Weekend Update, It's October?

It's like all of a sudden, I woke up, there were UGG boots and white girls with pumpkin spice lattes in hand. It's October? Didn't summer just get here? Regardless of your opinion on all things pumpkin spiced, I couldn't be more excited that the fall season is here. It's like something comes alive in me when the leaves and temperature drop. I feel way more productive, does that happen to anyone else?

One of my favorite things to do when fall hits is eat. Only natural right? This past weekend was nothing short of exactly that. For all you Fort Smithians that like to eat, I'm going to share my top 5 places to eat when the weather drops. Personally, I live by the philosophy the more butter, the better. Maybe it's because my southern heritage runs deep? Oh no, is butter the next thing to go? Take my flag, but please don't take my butter! Woah, I digress. (please note, I'm not a southern heritage radical)

Without further to-do, my top five Fort Smith restaurants to visit when fall hits:

#5 Calico County

Calico County is a Fort Smith favorite. If you've lived in Fort Smith more than a year, odds are you have heard and/or eaten there. They are famous for their cinnamon rolls that I can never eat just one of. My other personal favorites include Chicken Fried Chicken and anything that their gravy goes on. This isn't for the faint of heart. I'm just guessing here but it's probably pushing a few thousand calories per meal. The ultimate in southern comfort is at Calico County.

#4 Joe's Pizza & Pasta

Coming in at the only Italian comfort food option on the list is Joe's. Joe's is one of those you feel like family when you sit down to eat. It's my go-to pasta place when I need some good comfort Italian food. I'm a bit traditional when it comes to Italian food, I stick to chicken alfredo. This isn't your Olive Garden alfredo however. It's packed full of flavor unlike some alfredo dishes. If you haven't been to Joe's give it a try. They have incredible pizza's as well.

#3 MovieLounge

You might not guess why MovieLounge is on my comfort food list and I'll get to that in a second, but first let's talk atmosphere. Set foot in the doors and be transported to an upscale hotel in the heart of NYC. MovieLounge has a signature environment that I prefer to enjoy 4-5 times a month, and yes, I'm being serious. When the temperature drops and layers start being added to my wardrobe, I'm off to MovieLounge. It's the perfect place to enjoy a beverage, see a movie, or for the exact reason they are #3 on my comfort food list, dessert. If you're in need of a gourmet crafted dessert that will fill your heart full of fall, MovieLounge has it.

#2 Cheddar's

Ok, I know, I know - don't kill me. It's a chain restaurant. But when it's snowing outside and the temps are in the 20's, all I want is some baked potato soup and some buffalo chicken wrappers. Judge me if you want, but this is one of the few chain restaurants you'll find me at in Fort Smith. Their staff is great and the food quality is consistent every time.

#1 Benson's

Without a doubt, hands down, my most absolute favorite fall comfort food – Benson's. You've probably heard rave reviews of this Fort Smith classic, but until you've experienced yourself, you're missing out. My history with Benson's goes back to my high school days. I personally prefer Benson's early in the morning or late at night. It's the perfect atmosphere to people watch (or weather watch) while eating your weight in all of its amazingness.


There you have it. Odds are, you'll find me at each of these establishments weekly. So drop in and have a cup of coffee, dessert, or a drink. I'll be there.

Best of luck this week!

Mason


Headed To The Mountain

We are headed to the Mountain! It's time for Wakarusa and we can't wait to take you with us! Before we head out I want you to meet the team who is going to be covering the festival this weekend with me. Be sure and follow them to see things from their perspective! It's going to be a crazy weekend! We'll be snaping/tweeting/instagraming live interviews with bands like The Roots, Young The Giant, Chance the Rapper, STS9, and more.

This is the first WAKA experience for all of us. We've heard good, bad, and everything in between. So here we go! Tweet us tips if you have any suggestions!

LEIGH MCGRUDER

Meet Leigh McGruder she is nineteen years old and is going to college at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She is studying journalism with a focus in advertisement/public relations. Leigh has been photographing for four years now and runs her own business in Northwest Arkansas. She enjoys portrait and freelance photography. Leigh loves to travel and will go back to Africa for the third time this summer. She enjoys sushi, free people clothing, and jamming to music in the car with her friends.
Follow Leigh:
INSTAGRAM - instagram.com/leighmcgru
TWITTER - twitter.com/leighmc13
BLOG - whimsandlightleaks.com 

TYLER MAZAHERI

Tyler is a sixteen year old photographer based in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He is currently attending Southside High School as an incoming junior. He hopes to move to California following his high school career to pursue a career in fashion and editorial, being the division of photography he enjoys most. Tyler has experimented with photography for 3 years now after producing graphic art for another 2 years prior. He loves spending hours finding new music, developing his tumblr, and long drives with his closest friends with the windows down.
Follow Tyler:
INSTAGRAM - instagram.com/tylermazaheri
TWITTER - twitter.com/tylermazaheri
TUMBLRsurrealing.tumblr.com

SHANE GRAY

Shane is a photographer/graphic designer from Fort Smith, AR. He is finishing up his degree at Arkansas Tech, and will graduate in May of 2016. He loves vinyl, movies, and making music with friends. He's also one of my best friends!
Follow Shane:
INSTAGRAM - instagram.com/shanegrayyy
TWITTER - twitter.com/shanegrayyy
SNAPCHAT - shanegrayyy

Oh Hey – It's me :)

I'll be posting everything via my SNAPCHAT you can follow it at masonkesner.

Also follow the Times Record on their networks for coverage of the festival.

Times Record TWITTER
Times Record INSTAGRAM


Ella's at The Inn at Carnal Hall

Arkansas is known for being "The Natural State." I love living here and experiencing everything it has to offer. One of my favorite things to do is frequently visit a town called Fayetteville. It's located 45minutes North of Fort Smith (my hometown). I came across the gem known as Ella's a few years ago and I've been wanting to go back ever since. I recently got that opportunity. Ella's is located at The Inn at Carnal Hall in Fayetteville, AR. I'll be doing a post about my stay there, but today we're going to talk about comfort food. My new friend and Executive Chef, Jonathan Morrow, knows a lot about good food. So Laura, Luke, and myself ventured to NWA in search of southern cuisine! 

Make your way through the entrance of Carnal Hall into the Historic entry way to find a black door with Ella's inscribed above it. Enter and you immediately check yourself as I felt underdressed.  The elegance radiates from the moment you enter – you know you're in for a good meal. Chef sat us down and told us we would be sampling an all new menu not yet released. 

We were in for a four course Chef's tasting that included Spring Berry Salad, Shrimp & Scallop Cakes, Trout, and a Marinated Pork Chop. After traveling all day, all I wanted to do was eat and I couldn't wait to do it. 

Spring Berry Salad featuring: Local blueberries, strawberries, and rasperries. Included is also: Beats, Arugula and Sorrel, Orchids, and topped with Apricot Vinaigrette with White Balsamic.
Spring Berry Salad featuring: Local blueberries, strawberries, and rasperries. Included is also: Beats, Arugula and Sorrel, Orchids, and topped with Apricot Vinaigrette with White Balsamic.
Shrimp & Scallop Cakes with: In-house seafood base, breaded with in-house baguette, served with stone ground peppercorn sauce and local tomatoes.
Shrimp & Scallop Cakes with: In-house seafood base, breaded with in-house baguette, served with stone ground peppercorn sauce and local tomatoes.
Trout from West Over Farms in Missouri, served with cherry tomatoes, kale, local sunny-side up egg, and a béarnaise sauce. This is a new item from Ella's brunch menu. 
Trout from West Over Farms in Missouri, served with cherry tomatoes, kale, local sunny-side up egg, and a béarnaise sauce. This is a new item from Ella's brunch menu. 

The first three samples were amazing, and then my favorite of all favorites. The Pork Chop. I don't know about you guys, but I've had some amazing Pork Chops in my life. This one has to be one of my favorites. Chef Jonathan let me inside the kitchen to see how it was made before we tasted it. Let me tell ya, it makes me hungry all over again to look at these images!

Sous Chef starts by seasoning a Pork Chop from Cypress Valley Farms in Hot Springs, AR. After seasoning the throws it on the grill for a moderate cooking time, then into the oven until baked to perfection!

Executive Chef, Jonathan Morrow, Ella's Restaurant
Executive Chef, Jonathan Morrow, Ella's Restaurant

Then Boom! One of the best Pork Chops I've ever eaten. It's served with Bre compound butter, side of succotash including: red & green lentils, fennel, scallions, corn and asparagus, all from local farmers market. 

Chef Jonathan and his team were amazing to work with, not to mention the food was heavenly. Chef had his initial start at Ella's then transferred to many other local restaurants such as Meridienne Bistro and Tuck & Trotter. He then returned to Ella's presenting his signature style blending French Cuisine and Southern Find Dining. 

Ella's is open daily with brunch on Saturday and Sunday. If you're in the area, stop by and tell my new friends at Ella's HI. 

 

This post would not be complete without me on my phone and a few images of what I wore...

Class Ralph Striped Button Down, GLOBE Brand Pants, and BORN footwear.
Class Ralph Striped Button Down, GLOBE Brand Pants, and BORN footwear.