One of the best things in life is a little place called Northstar Café in Columbus, Ohio. It is my very favorite restaurant. I always want to go there when we eat out. The ambience and atmosphere is modern and bright, the workers are happy and helpful, and the food is all natural, local, organic, with lots of vegetarian options. Every Earth Day, they hand out free veggie burgers to everyone! And their veggie burgers have this amazing char and are filled with beets, rice, and beans. They have the best breakfast burrito ever. Its loaded with sweet potatoes, perfect eggs,salsa, and beans. Its my husbands very favorite. I usually snitch a bite of his, but order something else for breakfast like the decadent hot cider with maple whipped cream or the granola bowl. Lets talk for a minute about the granola bowl. It has granola, Greek yogurt, blueberries, bananas, dried cranberries, strawberries, honey, and the most delicious pistachio brittle in the world. And how about the soft oatmeal raisin cookies that are the size of my head that you can get at breakfast for $1 if you order from “last nights cookies”.
One of my very favorite memories in Columbus was on my little girl’s first birthday. My husband got the morning off so we could go to her 12 month check up together. After the check up, we decided to stop at Northstar for breakfast. My husband got the breakfast burrito, I got a giant biscuit with homemade jam and some hot cider, and we ordered little Stella a side of breakfast sweet potatoes. We usually never order food for her at restaurants because she just eats bites from our plates, but since it was her birthday we ordered a heaping plate of sweet potatoes just for her. They were amazing and Stella was so excited when we put it in front of her. She was just so cute and sweet sitting in her high chair, looking back and forth from me and my husband with her big seven toothed grin. It was winter, but the sun was shining through the window making everything seem bright and happy. It is a simple memory, but one that I cherish. We were all just sitting there feeling pure joy just to be sitting together, eating amazing food, soaking up the sunshine, and thinking back on Stella’s first year of life. And to top it all off, we even got a free oatmeal cookie because they heard us talking about Stella’s birthday.
I could go on and on, but my very favorite thing about Northstar Café, is their homemade ginger ale. It is so different from ginger ale you buy in a can at the store. You can actually taste fresh ginger! Its truly amazing. They top it with a lime and mint leaves and it is just incredible. I had it for the first time about two months ago and I can not stop thinking about it. I knew I had to try to recreate it. I have made homemade soda before, so I knew where to start. I began by making a syrup of sugar and water and fresh ginger chunks. I let it steep overnight to really soak up the ginger flavor. Then I added lime juice and fresh mint leaves to the ginger syrup. Right before serving, I strained it all and added some bubbly club soda. I have tried it a couple times, tweaking it each time. I think I am happy with the end result. I haven’t been able to taste it side by side with North star’s, and I’m not claiming that it is exactly the same. It is still incredibly yummy and has shockingly fresh tasting.
Makes 6-8 servings
- 1 finger of fresh ginger (about 6 inches long) peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 1/2 C. water
- 3/4 C. white sugar
- 1/3 C. freshly squeezed lime juice
- 4 or 5 large mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- club soda (make sure it hasn’t gone flat!)
- fresh lime slices
1. Bring the water, sugar, and ginger chunks to a boil over medium high heat. Stir occasionally to incorporate the sugar. Once boiling, remove for heat and let cool in the pot.
3. Once the ginger syrup is cool, transfer to an airtight container and let sit in fridge for 3 to 48 hours. The longer you leave it the stronger the ginger is. I prefer at least an 8 hour steep, but you can get away with 2 or 3 hours if you are in a hurry.
4. After the waiting time is up, squeeze the lime juice into a separate bowl and add the mint leaves. Stir it around, mashing the mint against the side of the bowl so the mint flavor leaks into the lime. Add this lime mixture to the ginger syrup.
5. Once you are ready to serve the soda, strain the ginger lime mixture using a fine metal sieve. Add 1 part ginger lime syrup to 2 parts club soda. I usually do 1/4 cup ginger lime syrup and 1/2 cup club soda right in each individual cup. You could also make a large pitcher if you are serving a crowd. Just make sure it doesn’t go flat. Add ice, mint leaves, and fresh lime slices.
Recipe by Edible Experiments