When the hunger pangs start kicking in, I need to make a decision quickly. There’s no time for contemplation. I need a menu with slim pickings so I can make a hasty decision before my thoughts are drowned out by my belly rumbling.
It’s about to be a new year, and I want it to be one of new and interesting $10 Challenges.
I’d like to hear suggestions for new restaurants to try for the $10 Challenge. This is your chance to represent for your favorite restaurant, cuisine or part of the city.
I made a plea for Challenge recommendations at the last Let Them Tweet Cake event (next one is Jan. 26, so stop by). Since the gathering, here are some suggestions I’ve received from the lovely ladies of the Louisville blogosphere:
(Blogger’s note: This is the first in a few posts that will reflect on 2010 or look ahead at the coming year. Because who doesn’t love a few good year-end countdowns and listicles?)
Readers loved Hillbilly Tea.
The bundle of take-out menus on my freezer door reveal a year full of food – good, bad and mediocre.
The $10 Challenges have given me a great chance to rediscover my hometown. I’ve learned a lot about the city and how to eat well on a tight budget.
Judging from my blog stats, you guys seem to really enjoy it, too.
$10 Challenges are the most popular posts on this blog. And some of you have made some great suggestions of places I should visit. Please keep the tips coming.
Here are the top five most-viewed $10 Challenges of 2010:
Hillbilly Tea: This restaurant provides a gourmet take on Southern food. At first glance, the smaller portions and neat presentation can be intimidating to a casual diner. But the taste is down-home. Pair a meal with a Mason jar full of tea, and you are all set for a tasty restaurant experience.
Burger Boy: Everyone needs their favorite greasy spoon to call home. This restaurant is mine. Burger Boy is open 24 hours, and serves breakfast all day. On nice days, it’s great to grab a table outside and chat with the regulars over coffee.
Los Aztecas Mexican Restaurant: The dish I had during this particular Challenge wasn’t my favorite, but I’ve been going to Los Aztecas for years and will continue to do so for their wide selection of Mexican staples. If you’re willing to spend a couple of extra bucks, go for the quesadilla fajitas with a margarita. Thank me later.
Annie’s Pizza: This is one of my favorite overlooked restaurants in Louisville. With only three locations, it’s hard to get if you don’t live in Shively or Portland, but it’s worth a trip across town for their hot, over-stuffed sandwiches.
Moby Dick: This fish joint with locations sprinkled throughout the metro area is an old favorite from when I was a kid. Moby Dick is a reliable standby to keep on your favorite restaurant list. The food is always hot and tasty. And have fun ripping open that greasy brown bag.
One slippery walk outside of my apartment building indicated otherwise.
Louisville has been coated in ice for the last couple of days. I only went to work two days this week because neither employees nor clients could safely slide their way into Neighborhood House. I have been trapped in my apartment since Wednesday night and unable to safely get out for this week’s $10 Challenge.
I’m probably not the only person who has stayed holed up in their home until things thaw out a bit, so here are some $10 Challenge restaurants that deliver:
Ever heard the phrase, “Sex is like pizza – even when it is bad, it is still pretty good”?
I’d like to replace “pizza” with “Chinese food.”
Crowded buffets and hipster delivery guys have provided me with a steady stream of greasy, fatty, Americanized Chinese food for years. But each dish, no matter how mediocre, has satisfied my craving for something foreign enough to be exciting, yet familiar enough to be comforting.
China Inn manages to quell the need for Chinese food and go above the minimum expectations for this style of food. I’ve spent the past several hours trying to think of something witty to say about China Inn, but really, it comes down to this: China Inn is pretty darn good.
I lived in Louisville for 17 years, but there was a lot of stuff I missed.
I didn’t discover all the shops along Bardstown Road until freshman year of college. I didn’t go to the Kentucky Derby until I was assigned to cover the event for the Lexington Herald-Leader two years ago. And I drove on Frankfort Avenue for the first time in February.
But the latest $10 Challenge made me hang my head in shame.
How could I spend the most formidable years of my life in Louisville, yet miss out on the greatness that is Mark’s Feed Store?
Sure, I had heard of Mark’s Feed Store. But for the longest time, I thought the business was a livestock supply company. So color me surprised when a friend told me about the great and inexpensive barbecue on which she feasted at Mark’s Feed Store. Those context clues were enough to inform me that:
I’m two turkey sandwiches, four slices of sweet potato pie and nearly a dozen Crescent Rolls into the holiday season.
My hips are going to spread faster than the BP oil spill if I don’t change my eating habits between now and Christmas.
Most weight gain during the year occurs during the holiday quarter, and folks typically don’t lose the pounds they put on, according to an article from the Washington Post.
It’s the beginning of December, a prime time to learn from the gluttony and subsequent food hangover of Thanksgiving and make smart food choices through Christmas.
Here’s a few tips on how to stay (kind of) healthy during all the buffets, sit-down dinners and break room goodies. This advice has been gleaned from two rounds of Weight Watchers and too many years of eating myself silly at Mama Eats’ kitchen table. Bottom line: treat yourself, but don’t pig out.
Eat your veggies first. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and dive into the healthy stuff first. When I fill up on vegetables first, I have less room for the less-healthy options.
Pack snacks for work. Is it me, or does the office break room have little elves that constantly fill platters with cookies, cakes and pies during the holidays? Bring healthier snacks in your lunch bag, such as dried fruits or almonds, when you are tempted by the generosity of your co-workers.
Don’t forget to exercise – even if it’s just walking. It’s hard to get motivated when it’s cold and gray outside. But a few extra minutes of cardio each day can really make a difference. I like following a workout DVD when I get up in the morning – it gets my day started on a good note. I’m a fan of Leslie Sansone, who advocates indoor walking for exercise (it sounds kind of weird, but it’s pretty awesome).
Go easy on the sauce. Some of those holiday cocktails can be heavy on the calories. Check out the nutritional facts for eggnog. And chug some water between those hot toddies.
Bring your own dish to the holiday parties. The menu can be a mystery at holiday gatherings, but there’s some security in bringing your own healthy dish. I recommend pumpkin spice muffins.
Just say no. Daddy Eats will still love me, even if I don’t try that pecan pie he bought for charity. I’m sure your loved ones feel the same. But if Grandma’s eyes start to well when you turn down her cornbread stuffing, have a small portion instead of a heaping mound.
Each year, one lucky turkey escapes the dinner table, receives a Presidential pardon and lives a pretty cushy life in the process. The Food Network put together a fun slideshow about the process, and the Washington Post profiled the chosen bird, Courage, and his alternate, Carolina, last year.
This Thanksgiving, more folks in Louisville (and the rest of the country, from what I’ve read) need help, but donations have fallen flat, according to an article in the Courier-Journal. From the story:
“What I’ve been really amazed by is the number of people who come in and feel somewhat ashamed because they say, ‘I’ve never been in this situation before,’” said George Sanders, executive director of West Louisville Community Ministries. “They’re almost apologetic.”
I’ve never had the urge to try the abomination that is turducken (a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with … stuffing), but in case you’re interested, here’s a recipe. Somebody should stuff some Tums in there as well.
Some calls to the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line prove that there are such things as stupid questions, according to a piece from Reuters. The story lists some real questions that have been posed to the turkey experts throughout the years, including my favorite: “Is it okay to thaw my turkey in the bathtub while bathing my kids?”
Need something to talk about at the Thanksgiving table? The good people of Smithsonian.com have compiled a list of science trivia about common Thanksgiving foods.