May 10, 2013

By Ron Aiken
May 10, 2013

Rosewood + Crawfish = Cool Kids = You?

I love the word cahoots. It’s a fun word to say – cahoots! – and use – You two in cahoots or what?  Love it. I also wonder why there is no verb form for the word. As in, I’ve never described two people as cahooting, which is sad, because I would have liked to have used it in that way at some point in my life. Which is to say I’d like a life in which I could say such things.

Maybe I’ll just go ahead and knock all that out right now, and maybe I’ll also expand the traditional two- to three-person activity generally implied in common usage to include you, me and a great many other people, and maybe I’ll do so in a way that lets us all cahoot together in one place, at one time, for one purpose. Saturday work for you?

Good! It’s a date. The cahoot-worthy event, of course, is the famous Rosewood Crawfish Festival, which takes place Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on, you know, Rosewood Avenue. Now in its eighth year, the festival has succeeded massively in making for a gorgeously fun day of enjoying the type of weather we get this time of year – not too hot yet, and sunny enough to not want to spend a minute inside – while listenting to lots of great live music and enjoying tons of great food, and all in a family-friendly environment you can experience without having to battle mega-crowds or hordes of over-served people.

Above Photo: You see! These people are cool! Don’t you want to be like them? (Photo courtesy Rosewood Crawfish Festival)

It’s simply been a personal favorite of mine from the get-go, and this year shapes up to be the best yet, if for no other reason than the music, culminating with a band I grew fond of in Colorado that subsequently made it pretty dang big, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, who will play from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Budweiser Stage, one of four stages that will be featuring live music.

Of course, Cajun-influenced food will be everywhere, including the delicious crawfish, 10,000 pounds of which, farm-raised Louisiana, will be on-hand. So, come hungry and prepared for a fantastic day of celebrating local food, local music and the quirky charm that is the festival and Rosewood itself.

Tickets are $9 in advance, $12 at the door, and for ALL the the juicy event specifics, check out It’s quite the thorough web site; obviously they got in cahoots with someone with some web craftiness – you can even go ahead and buy tickets in advance.

So, let’s do this thang, people. All the cool kids will be there, of which you obviously are one. See you there!

What’s the Best Cookie You Ever Had?

This question came up in a conversation with my step-dad as we were sharing a new product by Chips Ahoy! called Chewy Chips Ahoy! Made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Sounds like a winner, right?


First, making Chips Ahoy! chewy was the first cardinal sin – it’s the only thing the dang cookies have going for them in this age of chewy cookies everywhere. Second, the plethora of chips in the chocolate chip cookies that used to define the Ahoy! brand aren’t just down, they’ve been thrown overboard. Gone. Third, there is nothing resembling a peanut butter cup – even the little miniatures they sell now – in these flaccid abominations that should be rounded up and burned while people dance around in a circle holding hands and singing.

title=So like I said, the disappoinment over Chips Ahoy!’s latest failure led to a simple question that was surprisingly difficult to answer. What is, in fact, the best cookie you ever had? It’s certainly not anything I’ve ever bought from a grocery store, and if one of you ever says that it is, I will find you and punch you in your filthy lying face.

Photo at right: Something like this, but maybe with your own twist on ingredients, would be just fine by me, thanks. (Photo courtesy

Why? Because is nothing so safe, so sacred, so sacrosanct and so beautifully human as the experience of being with those you love waiting for cookies to come out of the oven. Regardless of race, nationality, economic background or any other line you want to draw, when that smell comes out of the oven and you start salivating in anticipation, you’re taking part in the most eternal of human experiences since little cave children first ate little cave cookies.

What I’m looking for is a recipe from you that’s sure-fire, has something special about and is easily reproducable. Send me your recipe with why it’s the bomb-cookity and I’ll print it right ‘chere in this space for you to forward to those you love and show off. So, show off! Coo-kie me up! Email address is [email protected]. I also will bake what you send me and show off the pics! Let’s make cookies together!

More May Wine Dinners for You!

If you haven’t yet made it out this year for a beautifully indulgent wine dinner at any one of the number of outstanding local restaurants who regularly host them, well, what the hell, man? It’s May already! Since I happen to care about you and your lazy ways, here’s a couple of great ones coming up in the next week you need to make happen for yourself.

The first is at Rosso Trattoria Italia. It’s a Ca’Bellavitis Wine Dinner hosted by winery owner Giuliano Parolin on Wednesday, May 15. The dinner starts with a Prosecco reception at 6:30, then from there you’re going to eat and enjoy this:

First Course
Salad of Local Organic Lettuces, Strawberries, Burrata, Balsamic Caviar and Parmesan Croutons
Wine: Ca’Bellavitis Pinot Grigio

Pasta Course
Spaghetti with Garlic Scape Pesto, Wood-Grilled SC Shrimp, Fire-Blistered Tomatoes, Bacon and Asiago
Wine: Ca’Bellavitis Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Main Course
Wood-Roasted Heirloom Pork Roast alla Porchetta with Abate Fetel Pear Agrodolce, Anson Mills Polenta and Sweet Onion-Braised Tuscan Kale
Wine: Ca’Bellavitis Barone Nero

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Local Blackberries and Mint

The price for such indulgence is only $48 per person and reservations can be made by calling Rosso at 803-787-3949. As space is limited, please act now so you can go ahead and start looking forward to it at the earliest possible moment.

The second wine dinner also involves Rosso owner and local food superstar Kristian Niemi who, along with several others, continue to make Columbia far more cool than it has any right to be, politically speaking, including Mike Davis of Terra, Emile DeFelice of Caw Caw Creek Pork and the Soda City Market, Ricky Mollohan of Solstice and Mr. Friendly’s and Alex Saudom du Monde of Baan Sawan just to name a tiny few who go beyond the doors of their restaurants to participate and engage in our city’s emerging food scene.

One of the signature events of Columbia’s burgeoning scene, in fact, has been the farm-to-table dinners held outside at City Roots Urban Farm, and on Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m., you can enjoy the Fattoria all Tavola dinner for youself! Tickets are $60 per person, and can be purchased online at 

Above Photo:  How does this look anything other than fantastic? The best food in Columbia under the stars, and just for you! Starlight, Italian wine, great food…what are you waiting for? (Photo courtesy City Roots)

Here’s what’s in store for those wise enough to attend:
American Harvest Reception Cocktail
Strawberry Pazzo – Black Pepper-infused American Harvest Organic Spirit, Cottle Farms Strawberry Juice, Fresh Basil and a splash of Prosecco
First Course
Risotto Caprese – Creamy Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Basil Oil, Parmigiana-Reggiano and Basil Micro-Greens
Lageder Pinot Bianco, Dolomiti 2011
Salad Course
City Roots Mixed Greens Salad with Rosemary-Fig Lamb Skewer, Charred Sweet Onion, Blackberries and Orange-Thyme Vinaigrette
Altadona Pinot Nero, Lombardy 2010
Main Course
Wood-Grilled Caw Caw Creek Pork Chops with Fresh Herb Board Sauce
Served with Dirty Tuscan Rice and Lacinato Kale Caesar Slaw
Pugliano Poggio Vignoso Chianti, Toscana 2011
Strawberry Shortcake – Limoncello-macerated Cottle Farms Strawberries over Black Pepper-Lemon Shortcake with Blueberry Sorbetto and Buttermilk Whipped Cream

Mother’s Day

Do something special for your mom. Seriously. Cook for her, take her to her favorite place, make a hand-made card, get a gift from an antique store, do something original and do it from the heart. Tell her how awesome she is and thank her for loving you when you weren’t the most lovable soul on the planet. Thank her for all the sacrifices she has made for you and continues to. Call her, visit her, write her, love her. That is all. And do it now while you’re thinking about it! Chomp! will be here when you get back.

You do it? Good for you! She appreciates it more than you ever know. Here’s what Chomp! Got his mother a three-burner Thermos stainless steel gas grill from Big Lots for the ridiculously low price of $129. If you’re wondering why a thermos-maker is making grills, they’re not – they put their name on grills made by Char-Broil for Target stores, which are re-sold to other retailers. But enough about that nonsense. It was $129 and it works amazingly well! Score for mom!

Photo at right:  At $129, this was impossible to pass up as a Mother’s Day gift with grilling weather finally here. Now, go and do likewise!


Ron Aiken is an award-winning journalist who has covered the Columbia food scene professionally for more than a decade, writing weekly columns, reviews and features as food&drink editor of Columbia’s Free Times from 2006-2010 and prior to that writing restaurant reviews for The State newspaper from 2001-2002 under the pseudonym Eaton Wright. 

Follow him on Twitter! @RonAiken

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