Last night, I went on the new Columbus Food Adventures Meat Lover's Tour. Even writing its name right now is inducing fat-laced fever dreams, with proteins parading in front of me like a meat junkie's 3 a.m. fantasy. My skin still smells like smoked sausage. Even more than 12 hours after it ended, I'm full. To say I was unprepared for the deluge would be an understatment.
It was debauchery of the best, meatiest kind.
We began, ten of us intrepid carnivores, at German Village's Skillet, where chef Kevin Caskey offered up his take on the beloved Cincinnati three-way, with a beef tripe chili (yep, that would be chili made with part of a cow's stomach lining, spiced with enough cinnamon and cumin to convince even the fiercest of Skyline loyalists), homemade cheesy pasta and a duck egg to top it off. Oh, and some Swiss chard, a fleeting reminder of what vegetables taste like before we barreled into eating exclusively animal flesh.
At each stop, tour leader Bethia Woolf and the respective chefs gave historical and gastronomic context for the foods we ate (how else could we have learned so much about things like deckle, the fatty meat cap on top of cuts like brisket, and learned that it would be absolutely delicious on a sandwich?)
Then it was off to Thurn's for a behind-the-scenes peek at their maze-like curing and smoking area in the back of the store, with slabs of bacon and strings of sausage appearing to hang from every possible corner. The Thurn brothers assured us that it would all be gone by the end of the weekend. We emerged from there to find a spread of every meat product imaginable, from the ham salad (affectionately nicknamed "roadkill") to schinken (a Teutonic-style prosciutto) to tongue and smoked liver. This tour? Not for the offal-squeamish. (And there was plenty of time to buy souvenirs at the stop from Thurn's array of deli meats.)
The quick ride in the Food Adventures van up to Bethel Road took us a world away, to Apna Bazaar for a look inside their 700-degree clay tandoori ovens. Apna is getting ready to expand, adding a sit-down restaurant called Tandoori Grill next door to the counter and a few tables they currently have at the back of their grocery store. We bit into tender chunks of reshmi tikka and the tandoori chicken pictured above, as well as the mint-flecked kebab and fresh-made, pillowy naan.
And just as I felt myself knocked out for the count, unable to wedge in even another bite, we were off to San Su, a Korean barbecue spot just down the street. We got to taste kalbi and bulgogi, as well as a marinated chicken and spicy pork, prepared on a small tabletop barbecue, along with an array of the traditional Korean side dishes called banchan. Wrapped up in a lettuce leaf (more vegetables!), it was the perfect nightcap.
After the tour, I staggered back to my car, meat-drunk and content. And last night, I had the best sleep I've had in months--the magic of bacon fat, maybe. (Though it did come with a serious protein hangover this morning as I woke up bleary-eyed and breakfast-resistant. I'm looking forward to eating an apple, eventually, when I stop being full.)
You, too, can take on this smorgasbord next week. Woolf says there are still a few spots available for their June 21st tour--pounce on them here. If you can't get in, she says they're planning to offer it again in the near future.
My advice? Maybe a salad for lunch beforehand wouldn't be the worst idea. And go hungry. Very hungry.