Two corners in NOLA

What a difference a corner can make. If you’re in New Orleans and you decide to have a meal on the corner of St. Peter’s and Jackson Square in the French Quarter you may or may not be happy. On the NOLA - 2014 (1)other hand, if you’re looking for a corner restaurant to have lunch in,  where there’s little chance of disappointment, you may want to stop at the corner of St. Ann’s and North Tonti in the Treme neighborhood.

The French Quarter option is The Corner Oyster Bar and my grandson and I had supper there recently. I debated between boiled crawdads or shrimp and went for the shrimp. Cyrus picked chicken wings. While he was satisfied with the wings I could tell that they probably came from a freezer. Being within spittin’ distance of the Gulf I was pretty sure the shrimp would be perfect. What I was delivered, however, was a half pound of dead cold shrimp still bearing their heads (not a problem) and veins (problem). Furthermore, they had been boiled so long the flesh had become tough and stringy. The only good thing I can say is their cocktail sauce was great.

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Living wage for burger flippers

moocluckmoo burgerIn recent times much has been said about increasing the minimum wage. The conservative talking mouths have loudly proclaimed that doing such would be a job killer. Well, in spite of what all the Fox News hired guns say, there is a growing body of evidence that money can still be made while treating employees decently.

Here’s an example of a Detroit hamburger restaurant, Moo Cluck Moo, that pays every employee a minimum of $31,000 a year while selling burgers for less than McDonald’s gets for its Big Mac. Oh, and they’re making a nice profit in the bargain. Forbe’s magazine recently reported that if the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour the cost of a Big Mac would increase by an insignificant sum. Another economist argued there would be no increase because the Big D would have to stay competitive.

Whatever the truth there is no question that corporate profits are at all time highs while working people’s incomes are on a roller coaster to hell.

To read the Moo Cluck Moo story click HERE.

Four days chasing the sun

Jennette's Pier, Nags Head, March 2014 (5)My brother and his wife are relocating to Florida from North Carolina and offered my children some surplus furniture. So, my daughter Kris and I rented a large U-Haul trailer and headed south and east to Beaufort, North Carolina. She took a couple of vacation days and our intentions were simple, get the furniture and spend some time along the hopefully warm and sunny coast. I planned to fish while she walked the beaches searching for shells.

The Wednesday drive to Beaufort was warm enough but the skies were very overcast.  We even encountered the remains of the winter snowfall in the mountains of West Virginia. The day’s highlight was stopping at Wilber’s BBQ in Goldsboro, NC for a small to go sampler. Our family has faithfully been stopping at Wilber’s since 1983 and consider it to be the best in the universe.

On Thursday morning, after loading the trailer, the plan was to drive over to Harker’s Island for a look-see followed by the afternoon at Emerald Isle at the tip of Bogue Island. On the way to Harker’s I noticed a sign for the ferry at Cedar Island that runs to Ocracoke Island. Couple of years ago we had a house rented on Ocracoke but had to cancel when the place was hit by hurricane Irene. I suggested to Kris we change plans and take the ferry to Ocracoke and then return home via the Outer Banks and Interstate 64. Her face lit up like a flashlight at the idea.

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Fat Tuesday 2014 was huge!

Traditional New Orleans King Cake
Traditional New Orleans King Cake

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Fat Tuesday is the last day of Mardi Gras and marks a period of indulgence before the fast leading up to Easter. Well, last evening a goodly number of area residents indulged a bid at Three Spoons Diner for a special meal of New Orléans classic dishes, a special King Cake, a few BYOB adult beverages, and an eclectic choice of background music that included Dixieland Jazz, Cajun Zydeco,  Voodoo Soul, and traditional deep South blues.

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A Search for Ideas

Larry 'n NassauI and others are constantly on the prowl for ideas that could help pull our community’s economy out of the pit left by the de-industrialization of America. Modern realities have left so many small towns with business districts that closely resemble ghost towns. If this is to be reversed a new paradigm has to be considered. The old mom & pop stores of the past are not coming back.

Across the nation there are communities who have taken the time and effort to reinvent themselves. To carve out a niche of uniqueness that makes others want to come for a visit or even take up residence. One example is Waynesville, OH, a community that has become the antique capital of Southern Ohio, and beyond. The town’s business district is vibrant and alive. Those who come looking for treasure also need to be fed and entertained. You’d be hard pressed to find a storefront not occupied by an antique shop, boutique, health food store, restaurant, or other enterprise.

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Greenfield’s Pride; Three Spoons Diner

Just read an article in the county newspaper stating that in a poll, Greenfield’s Three Spoons Diner was voted best in the county in two categories; best diner and best luxury meal. Kudos to Doug Gall and Avery Elliot for their menus and culinary talents and all the staff who make it happen. You do us and yourselves proud.

Eating Your Way Across Ohio

eating your way across ohio
Click cover photo to visit Amazon for more details or to purchase.

Several months ago a friend send me a copy of a book she had helped to produce. It is a road food book by Karen A. Patterson titled, Eating Your Way Across Ohio: 101 Must Places to Eat.

Over several decades I’ve assembled a small library of road food books and I seldom leave home without a couple on the car’s backseat. Whenever I enter an area new to me I’ll stop and check out what options lie ahead. Only once have I been disappointed. Road Food USA highly touted a London, Ohio area restaurant famous for its state fair blue ribbon winning pies. The first time we paid a visit they were closed. The sign in the window said, “Closed for state fair week!” Couple of months later we were in the area and stopped for a meal and a piece of their blackberry pie. Far as I could tell it may have been from a leftover state fair pie.

Anyway, I like road food and I like road food books.  The first thing I did after receiving Karen’s book was to check out her selections for Southwest Ohio, my home turf. Of the nineteen regional restaurants she chose, I’ve eaten in twelve. A few on multiple occasions. Her list includes such places as:

  • Beaugard’s BBQ in Wilmington (a personal favorite)
  • Cincinnati’s Firehouse Grill
  • Lebanon’s Golden Lamb
  • Chillicothe’s Old Canal Smokehouse, Bangkok Palace, The Dock on Water, and Los Mariachis
  • La Casada in Hillsboro
  • Adam’s County’s Murphin Ridge Inn (eaten there several times and always a great meal)
  • The Spillway Lodge near Clarksville (haven’t been there in years but it was always good)

These are some I’ve experienced and in my opinion the author is dead on in her choices. None are examples of high-cuisine but I’ve not left any still feeling empty or overcharged.

I’ll reserve final judgement about Karen’s book until I’ve had a chance to experience the other ninety or so remaining selections. That’s the great joy of road food books, you can’t issue a judgement until you’ve worked your way through the last page.

Kava Haus – Wilmington

Stopped at the Wilmington Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago and stopped at a stand giving away free samples of blueberry scones and other goodies. Turns out they were drumming up business for an upcoming coffee-house opening sometime this fall. The Kava Haus’ location will be 187 E. Locust Street, right next to For a Song and A Story.

Besides gourmet teas and the gamut of coffee styles available today, they will be featuring some of the following baked goods:

Cinnamon rolls, Schnecken, Biscotti, Cookies, Brownies, Pies, Cakes, Fruit cobblers, Fruit Danishes, Cherry-apricot braids, scones, and cupcakes.

This could definitely become a regular stop when passing through Wilmington.

Cost of a Big Mac

If you scan the headlines you may have noticed several about disgruntled fast-food workers. Mainly they are not happy about the hourly wage rate. There is also a debate in congress over raising the minimum wage from its current $7.25 to something exceeding $9.00. I came across a neat widget this morning that demonstrates the potential effects of raising the price of a Big Mac on wages paid to McDonald employers. Scan down the article (or read down the article) and you’ll find a box where you can enter how much you’d be willing to pay extra for a Big Mac. This will result in data appearing that reports the positive effect it could have on earnings. CLICK HERE!

Random Thought: Business Plan

Last month I stayed in a Florida motel next door to a great seafood restaurant named Stinky’s Fish Camp. Armed with the knowledge that sometimes a name that evokes bad thoughts is good for business I’ve come up with an idea for a hot dog stand. What do you think about Anthony’s Weiner?

BBQ Joints, Just Not the Same

Larry 'n NassauMy son and I just got back from a trip to North West, Florida and pretty much lived on a diet of barbecue and seafood. We spent much of the time off the Interstate system seeking out yard sales and local BBQ joints on the way to the Gulf Coast and coming home. At the coast, I especially, honed in on consuming local sea creatures, fried, steamed, and grilled. I even managed to get down a sample oyster on the half-shell.

As many of you know I have for years been on a quest to find the best pulled pork on earth and the search has been very enjoyable and made for some good memories and tales of conquest. But since it began, back in the mid-80s, much of the luster has been lost. There are several reasons for this and the newness rubbing off is probably a major factor. Other reasons have to include there only being  so many ways to smoke a hog, the increase in the number of BBQ joints, and, to twist a phrase, that we have gotten pretty damned good at pulling our own pork.

The one thing we both agreed on is that Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro, NC remains our personal, all-time, favorite with Hill’s Lexington BBQ, north of Winston-Salem, NC, running a possible close second. We also agreed that good BBQ never came out of a big chain restaurant with a modern building just off the Interstate. The best que is found in old concrete block buildings with knotty pine walls, oil-skin covered tables, and a big pile of burning hickory logs out back from which the glowing embers are used to convert swine into swell.

Importance of small business

Larry 'n NassauLast Saturday I drove past a couple dozen restaurants to have lunch at Greenfield’s Three Spoons Dinner. I love the food and I most always run into someone interesting to chat with.

I got to talking with the owner, Doug Gall, about his future plans and was told that if everything works out he will be able to employ up to 18 new people. That got me wondering about how many he already has working in the restaurant. I started counting on my fingers and got to 15 for sure and there could be others I’m unaware of.

That a pretty impressive number of pay checks coming out of one small downtown store front and since the majority of those employees live in the community a good part of their pay goes right back into the village’s economy.

A restaurant is a labor intensive business and most retail stores wouldn’t hire that many people. But if every currently empty store front was occupied it would add up to a goodly number of paydays for our residents and a good shot in our economic right cheek.

Random Thought: Sushi

sushi plateSushi, you can fancy it up, artistically display it on earthenware slabs, dip it in any number of exotic sauces, surround its consumption in ritual, and charge a fortune for it. But in the end, you’re still eating raw fish.

Now, let’s take that California roll, drag it through an egg wash, roll it in corn meal, plop it into 350 degree peanut oil until it turns golden brown, and call me when it’s ready.

Legend of the Red Velvet Cake

red velvet cake slicePam Stanley made the first red velvet cake I ever had and it was wonderful. She would never share the recipe because she had promised the person who gave it to her to keep it a secret.

The story went that Pam’s friend had been in NYC and dined at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. For dessert she had ordered the red velvet cake and found it so delicious she asked for the recipe. The waiter took her address and said the recipe would be mailed to her.

Several weeks later an envelope arrived from the Waldorf containing the recipe along with Continue reading Legend of the Red Velvet Cake