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Foods to warm up with in winter

There’s nothing like biting winter chill to make you appreciate a hot meal.

White Bean Chicken Chili -  Cathedral Cafe

White Bean Chicken Chili – Cathedral Cafe

In Southern West Virginia, every town has its staple cold-weather favorites, down-home, just-out-of-the-oven dishes that just make you melt on an icy day.

Here are a few of the favorite warm-up eats to try in Southern WV on a cold day:

Southwest Chicken from David’s at the Club (Bluefield)
In a tantalizing menu of flame-grilled and pan-seared plates, David’s is a perfect place to escape the winter weather. For an extra warm trip, select something doubly hot— by temperature and by flavor. The spicy flare of the Southwest chicken’s tomato sauce is paired up with black beans and rice to calm its kick.

Coffee From Cathedral Cafe (Fayetteville)
Let the warmth flow through you with a steaming cup of joe from Cathedral Cafe. From creative coffee flavors to unique java blends, there’s something smooth to heat you up. Grab a cup and take steaming sips between bites of a sizzling quesadilla, grilled panini, or hot soup of the day. Keep an eye out for the white bean! It’s the local favorite.

Shepherd’s Pie from McBee’s Irish Pub (Beckley)
A classic just-from-the-oven treat that’s baked to golden perfection. Guiness-simmered steak and veggies, roasted under a bed of potatoes and cheese to hold in heat and flavor. One of their authentic Irish specialties, Mcbee’s Shepherd’s Pie is a foreign favorite that tastes just like home.

Biscuits from Bramwell Cafe (Bramwell)
Awaken to warmth with Bramwell Cafe’s breakfast buffet! Among the rotation of Appalachian favorites, grab a few of their soft, buttery biscuits, steaming as you separate them to melt on a heaping helping of jam, or extra butter. Top with bacon and eggs for a hot morning sandwich.

Grape Pie from Pies and Pints (Fayetteville)
We know, we know, you usually like your grapes straight from the fridge. But let Pies and Pints introduce you to the warm way: fruit baked fresh on a hand-tossed crust and melted in a pile of gooey cheese. Add some gorgonzola, fresh rosemary, and your well on your way to sizzling gourmet.

Steam Engine from The Market at Courthouse Square (Hinton)
With a name like “steam engine,” you know it’ll set your taste buds alight. This sandwich features a spicy specialty sauce, pepper jack and jalapeños with LTO. Then, take your pick of meat to top it all off. If it’s really freezing out, you might need to add a cup of one of The Market’s boiler tank soups to the side.

Which dish do you warm up with in the winter in Southern WV?

Local Restaurants and Signature Dishes – Diogi’s Mexican Grill

We’ve got another restaurant recommendation for you on your next visit to southern West Virginia. Diogi’s Mexican Grill in Fayetteville is a must-try in these parts.

Although the word Diogi is not Spanish, the food there is a blend of Mexican, Latin and El Salvadorian cuisine. Curious about the name? It’s what you hear when you spell out the word ‘dog’. And that name was inspired by Liberty, Lucy,

Carnitas w/ Salvadorian-Style Guacamole

Lola, Lexi and Leo, the 5 dogs that belong to Diogi’s owners Barbara and Oscar Aguilar. If you visit this unique Fayetteville eatery you’ll see that’s not all those five pups inspired.

Barbara and Oscar moved here from Philadelphia in 2008 to open DiOGi’s. This was after 12 years of owning a restaurant in Philly. That might sound like an unusual progression until you learn that Barbara is a Hinton native. The Salvadorian twist is genuine, as that’s where Oscar hails from. His roots definitely influence many of his recipes.

Although the food is predominantly Latin, Diogi’s has something for every palate, including burgers, steak, and baby back ribs. Oscar does like to mix things up though, and on any given night you may find some cool specials, even sushi. The couple pride themselves on serving great food; most everything they serve is homemade. Barbara and Oscar love Fayetteville and try to give back to the area by using as much organic, locally grown produce and locally raised meats as possible.

The décor at Diogi’s?  Well, it’s unique and definitely one-of-a-kind. In fact, you could say it’s gone to the dogs and you wouldn’t be far off.  A bar with a stream running through it, tables made from old Fayette County barn wood, and dog-friendly outdoor dining make this restaurant a local favorite. A full bar with locally brewed beer and live music every Monday doesn’t hurt either.

 

Salvadorian-Style Guacamole

Here is Oscar’s recipe for the guacamole served at Diogi’s. Its great when used in other dishes or just as a stand-alone appetizer.

15 ripe Haas avocados
5 hard-boiled eggs
6 1/2 oz. of diced red onions
1 oz. fresh cilantro, use mostly leaves & chop coarsely
0.6 oz. granulated garlic
5.5 oz. of fresh squeezed lime juice
3 oz. of sliced pickled jalapenos
1.5 oz. of jalapeno juice.

Cut avocados in half, remove seed, scoop avocado into large mixing bowl.
Chop hard-boiled eggs, and add all ingredients together.  Mix well, and enjoy!
This guacamole is a must-try, trust us. And be sure to try their superb carnitas. You can even get a doggie taco if you’re dining with your pooch.

Give DiOGi’s a visit next time you’re hungry and ask for Barbara and Oscar, they’d love to meet you.

Where the Locals Go in Raleigh County, Part 2

The last time we talked about Raleigh County, we looked at some great places locals like to visit.  Here are a few more:

To See

This list highlights some of the other areas of Raleigh County that you should check out.

Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park

    Exhibition Coal Mine- This is an actual old working underground coal mine in the middle of Beckley that showcases the mining process from years gone by. Locals love it because many of them had family that worked in similar mines.  You’ll learn just how hard mining was before some of the automation that is available today.

    Glade Creek- There’s a great recreation area at the mouth of Glade Creek where it meets the New River. This area has boat ramp, toilet facilities, and a first-come, first-serve camping area. There is a hiking trail that borders Glade Creek going upstream from the recreation area.  The bottom 3.5 miles of the creek are catch and release fishing spots for trout.

  • Stephens Lake- Only 9 miles from Beckley, this lake is an excellent fishery with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, tiger musky, walleye, and channel catfish. The lake contains one of the best tiger musky fisheries in the state and has camping and boating opportunities.
  • Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park- With over 100 miles of trails designed for off-road fun, it’s a local favorite because of the terrain and views. It’s also a great place to ride safely and legally.

Dining

There are plenty of great places to eat in Beckley, the county seat of Raleigh County. Here are some of the eateries that locals frequent.

    The Char- One of Beckley’s finest restaurants since 1965, locals love The Char’s relaxed atmosphere and great food.

  • Pasquale’s- In business for over 40 years. Pasquale’s satisfies local Italian cuisine cravings.  Be sure to try the meatballs.
  • Delightfully Yours- Eclectic food and a casual atmosphere make Delightfully Yours a local favorite.
  • McBees Irish Pub- McBees is one of the newest places to dine in Beckley.  Great food (including some Irish favorites) and live music make a visit to McBees a real treat.
  • Tamarack- Folks love Tamarack because they can dine on WV specialties, see a show or art exhibit, and shop for WV made arts and crafts.  Ever tried a fried green tomato?  You can at Tamarack.

Know of any other local favorites in Raleigh County?  Share them with us in the comments.

Local Restaurants and Their Signature Dishes: Cathedral Cafe

Today we take a look at another Fayetteville favorite, the Cathedral Cafe.

The Cathedral Cafe probably has some of the coolest décor of any restaurant in the area.  Or maybe ‘divine’ is a better way to describe Cathedral.  Housed in the old M.E Church in downtown Fayetteville, it feels like a library and a sanctuary rolled up into one.  Amazing stained glass windows fill the restaurant, and books line the walls.

Stained Glass Window adorn Cathedral Cafe

The M.E. Church was built in 1905 and was deconsecrated and used a storage building from 1985 to 1997.  After that, Cathedral Cafe was born. Current owner Wendy Bayes has been hard at it since she purchased the restaurant in June 2000.

A breakfast and lunch joint that occasionally offers dinner for special events, Cathedral has become a popular morning spot in Fayetteville for locals and tourists alike. Good coffee and food combined with a laid back, “hang out” type of atmosphere has endeared this place to many  folks who have made Cathedral a morning ritual.

The restaurant has been honored in many ways, receiving the Southern West Virginia Gene Coulson Hospitality Award, Fayette County Female-Owned Business of the Year Award, and was the first to win Fayette County Business of the Year.  Wendy Bayes has also been recognized as one of the top 40 entrepreneurs under 40 in West Virginia.  If that’s not enough,   the restaurant has also been recognized as the perfect West Virginia hangout, best post-paddle hangout, and helped put one of America’s Coolest Small Towns on the map.

 Mixed Berry Cobbler

Wendy wanted to share Cathedral’s Mixed Berry Cobbler recipe, which is easy to make at home.

Directions:

8 cups mixed berries in bottom of 9×11 pan (we use equal parts blueberries and raspberries, but other berries work just as well)

Sprinkle with ½ cup sugar and mix to coat well

In large bowl add:  2 cups oats

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 t. coriander
1 cup butter, soft

Work bowl mixture together until crumbly.
Top the berry mixture with the crumb topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until top is lightly browned and berries are bubbling deliciously!

Let sit for 15 minutes before you serve.
Top with vanilla bean ice cream, put your feet up, and ENJOY!!

Cathedral desserts can be ordered and purchased whole, if you wish.  Not a bad idea if you’re vacationing in one of our area cabins and want a great local dessert to go with your cabin-cooked meal.

Have you visited Cathedral Cafe?

Where Locals Go – Raleigh County (Part 1)

The locals always know the best ‘hang-out’ spots. Whether it’s a neat place to hike or an out-of-the-way place to eat, locals know where to find the little hidden gems where they live.

This week we will look at some local favorites in Raleigh County.

Things to Do

Raleigh County is full of businesses and activities that are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. There are plenty of great

Little Beaver Lake @ Little Beaver State Park

spots to enjoy nature and lots of historical areas to visit.

One of those favorite nature spots is Grandview, part of the New River Gorge National River. It’s located just a few miles east of Beckley off of I-64. With hiking trails, sweet overlooks that provide spectacular views of the New River, and plenty of picnic and play areas, Grandview is a must-see. Grandview is also the home of Theater WV, which hosts summer outdoor dramas. This is definitely a place to spend a day.

Just a hop, skip, and jump from Grandview is Little Beaver State Park. Almost 600 acres of recreation awaits you at Little Beaver. The onsite lake offers great fishing, and you can rent row boats or paddle boats for some water sport fun. Hiking, biking, camping, and plenty of places for the family to enjoy the day make this a wonderful spot to hang out and play.

Both Grandview and Little Beaver are accessed from exit 129 off  I-64. Grandview is 4 miles north and Little Beaver is 2 miles south.

Places to Go

Raleigh County has tons of great places to dine, but a few are most definitely local favorites.
The King Tut Drive-In has been a Beckley landmark since the 1940s and owned by the same family since 1955. King Tut is a unique throwback to days gone by. With fresh-baked bread and homemade pies made daily, you’ll be hard pressed to find another drive-in like this anywhere.

And like any good drive-in, at King Tut’s they’ll deliver right to your car.  They are located at 301 N. Eisenhower Drive.  King Tut’s is closed on Wednesdays.

Calacino’s Pizzeria was Beckley’s first pizza joint, and it has been serving that pizza at the same location since 1934. Dishing up appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and some of the best homemade pizza in the area, Calacino’s has been a local favorite for decades. Remodeled and expanded a few years ago, Calacino’s is ready to feed many more generations of locals and tourists alike.

Visit Calacino’s at 3611 Robert C. Byrd Drive and try out Beckley’s oldest pizzeria. You’ll be glad you did.

Check back soon for more local Raleigh County favorites!

Where The Locals Dine

Anytime you visit a new place, there’s one question you should ask: “Where do the locals go?”

Whether it’s hiking, biking, shopping, or relaxing, locals are the key to finding those sometimes overlooked or unknown places in your vacation destination. At no time are locals more helpful than when trying to decide where to dine.

Searching out the best local cuisine can sometimes be a tough task.  But never fear, we’re here to

Pie from Pies and Pints

share some restaurants with you that locals can’t get enough of!

Where To Go, What to Eat

According to locals, these are just a few of their favorite eating-out spots:

* Pies and Pints- This restaurant features handcrafted pizza and beer, and beer and handcrafted pizza. Need we say more?  Locals liked it so much that they branched out from their Fayetteville location and opened a second restaurant in Charleston.
* Gumbos – In Fayetteville, Gumbo’s has a Cajun-influenced menu featuring  good southern cuisine.
* Pasquale Mira-   This Beckley restaurant has been serving the area’s best Italian food for 50 years.
* Diogis-  Also in Fayetteville, here you’ll find excellent Mexican cuisine with a bit of El Salvadoran style.
* Chetty’s Pub- After a day of rafting with Adventures on the Gorge, Monday night wing night is a must.
* The Char- Looking for a formal dining option?  Go to The Char, one of Beckley’s finest restaurants.
* The Market at Courthouse Square in Hinton, WV.  Extraordinary pizza, sandwiches, baked good and gelato.  Sandwiches have railroad themed names.  Awesome small town dining open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
* The Bramwell Cafe- Country food at it’s best and just like mom used to make.
* Tamarack- Featuring a menu create by The Greenbrier, the fried green tomatoes are a must-try.  And after you dine, you’ll have the chance to view lots of West Virginia crafts and artisans at work.

Each of these places (and many other southern WV restaurants) has good eats and some endearing qualities that make it special to locals.

Do you have a favorite Southern WV Restaurant?

Start Filling Out That New Calendar

January marks the chance to sport a new calendar on the wall and start filling in some fun weekend events among all your other work and family commitments.

As you turn the page into January, February, and March, why not add in some fun

Tamarack Artisan Center

events alongside noting Grandma’s Birthday and your next work trip?  While you might not naturally associate arts and culture with southern West Virginia, maybe you should.  The artisans and creative class working among our mountains have plenty of inspiration all around them and are bringing some great events to you right here in Southern West Virginia.

In Raleigh County, the first few months of 2011 bring a chance to experience the life of prized writer Emily Dickinson or combine dinner and theatre at Tamarack, the state’s iconic arts and cultural center.

Over in Greenbrier County, you can celebrate your folk roots with the most awarded band in the history of bluegrass coming up on February 11.

In Fayette County, take in a showing of  “The Pied Piper” at Historic Fayette Theatre, March 4, 5, 11, 12, 18-20th.

In Summers and Mercer, social life  just got a little more interesting with the opportunity to  spend some quality time with your sweetheart at Pipestem Resort State Park.  Anytime is a good time to get away with the one you love but special sweetheart events are planned for Feb 11-13 including entertainment by  ‘Time Peace’ from Craigsville, WV during the Sweetheart Dance on Saturday night.

This is just a few of the events happening in 2011.  So what are you waiting for check out the 2011 Southern West Virginia Events Calendar and start saving the date(s)!

5 Simple Ways To Plan A Family Vacation To West Virginia

Okay, full disclosure: we want you to come to southern West Virginia.  Guess the secret’s out!

But here are some tips you can use to plan a family vacation to

Family Visiting an Overlook in the New River Gorge

anywhere.  Even somewhere that’s, say, not the most beautiful mountains on earth (ahem!).  These little shortcuts can save you money while you’re away from home.  And more importantly, they can make sure that everyone has a great time on vacation.

1.  Check On Events Specials

Here’s the secret about events: They’re everywhere.  And businesses will often offer special discounts on lodging, food, and activities surrounding the event.  This is a great way to save and plan at the same time.  Plus, searching for events is a good way to plan your vacation around something everyone in the family enjoys, like a music festival or river fest or a huge 4th of July event.

2. Plan On The Shoulder

If you can make your schedule more flexible than the next person, you’ll end up ahead.  Midweek is the time to book everything:  more availability, lower rates, and less crowded.  Plus one more benefit:  We cannot confirm this -it’s only a rumor- but supposedly, the weather is better during the week.  Going to have to check the almanac on that one.

3.  Double Check On Activities

A lot of outdoor adventures have age or weight guidelines for kids.  It’s always a good idea to call again after you’ve booked to double check that you’re reservationist got you in the right space.  There’s really nothing worse than showing up booked for the wrong trip or activity, especially when there are kids involved.  Checking up saves time and possibly tears in the long run.

4.  Crowdsource Your Vacation Ideas

The tools to review your experience exist for almost everything today, and vacations lead the way.  Check online to see how others have rated a particular experience, and ask the community what they think.  This idea of crowdsourcing is a powerful tool to make your vacation dollars -and more importantly, your vacation hours- count.

5.  Use A Convention And Visitors Bureau

You didn’t think we’d leave this out, did you?  In fact, we saved the best tip for last.  Use a CVB (hey, that’s us!) to help plan your trip, and you can’t go wrong.  Why?  Helping plan trips is our business.  And we’re free to use!  CVBs are a wealth of local information, and isn’t that really what you’re looking for?  The best restaurants, the right activities, the perfect lodging… these are the questions we at the Southern West Virginia CVB answer every day.

What about you?  Have a little go-to advice for planning a family vacation?  Something West Virginia specific, maybe?  We’d love to hear about it.

We’d love to help you even more.

What’s The Big Deal With The New River Gorge?

Fayette County, West Virginia has a secret.  It’s one of the world’s oldest places.  And that’s mainly due to the New River Gorge.

Sight-seeing in the New River Gorge

Sight-seeing in the New River Gorge

How do we know?  Read on…

Back before it was called Fayette County, about 500 million years ago, the New River Gorge drained the entire Appalachian Mountain Range, a lot like an ancient Mississippi river.  Everything that wasn’t under water or under ice drained into the New.

Fast forward to right now.  The New still cuts it’s same path down through the same ancient rock, but now you can visit without getting eaten by a T-Rex or a giant carnivorous slug.

In fact, Fayette County is a getaway destination for people all over the world.  The river and it’s shockingly good whitewater are the big draw, but there’s a lot more to see than just the “Grand Canyon Of the East”.  Fayco, as the locals call it, is a pretty big deal.

Eats
The area definitely benefits from having so many people from so many different places come in to visit.  That fact alone turns a lot of the fare from “food” into “cuisine”, without necessarily jacking the prices way up.

The result?  Great food just about anywhere you go around the gorge.   And it’s authentic.  Real Central American food that goes way beyond typical Mexican dishes, or the best Cajun broil outside of Louisiana. Sammies and salads, breakfast cafes, and just about anything else you’d like to scarf down is ready and available.

Shops
The New River Gorge is the place you want to go to find the otherwise unfindable.  From fine art to folk crafts, there are plenty of shops around the gorge to let your shopping bug run wild.

One place visitors might not expect to find good shopping is at the local whitewater outfitters shops.  These stores usually carry items that outshine the typical “T-shirts and Shot Glasses” inventory of most gift shops.  Oh, they carry that stuff, too, but you’re just as likely to find prints and other art that shows off the soul of the river.  They’re well worth checking out.

See And Do
The name of the game in Fayette County is white water rafting in the New River Gorge and on the Gauley River.  These rivers are the standards by which all others in the Appalachian Mountains are judged.  If you like doing stuff outside, it has to be on your list.

Here’s what you need to know about white water rafting:  it’s fun.  That’s it.  Everything else is just details.  The trips are easy to arrange, and the outfitters, no matter which one you choose, can pretty much take care of everything you need for your whole stay.   Just know that you can do super-adrenaline rafting trips, and lazy river kiddie trips, all with the same outfitter.

Then, there’s all the other stuff.  It’s pretty much a smorgasboard of outdoor bliss; anything you want to do outside, you can do in the gorge.  And the coolest part is, you get a local expert along for the ride.  Another cool part is that it’s not an amusement Park, and these aren’t rides.  This is the real deal- outdoor adventure that people can actually go and do on a vacation.

Other Stuff
Fayette County is also a good place for history buffs.  Civil war reenactments, interpretive natural history hikes, and plenty of old-timers who’ll tell you about growing up in the coal camps of the New River Gorge (that last one is my personal favorite) are all worth a visit.

Fayette county also has a vibrant music scene.  Again, this has a lot to do with the rafting companies, but there’s always live music somewhere to be seen out and about in the Gorge.

And that’s why Fayette County is a big deal.  There is quite literally always something to do, along with great places to stay, fine food, and friendly people.  There’s a lot to experience up in the New River Gorge, so make sure that you check it out when you visit southern West Virginia.

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