Ryan Welton

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One Of OKC’s Neatest Dudes Was Our Wedding Caterer

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Life is getting back to normal after an eventful April, a month highlighted by a wonderful wedding and honeymoon to Canada — the best experiences of my life.

But there’s lots to talk about regarding the wedding itself. As I noted in my last post, it was my first one, ha! The wedding-planning experience, while my first go at it, wasn’t terribly unfamiliar insomuch as it involves a lot of project management. Our first decision was to select a venue, and we chose an all-in-one wedding provider close to our house, ‘Rose Briar’ in northwest Oklahoma City.

The facility is beautiful with both indoor and outdoor ceremony accommodations, and we liked the idea of an all-in-one wedding provider so that we didn’t have to search and search for vendors. My overall review of ‘Rose Briar’ as a wedding provider is pretty simple: if you have a no-frills wedding, they’re solid albeit pretty inflexible and humorless. I can’t imagine a more elaborate wedding with customization being a good fit for them. For us, ‘Rose Briar’ was a-ok, and they executed adequately. It turned out though that we liked their vendors better than we did ‘Rose Briar’ itself, and in this post, I’m going to tell you about one of those vendors: Ned Shadid Sr.

Ned is apparently an Oklahoma City fixture, and we completely understand why. His business is called Ned’s Catering, and he’s been in food service for a long while, having been an on-the-road caterer for a bevy of rock-and-roll bands and country acts. He told us some amazing stories about how awesome some stars are (Jon Bon Jovi) and how not-awesome others are (their band name rhymes with “The Beagles.”)

Ned has this signed photo from the band Chicago in his Oklahoma City office.

Apparently, as part of the whole wedding preparation effort, you get invited to a free lunch where you sample the food for the event.

“Do not threaten me with a good time,” as my friend Patrick is fond of saying.

My understanding is that Rose Briar’s regular caterer flaked out on them, and so Ned was available for us. I’m glad he was! While the food was fantastic, getting to know Ned as part of the pre-wedding food tasting was the real treat. He was also there for the wedding, and he even helped fix my Windsor knot.

“Before I was a caterer, I was in the clothing business,” he told me.

Ned even packed Kristi and I a to-go box in case were were still hungry after the event.

During our initial meeting with him, he told us about his latest restaurant venture, “Ned’s Starlite Lounge.” It’s also in northwest Oklahoma City along May Avenue, and it’s got this retro 1960s vibe about it.

“Our Old Fashioneds are killer,” the waitress told me upon first visit.

The decor was straight out of ‘Mad Men,’ even with the playoff hockey and basketball on the big screens. Kristi opted for Ned’s chop house steak special, which I think was a Filet Mignon, and I got the chicken fried steak with poblano reduction. I joked with Kristi that I thought our wedding enchiladas also had Ned’s poblano reduction, and maybe that was just his thing – poblano reduction.

Nevertheless, it was delicious on a chicken fry.

And the Old Fashioned was indeed killer, and oh by the way, priced a lot cheaper than most places.

Not that my Rolodex is teeming with caterers, but I couldn’t recommend Ned more highly. The food was fantastic, both for the wedding and at Ned’s Starlite Lounge — and he’s even a neater guy.

Korean, Mexican flavors come together at northwest OKC’s ‘Chigama’

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So, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m beat. Kristi, too. I’m lying in bed as this blog is being crafted.

We’re both super busy at work. We’re both still managing multiple trips per week to the chiropractor after a car wreck in November.

We’re both getting married in April. To each other. There’s a substantial to-do list that goes with that. We’ve got two houses we’re trying to sell, including one that belonged to Mom, and a car settlement in the works and all sorts of side projects and various kiddo-centric to-dos.

A nice dinner out isn’t a luxury. It’s therapy.

We had wanted to try Chigama, a Korean-Mexican restaurant, in northwest Oklahoma City, for quite awhile. A colleague’s recommendation this week, however, sealed the deal — and we visited tonight.

It’s at Memorial and May, just off the Kilpatrick Turnpike. It’s in a strip with other restaurants, including Wagyu and Metro Diner. The first thing you notice upon entering is the interior design.

It’s colorful, modern and brilliant. The blue and orange-themed insides matched the color scheme of the hometown Oklahoma City Thunder on the television.

Because Kristi and I were already pooped from a January that, this year, lasted 74 days, we took forever to order anything. Our waitress, Sarah, stopped by 6-7 times before we could get it together.

We weren’t lallygagging. Kristi was plotting different foods for us to try (our thing is to split food so we can try more dishes), and I was researching on my phone every cocktail in their alcoholic arsenal.

I settled on the poma jalapeño margarita. It was sweet, and it had a serious kick. I think the glass might have been lined with salt and chili powder.

The lady had sake. Cold, sweet pineapple sake. She likes it; I hate the stuff.

My cocktail was a 10 out of a 10. Terrific beginning to the evening out.

Next course was bao. I thought Kristi was saying, “bowel,” and the funny part was that I didn’t flinch. I was like, “Well, I guess this is happening.”

But it was a steamed bun with goodies inside, namely soft-shell crab and pork belly.

Then came the scallion pancakes.

The sour cream sauce paired perfectly with the side dish. Loved this.

Kristi tells me this is “elote.” I responded, “you mean corn?” She squeezed the lime over it, giving the sweet corn a tangy flavor.

The theme of the night at Chigama was “flavor combos.” At no place we’ve been in Oklahoma City has had as interesting a mix of flavors as Chigama.

Our main course was a couple tacos — a beef steak taco on the left and a sweet-and-spicy shrimp taco on the right. My favorite taco was the shrimp. Kristi’s, too.

We were supposed to dip the tacos in this chili sauce but we forgot.

Oh, well. Not that the tacos needed it.

Last but not least, we ordered some churros. By then, the Thunder were up by 25 over the Heat, and the last big table had paid up for the night.

We had the place to ourselves.

I don’t rave about a restaurant unless I mean it, but Chigama was both a culinary delight and an experiential one. And it cements my love of Korean food or at least Korean-influenced foods, especially given that the late, great Chae had been my favorite Oklahoma City restaurant.

Anyway, give this place a try. High marks. Totally affordable, too. $$ on prices and I’d say 9 out of 10 on food + experience.

Your breakfast idea for the weekend starts with Trader Joe’s sriracha ranch

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You don’t need to go to the big city for the best breakfast in America. You can have it at home, and all it takes is Trader Joe’s sriracha ranch dressing.

That was the impetus for the breakfast Kristi made last weekend, both days. We feasted, and it was delicious. Of course, my role in the festivities was to take photos and tell you all about it, guided of course by my talented fiance.

This was essentially an egg dish with a potato side. I’ll tell you about the egg dish first.

“Sriracha Ranch Eggs”

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • Turkey lunch meat, 8 slices, chopped
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Trader Joe’s sriracha ranch dressing
  • Dried chives

Beat your eggs. While you’re beating, put that chopped turkey lunch meat (or whatever you have at home) into your dry pan and brown it a little.

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Then you slip in those beaten eggs, all nice and smooth-like.

Add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese to the extent of your cheese-aholic-ness.

Add a couple drizzles of that sriracha ranch, but not more than about a tablespoon.

Add a tablespoon of dried chives.

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Cook it and stir until you get it to the consistency you like.

Put it onto a plate with a little cheddar cheese sprinkled and sriracha ranch dotted atop it.

***

The potatoes dish is even easier.

“Potato Delight”

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of sliced new potatoes
  • Garlic salt
  • Small / medium onion, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Dijon mustard

Put a little olive oil into your skillet, and then add those potatoes (drained, of course).

Then add your chopped onion, and add some pepper to taste.

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When everything starts to brown, add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

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Sauté until the dish gets slightly crispy, tossing your potatoes every once in a while. Do this on medium to medium high heat.

Serve with a little avocado and your favorite breakfast beverage, and bon appétit!

Recipe Review: Sausage, Ricotta, and Spinach-Stuffed Pasta Shells

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I love to cook, but I can’t take credit for cooking this or for the recipe. It was fantastic: sausage, ricotta, and spinach-stuffed shells.

Kristi was the chef, and this Pinterest recipe was the inspiration.

To be honest, I need to spend more time on Pinterest. As a content marketing tool, it’s highly, highly underrated. Like everything else social these days, it’s a platform that truly doubles as a search engine. And I’m going to send Rachel @ Craving Some Creativity some inbound traffic.

Kristi tells me this recipe was pretty easy. She used:

– 16 oz. jumbo pasta shells (just know you’ll have extra)
– 4 cups of ricotta cheese
– 12 oz. mozzarella cheese (Kristi doesn’t bother with silly measurements)
– 2 eggs, lightly beaten
– 4 tsp. dried oregano
– 3/4 cup Parmesan shredded cheese
– 45 oz. spaghetti sauce from a jar (my favorite is plain ol’ Ragu meat sauce)
– 1 lb. ground Italian sausage
– dried parsley
– pepper to taste

You brown the sausage, and then take it out, browning the spinach in the sausage pan until the spinach wilts.

Cook the shells until they start to get soft, about half the time that the box recommends.

In a side bowl, you put ricotta, 8 oz. of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, eggs, oregano, garlic powder, pepper. Stir in the spinach.

Kristi then coated the bottom of a 9×13 and an 8×8 glass pan with spaghetti sauce from the jar. Spoon the cheese mix into the shells, and place them open-side-up in the glass pan. You may have extra shells, like I said before.

Sprinkle your sausage over the top of it.

Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top.

Cover it with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. You CAN take the foil off and broil it for an extra three minutes to get cheese crusty. Kristi did not opt for broiling.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Add a salad and a cold beer, and time for din din.

Fantastic recipe from Rachel, and perfect execution from Kristi. Like I’d say otherwise, lol. However, I didn’t eat this dish; I devoured it for dinner and then lunch the next couple of days. It was tremendous.

I need to get on Pinterest more often!

Ryan Welton is a lover not a fighter, an eater *and* a cooker, and he likes to write about food even if he can’t take credit for the recipe or the work put into the dish. He can take credit for the videos he posts to his YouTube channel, which you can find at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic — pay me a visit!

Paco’s Tacos might have the best tortillas in America

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It’s Labor Day weekend 2018, and for the second straight year, Kristi and I are taking a little vacation.

Last year, it was Albuquerque.

This year, it’s Southern California.

And it’s my first time in Los Angeles. My first impression is that it’s a city deeply rooted in the 1950s and 60s. A lot of the architecture hasn’t been updated at all since then – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

This was also my first time to land at LAX. Kristi and I rented a car through Budget, which is an awful company (all rent-a-car companies are poor, and I can’t wait until there’s an Uber-of-that-world).

But we survived.

And then we asked the Budget attendant about places nearby to eat.

She had a list. On that list was a Mexican joint I had never heard of: Paco’s Tacos. It could turn out that this place is a total chain, but on their website, I’m only seeing two locations, both in California.

Including one location right near the airport.

The first thing I noticed when we walked into the place was that it didn’t smell very good. The door is situated near the bathrooms, and they had some kind of plumbing issue.

Don’t let your nose fool you though. Have patience.

The host led us to a back room that was virtually empty. We got there well before lunch rush.

And then a waiter brought us homemade chips and a salsa that would rip paint off of metal. It was glorious and hot. For a mainstream type of restaurant, this was the hottest salsa I’d ever eaten.

They also had a station where two women were making homemade flour tortillas from scratch. Kristi and I devoured a stack of them with the help of some sweet cream butter.

And now I’ll stop.

The rest of the experience was good but ordinary. Tamales were good. Enchiladas were a-ok.

But for the chips and salsa and tortillas alone, I’d rate Paco’s Tacos as pretty much the best Mexican place I’ve been to in a long while.

You just have to get past the bathroom smell.

Review: WalMart’s ‘Keep It Green’ pre-packaged smoothies

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So, Kristi and I have been drinking smoothies for breakfast for at least a month. Our first foray into smoothie-world was centered on fruits, spinach and Greek yogurt.

I’ll write about it another time, but we recently added peanut powder, hemp seeds, chia seeds and cacao nibs to our smoothie repertoire.

And this morning, we tried our first pre-packaged smoothie. It was WalMart’s Great Value-branded “Keep It Green” pre-packaged smoothies with pineapple, mango, avocado and spinach.

It had three servings, which for our purposes is a bit odd unless young Olivia would also want one.

And she wouldn’t.

This smoothie pack was easy to put together. You just opened the package, put it into your smoothie cup and add 8 oz. of water.

The taste? It tasted like a super healthful smoothie. Heavy on the green and light on the fruit. Could have definitely used a little honey.

However, it wasn’t awful and it was unquestionably healthful.

Lulu’s is more than enough proof that the (Jimmy & Lucy) Buffett family is genius

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I found out tonight that Jimmy Buffett has a sister, and she’s in the money business just like that Son of a Son of a Sailor.

We had dinner at Lulu’s in North Myrtle Beach. However, that sentence is not the most precise. The more correct sentence would be: We happened to eat food while spending a Thursday evening at Lulu’s.

Kristi and Olivia had eaten at Lulu’s earlier in their road trip, in Alabama, and Olivia loved the massive fish filet. Kristi noticed that Lulu’s was also in North Myrtle Beach, and well, it’s a challenge to find something a 9-year-old loves that’s also palatable enough to the adults.

So, consider us both sold.

What Kristi had prefaced our visit was: it’s not about the food at Lulu’s. It’s the atmosphere.

Ok, well, I figured whatever it is, it’s probably not horrible because it can be an hour or two wait to get a table – even on a Thursday night.

Thankfully, Lulu’s accounts for this with a giant sand pit for the kids to play. And a hoppin’ bar for the adults to play.

And then I hear the dude playing guitar strumming beach songs and classics like “Brown-Eyed Girl.” It made me think this was a place where Parrotheads might hang out.

Our scheduled wait was an hour and 50 minutes. No kidding. So, I had time to investigate – and it took me no time at all to discover the name Lucy Buffett.

It was on everything, including the impressive inventory of products in Lulu’s gift shop. They’re definitely collectors items considering there are only three Lulu’s locations: North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Gulf Shores, Alabama and Destin, Florida.

A quick query on Wikipedia produced the obvious: she’s related to Jimmy. His sister.

I started to view the experience in a different light. The sand pit was filled with kids, which freed up 30- and 40-something parents to knock back a couple drinks and exhale while we all waited for tables.

Those Buffetts are geniuses, truly they are.

I played in a Buffett cover band once upon a time, well before I was familiar with the man’s catalog. I learned them all from “Son of a Son of a Sailor” to “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” “Fins” to “Pencil-Thin Mustache” and of course “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday.”

Played in Dallas and Galveston at some decent-sized Parrothead parties and gatherings. Always a great time.

The musician on stage at Lulu’s this night had an uncanny ability to make any song sound like trop-rock. He played Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back,” and made them both sound like Jimmy Buffett had popularized them.

The bartender, Rob, told me that each musician is required to play at least one Jimmy Buffett song per hour. He also told me how he and his dad perform Jimmy Buffett songs together, on the side.

In a beach town, that seems like a good business to be in – as is this type of establishment, which is more about a good time than it is food.

For the record, we had fish, oysters, some gumbo and fries. It was ok. Nothing to write home about.

I take that back: the crab toast appetizer was amazing.

But what we mostly had was a great time. It’s hard for me to think that Lucy Buffett couldn’t build one of these any damned where she wanted.

Including OKC. Could totally see this place on Lake Hefner.

That Buffett crew is a money-making machine, and worth every dollar.

Toes in the sand: Life is good in Myrtle Beach

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We got to Myrtle Beach super late Wednesday night, post-midnight Thursday morning. We might have arrived sooner if I hadn’t suggested we take a not-so-quick detour to Athens, Georgia.

There had been a bad accident along Interstate 20, so we might as well have. The jaunt from Atlanta to Athens adds an hour.

It was worth it.

My aim was to see Sanford Stadium and the University of Georgia campus. Just a drive-by. I came away super under-impressed, especially with Sanford Stadium. Mind you, I only got to see the outside. By every account, the field itself is gorgeous from what I’ve seen on TV.

Anyway, we drove straight through to the eastern side of South Carolina. We checked in to the Coral Beach Resort & Suites. The best way I can describe this place is “perfect for the beach,” much the same way hotels in Vegas are perfect for Vegas.

It’s utilitarian. Not fancy. Lots of security given that we’re in a vacation town with a fairly decent crime rate. The beds aren’t awful, and the rooms get ice cold. The floors in the halls get slippery as heck because we’re all basically staying in a giant beach dorm.

Speaking of which, there’s a hotel bar with grub on the beach, an establishment that is just for us hotel guests. Both Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, which we visited tonight, remind me some of Vegas. Lots of food, a billion tourists and lights everywhere.

By one account, Myrtle Beach is the 12th most dangerous city in America, and by another it attracts more new residents per capita than anywhere else in our union.

The median age is 45.8. Lots of retirees.

By the end of the second night, it reminded me mostly of Galveston, but smaller. And, also, by the end of night No. 2, we were spent.

After a three-mile run from 12th to 21st, down to King’s Highway all the way to 6th and back, I hit the beach with Kristi and Olivia. We rented an umbrella and some chairs, and I got a Yuengling and, later, a rum drink.

Kristi and I inhaled deeply as Olivia frantically started playing in the ocean and plotting her sand castle. She collected shells.

We soaked in moments.

You could smell the salt in the air, and the sand worked like a magical agent of exfoliation, washed away in 85-degree sunshine by cool waves from the Atlantic Ocean on our toes.

The sound of the wind and the waves erased temporarily the constant ringing in my head. It was delightful!

Kristi and I soon joined the young castle builder to help. Olivia and I later emptied our pockets and rode as many waves as we could, too.

The castle was complete but with little help from me.

And then we cleaned up and headed to the hotel pool, doing laps in their “lazy river” section.

I took the first trip back to the room for a shower, and I was zapped. In the best possible way.

I’m certain I could never be a ski bum — but a beach bum? In an instant.

Breakfast with full-on Southern charm: Buttermilk Kitchen everything I expected Atlanta to be

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Flew in to the ATL Tuesday night with a trip through the Deep South ahead of me. But my first mission was breakfast.

A quick Google search landed me on an Eater.com article detailing the “24 essential breakfast spots” in Atlanta. First listing was a place on Roswell Road called Buttermilk Kitchen.

It’s great to step away from the newsroom and experience a little bit of Americana. I’ve never traveled beyond Mexico (yet) but I’ve loved every trip I’ve taken across the United States.

Well, maybe except for Wilmington, Delaware. Did not like that little crime-infested city. Took a jog through town only to learn later that I was fortunate to not have been a murder victim.

But I digress.

The Buttermilk Kitchen lived up to the expectations Kristi and I had for Southern dining. Big time.

The first thing I always ask is, “What’s the one thing you tell folks that they absolutely have to try?”

The waiter’s answer? Chicken biscuit.

Sold. It was a big piece of fried chicken on a from-scratch sweet biscuit with a hint of red pepper jelly, a side of cheese pimento grits and some pickles. I’m a sucker for good grits, and these were magnificent. Best I’ve had since a Virginia trip I took a few years back.

Kristi ordered a pimento cheese omelet with thick maple bacon and red pepper jelly. With a side of more bacon, of course.

Bacon.

When we do our adventures, we order two plates and share. And there wasn’t a bite of either dish that didn’t make me think Buttermilk Kitchen wasn’t one of the ten best restaurants I’ve ever patronized.

Even their coffee was on-point. I had hot and Kristi got iced with cream. Strong, flavorful with a side of cream and vanilla syrup.

My first impression of Atlanta was as a cosmopolitan metro are with lots and lots of green, as if NYC’s Central Park was as big as the city itself.

But the impression of Buttermilk Kitchen was positive enough that I gotta encourage anybody stopping in the ATL to eat there.

Top 10 meal, all-time.

Best food truck I’ve had in OKC so far: MOB Grill

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One of many cool things about working for Griffin Communications is “food truck Wednesday.” A local eatery on wheels stops by, and we don’t have to venture out for lunch.

First thing I do is snap photos.

I’ve not been diligent about posting my reviews or thoughts after the fact. Most of the trucks have been good.

Today’s was great.

Also: Check our my YouTube channel!

MOB Grill serves burgers and sandwiches, and they serve fries and cheese fries. Super simple menu, and I like that. Most restaurant menus are far too complex.

Too much stuff. Chaos.

I opted for The SQUEALER and MOB fries. Got me for $10, and it was plenty of food. Purposely, I didn’t put a ton of sauce on it. I wanted to see how the meat stood up on its own.

As always, I grabbed more than my share of ketchup.

They were super generous with the meat, as if they knew they had a great product and weren’t afraid to flaunt it. Brutha, this was the juiciest meat I’ve eaten in a while.

Note: if I haven’t written about Rustler’s BBQ in Henryetta, I’ll have to soon. Them and MOB Grill have the best meat I’ve eaten in the Sooner State.

The fries were just like I like ’em: tasty and salty.

And when I posted my photo mosaic to Instagram, they responded in less than five minutes. As a social media manager, that warmed my heart and earned an angel its wings.

Kidding aside, for me, the MOB Grill food truck is an instant yes any time I see it. Really, really strong.

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