The Food Guy: Two gifts of food news — and a stocking full of laughs

Merry Christmas to one and all!

The Food Guy’s gift to you this holiday season is two juicy bits of news and a few holiday laughs.

First up, the good stuff: Organizers of Charleston Restaurant Week have announced this coming year’s celebration will run from Jan. 27 through Feb. 1, 2020.

As most of you know, this mid-winter celebration features a couple dozen local restaurants each offering three-course prix fixe menus at special $25 and $35 price points for one week in late January, an annual event that packs local restaurants during a typically slow time when such business is sorely needed.

Local restaurants (well, some of them) pull out all the stops to lure in customers by showcasing some of their signature — and exciting new — creations at a reduced cost.

Menus will be released soon, but if previous years are any indication you should probably go ahead and start mapping out your weeklong strategy for those dates now. Reservations at some of the most popular restaurants fill up before the menus are even announced, leaving many folks frustrated from the get-go.

I get it, but I still say too many people trying to crowd local restaurants is a good problem to have. That’s why I continue to join so many others in saying Charleston Restaurant Week should run longer and/or take place more than once a year.

Just sayin’.

Nonetheless, check back here for more information and specific menus in the coming weeks.

In other local food event news, Habitat for Humanity of Charleston & Putman has just announced that Morgantown’s popular Hill & Hollow will be the featured restaurant at March’s “A Taste of ...” culinary fundraising event at the Clay Center.

The annual gala showcasing a much talked-about restaurant that brings its food to Charleston will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. March 5 at the Clay Center. During the event, celebrated farm-to-fork chef Marion Ohlinger will prepare a buffet of Appalachian-inspired items typically served at the restaurant like trout fondue, confit beef poutine, roasted pumpkin soup, salt-rising bread, ramp flatbread, charcuterie, preserves and pickles, a warm spinach salad and local cheeses.

Entrees will include Appalachian cioppino, brown sugar pork tenderloin, roasted chicken with alfalfa, braised lamb, rabbit fricassee, duck shank, spaghetti squash lasagna, wild boar cobbler and buckwheat okonimiyagi cakes.

And you should definitely save room for desserts like pawpaw bread pudding, rhubarb crisp, mincemeat pie and buttermilk pie.

I attend this awesome food fest every year — and it’s always a treat — but I can’t remember being so exciting about another menu.

Tickets for the evening event are $75 each with all proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam. For more information or tickets, visit “A Taste of Hill & Hollow in Charleston” on Facebook.

•••

I enjoy receiving food-related notices and press releases, which help keep me “in the know” about the latest food products, trends and more.

Some even come with the added bonus of providing a good belly laugh or two, even though a humorous reaction may not have been what the sender intended.

I know PR folks have it rough, trying to craft messages in a way that cuts through the clutter so they stand out in a sea of similar emails, but these efforts sometimes border on ridiculous because they’re just trying too hard.

Way. Too. Hard.

“I’m not trying to butter you up or waste your thyme,” a recent release said, “but I wanted to ketchup on the latest and greatest food news.”

Really? That’s the best you got?

Other times the attempt to gain attention doesn’t just miss its mark, but actually goes from semi creative to full-on “what were you thinking?”

Here are just a few of my favorite funnies from this past year ...

The American Association for Nude Recreation was kind enough to send me a whole bunch of tips and recipes outlining foods that would not only help nudists stay warm this winter, but also protect them from unpleasant “stovetop splatters or scalding steam” while cooking au naturel in the kitchen.

You know what else would help keep them warm and protect their nether regions?

Clothes. Wearing clothes.

The National Mango Board sent me a stacked press kit full of gorgeous photos, incredible drink recipes and all the information readers would possibly need to put a “mango twist” on National Margarita Day.

Except for the actual date of National Margarita Day itself, which wasn’t to be found anywhere.

That’s definitely a twist.

The good-intentioned folks at Fox Chapel Publishing recently emailed me a press release promoting a new cookbook offering more than 100 “delicious” recipes using SPAM.

You may be shocked to hear that I have no problem with that salty canned “meat” product, which is pretty tasty when browned in a skillet to enjoy on a sandwich or with fried eggs. I do, however, question the logic behind the email’s subject line: “You Won’t Believe it’s SPAM!”

Bet you won’t believe what folder I found that email in days later.

Speaking of unfortunate, but so very real, press release headlines and subject lines, check out these recent gems I deleted in record time ...

  • Come SHELL-abrate Seafood Month with Us! (Pass.)
  • Plant-Based Leader Invites America to Lose Your Veginity. (Surely there’s a better word to describe a person’s fear of vegan diets.)
  • Chop your way into the holidays with WUSTHOF knives. (OK, I can live with that.)
  • “Shanks” for your consideration. (Not so much.)
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs opens in Charleston with K9 Ass. Fundraiser. (They’re raising money for dog butts, you ask? Nope, just too lazy to spell out Association.)

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 wvfoodguy@aol.com. You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy.”

Funerals for Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Blume, James - 2 p.m., Wallace & Wallace, Rainelle.

Gunnoe, Freda - Noon, Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Hunt, Lloyd - 1 p.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Rogers, Christopher - 1 p.m., Raynes Funeral Home, Buffalo.

Shepherd, Camella - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Smith, James - 2 p.m., Fox Hill Cemetery, South Charleston.

Turley, Imogene - 1 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Webb, Barbara - 11 a.m., Ellyson Mortuary, Glenville.