Car Reviews

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD Review

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD | #DriveKia |

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Kia, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveKia.

Between this Sorento and the 2015 Optima SX we were able to test drive last fall, Tina and I have been surprisingly impressed. Full disclosure, there was a lot of overlap in what we enjoyed with this SUV and the sedan. So, for fear of this sounding repetitive to the last review, let’s start out with something a little different: Out of the two vehicles, I would definitely choose this Sorento over the Optima in a Zombie Apocalypse situation.


MSRP (as tested):  $46,495
MPG Estimate:  17 – 23 MPG
Engine:  3.3 L V6 GDI Engine
Power:   290 hp @  6,400 rpm | 252 ft-lbs @ 5,300 rpm
Transmission:  6-speed Sportmatic Transmission
Color:  Titanium Gray
Options:  SXL Technology Package (Xenon HID headlights, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, electronic parking brake, surround view monitor, smart advanced cruise control)

Click here for the 2016 Kia Sorento Brochure


No complaints from the comfort department. Of course, if you’re being chased by zombies you probably wouldn’t have time to realize how nice the seats feel for long stretches of driving. And you’re hands will also be too sweaty from the adrenaline that you wouldn’t need to use the heated steering wheel. However, the ventilated seats are nice for cooling your tuckus during tense situations.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD | #DriveKia |

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD | #DriveKia |

Also, the third row of seating could easily fit children, but you’d probably want to save that room for food rations, weaponry, and ammunition.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD | #DriveKia |


In terms of bells and whistles, there were two major perks that I will miss most. The first is, well, the first thing you notice when you enter the car:  The Panoramic Sunroof. It’s a cool feature that really makes the car feel open–the extra glass almost feels like a mid-century modern home (minus the pool). The roof is also big enough that a few people could–hypothetically–stand up simultaneously and wave to a passerby like a boss. Or, alternatively, one could shoot down zombies with a machine gun…like a boss.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD | #DriveKia |

Not a boss.

The second feature that stole my heart away was the surround view monitor, which provides a 360 degree aerial view of the SUV. For someone who predominantly drives smaller sedans, it definitely made me feel better about squeezing the Sorento into tight spaces. When I drive SUVs I always feel like I’m about two cementers away from hitting every car in the parking lot. Not so in this SUV. It’s also great for ensuring that no zombies are lurking in search of brains in your blind spots.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD | #DriveKia |

No zombies…this time.


For a big guy, the Sorento SXL had enough umph that I really wanted to floor it around a corner and try and flip the car.

I did not try this (nor should YOU), but the spirit lives on.

Photo Jun 08, 1 06 29 PM

For every day purposes, changing lanes and merging was no problem. Gas mileage was acceptable at about 21 MPG for our test week, which included mostly stop-and-go commuting and some short weekend road trips.

And yes, you can also use that umph and good gas milage to efficiently run over zombies.

Dog Friendliness

The biggest surprise was not the SUV itself, but rather the fact that we were able to coax Cooper into the back. He hates SUVs and doesn’t trust automatic lift gates. But, with enough treats, we got him to sit in the back for a short ride.

The pictures don’t show it, but he is terrified.

Anyway, if your dog is not a coward, he or she would love all the room in the back. Coop’s a big guy and he was able stand up without any issues (aside from mental issues). It’s also good practice, we’d hate to leave him behind during the Zombie Apocalypse…although it might be cool to have a zombie dog for a pet.

Food Friendliness

Not worried about the Zombie Apocalypse? Fine, let’s say you want to escape from becoming an office zombie at work. Go grab some Popeyes and take the Sorento out to tailgate at a park for lunch.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD | #DriveKia |

Who Should Buy This Car

Although a very versatile vehicle in a Zombie Apocalypse, the Kia Sorento is a fine choice for a normal suburban life as well. It all comes down to the fact that it’s an affordable SUV with luxury car amenities and a solid warranty. We now understand why there are so many Kia Sorentos in our neighborhood.


Disclaimer:  As noted above, we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Kia. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. As always, all opinions remain our own.

Imitation Creation, Recipes

Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

There are only two times in my life where I’ve felt so gluttonously full that I thought my digestive system was near shutting down. The first involved consuming two Chipotle burritos in under an hour. If anyone ever asks, it is 100% possible to get drunk off burritos.

The second involved the first trip to San Francisco that Tina and I ever took. I need to point out that this second occurrence was not a result of being full from one meal. Nope. Rather it was a slow build throughout the day starting with breakfast and ending with a regret-filled dinner. My fingers ache just thinking about having to type it all out…

  • Bacon, egg and cheese croissant
  • Mango smoothie
  • Porchetta sandwich
  • Pizza w/ yukon gold potatoes, parmesan cheese, and bacon,
  • Spicy Korean chicken tacos w/ pineapple
  • Fried chicken
  • Cheeseburger w/ white cheddar, bacon, and a fried egg
  • Herb fries
  • Bacon-wrapped dates
  • Curry deviled eggs
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Chocolate cream pie
  • Grapefruit sorbet
  • Raspberry cream soda

That day involved a lot of snacking, a couple of lunches, and a dinner with unnecessary appetizers. We struggled to walk out of the restaurant after dinner and collapsed once we got back to our hotel. We were able to try a lot of food in a short period of time, at the expense of what could have been our final day on this earth. We, of course, survived our first-world problem of consuming too much food and lived to tell about it.

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

One might think that gorging to that extent would link those foods to the pain and thus create negative connotations to the individual foods that we ate. One might think that consuming easily thrice our recommended daily caloric intake would kill any future cravings of those infamous foods. One might. But one might be wrong.

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

It’s hard to have a bad meal in San Francisco (or any part of California), so we had like seven great meals that day. And each part brings back fond memories, but there was one item in particular that we could not stop thinking about:  Yukon Gold Potato Pizza.

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

The pizza came from a small stand at a farmer’s market right outside of the Ferry Building. I honestly don’t remember the name of the company, I just remember there being orange somewhere in the logo. But they had a portable pizza oven, which created an alluring smell of fresh crust and melty cheese. The menu had a few standard options, but one clearly stood out:  Yukon gold potatoes, Parmesan, rosemary, and bacon.

Putting potatoes on pizza isn’t some grand creation, but it was new to us. When we returned home we tried to find an equivalent, but failed and gave up the search pretty quickly (partially not wanting to tarnish the memory with a mediocre east coast version).

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

After a couple years, we finally realized that we could just make the pizza ourselves. So, after years of our tastebuds lamenting the loss of this potato-topped pizza, we took destiny into our own hands.

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

“Pizza ready, yet?”

You could certainly make this in the oven on a pizza stone–it’s definitely easier–but there’s something awesomely primitive about cooking a pizza over an open fire.

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza


Pizza Dough – Makes 2 14″ inch crusts

  • 3 1/2 – 4 Cups Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water 110 degrees
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Packet Active Yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, plus 2 teaspoons
  1. Combine the water, honey, salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and active yeast in a bowl, preferably one with a spout for easy pouring later. Leave this to proof for approximately 2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place 3 1/2 cups of bread flour in a mixer fitted with the hook attachment.
  3. Once the yeast has fully dissolved into the liquid solution (it should float to the top, creating a spongy top layer), turn the mixer on low and pour the mixture in.
  4. Allow the dough to mix on medium-low speed until it pulls aways from the sides and rolls into a ball. If the dough doesn’t pull away from the sides, add more bread flour by the tablespoon until you have the proper consistency.
  5. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly into a ball. Place in a large oiled bowl (remaining 2 teaspoons), cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until double in size. Approximately one hour.
  6. Once the dough has risen, split into two equal portions, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for ten more minutes.

Pizza Toppings

  • 3 – 4 oz Shredded Fontina Cheese
  • 1 Cup Thinly Sliced Yellow Potatoes
  • Rosemary Garlic Oil (ingredients below, recipe to follow)
    • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary
    • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
    • 4 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
  • Sea Salt & Dried Rosemary, to taste
  • Optional:  Bacon (we made ours vegetarian-friendly, but you don’t have to)


  1.  Make the pizza dough per the instructions above, or buy a pre-made dough from your favorite grocery store.
  2. While the dough is rising, make the Rosemary Garlic Oil:  Cook the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, red pepper flakes and sliced garlic on medium-low heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until the garlic just starts to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Get your charcoal grill ready. We have a 22-inch Weber kettle grill we use with this chimney starterfire starter cubes, and Kingsford charcoal.
  4. Here’s where a pizza peel might come in handy. If you don’t have one, a cutting board or flat baking sheet should work well, covered with enough cornmeal that the pizza dough slides of easily. Spread out your dough (toss it if you dare) into the shape of your pizza. Brush with the olive oil, cover lightly with cheese, and add the sliced potatoes making sure none of them overlap. Finish by brushing the potatoes with more oil and topping with rosemary and sea salt.
  5.  Slide the pizza directly onto the hot grill and cover for about five minutes. Since all grills are different, you might need to baby sit your pizza. If the heat is uneven, rotate once throughout to even out the charring.
  6. Once the bottom crust has some nice dark color, remove from the grill, and broil on high in the oven for about three minutes.
  7. Slice and eat immediately!

Get in my Mouf | Grilled Rosemary Potato Pizza

Events, Travel

Events DC Presents: Embassy Chef Challenge

Events DC - Embassy Chef Challenge

Photo Credit:  Don Tanguilig

What:  Embassy Chef Challenge
:  May 25, 2016 | 6:30 PM
Where: Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
Cost:  $65
More Info:

Want to take a culinary tour around the world, but don’t quite have the million frequent flyer miles that it would take to get you there? Luckily, Events DC has partnered with Cultural Tourism DC (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization) to satisfy your mouth’s craving for world domination.

In its eighth year, Embassy Chef Challenge features 19 global culinary representatives from South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe, along with a solid showing from the Caribbean nations. Chefs compete for not only the Judge’s Prize (awarded by local chefs and food writers), but also the coveted People’s Choice Award based on attendee votes.

Events DC - Embassy Chef Challenge | | Photo Credit: Don Tanguilig

Photo Credit: Don Tanguilig

Here’s an amusebouche (in list form) of what you might taste at the event:

  • Filipino Bringhe  (savory seafood paella made with sticky rice and coconut milk)
  • Rum-Infused “Painkiller” Cocktail from the British Virgin Islands
  • Guatemalan Gazpacho del Enchilada
  • Bacon-Wrapped Duck Pâté from the Czech Republic
  • Uzbek Plov (hearty lamb and rice pilaf)
  • Ghanaian Black-Eyed Pea and Shrimp Fritters.
  • Arabic Coffee from Qatar

As you taste the world, you’ll also be surrounded by a vibrant atmosphere with live music and plenty of dancing. It’s sure to be a fun–and delicious–celebration of diversity and global cultures!

And seriously, it’s not like you have anything better to do on a Wednesday night, right?

Events DC - Embassy Chef Challenge | | Photo Credit: Don Tanguilig

Photo Credit: Don Tanguilig

Reviews, Travel

Eat + Hike + Sleep: Monterey County, California

Big Sur |

Since the strong majority of our vacations primarily involve eating, hiking, and sleeping, it only makes sense to start an ongoing series aptly named Eat + Hike + Sleep. Yeah, you wish you could come up with a title as original as that. Didn’t even need a thesaurus.

The first location up for this series:  Monterey County, California. With all the times we’ve landed at SFO, we always ended up traveling north. There is tons of awesomeness up north like, duh…San Francisco, but also other cool places like Mill Valley, Sonoma, and Napa. I’ve never been, but I’ve also heard that Berkeley is a cool town to check out too. And if we’re talking further north, I enjoyed my time in Sacramento and its surrounding wine country.

Wanting to mix things up on our recent trip out west, we figured it was time to head south and check out what Monterey County had to offer. Specifically, we stayed in Carmel Valley and spent some time in Big Sur cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway.


Good to Go (Carmel-By-The-Sea)

Good to Go - Carmel-By-The-Sea |

Located in the Crossroads Carmel shopping center, this juice and smoothie joint was a convenient stop in between Carmel Valley and Big Sur. Also, with most of our other meals clocking in with a a maxed out indulgence level, grabbing some smoothies from Good to Go was a perfect way to start a day of hiking.

Café Rustica  (Carmel Valley Village)   Cafe Rustica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Rustica - Carmel Valley Village | | #foodstories

Cafe Rustica - Carmel Valley Village | | #foodstories

Herb-Roasted Half Chicken | crispy artichokes, au gratin potatoes, ratatouille, and kalamata olives

Café Rustica is such a cozy place. I felt like a foreign exchange student having dinner in a European family’s house. That kind of cozy. The portions were generous and my Herb-Roasted Half Chicken dish had like fifteen different sides (er, well four).  I was afraid they might be fattening us up for tomorrow’s special. And also, two words: Crispy artichokes.

Corkscrew Cafe (Carmel Valley Village)   Corkscrew Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Corkscrew Cafe - Carmel Valley Village | | #foodstories

Wild Mushroom Gnocchi | parsnips, arugula, pistachio, Brussels sprouts, chive lemon brown butter, & frisee

Corkscrew Cafe - Carmel Valley Village | | #foodstories

Roasted Tomato Pizza | mozzarella, basil, olive oil, goat cheese, roasted garlic, olives, tomato sauce

A sign of a good restaurant is one that you visit twice during a vacation. We did just that with Corkscrew Cafe. First of all, they have a bread basket on the menu. At first I was appalled that bread wasn’t free and was ready to fight someone. But the more we thought about it, we realized that if a restaurant is going to put bread on the menu, then it better be the best bread in town. After talking with the server, we found out that “Jason’s Bread” (as it is listed on the menu) is indeed made by Jason, whose sole responsibility at the restaurant is to make bread. He also confirmed that it was magical. So we got the bread and not only was the bread as brilliant as advertised, but the whole freaking meal was just perfect. The Wild Mushroom Gnocchi might have been the most memorable dish of the trip and the chili & honey braised Short Ribs just melted on the plate. I sent the knife back, because there was no need for it. It was so good and we returned the next night. Too bad they were out of bread, but I don’t want to talk about it…  Luckily the Roasted Tomato Pizza and Kale Salad did not disappoint.

Valley Kitchen (Carmel Valley)   Valley Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Valley Kitchen - Carmel Valley |

Located in the Carmel Valley Ranch, Valley Kitchen ended up being a perfect way to end the trip with a final dinner in Carmel Valley. The Honey and Goat Cheese Salad as well as the Asparagus and Wild Arugla Salad were fresh and filling. It was also fun playing a game of russian roulette with the cast iron pan fried shishito peppers. Somehow I ended up with all the hot ones. The real star was not the food, but our server (who’s name we forgot to write down)–He was knowledgable about the local wines in an unpretentious way and even allowed us to sample some of the ranch’s own Swing Pinot Noir. His friendliness also allowed us to find out a little bit more about the area and the ranch. The meal and service made it even harder to leave the next day, but I have a feeling we’ll be back soon.


Point Lobos State Reserve (Carmel-By-The-Sea)

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve - Carmel-By-The-Sea, California |

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

With a lot hikes, you have to really earn the good views through steep climbs, spider-webs, and losing at least one boot to a mud puddle. But, at Point Lobos, within about five minutes of walking, we were met with landscapes that I wish we could bring back with us to the east coast. The trails are all fairly easy and your reward for what seems like no work at all, is an abundance of blue coves, towering trees, and magnificent cliffs. And as an added bonus, we’re pretty sure we saw a seal give birth. Check off “birthing seal” from the bucket list. A word of warning, parking is limited, so unless you want to park on the street and hike to your hike, arrive as early as you can.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (Big Sur)

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - Big Sur, California |

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - Big Sur, California |

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – Big Sur, California

As easy and GORGEOUS (yelled with a British accent) as Point Lobos was, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park’s .64-mile McWay Waterfall Trail leads to a blue cove and a flowing waterfall that lands directly onto the beach itself. For a longer, more challenging hike, you can head inland on the 4.5-mile Ewoldsen Trail where you follow a stream along somewhat visible paths. You can park for free fairly easily along Route 1 near the park entrance, but why wouldn’t you want to support the park system? It’s only ten bucks…

17-mile Drive (Pebble Beach)

The Lone Cypress - 17-MIle Drive - Pebble Beach, California

The Lone Cypress – 17-Mile Drive – Pebble Beach, California |

2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

Checking out a beach along 17-Mile Drive with our fun buddy, the 2016 Mazda CX-3.

This is less of a hike and more of a “drive and stop to walk around,” destination, but 17-Mile Drive is still a fun way to kill an afternoon. It’s a surreal contrast between nature, tourists, and a golf course community where the average home price is in the double-digit millions.


Carmel Valley Ranch (Carmel Valley)

Carmel Valley Ranch | Vinyard Oak Studio |

The view from our Vineyard Oak Studio balcony at Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch | Carmel Valley, CA

Making good use of the double-sided fireplace

We had originally planned on spending our last night in San Francisco before we flew back, but we just didn’t want to leave Carmel Valley Ranch. From the indoor/outdoor fireplaces and outdoor soaking tub on our deck, to sweeping views and live turkeys, pregnant deer, and ranch-made honey, this place was almost as magical as Disney World–except Carmel Valley Ranch has heated bathroom floors. And that doesn’t even touch on the massive list of activities that the resort has to offer which include hiking trails, tennis courts, golf, food demos, horseback riding, and even a chance to collect honey from their onsite bee hives. You could literally stay here for a week and never leave. Yeah, it was totally worth it to wake up at 5 AM to drive two hours to SFO to catch our flight, just so we’d have one more evening here.

Obviously these are only a few of the hikes, eats, and sleeps that can be found in the area. Drop us a comment for your favorite places or suggestions for where we should head next time. There WILL be a next time.


Thanks to DriveShop and Mazda, we had a 2016 Mazda CX-3 to play with for a about 500 miles (check out our car review here). Its nimble handling made it a blast to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway.

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |


Disclaimer:  We were not provided any free food, lodging, or park entrances for this post. We liked all these goods and services and would gladly pay for more of ’em again.

Car Reviews

2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD Review

2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Mazda, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

You know all those car commercials, where the car speeds up and down winding roads on the edges of cliffs? I got to do that in Northern California with this car and it was awesome…

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

Bixby Bridge – Big Sur


MSRP (as tested):  $32,340
MPG Estimate: 27 city – 32 highway
Engine:  2.0L Skyactiv-G, 4 cylinder
Power:  146 hp | 146 lb-ft torque
Transmission:   6-Speed Automatic
Color:  Soul Red Metallic
Options:  Navigation, Sirius Satellite Radio, Grand Touring I-Activesense Package (Radar Cruise Control, Smart City Brake Support, Smart Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning, Auto-On/Off Headlights, High Beam Control, Variable Rain-Sensing Wipers)

For more info, click here to view the 2016 CX-3 Brochure.


Like my last post on the CX-5, the amenities in this mini “SUV” are essentially the same. We exclusively used the navigation system to get us around Northern California, from  SFO down as far as Big Sur, and we didn’t get lost. The voice command function works fine, although I wish I could navigate to an address all in one sentence, rather than having to say “Navigate to Address” and then wait for the prompt to ask me for the address. A small complaint that maybe only saves 30 seconds, but worth noting ’cause that’s 30 less seconds I have to wait to start driving (which is REALLY fun).

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

Your ears are taken care of by a Bose sound system. You can never go wrong with Bose, so in my opinion, jumping up to the Grand Touring trim is absolutely worth it.


Given the size of the CX-3 and our experience with its older brother, we expected the ride to be a little rough. Fortunately, cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway was smoother than fresh churned butter from a grass fed cow. I could have easily taken a nap if I didn’t have so much adrenaline pumping through my veins from tearing up the twists and turns of Highway 1 (but, we’ll get to performance in a second). We also found the seats comfortable, hugging us better than my old Mazda 3, with the suede sections helpful for keeping us from sliding around–an issue that is all too common with leather seating.

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

Since we were on vacation, we got to test the hauling capacity and it was a perfect fit for what we had: 1 large suitcase and 1 carry-on fit snugly in the hatchback. The back seat was definitely tight and not something a full-size adult or large dog would enjoy for extended periods of time. But, seriously, if you’re getting one of these, it ain’t for the size.


Honestly, all that other stuff (amenities, comfort, sound) matters about zero percent once you get behind the wheel. Three words: Handling. Handling. Handling. If I could get a job driving up and down the Pacific Coast Highway along Big Sur, I would gladly take it if it included this Mazda CX-3. If you don’t know or quite understand the term “road feel” then go test drive one of these immediately.

For Mazda, driving really does matter. What’s remarkable about the CX-3 (er, most Mazdas, really) is that they achieve a fun driving experience without cheating with a turbocharger or a gas-guzzling V6. I mean, sure, I wouldn’t complain about a turbocharged Mazda CX-3 with a stick shift…(seriously, just MazdaSpeed the whole line up). When you drive almost every other competing car in the segment, none of them entice you to drive as much as this little guy.

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

17-Mile Drive – Pebble Beach

Gas mileage was also great and near the top of its class–we averaged 30.1 MPG during our nearly 500-mile trip up and down the coast. It was mostly highway, but there were some smaller trips around Carmel Valley and Carmel-By-The-Sea.

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Who Should Buy This Car

This car might be a good match for you if your top priorities include i) being fun to drive, ii) getting decent gas milage, and iii) being comfortable. You probably don’t care too much about space, but covet a hatchback. The addition of AWD and slightly taller stance also benefits those who might need to deal with snow and/or some light dirt road duty.

2013 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD |

Disclaimer: As noted above we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Mazda. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions remain our own. 

Reviews, Travel

The Butcher and Barkeep – Harleysville, PA

The Butcher and Barkeep |

The Butcher and Barkeep is the type of establishment every town needs.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a small town, a big city, or even suburbia. There’s not a community on the planet that wouldn’t support a place like this.  A place that takes their beer as seriously as their cocktails and their cocktails as seriously as their food. The menu is thoughtful and interesting, yet the portions are generous for a reasonable price. The cocktail menu makes the joint sound fancy, but it’s plenty casual. You could come here to celebrate a promotion, or stop by for a beer after a rough day at work. It’s hard to peg The Butcher and Barkeep to a specific identity, because it has broad appeal, yet when you visit, you realize they’re doing something so specifically enjoyable that it’s as if they created the atmosphere just for you.

Shrimp & Grits | The Butcher and Barkeep |

Shrimp & Grits | cheesy grits, Carolina shrimp, andouille-bell pepper cream

In a time where many restaurants and bars are turning towards a specialized focus, it’s nice to have a place with the culinary cahonas to try to do everything well.

So, what’s the secret?

Food-wise there are no gimmicks. They have southern staples like Shrimp & Grits and Gumbo; albeit with their own interpretation. I suppose the Sexy Fries might sound like a gimmick, but you won’t give a damn. They’re so satisfying because they combining a bunch of comforting flavors, you can eat them by hand, and they go great with a brew. And drizzle truffle oil and Hollandaise on anything and it’s going to be sexy, but that ain’t no secret.

Sexy Fries | The Butcher and Barkeep |

Sexy Fries | hand cut fries, fresh herbs, parmesan, hollandaise, truffle oil

Having a huge beer selection definitely helps. And by huge, I mean they’re basically a restaurant attached to a bottle shop and draft house. Ask the bartender for a recommendation and you’ll realize he knows the ins and outs of everything they serve. Had a bad day slogging through 9-to-5? Try a Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager. Grabbing a brew after hitting the golf course with a buddy? Hardywood’s The Great Return IPA. Killing time while the wife works and you’re partial to the art of stout? Yards Love Stout. That’s all well and good, but being an excellent brewhouse is hardly some magic secret to success.

If a restaurant excels in food and is also well versed in its selection of craft beer, there’s no way they’d be able to present a cocktail program that lives up to the already high expectations, right? Wrong. House-infused liquors and homemade syrups fuel libations such as the Matcha Maker (matcha tea infused vodka, elder flower liquor, lemon, anise syrup), Country Pie Old Fashioned (brown butter infused bourbon, luxardo, honey liquor, angostura) and the Winter Mule (black pepper infused vodka, lime, ginger beer, winter spice syrup, nutmeg). The cocktails are complex–not complicated–and so precisely balanced that you can only assume they were designed in a laboratory.

Matcha Maker | The Butcher and Barkeep |

Matcha Maker | matcha tea infused vodka, elder flower liquor, lemon, anise syrup

If the secret isn’t the food, or brews, or cocktails, then it’s easy to say that the secret has to be the people. Attentive servers and knowledgeable bartenders can only be the result of a trickling down of great leadership from the owners Gerard Angelini, Cody Ferdinand, and Jeffrey Sacco. 

The simple truth is that there is no one singular reason and that The Butcher and Barkeep is far greater than the sum of its parts, where the sum equates to a place where you want to go to simply be happy. When was the last time you had a meal that made you truly happy? Content without feeling trendy. Comfortable, despite being surrounded by strangers. Satisfied, without feeling like a glutton.

If you’re ever in Harleysville, PA–which is a suburb of Philadelphia–make the effort to stop by The Butcher and Barkeep for a great meal, cold drinks, and an unlimited supply of happiness.

The Butcher and Barkeep
712 Main St, Harleysville, PA 19438
Butcher and Barkeep Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

11 Questions, Series

11 Questions with Mark Overbay of Big Spoon Roasters

Mark Overbay - Big Spoon Roasters |

To say that Big Spoon Roasters‘ nut butter is better than the smooth or chunky peanut butters found on the shelf of most super markets is not only an understatement in flavor, but an epic understatement in inspiration.

Our first encounter with the small-batch nut butters was simply seeing a jar of Chai Spice on the shelf of one of our favorite local shops, Red Truck Bakery. And, yes, that Chai Spice jar was quickly devoured because it was nothing like any of the other peanut butters I had ever had, but it wasn’t until I started learning a bit about the company that it became clear why it was so good.

It’s easy to claim to practice ethical standards for food sourcing. It’s easy to boast about how valuable employees are. It’s easy to slap a label on your product that lists every popular industry catch phrase. But the company’s founder, Mark Overbay, practices what he preaches. From sourcing quality, sustainable ingredients, to paying employees fair wages and treating them with respect, Mark’s obsession with doing what is right is reflected in each jar of Big Spoon Roasters nut butter (I highly recommend checking out this Bon Appétit article for the full story on how Big Spoon Roasters came to be).

Mark Overbay - Big Spoon Roasters |

Photo courtesy of Mark Overbay – Big Spoon Roasters

We’re quickly working our way through Big Spoon Roasters’ flavors with a pace of about a jar per week, but so far the Chai Spice has been wonderfully addicting. The Peanut Cocoa is also a great afternoon snack and I’ve heard good things about the Espresso. My personal preferences include eating it with tart Granny Smith apples, atop vanilla ice cream, and–more often than not–by the spoonful straight outta the jar. My only piece of constructive criticism would be a shallower container, so that I could lick the bottom.

Mark Overbay - Big Spoon Roasters |

Photo courtesy of Mark Overbay – Big Spoon Roasters

We’re really excited to share this month’s 11 Questions with Mark Overbay, because just like his jars of nut butter, the answers are filled with delicious inspiration.

1. Big Spoon was inspired by the fresh peanut butter you enjoyed in Zimbabwe while serving as a volunteer for the Peace Corps. Are there any other products or flavors that you’ve experienced during other trips around the world that you would like to bring to back home with you?

Definitely! Food is a thread that connects all people, and experiencing other food cultures is one of the best things about traveling. You don’t necessarily have to travel around the world to experience other food cultures, though. Ask anyone in the American South for a cornbread recipe and you’re likely to get a different answer from each person. I’ve been lucky enough to do a bit of international travel, though, and food highlights include grilled beef with perfect avocados and chunky salt in Chile; tender smoked octopus and Basque wine on the Mediterranean coast of Spain; venison stew thick with carrots and parsnips in St. Andrews, Scotland; falafel in Paris; and the pizzas of Bologna, Rome, and Naples.

2.  Do you have a target number of new products that you try to launch each year, or do you release new flavors as you discover them?

We do not set targets for the number of new recipes we’d like to release per year. I do not judge those who do set such targets, but our new recipes are driven more by inspiration than dates on a calendar. That said, I have dozens of nut butter and bar recipes in the hopper, so to speak, and we usually end up introducing at least one new nut butter per year. In fact, I’m working on a new recipe now that we hope to roll out this spring. We also occasionally make one-off, super small-batch, seasonal nut butters for special events in our region. Examples include Pecan Sorghum Butter, Almond Walnut Butter, Peanut Pepita Butter, and Vanilla Cashew Brazil Nut Butter.

3.  What’s the most unconventional way that you’ve seen people use your nut butter? (Either in a dish, or even a non-food use).

A lot of folks have used our nut butters to make sauces–sweet, savory, and spicy. For instance, our Peanut and Peanut Cashew Butters are excellent bases for a Southeast Asian style dipping sauce like this one. The most unconventional use I can recall is when someone wrote in that they were using our Chai Spice nut butter as the base for carrot cake frosting, instead of cream cheese. Sounds good to me!

4.  You’re based in Durham, NC; what restaurant is one of your go-to lunch spots and what do you order?

For so many reasons, starting with the number and quality of local farms, the food community in this part of NC is AMAZING! I don’t eat out for lunch often, but when I do, my go-to Durham list includes Toast, Pizzeria Toro, Scratch, Rose’s, Dos Perros, and, if near Chapel Hill, The Pig and Neal’s Deli.

5.  Durham is turning out to be quite a strong community for food, ethical food production, and innovation. Are there any other lesser-known food cities/communities that you’ve discovered since forming Big Spoon?

Gosh, I feel like with social media taking over the world, it’s difficult for any community producing quality products to be “lesser known” any more (that’s not necessarily a bad thing), but there are some somewhat unheralded gems out there. This was long before starting Big Spoon Roasters, but I used live on Bainbridge Island, WA, and the communities on and around the Olympic Peninsula have wonderful pubs, cafes, and farmers’ markets that remind me of Scotland and Wales. Tiny Hillsborough, NC, has one of the best restaurants in the Southeast in Panciuto.

6.  Have any of Big Spoon’s nut butter flavors been more popular than expected?

Honestly, all of our recipes have exceeded any expectations I’ve had in terms of popularity (knock on wood). You make something that you think is delicious and hope that others will, too. We do quite a bit of palate training and development here among our small staff of employees, so are all pretty well calibrated, but you never know how the public at large will react to something you make.

7.  The blog portion of your website is full of stories, anecdotes, and quotes relating to inspiration and positive energy. Did you ever hit a point early on in the process of starting (or shortly after starting) Big Spoon that made you question whether or not the business would work out?  If so, what inspired you to keep going?

Thanks for noticing that! We just launched the blog in October 2015 because I felt like we needed another form of communication that could articulate more of who we are and what we do beyond typical website “about us” content, social media, and our physical packaging. Sure, there have been doubts and inner debates about the livelihood of the business, but I’ve always believed that the business would survive if we kept our primary focus on the quality and integrity of our work, i.e. our recipes and products.

8.  What is one quote or mantra that you consistently tell your employees to keep them motivated?

Thankfully, we don’t need a mantra or quote to keep members of our team motivated. It’s an old adage, but employees truly are our most valuable assets, and I believe in treating employees in ways that make that evident to them. In other words, employees should know that they matter, that their work matters, and that one of our goals as a business is to provide them with a living wage and the resources they need to lead an inspired, fulfilled life. The closest thing we have to a mantra might be, “how we do anything is how we do everything,” which to us means that we strive to be present in every moment, to devote our full attention to creating quality, and that no detail in our process–from measuring salt to taping up a box–is too small to ignore.

9.  Clearly you work incredibly hard to achieve nut butter perfection; if you have an entire day off–let’s say you’re not allowed to work–what do you do to relax and unwind?

I love spending time with my wife, Megan, and our Vizsla, Rioja, more than anything. When I’m with them hiking in the woods, playing on the beach, or simply relaxing on the couch at home, the rest of the world disappears.

10.  I know quality sourcing is important to your business; are there any other nut varieties that you would love to incorporate into a nut butter, but haven’t been able to find the quantity or quality required to meet your standards?

Sourcing is incredibly important to us. I tried more than 20 types of almonds before settling on the heirloom Mission variety, which we exclusively use in our nut butters and bars. I’ve actually experimented with every type of nut that I know in test recipes, and even though I don’t work with many of them, I’ve researched farm-direct sourcing for walnuts and hazelnuts. Walnuts are toxic to dogs, so I’m not keen on introducing them into our nut mills for fear of cross contamination, and while I often like the crunch and aroma of hazelnuts, they are probably my least favorite nut in terms of flavor (I find them astringent).

11.  If you could teach any one person (living or passed) how to make nut butter; who would it be and why?

My great-grandfather, Woodrow Wilson Williams–who passed away just before my high school graduation–absolutely loved peanut butter, and he often told the story of the first time he tasted it, sold from a country store in rural Appalachia in the 1930s. He was a natural in the kitchen and it’s ironic to me that he could make so many even more laborious foods from scratch, and yet, like so many of us, he just accepted that peanut butter came in a jar from the local grocery store. If he knew how to make his peanut butter, his version would have been amazing, I know.

Thanks to Mark for the insightful and inspirational look into his passion-filled business of quality nut butters. Now go out and get your own jar!

Big Spoon Roasters
Durham, NC
Buy jars and bars online or find a retailer here.
Instagram:  @bigspoonroasters
Twitter:  @bigspooners

11 Questions, Series, Travel

11 Questions with Trang Hammond of Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

Trang Hammond - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Whenever it gets cold here on the east coast, we quickly begin to dream of all the warm, sunny fun we’ve had on the west coast. Specifically, San Diego. And it might seem counter-intuitive, but one of the foods we begin to crave the most during the winter is ice cream. But, not just any ice cream. Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream.

Thanks to my buddy, Mike from The Flying Peanut, we were introduced to Hammond’s a few years ago at their first location in North Park. They serve the Hawaiian-made Tropical Dreams ice cream and the flavors range from classics (Butter Pecan and Cookies & Cream) to more unique tastes like Peanut Butter Guava Jelly, White Chocolate Ginger, and Azuki Bean. With a ton of interesting flavors to try, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of their ice cream flights, where you’ll have a chance to try out up to 32 (yes, thirty-two) flavors at once. You don’t believe it’s thirty-two? Fine, check out this proof on Instagram:

You’re booking a ticket to San Diego now, aren’t you? Our personal favorite ice cream flavors include Lychee, Brown Sugar, Toasted Coconut, and Chocolate Orange. Only 28 more flavors to go!

Hammond’s recently opened up a second location in Pacific Beach, so for any one who doesn’t like to travel too far inland, you now have a solid super premium ice cream option near the beach. And a third location is in the works in Point Loma, too!

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

One of the owners, Trang Hammond, was kind enough to take time out from building an ice cream empire to answer 11 questions about ice cream, Hawaii, San Diego, and all the fun stuff that goes into running your own shop.

1.  Hammond’s serves a ton of unique flavors; are there any that have turned out to be more popular than you expected?

Every flavor is unique and has its own fan base, so to speak. I guess the Vanilla Rose, a new flavor we just debuted, is going pretty fast and is really popular. And of course our Ginger Cream, which I think is absolutely amazing–but I was worried it could be too strong–has been such a fan favorite as well since it perfectly captures the ginger taste while maintaining a creamy base.

2.  Your North Park location is a natural extension, since you and the other owners were already North Park residents – Why choose Pacific Beach for your second shop?

The first time my husband moved to San Diego from Georgia, he moved to Pacific Beach (like any twenty-something male would, I guess). But he lived there for many years and naturally I hung out there with him a lot, so we really got to know the community. We like the area and the community and we just wanted to provide it with a gourmet ice cream scoop shop.

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

3.  My first experience at Hammond’s included an ice cream flight (as everyone’s first visit should), which allowed me an opportunity to sample six different flavors. Were the ice cream flights always part of the original plan when you all decided to open up the shop, or was it a happy accident that was realized along the way ?

The ice cream flight was a happy accident. We offer so many different flavors that my husband, Ryan, actually thought it would be a great idea to be able to try a lot in individual, smaller portions just like a beer flight. And so, I did the research on cone sizes, and flight holders and the Hammond’s Flight was born.

4.  If you could go back in time and give yourself and the other owners one piece of advice about opening up Hammond’s first location, what would it be?

It gets easier. Especially the first location–we opened up right in the middle of summer. None of us ever owned a business before, so we thought we were ready, but we definitely had some growing pains. The community was so warm and welcoming and forgiving that it was crazy, but fun. The first few months before and after opening up is always going to be intense, so looking back, I would tell all of us that it gets easier.

5.  What were some of the challenges that you faced when opening up the second location in Pacific Beach? Was it any easier than opening the first store?

The only challenge I would say with the second store, as opposed to the first store, is that because I knew so much more, there was more to do. With the first store, I was still doing start-up things after the Grand Opening, because I was still learning about everything it took to open an ice cream shop. With the second store (and soon third) I started out knowing everything I needed to do and to have, so the list of things to do, make, and buy was enormous.

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

6.  You’ve mentioned in other interviews that Hammond’s is inspired by you and your husband’s vacations to Hawaii in which you discovered this super rich, unique ice cream that you couldn’t find anywhere in San Diego. Are there any other Hawaiian foods that you wish you could find on the mainland?

Yes, pretty much any poke sandwich, nacho wrap, burger, salad, or appetizer I ever ate in Hawaii I wish we had here in the mainland. As for desserts, I just love the Hershey’s Macadamia Nut Kisses you can only get in Hawaii.

7.  Do you have any go-to restaurants that you always visit when you’re in Hawaii?

Our favorite island is Kauai. We loved going to a sports bar called Backyards for their Ahi Poke Nachos. The Shrimp Station is always a must for us as well. We liked the low key ambiance on vacation. My best memories involve getting a poke burger at a little shack and heading over to the beach with Ryan and just enjoying the moment.

8.  What are some of your favorite North Park restaurants and bars that you frequent? 

North Park is full of amazing restaurants and bars. For bars we really like WayPoint Public, because it has great food and a nice little play area where we can watch our toddler play safely while we enjoy our meal. When I was in college, (many years ago) I studied and hung out at Claire de Lune Coffee Shop all the time. They have great pastries, teas and coffees. There is a new restaurant that just opened called Encontro, which I have been dying to try, but haven’t had the chance. They actually make amazing shakes using our ice cream! And we like going to Lefty’s Pizza for a solid slice of pizza with no fuss. While we’re talking about pizza, our North Park neighbor, Urbn Pizza has really good pizzas as well. And they actually created a drink using our waffle cones. Lastly, when we have friends in town, we like taking them to Urban Solace, it’s got great food and a very nice ambiance. And then after dinner I like going to Hammond’s for ice cream, haha. I can go on and on about North Park, but I think this should suffice 🙂

9.  For people visiting San Diego, what is one attraction (touristy or non-touristy) that they absolutely must check out?

Well, Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream, of course! The tidepools in Cabrillo are always refreshing to hang out around. I grew up loving tidepools, so this is a must do for me. There are many many nice hiking trails in San Diego as well. Really, everyone should check out the diversity and charisma of all the neighborhoods in San Diego: North Park, Hillcrest, Little Italy, Gaslamp, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Golden Hills, etc. Each area is unique in its own way offering different cuisines and experiences and I think this would be the best way for someone to truly experience San Diego.

10.  What’s your personal preference for holding ice cream: cup, cake cone, or waffle cone?

It depends on the flavor. For example, I love the fruity flavors in a cup, the chocolaty flavors on a Waffle Cone and some of the classic ones like Butter Pecan or Tahitian Vanilla on a cake cone. When I am eating ice cream with someone else, I pretty much always get a waffle flight to share.

11.  Let’s say the President of the United States of America visits your store and wants a six-flavor ice cream flight, but he wants you to choose the flavors. Which six do you serve him?

Oh man, your questions really get into the heart of things! Tahitian Vanilla (something ordinary, easy to please everyone, yet satisfying), Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut (it really brings out the Hawaiian flavors and President Obama IS from Hawaii), Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreos (a total guy’s flavor, and really really delicious), Blueberry Cheesecake (Fruity, yet still savory with chunks of cheesecake), Birthday Cake (because his job is so stressful, ice cream with tons of yellow cake, frosting and sprinkles might help lighten the load), and POG (Pineapple-Orange-Guava) Sorbet (everyone needs to try our sorbets–they are dairy free, but bursting with all natural fruit flavors). I think the President would like this, as it would bring him back to his days in Hawaii.

Huge thanks to Trang for chatting with us! If you’re in San Diego, definitely stop by Hammond’s for an ice cream cone…or thirty-two.

Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream
North Park:  3077 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
Pacific Beach:  1418 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Point Loma:  Coming Soon!
Twitter: @HammondsGIC
Instagram:  @HammondsIceCream

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

11 Questions, Travel

11 Questions with The Dining Traveler

Jessica van Dop Dejesus - The Dining Traveler

Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop Dejesus

If you’re a food and/or travel blogger in the Washington, DC area, you probably already know Jessica van Dop Dejesus aka The Dining Traveler. If you don’t, well you’re missing out on a generous blogger and local influencer who pays-it-forward more than any person we’ve ever met. Seriously, almost every cool trip, blogger-friendship, and restaurant relationship that we’ve established over the last year can in some way be traced back to her.

Jessica is currently in the last leg of a Kickstarter campaign to fund her Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, a photo book and travel guide that portrays the island from a Puerto Rican perspective. Take a moment and check out her campaign video below, then channel some holiday spirit and make a donation to help her close in on her goal. And “donation” is a loose term, since you’re basically pre-ordering the guide along with some other cool perks at different pledge levels (including a home-cooked Puerto Rican meal made by Jessica herself!).

Despite being insanely busy with the campaign, as well as traveling, and finding time to enjoy the holidays, Jessica was kind enough to answer 11 questions about Puerto Rico, traveling, and (of course) food.

1.  What’s the one food dish that you recommend people try while in Puerto Rico?

Where do I start? My favorite places on the islands are the panaderias (bakeries). I love a medianoche sandwich. It’s similar to a panini; a soft baguette filled with roasted pork, ham, and Swiss cheese.

The Dining Traveler - Jessica |

Medianoche | Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop Dejesus

2.  If someone wanted to stay away from touristy areas in Puerto Rico, like San Juan, what area(s) would you tell them to check out?

The west coast of Puerto Rico. Cabo Rojo in the southwest coast has beaches to die for, like Playa Buye and Playa Sucia. The town of Mayaguez for the food; they are known for their artisanal sangria and the guava jelly roll (Brazo Gitano).

Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico | Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus

3.  What is the one thing that you’d like to share about Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture that people might not know?

That Puerto Ricans are very welcoming and open people. Don’t get weirded out when people tell you their whole life story after five minutes of meeting you!

4.  On average, how many days do you spend traveling each year?

This past year I have been on the road over 100 days so far.

5.  You seem to have already traveled almost everywhere, but what’s one country or city that you haven’t visited yet, but would like to?

Peru. It’s my dream destination. We’ve been trying to go for the last two years but something always happens. Hopefully in 2016.

6.  Do you have any travel rituals that you follow before a big trip?

I always wait until the last minute to pack. Does that count as a ritual?

7.  Do you remember your first plane ride?

I was five. We flew Eastern Airlines (dating myself here, LOL). We moved from Rochester, NY to Puerto Rico. I was super excited. The whole family, including our German Shepherd, was on the flight!

8.  When you’re back home in DC, what are some of your hobbies and other activities that you like to do to relax?

I love exploring DC. I enjoy going for a run along the Mount Vernon Trail and admiring the monuments across the Potomac. I also love checking out the new exciting restaurants that continue to pop up in the city.

9.  Okay, it’s late at night and you’re craving a sweet and/or salty snack. What do you make or grab from your kitchen to satisfy your late night hunger?

Well… this food blogger is trying to lose weight! I’m trying to be disciplined! However, my downfall is cheese. We always bring tons of cheese back from Holland, where my husband is from.

10.  You currently live in Washington, DC; what other U.S. city or cities do you think you would enjoy living in for an extended period of time? 

I lived in Miami for three months and truly enjoyed it; there are so many cultures converging in this area. Wouldn’t mind returning. I would be open to living in Chicago or San Francisco. However, I love DC. It will be hard to get me out of here.

11.  If you could have one person from any time period, dead or alive, be your tour guide in any city in the world, who would you choose and why?

I would have loved for Pablo Neruda to show me his native Chile. I studied his poetry in high school and college. His words made me feel as if I was already in the country.

Many thanks to Jessica for taking time out of her non-stop travel schedule to chat with us. Don’t forget to check out her Kickstarter, Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, before the campaign ends on December 10th!

Holiday, Recipes

An Evening with a Spiced Pecan

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf

Our Spiced Pecan recipe (at the bottom of this post) has become an MVP of our holiday season, playing a role in multiple dishes both savory and sweet. From green beans, to cookies, to binge eating at midnight whilst watching Netflix, these pecans really are team players. We had an opportunity to get to know one of deez  these nuts a bit more intimately and to try and figure out what makes them such a solid classic.

Get in my Mouf:  Really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us–I realize this is a busy time of year for you.

Spiced Pecan:  Not a problem. I’m happy to be here. Prefer to keep it short, though. Already a bit behind this year…

GIMM:  Absolutely–I want to start with a question, an old debate that’s be around for a while. What do you prefer to be called. Pe-con or Pee-can?

SP:  Well, I don’t go by either, since that’s not my name. It would be like me calling you “Human.”

GIMM:  Oh, I’m sorry… What’s your name?

SP:  Charles. Friends call me chuck.

GIMM:  Pleasure to meet you, Chuck!

SP:  Charles.

GIMM:  Right… [awkward pause]

Egg Whites | Get in My Mouf Spiced Pecans

GIMM:  Anyway, you’ve seen quite a bit of success over the years–You’re a very traditional holiday staple–Is it hard to stay consistent? There are a lot of food fads that take hold and I could see that becoming a distraction.

SP:  Not really. I grew up in a family where tradition and work ethic were really important. You do your job. I do my job. It’s just what we do. I watched a lot of our friends get mixed up with Wasabi and Sriracha. Sure that’s popular now and I get it, I really do. Commercials, prominent shelf space at Target, features on FOOD BLOGS. There’s definitely an allure that’s hard to turn down. But at some point the fame will fade and at the end of the day, people always go back to the classics.

Pecan & Egg Whites | Get in My Mouf Spiced Pecans

GIMM:  I’m not sure if anyone picked up on the tone you had about food blogs, but it did take a bit of persuasion to agree to sit down with us. Why were you so hesitant?

SP:  Honestly, recipes should be shared between family members on faded scraps of paper. This whole internet blogging thing is just too impersonal. For example, when you want to make a pumpkin pie, what do you do?

GIMM:  I Google a recipe. 

SP:  Exactly! Now how many choices are there?

GIMM:  Who knows…hundreds of thousands? A million?

SP:  How do you know which one is a good recipe?

GIMM:  I’ll try and find a site that has reviews or find a recipe that’s on a blog I trust.

SP:  Basically, you’re outsourcing your pumpkin pie recipe and basing your decision on a stranger’s who may or may not have a similar flavor profile as you.

GIMM:  Sure, but–

SP:  Meanwhile, you could have just called up your mother and asked her if she had any secret family recipes. AND during which you could engage her in an actual conversation. A real human to human interaction. Why is that important? Food is at its peak enjoyment when it’s connected to memory or tradition. Would you rather eat a pie that you found online from a stranger, or eat a pie that has roots to your family?

GIMM:  If given the choice between two pies, I would prefer to sample each before making a decision.

SP:  When was the last time you called your mother?

GIMM:  Speaking of…my mom is actually VERY allergic to pecans.

SP:  Her loss.

GIMM:  Agreed. You are delicious.

[Another awkward Pause]

GIMM:  I’m not going to eat you.

SP:  I think we better wrap this up.

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf

Well, that was fun. A big thanks to Charles for joining us. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure who was interviewing who. He might be stuck in his old fashioned ways, but man he was, er is–from what I’ve been told–delicious. Want to give him and his friends a try? Don’t bother your mother, as she’s probably busy planning your Thanksgiving dinner. Instead give our recipe a try, ’cause we’re sort of like family at this point, right?



  • 3 Cups Pecan Halves
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Mix together the sugar and spices and set aside.
  2. Combine the egg white and water and whip until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold the pecans into the egg white mixture. Once completely moistened, add the sugar and spice. Mix well.
  4. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread pecans into an even single layer. This single layer may not sound important, but it is. Crowded pecans mean too much moisture and, in the words of Alton Brown, definitely not good eats.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes at 300°. Remove from oven, carefully stir, and reduce oven to 250°. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool on a wired rack – we keep ours on the parchment paper so they don’t fall through the cracks – until they come to room temperature.
  7. Try not to eat all of them in one sitting. They are seriously addicting. Sorry, Charles.

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf