Baba’s Porch

3 Nov

img_4757

Facebook
Website
Phone: 614-262-2227

You may not know it but you have met Baba’s Porch before – in the form of That Food Truck and in particular, Dan Kraus.

When the engine of That Food Truck died, Dan had to find another path to your stomachs. A bit tight on cash while building out his restaurant Baba’s Kitchen, Dan found a trailer and started working on a concept to compliment his brick and mortar project. He also took what he learned from a few years of smoking meats on the fly and built a new smoker to add to Baba’s Porch. Baba’s has been serving Friday nights at Seventh Son Brewing and occasional Saturday afternoons to fill in for other mobile vendors. As Baba’s Kitchen slowly….but surely, comes close to completion Dan says he will continue to keep to Porch out for Friday night service and catering.

When Baba’s Kitchen opens you will find the Restaurant at 2515 Summit Street near the intersection of Hudson Street and 3rd Ave. You can expect to see the Baba’s trailer at Seventh Son and special events.

img_4761


I checked in with Dan between courses and construction to find out more about Baba’s Porch.

1) Let’s start with the smoker you built for Baba’s, any design enhancements or special features on this smoker from the previous one you built. What makes this smoker extra special to you?

This was the first smoker I fabricated and welded from beginning to end. It was an education during the whole process and being so intimate with the whole thing gave me a chance to really understand the dynamics of space and draft. Making sure its airtight between the firebox and cooking chamber is what kicked this up to another level and maintain consistent temps regardless of barometric pressure.

2) What was the transition like from Truck to Trailer? You are accustomed to tight spaces but its looks like you have to get creative with the space. What do you like best about trailer life?

In many ways it’s a lot easier. Building the trailer out after having That Food Truck for so many years, we knew exactly what was needed and shed the rest. Simplifying the line and having only what is absolutely necessary makes it a breeze to have everything within reach. trim the fat to save the meat. The best thing about trailer life is no rusty ass engine to break down. I can rest knowing as long as I have access to a truck, I can make the gig, no problem.

3) Baba’s Porch will continue after you open Baba’s Kitchen, how do you think the Porch may change as the kitchen grows and you start the grocery aspect to the business?

The Porch will be our place to shine a spotlight on the smoked meats. Simple, smoked sandwiches will always be flying out the window. Having access to more produce and homemade items from Baba’s Kitchen will allow us to play with specials and sides.

4) You have a secret weapon at Baba’s now – Tim. Can you share your history with him and why he is such a great addition to the team?

I met Tim in Culinary school in Portland OR ten years ago and we clicked right away. We have parallel ways of thinking about food and how it should be prepared. We started this conversation about our own place way back then with intent to open a truck in Portland. Literally life happened as my wife and I found out we were pregnant and decided to move back to Ohio. Tim went on to Hawaii and Minnesota and really honed in on some tight culinary skills. His high end expertise and managing a huge line at Lafayette Club has really matured his kitchen nature and often reels my more wild eyed approach. We can challenge each other in respectful ways to find the most delicious and efficient ways to build a plate.

5) Your other secret weapon is your wife Caroline. What are some of the ways she has helped with both projects over the last year?

Can I just say everything, lol? Caroline has supported every crazy idea and move I wanted to make. She gives me the foundation and real support anyone trying to do this would need. She gives words to my ideas and helps organize the chaos. Outside of the actual cooking she is involved in every aspect of the business. Concepts, construction, finance, design, and and networking, Caroline is all over it. Its so cliche, but she is my rock.

She is itching to get Baba’s blog populated with stories of the line and gorgeous food photos.

6) What one (or two) things do you want people to know about Baba’s Porch?

First that we have felt the support for the change of business. We lost TFT and were worried about re-branding and loosing some of the steam we had with the old truck. But Columbus people are awesome and have showed up hungry and left with smiles.

Its an elementary introduction to the food Tim and I can cook. Simple and quick as truck food needs to be. But what flies out of Baba’s Kitchen is elevated with the luxury of time and space. Basically, if you like the Porch food you will love what Baba’s is serving up!

img_4759

Sock Hop Soda Shop

26 Oct

img_5368

Sock Hop Soda Shop

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Website

The Sock Hop Soda shop is the creation of Terry Levine, a 50’s enthusiast who literally brings the party to you. In world of mobile food, one path is to beat the streets looking for hungry customers, and the alternative to chase events and private parties – that is the approach for Sock Hop Soda Shop. The crew comes attired as soda jerks and works hard to create a fifties vibe with music, hula hoops, dancing (when not serving) and a soda shop style menu with ice cream and sandwiches. The team also rocks local with Velvet Ice Cream and Frosttop Root Beer.

img_5370

Sock Hop Velvet Menu

You will see them set up at events and private parties in the warm months, during the winter they bring the party inside (without the truck) by request.

Sock Hop Soda Shop

Blank Slate Coffee

23 Oct

Blank Slate Coffee Trailer gahanna

Blank Slate Coffee
Facebook
Instagram

169 Mill Street (near intersection of Mill & Carpenter)
Gahanna, Ohio

The Mill Street strip in downtown Gahanna is filled with plenty of restaurant and entertainment options just a stone throw away on the fringe of the area a beautiful airstrean trailer caught my eye. I was excited to see a mobile food option in the neighborhood. After a nice visit for an Italian Soda and chat with the guys, I figured our readers would want to know more. So here you go, my Q and A with Blank Slate.

img_5519

1) Tell me about the Team on Blank Slate (who and what you do).

The Blank Slate team consists of the owner/operator Matt Roberson, as well as three other baristas. Working in such close quarters demands that each barista be able to “run the show” by themselves, or in pairs. We rarely have a 3rd person on the trailer.

2) When did Blank Slate Open?

Blank Slate has existed for almost a year and half, though for the first year, we only did booth events. We’ve only been running full ours from the Airstream since June 6th of this year.

3) How did you pick your spot?

My wife and I live in Gahanna and are dedicated to a community-centric business model. We’re asking the community to support us, so we should be working to support the community. Gahanna is our community, so it was a no-brainer. We’re consistently parked on a commuter route that a good portion of New Albany and Gahanna uses. Morning commuter traffic is essential for us.

4) Where did you find your trailer and how long did it take to build out.

The Airstream was in Indianapolis when we found it. A woman who owned a couple of bakeries was looking for a mobile outlet, and had started the process to turn the Airstream into that. She ended up going a different way, and we ended up with a partially restored Airstream! The exterior had been buffed, floors and interior walls updated, and partial electric. Building out everything needed for a coffee vendor took around two months.

5) What is your background in / passion for coffee?

I actually came into coffee culture through a different door than most. As an artist and musician, I had the opportunity to put together art and music events for various coffee shops. My sister had owned a coffee shop when I was younger, and it has always been an atmosphere that was naturally comfortable for me. From working with various pour over methods at home, to using our basement to restore the antique espresso machine that we use, I definitely have a DIY approach when it comes to coffee. Our roaster, Mission Coffee Co, has been an amazing resource for us, as well as Kenny Sipes, the owner of Roosevelt Coffee.

6) You source a lot of local ingredients and locally made products on your trailer, what inspired that for you?

We’re local and we ask people to support us because we’re local. Supporting local is common sense when you step back and look at it. It’s better for you health wise, better for the environment, and better for your local economy. If we push these ideals as individuals, we should strive to live them out in our business practices as well. Using Ohio products makes a lot of sense to us, and finding businesses that we can support that are good for our health, environment, and economy has made it a practical choice for us.

7) Anything else to add that you want to make sure people know or understand about Blank Slate.

We’re collaborative people. We’ve worked hard to build connections with city hall, our visitors bureau, parks and rec, etc. We see a lot of potential in Gahanna, and if there’s other people who are interested in making something out here work, we’d be happy to get together and see what we can come up with.

img_5518

Graeters Ice Cream Truck

29 Jul

graeters truck

On Street Food Finder
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
web site
614 648 7842

The Graeter’s Ice Cream Truck debuted in Columbus this summer. For many people this is not news, Graeter’s has been in Columbus since 1988 with over a dozen locations throughout the city and plenty of half-gallons available in stores. However, I think this is worth noting for a few reasons. First for a company which has been around since 1870, a mobile operation is downright new-fangled (maybe it was peer pressure from the youngsters from Schmidt’s who have only been around since the 1880’s).

The truck has stayed busy out on the town most days of the week and hitting special events and festivals on the weekends. It is a perfect way for the company to expand brand awareness and grow on site catering.

The menu is simple, a scaled down version with a limited number of flavors available in cones, cups, sundaes and milkshakes.

cone on cone

A nice feature to the truck is a large video screen which shows videos of how the ice cream is made and other information about Graeter’s, it is a good way to pass the time and learn while waiting for a scoop.

screen

Nothin But Nadas

13 Jul

notnadas006

Facebook: Nothin But Nadas
Twitter: Nothin But Nadas
Phone: (614) 226-8961

Other than perhaps the burrito/wrap, the hand pie/empanada is the most perfectly portable food item in the mobile food arsenal. The empanada for the most part refers to those versions with a Spanish or Portuguese influence, but the variations from country to country or even region can differ quite a bit.

The Nothin But Nadas food trailer offers up Puerto Rican-styled empanadas to diners (the owners of the business are self-proclaimed Nuyoricans i.e. New Yorkers with Puerto Rican heritage.) These neatly crimped hand pies, emblazoned with the business name on the edge, offer a bubbly, almost flaky crust. In a way, the exterior in my mind splits the difference between two of my favorite grocery store treats from years back: Pepperidge Farm Apple Turnovers and a Hot Pocket.

notnadas007

The crimping may be the most fancy things about these empanadas – the fillings are fairly basic, but do a good job of making these pies a heartier option than most. Size-wise, three of these pies would satisfy all but the biggest appetites.

We personally like the meat-based filling options the best, but at least one non-meat choice such as Buffalo Mac and Veggie is typically offered.  A basic cilantro sauce is typically offered with your order, but a slightly more spicy sriracha version is also available.

notnadas008

(Note: originally posted in the “The 614ortyniner” blog.)

Alice’s Aebelskabels

14 Jun

aaebel001a

Facebook: Alice’s Aebelskabels
Twitter: Alice’s Aebelskabels
Website: Alice’s Aebelskabels
Phone: (614)327-3299

For the uninitiated, an Aebelskiver is essentially a pancake ball of Nordic/Danish origin prepared in a specially-cast iron pan and traditionally served with either powdered sugar or fruit preserves.

That may make one wonder what in the world an “Aebelskabel” is, as in Alice’s Aebelskabels, a food truck that has been offering Danish aebelskivers to diners in the Columbus area since the summer of 2015.

One need only read the family story of food truck owner Hilary Meilen, which is conveniently posted alongside the truck’s ordering window, to learn of the colorful story behind the spelling. The tale details her grandmother (and the food truck’s namesake) Alice’s journey to the west coast during the earlier part of the 20th century and her marriage into a Danish family in the Solvang, California area (the self-proclaimed “Danish Capital of America.”) The “Aebelskabel” turns out to be her family’s phonetic mispronunciation of this Danish staple.

aaebel002

Regardless of pronunciation or spelling, Alice’s expands on the traditional preparations (generally the sweeter variations) by offering specialty savory renditions such as prosciutto and swiss, pizza, and pepper jack. Side garnishes such as powdered sugar, maple syrup and fruit preserves are available as well, either sprinkled on top of the aebelskivers or off to the side per your preference.

Uniform to all preparations was the pancake ball itself. Using a longtime family recipe, Hilary makes your aebelskivers to order. These lovely golden-brown spheroids provide a nicely crispy exterior and an airy pillow of fried dough blanketing whatever fillings you might have ordered stuffed within. The best bet here is to go with your mood (sweet or savory) and you’ll more likely than not get something quite enjoyable.

aaebel002b

aaebel002a

(Note: originally posted in the “The 614ortyniner” blog.)

The Columbus Food Truck Cookbook

7 Apr

 

columbus food truck cookbook

We love getting free Columbus food-oriented stuff in the mail, and what’s this? – we just received an advance copy of The Columbus Food Truck Cookbook, by Renee Casteel Cook & Tiffany Harelik.

This clear labor of love features a cool cover, great photography, and recipes from many of our favorite trucks. It also features a sizable Q&A style interview on local food truck matters with yours truly, not to mention notable food truck observers such as Jim Ellison and Nick Dekker.

We look forward to trying out some of the recipes in the book – Bethia has her eyes on Ajumama’s “D’duk ‘n’ Cheese” – and expect to report back on how it went.

One last thought – if you’re thinking about opening a food truck, we implore you to absorb the back 10 pages of this book. It features indispensable hard earned wisdom from some of the most successful food truck operators out there. It’s good, smart stuff that’ll go a long way towards easing the learning curve.