A Visit To: Asheville

This summer, my husband and I returned to Asheville for a much-needed long weekend. We were able to re-visit some old haunts and uncover some new favorite locales in the Blue Ridge Mountain town. A photo diary of my culinary explorations seemed to be the easiest way to approach this post; there were too many tasty spots to reduce the experience to words. Take a peek at some of the cuisine we loved best during our Asheville jaunt:

All things gravy at Tupelo Honey in dowtown Asheville
Brunch at Biscuit Head – complete with a jam, honey, and butter bar
Can’t get enough of this view of the Biltmore Estate
Chocolate Stout Cake with Mocha Frosting at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Every Taco combo you’ve ever dreamed of and some more you haven’t at White Duck Taco Shop
Hot Pimento Dip and more at the Stable Cafe, just outside Biltmore Estate
Lovely farm-to-table happy hour at Rhubarb, including this delightful gnocchi dish with pickled carrots
One of the trip’s highlights: the Battery Park Book Exchange. It’s one part bookstore, one part champagne bar, and a maker of extraordinary cheese platters.
So much wickedness in hops form at Wicked Weed
Watching tubers float down the river at the New Belgium taproom
Sampling all the honey at Asheville Bee Charmer

Have you been to Asheville? What were your favorite spots to dine and drink?

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Rambling House Soda

Rambling House Soda and Music Bar
310 E. Hudson St.
Columbus, OH 43202
614-468-3415
http://www.ramblinghousesoda.com/

Craft beer and craft spirits are currently monopolizing the market, but don’t discount craft soda! Lately, I can’t get enough of Columbus’ own Rambling House Soda. A tiny spot sandwiched in the south Clintonville/University District region, Rambling House is a music venue with a tasty “pop.” The interior has an antique saloon feel, and has the unhurried aura of a bygone era.  The bar hosts live music every night they are open, varying from bluegrass to local bands. Sundays lend themselves to the “Old Time Jam,” an open session where anyone with musical chops can bring an instrument and play with the group.

Most importantly though, Rambling House produces a few soda staples that are always on tap, and rotates a few special flavors in and out. Typically, the ginger beer (delightfully zippy), Columbus Cola (so much better than that other cola), sarsaparilla, and lemon lime soda are always on tap. However, past varieties when I’ve visited have included: orange-cardamom, cream soda, chocolate-mint, or coconut lime.  I also loved the strawberry soda that Rambling House brought to Jeni’s Strawberry Jam at the North Market this summer – hands down, the best bubbly beverage at the event. The drink menu offers soda-cocktail suggestions, or get creative and make your own. There are also a number of Ohio beers available on draft if brews are more your fancy. Don’t forget too: the bar fills any clean growler with their soda, so take home your favorite pop and make a crave-able concoction at home. My current combo is house cream soda and bourbon! But most of all, Rambling House stays true to its namesake Irish “rambling” roots – it is a refuge of foot-tapping tunes, well-crafted sodas, and communal spirit.

Culinary Clue: Don’t miss out on Rambling House’s bottled Moscow Mules. The libations are made with Rambling House ginger beer and Watershed Distillery vodka, ideal for end-of-summer sipping. I picked up a bottle at The Daily Growler but Kroger stores also carry the mixes. You can also find Rambling House soda on draft at some of your favorite local joints, such as Brothers Drake Meadery, Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, and Homestead Brewery.

Have you sampled the soda from Rambling House yet? Let me know in the comments below.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Trillium Kitchen & Patio

Trillium Kitchen & Patio
2333 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43202
614-369-4888
https://www.trilliumkitchen.com/

The closing of Alana’s left a little hole in the hearts (and stomachs) of Columbus diners last year. So after being invited to the soft opening of Trillium Kitchen & Patio, I was eager to sample the new offerings in Alana’s old space. While it is still early in the life of the fledgling eatery, our meal was very enjoyable and I’ll be back to try more. In the meantime, here is a brief overview of our first foray into Trillium.

The interior of the building is totally revamped, and there is also a generous amount of patio seating. My husband and I opted for the outdoor area, since it was a beautiful day and there was live music. We started with the Pork Cheek Poutine, a dish that is often more trendy than tasty. Not the case here; this treat was flavorful at every layer, from the peppered pork gravy to the local cheese curds and tender chunks of meat. Definitely go for the optional soft egg on top, because drippy eggs are always a good idea. On the menu but not yet available during our visit were two phenomenal-sounding appetizers with Asian flair. First, I spotted Duck Confit Spring Rolls on the menu, served with Serrano black vinegar dip, spicy aioli, and a sesame salad. But I’m also drooling over the description of the Lump Crab Wontons: rhubarb bbq, avocado crema, pickled red onion, and Napa cabbage.

The entrees had a local focus as well, with lots of Ohio cheese, corn, meats, and Athens-based Shagbark Mill products. The BBQ Chicken had a nice char and a dollop of bacon jam, plus equally savory Southern-style sides: creamed corn, pickled cabbage, and molasses BBQ pinto beans. We also were pleased with the peach-jalapeno jam glazed on the Pork Chop, accompanied by bacon-cheddar Shagbark grits, andouille sausage, red-eye gravy, and braised greens. The trout and the spelt pasta selections caught my eye too, but save room for a donut ice cream sandwich!

Culinary Clue: Are you a horrible parallel parker like me? Then look for the dedicated lot behind Trillium for some dedicated spaces for the restaurant. I also learned that the space is named for Ohio’s state wildflower – apparently we have one of those?

If you give Trillium a try, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! I’ll share more upon a return visit.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Brie Burgers with Bacon-Date Aioli

At my house, summer equals grilling multiple times a week. Burgers are especially easy to pull together for a weeknight meal, so I had to add a burger recipe to this collection. Shout out to one of my favorite burgers in town, the One Red Door burger at Flip Side, as the inspiration for this dish. This concoction hits all the notes you want with a burger: cheesy, salty, crunchy, juicy, and just a dash of sweet. The bacon-date aioli will make you swoon, and why aren’t more restaurants using brie on their burgers? It melts beautifully and pairs with so many garnishes. I used the leftover aioli to make the best grilled cheese ever, so save a little extra if you can manage it. I can also think of about a dozen more things I’d like to slather the bacon spread on – it’s that mouthwatering!

I used Jennie-O’s turkey burgers for the recipe, since if the burger is healthier, you can pile on more toppings. Also, because the patties are pre-seasoned and can be grilled straight from frozen, no thawing or prep is required. Get the scoop below:

Brie Burgers with Bacon-Date Aioli

Yield: 6 large burgers

Ingredients:

For the aioli:
10 pitted dates, I used Medjool dates
5 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
3/4 c. mayo

For the burgers:
1 c. fresh arugula
6-8 oz. brie cheese, sliced
1/3 c. French’s Crispy Fried Onions (you know, the kind that goes on green bean casserole)
6 cooked patties of your favorite burger recipe or Jennie-O turkey burgers
6 burger buns, toasted

Start by making the aioli. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, blending until well-incorporated. Refrigerate and set aside to assemble burgers.

Cook your burgers according to package or recipe instructions. Right before the burgers are finished cooking, place strips of brie cheese on top so the cheese is melted; this helps the cheese act as the glue for assembly. Place cooked patties on bottom burger bun. Top burger with fried onions, then arugula. Smear desired amount of aioli on top bun, then sandwich together the two burger halves and devour.

Get your summer grilling on, and find out more about Jennie-O frozen turkey burgers here: https://www.jennieo.com/products/collection/22-burgers.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Disclosure: Jennie-O sent me these burgers to try. Any opinions expressed within this post are my own unbiased views.

Brie Burgers with Bacon-Date Aioli
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
For the aioli:
  • 10 pitted dates, I used Medjool dates
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
  • ¾ c. mayo
For the burgers:
  • 1 c. fresh arugula
  • 6-8 oz. brie cheese, sliced
  • ⅓ c. French's Crispy Fried Onions (you know, the kind that goes on green bean casserole)
  • 6 cooked patties of your favorite burger recipe or Jennie-O turkey burgers
  • 6 burger buns, toasted
Instructions
  1. Start by making the aioli. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, blending until well-incorporated.
  2. Refrigerate and set aside to assemble burgers.
  3. Cook your burgers according to package or recipe instructions.
  4. Right before the burgers are finished cooking, place strips of brie cheese on top so the cheese is melted.
  5. Place cooked patties on bottom burger bun. Top burger with fried onions, then arugula.
  6. Smear desired amount of aioli on top bun, then sandwich together the two burger halves and devour.

 

5 More Bacon Bites to Try

I might be a little obsessed with bacon. One of my favorite wedding gifts was a bacon of the month club, in which Michigan’s own Zingerman’s Deli delivered a different variety of bacon to my door every four weeks. I’ve also already written about 5 bacon dishes I can’t get enough of here, but limiting myself to such a small number was HARD. So here we go again – I’m listing 5 more must-try meals where bacon is the belle of the ball.

Breakfast Tacos – Balboa

http://www.balboagrandview.com/#home

Tacos for breakfast are pretty much a dream come true, especially when you pair it with a blueberry basil margarita at Balboa brunch (tongue twister). An order includes three mini tacos, bursting with queso, avocado, scrambled eggs, veggies, and of course, a crispy slab of bacon.

Click here to read my full post on Balboa

Hounddog – Angry Weiner

https://www.theangrywiener.com/

I always thought that people who ate hot dogs with peanut butter deserved the electric chair. But now…I’m a convert. Food truck The Angry Weiner is serving up the component that convinced me: bacon jam. When a toasty bun meets melty peanut butter and savory bacon jam, trust me, it’s amazing!

Click here to read my full post on Angry Weiner

Morning Sliders – 1803 Bacon

http://1803bacon.wixsite.com/1803bacon

Every Saturday from 10-2, Platform Beer Co. is hosting 1803 Bacon for brunch. I’m crazy for the sliders: teeny sammies with poached eggs, 1803’s signature blended curry bacon, and a good old Kraft single. Buy a pack of Maple Espresso or House Bacon for the road too.

Bacon Cheddar Scone – Kittie’s Cakes

https://www.kittiescakes.com/

This item is a more traditional use of bacon, but certainly not less tasty. Salty from the generous chunks of bacon and crammed with plenty of cheddar, these treats will kick your morning off right. Plus, they are available at both the German Village and Bexley locales.

Read more about Kittie’s Cakes here – German Village | Bexley

Fried Green Tomato BLT – Grandview Cafe

http://www.grandviewcafe.com/

Sure, anyone can make a BLT. But only the recently revamped Grandview Cafe can layer it up in Southern style. Country white bread is sandwiched with dill pickle aoili, arugula, crunchy fried green tomatoes, and ample strips of bacon. You’ll be hard pressed to eat a plain Jane BLT again.

Bonus bacon sneak peek: next week’s post will be a burger recipe, featuring bacon-date spread. Check back next week for the scoop!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Canal Winchester Beer Trail

Canal Winchester Beer Trail

Loose Rail Brewing
37 W. Waterloo St.
Canal Winchester, OH 43110

BrewDog
96 Gender Rd.
Canal Winchester, OH 43110

Something big is brewing in the southeast suburb of Canal Winchester – at not one, but two breweries. Both BrewDog and Loose Rail Brewing have settled into the small town, making the area an ideal day trip for hopheads. The breweries could not be more different, but each is worth a visit. It just figures that my hometown would get all these cool businesses after I leave…

Loose Rail Brewing falls on the “micro” end of the craft brewery spectrum, and inhabits a structure near Canal Winchester’s historic downtown. I’m a sucker for a good building history, and my dad clued me into the tale behind the brewery name: Columbus used to have an electric railway system, and the building served as a power station for the enterprise. The interior isn’t large, but the attached outdoor space boasts a cozy patio with fire pits, the ideal spot to catch some live bluegrass music. No food is served but trucks like Sophie’s Pierogi and Star City Sliders are frequently parked nearby. Even the beer names stick to the train theme; think Full Steam Saison or Freight Hopper IPA. I fancied the Coal Burner imperial stout.

Scotland’s BrewDog also chose to put down roots in Canal Winchester, picking the city for its production headquarters in America. A massive operation with a potential beer-themed hotel in the works, BrewDog’s complex offers pond views, corn hole boards, and plenty of eats. Punk IPA is the flagship beer, but definitely opt for a flight to find your favorite. Pair your suds with hot pretzels, Prosciutto and arugula flatbread, or the Identity Crisis burger, crowned with tortilla chips, avocado, a drippy egg, and more.

Culinary Clue: On your way out of town, make a final stop at Blystone Farm to pick up bottles of local craft brews and maybe a cookie or two for the road. Also, they have bacon breakfast sausage – it’s a thing, and you should be eating it. Or dine at Harvest Moon Cafe, it’s owned by the same folks that run Loose Rail.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Photography at The Wonder Jam

1145 Chesapeake Ave
Building J
Columbus, OH 43212

http://thewonderjam.com

I will be the first to admit that the focus of this blog has never been photography. I don’t have a fancy camera, and didn’t even have an Instagram account in the beginning, now my largest social media channel. My ability to take pictures of food has improved tremendously over the past two years, but it’s always been something I never concentrated on enough. Sometimes I was too starving to take photos, sometimes I got off work late and there was no sunlight left for an ideal setup. I have a long way to go to hone those food styling skills, but I’m working on it with The Wonder Jam!

I connected with The Wonder Jam through Instagram (@thewonderjam), and had been admiring their photography work from afar. Then, a couple weeks ago I finally pulled the trigger and visited their studio for a photography class. The Wonder Jam is owned by the husband and wife duo of Allie and Adam Lehman, and they offer assistance in expanding your small business or “side hustle” in a variety of ways. Some of the services: building your brand, social media coaching, and of course, photography. The Lehmans and their team also prep the food and then shoot it for entire cookbooks, which I learned isn’t as glamorous as it sounds!

The class I took was Food Photography and Styling, essentially an intro to capturing food on film. It was iPhone-friendly (perfect for me!) and the group was a great mix of career photographers and amateurs who just wanted to take prettier snaps of food. At only $40 for 3 hours of instruction and light snacks, this class is such a tremendous value! I took notes throughout the session like a maniac. Allie and her crew set up different food scenes for us to try our hand at capturing, so it was interesting to see how these high-quality shots are developed from the ground up. I won’t give away all the secrets, but I learned how to set up layouts and backgrounds for shooting, how to add texture with napkins, and that painting produce with veggie oil gives it a perfect sheen. I can’t wait to take another class and learn more. Some of my shots have improved already:

Culinary Clue: The studio is in the same industrial strip as Watershed Kitchen + Bar. So schedule a class at The Wonder Jam, then mosey over to Watershed to test your newly-acquired camera talents on their cuisine.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Brunchin’ It Up: The Market Italian Village

The Market Italian Village
1022 Summit Street
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 745 2147
https://www.themarketiv.com/

The Market Italian Village is one part actual market (buy craft beers, well-priced wines, and local food products), one part bakery, one part restaurant, and a large dash of perfection. The menu at any time of day is always seasonally-focused, creative, and artfully prepared. One of The Market’s best kept secrets though, is brunch. Start your weekend morning right by snagging a stool in front of the open windows and people-watching while savoring some rib-sticking cuisine.

Let’s start with the French Toast and Chicken. Say sayonara to the Chicken and Waffles gracing every brunch menu in town. This dish is immense (hooray for leftovers!) and hits all the right notes: huge slabs of French toast, crunchy fried chicken, creme fraiche, and smoked maple syrup. I’m always partial to a good egg sammie, so the B.E.L.T. is an ideal option. Consisting of thick-cut bacon, a runny egg, greens, garlic aioli, tomato jam, sourdough, and optional smoked salmon (vote yes) this a simple but well-executed dish. Don’t forget the crunchy home fries on the side! Other mouthwatering selections include the Market Waffle (topped with bourbon bananas foster and pecans), Shakshouka (baked eggs, tomatoes, red pepper sauce, crispy chickpeas, and feta with stone-fired pita bread) and the biscuits with lamb gravy. Each dish is familiar with an elevated twist.

Feeling festive? Brunch cocktails are also available, such as the house Bloody Mary, garnished with candied bacon. Fruit fans will flip for the sangria: red wine, Grey Goose l’orange, Copper & Kings brandy, hibiscus, orange juice, and honey, or pry those eyes open with the Espresso Milk Punch (bourbon, molasses, spiced simple syrup, Snowville milk, Deeper Roots espresso, and nutmeg). Pair your meal with a luscious lavender latte, score a pastry for the road, and #brunchgoals are complete.

Tell me more about your favorite Italian Village brunch spot in the comments below!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Balsamic Roasted Grape Pizza

Balsamic Roasted Grape Pizza

My current craving as summer approaches: fruit on savory pizza. Fruit pizza for dessert (you know the one, with the cream cheese layer and sugar cookie crust) is divine, but I’m fancying fruit this season as a topping for a dinner pizza. Figs, dates, and apples are all great additions to flatbreads to add sweetness and texture, but grapes are great because they retain their juice even after roasting. This pizza is a snap to assemble and will disappear in a snap too. Grilling the crust would also be tasty for a quick meal, or cut the pie into bite size pieces for a party appetizer.

Roasted Grape Pizza

Yield: 4 mini pizzas

Ingredients:

For the grapes:
1 1/2 c. seedless red grapes
3 T. balsamic vinegar
3 T. olive oil

For the pizza:
4 – 8 inch prepared pizza crusts (I used pre-packaged mini crusts from Kroger, but feel free to make your own or buy the kind in the tube and roll them out)
1 c. ricotta cheese, divided into 4 portions
2 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh basil
3 T. chopped fresh chives
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. mozzarella
1/4 c. grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spread out grapes. Drizzle on oil and vinegar, toss grapes in mixture to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the grapes for 10-15 minutes until the skins are just beginning to burst, stirring once halfway through. Allow the grapes to cool.

Balsamic Roasted Grape Pizza

On each pre-baked crust, spread an even layer of the divided ricotta. Drizzle the oil atop the ricotta layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next add the mozzarella and Parmesan, then top the cheeses with the garlic and the herbs. Finally distribute the grapes in an even layer, dividing them between the 4 pizzas. Bake the mini pizzas for 15 minutes in the 425 degree oven, until cheese is melted. Cut and serve!

I know grapes might sound crazy, but they add a stellar pop of sweetness. Shovel in every bite and let me know when you try the recipe; find my social channels here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Balsamic Roasted Grape Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
For the grapes:
  • 1½ c. seedless red grapes
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T. olive oil
For the pizza:
  • 4 - 8 inch prepared pizza crusts (I used pre-packaged mini crusts from Kroger, but feel free to make your own or buy the kind in the tube and roll them out)
  • 1 c. ricotta cheese, divided into 4 portions
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. chopped fresh basil
  • 3 T. chopped fresh chives
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ c. mozzarella
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. On a rimmed baked sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spread out grapes.
  3. Drizzle on oil and vinegar, toss grapes in mixture to coat.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast the grapes for 10-15 minutes until the skins just beginning to burst, stirring once halfway through.
  6. Allow the grapes to cool.
  7. On each pre-baked crust, spread an even layer of the divided ricotta.
  8. Drizzle the oil atop the ricotta layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  9. Next add the mozzarella and Parmesan, then top the cheeses with the garlic and the herbs.
  10. Finally distribute the grapes in an even layer, dividing them between the 4 pizzas.
  11. Bake the mini pizzas for 15 minutes in the 425 degree oven, until cheese is melted. Cut and serve!

 

Caroline’s Picks: 5 Sweet Breakfast Treats to Try

Cruffins: Dan the Baker/Toast Bar

http://dan-the-baker.com

This one is simple: croissant meets muffin and has the flakiest baby imaginable. The result is a handheld delight that will satisfy your every breakfast desire. Fillings range from strawberry cream to spicy cardamom. Pick one up at select farmers markets or at Dan’s Grandview restaurant, Toast Bar.

Caramel Mocha Kolache: Kolache Republic

http://kolacherepublic.com
Caramel Mocha Kolache: Kolache Republic

All the kolache flavors are wonderful, but the not-too-sugary filling of the caramel mocha kolache has my heart. If coffee isn’t your speed, these Czech pastries consist of a soft, yeasty dough packed with sweet or savory items like chocolate, bacon, or cheese. Pick up a couple extra for mid-week snacks – you won’t regret it.

Custard Donuts: Fox in the Snow Cafe

http://www.foxinthesnow.com
Custard Donuts Fox in the Snow Cafe

For a place that isn’t a donut shop, Fox in the Snow has created one tasty confection. Basic but not boring, these donuts are bursting with a generous amount of thick vanilla custard, then rolled in sugar. Keep a napkin handy for the superb stickiness that will ensue. I dare you to eat only one.

Red Velvet Croissant: Angry Baker

http://theangrybakerote.comRed Velvet Croissant Angry Baker

Ok so I really like croissants. Mainly because I like butter, and croissants have an indecent amount of butter. But also because the Angry Baker is serving up a red velvet version. With a cream cheese center, chocolate drizzle, and brilliant red hue, you can have your cake croissant and eat it too.

Lemon Blueberry Aebelskabels: Alice’s Aebelskabels

https://www.aebelskabels.comAlice's Aebelskabels

Aebelskivers are stuffed Danish pancake balls, the morning essential you never knew you needed. Alice’s dishes out their take on the treats from a food truck, and can be hard to track down. But the hunt is worth every bite, especially for the lemon blueberry version. Tangy, bright, and with just enough of a dessert edge, you should add this to your wish list.

What do you think is the best sweet breakfast bite in Columbus? Let me know in the comments below!

Keep Connected,

Caroline