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.

 

 

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?)

 

Battle of the Breakfast Giants

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In Taylor Swifts song “22,” the blond-haired country-pop star sings, “It feels like a perfect night/ For breakfast at midnight.”

Well, seems like quite a few Auburn students agree. Most anyone you ask will say they’ve had a midnight, or more popularly 2 a.m., breakfast at one of two places: Waffle House or IHOP.

But where do students most like to go to satisfy their late-night hankerings? Check out this Storify I made to find out.

Which do you prefer?

 

Here’s the link, if the hyperlink is acting up: https://storify.com/mksherer/battle-of-the-breakfast-giants.

 

 

 

Video Story Critiques

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As a student who has been dipping her toes in the video-editing world in classes over the past couple of semesters, I have serious respect for the art.

It is not easy. At all.

So as I searched for food-or-restaurant related videos to critique for a class assignment, I could only imagine the effort these video creators put forth.

One website, Food.Curated., really impressed me. Liza de Guia is the founder and chief storyteller of the site. Her motto is, “All good food has a story. I tell it. On video.”

That sounded right up my alley, so I clicked on a few and watched. Wow. Here’s my take on a few of de Guia’s pieces:

The story “Grazin’s Grassfed Burgers: A Small Diner Aims to Make the Cleanest Burger You’ll Ever Eat” managed to do the impossible. It got me to actually watch a nine-minute video all the way through.

Yep. That was a miracle. I sometimes have the attention span of a squirrel.

The visuals are amazing. The opening shot is of hands–belonging to the main character, Andrew “Chip” Chiappinelli–molding a raw burger patty. It may be a little out of the ordinary to open with raw meat, but the quality of the colors in the shot are jarringly good, especially for in a kitchen. The music that plays over that part of the video helps catch the attention of the viewer.

The videographer has Chiappinelli tell about his passion of animal welfare and good food, then open up into the larger operation of the farm and some of the difficulties they face.

Chiappinelli is shown to be a very likable character. He’s portrayed as passionate about his craft and good-natured. He has an easy way of talking and seems comfortable, which adds to this representation of

Essentially, the main character is doing something entirely different from other diners. He and his father-in-law are borderline obsessed with the quality of the food they serve and the way in which it was sourced. He talks about how this turns some people off, but he’s OK with that.

He has a goal in life to prepare the “cleanest” possible food that he can. And he sticks to it.

The videographer uses Chiappinelli’s voice to tell the story along with an abundance of video of the diner, the farm, the animals and Chiappinelli himself working. The music the videographer chose to add helped transition between pieces of the story from introduction to background to what Grazin’s goal is and so on.

The natural sound could have been more prominent. There were many farm scenes where I just thought that adding in the mooing of a cow or amping up the sound of chickens would have helped the video.

To end the story, the videographer showed Chiappinelli telling a funny anecdote about a vegetarian in need of iron coming by and appreciating the way he prepares his meat. Then it cuts out as he mentions he wants everyone to enjoy the food experience he supplies.

As I look forward to my work, I will keep in mind the use of music to move the story along. Also, I like how the video work was done–great quality, dynamic angles, lots of variety. However, I think more natural sound is definitely necessary to have a fully-rounded piece.

The next story you should check out is also by de Guia on Food.Curated.

La Vara Churris: The Standard Which to Measure Every Churro” pulled me in with the opening shot of churros bubbling in a deep fryer as the main character, Alex Raij, saying she thinks that her restaurant, La Vara, makes the best churros.

To someone who loves food and cooking (read: me), that catches my attention. She said it’s the best and it looks pretty good, so I’m going to stay and watch what makes them the best. It reeled me in.

Raij is portrayed as a cute Argentine woman who just finds happiness in perfecting her churros. She mentions that she does “personal” versions of dishes. She values nostalgia in her food. She’s like a Latin Betty Crocker.

Raij’s quest is to make the best churros. She is specific in how she does it (a blend of Spanish, Mexican and Argentine traditions) and how it should be eaten (warm, with dulce de leche and maybe some hot chocolate). The videographer uses the excellent interview to both establish the character’s passion and to tell the story by playing it over delicious-looking video of Raij preparing churros.

Showing step-by-step how Raij makes the sweet confections also adds to the story arc.

The videographer wraps up the story by playing a sound byte of Raij talking about not finding any good churros in New York, but having found some good ones in North Carolin followed by a laugh. Though it was a bit of an abrupt way to end, the sound byte added to the character’s personality.

Once again, de Guia had excellent video, variety and use of music and sound bytes. I hope I can be this consistent in that area of my video storytelling.

But she also lacked good natural sound once again. I could just catch a little of the background noise under the music, but I think really cranking up the natural sound on the sound of the sizzling fryer or the mixer would have transported me to the kitchen.

For my third and final video story, I mixed it up a little. I wandered on over to Vimeo and stumbled upon a great member called Cool Video Hunting. The team that makes this page’s videos claims to shoot for innovation.

In their video story  “John Daley of New York Sushi Ko,” they certainly found it.

The video opens with a scene-setting shot of a busy sidewalk and music, then pulls the viewer into the sushi shop. This technique really pulled me in.

John Daley, a sushi chef, is the main character of this story. The videographer portrays him as a sushi purist who is dedicated to putting out the best and most authentic sushi. By playing Daley’s interview over a wide variety of shots, we both hear and see about his trade.

The details that Daley gives let the viewer know that he is serious about sushi. He studied under a master, then under his master’s master. Through this technique of allowing Daley to tell his own story, the videographer also portrays him as a little cocky rather than just confident.

It may not be the best character trait, but allowing that to come through was a really cool layer in the story.

As far as Daley’s quest goes, we see that he wants to serve the finest and freshest sushi.

Visually, we see this in the careful and precise way he cuts each fish and in the odd-looking techniques he utilizes (repeatedly slapping a wrapped-up fish?). Through his interview, we hear how he makes the extra effort by importing Japanese fish daily and how extensive he trained for this life.

The ending added to Daley’s respect of the art of sushi preparation and consumption. He comments that, if you come and enjoy one of the rolls, then, he says, “We’ve all grown today.”

I much preferred the natural sound in this piece to that in the previous two. I love how the videographer used the sounds of each stage of sushi preparation–from hitting the fish to wrapping it–to add to the experience.

After looking at these, I definitely know I want to focus on video quality and natural sound. In each of them, I think the music should be less prominent. That’s an issue I plan to avoid.

Any good food/restaurant video stories to recommend?

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Sights and Sounds of Wake Up Coffee Company

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My audio slideshow, entitled “Wake Up Coffee Company” (link below if the hyperlink fails), gives you the chance to hear from the very busy owner of the popular coffee shop, Wade Preston. He describes his inspiration, his coffee philosophy and a little bit about how his shop supports fair trade practices and artisan crafters. I hope you enjoy!

Full link:  https://googledrive.com/host/0B06vquViR27jWUhOU0tZTWhoUlE/index.html.

(Note: To get the full experience, click “captions” under the slideshow frame to enable picture captions)