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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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Food & Drink

Taft’s on Draft: Cinci Brewporium opens first Columbus location in Franklinton

Linda Lee Baird

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After hearing all the hype about Cincinnati’s up-and-coming Over the Rhine neighborhood a few years back, I went to see it for myself. The first stop was Taft’s Ale House, a gigantic brewery inside of a church originally built in 1850, fully renovated for guests’ reveling pleasure. After spending the next few hours sampling beverages and snacking on beer cheese pretzels, I was inclined to believe the neighborhood hype. Did I fully explore OTR that night? I don’t actually remember. But I’m certain that I had a great time at Taft’s. So when I found out that Taft’s was coming to Columbus, the news sounded even sweeter than their Maverick Chocolate Porter.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus spans nearly 6,000 square feet in the Gravity development, including over 2,000 square feet of patio space. Like the development itself, Taft’s is building an artistic theme into its new offering. “Our actual design is going to be kind of focused on ‘80s/‘90s pop art,” said David Kassling, Managing Partner for Taft’s Brewing Company. “Being that Franklinton definitely has its art roots, we think that’s a great way to ingrain ourself in the community.”

Kassling said that the word brewpourium literally means the place where the brew is poured. That they’ve chosen to make “brewpourium” part of their name tells you everything you need to know about what Taft’s wants to be known for: its carefully crafted suds. The brewpourium will have at least 10 taps serving Taft’s original varieties, including its signature Gavel Banger IPA, which was voted best beer in Cincinnati last March by the city’s residents.

Taft’s will offer a full food menu as well. Kassling is particularly proud to introduce New Haven-style pizza to Columbus. “We’re recreating a style that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Ohio,” he said. (The style is also known as apizza, which is pronounced "a piece," as in, I’d like a piece of that crisp coal-red cheesy goodness right now, please.) Kassling describes it as a cross between New York and Neapolitan style. Taft’s version features our and tomatoes imported from Italy.

Rounding out the menu is another ‘90s-inspired treat, this time in dessert form. Remember Dunkaroos, those cookies that came in a package with icing designed for dipping, perhaps consumed while you watched episodes of Saved By the Bell? Taft’s will serve up Taftaroos, its unique take on the snack.

Kassling plans to use the brewpourium’s large space to offer patrons activities beyond food and drink. The stage will be open for games of darts when not in use for performances. On the floor, guests will find shufflepuck and Killer Queen, an arcade game utilizing 8-bit graphics in line with the old-school theme. Video game fans will also find gaming stations inlaid in the bar, with several retro options to choose from.

With three Cincinnati locations in operation, Kassling is not new to the business. Even so, expanding to Columbus marks a milestone, and one he wasn’t always seeking to meet. “We didn’t necessarily look at this as we needed to expand to a new city or we needed to expand to Columbus,” he said.

But when the opportunity to join the Gravity Project presented itself, Kassling said it proved too good to pass up. “We’re really excited, not only because of the nature of the building being so modern and unique, not just to Columbus, but to anywhere. But also the shape of our space is funky, and that led to different ideas in what we wanted to do with our build out.”

Kassling acknowledged that in coming to Columbus, Taft’s is joining a few of our communities: the community of Franklinton, to be sure, but also the well-established community of independent breweries operating across the city. An installation built into Taft’s countertop will pay homage to this fact, incorporating crushed cans and packaging from breweries like Seventh Son, Land-Grant, and North High. “It’s gonna be totally an art piece,” he said.

Rather than focusing on the potentially competitive aspect of the brewing scene, Kassling emphasized the camaraderie and common goals within the industry. “At the end of the day, craft beer is a great way to bring people together,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we’re all preaching community and good times.”

While Taft’s new location may not be in a church, Kassling’s words are the type of preaching that I can get behind.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus is located at 440 W Broad St. in the Gravity project. For more details about Taft’s, visit taftsalehouse.com.

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Food & Drink

New “relaxed” wine house now open in Dublin

614now Staff

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Next time you're in Dublin, make sure to stop and smell the rosé at the city's newest wine bar. Coast Wine House recently opened at 75 S High St., offering a contemporary wine bar + bottle shop inspired by a blend of the spirit of coastal California and traditional wine country cafés, markets, and bodegas, according to the website.

Coast assures they don't take themselves too seriously "in contrast to the conventional wine world," describes the website.

"The mood is decidedly relaxed. The wine is pleasantly chilled," Coast says.

The wine bar is run by Dustin Snow, who his wife, Molly, believes brings a "warm and relaxed" feel to Coast.

"A visit to our house is by no means fancy, but Dustin makes it special, because he genuinely wants to make you feel at home," she wrote on Instagram. "And since Coast is an extension of our home you will have this same warm and relaxed experience."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2r1Q5OgbAT/

Coast is open Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm- 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm- 10pm, and closed Sunday through Tuesday. To learn more visit coastwinehouse.com.

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Food & Drink

Get a sneak peek of Columbus’ new “urban” diner and bar

614now Staff

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The final touches are being put on Columbus' newest restaurant, and we want to get you inside for a sneak peek!

The Woodbury will open at 215 E. Town St. in the near future, offering an "urban" diner setting and "vibrant" bar scene, according to the restaurant's Facebook. Lunch items and dinner entrees will be offered, as well as breakfast favorites all day long.

Join (614) on Monday, December 16th from 5pm- 7pm at The Woodbury for an exclusive sneak peek preview party before they officially open!

Be the first to try samples from their menu! Including the following food and drinks:

Meat Option:

  • PB&J Wings
  • Crab Rangoon Dip
  • Chicken Hotcake Taco

Vegetarian Option:

  • French Toast Casserole
  • Rings of Fire (battered fried hot pepper rings)
  • Vegetarian Ravioli Lasagna

Drinks (choice of 2):

  • Jack Daniels Mule
  • Old Forrester Old Fashioned
  • Jack & Cola

Keep up to day with The Woodbury by following them on social media at @woodburycbus.

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