Last month, I ate small-batch beef jerky.
You have questions, I assume. I do, too. Freely consuming such a thing leads one to question plenty about themselves and their purchases.
What constitutes a small batch? Who made this? Is there a “jerkmaster” somewhere in Tennessee? Is his name Tenderloin Williams? Is there a jerky trail? Have I jumped the shark? Could I eat a shark? What pairs well with shark? Artisanal lemonade?
That’s just a delightful little peek inside my head and my stomach—but it also illuminates the odd life and diet of a food and drink magazine editor.
I’m not sure if you picture our kind’s elbows atop a perfectly laundered white tablecloth, waiting with iPhone and notepad in hand while a team of servants uncovers multiple serving dishes of sterling culinary elegance. What you should be conjuring is a fascinating hodgepodge of high-end cuisine and low-brow junk, all predicated by crazy deadlines, a journalist’s wage, and of course, extremely questionable choices.
Which is why when people ask me for insight into dining and drinking in Columbus, I briefly freeze with panic—that small-batch jerky lingering on my brain’s breath. The truth: I can help guide you to some really amazing places, and into the care of some equally amazing chefs and bartenders. Another truth: I eat and drink some really weird shit. I wish I could say that jerky topped the list, but it’s honestly but a footnote in my strange dietary story.
Last month, as a result of ordering several Dill Dews—a charmingly named shot combo at Little Rock Bar consisting of Tullamore Dew and pickle juice—I became addicted to the briny sidecar. Before I knew it, I was ordering a pickle juice back with just about anything. (Note: I will order any item that comes with two things and is under $5; and pickle juice is also the second-best pairing with CBC’s Bodhi—other than a pillow).
I end up always choosing the food Frankenstein. At Double Comfort, the bourbon-maple syrup and fried chicken over johnnycakes went nicely with $2 cans of Hudy Light and was a telling prelude to the beef tongue poutine and chicharones with anchovy-chili aioli I had at Angry Bear Kitchen. (Note: “aioli” is Latin for “It’s cool to order mayo at a fancy restaurant now.”)
As I write this, I am enjoying tacos al pastor, courtesy of Stock & Barrel contributor Kim Leddy, along with goldfish crackers and a diet Mountain Dew, courtesy of the office snack bar and the convenient stores of Speedway.
I’m actually sort of proud, now that I’m thinking about it. Isn’t that the fun part about food and drink? Seeing what combinations you can find along the spectrum? It’s like fashion—if you can put together a good look with a shirt that costs $0.75, well then it’s 10 times more satisfying. Just think of it as another definition of “sustainable” food. In fact, this month I was convinced I had the next great restaurant concept for Columbus: a nonprofit restaurant that specializes in re-imagining your leftovers.
Call it Scrap City. Put it in the new North Market. Rick Wolfe, I’ll be waiting on your call.
I’m sorry, but that’s a damn goldmine. (Am I boasting? Yes, a little—but this is also cheaper than a patent.)
Stock & Barrel, as always, is about discovery—and about getting a little weird with it, whether it’s Lara Yazvac-Pipia’s pilgrimage for international junk food or a man after my own stomach, Kevin J. Elliott, who’s willing to squeal about the secret sauce he’s used to elevate frozen pizzas and breakfast sandwiches. Isidora Díaz Fernández and Avishar Barua offer up a tasty recipe that literally uses scraps as ingredients. But you’ll have to discover your own combinations within these pages—especially because, thanks to me, Little Rock is all out of pickle juice.
Travis Hoewischer, Editor-in-Chief