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Gluten-Free Gluttony

There’s a fine line between crunchy and crumbly, even for the best baker. But consider food allergies in your recipes and those cupcakes can easily go from moist to mush. Luckily for those who need to be gluten-free, Central Ohio is quickly earning a regional reputation for treats without the wheat. “We don’t try to [...]
J.R. McMillan

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There’s a fine line between crunchy and crumbly, even for the best baker. But consider food allergies in your recipes and those cupcakes can easily go from moist to mush.

Luckily for those who need to be gluten-free, Central Ohio is quickly earning a regional reputation for treats without the wheat.

“We don’t try to recreate gluten products with gums and flour blends,” said Geri Peacock, owner of Cherbourg Bakery. “Our focus has always been on creating the best baked goods with minimally processed ingredients—pure, good, raw.”

Just around the corner from the Drexel Theatre in Bexley, a step inside the bakery transports eager eaters to another time and place. In her travels to France, Peacock discovered the city whose sweet and savory fare inspired her. Upon learning her grandfather helped liberate Cherbourg following the Allied invasion of Normandy, the connection became clear.

“I didn’t go to baking school, but I come from a long line of bakers,” Peacock explained. “My mother used to bake wedding cakes at home, and we made our own pizzas on Friday nights.”

That personal touch is part of the process at Cherbourg. There are no mixers or designations between bakers and cashiers. “Gluten-free recipes ‘feel’ different. That’s why everyone here does everything, by hand,” she explained.

“Our double lemon bars and espresso brownies are still our best-selling items,” Peacock said. “But our seasonal specialties are very popular.” Cherbourg also offers a “Savory Sunday,” a decidedly French “brunché” of soups, quiches, and sweets.

“Our bakery is free of the eight major food allergens…My family has food allergies, just like many families do. So I started with our own recipes.”

New to the gluten-free scene is Bake Me Happy in Merion Village, with a balance of sophisticated sweets and childhood treats to satisfy any age or appetite.

“Our bakery offers gluten-free goodness for everyone,” said Wendy Miller-Pugh, co-owner of Bake Me Happy with her partner Letha Pugh. “I’ve always been creative, but Letha is the entrepreneur.” Bake Me Happy’s signature sellers—creme-filled sponge cakes and oatmeal cookie sandwiches—aren’t simply nostalgic knockoffs. They’re more like a gluten-free tribute band. “People tie so many memories and emotions to food. We wanted to recreate that experience for children and adults,” Miller-Pugh said.

Those craving complex flavor combinations will also find savory scones, sweet and salty dark chocolate chip cookies, and peanut butter “burners,” unique reimagined recipes. “It feels like we ate a million peanut butter cookies to get the mix of heat and sweet just right,” she explained.

Beyond the bakery, Bake Me Happy also operates a food truck of sorts for area festivals—a branded, vintage VW Microbus.

“The bus was a whim we found on Craigslist, and we bought it for less than a billboard,” Miller-Pugh said. “We don’t bake in it, but it allows us to do deliveries and community events in a more memorable way.”

Sometimes gluten isn’t the only problem. So those with dairy, egg, and soy allergies will find Soodles Bake Shop in Worthington a welcome addition to serve that selective sweet tooth. “Our bakery is free of the eight major food allergens—though we do use coconut in some recipes,” explained Amy McCrea, Soodles owner. “My family has food allergies, just like many families do. So I started with our own recipes.”

Customer rapport is big with any bakery, more so when allergies enter the mix. “Our bakers know our families and often share the same food sensitivities,” she said. “Our customers know they can trust us.”

Cinnamon coffee cake, baked doughnuts, and handmade graham crackers are big sellers, but Soodles also supplies several area restaurants with staples and seasonal favorites. From pizza crusts and dinner rolls to dainty delights and decadent desserts, you may already be a fan of Soodles and not know it.

“We work with Mama Mimi’s, Taranto’s, Yabo’s Tacos, and Cameron Mitchell,” McCrea said. “If you’re planning a birthday party at the American Girl store, you can also request our allergen-free cupcakes.”

Sometimes gluten-free greatness is thrust upon you, as was the case with Holiday Baking Company of Worthington.

“We hadn’t been open that long, and a customer asked if we could bake a carrot cake for his wife who was gluten-free,” said Lisa Schaber, the bakery’s owner. “She loved the cake so much, she recommended us to her gluten-free friends and requests grew.”

Within six months of opening, at first alternating gluten-free baking days to avoid cross-contamination, Holiday Baking Company became an entirely gluten-free operation. A career pastry chef before she even started her own bakery, Schaber adapted her mother’s recipes one by one to match the taste and texture.

“People aren’t always sure, especially when they’re buying a dessert for a family holiday,” she noted. Saturday’s breakfast and special events offer curious customers comfort food and gluten-free rarities like biscuits and gravy, pizza by the slice, and pies like apple crumb and sweet potato.

There are seasonal selections like pumpkin and cranberry pecan bread, but also year-round favorites—like their variety of breads, dessert bars, and hand-painted sugar cookies. “We’re known for our sticky buns,” she said.

Holiday Baking Company’s catering menu has supplied plenty of family celebrations and events, but perhaps none so meaningful as the funeral of Schaber’s inspiration, her mother. “My family was so surprised that I’d made my mother’s recipes taste the same, despite being gluten-free,” she said. “Being able to keep sharing them, that was the icing on the cake.”

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Food & Drink

Slice into our top picks for National Pizza Party Day!

Mike Thomas

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May 17 is National Pizza Party Day—a celebration that is near and dear to our hearts at (614). And what better day of the week for an office pizza party than Friday?

To help you and your gang decide which pie(s) to go with on this momentous occasion, take a look at this roundup of some of our most primo pizza content. Bone apple teeth!

The best pizza in C-Bus according to Columbest Voters

The results for Columbest 2019 were announced in the May issue of (614) Magazine, with Harvest Pizzeria taking the top spot in the “best gourmet pizza” category, and Mikey’s Late Night winning “best traditional.”

26,000+ Columbest voters can’t be wrong. Let these hometown heroes provide the pie for a pizza party you won’t soon forget!

Pizza – Columbus Style

Did you know Columbus has its own distinct style? Edge to edge toppings, crispy crust, cut pub-style – these are some indications that you’re dining on Columbus’ own signature ‘za. Not sure what we’re talking about? Refer to this list to see what we mean.

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In Pizza We Trust

Need to grab a pie on the go? Look no further than a Pizza ATM conveniently located at OSU campus. Fair warning, since reporting on this a few months ago, we haven’t been back to see if this still exists. Something tells us this was either too weird of an idea to last, or too brilliant to ever die.

C-Bus pizza on the big stage

At this point, our fair city is no stranger to coverage in national publications – and our pizza is no exception. Earlier this year, food blog Rave Reviews included Columbus’ own Rubino’s and Mikey’s Late Night Slice on their Pizza Road Trip roundup of the best pies in the nation.

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Hey, @fussbucket… Nice #BINOS! #SausagePizza

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Deep dish (if you must…)

Is deep dish more your thing? We (I) think there’s something wrong with you, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the sauce-on-top monstrosity you crave. Check out our top picks for the “best” deep-dish style pizzas in town.

Celebrating National Pizza Party Day? Of course you are! Let us know your pizza of choice in the comments.

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Food & Drink

Outerbelt Brewing: small town, huge brewery

Mike Thomas

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With no end in sight for the craft beer boom, upstart breweries are leaving the city behind for the wide open spaces of the suburbs.

According to a report from Drink Up Columbus, Outerbelt Brewing will be the latest to toss their hat into the central Ohio Craft Beer ring when they open their doors in less than a month.

Located in a former Lowes hardware location at 3560 Dolson Ct. near Carroll, Ohio, Outerbelt Brewing is not far from Lancaster.

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Outerbelt is scheduled to open to the public on either June 8 or June 15, depending on construction deadlines. The new brewery will occupy about 25,000 square feet, with about 5,600 square feet set aside for a taproom. Plans also include a spacious 2,000 square foot patio.

Upon opening, Outerbelt plans to offer 10 beers on tap, as well as cold brew coffee.

Look for Outerbelt this Friday, May 18 at the Columbus Craft Beer Week kickoff party at Giant Eagle Market District, where some of their beer will be available to try. Outerbelt Beer will also be on hand Saturday at the Six One Pour Ohio Beer Festival at COSI.

To view pictures and to learn more about Outerbelt, check out the full story at Drink Up Columbus.

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Food & Drink

4 brewers talk past, present future of C-bus beer scene

Mike Thomas

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With the rise of craft beer, celebrations of America’s most popular alcoholic beverage are nearly as plentiful as the varieties of suds found on supermarket shelves.

Whether it’s a day set aside in honor of a given style (IPA day is observed Aug. 2) or a pseudo-holiday cash grab from a major international brewery, (Arthur’s Day is not a thing, Guinness) beer fans have plenty of occasions throughout the year to toast their favorite drink.

In honor of Columbus Craft Beer Week (May 17-25), (614) spoke to Columbus brewers Colin Vent at Seventh Son Brewing, Dan Shaffer at Land-Grant, Craig O’Herron at Sideswipe Brewing, and Chris Davison, at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing in order to explore the beginnings of brew in the capital city, where it stands today, and what the future might hold.

(614): When you think of Columbus beer history, what comes to mind?

Vent: The recent history is pretty young. We were 7th or 8th six years ago, and now there’s over 50. Barley’s, Smoke House, Elevator, Columbus Brewing Company—those were around for 10 or 15 years, then all of the sudden, Four String, us, North High, and soon thereafter Land Grant popped up, and from there it’s just been crazy. Obviously all of Columbus [beer] history goes back hundreds of years; there used to be major production. Hoster was one of the largest breweries in the country.

Shaffer: I think of Barley’s, CBC, the people that were there at the beginning. We’re all standing on their shoulders. Obviously it’s all come a very long way. I’m trying to think of what the first craft beer I had in Columbus was. It was probably a CBC IPA.

(614): What are some prevailing trends that you see happening with beer in Columbus today?

O’Herron: I feel like we’ve gotten over a lot of the recent trends. We saw a lot of the New England IPAs, and then Brut IPAs to a lesser extent. I don’t know if there’s a trend that’s happening right this moment, but I’m sure we’ll see something new and wacky come around.

Davison: The national trend has been IPA, IPA, IPA, and I think Columbus is a microcosm of that. Ohio is an IPA state, and Columbus is an IPA city even more so than some other cities in the state. We’ve got a lot of the top-tier IPA breweries right now, a lot of people making really good IPA. I think that’s going to continue to rise, and I think we’re going to continue to see more styles [of IPA].

(614): What does the future hold for Columbus Beer? Have we reached a saturation point on how many breweries the city can sustain?

Vent: I don’t know that Columbus could take another 10 or 20 Land Grants and Seventh Sons, but I think it could take another 10 or 20 [breweries] that just want to have an awesome neighborhood brewpub. As many breweries as an area can sustain, that’s what there will be.

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Davison: I think it all comes down to what those breweries are trying to accomplish. Trying to be a production brewery that’s distributing cans across the entire state is going to get harder and harder, not that some won’t continue to grow and do that. I think there’s a ton of room for local brewpubs that don’t even want to sell their beer outside of their own bar. Every bar in this city could theoretically brew its own beer, and there’s no reason the city can’t sustain 500 breweries that are tiny like that.

Shaffer: Obviously people are gravitating towards local. I think it’s really cool that every neighborhood, instead of a watering hole, can have a local brewery. I think we’ll probably see more sours, probably more specialization. IPA’s aren’t going anywhere—there will be more IPA variants. When there is this much competition, you can’t afford to be a generic beer brewery anymore. There has to be something you’re passionate about, whether it’s Belgian or English styles, or pilsners, high-gravity stouts—whatever. There’s got to be something that you can say “this is what we’re all about.”

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