Category Archives: My Favs

Jazz, Jambalaya and a Jolly Good Parade: Fun in the French Quarter

French Quarter Fest Jackson Square 2013

Brad and I recently went to New Orleans to catch the 30th Annual French Quarter Music Festival. This was Brad’s first visit to NOLA. I attended a conference here last year while the festival was going on and thought Brad would enjoy it much more than Mardi Gras (plus I’ve been there, done that, got the beads, etc.) The weather was beautiful and Brad even got to enjoy a parade!

Parade time!

Love a parade!

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Raleigh’s Five Best Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Grilled pimento cheese

I love pimento cheese and chances are if you’re from the South, you do, too. There’s nothing more comforting than a warm and gooey grilled pimento cheese sandwich and a bowl of yummy soup or some homemade chips. I recently shared my recipe for Kel’s Reduced-fat Jalapeno Pimento Cheese, which is quick and easy to make and tastes great.

Kel's Grilled pimento cheese

However, sometimes I want to order a grilled pimento cheese sandwich when I’m on my lunch break, so lucky for me a number of area restaurants offer this classic on their menus. Here are my Top-5 favorite places in Raleigh to get a great pimento cheese sandwich, hot off the grill.

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Tip of the Month, March 2013: Covet Your Cookbook Collection

More cookbooks

My love of books started shortly after I was born and has been a huge factor in my career choices: librarian, writer and editor. My fascination with cookbooks started in junior high school. My parents had a small collection and my favorite was a Good Housekeeping cookbook with a bright blue cover. From that book I learned to make my own pie and pizza crusts from scratch. I still have several of my parents’ old cookbooks, like this great one by Julia Child, but do not have a clue what happened to the Good Housekeeping cookbook.

A page from Julia Child

I have finally managed to weed my cookbook collection to a mere four shelves worth – not an easy feat. However, with so many recipes on the Internet and the need for more space on my shelves, I did find new homes for many of them over the past several years.


I love the convenience of finding recipes and meal ideas online as well as on some of the food apps on my cell phone (that’s a whole other post.) It comes in especially handy when I find something on sale at the store and am able to look up recipes on my phone to figure out what other ingredients I need to buy. Or, when I’m at work, I can just print a recipe from the Internet and take it shopping with me. However, browsing recipes online never will be able completely to replace leafing through an actual hard-copy cookbook, taking in the pictures and getting ideas for new dishes to make.

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What to Do In Snowshoe — Foodwise, That Is

Fun on the slopes, Snowshoe 2011

Located in West-By-God Virginia, Snowshoe Mountain is one of the most popular ski areas in the southeast, with slopes and trails for all levels of skiers, snow boarders and tubers. I wish I could say that it is a popular dining destination as well, but I can’t. Food options are extremely limited, especially if you are used to skiing in the western United States.

First, there just are not a large number of restaurants. I think this is partly because Snowshoe is not a big summer destination for travelers, so restaurants must make the bulk of their income during ski season. A bad season or two can cause a place go under. Second, since there are not that many restaurants, the ones that are there get extremely crowded, especially on the weekends, and the waits can be quite lengthy and the service rushed.

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Tip of the Month, January 2013: Best Soup in Raleigh? Enter to Win

MinestroneFor my first giveaway of 2013, I’d love for my readers to provide me tips on where I can get the best soups in the Raleigh area. Stuff that would rival your grandmother’s homemade chicken soup. Stuff that would make the Soup Nazi proud. The reward? A $25.00 gift card to The Fresh Market! Yum!

Fresh Market gift card

The rules are simple. Just leave a comment about what your favorite soup, bisque, gumbo or chowder is in the Raleigh area and which restaurant serves it. No chili entries, please – that’s a future blog all on its own!

I am breaking this into two types of soups:

Those that contain meat, poultry or fish, like this hearty turkey, kielbasa and white bean soup:

Turkey, kielbasa and bean soup
Those which are vegetarian or vegan, like this refreshing chilled cucumber melon soup:

Cucumber melon soup

There will be two lucky winners — one for each category — drawn at random. The deadline for commenting is Jan. 31, 2013, at midnight.

So get your entries in – you can vote once for each category. Good luck! I can’t wait to hear (and try) your recommendations.

Eat drink and be merry!

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2012: A Look Back at Travel, Food and Drinks

Grand Cayman breakfast at Coconut Joe's

First off, I’d like to wish all of my readers a wonderful, happy and healthy New Year! Thanks for your “likes” and comments, and please keep them coming!

As the year comes to its end, I’d like to share some of my favorite places where I dined and/or drank when traveling in 2012. Some of these places I’ve already blogged about, such as Breckenridge, Colo., Key West, Fla. Beaufort, N.C. and Portland, Ore. I also had some great meals in New Orleans, New York, Grand Cayman and Washington, D.C.

French Quarter Music festival 2012

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Tip of the Month, December 2012: Get Your Tailgate On

Game face!

Much of the fun of going to football games is the tailgating, before (and sometimes after) the game. What a fun atmosphere, with people wearing their team colors and enjoying great food and drink with their friends and maybe a game of corn hole before the kickoff.

Cornhole, anyone

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Rockin’ Oyster “Rockefeller” Stew

“He was a bold man who first ate an oyster”  ~ Johnathan Swift

My ex mother-in-law is a wonderful country cook. Her fried chicken is the best I’ve ever had, period. Geraldine also makes what she calls Oyster Stew. I never understood why she deemed this stuff “stew” — it was more of a soup to me, with milk, fresh oysters in their liquor, butter (lots and lots of it, Paula Deen would be so proud) and salt and pepper. That’s it. So simple to make, so wonderful to eat (especially paired with her fried chicken!)

I made Geraldine’s “stew” for years after my ex and I parted ways, until I found Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Oyster Rockefeller Soup Garnished with Crispy Bacon and Fried Oysters. Wow! This is a “kicked-up” version of Geraldine’s stew that I absolutely adore, with heavy cream, bacon, spinach and fried oysters. Not as easy to make as hers, but oh, so worth the effort. Of course adding bacon makes everything better!

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Tip of the Month, November 2012: Enjoy a Cooking Class

You say you want a revolution, well, you know, we all want to change the world ~ John Lennon

When Living Social came out with a deal on a cooking class at Revolution in Durham, I jumped all over it. For $100 (which was half price) I got a 4-5 hour class, free wine while we cooked and ate what we made, a Revolution t-shirt and a $20.00 gift certificate to use on my next visit to the restaurant. The last cooking class I took was years ago at Irregardless Café  in Raleigh (more about this favorite restaurant in a separate post) and I was long overdue. If you’ve never taken a cooking class, I highly recommend it. It’s given me a chance to work with and learn from two wonderful executive chefs (Arthur Gordon and Jim Anile) in the Triangle, plus it is a fantastic and fun way to spend several hours and meet some new fellow foodies at the same time.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Kel’s Cafe wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving and hopes you are surrounded by love, laughter and (of course) great food!

Please keep in mind there are so many people who are going through rough times right now and the upcoming holidays only intensify their plights. Consider reaching out to those who may not have it so good by volunteering at local charities, donating to local food banks, sending relief funds to recent East-coast hurricane victims, performing random acts of kindness or just listening to a friend/relative/loved one who may be going through hard times. Little things go a long way to help those who are less fortunate, now and year-round. You can make a difference!

Since I didn’t cook a turkey this year for Thanksgiving, here are some ideas from some of my previous posts of what to make with your leftovers:

Turkey and White Bean Crockpot Soup

Tantalizing Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey and Brie Panini Sandwich with Cranberry Sauce and Apples

Wishing all a wonderful, safe, delicious and thankful holiday!

Bon appetit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

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