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?

 

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!

My First Chipotle Experience

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I know this is shocking to many, but until today I had never been to Chipotle.

Not once since it came to Auburn have I visited the popular fast-casual Mexican joint that everyone seems to love. And it’s a half-mile from my front door.

Why? I had the mindset that it’s just a more expensive version of Moe’s Southwest Grill. I’ve been known to use that exact phrase a few times.

So today, I was convinced to go for lunch.

After waiting in the winding queue, I ordered a salad. I had to wait for them to finish cooking vegetables. I figured the food must be good if they were running out.

They finally finished the veggies and loaded me up with a whopping seven strips of peppers and onions. Maybe eight. Fo’ real?

I sat down and took a bite, and…yum!

Chipotle beat out Moe’s for two reasons: the fresh veggies (though few) were great and the beef barbacoa was awesome. It was light and fresh and, unlike most fast-food salads, tasted like it was real food, not just microwaved frozen chicken.

Though I’ll avoid the lunch rush, I’ll be sure to go back (and ask for more veggies).

 

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.

 

 

 

Applause for Tiger Dining

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It’s pretty hard to talk about dining in Auburn without at least taking a glimpse at on-campus options.

With a required meal plan of $300 for commuter students and $995 for residents each semester, it gets a lot of attention from students. Some love campus options and some hate them.

I tend to give Tiger Dining, the organization behind campus dining venues, credit. In the three years I’ve been here, there’s been a ton of changes.

We’ve gained a Chik-n-Grill, a Go Greek! and now a Chobani bar in the Student Center. They’ve added a lot of build-your-own-(insert food name here) venues in the Village Dining center, including stir-fry, pizza, pasta, salad, sushi and more.

Even good old Foy Hall has gotten a revamp with the addition of Panda Express, Tender Lovin’ Chicken (TLC) and Pizza Phlats. And Lord knows Terrell Hall has been fixed up quite nicely, now boasting a Taco Trek and an all-you-choose-to-eat option.

For people wanting to eat green? There’s a venue for that now, too! Lupton Hall in the Quad now holds not only the old favorite Lupton Deli, but also the new farm-to-table option Plains-to-Plate.

Carts and food trucks have even begun to roll onto campus.

I make no arguments for the prices–those are pretty steep sometimes–but the quality has really improved leaps and bounds.

As a resident assistant, I’ve met personally with Glenn Loughridge, the director of Campus Dining, multiple times. Somehow, the topic of healthy options comes up every time. Why? Because that’s what students want, so that is his focus.

How did Loughridge and Tiger Dining know what changes to make? They’ve made an effort to seek out student input and listen to what they have to say.

They’ve worked with Residence Life staff to try to see what residents want. They use Twitter and Facebook daily. There’s even a focus group of student with special dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance or vegan/vegetarian lifestyles, that helps give Tiger Dining an idea of what is needed on campus.

So no, Auburn does not have the giant cafeterias with all-you-can-eat buffets that you see on almost every other college campus. No, it’s not exactly cheap.

But we do have variety and we do have quality.

I, for one, applaud Tiger Dining.

As a little bonus, below is a video package I did recently on the addition of the Plains-to-Plate venue. Enjoy!