Left at the Fork

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Cherry Queen Hits East Coast with 36 Cherry Pies

Danielle Bott is her name, and one of her duties as reigning National Cherry Queen is to travel with her entourage to the eastern media centers to publicize the National Cherry Festival, the wonders of Michigan cherries, and the tourism potential of northern Michigan for east coast residents. She arrived armed with three dozen cherry crumb pies courtesy of Grand Traverse Pie Company, which should be enough in themselves to make folks pay attention. Continue reading

Bisbee Breakfast Club Expanding in Tucson

Bisbee Breakfast Club started in the small town of Bisbee, AZ, just north of the Mexican border. The little breakfast spot proved so successful that it was sold in 2011, soon after which the new owners opened a second spot in Tucson, followed in 2014 by a third location outside of Phoenix, in Mesa. The concept must be working because the Bisbee is opening two more restaurants, both in Tucson. The spot at 4811 East Sunrise Drive, which will have a walk-up coffee window that will remain open after the restaurant’s 2 p.m. closing, should be up and running very shortly, while the restaurant at 2936 East Broadway Boulevard will be serving breakfast by August or September.

Cozy Dog: “Like Stepping into a Route 66 Museum with Food”

Has anyone ever traveled the full length of old Route 66 and not paid a visit to Cozy Dog in Springfield, IL? “Oklahoma Joe” Hight, columnist for The Journal Record of Oklahoma City, traveled the route home from Chicago and made the obligatory Cozy pilgrimage, which he said was “like stepping into a Route 66 museum with food.” There were signs and memorabilia, maps and guides, old gas pumps and a library… and Cozy Dogs, which were inspired by founder Ed Waldmire’s visit to Oklahoma, where he spied hot dogs baked in corn bread. Mr. Waldmire came up with the idea of impaling them on a stick, and the Crusty Cur, later Cozy Dog, was born. Read Joe Hight’s column here.

Vinegar, Spice, and Smoked Whole Hog: The Q of Eastern North Carolina

They put tomatoes in the barbecue sauce in western North Carolina, but in the eastern part of the state you’ll find a thin, peppered, vinegar-based sauce. Ideally, the whole hog is cooked with wood or coals, and then hacked up and doused with some of that sauce for trays and sandwiches. Unfortunately, true, wood-cooked pork is becoming ever more rare in the Tar Heel State. Jared Brumbaugh, reporting for Public Radio East of eastern NC, visits three classic eastern Carolina barbecue pits that still do things the old-fashioned way. Continue reading

Banana Split Festival, Wilmington OH, June 10th and 11th 2016

The year was 1907. The town? Wilmington, Ohio. The place? Hazard’s Restaurant. Owner Ernest Hazard wanted to attract Wilmington College students to his eatery by creating a new, irresistible dish. He held a contest among his employees, a contest which Ernest himself won by laying a split banana in a long dish, laying in three scoops of ice cream, topping the scoops with chocolate sauce, strawberry jam, and crushed pineapple, and crowning the dish with whipped cream, nuts, and cherries. Looking for a name, he asked his cousin Clifton for help. Clifton came up with banana split, and an American tradition was born. Continue reading

Crowds Return to Omaha’s Bohemian Cafe

Omaha’s venerable Bohemian Cafe announced last month that they would be closing permanently on September 24th. Owner Terry Kapoun figured business might pickup over the last month or two as the reality of the closing approached, but the outpouring of love began immediately. Said Mr. Kapoun, “I can’t believe the number of people now. It’s like it was in the restaurant’s heyday.” Not that the sudden increase in business changes anything — a slowing business was only part of the reason for the restaurant’s closure. Everyone involved with the restaurant is also getting on in years. But perhaps all is not hopeless. “I’m now more optimistic that someone may keep the cafe going,” said Mr. Kapoun. Is that just the temporary glow of customer love speaking? We’ll see.

New Take-Out Deli Opens Today at Manny’s Cafeteria of Chicago

Manny’s Cafeteria & Deli of Chicago, on Jefferson since 1964, today unveiled the completion of their new take-out deli counter as they expanded into space formerly occupied by two adjoining businesses. That counter area (which lacks seating), unlike the cafeteria,  will be open on Sundays. They’ll be offering La Colombe coffee, baked goods made by Patti Raskin, and a greatly expanded selection of smoked fish. In the cafeteria proper, they’ve refinished all the surfaces, added ice cream for shakes, expanded their beer offerings, and replaced the old ticketing system with standard, end-of-the-cafeteria-line credit card payments. This is the first significant renovation of Manny’s since 1965.

America’s 32 or 33 Best Pizzerias

Thrillist does this once a year — compiles their rundown of America’s top pizzerias — and they’ve just released their fourth edition. The biggest news has to the absence of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana of New Haven, CT. They did include Sally’s Apizza, Pepe’s down-the-block and up-for-sale rival, on their list, where they note that Pepe’s was dropped because of their continued expansion and resulting inconsistency. Sally’s the only pizzeria in New Haven to make the cut? And only two from the entire state of Connecticut (the best pizza state in the U.S.)? Continue reading

Pork Rind Heritage Festival, Harrod OH, June 10th and 11th 2016

The most important questions we imagine most of you would ask are, what? And why? What: Pork rinds are fried pieces of pig skin. The skin, which starts out tough and inedible, puffs up in the fryer, resulting in a delicious, and light-textured, snack food. Are they same thing as cracklins? No, not exactly. Pork rinds are skin-only; cracklins have a portion of the fat attached to the skin. They are great eating, as well. You’ll find both at the Pork Rind Heritage Festival in the small Ohio town of Harrod. Why? The largest producer of pork rinds in the country, Rudolph Foods, is based in Lima, a few miles to the west of Harrod. Continue reading

Shake Shack Coming to Founder’s Hometown, St. Louis, in 2017

Danny Meyer is bringing concretes to the home of Ted Drewes! A native of St. Louis, Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer was no doubt inspired by his hometown legend Ted Drewes and his 1959 creation of the concrete when he conceived of his Shake Shack concretes. Come 2017, Mr. Meyer will be competing on Ted Drewes home turf, although Shake Shack offers much more than Drewes’ frozen custard-centric menu. The new Shake Shack will be located in a totally different neighborhood as well, in the Central West End just east of Forest Park at 32 North Euclid Avenue. This will be the first Missouri Shake Shack.

Wisconsin Cheese Curds: White or Yellow?

Cheese curds, those squeaky unaged nuggets of freshly made cheddar, are one of the three major food groups of Wisconsin (brats are another; the third is either frozen custard or beer, you choose). What’s the best way to eat curds? Your choices are fresh-from-the-bag, accentuating the clean, mild dairy flavor while enjoying the squeak, or breaded and fried, sacrificing squeak for crunch, best accompanied by a cold one. USA Today Network-Wisconsin has taken a look at the white versus yellow issue and discovered that there’s no difference, other than a little flavorless annatto coloring. Continue reading

Battle Creek Cereal Festival, Battle Creek MI, June 10th and 11th 2016

When W.K. Kellogg, with his brother John, invented corn flakes at the beginning of the 20th century to serve as part of the diet at their Seventh-day Adventist health resort in Battle Creek, MI, little did anyone think at the time that Battle Creek would one day, as a result of their efforts, become synonymous with breakfast cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. Today, not only is Kellogg’s based in Battle Creek, but Post cereals as well (C.W. Post was inspired by his stay at the Kellogg’s sanitarium). You can help celebrate that heritage by attending the Battle Creek Cereal Festival this Friday and Saturday. Continue reading

Seattle’s Rodeo Donut Attempts Regulation Crowdfunding

Brioche is a pretty delicious thing in itself. Use that butter-and-egg-rich brioche dough as the basis for handmade donuts, as Rodeo Donut has done in Seattle, and you may find you’ve raised the deliciousness bar so high that folks not only want to buy your products, they want to invest in your business. At least, that what the owners of Rodeo Donut are hoping as they are among the first small businesses to attempt to raise capital through the new federal Regulation Crowdfunding regulations. Continue reading

Virginia Pork Festival, Emporia VA, June 8th 2016

There are food festivals and then there are FOOD festivals. What we mean is, the celebrated food at many festivals often makes something of an honorary appearance, while the entertainment and carnival atmosphere become the primary attractions. And then there’s the Virginia Pork Festival in Emporia, where the focus is on pork, pork, and more pork! The 2016 edition, which takes place this Wednesday, June 8th, from 4 until 8 p.m., will mark the 43rd annual celebration of the Virginia pork industry. Continue reading

HIV Positive Former Cook for ABQ’s Garcia’s Kitchen Sues for Discrimination

One of our favorite breakfast spots in Albuquerque, Garcia’s Kitchen, is being sued for discrimination by a former employee. Pedro Maldonado worked as a cook at the Garcia’s near Old Town (there are seven Garcia’s Kitchens in Albuquerque) in 2014. Mr. Maldonado claims that he was fired after he told his boss he was HIV positive. Garcia’s Kitchen did not comment on this case but stated that they have a policy of not firing employees for serious medical issues. A crowd gathered outside Garcia’s Kitchen Friday night in support of Mr. Maldonado.

Giordano’s Pie-Off

The Andersonville (Chicago) location of Giordano’s is staging their first ever Pie-Off this coming Tuesday, June 7th, from 6 until 8 p.m. Here’s what’s happening: four big-time Chicago food bloggers have been invited to design a signature pizza. All four pizzas will be served at the Andersonville Giordano’s from 6 until 7:15 p.m. — the pizza tasting, open to the public, is complimentary (they’ll try to cash in on your bar bill). Then the public and some invited food media types will vote on their favorites, which will be announced between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m. Continue reading

Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival, Castroville CA, June 4th and 5th 2016

Don’t get us wrong, we love strawberry festivals and watermelon festivals but, let’s face it, those agricultural products grow all over America. The artichoke, however, is something special — almost all the artichokes grown in the U.S. come from California. The California town of Castroville is known as The Artichoke Center of the World. So when we hear that Castroville is holding an artichoke festival, well, we want to put down our strawberries and watermelons and head straight there! This weekend is the big event: the Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival. Continue reading

Vegas Donut Roundup

LAF says, right there on the front page, that June 3rd is National Chocolate Macaroon Day, but there’s often more than one food holiday per day. Like today, June 3rd, which is also National Donut Day. In honor of the fried ring pastry, the Las Vegas Review-Journal presents ten Sin City donut shops, none of which are in the Dunkin’-Horton mold. Note that Donut Bar, a new arrival from San Diego, is giving away a free birthday cake donut today to all who show up! We’re kinda liking the looks of that strawberry shortcake donut, with fresh berries and whipped cream, at Glaze Doughnuts as well.

DC’s Ben’s Chili Bowl (Very) Slowly Backs Away from Cosby

The Ali family, longtime owners of Washington, D.C.’s famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, has maintained a steadfast public loyalty to entertainer Bill Cosby, who has been something of a mascot to the restaurant for decades. He famously eats free at Ben’s, his giant portrait adorns the mural on the outside of the original U Street location, he cut the ribbon at the opening of their Arlington restaurant in 2014 — the Alis say he is family and one does not turn their back on family when the going gets tough. There have been recent signs, however, that the Alis are having second thoughts. Continue reading

Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival, Warren AR, June 4th through 11th 2016

A pink tomato festival. With no prior knowledge of the event we would have assumed that this is a celebration of a locally grown tomato that ripens to a pink (rather than deep red) color (there ARE such tomatoes). But no… what they are celebrating, here in Bradley County, Arkansas, is a variety of tomato that ships well if picked when the tomato tops just barely turn pink (ripening further after picking). That pink tomato is now the official state fruit and vegetable of Arkansas. Continue reading

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