San Francisco: Day 1

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Events, Food Blogging Event, Travel

Sorry for the delay in getting this up, folks – I had lots and lots of pics from the trip to go through, and then had to edit, organize and upload them all. Finally we get to the fun part, recollecting the trip. I’ll be telling the story in four parts – Day 1, Day 2 (Part One), Day 2 (Part Two), and Day 3. I’ll link to each as I put up new entries. These recaps will be very picture heavy, so please check it out under the cut.

Read more…

Why I’ll Never Go to Another Blogging Conference

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Events, Rant

As you all know, I spent last weekend in San Francisco at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. I got back home on Monday, but it’s taken me since then to process what happened last weekend enough to discuss it. If you read my Twitter postings, or if you’re really good at picking up cues, you may have surmised by now that I had a less than stellar time. Part of that has to do with my state of mind going in, the rest of it has to do with the actions of some of my fellow bloggers. The only ones who are totally blameless in this fiasco is Foodbuzz themselves, who planned out a stellar series of events and planned things (like assigned tables at the event on the first night) that would force people outside the insular groups they were hanging with.

First things first – let’s talk about my expectations for this weekend. In many ways, I see myself as an ambassador for our fine city – when I travel, I love to try to tell and show others that we’re not just some cowtown in a flyover state, that we have tons of creative types that make Columbus a wonderful place to live. I love bringing foodie gifts, especially, because if people can taste for themselves, one bite says more to them than an hour of my talking the city up.

In addition, I wanted to go because many of those going are people whose blogs I read regularly, whose recipes have won raves from my friends and family, and I actually wanted to meet them face to face so I could put a face to the name and vice versa.

Lastly, the events planned sounded amazing – a street food fair on Day 1? Breakout sessions (esp. one on food photography) on Day 2? A Tasting Plaza on Day 2? A lavish dinner in the Ferry Building on Day 2? A Farewell Brunch on Day 3? Sign me up! I couldn’t think of anything more awesome than sharing these things with fellow foodies, people who would understand my compulsive need to journal my experiences and my fascination with photographing every morsel of food that hits my table when dining out. My only experience with other food bloggers before this point had been with the local Columbus food bloggers, many of whom I consider friends because we’ve bonded over a meal (or two, or five), we’ve come out to support each other in events, and because each of us have done our small part to promote things that make Columbus so unique. I may not have been born here, but Columbus and it’s residents have embraced me with open arms and it’s where I consider home these days.

A little bit of back story leading up to getting to the hotel from the airport. Many of you may not know that I have some severe orthopedic issues (degenerative disk disease and spondylolisthesis, carpal tunnel syndrome, frayed meniscus and generally shot knees, lots of osteoarthritis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and some pretty severe peripheral neuropathy, which acts up more when I become inflamed in one of the previous areas) that limits my mobility. I can walk pretty well (although once I hit the steep hills of San Francisco, even that was called into question), but don’t do well at all on stairs of any sort.

So I get into SFO pretty early (10ish) – the plane ride in was fairly uneventful, thankfully – and manage to make it over to the BART station and on a train headed to Powell St, where I hoped to score a Muni pass ($20 for 3 days of unlimited use of the cable cars, buses and Muni trains) so I could hop on a cable car that would be able to let me off right in front of my hotel.

After talking to a surly BART employee who cut me off twice before I could even get my question out, I got on the right train (there were 2 different ones to choose from) Am I the only one who thinks the BART trains smell like pee? And they weren’t kidding about that rapid part. I had a hard time holding on to the pole so I didn’t go flying with my other hand grabbing my bags so they wouldn’t go flying. I had no idea what stop was what (you can’t hear the speaker over the din of the train), so I counted stops so I’d be sure to get off at the right one. The train let me out into this huge underground depot, with me not being able to find an elevator. There was one on the other end of the building,  so about 30 minutes later I manage to make it to the surface – I was unsure which direction to go in (because none of the street signs said Powell), so I picked a direction and walked until I found the cable cars. This is where everything started going horribly, horribly wrong. The step going up into the cable car is so high up, that it took every ounce of upper body strength I had to manage to pull myself up. It took a few tries, but finally I am able to get in, and let the conductor know where I am going to – he promised to let me know when my stop was coming up, and would alert the driver to stop so I could get off. Not having ever gone to San Francisco before this, I wasn’t sure how far the hotel was from where I started. The first clue I had that he had missed my stop completely was when we arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf.

So I had rode the entire route, start to finish. The conductor seemed sincerely apologetic, and made sure I got on the cable car going in the other direction (again with the pulling myself up) and I finally did make it to my hotel, somewhere close to 1pm. I had already been up since 2am so I could catch my 5:30am (Eastern) flight, and by East coast standards, it was 4pm already. 14 hours into my day. I got settled into my hotel room, then wandered out to find something to eat. At first, I headed in the wrong direction, made it halfway up the huge steep hill, felt my legs shaking and threatening to buckle under me, and realized I needed to turn around because where I was going in the other direction. A rather flat 3 block walk lead me to Katana-ya, a ramen shop where I picked up lunch (more about that later).

I took my leftovers back with me to the hotel, where exhausted, I proceeded to take a 90 minute nap before I went downstairs to the lobby to catch the shuttle bus to the Street Food Fair at Fort Mason.

I woke up, freshened up a bit, feeling a little better, and headed downstairs to meet some other people. Except the scene down there was nothing like I pictured. Everybody was clumped together in small groups of 2-5 people, essentially ignoring everything else going on around them. I’m not the type who will insert myself into the middle of a group and conversation, so I panicked a bit. I scanned the room quickly and saw one other person who wasn’t grouped off, and sat down next to him and engaged him in conversation. He was polite and spoke to me for a couple of minutes, then left for greener pastures. So I sat there alone on the couch, hoping some other person who was there alone, knowing no one, would see me and do the same thing I just did – come over and engage me in conversation. Unfortunately, that never happened.

The buses finally arrive, and people start piling on them in preparation for heading up to Fort Mason. I finally get to the door of the bus, and this step is even higher up than the one on the cable car. I was absolutely humiliated, because it took me pulling up with all my might and two people pushing me up from behind to get me on that bus, finally. I skulked off to the back of the bus where I was ready to cry. Even though I’m smaller than I have been in ages (~250 lbs), I felt absolutely huge, the way I always do when I have physical limitations slap me in the face at the most inopportune times.

I’ll talk about street food fair in detail in another post, but other than spending a few minutes talking to some really nice people whose table I was assigned to, I really didn’t connect with anyone at this event. The only way you could identify who was who was by looking at tag that hung on a lanyard around their necks, which almost always ended up strategically located right at boob level. So if you wanted to look at someone’s tag, it was awkward, to say the least.

It was about this time that I realized how utterly cliquey this weekend was going to be. The people who were paired off into groups at the hotel were still paired off at this event too. And right about then it occurred to me that if I hadn’t found someone to hang with by now, it was too late. Peer groups and pecking order had already been established, and to all of these groups, even those that didn’t include the popular bloggers, I was an outsider looking in. It was so very high school, and very much like high school, I realized that I was a loner who didn’t fit well into any group, and that if I hung with any one group, I would still be an outsider who was tolerated but not truly included. So I made my way alone through the event, sitting alone at the table after the foodie gift exchange was over, taking some pictures, waiting in line alone for food, etc. Hoping to avoid the humiliation of the earlier bus ride, I called a cab and went back to the hotel early, about 8pm. I got into jammies and spent the rest of the night getting a couple hours of rest and Twittering about how friggin’ miserable I was.

The next day, I skipped out on the morning session I was signed up for so that I could go to the farmers market to recharge. Those of you who know me know that a good farmers market has healing properties for me – it gives me peace, perspective, and the ability to put trust in people again. The guy from Roli Roti remembered me from the night before, and smiled that I was back for more just as he was opening. I browsed the more than 120 vendors and sampled to my heart’s content. I bought some fruit and other things to eat in my hotel room and to send back home. I talked to some really cool people when I was sitting at the tables with a wonderful view of the Bay Bridge eating my lunch  – an older lady from Walnut Creek who had lived in Columbus in the 1960′s – a lady photographer from Texas who was there for a National Geographic conference and who took an awesome picture of me against the skyline of San Francisco. By the time I left a few hours later, I had a bag full of stuff, and all of the pain and awkwardness and embarrassment from the night before had been washed away, replaced by inner peace and love for the city and for probably the best farmers market I’ve been to in my life.

I was unsure about heading to the tasting plaza – I was a bit spooked from the night before so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to replace the peace with apprehension and nerves. P., on the phone with me, tried to ease my fears and told me I should go, that I shouldn’t miss any of the experience on account of other people.

My experience at the tasting plaza was horrible. I got pushed and jostled around so much that I had bruises all over my arms. While trying to walk backwards out of a tight space someone started saying “beep-beep-beep” and called me “double wide”. People cut in front of me in line like I wasn’t even there. If I walked up to one of the standing tables in the center of the room to eat my food the couple of people already there looked at me, said “let’s go” and moved away quickly. I tried to engage with a woman from Canada whose blog I read regularly and she totally blew me off. I accidentally got in the way of a woman’s shot, immediately noticed and apologized profusely and backed away, and she was  nasty to me in return. It was totally mean girls central. By this point, I said to myself, “I’ve had enough of this shit” and left and totally gave up on attending any more Foodbuzz functions. If you keep putting yourself out there and it becomes painfully obvious that every time you try to engage you get shit on, it’s just totally masochistic to keep putting yourself (and your pride, and your feelings) on the line.

I’m not saying that everyone that attended this shindig was a nasty person. I’m sure that probably 90% of the people who attended are perfectly nice people. Maybe most people, because they were part of a group, didn’t realize how insular and impermeable their groups were. Maybe I had a scowl on my face from being so unhappy (the one picture I saw of me this weekend, I’m the only person not smiling) and that kept people from wanting to know me. For a while, I thought “maybe this is all in my head and maybe I’m the problem”, but others who have been to this and other blogging conferences have had similar experiences.

I skipped out on the huge Gala dinner (was still upset from the Tasting Plaza) and the Farewell Brunch (didn’t have anyone to say goodbye to), and left early on Sunday for a quick stop at the Ferry Building to pick up something I had ordered the day before, and then to the airport for an 8 hour wait to get on my plane. Needless to say, I was happy to be home, although in general my trip to San Francisco wasn’t an entirely pleasant one, mainly because I was there alone and I hate traveling alone. I hope to someday go back with P. so I can wander outside of Union Square and replace some bad memories with good ones that I’ll make with him.

The point of this whole screed is to get it out there, so it isn’t the huge white elephant in the room when I’m talking about my trip, and to maybe bring to light some of the issues so the same thing doesn’t happen to someone else next year. Me? I probably won’t be back to a blogging conference ever again. It took me a lot to come out from behind the computer screen and get involved in my own town, let alone in something as huge as that Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. Once bitten, twice shy, right?

But if any of you are in Columbus and ever want to hang, drop me an email at columbusfoodieATgmailDOTcom. I’m still willing to be an ambassador for Columbus and can show you the time of your life and why living here is so awesome. I haven’t lost my passion for that, or for blogging about my individual experiences, but my group experiences, in the future, will be with people who already accept me for who I am and see that I am worth getting to know, even if the package comes in a brown paper wrapper rather than beautifully wrapped in gorgeous wrapping paper and ribbons. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If I missed meeting you last weekend, and if I was someone you wanted to talk to, but didn’t for whatever reason, give me a holler. I still want to get to know you, even if it’s not face to face.

Lots of Exciting Things in Store for November!

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Admin, Columbus, Events, Restaurant Week, Travel

First off, an apology for not posting lately. It’s not for lack of drafts. When Bloglines announced they were discontinuing service,  what should have been easy (importing my subscriptions), turned into a nightmare. Since I subscribe to over 7,000 feeds, the file was too big to be imported, and I’ve had to resubscribe to them by hand in Google Reader. So I got really distracted by work in the back end, but have let a bit of time elapse since my last point).

But that will have to wait until Monday, Because I’ve caught the travel bug, folks. 24 hours from now I’ll be in San Francisco, chowing down on street foods at a welcome reception for those of us who are attending the 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Festival. I bought the ticket on a whim, even though I don’t know any of the people attending on a personal level. I always love meeting new people, so if you see me there, please say hi.  don’t bite, I promise. So I’ll be blogging regularly while I’m in San Francisco, about the things and bites I’ll experience over the weekend. I’m trying to tuck a couple extra experiences into the limited free time I have – like going to Japantown for a bowl of ramen that uses real homemade noodles and a broth that has been concentrated for 36 hours. I can’t wait! Also in the plans is a trip to the Ferry Market and it’s farmers market. I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed by BART and the Muni, so hopefully one or the other will take me where I want to go. I’m planning on documenting my experiences as I go along.

As soon as I return, Monday is the beginning of Dine Originals Week – a great opportunity to get a good deal,  (all meals are prix fixe at $10, $20, or $30 with several courses)  visit a restaurant that you love, or take this opportunity to try a new one. I’ve gone and written about it a few times  a while back, and for the most part, had an amazing experience. Visit their website (linked above) for more information.

One of the Dine Originals board members was kind enough to donate $30 in Dine Original Dollars, good at any of their member restaurants) to one of my readers. All you need to enter is to look at the menus, and decide which restaurant has a menu that makes your mouth water the most, and comment about it below. The contest runs until the 15th at noon, and will randomly pick a winner.Although I’m not going to go whole hog like I did with my posts on last year’s Dine Originals. Most likely going for lunches, to places I’ve never been to/reviewed before.  But next week, my restaurant experiences will be front and center.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I’ll be going back to my hometowns (Vineland/Millville, MJ) to attend my 20 year high school reunion. I cannot believe that time has flown so much.

But while I’m there, I’m also going to be spending time with friends I haven’t seen years, my father who I likewise haven’t seen in years, and isn’t that what makes going home for the holidays worth it? Sad that I’m going to miss out on eating Thanksgiving dinner, but super psyched about exploring the area.

I swear, though – I need to spread out a bit. Vineland is the land of chains, and those that are not chains are places that have lots of fried food, pasta, pizza, subs, cheesesteaks, seafood (which unfortunately get ruined when they’re battered and fries.

So, inevitably there will be a few local pics, but I’ll end up somewhere else. Like Philadelphia, where I can get a cheesesteak at Jim’s Steaks, a romp through the Reading Terminal Market, somewhere at/near the shore – will see. The good news about Millville in winter is that Jim’s Lunch is open so I can get my burger fix.

Poutine at the Hills Market!

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Events, Food Porn

Back for one night only, the Hills Market is serving up poutine tonight from 6-8:30pm at their store. With fresh cut fries, their own gravy, and fresh cheese curds from Blue Jacket Dairy, this is a night not to be missed. For $8, enjoy a plate of poutine either to go or on their Veranda. It’s going to be a beautiful night, so why not? Call in advance to place your order at 614-846-3220.

Poutine @ Hills Market Canada Day Dinner

The last time they had poutine, it was during last year’s Canada Day dinner. Since I *still* haven’t written about it, I figured that I’d show you what else they had last year. Even though they’re just doing the poutine portion tonight, their dinners aren’t to be missed.

They started with a nice simple salad featuring Blue Jacket Dairy’s dill cheese curds.

Salad with Dill Curds @ Hills Market Canada Day Dinner

And after the main course of poutine, a nice refreshing dessert of berries served with Blue Jacket Dairy’s Lemon Quark.

Berries & Quark @ Hills Market Canada Day Dinner

They put some amazing events on at the Hills Market, so keep an eye on their website to be kept abreast of the goings on – it’s a store full of passionate people who love what they are doing.

Some Upcoming Columbus Events

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Charity, Columbus, Eating Local, Events

I usually don’t promote events on the front page (instead, I list them on a separate Ohio Events page), but these are ones I wanted to bring attention to specifically, either because I’m involved directly, or because they are fundraising efforts for charities I believe in. Please be sure to check out one of these events if possible, and do your part in recognizing the awesome food and talent in some of these local restaurants.

A Taste of Columbus Logo

Tomorrow (September 28th) is A Taste of Columbus, hosted by the Renaissance Hotel and Latitude 41, and benefitting OhioHealth HomeReach Hospice, will be held on the rooftop pool deck at the hotel. It will feature cocktails and food from some of Columbus’ best restaurants (the Refectory, G. Michaels, Latitude 41, Barcelona, Basi Italia, and Jeni’s Ice Cream). The event runs from 5:30-8pm. The tickets are $50 per person, and tickets can be purchased here.

Taste of Grandview Logo

If A Taste of Columbus is a bit out of your price range, then consider checking out A Taste of Grandview, which has free admission – the catch is that if you’d like something to eat, you’ll most likely pay a nominal amount which each restaurant will set separately (last year, from accounts I’ve read, some samples were free, other cost as much as $5 or $6).

It will be held Sunday, October 3rd from 2-7pm, rain or shine, in McKinley Field Park at 1661 Goodale Blvd. According to their Facebook page, it looks like there are 25 different restaurants participating, so this is one you don’t want to miss. :)

Local Foods Week Logo

Last but not least, Local Matters is hosting Local Foods Week from October 2nd-8th, a celebration of all things local. Here is more information, according to their press release:

The Food Revolution Comes to Central Ohio

Local Foods Week and Eat Local Challenge, October 2-8, 2010

Columbus, Ohio, September 13, 2010 — Central Ohio not-for-profit Local Matters announces its second annual Local Foods Week from October 2-8, 2010 and issues a challenge to the community in support of local food.

In addition to a week of fun festivities for Local Foods Week like the Harvest Ball, the Market to Market Ride, and the Grilled Cheese Throwdown, Local Matters is also challenging the community to deepen their connection to local food through their first Eat Local Challenge.

“This year we wanted to use Local Foods Week to ask the community to step up their commitment to eating more local food, so we’ve launched the Eat Local Challenge.  Individuals pledge a personal commitment to local food and get entered for a chance to win great prizes like a ‘Pantry Makeover’ with local products from Whole Foods, or 26 weeks of the Weekly Fresh Market Bag from the Greener Grocer,” says Local Matters Executive Director, chef Michael Jones.

“We’re inviting people to step out of their normal routine and try some of the delicious foods that are grown, raised and prepared here in Ohio,” said Dr. Shella Farooki a radiologist and member of the planning committee for Local Foods Week. “Increasing the proportion of fresh foods in your diet can have a big impact when it comes to your health.”

Angela Stoll Petro, founder of Two Caterers and a lead sponsor of Local Foods Week, shared her thoughts: “Two Caterers made a commitment to local food because fresh Ohio foods taste better on their own, which means less salt and sugar are needed.  Fewer preservatives make it great for your health.  The shorter distance from farm to fork means more nutrient rich food and less fuel consumed.  And then there’s that much needed boost to family farms and Ohio’s economy.  You can’t ask for a better way to confront many of the biggest issues we’re facing right now, and all at once!”

Full details and registration for Local Foods Week events and the Eat Local Challenge can be found at EatLocalOhio.org.

Local Matters work directly confronts the childhood obesity and diabetes epidemics; provides healthy food access in our communities; supports family farms; and advocates for fair food policies. To learn more, visit Local-Matters.org.

Here is a rundown of the events for the week:

Friday, October 1, 2010, 5-7pm, $5 for the tasting purchased at Whole Foods
Pre-party at Whole Foods (Lane Ave and Dublin locations)

Whole Foods “Fridays Five After Five” wine tasting will benefit Local Matters in celebration of Local Foods Week.

Saturday, October 2, 2010, 9am-2pm, FREE
Harvest Festival at North Market

We’ll kick off Local Foods Week at the North Market Harvest Festival with cooking demonstrations and the launch of the Eat Local Challenge.

Saturday, October 2, 2010, 8am-1pm, $15 in advance, $20 day of
Market to Market Ride

Bicyclists can sign up to participate in the festive ride from North Market to Hills Market in celebration of local food. Reserve your spot in the Market to Market Ride now.

Saturday, October 2, 2010, 10am-2pm, FREE
Ohio Market Day at The Hills Market

Meet the people who make your food. Find new (and delicious) Ohio food products to put on your shelves. Taste new treats and learn about what makes local food (and local markets) so great! Hills Market will be having cooking demonstrations featuring local ware, as well as prizes and giveaways.

Saturday, October 2, 2010, 6:30-8:30pm, $5 tickets at the door
Grilled Cheese Throwdown during the Short North Gallery Hop at MoJoe Lounge

Chefs from Skillet, Deepwood, Betty’s, and the MoJoe will compete alongside amateurs for the title of “grilled cheese master” using local breads, cheeses and toppings.

Sunday, October 3, 2010, 9am-11:30am, $10 for adults, $5 for children 3-12, FREE for children 2 and under
Local Breakfast in Old Worthington

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will provide delicious waffles and toppings paired with locally made ham alongside sausage from the Worthington Inn for a fantastic breakfast feast. Snowville Creamery will be on hand to pour their delicious milk and Stauf’s Coffee will give you the jolt you need to get going! Reserve your spot now.

Sunday, October 3, 2010, 12-2pm, FREE
Brookside Elementary School Garden Tour and Picnic

Tour one of Ohio’s award winning (and largest) school gardens at Brookside Elementary in Perry Township/Worthington and hear more about our Food is Elementary Curriculum. Bring a picnic and games to enjoy with your family.

Sunday, October 3, 2010, 5:30-7:30pm, $15 Student Tickets, $25 Public Tickets
Iron Chef Competition at OSU Student Union

Chef Ricky Barnes from Ohio State and Chef Stazi Dulman from Whole Foods will compete to impress at the OSU student union using a “secret ingredient” grown at Honey Run Farm. Hosted by OSU student group Dollars 4 Change. Buy your tickets now!

Monday, October 4, 2010, 5:30-7pm (happy hour) $25 Happy Hour and 7-9pm (dinner) $75 Dinner
Local Matters Benefit Happy Hour and Dinner at Alana’s Food and Wine

Chef Alana Shock, a founding partner of Local Matters will host a private happy hour and benefit dinner for Local Matters and show how her food exemplifies the best of the season. Happy Hour tickets will include hors d’oeuvres and wine; Dinner tickets include a multiple course meal served family style and wine. Make your reservations by calling Alana’s at (614) 294-6783

Tuesday, October 5, 2010, All Night, Prices Vary
Restaurant Night

Featuring Local Restaurants listed on Fresh Connect who will feature special dishes from local farms. A great chance to get out and support local restaurants who are supporting our local farmers. Participating restaurants will be announced during the week of September 20th.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 5-7 pm, $25
Tour Jeni’s Splendid Kitchen

An exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ delicious operations. Jeni will prepare a special Pumpkin Tiramisu Parfait with Ohio Heirloom Pumpkin Icecream, Stauf’s Black Coffee Icecream, Mascarpone Whipped Snowville Cream, and a Marsala Honey Sauce. Tour and taste! Buy your tickets now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 7-9pm
Movie Night

Screenings of Fresh- a movie that celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Locations to be announced soon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010, 6:00pm or 7:30pm seatings, $10 adults, $5 kids (10 and under)
Local Foods Fall Family Fun Dinner

A Benefit for Local Matters at The Hills Market
All Ohio house-made chicken tenders, Ohio sweet potatoes and Ohio apple sauce served with Snowville Creamery milk and Ohio Apple Sundae with Jeni’s ice cream for dessert. Includes fall holiday activities and fun in the kitchen with a special guest. Ohio wine and beer cash bar available.
Location: The Hills Market 7860 Olentangy River Rd, Columbus
Time: Buffet runs between 6:00 seating and 7:30 seating – limited to 60 people.

Thursday, October 7, 2010
Ohio Wine and Food Tasting at House Wine in Worthington

House Wine will offer a variety of Ohio wines and foods for their weekly Thursday night wine tasting.

Thursday, October 7, 2010, 6-9:30pm, $60
Culinary Tour

Local Foods week tour presented by Columbus Food Adventures highlighting some of the talented chefs who emphasize local sourcing. Four stops include Skillet, Latitude 41, Clever Crow (at Circus) and Knead and will also feature CBC beer to accompany Clever Crow pizza. Tickets must be booked in advance and can be purchased at www.columbusfoodadventures.com

Friday, October 8, 2010, Harvest Dinner 6:30-8pm, $75, Harvest Ball 8-12pm $25
Harvest Dinner Prior to the Harvest Ball the Harvest Dinner will feature a five course dinner with beer and wine. Harvest Dinner tickets include entrance to the Harvest Ball.
Harvest Ball Local Matters will close out Local Foods Week and the Ohio Eat Local Challenge with a party of grand proportions featuring great music, delicious local food and delightful drinks. Reserve your tickets now.

As you can see, many of the events are low cost or free, so there’s something for everyone. Hope I see you all at one or at all of the events. :)

Event: Taste the Future 2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Charity, Columbus, Events, Food Porn

This past Tuesday, P. and I attended Taste the Future, Columbus State Community College’s annual fundraiser to help raise money for scholarships to help send hospitality students through the three-year program.

Under almost perfect weather conditions (mid 70′s, clear), we enjoyed an evening of running into a bunch of people we knew, eating more food than we thought was humanly possible (I was only able to try 60% of what was there, and was full for an entire day after the event!), and got to talk to familiar faces in the culinary world, many of whom I have since found out are graduates of the CSCC program. Please be sure to show your support to the restaurants involved, as they all have a connection to the hospitality program, either by employing graduates, or working directly with the department in apprenticing budding chefs. While I was fortunate to be able to attend on a press pass, I can easily say that this is one event that is well worth the $100 per person ticket price.

Here are just a few photos from that evening of some of the fantastic dishes we got to try…

Watermelon Gelee, Crab & Avocado with Tomato Vinaigrette from Cameron Mitchell Catering

Pastries from Mozart's Cafe

Cucumber Crostini topped with Herb Boursin Sprea, Prosciutto, Watermelon Gazpacho and Microgreens from The Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus

Shrimp Cocktail Kabob from Columbus Fish Market

Tuna Tartare with Gaufrette Potato Chip and Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette from Lindey's Restaurant & Bar

Tomato, Melon and Cheese Skewers from Luce Enoteca

You can view more of my photos from that evening (over 100 of them!) by checking out my Flickr set.

The event was only a few days ago, and I’m already looking forward to next year. So, did you go? If you did, what was your favorite dish of the evening?

Come Out This Sunday for Foodie Fun!

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Contest, Events

Best of Fall Home Show

This Sunday afternoon at 4:30, it will be a battle of blogger (me) vs. blogger (Lisa the Waitress of Restaurant Widow) vs. radio host (Ann Fisher of WOSU’s All Sides) at the Heavy Metal Chef Challenge, a cooking competition that’s an homage to Iron Chef with Q96FM’s Joe Show playing the part of Alton Brown.

This friendly rivalry should be fun for everyone competing, and entertaining to those of you in the audience – we will have a mystery bag of ingredients to cook with (we won’t find out the ingredients until a few minutes before the competition), and we have to cook everything in a single electric skillet in a 35 minute time limit! Needless to say, there’s a chance that this could go from foodie fun to comical if I fall flat on my face – I’ve never done anything like this before, so hopefully armed with my foodie skills I will manage to reign supreme. ;) I sure (and I’m sure the others could too) use a bunch of you in the audience to cheer us on, and I’d love to see all of you there. Tickets are free at any Kroger Marketplace, or you can buy them for $5 at the door.

If that’s not enough to convince you, a bit earlier on Sunday (2:30pm), Mary Alice and Geof of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes will be judging a cake decorating contest, and taking questions and signing autographs with audience members.

Check out the Best of Fall Home Show web site for more information, and hopefully we’ll see you at the Ohio Expo Center on Sunday :)

Would You Like to Taste the Future?

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Charity, Columbus, Contest, Events

tastethefuturelogo

It’s that time of year again! Year after year, we love going to Taste the Future, Columbus State Community College’s fundraising event for the Hospitality program at the college – and most of the restaurants participating in the event either employ CSCC graduates or work closely with the program during their apprenticeship. This year the event will be held on Tuesday, September 14th on the Columbus State main campus. The weather forecast looks promising (mid-70′s and clear), so it should once again be an awesome event that shows off the best of what Columbus has to offer.

We stopped by their Media Preview Party last night at the Polaris Hilton, and ate dishes made by CSCC alumnus Executive Chef Kevin Ball.

Chef Kevin Ball of the Polaris Hilton

Honestly, I never even knew there was a restaurant there. I loved their burgers, perfectly cooked and delicious ground ribeye on a bun with garlic aioli. I’m going to have to come back and order it off their regular menu. Yum!

Mini Polaris Burger

Along with the burger, these shoestring fries paired perfectly.

Shoestring Fries

I really liked the grits with spicy shrimp and pork belly. Even though the Polaris Hilton won’t be participating in Taste the Future this year, the food we ate last night is representative of what you can expect at the event.

Grits with Spicy Shrimp & Pork Belly

To get a better idea of what makes the event so special, check out my slideshows for 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006.

Columbus State was once again generous enough to gift me a couple of pairs of tickets (value $200 per pair) to give away to my readers! Entering is the same deal as last year – to enter to win, visit the menu section of the Taste the Future site, and pick out the dish you’d most look forward to trying if you got to go. Leave a comment on this entry with your choice, and please make sure that your email address is linked somewhere so that if you win I can contact you. The contest ends at 11:59PM on September 11th, and winner will be chosen by a random number generator. The tickets will be held under your name for you at will call.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, as I’ll be giving another pair of tickets away on there. Good luck!

Update: Congrats to Anne D. and Ryan B. on winning the tickets! Thanks to everyone else for entering. Hope to still see you there!

Event: Columbus Bacon Camp 2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Events, Food Porn, North Market

It’s that time of year again here in Cowtown – Bacon Camp, the celebration of all things bacon. We had a fantastic time this past weekend, but the entry is very, very picture heavy.

Bacon Camp Logo

See more about this year’s Bacon Camp under the cut….

Read more…

Event: Goodale Park Music Series 8/8/2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Events, Food Porn

I think of all the weeks that the Goodale Park Music Series has gone on this summer, my favorite theme had to be on August 8th, when Bethia of Hungry Woolf hosted a “Grown in Ohio” potluck that celebrated local foods. The fact that it went down during the best part of the growing season meant that people were inspired by the farmers markets, and we saw tons of dishes made with super-fresh produce.

Bethia

The Spikedrivers were the music act for the week, and people were up and dancing like crazy!

The Spikedrivers

Feeling super inspired by the farmers market, I couldn’t settle on one dish to make, so I ended up making three. The first was a nice Italian pasta salad that used tomatoes from my backyard, local onions, bell peppers and zucchini.

Italian Pasta Salad

For the vegans, I made Roasted Potatoes and Garlic, using potatoes from the farmers market, garlic from my backyard, tossed with a little olive oil and seasoning from local Aimee’s Blue Ribbon Spices.

Roasted Potatoes and Garlic

The roasted beets with feta and raspberry vinaigrette is another favorite of ours, and we used a combination of farmers market and backyard beets, Blue Jacket Dairy feta, and local raspberry vinegar.

Beet Salad

Some of the dishes others made were downright beautiful to look at, like this ratatouille.

Ratatouille

Others just brought local Ohio produce to share in their natural state.

Ohio Apples

Bethia went all out and made a salad with a plethora of local veggies and chive blossom vinegar.

Green Bean Salad

And perfectly ripe Ohio peaches needed nothing more than being sliced up.

Sliced Peaches

Others made things to use the bounty from their CSAs, like this summer squash strata.

Squash Strata

And this cucumber salad that used a plethora of veggies.

Cucumber Salad

I never had watermelon salsa before, but I can guarantee this won’t be the last time. Yum!

Watermelon Salsa

Wow, check out the colors in this pepper salad!

Pepper Salad

And P. absolutely loved this Chicken Pelau dish.

Chicken Pelau

Cucumber and tomato salad is one of my favorite summer salads.

Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Give me a bowl of tortilla chips and some of this corn and black bean salsa and I’ll disappear in a state of snacky bliss.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Just a reminder: Tomorrow is the last show of the season, with the eclectic stylings of Flypaper. I’m hosting this week’s potluck, which starts at noon at the gazebo at Goodale Park. Music will start at 12:30. The potluck theme is eclectic, so bring whatever you’d like, whether it’s your favorite dish, something that’s inspired you at the farmers market – no need to be constrained by themes or labels. :) I’ll be bringing Puerto Rican roast pork, and rice with pigeon peas. And maybe a couple other things, too. Make sure to bring your own plates or utensils and something to keep yourself hydrated. See you there!