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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Five-Shot Sequence

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After working with video in Digital News Production and Digital News Reporting, I thought I had it down.

But trying to use video to tell a story in a way that I won’t be manipulating with my own narration in editing is tough.

Yet tackling it will only help me in the future.

Like Mark Briggs writes in chapter eight of “Journalism Next:” “Those who go on to journalism school will graduate with a broader array of skills than most of the experienced journalists working today.”

When I graduate from Auburn, I will know how to shoot, edit and tell visual stories both for news and for more documentary-style stories. As someone hoping to go into magazines, which are going through their own digital evolution, this is going to make me a marketable job applicant.

Writing is wonderful and I love it, otherwise I wouldn’t be in the field that I’m in. But skills in writing aren’t enough anymore.

So though it stresses me out sometimes, being able to produce video work that my teachers are asking me to this semester will truly help me as I apply for jobs. I won’t be floundering in the digital world.

As I began to tackle this 5-shot sequence, I knew I wanted to do a food how-to. So I thought of something simple–if I have to focus on shots being in order I didn’t want to worry about capturing a billion steps.

It seemed tedious to me at first, but then I read chapter five of Kenneth Kobre’s “Videojournalism: Multimedia Storytelling.” In the section on shooting sequences he writes, “Just as goods in the pantry don’t make a meal until the proper ingredients are mixed in a recipe, all those shots seem unrelated only until it’s time for the final edit.”

Wow, how true that is.

As I shot, I started to think about flow and how things would work together in the final product. That’s when the sequence started coming together.

In the video below, my friend Sarah Crawford shows us how to make a popular party snack–Golden Grahams Candy.

Take a look:

Coming up with the sequence turned out to be easier than I thought. The difficulties came when I realized that I had taken seven-second shots and not all of them were sturdy.

Due to nowhere to fit the tripod, I practiced bracing as I filmed. I am apparently not quite as balanced as I once thought. I found a few places that shook during editing that I hadn’t noticed in the field.

So lesson one: take way longer footage of each shot so I can ensure stable video.

The other problem I encountered was that my friend spoke a little too quickly in her video. I had to separate sentences in editing.

Lesson two: ask the interviewing to speak slowly and clearly.

These were the two issues that jumped out at me. So now if I were to tackle a larger news video, I would know to cover my butt with tons more B-roll and exert a little more direction/control in the interview.

Overall, I like this piece. I think I could produce similar videos for how-to features at the magazine I’ll be interning at over the summer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be one of the first interns to take the challenge to work in multimedia at Alabama Magazine!

Going Out? Top 5 Date Spots in Auburn

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In a college town, or anywhere you can find thousands of teenagers/early twenty-somethings, dating is a hot topic.

Therefore, date spots are always a good conversation topic. Where to go for which occasion can seem like a major decision for the date-planner. So I’m sharing my top 5 recommendations for date restaurants in the Auburn/Opelika area.

Let’s start the countdown.

(For price, the scale is as follows: $-low-moderate; $$-moderate-expensive; $$$-expensive)

5. Amsterdam Cafe

Most people in Auburn have heard of this long-time town favorite. It’s well-known as a nice date spot. The prices aren’t terrible and the food quality is great. It also has a diverse enough menu to please most any palate, from the simple Rustic Burger to the Duck Duck Cous Cous.

Atmosphere: Nice casual

Price: $$

Cuisine: Updated southern, American

Perfect for: Special occasions, graduation, birthday dinners

My dish recommendation: Shrimp & Grits. This so-called appetizer is actually plenty to count as a meal for the normal person (or maybe just the normal female). It’s creamy and delicious, with the shrimp cooked and seasoned perfectly.

4. Ma-Fia’s Ristorante & Pizzeria

Located on the currently reviving Railroad Avenue in Opelika, this Italian restaurant offers low-lighting, friendly waiters and excellent food. The bread basket is fantastic, the dishes are elegant and tasty and the ambience makes for a cozy setting. The menu has everything you could want: pasta, pizza, antipasti and entrees with Italian flair.

Atmosphere: Romantic

Price:$$

Cuisine: Italian

Perfect for: Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, romantic date night

My dish recommendation: Seafood Limoncello Pasta. When people think of Italian food, pasta is usually one of the first dishes that pops into their heads. This pasta dish has a wonderfully creamy, limoncello-infused sauce that covers shrimp, scallops, mussels and a mound of pasta. My compliments to the chef.

3. Irish Bred Pub

Just down the avenue from Ma-Fia’s sits this cozy little pub. If you like good, hearty food with a little UK tradition, this place is for you. The pub itself is a very casual setting that allows for conversation, yet has enough noise that a break in the conversation doesn’t feel quite so awkward (hello, first date). As far as the food goes, it’s just plain good. It’s not too fancy, but it’s definitely a step above the typical pub fare.

Atmosphere: Casual and loud

Price: $

Cuisine: Irish-inspired pub fare

Perfect for: relaxed first date, group dinners, birthday dinners, winter date nights

My dish recommendation: Coleraine Pork Tenderloin (Or anything doused in the Guinness BBQ sauce). The pork is tender and juicy and–with a side of grits and veggies–this dish hits the comfort-food spot. And being comfortable is what first dates are all about, right?

2. Acre

Newest to the list, Acre has made quite an impression since opening in the fall of 2013. The rustic-yet-classy interior of the stone-walled building makes for a sophisticated date night. This restaurant relies exclusively on locally grown produce and locally sourced meat, fish and dairy. The food tastes amazingly fresh and the menu changes constantly to keep up with ever-changing food stock.

Atmosphere: Rustic, yet nice

Price:$$

Cuisine: Farm-to-table fresh, southern influence

Perfect for: Impressive first date, girls’ night out, celebration date night.

My recommended dish: BBQ Brunswick Stew. All I can say is, I didn’t know rabbit tasted so darn good. This thick stew is full of flavor. Paired with a small salad and served with pimento cheese sliders, it’s the perfect size to indulge yet not end up in a food coma.

1. Maestro 2300

This is one of the nicest restaurants I’ve ever visited. The low-lighting makes it a romantic destination, so avoid this one for the first date. However, the menu will make you feel all grown up with its sophisticated dishes. From steak to seafood to fancy grains, this restaurant will definitely impress your date.

Atmosphere: Elegant, romantic

Price: $$$

Cuisine: “New World Mediterranean”

Perfect for: Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, very special occasions.

My dish recommendation: Lobster Risotto. This dish happens to be on the Valentine’s Day special menu, so it’s not an everyday option. But the richness of the risotto with crunchy leeks and juicy lobster bits made up just about the fanciest dish I’ve ever ordered. One thing that is a staple is the bread. If you aren’t careful, you’ll have no room for the entree!

There you have it! My top 5 date destinations in Auburn (as far as restaurants go, anyway).

But I’m not even done.

To kick up it up a notch, I’ve compiled a Google Map for you. Use it to easily find contact information and compare prices and locations of the restaurants I’ve mentioned above. Check it out here.

 

Here’s the full URL if the hyperlink is acting up: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zRxQdUmm2aXQ.kLY-idk_9unw

Who Came Up With the Doritos Locos Taco?

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Taco Bell just released its new breakfast menu.

And all the college guys I know said, “Amen.”

The Waffle Taco, Cinnabon Delights, A.M. Crunchwrap and other new features have been the talk of the town in the fast food industry. For weeks, people have been speculating if Taco Bell would take over McDonald’s breakfast market.

Well, that remains to be seen. But one thing I have noticed is that the new craze has brought up a little reminder of the success of the Doritos Locos Taco.

I saw an article on Yahoo! today about former Taco Bell interns trying to take credit for the creation of the cheesy-shelled creation. Then I followed a few links.

Here are a few I found:

Former Taco Bell interns claim these photos prove they invented Doritos Locos Tacos

Taco Bell Sued By Prisoner for ‘Stealing’ Doritos Locos Idea

And the one that seems to be the Taco Bell-credited story:

Doritos Locos Tacos visionary dies at 41

I guess when something gains such a cult following, everyone wants to claim it.

Who do you think came up with it? (Was it you?)

 

Cakeapota-what?

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“Let them eat cake,” Marie Antoinette supposedly once said.

Well, visit Cakeapotamus on Pepperell Parkway in Opelika and it’s obvious owner Amanda “Mandi” Buckalew has a similar message. However, Buckalew’s cakes are definitely not what the late French queen had in mind.

From sculpted “Harry Potter” Sorting Hats and Darth Vader riding a unicorn to stylish wedding and baby shower cakes, Buckalew has done it all.

“My clientele want 50-50 something nobody’s ever heard of or just something pretty,” she said.

She doesn’t discourage the quirky requests, though. In fact, the bakery itself practically begs customers to add to Buckalew’s unique portfolio (viewable in the photos on the bakery’s Facebook page).

Paraphernalia from “Dr. Who,” “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” litters nooks and crannies around the two-room shop. The walls are decorated with pictures from various parties held at “the Cakepot,” including princess tea parties and one “Star Wars”/”Ghost Busters” hybrid party for a 5-year-old girl. One wall bears a pink-painted bass fish on a plaque.

“It has a lot of character,” Buckalew said. “We have a lot of regulars and people who participate and wonderful things are happening.”

These wonderful things include active participation in events announced on the Cakeapotamus Facebook group. One such event was a field trip to the sing-a-long version of “Frozen” recently.

Buckalew credits the success of her shop to its unique style and her personal approach to owning a bakery.

“I opened in an old millhouse, not a strip mall,” she said. “And I decorated it with ‘Batman’ and ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Star Wars’ because that’s what I like.That resonates with people.”

Buckalew said owning and operating Cakeapotamus is her “happily ever after job.” As she lives out her fairytale, her shop allows customers to ride along.

 

For more information on Cakeapotamus, check out the website and Facebook page.