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.”

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!