Charleston Street-Fest Brings the Eighties Back to Life

The streets of Charleston were filled with food, hula-hoops, chalk art and music Saturday evening as Street Fest took place on Capitol Street. Hundreds attended the event, filling the block with everything from an area for children and family activities to costumed attendees available for photos and restaurants filled with food and drink on their patios.

One of the highlights to this eighties themed evening was a band from Clarksburg called Eighties Enough. They played every genre of retro music from the decade that brought us shoulderpads and stonewashed jeans. They crossed the gamut of musicians from Michael Jackson to Devo to the ballads of Bon Jovi and REO Speedwagon. Best of all, they did it well! Too often, events such as these draw bands who lack the ability to hold the interest of a crowd, but Eighties Enough, with their vocalist Eric Lewis, truly made the evening memorable.

It was interesting to see a band’s setlist go from the rock and roll sounds of Poison to Run DMC so seamlessly, but they kept it fun and upbeat for the crowd, who were hoping to find shade from a nearly 90 degree afternoon in the sun. The band includes Lewis on keyboard, guitar and lead vocals, Jim Poling on lead guitar and vocals, Rick Martin on bass and Jason Lantz on drums and vocals. Lewis said that this was their first time playing in Charleston, WV, but they enjoyed their visit. With the impression they left on those in attendance, it certainly won’t be their last!

For more on the band, visit their website at or their facebook page at

Another Charleston Street-Fest is planned in August with activities for all ages.

Extra! Extra! Paw paw ice cream is here


Ellen’s paw paw ice cream

Y’all can keep all that pumpkin spice stuff.

Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream on Capitol Street has paw paw ice cream, but it won’t last long.

The limited-time treat made its 2014 debut this morning. Owner Ellen Beal said she only has four tubs, so it will likely disappear pretty fast.

You might remember a mention of the ice cream from a story I wrote earlier this month about paw paws, those weird little tree fruits sometimes called “hillbilly bananas.”

I stopped by Ellen’s around lunchtime to try a scoop. It tastes a lot like vanilla ice cream but with hints of tropical flavor. Almost like mango, but more muted.

Even if you don’t like paw paws — like most of my Daily Mail colleagues — you’re sure to enjoy Ellen’s paw paw ice cream. Stop by and give it a taste before it’s too late.

“Ew . . . it’s wiggling. It’s like fruity-flavored snails,” he said. – See more at:
“Ew . . . it’s wiggling. It’s like fruity-flavored snails,” he said. – See more at:

“Ew . . . it’s wiggling. It’s like fruity-flavored snails,” he said. – See more at:
“Ew . . . it’s wiggling. It’s like fruity-flavored snails,” he said. – See more at:

Breaking: Bacon emergency

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture released a public health alert this morning regarding smoked bacon and ham produced by Andy’s Custom Meats in Ona, W.Va.

According to the release, there have been no reports of illnesses related to Andy’s bacon or ham, but the products were not properly inspected before going to market.

Here’s the alert in its entirety:

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) Meat and Poultry Inspection Division (MPID) has issued a public health alert on “Smoked Pork Bacon” and “Smoked Ham Slices” produced by Andy’s Custom Meats in Ona. Consumers should return the products to Andy’s or to Milton Farms.

The affected products bear the establishment number “31” inside the WVDA mark of inspection on the label. They were packed on various dates between March and June 2014.

WVDA has received no reports of illnesses linked to these products, but they were produced without benefit of inspection or a valid hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plan for smoked meat, which means they are also improperly labeled.

Four animals were used to produce about 300 pounds of meat. The company has recalled the affected product. Questions should be directed to Andy’s Custom Meats at 304-743-9455 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Taste-of-ALL 2014 winners announced

tasteLast Sunday was Taste-of-ALL, when local restaurants and chefs face off for some pretty prestigious awards. Here is a list of this year’s winners.

Taste-of-All Charleston 2014 newspaper food writer’s awards

(Judges Steven Keith, “The Food Guy” Charleston Daily Mail and Judy Grigoraci, “From the Kitchen” The Charleston Gazette)

Overall Best Dish: Chicken and Waffle (Southern waffle, made to order, honey nut encrusted crisp-fried chicken breast, topped with candied jalapeno, pecans, and drizzle of sage infused maple syrup) – Black Sheep Burritos, Charleston

Overall Special Dish: Fire Roasted Tomato Soup with gouda, garnished with Gorgonzola Crouton – Four Points by Sheraton, Charleston

Honorable mentions:

Steven: Black Sheep pan-seared cashew and wasabi-crusted Ahi tuna “nacho” (served atop a fried wonton with sesame-ginger aioli and chili-mirin reduction) and Quarry Manor Senior Living’s fried green tomato BLT slider.

Judy: Housemade Sweet Potato Burger with Spicy Mayo – B&D Gastro Pub

FestivALL 10 cake contest in celebration of FestivALL’s 10th season winners

(Judges Sarah Plumley of Sarah’s Bakery; Lisa Dravenstott, executive pastry chef Distinctive Gourmet Civic Center and Cheri Godfrey, executive pastry chef Mardi Gras Casino and Resort)

Third place: Nicole Wolfe, Cross Lanes – Coconut Cream Cake

Second place: Rachael Shaffer, St. Albans – Red Velvet Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

First place: Jean Jones, South Charleston – Golden Apple Black Walnut Cake with Whipped Butter Frosting (her grandmother’s recipe)

Highest Sales Award

BrickSalt Bar + Kitchen (Marriott)

Taste of ALL “Chef Off”

Winner: Chef Andrew Quisenberry, Quarry Manor (Judges Bridget Lancaster, America’s Test Kitchen; Scott Maroney, executive chef for Mardi Gras Casino & Resort; Chef Paul Smith, Buzz Food Service; Don Wilson, Generation Charleston)

People’s Choice Awards:


First – Adelphia, Deep Fried Feta

Second – B&D Gastropub, Dragon Bites

Third – Four Brothers Coffee and Tea House, Lobster Bisque Soup


First – Quarry Manor Senior Living, Fried Green Tomato BLT Slider

Second – Black Sheep Burrito & Brew, Chicken & Waffle

Third – Black Sheep Burrito & Brew, Pan-seared Ahi Tuna


First – Distinctive Gourmet, WV Beignet w/ Vanilla Moonshine Sauce

Second – 5 Corners Cafe, Bread Pudding (3 votes separated 1st & 2nd place)

Third – Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream, Ice Cream


First – Four Brothers Coffee and Tea House, Four Brothers Blended Coffee

Second – Sweet Spoon Bubble Tea

Third – Huskey’s Dairy Bar, Milkshake

Chicken on the brain

For the last few weeks I’ve been writing a series of stories for the Daily Mail about fried chicken, my idea of the perfect summertime food.

But I need your help to end the series. I need your recipes.

Week one kicked off with — what else? — breakfast. I spoke with chefs at Bluegrass Kitchen and Black Sheep Burritos about how they make their fried chicken and waffles.

The second story focused on family restaurants The Grill and Harding’s Family Restaurant, which employ simple recipes to make seriously delicious chicken.

This week’s story (look for it in Wednesday’s paper) will feature local wing joints Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille and The Cold Spot.

I’m going to conclude the series next week, just in time for the Fourth of July. Here’s where you come in.

Many of my most-memorable meals have not been in restaurants. They’ve been home-cooked efforts, shared with family and friends. So if I’m looking for the best fried chicken, I figure the best place to find it is at home.

I need your best recipes for fried chicken. I don’t care if you clipped it from a magazine or if it’s a recipe handed down from your great-great grandmother. I just want to know how you make fried chicken in your kitchen.

Send your recipes to, or (if they’re short enough) tweet at me.

Avocado Shirt Co. in action

Today’s Daily Mail Life section features Avocado Shirt Co., a soon-to-launch clothing company devoted to avocados and guacamole.

We shot some funny photos of co-founders Rob Russo and Jason Hager juggling at The Purple Onion, which photographer Tom Hindman turned into an animated gif. Unfortunately, our new website doesn’t play nice with animated gifs and neither do our social media accounts.

So here, dear reader, is an exclusive look at an animated gif of two guys juggling avocados in a grocery store.

856550 Avacado-revNow, go support their Kickstarter campaign.

Festivall 2014 lineup announced

I now have more reasons to look forward to summer. Organizer’s announced this year’s FestivALL lineup this morning, and it looks like it’ll be a doozy.

  • Aaron Neville will play the Mayor’s Concert at the Clay Center on June 26
  • The Drive-By Truckers will headline FestivALT, a new event aimed at younger audiences. That’s June 21 at Appalachian Power Park
  • Blues, Brews and BBQ returns to the University of Charleston on June 27 with Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, The Nighthawks and Samantha Fish.
  • Wine and All That Jazz comes to the University of Charleston on June 28. Red Baraat and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band will perform.
  • St. Paul and the Broken Bones will play “Mountain Stage” on June 29. Click here to read my blog post about the band’s new album.
  • The Charleston Light Opera Guild will present “Catch Me If You Can,” a musical stage adaptation of the 2002 Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks movie.
  • The Dance Gala will feature ballet performers from the New York City Ballet, the Charleston Ballet and teh River City Youth Ballet Ensemble on June 25.

And ther’s more. St. George Orthodox Cathedral will host a religious icon festival, there will be a West Virginia Writer’s Roundtable on June 22 with “Crappalachia” author Scott McClanahan and Pittsburgh’s Attack Theatre will present “Some Assembly Required,” a performance that interacts with public art pieces and the audience.

We’ll also see a return of favorites like the Smoke on the Water Chili Cookoff, the West Side Main Street wiener dog races and ice cream social, street fairs and street performers, and more.

For more information, an updated schedule will soon be posted on

We’re all winners at a Girl Scout cookie cook-off

Girl Scouts 01

Carlee Truman, 8, and Taylor Shafer, 9, were my helpers for this year’s Girl Scouts Great Cookie Tasteoff at the Charleston Marriott. This is apparently part of my job.

This life editor job came with a lot more responsibilities than I realized including, I learned this week, serving as a “celebrity” in the Black Diamond Council’s annual Girl Scouts Great Cookie Tasteoff.

It’s tough to be me.

I got help from Jessica Billanti, event manager at the Charleston Marriott, as well as local scouts Taylor Shafer and Carlee Truman. We prepared a southern peanut butter pie using Tagalongs (recipe below).

The purpose of the event was to promote Girl Scout cookies. The recent winter weather and water crisis have wreaked havoc on sales, which are down about $30,000 in Kanawha County alone.

All proceeds from Girl Scout cookies stays in the local chapters. So as Beth Casey, CEO of the Black Diamond Girl Scout Council told me, that’s a lot less money to send scouts to camps or support community service events.

Girl Scouts are still selling cookies, however, and hope to make up the difference. Look for them at community events and outside of retail stores.

I’ll confess, Taylor and Carlee did most of the work for our team. They enjoyed using the pastry bag filled with whipped cream, and did a fine job covering our dessert with chocolate syrup, chopped nuts and strawberries.

They also presented the finished product to the panel of esteemed judges (how do I get that gig?), who declared all six teams the winners.

The whole thing seemed rigged, but I didn’t protest too much because I was soon distracted by the buffet table lined with cookie desserts (including a tart made from Dulce de Leche cookies, crepe roll-ups made from Samoas, and Thin Mint brownies).

Maybe I’m just biased, but I thought our peanut butter pie was the best of all. But there’s always next year.

Girl Scouts 03

Devin Fields, Pies and Pints’ resident chalkboard artist

Devin Fields spends most of his time working the bar at Pies and Pints’s downtown Charleston location. But every couple weeks, his bosses call upon his artistic talents to create a new, eye-catching design for its bulletin board.

We featured Devin on today’s Life section, but didn’t have enough space in the paper to fit all the photos we have of his work. So, that’s what blogs are for. Here’s a larger look at his drawings.