Ohio Street Food

Check out www.ohiostreetfood.com.
Founded by some friends of mine I grew up with in, you guessed it, Ohio, these guys are taking on the task of covering Ohio’s mobile food industry. From what we saw on a recent trip to Columbus, it looks as though street food is on the up and up there just as it is down here in ATX. They’re smart guys, smart with impressive senses of humor, smart with impressive senses of humor and fun, too. So support them. The end.

-Elizabeth

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The Anti Tourist on National Geographic: Columbus’ Local Food Scene

Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my. We have not told you very many stories lately, have we? We have been eerily quiet over here on The Anti Tourist front. This you must know. But know this as well: our silence can be undeniably credited to our relocation. From New York City to Austin, our headquarters have traveled with us as we’ve migrated and sought a warmer winter for 2010/2011. And warmer, it is. We like it that way. Meanwhile, we’re brainstorming the makeovers for the site we have in mind and we’re making more thrift store shopping trips than Ikea ones in an effort to furnish our office space with more spirit and less cookie-cutter. In the meantime, I put together this piece for National Geographic recently on the local farm-to-table food scene in Columbus. Shockingly, Columbus has got it all over many other cities who try and fail to support each other. Amazed at the success Columbus is having with this movement, I wrote this piece.

Growing up in Marietta, Ohio, Columbus was the “big city.” My mom would force us all into the car on Saturdays and we’d head to the JCPenney outlet store on the outskirts of the town. I remember dozing off to the soothing voices of NPR storytellers on the drive to Columbus. I dozed off on the drive back home usually, too. But that was because my entire family had just binged at the nearest all-you-can-eat buffet. The freshness or origin of the food at these joints wasn’t ever really in question. We were a family of five on a budget and food was food.

As high school graduation neared, most of my peers had already chosen to stay in Columbus and attend Ohio State. I however went to New York City, in step with the “Midwestern Girl Follows Dreams” cliche, and dismissed Columbus as a slow-lane college town, cookie-cut from the same dough as every other town between New York City and Los Angeles. And of course I thought that. I was 18 and uninformed.

The unfortunate thing is that it took me the better part of a decade to blink an eye at the city of Columbus again. After a recent thorough touring of Columbus’ culinary delights, however, I now know there was plenty else to eat. Plenty.

Read the rest of the piece on the National Geographic blog. Read it, comment on it, let the folks over there know you like it when The Anti Tourist’s voice is heard.

Be back soon with content.

By: Elizabeth Seward

Sunny Meadows Flower Farm – Organic Flowers in Columbus

Not a stone’s throw from bustling downtown Columbus there lies a lush and verdant patch of pastoral idyll, where flowers bloom in rainbowed rows and spotted fawns leap about capriciously. Bluebirds sing merrily while baby bunnies roll around in puddles of honey, giggling with delight. Welcome to Sunny Meadows  Flower Farm!

Sunny Meadows is an “all natural” farm specializing in flowers and dabbling in some foods—“all natural” because while they are not certified organic, they grow using organic practices. Located just outside of Columbus, a town loaded with locavores, they provide organically-grown seasonal flowers for events, especially weddings. Why organic flowers? As it turns out, “many of the flowers sold by florists and supermarket floral departments have been imported from countries where the pesticide regulations are not as stringent as they are in the United States and Canada. As a result, many imported cut flowers have been sprayed with toxic chemicals to keep them cosmetically perfect, and those chemical residues are still on the flowers when they reach this country” (from The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers by Lynn Byczynski).

Not only is your mother’s day present loaded with potentially dangerous chemicals, they are often grown in less fortunate places where workers are paid unfairly and conditions are poor. Sunny Meadows hopes to educate the public, generally wise about organic and locally-grown produce, on the importance of organic and locally-grown flowers.

Neither Steve nor Gretel Adams, the owners and operators of Sunny Meadows, grew up on a farm. For Steve, gardening was a labor of love he only found when moving into his own place for the first time. Gretel was fortunate enough recently to inherit a 10 acre lot in Columbus, and they’ve since filled it with ethically-grown flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Gretel has even taken up soap-making using the ingredients they grow at Sunny Meadows. Both in their late 20’s, they are part of a burgeoning movement of young people concerned with local affairs, seeking to improve their community rather than be content to depend on foreign corporate conglomerates who standardize and commodify everything they can, whose bottom line is profit, and who suck communities dry of variety, quality, and anything resembling a local economy. Just the fact that small, organic farms can turn a profit and sustain themselves shows that there is a sizable market for high quality goods that don’t taste like that hydroponic greenhouse shit from the Sysco truck.

This is a beautiful thing. I have a dream; what if we lived in a world who didn’t act as if Walmart and Target were their umbilical cord? What if food was actually grown outside? In dirt? What if it actually tasted good, and was healthy, and was grown nearby? And was fresh, and only recently harvested? What if our produce wasn’t covered in poisonous chemicals? Why are these novel concepts?

By: Ben Britz

Midwestern Microdistillery Magic – Middle West Spirits

Middle West Spirits, the name of the microdistillery brainchild of Brady Konya and Ryan Lang, is housed in a formerly nondescript city building with an industrial feel. Now of course it is a building with an edgy and understated design, and within, the owners/operators perform miracles.

A labor of love and longevity, Middle West Spirits has been in the making for over three years. After moving to Columbus from the West Coast, where microdistilleries have been in vogue for a few years, Brady and Ryan decided to bring artisanal small-batch liquor to the Midwest. It is a fraught business. Draconian liquor production and distribution laws have been in place for years and it is difficult to brave the system’s red tape—fortunately for us, Ryan’s forefathers made a living out of Prohibition-era moonshine and so he is predisposed to do battle when it comes to Alcohol Rights.

It was only May of 2010 when they sold their first bottle of OYO Vodka (pronounced oh-WHY-oh), a long time in the making. The vodka is made from a soft, red winter wheat grown in Northern Ohio and milled locally, and they are working hard at developing a supply chain of local farmers who will produce seasonal products that highlight local agriculture. It takes seven days for the distilling process to finish, and they produce batches of about 600 liters at a time. Extra care is taken throughout the entire process to retain the subtle flavors vodka has.

Mass produced vodkas, even top shelf brands, are made with the idea that vodka is supposed to be a odorless, colorless, and tasteless liquor meant to be mixed. “We’d beg to differ,” says Brady. “There’s an ongoing revival in vodkas, and people who know artisan spirits know that there’s a complexity to the spirit that is under-appreciated. Essentially, there’s a standard filtration process that strips a lot of that flavor out, but you can still make amazing vodkas without filtering out those flavors. Some can be very simple and some can have a lot of character.”

This was when they brought out two bottles of vodka, Grey Goose and their own OYO. This seemed ballsy, I thought at the time, thinking back to college and those vodka-fueled bouts of nighttime mania. Grey Goose was the desirable, the unattainable, at least with my financial aid package. The plastic gallon jug of Popov was the taste I remembered, and an easy one to beat by basically anything you’d ever willingly pour into your mouth. Better a sure win than a close race when trying to impress.

I took a sip of Grey Goose, swished it around in my mouth, played with it, even enjoyed it—more reminiscent of Manhattan clubs and bottle service than college. But the OYO, from the first sniff to the last gasp, was a completely different experience. It was actually quite smooth, slightly sweet, and much more complex than any vodka I had ever tasted, but it was a subtle complexity. The finish was all heat but no burn, and so, so pleasant. I finagled another pouring out of Brady before sipping the Grey Goose again for comparison—and never again! Such acridity and tongue-curling bitterness is fine for cutting grease, but not fit for human consumption. I might give my dog Grey Goose, but please, save the OYO for me.

At the moment, they are focusing on producing a first-class vodka (and they have) though they are working on a gin recipe, and have plans to produce whiskey in the future. I can’t wait.

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Middle West Spirits, the name of the microdistillery brainchild of Brady Konya and Ryan Lang, is housed in a formerly nondescript city building with an industrial feel. Now of course it is a building with an edgy and understated design, and within, the owners/operators perform miracles.

A labor of love and longevity, Middle West Spirits has been in the making for over three years. After moving to Columbus from the West Coast, where microdistilleries have been in vogue for a few years, Brady and Ryan decided to bring artisanal small-batch liquor to the Midwest. It is a fraught business. Draconian liquor production and distribution laws have been in place for years and it is difficult to brave the system’s red tape—fortunately for us, Ryan’s forefathers made a living out of Prohibition-era moonshine and so he is predisposed to do battle when it comes to Alcohol Rights.

It was only May of 2010 when they sold their first bottle of OYO Vodka (pronounced oh-WHY-oh), a long time in the making. The vodka is made from a soft, red winter wheat grown in Northern Ohio and milled locally, and they are working hard at developing a supply chain of local farmers who will produce seasonal products that highlight local agriculture. It takes seven days for the distilling process to finish, and they produce batches of about 600 liters at a time. Extra care is taken throughout the entire process to retain the subtle flavors vodka has. Mass produced vodkas, even top shelf brands, are made with the idea that vodka is supposed to be a odorless, colorless, and tasteless liquor meant to be mixed. “We’d beg to differ,” says Brady. “There’s an ongoing revival in vodkas, and people who know artisan spirits know that there’s a complexity to the spirit that is under-appreciated. Essentially, there’s a standard filtration process that strips a lot of that flavor out, but you can still make amazing vodkas without filtering out those flavors. Some can be very simple and some can have a lot of character.”

This was when they brought out two bottles of vodka, Grey Goose and their own OYO. This seemed ballsy, I thought at the time, thinking back to college and those vodka-fueled bouts of nighttime mania. Grey Goose was the desirable, the unattainable, at least with my financial aid package. The plastic gallon jug of Popov was the taste I remembered, and an easy one to beat by basically anything you’d ever willingly pour into your mouth. Better a sure win than a close race when trying to impress.

I took a sip of Grey Goose, swished it around in my mouth, played with it, even enjoyed it—more reminiscent of Manhattan clubs and bottle service than college. But the OYO, from the first sniff to the last gasp, was a completely different experience. It was actually quite smooth, slightly sweet, and much more complex than any vodka I had ever tasted, but it was a subtle complexity. The finish was all heat but no burn, and so, so pleasant. I finagled another pouring out of Brady before sipping the Grey Goose again for comparison—and never again! Such acridity and tongue-curling bitterness is fine for cutting grease, but not fit for human consumption. I might give my dog Grey Goose, but please, save the OYO for me.

At the moment, they are focusing on producing a first-class vodka (and they have) though they are working on a gin recipe, and have plans to produce whiskey in the future. I can’t wait.

By: Ben Britz

Sunset in Marietta, Ohio

Appalachian culture is unique, unlike any other culture in the world. I grew up in the countryside within and around the Appalachians; it is beautiful, and the natural beauty is reflected in the culture of the people who live here.

Marietta, Ohio is where I grew up. A beautiful town through and through, there’s one especially perfect place to watch the sun set in this town. Although it might irritate my friends from back home that I’m in the business of disclosing information about spots that might otherwise be secret, I’m going to tell you the best place to watch the sun set anyhow.

It’s called the Stanleyville Church—at least as far as I know. That’s what everyone in Marietta calls it. If you can actually find it using Google, or by asking kind passers-by, then you deserve the view.

The colors are vivid, thick and contrasting; the sky and clouds light up bright orange against the deep blue green of the surrounding hills; acres of farmland cut into the forests complete with red barns and ancient wooden fences roll with the hills. Behind you as you watch is a decrepit old church and graveyard. The sunset light reflects off some of the newer stones.

By: Elizabeth Seward & Ben Britz

Take Flying Lessons in Hocking Hills, OH

Harry Sowers is a crazy dude, but crazy in a gentle, friendly, warm, yet slightly off-putting way. He runs a tiny flight school and air tour service on a tiny airstrip in Hocking Hills, Ohio. He took me and few friends up, did a few flips and tricks, nearly caused a Canadian journalist in one of the 3 seats on this plane to lose his lunch, but comically so. He won my eternal friendship by consenting to do a dangerously steep dive, the trees of Hocking Hills approaching much too rapidly, and pulling up last second, just because I asked him to. What a guy!

Take-off!

Landing and missing the runway completely! WOOPS

13 Summer Travel Ideas: USA

It’s too early for me to be awake. I was watching my nephew shoot off bottle rockets next to a raging bonfire in BackWoods, USA last night (Greensboro, Pennsylvania). To nobody’s surprise, that lasted all night. But I’m up and I’m happy it’s July 4th. I’m in Morgantown, West Virginia for it, getting ready to embark on an afternoon of one of the most American things out there: a BBQ. I’m either feeling groggy or generous or both, but I want to help you plan your travels this summer across the USA if you haven’t already done some planning. Here are some summer travel ideas, straight to you from The Anti Tourist.

1. Spokane, Washington

Go biking, kayaking, wine-tasting, live-music-watching, or out to eat in this city that surprised me last summer. I had a blast in the blazing heat and you will, too. The Davenport is the main hotel downtown and I swear on my life that it’s haunted.

2. California (Santa Cruz and farther north)

SoCal is gorgeous in its own right, but during the summer, head north–preferably on a road trip up the 101. Between Santa Cruz, The Redwoods, and all that is offered in San Francisco and San Mateo County, you’ll keep yourself busy and wonder why you hadn’t explored more thoroughly before now.

3. Maine

Maine makes for a great summer getaway. You’ll hit a lot of cities on the east coast, but once you hit Maine, you’ll get some much-needed peace and quiet. Try out The Cliffhouse for top-of-the-line oceanside rooms and a rockin’ spa. HINT: you can also bring your dog(s).

Need more ideas? OK. Here you go. 10 more USA summer travel ideas:

4. Pamper yourself at NYC Spas.

5. Visit Asheville. Stay in a B&B in Asheville.

6. Go ghost hunting in Texas, stay here, eat at the Mighty Cone (serious about that last one–FRIED FOOD in ICE CREAM cones, what??).

7. Speaking of ghosts, go to Dudleytown in Connecticut.

8. Colorado is good for more than its slopes. Check out the state in the summertime. Stay at the Boulder Canyon Inn, check out the Bat Cave!

9. Hit the streets of DC. From cool clubs with caves for basements to bed and breakfasts that will give you way too much wine, DC is a sweet city that comes alive in a way we like during the summer. Worship both Jehovah and the Gods of Rock and Roll at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue/Music venue!

10. Go zip-lining in Hocking Hills, Ohio. While you’re there, go Hot-Air Ballooning too, because, why the hell not? How about a Lunchbox Museum? How about flying lessons from a crazy (crazy AWESOME) man?

11. Hike, ride horses, and do other country thaaangs while staying at a B&B in Pennsylvania.

12. Turn off your phone and check into a cottage in Oregon.

13. Go caving. Anywhere. The caves will keep you cool during the hot summer months. Tennesee and Kentucky are full of ’em, but check out a full list of USA Caves to map out your underground route.

Now quit talkin’ about getting away this summer and just do it.

By: Elizabeth Seward