August 2014

Cue the Boys II Men…

Alright…  It is not quite the “End of the Road” just yet, but it might as well be.  The West Virginia Power season has exactly 13 games left as I write this offering.  Our first road trip this month was to Asheville, which is a phenomenal foodie city on the rise.  I opted to send my summer intern on the trip.  There are a few great options within a short walk of the hotel in Asheville: Hickory Tavern, Neo Burrito and Brixx Pizza to name a few.  If I sent him to Lexington, the only option is a house made out of butter and grease and waffles.  So he got Asheville…  and wasted it on cheap pizza and roast beef sandwiches.

Lexington is just a short trek from Charleston, so I borrowed my wife’s Subaru (37 mpg as opposed to my Toyota’s robust 22-ish) and took off for the “Horse Capital of the World.”  Along the way, I stopped for lunch near the Barboursville Mall.

Can't resist this place.

Can’t resist this place.

I’m still going low-carb, so no burrito for me.  I went for a salad with carnitas and verde salsa.  This should almost make up for the time, about a decade ago, when a friend and I drove 90 minutes to get Chipotle, each had a burrito there and then spent $80 on more burritos to take home.  That is no joke…  We really did that.

From there, it was on to UK-land.  The Power and Legends played a four-game series at Whitaker Bank Ballpark and split.  The Legends took game one, limiting the Power to just two hits.  West Virginia saved the offense for games two and three, pounding out 15 and 18 hits and scoring a collective 22 runs between Friday and Saturday’s wins.  Lexington won the finale 8-1.

Willie’s Locally Known has been one of my favorite spots to eat all season, but with one more three game trip here later this month, I did not visit this time through.  Instead, I found a Greek place on Friday for lunch called the Athenian Grill.  This is a top ten restaurant according to TripAdvisor.  

Eat there... if you can find it.

Eat there… if you can find it.

I opted for the meatballs in marinara with a Greek Salad.  Keone De Renne, our hitting coach, went along for the ride.  He said he might not eat since he had Waffle House two hours earlier.  I almost didn’t notice that he finished his gyro long before I was done eating.  This is a hole-in-the-wall-if-you-blink-you’ll-drive-right-past-it kind of place, but well worth finding.  Finding the Athenian Grill online is easier than finding the actual restaurant.

On Saturday, with all of my work taken care of after lunch Friday, I had time to tour and relax.  I toured the Alltech Lexington Brewing Company.  Alltech sounds like the kind of place that makes beer and spirits, right?  The chemical company works primarily with yeast and animal feed, animal supplements and animal health products.  It was the yeast that lead to brewing.  They would showcase their yeast by using it to make beer at conventions and trade shows.  And so Lexington Brewing Company was born.

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How beer is made...

How beer is made…

The brewery is only 14 years old, but offers six craft brews that have drawn a cult following.  Three of their beers are aged in old bourbon barrels.  The barrels are stored in a large freezer and the wood shrinks, thus releasing bourbon that seeped into the oak.  LBC makes a bourbon ale, a coffee stout, and, seasonally, a pumpkin barrel ale (plus three other non-barreled brews).  Find out more about Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale and LBC.

Craft brews selections from Lexington Brewing and Distillery.

Craft brews selections from Lexington Brewing and Distillery.

For $7, you could take an hour long tour and sample four of their ten products.  In addition to the beer, they have a distillery in the plant that creates four spirits: a whiskey, a bourbon, a rye whiskey and a coffee/ bourbon liquor.  I sampled two beers and three spirits (a fellow guest was getting a little too Harry Caray along the tour).

Wheel. Of. Bourbon.

Wheel. Of. Bourbon.

How spirits are made...

How spirits are made…

Each of their four brands of spirits go through the distilling process.

Each of their four brands of spirits go through the distilling process.

Pretty fancy digs for a booze factory.

Pretty fancy digs for shine making…  Wait.  This kind is legal.

After the brewery tour, I headed over to Red State BBQ.  This is the top restaurant on TripAdvisor.  It was very good, but Willie’s has still not been beaten.  The short story behind the name is that when the proprietor was watching election returns, he quipped to a friend that all the best barbecue comes from “red” states.

I vote delicious.

I vote delicious.

Five different sauces were available, I indeed sampled small amount of each with my low-carb lunch: brisket, pulled pork and green beans (ordered cole slaw but didn’t want to waste room actually eating it).  I swear I did not inhale the BBQ at RedState.

On Sunday before the last game of the series, I made sure to stop by one of my Lexington favorites.  

We meet again.

The Windy Corner Market is just five miles from the hotel… out in horse country.

What I really wanted was to go back to the brewery and get another one of their Bluegrass Sundowns.  The coffee liquor is mixed with hot water and heavy cream to make an Irish Coffee… minus real brewed coffee in the drink itself.  But with a game that Sunday afternoon, I didn’t want to sound like this guy:

The ZOOperStars Harry Canary at Appalachian Power Park.  And yes... he "sings."

The ZOOperStars Harry Canary at Appalachian Power Park. And yes… he “sings.”

I’ll never have another bad day.

Back on the wagon… Or is it off the wagon?

Baseball season is a tough time for a broadcaster to stay healthy (or get healthy).  I learned during my first couple seasons in the industry that a person can gain 10 to 15 pounds very easily by not watching what they eat and not exercising.  Very easily…

Pecan pie from Troy's in Rome, GA... more to come.

Pecan pie from Troy’s in Rome, GA… more to come.

Once Lebron James said he went carb-free and the pictures surfaced on Twitter, I vowed that I would go carb-free.  And then I looked at what that cut from my diet.  I changed my diet vow to low-carb and I’m now shooting for 50 g per day.  My plan was to try one day… and then try the next.  I’m on day six as I type this and still going!  

Most people, I think, would say I don’t need to lose weight.  I’m not really trying this to lose weight, though I wouldn’t complain if I shed 7-10 pounds of baby fat.  By baby fat, I mean all the delicacies of the 2014 Minor League Baseball season.  

Warning: This post is about to turn into a flashback episode of my summer in food…  All the food that didn’t make it into a Minor League Kerouac post at any point.

This blog started in 2013 to chronicle my travels.  Most guys (broadcasters) spend very little of their per diem on food and pocket the rest.  Players and coaches are different (as covered in this post earlier this season).  I chose to spend the money allotted to me to be well fed.  We travel to 13 cities that are very unique with a variety of culinary experiences.

Here are some of the dishes that didn’t make the cut… but I ate anyways!

Mahi bowl at Lakewood's Surf Taco Stand

Mahi bowl at Lakewood’s Surf Taco Stand

One of my favorites and I wrote about it last summer.  I actually skip the free press box food and eat this twice per trip.

Gyro plate from Sarah's Kabob Shop.

Gyro plate from Sarah’s Kabob Shop.

While in Greensboro, a Power staff member was in town shadowing the Hoppers staff for a day.  He had a car and asked where I wanted to go.  I picked Sarah’s Kabob Shop… TripAdvisor’s number one restaurant in the area.  Sarah’s Kebob Shop’s website

Root Beer sauced brisket at EVO Public House

Root Beer sauced brisket at EVO Public House

I tried a few places while in Delmarva.  It was during the World Cup, so priorities were good food and multiple televisions.   The brisket actually shut my jaw down for a few hours (I suffer from TMJ).  After a chat with’s Keith Law, he suggested I go another route at EVO.  A recipe of their custom ground beef, house-cured duck confit, and gruyere cheese with onion jam and a rosemary garlic aioli… and sweet potato fries.

Duck confit-topped burger at WVO

Duck confit-topped burger at WVO

He was absolutely right.  It was like Top-Chef-meets-the-best-burger-I-may-ever-eat.  More on EVO Public House

Rome had a few entries.  I’ve already extolled the virtues of Harvest Moon Cafe and Jamwich.  At the ballpark though, they have two notable “delights”. 

Rome's famous BBQ sundae.

Rome’s famous BBQ sundae.

They also have a food truck outside with Philly cheese steak or chicken flatbreads. 

Available with homemade chips and gooey cheese.

Available with homemade chips and gooey cheese.  Yes please.

While in Rome, their broadcaster was kind enough to help me continue my best BBQ pursuit and took me to Troy’s (the best barbecue in the city I hear).

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My plate consists of pulled pork BBQ, green beans, fried okra and a cornbread muffin.  It was very good, but still doesn’t knock off Willie’s Almost famous in Lexington.  With only Lexington left on the road this season, Willie’s has claimed the crown.

I closed the meal at Troy’s with some pecan pie.  Pecawn?  Pecaaan?  Doesn’t matter.  It’s gawn… gone.

Shrimp and Grits from First Watch in our home city.

Shrimp and Grits from First Watch in our home city.

Even when I’m home, I still over-indulge.  Time to get back on the wagon…  or off it.  I’m registered for a half-marathon in February… and maybe a few 5K’s along the way.  Time to get in shape.

Maybe one last treat though?  From a great deli in Lakewood perhaps?

That there is a cheesecake canoli.

That there is a cheesecake canoli.

I’ll never have another bad day.

Amore in Rome…

Amore is the Italian translation of the word “love.”  Or love is the English word for amore…  Something like that.

(Author’s note- the names of the innocent have been changed, but not by much.)

While in Rome (Georgia… the South Atlantic League does not actually travel across any oceans despite sounding more worldly), I did my best to have some fun and play matchmaker.  Mostly just to have some fun and entertain myself.  The broadcast booths at State Mutual Stadium are the baseball equivalent of a pet shop.  Small spaces enclosed in glass with a window to look out.  To my left beyond a sliding glass door is another broadcaster looking for a big league team to take him home.  To his left is the suite level, and this is where our story begins.

For the purposes of our story, the Rome broadcaster’s name will be changed to “Ken” and the lady-friend on the other side of this story will be called “Ken’s new girlfriend.”

A gaggle of attractive young women sat in the suite next to his broadcast booth, so I thought I would have some fun.  Since I am spoken for (I love my wife), I chose to use a half-inning break to help “Ken” find his soul mate and wrote this down on my game notes.



“Ken’s new girlfriend” shook her head at first and then acquiesced.  The next page of my notes already had the number written down, so I turned the page and she put the number in her phone. They began texting… mostly because she needed to borrow a cell phone charger.  Now… this group of women also had some men with them.  And each gender provided “Ken” with some gifts.  The girls gave him flowers stolen from their suite while the guys wanted to make sure “Ken” knew his place…  and tried to put him there with these “friendship Cokes.”

Where are the romance Cokes? Why is that restricted to heart-shaped chalk candy?

Where are the romance Cokes? Why is that restricted to heart-shaped chalk candy?

We don’t have an end to this story, but once I am a best man at a wedding in Rome, GA, I will be sure to fill you in on the remainder of this incredible romance started by yours truly.

While in town, I sampled a few great local restaurants.  While the Power were in Hickory the series prior, I went to Chipotle twice.  Not gourmet, mind you, but always awesome nonetheless.  In Rome, I first went to Harvest Moon Cafe.  They greet you with a clear mandate:

Message received... except I was alone and had 3G.

Message received… except I was alone and had 3G.

Inside the Moon.

Inside the Moon.

One of their specialties is the shrimp and grits and who am I to refuse that.

With a side of sweet potato souffle.

With a side of sweet potato souffle.

It was a very good dish and the inclusion of bacon was an excellent choice for flavor.  The grits were slightly more soupy that I prefer, but it was still very well worth the selection.  Find out more on this cool cafe with a top notch craft brew selection on the internet: Harvest Moon Cafe

Jamwich would be perfect on Charleston's Est End.

Jamwich would be perfect on Charleston’s Est End.

On Monday, I went to Jamwich; a creative sandwich shop with an eclectic menu that puts jam (shocker) on their fare.  I took the manager’s advice and tried the sandwich that put them on the map.  The Orange Turkey has peppercorn turkey, thick-cut pork bacon, smoked gouda, bib lettuce and cranberry-orange jam.

Who knew jam and lunch meat played so well together?  Jamwich did.

Who knew jam and lunch meat played so well together? Jamwich did.

Get Jamwiched!

I will now be putting jam on everything.  And I’ll never have another bad day.