Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

April 13, 2014

Tim Preston: Great salmon; finding Dr. Amy; and more Maria: 4/13/14

ASHLAND — It isn’t an especially convenient location unless you happen to be going that way, and if you don’t get there within the next couple of weeks you’ll have to wait until fall to try it out, but I had the best lunch I can remember last week at one of the last places you’d likely think of when pondering where to eat.

Along with Mark Maynard, I accepted an invitation to visit the Technology Drive Campus of ACTC for lunch at the Culinary Café, featuring grilled salmon prepared by the school’s culinary students. I spent a few minutes literally “behind the scenes” talking to a few of the aspiring chefs and was thoroughly impressed by each as they discussed their professional ambitions. I’ll be writing a feature story with photos about that part of our visit, so we’ll jump right into the meal.

I was served a plate with a beautifully grilled piece of salmon glazed with homemade teriyaki sauce, accompanied by rice pilaf and seared asparagus. I skipped the chocolate-chip cheesecake available for dessert and opted instead for the pineapple upside-down cake the culinary class had prepared from scratch earlier that day (several in the kitchen had mentioned the recipe was considerably more labor intensive than they had anticipated and I waited to taste the result).

Every bite was outstanding. I’m normally quick to shy away from asparagus, but this serving was perfectly seasoned and seared, without a hint of the mushy factor I’ve come to avoid with that veggie. The rice pilaf was served with style, and there was something undefinable about it that I really appreciated — possibly the quality of rice. And the salmon — I’ll stop just short of the word “exquisite.” It was as good or better than I’ve had at some seriously high-ranked restaurants with celebrity chefs, and far beyond anything I’ve ever been served in a cafeteria. And, with a price tag of only $5, I considered it an excellent deal for a great meal.

The lunch conversation between Maynard and our host, John McGlone, also added to the occasion. Our obsession with food was obvious from the first word, and we talked about everything from how easy or difficult it is to properly prepare salmon, to the habits of a guy they both know who intentionally orders all his food “burnt” because his mama was apparently one of the worst cooks of all time.

The culinary students shift the daily menu around, and the cafeteria at the campus along the Industrial Parkway near where Boyd, Carter and Greenup counties converge is open from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, while school is in session. If you would like to be added to the email distribution list and get the menu every week, email Barbara Dunn at barbara.dunn@kctcs.edu or call (606) 326-2494.

One big meal

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about the Lamp Post Café, even though I’ve been trying to get down there on recent Thursday evenings to enjoy live music by some of the area’s otherwise least-visible musicians, as well as other evenings when the place hosts local poets and writers. I also enjoy looking at the work of local artists on the walls at the place.

Music and art aside, the Lamp Post has had a standing “challenge” meal that has defied even the biggest and hungriest guests — finish a 2-pound Full Moon Burger with all the trimmings, accompanied by two pounds of french fries, a 20-ounce drink and topped off with a massive strawberry croissant, within 30 minutes. I’ve actually been unable to finish one of the strawberry croissants (a personal favorite) by myself in that time frame, and can’t imagine consuming the entire “challenge” package regardless of how much time was allowed.

A college student from Grayson recently called the café, however, and told them he was ready to take the challenge. They were ready for him upon arrival and to everyone’s shock, he finished every bite with four minutes to spare. I’ll confess I assumed the challenger was “a big ol’ dude” when I heard he’d eaten that whole meal, and was more than surprised when the café sent a video clip showing he is a young guy who appears to be quite athletic. With a little research we discovered he is a recent graduate of East Carter High School, where he had an excellent record as an athlete, including impressive stats as a discus thrower.

“I’m a competitive eater, actually,” said Corey Stephens when I caught him on the phone a few days later, explaining he likes to eat and discovered he’s good at putting a lot of food away in a hurry. We didn’t get to talk long, as it turns out Stephens was actually in class at the time I called. Of the dozen or so challenges he’s taken so far, Stephens said the Lamp Post’s is among the toughest he’s tackled. “It really is a lot of food,” he said.

The Lamp Post is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, and you have to call ahead if you want to take the challenge. For more information, call (606) 325-5283.

Chasing Dr. Amy

I nearly freaked out a couple of weeks back when I was walking along Winchester Avenue and noticed Dr. Amy Litteral had moved everything out of her Moxie Massage & Boutique location.

You may remember Litteral was responsible for the massage I practically declared to be my salvation from a bad case of crippled-up-old-man meets winter weather last year. I’ve since heard from many who had similar experiences, and from others who enjoyed the jewelery and trinkets Litteral creates and sells at her boutique.

Before the panic set in, Dr. Litteral shot me a note explaining she had some troubles with the former space, and had moved a short distance away to 334 15th St. (down the block from Fat Patty’s) where she is offering expanded services she couldn’t have provided at the tiny space she previously occupied. The list of new services includes couples massage, spa parties and body treatments (“Like a facial for your whole body. They exfoliate, cleanse and hydrate your skin,” she said); body polish; body wraps; and the shop’s most popular treatment, The Urban Retreat. The “retreat,” Litteral said, includes lavender body polish, hot herbal towel treatment, revitalizing guavaberry bodywrap, mint scalp massage, Japanese Yuzu shea butter moisturizing treatment and a 60-minute integrative massage.

“I've also added a new spa menu and welcomed a new therapist to the practice, Erica McKenzie, LMT, of Ironton, Ohio,” Litteral said, adding people can view the new menu at DrLitteral.com. McKenzie is a graduate of Mountwest University in Huntington and previously worked as a medical assistant at The Cancer Center and for a general medical practice and a long-term-care facility.

“She decided in 2012 that she needed a change, but wanted to stay within the medical field. Her mission is to promote mental and physical wellness while creating a sense of balance and inner peace,” Litteral said.

Moxie is open from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (606) 831-1501.

Coming soon:

Maria’s Grill

It is no secret I’m a huge fan of the foods you can only find (locally) at Maria’s Manila Asian Market, and I’ve also written a couple of pieces about some the flat-out amazing meals she’s prepared for myself and the newspaper staff. Just ask staff writer Ken Hart what he thinks about Maria’s cooking, and Filipino food in general, and you’ll hear the most positive review (short of a Springsteen concert) ever from him.

The big news from Manila Market is Maria and husband, Brian, have begun work to create Maria’s Grill, next door to the store in the shop’s original location.

“It will not be a full service, sit-down restaurant. It will be more like a hot bar,” she said, explaining they still have an incredible amount of work to do to comply with health department regulations, which apparently includes parking concerns.

“I’m thinking, if there are no problems with the health department and plumbing and gas ... I’m predicting we will have it open in a couple of months,” she said.

The Asian market is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, find the store’s Facebook page or call (606) 388-4088.

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

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