FOOD FOR THOUGHT: FARM TO TABLE

 In the food world trends come and go. Last year we were all going crazy over our acai bowls. A few months ago we couldn’t stop posting pics of our designer doughnuts. Just like with anything else, food trends are ever changing—they come and go. We have gotten some of our greatest culinary achievements through food trends. Noodles in the first century, soufflés of the early eighteenth century, or the great fondue craze of the 1970’s. Where would we be without all of these innumerable food trends? They all build off of each other and help to create something new. Like a saucier with their 5 sauce bases. Food trends, much like fashion trends, tend to rotate. We’ve all been drinking our kombucha lately, but this is an ancient Asian drink that has been around for thousands of years.

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Oktoberfest

I think when people throughout the country think of Ohio, what comes to mind for them is mostly farmland and a vanilla demographic. Little do they know how ethnically diverse things really are here in the Buckeye State. In the Valley we tend to always gravitate to ethnic traditions of Italy and sometimes Greece which I’m assuming is because of the large population of Italian and Greek Americans in the area. Being of both Italian and German decent, I find myself doing the same thing. I tend to cook more pizzas and pastas than schnitzels and brats. Well friends, there is one time of year when Spade and I get to celebrate our German side— and that time is Oktoberfest.

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“5 Course Interview” Erik Hoover

Love is an odd state. It’s so much more than just a feeling. It may start off as a feeling, but it never resolves to remain in that state. It’s usually ignited by one of your senses. Whether sight, smell, taste, touch, or hearing, that initial feeling must migrate to your will if it wishes to remain love. For example, you may fall in love with a certain city while on vacation. The beautiful sights, the sound of the ocean, the smell of flowers, the feel of fresh snow under foot. All of these things may spark a passion for this particular place. If you are truly in love with this destination you must choose to live there. The longer you stay the more you love your new home. You may have never known you loved gardening until you chose to actually live in such and such a town. Bird watching becomes something you surprisingly find an interest for now that you chose to live in your favorite place. Besides our love for each other, Spade and I have fallen in love with the food in the Mahoning Valley. As we to return to our favorite spots, we have found that we have a certain affinity for the people behind the food as well—which is why we created what we call the “5 Course Interview.” This is an opportunity for us to introduce and connect you to some of the amazing people that we have gotten the pleasure to meet along the way. In this episode we are excited to introduce you to Chef Erik Hoover. He is the man who has brought us one of the best BBQ joints this side of the Mississippi. We hope that you, like us, will fall in love with not only the amazing food but the stories and people behind it.

Enjoy!

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The Youngstown Flea

As summer approaches, there are always memories that flood my mind. Summer vacations at the beach without a care in the world. Adventures at the local park with sunset as the only destination. Long bike rides with no direction, just a desire to ride. The thrills of going to an amusement park. My favorite had to have been all the local festivals and fairs. I think I liked those best because I got to have fun with my friends and eat good food. With millennials slowly creeping towards middle age and a new generation succeeding the throne of young and exciting, I believe we have found the next summer memory maker. The Youngstown Flea will surely be a backdrop to lifelong memories for old and new generations alike. Continue reading “The Youngstown Flea”

Connections

Have you ever sat and had coffee with a friend while discussing some of life’s most intriguing questions? Have you ever spent time serving in a soup kitchen or enjoyed a family gathering around an array of delicious delicacies? Maybe you’ve had lunch with a new business partner and brainstormed innovative and exciting ideas. We all love the guy in the office that brings in donuts on Mondays when most of us don’t want to be there. There seems to be a certain nuance that food and drink bring to the human experience. Our existence here has many complex facets. One that I believe most of us may overlook or gloss by is the connection we share with other individuals on this planet. C.S. Lewis puts it like this, “Human beings look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well, and when they were part of his grandparents. If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees is, it would look like one single growing thing—rather like a very complicated tree. Every individual would appear connected with every other.” How profound that it is time and space which constricts our view of humanity as a whole. One of the greatest adventures in life is realizing this misconception and reestablishing our connectivity to our fellow man.

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“5 Course Interview” Matt Campbell

Recently we had the pleasure of spending some time with some dear friends of ours at Branch Street Coffee Roasters. They gave us the opportunity to attend one of their coffee tastings with full access. This was a public event that was free of charge. This occasion was in celebration of their recent achievement of a 94 rating from the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America). They are the first here in Youngstown to even be rated much less to receive a rating this high. This event allowed us to taste their award winning coffee with co-owner Matt Campbell and better understand all of the tasting notes of the aromatic java. This was a huge privilege for us and a great way to gain some coffee knowledge. We decided this would also be a perfect opportunity to ask Matt a few questions that have been on my mind. This will begin a new series for Spade and I that we are entitling “5 Course Interview”. The concept is that we will ask 5 questions that will take you deeper into the mind of a local owner or chef that better explains their specific trade or craft, just as you would go through 5 courses in a gourmet restaurant. Our hope is that this will be a bridge between owners and patrons. It allows the owner/chef to preach their message while also giving the patron a more personalized perspective you might not get in an ordinary dining setting. We hope you all enjoy getting to know Matt as much as we have.

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Date Night: Valentine’s Day Edition

This one goes out to all my fellow fellas out there. It began as a “bro talk” at my local barber shop. This is a bi-weekly ritual for me and is a harbor for great conversation. As we dove into sorted topics of politics, men’s fashion, and other random subjects one main idea surfaced. Where you should take your significant other for Valentine’s Day? As the food and restaurant aficionado, the question was obviously directed towards me. Deliberating more on the idea, my thoughts became clearer. This is not so much a question of specifically where to take your female counterpart, rather a question of how to plan the evening. Continue reading “Date Night: Valentine’s Day Edition”

Mahoning Valley Food Culture

The Mahoning Valley truly has a rich pedigree of dining dynasties. I revel in the stories of the “good old days” when Youngstown and Warren were filled with tasty treasures. Stories of how you couldn’t even get into the old Alberini’s or Abruzzi’s Cafe 422 without having a suit jacket on. The days when you could go to Idora Park and get an ice cream cone and fresh-cut fries at a moment’s notice (…just imagine the rides going and the smell of the salt and vinegar!) There was a certain magic the Mahoning Valley had about it. With major plant closings over the past few years and a continuously rising crime rate, it seems these olden days could almost be forgotten. Luckily, there are few tried and true restaurants that have made it though despite these difficult times.  Continue reading “Mahoning Valley Food Culture”