Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


October 30, 2011

TIM PRESTON: Dining out, tasty woods, directions and visions

ASHLAND — I was a bit stuck for something to write about this week, at least until I opened my fridge and found it contains almost nothing except carry-out boxes from a few of the meals I’ve enjoyed in recent days. While I usually avoid writing about multiple restaurants in any one column, I’ll be skipping that policy this week just to get some of this stuff in here.

I found myself standing in the kitchen shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday (practically eating in my sleep) as I raided a big box of chicken wings that musician Eddie Riffe offered up after a Wednesday evening open-mic music session at Callihan’s Pub & Grill at Kyova Mall in Cannonsburg. The wings were really tasty, and I enjoyed the leftover batch while thinking about the quality of the evening’s music, and the few minutes I spent talking with owner Tal Callihan about his ambitions to develop a true live-music scene as part of his operations. I’ll be writing more about that as the Callihan’s staff fine tunes the acoustics of the upstairs area and adds more to their entertainment roster.

The heaviest box in the fridge was from JJ Restaurant (which we all tend to incorrectly refer to as “J and J”) on U.S. 60 near the Ashland city limit sign, containing extra chicken and dumplings from a family meal the day before. I wish I had been taking notes while dining because a loyal customer, who was speaking to another loyal customer, made a near-perfect observation about why so many people absolutely love the place. I can certainly testify they serve up huge portions and you won’t be leaving hungry. I enjoyed the stuffed pork chops during our visit and, despite the huge portion, had not a scrap remaining to carry home.

The fridge contents also included a delivered package from Ron Elliott containing a sample of his wife Judy’s barbecue and some homemade cole slaw. The Lunch Bucket barbecue and slaw combo is one of the daily specials from the former Rajah’s menu the Elliott family is offering as part of their new menu at their new restaurant located in the Meade Station Plaza, also on U.S. 60 in the Summit area.

Knowing my obsessive tendencies toward barbecue, Elliott just asked me to give it a try and pass along my opinion. Barbecue, of course, is a dish that encompasses many forms and descriptions, and I’ll classify Judy’s version as “sandwich” barbecue (as compared to pulled pork) with the sauce cooked in with the meat. It only took one bite to understand why Judy’s barbecue recipe is a favorite with their loyal customers. The sauce is tangy with a nice bit of spicy “zing,” and practically none of the peppery “hot” characteristics that tends to be a bit too much for many. I’m an absolute snob when it comes to cole slaw and have to rank Judy’s version, when added to the barbecue on a bun, among the best I’ve tried anywhere. In fact, the stuff was so good, I got in a bit of domestic trouble for eating practically every bite of it by myself.

Wooden wonders

If you enjoy building things from wood, you may want to get in touch with Robert Caines of Awfully Awesome Wood, who has recently begun marketing slabs and boards from his collection of things including chestnut oak, “wild rain maple,” curly oak, ash, elm and other desirable trees.

“I cut it years ago and I’ve got it dried,” said Caines, who you may have seen driving around Ashland with Amish-style furniture in the back of his truck.

The chestnut oak he has for sell is especially interesting, he said, describing it as “a perfect wood” with outstanding straight grain, cut in thick slabs. Caines said he borrowed the title “Wild Rain” maple to describe the boards he had cut from a tree that had been “eat up with woodpeckers” and reflects some of the beauty of nature’s own designs with mineral streaking and other characteristics that make it something special.

“Mother nature was on drugs when she made it,” he said with a chuckle, adding the wood is so spectacular “It would be good to just hang on a wall — it looks like a piece of art.”

Caines said he hopes to find an instrument builder who might want some of the unusual maple for a guitar top, later adding each type of wood sales for a different amount per board foot. Much of Caines’ wood can be seen at The Upstairs Gallery on Winchester Avenue in downtown Ashland, or by appointment by calling (606) 571-9050.

Black Barn

I’ve had a few calls from people who want to make the drive to Black Barn Produce and Aunt Emme’s Bake Shoppe in River, Ky., after reading a couple of recent articles about the old-fashioned country store and bakery.

The only problem, several explained, was that they had set those articles aside for future reference only to have someone come along behind them and toss the paper away. The place is easy to find - from Ashland, get on U.S. 23 and point yourself toward Paintsville. Shortly after you cross the border from Lawrence into Johnson County, watch for a blue tourism sign for Black Barn Produce, or a green sign for Jenny Wiley’s grave. The store, and Aunt Emme’s Bake Shoppe where they create the incredible “Cupee Cakes,” are easily found just a few yards off the main highway.

For more information call (606) 297-2600 for the store, or 792-8611 for the bakery.

Michael’s Vision

Nine-year-old Michael Everett Geagley, a student at Tollesboro Elementary, has designed a line of “bunny rabbits and Christmas ornaments” that are being sold at his grandmother’s craft business known as Judy Geagley By Hand. Geagley’s bunnies and ornaments are called Michael’s Vision and will be debuted at a holiday open house at Geagley’s shop, located at 546 Garrad Rd. in Tollesboro, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 5.

The creations are the result of Michael drawing designs for things he wanted his grandmother to make. “In this day and age I’m thrilled he has such an interest in making crafts,” Judy Geagley said. “Sometimes I think he knows more about the business than I do.”

For more information visit judygeagleybyhand.com or call (606) 798-3901.

Got a good groomer?

A friend who likes to keep his dog well groomed asked if I could put something in this week seeking personal recommendations for a place to take their pooch for a bit of upkeep. While we’re aware of many talented groomers in the region, he’s specifically trying to find a good one in Ashland.

If anyone cares to pass along a little advice, I’ll be glad to include it in an upcoming column.

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

Text Only