Kihachi IS that Good!

We recently had the privilege to dine at Kihachi Japanese Restaurant right here in Columbus, Ohio. If you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain, you may have seen the episode of No Reservations where he enjoyed the omakase dinner (which does require reservations AND at least two days notice!). We did not partake in the omakase on this visit, but plan to go again and give it a try.

I also was so enamored by everything we ordered that I forgot to take pictures of most things and when I did remember, we were already half way through. Oops! There were six of us dining and we ordered about three different items each then shared the majority.

Chef Mike Kimura pays attention to absolutely every detail. As if amazing food wasn’t enough, he is also incredibly friendly and good natured when mingling with his guests. While in the kitchen, which is open by the way so you can see all the action, he is intense and focused.

There is plenty on the menu for even the most cautious eater. From free range grilled or tempura chicken, to assorted tempura veggies and braised duck. You will of course also find the most amazing sashimi I have ever had. I opted for the assorted platter which that evening included melt in your mouth tuna, red snapper, paper thin squid, octopus, and two other fish that I now forget the names of. We also tried matsutake mushrooms under the advice of our friends who are from Japan. They are fragrant and almost woody in flavor, but in the yummy way, not the gnawing on a tree way! We probably all drank our weight in green tea too. 😛

As soon as I saw blowfish on the menu, I knew I had to give it a try. I was nervous given the potential outcome if not prepared correctly, but Chef Kimuras reputation convinced me to feel adventurous. When I have seen it on TV, it has always been prepared in razor thin slices and that is what I was anticipating. I also was told it would only be three pieces. It ended up being more like ten pieces and prepared almost steak-like. The texture reminded me a bit of steak, and I don’t recall that it had much of its own flavor. The ponzu sauce made the dish!

We had an unforgettable experience with wonderful company. Oh and the best green tea ice cream EVER. Sorry, I scarfed that down before thinking to take a picture or offering anyone a bite. 🙁

Farm Life, Then Now

It might seem a little strange to be writing about farms on a travel blog, but I did travel nearly an hour to get to them! How our food is raised, the traditions surrounding the raising of crops and livestock, and the bond of farmer to animal, crop, and consumer are also something I have a deep interest in and seek out to some degree on my travels near and far.

Our day started simply enough. We got up, took care of Meli, and headed out the door to pick up our final CSA share of the season. If you’re unfamiliar with what a CSA is, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In a nutshell, you pay a local farmer a number of months in advance for all of the produce they will provide you for the upcoming growing season. You are essentially investing in the farm and the return on your investment is fresh local food!

Back to our day:  Today was our CSAs customer appreciation day at their farm. We arrived to a warm welcome from the owners of Paige’s Produce, were provided a shopping list, and a wheelbarrow. Based on our list we were able to roam around and hand select our produce. Different CSAs provide different options. For the two of us, we pay for a half share of vegetables and as an add on, a half share of fruit. There was a great variety this year and the growing season rewarded all of us nicely! We have tons of butternut squash which is one of my favorite foods, particularly when Ed turns it into soup. Drool.

After working up a small appetite collecting our produce, roaming the farm, and checking out two impressive orb weavers on the side of a barn, we ventured over to their house for soup, mac & cheese, homemade cookies, and fresh apple cider. Such a great treat! Not every CSA holds an event at their farm for their customers, but in my opinion they should. CSAs encourage you to not only support local, but to really see where your food is coming from and get to know the people who make it possible.

As we were making our way back home, we passed one of our metro parks and made a u-turn. We haven’t been to this park before. Part of the reason we hadn’t made the journey is because there are only three short pet friendly trails and they aren’t allowed at the Living Historic Farm at all. I feel guilty having fun in nature while Meli sits at home. Today was serendipitous though as we were already in the area. I made it up to her by taking her for a walk at the park closer to home after dinner. 🙂

Slate Run Living Historical Farm is really cool. It must have been wonderful living there as an original home owner. The setting is idyllic. Lovely trees, wide open pastures, fields, a pond. I will say the lack of indoor plumbing would be the tough one for me. I could survive without electricity, I think, but am incredibly attached to a flushing toilet. The main barn is huge and beautifully maintained. The property is complete with the summer kitchen, root cellar, smoke house, outhouse, and a number of other out buildings. Around the farm we met the employees and volunteers who work the farm as if it were in a time capsule from the late 1800’s; as well as chickens, sheep, geese, ducks, cows, hogs, turkeys, guinea hens, and of course draft horses!

Having just come from a modern working farm, it was interesting to see the differences of small working farms then and now. The biggest difference, aside from indoor plumbing, is horse power. Literally. While some of the plows and other machinery are similar, now they are pulled by tractors instead of draft horses. Materials for many storage structures have shifted from wood to metal. If a part was needed, they needed to craft it themselves instead of going to the local hardware store or mechanic. Aside from that, it is remarkable how little has changed. I think that is a testament to how well the system works and the pride achieved in those who work the land.

I encourage you to learn more about the history where you live and anywhere you travel. If it doesn’t give you a deeper appreciation for the place you’re in and the people who live there, you’re doing it wrong.

I also would like to encourage you to look up your local farmers to see if they offer a CSA or similar program. If not, maybe reach out to ask if they would start one. Almost everyone used to raise at least some of their own produce. It is only in recent human history that we’ve begun to deviate farther away from our food sources. When we lose touch with our local farmers, we lose touch with ourselves.

Staycation in Ohio

As much as I love to travel the country and the world (and long to move to a warmer climate) there are so many different things to enjoy in Ohio. It is beyond time for the flyover mentality to be extinguished. Ohio has everything from lakes and rivers to mountains and prairie land to the 15th largest city in the country and tiny towns of less than 1000. (more…)

Port Angeles, Washington (part 6 of …6?)

If you are a fan of throw back flavors of soda pop, you must keep your eyes peeled for Bedford’s Sodas.  The creation of a Port Angeles local, you may be hard pressed to find any outside of Port Angeles though it appears since my visit that they have increased their distribution.  Bedford’s offers root beer, ginger beer, ginger ale, vanilla creme soda, and orange creme soda.

Port Angeles, Washington (part 5 of …6?)

We stopped at Toga’s Soup House for some sandwiches to take up to Hurricane Ridge and were only sorry that we waited until our last day to make a stop at Toga’s.  I’m also sorry that it isn’t closer to home!  Toga’s Soup House is owned and operated by an incredibly warm and friendly husband and wife team.  They offer a yummy selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches.  Assorted beverages, chips and the best part…made-in-house-daily soft pretzels.  Toga’s is an upscale deli and seems to be a favorite of visitors and locals alike.  It certainly is a favorite of mine!