I <3 DURIAN

23 May

Ever since growing up in Hong Kong, my family (with the exception of my brother) has developed a taste for this oft reviled fruit. I have fond memories at almost every stage of my life sucking down on some durian. These may include having the Farmington Fire Department called (not once, but twice!) to investigate the scent of natural gas in the senior dorms which mysteriously emanated from an airtight container in three plastic bags in the fridge; and chowing down on some of the best durian ice cream right after a bout of food poisoning in Saigon.

The extremely sweet flavor and the custard-like texture lends itself especially well to frozen desserts… like ice cream, milkshakes, and popsicles! I found the above box while on a food excursion in the Westgate area with Bethia and Angela at Westgate Import Market. It tastes just like the real thing! I coerced B into having a bite (he loved the milkshake at Thuy Trang Restaurant in Detroit!) and watching his facial expressions was just priceless! I will convert him yet! For the time being, this is one thing I won’t have to worry about keeping stocked in the freezer.

Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams: Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate

10 Mar

I’m a lucky girl. For 35 of the 43 months that I’ve lived in Columbus, I’ve had the good fortune of living directly across the street from a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams location. I wasn’t very appreciative at first: the Wildberry Lavender didn’t really click with me (tho, I love an un-seeded berry ice cream); I bought an off batch of Bangkok Peanut (previously known as Thai Chili) that had too much almond extract; and the Lapsong Suchong with Armagnac Prunes was seriously weird.

But then I discovered flavors that appealed to my ice cream proclivities (chunky but not overly, chocolate and caramel not fruit based) and I fell in love. In particular: summer’s Backyard Mint paired with Dark Chocolate Gelato or Strawberry Buttermilk (an exception to the fruit rule); Madagascar Chocolate Stracciatella, which has spawned a couple “freckle” flavors such as the Buckeye; and winter’s Roxbury Road, smoked dark chocolate ice cream with homemade marshmallows, a caramel swirl, and Krema Nut Company’s smoked almonds. Drool.

But this post isn’t about those other delicious flavors. It’s about the single best chocolate ice cream in the world. Yes, THE WORLD. I’m sure there are plenty of other fantastic ice creameries (R.I.P. Denise’s) that made delicious chocolate ice cream (hell, Jeni’s also has Dark Chocolate Peppermint, Dark Chocolate, and aforementioned Roxbury Road in its repetoire), but they do not source Snowville Creamery cream from happy grass munching cows, and they do not source top tier, single origin, fair trade, Askinosie chocolate. This is singlehandedly the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had. It isn’t just the ingredients, it’s also the churn, the density, of the ice cream. With very little air, it’s thick but gives easily to a spoon warmed by the tongue. The scattered chunks (more like giant freckles) of Ashkinosie chocolate imparts a fruity, almost tangy, edge to the creamy milk chocolate base. The description on the container suggests letting the dark chocolate melt on the tongue but I’m greedy and satisfyingly crumble the freckles into my molars if only to savor the flavor for a few more minutes. Given the high quality ingredients, this pint was worth far more than the $10 its sold for. Get it now! It’s (winter) seasonal, unavailable in scoops, and only sometimes available in pints because Askinosie’s having a hard time meeting demand!

Louisville, Kentucky: Rhymes with Buoy-ville

7 Mar

A quick recollection of our whirlwind trip to Louisville last week. All we did was relax, sleep, eat, drink, nap, eat, and drink some more. It was awesome. And decadent.

Monday: Hour long massages at Apex Massage in St. Matthews. Kim and Emily were awesome and got the mini-cation off to the perfect start. We checked into Inn at Woodhaven and was floored by the gothic revival architecture and the total hospitality of the innkeeper, Marsha. Great room, with an awesome bed and linens, and a spa tub for two, more on that later!

We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so we hightailed it to Bourbons Bistro (I think “Bourbons” is plural, not possessive) where we both had a flight of “Old Favorites.” The last three were far more memorable than the first three and we were surprised at how drinkable the Wild Turkey was. We dined on an assortment of appetizers which included fried green tomatoes, fried oysters with horseradish aioli, shrimp and grits in a gravy like sauce, and a lobster pesto grilled cheese (pic: bottom left).

  • Old Taylor 6yr. 80°
  • Old Forester 100°
  • Wild Turkey 101°
  • Evan Willians 7yr.
  • Old Fitzgerald 1849
  • W.L. Weller Special Reserve

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A Shanghai & Beijing Eat-ologue For Mike & Katie

22 Feb

Two of my good friends from Columbus, Mike and Katie, are going to China in a couple months to celebrate a wedding and I wanted to compile a list of places that I love to eat at, for their reference.

Starting in Shanghai:

I blogged about crispy panfried buns when I came back from my trip and I still think about them. They are really heavy so your best bet is to pair an order (4 buns) with a clear brothy soup, like rice vermicelli and tofu skin. There may be some baby shrimp used to flavor the broth too. The best place for these babies is Little Yang’s. There is another location, on the second floor of the Number One Food Stuff Department Store pictured below (it’s in a food court and they use styrofoam & paper).

This is NanJing Road which is all pedestrian with the exception of those teeny trolleys. There are tons of snack shops where most items are measured in bulk like a candy store. The pictures along the right is just a random corner snack shop with a line a dozen deep waiting for these piping hot meat mooncakes. Flaky and pretty freaking delicious. My main recommendation for this street is the three level Number One Food Stuff Department Store. It’s got dried sea cucumbers that sell for USD1000 for half a kilogram, a huge dried meats section, and tons of season appropriate food gifts. There is also a food court upstairs with a huge prepared foods section, a dumpling joint (not so recommended), and panfried buns!

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Candy Cane Match Up!

15 Dec

Picked up a couple artisan candy canes recently and finally tried them! From left to right, Doscher’s, Hammonds, Doschoer’s candy canes. While both are tasty, I prefer the Hammond’s cane. It is noticeably more minty and has a more dense, sucker potential. You’ll notice that it is also a touch pink in the middle and lends a very nice finish to a special holiday treat. On the other hand, Doscher’s cane has an airy interior and will find a place in any candy cruncher’s heart (you know them and hear them!).

You can find Doscher’s at Brewer’s Yard Kroger in the candy cane aisle and Hammond’s at Bink Davies.

Brewer’s Yard Kroger
150 W. Sycamore St., Columbus, OH, 43215

Bink Davies
668 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215

German Christmas Cookies in Ohio!

12 Dec

Have I mentioned that I have an extreme weakness for seasonal food stuffs? I have? Let me show you why!

Bierberg Bakery is a gem of a business located in German Village.  Having missed them last year, I had to get reacquainted this season. Little did I know, they are open from mid-October (!!) to December 30th every year. Edible Columbus and Columbus Underground have covered them recently and you can read about it here and here.

The above is a selection of Christmas cookies from Bierberg Bakery’s repertoire. From top, clockwise: vanilla stick, almond crescent, hazelnut drop, walnut drop, almond macaroon, and wilhemson. From previous seasons, the almond macaroon and the vanilla stick have been my die-hard favorites. If you eat the last one, I will get my revenge. Both have an addictive chew that is the delicate line between candy and cookie. But this year, Jenny stuck a couple new ones in my one pound selection ($16). Jenny’s favorite, the almond crescent is at once buttery and light, almost like an almond shortbread. And since I love the almond macaroons, it’s a no brainer that I love the walnut drops. It’s a little more dense with ground walnuts but the egg white and sugar treatment gives it the chew of a great macaroon.

I see at least another trip to Bierberg before this holiday season is over!

Handmade Holiday Candy!

8 Dec

I’m not much of a Halloween candy eater but I luuuuuv Christmas candy. Maybe it’s the clean taste of peppermint, but it’s more likely is the glassy, translucent treads of hard candy. What could be more appealing that old fashioned, brightly colored, candy happiness?

Despite this love for candy canes, I’ve been really put off by the mass market, matte, sugar bombs that drearily line grocery store and box store aisles. I wanted a candy looked like it had a big peppermint punch. And it had to be red and white, or better yet, all white, and maybe some green if I were feeling generous.

I did my internet based due diligence and the Hammond’s candy makers kept coming up. I figured that they might be the holy grail of Christmas candy having been previously carried by the Dean & Deluca holiday catalogue* and Sur La Table. After consulting the Twitter, no one seemed to know where I could find artisan holiday candy. /sadface By sheer curiosity, I stopped into Bink Davies and LO and BEHOLD, they have individual Hammond’s candy canes in Peppermint, Cinnamon, and Cherry for $2.95 each. I picked up a Peppermint cane (below, in plastic) and a bag of assorted mini ribbon candy ($7.95 or thereabouts). Aren’t they GORGEOUS?!

After such a lucky find, the candy cane rage was subdued only to be stoked again at Brewer’s Yard Kroger. A single display of Doscher’s Old Fashioned Canes. The box was pretty full of individuals boxes of five canes ($2.99) so if you hurry down, you might snag some. I guess Docher’s is better known for their taffy, but in keeping with locavore spirit, they are from Cincinnati! Each cane was packaged in an unsealed sleeve which is promising in the quest for candy with a shelf-life. If either of these canes taste as great as they look, my sweet tooth will rejoice as my dentist groans.

Behold my candy neurosis: has anyone found crooked peppermint candy canes in plain white? Would it be too much to ask if the ends were twisted rather than cut? Many thanks!!

*Guess who is in this year’s Dean & Deluca holiday catalogue? None other that Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams!

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