellent. It’s especially nice having just been taught about the different malt characters, and then to see them realized in completed form.

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Our final stop took us to North High Brewing in Short North.

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There owner Gavin Meyers served us a samples of their brews and talked through North High’s history.

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Gavin started us off with a sample of their milk stout. I love stouts, but I’ve always been so-so with the milk stouts. This one, however, won me over. It helped that Gavin explained how milk stouts are made, using lactose that imparts a sweetness but don’t get processed by the yeast like ordinary sugars.

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The beer was certainly excellent, although the highlight for me was Gavin describing the architectural and decorative details they incorporated by renovating the space. He pointed out everything from window frames to tabletops to foot rails to window slats to sampling boards. I won’t list where everything came from (you’ll have to take the tour to find out!), but it’s an impressive attention to detail and a loving incorporation of a lot of Columbus history.

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We also tasted their ESB (Extra Special Bitter), a British style that’s very balanced. It’d be easy to knock a couple of these back in one sitting.

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What makes North High unique amongst the Columbus brewing scene is that they are brew-on-premises. This means that, in addition to brewing their own beers, they allow you to come in and brew some of your own. Giant windows behind the bar look into the brewery. While we visited, a couple groups were busy boiling their brews. Gavin pointed out the chandelier with twenty-one bulbs, in honor of the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition.

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He took us back into the fermenting room, where rows and rows of barrels are slowly making the good stuff.

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Out in the bar, one group was labeling and boxing up a brew they had made.

That was the last stop on the downtown tour. All in all, it’s a great time. Nice variety of breweries, great to meet the personalities behind them, and of course, it’s fun to sample all the beers. If you’re interested in learning more about Columbus Brew Adventures and their tours, look them up!

ColumbusBrewAdventures.com
facebook.com/ColumbusBrewAdventures
twitter.com/CbusBrewAdv

Photos: Columbus Brew Adventures downtown tour | Part 1

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On Saturday I had the pleasure of taking Columbus Brew Adventures‘ first downtown brewery tour. Brew Adventures is a new sister company to Columbus Food Adventures (I’ve written about their Short North and food truck tours), and it focuses on the breweries and distilleries in and around Columbus. Four of the tours are Columbus-centric, taking you through downtown, around Grandview, to distilleries, or on a special “meet the brewers” tour. An additional two tours will take you east to Licking County or southeast to Athens county and Hocking Hills. The downtown tour focuses on four breweries, starting with Columbus Brewing Company in the Brewery District.

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At CBC we gathered on their patio and heard about the history of the brewery. It’s been around since 1988 and the current brewmaster is Eric Bean. Eric has a history of producing some of the most consistent and drinkable beers in town, living up to the name of Columbus Brewing Company.

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Under the big red awning we tried four beers – three from CBC and one guest tap from Actual Brewing Company. The CBC offerings included their pale ale, IPA, and Bodhi double IPA. I’ve had all three before – they’re all very likeable – with a preference toward the Bodhi (which will supposedly be bottled this year!). The Actual offering is called Ingenuity, a clean and grassy saison. Interesting comparison to the hoppier beers from CBC.

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In addition to solid brews at CBC, we were treated to some of the restaurant’s food, including pizzas, nachos, and calamari. It’s nice starting the tour with something in the stomach, and the food is really good bar grub. This setting also established the tour-goers’ chance to chat with each other, share beer stories, compare tastes, and so on.

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Our second stop took us to Barley’s Ale House No. 1 across from the Convention Center. I always love going back to Barley’s. It was one of the first restaurants we ever visited in Columbus, and it was one of the first places I fell in love with the craft of beer.

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At Barley’s we were personally served by Angelo Signorino, the Barley’s brewmaster (or “feeder of the yeast,” as he described himself). He has one of the longest brewing track records in Columbus, and Barley’s has become a central hub for beer festivals, keg tappings, and homebrew competitions.

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Angelo started us with the MacLenny’s Scottish Ale. I describe this as one of my gateway beers: it’s smooth and malty, a perfect session ale for catching up with friends. I remember tasting it years ago and realizing “I really love this! I want to know more about how this is made!”

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Angelo walked us through other brews like their Blood Thirst Wheat, a hazy wheat beer with a strong overlay of citrus (uh, maybe from the blood oranges, Nick?). He said the beer started as a homebrew competition winner, and the brewery adapted the beer (with the brewer’s blessing) for their own menu. Also on the list was a special version of the Centennial IPA. This particular batch was “enhanced” by some smart-alec brewer’s assistant who threw some vanilla beans into the fermenter. Makes for a beer that travels well, from a big hoppy opening to a lightly sweet close.

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Angelo then finished us off with their Infinity Grand Cru, a version of a Belgian strong dark ale. It’s a darker, maltier brew with lots of fruit flavors. The beers were all excellent, but even more fun was listening to Angelo’s enthusiasm in talking about his beers and the crew who makes and serves them.

That’s part one of the trip. Continue on to Part 2 to read about the two remaining tour stops!

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