Monday, March 21, 2011

The bounty of Ohio foods at Hills Market

I love March. Spring, my birthday, the weather is improving. And Christmas in March.

OK, this isn't the kind of Christmas that brings a fat guy with a bunch of stuff - March brings the first of the year's Ohio Market Festival at Hills Market. Anyone who's ever experienced competitive sampling at Costco ain't seen nothing like this. And the awesome part is that Hills is now doing it three times a year to give more Ohio producers a chance to show off their yumminess!

We waited a little late in the day to head to Worthington - it was around 1:00 and the event ended at 2:00. See - that's better for our waistlines - there's no WAY to hit every sample station when there's a beer tasting involved. The nice thing was that the crowds had thinned out and I got a chance to say hi to Bethia Woolf. She's the founder of Columbus Food Adventures (rolling my pennies) and one of the best food bloggers in the area. I'm more of a stay-at-home-and-cook kind of gal, but I love reading her reviews and she's convincing enough to make me want to go to Happy Hour again.

On to the Ohio foods at Hills Market. Oh - wait. Let's start with Ohio brews - Rockmill Brewery. I love beer - more importantly, I love craft ales. From a farm near Lancaster come four beautiful Belgian-style ales. Organic grains, hops and malts combined with a natural spring deliver something special. We tasted all four of Rockmill's offerings - poured and described by brewer Matthew - and had a hard time picking a favorite to carry home. The man won and I have a bottle of Saisson awaiting the perfect moment.

Saisson Organic Farmhouse Ale: Ohio-made from Rockmill Brewery
I was excited to see Blue Jacket Dairy, but we were too late for the Gretna Grilling cheese samples. However, these cheese curds? Just the right blend of seasoning. I've used some of the Dill to make a simple pasta side dish and munched on a few of the Firelands - with chipotle! They are perfect alone, it just makes me think I need to cook with them. Any suggestions?
From Blue Jacket Dairy, near Bellefontaine 
 We tasted this dip with a simple tortilla chip and were more than impressed with Urbana's Taste Weavers. The smokiness of the chipotle is more overstated than the heat. Again, I'm running recipe ideas through my mind. Harry says "It's a dip - it's for dipping things in."
I thought about a drizzle on some Chipotle-inspired (the restaurant) burritos. 
 I like to hit up Cajohn's at the North Market and loved the chance to try several of their barbecue sauces. We decided this was the perfect sauce for our BBQ Burgers with sauteed onions and horseradish cheddar cheese. We were right.

Not too sweet and no overpowering fake-smoke taste. 
 I might have to give up my food-geek card after my faux pas with this guy. Massillon's Gold'N Krisp potato chips are one of the few kettle-style chips I've ever tasted that I enjoy. They're not too thick and a little less salty than most potato chips. My goof came when I asked "Peanut oil?" He was very nice when he said it was a blend of lard and shortening. I will NOT feel guilty about loving the taste of these chips.

Gold'N Krisp doesn't have their own web presence but - did you know there was a chip of the month club?
YUMMY! Potato Chips! 
I know I'll never be able to participate in the 100-mile diet but it's nice to know that there are several resources in Columbus to find local and Ohio foods.

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