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…

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 7/10/2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Farmer's Market, North Market, Produce

You know I’ve been feeling under the weather when I start missing farmers markets. So unfortunately, during July I missed like 2 weekend markets in a row. It really bummed me out because it’s something I look forward to all week. But it was made clear to me that I needed to not push myself and let myself heal. Thankfully, I’m back to almost 100% (or 100% of what I was before the shoulder injury – which means I have good days and bad days with my back). I’ve returned to my weekly trips, and hopefully can get caught up on my reports by next weekend. The good thing is, most of what was available in July is still available in August, so the information is still timely.

I think this was the only weekend I saw golden raspberries at the Rhoads farm stand at the North Market – they have plenty of red raspberries these days, though. I love the look of the golden raspberries, especially in salads.

Golden Raspberries

I’ve been trying to acclimate myself to hotter peppers this year. Banana peppers are one of those ones that can be either hot or sweet. I need to dig up that recipe for pickled banana peppers that Mrs. Rhoads gave me last year, because I really want to make a batch before summer is over.

Banana Peppers

If there were tomatoes last month, we’re in tomato heaven this month. There weren’t that many varieties back then, but every single one I tried was delicious. The flavor of fresh tomatoes is one of the things I miss most in winter.

Tomatoes

I have really come to love beets over the last couple of years. My favorite variety of beet is Chioggia, which are also called “candy cane” because they have alternating concentric circles of red and white and have quite a mild flavor to them. This is the variety I recommend that beet haters try first – it just may change your mind about beets like it did mine.

Chioggia Beets

Blueberries were especially expensive this year, although I saw the prices go down in later weeks. I think it’s a matter of supply in demand, at least in the beginning of blueberry season.

Blueberries

Red and blue potatoes are just the right thing for a recipe of patriotic potato salad.

Red and Blue Potatoes

For me, early July is the turning point for farmers markets, where the stands just explode with multiple varieties. What part of the farmers market season is your favorite? If you had to narrow it down to one weekend that you could go to the markets, which would it be and why?

Farm Fresh & Local Produce 7/3/2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Farmer's Market, North Market, Produce

July has been flying by, hasn’t it? I’ve been under the weather for the past few weeks, so there hasn’t been much time for anything except keeping up with my classes and nursing my wounds, so to speak. Still, I did manage to go to the farmers markets on the 4th of July weekend, even though I regretted it immediately afterward.

Not because of what was available, mind you. Had I been feeling 100%, I would have been totally psyched about everything I found. Instead, I was just sorta stoked.

I always walk by Honeyrun’s stand at the North Market, but I think I need to start taking a closer look, especially at their selection of infused honeys.

Black Locust Honey

I’ve been going nuts for the peaches from Rhoads again this year. I bought a huge box to eat throughout the week.

Peaches

Down at Worthington, AJ of Sassafras Bakery was timely with her American flag sugar cookies.

American Flag Cookie

And speaking of infusions, there’s another (new to me) farmer who has been infusing different vinegars. I especially loved the deep color of the Opal Basil vinegar, so I picked up a bottle.

Infused Vinegars

Since I developed an appreciation for beets, not a week can go by without me picking up at least one bunch.

Beets

At Gillogly Orchards, they had these wineberries. It’s not a berry I’m familiar with, have any of you ever worked with it? They kind of remind me of raspberries in appearance.

Wineberries

And lots of sweet corn available at all the markets. Once sweet corn season starts around here, I can’t get enough. It doesn’t even need butter or salt.

Sweet Corn

The person in front of me got the rest of the sour cherries for the year. :( I’m bummed about how short the sour cherry season is here in Ohio.

Sour Cherries

So how did the rest of you spend your Independence Day weekend?

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 6/26/2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Eating Local, Farmer's Market, North Market, Produce

I still wasn’t feeling 100% this past weekend, but I couldn’t resist the ritual of my Saturday morning farmers market trips, especially now since so many things are available.

We started, as usual, bright and early at the North Market – Mrs. Rhoads had the first peaches of the year, and was also kind enough to gift me a few ears of sweet corn, also new this week. I’m looking forward to eating the peaches out of hand – last year, her peaches were the picture of perfection.

Peaches

After buying a few more things at the North Market (blueberries, shoo fly pie, and some really nice hothouse tomatoes from Wish Well Farms), we headed over to Worthington, early enough to beat the crowds. I need to remember to pick up a few ears of popcorn the next time around.

Popcorn

I love sunflowers, and love taking pictures of them. Each photo is almost like a painting. I wish I had an artistic bone in my body – if I did, my first subject would be paining sunflowers.

Sunflowers

This head of red cabbage from Two Crows Farms turned into a fabulous slaw with a buttermilk-based dressing. It was a great side to the fish boat – nice and cooling and perfect for a summer meal.

Red Cabbage

I love that no matter what staple item you need, someone inevitably has it – like these carrots – would love to try these glazed. Not pictured but something I got a lot of were sour cherries – their season is short, but they’re great for making pies.

Carrots

A quick trip to Clintonville to get some zucchini and a few other items. I’m always tempted by the artisan bread there, but unfortunately it’s just a bit too dear for my budget right now.

Artisan Bread

So where are your Saturday morning haunts? What great market am I missing? Who is your favorite farmer and whichever market you love?

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 6/5/2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Farmer's Market, North Market, Produce

I’m a little bit late getting last weekend’s market report up – this week was finals week for me, with the first part of the week being consumed by finishing up my anatomy class, and the latter part with addressing issues that happened during my practical that really bothered me – I’m finally able to put the quarter behind me, though and have about 2-3 weeks to do some heavy duty catching up on blog entries.

Sometimes things just fall into place. I’ve finally found the perfect time to leave my house in order to get to the North Market when most of the farmers are set up, but before the crowds take over. When I got to the North Market at around 8am Saturday morning, I most most taken by the amount of fruit Mrs. Rhoads had this week – her requisite strawberries, beautiful sweet cherries, and my favorite (but very short season) serviceberries. These will taste wonderful in scones I’m planning on making this week.

Service Berries from Rhoads Farm Market

When I saw all this beautiful local asparagus at the Wish Well Farms stand, I thought about Asparafest that would be held at Wild Goose Creative the next day, and wondered how many people would be buying it over the next few hours to make their creations? It’s one event that I regret missing.

Asparagus from Wish Well Farms

I picked up about 3 quarts of sweet cherries at the North Market this weekend, to be used in a multitude of dishes I’ll be posting about soon….

Sweet Cherries from Rhoads Farm Market

And kohlrabi from Bridgman Farms, which was made into a nice dish with cream sauce and crisp bacon.

Kohlrabi from Bridgman Farms

Impending doom in the form of thunderstorms started bearing down on us, and I got into my car to head to Worthington as the first raindrops fell. By the time I got to Worthington a few minutes later the rain was coming down pretty hard, but I just grabbed my umbrella and headed out. By the time I had walked from the parking lot to the sidewalk at High Street, the rain had pretty well stopped.

Still, I didn’t do too badly at Worthington. I got a few items from Snax, some cheese at Osage Lane Creamery, some jarred peaches at Two Crows Farms, and a few other items that are slipping my mind now.

Radishes are one of the few things that are almost always available throughout the whole growing season.

French Breakfast Radishes

Along with potatoes, which I’m pretty sure are grown in a greenhouse during this point in the growing season.

Small Red Potatoes

So how about the rest of you? Which markets did you hit and what did you get?

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 5/29/2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Events, Farmer's Market, Food Porn, Grilling, North Market, Produce

I’m pretty good about getting up early on Saturdays – and am also pretty good about getting out of here early enough to get to the North Market before 8am – that is, unless P. is getting up and going with me. He’s the only person I know who can stretch out taking 2 pills in the morning to a 30 minute ordeal. What that meant for us was that we got out of here later than we usually do, and didn’t get to the North Market until about 8:15. The good thing about that was that all the farmers were set up already. The bad thing about that is that between his late start and my tendencies to be a motormouth, we didn’t get to Worthington until 9:15. But more about that later – for the time being, let me tell you about all the stuff available at the North Market this weekend.

As they do every week, Wishwell Farms had some stellar looking grape tomatoes – just the perfect thing to be paired with some fresh mozzarella and basil in a caprese salad.

Grape Tomatoes from Wishwell Farms

Toad Hill Organics had lots of pretty looking lettuces and other greens.

Lettuce from Toad Hill

And the flowers at Combs Herbs were just gorgeous this week. While I was here, I bought some arugula.

Pretty Flowers from Combs Herbs

I got a pound of shiitakes at Toby Run (yay for mushrooms!) to make paprikash – yes, I know – unseasonably hearty, but damn I’m craving it.

Shiitake Mushrooms from Toby Run

And Rhoads had, in addition to the strawberries they’ve had every week, some sweet cherries – this is just one of the two varieties they had.

Cherries from Rhoads Farm Market

Off to Worthington – by the time I got there after 9:15am, parking was almost impossible and the place was a madhouse. The holiday weekend brought out the mean in people, though – with all the pushing and shoving and rudeness and impatience, I could only snap a few pictures, like this of some of Mockingbird Meadows’ honey. That was just nuts – I was definitely reminded of why I like getting there as close to 8:15-8:30 as possible. Many of the farmers there start selling at 8am – while you won’t have all of the same produce you can get when everyone is set up, it’s definitely a more relaxed vibe before 9am.

Honey from Mockingbird Meadows

After dropping my stuff back off at home, it was back to the North Market for the Grillmaster’s Festival, where I, along with Miriam Bowers Abbott (reviewer for The Other Paper), G.A. Benton (reviewer for Columbus Alive), Tricia Wheeler (editor of Edible Columbus) and fellow food blogger Jim Ellison (CMH Gourmand) judged the Thrilla at the Grilla, which pitted 2 local chefs + a mini-Weber grill against each other for a showdown to crown one the Baron(ness) of the BBQ!

Grillmasters Festival

Janel Hedgepeth of Latitude 41 (and last year’s Baroness of BBQ) had an extremely strong showing with her grilled pork belly dish, which topped a super-tender but flavorful cheddar biscuit that I fell in love with. The slaw on top tied everything together, and her dish, at least for me, edged out the competition by a narrow margin. Of course, pork belly is one of my favorite things in the world so I may be a bit biased. ;)

Pork Belly on Cheddar Biscuit with Slaw

John Skaggs (of MyCateredTable.com, and formerly of Giorgio, R.J. Snappers, L’Antibes, and Northstar (to name a few)), who was also Baron of BBQ in 2007, picked up another win this year with his Seasonal Veggie Skewers with Marinated Grilled Bison, and what if I’m remembering correctly was a Blackberry BBQ sauce. I loved the presentation and use of seasonal ingredients in his dish, and thought his extremely tender bison was absolutely perfectly cooked to bring out the best in the meat.

Grilled Bison with Seasonal Veggie Skewers

I had a great time judging, and tasting the creativity of what some of our Columbus chefs have to offer up close and personal.

So how are the rest of you spending your Memorial Day weekend?

Event: 14th Annual North Market Apron Gala

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

Last Saturday marked the 14th installment of the North Market’s annual fundraiser, the Apron Gala, where the market opens up after hours and each of the vendors prepare dishes that showcase their offerings. In many cases, they make dishes that they don’t usually offer during normal business hours, which allows their creativity to shine through and really turns out to be something special. Paul and I were able to attend again this year because of the kindness and generosity of the North Market, in particular their tireless marketing director, Mary Martineau.

North Market Apron Gala Program

This year, there were tons of standout dishes, in particular one of the favorites of the crowd were the fantastic bison sliders with duck fat fries from Kitchen Little at North Market Poultry and Game. I would love to see these little bundles of joy offered as a regular item from their kitchen.

nmag2010_nmpg_buffalosliders

Also near the top of my personal list was the New Orleans inspired spread offered by Omega Artisan Baking – a recent trip left them wanting to share the culture of the area with the rest of us here in Columbus, and one of the results was a deeply satisfying (but not overly spicy) gumbo over rice.

nmag2010_omega_crabgumbo

Also high on my list was the Liege waffles from A Taste of Belgium topped with fresh mozzarella and a beautifully savory sun dried tomato vinaigrette that played upon the sweetness of the waffle perfectly. Again, if this were a regular menu item I’d be ordering this with regularity.

nmag2010_tob_sdtomwaffle

Hubert at Hania’s said that people tore through 200+ mielone and pierogi with sauteed onions in no time flat. As someone who regularly purchases these items because I’ve long known how good they were, it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

nmag2010_hanias_mielone

We took tons of other pictures – I’ve put them all together in a Flickr set for your viewing enjoyment.

I’m already looking forward to next year. If you went this year, what were your favorite dishes?

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 5/22/2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Eating Local, Farmer's Market, North Market, Produce

I thought the old saying was “April showers bring May flowers”? I think someone missed the memo, because this May has been crazy rainy. This past week has been so wet that every time I even thought about planting in my gardening, a couple minutes later the clouds rolled in and I never got the chance. Last night was no exception – it stormed for a good portion of the night, and it was still really wet out when I got up at the crack of dawn this morning. For a while there, I wasn’t even sure if it would dry up by the time I needed to leave for the market, but luckily by the time I left the house at 7:30, it had stopped raining and was just really overcast. So today’s pictures aren’t as bright as usual, because the sun didn’t even pretend to come out.

I made a whirlwind stop at the North Market, but didn’t end up getting anything there. Not for lack of there being anything to get, though – I’ve just been trying to limit my farmers market purchases this year because my food budget is much smaller than it was this time last year. I’ve been tending to buy things that I can get multiple meals from when I do make purchases. Either way, I still enjoy getting out and seeing and talking to my favorite farmers.

There’s a new vendor at the North Market farmer’s market this week – Folck Family Farm. They had some beautiful strawberries, and will also have a u-pick at their farm starting on Monday – I hope to check it out next week, and will report back about their farm then. In the meantime, they will be at the North Market on Saturdays during strawberry season, so be sure to check them out.

Strawberries

Combs Herbs had peonies today – they are one of my favorite flowers, and their season is so short, so I enjoy them while I can.

Peonies

And my mushroom man is finally back! Yay! I got there a little too early to get my shiitakes (he was only partially set up, and nowhere to be found for the few minutes I was there), but glad to know that I can probably expect to see him next week. Here are some of his yellow oyster mushrooms.

Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

I zipped off to Worthington, and got there around 8:30. The great thing about getting there early is that you miss almost all the crowds. The bad thing about getting there early is that many of the farmers are still setting up, so you end up missing out on a few things. Still, there were plenty of choices available when I got there.

Seeing these potatoes and green beans (greenhouse grown, I believe) reminds me of summers at my grandmother’s house when I was little – she made this one dish with green beans, potatoes, summer savory and a cream sauce that was just fantastic. I may have to try to recreate it one of these days.

Potatoes and Beans

And there’s a new baker in town, right near my favorite one, Sassafras Bakery. It’s called Snax! and he makes some fantastic pastries, lots with strawberries and chocolate ganache and apples. I really enjoy his pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants). It’s going to be hard to choose between the two – both do their own things really well. I guess it all depends what I’m in the mood for in any particular week.

Baked Goods from Snax!

After finishing at Worthington, I made a quick trip to Clintonville. Since I left P. at home to sleep in while I went out, I wasn’t sure if I would stop or not – I have a weird thing about parallel parking (i.e. I’m not very good at it), but luckily I found a space with tons of clearance that made parking a breeze. While I was there, I ended up picking up some spinach from Elizabeth Telling Farms, so it was worth the stop.

Spinach

I was done by 10am – there’s something really great about getting all your chores out of the way early so you have time to relax later. So where did you all stop this morning and what did you get?

BTW, I’m going to be going strawberry picking tomorrow afternoon at Hann Farms. Anyone want to join me?

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 5/08/2010

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Eating Local, Farmer's Market, North Market, Produce

I think this week is the one that signals the true beginning of the growing season for me – while in weeks past, I had to fight my instincts to get up that early on a Saturday morning, this weekend I was so gung ho about going that I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm even went off. Because as much as I like the North Market and Clintonville Farmers Markets, I absolutely love the Worthington Farmers Market. And this was the opening day, and I was looking forward to seeing people I haven’t seen since last fall.

Still we started out at the North Market, as usual – and lo and behold Mrs. Rhoads was there. I was looking forward to catching up with her (it’s been a few months – I think I last saw her at Lisa’s potluck a few months back) and she had the first strawberries of the year! She was kind enough to gift me a quart to try – just in case you can’t wait until next week to get some, I’ll tell you all about my visit to her farm market down in Circleville real soon. I was holding off until the growing season started again, and now that it has, I’ll be able to tell you about all the neat roadside stands, farm markets, and pick your owns I discovered last year. We’re blessed with an amazing growing here in Ohio. I’m looking forward to being able to plant in my garden (rather than in my cold frame or in containers) once the danger of frost is passed this weekend.

Strawberries from Rhoads Farm

Cause man was it cold and windy today. More than it has any business being in May. Jeans & Jacket weather. It could be worse, I suppose – it could have been raining too, but blech with the weather today. So my trip to the North Market was a bit abbreviated – it’s still at less than half it’s usual capacity, but I can’t see skipping it. Well, except next week – I know better this year – I’m waiting until last to go to the North Market, lest I get stuck within the perimeter of Race for the Cure for the 3rd year in a row, LOL. I’ll say one thing – this gig has been great for making me more aware of what’s going on in downtown Columbus at any given time. Maybe next week I’ll bring my Vado and get some video footage so you can get a feel for our market here. It’s got a nice vibe.

We made quick time up to Worthington – there was a plant sale going on the green, but we were there early enough that it wasn’t the madhouse we know it can be, which was nice because it gave us a couple of minutes to catch up with some familiar faces.

Lots of rhubarb everywhere – is rhubarb normally this early of a crop?

Rhubarb

And AJ from Sassafras Bakery was there with a full assortment of baked goods – we got a little of this, and a little of that, because I absolutely love her stuff. I love the decorations she comes up with each week for her sugar cookies.

Sugar Cookies from Sassafras Bakery

I also got more radishes, so I could enjoy another week of sandwiches made with radishes, homemade butter, and sea salt.

Radishes

Lastly, over to Clintonville – we were glad to see that Oakvale is selling their cheeses there this year, because we love them so. This variety is one of my favorites for putting in a macaroni and cheese mix.

Oakvale Habenero Heifer Cheese

I did get a couple of bags of spinach – I’ve been eating a lot of spinach lately, and have been looking forward to eating it locally.

Spinach

So where did you go this week, and what did you get? Are you planning on hitting any mid-week markets this upcoming week?

Radishes with Butter and Salt

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Eating Local, North Market, Produce

There are certain things that just go together – tomatoes and basil, peanut butter and jelly, strawberries and whipped cream, eggs and truffle salt to name a few. One of those perfect combinations for me is a nice hearty bread, sweet cream butter, radishes and sea salt.

French Country Bread with Homemade Butter and French Breakfast Radishes

I made it using all local ingredients – French Country Bread from Omega Artisan Baking in the North Market, butter made using Snowville Creamery’s wonderful heavy cream, and French Breakfast radishes I got from the Clintonville Farmers Market.

What is your favorite thing about spring eating?