Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


March 11, 2012

TIM PRESTON: Chasing the sun, Angry Frenchman and lunch at the mall

ASHLAND — I had a chance to stop by one of my favorite places last week while running the roads, or more accurately “the road” — U.S. 23 — into the Big Sandy Valley in search of a tornado story. I was actually trying to beat the setting sun to Louisa so I could take a photo requiring daylight, and was certain it couldn’t be done. So, I basically gave up on the idea and pulled off the road near the Johnson / Lawrence County line at River, Ky., and went in search of a cupee cake at Black Barn Produce.

I could have stayed for quite a while, greeted by owner Steve Carter seated in a rocking chair out front alongside a coach from my old high school and a big cat. If you know me at all, it comes as no surprise I have serious skills when it comes to sitting around in front of a country store shooting the breeze.

It’s almost like my childhood and teen years were spent in training for that job. But, I was there in hopes of getting the last cupee cake of the day and spent only a minute or two with the guys out front (I suspect I missed a good tall tale and maybe even some knife swapping) so I stepped inside to find co-owner Marla Carter and their daughter behind the counter. Disheartened to find there were no more cupee cakes that day, I grabbed an ice-cold bottle of grape Crush from the cooler and noticed there was more daylight remaining than I had anticipated.

So, fueled by artificial fruit flavor, I got the crazy idea that if I got back on that Louisa photo mission I might just get lucky.

My cousin recently reminded me that I drive “like an old man,” so I wasn’t about to get into a high-speed duel with the sun. I wanted to get there, but didn’t want to risk a speeding ticket to get it done. My actual motivation was the knowledge that I would have to backtrack to Louisa the next day if I didn’t manage to get the shot.

Watching the sun edge down on the ridgeline, I looked to heaven and said, “Lord, I don’t want to go back to Louisa in the morning. Is there anything you can do?” To my amazement, the sun was still on my photo subject, the red sign in front of Dee’s Drive-In, by the time I got into downtown Louisa. I managed to get seven or eight shots in the final seconds before the sun set on that scene.

I told my boss (who is doing great on his diet and was nearly subjected to the sight of myself eating a cupee cake) it was positive proof of the power of prayer.

And, I say all of this just to pass along that Black Barn Produce is now closed on Wednesday. The Carters have been at it practically seven days a week since they got the place started, and the Mrs. in the formula reports they just need a little time to take care of their own. If you’re reading this on a Sunday and looking for a little adventure, however, you may want to visit River, Ky. (nine miles north of Paintsville on Route 3224 about 1,000 feet off Route 23, the Country Music Highway) for yourself. For more information about Black Barn Produce call (606) 297-2600 or look them up on the Internet.

Angry Frenchman

I grabbed a menu from The Angry Frenchman Cafe inside the Pendleton Art Center in downtown Ashland last week and it has several new additions that get my attention.

Under the heading of “Hot & Angry” are the Anger Management Burgers, followed by the Pi--ed off Bahama Mama, and nearby you’ll find listings for a quite creative collection of pitas including a club, the “Veggies Ooh La La” and a BLT & Gruyere pocket, which sound delicious. The cafe also has hand-carved roast beef, turkey and ham sandwiches, and a selection of wraps as well as salads, soups and desserts.

The Angry Frenchman Cafe is open from 4 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information call (606) 324-7500.

Lunch at the mall

I had a lunch interview with an excellent bluegrass musician last week and asked him to suggest the place. Even though I’ve been in the Ashland Town Center Mall many times, I must admit I’ve apparently overlooked Charlie’s Steakery.

Following the guitar player’s lead, I tried a sandwich loaded with bacon and three types of cheese alongside a big order of fries. The sandwich was good and I’ll go back again to sample a few of the other things I noticed on the menu. And, I have to say, the level of customer service absolutely exceeded my expectations.


Ashland Alliance president Jim Purgerson said Pathways will be sponsoring a workshop which may be of interest to small business owners and operators.

The workshop on May 3 will focus on substance abuse in the workplace. For more information call (606) 324-5111.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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