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The Food Guy: Local eateries to compete for best hummus bragging rights

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What do you do when you’re looking for ways to get more people out to your event? Just add food!

And if there’s some sort of competition around said nibbles, all the better.

That’s exactly what the folks behind this year’s West Virginia Jewish Film FestivALL are doing as a prelude to this Sunday’s screenings at the Clay Center.

From 5:30 to 7 p.m., seven area restaurants will be serving up their best hummus creations inside the Clay Center lobby. Sampling is free and the public will get to vote on a People’s Choice Award naming the best hummus in the Kanawha Valley.

Restaurants vying for that title include Adventures Bar & Grill at Eagle View, Aladdin, The Block, Bridge Mart & Deli, King Kabab, The Olive Tree Café and Sahara.

“These restaurateurs are really itching to win this thing, so we’re trying to get the word out about this fun event,” said Fred Pollock, the film festival’s director. “And then, once the tasting is done, the evening’s lineup of movies will be projected inside the Caperton Digital Planetarium.”

Sponsored by the Federated Jewish Charities of Charleston, the event will feature a series of short films related to Jewish culture and history. Titles include “The Chop,” about a charismatic Kosher butcher who must get creative when he loses his job; “Chika, the Dog in the Ghetto,” a wartime stop-action animation tale based on a children’s book by a Holocaust survivor; and “Joe’s Violin,” a Best Documentary Short Subject nominee from this year’s Academy Awards.

And the evening’s featured film? “Life and Hummus,” of course.

This 40-minute documentary follows the fascinating story of a Jewish American filmmaker as he travels through picturesque Israel and the West Bank in hopes of finding the world’s best hummus.

Hummus to eat, then hummus to watch. Can’t beat that. But I’ll be out of town, so I need my food peeps to represent.

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Notes from The Food Guy mailbox:

Reader Harry Price writes: “I stumbled onto a new restaurant in Parsons called Iron Bridge Bistro. The owner/executive chef is Todd Zais and OMG the food is phenomenal — all made fresh from scratch. It’s only been open a few months. I live an hour and 15 minutes away, but have been there three times already. We combine Iron Bridge Bistro with the Purple Fiddle (in Thomas) and it’s always a great combination.”

What timing, Harry!

I just drove through Parsons last week (for the first time in years) and noticed a couple of new, nice-looking restaurants there, including this one. I almost stopped for lunch, and it sounds like I should have. Next time!

A few miles up the road, I drove through the tiny Canaan Valley town of Davis, where I also passed by Bricks & Barrels’ semi-new Barrel Brewhouse gastropub inside Blackwater Brewing Company and brand new Wicked Wilderness Pub & Parlor.

Sadly, both were closed the days I was in Canaan, but I have them on my hit list for next time as well.

In other food news: “Is there going to be a 2017 South Charleston barbecue Ribfest?” asks reader Lee Schlegel. “I couldn’t find it with Google, but I’m not a very good Googler.”

No worries, Lee. Google has gotten pretty unwieldy these days. I just tried myself and couldn’t turn up anything either. The dates have varied from early summer to early fall in the past, so there still may be one planned later this year.

Finally, reader Margaret Goldsmith offered a great suggestion I hope to incorporate into future food coverage.

“When you review new restaurants, would you please add whether the restaurants are handicapped accessible? Lots say they are and there are not. They may have one step that a wheelchair cannot go up or stairs with no rails,” she said. “Sometimes they will let you come through the kitchen.”

That’s a very good point, Margaret, so thanks for the tip!

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and an occasional food blog at He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by email at You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy.”

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