Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grill and Skillet

We did it. We went to Grill and Skillet.

Asked by Nick and Bethia a few weeks ago if we had frequented this Breakfast (and more) establishment, my answer was No. But really, it was more like, where?

We moved to Bexley about 3 months ago now, and honestly we don't go out to breakfast much, if at all (sorry Nick!). Something about this morning called us outside for a walk (the sun, the leaves, the cool fresh air?), a walk and some food and so we decided it was time for a visit to Grill and Skillet.

The place, right across from the post office on Main St. in Bexley, was packed when we arrived. Clearly, this is a known entity in town (unbeknownst to us!). John Flood, the owner, gave us the signal to sit wherever we would like (one of the two available spots left).

We were quickly given some water, offered some coffee and the menus. We came for breakfast (which is served all day -- see the sign?), but we could have gotten other food items (sandwiches, burgers, dinner plates) as well. Our kids opted for pancakes and bacon and the adults tried a Veggie omelet and Chicken Fried Steak (that would be my husband!).

While waiting for our food, John came to chat with us, giving us a little history about this place he has owned for 25 years. Apparently the building/ restaurant has been there for much longer, maybe since post WWII. Some additions had been built on to it, but it has had loyal customers forever.

After the history lesson, we dove into our breakfasts. Happy with our choices and our bellies full, we promised to return many more times, now that we know the owner by name and vice versa.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Edible Columbus Cooking Series

I had fun at my first ever cooking class!

Tricia Wheeler, the founder and editor-in-chief of the beautiful local-food magazine, Edible Columbus, teaches a series of cooking classes at M/I homes in Easton. Today her ingredients came from The Chef's Garden: specialty vegetables in season from lettuces to carrots to beets to purple potatoes (and much more). Just looking at the vegetables made my mouth water!

Tricia made several dishes out of the bounty. She emphasized simplicity because she wanted us to taste these delicious vegetables at their best. The potatoes were simply sauteed with olive oil and rosemary; the beets were oven roasted to perfection; the cauliflowers were baked with a bit of cheese on top. There was also a green salad with white wine vinaigrette that Tricia whipped up in a flash. The Waldorf Coleslaw featured celery root and tart apples. The class and meal ended with warm apple crisp and vanilla ice cream. And of course, we all went home with recipes of everything we got to taste during the class.

It was such a fun, informational class! Check the schedule for future classes, if you would like to see what else Tricia is planning to create and share with us all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I didn't really expect it to be this magnificent, honestly.

I have lived in New England, a few times, so I know what fall foliage is supposed to be like. And I knew to expect more colors here in Ohio than, say, what we had in Northern California during this time of year.

But I didn't expect it to be this beautiful. How wonderfully wrong I was!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Bounty

It is no secret that we love the metroparks here in Columbus. And this is one of our favorites: Slate Run Historical Farm.

This morning, this is what we found upon entering the farm.

And this.

And this.

It was also fun to show friends from out of town this little gem. They are from the state up north... and they were impressed with the bounty and the beauty around here.

I think I am starting to feel a little...what do you call it? Ohio Pride?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Schacht Farm

Did you know that just a few miles south of Columbus in Canal Winchester, you can pick your own greens? By greens, I mean, kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens and more!

Schacht farm has been in operation since 1981, and perhaps it is a big kept secret that you can go there to purchase fresh produce at their farm market, or if you would like, harvest your own produce! It's brilliant. At least, it is for those who like to get their hands a little wet and dirty and know exactly where their dinner is coming from tonight.

The picking is a plenty and will be available until the end of October. I will be going back there to stock up on my greens for the winter months for sure.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Discovery Park

Broad Street is a busy thoroughfare for downtown Columbus. I have gone by this little park many times before, but yesterday, I made a point to stop, and really spend a moment getting to know this sweet little spot.

Discovery Park, as it is called, was built to honor the public educators of Ohio (well deserved, needless to say!). I love the figures of both children and grown-ups: they each have expressions so familiar to me (being a parent of a boy and a girl myself).

I can almost feel the emotions of the girl in that first photo. Am I reminded of myself as a youth? That is possible...but that would be a whole different story!

If you have time, go by this little spot, and maybe these children will speak to you as well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Franklin Park Community Garden

It was one of those mornings when I had many things planned, but not all of them got accomplished. And the most (wonderfully) unexpected ventures became part of the day.

Fall has treated us well here, I am sure you will agree (if you live here in Columbus, that is!). Take today: the sky can't be more blue, the foliage is in full blown display. It is quite lovely to live here, right now.

From point A to point B (part of my plan this morning), I had to go by Franklin Park Community Garden. Though I did not plan on stopping, I found myself pulling into their parking spot, and getting the camera out of the car.

I love this time of the year in the garden. I love it that there are still treasures to be found on the leaves and branches of the vegetables, and flowers and other produce that are still growing from the earth. These are the last of the fresh tomatoes, ripe eggplants, and sweet basil before we all go into hibernation and won't emerge again until next spring!

I also love all the colors playing against one another. The deep reds, the bright yellows, the crazy orange hue of the maple leaves that have fallen next to the dark green of the kale and broccoli. It must be a painter's paradise.

As I bent down to take a picture of some Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars on dill leaves, a gentleman named Bill joined me in marveling at these creatures' beauty. As we talked, I found out that Bill is the coordinator for the Franklin Park Conservatory's community garden. He is the man behind the amazing community garden projects in and around Columbus. He is also the man with inspiring visions. I was terribly happy that I stopped by and had met Bill.

We talked some more about our shared interest in community and school gardens. I learned a lot about what has been happening in Columbus alone. For instance, did you know that there is a free eight-week Urban Garden Academy course sponsored by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company right at the Franklin Park Conservatory? Did you know that if you have an idea about starting a new community garden somewhere in town and did not know where to start, you can call up Bill and just...ask?

I am very happy to see and hear that the "getting closer to our food source" movement (my own term), whether you want to call it Slow Food, Edible Schoolyard, Sustainable Community Agriculture, Locavore, or something else, is alive and well and growing in this community.

You can find out more about Franklin Park Conservatory, their programs and resources here! Best of all, I recommend that you go and spend a quiet morning (or afternoon) at the community garden. Bring your camera, or a book, and see where it will take you!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Something Sweet

I took this photo at a jewelry store downtown Columbus. Not too much story here, except that I like the way she looks. I also appreciate her offers. And simply, she made me smile as I walk out the door (even without taking a candy from that pretty tray!).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Brothers Drake Meadery

I had my first tasting of mead today at Brothers Drake Meadery.

I am surprised that I had not had this before. It's honey! Turned into wine! I love both things... How bad can it be?

The Drake brothers, with their partners, held a special tour for some food bloggers at their tasting room and refinery. We were given samples of their products right away and it only took one whiff of the mead to confirm that it is a honey product: that sweet scent is hard to miss!

The brothers gave us a brief history of mead (oldest form of alcohol, and used to be for the royals only!). They then took us through the whole process of mead-making (a bit like a chemistry lab!). It sounds simple, really. You need three ingredients: water, yeast, honey. The key thing about making good mead, though, they stressed, is that you want the best quality of all these ingredients you can find. This is not always a simple thing to do. Also, oxygen is not mead's friend. Once mixed and covered, the mixture needs to stay out of sunlight and air for a few months for best results.

I was happy to hear that they have a local source for their honey. They are also trying to strategize how best to find more locally made bottles. One thing is for sure, these people are passionate about making the best quality mead possible. I think their products will tell you that as well. Try their 'Apple Pie'! Very seasonally appropriate... it's like sipping apple pie from a glass...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Charlie's Apples

This was more like it, people!

You may recall that we went apple picking as a family earlier this fall, and it was not the most ideal of experiences (or at least for our family). Since then, I had been waiting to go picking again before the season is over.

The kids are out of school today, and I had this planned all week, to go to Charlie's Apples in Newark. Many of you have been telling us to go here for organic (the only one around!) apples, and we were not disappointed.

It took a little while to get out there from Bexley, but we had all day, and a packed lunch picnic in the back of the car, and new audio CDs from the library. Plus, it's peak fall color right now. Every time we see a tree that is in all of its fall glory, we yelled out: "That's a TEN!"

Okay, so back to the apple orchard.

First of all, it was very modest. Just one sign saying U-Pic, Charlie's apples. We followed the path up to find a farm house standing in front of an apple orchard. Inside a little shed, it gave us instructions of the picking, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw an honor system cash box with a little note next to it. I heard myself breath a sigh of relief. This is more like what we are used to. This is like the orchard we picked at near the coast of Monterey Bay. Thank goodness this kind of place still exists!

The sun that was just out, slipped back behind the clouds. The wind picked up, and there was just enough chill in the air that created the perfect ambiance for a fall-apple-picking kind of day. The kids and I decided that we needed to have a little competition going (who could pick the most, the fastest).

Because Charlie's apples are organic, the apples have blemishes on them, and some have been nibbled on a little (or a lot). So the picking goes a little slower as we each try to find the somewhat perfect-imperfect looking apples to bring home.

The competition was a success ( I won! Of course.) as we all picked 50lbs of apples in a short time. Besides, they were looking forward to the many apple pies, and apple sauce cakes and apple butter that we would have for weeks to come.

Thanks to Charlie (although I did not meet you, or anyone else for that matter, which was awesome in its own way!), for this orchard, and for keeping the apples the way they should be! Imperfect, delicious, and pesticides-free!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Olde Towne East

When I was researching possible neighborhoods for our family to land in Columbus while still in California, I came across many names that meant nothing to me: Dublin, New Albany, Gahanna, Bexley, Upper Arlington, Grandview. These are, naturally, more family-friendly neighborhoods with good schools, sidewalks and the like. After a few months here, these names are very familiar to me. I think I might have even been to them all, for one reason or another.

The neighborhood of Olde Towne East (OTE) came up occasionally during my research. It was not on my radar screen as much, but I sure know that name, and that it is somewhere between Bexley and downtown Columbus. I had been by it a few times, and even had lunch at the Black Creek Bistro. Still, I was a bit puzzled about the neighborhood.

I was determined to find out more about it today, on this beautiful fall day when everyone seems joyous and carefree like the leaves that are falling off the trees. I went down a few streets in this so called 'Olde Towne East' section of town, snapped a few photos, and walked onto Parsons street, into Voda Emporium.

Two gentlemen, co-owners of the shop, greeted me warmly. They shared with me a little history of OTE, how it used to be home to important people of the city, with their grand mansions that still stand today. In the 70s, apparently, things went south and it became an unsafe place to be. Just more recently, there is an effort to revitalize and bring more people to the area.

Voda Emporioum has two sections, one with mostly locally made goods: cards, art, candles, kitchenware, dog treats and more! The other section is a hair salon, well tucked away, but roomy enough to be part of the whole place. In the mornings, they also serve coffee and pastries for those on the run! How cool is that?

The owners tell me that a cafe is about to open next door to them, any day now! And a few doors down the street is the aforementioned Black Creek Bistro as well as a (so I am told) a popular bar called Carabar. Across the street, I see signs for galleries, too. Is this a mini-version of the Short North?

Downtown is just down the road from OTE.

If you are interested, Olde Towne East is holding a Fall Festival this Saturday from noon to 10pm. Here is where you find more information.

I am sure I am not the only one to be excited about the revitalization of this little neighborhood!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Moshi Sushi

There is a lot to brag about our little town of Bexley. Although, not a lot to brag when it comes to food. We have a lot of choices of pizza places, and ice cream parlors, and a few coffee shops. As far as restaurants go, not much.


We have Moshi Sushi!

Sitting right next to Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, Moshi Sushi serves up excellent Japanese and a few Korean dishes.

The first time we went there, I made a comment about their unique water glasses. The nice waiter answered with a big smile "We try to do things different here at Moshi Sushi!"

The food is beautifully presented, and more importantly, quite tasty. Our children devoured their Eel, Avocado, and Shrimp tempura rolls. My husband enjoyed his perfectly hot bowl of Udon noodles, and I satisfied my Korean food craving with a hot pot of Bibimbab.

All the plates were clean and sparkly. All of our tummies were happily full. Our son, the lover of Japanese cuisine, leaned back after finishing his delicious meal, and said quietly:

"This is great...."

I think that says it all!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Golden Lamb and Lebanon, Ohio

Well, it didn't quite happen as planned.

We had wanted to go to the Sauerkraut Festival in Waynesville this weekend. And because of that, we booked a night at the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio (claimed as the oldest Inn in Ohio, with guests like Charles Dickens!). Two birds with one stone, we thought.

We had explored a little of the Southeast Corner of Columbus (Hocking Hills), and the Northeast part (Holmes County). So this weekend was going to be the Southwest portion with a festival to boot.

As we approached the exit for Waynesville, off of I-71, we changed our plans abruptly. There were so many cars, and a bit of traffic jam by the exit. Not a good sign, we thought. We were glad that a lot of people were heading to taste all kinds of sauerkraut, in all shapes and sizes. We just were not going to be one of them. Not this time.

Instead, we kept going on I-71, just a couple of exits beyond. We saw a brown sign on the highway, saying something about Fort Ancient Museum. That looked a lot more appealing to us than spending the afternoon with thousands of people, so we veered off, and found ourselves on an unplanned route.

Fort Ancient Museum tells the history (and pre-history) of Ohio: the Native Americans who used to call this land their home, and the importance of the Indian mounds found all over the state. We hiked a trail behind the museum, admiring the peak fall foliage on display. It was a lovely unexpected afternoon!

Our home for the evening, The Golden Lamb, did not disappoint. With its more than 200 years of history, 12 US Presidents and Charles Dickens as guests, the Inn delights in sharing their unique stories with their visitors. We loved the Shaker-ish decor and the beautifully decorated guest rooms (all named after visited Presidents). Our suite, with its own living room and ensuite bathroom, was the perfect choice for our family of four.

The Golden Lamb is also a popular restaurant, attracting visitors from all over. We were lucky to have made a reservation before hand and we did enjoy our dinner there (with the Inn's historian entertaining us with facts about The Golden Lamb and the town of Lebanon before our meal was served!).

So, it was a short, but sweet, and somewhat unexpected get-away that we would happily do again!