Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chicago, IL: Vosges Haut-Chocolat

VosgesAfter devouring beef sandwiches, deep dish pizzas, and tons of hotdogs that have been dragged through the garden, my sweet tooth was feeling neglected. Time to fix that.

VosgesA quick google search for sweets near my current location brought up Vosges Haut-Chocolat, which are luxury chocolates in a strange, sort-of enchanted setting. Think dark purple, bright green grass/vines and black everything. These dark chocolates take on interesting spices, flowers, herbs and more in flavor.

VosgesI decided to try a few different treats. I bought a chocolate caramel marshmallow, which was quite good. The dark chocolate is not my favorite, but the caramel and marshmallow made up for it.

VosgesI also got a packet of petits chocolats, which had caramel filled pink himalayan, smoke & stout, blood orange and black salt flavors. My overall thoughts? These are OK. I like the caramel, but the percentage of cacao is not what my tastebuds are used to. But, definitely very cool to combine neat flavors and do it in this strange, fantastic world.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Morgantown Edition: The Frosted Mug

Frosted MugI've been hearing a lot more about The Frosted Mug lately, because they've bumped up their advertising, specials and even host team trivia now. Located off Greenbag Road, The Frosted Mug is a total dive bar that typically townies frequent.

Frosted MugBut, guess what, after living here for 10 years, I think I'm pretty much a townie now. I convinced my friend Katie to join me for dinner here.

Frosted MugIt's not much to look at from the outside, with dark windows outside beside a sign that says "bikers welcome. no colors." I was concerned for a second this was racist, but then realized it's just referring to biker clubs?
Frosted MugFrosted Mug
When we walked in, it was clear we don't know where to go or what to do, and all eyes were on us. Whatever. I'm used to this. We found a table that was free, and I walked up to the bar to ask for a menu. After some seats cleared out at the bar, we moved up there and placed our orders. Their "Mugwich" burger seems to be the special, so I ordered that - and a water. Which was probably super strange.

Frosted MugSide note: I invited my longtime Twitter friend Rose to join us (mostly because I solicited her advice about this place because I assume she knows all things bar-related or townie-related), so it was awesome to see her here!

Frosted MugAfter a little wait, my burger came out - stacked high and accompanied by fries. The bun on the burger was fluffy. Stellar. The burger - while decent on flavor - was just a bit dry. I think because it was so dense and cooked to well done that it dried it out a bit. It's a huge burger, though, and the fries were good.

Frosted Mug

Grade: B
The Frosted Mug Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Morgantown sees first Firehouse Subs location

Firehouse SubsDid you know there are only a handful of Firehouse Subs in West Virginia? So few that I had never even been to one until the recent opening of the location at University Town Center. Two are in Charleston, one in Bridgeport, one in Fairmont, one in Huntington, one in Vienna and one in White Hall. And, Morgantown is the newest.

Firehouse SubsMy thoughts? Not bad for a chain.

Firehouse Subs

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Screech Owl Brewing

Screech Owl BrewingPreston County's oldest brewery, Screech Owl Brewing, opened just a few months ago. How? This brewery, the only brewery in Preston County, is producing small batch beers out of a garage in Bruceton Mills.

Screech Owl BrewingCurrently, there are just a few seats used to sample the various beers, but you can purchase growlers here from the friendly couple who runs this operation.

Screech Owl BrewingSo, of course, Vicki, Steve and I had to have a sampler to see what we liked best! Bold Blonde Ale is a light, easy drinking beer. The Threshing Floor Wheat is a good wheat beer - I love a Hefeweizen, so that's no surprise. The Wild & Wonderful Strawberry Ale - which recently was on tap at Iron Horse - isn't so much sweet, as it has a very fruity smell at the end. Even the biggest hophead I know, ahem Vicki, was a big fan. The Adalyn's Brown Ale was a bit heavy for me and has a bit of a bitter taste at the end. The Rykers Revenge IPA wasn't too overwhelming as an IPA, which I appreciated.

Screech Owl BrewingI love that they considered naming the brewery Chicken Lips, because that was a nickname my dad often used for a friend. Just a silly little connection. But by going with Screech Owl Brewing, they can abbreviate to SOB, which they like.

Screech Owl BrewingI left with a small growler full of the strawberry ale - not even a super sweet beer, but a lovely smelling beer. And, you know, smell contributes in large part to the flavor of things.

Screech Owl BrewingHave you been? What's your fav?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Clarksburg Edition: Julio's Cafe

Julios Cafe

I've heard great things about Julio's Cafe - from a New York Times piece to praise from locals. My friend Kayla recently visited this place and once again raved about the meal. I implored her to go once again - with me - so I can finally experience it.

Julios Cafe
We went to Julio's after work one week night. When we walked inside, there was no one to greet us -- for at least 10 minutes. It was uncomfortable. There was one other couple in the front dining space that just kept casually looking at us as we lingered around the large wooden bar waiting to be seated. Kayla even wandered to the back to find someone, but no one was in sight. Finally, someone came out and told us to sit wherever we wanted. No apologies for the wait. Meh.

Julios CafeWe were handed menus, which was nice because I know that they sometimes (or at least used to) not give out menus and rather simply read off the list of menu options.

Julios Cafe
I quickly put in an order for the "Signature Tomato Plate" because I was starving, and I'm a sucker for anything "signature." Fresh tomatoes paired with fontanella, provolone, pecorino romano, bocconcini mozzarella and topped with their homemade secret sauce. Count me in.

Julios CafeThe thick chunks of tomato were delicious, and there were three hunks of fresh mozzarella, and delicious crumbly wedges of the fontanella. I didn't love the thin slices of provolone - I feel like they could've been thicker or not at all. Also the secret sauce was essentially a pesto - and a balsamic would've been delicious. But, it was tasty and a nice fresh first bite.

Julios CafeWhile waiting for our entrees, I noticed how cool the dark tin ceiling and wooden accents and art was. A lava lamp accompanied each table. Its vibe harkens back to an old-school Italian restaurant - apparently with roots in Calabrian cooking. Many of the immigrants in the Glen Elk area hail from the province of Calabria, so having a restaurant that reflects that type of homestyle cooking makes sense.

Julios CafeWe were served a basket of garlic toast, alongside olive oil, crushed red pepper and grated Parmesan cheese to make a small pool of yummy.

Julios CafeNext up was pasta e fagiole with beans and pasta in a light broth. I wish I were a bigger fan of beans, but they just don't do much for me.

Julios CafeMy entree arrived in a massive heap. Layers of pasta took turns with a delicious cheese mixture and meat to create a tasty tower covered in a perfect red sauce. This sauce has a great flavor - a deep, rich tomato base with a nice spice and sweet. Not too thick, but not too runny. Very good.

Julios CafeKayla ordered the Costanza, which was sundried tomatoes in a vodka cream sauce. I snuck a bite, and it was also quite good! I love a vodka sauce. I was surprised the sundried tomatoes weren't chunks within (which would have been a good texture variation), but rather were integrated into the sauce. Tasty.

Julios CafeWe couldn't pass up the dessert. I went for a brownie with vanilla ice cream, and Kayla went with a butter pecan ice cream dessert. Both delicious; both diet-busters. Worth it? Yes.

Julios CafeI think, for the most part, this is a lovely little restaurant. I think it has some good, traditional food, and I think it has a great history. I think the first 10 minutes of my experience here set a not great tone, which was a bit hard for me to overlook. Fortunately, the food is tasty - and the basics here (like the red sauce) are phenomenal.

Julios CafeGrade: B
Julio's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato