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The Worst Cook in Columbus: Pasta

I am a terrible cook. If you read the last issue, you already know that. As a result, pasta is a staple in my kitchen—it makes a great practical-looking decoration when displayed in a glass jar, or placed on a countertop. For very little money and effort, dried pasta not only beautifies your living space, [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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I am a terrible cook.

If you read the last issue, you already know that.

As a result, pasta is a staple in my kitchen—it makes a great practical-looking decoration when displayed in a glass jar, or placed on a countertop. For very little money and effort, dried pasta not only beautifies your living space, but also makes you look productive and knowledgeable. No one has ever questioned my ability to make pasta, not with the evidence stacked neatly in four glass jars next to my stove.

Until now.

I’m back at The Commissary on Dublin Road, a proud graduate of my salad class in September, and owner Kate Djupe has put fresh pasta and sauce on the lesson list—the next step in repairing my atrocious culinary skills.

Making pasta is both easy and hard. When my pasta instructor Matt Swint pulls out the ingredients we will need—eggs and flour—I’m surprised. I honestly thought pasta would be a little more… complicated. But as we begin talking about glutens stretching and lining up and the responsiveness of dough, I realize this task was going to take some serious work.

Pasta requires an instinct. Despite carefully following the instructions on a recipe, developing a sense for how a dough should look and feel takes practice. If you try this at home, be prepared to experiment, and maybe throw away some dough. (I won’t tell anyone.)

Fortunately, that instinct is in Swint’s DNA. Raised on the east side of Cleveland among Slovenian and Italian families, Swint, the genius behind Matija Breads, bleeds red sauce.

“I grew up with this food,” he says, his early memories filled with homemade breads, polka music, and falling asleep in pizzerias. Swint most recently teamed up with Dan Kraus to create Baba’s, an old world eatery on Summit Street. I feel confident that whatever I mess up, Swint can fix.

We start with two cups of flour on the counter (literally—on the counter) in front of me. Swint, with his own pile of flour in front of him, teaches me the “well method” of making pasta dough. I shape my flour into a doughnut, and Swint instructs me to crack two eggs in the middle. We begin breaking the yolks with a fork and using the tines of the fork to gradually lift in a bit of the flour at a time, so that a lumpy, yellow liquid begins to look a bit more like a recognizable dough that can be handled and kneaded.

“You really can’t overknead the dough,” he tells me, which is good, because I need a lot of practice. Swint’s deft motion of folding part of the dough into itself, pressing it forward with a palm, and then quickly turning it, has me pretty stymied. Eventually, it becomes a smooth, cream-colored ball which he puts underneath an overturned metal bowl to “rest”–a process, that when described to me, seems to make up for the simplicity of the ingredients.

While that’s happening, we start a Puttanesca sauce. Swint swirls a generous amount of EVOO in a heated saucepan while explaining his preference for California oils (Corto, Lucero, Bariani) over Italian imports. We add a chopped onion and sauté it until it’s translucent. Then we add a can of whole tomatoes, fresh minced garlic, capers, and some pitted olives. Normally, Swint would also add anchovy, which adds savoriness to the sauce, but to his disappointment, this vegetarian writer doesn’t eat them. We’re subbing roasted garlic cloves instead.

The dough has rested—which means the glutens have lined up and created an elastic superstructure ideal for reshaping. Swint teaches me how to roll out the pasta, both with a rolling pin and a pasta roller. (I highly, highly recommend the latter. Just be careful not to drop your pasta as the dough gets progressively thinner.)

The strip of dough in front of me feels a little leathery, and Swint assures me that’s a good thing. Coming out of the roller, the pasta is a couple feet long. Swint cuts off the uneven ends and shows me how to fold the pasta from each end towards each other—about three inches per fold, cut the folded pasta into noodle-sized strips, and slide a knife under the strips to pick them up and release them, like strings dangling from a mop. I admit, when I do this—and it works—I scream a bit in excitement.

From scratch, pasta only takes a minute or two to cook in very salty water, and once it’s strained out, it should go in with the sauce for a minute or two. (Tip: some of the noodle water, full of starch and salt, can be added to the sauce at this point if needed.) Basil and lemon zest garnishes the dish, and Swint and I each grab a fork and start twirling.

Fresh pasta is a truly different food from the dried version. It has a slippery, almost silky texture, yet not oily. I feel like I’ve done something impactful myself, like get one of those VO5 hot oil treatments or taking an art class. Seriously, I’m pricing pasta rollers.

That dried pasta may be sitting next to the stove a little bit longer.

The plan

So there are four basic ingredients for pasta and sauce. Here’s the least you need to know.

Flour Swint uses unbleached, unbromated flour, preferring organic flours for a more responsive dough. (I still don’t know what that means.)

Eggs Farm-fresh and cage-free. Make sure the chickens have eaten well, so you can, too.

Tomatoes These can be canned, but preferably whole. The less processing, the better. (And crushing the tomatoes with your bare hands is fun as hell.)

Onions Hard to screw this one up. Just use a “cat’s paw” (curling all digits underneath your hand) to hold the onion as you cut it so you don’t remove any fingers.

Everything else is really up to you, and, as Swint says, you should make pasta the way you like it. “These super simple ingredients can become something complex without a whole lot of work.”

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Food & Drink

Rémy Cointreau presents: The Sidecar

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**SPONSORED**

We teamed up with Rémy Cointreau and local bartender, Ben Griest, from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo to bring you an icon of cognac cocktails. Ben's previous videos featured the art of margarita-mixology, and now we are moving on to another tasty cocktail. This timeless, opulent drink is well-balanced and fresh.

With National Cognac Day coming up, we figured it would be great to share, Rémy Martin 1738 presents The Sidecar.

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Food & Drink

National Brisket Day is Today!

Julian Foglietti

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Photo by Brian Kaiser

With meat shortages starting to take their toll and National Brisket Day here at last - we've gathered a roundup of some spots you can go to to get your brisket fix.

Legacy Smoke House

With their main location in Hilliard and a food truck moving throughout the city, Legacy Smoke House is a solid choice for brisket on National Brisket Day, just be sure to get there while supplies last. Enjoy!

Pecan Pennys

Just off Main Street, Pecan Pennys is ready to fulfill your brisket needs. If your looking to feed a family though be sure to get your orders in advance as they're requesting 24 hours notice on dinner bundles.

Ray-Ray's Hog Pit

With locations in Franklinton, Westerville, Clintonville and Powell Ray Ray's Hog Pit is open for business with brisket stocked at all locations. #NationalBrisketDay is the best day!

Hoggy’s Restaurant and Catering

Located on Bethel Road, Hoggy’s will be stocking brisket for both dine-in or carryout. Feel free to stop in or stop by!

The Pit

With a new location opened up on Parsons Ave. The Pit BBQ will be offering brisket for the National day. Celebrate with some tasty brisket!

City Barbeque

City Barbeque will be offering brisket for the National day! So get excited and get ready for some yummy BBQ brisket!

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{UPDATED} Indoor Dining: what’s NOT opening?

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Los Gauchos

PINS Mechanical Co.

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Hey Pinheads. We're so excited to hear that our world is beginning to reopen! Many of you have reached out asking about our opening plans so we wanted to provide a brief update on Pins Mechanical Co. While we fully trust and support the decisions of our local leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our team members and guests, while not sacrificing the experience that makes Pins, Pins! With that in mind, none of our locations will be opening in May. There are many unknowns with COVID-19 and we hope that taking this extra time will help our guests and teammates feel better about the measures we’ve put in place to keep all of us safe. For example, on top of our already stringent cleaning procedures, we’re installing UV technology at all locations (ensuring you always have clean balls to play with). We’re looking forward to welcoming back our kick-ass team to train and adjust to this new normal. Once our people feel comfortable + confident, we’ll know it’s time to get rollin’ again! Thank you for your incredible support, online sales, photo shares + kind words over the last two months. Even when you couldn’t show up, you showed up and we’ll never forget it! We’re hopeful that everyone will be safe and smart as we begin to reopen the doors to the small businesses that make our communities so special. See you soon, Pinheads!

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Old North Arcade

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Dear friends, . As you are most likely aware, Governor DeWine has permitted the reopening of bars and restaurants for dine-in seating effective 5/21. We are very grateful that our leadership is now offering businesses the choice to do what they think is right. We offer no judgment for the bars and restaurants that are/have chosen to open. However, for our particular business, and for our staff, we still think it's too early. We are going to remain closed this week and next but do hope to open soon. Your understanding and patience is greatly appreciated and we cannot wait to see you all. It is important to us that we apply an extra layer of safety and precaution on top of the govermental recommendations. Tentatively, we are looking at the end of May to reopen in a very limited capacity but we're following local and national developments very closesly so will be quick to bail if things turn south. Your continued support has been quite humbling. Thank you. Stay healthy, support local, and be more than kind to one another. . Cautiously optimistic, . ONA Staff

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Watershed Kitchen + Bar

101 Beer kitchen

They are delaying opening dine-in service until May 26th.

Matt the Miller's Tavern

Stay tuned on social for patio and dine-in updates!

J. Gumbo's

J. Gumbo's will continue to stay open for online ordering for pick up and delivery - stay tuned for dine-in updates.

Mouton on High

The Whitney House

The Whitney House will be opening Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 11 am.

The Guild House

Stay tuned for opening dates!

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Stay safe everyone 💕

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Smoked On High

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

The Woodbury

The Woodbury will be opening its doors for dine-in service on June 1 2020.

Roosters

Roosters are not opening dine-in until May 26th 2020.

The Eagle

The Eagle is temporarily closed - stay tuned on social for updates!

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In light of the government mandated closure of dine-in business for an indeterminable period of time, we’ve made the incredibly hard decision to temporarily close The Eagle Columbus. . Given the truly unprecedented and quickly evolving nature of this health crisis, we’ve been forced to make the best decisions we can, with the information we have. As the true scale of this crisis has been revealed, it’s become impossible to deny the impact this mandate will have on our business and team members. This decision was made as all of our decisions have been: with the health, happiness, well being and best interests of our guests and team members in mind. . The state of Thunderdome Restaurant Group is strong and we look forward to seeing and serving you all on the other side of this. Truth, courage, and be well.

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Lavash Cafe

Tiger + Lily

Tiger + Lily is sticking to carry out for the time being. Follow them on social for updates for dine-in!

Yats Grandview

Red Lobster

Red Lobster is continuing to stick to curbside pickup, delivery, or touchless pick-up.

Harvest Pizza

Bareburger Columbus

Bareburger is opening for dine-in on May 26th, 2020.

Mezze

City Barbeque

Local Cantina - Creekside, Grandview, Dublin, Westerville, Hilliard Locations

Creekside Local Cantina is delaying opening indoor dining until May 26, 2020.

OH Pizza and Brew

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