The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

A West Virginia chef is featured in the new issue of Travel+Leisure magazine – but not for his own restaurant. Let me explain …

In an article entitled “United States of Deliciousness,” the magazine asked “51 of our favorite chefs” (one from each state and D.C.) to share their favorite hometown haunts – where they like to go when they’re not behind the stove in their own kitchens.

Chef Damian Heath from Lot 12 Public House in Berkeley Springs (a great choice, by the way) represented the Mountain State, saying:

“On the rare occasion that I can get out of my own kitchen, my wife and I love to go to the Press Room (in nearby Shepherdstown). The food is always fresh and seasonal, from morels and ramps in the spring to a hearty cassoulet in winters, and there are always plenty of oysters.”

 I had one of my best meals in recent memory up at Chef Heath’s place this winter, so it looks like a trip to the Press Room is order on my next visit to the Eastern Panhandle. 

  • LOT 12 PUBLIC HOUSE, 117 Warren St., Berkeley Springs – 304-258-6264,
  • PRESS ROOM, 129 W. German St., Shepherdstown – 304-876-8777,

Three Kids + Food = A Rainbow of Laundry Stains

Summer picnic season means there’s plenty of barbecue sauce, ketchup, watermelon and more being gobbled up. Which translates into to a whole lot of pesky food stains showing up in my laundry.

Although I’ve become quite the fan of Oxi-Clean for pre-laundry stain soaking, here are a few other ideas for washing away the evidence of your latest food feast:

  • BARBECUE SAUCE: Rinse with cold water, then blot stain with white vinegar. Rinse, apply detergent to stain and let sit 10 minutes before rinsing. Repeat as necessary.
  • GREASE: Sprinkle cornstarch or baby powder on the stain. Let dry, brush off and launder as usual.  
  • KETCHUP: Mix cream of tartar with lemon juice and apply to affected area. Launder as usual.
  • WATERMELON JUICE: Soak the area in cold salt water then pour boiling water through fabric. Put detergent directly on stain and wash.

I’ve got to give a big shout-out to Charleston’s April Hamilton, who has been named a “hero” in celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution to establish healthier eating habits in schools and communities across America.

In addition to pitching in when Oliver filmed the inaugural season of his new show in Huntington last year, Hamilton also introduced the “Launch a Lunch” campaign to improve the food served in school cafeterias here in Charleston. According to, she also organized a fund-raising campaign that generated enough money to hire a consultant to conduct a countywide assessment of changes needed to improve school menues.

Outside of this cause, Hamilton is known for the cooking classes and deomonstrations she conducts around town, often for children. My own boys have attended one at the downtown library and can’t wait for their next lesson from “Chef April.”

They’ll get their chance with a variety of programs coming up this summer. Stay tuned here and in the Charleston Daily Mail for more details!

So, today’s “National Splurge Day” – and if you were in New York City, you’d have PLENTY of ways to celebrate.

Picksie – a recently launched location-based entertainment and dining guide offering up-to-the-minute personalized recommendations – has created a fun list of extravagant (but oh, so, pricey) splurges in the Big Apple. So if you have a few C-notes to spend on dinner, the most expensive …

  • Prefix dinner: Masa, $400+
  • Burger: Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne, $150 (with 20 grams of shaved truffles)
  • Steak: Old Homestead Steakhouse, $150 Gold Kobe 10 oz. sirloin
  • Drink: Covet Lounge, $100 Icharus Cocktail (with Louis XIII’s $1,600/bottle cognac)
  • Sushi: Masa, $240 Masa Toro with caviar roll ($70 per piece)                                  
  • Dessert: Serendipity, $1,000 gold-leaf sundae complete with gold spoon
  • Breakfast: Le Parker Meridien, $1,000 caviar omelet

Check out  to create your own account and find out which location Picksie recommends for your ultimate day of indulgence!

City Man’s Winning Recipe Now on Salsa Jars

Winning recipe on a jar of Mrs. Renfro's Salsa

Regular readers may remember that back in December I wrote about a Charleston resident whose Tex-Mex Gringo Amigo Cheesecake Bites were named a grand prize winner in a national recipe contest sponsored by Mrs. Renfro’s specialty salsas.

As part of his prize, Tom Hilliard’s winning recipe (individual baked tarts featuring crushed tortilla crusts filled with a cumin and lime-flavored cream cheese mixture topped with raspberry salsa and fresh cilantro) now appears on jars of the company’s salsa available nationwide. He’s now a bonafide recipe-makin’ rock star.

Pretty cool, eh?

Check out photos of one of the jars and the dish itself – along with the winning recipe – all included here.

Tex-Mex Gringo Amigo Cheesecake Bites

1 ½ cups finely crushed tortilla chips

¼ cup butter, melted

2 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened

3 eggs

1 ½ Tbsp. flour

1 cup sour cream

1 Tbsp. lime juice

1 Tbsp. lime zest

½ tsp. ground cumin

½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided

1 jar Mrs. Renfro’s Raspberry Chipotle Salsa 

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray 5 miniature tart tins with nonstick cooking spray. In bowl, combine chips and butter until moistened. Press 1 teaspoon into bottom of each tin. Bake 8 minutes or until toasted and set. Let cool.
  2. Beat cream cheese on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each. Beat in flour, and then sour cream. Stir in lime juice, zest, cumin and half of the cilantro.
  3. Spoon 1 tablespoon filling over each tart base. Bake 20 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Run knife around edge of each cheesecake to loosen and transfer to serving platter. Spoon 1 tablespoon salsa over each tart and garnish with cilantro. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Tex-Mex Gringo-Amigo Cheesecake Bites

Today is “National Donut Day,” which should be cause for celebration but is actually a day of mourning for Charlestonians. Turns out the nation’s most popular donut is no longer available in town.

According to Yahoo! (pronounced Ya-WHOOOOOOOO!), Dunkin Donuts is the most-searched donut shop in America. But unless someone can prove otherwise, I don’t know of a Dunkin’ Donut shop that exists in the Kanawha Valley anymore. Anyone?

We can rejoice in the news that the county’s second most-popular donut shop, Krispy Kreme, is well-represented at its South Charleston Riverwalk shop and countless grocery stores, gas stations and more around the valley. (Donuts rounding out the top 10 are mostly from the Midwest and West Coast, except for Sublime Donuts in Atlanta and Shipley’s Do-Nuts in the South.)

So if you’re driving along MacCorkle Avenue SW today and just happen to see Krispy Kreme’s red “HOT DONUTS NOW” sign calling your name, give in to the temptation. It’s a holiday!

For those of you who caught last week’s blog post ( on ideas for “doctoring up” a plain ol’ hamburger, here are the tasty suggestions sent in by readers …

  • “Grilled portabella mushroom and smoked provolone” – Jim Ali
  • “I’m a blue cheese or guac girl myself. Fancy, that’s me.” – Kim Cooper
  • “I prefer black bean burgers, does that count? I like blue cheese and grilled onions as a topper.” – Andrea Bond
  • “BBQ sauce and Swiss cheese” – Lisa Graham Handley
  • “Avocado” – Chef Bill Dodson