Friday, November 30, 2018

Alderson Edition: Alderson Big Wheel

Big Wheel

The Big Wheel is a local favorite restaurant in Alderson.

Big WheelWith wooden beams and wheel accents, it has a country feel and homey vibe.

Big WheelThe menu has lots of home-cooked favorites, as well as a salad bar.

Big WheelI ordered the chicken finger dinner, which came with one trip to the salad bar, a side of baked potato and roll.

Big WheelThe salad bar had quite a good bit of options! You don't see too many of these at local restaurants.

Big WheelI like my salads with a little lettuce and a lot of tomatoes and croutons.

Big WheelWhat's your favorite thing here?

Alderson Big Wheel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Alderson Edition: Stuart's Hot Dawgs and Smokehouse

Stuart’s smokehouseThe restaurant with the giant corrugated hot dog sign has been on my wish list ever since I saw the first photo of it.

Stuart’s smokehouseThis spot pokes a bit of fun at itself, which I like. I ordered a single dog with chili, slaw, mustard and onions. That's like a mix of Stuart's Dawg and River Dawg.

Stuart’s smokehouseThe bathroom is ... interesting.

Stuart’s smokehouseHave you had a hot dog from here? Chili is different from any others I've had.

Stuart’s smokehouse

Stuart's Hot Dawgs and Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lewisburg Edition: Corn + Flour

Corn + FlourI absolutely love Lewisburg and all its cute little shops and restaurants.

Corn + FlourCorn + Flour is a new bakery since the last time I was in the area.

Corn + FlourThey have a variety of bagel sandwiches and prepared salads.

Corn + FlourOn this day, I was feeling the latter and got a combination of broccoli salad, pasta salad and buffalo chicken salad. Yum!

Corn + FlourAnd, finished it off with an oatmeal cookie.

Corn + FlourWhat's your favorite thing to order here?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Parkersburg Edition: Corner Cafe

Corner Cafe

A year or two ago, I had hardly visited anywhere in Parkersburg. Now, I'm quickly making my way through all of the restaurants.

Corner CafeThe Corner Cafe has a cool entrance that echos the car motif it's just across the lot from.

Corner CafeThe menu has standard sandwiches, dinner specials and salads.

Corner CafeI went for a West Virginia cheesesteak with sauteed green peppers, onions, mushrooms, steak, and provolone cheese. They were out of hoagie buns but put it on texas toaste for me.

Corner CafeThey served one to me, which ended up being someone else's order, but then once I got mine, I dug in. Tasty!

Corner Cafe

Corner Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 26, 2018

Charlotte, NC Edition: Charlotte Douglas International Airport - Whiskey River

Whiskey River - Charlotte

Whiskey River is, apparently, a restaurant owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. I didn't know this originally, but it makes sense why it was one of the most popular restaurants in the Charlotte airport.

Whiskey River - CharlotteThe menu is big on wings, beer and the like. But one of my must-have items was there: shrimp and grits.

Whiskey River - CharlotteThe place had a dark, country ambiance with music and big TVs.

Whiskey River - CharlotteBut I love this lil thing to call your server. Even though I don't think I'd ever use it.

Whiskey River - CharlotteBBQ rubbed shrimp, roasted corn & black bean salsa, grits, bacon butter and scallion.

Have you been?

Whisky River Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, November 25, 2018

French toast is full of memories

French Toast-3

Here's my latest column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

What’s the one food that conjures up fond memories for you?

It could be the cookie recipe passed down to you from your grandma. Maybe a coveted casserole your aunt brought to your family reunions. Or the beans and cornbread you made on chilly fall nights.

For me, it’s the French toast my dad made every Sunday morning after my childhood birthday party sleepovers.

As a January baby, birthday parties can be complicated. Not only are purse strings tight because it’s right after the holidays, but the weather is also unpredictable. During my childhood, that led to Candace’s Annual Birthday Slumber Party.

These nights were usually filled with movies, snacks, lots of giggling and seeing how late we could stay up. And, the next morning was our favorite part: Frank’s Famous French Toast.

Standing in front of the hot stove, my dad would dredge a piece of white bread through an egg mixture with the perfect amount of spices. He would flip slice after slice after slice of French toast to golden brown perfection. Then, he’d announce when another piece was almost ready, and a girl would run up to claim it.

By the end of breakfast, everyone was staring at a half-eaten stack of French toast, bellies full, stuffed to the gills, as my dad asked if we were “already” full. Then, he would finish up what we couldn’t.

We still joke about one of my best friends, Kelly, who had eyes bigger than her stomach and would claim all of the sausage links but could only finish about half of them.

Now, I know we were using the 99-cent loaf of white bread then, and milk and eggs because they were affordable kitchen staples. But as I become more in touch with my roots, I’ve been thinking of ways to make one of my favorite meals incorporate more Appalachian flavor.

The bread could be homemade — or try using salt rising bread, which is a traditional Appalachian bread created by settlers. Rising Creek Bakery, in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania, makes a delicious version.

Source your eggs locally at your local farmers market. Farm-fresh eggs tend to be healthier and have a longer shelf-life than ones you may get in the grocery store. And, if you’re like me and only want a couple, your local farmer may be happy to sell you just three at a time.

Local maple syrup is one of the best ways to upgrade your French toast. Head to a local farm, like Family Roots Farm, to pick up a bottle of fresh syrup right from the land. This farm even sells their award-winning “Maple Sugar,” and “Maple Cream,” which can take your French toast to the next level.

However you decide to construct your breakfast, this dish is ripe for personalization and fine-tuning for your preferences. It can be simple and cost-effective for large groups or incorporate artisanal products sourced locally. But, I hope, in whatever form it takes, that it helps create memories for you and yours.

What’s your personal take on French toast?

Scottsdale, AZ Edition: Flower Child

Flower Child

There was one vegetarian in our group trip, and it's kind of a bummer that more restaurants don't cater to these folks and instead phone in a vegetarian dish.

Flower Child
That's not the case at Flower Child, who specifically creates meals for vegetarians and vegans, and if you want meat, it's an add-on.

Flower ChildSo we dedicated this restaurant to Sam since she put up with all of our other culinary adventures from the week.

Flower ChildAnd while I'm not a carnivore, I didn't have high expectations because I had never been to a restaurant like this before. But, wow, was I surprised.

Flower ChildI ordered the vegan poke, which came with marinated beet, avocado, pickled mushroom, cucumber, radish, wasabi pea, smoked dulse, brown rice, spicy ponzu and I added a salmon fillet.

Flower ChildThis was incredible and full of flavor! There was citrus and zing and umami and crunch and a slight sweetness. So delicious! I ate nearly every last bit. If I could eat like that every day, I could go (mostly) vegan. The salmon was just bonus!

Flower Child

Flower Child Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Scottsdale, AZ Edition: Sweet Republic

Sweet Republic

I first heard of Sweet Republic when Alton Brown named a dish there his favorite sweet he's ever eaten. That's big praise.

Sweet RepublicThe ice cream shop has these funky orange circles all over and about a dozen different artisan ice cream flavors.

Sweet RepublicBut what I really wanted was one of their specialties: The toffee banofi sundae.

Sweet Republic

Sweet Republic's toffee banofi sundae features two scoops of Madagascar vanilla ice cream, slices of ripe banana, hand-stirred caramel sauce, fresh whipped cream, another light drizzle of caramel, and a sprinkling of almond toffee.

Sweet Republic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, November 23, 2018

Scottsdale, AZ Edition: Diego Pops

Diego Pop

When a place advertises snow cone margaritas, how do you walk past that without stopping?!

Diego Pop
Diego Pops is a flashy, funky bar + restaurant with an outdoor bar where we had a few drinks.

Diego PopThe first of which was a watermelon lime snow cone margarita: WATERMELON LIME Don Julio Blanco, watermelon liqueur, triple sec, muddled watermelon, Housemade Sweet and sour, lime

Diego PopI spent most of the time trying not to let it melt over the edges and man, it was sticky. But fun!

Diego PopLook how cute our drinks went together. Some got some coconut drinks!

Diego PopRound two was a prickly pear margarita - which is a ~ thing ~ here. And it's delicious.

Diego PopAnd then I had the best queso of my life. No joke! There was corn in it, which made it a bit sweet. So delish.

Diego Pop

Diego Pops Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato