Charleston “Restaurant Week” Menus Announced!

January 15, 2014 by The Food Guy
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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 http://bit.ly/KxGgjH, 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

Entrée:

* 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.

Dessert:

* 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

Dessert:

* 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

Dessert:

* Fried Cheesecake

Oh, Deer! What To Do With All That Venison?

January 1, 2014 by The Food Guy
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With another deer-hunting season wrapping up, many of you may find your freezers full of rich venison meat waiting to be put to good use.

Well look no further!

Today’s Charleston Daily Mail offers a variety of suggestions to inspire you, including ideas from some from the area’s finest restaurants. (You can check them out here: http://bit.ly/Juxu5z) And here’s another idea from my own experience …

My mother-in-law has served venison for big family dinners twice in the past week – and the results have been phenomenal. Born and raised in Austria, Louise Wiseman knows her way around the kitchen, and is especially skilled at baking world-class desserts and preparing flavorful, fork-tender meat.

This week’s venison was no exception.

Although she’s hesitant to reveal her precise recipe, I can tell you she braised it in a flavorful broth seasoned with mushrooms and onions until a fork pierced it as if it were soft butter. (You can make your own braising liquid, or use any combination of prepared broths/soups to create the taste you want.)

Pair this awesome venison with some roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a hearty red wine for one heckuva meal!

The Last Supper … For Turkey Leftovers

December 2, 2013 by The Food Guy
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We’re now entering Day 4 of turkey leftovers. Or as I like to call it …  

ENOUGH ALREADY! 

After today, I’ll be breaking down what’s left of that big bird to make a giant pot of homemade stock to freeze in smaller containers that can be pulled out to flavor soups, stews, rice and more over the coming weeks. 

But if you have any meat left, you can still get one more meal out of the thing. Today’s recipe calls for angel hair “nests” (available in some specialty food stores) but you can also just serve this over any ol’ pasta for similar results. 

 

Angel Hair Nests with Turkey and Leek

 

1–2 packages of angel hair nests

5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1-1.5 cups cooked, skinless turkey breast

5 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and thinly sliced

1 cup water

3/4 cup finely chopped green onions, divided

1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. Cut cooked, skinless turkey into bite-size pieces or shreds; set aside.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Reduce heat to medium, and add leeks. Cook 7 minutes or until tender-crisp, stirring frequently. Add water, 1/2 cup green onions and wine; cook, covered, 10 minutes or until leeks are soft.
  3. Transfer mixture to a blender. Cover and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Cover and keep warm.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in 3 batches, gently lower pasta into boiling water. Cook 6 minutes or until al dente. Carefully remove pasta with a large slotted spoon, gently shaking to remove excess liquid. Repeat procedure with remaining pasta.
  5. Arrange cooked pasta nests on a large rimmed platter. Spoon sauce evenly over each nest. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese, and top with turkey. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup green onions.

     

    Recipe courtesy www.dececcousa.com

Beef Stroganoff – Beef + Turkey = Tasty Results

December 1, 2013 by The Food Guy
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I adore Beef Stroganoff, with its chunks of meat and fat egg noodles bathed in a creamy sauce made with sour cream, Dijon mustard, onions and parsley. 

So why not replicate the dish with a few leftovers from the Thanksgiving table? 

Today’s recipe takes advantage of some of that turkey (you can use white or dark meat), plus adds mushrooms and cranberries for a super-quick satisfying meal. 

And if the addition of cranberries doesn’t tempt your taste buds, you can easily omit them – no harm done.  

 

Turkey Stroganoff with Mushrooms & Cranberries

9 oz. wide egg noodles

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 ½ cups/8 oz. finely chopped onion

1 ½ cups/4 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms

6 Tbsp./3 oz. dry white wine

6 Tbsp./2 oz. dried cranberries, preferably unsweetened

3 cups/12 oz. shredded cooked white and dark meat turkey

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

12 oz. reduced fat sour cream

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

 

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
  2. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the onions and mushrooms until softened and starting to brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and add the cranberries. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the turkey, Dijon mustard and sour cream. Remove from heat. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Divide the noodles between 6 bowls. Top with stroganoff mixture and sprinkle with parsley.
    Recipe courtesy www.pastafits.org

More Turkey Leftovers? More Recipe Ideas!

November 30, 2013 by The Food Guy
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We’re still in full “Thanksgiving Leftover Mode” at our house, with the boys requesting hot open-faced turkey sandwiches for both lunch AND dinner yesterday.

Happy to oblige with that deliciousness – no arguments here.

But if you’re looking for something a bit more creative, here’s a recipe that brings turkey, pumpkin and cranberries together in an unusual pasta dish.

The combination sounds a bit odd, I know. But pumpkin pairs well with savory flavors so the garlic, scallions and fennel called for here shouldn’t scare you. Throwing cranberries into the mix admittedly throws me a bit but, hey, live a little!

 

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce, Turkey & Cranberries

 

1 lb. bowtie or any medium pasta shape, uncooked

1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

1 1/2 cup sliced scallions, white and green parts

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1 12-oz. can evaporated skim milk

1/2 cup low-fat milk

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 15-oz. can solid pack pumpkin

3 cups chopped cooked turkey

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

6 fresh fennel sprigs (optional)

 

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large, deep non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add scallions, garlic and fennel seeds; sauté 3 minutes.
  2. Combine milk, flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir into saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat; boil until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in pumpkin, turkey and cranberries until well blended. Reduce heat to medium; cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.
  3. Drain pasta. Place in large bowl. Add pumpkin sauce and toss. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. (Garnished with sprigs of fresh fennel, if desired.)
    Recipe courtesy www.pastafits.org

Give Turkey Leftovers a Little Mediterranean Flair

November 29, 2013 by The Food Guy
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We enjoyed a super-traditional Thanksgiving menu at our house yesterday featuring a bounty of family-favorite recipes. A simple herb-roasted turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, sautéed Brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole and rolls. 

And I’m sure we’ll scarf down our fair share of traditional leftovers today. 

But come tomorrow, I’m thinking we’ll be ready to throw a few new flavors into the turkey-leftover equation. 

Check out this recipe for a lively turkey casserole that uses artichokes, roasted red peppers and Kalamata olives to give your Thanksgiving bird some Mediterranean flair! 

 

Mediterranean Turkey Casserole
1 lb. penne pasta or any medium pasta shape, uncooked

1 14 1/2-oz. can low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup skim milk

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 cups chopped cooked turkey

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1 7 1/2-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced

9 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup white wine

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Vegetable oil cooking spray

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

 

  1. Prepare noodles according to package directions; drain. Stir the broth, milk, salt and cornstarch together in a large pot or Dutch oven until the cornstarch is dissolved. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in noodles, turkey, artichoke hearts, red peppers, olives, mozzarella cheese, wine, lemon juice and pepper.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon noodle mixture into dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
    Recipe courtesy www.pastafits.org

It’s National Taco Day … Ole!

October 4, 2013 by The Food Guy
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Americans eat more than 4.5 billion of these babies each year, although I shudder to think just how many of those come from Taco Bell.

I know, I slip sometimes myself. But those mass-produced tacos don’t hold a candle to one you make yourself with fresh ingredients spilling out all over.

So this year, skip a run to the border and make your own creative tacos at home with these recipes courtesy of Chef Aarón Sánchez and Ortega.

Enjoy a plate of spinach, caramelized onion and black bean tacos. Or maybe you fancy zesty fish tacos with cabbage and tangerine slaw? Whichever you choose, be sure to mix up a pitcher of homemade margaritas to wash them down.

Sounds nice, eh?

 

ZESTY FISH TACOS WITH CABBAGE AND TANGERINE SLAW

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice and zest of 1 lime
3 tbsp ORTEGA® Guacamole Seasoning Mix
4 cups shredded red cabbage
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tangerines (cubed, seeds removed)
Chopped fresh cilantro
2 lbs white fish fillets or shrimp
1 package (1 oz) ORTEGA® Fish Taco Seasoning Mix
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 box ORTEGA® Taco Shells (any variety)
1 jar (16 oz.) ORTEGA® Thick & Smooth Taco Sauce (any variety)

  1. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice and zest, and guacamole seasoning mix. Add red cabbage, onion and tangerines and mix to combine. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Cut fish into 1 ½ inch chunks and toss with taco seasoning mix. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the fish until it’s opaque and the edges are slightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes, turning once.
  3. Fill taco shells with fish chunks and top with the slaw. Sprinkle on chopped cilantro and top with taco sauce.

 

SPINACH, CARAMELIZED ONION AND BLACK BEAN TACOS

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp ORTEGA® Taco Seasoning Mix (or 40% Less Sodium Taco Seasoning Mix)
¼ cup water
1 can (15 oz.) ORTEGA® Black Beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 oz.) package fresh spinach leaves, washed
¼ tsp salt
1 can (4 oz) ORTEGA® Diced Green Chiles
8 ORTEGA® Taco Shells (any variety) or ORTEGA® Fiesta Flats™
Crumbled feta cheese
1 bottle (8 oz.) ORTEGA® Taco Sauce (any variety)

  1. In a large skillet, heat half (1½ tbsp) of the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the onions are a rich brown. While the onions cook, heat the beans in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir the taco seasoning mix and water into the onions, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more to thicken. Spoon the onions into a serving bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining oil. Cook the garlic in the hot oil for 10 seconds, just until it’s fragrant, then add the spinach leaves, a handful at a time, stirring and adding more as they wilt. Sprinkle with salt and diced green chiles and continue to cook until the spinach is tender, 3 to 4 more minutes.
  4. To serve, mound beans, spinach and onion in taco shells or Fiesta Flats™ and top with crumbled feta and taco sauce.

Parkersburg’s North End Brews Now in Charleston

September 12, 2013 by The Food Guy
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After stopping by several times, I finally wrote a pretty nice review of the new B&D Gastropub in Kanawha City, a bar-and-grill kinda’ place that set up shop in the old Murad’s location.

In addition to some pretty good pub grub, one of the coolest discoveries I made was stumbling upon the fine microbrews crafted at the North End Tavern & Brewery in Parkersburg.

Although I’ve heard of the place, I’m much more familiar with the likes of Bridge Brew Works and Mountain State Brewing Co. and just haven’t had the opportunity to sample North End’s fine creations. That all changed with the opening of B&D, currently the only place in Charleston to carry them.

All North End beers are hand-crafted on site from all-natural ingredients, including the finest barley malts, cereal grains, hops, yeast – and pure West Virginia spring water. Styles range from Belgian ales and Czech pilsners to British porters and light American lagers.

On the dark side, there’s a rich and frothy porter with roasted chocolate and black patent malts, or you can lighten things up with a crisp golden ale. There’s also a berry wheat (with West Virginia blackberries) and an aggressively hopped IPA bringing five select American malts and five unique American hops together in a bold blend.

But the best by far is Roedy’s Red. North End’s flagship brew is a classic American amber with bold hop and malt characteristics. Traditional two-row and caramel malts create its unique body while Warrior and Amarillo hops give personality to its aroma and finish. This amber ale (think a “hoppy” Killian’s) has won statewide competitions, including several People’s Choice Awards.

I can see why. It’s a beauty!

Bacon … The Next Health Craze?

August 1, 2013 by The Food Guy
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Could bacon be the next hot health craze?

I doubt it.

But there are those who tout its benefits as a good-for-you indulgence.

Dr. John Salerno, for one, believes bacon is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Of course, he’s also a protégé of Dr. Robert Atkins (gasp), creator of the once-hot “eat all the bacon you want but don’t dare touch a slice o’ bread” Atkins Diet.

“Many think of bacon as one of the guiltiest pleasures possible, but it has also been shown to alleviate the effects of diabetes, heart disease and strokes,” says Salerno, author of “The Silver Cloud Diet.”

“Nitrate-free bacon is an excellent source of high-protein, low-carbohydrate energy that helps to reset the metabolism,” he continues, “and it’s filled with amino acids delivered without the risk of dangerous levels of mercury, which can be found in many fish.”

Need more reasons to praise the pig?

  • Bacon has a 4-to-1 ratio of protein to fat.
  • It contains choline, which boosts memory and healthy brain function.
  • It’s composed of monounsaturated fats, the kind that contains lots of healthy fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.
  • And it’s a potent source of oleic acid and saturated fats, which help reduce levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), lower triglycerides and raise HDL, commonly referred to as the “good” type of cholesterol.

I do love the stuff and will continue to chomp down on more than my fair share. But let’s not kid ourselves about its debatable health benefits.

Wheatgrass, it’s not.

But man cannot live on wheatgrass alone, which is why the occasional slab of bacon is such a joy. Everything in moderation.

So when you’re ready to moderate, here are a few fine bacon-blessed treats you might want to try …

  • Wrap a slice of bacon around your favorite items when grilling. Chicken or a nice filet, of course, but also around asparagus, scallops, even some grilled fruits.
  • Bling up a traditional BLT with creole mayo, sliced avocado or spicy pickles.
  • For an incredible appetizer, wrap bacon around a feta stuffed fig or a chunk of apricot rolled in brown sugar. Bake until the bacon is cooked through.
  • Three words: bacon cinnamon rolls. Unroll cinnamon buns from a refrigerated canned dough and roll them back up with a cooked slice of crisp bacon inside. Bake per package directions.
  • Two more words: bacon candy! Spread sliced bacon across a slotted baking pan and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup, then bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Best bacon ever.

 

x   x   x

 

Bacon also played a supporting role in a great appetizer idea a neighbor recently shared. Actually, she didn’t just give me a recipe but also brought over all the ingredients I needed to make it.

What a gal!

Her Cheesy Stuffed Peppers featured an assortment of red, orange and yellow peppers filled with a mixture of cream cheese, sautéed onions, garlic and bacon, then baked until warm and gooey inside.

The results were so good, I’m sharing Naomi’s recipe this week. But like me, she didn’t really measure anything so just adjust all amounts to taste.

 

Cheesy Stuffed Peppers

assorted small red, orange and yellow peppers
medium onion, chopped
cream cheese, softened
cooked bacon
garlic, salt and pepper (to taste)

  1. Cut off (and save) the tops of all peppers and scoop out seeds.
  2. Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp, then remove to drain on paper towels. Pour off all but a scant amount of bacon grease and sauté onions in the same pan. Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Remove mixture from skillet and let cool.
  3. Mix onions and crumbled bacon into softened cream cheese, then use this filling to stuff each pepper. Replace tops and place upright in a baking dish. Bake 15-20 minutes a 350 degrees or until peppers are a little tender.

 

 

Chef Brown … You’ve Been Chopped!

June 25, 2013 by The Food Guy
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If you read my column in today’s Daily Mail, you know I spent last night enjoying a fantastic night of wine, food, music and friends at Edgewood Country Club.

It was everything I expected in a nice evening out and more – and yet another feather in Festivall’s cap.

But what you don’t know is who won Charleston’s first-ever Edgewood Become a Work of Art “Chopped”-style culinary throwdown, in which two amateur chefs (and their teams) competed against one another to prepare two different dishes for four judges using a “mystery box” of ingredients revealed just 15 minutes before the stoves were fired up.

So who won? Oh, we’ll get to that.

First things first. What an AWESOME evening!

Held on Edgewood Country Club’s patio overlooking the city of Charleston, more than a hundred guests mingled – listening to the awesome “Fort Hillbillies” band, socializing with friends, sipping wine – while two culinary teams battled it out over a hot grill. Local “Wine Boy” John Brown and Charleston doctor Stefan Maxwell led their teams to create a menu featuring at least three ingredients from the mystery box (actually a coffin-sized cooler) presented to them right as the competition began.

Among their choices … sea bass, ahi tuna, ribeye and a selection of fresh produce, herbs, grains and full use of Chef Jeremy Still’s Edgewood Country Club pantry.

I immediately started plotting what I would make under the circumstances, but my ideas differed from what these fast-thinkers came up with on the fly. Chef Maxwell crafted a menu of a fire-grilled Caribbean Angus rib-eye roast with a rum-infused jerk reduction over warm potato salad. He paired that with a cored curried apple stuffed with goat cheese, figs and warm berry compote.

I loved the interplay of heat and sweat in his dish, but my steak was definitely overcooked compared to the plates I saw fellow judges enjoying on the left and right. Ah, consistency. But that sweet-savory-fruity apple dessert was one of the most ingenious, delicious I’ve had.

Chef Brown’s team offered a summer salad medley – a single plate featuring small tastes of crab Louis, grilled asparagus and a Caprese salad of sliced tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and julienned basil. Those are three dishes I love individually, but never would’ve thought to pair them together on the same plate. But why not?

The Brown team’s main course featured a Southwest-seared rib-eye, grilled broccolini and a farrow-stuffed grilled pepper. I dream of broccolini and farrow, so this was a winner in my book. The steak was cooked nicely, too, so there was little to find fault with here.

But that’s what judges do, so we filled out our scorecards to name an ultimate winner. And in the spirit of the show that inspired it … “Chef Brown, you’ve been Chopped!”

Chef Maxwell’s Caribbean-inspired menu won by the narrowest of margins, just 1.3 points out of a possible 60. So very close.

No matter, it was an awesome night – and yet another reason why West Virginia, Charleston and Festivall will forever hold a special place in my heart. (And belly.)