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JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Pride 2019

My Coming Out Story

Hey, y’all!

Did you know that June is Pride Month? During this time of year, I often experience a multitude of emotions. I think about my past — past struggles — where I’ve been, where I’m going, and where/who I want to be.

I try to be open here on the blog about my life – however, naturally, there are many things that I have not addressed. One of those is my coming out story — which is, for many LGBT people, the most personal of stories. I concur with that sentiment.

To fully tell this story, I’m going to invoke a timeline — taking you from my past to my present.

Childhood

Important background information: I’m from a small town in south-central Kentucky. One that I love with every ounce of my being. It is chock-full of amazing, talented people — people that have molded me into the man that I am today. That said, when you are different from the status quo, it was challenging to be there. I knew no one else like me. While I had adults and adult friends that always supported me, I did not always relate to people my own age (and I sometimes still struggle with that, largely a leak-over from childhood).

I was always the weird kid.

I was advanced academically — thus, I was often ostracized.

I preferred to hang out with girls, though was often encouraged to make friends with my own gender.

I secretly liked many things that we are socialized to believe are feminine — many of which I kept to myself… a burden that was, more often than not, too much to carry for a child.

I was obese — food was the one thing that helped me escape it all.

I was first called a “sissy” in second grade. I was seven. Looking back now, I didn’t fully know what that meant. But, I knew that it was a slam. And it hurt.

I was first called “gay” in the third grade. The class erupted in laughter. I was singled out. At the time, I knew that I was different — but, I hadn’t quite put my finger on it.

I was baptized that year. I’m both the step-son and the grandson of pastors. Would these societal sins be washed away? I hoped.

Not exactly — or at all. In the fifth grade, I developed my first true crush. It was a boy. I prayed that it was a mistake. It wasn’t.

In that moment, I experienced my first stint of anxiety. It crippled me — I was a child. Looking back at that quite literally breaks my heart.

Young Adulthood

I chose to have girlfriends because it made my life easier. I was still called every name under the sun — each slur associated with LGBT individuals — but, I had an alibi. I was safe… or so I thought.

Still, my locker was broken into.

I was threatened.

I was laughed at.

I was bullied.

I was harassed. 

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At this point in the story, it would be erroneous to not stop and thank the teachers at Russell County High School. Y’all know who you are. Several of you are avidly in this space, my blog. You took up for me in a time that I couldn’t – or, rather, wouldn’t – take up for myself. I love y’all for it.

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The summer between my junior and senior year of high school I had the privilege of attending the Governor’s Scholars Program at Centre College (my alma mater). My dorm was on the first floor of Nevin Hall. Upon meeting my hallmates, I quickly learned that a handful of them identified as LGBT, including my roommate. I couldn’t believe it. Before my own eyes — people like me. What was I to do?

While a Governor’s Scholar, you have a Focus Area (essentially, a major), along with a minor class + a seminar. In seminar, we discussed things that I had never experienced in an open dialogue. Privilege. Race. Oppression. Socioeconomic Status. Sexuality.

Around the second week, we played a game called “Cross The Line”. If the statement applied to you, you quite literally crossed a line. One of the questions, inevitably, was “Do you identify as a member of the LGBT Community?”

Time inched on at a glacial pace. Or so I thought. It seemed as if the entire group knew that I wanted to cross the line. I think they knew that I wanted to before I knew. After building up the courage, I did. This was my first – however minor – coming out experience.

I enjoyed the rest of my five weeks at Centre as a new person. However restricted, an out one. It was empowering. Scary. But, empowering.

I returned to Russell County – and, subsequently, to the closet.

I finished senior year with the most fond memories of my experience at GSP, which made me crave similar experiences in college. When people asked me how my summer was, I clammed up. I couldn’t tell them all of the details, as they were too revealing. Incriminating. All I could say was: “It was life-changing.”

I graduated at the top of my class. I wanted to be remembered as the academic, not the gay kid. That’s why I kept it in. After graduation, at Project Graduation (the school-led after party), I told my nearest friends my truth. Maybe 5 people. They knew. They all knew. They all celebrated me in their own ways — and for that, I am grateful. Especially for Katie, my best friend that you’ve seen here on the blog. She has been a rock in my life for as long as I can remember.

Looking back, in hindsight, I’m not remembered as the academic. I’m likely remembered as the academic that was also the gay kid. While I feared it at the time, I am immensely proud of it now.

College

I unloaded my belongings into my Centre College dorm room — the third floor of Caldwell  — more excited than I had ever been in my life. This was my time. My time to show academically what I have been preparing for my entire life. My time to justify all of the effort that I had put into books, to take that and launch it into full-fledged academia and then into a career. But, it was also the time to live my truth.

From the get-go, I was openly gay in college. Everyone knew it. And you know what? I was celebrated for it. My classmates and professors at Centre supported me in this transitional period — which was, to understate, powerful.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Pride 2019

The start of college was overwhelming. Books, parties, social life, and, in my case, boys. Frank Sinatra said it best — “What a world, what a life, I’m in love!” And in love I was. Head over heels with my first (and to this point, only) long-term boyfriend.

This relationship, among other things, gave me a glimpse as to what life could be for me. Normal — slow and steady. Exciting — spontaneous, laugh-filled, smile-inducing. I was experiencing what all of my heterosexual counterparts in life (the overwhelming majority) got to enjoy without thought. This was the first time for me.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Pride 2019

It — this new version of myself, my life — was addicting.

There was no going back.

I had to tell my family.

Coming Out To My Family

The most important person that I had to tell was, of course, my Grandmother Judy — a figure that y’all are very familiar with. She has always been my rock, and in this experience it was no different.

My head played games with me and told me to be afraid to tell her. And afraid I was! It was the summer after my freshman year at Centre. I was, as I said, in love — with myself, my life, and a man. I couldn’t gain the courage to say it out loud. So, I wrote a letter. I placed it on her coffee pot — the place that she visits first each and every morning. I placed it there and skipped town (to Nashville) for a weekend of concerts.

She called me the next morning. She read the letter. And she assured me, as always, that she loved me with every ounce of her being. We talk on the phone 3-5 times/day. But, seeing her name on the phone screen that morning was different.

I was afraid of losing my support system. The person that afforded me the opportunity to attend Centre — and afforded me the opportunity to travel and enjoy life as I knew it. That was scary as a 19 year old. Even scarier was the thought of losing my best friend.

I’m so thankful that I had her support — an experience that many LGBT people have not endured. For that, I ache — I hurt. When one part of a community hurts, we all hurt.

The rest of my family was not as quick to accept the situation; however, with time, it got better. That’s what the videos on YouTube told me would happen. I believed them to be true. And they were, luckily, in my case.

Modern Times

The relationship? It ended. Was it painful? More than this blog can express. But, more than the pain, powerful sentiments endured.

Both my ex and the Governor’s Scholars Program taught me how to be JC.

They made me realize that to love – to be LGBT – is to be celebrated; whenever safe, it is to be public.

The exact thing that I feared — what marginalized me in small-town Kentucky — is something that is as normalized in my life as waking up each morning and putting on my glasses.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Pride 2019

With a lot of help from my friends, a lot of love from family, a few twirls to Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin as the soundtrack to my life — I transformed into the modern version of myself.

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One of the most profound resources that we have is social media. While it has drawbacks, I think one of the magical things that it offers is the ability to connect with people that you identify with. I found that community on blogs and on YouTube. However, young LGBT individuals now have even more powerful and avid resources — Instagram, Facebook, and many devoted online communities. Growing up in the rural south, I relied on the internet — and it was a safe space for me. I hope that anyone reading this blog, or any of my blogs, feels the same with my work.

JCP Eats is a safe space. It’s a space that shows that being LGBT is not a drawback. It’s a space that normalizes being gay in the public eye. It’s a space that you, dear reader, will always be welcome. Any and all of my recipes — come to my table. I will support you, feed you, listen to you, and uplift you.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Pride 2019

I owe that to the younger version of myself. I feel a duty to extend open arms to others, just as others did to me. That’s why I told this story — one that is deeply personal, yet revealing. One that I often think about. Wherever you are on your journey, there are many that have been there at some point in their lives. Seek them out — they will help.

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If you are a local reader, I hope that you will join me and my friends at Papa John’s this weekend at Kentuckiana Pride. I deeply respect companies that come out in support of the LGBT community both during Pride Month and throughout the whole year. Pride is not 30 days; it is 365 days long.

This year, Papa John’s is taking a stand. A stand for equality. A stand for inclusion. A stand for appreciation. A stand for validation. A stand for love.

And, quite frankly, I love them for it.

Oh, and I have a gift for you! For all of your pride food needs (and going forward), you can receive 25% off your regular menu price Papa John’s order with my code

JCPEATS25

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Pride 2019

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As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

… and this month, I really want to hone in on the living.

Live your truth.

Live loudly.

Live authentically.

Live unabashedly.

I support you.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: Papa John’s has provided free product and compensation in return for this post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

 

Blue Sushi Sake Grill

Sushi To Go: The Perfect Dinner In Lexington, KY

Hey, y’all!

There are few things that I love more than sushi and convenience. Convenience and quality, at times, are mutually exclusive; however, I’m happy to let you in on a little secret: they don’t have to be!

Y’all know that I love the Summit at Fritz Farm — a fabulous development in Lexington, KY that offers a variety of shopping + dining options. However, eating at the Summit just got a lot easier!

My friends at Blue Sushi Sake Grill now offer order pick-up via their mobile app, which is available in the App Store of your smartphone. Yes. You read that correctly. Get excited, y’all!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Blue Sushi Sake Grill in Lexington, KY

 

As an entrepreneur, I find myself constantly on the go — and I know that many of you feel the same. Whether you are a busy professional, an individual devoted to their family, someone with a jam-packed social schedule — we all want to, at the end of the day, make our lives easier.

When you open the Blue Sushi Sake Grill App, you will find that the entire menu is easy to browse, as it is subdivided into sections. The best part for me was that each item had a photo, which made my selections across their vast menu much, much easier.

The process is as simple as adding the item into your cart, paying with your card, and being told when to show up to pick up your items. The wait time for my order was around 30 minutes, which was more than reasonable because – well, to be frank – I didn’t hold back in the selection process. Everything was made fresh and couldn’t have been more delicious. Treat yourself, am I right?

What to order? Well, I’m so glad you asked! 

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Blue Sushi Sake Grill in Lexington, KY

As for appetizers, the crispy rice cakes, which are topped with spicy bigeye tuna, scallions, and tatami sauce, were a huge hit. I also really enjoyed the lettuce wraps + crab rangoons + fried calamari + seaweed salad with snow crab.

 

For sushi, buckle up, y’all. I tried several of the rolls — and they were top-notch!

The Hawaiian Roll was a crowd favorite, which was tempura fried and had salmon, crab, mango, and mirin mango purée. I also really enjoyed The Lion King, which was filled with a crab mix, cucumber, avocado, spicy salmon, eel sauce, and spicy mayo.

As for vegetarian options, a highlight was the Shiitake to Me, which featured mushrooms sautéed in coconut milk, shiitake and sweet potato vegan tempura, truffle oil, sweet soy, and thai basil; another one that received two thumbs up was the Thai Hippie, which was stuffed with tofu vegan tempura, avocado, cucumber, and carrot — and topped with thai peanut sauce, cashew with thai basil, cilantro, mint, and a red onion salad.

Blue Sushi Sake Grill in Lexington, KY

Like dessert? I definitely recommend getting the mochi, which is a variety of four sticky rice cakes filled with vanilla, chocolate, mango, and green tea ice cream. Other highlights include the chocolate torte, tempura fried ice cream, and chocolate spring rolls.

Whether you are headed to the ballpark, coming home from the gym, or you simply don’t want to cook at home, let my friends at Blue Sushi Sake Grill take care of dinner. I am sure that they will take great care of you!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Blue Sushi Sake Grill in Lexington, KY

To learn more about their app, click HERE.

Want a present from me? How does $5 off your next mobile to-go order sound? To redeem, click HERE; after claimed, your offer is good for 14 days.

One last thing. A little secret, if you will. A little birdie told me that delivery will be coming to the restaurant later this year… stay tuned for that announcement!

You can visit the Lexington location of Blue Sushi Sake Grill at:

105 Summit At Fritz Farm Suite 130

Lexington, KY 40517

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

JC Phelps of JCP Eats

Five Tips To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Photographer

Hey, y’all!

I rarely show the work that goes in behind the scenes here on the blog; while I often get questions about it, I have left many topics unaddressed. It is my goal to be more transparent + to show y’all what, how, and why I do what I do – I mean, in all reality, y’all are the reason that I am here. For that, I am eternally grateful.

While you often see photos of my finished products in the kitchen, snaps of my international travels, and documentation of my life here in Kentucky, it is important to note that one aspect is much harder to capture: branding portraits of – you guessed it – me, myself, and I.

I can tell you so many horror stories from photoshoots that I have had.

I’ve stood on surfaces that were, at best, questionably able to hold my weight.

I’ve been put in positions that are uncomfortable at my height, a cornbread-fed 6’4″.

I’ve been asked to stand/pose in situations that make me feel claustrophobic due to my body size + my broad shoulders.

To understate, I’ve left many a shoot in tears (and I’m still traumatized from some of them, in all honesty).

This struggle led me to, quite literally, fearing photographers. I decided to start taking my own photos + entrusting my nearest and dearest friends with the task. While I am immensely grateful for those that have helped me (and continue to do so – it wouldn’t be possible without y’all!), it is not the same as having a true professional behind the camera – one that understands you, your vision, your perspective, and, in my case, your body.

Want to avoid the same trauma? Fear not — I can help.

My Five Tips To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Photographer: 

1. Choose a photographer that evaluates your needs before the shoot.

Not all shoots are the same. You might need just a couple of shots or you might need to shoot a multitude of outfits; your shoot could be 30 minutes or 3-4 hours. It’s important to discuss these points with your photographer beforehand to ensure that both parties are on the same page. Failure to do so can lead to financial discrepancies and situational pressure. When a photographer properly addresses and evaluates your needs, a mutualistic, symbiotic relationship forms.

2. Choose a photographer that understands why you hired them.

Maybe you need a photo to send your grandmother; maybe you need a headshot for your LinkedIn; maybe, if you’re like me, you need photos that capture you + your brand authentically. All of these can be easily accomplished; however, the photographer needs to be fully prepared to address your needs. If photographers don’t discuss this ahead of time with their clients – or if you don’t make your needs known – it is possible that they will be inappropriately prepared on the day of the shoot (equipment, backdrops, lighting, shoot location, props, etc).

3. Choose a photographer that asks you about your preferences; while they have the talent, you know yourself better than anyone else.

We all have preferences when it comes to our photos. I don’t take a lot of photos while sitting down; if I do, it has to be from the right angle. On the topic of angles, I definitely have a preferred one (from above). Since I am so tall, that sometimes requires the photographer to stand on an elevated surface; however, by having this conversation with your photographer, they will be fully aware of how to please you, the client. Similarly, you will be more comfortable during the shoot, which will lead to a better end product.

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4. Choose a photographer that hypes you up during the shoot.

I find it awkward to just smile, take directions, and – when needed – be told what to do. My awkwardness then reflects in my photos. Thus, for me, it’s important to be submerged in a warmer environment when in front of the camera. This can come from the photographer muttering, “Yasssss, queen!”, “You better work!”, “Slay!” while you strike a pose — or it can be, of course, more understated, depending on your personality. As silly as it sounds, having a photographer that hypes you up really enables you to bury your insecurities and focus on the task at hand.

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5. Choose a photographer that celebrates your body through photos; the shots are the art and you, my friend, are the muse.

This, to me, is my most important tip. Whether you are a size 2 or a 26, a size XS or 4X, you are beautiful. You are to be celebrated. You are worthy of a photoshoot — better yet, you are worthy of being the star of a photoshoot! As a plus-size blogger, I would be dishonest if I said that it’s always easy. My body – in and of itself – is a point of debate. That said, when hiring someone, that shouldn’t be a thought that even begins to cross their mind. You are a princess, a prince, a beautiful creature — and it’s so important to choose a photographer that catalyzes those feelings for you.

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With these tips in mind, I can assure you that your next experience with a photographer will be better. You’ll be more comfortable. You’ll have better communication. You’ll love the deliverables .

That said, if you are one of my Kentucky followers, I have one extra recommendation. If you do not know where to start, I cannot recommend working with Sarah Caton from Space, Place, and Southern Grace Photography enough. All of the photos that you see in this post are from my most recent branding session with Sarah & were shot in Corto Lima in Downtown Lexington, KY.

There are many words that come to mind when I think of Sarah; however, above all else, two resonate the most: genuine + professional. However, I am also proud to be her friend  of almost a decade.

Sarah and I met when we were Governor’s Scholars at my alma mater, Centre College. From there, she blossomed both academically and professionally at the University of Kentucky; she is a successful blogger, photographer, and published author. Casual, right?

While all of that is impressive, her character impresses me most. She is kind, thoughtful, and honest – all of which reflect in her photography sessions. In accordance to my tips, we talked about exactly what I needed prior to shooting, we discussed my branding needs, I mentioned my preferences to her, she made me feel incredibly comfortable throughout the shoot, and she honored and celebrated my plus-size body in the shots.

Some photographers see my body and try to hide me; Sarah, on the other hand, illuminated me. I have full confidence that she can – and will – do the same for you.

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If you are located in Kentucky and need any type of photography package – portraiture, branding, wedding, graduation, you name it – look no further than Sarah. I say that will full confidence.

You can find Sarah’s photography page here (slide into those DMs!), her website here, more info on her photo packages here,  and her blogger Instagram page here.

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As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is not a commissioned post; in exchange for photos, I provided an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Kentucky Beer Cheese Recipe

A Classic Kentucky Pairing: Beer Cheese & Ale-8-One

Hey, y’all!

If you are a Kentuckian, you are well-aware of the fact that love for both beer cheese and Ale-8-One runs deep in our veins. I think it’s genetic — or, maybe, it’s nature. That’s a debate as old as time. Either way, we avidly recognize and honor both in our Commonwealth. However, did you know that they both have roots in Clark County (Winchester)?

Ale-8-One sponsors the 2019 KY Beer Cheese Festival — plus, a beer cheese recipe by JC Phelps (JCP Eats)

Beer cheese is commonly dated back to the late 1930’s to Chef Joe Allman. Chef Allman created the spread for his cousin Johnnie, the owner of the Driftwood Inn. The beer cheese was originally served as a complimentary snack for patrons, though it quickly morphed into a versatile, multi-faceted food with a cult following.

Kentucky Beer Cheese Recipe

Ale-8-One shares the same Clark County Roots. Launched in July of 1926, Ale-8-One is the only Kentucky-invented soft drink still in existence. It was invented by G. L. Wainscott and was named via one of America’s first slogan contests at the Clark County Fair. “A Late One” – the winning entry – was a pun adopted for its witty description. From that, a Kentucky legacy transpired.

Ale-8-One sponsors the 2019 KY Beer Cheese Festival — plus, a beer cheese recipe by JC Phelps (JCP Eats)

There are few things that pair more perfectly than a delicious, creamy beer cheese and a cold, crisp Ale-8-One. While I often have them together at home, the opportunity exists to enjoy them together on a much larger scale!

On June 8th, the City of Winchester, KY once again welcomes all beer cheese aficionados to its annual Beer Cheese Festival — the only festival of its kind in the world! Since 2009, this festival has delighted locals and visitors from near and far – and it is proudly sponsored by Ale-8-One!

Ale-8-One sponsors the 2019 KY Beer Cheese Festival — plus, a beer cheese recipe by JC Phelps (JCP Eats)

Located in downtown Winchester, and occurring on the second Saturday in June, this event serves as a fundraiser for Main Street Winchester. As an organization, Main Street Winchester fosters culture, community, and economic vitality in Winchester’s historic downtown business district – and has been doing so since 1980.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s something magical about a small town downtown, especially here in Kentucky. If you attend the festival, you will see what I mean.

While perusing Beer Cheese Boulevard on Main St. with an Ale-8-One in hand, festival goers will be able to sample a plethora of beer cheeses; however, I wanted to provide y’all with my recipe that you can make at home!

The beauty of beer cheese is that it is so versatile. It can be used as a dip with toast points, vegetables, and chips; it also pairs beautifully with pretzels. However, I implore you to think outside of the box — it is also great on burgers, hot sandwiches, in casseroles, and can be used as a base sauce for pizza!

An essential aspect of making great beer cheese is, of course, choosing the correct beer. Remember: the flavor profile of the beer directly impacts the flavor of the dip – for this reason, choose a beer that you enjoy drinking; I’d also recommend using a beer that isn’t overly hoppy.

Kentucky Beer Cheese Recipe

Kentucky Beer Cheese

Ingredients: 

1 c. beer (your choice)

8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. parsley (I use dried)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. onion powder (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Over medium heat, whisk together the flour and butter until a roux forms.
  2. Add garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire, parsley, salt, and pepper to roux; whisk together for roughly one minute.
  3. Add beer (1/2 c. at a time), whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken.
  4. Add shredded cheddar cheese and whisk until fully combined.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Join Ale-8-One in celebrating beer cheese – a Kentucky legacy and delicacy – in Downtown Winchester at the Beer Cheese Festival on June 8th from 10 am – 5 pm. Come hungry, y’all!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

Johnson City, Tennessee

The Perfect Evening in Johnson City, Tennessee

Hey, y’all! I’m so excited to be sharing the next installment in my Travel Northeast Tennessee Series with y’all today!

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As Old Crow Medicine Show famously performed:

“But he’s a’headed west from the Cumberland Gap…
To Johnson City, Tennessee!”

And while I headed south instead of west, all that matters is that I landed in beautiful Johnson City — I quickly became infatuated with the city!

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Surrounded by beautiful mountains, Johnson City is a gem of the region. The people are kind, the Americana spirit is strong, and as is important to me, the food is finger lickin’ good.

While I would recommend that you stay longer than an evening in Johnson City, I also understand that time is of the essence. I often find myself only able to stay an afternoon + one night in a location; thus, I try to keep that in mind when crafting itineraries for y’all when I travel.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Johnson City, Tennessee

1. Visit Yee-Haw Brewing:

126 Buffalo St.

Johnson City, TN 37604

There’s no better place to kick off your afternoon that Yee-Haw Brewing Company. I’m not going to lie — the name immediately drew this country boy in; however, don’t let that fool you. Their brews stand up to their name; one sip and you’ll want to yell, “Yeeeeeee-hawww!”

Yee-Haw Brewing Company, Johnson City, Tennessee

Yee-Haw Brewing Company started in downtown Johnson City in 2015; in just a few short years – and with a lot of work and devotion, as is clear – they quickly situated themselves to be a powerhouse of the region.

My favorite thing about Yee-Haw was the variety in their beers. They bridge the gap between traditional, classic brews and hip, innovative brews.

This enables there to be a drink for all palates in the tasting room – which, as a consumer, I appreciate.

Oh, and if you need a snack – fear not! Located in the distillery is the White Duck Taco Shop. I might’ve enjoyed one (or three) of their delicious tacos… you have to keep your energy levels up, am I right?

2. Visit Gourmet & Company:

214 E Mountcastle Dr.

Johnson City, TN 37601

After having a drink at Yee-Haw, you must have dinner at Gourmet & Company! Locally owned by the same restauranteurs for 30 years, Gourmet & Company is a Johnson City legacy. They have set the tone for the dining scene in the city — and while I entered with high expectations, they were met and surpassed.

The menu at Gourmet & Company is seasonal and rotational; they incorporate fresh, organic ingredients into their well-created dishes, while also utilizing local ingredients when in season.

Gourmet and Company, Johnson City, TN

When I visited, they had the most delicious lobster entree on the menu. It was rich and decadent – which is, of course, why lobster is my favorite food. I also had a salad with fried goat cheese balls, which was a standout to me. That said, the menu is very well-rounded. Diners can enjoy dishes from the likes of charcuterie boards, seared diver scallops, fried chicken, filet, veal medallions, and so much more.

Gourmet and Company, Johnson City, TN

They also have an expansive cocktail list + wine selection (with great flights!), if you are looking for another libation with dinner.

3.Visit The Carnegie Hotel/Wellington’s:

1216 W State of Franklin Rd.

Johnson City, TN 37604

End your night (and stay!) at the Carnegie Hotel. This luxury hotel is the perfect mix of modern amenities + classic Southern charm.

After your delicious meal at Gourmet and Company, you need a night cap and potentially dessert, am I right? Located inside the hotel is Wellington’s Restaurant — and it’s simply gorgeous! I felt especially lucky to be there on a night with jazz music; it made the ambiance and experience so special.

Cocktails at Wellington’s at the Carnegie Hotel, Johnson City, TN

The menu at Wellington’s is chock-full of southern favorites, paying homage to its Appalachian and Southern roots, while also incorporating other high-end culinary inspirations.

While I was full, I did manage to find room for banana’s foster + a gin martini (with a lemon twist, of course).

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Now I know y’all are planning your trip to Johnson City — but, heed my warning: come hungry!

I’m already wanting to plan my next visit back…

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all expressed opinions are my own.

Holsopple Craft beer Throwdown Louisville KY

2019 Craft Beer Throwdown

Hey, y’all!

Do you have plans tomorrow? Well, if you’re local to the Louisville area, now you do!

The Third Annual Craft Beer Throwdown is happening from 5-8 PM at the Louisville Water Tower Park!

Craft beer Throwdown Louisville KY

Seven breweries, one location, one champion. And, better yet, it’s for charity!

Proceeds benefit the Coalition for the Homeless, which is an amazing organization in Louisville that combats young adult homelessness.

With your event donation, you will be able to sample beer from Gravely Brewing Co. (last year’s champion), Falls City Brewing Company, Holsopple Brewing, Against the Grain Brewery, Mile Wide Beer Co., Akasha Brewing Company and Goodwood Brewing Company. I’ve sampled many of the contenders — and trust me: you don’t want to miss them!

Your ticket – which is a 100% donation to the Coalition for the Homeless – comes with a commemorative pint glass, samples of each new brew, and a token for voting.

Oh, and did I mention that there’ll be live music from Frederick the Younger and food from Moe-licious BBQ and The Comfy Cow?!

Comfy Cow Craft beer Throwdown Louisville KY

I hope to see you tomorrow!

Tickets are available online until May 30 at noon, then available at the door for a suggested donation of $25.

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is not a commissioned post; all opinions expressed are my own.

Dennison’s Roadside Market in Horse Cave, KY

Dennison’s Roadside Market in Horse Cave, Kentucky

Hey, y’all!

I recently had the privilege of spending a couple of days with my friends at Hart County Tourism. Located in south-central Kentucky, Hart County embodies everything that I love about the Commonwealth: natural beauty, good food, fine folks, and hometown pride. Just by merely pulling off of the interstate, it is possible to locate oneself in a Kentucky oasis.

As a foodie, it would be criminal to not mention to y’all that it is strawberry season. This season, in effect, is the kickoff to my favorite time of year: garden, fresh food, and farmer’s market season! There’s something about the taste of food grown in our rich, bountiful Kentucky soil — though I might be biased, I think it tastes just a little bit richer, a little sweeter, and a lot heartier.

Dennison’s Roadside Market in Horse Cave, KY

Y’all, what I am about to say… I do not say it lightly: I think I have found the best strawberries in the Commonwealth. Located in beautiful Horse Cave, Dennison’s Roadside Market is – in and of itself – a destination.

Dennison’s Roadside Market in Horse Cave, KY

Upon pulling in, you’ll find a greenhouse chock-full of seasonal flowers and plants. I assure you that you will find the perfect creation for your flower boxes, front porches, back decks, and around your pool. As a plant lover, it was a dream to see all of their creations — I just wish I could have brought them all home with me.

Inside the store, you’ll find an abundance of produce, jams, country ham, cheeses, Kentucky Proud products, crafts, products of artisans, and more! Oh, and you’ll be able to purchase the mouthwatering, sweet strawberries.

Behind the retail location is the farm that the strawberries (and some of the other items) are produced. I even picked a few myself, alongside the farmers and employees that make Dennison’s possible.

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Around the farm, I got to see a plethora of animals, livestock, and beautiful creatures. I took one look around and mentally said, with pride, “This is Kentucky.”

The locality, devotion to tradition, and family pride in this business is palpable – which I respect deeply, especially reigning from a Kentucky farming family myself.

I returned to Louisville with cartons of strawberries in tow — perfect for a strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, freezer jam, cakes… you name it. Would y’all be interested in some strawberry-centric recipes this season?

Dennison’s Roadside Market in Horse Cave, KY

Visit Dennison’s Roadside Market: 

5824 South Jackson Highway (US 31E)
Horse Cave, KY 42749

In all sincerity: go visit Hart County, my friends — you’ll thank me later and plan to return as soon as is possible. And if you visit Dennison’s, make sure you come with plenty of room in your vehicle to bring home some delicious food and beautiful items!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

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