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Archive for the ‘using local ingredients’ Category

O’Chocolate located in Athens, Ohio uses only Certified Fair Trade Organic Chocolate to produce their gourmet chocolate bars. Not only is their chocolate certified fair trade organic, but they also source many of the other ingredients used in their chocolates locally. They source Lavender Extracts and Vanilla Sea Salt from Ancient Roots, Popped Amaranth from Shagbark Seed and Mill, Sticky Pete’s Maple Syrup, and Scotty McHotty Hot Pepper Blend from a local farmer outside of Columbus that grows and dries organic chili peppers especially for O’Chocolate that they use in a few of their gourmet chocolate bars including their delicious Cayenne Truffle. O’Chocolate also sources Ridge Runner Coffee, Silver Ridge Coffee, and wines from Shade Winery to produce their Peace O Luv, Fur Peace Ranch Bar, Espresso gourmet chocolate bars, and red wine for their red wine truffles. Not only are the ingredients sourced locally, but they also source the art used for their new logo and packaging from local web designers and local graphic designers. O’Chocolate does not only produce local gourmet chocolate bars, but Stacy Peters, owner and creator, strives as hard as possible to source most of their ingredients locally in order to keep with the common theme of the Athens Locavore Movement!

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Chris and some Spicebush branches

Integration Acres’ Chris Chmiel is a passionate promoter of the cultivation and use of native plants. Known as the Pawpaw guy, he advocated for its designation as Ohio’s official native fruit, turned it into a cash crop, inspired the creation of many value-added products, and, for the last 13 years has hosted the Pawpaw Festival.  On June 23rd, he held the 2nd annual Summer Solstice Spicebush Celebration at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Spicebush is found throughout all of Ohio, and is an understory shrub of moist to wet woodlands. Its twigs and branchlets, when scraped, emit a spicy fragrance. Bright red fruits appear in late summer and early autumn on female shrubs. Its dark green, glossy foliage (like that of Pawpaw), is unusual for woody plants thriving in full shade. As a native of the Eastern United States, Spicebush can grow to 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide and is a member of the Laurel Family, related to Sassafras and other Spicebushes.

Michelle and Eric doing some scoring

Prior to Saturday, my only experience with Spicebush was as a tea, having purchased the dried leaves and twigs from Chris at the Athens Farmers Market. So I was delighted when Chris asked if I’d be a judge for the Cook Off event. Upstairs in the Dairy Barn, I joined Michelle Wasserman (a worker-owner from Athens’ much beloved Casa Nueva) and Eric LeMay, a food writer and OU professor – both dazzled me with their ways of describing food, over the next few hours). With our rating sheets at hand, our cameras nearby, we were ready to discover the tastes of the Spicebush. Kristen LaMay helped coordinate the tasting and kept a steady supply of Spicebush infused items coming our way.

Iced Spicebush tea in cups made for the Celebration

We began with the beverage category. The first entry was iced tea, served up in a cup with the Spicebush Celebration logo – a perfect beginning since it delivered a clean and uncluttered taste of the Spicebush, and educated my palette to the plant’s unique taste.

Lovely Kristen pours our Arnolds.

Next up, a Spicebush Arnold Palmer (a combination of tea and fresh lemonade), created by Stephanie Katterhenrick, also a worker-owner of Casa.

So pretty, so tasty and refreshing

Lastly, a shot glass of Dancing Tree Distillery’s Spicebush gin. Entrant Kelly Sauber explained that his gin contains wild harvested, dried Spiceberries, certified organic Juniper berries, organic rosehips, non-GMO and organic corn from the nearby farms of Kim and Larry Cowdery and Matt and Angie Starline, and some Briess Organic 2-Row Barley from Wisconsin. Wow! If you like gin, you’re going to love Dancing Tree’s clean taste and aromatic woodsy nose. The gin took home the first prize in this category.

How’s that Spicebush gin, judges?

We still had room for this artful bread

Onto the appetizers – dips, cheeses, and more, but the prize went to Michelle Gorman’s (Integration Acres) Smoky Goat Chevre rolled in salt, black pepper and freshly ground spicebush berries. In the savory bread category, the judges selected Patty Nally’s (Avalanche Pizza) Fougassee with a Spicebush pesto.

Savory Spicebush entree

Our favorite savory dish was Stephanie Katterhenrick’s mashed potatoes, but it was quickly overtaken by her entree presentation. The potatoes (from Cowdery Farms) were boiled in water infused with Spicebush berries and leaves – a clever move! A summer and zuchinni squash dish seasoned with ground Spicebush berries complimented an English beef chuck roast from Sunny Mead Farm, cooked with ground Spicebush berries and steeped leaves, fresh minced garlic from Yankee Street Farm, onions from Cold Comfort Farm, and fresh thyme from HerbaVore Gardens. I never tasted such tender and lovely meat. As we licked our lips, we decided to give her a spontaneous accolade – the Spirit of the Spicebush award.

Then it was on to dessert…Who doesn’t love Snowville ice cream, this one with a creamy vanilla with a hint of Spicebush? But Carole Schloss literally took the cake (award) for her Spicebush German chocolate cake. So delicate, yet infused with that allspice-like, maybe peppery-ness, hard to describe, Spicebush flavor.

The final bite of Carole’s cake

Like the entire Spicebush Celebration, the Cook Off  brought together a mix of local ingredients that satisfied the belly and the soul. Thanks, everyone. I hope you’ll let me do this again.

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So hard to decide which truffle...so I usually pick three.

Stacy Peters has a knack for chocolate and timing. A few years ago she and a friend decided to make some truffles for the Christmas holidays and the Village Bakery agreed to sell them. The chocolate orbs flew out the door and O’Chocolate was born. For the last few years she’s been selling her sweet treats at the Athens Farmers Market where the Saturday crowd (I can report from first hand experience) hovers around her display, anxious to make their chocolate purchases.

Open for business at O'Chocolate

Gearing up for Valentine’s Day (when national chocolate sales are projected to be just shy of one billion dollars), Stacy began looking at options for a ‘pop up’ store for the month of February. When she found a longer term sweet deal, she couldn’t resist and, today, she opened her retail business at 5 North Court Street in Athens. With Kinko’s and FedEx upstairs, O’Chocolate is on the street level, just inside the lobby and is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 am to 2pm and 5 to 8pm and on Saturdays from 11 am to 8pm.

Eye catching packaging envelopes smooth chocolate pleasure...

Her chocolate offerings include ten kinds of truffles (my favorites are Chili Pepper, Espresso and Champagne) and five fabulous chocolate bars (so hard to decide…Mint? Organic Pecan with Smoked Sea Salt? or the Dark Chocolate Orange that Stacy describes as “a smooth bar with citrus tones that wake up the taste buds. Cayenne is added and lightly dances on the back of your tongue.”) She also offers barks and other darkly delicious confections. All are made with organic and Fair Trade chocolate. Vegans can indulge in truffles made with organic coconut milk.

A reason to head Uptown

Stacy is passionate about supporting other local enterprises and sources many of her ingredients within the 30 mile region. These include Snowville Creamery‘s cream, Sticky Pete’s maple syrup, Silverbridge Coffee, Ancient Roots lavender extract, and amaranth from Shagbark Seed & Mill Company. She also buys spirits for her truffles locally, supporting the Undercover Market (red wine) and Bella Vino (champagne). By March, the shop will include a display of locally made products available for purchase.

Another happy customer

As V Day approaches, Stacy invites you to attend her O’Chocolate’s Soiree on February 11 (Saturday) from 7 to 8:30 pm – grab your sweetie and enjoy some free chocolate! And for the love in your life (hey, it’s okay if it is you), fill up a red box with truffles!

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The crowd checks out information on Go Wild for Local Foods activities at the Athens Farmers Market

This past Saturday, 30 Mile Meal, WellWorks, Live Healthy Appalachia, and Athens Healthy Community Coalition folks arrived at the Athens Farmers Market with pots and pans. Ready to host their Go Wild for Local Foods event, we had two purposes: to offer a local foods cooking demonstration for Market shoppers and increase support for the Market’s vendors and Community Food Initiatives‘ Donation Station.

Info table promoting food-related programs in Athens area.

Under the Market’s Cafe tents, organizers set up food prep and cooking areas for guest chef, Pam Nalbach, from The Wilds. Local foods for her mystery basket of ingredients were collected from generous Market farmers and vendors.

Go Wild volunteers from the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity and the OU Dietetics Club fanned out across the market to pass out yellow punch cards and to punch the tickets of shoppers who purchased from at least four Market vendors and made either a cash or food contribution to the Donation Station. These cards were then entered into a drawing for prizes, including Safari Tours at The Wilds.

Pam at work.

Plenty of fresh produce populated Pam’s food basket: leeks from Shade River Organic Farm, tomatoes from Green Edge Organic Gardens, peppers from Cowdery Farms, black Russian kale and spinach from Duff Farms, Asian greens from Dexter Run Farms, Sassafras Farm’s butternut squash, a bag of Cherry Orchards’ Melrose apples, and frozen elderberries from Herbal Sage Tea Co. Rounding out the menu possibilities were cheddar and Swiss cheeses from Ohio Farm Direct, Casa Nueva’s Shitake ginger vinaigrette, and black beans and spelt, precooked and donated by Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. What would the chef make?

Salad is almost ready for tasting...

 

 

Pam began chopping, stirring, seasoning, and simmering. Not long after, the audience was enjoying samples of a spinach, Asian greens and spelt salad, dressed with Shitake and ginger vinaigrette and a butternut squash, leek, and apple soup.

After the event, Pam was presented with a 30 Mile Meal canvas bag filled with foods from the region, including corn chips from Shagbark Seed & Mill Co., tea from Herbal Sage, Gillogly Orchard’s apple cider, rolled oats from Starline Organics, romaine lettuce from Vest Berries and Produce, Cantrell’s honey, Mex-City’s red raspberry chipotle salsa, Dale’s Creations apple pumpkin butter and chocolate clusters from O’Chocolate.

We’re delighted to report that the Donation Station received $300 more than its typical Saturday cash donations and considerably more produce as a result of this event.

Many thanks to all who made this a great showcase for our local foods community including Kip Parker and Michelle Gorman from the Athens Farmers Market, Pam Nalbach, Danielle Bray, the APO and OU Dietetics Club volunteers, Francie Astrom, Ruth Dudding, Mary Nally, Louise DiLullo, Heather Anderson, Kim Valentour, and all the farmers and food producers who donated their fabulous foods for this event!

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Our mission today at the Athens County Convention & Visitors Bureau: Go forth and eat a 30 Mile Meal Lunch.

O'Betty's chef Ryan Stolz and owner Bob Satmary

Jenna Dill headed for O’Betty’s Red Hot! on West State Street here in Athens. Given the narrow facade of the building, you’d never guess just how much is inside. Like, um, a museum. According to their website, “O’Betty’s may not have the only Hotdog Museum in the World but we certainly have one of the LARGEST, VARIED, and MOST ENTERTAINING – and still growing! You will be amazed by the countless objects devoted to America’s favorite food – the wiener!” We agree!

The King Kong

Back to Jenna’s quest for lunch. Her choice?  The King Kong, featuring a chicken bratwurst from King Family Farm, basil pesto and tomatoes from Green Edge Gardens, Chase Cheddar from Integrations Acres, roasted garlic from Starline Organics, and a whole wheat bun from Fluff Bakery! Jenna says, “It was very tasty!” and notes that Chef Ryan has other 30 Mile Meal dogs barking in the kitchen. One features our state’s native fruit, the pawpaw, and another, locally made sauerkraut. You can learn more about their menu for 30 Mile Meal Week here.  Tasty Dogs + Museum = Cultural Bliss.

Lunch Time

Emily Maluski also headed Uptown for lunch, choosing Fluff Bakery on Court Street. This very sweet eatery is owned by Jessica and Jason Kopelwitz. Both received their Ohio U degrees in 1999 – Jess in business administration and Jason, in chemistry. They moved to Columbus where Jess went to cooking school and, ultimately, became general manager of Lucky’s Cafe. But family ties drew them back to Athens.  They moved in with Jess’s sister, Angie, and her husband Matt, who farm and operate Starline Organics.  When a retail space opened up on Court Street last summer, Jess and Jason jumped. Five exhausting weeks later, Fluff was born as both a bakery and catering business.

BLT - Fluff Style

Emily ordered the Fluff BLT and reports, “This filling sandwich features house-made garlic rosemary foccacia topped with peppercorn mayo, Shade River Organic Farm tomatoes, Starline Organics greens, and King Family Farm bacon. The bacon was thick and crisp and paired wonderfully with the fresh greens and perfectly ripe, red tomatoes. Combined with the flavors of the mayo and the always delicious Fluff foccacia, these local ingredients made for one tasty lunch!”

Village Bakery & Cafe

I headed to The Village Bakery, here on East State Street. Owners Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil also operate three other local foods related businesses: the Undercover Market inside the bakery building; Della Zona, in the building next door and where they recently added a wood-fired oven; and the Catalyst Cafe on W. Union Street. Bob and Christine were early supporters of the local farm and food community and continue to do so.

I’m pretty much a regular, but there’s always something new to try. Despite today’s heat (approaching 100 degrees), a bowl of the Spicy Peanut Soup sounded good. And it was! ( Sadly, I didn’t bring my camera.) Shade River Organics and Green Edge Organic Gardens supplied the vegetables: onion, sweet potato, mushrooms, cabbage, potato, tomatoes and bright yellow summer squash. I liked the satisfying balance of the smooth tomato broth (enhanced by miso and peanut butter) and the tender chunks of vegetables. Accompanied by two slices of the bakery’s whole wheat sourdough bread, it made for a very satisfying lunch.

30 Mile Meal Lunch Mission Accomplished! Tomorrow is another day…

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For the past few months I’ve talked with a lot of restaurant owners about their menus for 30 Mile Meal Restaurant Week (30MMRW). Today I got to start eating! I headed down East State Street to the Market on State mall, bound for Kiser’s BBQ Shack.

Sean and the sign

 

Before I even got inside, I could see that owner Sean Kiser was actively marketing his participation in 30MMRW. Each of his sources for local ingredients got their own shout out…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it was time for lunch. I ordered the 1/4 pounder BBQ’d pork  (King Family Farm) with the sweet and hot sauce (Cantrell Honey and Patterson peppers), cole  slaw, and a Mint Green (Herbal Sage Tea Co.) iced tea. Yum! The pork was incredibly tender and juicy, the sauce a perfect blend of heat and sweet, and the slaw well seasoned and crunchy. The tea was wonderfully refreshing on a day verging on 100 degrees.

Sean came by with one more thing for me to try – mac and cheese. Whoa – excellent execution of a favorite comfort food – this one made with Snowville Creamery milk.

Sean is an Ohio University grad. Originally from Chicago, with  experience in the restaurant trade, and a family supportive of his desire to fill the BBQ niche in Athens, he started Kiser’s in the spring of 2009.  His father helped create their recipes.

Today the place has a substantial and affordable menu, and has lots of regular customers. The service is really fast – great if you are in a hurry to get back to work or too hungry to wait. Kiser’s is also a business with a conscious – all of their food containers and silverware are biodegradable and any tossed food is composted. Sean says he’s “loco4local,” whether it’s 30 Mile Meal Restaurant Week or not. Sounds good to us!

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While 30 Mile Meal Restaurant Week officially began yesterday, we were delighted to find Avalanche Pizza‘s John Gutekanst jump starting things with his 30 Mile Meal Bread at  Saturday’s Athens Farmers Market. Our 30MM table was just a few spaces down the aisle from his and we were quite happy when he gave us a loaf (can a loaf be less than 2 inches tall?) to put out as samples along with some blackberries from Vest Berries and brownies from Casa Nueva and Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. (made with black beans).

As usual we were located next to the live music spot. This week’s musician was a grandfatherly type, playing some fine Appalachian tunes on his guitar. It wasn’t long before his granddaughter, perhaps 6 or 7, found her way to our table. Standing just a foot or so above the platter of 30 Mile Meal bread, she asked if she could try it. “Of course,” we said, though we did mention that it contained some hot peppers. She took a bite and smiled. “Is that corn, too?,” she asked. Sure was, along with bacon from King Family Farm, parsley and cornmeal from Shagbark Seed & Mill Company. Pretty sure she came back for seconds. Good work, John!

We’ll be by to try your 30 Mile Meal Pizza, made with local vegetables and cheeses, later this week.

John must have been up all night baking...

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