Slow Food Columbus

Ark of Taste Tasting at The Hills Market

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hillsmarket @SlowFoodCMH Would you like to do an Ark of Taste tasting with us?

I sat staring at the screen, dumbfounded. I had sent out a message on Twitter a few minutes earlier having to do with the Ark of Taste—Slow Food’s signature biodiversity program, a sort of “endangered species program” for local foods in danger of extinction—but I hadn’t really expected any replies, and certainly not so soon.

And certainly not that reply.

Ark foods are rare. Quite rare. With the exception of a few people like Adam and Jaime at The Wayward Seed Farm, farmers don’t seek them out. And we don’t get many of them in Ohio. It would take a lot of digging on the internet by some very dedicated individual, or a lot of talking with distributors and a lot of work by one of Columbus’ premier markets.

And one of Columbus’ premier markets had just dropped me a line.

I toyed with some possible responses.

@hillsmarket hell yes!!

@hillsmarket you're nuts, but we're game if you are.

In the end I ran the idea by the Chapter Board, which was unanimously enthusiastic, and along with Bethia Woolf (hungrywoolf.com) and Jim Ellison (CMH Gourmand) I went to Hills to meet with Jill Moorhead and the Hills Market crew to hash out the details. Jill had assembled a list that ultimately included about twenty different Ark foods, from an overall list of nearly 200—many of which are not currently available anywhere in the Columbus area. A colonial-era beverage called shrub. Creole cream cheese. 8 flavors of sauerkraut. Amish paste tomatoes. Charbono wine. Limited-edition Jeni’s pawpaw-flavored ice cream.

Food. Geek. Heaven.

The only potential snag was the price. Because a lot of these things required going outside of normal distribution channels, shipping would cost more than the items themselves, so the final price tag looked a bit prohibitive. The Chapter Board discussed it and offered to share the cost in order to bring it down to a level that’s not just affordable but compelling: $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers.

October 22. 7 p.m. Hills Market. Call 614-846-3220 to make reservations.