Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Food Carts, Bangkok Style

Papaya Salad Cart

There is a reason why I am attracted (and oh so happy with) to the food carts and taco trucks in Columbus... Food carts are ubiquitous and necessary all over Thailand (and Asia in general).


People depend on these carts for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, midnight snacks. Some of the carts will provide a few chairs for the 'eat-in' customers, but most are for 'to-go' customers.

Grilled beef ball cart

You can find any kind of food from these carts; from noodles, to fruits, to grilled pork with sticky rice, to...well, everything under the sun!

I took just a few photos to share with you all. Sending warm wishes and a very happy new year to all from the land of food-carts!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"North Market", Bangkok Style


When "Cool Columbus" is away from Columbus, I am still determined to bring you something interesting, from near and far.

This time, I am taking you through the Jatujak Market in Bangkok (also known as JJ Market), which is somewhat the equivalent of the North Market in Columbus...just, well, very Thai, and a whole lot bigger.


First, we have to have garlic. Thai food would be dismal without these bulbs! Check out all the different kinds.


Then, we need grilled pork (with Thai sticky rice). And all sorts of other grilled meats, fruits, vegetables, you name it, it's there being grilled. The place is constantly in action with the vendors cooking right here and now. Fresh food, the fast way. Not to be confused with fast food.


And of course, Thai fruits...including these durians that are either loved or loathed. I happen to love them.


There are also prepared foods everywhere you look. These are huge pots of curries.


There is also plenty of fresh seafood off the boat.


And chestnut being roasted the Chinese way (with hot pebbles).


And meats, butchered right before your eyes.


Every time I come back here, I wish I had a stomach many times larger than what it is. Each stall of food vendor offers something so very different, and so very comforting and nostalgic for me. My senses go a little insane smelling and seeing everything together in one place. It's rather overwhelming, albeit in the best possible way.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Gift from Ohio


I found the perfect gift to bring back to my parents. And it's even (sort of) made in Columbus! That snow won't last in the heat of the tropics, but it's to prove that it came from our winter wonderland.


A few months ago, during one of my first visits to the North Market, I got to taste some olive oils from The Olive Orchard. Now, I have had quite a bit of olive oils in my life: from the many years spent in California,  and several trips to Europe. I have learned that I like my olive oil good and bold.

When the lady told me that the Sicilian Olive Oil is one of the best in the world, I did not hesitate to dip a piece of bread into the bowl, and got a good big bite for a taste.

That did it. A bottle of that good stuff came home with me. A few other bottles followed back into our house since that first day, and I have not looked back.

Then I started to hear more about this very olive oil; how it became part of Jeni's new flavor, I even saw a clip with them on morning news. In the new winter issue, Edible Columbus tells their story behind the bottles quite well. My Olive Oil was getting famous!

Simply put, The Olive Orchard is owned by local Columbus families who are passionate about producing the best olive oils from the best sources in the world. I am happy to bring a taste of this divine fruit, directly via Columbus, back to my home country, half the world away.

I know my parents will scratch their heads a little and say something like:

Olive Oil? From Ohio? 

Well, sort of. Even though olive trees do not thrive here, Ohio just knows how to put the right stuff in the right places!

Visit their website for locations where you can find/ purchase these oils.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Train town at the library


I still recall the days I spent with Thomas, and Bertie, and Spencer...ah oh, I am starting to forget their names! How impossible? They were everywhere in our lives back

Those days abruptly ended when my son turned three.  And we have not looked back, really.


When I went to the main library to return some books the other day, I was surprised to see a huge set, a town of sort, with trains running everywhere. It reminded me of a deli we used to go to in Santa Cruz (the Train Deli) where my husband and I had our first uninterrupted meal as parents of twin toddlers. We returned there several times, despite the terrible overpriced food, before they closed their doors for good. The (train) joy it brought to the kids, and the temporary peace we had, was worth it...I think.


Although I am sure my children will still get a kick out of this set (who wouldn't?), I am 100% certain that parents with children ages 3 and under are required to come see and experience this holiday spirit, put up by Huntington Bank (I believe). It's quite awesome, and I am also pretty sure that you won't be going there just once before Christmas rolls around.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's a Wonderful Life

Yesterday was our family  "Christmas Day"(because some of us will be on the other side of the globe, and some on the plane going to that other side of the globe).

How fitting it was that we got to view It's a Wonderful Life on the big screen, right here in our little hometown of Bexley!

I know it's a classic, but yesterday was my first time ever seeing the movie. I don't think there was a dry eye in the theatre.

It was also our first time to the Drexel Theatre", an unassuming movie house on Main St. that tends to feature a lot of independent, interesting films rather than the typical big box ones.

The audience was treated to pre-movie trivia questions complete with prizes. We also got to sing along, the old fashioned way (with the hopping dots), some Christmas songs led by a sweet girl, a volunteer from the audience.

With some food brought in to donate to the mid-Ohio Foodbank, we only paid $2 each for this wonderful experience!

The good news is, it will be showing again today at 4pm, and next Wednesday, December 15th.

It made a great end to our pseudo-Christmas day (albeit, quite emotional from one of the better movies I have ever seen).

Drexel Theatre
2254 East Main Street
Columbus, OH 43209
(614) 231-1050

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yosick's Last Days


Can you believe that I used to tell people that I didn't really care for chocolate? Maybe I was temporarily insane, or maybe I really didn't like it that much. Well, I have changed and gotten normal now. I do love chocolate. Yes, I do.


I had heard about Yosick's from a few people. In fact, when I was trying to get directions to Bierberg the other day, the lady at Katsinger's wanted to steer me to Yosick's. I politely said no, that's not what I was looking for. 

Until today, that is.


Columbus Underground posted this morning that Yosick's door is closing at the end of the year. This prompted me to look at the calendar, and soon after, jumped in the car.


After dropping off some more copies of Edible Columbus at the sweet ladies at Bierberg Bakery, I turned north, on the same street (5th) in German Village.

Yosick's sits in the corner, adjacent to a massage therapy office (hello...chocolate and then massage?! Too bad it was closed). The friendly store lady, Megan, greeted me and even offered to plate up some truffle pieces for me if I wanted to take photographs. Why indeed!


Not only did I take photographs, and chatted with Megan (a chocolatiere in the making herself), I purchased all those truffles you see in the first photograph up there. Presents for friends, I tell myself. Although, I did allow myself to taste one: a heart with some kind of rum filling. Heaven.

I am sad to hear that this sweet little spot will be closed for good comes Christmas Day. Megan assured me that Kristy, the owner and artist behind Yosick's, will continue to produce these beautiful and delicious chocolates that can be purchased online, and I believe, in some places within Columbus.

In the mean time, their door is wide open, and I can tell you that I would be a happy recipient of these morsels as a decadent holiday gift!

539 South 5th Street
Columbus, OH 43206-1203
(614) 223-9575

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bierberg Bakery


I might have found another favorite spot in the city.


It's been such a cold stretch, and I have had a sick child home with me the last few days. Now that he is back in school, I had a bunch of errands I needed to do out and about.


Before I headed out the door, I made a note to myself that a stop at this (infamous) little hidden gem had to be on my itinerary.


The secret about this tiny German bakery is no longer, especially if you have seen the article in the new Winter issue of Edible Columbus. Surprisingly, however, many people still don't know about it. Take the two people I asked for directions at Katzinger's who looked at me like I had three heads.

No matter, I put in the address into my GPS and a few minutes later, I was parked in front of a well signed and decorated, yet unassuming, store front: Bierberg Bakery.

An older German lady greeted me. She had a thick accent still, even though she and her husband moved here since the 60s. As I entered and regained my senses from the freezing cold temperatures (really Columbus, why so cold?!), I started to take in all the scents and smells of all the cookies that laid before me.

I did not count, but there must have been a few dozen different kinds of cookies. These special German cookies are only made here, in this tiny house, 3 months out of every year. Johanna, friend and baker, told me how busy they had been and will continue to be until the end of the year when she will again close up shop and retreat to her much deserved rest.

After I purchased some good-looking cookies, as well as a stollen, I asked if I could slip into the kitchen and watched them work a little.

Another lady in the kitchen, Cathy, is a family-friend. She helps out each year at the bakery. While Johanna and Cathy cut up more cookies to be baked, they recited to me their stories of how they ended up in Columbus (because you know, as a transplant myself, I am always interested!).

As it turns out, they were both sponsored to move to the States from Europe, Johanna from Germany and Cathy from Hungary. I listened with curiosity as Cathy told me the story about her family living in a castle in Germany where several other immigrant families took refuge.  Their hands never stopped working, but they seemed to enjoy reliving their past with me as their audience.

As I turned around to say goodbye, they wished me well in discovering my new home city. I told them that I was happy to have met people like them because that is what matters the most. Johanna agreed with me, and then she added: It's also what you give back, too. That's also very important. Don't forget to give back."

She is absolutely right.

Bierberg Bakery
729 S 5th St.
Columbus, OH

They will be open until the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010



We ate at Easton today.


Before I go on, I feel like I need to give you a bit of an explanation.


If you noticed the name of this blog, you will see that it is about finding 'authentic' things in and around Columbus. Easton may be the antidote to this blog since it is mostly comprised of chain stores, chain restaurants, things that you can find in most places in this country...and around the world (think fast food chains).


But thankfully, as we found out tonight, not everything there fits that bill. You can find some things that are relatively authentic, relatively good, and the perfect stop for dinner with the family on a rainy night (after picking up a member of the family who insists on bike-commuting 15 miles to work).


Edamame is the place. We all love Japanese food in our family. And we have explored a few places in town that are worth writing home about. We have even been here! The plethora and quality of the cuisine here, in central Ohio, is quite impressive. We are happy about that, needless to say.

This restaurant is unique (look at the colors and decor), but serves up perfectly acceptable sushi rolls, miso soup (not the best, but I am picky), green tea, and mochi ice cream.

Service was wonderful, and best of all, if you eat on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, you get a good deal on your sushi rolls. Who would say no to that?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Field Trip: Grand Rapids Michigan


There is one happy Jeni's taster, and she does not live in Ohio!


We are visiting family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
At some point along the way, I heard that Jeni's can be found at this lovely store on Wealthy Street, not too far from the family's home.

So we went on a treasure hunt, and found these lovely tubs of goodness.
They even offered some tastings from flavors in the back on the store!
I am happy to say that I have now tasted the new Olive Oil flavor. Love it.

I am glad that our neighbors to the north get to experience a slice of heaven that was born (and raised) in our fair state.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bear's Mill


Tucked away, and nestled by Greenville River, is historic Bear's Mill. It is quite a drive from Columbus (almost two hours), but it is well worth the trip, I tell you.


The mill has been in operation since 1849, and the master miller himself (Terry Clark) can tell you all about it. He can also tell you that it took him over a year to teach himself how to work this old-fashioned, water-powered mill. There is only a hand full of them left in the state, and not that many in the country.


We enjoyed visiting the mill this weekend, during their Christmas preview open house. Terry did a demonstration, showing us how he grinds wheat, corn, and spelt. He also shows us how the water-powered mill can generate its own electricity. He proved to us that we were all 'green' just a generation or so ago. We were in awe, and inspired, to say the least.

The mill store has a collection of handmade arts, crafts and food for sale as well as products made locally and at the mill itself (we came home with cake flour milled by Terry. How cool is that?).

It's a gem of a place, and we are very glad to have found it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wood-fired Pizza at Franklin Park

It's mid-November right?


I want to brag about the outdoor, wood-fired pizza experience we had yesterday at Franklin Park Community Garden.

Jim Budros, the man behind the outdoor kitchen theatre at the garden, put together a wonderful gathering and cooking on a sunny mild November afternoon.

We don't live too far from Franklin Park, so when we heard that there was pizza being made out of my dream pizza oven (I learned of this from my previous visit to the garden), I told my family to jump on our bikes pronto.

We got there just in time for the last pizza of the day (Jim said he made twenty!). The fire was still going strong both in the pizza oven and in the fireplace (where Jim was grilling skewers of pork tenderloin). We watched the 'show' and ate our pizza on a bench, drenched in mid November sun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Food-town that is Columbus

Why is it that in the 11 years of living in the Bay area, I did not have the privilege of dining with a cool chef like David Tanis? I even lived in the same town as this famous chef, and this famous food blogger (with whom I did share some meals). I know there are many reasons for this question.

At any rate, I did not expect to have moved to a city (small town?) that was quite this interested in good food. I am pleasantly surprised, needless to say, to have met many people who care as much about what they are eating, and where their food comes from.

Last week when I had the opportunity to share a meal with the Head Chef of Chez Panisse who was coming through Columbus on his book tour, I knew not to pass it up.

I can't say I knew much about David Tanis before this rendez-vous. But I sure know a lot about the restaurant at which he cooks and spends half of his annual time. It's probably one of the most famous and influential restaurants in this country. I am sad to say that we did not make it there either in our years in the Golden State.

I wrote a tiny book-review of Tanis' new book that should be on this blog in a few days. In a few words, though, I can attest that this talented and charming chef has given us a beautiful and inspiration book that every home cook should have in the kitchen, or at their bedside table (because it reads like a wonderful nonfiction).

I am honored to have met David Tanis in person, right here, in Columbus, Ohio.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


On our daytrip to western Ohio, Bethia insisted that I have to try a "Maid-Rite" burger in Greenville. You have to, she said. And it won't take more than 10 minutes!

Though I did not grow up eating burgers, beef or otherwise, I have been exposed to them living in the US. I must admit that I don't love burgers, of any kind, enough to order it at a restaurant. Give me a bowl of Pho any day, or a rice bowl with anything on it. I am a loyal rice fan.

So when I found out a little about what I was about to experience at Maid-Rite, I was a tad dubious. Loose beef burger? I was willing to give it a try once!

Now that I am on the other side of it, I can say that, in fact, I did enjoy the loose-beef burger. I enjoyed it quite a bit that I can say I would go back there tomorrow, if I was given the opportunity. Just don't offer me a bowl of Pho.

I was also intrigued by the chewed gum decorating along the outside walls of the Maid-Rite building. Intriguing is all I will say about it for now, because you know, I will probably have more to say after my next trip there for another loose-beef burger!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was downtown the other day when I saw the Planters Peanuts guy standing proud on the side of a building.

Could this be the headquarter of these ubiquitous peanuts? I wondered to myself.

So I had to walk in there and find out, and get some peanuts...naturally.

It turns out that, no, it's not the headquarter, but this particular store (a franchise, I learned) has been here for 75 years! Several Planters Peanuts memorabilia decorate the store, along with several kinds of peanuts and other nuts and other treats alike! It's like stepping back in time, really. Not quite like a museum, but almost.

My favorite was Mr. Peanut with his bright red lips sitting on some kind of machine inside the store. You should go in just to say hi to the guy, and he might tell you the best kind of peanuts in the store.