Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Morgantown Edition: Schwebel's Bakery

SchwebelsDoes anyone else remember the Wonderbread stores growing up? I remember going to the one in Wellsburg to get small snack cakes for my dad's lunches and other cheap packaged bakery goods for home.

SchwebelsA Schwebel's Bakery Outlet opened at 800 Business Park Drive - off Point Marion Road - in Morgantown recently. I learned that there's only one other one in West Virginia (in Ona), and the only other places they are found are Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Indiana. So, I went to check it out.

SchwebelsLots of bread, snacks and other junk food that I shouldn't be buying. They had Junior Caramels (I've heard of Junior Mints -- but caramels?! I also picked up some of those small fruit pie snacks - but with cream, as well!

SchwebelsJust reminds me of growing up with all these snacks that now make me nostalgic. If you go:
800 Business Park Dr. 26508
(304) 212-4438

MON, TUES, THUR, FRI: 9:30-5:00
SATURDAY: 9:30-5:00
SUNDAY: CLOSED

Monday, May 30, 2016

Morgantown Edition: Pizza Al's (Granville)

Pizza Al'sThe most beloved pizza joint in town has opened a new location at the University Town Centre. Pizza Al's Granville, located near the new Sleep Number store, began welcoming customers a few weeks ago.

Pizza Al'sThe new space has loads of seating and the typical tower of Pizza Al's pizza boxes at the counter just awaiting fresh, piping hot pies. Typical chairs and tables with the same types of offerings - all just in a new location.

Pizza Al'sSo, I called in an order for a small mushroom pizza. It's a bit more expensive at this location. In 20 minutes, my pizza was done and ready to go.

Pizza Al'sFirst bite: The crust is a bit softer (maybe that oven needs more time to warm up), but the signature slightly sweet sauce and tons of melty cheese are still there. If you're craving a taste of classic Pizza Al's on this side of town, this location won't disappoint. And if you've never have Pizza Al's, you definitely need to try the original to get the full experience.

Grade: A
Pizza Al's of Granville Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Richardson's Farm

Richardson

There are some vendors at the Morgantown Farmers Market that I'm just now getting around to trying! Richardson's Farm is one of them. My good friend Lisa, who used to be the market manager, gave me some insight to this vendor.
Richardson's Farm is run by Sudawan “Sue” Richardson in Fairmont, WV. This 5-acre plot is covered in a large variety of produce from a few fruit trees, a berry patch, herb garden, rows upon rows of tomatoes and peppers, and a large variety of other veggies that can be found at her market table. 
Sue is originally from Thailand, where she was a school teacher, but she came to America as a mail-order bride. She married her husband Curtis, who recently passed away (May 2016) after a long illness and years of being bed-ridden. Sue’s story is excellent and I could do no justice in telling the whole thing, but it is rather fantastic and involves rejecting a Canadian millionaire because she didn’t know what that meant in English. 
She is not a USDA Certified Organic grower, but does her best to not use any chemicals on the farm. Speaking from experience, the amount of spiders and weeds is a testament to those practices. Sue happily invites people to visit the farm for events, tours, or if you have a desire to pick produce. You can find her produce at a few area farmers markets and at the independent “All Things Herbal Local Market” in Fairmont.
I got some delicious strawberries here! What's your fav item from Richardson's Farm?

Farm Market

Saturday, May 28, 2016

8th Annual Taste of Morgantown to be held June 8

If you didn't go to last year's Taste of Morgantownyou once again missed out.

But you have another chance. The seventh annual Taste of Morgantown is scheduled for June 8 at the Erickson Alumni Center. The fundraiser, which benefits the American Red Cross, showcases Morgantown restaurants through delicious, innovative dishes. More than 25 restaurants and vendors will be in attendance.

The event takes place on June 8th at the Erickson Alumni Center at WVU from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets for the event cost $40 per person or $75 for couples. Tickets can be purchased at the American Red Cross office in Morgantown, online at www.RedCross.org/TasteOfMorgantown or at the door the evening of the event.

At the end of the evening an esteemed panel of judges (including yours truly) will present awards for the best dishes in several categories. Among this year’s participants are Sargasso, Iron Horse Tavern, Table 9, Wine Bar at Vintner Valley, Morgantown Brewing Company, Tin 202, Tutto Gelato CafĂ©, Mountain State Brewing Company, and Tailpipes.

Morgantown’s Northeast WV Chapter of The American Red Cross has aided local residents who were severely impacted by extreme weather, house fires, and other disasters in the past year. By attending Taste of Morgantown you will be contributing to the American Red Cross and supporting their invaluable emergency assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Doors open at 5 p.m., and the food tasting begins at 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact The Red Cross at 304-598-9500 or visit the event website at www.RedCross.org/TasteOfMorgantown.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hacker Valley: Holly River State Park Restaurant

Holly River State Park RestaurantWe've made it, you guys. The very LAST restaurant on the 101 Most Unique Places to Dine in WV list. The VERY LAST one! It's hard to really guess how long it took me to knock off this list, because I had about half of them already complete when the list came out, and then I was just casually knocking them off as I could. Within the past 6 months or so, I've really focused on completing those ones that are out along unbeaten paths in the state. Like the Holly River State Park Restaurant in Hacker Valley.

Holly River State Park RestaurantFun story: I actually tried to visit this place earlier this year while knocking off a few other restaurants in the area. Then, MUCH to my dismay, I discovered it is seasonal. It is closed during the winter and opens back up in April. It's only open Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Memorial Day. Then, it should be open daily until Labor Day, then it goes back to weekends only. BUT, you'd be safe to just give them a call if you are planning a visit (304-493-9493).

Holly River State Park RestaurantAfter the 2.5 hour drive south, I arrived at the cabin that houses the restaurant. And - with a sigh of relief - I saw other vehicles parked out front. Yes! Open! This time, when I turned the door knob to the screen door, it opened and revealed this rustic, wood-paneled dining room. There was one table enjoying a meal, and I found a table toward the back.

Holly River State Park RestaurantAfter a few minutes, I received the menu. They were no longer serving breakfast, but everything else was up for grabs. I had read the meatloaf was great, and the homemade pies and cakes were divine. So, I ordered up the meatloaf dinner with mashed potatoes (and gravy) and corn. I also ordered a slice of hot cherry pie.

Holly River State Park RestaurantThe restaurant is operated by Debby Schoolcraft Catering, who I can only assume was the woman who waited on me because she apologized profusely for my initial wait. And, she took care of me for the whole meal - always tending to my refills and asking if the food is good.

Holly River State Park RestaurantThe meatloaf, while good flavoring, was a bit dry. I remedied that by sharing the giant helping of mashed potatoes and gravy with each bite of meatloaf. The mashed potatoes are very thin and reminded me of school cafeteria food - but not in a bad way. I actually liked them. Also, a big fan of the roll served with dinner.

Holly River State Park RestaurantDessert, though, was so good. This pie was piping hot and perfect. The crumbly crust and sweet cherries were a special treat that I don't get often. If you're in the area, stop by and get yourself a nice heaping helping of pie.

Grade: B
Holly River State Park Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Morgantown Edition: Beanery American Grill (I-68)

Beanery - I68The Boston Beanery is a casual American restaurant that has a few locations in the Morgantown area (i.e. Evansdale and Downtown). Apparently a few of the locations have branched off under a new rebranded "Beanery American Grill," including a new location right off of I68, Exit 1 near the "other" Walmart.

Beanery - I68I remember this building, which is right next to a Quality Inn, previously being a diner. I hadn't gone, but I remember it existing. So, this is the first time I've been in this new building - and I do mean new. There was this almost overwhelming smell of sawdust. It was suffocating at first, but it subsided after a few minutes. This was just their opening week, so everything was brand new.

Beanery - I68The inside has dark hardwood, some cool dangling jar lighting and a fairly large dining space. Here's Maggie doing her best to be in public on a Sunday :)

Beanery - I68The menu features the same items as other Beanery locations - a variety of fried appetizers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, burgers, pizzas, entrees and "homestyle" sides. I ordered honey BBQ boneless wings with a side of macaroni & cheese.

Beanery - I68The "wings," aka adult chicken nuggets, are good. A nice crisp outside, white meat inside and a sweet and tangy sauce - what more could you ask for? Piled atop a bed of curly fries and a side of ranch made it a good, easy meal.

Beanery - I68The mac & cheese was more cheese sauce and overcooked noodle, but, again, you can't really go wrong with mac & cheese. Still decent.

Beanery - I68For dessert, we ordered a piece of peanut butter pie. This thing was tiny. Think 5 conservative bites - for around $6. It wasn't bad, but it's definitely not what I was envisioning. It was more like a liquid peanut butter fudge, as opposed to a more crumbly Reese's filling. Not bad, but definitely too small for that price.

The Beanery is this overall crowd-pleaser because it has a little of everything. That cousin who only eats pizza? Got it. The vegetarian? Yep. Homestyle favorites for dad? Sure. It's an easy, local place to take family. It's comfortable and familiar. And, there's always a time and place for that.


Grade: B
Beanery American Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Foam at the Dome

Foam at the DomeCharleston had its first major beer festival recently (ahem, Morgantown). Foam at the Dome was held at Laidley Field under stormy skies (only raining a bit, though!), with hundreds turning out for a cold one. Or two.

Foam at the DomeThere were definitely some organizational hiccups - like waiting in line for 30 minutes before we even got into the event. But, it's great to see a huge turnout (smart hosting it the same day as the East End Yard Sale). They had more than 40 breweries, 150 beers, 10 restaurant vendors and 20 artisans.

Those breweries included: Country Boy Brewing, Charleston Brewing Company, Berkeley Springs Brewing Company, Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company, Screech Owl Brewing, SaranacMorgantown Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, Bridge Brew Works, Chestnut Brew Works, Terrapin Beer Company, Big Timber Brewing CompanyBlue Mountain Brewery, Dobra Zupas, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Breckenridge Brewery, Flying Dog Brewery, Mountain State Brewing CompanyDuvel Moortgat Brewery, Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, Shipyard Brewing Company, Green Flash Brewing Company, Rogue Ales & SpiritsHarpoon Brewery, Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Sunken City Brewing Company, Ommegang Brewery, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, Sea Dog Brewing CompanyDuClaw Brewing Company, Finch’s Beer Company, Goose Island Beer Company, Kona Brewing Company, Oskar Blues Brewery, Redhook BrewerySouthern Tier Brewing Company, Widmer Brothers, Yuengling, Lost River Brewing Company, Magic Hat Brewing Company, and Weihenstephan.

Restaurants included Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill, Bricks & Barrels, Mi Cocina de Amor, Paterno’s at the Park, Sugar & Spice Pastry Shop, Ms. Groovy’s KitchenCheerful Heart Catering, Buffalo Creek & Gauley Grill Co., Black Sheep Burrito & Brews, B&D Gastropub, CBJB Enterprises, and Bridge Road Bistro.

Foam at the DomeI tried to hit up most of the West Virginia breweries and got some favorites like the Raj, Long Point Lager and  Big Timber Blonde. I also tried the pear lager from Devils Backbone, which as super good. Also loved listening to The Company Stores while sipping. Good times with good friends - what could be better?

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.

VosgesWe 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.

VosgesAnd I 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.

Vosges

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?