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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.

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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!

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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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!

Tofu Roo / Tofu Ru

29 Jul

Guess what? I’m coming up on the third anniversary of my moving to Columbus, Ohio. I like it here. For the most part, I really do. Other times, I get really homesick for all the delicious things that aren’t available in Ohio. Like 小龙饱 soup dumplings . And 羊泡馍 lamb pao mo. But you know what we have tons of? Tons of fresh fruits and vegetables 6 months a year. We also have tons of corn and soybeans. A lot. We are the 34th largest state and yet the 6th largest producer of soybeans in the country.

And do you know who likes to eat a lot of soybeans? Besides the feedlot cows that get soy meal? Asian folk. We make everything out of soy. We’ve got the ubiquitous soy sauce (with varying degrees of aging), multiple styles of condiments (miso, gochujang, 豆豉 dou chi), and every aspect of the meal: broths (tofu jigae and miso/shoyu ramen/咸豆酱 salty soy milk soup), appetizers (rolled tofu skin), entrees (homestyle fried and stewed tofu clay pots), salads (vinagered tofu noodles), snacks (roasted edamame), and desserts (豆花 silken tofu in simple syrup). PHEW that’s a lot.

So it’s kind of funny that this stuff in the picture is my hotly anticipated autumn condiment mix-in for my morning oatmeal. It’s fermented tofu (豆腐乳). It’s salty with sweet overtones. Some liken it to blue cheese. You see, it’s really quite pungent, with a creamy texture like gorgonzola; it has the same way of coating the top and bottom of your tongue with awesome umami flavor. It’s like vegemite mixed with blue cheese mixed with my oatmeal. (Hey, that sounds pretty good too…) I figured that if I liked a stinky blue cheese risotto, it wasn’t that far a leap to put another fermented stinky cube in my slow cooked grains. It certainly helps the association that while growing up, I had this stuff along side my morning slow cooked grain, rice, aka congee (粥). Other uses: stir fried with water spinach (空心菜, morning glory, kang kong).

It’s also funny that I bought myself a bottle of this at CAM on Bethel Road. I live in Ohio, less than 20 miles from soybean fields, and I buy fermented tofu imported from Taiwan. In any case, my father advises that I eat less of it as it’s rumored (old tai tai’s tale?) to cause cancer.