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Southern Food Junkie’s Year in Review 2017

This year brought about a lot of changes for our brand. Come along as we go over our year in review of some of our favorite post from 2017!

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January 2017

Park Place Restaurant Pineville, NC
Park Place Restaurant Pineville, NC

In January of this year, we stopped by a few places and reviewed a few new products. Park Place Restaurant in Pineville, NC was one of the places that I enjoyed the most from that month.

American, Greek-inspired comfort food at Park Place Restaurant.

A few months ago I was out with my family and we were in search of a place to eat for dinner. What we wanted was something quick and cheap, so we decided on Showmars in Pineville, NC. Meanwhile, we passed right by a diner that looked like a local establishment. It looked like a place I would love to try. That place was Park Place Restaurant in Pineville, NC.

They specialize in southern comfort food and boy are they good at it.

Park Place Restaurant is an American, Greek-inspired diner that is serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They specialize in southern comfort food and boy are they good at it.  Park Place is located just outside Charlotte, NC city limits on Park Rd. As a matter of fact, it is located adjacent to CMC-Pineville Hospital. Park Place is tucked back off a pretty busy road. When I got there it was full of patrons ready to get a taste of Greek-Inspired comfort food. Check out the remainder of that post here.

February 2017

February brought about some fresh new products for us to get a chance to try. A few companies reached out to us and we wrote a blog post about our Top 5 Steakhouse Chain Restaurants. I really enjoyed all of those posts, but the one that was the most intriguing to me was a new startup company called D’vash.

D'Vash Date Nector

In recent years, there have been tons of new products that have come on the scene as a sugar replacement. You have agave nectar, Stevia, and Splenda just to name a few. Most of those have advantages and disadvantages. Whether it is a bad aftertaste, or lacking in nutrition that has turned you away, now there is a new choice on the market. This is D’Vash Date Nectar

There is also a reference to it being the honey mentioned in the bible.

To give you some history on Date Nectar, it has been used for centuries in Middle Eastern Countries. Some also believe that the reference to honey mentioned in the bible is Date Nectar. Here is the scripture I am referring to, “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites (Exodus 3:8, KJV).” It is said that they were actually talking about date honey and not bee honey. Check out the rest of the blog post by clicking here.


March 2017

In March we started to add in a few travel post to our site to share some of our personal lives and what we enjoy doing. We also continued the trend of sharing some tips and reviews of places like our post on how to get free or discounted food. We also shared a recipe with you that I have been developing for more than 10 years which was my Southern Food Junkie Hot Dog Chili. All of those were really good but my favorite post from March would have to be trip that we wrote about to Great Wolf Lodge.


Story Time at Great Wolf Lodge

A fun family atmosphere at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC

Right before Christmas this past year we moved out of our home and into a temporary place to stay. We are a little cramped for room and since the kids have plenty of toys we thought it would be nice to tell the grandparents to get them something other than toys. We had this great idea to take them to Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC.Great Wolf Lodge Water Park

All this is geared towards kids.

Indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge

Now, Great Wolf Lodge is a family-friendly resort that has an indoor water park.
The indoor water park is the main draw for the place.
They also have two restaurants, a grill, a pizza place, ice cream shop, Dunkin Donuts, mini bowling alley, arcade, spa, and much more. All this is geared towards kids. There are a few located in the US but the one that is closest to us is in Concord, NC.


There is so much to do to keep you busy while here but be careful, it can be a money trap.

April 2017

April was a busy month this year so I wasn’t able to get a post published although I did manage to squeeze out about 7 or 8 YouTube Videos. One of my favorites from that time period has to be this one.

May 2017

In May, we squeezed out two blog post, a product review for Unicoi preserves and a restaurant review for Captain Steve’s. While both were very good, I got to tip my hat off to Unicoi preserves. I really enjoyed reviewing this product.

Unicoi Preserves is a small batch mountain grown goodness fruit spread

Back in the summer of 2014, our family took our yearly vacation in Helen, Georgia. While there, we visited a state park called Unicoi State Park. Meanwhile, I had just gotten over back surgery and was told to do lots of walking. There was a waterfall that we wanted to see that was a moderate hike to get to. It was a great accomplishment for me and since then that park has a special place in my heart. Fast forward to this year, I came across a company with the same name as the park. I had only seen this name at the park and it was so unique that I thought, I wonder what the connection is. I messaged the company to find out and sure enough, they were from that area. The owners have volunteered at the park and have the same deep connection with the park as I do. This is the review of Unicoi Preserves.

What this means is quality, not quantity.

June 2017

Ahh, Summertime! What this means is family vacation time! June was a great month for us. While I did manage to do a family Vlog on my YouTube Channel of our yearly summer vacation, I didn’t get a blog post on it. What I did get a blog post of was an awesome product that you use on your grill called The Great Scrape. 

Are you worried about getting metal bristles in your food from cleaning your grill? Great Scrape has solved that issue for you!

There has been a lot of news reports about metal bristles getting into people’s food when they clean their grills with the old-fashioned metal bristle brushes. I had the opportunity to review a great product that will take care of this issue for you. It is called Great Scrape.

Basically, Great Scrape is a wooden paddle that is tapered on the end.

Great Scrape is called the Ulitmate BBQ grill cleaner for a reason. It works. Basically, Great Scrape is a wooden paddle that is tapered on the end. Once the paddle has been “broken in”, cleaning is as simple as turning your grill o and running the grill cleaner across your grill grate. The unique thing about this grill cleaner is that it forms to your grill grates. It gets into the crevices and cleans just as good if not better than the bristle brushes without the worry of getting the metal pieces in your food.

Once your grill has reached top temperature, at least 500 degrees, you will run Great Scrape up and down your grill grates until grooves have formed into the wooden paddle.

July 2017

In July of this year, we got back to slaying the blog post. We pumped out three this month with two restaurant reviews and one recipe. While all three of them turned out really good, it is our recipe for Low Country Boil that we loved the most.

How to make a traditional South Carolina Dish called Low Country Boil

A low Country boil is a traditional dish that has been enjoyed by South Carolinians for ages. It combines fresh shrimp, sweet corn, red potatoes, and smoked sausage for an all in one dish that is sure to be a hit of your next party. Some folks also add in blue crab to their dish. You can add or take away what you like and still have an awesome meal.

Frogmore is a small town that is located on St. Helena Island in Beaufort County.

Low Country Boil also called Frogmore stew is said to have originated in Frogmore, South Carolina. Frogmore is a small town that is located on St. Helena Island in Beaufort County. Home to the Gullah Culture that was part of the first slaves sent here to the US from West Africa. This is a sad part of US history, but their culture is what has inspired many traditional Southern dishes.

Parties, weddings, family gatherings, and other such events serve a Low Country Boil because it feeds a lot of people.

August 2017

August was a really good month for us. We got invited by another social media brand to visit a local favorite restaurant of theirs, did many restaurant reviews and did a product review for a company called Kyvann. Our favorite post of this month though was one we didn’t even author, it was written by Suzanne Todd from Discover Indian Land. This post was a restaurant review on 521 BBQ, you got to see this one!

From Our Friends At Discover Indian Land

There’s no shortage of barbecue restaurants in our area. These popular eating spots each have unique features that attract enthusiasts from near and far. 521 BBQ is one of these. What accounts for its popularity? Is it the varied menu? Secret BBQ recipe? Award-winning ribs? Friendly staff?

We spoke with Mike Dial, owner, and pitmaster:

We attribute our success to a combination of these. After 12 years behind the grill, we have a feel for what people like.

Was it good?

 We sent Trae Gonzalez, Indian Land local resident, (along with JC Photography) on this culinary mission and this is what Trae said: “You’re gonna want the BBQ plate. You’re gonna want the chicken wings. Then, you’re gonna want more of the mac and cheese. Everything is good! This is the only place I will order ribs from.”

September 2017

September was another light month for us on the blog. We managed to get one blog post one on a little country diner serving up an awesome breakfast. It was located in Monroe, NC and it is called The little Country Kitchen.

When I first started my YouTube channel more than a year ago, my goal was to show the world all of the local hidden gems in the South. You know, restaurants where the locals go. Just like the Cheers theme song says” You wanna go where everybody knows your name”. I wanted to curate a collection of these places so when outsiders visit, they too can share my love of southern food from these local establishments. The local restaurants are the one that treats you like family. Little Country Kitchen is a prime example of a restaurant that fits the mold. No one knew me here, but that did not matter. As soon as I walked in the door I felt welcomed. It was a joy to see all the mix of people from different backgrounds mingling and talking over their morning coffee.

October 2017

In October we shared a few product reviews and one recipe. The product reviews both were good products but it was the recipe that I shared that was my favorite. It is a favorite fall recipe that I have been tweaking over the last few years for Brunswick Stew.

Brunswick Stew is a fall time favorite of my family once the temperatures start to get cool!

Imagine it is fall in the deep south. All of the leaves are at peak season, colors of red, yellow, orange, and brown fill the landscape. There is a coolness in the air, with the temperatures dipping into the low 40’s. It is misting raining and you want nothing more than a bowl of warm, delicious soup to hit the spot. That is where this recipe kicks in. There is nothing better on a cool, misty night than a bowl of this smokey goodness. You got to try this recipe for Brunswick Stew!

Brunswick Stew is basically a chicken stew, but with a smokey flavor.

Brunswick Stew is basically a chicken stew, but with a smokey flavor. The history behind it is fascinating. Mention it to a few people from the South and you will find out. Some claim it originated in Brunswick, Georgia which would make sense. Others claim it came from North Carolina and even Virginia. We are not here to debate the origination, we are just simply sharing how we make it.

November 2017

November was probably one of my favorite months for our website. I was able to do about 4 posts, but I had a hard time picking just one favorite in this month. It is hard because I reviewed one of my favorite Root Beers called Maine Root. I also did a product review for a smoker/ cooker called The Orion Cooker. If I was held to pick just one though, I think I would have to go with my marinade recipe for Smoked Jerky. This was my first time ever making Jerky and it turned out wonderful.

Smoked Beef Jerky from Southern Food Junkie

Try this marinade recipe and steps to make a wonderful Smoked Beef Jerky right at home. It will be better than any Jerky you have tried before!

Smoked Beef Jerky has been enjoyed for a long time. According to Hi-Country Snack foods website, The word Jerky comes from a South American Native tribe called the Quechua. They called it Ch’arki,, which means to ” burn (meat).” Drying out meat is an age-old process that people used to preserve the meat. Natives and Cowboys dried meat so they could pack it with them and have something to consume in between hunts or herding cattle across the plains. Today we are going to show you our marinade recipe and process to make Smoked Beef Jerky on an upright propane smoker.

December 2017

Well, we have made it to the end of the year. The only post for December this year is my Year in Review.

I want to personally thank everyone for visiting our site. We have truly enjoyed being on this journey with you. It is all possible because of you, the reader. We want to thank each one of you for reading and sharing our post. We pray that you have a Merry Christmas this year. I hope that you find true joy in your life and that you know the One that brings that true joy, Jesus. If you do not know Him, I pray that you will surrender your life to Him. Thanks again for all you guys do in helping us make this dream come true! We will see you in 2018!

2 thoughts on “Southern Food Junkie’s Year in Review 2017

  1. Reply
    Brian Finkel - December 23, 2017

    Love it, Ronnie! What a terrific year you’ve had – keep up the great work! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. Reply
      Southern Food Junkie - December 25, 2017

      Thanks Brain! Hope you have a great one too!

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