Welcome back to Food Truck Friday where we get you out from the booth and in front of a mobilized food machine with an ice cold adult beverage in your hand.
Interested? We thought so.
Let’s hit The Cluckwagon at the Worthington Farmer’s market, buy some groceries from local vendors and get a Bloody Mary at House Wine, shall we?
Cluckwagon offers both a breakfast and lunch menu and focuses on Chicken (hence the name), Barbecue and local sourcing. On my recent breakfast time visit, I chose the Market Fresh Omelette.
Composed solely of market vendor’s ingredients, the omelette consisted of three farm fresh eggs, zucchini, onion and garlic quark (fresh dairy cheese) and a toast of choice (sourdough, always choose sourdough). The vegetables were fresh and crunchy, the omelette was fluffy and quark added a rich and creamy texture.
Not in the mood for an omelette special? Feel free to choose a chicken, sausage AND chorizo Breakfast Burrito, Belgium waffles or a chicken and egg breakfast sandwich.
FYI, I had my heart set on the Breakfast Burrito, but Cluckwagon was sold out by 11am, so get there early!
Now that we have ordered, let’s take a walk around the market and get a drink.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Vendors are lined up on High Street from south of Dublin Granville Road to north of South Street every Saturday, from late April through the end of October. Around 90 vendors are in attendance weekly, from 8am to 1pm and offer groceries, coffees, coffee, arts, baked goods and crafts.
Looking for fresh veggies? Wayward Seeds has you covered. Need some delicious local pork, meat, chicken or lamb to throw on the grill? Go to Oink, Moo, Cluck.
How about a fresh Cup of Joe? RIDEhome has a delicious pour over.
A fresh loaf of sliced sourdough? Lucky Cat has that.
If you can’t find something to make you happy at this Farmer’s Market, you should probably stop bumming out your friends and quit going to Farmer’s Markets.
Now, didn’t I mention something about a drink?
After making the hard decisions of what vendor to choose from and before you go home and mow or take the kids to soccer, give yourself a minute to enjoy the finer things in life. Go to House Wine to get a Bloody Mary, mimosa, glass of wine, or a draft beer to accompany your breakfast.
Ever-changing, always evolving, the North Market today serves as a cultural touchstone to what Columbus has become. Before there was an Arena District, the Greater Columbus Convention Center, and trendy shops all along the Short North, there was a place where community members could pick up fresh produce and goods. It was, and still is, an integral part of Columbus life, but now it plays a different role.
The North Market used to be a spot where beef, poultry, vegetables, and all of the options in between were available before the days of the supermarkets. There wasn’t a Kroger down the road where you could grab a pound of ground beef for dinner that night. Rather, it was perhaps your neighbor or friend who ran a butchery during the day. But that was in the late 1800s, and now with the amount of foot traffic and diverse options, the North Market has become a staple for the lunch rush as well as those going about their weekends in the downtown area. It’s one part food hall, one part farmers market, and every bit at the forefront of what has happened over the span of a century and a half.
What the North Market leverages is community and diversity. It could be easy to fill up vendor spots with burger joints and other Midwestern classics, but Rick Wolfe said he wanted to take a different approach to give our city fresher options. Here, you’ll find Somali food, the national cuisine of one of the city’s largest immigrant communities, and the opportunity to experience a dish that’s otherwise rare in Columbus food encounters. There’s also Middle Eastern food, Indian options, and of course, there are still relics of grab- and-go-style ordering which grew the North Market to fame, filling a niche larger grocers could not. While you won’t find everything you need at the North Market—kitty litter, light bulbs, trash bags—there’s still a connection between farmers, crafters, and brewers with the community at large.
“You have to look at what’s happened around us now,”
Wolfe explained. “Back in ‘95 when we moved into this
building, there was no Arena. The Convention Center was
just coming, there were a lot of boarded-up buildings. We
have a million and a half to two million people coming
here. I’d estimate that about 40% of that is tourism from the
With the changing customer base comes different ways to serve, something the North Market has striven to do throughout its history.
“If we were still a fresh-only market, people would walk in
and say, ‘Wow! This is really cool, but I’m not really taking a
head of lettuce back to my hotel.’ We have evolved with our
merchants on who comes through the doors.”
Now, the North Market can be broken up into three parts: fresh options, baked goods, and prepared food. Since Wolfe came aboard in 2013, things have changed, and he says that’s a good thing. Change is inevitable, and the North Market is all too familiar with it. His strategy for growth has been somewhat of a revolving door. The North Market serves as an incubator for local offerings to grow and learn as a business, but also it can serve as a place for vendors such as Market Blooms, which has called the North Market home since 1990, to become a known presence.
“It took me a while to wrap my arms around here and assess each individual’s needs,” Wolfe said. “And it’s not a coincidence. My mindset was—we have a lot of great prepared foods and international folks that are living in different parts of the city, but you’re not seeing it down here.”
As an example, Wolfe mentioned Lan Viet, a Vietnemse restaurant offering options such as bahn mi and the ever- popular pho. When Lan Viet first moved into the North Market in 2010, it was probably described as “exotic,” but now alongside merchants such as Firdous Express, a Mediterranean restaurant, and Satori Ramen Bar, the overall feel is one of authenticity.
The North Market now stands on the brink of a makeover, and
many have questions about what changes will be coming down the
road, quite literally. How will construction impact the merchants?
Will parking still be accessible? What steps can be taken to make
sure businesses are protected throughout this process?
“Will there be disruption? Of course there will be disruption,
but will we close? We will not,” Wolfe said. “We have to get super
creative on how to minimize the disruption for you—the community,
the tourist, the convention folks—to get in and out of here without
being too much of a pain in the ass. It’s not 100% avoidable, but we
are working very hard to minimize that disruption.”
As of now, things are still full speed at the North Market as construction hasn’t quite picked up just yet. Brittany Baum, founder and owner of Brezel, a Bavarian pretzel merchant, notes that there are fears looming with the unexpected, but remains hopeful. She, like many other vendors and merchants, has been able to cultivate a team that has up to five years of experience under their belts.
“To be honest, in the sense of business owners, we just don’t know what to anticipate, at least during that construction process,” Baum said. “But I’m really hopeful, and once that construction process is done, it will really pay off. We’re just going to be faced with challenges over the next couple of years.”
Brezel has incorporated the use of food delivery services like UberEats, DoorDash, and PostMates to counter the number of customers lost to parking or traffic issues.
Another strength of the North Market is the tight-knit community that has grown throughout the years—the type of support that doesn’t give up easily. During off times, it’s no surprise to see an employee of Brezel dropping off a few pretzel sticks to the nearby Jeni’s in exchange for a scoop of ice cream.
“It’s all the businesses together that have this kind of
neighborhood feel,” Baum explained. “When we are in there
working with our nearby neighbors, we can quickly ask, ‘Hey,
we are out of this, Can we borrow this?’ and they can ask us for
things, too. So it’s a really nice vibe for not just customers, but also
business owners as well.”
For Wolfe, one merchant going out of business during this
project is unacceptable. His perspective on the construction
remains hopeful and the future still looks bright. He mentioned
that sales are at an all-time high, the merchant slots are all full, and
he refuses to lose any momentum.
“These are the times in life where you make moves like this
at your strongest—you don’t wait until it’s too late. And I’ve said
this to everybody from past, present, and future, there’s been an
evolution since 1876. This is our third building on this piece of
property and we are the last one standing in this part of town. The
only way we’re still here is we’ve accepted change, we’ve adapted
to change, and we’ve stayed ahead of change.”
Spice World Illustration by Anastasia Markova Originally in (614) Magazine October 2016
This year I’ve decided to stop making jokes about Pumpkin Spice Lattes and join the bandwagon.
No, I’m not talking about simply ordering a PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) from Starbucks, I’m talking fully embracing the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Life). What was once reserved for coffee drinks and actual pumpkin pies is now a full on revolution that has invaded nearly every food and drink category imaginable. To become a true Spice Head, I needed to bring the sweet flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger into every meal.
Entry One: A Song of Spice and Fire
On my drive home today, I saw some fellow Spice Heads waiting in a long line at the Starbucks drive through. Were it not for the traffic making an already long drive nearly unbearable, I would have stopped and blessed them with my PST (Pumpkin Spice Tin). Upon arriving home, it was time to begin dinner. I’ve been trying to eat somewhat healthy, and I had some boneless skinless chicken breasts and some green beans in the fridge, so my dinner was pretty much set. Normally I would brush a little olive oil on the chicken, and roast them in the oven, with some salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning, however tonight was going to be special.
I brushed on the oil, and instead of reaching for my usual spices, I grabbed the PST (Pumpkin Spice Tin) from my bag. I added a healthy dose of my new life force (a teaspoon or two) and put them in the oven to focus on the haricot vert. I like to steam my green beans, and so I got some water boiling and set up my steam basket. I was worried that the spice wouldn’t stick to beans, so after they were finished I tossed them in some olive oil, before sprinkling on the PS (Pumpkin Spice). This did the trick. I could smell my PSC (Pumpkin Spice Chicken) roasting in the oven, and I was pretty excited. When my chicken was finished, I plated it nicely with my PSGB (Pumpkin Spice Green Beans) and dug in.
I have to say, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this meal, and it could have gone sideways really easily, but it actually turned out pretty nice. Both the chicken and green beans were cooked well, and the PS (Pumpkin Spice) didn’t detract from the meal at all. It wasn’t off-putting and almost reminded me of thanksgiving when you fill your plate with 5 different things and the flavors bleed together.
Chicken & Green beans: 3 Pumpkins Out of 5
Entry Two: Spice Head Picks a Peck of Pumpkin Pizza
I found myself hungry today in Clintonville, and decided to stop in for the lunch special (half salad and a small pizza) at Harvest. It’s one of my favorite lunch specials in town because their Kale Caesar is maybe the only salad I ever crave, and pizza is well….pizza. I was tempted to leave my PST (Pumpkin Spice Tin) in the car, but I chose this life, and I wasn’t about to give up. I spoke with sous chef John Franke briefly after I arrived, and though he was skeptical, he agreed to spice up my usual special. I handed over my precious PST (Pumpkin Spice Tin) into his capable hands.
Moments later my Kale Caesar arrived and Chef Franke explained that the dressing had been infused with some PSL (Pumpkin Spice Love). This salad was a bit of a struggle, Diary, because the bites that included hazelnuts were quite pleasant, but the bites with lots of parmesan were not ideal. I scavenged around for a bit looking for hazelnuts, but in the end, I just don’t think this will make it onto the fall menu.
Next to arrive was my PSPP (Pumpkin Spice Pepperoni Pizza). It had been sprinkled with a bit of spice before it went into the oven, so it could really get that flavor incorporated into the cheese. You could tell immediately from the smell that this was no ordinary trip to pizzaville. Chef Franke asked how it turned out and I was happy to report that it was a success. The Pumpkin Spice worked well with the salty pepperoni, and really just gave it a more savory note. It seems counter-intuitive, but if you think of ham instead of pepperoni it makes perfect sense. When you roast a glazed ham for the holidays, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger make perfect sense, and they work well with pepperoni too. Definitely an enjoyable pizza. I would eat it again. Plus the crust basically turned into those cinnamon stick dessert things that chain pizza places serve.
Caesar: 2 Pumpkins Out of 5 Pizza: 4 Pumpkins Out of 5
Entry Three: Spice Head and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Eggs
Maybe I got too greedy, or perhaps I’m just foolish, but I’ve made a terrible mistake, Diary. I want to be very clear when I say this; PSSE (Pumpkin Spice Scrambled Eggs) are truly awful. They are the absolute worst. Very jarring and altogether unacceptable. It’s like when you’re a kid and you think you’re about to take a sip of apple juice, but really it’s your dad’s warm beer. You expect one flavor, and what you get is just a fucking mess. The color is a murky brown similar to the dregs of a week old PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte).
Run as far away as you can. These are as bad as it gets.
I’ve covered three meals, and I think it’s all I can do, Diary. I hate to cut it short, but the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Life) just isn’t for me. I thought I could live it, truly embrace it, but it is yet another failed experiment.
You go to sleep one night, and seltzer is just the fizzy stuff in big glass bottles that clowns used to hose fools down with in old cartoons. You wake up, and it’s the hottest beverage trend since India Paled its famous Ale (or whatever).
While the drink predates this calendar year, there can be no doubt that the summer of 2019 belonged to hard seltzer. Whether you were getting “Truly” hammered, or disregarding all laws with White Claws, surely these fizzy intoxicants were a fixture at many a summer function you attended.
A hit with the fit crowd for their low calorie count and negligible carbs, the alcoholic seltzer sensation has washed over the nation like a carbonated, mango-flavored tsunami. Popular though they may be, these beverages are not without detractors. One article in the San Francisco Chronicle called spiked seltzers “the summer’s biggest scam,” pointing to the fact that in spite of marketing to the contrary, the drinks are not in fact seltzers, but carbonated malt beverages (like Smirnoff Ice and Zima).
With enormous international companies such as Anheuser Busch
getting in the hard seltzer game, it was only a matter of time until the
forward-thinking minds in our city’s booming beverage scene put their own
stamp on this latest and greatest toastable trend.
While not native to Columbus per se, Cleveland’s Platform Beer Co. has won a spot in the hearts of local craft brew fans thanks to its hoppin’ downtown taproom and the consistent quality of their products. Platform is also one of the prominent regional brands to embrace the spiked seltzer phenomenon wholeheartedly.
Available in six-packs, Platform’s rotating series of hard seltzers features some flavors that will be familiar to regular drinkers of the national brands, such as black cherry. Where the brand finds a leg up on the competition is a slate of unique offerings like Passionfruit, Ginger-Lime, and Blood Orange Yuzu.
Platform’s seltzers clock in at the industry standard 5% ABV, and
retain the same near-clear, bubbly appearance as most competitors. While
a respected craft brewery dipping a toe in this segment might get the
mustaches of snobbish craft beer purists twirling, Platform has never been
known for playing it safe—and they’re not the only ones.
Seventh Son Brewing sports ample draft handles in their multi-tiered taproom, giving pilot batches of “out there” brews a place to shine among the pleasing regular lineup. With so much room for experimentation, it’s no wonder that Seventh Son has cracked the hard seltzer puzzle.
A departure from the norm in several ways, Seventh Son’s “Kitty Paw” is a raspberry-flavored seltzer crafted with 100% real fruit juice and zero artificial colors or flavors added. The striking pinkish hue of this feline- inspired booze water also helps Seventh Son’s creation stand out from the pack. Opaque and bursting with tart berry flavors, Kitty Paw should be a hit with fans of fruit-flavored lambic beers. Available on-tap only, this initial offering is just the first of a planned series of hard seltzers being cooked up by the Seventh Son team.
No hard look at hard seltzer would be complete without mention of Four Loko, the “blackout in a can” hooch concocted by a group of OSU grads that mixed copious amounts of caffeine (since removed from the recipe) with alcohol, fueling all of your worst college-era mistakes.
If the notion of alcoholic water at first seemed too absurd to believe, leave it to Four Loko to take that absurdity to the most extreme possible end. In a Twitter post dated to August 11, 2019, the company teased their own accursed foray into the hard water game with a beverage that would pair “a hint of blue razz” with a daunting 14% ABV. At the time of this writing, no such drink has appeared on store shelves, for better or worse (...better).
Only time will tell if spiked sparkling water will make the move from
passing fad to permanent grocery cooler staple. Refreshing and all-too-
crushable by nature, typically gluten-free, and with a fraction of the calories
of even the lightest beer, it’s easy to see why summer drinkers were drawn
to the spiked watering hole in droves. With companies big and small
experimenting in this increasingly-crowded segment, water may just be the
hottest new beverage in town.