Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


November 13, 2011

TIM PRESTON: Mexican cuisine, unique strings, farm stuff and scrapbooking

ASHLAND — I had a bit of time to kill early in the day Monday (my day off last week) as my lovely wife was undergoing treatment at Aspen Dental at Ashland Town Center. I figured she would be in there a while and after a casual stroll of the mall, where I ended up toy shopping and becoming intensely interested in the latest generation of remote-control helicopters. I also popped into a toy store to check out the “Air Swimmers,” helium filled fish (Great White Shark too!) which simulate swimming through the air, guided by a simple controller. The clever robotic balloons were found at Toys “R” Us, where I noticed they had several additional robot-esque toys that strongly appealed to the little kid inside of me.

 I hadn’t been in the mall for long before realizing that even though I’ve been back in the area for more than four years, I had never been in Fiesta Bravo, so I decided to give it a try even though it was at least an hour before the traditional lunch hour. I got there about 30 seconds after they unlocked the door and ordered a Negra Modela to enjoy with some chips and hot salsa. My server, Kim, brought a batch of the house salsa and a second bowl of “the stuff I make myself,” she said, smiling and confessing she is a fellow pepper-head who carries her own bottle of Tobasco sauce everywhere she goes.

Kim’s hot-and-spicy salsa was, for anyone who loves the hot stuff, quite remarkable and truly complimented the dark malt-based beverage. I figured I would have a lunch burrito while there, but to my surprise soon received a text from my baby saying she was all finished and ready to get out of there. I had to pay up and hustle her home, but promised Kim I’d be back for a meal next week.

Mexican buffet

Mexican cuisine was obviously meant to be in my diet last week, as the next day I got a call from one of my favorite lunch buddies and he suggested we sample the Tuesday lunch buffet at Toro Loco, located at 1606 Argillite Rd. in Flatwoods. We found some excellent lunch companions as soon as we entered, and together pulled up a table in the middle.

The buffet is not a massive affair, but the food was quite tasty. Since space on the hot bar was limited, the staff served up fresh entrees and sides as soon as the trays got low. A coworker advised me to try the Toro Loco fried chicken chimichanga, and I was tickled to find those fresh on the buffet during my last trip to the bar. I have to say, it was a good suggestion, and may have been my favorite of the day’s buffet.

For more information or to place an order, call (606) 494-2228.

Impossible strings

Since returning to Kentucky roughly five years ago, I have been trying to find a special set of strings for a special bass. I’ve asked people behind the counter at every music store I’ve entered if they could find the strings, which are made in Vienna, and had no luck anywhere. The closest I’d gotten was a recent near miss with the guys at 4 O’Clock Rock Guitar Shop at their new location on Greenup Avenue in Ashland, who said they’d found the strings and distributor, but were told the unusual cables (nylon core with a phosphor bronze wrap) were on indefinite back order.

To my shock — and that of the guys at the guitar shop — the elusive bass strings just happened to show up in a recent shipment and they surprised me with them at the end of last weekend’s annual WTCR/River Cities Harvest Canned Food Drive Concert. I just had to thank them for going the extra mile to track those things down and get them to me. The strings will replace the ones that have been on my instrument, a prototype built by legendary luthier Rick Turner, since 2005.

If you’ve got a hard-to-find accessory or instrument you need some help with, call the 4 O’Clock guys at (606) 326-0097.

And, if you want to see one of the most breathtaking maple tops ever used to build an electric guitar, visit the shop and check out the quilted Paul Reed Smith on the wall not far from the cash register — it will practically knock your eyes out.

More music

I actually played at both venues for this year’s River Cities Harvest concert, starting at EJ’s Guitar Shop in the Kyova Mall, where the shop owner told me to pick any guitar I liked from their inventory for my quick performance. Of course, she knew I would make a bee line to the spalted-maple top Hagstrom six-string I’ve been lusting after for a few months, and that’s exactly what I did. Even though I got a bit of stage fright and forgot to put a strap on the instrument, I thoroughly enjoyed playing that guitar. The Hagstrom not only looked, played and sounded great, it also had a very friendly number on the pricetag.

If you haven’t been to EJ’s Guitar Shop, it’s worth a trip inside the mall to check out their selection of new and used gear, as well as band-instrument rentals and lessons for a variety of instruments. The owner was encouraged by the gathering of musicians in support of River Cities Harvest and plans to have a few more low-volume musical gatherings at the sho in the months ahead. For more information call (606) 928-0686.

Wild, “wacky” organizing

I enjoyed a recent call from Winnie Thacker, owner of Scrapbook General Store at 1803 Argillite Rd. in Flatwoods as she discussed the upcoming “Wild Wacky Weekend” for scrapbook enthusiasts, to be held Nov. 18, 19 and 20.

I have known a few scrapbookers and I’ll admit they weren’t especially wild or wacky (more like intensely organized), although they are often capable of bringing a wonderful and personal level of humor to the books they create. The weekend workshop at Carter Caves will focus on scrapbooking and card making, and is “strictly a women’s weekend only” with participants advised to leave any men and children to amuse themselves at the state park.

The cost of the retreat is $50 and Thacker emphasizes, “I don’t care if you wear your pj’s and house shoes. I just want you to be comfortable and have fun.”

The scrapbook shop is gathering boxes of goodies for the first 50 people to sign up, and you have to register by Nov. 15 to qualify. For more information or to get signed up, send an email to stampstor@aol.com or call (606) 836-7033 For information about room and cabin reservations at Carter Caves State Park call 800-325-0059 or (606) 286-4411.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.23344

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