Not Just Me

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As this semester winds down, I decided to try a little something different here on Taste of the Plains.

Instead of giving you tips on where I think you should go for dinner this weekend, I thought I’d ask a few of my Auburn journalism professors about their favorite dining spots. Take a look at what they said.

Dr. Sally Anne Cruikshank, Digital News Production and Digital News Reporting:

“I’d have to say my favorite would probably be Acre. The food is fresh, creative, and always good. (I especially love their brunch.) The bar there also has a very cool vibe.”

Dr. John Carvalho, Reporting and Sports Reporting:

“My favorite place is Kitchen 3810 on Opelika Highway. It is like a meat and 3 place that is done really well. They don’t overwhelm you with heavy entrees and vegetables. Their selection of meats is excellent and they do them excellent. And the people who run the place and who work there are terrific. Great place.”

And finally, Dr. Michael Fuhlhage, Multimedia Journalism and Journalism History:

“My go-to is Durango, where you will find the best soft corn tacos outside Mexico. Get the tacos de carnitas and tacos al pastor. They are beyond amazing.”

Well, there you have it. The go-to restaurants for three of Auburn’s finest–and I don’t just say that because they give out the grades.

Looks like Dr. Cruikshank and I are on the same page about Acre (minus the bar part, I still have a week and a half to go til I’m 21).

But I’ll have to give Durango and Kitchen 3800 a try. I’ve never been to either!

 

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Final Acre Project

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Acre has been one of my favorite restaurant experiences of my college career. That’s huge coming from me.

So when I needed a video story idea, I almost immediately knew that I wanted to do a story on Acre in some way. I wanted to convey a little of that experience to you, my lovely readers.

Sorting through the ideas for story direction was a challenge. However, I ended up choosing to tell the story of the vision of Acre and what they do differently through the executive chef himself, David Bancroft.

I had a lot of excellent interview snippets to weave together. The hard part was picking which ones help me get the flow right.

It wasn’t all kicks and giggles, though. I had to work around a few things.

The first and most stressful challenge I faced was that when I went in at our scheduled time Monday, Bancroft wasn’t there. Sadly, he was attending a funeral and had lost my number to let me know. He also didn’t mention to his staff that I’d be coming.

Thankfully I was able to get in touch with him and set up a time for the next day.

When time to shoot came, I faced the new challenge of working with a location that used mostly natural light. As it turns out, my efforts to angle the light in my favor gave me a lot of really cool video.

Sure, some shots I really wanted to use were too dark and I had to leave them out for the integrity of the rest of the video, but that’s why we always follow Dr. Fuhlhage’s advice to over-shoot the B-roll.

Also, I had perfect light outside. And I really loved the way the wind added movement to the plants. That just turned out cool.

Another challenge I faced while shooting was that I was unable to use the tripod most of the time. I had to respect Bancroft’s request that I not get in the way of the staff. The tripod made that impossible.

So I braced myself, literally. I was in all kinds of positions trying to use a counter, a wall or pretty much anything to steady my shots as much as humanly possible.

The biggest challenge was making sure all these things–the interview, the lighting and the steadier shots–formed the story I wanted to tell. I’m happy to say, it turned out great.

For my next video project, I think I’ll do my best to plan two filming days. That way I can look back at the first day’s shots and interview and see what I think I should add to it.

If that’s not possible. I’ll look back at my shots halfway through filming time and see what to add.

Take a look at the final product:

 

 

Here are two other video stories that I think are worth a watch.

The Red Lion Inn: A Farm Fresh Update to a Historic Restaurant by Food Curated is like what I was trying to do with Acre. I love how they connected all the dots between the farm and the restaurant. They show how the Red Lion Inn is different, like was doing with Acre.

Drawn to Fire: Chef Jeremy Stanton of The Meat Market, also by Food Curated, does something that I originally was going to do with Acre. It shows the chef’s passion for his craft. In my case, the story just formed more naturally to focus on the restaurant.

 

 

Tomorrow Shall Be Cool

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First of all, happy Easter to everyone!

After an amazing day of celebrating Christ’s resurrection with my family, I’m once again back on the Plains getting ready for the final stretch of this semester.

Deep breath.

But on a more fun note, tomorrow morning I will get to head over to Acre to film for a class project.

Now, I know I’ve mentioned Acre a few times on Taste of the Plains, but only because it’s worth talking about. They’ve got good food, a really chill atmosphere and arguably the freshest food around.

They have their own on-site garden, for Pete’s sake! (Which I will hopefully get to see!)

While I’m there, I’ll be interviewing David Bancroft, the executive chef. I’m going to get to learn about where his vision for Acre came from, how he got to where he is and what Acre does differently. If you want to know anything else, type a question in the comments section and I’ll ask during the interview–unless it’s just silly (yes, there are dumb questions).

So keep checking back for the final product, because it’ll be up VERY soon!

And as a parting gift on this Resurrection Sunday, here’s a little recipe I used for my family’s Easter dinner:

 

Filled’n’Frosted Angel Food Cupcakes

 

1 box angel food cake mix (amount of water called for on the box)

Jar of fruit preserves (seedless strawberry, blueberry or raspberry work best)

2 cups Powdered sugar

3 Tbsp water

1 tsp lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

2 drops vanilla extract

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Mix cake mix and water, pour into liners and bake 13-15 minutes.

2. While the cupcakes bake, mix powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons water, 2 drops vanilla, teaspoon of lemon zest and the juice of one lemon in a bowl. (Add more water/lemon juice or sugar to reach desired. The glaze should be thin, but not watery.)

3. When cupcakes are done, remove from the tin immediately. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then poke a hole into the middle with the end of a wooden spoon and pipe the fruit preserves/jam into the middle of the cupcake. (You can use a ziplock bag if you don’t have a piping bag or icing tool)

4. Spread the glaze over the top of the cupcakes, making sure to have a thin layer over the entire top. Garnish with fresh berries if you’d like–this covers the hole in the middle if you’re into presentation.

 

Have a wonderful week!

Competition Shows in Food TV

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I’m the first to admit that I enjoy watching food TV.

The first channel I turn to when I flip on the television? Food Network, obviously.

There’s just something that fascinates me about all the different ways to prepare food. And I love when shows feature restaurants, like on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” or “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

But lately, Food Network has shifted to competition shows. The instructional and friendlier shows are now restricted to the Cooking Channel or the daytime lineup, for the most part.

Now primetime features “Chopped,” “Cupcake Wars,” “America’s Best Cook,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “Beat Bobby Flay” and more picking tons of chefs who feel they need to “validate” themselves by beating everyone else.

The one that really bugs me is “Beat Bobby Flay.” The whole world knows he’s an amazing chef. He knows it, too, obviously.

But now there’s a show where other big time chefs try to pick people to beat him and say things like, “You’re gonna need more than that to take him down!” throughout the competition.

Hello, ego trip.

I do enjoy watching competition shows, but it has started to bother me that they seem to become all about proving yourself.

I could go on, but then I think I’d lose you all in my rant.

That’s my opinion, what do you think?

 

A-Day Eats

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Football fans, rejoice! A-Day is once again upon us.

This Saturday, thousands of Auburn students, alumni, families and fans will converge on Jordan-Hare Stadium for the team’s spring scrimmage.

Where will those thousands of people eat? For many, lunch and dinner will consist of a quick walk to a local eatery. Good thing we’ve got plenty of walking-distance options.

Many will likely stroll across South College Street to Taziki’s, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, or the old standby, Price’s Barbecue House.

For those who head to the downtown strip, the range of options is huge. Here’s an overview:

Toomer’s Drugs, Bizilia’s Cafe, Big Blue Bagel & Deli, Tacorita, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Moe’s Southwestern Grill, Moe’s Original Barbecue, Zazu Gastropub, Hamilton’s, Little Italy Pizzeria, Halftime, Pita Pit, Arigato Sushi Boutique, Jimmy John’s, Quixotes.

If you’re willing to walk a little farther to Glenn Avenue, you can drop by Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Island Wing Company, Waffle House, or Wild Bill’s Kitchen.

So for anyone in need of dining plans on A-Day, hope this helps. War Eagle, y’all!

A Taste of Something…Different

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I saw something on Buzzfeed today that really caught my eye.

If the thought of the words “food” and “tattoo” in one sentence fascinate you, click here to check out my fun little Storify on it.

After reading it, tell me your Auburn-themed food tattoo idea in the comments section. (No I will NOT be actually getting one. Sorry, y’all.)

Chicken Salad Chick

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Sometimes I wonder if getting addicted to certain foods is a southern thing. I mean, think about it.

Milo’s Sweet Tea.

Chick-fil-a.

And, in Auburn at least, Chicken Salad Chick.

Now, this one I’ve never understood. Probably because I detest mayonnaise. (I’m also an oddball because this rules out pimento cheese and potato salad, other southern staples.)

But I feel it’s worth mentioning because EVERYONE I know in Auburn seems to love it.

And because it’s coming to Auburn’s campus next school year.

And the reaction has been impressive.

 

And that’s just a taste of the reaction.

While I may not understand the appeal, the owner, Stacy Brown, has a cool story. (Read it here.)

From a divorced mother of three to successful franchise founder, Brown has done extremely well. There are now more than 60 franchises over the southeast.

So maybe, just MAYBE, I’ll give it a chance when it comes to campus.

How about you? Chicken Salad Chick yay or nay?