I’ve mentioned before that Tania works as a tour guide for Columbus Food Adventures. Luckily for me, I occasionally get to enjoy some of the ancillary perks of her job. Most recently, she (and I) were invited to come along on the Meat Lovers’ Tour. While some tours, like the German Village and Short North Tours, are run reliably each week (when in season that is), the Meat Lovers’ Tour is a less frequent offering. So when we were invited along on the tour, we definitely jumped at the chance.
First, a bit about that name: the Meat Lovers’ Tour. I suppose it’s accurate in one sense. But, if you were judging the tour by just the name, you’d be left with a very one-dimensional picture of what it involves. Yes, you eat a lot of different kinds of meat; it’s definitely not a tour for vegetarians. At the same time though, it’s not a single-minded glutinous celebration of protein. Instead, the tour is a celebration of the role that meat plays in various cooking styles and traditions.
Even the above description is lacking. I’m having trouble describing the tour in a brief yet comprehensive manner. I guess that’s why a whole blog post is necessary. You’ll have to just read the whole thing and draw your own conclusions.
It must have been arrogance. There is no other explanation. I had read countless discussions of why biscuits had fallen flat—literally. But I didn’t think it would happen to me, even though it was my first attempt at biscuits. No, I thought I had beaten the game. I had acquired White Lily flour you see, the supposed secret to perfect biscuits. All I had to do was follow the recipe on the back of the bag, and my biscuits would be wonderful.
Not so much.
Ok then. Welcome back to part two of two about our trip this summer to the Twin Cities. Wait. You DID read part one of two, right? If not, you can catch up here. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out now would you? WOULD YOU? And whatever else, I hope you’re not getting tired of reading about What I Did On My Summer Vacation.
A little ways across town from where we were staying in Minneapolis sat Parka. A relatively new restaurant (it opened just this year I believe), Parka occupies a corner of a home furnishings store. Perhaps it was because it was so new, but Parka almost didn’t make it onto our radar. All of the credit for finding out about Parka goes to Tania. I’m not sure how or why she found it, but all I can say is that I’m glad she did. So also is she. I’m pretty sure Parka was her hands-down favorite place we ate the entire time we were on vacation.
Life having settled back into some semblance of routine and normalcy, I’ve finally managed to get around to some important and oft-neglected tasks. No ordinary tasks these, they’re the type that are intimidating to begin with and only get more so the longer you delay. Things like reading a three-month-old and growing stack of New York Times magazines, rectifying my embarrassing ignorance of most things Guided By Voices by finally wading into the band’s massive (official) discography and, most relevant to this post, finally updating this blog with some of the growing backlog of things I have to write about.
Jumping in with both feet, I will attempt to tell the tale of my (and Tania’s) summer vacation. Long before becoming an Ohioan, Tania lived up north in the Twin Cities. And for as long as I’ve known her, I’ve heard about how great Minneapolis is (also: the Minnesota State Fair). So, this year it was time to put those claims to the test. We made plans for a road trip, with the added benefit of being able to stop and see lots of friends of mine from college. (Hi Adam, Kjerstin, Pat, Kate, Marty, Anna, and HBC!)
A while ago, it was requested that I include more vegetarian recipes here on my blog. My best intentions to the contrary, I have utterly failed to do so. (I suppose it’s easy enough to make my Chicago-style pizza vegetarian; just leave off the sausage.) That request has caused me to realize just how central meat is to my cooking—at least to the cooking that I’m excited enough to write about. Regardless of the meal or course, meat seems to factor into my recipes fairly frequently.
There is one course though into which you’d really really have to try to incorporate meat. That course is dessert. So, that is what I will write about today: dessert.
This is not just any dessert mind you, this is a Peruvian dessert. At Tania’s urging, we’ve been doing a fair bit of Peruvian cooking. And this time, we made a dish called mazamorra morada. Mazamorra is…well, it’s a purple goo. With fruit in it. It’s a purple goo with fruit in it. I can’t really think of how better to describe it. It’s kind of like a pudding I guess, and kinda sorta like Jello—but not really. (Incidentally, they really like Jello in Peru. Maybe sometime I’ll get around to writing about torta helada, or Jello cake.)
The influence that family has had on my cooking and eating preferences has been no big secret. As I’ve already established here on the blog, family recipes make up a significant portion of my go-to cooking repertoire.
It should therefore come as no surprise to learn then that with parents who spent significant time in Chicago, either growing up or going to school, that I’ve been influenced by the cuisine of that fine city. And while there could perhaps be some debate about what one specific food item is most closely identified with the city (Italian beef? Chicago-style hot dogs?), no one would disagree if your pick was Chicago-style deep dish pizza.
It certainly is mine. I still remember my first encounter with pizza in Chicago. While visiting my aunt in the suburbs, we had gone downtown for the day. My folks led us to the original Gino’s East on Superior Street. I can’t remember how old I was at the time, but what I do remember waiting in line for what seemed like forever. And then we were led into a darkened space, with walls, tables, chairs—everything—covered in writing. The idea that they encouraged you to write on anything your eye could see seemed so subversive to my young mind.
Those who know me know that when it comes to Ohio cities, I’m a committed Columbus partisan. For the longest time I considered Ohio’s oldline cities—especially the “C” denominated ones—to be well past their prime. Regionally biased much? Perhaps. But unabashedly so at least.
I must admit however, after several years of being prevailed upon by transplants to Columbus from some of those more far flung regions, that perhaps, perhaps, our fine capital city could learn a thing or two from those others to the north and south of us. Would I say that I was wrong? Of course not. Never. But, I will say without hesitation that Cleveland’s West Side Market is by far the best public market in Ohio. And, I will, if a little more begrudgingly, say nice things about Cincinnati as well.
For example: Grippo’s potato chips are kind of awesome. In the, if you open a bag for a snack you may mysteriously find that you’re holding an empty bag and are now covered in crumbs with no memory of the intervening 45 minutes, kind of way. And there may or may not be an accompanying hit to your self-esteem to boot.
So yeah. If I was listing “good” things about Cincinnati, Grippo’s would definitely be on that list.