Adding to my ‘favorites’ list, one product, restaurant meal at a time
By Kara Kimbrough
As the year draws to a close, the word “inflation” is on everyone’s lips. A quick spin around the supermarket will convince you prices are a little crazy. It’s hard to believe I paid $6 for a dozen eggs this week, but that’s where we’re at for the foreseeable future. Grumbling aside, shopping locally, including at small supermarkets, is still the best way to go. The same goes for local, family-owned restaurants. More money stays within our local communities when we support these businesses than if we send it off to parts unknown. So, let’s do our part to dine and shop locally for food whenever possible in 2023.
Without further ado, here’s my annual list of favorite new supermarket products and memorable restaurant meals of 2022 to get you started:
1. Dave's Killer Bread Epic Everything Organic Breakfast Bread – Dave’s bread is not a new addition to my annual favorites list. I love just about every product, but his latest creation filled with 9 grams of whole grains per serving just moved to the top of the list.
2. Mario’s Chicken Parmesan – I’ve already extolled the many virtues of this Hattiesburg eatery, but have since found a dish that surpasses the spaghetti and meatballs. I sampled a similar dish of chicken parm at Carmine’s in New York City that I thought couldn't be replicated. Mario’s version comes close – and in fact, may equal – Carmine’s world-famous version. Mario’s creation consists of a massive crispy chicken breast smothered with delicious red sauce and cheese on an equally impressive bed of pasta. With their famous homemade garlic rolls and a salad topped with Comeback-style dressing, it’s easily one of the best meals in Mississippi.
3. Eggo Grab & Go Liége-Style Waffles– I can’t count the number of times I’ve attempted to drive while eating a toasted waffle topped with “just a little” syrup only to end up at my destination and smelling like syrup. Eggo has come up with a genius – and delicious – way to diffuse the problem. This new waffle, designed like the Belgian variety, was baked with maple syrup in the dough, eliminating the need for syrup. Genius!
4. Taranto’s Fried Shrimp Po’boy – Like Mario’s, I’ve written about this Biloxi eatery tucked away in the Woolmarket community. Offering old-Coast ambiance and similarly-prepared dishes, I’ve never had a bad meal anytime I’ve stopped by. The ribeye po’boy comes close, but doesn't surpass the perfectly-prepared shrimp po’boy with a side of delicious gumbo.
5. Dolly Parton's Southern Style Coconut Cake Mix – You just know anything created by Dolly is going to be good. Duncan Hines’ cake mix with the flamboyant singer’s face and name on the box doesn’t disappoint. A light and fluffy cake is the end result – and even if it’s not “exactly” homemade, who can resist a Dolly cake?
6. Happy Steak at Jose’s Restaurant and Grill – I’ve been open about the fact that Mexican is far from my favorite cuisine. However, all reservations disappear anytime I order this dish at the bustling eatery near Walmart in Magee. Tangy bites of grilled steak are tossed with sautéed onions, peppers and other vegetables and served over Spanish rice with a light white cheese sauce. Coming in a close second is Jose’s shrimp and grits.
7. Country Crock Plant Cream – I recommend this vegan product, but not for the obvious reasons. Yes, it’s perfect for the lactose-intolerant among us, but finding heavy cream in the dairy case to thicken soups and sauces can sometimes be challenging. It’s the perfect substitute and unlike some vegan products, passes the taste test.
8. New England Shrimp Roll at Shaggy's on the Rez - Disclaimer: this amazing sandwich was part of Shaggy's limited World Tour menu this summer. I'm hoping it makes a return in 2023, but in the meantime, you won't go wrong by ordering anything at this multi-story restaurant offering stunning view of the Barnett Reservoir. Favorites include the shrimp po'boy, snapper platter, royal reds with sausage and potatoes and Shaggy's famous cheeseburger.
9. Rao's Homemade Bolognese Tomato Sauce - So far, I've only been able to find this variety of Rao's line of jarred pasta sauces at Fresh Market at Ridgeland. Served over Garofalo bucatini pasta (also found at Fresh Market), it's one of my favorite comfort meals on all time.
10. Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese Garlic & Herb – The charcuterie board craze doesn't appear to be disappearing anytime soon. Most contain some type of spread, usually cream cheese, but that can be a little boring. Taking things up a notch is this tangy product, perfect for spreading on bagels, crackers and using as a sandwich filling.
As we close out 2022, I send my thanks to each of you for reading and responding to my columns with positive words, suggestions and an email here and there to say hello. Please continue to stay in touch and share your ideas and discoveries throughout the year.
Although I don’t believe in “luck,” it’s fun to eat this dish filled with black-eyed peas and rice – just two of the items Southerners believe will get the New Year off to a great start. With sides of pork and cabbage, it can’t hurt – right? Happy New Year!
‘Lucky’ 2023 Hoppin’ John
Two cups black-eyed peas, cooked
Two cups rice, cooked
Two tablespoons butter
Small onion, chopped
Small red or green bell pepper, chopped
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic powder and cook for five minutes. Add cooked peas and rice and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes, stirring to thoroughly combine all ingredients.
Note: This is a great way to recycle leftover black-eyed peas on Jan. 2!
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.