Veri-Staas: When East Met West On Winter Street

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This is a tale of how the fine folks behind Staas Brewing Company and Veritas Tavern met on a Monday night in early March, and changed my culinary mindset forever.

When Staas Brewing Company came to town the summer of July 2013, I had no idea how impactful they would be for our community. Anytime you stop in, you are greeted by the warm smiles of owners Donald and Liz Staas. You could be sitting shoulder to shoulder with local business owners, students from OWU, and even the occasional wanderer discovering Delaware Ohio for the first time. Donald and Liz have found the perfect mix of classic styles and experimental brews. Literally everything they serve is worth a try, and you’re always bound to run into a new brew you might never had known about. DelawareO’s very own Nicole Fowles wrote a wonderful review shortly after Staas opened that started with the question “You’re not living under a rock are you?” [Read:  Stass – Like A Boss!]

It’s a valid question.  Maybe it didn’t apply to me with the fine folks at Staas, but I’m here to admit freely that when it came to Veritas Tavern…I was living under a rock. That is where this lovely story of the West and East sides of Winter Street begins.
I’m a faithful follower of Staas Brewing Company on Instagram (You are too, right? Hint: @staasbrewing). Every once in a while, I’d see a picture of a wonderful Veritas meal that Donald and Liz were enjoying posted on Instagram. When Liz told me about their plans for a collaboration dinner with Veritas Tavern I knew instantly I had to be part of this wonderful first time event. If you have never been to Veritas, then you are in the same boat I was: totally clueless about an amazing restaurant right in our own back yard. Each picture I’d find online, and every menu posting at www.veritastavern.com made me look forward to the collaboration more and more. If Staas Brewing Company owned my attention on West Winter Street, Veritas was about to get mine on East Winter Street.

 

Five courses of perfection

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“Nacho and Lamb Chili”

The concept for the collaboration was pretty genius in my mind. It was a five course meal with each being a sophisticated take on classic bar food. It was the perfect idea. As much as Staas Brewing Company brews exceptional beer, so too does Veritas put out exceptional and unique food. Each course paired with a different beer from Staas Brewing Company, and as a special treat Liz poured everyone a glass of The Quad. The Quad is a 10.1% mammoth of a beer with a perfect balance between fig and plum notes with good body that helps hold the alcohol back from being too much to take. It is a brewing marvel and an incredible achievement on the part of this beer’s creator, Liz’s Dad, Tony.  As The Quad warms up (If you can bare to let it sit that long) the flavor profile changes to resemble something very close to a fine Port Wine.

The first dish was a wonderful take on the quintessential bar food: The Nacho. This wasn’t just any Nacho. This was a wonderful house made nacho chip topped with a lamb and pinto bean chili with a spot of crème fraiche on top. The nacho was paired with “The Golden Delicious”, a Belgian Golden Strong Ale that clocks in at around 8.6% ABV. If you ever ask Liz what her personal favorite beer they serve is, she is likely to point you in the direction of this beer. I’ve always been amazed at the clear golden color of this brew that can resemble a glass of white wine. The paring? Simply perfect. As balanced as both parts are, the creaminess of the nacho’s toppings were exactly what you wanted to help bring this big beer down to size.

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“Wing with Blue Cheese Foam”

Next came a de-boned Buffalo Wing paired with the “Senior Status”. I spent four years of my life in Buffalo New York, so I’ve had my fair share of wings. This wing, confit cooked in duck fat, served before me on a plank of wood (great touch) is certainly very high on my list of all-time favorite wings. Resting between the two wings, a simple looking foam was about to ruin Blue Cheese Dressing for the rest of my life. Veritas stepped up the game with a Blue Cheese Foam. That’s right folks, a foam…and it was absolutely incredible. I’m not a culinary expert by any means, but something about taking the classic Blue Cheese dressing flavor and turning it into a foam completely changed the flavor for me. It was light, simple yet complex, not at all overbearing. This foam is seriously the only pairing I want with any wing I’ll have for the rest of my days on this earth. It is seriously that good. The Senior Status is my personal favorite brew at Staas. It’s an American Double IPA brewed with Citra Hops. This big balanced beer worked amazingly with the wings and the Blue Cheese foam. My favorite beer and Blue Cheese foam? I felt a lucky man indeed that night.

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“Stadium Hotdog and E.S.B.”

“Stadium Food and the Runner Up” showed me that life doesn’t end at Blue Cheese foam. Course three was the Veritas take on the Hotdog. The house made hotdog was paired with two types of mustard, a classic yellow style and a stadium style (which made the Cleveland part of me quite happy). Along for the ride was a pretzel spatzel and pumpernickel croutons. What a wonderful dish. The hotdog was simply perfect, and something I would eat again and again. I know I’ll be wishing for one at my next Cleveland Indians game this summer. Paired with the dish was the Staas take on the English classic, the E.S.B. (Extra Special Bitter). This is the more approachable beer they have for newbies to the craft brew scene, but also for old beer veterans as well. Simply put, I love this beer. If Staas Brewing Company ever made the move to bottle beer, this would be the one I’d expect to see on the shelves first. Combined with the dog, I closed my eyes and could almost smell the fresh cut grass of the baseball diamond.

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“The Best Burger I’ve Ever Had”

The Burger and the Scottish Export was the fourth course. This burger was a top notch blend of beef chuck, short rib and brisket. Served with a pickled onion perfectly dressed green and onion rings, this burger was worth more than the thousand words my Instagram picture could say (hint: @wnybuffalo0307). This is honestly the best burger I have ever had. Paired with it was the Scottish Export. This brew was an exceptional represenative of the “Specialty” line of limited edition Staas brews. On any other night, this would have been a great way to cap off the event, but not that night.  Veritas had a secret weapon up their sleeve for the final course: dessert.

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“Dessert time!”

“Cigar and Pluggy’s Town Porter” was the name of our final course. The dessert dish was a play on the classic Cigar with a chocolate coated ice cream resting on a bed of powdery smoky bed (and bacon maybe?). There are simply not enough superlatives to explain how exceptional this creation is.  As soon as I had a bite, I immediately turned to the kitchen to seek out the mad scientist that was certainly at the helm of this delicious dish. The paring with the Robust Vanilla Porter from Staas was an excellent choice due to the chocolate creamy flavor of the beer.

Veritas Tavern and Stass Brewing Company are certainly doing everything right when it comes to their craft. That’s truly what it is, a craft. When you sit down for a meal at Veritas, or pull up to a fresh brew at Staas, you are experiencing the byproduct of pure unbridled passion. If you haven’t visited Winter Street in a while, please do share some of your time with these fine professionals. They are a true treat to have in our community.

 

 

Bonus Time

If you’ve read anything I’ve written for DelawareO, you know I usually end on a “Bonus Time”. This one however, was completely unplanned. After a 3 hour dinner of excellent food, my fiance Sarah noticed a unique item on the Veritas Menu: Duck Nuggets. I knew I had to come back, and all it took to break the camel’s back was to hear the two best words in the restaurant industry-“Happy Hour”.

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“Duck Nuggets”

                The Duck Nuggets sold me on the name alone. I returned the next day for this amazing appetizer. Coated in delicately crunchy bread crumbs, the duck made me realize that I’ve probably had my last chicken nugget of my life. I had to have more, so naturally I scanned the menu looking for the one thing that makes the heart race for any fine man. I found Bacon Risotto.

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“Bacon Risotto”

Bacon Risotto. What a great dish. The rice is cooked in bacon broth, then bound together with creamy cheese. Served on top was a perfectly poached 62 &1/2 degree egg, and candied bacon. I literally did not want this dish to end.

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“Just Brew It”

The Weekly Staas Sign: I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up what has become my favorite thing about Thursdays. Each Thursday, Staas Brewing posts a picture on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook of their new weekly sign. The message on the sign changes each Thursday, and it’s usually hilarious. Check it out next time through. I promise you’ll smile.

Want more collaborations?  Veritas is hosting a collaboration with Jackie O’s on June 23rd at 7pm.  Tickets are limited.  Price is $90.95 and can be purchased by visiting their website or calling directly.

Staas Brewing Company is also participating in The Ohio Machine Bar Hop on June 14th.  Beginning around Noon and concluding at Shelby Stadium at 5pm.  They will be brewing a special beer for the occasion, so keep an eye out…or better yet, join the crawl!

Interact with Staas Brewing Company at: www.staasbrewing.com and @staasbrewing on Twitter & Instagram

Interact with Veritas Tavern at: www.veritastavern.com and @veritastavern on Twitter & Instagram

Getting to the Root of it in Powell

Loaded Chips at Local Root

Loaded Chips at Local Roots

The Root Of The Matter

Okay, let’s be honest with each other for a moment. As much as we love our home county, sometimes we venture south to Columbus for a night of fun. Maybe you’re going to see the Blue Jackets play at Nationwide Arena, or perhaps you’re about to catch a show at the Palace Theatre. In either case, there’s plenty of time to begin your night out right here in Delaware County.

Local Roots is a fantastic dinner option to begin or cap off your night out. The name, Local Roots, is a play on their concept. The menu is made up of locally sourced produce and meats. According to their website they serve Ohio pork, Amish chicken, Ohio Bison, and produce from their family farm “not far from downtown Powell.” A well-stocked bar is bolstered by a list of beers from around Ohio with 24 beers on tap.

What is it about “Local Roots?”

As great as this sounded to me when I looked them up for the first time, it was the Loaded Chips that called my name. My very first bite confirmed that I was about to have a great night of food ahead of me. “Loaded Chips” start with house made chips smothered by a creamy blend of alfredo, gorgonzola cheese, and bacon. My fiancé Sarah and I absolutely loved this appetizer just about as much as we loved the environment at Local Roots. We came on a Wednesday and were pleasantly surprised to see a lively room.

The bar was packed and many of the seats and booths were filled. The room size was larger than it looked from outside, helped by a generous vault in the ceiling. What impressed me the most about Local Roots was the staff we encountered that night. Each person acknowledged us with a gentle nod and a smile, and one man was even singing a Frank Sinatra tune to himself. It made us feel welcome and ready to have a great meal.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (Also known as “Perfection”)

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (Also known as “Perfection”)

Let the meal begin

I began with a cup of Loaded Baked Potato Soup, and when I was done with it I immediately realized I made an error in only ordering a cup. It was simply perfect. They nailed the flavor of a full bite of a real loaded baked potato. It was creamy and cheesy, starchy and salty, warm and adorned with just enough bacon to balance it all together. Local Roots has an incredibly balanced mix of entrees. Sarah ordered the Bolognese served over Fresh Ohio Pasta, where I gladly ordered the Arroz con Pollo (Spice Rubbed ½ Chicken and Rice).

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Bolognese

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Arroz Con Pollo

“Chicken and Rice” absolutely does not go deep enough to explain this wonderful Arroz Con Pollo. Sitting atop my plate was fall-off-the-bone tender spice rubbed half chicken. It was moist and full of great flavor, pairing quite nicely with the crumbled Chorizo and Spicy Tomato Sauce. Everything sat an bed of Spanish rice. I’ll be honest, I might have stuffed myself that night, but it was certainly more than worth it. I was pleasantly surprised to see a full Gluten Free menu. This wasn’t just a few entrée options but rather an entire menu to meet your Gluten Free needs. Local Roots also offers a carry out option (great for those on the go), and has a banquet room to host private or restaurant hosted events. Local Roots will defiantly be on my rotation

Bonus Time:

Looking for something different to entertain yourself with? Local Roots also offers an events calendar filled with some pretty great nights. Here are just a few things coming up at Local Roots:

February 24th is Ladies Night “Scotch & Centerpieces” were you will get a little lesson on various scotches.

• March 11th is a “Tuesday Teaching” centered round Blended Scotches touching on the Johnnie Walker family.

March 19th brings us “Dinner In The Dark” featuring a blind menu that you are in the “dark” about. (This one excites me the most)

Local Roots: http://www.localrootspowell.com

 

 

Sandusky Street Through The Eyes Of a 4 Year Old.

Caitlyn leading the Sandusky Streettour.

Meet your local Sandusky Street Tour Guide: Caitlyn

The the Delaware, Ohio Tour Begins!

My daughter is a typical four-year old. She loves Pizza. She loves to paint. She loves when you read a story to her. For the longest time, I would pack up the car and head down to Columbus to hit up the big brick and mortar shops to give her the “Saturday with Daddy” lineup of said good food, books and all around Daddy-Daughter fun. As I began my journey in discovering the city and county I live in, it dawned on me…we can do all of that right in our own home town. If my daughter could have it her way, she’d follow this line up every day. I hope you enjoy the real journey my daughter and I took on the weekend of October 26th.

Amato’s Woodfired Pizza

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The pizza here is awesome, but today I’m here for dessert

Our first stop is Amato’s Woodfired Pizza. Situated right on the corner of Sandusky Street and William Street, Amato’s serves up simply fantastic wood fired pizza and other items that I literally dream about. I’m pretty sure that everyone has “that” pizza shop wherever they are from. Are you from Chicago? It’s probably Giordano’s or some other fine deep-dish place. Do you hail from Niagara Falls New York? Then you probably have a soft spot for Buzzy’s Pizza. For me, Amato’s is the pie that represents all of central Ohio. If I ever move away, this will be the pizza I miss and plan trips to come back for. Yeah, it’s that good.

The Tiramisu has me in a trance

The Tiramisu has me in a trance

But you knew that already. Amato’s also serves up some of the best desserts that your taste buds can desire. Lucky for my daughter, Daddy loves dessert. On this day, as Caitlyn finished up her pepperoni pizza, I began to work on a fantastic Tiramisu that I fell in love with at first bite. It was just the perfect mix of creamy and coffee goodness layered on top of soft lady fingers that sadly did not last long enough for my gluttonous appetite. The fun doesn’t stop there. The Cannoli we had reminded me of my favorite Cannoli from my college days in Niagara Falls. Caitlyn approved of all, and Daddy was quite full.

 The Bare Bowl

The Bare Bowl

The Bare Bowl

After two quick street crossings and we found ourselves on the east side of Sandusky Street in front of one of the best arts & craft activity places I’ve ever seen for kids (of all ages): The Bare Bowl. The Bare Bowl offers an all inclusive create your own experience that my daughter loves returning to time and time again. The idea is simple enough. You start by selecting a piece of pottery you want to paint, usually plates, bowls, mugs and things of that nature, but they also offer ornaments for Christmas and other neat designs. The price includes all paint and design stamps you want, plus the glaze. T

Painting Mugs: Best way to pass a Saturday in Delaware Ohio

Painting Mugs: Best way to pass a Saturday in Delaware Ohio

here’s no time limit, no studio fees. They also offer birthday parties as well! $25 bucks reserves the date. Then you pick the price range for the ceramics you want, and they put them on the table for your kids to paint however they wish. You can even bring your own cake, and do presents there.

Caitlyn selected a mug for her Grandmother that lives in Texas, “Abuela”. My mom loves everything

The Bare Bowl’s holiday themed window

The Bare Bowl’s holiday themed window

Caitlyn makes for her, so when her birthday came up I knew this would be the perfect thing that my daughter could make for her. Caitlyn smiled and laughed as she used six different colors to paint the inside and outside of Abuela’s mug. Once we were done, we used a blow dryer to make sure the paint was dry, and then handed it off to the staff behind the counter. Seven short days later, our beautiful glazed mug is ready to mail to Texas!

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The Finished Product. Perfect!

Beehive Books

Bee Hive Books: Your new favorite local bookstore

Bee Hive Books: Your new favorite local bookstore

Crossing Sandusky once more to the west side, we came to what is quickly becoming my favorite book store: Beehive Books. Beehive Books reminds me of “The Shop Around The Corner” from the movie You’ve Got Mail. It’s your local book store, filled with warm smiles, fantastic coffees and tea, and book offerings for all ages and styles. Nearly all of my downtown Delaware explorations begin and end at Beehive Books and not just because of the convenient parking lot in the back. Beehive a great selection of new books as well as what I would consider some of the comfiest couches and chairs in Delaware County.

Talk about selection!

Talk about selection!

Caitlyn loves to come in here with me to browse for new books in the kids section, where my Fiancé has a soft spot for the café in the front of the store. There’s always something happening at Beehive Books. Book signings, poetry readings, you name it. This is a place you can relax, and enjoy the treasure that is a locally owned bookstore. Not that there’s anything wrong with the big stores, but I’ve grown very fond of the little shops that could. Beehive is a true gem.

Something Sweet Coffee & Bakery

Bonus time! Something Sweet is the new coffee home on the corner of Sandusky and William. This is the place where I had the best Pumpkin Spice Mocha I have ever had, hands down. So next time you stop by the new Barley Hopsters, or grab a bite at Amato’s, give the Northeast Corner a shot and enjoy a great cup of Joe.

Something Sweet Coffee & Bakery on the corner of Sandusky and William Street

Something Sweet Coffee & Bakery on the corner of Sandusky and William Street

 

 

Biking On The Old Railroad Tracks in Genoa Township Trail

Great Use For Old Train Tracks

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Ohio to Erie Trail sign near Plum Road

The thing I love the most about Delaware County is its ability to show me urban excitement and country serenity in just a few short miles. It’s one of the few unspoken secrets about where we live: Delaware Ohio is the perfect mix of everything. Hands down, my favorite way to experience this duality is via the Genoa Township Bike Trail.

Riding the Trail

Entrance to McNamara Park from The Genoa Township Trail

Entrance to McNamara Park from The Genoa Township Trail

Bike trails are seemingly popping up all over the place. Next time you’re on Google Maps, click on Bicycling and watch the map flip over to reveal the bold green spaghetti strings of bike paths all over Central Ohio. Delaware County has several paths, but one of my favorites has to the Genoa Township trail. In six short miles, you and your family can enjoy a healthy day outside on what is a beautiful and relatively easy ride.

Shelter & Field at McNamara Park

Shelter & Field at McNamara Park

Part of what will eventually become the 325 mile Ohio to Erie Trail; The Genoa Township Trail begins in the southeast corner of Delaware County, just north of Westerville. Beginning behind the Home Depot, at the corner of Maxtown Road and State Route 3, the trail follows what was an abandoned rail line northward. The trail is paved, and is usually populated by a mixture of walkers, runners and bikers. Part of the mystique of this trail is the fact that is mostly enclosed by mature trees creating a sense of calm as you glide your way down the path.

Nearly midway through your journey, the path opens up to McNamara Park. This is a great way point, or even starting point depending on where you want to begin. The park has a shelter and a great playground for the kids. Early October is my favorite time to take the trail because the leaves are just starting to turn. McNamara Park is a great place to take a moment to observe these changes.

Going the Extra Mile (for the kids)

Walkway into Millstone Creek Park”

Walkway into Millstone Creek Park”

Brought the kids with you? Start one mile sooner at Millstone Creek Park. The Maxtown-Schrock Trail connects this fantastic park to the Genoa Township Trail, and is a simple flat ride for the whole family. What I like about this park is the interactive nature of the play structures. My four year old loves this park. The playground has a rubberized ground instead of the traditional mulch that many playgrounds have. Designed for all ages, there are many things to climb and jump over. It also features a fun “scavenger hunt” and four xylophones for the musically inclined.

Going the Extra Mile-ish (for the view)

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Xylophones at Millstone Creek Park.

The Genoa Township portion of your journey ends at Plum road, a secluded side road just outside of Galena. Just a few hundred feet east brings you to the newest extension of the Ohio to Erie trail system. Opened in 2010, the aptly named Hoover Scenic Trail passes through the woods to the north end of Hoover Reservoir. There is a gravel parking lot off of Plum road where you can park your car and begin your journey north or south. Though short, this is an amazing little path. The path connects to a side road that brings you to Old 3C Road into the town of Galena, just outside of the Blackhawk Country Club. Take a moment at the bridge over Old 3C Road, or at the North end of Hoover to enjoy a peaceful view.

Bonus time

Hoover Scenic Trail bridge over Old 3C Road

Hoover Scenic Trail bridge over Old 3C Road

Did you forget you helmet (like I did) or any other biking equipment? Lucky for us, there is a Trek store at the beginning of the trail right next to Home Depot. Trek is one of the premier cycling stores in Columbus where you can find nearly anything you would need for your journey.

View from Hoover Scenic Trail bridge

View from Hoover Scenic Trail bridge

Biking makes you have a sweet tooth? Stop by “Just Pies” on Maxtown Road. This is my favorite Pie shop that reminds me of my mom’s favorite pie shop when we lived in Cleveland. You can find pies of nearly any flavor, and all of them are great. Super sweet tooth-ers will love the peanut butter pie.

 

Just Pies: http://www.just-pies.com/index.asp

Genoa Township Trail: http://www.ohiobikeways.net/genoa.htm

Ohio to Erie Trail: http://www.ohiotoerietrail.org/

Trek Store (Westerville): http://trekstorecolumbus.com/about/westerville-staff-pg458.htm