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The Big Muddy at Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

The Newest BBQ Restaurant In Kentucky: Sugarfire Smokehouse

Hey, y’all!

There are many foods that I love (obviously), though BBQ is right up there at the top. It is comforting, casual, and flavorful — three of my favorite things.

I was recently invited to Union, Kentucky to visit Sugarfire Smokehouse’s first Kentucky location. This St. Louis BBQ restaurant is sure to please all palates, serving up award-winning baby back ribs, pulled pork, and brisket that is, as I say, Write Your MeeMaw Good.

Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

Sugarfire Smokehouse is equally known for their specials, which are meaty mashups that “defy logic and even gravity.” I loved the uniqueness of the menu; while different, all flavors coincided and paired well together. They’ve also ‘cued up some unique items, such as andouille, artichokes, cheese curds, and mushrooms. SO good, y’all.

Know this: Sugarfire Smokehouse is definitely worth a stop the next time you are in Northern Kentucky. Plan a trip to Rabbit Hash, Cincinnati, a Reds game… and enjoy some great BBQ while you’re at it!

You’ll thank me later.

Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

Now, the food:

I sampled the ribs, smoked turkey, brisket, chicken, and sausage. All were delicious, though my picks are, without hesitation, the ribs and brisket.

BBQ and Sides at Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

Need I say more?

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Visits Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Visits Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

I also had to try the Big Muddy; let me tell y’all… this is a sandwich by any standard! Brisket-based, it also includes smoked sausage, horseradish sauce, BBQ sauce, lettuce and pickles. They say that it is the perfect sandwich for someone who likes a lot of sandwich — and that is me by any standard.

The Big Muddy at Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

The Big Muddy at Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

The Big Muddy at Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

I then went back in for more ribs. They were so juicy and tender that they nearly fell off of the bone!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) Visits Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

Sugarfire prides itself on serving only craft sodas; as a Kentuckian, I was proud to see that they chose to include Ale-8-One at their Union location!

Soda at Sugarfire Smokehouse in Union, KY

I came in a big fan of BBQ and fast-casual dining; I left a big fan of Sugarfire Smokehouse.

You can visit Sugarfire Smokehouse’s first KY location at 9039 US 42, Union, KY 41091; they can be reached at 859-384-4100.

Be sure to give them a try and tell ’em that I sent ya!

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 expressed are my own.

 

Mussels At The 502 Bar & Bistro

The 502 Bar & Bistro: Where To Have A Fabulous Meal In Norton Commons

Hey, y’all!

I recently had the chance to check out a new (to me!) restaurant in Norton Commons. The 502 Bar and Bistro, a product of Chef Ming Pu, is a culinary delight in our city. Chef Pu utilizes local influence and his Taiwanese roots to produce his unique culinary style, which makes our dining scene even more spectacular here in Louisville. For that, I am grateful.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) At The 502 Bar & Bistro

What I am about to say, I do not say lightly: this was one of the best meals that I have had in Louisville. Everything was simply delicious, only made better by getting to sit outside on their gorgeous patio. I’m so thankful that it is patio season — and the one at 502 Bar & Bistro is one not to miss this year!

Now, to the (oh-so-delicious) food!

The meal started off with a cocktail, of course. I chose the “Warmer Weather”, which features Aviation Gin and Aperol. With each sip, I craved summer more and more!

Gin & Aperol At The 502 Bar & Bistro

I then moved into some delicious lamb meatballs, perfectly coated in a delicious sauce, and served with country ham-infused bread (yes, you read that correctly. It’s insanely good!).

Lamb Meatballs At The 502 Bar & Bistro

If I see mussels on the menu, I can’t resist. Chef Ming Pu’s Prince Edward Island Mussels have red onion, cherry tomatoes, crispy fingerling potatoes, a coconut red curry broth, and cilantro; the mussels can be served in a half-portion size or a full-portion… you’ll want the full.

Mussels At The 502 Bar & Bistro

When Chef Pu visited my table for the first time, I told him that the one thing on the menu that I had to try = the Brussels sprouts. Hear me out — they stood up to my expectations. They are crispy and glazed in a chili + honey vinaigrette, topped with bourbon pecans. Divine.

Honey Chili Vinaigrette Brussels Sprouts At The 502 Bar & Bistro

Next? None other than a creamy, pesto pasta dish; I really enjoyed the addition of asparagus to the plate, for it made it light, yet heavy, at the same time. That’s a difficult feat to accomplish, yet one that I love when ordering an entree.

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Chef Pu’s current favorite dish on the menu is an homage to his childhood. Pork-based, it is inspired by Taiwanese street food. When I travel, I often find that the most authentic culinary experiences are from street vendors. It was a privilege to eat this from his kitchen — I could taste the soul and passion behind it.

Taiwanese Pork At The 502 Bar & Bistro

Is it a menu in the South without Shrimp & Grits? Chef Pu uses Weisenberger grits (the best!), red eye gravy, cherry tomatoes, country ham, and seasonal mushrooms. The creamy grits with the contrasting red eye gravy? Genius. Two thumbs up.

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The last main course that I tried (yes, I was immensely full!) = a delicious chicken dish, beautifully flavored by luxurious black truffle oil. With each bite, I was greeted by the use of truffle — but, in the best, most balanced way. Not overwhelming in the least, yet always present. Chef Pu outdid himself on this dish.

Black Truffle Chicken At The 502 Bar & Bistro

Before dessert, I had to enjoy one more libation — their seasonal Old Fashioned, beautifully infused with peach. The bourbon selection at 502 Bar & Bistro is immense and all purveyors of the sweet nectar of our Commonwealth will be delighted upon arrival.

Old Fashioned At The 502 Bar & Bistro

Dessert was a deconstructed oatmeal creme pie. It was, as I like to say, Write Your MeeMaw Good. Definitely the perfect ending to a beautiful meal in Norton Commons!

Deconstructed Oatmeal Creme Pie At The 502 Bar & Bistro

You can visit Chef Pu and indulge in his creations at the 502 Bar & Bistro at 10401 Meeting St, Prospect, KY 40059; do tell ’em that I sent ya!

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 expressed are my own.

 

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Babalu: Where To Eat Tapas In Lexington, Kentucky

Hey, y’all!

I was recently invited to check out Babalu, which is located in the amazing Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

The brainchild of restauranteurs Bill Latham and Al Roberts, Babalu focuses on executing Latin-inspired cuisine. Their tapas menu was derived from a respect, love, and admiration for the guaracha, cha-cha, and latin jazz music. The restaurant is named in honor of composer and singer Miguelito Valdes, a.k.a. “Mr. Babalu”, and after the signature song of the television character Ricky Ricardo, played by Desi Arnaz in the television comedy series I Love Lucy.

My best friend Shelby and I got to sample several items on the menu and it was a fantastic afternoon to say the least.

Now to the food:

Babalu makes guacamole table side; naturally, I couldn’t say no!

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Crab croquettes (crispy crab cakes, comeback sauce, and cilantro-vinegar slaw).

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

The queso was one of our favorites. It’s a blend of melted Monterey Jack and chihuahua cheeses in a skillet, very reminiscent of the base for queso fundido.

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

I sampled three of the tacos: the blackened fish (comeback sauce, cilantro slaw, radish), the fried shrimp (comeback sauce, cilantro slaw, radish), and the chorizo (roasted poblano salsa, pico de gallo, avocado). All three were great, though my favorite was the blackened fish.

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Grilled steak skewers (great with the queso!).

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Crab cakes (lump crab, comeback sauce, cilantro).

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Fried oysters (cornmeal breaded, comeback sauce, green onions).

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Dates (Medjool dates with a spiced, crispy bacon, whipped goat cheese, and black molasses).

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Roasted Mushrooms (cremini and shittake mushrooms, served with prosciutto and manchego cheese).

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Tres leches cake — need I say more?

Babalu - Tapas In Lexington, KY

Interested in visiting a tapas restaurant in the Lexington, KY area? Visit my friends at Babalu, conveniently located in the Summit at Fritz Farm.

4040 Finn Way, Suite 150, Lexington, KY 40517; 859-309-4780.

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

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

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

Plus-Size Male Fashion Blogger

Why I Wear Women’s Clothing: A Response

Hey, y’all.

So… the question at hand: Why do I wear women’s clothing?

The answer is tripartite:

  1. I’m apple-shaped.
  2. Generally speaking, basics in the plus-size women’s department fit me better because of the provided stretch.
  3. A lot of plus size men’s clothing does not fit me (and is not fashionable).

This does not:

  1. Change my gender identity.
  2. Change who I am as a person.
  3. Change who I am as a man (but, sheesh, aren’t gender norms antiquated by now?).

I brought this up because I have a lot of individuals on Instagram that reach out to me to see where I purchase my clothing. The answer is most often Torrid or the plus size women’s section from Old Navy. I always want to maintain transparency with y’all and I vow to do so.

I’m excited to address this more in the future and share more about my clothing with y’all. That said, for now, I’m addressing the issue on my YouTube Channel:

While you’re on Youtube, I’d love it if you’d subscribe to my channel! 

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

Y’all come back now ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is not a sponsored post and all opinions expressed are my own.

The Perfect Adult + Family Friendly Getaway In The Smoky Mountains: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Hey, y’all!

There are few travel destinations that are more familiar to Kentuckians than Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; however, there’s a good reason for that! Whether one is wanting to relax or be extremely active while on vacation, Pigeon Forge has a plethora of options for either party. It’s a great place that appeals to all travelers! Additionally, it’s drivable, convenient, and has unparalleled scenic beauty.

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I started traveling to Pigeon Forge with my family at a young age. My Grandmother Linda, who is no longer with us, loved gathering the family together for a weekend in a cabin overlooking the Smoky Mountains. Each time I return is extremely nostalgic — reminiscent of strong, fond memories, of times that our family was complete, of times that were simpler. For that, and due to that, I will always love the Pigeon Forge area.

Where We Stayed

This trip was especially memorable because it ended up being a 25th birthday celebration for my best friend of two decades, Katie. We have spent the vast majority of our birthdays together; to get to do so again this year is a privilege that I do not take for granted.

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On a Friday evening, we checked into the Ramsey Hotel & Convention Center. In the heart of Pigeon Forge and just steps away from the hustle and bustle, we couldn’t have been happier with the location. Better yet, we instantaneously fell in love with our room! It was ginormous — and complete with a fireplace + an oversized jacuzzi tub. Needless to say, that was catalytic to a relaxing weekend getaway.

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Oh, and did I mention that there was 24 hour pool access?

You can visit the Ramsey Hotel & Convention Center at 3230 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.

Where We Dined

We started our Pigeon Forge getaway with dinner at Calhoun’s. Immediately upon walking in, guests are greeted by a welcoming, mountain lodge atmosphere. Known for their ribs, BBQ, and sides, Calhoun’s has been a family go-to for over 25 years. The Pigeon Forge location is conveniently located on the Parkway, steps away from many hotels, family activities, and entertainment venues.

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You can visit Calhoun’s at 2532 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.

Our second dinner was at the Local Goat, which receives two thumbs up from me! Known for their craft food and drinks, Local Goat prides itself on sourcing their food locally and sustainably as much as possible. Established in 2016, this was a menu that I had not explored in the area. However, upon asking around, I repeatedly received recommendations to dine there — thus, I knew that it had to be good (and it stood up to the hype!).

Above all else, I recommend the N’awlins Style BBQ Shrimp. Get the full pound and thank me later.

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What We Did

One thing is certain: Pigeon Forge is chock-full of activities, especially for families. From the Titanic Museum , Dolly Parton’s Stampede, the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, to the Smoky Mountain Opry, WonderWorks, or MagiQuest — there is truly something for any traveler.

Katie and I, however, were most interested in checking out Dollywood. We have been to the park four times together in the past — all for the Festival of Nations.

Luckily, we were there for the first day of the Festival of Nations and the opening day of the park this year, too!

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The Festival of Nations welcomes groups from around the world to share their culture, artisanship, and food with visitors of the park. It is a fantastic environment; knowing me, however, you can probably guess that I most fancy the wide variety of food!

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An addition to the festival this year = live chef demonstrations. The 2019 featured chef is Chef Pepin of Cuba; luckily, I had the opportunity to attend his Cuban sandwich demonstration and I got the chance to interview him. He was just as lovable in person as you would imagine from his interviews and his live demonstrations. I loved talking with him about my trip to Havana in 2018!

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If food is your forte, be sure to pick up your culinary passport to global cuisines. Offerings are vast: poutine and cheese curds from Canada, Cuban sandwiches and arroz con pollo from Cuba, empanadas from Ecuador, gluehwein from Germany, cannolis from Italy, bobotie from South Africa, beef bulgogi from South Korea, paella from Spain, chimichurri beef skewers from Trinidad, and so much more. It was all delicious!

 

Hungry yet?

While the Festival of Nations only lasts for around a month each year, the food in Dollywood continues to please year-round. The most iconic offering? The cinnamon bread, hands down. Do not miss it y’all.

I’m not much of a ride enthusiast, but I did love watching Katie at the park. That’s one thing that I love about our friendship; while we share a lot of commonalities, we do have different interests and we support one another in doing so.

Returning to Dollywood, much like the entire trip, was nostalgic for us. We certainly left with large smiles on our faces.

This trip was full of life-long memories, which is what is so special about Pigeon Forge. Located at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge consistently puts forth new and established entertainment for adults, children, and families.

Learn more about Pigeon Forge here, y’all!

Amazing views, gorgeous scenery, and a plethora of entertainment; if you aren’t planning your next trip to Pigeon Forge, what are you waiting for?

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

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post on behalf of Pigeon Forge Tourism; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

Sausage, Cheddar, and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bites

Hey, y’all!

Sausage, cheese, cream cheese, biscuits… how can you go wrong with a combination like that?

Today I am excited to bring to y’all one of my favorite Saturday morning recipes. It doesn’t get much easier; apart from that, they are filling, quick, and are sure to please a crowd. I love preparing dishes that taste more impressive than their preparation; as a home cook, I think that is a key to ensuring quality!

Sausage, Cheddar, and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bites

Growing up on the farm, sausage was a staple at breakfast time – well, that and biscuits, of course! The skillets used in my grandmother’s kitchen certainly outdate me (and probably my father). The recipes? Even older!

Sausage, Cheddar, and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bites

While I didn’t grow up eating these Sausage, Cheddar, and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bites, they are inspired by my childhood and by my upbringin’ south of the Mason-Dixon, as many of my recipes are.

Sausage, Cheddar, and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bites

If you make these for your family (or, well, for yourself, as I do), they won’t disappoint – that I assure you.

Sausage, Cheddar, and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bites

Ingredients (can be easily doubled, tripled, etc):

1 lb (16 oz) Hot Country Sausage (you can use mild if you prefer)

2 cans of biscuits (I like to use Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layered Biscuits)

1/2 c. shredded mild cheddar

1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar

8 oz. cream cheese

1.5 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Fully brown the sausage; drain the grease (I like to keep just a little of it).
  3. Add sausage into a mixing bowl along with the mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, cream cheese (softened), and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Split each biscuit in half horizontally.
  6. Lightly spray your muffin tin with cooking spray.
  7. Place each biscuit into the muffin tin; I find it best to press some of the dough up against the corners, more or less covering the entire hole with dough.
  8. Evenly scoop the sausage, cheese, and cream cheese mixture into the biscuit dough.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes, allowing biscuits to brown.
  10. Enjoy!

Sausage, Cheddar, and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bites

These are, as I like to say, Write Your MeeMaw Good, y’all.

From my kitchen to your’s — enjoy!

Sausage, Cheddar, and Cream Cheese Biscuit Bites

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

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.

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Authentic Kentucky Fried Chicken at the Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville, KY

Hey, y’all!

There are few things more commonly associated with Kentucky than fried chicken. The only competitors, in my opinion, would be the Kentucky Derby, the horse industry in general, and bourbon. That said, in terms of the culinary world, fried chicken is king of the Bluegrass; for that, I am thankful (and owe my waistline).

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Side story: I briefly lived in Mexico and worked in finance for a government entity (more on that story later, if y’all are interested). That said, everyone was fascinated that I was from Kentucky! Instead of saying “pollo frito” (fried chicken), it was colloquially accepted in the area to say “pollo Kentucky”. Thus, it was a hit that I was from the Bluegrass and I immediately became known as “Kentucky Boy”. Some of my most fond memories!

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Kentucky History

We often hear about Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken. However, in learning about the legacy, it is important to also discuss Claudia.

To quote: “In 1959, at the age of 69, Colonel Harland Sanders and his wife, Claudia, moved from Southeastern Kentucky to Shelbyville. Prior to this, the Colonel had spent many years in Corbin, Kentucky, developing his now world-famous chicken recipe. His move to Shelbyville was prompted by the opening of Interstate 75 which bypassed Corbin and his restaurant. It was from this property that Kentucky Fried Chicken grew into a world-wide organization.

Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

The one hundred twenty five year old dwelling, Blackwood Hall, which is adjacent to the Dinner House, served as the Sander’s residence and the base of operation for Kentucky Fried Chicken after their move here. The expanding business soon brought a need for office and warehouse space, so they constructed a building, later to become the Claudia Sanders Dinner House.

Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

In 1964, Colonel Sanders sold Kentucky Fried Chicken and the company offices were moved. Neither this building nor the Sanders Family were to remain idle for long however. Their knowledge of Southern Recipes and their natural leaning toward the restaurant business soon brought about the creation of the Claudia Sanders Dinner House, where an air of southern hospitality and cooking, combined with old fashioned, family style service, still remain.”

The Experience 

Immediately upon parking on the property, you know that you are in for a southern treat. Needless to say, it’s obvious that you are south of the Mason-Dixon — which, if you know me, is where my heart is happiest.

The building is stunning, an expansive southern homestead by first glance. Inside, be sure to enjoy the gift shop, the main dining room, and the Saddlebred Lounge.

Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

However, let’s get down to the nitty gritty — the food. Diners at the Claudia Sanders Dinner House can order from the main menu, choose a family style dinner, or enjoy the Sunday buffet.

To start my meal, I chose to visit the salad bar; the bar features all of the typical fixin’s, along with delicatessen favorites such as egg salad, pasta salad, and chicken salad. There are few things that I love more.

The main course? Fried chicken, of course. I’m not so sure if I’ve told y’all this, but I don’t love to eat meat off of a bone. I can, but I prefer not to; with that said, I chose to order the fried chicken breast tenders. Delicious, well-seasoned, and delectably breaded — how can you go wrong? If you are more of a traditional fried chicken connoisseur, don’t miss the Claudia’s Chicken Special.

Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY Fried Chicken Kentucky Style

The menu includes other Kentucky favorites, such as a hot brown, country ham, chicken livers, and sugar cured ham. Sides at the Claudia Sanders Dinner House are made from scratch and are finger-lickin’ good. Some highlights include creamed spinach, corn pudding, Harvard beets, stewed tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, and my favorite – the mock oysters. Mock oysters = breaded eggplant prepared in such a way that it is reminiscent of oysters.

My favorite thing about dining at the Claudia Sanders Dinner House? Hands down, the bread. Buttery, yeasty, and simply perfect. Don’t ask me how many rolls I consumed this time around…

Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

So. Good.

Oh, and don’t miss dessert by the fire. Cobbler, anyone?

Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

You can visit the Claudia Sanders Dinner House at 3202 Shelbyville Road, U.S. 60, Shelbyville, KY 40065; they can be reached at 502-633-5600.

Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

There’s so much to do and see in Shelby County, Kentucky. For other recommendations, check out my guides here, here, here, oh and here!

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

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Claudia Sanders Dinner House, Shelbyville, KY

My best,

JC

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

Iconic Kentucky Fried Chicken at the Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville, KY

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