Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 17, 2013

Tim Preston: Chicken and dumplings; fish tacos; and fascinators: 11/17/13

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — I’ve been taking a lot of mental notes lately during what seems to be on ongoing debate about “the right way” to make chicken and dumplins. Putting my conclusions at the top of the column, this is a subject which will never be settled.

To start with, there are at least two distinctly different types of dumplings in chicken and dumplins. Some love them big and fluffy while others prefer “the rolled out kind” and I haven’t talked to anyone who doesn’t make that their first consideration. Follow that with the chicken part, and if the meat is cubed, shredded or chunked. Some people also can’t stand dark meat in the entree. The flavor, and texture, of the liquid between the chicken and the dumplings is likely the least-mentioned qualification for people’s favorite rendition of the country-classic.

I didn’t realize this, but my wife (for example) gives extra points for chicken and dumplins with lots of chicken flavor, but little to no bite-size chicken in the mix. Crazy, right? She also likes the dumpling part to be big and fluffy. I tend to favor the dish with lots of big pieces of chicken and “rolled out” dumplings I don’t have to cut down to size. And, the pretty lady who lives down the road said any amount of dark meat in her chicken and dumplins is enough to skunk the whole thing.

And, I have to ask. Is it weird that I think every serving of chicken and dumplins should be served with a big piece of hot, buttered cornbread?

I ask because I enjoyed an extra-big bowl of chicken and dumplins at The Lamp Post Café last week, and the guy running the place seemed slightly astounded I wanted even more bread with the entree. I’ll rate that version of chicken and dumplins pretty high, by the way, and can’t imagine anyone would be disappointed by the size of the serving.

Fish tacos

I had an excellent lunch at Cheddar’s Casual Café last week while meeting with friends to discuss an upcoming project about a late local musician whose works are still performed at area clubs and bars every weekend. I guess you could say I had fish tacos with Mike Murphy and Zachariah on the side.

It had been a while since I’d enjoyed a lunch at the restaurant and I caught myself wondering why I don’t end up there far more often. I couldn’t tell you our server’s name, but I’m quite certain she out hustled everyone who has served me anywhere this year. In fact, at one point, I was draining my glass of Pepsi and before I could make the ice clink in the bottom, there was not one but two freshly filled glasses already on the table. One of my lunch mates had a similar experience with a glass of iced tea, and each of us also commented about the outstanding variety of choices provided at Cheddar’s, including the guy on the meat-free diet.

Cheddar’s, at 530 Winchester Ave. in the outparcel at Ashland Town Center, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, call (606) 324-1045.

Haut Panache

If you’ve been by the Camayo Arcade Building on Winchester Avenue in downtown Ashland lately, you may have noticed ongoing improvements inside the historic structure. Among those changes, the Haut Panache shop has moved from down the hallway into one of the two window-front locations, sharing the entrance with La Tee Da Boutique, providing the old building with a fresh new pair of shops certain to attract the attention of anyone seeking the good stuff.

I show my fashion ignorance every time I try to write about anything related to apparel, but I can say I would not know what a “fascinator” is if I had not met the owner of Haut Panache, who creates custom and one-of-kind hats, headbands and related items.

Haut Panache recently hosted a grand opening for the new space and I’ve heard great things about the place (and the boutique next door) from people who said they had otherwise given up on finding cool shops in the downtown district. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (606) 646-2484.

For more information about La Tee Da Boutique, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, call (606) 327-0045.

Remaining inventory

I wrote a story about Phyllis and Howard Crabtree at Lake Bonita Sales in February announcing the longtime local business owners had decided to sell their remaining inventory and retire.

Mrs. Crabtree called last week and advised they still have a few things to get rid of, including Buck Stoves, pellet stoves, gas log inserts and stainless steel items.

“We have just a few odds and ends left,” she said, reminding me she and her husband would love to sell everything they have left to a young person who would like to start their own business.

I went back to that story from earlier in the year and was reminded the Crabtrees got into business at Lake Bonita after visiting the manmade reservoir for an afternoon of fishing. The “pay lake” part of things was shut down more than a dozen years ago, although the couple continued to sale woodburning stoves and related items for more than three decades. The shop was also a television repair center for years, although Mr. Howard ultimately concluded we are now in a time when anyone can buy a new television for less than it costs to repair an old one.

Instead of calling, Crabtree asks anyone interested in buying the remaining stock to stop by their place (off Ky. 538) at 4425 Lake Drive in Boyd County.

And, for those who love local trivia, Lake Bonita was named for former owner Bonita Stanley.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at (606) 326-2651.