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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!

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!

Columbus Alive: Cocktail Contest

22 Oct

I am a terrible blogger. I’ve had this draft in its own web browser tab for weeks now. There’s nothing like a direct link from the Columbus Alive to motivate me. HA.

When Shelley Mann (EOC of the Alive) first asked me to do a signature cocktail for the Alive, I was literally panic stricken. Thoughts like “But I make vaguely Southeast Asian themed adult beverages!” and “But I just moved to Ohio a whole thirty six months ago so I’m totally not qualified to make an Ohio themed cocktail!” flew through my head. After some thought (and a little encouragement from the peanut gallery), this was a challenge I couldn’t wait to take on.

First, I brainstormed some classically Ohio and seasonal ingredients: pawpaws, nah, too hard to find; apples, nah, didn’t want to bring out my crutch, the juicer; OYO vodka, nah, too obvious choice. I wanted something that would give taste buds a spin and I knew I wasn’t going to use vodka. Since I have been really loving light and dark rums, and brandy recently, I was halfway there by narrowing down my choice of spirits.

Jim Ellison over at CMH Gourmand has long maintained that Columbus is the “Ice Cream Capital of the World” and that title has always stuck with me. We have a fine selection of local ice creams between Graeter’s, Denise’s, Mardi Gras, and of course, Jeni’s. I ruled out Graeter’s and Denise’s because I knew their ice creams would be too rich (too much milk fat) and none of their sorbets or yogurts appealed to me for this project. My brother and I used this project as an excuse to take a trip to Mardi Gras to sample some of their more unusual offerings. Unfortunately, the flavors at Mardi Gras were a little too delicate and were completely overwhelmed by the alcohol (although, their fig ice cream is PHENOMENAL).

I had heard about a collection of syrups from Bear over at Slow Food Columbus and tracked down this Cleveland company, The Lounging Gourmet, for some samples. I haven’t tried the Lavender or Rose Elixirs just yet, but I knew the Fire Orchid and the Hibiscus was the direction I was heading for this cocktail.

Finally, I stopped by Jeni’s on the way home to peruse their seasonal selections. I’ve always loved the Mango Lassi (and thought it would pair well with the Fire Orchid) and was awe-struck by the floral and tart flavors of the Plum Cassis Lambis Sorbet. Both of those flavors came home with me.

Now, play time! Let me tell you, this experiment was not without fallen soldiers. I learned the hard way: mango yogurt and dark rum are not good friends; you try to get them to play nice but they just make a pukey looking mess and it’s best to enjoy each one separately. I’ll refrain from posting pics of the finished product because Jodi’s pic, hotlinked above (my apologies!!) are FAR better than mine. If you click on the picture, it will link to the Alive article and recipe.

A final note: photoshoot glass was purchased at thrift store on Cleveland Ave., ribbon was purchased from On Paper at High & Buttles, John Glenn button was purchased at Eclectiques Antique Mall in Clintonville on High St.

Taste the Future

16 Sep

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend this week’s Taste the Future event to benefit Columbus State Community College’s scholarship program. (Thanks Hungry Woolf!) I’ve watched the set up of the event (mere weeks after I arrived in Columbus) and always admired the culinary offerings from attendees’ Flickr sets and such. This event struck a personal note too because I’ve been a student at CSCC in the Economics and Mathematics departments and have always been impressed with the level of engagement and effort the instructors invest. From a very personal perspective, I absolutely believe that a couple years at a junior college is a good investment for a wandering young adult (or in my case, a mid-aged adult). I am so very pleased and confident that the proceeds from this benefit will provide extraordinary opportunities for young adults. Onto the food!!

One of the many highlights of the evening was G. Michael’s signature Shrimp and Grits. I heard about this dish even before I arrived in Columbus in August 2007 and despite indulging in many mouthwatering offerings each time I’ve been to the restaurant, I still had never had the dish! Well, the time finally came: warm, creamy grits set off by a perfectly done (not mushy, not rubbery) sweet jumbo shrimp, dressed in a tomato-y, smokey, scallion, butter sauce. Good heavens. In this same area, B was so impressed with City Barbeque’s Mini Pulled Pork sandwich that he was itching to go for seconds. (Was it pork? The CSCC menu says chicken.)

I was pleasantly surprised by a couple dishes, particularly from places that I consider groceries, like Kroger and Giant Eagle. Above is Carrot Souffle and Sauteed Crab Cake from Market District at Giant Eagle. The carrot souffle was phenomenal, like a combination of sweet potato pie and carrot cake. This was the first of many crab cakes for the evening and put the others to shame, there’s actually crab in there!

This is (was? cuz it’s now in my belly?) Brewers Yard @ Kroger’s Mini Surf & Turf. Do you see the size of that scallop? It was literally half the size of B’s iPhone. Tender scallop and beef, not too oily, not too salty, and great flavors from the asparagus and mushroom salad.

These tiles are Cameron Mitchell Catering’s Watermelon Gelee with lump crab. This was the most elegant dish of the evening. You can’t really see the rose-y pink gelee on the red background but the thin layer of clean crispness really paired well with the creaminess of the avocado. A touch of diced tomato, a sprinkle of toasted black sesame seeds, and the sweet, tart, nutty flavors really dressed up the lump crab. I should have had two…

I do have to admit that as the light was beginning to fade, I was as well: having only slept four hours the night before and only four hours on the 22 hour, two layover trip, I was really itching to kick off the heels and be horizontal. But not before I grabbed an Auddino’s “Doughssant” to take home with me! Can I just say, “WOW!” Crispy! Flaky! Sugary! Buttery! GAH! I ate this sucker in three bites for breakfast while hiding in the kitchen because I was feeling selfish and didn’t want to offer B a taste. I’m a bad girlfriend. No, wait, I was doing him a favor, helping him avoid sweets and grease and refined carbs, yes.

Other highlights of the evening included The Refectory’s Scallop Pomponnette with Sauce Bonne Femme (like a scallop shaped mousse flavor burst!), Limitedbrands’ Bacon Buckeye (was it pretzel pieces in the peanut butter that made this salty/crunchy delicious? or the Magic Shell like coating of chocolate? or the crisp crumbled smokey bacon?), and finally, Luce Enoteca’s Smoked Corn Gazpacho (smokey anything is delicious but smokey corn? Mmm!). It is so rare for chefs to get an opportunity to taste each others’ creations so it was great seeing tall white toques bobbing around the area sampling everything and drawing inspiration. Next year!!