Sunday, May 28, 2017

Taste-of-ALL Charleston

Taste of AllOne of my absolute favorite events of the year in West Virginia is Taste-of-ALL Charleston.

Taste of AllThis event brings together restaurants from all over Charleston, serving up tasty bites for purchase all in one space. Want an ice cream cone from Ellen's and an empanada from Black Sheep? No problem. You can get them all here.

Charlestonians have enjoyed Taste-of-ALL Charleston for over 30 years! Diners are welcomed to taste the wild & wonderful culinary creations the area has to offer while enjoying live entertainment and acitivites for kids and adults. Enjoy tastes from over 20 local & regional restaurants, live music and more! Entry is FREE, but tasting tickets are $0.50 each. Tastes range from 1-6 tickets and are to be purchased at the gate.
Taste of AllTickets are .50 each, and tastings range from one to six tickets. So, I got $20 worth - 40 tickets! I tried to hit as many places as I could and ration out my tickets - but I just ended up very full (and happy!). 

Taste of AllFour Points by Sheraton - Lump crab po boy with Appalachian ramp slaw and remoulade

Taste of AllTaste of AllStarlings Coffee & Provisions - Blueberry Buttermilk Pie Bites, Mini Organic Pepperoni Rolls

Taste of AllRecovery Sports Bar - Buffalo Chicken Wontons

Taste of AllEmbassy Suites Athletic Club - Southern Fried Chicken Slider

Taste of AllBlack Sheep Burrito & Brew - Korean Steak Empanada

[I ate this before I got a photo. Whoops.]

Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream - Chocolate sugar cone

Taste of AllIchiban Pan Asian Cuisine - Almost Heaven Maki

Taste of AllStuff It - Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Parm Meatball

Everything was really tasty, especially that po boy. Yum! And, I can never get enough of Ichiban. Which were your favorites?

Ravenswood Edition: Sweet Dreams Chocolate

Sweet Dreams Chocolate ShopThe more chocolate, the better. That's my philosophy, anyway.

Sweet Dreams Chocolate ShopSo, you tell me about a chocolate shop in West Virginia, and I'll show you my plans to make it there at the next available moment.

Sweet Dreams Chocolate ShopThat's kinda what happened with Sweet Dreams Chocolate in Ravenwsood.

Sweet Dreams Chocolate Shop
After having read about this chocolatier in the newspaper, I made plans to stop here on my way to the Chocolate Festival in Ripley.

Sweet Dreams Chocolate ShopThis was my first time going through Ravenswood, I believe, but this small shop was easy to find and there was plenty of street parking on this day.

Sweet Dreams Chocolate ShopWalking in through the doors, I first noticed the chocolate melting paint on the walls, dotted by stuffed animals and tons of chocolate treats. The shelves feature creative concoctions like chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered s'mores, fresh chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate-covered potato chips, candy apples, and classic chocolate-covered eggs at Easter time.

Sweet Dreams Chocolate Shop

Wendy Staats, the owner of Sweet Dreams Chocolate in Ravenswood, has been making chocolate for the annual festival in Ripley since it started 10 years ago... 
All of Staats’ chocolates are purchased from the Amish Country and poured into her individual molds. Items like her chocolate critters, emojis and LEGOs are all hand-painted. 
Staats, who works a day job from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., comes in each night to hand-paint the chocolates — some nights painting little, meticulous details like eyes for hours on end. 
“You get up on Easter morning and think about the kids and the impact you made on them,” she said. “It was my dream to own a chocolate shop. It was my goal to open one when I retired. It’s not every day you get to say you’re living your dreams.” 
Sweet Dreams Chocolate was born out of Staats’ love to bake and her young son’s request for her to make him a chocolate teddy bear sucker one day after daycare. From there, it just took off, she said. 
She started making treats for craft shows and other events, but she always had a dream of opening up her own shop. 
Then, more than six years ago, her time came, and the Sweet Dreams Chocolate store was born. 
Everything from finding the perfect building on Washington Street, to the supplies and decorations necessary just all came together — easily, she said. “God put me in here,” Staats said. “It’s truly a story of God putting me here.” (Charleston Gazzette-Mail)
Sweet Dreams Chocolate Shop

There were honestly so many amazing choices that I had trouble choosing. So much creativity abounds in this shop. But, ultimately, I settled on a Monster Mallo Cup because I don't think I've ever had a homemade one! 

Sweet Dreams Chocolate Shop

And, wow, was it good! It was giant and just like one you'd get in the store - but with creamier chocolate and even fresher flavors. My only regret? Not getting some more delicious chocolate bars to take home with me!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hurricane Edition: Mountain Pie Company

Mountain Pie CompanyHurricane is quite the foodie town between a Thai restaurant, cool coffee & used book shop and now a specialty pizza place. 

Mountain Pie CompanyMountain Pie Company is a homemade pizza shop that specializes in personal-sized pizzas made on a hand-stretched tandoor naan crust.

Mountain Pie CompanyThe space has a dark, more intimate vibe, but there is an addition that has like concrete floors and plywood walls. I was there pretty early, but the place quickly filled up.

Mountain Pie CompanyThe menu features appetizers, soups, salads, a few pastas and a dozen or so specialty pizzas. I went for the Chicken Chicken, which has an alfredo base with gouda, marinated chicken, bacon, red onions, parmesan and oregano.

The flavors are good, but I'm not sure I'm totally sold on the naan pizza. I make something similar to this at home when I don't feel like making a real pizza crust, and there's just something special about a homemade dough that I miss. That aside, the gouda here was delicious, of course, and it was a good combination of flavors. Not a bad pizza.

Grade: B
Mountain Pie Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hurricane Edition: Italian Grille & Deli

Italian Grille & Deli
This small Italian restaurant in Hurricane has a bit of an old-school following. Italian Grille & Deli, located at 17 Putnam Village Shopping Center, has the classic Italian-American dishes in an old-school environment.

Italian Grille & Deli
The Italian Grille and Deli, located in Putnam Village Shopping Center, is a family-owned and operated restaurant specializing in homemade Italian Cuisine. All dishes and pizzas are made to order using the healthiest and freshest ingredients available. The Meatballs, Stuffed Peppers, Eggplant Parm, and Grandma's Italian Cream Cake are among the many dishes made from scratch. Our Salmon and Steak are also customer favorites. Come be our guests for dinner - homemade takes a little longer, but it's worth the wait.
Italian Grille & DeliWalking inside, it's kinda par for the course in small Italian restaurants in West Virginia. Vinyl tablecloths covered black table/chair sets. A string of lights zigzagged across the drop ceiling. A few pieces of art decorated the walls, and I liked the archways separating the dining space.

Italian Grille & DeliThe menu features lasagna, ravioli, spaghetti, linguini alfredo, pizza, and grinder sandwiches, among others.

Italian Grille & DeliFirst up, though is the bread with side of marinara sauce. Not bad. Same for the salad - shredded lettuce, couple cucumbers, cup of dressing.

Italian Grille & DeliThe lasagna was decent. I think I like my red sauce just a bit more flavorful - more spices, more herbs. But, this is more mild, more basic version. Decent. Plus, you get these odd little candies at the end.

Italian Grille & DeliWhat's the best thing to get here? I'm thinking about the alfredo sauce on next try?

Grade: B
Italian Grille & Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Williamson Edition: 34:ATE

34:AteIf you find yourself in southern West Virginia and need a really, really good sandwich, look no further than 34:Ate.

34:AteThis Williamson restaurant is the cutest space in town. It's a colorful, shabby-chic cafe that serves up salads, sandwiches, soups and desserts. 

Our vision was simple. Food: just like we'd make at home. Fresh salads, creative sandwiches, comfort food, and of course, dessert. Watch our for "Pop-up" dinners & Brunch! Quick Facts: We deliver lunch within the downtown Williamson and South Williamson area. 34:ATE is owned and operated by Debbie Young, Robyn Gannon, And Natalie Taylor. The doors opened in September of 2014 and they have been serving up fresh lunches and hosting pop-up dinners ever since. Where did we get the name? The Bible! Psalms 34:8. Look it up! Our favorite places/food to eat - Debbie: Cru Cafe (Charleston, SC), Robyn: Spaulding Donuts (Lexington, KY), Natalie: Max Brenner (New York, NY) (ABOUT).
Psalms 34:8 says: Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Along the wall are a few two-top tables, so I had a seat there while looking over the menu. The special that day was pepperoni rolls, and it was tough for me to pass them up. But, I wanted to try something standard on their menu, so I ordered the "Turkey Bacon Blackberry," which comes with turkey, bacon, Swiss, mixed greens, and rosemary infused blackberry mayo.

34:AteReally love the mix of sweet and savory sandwiches on the menu. They're not your plain, run-of-the-mill sandwiches you'd whip up in your kitchen. They all have a creative spin. My sandwich was huge, packed full of layers of turkey breast. It was all fresh, and the bread was toasted perfectly.

34:AteIf you're in the market for a darn good sandwich (with a side of ruffles chips!), look no further. Indulge. You're welcome.

Grade: A
34:Ate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato