Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lamberts Vintage Wines

LambertsPerched on a rolling hillside complete with brick walkways, Lamberts Vintage Wines hosts wine tastings. The picturesque stone building features large wooden doors, a fireplace and rocking chairs, and is surrounded by a vineyard.

The building is located at 190 Vineyard Drive in Weston, W.Va., (304) 269-4903. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

LambertsMy friend Vicki and I stopped here after our adventure in Ireland (W.Va.) to watch road bowling. The day had been drizzly, and it was a chilly. We made our way up the road back to the tasting building (passing a banquet hall and another gorgeous building along the way). And as soon as we opened that large wooden door, the inside of the tasting room was welcoming, cozy and warm.

LambertsLocal pottery and products decorated the room. Vicki even ended up buying a stained glass pumpkin they had for sale.

Our tasting was so fun, as we just chose various wines to choose from this list. They increase in sugar level, so I stayed near the middle range. I ended up buying a bottle of the Symal (which is a blend). I've tried many of Lambert's wines before, as they are a mainstay at the WV Wine & Jazz Festival in Morgantown. But the symal was one I needed again in my life.

It's a perfect little day trip out to the area if you want to get out of Morgantown. It's a cute property, with tons of space to relax and drink wine.

Has anyone tasted the wines here at Lambert's? If so, which ones are your faves?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sweets for the Sweet 2015

Sweets for the Sweet"Sweets for the Sweet" is a local restaurant dessert competition hosted by the Caritas House Inc.which assists people living in 25 counties of northern West Virginia who are living with HIV/AIDS. The Caritas (Latin for charity) House was created in 1994 and is one of three organizations in the state who assist these individuals.

The 19th annual event was held on Saturday at the WVU Alumni Center. It cost $20 and the proceeds benefited the Caritas House. The event featured the dessert tasting competition, the Fairmont State University Jazz Ensemble, door prizes and auctions.

We started with some heavy hors d'oeuvres - sliders, corndogs, pepperoni rolls - before devoting our evening to straight sugar. 

We picked the restaurant nearest to us and made our way around the room.

Sweets for the SweetTable 9 - caramel pot de creme & devil's on horseback. This set the bar pretty high. While I've had the devil's on horseback, which are really quite tasty, the pot de creme was really quite good. The top was a salted caramel pretzel almost, and the consistency was smooth.

Sweets for the SweetRamada / The Heritage Grille - tiramisu. When we went to this table, there was no one there to talk to us about it, but it seemed fairly standard tiramisu. Nothing too outstanding or different.

Sweets for the Sweet
Sweets for the SweetErickson Alumni Center - pineapple toasted coconut cake drizzled with warm pineapple sauce made with Heston Farms moonshine & fruit (kiwi, strawberry, blueberry) shooters & chocolate-covered strawberries. They really go hard. I had the cake and a shooter, and both were really pretty good. The pineapple cake was familiar, but a little different at the same time.

Sweets for the Sweet

Rising Creek Bakery - "gone bananas" buttermilk banana cake with a buttermilk custard mouse, malted chocolate ice cream, caramelized white chocolate sauce and hazelnut sand. This was one of my favorite desserts, for sure. Tons of different texture and flavor here. And it all comes together seamlessly. A well-thought out plate here with a delicious dessert.

Jameson's Pub & Eatery - salted caramel brownie with a pretzel crust. This sounds like it would be my be-all, end-all dessert. But I was getting some odd coconut notes I wasn't super crazy about. I DO love that a lot of the places this year have gotten the "salted caramel" dessert, because it's my absolute favorite.

Sweets for the SweetTutto Gelato Cafe - salted caramel pretzel cake. I loved this idea, but I think the pretzel crust was more salty than the sweet part of the ice cream. But it was still tasty.

Sweets for the SweetThe Cupcakerie - fluffer nutter, strawberry lime margarita, mudslide and orange crush cupcakes. The Cupcakerie tends to do the same sort of cupcakes at these events, so I've had many of these before. I went with an orange crush one, and it was good.

Sweets for the Sweet

The Preston Co. Inn - beignets. The Preston Co. Inn had a really cute theme going with the props and whatnot surrounding their dessert of choice: beignets. They were fresh from the fryer and covered in powdered sugar. Just like a donut, but airy.

Sweets for the Sweet

Morgantown Brewing Company - pineapple upside down cake (but fancy). This was one of my favorite desserts because it was different. I always love that Morgantown Brewing Company brings it to these competitions. They do something new and fun and incorporate their beer. It is always inventive, but I think some people just don't know what to do with a non-traditional dessert. Pastrami crisps on my cake?! What?! People don't know how to handle it. But it was great, and these guys deserve some more recognition for all the cool shit they do.

Sweets for the Sweet

The Dancing Fig - apple fig cobbler with granola crumble and creme anglaise foam (left in photo above). The Dancing Fig is one of my favorite restaurants in town, period. And this dessert was phenomenal. It's like a deconstructed apple pie with a perfect granola crumble. So warm and comforting.

Bartini - Guinness cheesecake (right above). I'm actually pro-Bartini for their sliders. This cheesecake bite, though, was so rich, it was hard to stomach. That could've also been because we had about 15,000 desserts at this point.

Sweets for the SweetTin 202 - truffle cheesecake, graham and cocoa crust, salted caramel layer, cream cheese and ganache. Though it doesn't have the best curb appeal, I actually liked this dessert and finished the whole bite. Many of the other desserts I only tasted so I wouldn't have a total sugar overload. I love the creamy texture with the ganache and salted caramel. I'm a fan.

Sweets for the SweetTerra Cafe - chocolate cake topped with a duo of hazelnut and coconut mousses, crowned with a hazelnut macaroon, white and milk chocolate sphere and a dark chocolate cage. This was by far the most elaborate, and I would venture to guess most time consuming, dessert here. Heavy, dense chocolate cake isn't usually my bag. I always go the caramel route. But there's no denying the creativity and execution of this dessert. Just look at it.

Apple Annie's - coconut cream pie. Apple Annie's actually had another dessert, but they were our very last stop, and we were up against the time clock to vote for which was our favorite, so we really didn't get to savor this dessert like I would have liked to. But, it was still good regardless. It was just a bite, btu there was a good bit of coconut flavor, and the meringue was on point.

Sweets for the SweetOK, and the big winners for the night were:

Sweets for the SweetMOST EXOTIC: Table 9

TO DIE FOR: Erickson Alumni Center



PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Erickson Alumni Center


Congratulations to all the winners! And thank to you the Caritas House for hosting such a fun event. I hope the event raised TONS of money for the cause, and I can't wait to see what next year's event brings!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Varsity Club is selling lobster rolls

Varsity Club lobster roll

The Varsity Club has lobster rolls on Fridays during lent (and maybe into summer if it keeps selling well)! I'm not sure if any other place in town does lobster rolls? Pretty good by my amateur tastebuds!

Varsity Club lobster roll

Friday, March 27, 2015

Morgantown Edition: Flying Fish Express

Flying FishThe Flying Fish has opened up an "express" location in Suncrest. There's no dining in, at least not yet, but you can get to-go and delivery from this location - 973 Chestnut Ridge Road. The restaurant location is at the end of Chestnut Ridge Road with a few other businesses in the same building. If you remember the short-lived Mr. C's Wiseguy Cafe, that's your place.

Flying FishPlace your order online, and you can choose delivery or take out. Since it's close to me, I simply placed my order online for a fish sandwich and shrimp jambalaya (it has to be $15 minimum) to pick up. There are small fees for local delivery. The restaurant called to confirm I wanted the fish sandwich and not just the fish and chips. After the confirmation, it was just about 10 minutes until it was ready.

Flying FishAfter I parked, I went to the far left of the building - outside and around to the bottom floor - to pick up my food. There were a couple workers outside smoking, which was odd. But at least I knew I was in the right place. As soon as I stepped inside, they handed my food right to me at the door. I didn't even have a chance to go inside, really.

Flying FishI got home and unwrapped everything. The food is in plastic containers, so it will start to steam if it's in there too long. I first tried a french fry, which had begun to get a little soft. They were still a nice golden brown, skin on one side and a nice bit of flavor.

The jambalaya had a little heat to it and a nice texture. I hate when jambalaya gets too mushy. A little on the pricey side, but not bad.

And my favorite - the sandwich - was ginormous, as I remember. A delicious crisp batter covered the filet, and a tangy tartar, fresh lettuce and hunk of tomato dressed the sandwich. The end part had started to get mushy, maybe from being in the container or maybe the grease just had time to sink through.

Best fish sandwich in town? Yep. I think maybe some containers that allowed them to breathe a bit better would be nice. And some signage to direct people where to go.

But perfect for a Friday, eh? eh? eh?

Grade: B
Flying Fish Express on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Winterplace Ski Resort - Mountain Mama's Food Court

WinterplaceI went skiing.

WinterplaceI had never been, and I feel like that's a problem. Especially since I'm trying to tick off as many of the "55 Unique Things to Do in the Mountain State" as I can. So, Lisa and I purchased the billion dollars in equipment necessary to fall gracefully down a mountain - ski pants, waterproof jacket, hat, goggles, gloves ... plus renting skis, helmets and poles.

WinterplaceWe took a lesson at Winterplace. I only fell once! And that was mostly to avoid the gaggle of children skating circles around me. When it was time to actually go down the hill, I did pretty well. *pats self on back*

WinterplaceAnd, it's actually pretty cool once it stops being terrifying. I think after I initially fell, I was like "OK, got that out of the way." And the one rule is to just never lean back at all. I started to go to fast and, not thinking, I tried to correct myself and that caused me to fall. But I learned to "pizza" my skis pretty quickly (make them into a wedge shape) to go slower.

WinterplaceOH, food. That's right. This blog revolves around food.

So, Winterplace does have a few restaurants. There's "The MountainHouse," which is mid-mountain and features nice views. I doubt I'd be able to make it up there.

WinterplaceThen there's Mickey's Mountain Cafe, which has burgers, hot dogs, chicken ... but it was closed, as we were near the end of the season. There's also the Snowdrift Lounge which has action skiing videos, music, etc.

WinterplaceThe quickest and most convenient, though? Mountain Mama's Food Court.

The food court has breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. They have sandwiches, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, salads, desserts and more.

I went for a fried chicken sandwich. That is essentially their chicken tenders placed on a bun. But, after driving for three hours, skiing for a couple and not having eaten -- this tasted amazing.

A bin of tomatoes, onions, etc. was off to the side, and I helped myself to some toppings.

I also picked up a brownie for dessert. So, overall, it's a food court. But, it was exactly what I wanted after skiing.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fayetteville Edition: Secret Sandwich Society - Mac & Cheese Monday

Secret Sandwich Society

I LOVE Secret Sandwich Society. I love the creative, delicious sandwiches. I love their marketing and branding. And I love their whole concept of making it exclusive. It's smart.

Secret Sandwich SocietyI've already reviewed them, so this isn't that. These are just some fun thoughts. I've never had a chance to go for their mac and cheese Monday. They only serve macaroni and cheese on Mondays, for whatever reason. I asked why. And the server said simply "because we do." So. I happened to be going through Fayetteville on a Monday and got to enjoy their macaroni and cheese. It's pretty delicious.

Secret Sandwich SocietyAnd I also tried a new sandwich: The Truman - turkey, peach jam, blue cheese spread and crispy onions. It was delicious. Perfectly sweet, salty, tangy and crunchy. Yum yum yum.

Secret Sandwich Society

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Winter Blues North Farmers Market

Winter Blues MarketWho went to the Winter Blues North Farmers Market this past weekend? The WVU Extension Service West Virginia Small Farm Center in partnership with the Morgantown Farmers' Market Growers Association held the market Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ruby Community Center in Mylan Park.

Entry fee was just $2, which benefits the market and Empty Bowls Monongalia. Tons of vendors were in attendance, including Cheslock Farm, DeBerry Farm Fresh Produce, High Country Creamery, Evans Knob Farm, Fiddlehead Woodworking, Mockingbird Hill, Mountain Diamond Longhorns, Rising Creek Bakery and Working H Farms.

Products ranged from beef, pork, chicken, lamb and goat to eggs, cow cheese, jams, baked goods and lettuce, greens, winter squash and root crops. There were also craft vendors selling wool products to handmade soaps and body products.
PLUS a few local restaurants, like Garcia's Latin Market, Preston County Inn, The Cupcakerie and Tin 202.

I was only able to make a quick trip toward the end of the market because of a packed Saturday. But my friend Vicki took full advantage. Check out her haul!

"I support my region's awesome farmers and producers! Filet mignon, hot sausage, jerky and beef sticks from Working H Farms, cheese curds fromHigh Country Creamery & Market, pepper jelly and spicy blood Mary mix from Glascock's Produce, raspberry-habanero and strawberry-habanero jam fromSister Sue's Homemade Jams and Jelly's and an upcycled locust fence post tea light holder from Fiddlehead Woodworking. Oh! And blackberry and strawberry syrups from WVU Jackson's Mill Farmstead!— at Winter Blues North Farmers Market & Local Dine Around."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Irish Spring Festival in Ireland, W.Va.

Irish Spring FestivalWest Virginia has some really unique, wonderful places -- like the small swiss village Helvetia.

But have you heard of Ireland, W.Va.?

The small town is located at the southern end of Lewis County and was settled by Irish immigrant Andrew Wilson in the early 1800s. In his later years, Wilson became known as "Old Ireland." A few years after Wilson died and the first post office was being located in the town, community members named the area "Ireland" in honor of Wilson.

Irish Spring Festival
This town has embraced its Irish roots through various ways --  an organization called "Shamrock Extension Homemakers Club," many Irish names and the annual Irish Spring Festival. The festival's birth was due to community members rediscovering the history of the town combined with the vernal equinox plus the beginning of spring.

Irish Spring FestivalI first heard of Ireland through Irish Road Bowling, a sport similar to golf where participants throw a 28 oz. cannonball from one point on the road to two miles further down on the road in the fewest number of attempts. Considering our roads in West Virginia tend to be winding, the ball only goes so far before bouncing off to the side or down a hill.

Irish Spring FestivalI've seen a few stories on Irish Road Bowling (and here), but I hadn't ever seen it in person. And while they do travel a bit around the state for various tournaments, where better to see them than in their own hometown of Ireland? Coinciding with the Irish Spring Festival? I can't think of a better place to spend St. Patrick's Day in West Virginia. One more check off my WV bucket list with Vicki.

Irish Spring FestivalAfter a bit of a lengthy drive, we made it to Ireland without any hiccups. It's pretty easy to find - drive down 79 and then 19 until you run into Ireland. We parked along the road and made it just in time for the beginning of the parade.

Irish Spring Festival
Irish royalty blessed us with their presence, and a bunch of other hometown floats tossed out candy, coins and necklaces. A person donning an mask and nametag saying "Old Ireland" handed me a pearl onion -- I have NO idea what this means and have researched the heck out of it. If anyone knows of some Irish tradition, please let me in on the secret.

Irish Spring Festival
A pearl onion? No clue.

Irish Spring FestivalAfter the parade, we headed toward the community center to see the vendors. There were some pretty cool items up for sale - like T-shirts and quilts.

Irish Spring FestivalOf course, we had to treat ourselves to some food, too. They had Blarney Dogs (hotdogs), Unicorn Beef (reuben), Rainbow Rolls (cinnamon rolls) and Rainbow Floats (sherbet shakes). Such a cute idea. We both had to get some unicorn beef because ... well, how could you NOT get unicorn beef?

The sandwich was only $3, plus there was a jar for donations. So plus a drink and chips and a donation, I spent like $5 for my meal.

Outside of the kitchen was a huge table full of all kinds of condiments. I slathered some cole slaw, onions and thousand island dressing on my sandwich. Confession: I'm not crazy about sauerkraut, so I was masking some of that taste.

But, overall, this was pretty tasty. And fun.

Afterward, it was up to the road to watch some road bowlers.

Irish Spring Festival

So many people gathered and took turns throwing their respective cannonballs down the road. I mostly tried to avoid getting run over by the cars that occasionally passed through, keep warm in the rain and not get hurt by a wayward cannonball. I think it was a success.

Irish Spring Festival
Irish Spring Festival

Irish Spring Festival