Crafty Cocktails, tasty tapas and … chicken livers?
Preview tastings leading up to this year’s Capital Cocktail Classic continued this past week with delicious stops at Ichiban/Bar 101 and the new DT Prime steakhouse in downtown Charleston.
First up was Bar 101, where I sampled a yet-to-be-named cocktail featuring Bacardi and RumHaven coconut rum mixed with pink lemonade, orange juice, muddled cherry and a splash of grenadine, with an orange and cherry garnish.
That sweet and colorful concoction paired really nicely with Ichiban’s marvelous, marinated Thai chicken satay skewers glistening with an addictive ginger peanut sauce, sprinkled with cilantro and served with sliced limes to squeeze on top.
Juicy, tender and bursting with flavor, those skewers spiced with coconut and both yellow and Massaman curries were firing on all cylinders, let me tell you. We could not stop eating them!
After that tasty gem, we walked down the street to DT Prime, where we sipped on a Peach Jamaican Rum Punch made with a mix of Myers’s dark rum, Malibu coconut rum, orange juice and a splash of peach schnapps with a pineapple and cherry garnish.
Although pretty sweet on its own, the drink was a nice complement to the appetizer it will be served with, which is jerk shrimp kabobs with fresh grilled pineapple and a trio of peppers drizzled with a tangy dark rum coconut glaze.
The sweet and savory notes balanced each other well, with similar tropical flavors threaded through both the drink and dish to tie them together.
Stay tuned soon for a sneak peek at Black Sheep’s drink and appetizer to be featured that night, then (combined with the pairing from Sam’s Uptown Café I shared a few weeks ago) you’ll have the full lineup of all offerings for this year’s event.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.fundfortheartswv.org/events.
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When I asked readers to pick the best sandwiches in Charleston and let me know where a reader named Paul could find chicken livers, I expected one of those topics to blow up my inbox and phone.
And it wasn’t the chicken livers.
But sure enough, sandwiches took a back seat to chicken chatter, which easily generated quadruple the number of emails and calls. Also surprising was that there are, in fact, several places around town to find something I wouldn’t walk across the room to eat.
“I love chicken livers with loads of onion and the best I’ve found around here is at WV Corner Kitchen,” reader Sandra Jones Lanham said of this unassuming spot on Bigley Avenue, which offers them on certain days. “Don't be fooled by the outside. I pick up the liver dinner and the chicken and dumplings dinner about once a month. Not too healthy, but just like my grandmother made, which is hard to find these days – that comfort food.”
Corner Kitchen received lots of love from other readers as well.
Best of Crete on Charleston’s West Side apparently serves them, too, once a week on Thursdays.
“Mike Birurakis and his mother Joann did ‘Chicken Liver Day’ at Best of Crete in Town Center Mall on Thursdays,” wrote Father Olof Scott, retired Dean Emeritus of St. George Orthodox Cathedral. “They’re no longer there, but Mike still does them at their Beech Avenue location on the West Side at Best of Crete Deli, 816 Beech Ave.”
Also on the West Side, the Smokehouse received a bunch of kudos.
“The absolute BEST chicken livers I have found in the Kanawha Valley come from the Smokehouse on West Washington Street in Charleston,” reported Paula Eagerton. “They are the featured entree every other Thursday for lunch and are best served with onions and gravy. Mmmmmm!”
Vicky Hayes agreed: “My personal favorite is the Smokehouse on the West Side.” She also said they’re served as a special every other Thursday, but they sell out quick.
“You can get really good fried chicken livers every other Thursday at the Smokehouse on West Washington Street,” added Betty Ireland. “They’re served with fresh collard greens. Yum. By the way, the best chicken livers were at Southern Kitchen in Kanawha City but, alas, that’s gone.”
Lee Ann Kelley Troyan said Harding’s off the Mink Shoals exit used to have chicken livers as a special on Fridays, but they weren’t listed on the menu and usually sold out.
But never fear, there are other spots to get your fix down the road in St. Albans, Nitro and other points west.
“For your reader, Paul, Diehl’s does in fact serve chicken livers, but only on Saturdays. It’s a huge portion, stacked high and covering half a platter – more than enough to take some home for a snack later on,” one reader wrote in. “They are cooked to perfection and delicious.”
Dave Melton mentioned the option at Diehl’s as well: “They seem to be steamed or boiled and then rolled in flour and pan-fried. Tammy's Family Restaurant (across the river from Buffalo, north of Winfield on Rt. 817) also has chicken livers on most Saturdays.” He said theirs are deep-fried.
“Just read your column, as I do every week, and saw the gentleman who asked about chicken livers,” wrote Barbara Daniel. “I like them a lot also. Dwight’s in St. Albans has some of the best around for me, except when I cook them myself.”
Also in St. Albans, from Felice Joseph: “I share your sentiment on chicken livers, but my husband thinks Angela’s on the River has the best ones. They are not on the menu but are available every day, according to him.”
A few other readers, including Mike Reed, concurred.
“The absolute best chicken livers around, maybe even in West Virginia, are at Angela’s around the loop in St. Albans. I think they only have them one or two nights a week, but there is no comparison. I don’t know how you could ever beat Angela’s around here, or maybe anywhere else in the country.”
Other readers said you can occasionally find chicken livers at Kentucky Fried Chicken, Golden Corral and, of course, the grocery store.
“On occasion, my boss gets them at the Piggly Wiggly deli and they are DELICIOUS,” wrote Jayne Wurts. “Have the reader who’s looking for them call to see what day they make them – and go early.”
John Sedlock also said Piggly Wiggly in Kanawha City almost always has chicken livers in their deli for carry-out.
“I’m a big fan and they consistently make them to perfection without being undercooked or overdone (read: hard-as-a-rock) as many do.”
Beyond the Kanawha Valley, a drive-in in Beckley received several shout-outs.
“I, too, am a fan of chicken livers,” wrote Jane Marks. “Both Dwight’s in St. Albans and Diehl’s in Nitro serve chicken livers. They are my go-to spots here in the Kanawha Valley. Both are good, but I prefer Diehl’s. Believe it or not, the very best chicken livers can be found in my hometown of Beckley! King Tut’s Drive-In has the very best chicken livers in Southern West Virginia!”
Julie Sylvia is on the King’s side, too.
“King Tut’s in Beckley has some of the best chicken livers,” she said. They are pan-fried in cast iron skillets, not deep-fried.”
Like my reader Paul, Barbara Lobert is hoping for local options as well, because her husband loves chicken livers.
“I know it’s an hour drive, but King Tut’s Drive-In in Beckley sells them and he really likes theirs.”
Reader Margaret Miller and a couple others reported that good chicken livers are on the menu at Shonet’s in Milton.
“Paul can also get his chicken liver fix at Park Avenue Restaurant in Danville,” said Alfred Parker. “Probably a 45-minute drive from Charleston.”
Even farther out, “I don’t know how far Paul would be willing to travel, but every 10 days or so, Swift Level Meats in Fairlea (Lewisburg) fries chicken and chicken livers,” added Judy Deegans. “They are very good and are carryout only.”
There you have it, Paul. Happy hunting!
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Despite the outpouring of chicken liver love, that is not to say you didn’t dig talking about sandwiches, because there were a ton of responses on that topic as well. So much so, that I’ll have to wait and share them with you here next week.
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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.