• Steven Keith

‘Three Things’ about me? You can bet food is involved!

If you’re looking for something fun to do tonight, come hear me share “my first, my favorite and my future” as it relates to food during a live presentation of the popular “Three Things” speaker series.

Look, Ma, I'm famous!
Look, Ma, I'm famous!

Presented by FestivALL and West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the monthly show hosted by Jeff Shirley features three local celebrities sharing the story of where they started, what they love most and where they hope to go in their particular fields of interest or expertise.


I’ll be joined on this episode by attorney Lia DiTrapano Fairless and artist Ellie Schaul, whose work is currently featured at the Clay Center.


Tickets to attend the show in person tonight at the John L. Dickinson Family Homeowner Education & Community Center next to the ReStore at 815 Court Street in Charleston are $10. Or, for the same cost, you can purchase a virtual pass to watch a recording of the show in the coming days.


To purchase tickets or for more information, visit “Three Things” on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FirstFavoriteFuture.


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In local food news, does anyone know what’s up with Graziano’s on Capitol Street in downtown Charleston?


Tomato Pie (photo by James Holbrook)
Tomato Pie (photo by James Holbrook)

The popular Italian spot has been closed for the past two weeks, with a handwritten sign on the door saying they will reopen soon.


A message to the restaurant has not yet been returned, but a Facebook post from Feb. 28 (and updated again this past Sunday) states: “Unfortunately, we are temporarily closed due to unfortunate circumstances. Sorry for any inconvenience.”


My first concern was that something bad happened within the family, but the restaurant’s response to posted questions to that effect assure customers that they are indeed OK.


Here’s hoping they’re back up and running soon. All this talk about pizzas and “pies” lately has me craving one of their beauties.


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Homemade pizza dough (photo by Marcel Lazare)
Homemade pizza dough (photo by Marcel Lazare)

After recently sharing the recipe outlining how to make the WV Anchor’s much-beloved Tomato Pie, I received notes and photos from several readers who tried to give it a shot on their own at home.


Their results? A resounding success!


Summersville reader James Holbrook sent in a nice photo showing the pizza he made following the instructions, which he said turned out “excellent.”


Poca reader Alan Kingery, who was the one who prompted me to finally track down the original recipe earlier this month, said a friend of his gets together with a buddy once a week to make food. They tried the Tomato Pie during their latest gathering – right down to homemade pizza dough – and also reported it “delicious.”



• • •



Finally, another reader took me to task (and rightfully so) for continuing to reference the Los Agaves restaurant in South Charleston as “Mexican Shoney’s.”


Tomato Pie in progress (photo by Marcel Lazare)
Tomato Pie in progress (photo by Marcel Lazare)

Even though I mean no disrespect – and so many people openly call it that – she’s right that it does a disservice to the hard-working owners who I’m sure would rather folks use the place’s real name.


“Please, please, PLEASE stop calling that popular, family-owned restaurant in South Charleston Mexican Shoney's,” she wrote. "The proprietors named the business for the plant from which tequila is produced (of course you know that) and it's a clever reference to both the cuisine and the availability of cocktails. Los Agaves. It's not a difficult word to pronounce: ah-gah-vess."


Besides, she added, Shoney's hasn't occupied that building in decades.


“When Mi Cocina de Amor opened on Bigley Avenue, did anyone call it Mexican Tudor's? No, I didn't think so. It bugs me to hear friends call it Mexican Shoney's. But you, as a supporter of local dining, can do better. Respect the owners by using the name they gave their business. Thank you for letting me vent.”


She later apologized for being so, um, passionate in her first message, but she is absolutely right. From this point on, Los Agaves it is.


• • •


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 wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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