There are a lot of restaurants around West Virginia that can serve a great meal, but what I really crave are ones that offer truly unique and memorable food experiences you just can’t find at other places.
Creative, impressive, one-of-a-kind dishes that really blow you away. That you keep dreaming about them long after you take your last bite.
I just had one of those moments at one of my favorite local spots, South Hills Market & Café. And if you consider yourself an adventurous eater — a foodie — you won’t want to miss this treat.
The wife and I met friends for dinner last week and enjoyed great food all around.
Pork belly nachos with house con queso, pickled jalapenos and crème fraiche. An artisan cheese plate with fresh fruit, fig jelly, pan forte and local bread. Pan-seared Scottish salmon on a crispy potato nest with mushroom ragout.
Roasted grouper with lobster risotto, bok choy and lemongrass beurre blanc. Chicken saltimbocca with creamy polenta, broccolini and stewed tomatoes. Wagyu meatloaf with whipped potatoes and mushroom bordelaise.
It was all nice, but the highlight for me was an appetizer, a towering plate of the most decadent, succulent, rich bone marrow.
Unlike most presentations consisting of a small bone with a small spoon used to scoop the marrow out, Chef Rich Arbaugh’s take featured a giant Flintstone-looking dinosaur-size bone (exaggerating, but only slightly) that was dramatically cut lengthwise and crisscrossed on a large wooden platter.
It looked striking and the glistening, simply-seasoned marrow was divine. Served with pickled onions, stoneground mustard, gherkins and grilled crostini, it was one of the best food “experiences” I’ve had in ages.
And at only $12, I couldn’t believe it. I’m telling you, you gotta try this.
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Ever wished you could get your hands on the same quality meats and seafood you enjoy at your favorite restaurant?
Local distributor Buzz Food Service is opening its doors to the public for a first-of-its-kind “Gourmet Holiday Pre-Sale” from noon to 7 pm on Dec. 9.
Designed to offer the opportunity to purchase restaurant-quality meats you can’t buy in stores, the event will feature Chef Paul Smith offering entrée ideas and preparation tips, while Buzz’s team of meat cutters and seafood experts will be on hand to answer questions as well.
And, oh yeah, there will be some samples to nibble on as well.
“We’ve always been willing and able to sell to the public, but we just haven’t advertised it,” says Dickinson Gould, the third-generation owner and president of Buzz. “The few folks in town who already come to us for their special occasion roasts or steaks treat it like a secret club, which we laugh about. We’re excited to open our doors to the community for this special single-day event, and encourage everyone to get to know us.”
Guests will have the opportunity to reserve a cut-to-order roast for their holiday meals, purchase steaks and other items to stock their freezers, or buy holiday meat gift packs to give away.
Items available for purchase include USDA Prime grade and Certified Angus Beef brand cuts, a wide variety of domestic and Australian lamb, Berkshire pork, veal, all-natural poultry and many fresh seafood options.
I can’t wait to check this out! Now if only they were selling that bone marrow.
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Speaking of beef, a West Virginia butcher has been named a finalist in the charcuterie category of the prestigious Good Food Awards, celebrating the best of America’s high quality and environmentally responsible food growers.
The Farmer’s Daughter Market & Butcher in Capon Bridge was selected for its Sweet Capicolla & Paté Campagne.
It will be competing against finalists from other states including a lamb prosciutto from Pennsylvania, beef tongue pastrami from Virginia, country ham from North Carolina, smoked head cheese from Colorado, duck liver mousse from California and Calabrese Italian salami from Utah, among others.
Nearly 300 finalists were chosen after a blind tasting of more than 2,000 food entries from nearly every state in the country. Winners will be announced Jan. 20 during an awards ceremony in San Francisco.
Good luck, Farmer’s Daughter!
You can learn more about the awards at www.goodfoodawards.org.
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Interestingly enough, I learned about The Farmer’s Daughter last year and have been wanting to plan a trip up there.
“I recently read some of your stories and really like your approach, especially your support for local, independent food establishments,” wrote Tim Reese. “So I wanted to introduce you to The Farmer’s Daughter Market & Butcher here in Capon Bridge.”
He went on to say the business is owned by his daughter and son-in law, Kate and Pete Pacelli, and offers locally grown produce and meats, as well as products from his own Taproot Farm.
“They really support our local farmers and producers here in Hampshire County and neighboring counties,” he said. “The market has been featured in many print publications and recently was featured on TV. I welcome you to come visit.”
Thanks Tim, and some day.
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I know you’re all getting excited for tomorrow’s big feast, but do me a favor and be careful out there, won’t you?
It’s estimated the average American will consume some 4,500 calories tomorrow alone, nearly double the recommended daily allowance.
That’s a lot of food, folks. Better pace yourselves.
Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and an occasional food blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/foodguy/. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy.”