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

Country Roads Cook-Off Features Appalachian Fare

Camp stoves and wood fires will fill the air with the smell of locally-produced, traditional Appalachian foods this Saturday during the Country Roads Cook-Off, part of the Fall Harvest Festival at Huntington’s Heritage Farm.

“The Country Roads Cook-Off focuses on creating a traditional Appalachian dish with the cook’s own new interpretation,” said Allen Arnold, host of the event and director of the sponsoring organization, the FARM2U Collaborative.  “The participants are all amateur cooks and they can enter any dish they feel will win over the judges.”

He said winning dishes from previous Country Roads Cook-Offs have included: Braxton County Chuck Wagon Stew, Nicholas County Style Fancy Chicken Livers, Sutton Lake Blackberry Beignets, Appalachian/Scandinavian Cabbage Soup, Couscous with sausage ala Braxton County, and Suttondelphia Cheese Steak.

The cook-off begins at 11 a.m. and prizes will be awarded for winning dishes, including a People’s Choice Award.

The Fall Heritage Festival will include activities like corn grinding, milking cows, a petting zoo and wagon rides.  The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dmission for $8 for adults and $6 for children.

For more information on either event, contact Kate McComas at (304) 522-1244 or visit

Bridge Road Bistro Unveiling New Dining Room

There’s more than great food and brew to look forward to at next Tuesday’s (Sept. 27) Bridge Road Bistro beer tasting dinner.

The popular South Hills restaurant will use the occasion to unveil its new Walnut Room dining area constructed as part of its expansion into the former Kid Country Toys space that abutted it on Walnut Road.

Can’t wait to check out the new space!

As for the dinner itself, the Bistro is teaming up with “America’s Oldest Brewery” to offer a four-course Yuengling Tasting Dinner. After a reception with canapes and lager, the evening’s menu will feature …

  • Baked Oysters with a Shrimp and Lord Chesterfield Hollandaise, paired with Lord Chesterfield Ale.
  • Baby Local Lettuces with Chicken Confit Pot Stickers and Honey Lager Vinaigrette.
  • Braised Black and Tan Swift Level Short Ribs with Sweet Corn and Baby Leek Risotto, paired with Yuengling’s Black and Tan.
  • Chocolate Ganache Tart with Pink Sea Salt and Porter Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, served with Yuengling Porter.

The reception kicks off at 6 p.m., with dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. For reservations, costs and more information, call 304-720-3500.

Great News Regarding Healthier Kids Menus

Here’s some great news on the healthy eating front …

First Lady Michelle Obama has joined Darden Restaurants and Partnership for a Healthier America in announcing a “breakthrough” health and wellness commitment in the restaurant industry. Darden — whose brands include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze — is the world’s largest full service restaurant company and owns and operates 1,900 restaurants in 49 states, serving over 400 million meals per year.

Here’s what they have agreed to and, as a parent of three boys who dine out often, I’m telling you this is huge:

  • A fruit or vegetable will be the default side for every kids’ menu item. (Not fries or mac ‘n’ cheese.)
  • 1% milk will be the default beverage, provided automatically if no alternate beverage is requested.  Milk will be prominently promoted on the menu and made available with free refills. 
  • Food illustrations on the menu will promote the healthy choices for meals and drinks.
  • Healthier menu options will be more prominently displayed when possible.
  • Carbonated beverages will not be displayed on children’s menus. (HALLELUJAH!)
  • Improve the nutritional content of one or more children’s menu items to provide equal or less than 600 calories, 30% of total calories from fat, 10% of total calories from saturated fat and 600 mg of sodium.

Some changes have gone into effect immediately, with all being fully implemented by July 2012.

In announcing the news, Obama said: “I’m here today because this is a breakthrough moment in the restaurant industry. Darden is doing what no restaurant company has done before. They’re not just making their kids menus healthier so that parents have more choices and more control, they’re committing to make changes across the full menu at every single one of their restaurants.

“I’m confident that if companies like Darden continue to be creative and innovative and keep our kids’ best interests at heart then we will solve the challenge of childhood obesity and give all our kids the healthy futures they deserve.”

New Cupcake Shop Coming to Capitol Market

Here’s some sweet news to start your day!

According to published reports this morning, a new cupcake shop will open in Charleston’s Capitol Market early next month, settling into space between current vendors Purple Onion and The Wine & Cheese Shop.

Owner Sara Lane (who also owns Custom Cakes in Cross Lanes) plans to bake a variety of cupcakes and cake pops off-site, then bring them into the shop to sell. She says customers can expect a diverse selection of flavors and interpretations.

This is good timing, too. Cupcakes are all the rage these days, gracing the cover of fancy food magazines and replacing traditional cakes and birthday parties, baby and bridal showers, even weddings!

Café Cupcake has agreed to a temporary six-month lease, and will be open on weekends during regular market hours.

Fazio’s: Still in Love After All These Years

A birthday celebration took us to Fazio’s this past weekend for what was another stellar meal.

We don’t go there very often, yet every time when we do the experience is so good we’re, like, “Why don’t we come here more often?”

In a world where independently owned local restaurants come and go (or survive despite mediocre reviews) Fazio’s has stood the test of time with exceptional food and service. I’m not saying it’s the best restaurant in town, but I can count on one hand the places that are so consistently good that I never think twice about making a reservation there.

Fazio’s is one of them.

On this recent visit, folks at our table ordered traditional pasta dishes (cannelloni, chicken basil, cacciatore) along with steak and seafood entrees. No surprise everyone left happy.

We’re all used to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (a k a “the evil CDC”) warning us about all of the tasty foods we should NOT be eating …

No fast food. No soda. No Mexican food. NO MOVIE POPCORN!

But get a load of this. The national food police just released a list of “Four Key Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors” that may surprise you.

First on the list of things to do? Moderate alcohol consumption.

That’s right. According to the CDC, the four lifestyle behaviors that could help you live longer are:

  1. Having never smoked.
  2. Eating a healthy diet
  3. Getting regular physical activity.
  4. Moderate alcohol consumption.

Each was “significantly associated with a reduced risk of mortality” and “exert a powerful and beneficial effect on mortality.”

The first three are no surprise – and even the fourth has been mentioned before in health studies. But for the CDC to actually come out in SUPPORT of imbibing a few times a day is pretty remarkable.

Makes them a little less evil, don’t you think?


The CDC study, “Low Risk Lifestyle Behaviors and All-Cause Mortality: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III Mortality Study,” was published recently online in the American Journal of Public Health.  Researchers analyzed data from 16,958 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III Mortality Study from 1988 to 2006. They found that each lifestyle behavior was significant in reducing mortality, and found that the greatest benefit was when moderate alcohol consumption was included with the other three lifestyle behaviors.

The researchers stated, “using a sample of the U.S. population, we showed that four low-risk behaviors exerted a powerful protective effect on mortality and several cause-specific categories of mortality.”  They cited a number of studies reporting potential health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption including reduced all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  The researchers also cited “the well-documented harm caused by excessive alcohol use.”

The study authors pointed to the recommendations of the Federal 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which defines moderate drinking as consuming up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.  The Guidelines define a standard drink as 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol) distilled spirits, 5 fluid ounces of wine (12% alcohol), or 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol).  Each of these standard drinks contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol. 

For the record, the Distilled Spirits Council does not recommend that people drink alcohol for potential health benefits and have always encouraged those adults who choose to drink to do so responsibly and in moderation.  Even drinking in moderation may pose health risks to some people and some individuals should not drink at all.