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From farm to family at Bluescreek farm

Jeni Ruisch

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A butchery, cafe, bakery, grocery, and food truck rolled into one, Bluescreek Farm Meats is one of Central Ohio’s oldest family-owned farms. Once a single stand in Columbus’ North Market, Bluescreek Farm Meats Market now occupies a thriving space on US Rt. 42 just north of Plain City. The farm itself, just north of Marysville, raises 200 acres of hay, wheat, rye, soybeans, and 200 to 300 head of livestock.

Cheryl and David Smith, co-owners of Bluescreek Farms, had have been farming their whole lives, but they had to weather some difficult financial times during the 1980s when their farm was sold back to the lending institution. They stripped the property of anything of value to help with the down payment. They began to work with a new breed of cattle, the Belgian Blue, and selling it as freezer meat. In the process, the Smiths found out not only about a consumer demand for fresh cuts of raw meat, but also about the North Market, which had a vacant meat store spot available.

“The process of getting into the North Market—being interviewed by the merchant board—was a very intense and intimidating process. They had us second guessing and questioning our capabilities, if we were good enough to be in there,” said David.

Undaunted, Cheryl and David passed inspection and literally set up shop for an adventure that would see them through the next quarter of a century. Although Bluescreek has since left their North Market location, they’ve found retail freedom in their Plain City location and even jumped on the food truck trend with the addition of their B’raisin Beasts Food Truck. Stock & Barrel checked in at Bluescreek Farm with Manager Jamie Smith-Johnson, Cheryl and David’s daughter, for a more pastoral, yet just as busy, view of Central Ohio.

S&B: What is the main driving philosophy of Bluescreek Farm?
JSJ:
I think our biggest driving philosophy in the beginning was about providing humanely-raised, quality meats that were grown hormone-and antibiotic-free. And focusing on quality and customer service are still very important to us. We still have [that] same driving force, but it’s much bigger than that now. Now it’s also about the individual families that we see on a weekly or monthly basis that rely on us the way we couldn’t have imagined when we first opened up. Some of them have food sensitivities and have a very difficult time finding food that doesn’t make them sick. Others have told us that our meat tastes like meat “used to taste when they were a kid.” 

What animals do you have? What products do you make?

We have cattle, lambs, goats and hogs. We have also raised turkeys but, we love the turkey we get from Bowman and Landes. We like having the turkeys as guard animals for fun more than anything. We make a wide variety of products. Not just your basic cuts of meat. [Smith-Johnson proceeds to list off a laundry list of menu items such as meatballs, burgers, and sausages.] Oh the list could go on forever I feel like. With our location here in Plain City we also have the flexibility to create more than we ever did at our previous location. With our baker making crust from scratch (with lard) we make a Classic Apple Pie, Apple Bacon Bourbon Pie and Peach Pie. We have also started making Pot Pies that have been keeping us VERY busy. We now do Beef, Lamb, Turkey and Chicken Pot Pies (regular 9” size and individual size). Our baker also makes things like Sausage Gravy (regular or gluten-free), a variety of cookies, muffins, bread, buns and cheesecakes! 

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Walk me through what a typical day or week looks like on the farm.

Dealing with the weather is the number one factor that decides what is going to be taking place on any given day. On a farm, you’re ALWAYS on call, 24 hours a day. You never know when or what is going to happen. Cody, my brother, works on the farm full time and is there basically every day. My dad is our main butcher here at the store and is also on the farm. My Aunt Mary Ellen also helps out on the farm daily and helps us out in the evenings at the market. She didn’t realize that when she retired she would be working so much!

Working with plants and animals means you often deal with unpredictability. What were some times when things went totally sideways? How did you recover?

Yes, working with mother nature; plants and animals, can absolutely have some unpredictability. When I was growing up it was like clock work that if there was a major holiday we had animals being born. It was like they watched the calendar and waited sometimes. We try not to put all of our eggs in one basket. And if we do put all of our eggs in one basket we have always been fighters about it. Opening up here in Plain City was the largest investment that had the potential to go sideways that we have ever taken. Getting things ready to open here was very stressful for us as a family because we knew how important it was for this location to be a success. The first few weeks here in Plain City we were all putting in 100 hour weeks. We had to
make several changes quickly to ensure that we didn’t kill ourselves.

What do you think about urban farming? 

I think urban farming is fantastic! The more people who know and understand where food comes from the better! Many people, especially those who are not around it all of the time, don’t make the connection that carrots are grown in the ground or on that same note that meat comes from an animal. It’s not made in a factory. Understanding and respecting where your food comes from, be it from the ground or from an animal, is important.

Bluescreek farm is located at 8120 US 42, Plain City, Ohio. Visit them online at bluescreekfarmmeats.com

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Clintonville Brunch Crawl: We dare you to squeeze all 3 stops into 1 day

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Clintonville is lovely this time of year, especially when you make three separate stops for brunch. 

Whether the weather is gracing the charming little burgh with a healthy dose of vitamin D or giving it a couple spins around the Lazy Susan that is Ohio’s climate, a trifecta of morning food destinations is sure to keep your mood afloat.

BLunch  • 2973 N High St.

blunchcolumbus.com

Yes, we know that Columbus now is home to a Drunch AND a BLunch.

Snicker all ya want—if you do, you’d be missing out on one of the culinary scene’s welcome newcomers—a half-day cafe that carries the comforts of a First Watch, but with the sophisticated execution of Tasi or Katalina’s.

The White Family has decades of hospitality under their belt—the family owned Galena’s Mudflats until recently, and dad Jeff has been running the OSU Faculty Club for the past 20 years.

Those two were training grounds for son Jeff, once a young, eager dishwasher and now head chef for the White’s new “daylight eatery and bar.” Mom Jane, despite her own admission that in the family’s tavern-running days breakfast didn’t get served until halfway through afternoon, now relishes an intimate spot where people can maintain their own balance between booze and breakfast.

A full-bar at brunch is a rarity in the peculiar little burg, and positioned near Lineage, Old Skool, and Condado, BLunch could be the perfect starting point for a casual Clintonville crawl.

Then again, you may not have another stop after Chef Jeff gets done with ya. He and the White family have concepted a bennies-and-batter focused menu, where you’ll be sure to come back after a healthy amount of indecision. Me? I’ve been dreaming about the Bananas Foster pancakes (topped with ice cream) and the huevos rancheros over masa cake for weeks. – Travis Hoewischer

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Dough Mama • 3335 N High St.

Dough-mama.com

Dough Mama is the top of my list for my favorite breakfast joint. I love so much about this place.

The atmosphere is super chill, laid back, and inviting. The food is so so good. I would call it comfort food with an extra sprinkle of love and thought.

From pie to salad, it’s all good.

They use a variety of local and seasonal ingredients and support some of my favorite local delicacies with Dan the Baker bread and Thunderkiss coffee … YUM! They also have a variety of vegan and gluten-free options.

I am smitten with the Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy muffin. This place is my go to for a yummy drippy egg, roasted potatoes, salad, a sweet treat and a perfect cup of coffee.

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My husband loves Grammie’s Sammie and a piece of Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie. I somehow manage to splurge here and feel really really good about it.

Their menu has some great staples but they also always have specials that look and are amazing.

Right now they serve both lunch and breakfast during the day and I’ve heard it through the grapevine that they will soon be open in the evening and serving dinner. I cannot wait to see what delicious dishes they create for that menu. – Jana Rock

Baba’s • 2515 Summit St.

babascolumbus.com

Baba’s is my go-to breakfast spot in Columbus. You can grab a breakfast sandwich on their homemade griddle muffins (aka little pillows of heaven), order a rack of ribs, or in the spirit of Alabama Worley, have a slice of perfect pie and a cup of Thunderkiss coffee.

Their delicious baked goods are made in house, they smoke all of their own meats and their produce and coffee are all sourced locally, though their espresso will send you to the moon.

The service is fast, their team is super-friendly and there are never any pretentious vibes in the super chill atmosphere they have created on the corner of Hudson and Summit.

They’ve made a beautiful impact in their short existence in the SoHud neighborhood, fostering local artistic connections and bringing beautiful new mural art that rotates different artist from the community throughout the year. Don’t forget to grab one of their perfect cinnamon rolls for later. — Vanessa Jean Speckman

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Harvest Pizzeria sowing last seeds in German Village

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Eight years ago, Harvest Pizzeria cropped up in a small space in German Village. Today, the local pizza chain announced the closure of its flagship location.

Harvest Pizzeria German Village will open its doors for the final time on Saturday, April 27th.

“Despite the success of Harvest in German Village and our strong ties to the neighborhood, the owner of the property will not honor our renewal of the lease,” wrote founder Chris Crader in an email. “…the landlord’s demands for a new lease at a higher rate would not allow our little pizzeria to remain viable.

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Crader added that he is proud of the strides Harvest German Village has made over the years, and thankful for the community that’s supported it. He hopes they can return to the neighborhood when the right spot presents itself.

As far as the employees go, Crader wrote that with the success of the other locations, the German Village workers will be able to join a team at another restaurant.

“Harvest sincerely thanks all of its loyal supporters and we hope to see you at our other locations soon,” wrote Crader.

This news follows the announcement of the Grandview Harvest closing back in February. Read more here.

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Crawfish boils claw their way into Columbus Saturday

Mike Thomas

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What’s the deal with crawfish boils? Sure, they’re delicious, but as a true land-lubbing midwesterner, my knowledge of this particular culinary phenomenon is fairly lacking.

That said, I definitely can’t tell you why there are multiple crawfish boils going down this Saturday. Best not to overthink it—just enjoy the experience!

Pecan Penny’s |113 East Main Street
Saturday at 4 PM – 7 PM

Sponsored by Brewdog, downtown BBQ joint Pecan Penny’s is kicking off patio season with an all-you-can-eat Crawfish boil, complete with giveaways and a DJ.

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Rehab Tavern | 456 W Town St
2 PM – 6 PM

Rehab’s own 4/20 crawfish boil kicks off at 2:00. Your $15.75 entrance fee will net you a pint of beer in addition to all-you-can-eat crawfish and fixins’!

Can’t make either of these, or want to try the boil experience before committing to a large-scale event? Check out Kai’s Crab Boil or Boiling Seafood Crawfish—both on Bethel Road —for first-rate seafood experiences you won’t soon forget.

Why are there two crawfish boils on the same day? Why are there two crawfish restaurants on the same road? We may never know, and honestly, who cares? Crawfish is the bomb! Just put on your bib and get crackin’!

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