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Local eats

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

I left Kentucky in my late 20s and stayed away until after I turned 40, living and working in major metropolitan areas for the better part of 13 years. It’s not often that I miss living in the city. I don’t miss the skylines or the night life too much. Family and quiet is more important to me now than bar rooms and rock n roll. I don’t miss the neighbors that know all your business, whether you want them to or not. I definitely don’t miss the traffic and the noise. When I do miss the city, though, it’s the food that I miss. 

There is something to be said about having a good sushi place within walking distance, with authentic British fish n chips and meat pies right next door. Austin, Texas was especially good for Mexican food, and I’ve never quite gotten over my love affair with huevos con chorizo or breakfast tacos. If you live in Texas for any amount of time without finding a favorite brisket place, you aren’t doing Texas right. Denver introduced me to green chile. The thick, rich stew, with pork so tender it literally fell apart, went good on everything from french fries to omelettes with loads of melty cheddar and Monterey jack. Both cities have excellent Indian and Ethiopian restaurants too. 

But as much as I might miss the restaurants, there are things I can get here that I couldn’t get in any of the cities I’ve lived in. If you could find morel mushrooms in the city, they were in a specialty grocery (i.e. very pricey) and usually dried instead of fresh. Chanterelle mushrooms, a summer and early fall favorite of mine, were only on the menu in the most expensive restaurants. Likewise for venison and other wild game. Blackberries are my all time favorite fruit, but the store bought berries – while larger than their wild cousins – lack the sweetness, tartness and general depth of flavor of foraged berries. If you don’t have to bleed a little to get them, they just aren’t the same. Don’t even get me started on biscuits and gravy; questionable if they aren’t made from scratch anyway, they were practically impossible to find unless I made them myself. 

It’s not like we live in a culinary wasteland either. Olive Hill has become a veritable mecca of food destinations. The town hasn’t been the same since the Drive In opened, and I have to resist the temptation to have one (or three) of the White Light sliders every time I’m in town. Though I haven’t had the chance to try them yet, I’m told Table 286 is worth the drive too. I had my first taste of Tre Fratelli the other day too, and while I can’t speak to the authenticity of the menu as a whole, the manicotti I had was excellent. In Grayson the Hogs Trough does good bbq, and I still miss the chicken and dumplings from the now closed Cafe 1947. I can even get amazingly fresh coffee locally, thanks to Goose Bridle. 

All in all, it’s worth losing a favorite sushi place for. 

Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at editor@cartercountytimes.com 

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