louisville – day 4

our fourth and final day in louisville started out like most last days on vacations begin, with some quick goodbyes. dad had driven up from alabama and needed to hit the road early so that he could get home at a reasonable hour. so, clark, phillip, and i woke up just enough to give him a hug and wish him safe travels and then got a couple more hours of sleep before checking out of the hotel ourselves.

the three of us had plenty of time to kill before our late afternoon flights, so we agreed a sunday like this one was the perfect excuse for some brunch. we put in our names at highland morning and walked next door to grab some lattes at day’s espresso & coffee while we waited. supporting local businesses is important, but i have a soft spot for coffee shops. reminds me of the cambridge coffee and jittery joe’s days, simpler times for sure.

before too long, we got the call that highland morning was ready for us, so we brought along our beverages and settled in at our table. you know the best places always have a wait, so we were already encouraged before we even ordered.

like i said, we had a lot of time before our flights home, so i wasted no time and ordered us the mimosa bucket. now, the mimosas were delicious – i mean who doesn’t love some bubbly on a lovely sunday afternoon? but what was almost better was something else new clark taught me. yesterday was “camera eats first” and “influencers in the wild.” could today possibly top it? pretty close!

so, i asked clark to take a picture of me with the champagne bottle. he sweetly obliged and then showed me the picture, to which i gasped in pleasant surprise. “what’s wrong?” he asked.

“nothing!” i said. “i’m just impressed by how great this picture makes me look!” nothing like tooting your own horn. 😀 clark then proceeded to explain portrait mode on the iphone to me (i have only ever owned android devices), to which i was amazed again at how technology and social media just rule our world some days. today was one of those days, clearly.

i didn’t have much time to gush over my beautiful portrait because our food soon arrived. phillip and clark both had the baja benedict on recommendation from the waitress. i had the stuffed french toast and a side of crispy bacon. the boys decided that although their dish was good, the amount of chorizo was underwhelming. i, on the other hand, could not get enough of my french toast. i don’t typically go for the sweet breakfast plates, but this one was delicious bite after bite!

like all good things, our trip did come to an end. clark flew west, phillip and i flew south, and we all went back to our normal day-to-day. looking back on it all, though, i’d say we made the most of our few days in louisville. folks were friendly just about everywhere we went, and it was easy to get to. if you ever find yourself driving through the bluegrass state, carve out a little time in louisville. i think you’ll be happy you did.

louisville – day 3

after our busy friday, we all slept in a bit and then walked the couple of blocks for a starbucks fuel-up for the day. we sipped on cold brews and frappuccinos and pumpkin spice lattes, and i think it’s pretty clear which of us in the family has their selfie game down to a science. 🙂

on our way out, dad could not resist getting a few pictures with the horse. like many towns, these statues are all over louisville with different designs. could you find them all?

since our breakfast was pretty light, we hopped in the car to eat at another favorite spot you just don’t see in the south, skyline chili! i first heard about skyline from my friend bank when he used to make it for us in college, and it’s one of the places you must eat at if it is nearby. kind of like grater’s. 🙂

we inhaled our chili dogs and pasta dishes in record time, savoring each bite since who knows when we’ll have it again!

after lunch we strolled around and took in the gorgeous weekend day. the sun was shining, folks were out and about. it was a fine day indeed, made even better when we stopped in at the eagle for a round of drinks al fresco.

like i said, saturday truly was our chill day of the trip, so we continued our fast food eating tour that night at raising cane’s for some chicken and over at white castle for some greasy mini burgers. gotta love ’em!

the day wrapped up as we lounged at the hotel, enjoying each other’s company and watching some good ‘ole fashion college football. one more day to go!

louisville – day 2

after a quick visit to the famed churchill downs friday morning…

…we ventured on over to biscuit belly, another sara-recommended spot.  if i could only say one thing about biscuit belly, it is that we LOVED it.

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but!  i’ll of course say more than just that.  now, after being overcome by what my dad called an “ordering frenzy,” we all settled in with our coffees, both hot and cold brew style.

as i snapped a picture of the cute mugs and glasses, clark so kindly educated us about what the kids are saying and doing these days when it comes to social media.  yes, kelsey, it’s more than just regular blogs like yours.  i learned about “camera eats first,” which about made me die, and then also “influencers in the wild.”  it’s funny how we were victims of these trends without even realizing it.  thank you, clark, for helping your 32 year old sister stay current.  🙂

we put our devices down briefly as our food started coming out, and i think we all felt our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  so, what exactly did we order?  well, let me tell you.  for the table to share, we ordered the bonuts, the gravy train, and the pancake corndogs.  if you want the inside scoop, try dipping the bonut into the chocolate gravy from the gravy train.  you’ll be in biscuit heaven, i guarantee it.

but don’t forget that we all also had our entrees, as if we needed more!  we tried the love shack, the basic biscuit, and the rockwell.

i told you we ordered a lot!  we were at our table for nearly two hours just eating and drinking and solving all the world’s problems.  it was a homerun, and i think we all left wishing we had a location in each of our hometowns.

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louisville – day 1

like many folks these days, our plans have been canceled or rearranged, and while some days we might feel down about it all, others you just have to make your own happiness happen.  phillip and i did just that this past weekend with a quick getaway to louisville, ky.  it was a good halfway point to meet up with my dad (who drove up from alabama) and my younger brother clark (who flew down from chicago).

phillip, clark, and i got in around lunch, so after we dropped our suitcases at the hotel, we took a walk to the highlands to try out el taco luchador.  this spot was recommended by my friend sara, who lived here for several years, and is bright and fun, serving up delicious food and beverages.

round one was a couple of coronas, of course, while clark tried the frozen watermelon margarita.  clark said his drink was tasty and only made better with an order of chips and queso.  apparently, the only way they serve queso in chicago is fundido-style which, although good in its own way, cannot quite compare to the runny, mouthwatering white queso you find at mexican restaurants in the south.  i think clark was in heaven with each bite!

as for the tacos themselves, we all three tried the baja fish taco and declared it the uncontested favorite.  between the perfectly battered filet and crispy cabbage, it was a taco that would satisfy any taco-lover in town.

baja fish tacos & the al pastor taco.

also tried (and devoured) were the al pastor, carnitas, and chicharron tacos.  they, too, were a tasty trio, and for me, the chicharron was so perfect and tender that i had to order a second!

the carnitas & chicharron tacos.

later that day, milo rolled into louisville and, inevitably, it was time to eat again.  if you’ve ever been on a trip with my family, you know the plans largely revolve around food.  surely we aren’t the only ones?

we wanted something good but not too fancy and soon settled on trying feast bbq.  how did we decide on trying feast?  i’d be lying if i told you it wasn’t because of the bourbon slushies they prominently feature on their site… 🙂  also, it was a short drive from the hotel.

dad had the brisket sandwich, which he rated as an 8 out of 10.  i feel like that’s saying a lot seeing as how he has lived in the south over 30 years now and has tried his fair share of brisket.

clark went for the pulled pork sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries.  he commented that it all was perfectly satisfying.

phillip and i were in a sharing mood since we were still full from lunch, so we munched on the simple salad (gotta get some greens, somehow, some way) and crispy mac & cheese balls (which, in our opinion, didn’t need the overpowering horseradish sauce at all).

overall, we ended our first day in louisville two for two.  not a bad start!

quarantine calories

i feel like most folks are doing a handful of things with their time these days:  working (if lucky enough to do so), cleaning, hobby-ing, childcaring, and eating.  among all those things, the last one might be the most fun.

over the past two weeks, we’ve been hosting phillip’s sister natalie and her doggie wyatt, and as a household of individuals who love food, we have been fortunate to support some local businesses and adventure into some new recipes together.  today’s post includes mouthwatering photos of all our eats.  get ready to drool!

nat and wyatt.

our first stop after picking up natalie and wyatt from the airport was zaxby’s.  natalie doesn’t have zaxby’s up in nyc, so it was definitely a homecoming meal.  oh, and in case you want a pro tip, check out this recipe to make your own zax sauce.  it’s super easy and worth the minimal effort, i promise.

hhhnnnggg, homemade zax sauce.

the next night, phillip and natalie were together to celebrate their 32nd birthday!  aw, it made my heart so happy.  we started with a specially delivered dinner from alessio’s restaurant & pizzeria in norcross.  from the lasagna and garlic knots to the tortellini cardinal and the chicken francese, it was quite a feast, and i don’t doubt we’ll go dine in once we can.  and, no birthday is complete without a cake!  thank you, publix, for the fudge and strawberry filled chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.  🙂

the mornings were definitely prime opportunities for some tasty treats over the past several days.  from whipped coffee (i promise this trend is worth the work)…

to avocado toast…

to simply done donuts

to dirty horchata

to mimosas…

cheers!

and finally chrissy teigen’s banana bread.  it was some good eatin’.

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we didn’t leave dinner out at all.  we became kroger recipe experts, first with their arugula, goat cheese, and olive pasta salad.  i couldn’t keep natalie away from it, lol!  on Easter sunday we also tried out and really enjoyed their pork & peach tacos with ginger brown rice.

alongside the tacos we chowed down on my favorite corn dip.  i don’t know where on earth i got this recipe, but i’m glad i have it.

our tex-mex dinner that day had been preceded by a monkey bread breakfast and a deviled egg snack.  om nom nom.

in addition to trying out several kroger recipes, we also busted out the blue apron cards and loved the pork burgers with potato wedges and beef and rice bowls.

beef rice bowl and those pickled radishes. yum.

at some point over the past several days, i also whipped up this spicy pasta salad by ree drummond.  anything with gouda in it just makes my heart sing.

the evening was, of course, always an opportunity to nosh and also spend some of our hard-earned dollars at the nearby establishments.  we had mcdonald’s on our anniversary, freddy’s on thursday just because it was thursday, noodles from lon u on friday because we were craving pad thai, and marco’s pizza on saturday because who doesn’t love some ‘za.

and of all the sweet treats we had for dessert, i think phillip’s homemade ice cream sundaes were my favorite.  ❤

so, have you discovered any tasty recipes you’d like to share?  or have a local restaurant you think we just must try?  let us know and, above all else, stay safe.

p.s. i realize that many people out there are not currently in a position to splurge on food and groceries or even acquire the essentials.  if anyone out there needs a helping hand, i hope we can either assist or that you are able to find what you need right when you need it.  let’s keep everyone in mind these days, especially those severely impacted by everything that surrounds us.

dining in duluth

with our recent move to duluth, one should not be surprised that phillip and i have started exploring the nearby food scene.  your typical chain restaurants are easily accessible, but we like to try and keep it local when the opportunity presents itself.  here’s a quick overview of the spots we’ve tried so far!

one of the firsts was sara donuts, which was recommended to us by our friends bank and liz.  it’s quite close by, so one morning after my eye appointment i stopped in for a couple coffees and picked out a little sampler.  the traditional glazed donut was pretty solid, but i think i liked the chocolate glazed cake donut better.  i believe my response to the first bite was “ooh, yum.”  i saved the sausage roll for last, to which i commented “yep, that’s good, too.”  you can bet we’ll be regulars at sara’s soon enough.

keeping with the breakfast theme, valentino’s bakery was a fun adventure into authentic venezuelan cuisine.  i wasn’t really sure what we were ordering, so the customer in front of us helped translate so that i could make some choices.  first was a cute box of assorted cookies, and then we tried the cachito, which basically was a tastier version of a hot pocket.  we did eat up just about everything, and i’d like to go back and try the pressed sandwiches some day.

only one more breakfast stop (for now), and i promise we’ll move on.  the maple street biscuit company was our first visit to downtown duluth, and we met our friends grant and tabri there for a sunday brunch.  we started with an order of biscuits for the table, which were deliciously buttery and extra tasty with a dollop of jam.  phillip and i split the grit bowl, which unfortunately looked better than it tasted.  from what i know, tabri enjoyed his picks, and i know grant liked his firebird biscuit sandwich, which might be what i get next time.

bizkits for everyone!

as for good lunch spots, i don’t think you could go wrong with either armando’s caribe (another recommendation from bank and liz) or armando’s taqueria.  the former is a sit-down spot with delicious cuban sandwiches while the latter is a bit more fast-casual with a nice variety of street tacos.  i wouldn’t recommend the tamales (not much flavor) but know phillip would love to tell you about the cow stomach taco he tried!

tacos from the taqueria.

if you’re lazy like we sometimes are, you can order a gyro plate from opa! to be delivered right to your house with doordash.  phillip and i both liked the gyros, which were busting at the seams with creamy tzatziki sauce and meat.  however, we agreed this meal would be better at the restaurant, fresh from the kitchen.  guess we’ll just have to go there!

our first fancier dinner out was at roma italiano ristorante.  it’s an intimate spot with friendly service and delicious dinner rolls.  you know we love our carbs!  phillip started with a cup of wedding soup, perfect on a winter night, while i scarfed down a wedge salad.  our entrees included the fettucine alfredo with grilled chicken and spaghetti with meatballs and marinara.  although maybe not my first choice for italian in our city, i wouldn’t complain if someone suggested it for a meal.

now, i believe i may have saved the best for last.  i don’t know what drew us there, but one night after a workout, phillip and i wandered into the halal guys.  why do i suggest it is the best of what we’ve had so far?  it could be because phillip ate his queso and lamb filled burrito so quickly i couldn’t even get a picture of it!  i myself munched on french fries with the white dipping sauce along with my falafel platter.  although the healthier choice, i’ll admit i was a little jealous of phillip’s burrito – i only hope it is not a limited time item so that i can go back and try it also!

so, there we have it.  our first batch of duluth eats in our first couple of months.  if you have any other must-try (or don’t-try) spots in our new neighborhood, please let us know!

the classic city

a couple of weekends ago phillip and i had the wonderful opportunity to return to my college town of athens, ga.  the occasion, yes, did revolve around georgia football, but we made the most of the weekend by visiting some places home to my fondest memories while i was in school.

we had driven in town friday night to soak up every minute of athens we could, and since we hadn’t stopped for dinner on our drive in, the first order of business was some food at none other than the famous keba.  we both ordered double lamb sandwiches with fries as the side, and i think it was the quietest meal we’d had in a while because we were enjoying it all so much!  keba did have a location in atlanta for a bit (with the great taste of the original), but it shut down and i’ve of course been craving it ever since.  it was a perfect start to what would become a pretty perfect weekend.

pure joy.

we cleared our table and drove over to nathan and samantha’s house.  i’ve known nathan since college when, as freshmen, we met in the redcoat marching band.  he and samantha have lived in athens for several years now and always are kind to open their home to friends and family.  it’s not often we get to see them, so it was a special treat to catch up on life and football and everything in between.  we did plenty of that especially the next morning over coffee and bagels (which we brought from emerald city in east atlanta) before nathan, phillip, and i drove to campus to join in on the gameday experience.  it was an extra special occasion because it was our homecoming weekend against kentucky, and even though it rained nonstop all day, the bulldog nation still showed up nicely to support the team.

nathan had redcoat duties, so phillip and i donned our ponchos and took a sloshy walk through north campus.  as i imagine many graduates do when they are visiting their old stomping grounds, i pointed out to phillip all the different buildings and where i had class and which lobbies were the best for napping.  the rain couldn’t keep our cheery demeanor down, especially once we arrived at the arch, because taking a picture under the arch is always something to smile about.  🙂

hungry for a bite, we shuffled into the taco stand.  now, i did not do a lot of downtown eating when i was in college, but one spot i frequented was the taco stand, especially when my younger brother clark visited, as it was his absolute favorite spot in town.  phillip and i lucked out with a couple of stools at the bar, so we de-layered, ordered chips and salsa and a couple of beers, and enjoyed the gameday atmosphere.

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stuffed cheez-it pizza for the win

earlier this week my older brother kyle sent kari and me a link to a story about pizza hut’s new stuffed cheez-it pizza with the comment “another marketing campaign tailor made for kels!”  well, it couldn’t be more true.  after rapid-reading the article, i fired back the message “i know what i’m having for dinner on tuesday!”  so, when tuesday night did roll around, phillip and i parked in the exclusive pizza hut parking spots to give into the hype.

we enthusiastically ordered the pepperoni stuffed cheez-it pizza and were thankful the cashier was kind and did not laugh too much at the unusual amount of excitement we were showing.  i mean, just look at this face!  cheez-its and pizza – what more could we want?!

phillip and i patiently waited in those bright red chairs, our expectations nearly through the roof.  we had just finished a tornado class at orangetheory and were eager to undo our workout.  about ten minutes later, our order was up, and i squeaked when i saw how cute the box was.  i guess sometimes in life it’s good that simple things can excite us so much.  🙂

we sat down and opened the box to reveal four fresh, piping hot cheez-it pockets.  don’t they look just like the crackers themselves?  the answer is “yes.”

the cheez-its were honestly a little smaller than i expected them to be, and a single order like this is really more of a snack or a side item probably meant to be ordered with something else.  these pictures give you an idea of the scale/size.

phillip and i each started with a bite of just the square, no marinara dipping sauce quite yet.  we chomped, we chewed, we thoughtfully savored, and in the end we decided that pizza hut had truly capture the cheez-it essence.  it isn’t too much cheez-it, it isn’t too much pizza.  it’s an excellent combination of the two.  the edges were crispy but not burned, and bites closer to the center were warm and gooey.

although quite delicious on their own, they are even better with a dollop of the marinara sauce.  it really completes the bite and brings everything together.  as we finished up, we were extremely tempted to order more, as i easily could have eaten a whole box on my own.  somehow we refrained, which was difficult seeing as how i do not know how i’ve been living up until now without these stuffed cheez-it pizza bites in my life.  the good news is that i can definitely have them again.  the bad news it they’re only around for a limited time, so you better hurry and order yourself some before we beat you to it!

the great chicken sandwich debate

okay, folks!  coming to you directly is another social media-driven taste test of the popeye’s chicken sandwich versus the chick-fil-a chicken sandwich.  unless you have been living under a rock the past week, you have seen a reference somewhere in your day-to-day about popeye’s new chicken sandwich and all the talk it’s causing around town.  well, i decided i could not simply sit aside and let the rest of america tell me which they liked better:  i needed to try them for myself!

this past friday after work and a great workout, my big brother kyle so kindly first waited at popeye’s (for 30 minutes) to pick up a couple of their sandwiches and then swung by chick-fil-a to grab their sandwiches and some sides.

to make this taste test as fair as possible, we ordered both sandwiches plain, just chicken and bread, and split them down the middle so that we all (phillip, kyle, kari, and i) would have half of each.

popeye’s on the left, chick-fil-a on the right.

i started with a bite of the all familiar chick-fil-a sandwich, as i hadn’t had one in a while and wanted to re-familiarize myself with that distinct taste.  after doing so, i bit right into the popeye’s sandwich and immediately noted how much crunchier their breading is than cfa’s.  phillip agreed in that regard and also commented that the popeye’s sandwich is, in its own way, somehow lighter yet more buttery than cfa.  i mean, if you look in the photo above, the popeye’s bun is glistening from the ceiling light.  must be all that melted butter goodness!

with all this being said, the cfa sandwich still had plenty going for it, including its signature, somewhat sweet taste – maybe it’s all that peanut oil?  and as i continued to munch through bite by bite, i personally concluded that i could easily see myself craving a popeye’s sandwich in one moment and then a cfa sandwich or nuggets in another.  someone at the dinner table commented that they are “both in the same tier of good” just different, and i don’t think i could agree more.  the popeye’s sandwich is an excellent fried chicken sandwich, while cfa does what it does well with a simple, classic chicken sandwich.

one excellent comment kari made was that the popeye’s sandwich makes her want to go try the popeye’s five bonafide big box to see how the fried chicken itself is.  you know the one, don’t you?  where the popeye’s spokeswoman annie is standing in the street and an oversized popeye’s box drops from the sky?  well, in case you don’t know it, here it is for your viewing pleasure.  🙂

and if you don’t believe us after all this, then read this post that phillip found.  it puts into additional words all you need to know about this 21st century fast food drama.

now, i mentioned that we also grabbed some sides from cfa, which included their classic waffle fries and also their new macaroni and cheese.  yes!  you read that correctly, mac’n’cheese at chick-fil-a!  kyle was the first to try a spoonful and without any hesitation said it was “gangster” and that he wants it “pumped right into his veins.”  that paints quite a picture, doesn’t it?  phillip gave the mac’n’cheese a taste, too, and gave it an “a+” (and a thumbs up).  i agree the mac’n’cheese is creamy and delicious and a fully unhealthy but completely satisfying accompaniment to a meal that, overall, was fun to share with my loved ones.

towards the end of dinner, i asked everyone which of all the dishes would they want for their last bite?  phillip and kari both said the cfa french fries because there’s something irresistible about those thick waffle fries.  kyle said the cfa sandwich.  i myself said the popeye’s sandwich, but what do you know?  my last bites were the mac’n’cheese!  as for my nearly ten-month old nephew bode, he was at the table, too, and enjoyed some vanilla puffs for his last bites.  can’t wait to take him for his first popeye’s before too long!

doughnut dollies – atlanta, ga

hi, readers!  phillip davis back at it as a guest blogger on my lovely wife’s website.  it is with great pleasure that i yes, introduce you all to another unique doughnut spot that we visited yesterday for a breakfast treat called doughnut dollies!  i love the more traditional spelling of the word doughnut, so i will keep this consistent across the remainder of the blog.

it was a lovely sunday morning down here in atlanta, and kelsey and i were en-route to orangetheory fitness (otf for short) to get our workout groove on.  now, if you haven’t heard of or tried otf, it is a 60 minute high-intensity interval training cardio-based workout that seeks to get folks to experience epoc (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).  essentially, the workout gets you out of breath and recovers you during the duration of the class so that your body burns more calories during and approximately 36 hours after the 1-hour workout.  kudos to our coaches, taylor, mike, obi, draya, and kat, for pushing us on a weekly basis.  i highly recommend trying a class if you haven’t already (hint hint, you can try your 1st class for FREE)!  ok, so i got carried away there, but had to mention otf since kelsey and i definitely have the “otf bug.”

anyway, we were on the way to otf when kelsey, out of the corner of her eye, saw a pretty unique logo to our right with what looked to be no other than an american red cross on it that had the words “doughnut dollies” above the iconic symbol.  now, i am sure that she saw the red cross instantly because she donates blood on a regular basis.  i, for one, initially thought the building was some kind of medical center, so i believed it wasn’t anything food-related until she told me, “oh, phillip!?  there’s a new doughnut place over there!”  without hesitation, i got the car to a complete stop at the red traffic light, turned to look at the logo, then told kelsey, “oh, we’re definitely going there after our workout!”

cool logo stamped on carry-out box!

once our 1-hour otf strength workout came to a close (thanks for a good class, obi), we got in the car and drove roughly 1 minute away off howell mill road to go see what the cute, little doughnut shop was all about.  we entered the cafe, which by the way, was clean and tidy, and noticed the incredibly large doughnuts staring right in front of our faces inside the clear glass counter.  now, the howell mill location is doughnut dollies’ 2nd location in georgia, and silly enough, this particular store was celebrating its 1 month anniversary since they opened last month in june.  what a fun way to celebrate a very special occasion by trying and enjoying some doughnuts ourselves!  time was on our side, for sure.

kelsey and i looked at the different types of doughnuts (the store calls them tiers, or levels, since they have a variety of basic and specialty doughnuts that customers can order) and decided to order a strawberry doughnut and a smores doughnut.  at first glance, we felt the tiers were a little confusing since they had 4 different price levels depending on what kind of doughnut you order, and the doughnuts were not clearly sorted by tier in the glass window display.  we got over this pretty quickly and selected our doughnut choices shortly thereafter.  we also noticed that the store served jittery joe’s coffee, so naturally, we decided to order 1 small coffee with cream and sugar to split (i didn’t want to get over-caffeinated).

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