Archive for the ‘food events’ Category

Fetch Some Good Chili at Wagging Tails Cook-Off

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
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Come out and join me for a doggone good time (sorry, had to) as I help judge this Saturday’s Wagging Tails Chili Challenge” at Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans.

A benefit  for Dog Bless, a dog rescue group in the Kanawha Valley, the event is classified as a “homestyle” cook-off, meaning anything goes in terms of ingredients. Cooks can whip up a pot of red, white, green or vegetarian chili – loaded with beans or nary a one – for a chance to win the top prize of $300, a trophy and the opportunity to represent St. Albans in the 2016 ICS World Championship Homestyle Chili Cook-off.

Wagging Tails logoThe event, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, is sanctioned by the International Chili Society (ICS) and co-sponsored by St. Albans Riverfest in cooperation with the City of St. Albans. Chili sampling tickets are 50 cents each, and guests also can enjoy music, beer, retail booths and children’s activities.

The event takes place rain or shine.

And if you’re ready to steak (sorry, again, couldn’t resist) your claim on chili bragging rights, it’s not too late to enter. Organizers will accept contestants up until Friday who email

Dog Bless, a local 501(c)3 charitable organization.  Since its start in 2012, the group has saved more than 2,000 dogs from euthanasia and homelessness through the efforts of its volunteers, foster homes, rescue partners and community support. Dog Bless volunteers will be at the cook-off to share information about the group’s rescue efforts and how people can get involved. Learn more about the group and cook-off at

Feast on a “Potluck” Friday in Pocahontas County

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
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If you find yourself near West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands this weekend – or just want to take a trip to one of the state’s most scenic spots – be sure to head to the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton to feast on “Potluck,” a performance of stories, songs and poems all about food.

Potluck Poster

Colleen Anderson, Julie Adams and Karen Vuranch in “Potluck.”

West Virginia’s own Julie Adams, Colleen Anderson and Karen Vuranch serve up their favorite pieces about cookery and community (and the connections between them) in an hour-long live performance that promises to “satisfy your soul, lift your heart and tickle your funny bone.”

Known as “West Virginia’s First Lady of Storytelling,” Karen Vuranch tours throughout the world but is most known for her Appalachian and multi-cultural stories and living-history performances as writer Pearl S. Buck, labor organizer Mother Jones and humanitarian Clara Barton.

Julie Adams is a singer/songwriter on the internationally syndicated public radio show Mountain Stage who has performed with Kathy Mattea, Sarah McLachlan, Bruce Cockburn, Shawn Colvin and many others.

Colleen Anderson is a writer, designer and songwriter whose work has been published by Redbook and Arts & Letters, among others. Her songs also have been featured on Mountain Stage and The Folk Sampler.

The show begins at 7:30 pm. Tickets – which are $10 for adults and free for children 17 and under – can be ordered here.

‘Meatout Monday’ Potluck Rings in Spring

Monday, March 23, 2015
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In conjunction with other groups across the world who organize “Meatout” events to mark March 20 – the first day of Spring – the Kanawha Valley Vegan Potluck Group invites the public to their own “Meatout Monday” Potluck from 5:30-7:15 tonight at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at 520 Kanawha Blvd. West in Charleston.

The event is designed to provide guests an opportunity to sample a variety of vegan dishes while learning about the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Members of the group will share their personal stories and all are encouraged to swap recipes.

Live music will be provided by Minnesota Riot Grrrrl Folk Collective member Shannon Murray, who blends self-penned songs on the struggles for existence with traditional labor and folk covers. Green smoothie samples will be provided, and guests also will have a chance to win $10 gift certificates donated by Bluegrass Kitchen, Healthy Life Market, Mission Savvy, Starling’s Coffee and Provisions and Tricky Fish!

There is no cost to attend, but an offering will be collected to help cover use of the building and entertainment. For more information on the international movement, visit

Want to attend, but not sure what to bring? The group recommends checking out these websites for last-minute vegan recipes and ideas:

Local Mac & Cheese Cook-off Now World Qualifier

Thursday, March 12, 2015
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As if Charleston’s second-annual Mac & Cheese Cook-off weren’t exciting enough, there’s an even bigger reason you won’t want to miss this year’s event …

Coordinator Rachel Scudiere recently learned the local cook-off has been selected to be a qualifier for the “World Food Championships” competition in Florida this November.

That’s big news, y’all!

As a result, Scudiere is extending the registration deadline for those who would like to participate until next Wednesday, March 18.

This year’s event takes place Saturday, March 28, at Charleston’s Capital Market. For more information, check out my previous story at or visit

“Eat a Ridiculous Amount of Food” Sunday is Here!

Sunday, February 1, 2015
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How can the biggest football game in the world be so Super if action on the field is constantly overshadowed by food and commercials?

Beats me, but Super Bowl Sunday is here – so belly up to the buffet!

Taste of Home says Americans spent more than $1 billion on food during last year’s game, making it the second-most popular holiday for eating, trailing only Thanksgiving.


Research shows fans will devour about 1.25 billion wings and 11 million pounds of potato chips tonight alone. They also say you could fill a football field almost 12 feet deep with the amount of guacamole that will be consumed during the game – a fact that is both unbelievable and gross.

So whether you watch while dipping into the salsa or diving into a platter of wings or pot of chili, you’re in good company.

Super Bowl Sunday is always a big day for pizza delivery, but you can intercept that looooooong wait for a slice by making your own at home. Here are two recipes from Kontos for inspiration …


Ffour-cheese margherita pizzaour-Cheese Margherita Pizza

one ready-made pizza crust

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

½ tablespoon fresh minced garlic

dash of sea salt

8-9 slices of small Roma tomatoes

3 oz. shredded whole milk (artisan) mozzarella

2 oz. Fontina cheese

1 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 oz. Feta cheese

4 fresh basil leaves washed, dried and julienne sliced (strips)

  1. Preheat oven to 400⁰ F (375⁰ for a convection oven)
  2. Stir together the olive oil, garlic, salt and tomatoes and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Brush the crust with the tomato marinade (leave tomatoes in the bowl).
  4. Arrange tomato slices over the top of the crust.
  5. Spread Mozzarella and Fontina shredded cheese evenly over top of tomato slices; top evenly with shredded Parmesan cheese, Feta cheese and sliced basil leaves.
  6. Place topped pizza into the oven, directly on rack for crispy crust, on a pan for soft crust.
  7. Bake for approx. 5 minutes (a few minutes less for convection oven); remove from oven with a baking sheet or pizza spatula.
  8. Let cool for 1-2 minutes. Slice into 4-6 slices and enjoy!


veggie lover's pizzaVeggie Lovers Pizza

One ready-made pizza crust

3 oz. tomato pizza sauce

4 oz. whole milk Mozzarella (artisan) cheese

1 ½ oz. sliced red onions

1 ½ oz. sliced black olives

1 ½ oz. total (½ oz of each) diced red, green and yellow bell peppers

  1. Preheat oven to 400⁰ F (375⁰ for a convection oven).
  2. Evenly spread the tomato pizza sauce over crust.
  3. Evenly spread the Mozzarella cheese over the top of the pizza sauce.
  4. Top with the bell pepper mixture, black olives and sliced red onions.
  5. Place topped pizza into the oven, directly on rack for crispy crust, on a pan for soft crust.
  6. Bake for approx. 5 minutes, or a minute or two less in a convection oven; remove from oven with a baking sheet or pizza spatula.
  7. Let cool for 1-2 minutes, slice into 4-6 slices and enjoy!


Cooking tip: Oven baking times can vary. Flatbread pizza is ready when the cheese is melted completely and edges are medium to dark brown.

Meet ‘n’ Greet a Celebrity ‘Shiner

Friday, September 5, 2014
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Don’t expect free-flowing samples to be passed around, but here’s your chance to meet and greet celebrity moonshiner Jim Tom Hedrick …

Jim Tom HedrickThe TV personality will be in Marmet and Beckley this Wednesday to promote the release of his signature unaged rye, the first in series of “Legends” moonshines to be produced by Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The partnership with Sugarlands marks Jim Tom’s pursuit of going “legal” to make his brand of ‘shine available to the public for the first time.

Jim Tom with be on hand to sign autographs at King Cut Rate Liquor (9913 MacCorkle Ave.) in Marmet from noon to 2 p.m. Sept. 10, then at CJ’s Liquor (2152 Harper Rd.) in Beckley from 3-5 p.m. later that same day.

Both events are free and open to the public.


Vandalia Gathering Hosting a Sweet Bake-off

Friday, May 23, 2014
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Ready to get your cupcake on?

The folks putting on this weekend’s awesome annual Vandalia Gathering on the State Capitol Grounds in Charleston are inviting West Virginia residents to enter a “Cupcake & Pound Cake” bakeoff as part of this year’s event.

A celebration of Appalachian heritage featuring food, music, dance, crafts and more, the Vandalia Gathering draws big crowds of fans who love to enjoy everything “Wild and Wonderful” about our great state. This year’s baking competition will take place inside the Culture Center State Theater this Saturday, May 24. Registration is from noon to 1:30 pm and tasting/judging begins at 2 pm, with winners announced shortly thereafter.

Entries must be original recipes made from scratch, with no prepared mixes allowed. Judges will disqualify previ­ously published recipes, such as those in cookbooks and in magazines, from food companies, on food websites and cooking-contest winners, unless the recipe features changes considered significant by the judges. Entries must be submitted in disposable pans/liners, with no refrigeration required. The recipe used also must be included on a 3×5” index card.

Creativity is essential and this contest is not limited to traditional cupcake and pound cake flavors. Judges will look for a variety of fillings and textures.

Entries may score a possible 100 points, with 30 for taste/flavor, 25 appearance, 15 consistency in size/shape, 20 moistness/crumb and 10 for creativity. First place wins $75, second gets $50 and $25 will go to both the third-place winner and the top entry among youth ages 15 and under.

All cupcakes and pound cakes become the property of the Division of Culture and History and will be offered as prizes during a cake walk in the Great Hall at 3:30 p.m. All are welcome to join the dancing!

Although I was asked to help pick this year’s winners, sadly, I’ll be out of town this weekend and can’t make it. #bummer

For complete rules or more information, contact the West Virginia Division of Culture and History at (304) 558-0220 or visit

It’s the First (Fancy) Ramp Dinner of Spring

Saturday, March 22, 2014
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Ready for the first ramp dinner of the season?

And a fancy one at that! 

Celebrated West Virginia Chef Dale Hawkins will treat guests to “A Fancy Ramp Dinner: Celebrating Spring Tonics in Appalachia” at 6 pm Saturday, March 29, at Mountain View Event Center in Buckhannon.

The evening will begin with a welcome beverage and ramp queso with corn tortillas, plus a cash bar available as well. Once the dinner begins, you’ll hear from the people who have grown, caught, raised, foraged and crafted the items featured in each dish.

Dishes like: 

  • Buttermilk, Ramp and Bacon Biscuits 
  • Artisan Breads from Jeff Kessler 
  • Bad Ass Beet Salad with Orange Segments and Pea Tendrils 
  • Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon and Wild Leek Vinaigrette, Pickled Red Onions, Farm Eggs and Mushrooms 
  • Gardner Farm Chicken Braised in White Wine and Caramelized Ramps 
  • Gingered Beef Flank Steak with Buttery Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Asparagus 
  • Apple Dumplings with Caramel Sauce and Ellen’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 
  • Iced Sassafras Tea and Mountain Roaster Coffee 

Dinner will be served buffet-style, and vegetarian options will be noted. The cost is $35 per person and tickets must be purchased in advance. Email or call 304-704-2535. 

All profits benefit the New Appalachian Farm & Research Center A 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to support the agricultural community’s efforts of supporting a local food system for West Virginia.

Kiss for a Free Queso – Today Only at Qdoba

Friday, February 14, 2014
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Now here’s a Valentine’s Day restaurant promotion that I actually get a kick out of … 

Go into any Qdoba Mexican Grill today and kiss your mate – or a complete stranger, if they’re willing – and you’ll get a free entrée with a purchase of one of the restaurant’s Queso entrées.

The fourth-annual “Queso for a Kiss” campaign coincides with the rollout of the chain’s new Queso Diablo and Queso Verde creations launched just this week.

Queso Diablo features a blend of fiery jalapenos and smoky chipotles, while Queso Verde incorporates fresh cilantro and lime juice for a smooth and zesty flavor. The original 3-Cheese Queso is available, too, and any of these three options can be enjoyed in a burrito or variety of entrees.

Charleston’s two Qdoba locations are at Trace Fork and Charleston Town Center mall. For more information, check out

Now who’s ready to pucker up? I’m hungry!

Charleston “Restaurant Week” Menus Announced!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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For those of you salivating over what choices you’ll have during Charleston’s upcoming “Restaurant Week,” I’m going to put you out of your misery. The menus have been announced! 

In case you missed the big news, Buzz Food Service has recruited eight top-notch local restaurants to participate in this year’s inaugural event, coming up Jan. 27-Feb. 1. 

Get the original scoop at, then check out the eight featured menus below …


BLUEGRASS KITCHEN (1600 Washington St. East, 304-346-2871)

First course:

* Simple salad or cup of soup du jour


* Pan-seared whole trout with organic stoneground grits, stewed kale and bourbon mustard sauce.

Dessert, choice of:

* Any available dessert.


BRIDGE ROAD BISTRO (915 Bridge Road, 304-720-3500)

First course, choice of:

* Cup of French Onion Soup

* House Salad

Entrée, choice of:

* Grecian Chicken Penne Pasta

* Apple Cured Pork Chop with fig and apple glaze with polenta and house vegetable

* Seared Salmon with polenta and house vegetable

Dessert, choice of:

* Bread Pudding

* Ice Cream


ICHIBAN (103 Capitol St., 304-720-7874)

First course, choice of:

* Gyoza (steamed pork dumpling)

* Almost Heaven Maki (shrimp and blue crab with spicy mayo, garnished with green onions and chili powder)

Entrée, choice of:

* Ichiban Land & Sea (filet with scallops drizzled with Asian sauce served with asparagus and choice of steamed or fried rice)

* Bamboo Chicken sautéed in General Tso’s sauce with choice of steamed or fried rice.


* Decadent Chocolate Spoon Cake.


NOAH’S ECLECTRIC BISTRO (110 McFarland St., 304-343-6558)

First course, choice of:

* Grilled Romaine Salad: Lightly grilled romaine, peppercorn dressing, grape tomato and shaved parmesan

* Soup of the Day: Chef’s Daily Creation

Entrée, choice of:

* Moroccan Spiced Braised Lamb: Tender braised leg of lamb with chickpeas, apricots, golden raisins, cous cous and mint yogurt

* Shrimp or Chicken Pad Thai: Bean sprouts, julienne vegetables, fried egg, rice noodles, peanuts, cilantro, coconut-peanut sauce

Dessert, choice of:

* Chocolate Lava Cake

* Vanilla Ice Cream with fresh berries


PATERNO’S AT THE PARK (601 Morris St., 304-205-5482)

First course, choice of:

* House-made meatball over polenta cake

* Italian Sausage Stuffed Pepper

Entrée, choice of:

* basil chicken (pan seared bone-in chicken breast with a basil marsala cream), tomato risotto and seasonal vegetable

* veal cutlet picatta (pounded veal tenderloin with a lemon and caper butter sauce), parmesan risotto and seasonal vegetable


* Cannoli chips


SOHO’S CAPITOL MARKET (800 Smith St., 304-720-7646)

First course, choice of:

* Caprese Salad

* Minestrone

Entrée, choice of:

* Lasagna

* Four-cheese ravioli with tomato basil

Dessert, choice of:

* Tiramisu

* Cannoli


SOUTH HILLS MARKET AND CAFÉ (1010 Bridge Road, 304-345-2585)

First course, choice of:

* Spanakopita Dip with Smoked Tomato Relish and Pita

* Garden Greens with choice of Dressing

* Braised Pork Belly with Succotash and Caramel Soy

Entrée, choice of:

* Chicken and Waffles with Braised Greens and Pecan Gastrique

* Pan Seared Grouper with Braised Leeks and Fennel with Saffron Beurre Blanc

* Grilled Petite Filet with whipped Potatoes and Vegetable Melange with Bordelaise

Dessert, choice of:

* Petite Doughnuts with Chocolate Sauce

* Creme Brûlée with Berry compote


VANDALIA GRILLE (212 Hale St., 304-343-4110)

First course, choice of:

* Tuna Nachos

* Bruschetta

Entrée, choice of:

* Cedar Plank Salmon

* Vandalia Filet


* Fried Cheesecake