Farm to Bottle: “Graft” Wine Tasting Wrap-up


Redde Hedde Farms and Wine Trends’ first annual wine-tasting-meets-hootanany Graft was by all accounts a blast. The Columbus-based wine distributor found a fruitful collaboration with Delaware’s favorite boutique farm. Live music accompanied a self-serve wine tasting and a bountiful buffet from Local Roots as well as expert small plates prepared by Two Daughter’s Kimchi (pictued above).


The setting was a pictueresqe scene of rolling green fields paired with an azure sky topped with whipped clouds. The whites were cold and the reds tempered. The wine trends staff was available to answer any questions about a particular varietal or bottle, but generally let the wine speak for itself, something that gave the occasion the feel of a real party and not a sales pitch. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.


As it was a warm that afternoon the Fox and I stuck mainly to whites. Here are four of our favorites, a sampling of what we will be enjoying for the rest of the summer:

#1: Ponzi Pinot Gris

Producer: Ponzi Wine: Pinot Gris Vintage: 2013 Retail Price: $17.99

Will: “This was my favorite all-around wine, especially for the price. I liked its crisp, drinkable flavor and the dominant red apple taste. I think this wine would be really easy to pair with what I like to cook this time of year.” 

The Fox: “I thought this wine tasted really fresh and that it would be great for summer nights! There was something really floral about the bouquet on this bottle. The floral is balanced by notes of almond.”

Producer: Kermit Lynch Wine: Bugey Cerdon Vintage: N/V Retail Price: $24.99

Will: “This wine is a trip. 1/3 rose, 1/3 champagne, 1/3 framboise. I can’t tell if I hate this wine or if I love it. I feel like this is the ultimate pairing for a meal called “Basics at Brunch”. My sisters would fucking love this stuff”

The Fox: “I feel like this wine has a grape-juice flavor; sweet, bubbly, and light. As a bartender, I see a lot of possibility for creating great cocktails and spritzers. Use with caution though, because this stuff is seriously sweet.”

Producer: Lionel Raymond Wine: Bordeaux Vintage: 2013  Retail Price: $10.99

Will: “Isn’t bordeaux a red wine? I like this bottle, its tart and crisp. Lots of pear and apple flavor but also a body of melon tastes. I think this wine tastes like it should cost more than it does.”

The Fox: “Really drinkable. I think this wine has a slightly mineral quality that is actually pretty nice. The fruit flavor is balanced and the body is really smooth. The type of wine I could find myself drinking for an entire evening, no matter what I’m pairing it with. Well-rounded.”

Producer: Kermit Lynch Wine: Salvard Cheverny Loire Wine Vintage: 2013 Retail Price: $14.99

Will: “I love how dry this wine is. Pear and fruit notes with a backbone of something earthy. I can feel this wine on my teeth. I like a wine with plenty of tannin. Would drink again.”

The Fox: Nice and dry. This wine feels appropriate for the setting. I taste something like dirt to this as well. Good finish. Good wine.”

Packing It All In or What the hell do I bring?

I leave tomorrow and won’t be home again until September. This is my longest trip to date and I thought I’d celebrate by treating myself to some new luggage. (And in all honesty, I had a bag that I loved for travel but a cat peed on it and I didn’t think the faint but constant smell of feline piss was the best travel companion this summer.) I’m an adult now, or so I’m told, and felt like it was neigh time I had some proper, matching luggage. I want to feel like an experienced traveler. And what says worldly ramblin’ man better than pristine, never-seen-the-inside-of-a-plane matching bags?! Here is a breakdown of each bag and what I’m cammin’ in it!

The Suitcase

Probably the most important bag because it determines what you get to where while you’re away. No pics of this one because my undies are private. I will say that I’m bringing a weeks worth of all of the essentials; sox, underwear, t-shirts, and shorts. And no chef’s coats! Because we don’t have to wear ’em!

The Carry-On IMG_4285

  • Books- A Little Yellow Dogan Easy Rawlins mystery by the author of Devil in a Blue Dress, because a good noir is essential when you’re traveling. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sadaris, because I need a reminder of what good writing looks like. Back issues of Popular Science, because I can always re-read a PopSci!
  • Notebooks- Nothing makes me more prepared to leave the house than a nice moleskin notebook. These miniature books fit in your wallet and are perfect for quick note-taking. This larger journal I use for keeping track of new recipes and taking detailed notes when planning a meal.
  • Pens- You aren’t ready to cook without a sharpie. And for note-taking, the greatest pen ever created.
  • Empty Water Bottle- Save some of that hard earned cash and refill your bottle on the other side of airport security. I get mine in a bright color so I’m less likely misplace it or leave it behind.
  • Drumsticks- For the boredom. To keep those chops extra beefy try the Vic Firth Corpsmaster Ralph Hardimon snare sticks.
  • Headphones-Noise canceling headphones are essential for travel, whether you’re trying to listen to some tunes over the din of an airplane or just want some quiet for catching a quick nap. These Sol Republic studio headphones looks sharp, sound great, and won’t break the bank.
  • Phone- Make sure you know your data and roaming policy before you head out of town!
  • Various Chargers- I like to imagine those halcyon days of travel before the charger.
  • Computer- Beat-ass old Mac, perfect for the road and maintaining the blog remotely.
  • Gameboy- 3DS with a library of titles, including Super Smash Bros. and Ocarina of Time.
  • Kitchen Timer- He is shaped like a hedgehog and his name is Dermut. I let him ride shotgun in the carry-on because he always keeps it 100 and because it gets lonely out there on the road.
  • Snacks- ‘fer keepin’ up the ol’ blood sugar. Avoid becoming “hangry” at all costs.
  • Bandana- Because I’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy once or twice.  

  • Shades- Cause I’m cool like that.

The Knife Kit IMG_4281

  • Mercer Plating Kit-This kit includes all the specialty spoons pictured above, including the saucing spoon and my personal favorite, the slotted serving spoon.
  • Chef’s Knife- Wusthof 10″ Classic Cook’s Knife. Called “classic” for a reason. This knife can do pretty much anything.
  • Kitchen/Paring Knife- Wusthof 3-1/2″ paring knife. Just picked up this one at River’s Edge Cutlery especially for this trip and can’t wait to see how it handles. (I also took all of my knives to River’s Edge for sharpening prior to leaving. They do quick and reliable work at a low cost. Also, purchasing a knife earns you free sharpening for the life of that knife. I get my Shun set sharpened a few times a year.)
  • Honing Steel- Dear Mom & Dad, this is not a sharpener and does not replace your whet stone.
  • Speed Peeler- Never get caught without your peeler! This one is super dope.
  • Box Cutter- For breaking down boxes and rumbling with Jets!

The Dopp Kit IMG_4302 Just the highlights on this one:

  • Goldbond (travel size) –Because corn starch is always around.
  • Roto V’s Eyedrops- For red eyes from uh… allergies! Yeah! Allergies! (Seriously though, feels like putting an altoid in your eyeballs. In a good way.)
  • Blackbook – There is a black version of James Dean. His name is Kareem and this is the probably the best way to smell like him. (Pretty sure they don’t actually make this anymore…)
  • American Crew Forming Cream- For curly hairs!
  • CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion- Because skin care runs in my family. And because my girlfriend thinks about this kind of jazz. Has SPF 30 and leaves me silky smooth!
  • Cliff Arousal Beard Balm- Another local Columbus product, this stuff smells masculine and keeps my beard looking dapper!

Saviors of Summer: C-bus Sweets that Aren’t Jeni’s

You’ll probably always remember where you were when you heard that Columbus’ favorite sweet schleppers Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams announced that they had found listeria in their Columbus plant…for a second time. I heard the news through Facebook and immediately bemoaned the fact that I had missed out on some bramble-berry crisp in the brief ten-day window that Jeni’s was available between voluntary recalls.

Columbus social media today.

But fear not, gentle reader, because Columbus has plenty of ways to satisfy that glucose addicition that aren’t Jnni’s. When I need to chase that sugar dragon and Jeni’s isn’t an option, I head to these other cowtown favorites.

#1- Ollie’s Fine Ice Cream

Ollie’s Fine Ice Cream (19 S. Franklin St.)  is my favorite ice cream in Columbus (technically Delaware) right now, recall or no recall. Ollie’s provides an old-time alternative to the Straight-Outta-Pinterest-ness of a Jeni’s scoop shop. Ollie’s boasts its fair share of adventurous flavors (Mexican Coffee, Roasted Strawberry & Madagascar Vanilla, Caramelized Pretzel) the real difference comes in the production of the ice cream. Based on the slightly crystalline texture (and the fact that Ollie’s is prepared out of an old Victorian House, listeria concerns be damned!) I assume that they are making slow churn ice cream. Jeni’s production facility supposedly uses liquid nitrogen to quick freeze their ice cream, which, combined with the high fat content of their milk, results in that super smooth texture that is synonymous with modern ice creams.

If it wasn’t for the 25 minute or more drive to get there this would be my go-to ice cream shop. Though I’ve yet to try it, Ollie’s also has an “adults only menu” that has a section titled “Blenders & Benders”, which sounds like a Jimmy Buffet album, so they got that going for them too.

#2- Whit’s Frozen Custard

Where I’m from, southern Indiana, frozen custard is a seemingly bigger draw than ice cream. With its richer taste and thicker texture, I often prefer frozen custard over ice cream. I also think that frozen custard makes a better “bizzard” (blender? mix-up?)  Call me juvenile, but sometimes I prefer some plain vanilla custard with pieces of Butterfinger and Reese’s Peanutbutter cups whipped into it than a double scoop made with ingredients from the obscure sections of the Food Lover’s companion.

Not always required when ordering ice cream.

Whit’s Frozen Custard makes a great product that is sure to satisfy. They also have multiple locations across the city, including a shop in the Short North (841 N. High St., to satisfy your mid-gallery-hop ice cream break. (The Short North location is also next-door to House Beer, so pop-in and get a nice craft pint before and/or after!)

#3- Grater’s

One time my mom told me that this was Oprah’s favorite ice cream, so, there ya’ go. What else is there to say?

Oprah! You bastard!

Westward Ho! – Dinner at Delaware’s 12 West

Every time The Fox and I go to Delaware, I always have the same thought upon leaving:

“We should come to Delaware more often.”

For nigh on a decade there has been a quiet renaissance happening in The D, as students from Ohio Weaslyan and an increasingly affluent local population support an exciting city center with some of the best food and beverage options in Central Ohio. This charming square mile provides the diner with an array of culinary experiences; in Delaware it is seen as perfectly normal for the venerable greasy spoon The Hamburger Inn to rub shoulders with the likes of Veritas Tavern, incubator for Rigsby’s new head chef and Columbus wunderkind Silas Caeton.

So where does a place like 12 West (12 W William St, Delaware, OH) fall on this seemingly boundless dining spectrum? With a pitch perfect balance between seasonal and high quality dinner offerings served in the tastefully appointed low-light of the San-Fran Lounge inspired dining room, 12 West has found the sweet spot smack dab in the middle. Given her pastoral context in the midwestern-meets-cosmopolitan burg that is Delaware, I’d say 12 West is right where it should be.

The Food

The night’s dinner was a special occasion for The Fox and I. Her parents would be joining  us to say farewell before I head out on the road for the summer tour. The venue was their choice, and as 12 West had been on my radar for a while, my expectations were pretty high.

We got great parking directly in front of the restaurant. (10 POINTS TO DELAWARE!!)

We snagged the last table, a corner both by a big window overlooking the quaint but bustling street, lit as it was in the lingering long light of an early summer evening. It was okay, I guess. Drink menus were understated but carefully selected. As I do with places that serve any cuisine from a locál south of the Rio Grande, I stuck with imported bottles of Mexican beer. They were light and cold and had limes stabbed into their slim necks. Sometimes craft beer and cocktails need not apply. (That said, the 4 handles behind the bar were all devoted to craft brews, most local. 12 West also boasts a nice selection of craft bottles and a decent wine list.)

The dinner menu was split into two sections. The first being an a-la-carte menu of house made southwestern favorites. This section also saw a featured selection of tacos.


From top left going counter-clockwise: Empanadas, Tacos, Salmon Entree, Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake.

We started with the empanadas. They were fried GBD and came two-ways that night. One was a bean and cheese, the other chorizo. Both were topped with melty cotija and served with a really fresh pesto. The bean empanada was the stand-out. It somehow packed in more flavor and was really well balanced with the pesto, which offered a clever twist on the more commonly paired chimichurri.

On to the tacos, with a bit of a disclaimer. I was told by multiple sources to not skip out on the tacos, but given the multiple high profile taco shop openings in Columbus over the last couple of years (Bakersfield, Nada, Candado) I was feeling a bit weary. (I fear we have reached peak taco as a city.) But on the insistence of the parents Fox we ordered a few to share. We had the Barbacoa (that night’s chef special taco) and blackened shrimp as well as the cod and chorizo tacos respectively (not pictured). I’m glad I ignored my concerns over the redundancy of the Columbus taco market because these were great! They had an off the cuff quality about them that was refreshing and they were fun to share. Each taco featured some really fresh produce, including delicious locally raised radishes from Redde Hedde Farms as well as super crisp red cabbage in place of the more common iceberg lettuce.

Unlike a lot of other southwestern eateries, 12 West offers a complete menu of entrees. These include a much hyped chorizo burger as well a lamb shank and polenta offering which I’ve placed on the docket for my return visit. On this night I opted for the salmon, another well recommended favorite among 12 West’s many apostles. It is a thick filet of Faroe Island salmon, pan seared with a crispy golden crust, served over a bed of fingerling potatoes and smoked jalapeño cream. The fish is topped with a sweet house marmalade and paired with roasted beets. Again, as with the tacos, the rub is in the freshness of the produce. The beets and potatoes added an earthy-ness that was the perfect compliment to the fish. The sweetness of the marmalade was a welcome change from the California-Mex trope of mango salsa.

We ended the meal with a communal piece of Mexican Chocolate cheesecake. This was a rich finish to an otherwise light meal. The cake was dense and just the right level of moist with a semi-sweet chocolate topping with a delightful spicy finish of cayenne pepper. ¡Sabroso!

After Dinner Thoughts

So, the food was good. The atmosphere casual and cool yet welcoming. But what makes 12 West a destination? The staff!

First, the kitchen at 12 West is clearly having a good time. That is evidenced by the creativity and spontaneity on each plate.

The waitstaff was prompt and knowledgeable while remaining inviting. Service that night was attentive without being intrusive which is always a delicate balance.

And then there was Ron. Ron is the co-owner of 12 West and is the kind of guy in this business that I look up to. I respect a guy like Ron because he understands real hospitality. (He has the pedegree for it too. Google him. He’s had his hands in some of Columbus’ favorite restaurants for years.) His table-side manner was warm and his enthusiasm for his restaurant and its city were contagius. For me, Ron was the cereza on the pastel that was our evening in Delaware.

So get in your damn car and head north for 12 West!

Grandview Heights’ ‘Trident Design ‘ kick-starts new crowdsourcing campaign

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Well what if you don’t know its broke?

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since I saw Trident Design’s new Indiegogo campaign. The Grandview based crowdsourcing consultancy firm is pitching to the public their latest invention, dubbed Groov, a self-styled “sleek, stylish, hygienic universal knife block with integrated sharpener.”

I could explain it, but they do such a nice job on their own…

So, is this the knife block of the future?

I don’t know. But I do know this: I want one!

I like the functionality, especially the scalability. I actually use far fewer knives than there are holes in a typical knife block. I’m rocking a 3-5 knife set at any given time, so I could actually stand a smaller block, but this is a step in the right direction.

I’ve also never actually considered the sanitation of my current wooden knife block, and part of me wishes that the idea had never been breeched in my mind. But here we are.

Only thing I’m not sold on is the ceramic sharpener. It might be okay for an at home chef but I’m not taking the Hitori Hanzo steel across anything other than a whet stone.

Lastly there is the design itself. Sort of an Ikea-Does-Apple kind of vibe. I’m not crazy about the molded plastic or the green, but I think the wood finish is pretty slick.

Aesthetics aside, I think this is a really cool idea and I love the fact that its coming out of Columbus! Culinary innovation is too often thought of as strictly advancement in the edible side of the equation. But some of the greatest additions to the culinary cannon in recent years have been hardware: the Searzallat home sous vide, and the Pacojet to name a few. Will the Groov be placed among these hardware heavy hitters? Only time will tell. Until then, support your local inventors, chefs, and dreamers and pledge some damn money!

To contribute to the Groov’s Indiegogo campaign click here.