Archive for the category “Guest Posts”

99 yummy posts on the blog, 99 yummy posts…

In case you missed the goofy reference, I was channeling “99 bottles of beer on the wall”.  I’m kind of excited to approach a couple of milestones: 100 posts on this blog, and 25,000 views.

I know, small potatoes for many bloggers, but this is my side project, and one with a fairly narrow scope – so, I’m not looking for thousands of views per post.  I’m quite happy with the wonderful people who take time to read about my experiences.  So, thank you!

Since I won’t be eating anything very interesting in the near-term – because I decided to endure my first full-body detox/cleanse, starting last week, and ending at the end of November (before Thanksgiving and my second trip to Clemson this season), I’ve asked folks if anyone would like to write a guest post for “She Ordered What?”‘s 100th post.

My friend, SweetPhi, offered up her talents.  She recently attended ChoppedCon in Kansas City, and I suspect she has a story or two to share about the experience(s).  😉

In the year or so since I met Phi, we’ve had some really fun and pretty cool experiences.  Also, her blog has TAKEN OFF!  She’s really spent a lot of time and effort growing SweetPhi to become a food blog that partners with some great companies, and reaches the masses. Kudos to you, girl!

Phi and I originally met through a small Facebook group she started to bring together Milwaukee food bloggers.  That’s probably one of the traits about Phi that immediately drew me to her.  We both reach out to people and we hang on to those we really enjoy.  We also support each other – whether it be in terms of daily life, special events, or on our blogs.  I appreciate Phi!

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That brings me to the latest fun event in our friendship.  On her blog, and through one of her awesome partnerships with Pig of the Month, Phi was planning an epic BBQ giveaway.  Of course, being a Southern educated woman, I HAD to comment!  I mean, BBQ is a “Southern thang”.

Fast-forward approximately three weeks, and I get this text: “Girl! Omg!!!!!!!!!!!!! You were randomly selected as the winner of the bbq giveaway!”

What?!?!

SCORE!!!!

Fast-forward another week or so, and I had a huge box marked “perishable” at my front door.

Folks, these were the contents of that beloved box!

Pig of the Month Prize Pack

Pig of the Month Prize Pack

Oh, dear gosh…can I tell y’all how extremely excited I was first to hear that I won this prize, and secondly, to SEE the prize?? My box *slightly* deviated from the description in the link above, but not much!  I received six racks of ribs (2x Memphis style, 2x BBQ ribs w/ sauce, 1x dry rub, and 1x Key West style), 2 lbs of pulled pork in BBQ sauce, 1lb of pulled chicken in sauce, and brisket! Holy pig!!!

Sadly, I had to pull these beautiful packages out from the dry ice-packed cooler that was sent to my door and put them directly into my freezer.  I kid you not…this incredible prize pack came on the first night I started aforementioned cleanse/detox.  But, rest assured, I plan to host a great party at which my friends and I will ENJOY this Pig of the Month package.  I’m confident that this will make for a wonderful meal (or two+).

So, many thanks to Phi, not only for her friendship, but also for the wonderful BBQ prize pack, and for offering to guest post the 100th post on “She Ordered What?”.  Please stay tuned for her post here, and check out her awesome blog – GREAT recipes and occasional giveaways that you don’t want to miss!

Cheers!

Ker

 

Guest post: The Tipping Point: The Art and Science of Tipping

I’m very grateful to Richard Bracke for reaching out to me via email and asking if I’d be willing to have him guest post.  He admitted to being a fan of this blog, and thought he could provide a different, yet related, point of view.  His idea was to write a post on the art and science of tipping.

I’m sure many of you have stressed over the proper tip at one point or another; I know I have!  Richard provides good information in his post below.

First, here’s a little information on Richard.  An avid writer, father, and foodie, Richard Bracke loves to try out new restaurants in Charlotte, and especially enjoys Spanish tapas accompanied by a nice Catalonian Cava.  He currently blogs for the website, EZ Cater.

Richard’s “tips” (pun intended, folks!)

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You’ve just finished a great meal and the waiter has returned with your bill and card. You pick up the pen and start to scratch an amount on the dotted line with the precursor, “tip”. But you pause, “what’s the right amount?” you question. “Twice the first number minus one? Times the whole amount by 0.2? Round up to the nearest whole number?”

Image courtesy of:  http://earthsky.org/space/making-sense-of-misconceptions

If this sounds familiar, keep reading!

It’s obvious to say that the topic of tipping has long been a source of contention amongst families, friends, and wait staff everywhere. The origins of the act itself seem to be just as ambiguous as the process.  The term “to tip” appears to have started in the 18th century as a way for patrons of an establishment to encourage better service and quality of their goods.

So while the general consensus of tipping is a little subjective, there are a few things to keep in mind the next time you find yourself in the position to give a tip. The first is a generational gap. Depending on which generation you come from, your preconceived ideas about how much to tip may vary.

While the industry standard in previous eras has been anywhere from 5% to 10%, the current accepted amount is about 15-20%.  Why the change?  Well that takes a little math. 

The average server generally makes a much lower per hour wage than the minimum wage (which varies by location).  Restaurants typically pay the wait staff at a reduced hourly wage because the money they take home in tips off-sets the state’s minimum wage rate.  On any given night, a server could have anywhere from three to ten tables, sometimes more, sometimes less all depending on the volume of the restaurant. Assume each bill was about $60 dollars; this is what their income for that evening would look like.

 As you can see the slight increase from 10% to 20% makes a huge difference in the nightly totals a waiter or waitress brings in. Literally that extra 10% could mean the difference between making rent, and not making rent. It’s also important to note that any problems you had with the preparation or taste of your food should not be translated to your server’s tip, they are simply the conduit, not the source. Be sure to voice your concerns with the wait staff so they can let the cooks and kitchen know, but don’t let your distaste with the food affect your server’s tip!

The choice of how much to tip in any situation is of course up to you, the patron. If your wait service was less than stellar you should, of course, vary your tip accordingly. While, giving a bit extra in the tip shows you really appreciated the great service, and gives the employee an incentive to keep up the good work!

In closing, I suppose the important thing to remember here is that we’ve all had a day where we weren’t at our best, so regardless of whether a good tip was “earned” or not there is one thing you should always remember, a little generosity goes a long way in making someone else’s day! And really, it’s always better to err on the side of more, rather than too little.

So even if the accepted amount is 20% leaving 25% is always acceptable too!  🙂

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Thank you, Richard, for sharing your thoughts on tipping wait staff.  It is indeed a critical part of the dining experience, IMO! I’d love to hear readers’ points of view.  Please comment if you feel strongly about tipping or if you have a method of your own.

Cheers!

Ker

Good Golly! An Amazing Dinner at the Holly Hotel (Holly, Michigan)

This post was written by a very good friend of mine, Jess.  She and her husband, Bryan (also a very good friend, who accompanied me for this blog post), are adventuresome diners and love to explore local spots.  I wish I had more of that in my DNA!

Jess was kind enough to vividly describe their anniversary dinner (happy belated anniversary you lovely couple!!) and Bryan was planful enough to take photos of many courses of this seemingly never-ending meal! He may have taken a cue from me, as some of the picture are of half-eaten dishes, or fully cleaned plates!  But, that’s okay…it’s all a sign of a thoroughly enjoyed meal!    I hope you enjoy their story as much as I did.

Meet Jess and Bryan:

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My husband Bryan and I discovered the Holly Hotel last fall thanks to a Groupon deal, and since it was relatively close to our house (we live in the boonies, so nothing is close to us) and there seems to be a lack of chef-driven, seasonal menus anywhere in metro-Detroit, we thought we would give it a shot. Plus, it has been around since the 1860s and is supposedly haunted—how much more can you ask for on a Groupon deal? Even if the meal sucked, maybe we would see a ghost.

Image courtesy of the Holly Hotel

When we first walked in, we were a little surprised and not sure what to expect from the meal. I don’t think the interior has changed much since the hotel first opened, with the exception of adding some electricity. To add to the experience, we brought my parents along.  They are well-traveled foodies, and have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world.

It turned out to be a wonderful evening, with fantastic food and great service, and an interpretation of the décor as being “shabby chic”. So, when it came to figuring out where we wanted to dine for our 1 year anniversary, we decided to go back to the Holly Hotel.

Now, I should say that Bryan is a pretty adventurous eater. Snack Street in Beijing was like a playground to him, so he always chooses the chef-driven menus whenever he can. He did so during our first experience and decided that it worked so well, he wanted the chef-driven menu again. Since I had also chosen the chef-driven menu the first time, I thought I would mix it up and try some of their staple items during this dinner instead. And, we generally share so it works in our favor and we get to taste more of the menu.  I say “generally” because there was a squabble over some black truffle mashed potatoes on this particular evening.

Bryan’s meal started off with an amuse-bouche of chicken mushroom spring rolls with sriracha and yuzu (an Asian citrus). I had never had yuzu before, but it was pleasantly tart and paired well with the sriracha and the woodsy mushroom flavor, bringing a nice brightness to the spring roll.  Luckily they gave Bryan two spring rolls, so I got to gnosh on one. For my starter, I had onion soup topped with a puff pastry, which was a unique twist and absolutely delicious. When I commented on my love for puff pastry to our server, she shared my opinion saying “I’d eat a dead cat if it was wrapped in puff pastry. In fact, I’d tell you that’s how I like my dead cat prepared”.

I’m pretty sure “wrap it in puff pastry” didn’t make the list

(This is Ker:  When Jess relayed that ‘puffed pastry / dead cat’ story to me, she and I both bust up laughing! )

Next, Bryan had a pumpkin parsnip soup, which he devoured. I love parsnips, especially seeing them used as a puree for heavier cuts of meat like short-ribs, but am not so much of a pumpkin fan, so this wasn’t my favorite. Even though I wasn’t in love with the pumpkin flavor, I have to say the texture was incredible—very thick but pureed finely, and lots of flavor. Meanwhile, I was still working on my onion soup.

For the salad course, I had ordered a Bibb lettuce salad with shaved Bavarian ham, parmesan and a Dijon mustard dressing, but as soon as they served Bryan’s salad I knew I was going to have to forfeit mine. Bryan was served a spinach salad absolutely loaded with Stilton crumbles, Stilton dressing, beets and roasted corn. The problem: Bryan HATES blue cheese. The good news is that I love it, so we quickly switched. The blue cheese flavor was intense—if you aren’t a true lover of blue cheese I wouldn’t recommend this salad—and the roasted corn added a touch of sweetness that I really liked. As for my original salad… the Dijon dressing was the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, especially when paired with the slightly salty Bavarian ham. Not that I got to taste much of it.

Next up for Bryan was flounder stuffed with chorizo and shrimp grits and topped with a champagne feta cream sauce. I am allergic to seafood, so Bryan was on his own here.

I was concerned about a lot of really strong flavors and how they would all mix together, especially the chorizo with flounder, and I was even more curious about a champagne feta sauce, but judging by the empty plate the server cleared away, apparently the flavor profiles were a success.

After a quick orange sour palate cleanser (yummy! Not too tart and just the perfect amount of orange zest) we were finally on to the main course.

Beef Wellington is a signature dish for the Holly Hotel, and wanting to try some of their staple items, this was my choice. I was curious to see how they would handle this—not only is it a dish that has somewhat fallen out of fashion (along with Chateaubriand), but it is also extremely difficult to prepare, getting the correct temperature on the beef without overcooking the puff pastry.

Bryan had Lollipop Lamb Chops, Filet Mignon and Black Truffle Red Skin Potatoes. Which is where our sharing-system broke down.

First of all, my Beef Wellington was incredible. I’ve already mentioned my weakness for puff pastry, but throw in some flavorful, creamy mushroom duxelles on top of a tender filet and I am in heaven. I drifted off for a while, sipping my wine, enjoying my classic dish. It practically melted in my mouth. Bryan was also quiet, tucked into his lamb, filet and taters.

Finally, we came back to earth, decided to engage in conversation again, and shared bites. Wow. Wowwowwowwow. His filet mignon was one of the most tender I have ever had, which is saying something, because filet mignon is my favorite dish – hands down.  I almost always order it. His was like cutting through butter. I thought the beef wellington was good but this…. This was incredible.

And the potatoes…. I don’t even know how to describe them. The black truffle took the flavor on the potatoes to mythic heights. When I reached for a second bite, I nearly got stabbed with Bryan’s fork. After some pleading on my end and reminding the hubby how kind I was to forfeit my original salad to him (not like that was really a loss for me since I love blue cheese, but whatever), I was allowed a second bite. A blissful, perfect little bite. I would go back to the Holly Hotel for those alone.

Alas, soon the potatoes, the filet and my beef wellington were consumed and we were on to the cheese course. The server brought us (okay, technically Bryan) a tray of porter cheddar cheese, smoked cheddar, homemade caramel sauce, candied nuts and dried blueberries. I am a fan of smoked cheddars and the smokiness of this one was a perfect complement to the heavier flavors of our dinner. I was also digging the caramel sauce and dried blueberries and even dipped the cheddar into the sauce, which was surprisingly good.

As if we hadn’t been gluttonous enough at this point, Bryan had one more course to go—the dessert course. I had been eye-balling a puff pastry wrapped apple for dessert (are you sensing a theme here?) but Bryan’s trio of cheesecake was enough for the both of us (courtesy of the server, who knew it was our anniversary dinner) so I decided not to be piggish. We had a cheesecake slice topped with a chocolate and the aforementioned caramel sauce, one with a raspberry sauce and one with a strawberry sauce. Unfortunately, this was our least favorite dish of the night. We found the cheesecake to be very dense and dry, and were somewhat disappointed to wrap up our otherwise incredible meal on this note.

Overall though, our meal was amazing—the slightly kitschy atmosphere was quiet and romantic, the food was heavenly and our service was fantastic. We picked the perfect place to celebrate our anniversary, and it stacked up to our first experience there almost a year prior. In fact, it was so good that we became Dining Club members there, and will be taking my parents back when they are in town this weekend.  So, for anyone in the metro-Detroit area who doesn’t mind a bit of a drive for a truly wonderful dining experience, we highly recommend the Holly Hotel.

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Thanks to Jess and Bryan for taking time from their romantic anniversary dinner to prepare a blog post!  Yes, folks, I did razz them a bit about thinking so much about this blog while they were out celebrating such a special day!  But, I love them for having done so!

Now, I’m off to find dinner.  After reading about eight delicious courses, I’m starved, friends!

Cheers!

Ker

PS. Since I stopped writing my other blog, I don’t really have a good place to post general experiences.  Since y’all must know about my adoration for my beloved Clemson Tigers, I’m going to direct you to my friend Anthony’s recap of our weekend in God’s Country last weekend.  Thanks for the wonderful memories, Ant and everyone else with whom I spent QT in SC. xoxo.

Interested in contributing to “She Ordered What?!?”

Y’all, I’m finally planning travel again soon!  🙂

Let’s not get too excited, as I’m heading to semi-rural CLE and NJ (but also NYC).  Then I’m off to Chicago and Atlanta.  And, let’s not forget CLEMSON!  With a fighting chance that I do indeed make it to Singapore this fall too!  New “experiential posts” soon to come, friends!

In the meantime, I’ve had a few readers tweet me, and leave Facebook and blog comments asking additional questions, so I thought I’d take some time to answer them.

1) What if I get served something I don’t like?

SOW: That’s always part of the risk/reward.  It’s perfectly acceptable, and encouraged, by the primary author of this blog (me!) to set a few limitations which might help your experience be a bit more enjoyable.  (See my restrictions about maple flavors and scallops.  I also advise servers that I don’t drink “spirits” or coffee drinks)  You don’t have to surrender total control!

2) What if I see a few things I think I’ll like, but am not sure.

SOW: Again, you don’t have to rely solely on your server!  I’ve often ordered using the “I can’t decide amongst [insert options here]…” method.

In fact, I had (another!) great experience at Zingerman’s Roadhouse last week when my colleagues and I had a team dinner.  I had read rave reviews about their Mac ‘n Cheese, but I hadn’t tried it yet.  And, y’all, the list is pretty enticing!  So, I had our server, Josh, choose a Mac ‘n Cheese dish for me.  He didn’t skip a beat, and he brought me this delightful dish!

Zingerman’s Pimento Bacon Macaroni

3) If I’m not a writer, can I still contribute to the blog?

SOW: Absolutely!  Guest posts should be written in your tone, using your words to describe your experience.  However, I’m happy to edit whenever someone asks for help!

(Disclaimer: I often add relevant links to guest posts to provide additional information for readers – and I usually don’t ask permission!)

Finally,

4) How do I go about writing a guest post?

SOW: Please just capture as much of your experience as you can through notes and pictures (or video if permitted!), and then describe your experience.  You can email me a Word document and attachments at kerkilbourne@gmail.com.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to me!

Cheers!

Ker

Another guest post coming soon!

I was excited to go out with some friends for Mexican tonight, but alas, a ridiculously sore throat has prevented me from eating for two days.  So, plans have been postponed, and I have reached out to my network for help. As I’ve mentioned before, and as evidenced by the guests posts thus far, I’ve been blessed in how people have taken to the concept of having a server choose their meals for them.

One of my favorite bloggers, AllLacqueredUp, who writes the first non-tech blog I ever subscribed to, has offered to guest post about her dinner tomorrow. Her exact words were:  “I’m going out tomorrow and I’d love to do a guest post for you…You’re onto something fresh in terms of food blogging. I’m excited to put my meal in the hands of my server.”

She’s known to frequent fabulous places, and definitely knows her way around the social scene in and around Cleveland! I’m really excited to hear about her experience, and will share her story as soon as she’s ready.  In the mean time, if you’ve missed previous guest blogs…check them out in the “Guest Posts” category, or in the links below.

Jerod’s unique first date

Lisa’s foray into fondue

Rachel’s gourmet burger adventure (she almost missed it while she was on the phone!)

My dad surrendered his meal to his server

And, here’s to hoping I’m able to eat again soon.  I’m ready to get back to posting too!

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