Last week I was in Ohio for work and it turned out being for a little fun too.
On Tuesday, I was at Miami University for the first time in almost ten years. I grew up in Columbus and spent countless weekends in Goggin Arena at ice skating competitions or summer camps. I was even a second away from going there for undergrad.
The campus looked great and I had to laugh… parking was so easy. You know you travel to a lot of college campuses when it makes your day to park right in front of the building your meeting is in, with no meters, no weird permits, no time restrictions, etc, etc!
That night I drove onto Columbus and was able to spend the night with my mom. We split a bottle of wine and stayed up too late catching up. She’s super crafty (… like early Martha inspired crafty) and made Adam and I a cute Valentine. She also got me a perfect glass chicken container.
I think she’s learning to embrace the chickens.
Wednesday morning I had some meetings in the Union of Ohio State.
I spend a lot of time in different Unions around the Midwest, and Ohio State’s might be one of my favorites. It’s brand spanking new, so that helps its cause, but the people who designed it really nailed it. It is such a spirited building. From the “OH” “IO” door knobs to the tremendously scarlet and grey tiled bathrooms; it’s a lot of fun.
After my meetings, my good friend Laura met me for a quick lunch. Laura and I grew up together giggling on the neighborhood swim team and talking on the phone for hours about middle school crushes. She now lives near Columbus with her husband Jay while she finishes up Optometry school at the University.
We still spend a lot of time chatting on the phone, but it was really nice to see her in person.
Our conversation turned to Valentine’s Day plans. We both like to cook at home and have husbands who enjoy cooking as well, so we are often sharing recipes and “what we made.” It sounded like we both were going to have pretty low key nights.
As I was about to hit the road that afternoon, I remembered a great boutique bakery, Pistacia Vera, where my mom used to get treats for special occasions. I could swing in there and pick up something to make our Valentine’s Day home date a little more special.
I looked up their address on my phone and saw that they had two locations. Their stand alone shop, that I remembered visiting, and then a location in North Market, which is just down High Street from the University.
North Market is Columbus’ only true public market and is home to over thirty merchants. The products offered are mainly local, organic or artisan created. You can find anything from specialty coffees, grass fed meats, baked goods, flowers, and much more.
I had not been to North Market in a while and had forgotten what a neat place it really is. I love the eclectic, yet down to earth energy it has. There were some people clearly doing their shopping and others just stopping in for lunch with their coworkers.
I walked in with the plan to get a unique dessert, and walked out with a full, Ohio produced meal.
Here is what I got for our Valentine’s Day Meal:
A great wedge of Gouda at Curds and Whey.
Curds and Whey had a huge selection of cheeses, caviar, and other little bites. I asked the cheese monger for the cheeses made in Ohio and he rattled off a few that were in the window, but mentioned that he had a wheel of local Gouda in the back.
Now, just to be clear, I don’t play favorites with cheese… but, if I did, Gouda would be a contender.
He asked if I wanted to try it.
Umm, yes please!
It was slightly soft, but still had a little bite with a salty, creamy taste. Winner.
It was a great little appetizer for Valentine’s Day.
Next up was wine.
At The Barrel and Bottle I asked for Ohio wines. The selection of wine was small, but the sales clerk, who was in the midst of a sampling with a distributor, said they are all great and drinkable. She pointed out the bottles that were dry.
There was a cabernet and a traminette that caught my eye. One of our favorite wineries in Indiana has a great treminette, so I gave it a go.
Adam and I both loved how it complimented the Gouda and enjoyed it as we cooked our meal.
Next, were some grass fed filets from Bluescreek Farms. Bluescreek Farms raises their meat in the Columbus area and does not add growth hormones or antibiotics. They carry beef, lamb, pork, goat and veal. They are also involved in some local CSA’s.
Adam and I are both big fans of filet mignon so I went for the tenderloin filets. Adam prepared them with a little salt and pepper before we cooked them. They were tender and incredibly tasty.
For a side, I picked up some beets from The Greener Grocer. The beets were from the county just south of where Columbus is located. They added the perfect shade of pink to our Valentine’s Day… not to mention, beets are rumored to be an aphrodisiac… it just seemed appropriate for Valentine’s Day.
And, finally, the whole purpose of the trip… dessert!
At Pistacia Vera I picked up four macarons, their signature treat, and a mini chocolate bombe. The bombe is a decadent mix of cake and mousse. My family has a regular (See also: large) one every Christmas… in fact, it’s so rich that one year it broke one of my parent’s Waterford cake knives in half!
Unfortunately, the bombe had issues on the four hour drive back to our house in Indiana… it was more like chocolate soup.
But, don’t worry, it still tasted great!
I can’t wait to take Adam back to North Market. Maybe during the summer when they are host to a huge, outdoor Farmer’s Market.
59 Spruce St.
Columbus, OH 43215
On-site parking: $0.25 per quarter hour up to two hours*
* with a validation stamp from a North Market Merchant… So, buy something! You’ll love it!