July 2, 2014

Hello, Columbus, Part Two


A year ago, I visited Columbus and was impressed with its emerging food and drink culture and the enticing selection of vendors at the centrally located North Market.

Last week I dropped in on the city for the second time. It was kind of like when you revisit relatives and find a confident young adult in place of the gawky teenager you remember from before. In this filled-out version of Columbus, there were great coffee houses, brewery-restaurants galore, Korean joints, fried chicken and ramen, too. 

Rick Harrison Wolfe, director of North Market and my guide to the good-tasting nooks and crannies of Columbus, noted, for example, that in the three years since he's been back in the city, the number of food trucks has leap-frogged from three to fifty. There are suddenly eighty breweries in the state of Ohio, plus well-attended beer and wine festivals (twenty-one Ohio wineries will be at the latter this year; who knew?)  that help boost interest in those growing industries. 

Rick Harrison Wolfe, keeping tabs on the Columbus scene
from his perch at North Market.

In addition to The Columbus Dispatch's food and drink quarterly Crave and of course Edible Columbus, I spotted another food and drink spin-off quarterly on this visit, Stock & Barrel, started by city magazine (614) Columbus. Intriguing fact gleaned from this publication: brewer Scott Francis of Columbus Brewing Company, the first microbrewery in the city, started a side business opening breweries for country clubs. This is not something you'll find in Brooklyn.
Outside view of North Market


And inside, where you can buy goat shanks and hearts.

Heading up to Wolfe's office, I passed a cart carrying goat shanks from the vendor Bluescreek Farm. Specializing in locally grown grass-fed beef, hog, lamb and goat, Bluescreek also offers whole-animal butchering and sausage-making classes. Jamie Smith, daughter of founders Cheryl and David Smith, told me that the restaurant Alana's Food and Wine near Ohio State University has driven demand with its delicious braised goat shank dish, and it seems that the classes have been a good way of converting students to believers in whole animal cooking. In this interesting Nola Studiola post, Jamie talks about the student who cooked stuffed boneless lamb breast as a result of taking several Bluescreek classes and doing its "butcher for a day" program. Let's see if this dish pops up on our neighborhood nose-to-tail restaurant menu!

View from the bar at Seventh Son Brewing Co. 

OYO refresher in a Mason jar.
I especially loved the concept at Seventh Son Brewing Co., a bright and airy indoor-outdoor brewery/bar in the city's Italian Village district. Since it doesn't have a kitchen, a different food truck parks outside every night, so you can order good, cheap grub to buffer the effects of a personality-filled beer and cocktail list. The night we were there, it was hot and savory Dutch Indonesian food from Aromaku. The above cocktail of OYO Honey Vanilla Bean vodka (from Columbus-based Middle West Spirits) was a winner, too.