Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

October 21, 2012

Tim Preston: A country lunch, old-school cookie report and Oktoberfest: 10/21/12

ASHLAND — When it comes to food, I’ve found many people who read this column tend to enjoy the challenge of finding some of the more “exotic” locations I wind up writing about. I’m not sure you can label the quiet community of Willard as exotic, but it certainly out of the way for most of us.

I once again earned the “Wrong-Way Preston” nickname my wife tagged me with years ago a couple of weeks back while wandering around trying to find the rural community in Carter County, where I eventually enjoyed the best lunch I’ve had in years at Papaw’s Country Kitchen.

I was there to do a story about the first Trade Days in Willard, and met with founder Ed Caudill and his wife, Marilyn, as well as their daughter and what seemed like a big extended family working in the kitchen at Papaw’s place. I had barely started taking notes when the food started flying my way, and I abandoned the interview entirely when a plate loaded with baked steak, a smoked pork chop and a big-honkin’ country-fried chicken breast with fresh green beans, mashed potatoes and homemade “granny style” yeast rolls on the side.

I grabbed a can of grape pop to go with the meal, and it was just outstanding, with lots of great conversation about the goals and ambitions of everyone involved with the eatery. The rural restaurant’s all-volunteer staff is raising funds to get Papaw’s Chuck Wagon back on the road, delivering meals to hundreds of their neighbors (including many senior citizens and families with young children) between Willard and Grayson.

Sometime around the time Marilyn served up a massive slice of an experimental coconut custard pie, she also talked about some of the young people who come to Papaw’s from the Carter County drug court program. She is encouraged by the positive outlook of many who are actively working to put drugs in their past, and tries to give them a glimpse of a good life with the help of old-fashioned country values.

Papaw’s is also home to Friday night gospel music events, starting at 6 p.m. each week and going on until everybody is ready to go home. The events are made possible by the generosity of local gospel singers and musicians, as well as others who might happen to be playing in the area and want to lend their talents to the effort.

Papaw’s, at 8720 S. Ky. 1, about nine miles out of Grayson, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information or to place an order, call (606) 474-8186.

And then ...

On my way out of Willard, I stopped off in Grayson to thank Michelle Wallace at Mama Hazel’s Bakery for the joy she brought many here at the newspaper with a recent sample of goodies from her shop.

I walked in, still patting my belly from the feast in Willard, and instantly found myself practically drooling as a result of the overwhelming aroma I can only describe as “cakeyness.”

Wallace emerged from the back with a big smile and we started trading notes about all kinds of things before I finally remembered I was there to pick up something sweet for my wife. The shop owner sneaked another small sampler bag in with my purchase of a handful of chocolate turtles, and I shared those with the ladies putting stories on the pages, after reserving one for myself.

I couldn’t tell you what flavor that was (my wife swears it was red-velvet cake and just rolls her eyes when I argue it was some kind of truffle), but it was so incredibly rich and delicious.

The bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information or to place an order, visit mamahazels.com or call (606) 474-2418.

On the radar

While in Grayson, I also did a bit of looking around to find another bakery I’d heard about only a few hours before. I spotted the place, Weaver’s Market, not far from Mama Hazel’s, although I had run out of time and didn’t have the opportunity to stop by myself.

I did ask Wallace if she was familiar with the place and she gives it a double thumbs up for the breads, as well as the “old-fashioned” cookies, which they seem to excel at creating (she specifically mentioned molasses cookies, a personal favorite of mine). Wallace said the two bakeries don’t seem to be in competition, explaining each offers customers something special.

I will stop by the next time I’m running around Grayson. If you get to the shop at 539 W. Main St. before I do, let me know what you think. For more information or to place an order, call (606) 474-0304.

Decadence no more

I’m going to break my self-imposed rule about not writing about it every time we lose a small business in downtown Ashland.

I’ve written before I have no need of a great gown and dress shop, although I did have a great appreciation for the impact of Decadence — the Unique Boutique, at the corner of 16th Street and Greenup Avenue. The owners of the little shop on the corner always gave passing motorists and potential shoppers something interesting to look at with constantly evolving window displays that had a “value added” effect for the area. The shop is empty now and I’m certain another small business will soon jump on that prime corner spot, but I had to at least acknowledge the loss.

Former owner Drew Scott reports he struggled with the decision to close, although he was thrilled to land in the company of friend and business associate Diane Ferguson at Wilma’s Dress Shop. Scott is the new fashion/public relations director for Wilma’s, representing the company’s interests, including two stores (Cannonsburg and Grayson) and a spa. I contacted Scott for a comment about his professional transition and he was already in PR mode, seeking assistance spreading the word about the first Oktoberfest at Kyova Mall next weekend.

The event gets under way Saturday with a pancake breakfast at Callihan’s American Pub & Grill from 9 to 11 a.m., and continues with a songwriter’s workshop from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by a dog show starting at the top of the lunch hour.

Free musical performances will continue throughout the afternoon and evening, beginning with Robin Tackett & Stillwater from 1 to 3 p.m. Scott will be neck deep in the action from 4 to 5 p.m. during a fashion show with models from both Wilma’s and Aaliyah’s, and the music continues with City Heat featuring Sweetness, Don Pedigo at 5 p.m., Bobby Cyrus and Dustin Burchett with Southern Sound at 6 p.m., George Molton at 7 p.m., Stephen Salyers at 8 p.m. and ending with a headline performance by David Lee Murphy, best known for “Party Crowd” and “Dust on the Bottle.” Ellen Keaton will perform gospel music from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 28.

The event will also feature vendors, inflatables, carnival entertainment and sales events at mall stores. For more information, call Nickie Smith at (606) 232-0716.     

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

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