Editor’s note: People often wonder about the diet of Kevin Shalin, author of the popular Facebook food blog The Mighty Rib. Does he eat out three times a day? How is he not 600 pounds? What are his hours because his restaurant looks great? Fresh off winning best blog in the annual Arkansas Times Best Of Arkansas survey, we thought it would be a good time for a detailed three day food diary from Central Arkansas’s favorite food blogger. Tag along to find his favorite margarita in Little Rock (hint: you’ll never guess) and why you should always tip your barista.
“Do you eat out three times a day?”
“Why aren’t you 600 pounds?”
“What are your hours?”
I hear these questions in my sleep. Such is life when you’ve been writing about food for 12 years, all while churning out a steady stream of articles across what seems to be just about every publication in Little Rock at one time or another. This isn’t even my first time writing an article for Eat Arkansas. I bet the higher ups at Arkansas Times don’t remember that literary masterpiece.
My name is Kevin Shalin and in addition to writing, I am also a dedicated social media poster for my blog, The Mighty Rib. TMR is my pride and joy, my home base, my way to interact and connect with an audience of foodies throughout Arkansas, many of which who often wonder how I keep up with such a torrid pace of covering food. Well, it is my hope that this three-day journal — a food diary — will help shed some light on how I roll. At my core, I try to practice moderation and portion control, two concepts that mean different things to different folks. Enough about that though. Let’s get to it.
Thursday, June 2
I am dragging this morning but hopefully my usual Peet’s K-Cup will get me going. Breakfast has never been my thing, especially during the week, so a Nature Valley Biscuit (with peanut butter) will have to get me through to lunch. And because it’s a “biscuit,” my mind translates that as being a breakfast bar. It’s a breakfast bar, right? Wrong. Cookie. Yes, I usually eat a cookie for breakfast, all while doing the Wordle. This morning is no exception. I live an exciting life. You might also be happy to know that I don’t post my Wordle score on Twitter and Facebook for my friends and family to see, as I fully realize that no one gives a flying F about seeing this.
Still dragging tookus, so I head to Guillermo’s for a cold brew (black). While I have your attention, stop being a cheap ass and always tip your barista. All the time. And for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. Anyways, I crank out an article for OnlyinArk.com about cheesy dishes across the state, sip my cold brew and have a glorious time doing what I love. Still not hungry, which is a tad bit surprising. As stated, I’m not much of a breakfast guy, but I do love me an early lunch. With that said, today is Thursday and tomorrow is my big eating day of the week. I like to hit a few places for lunch on Fridays, either in Little Rock or around the state. This is when I get a bulk of material for the week, so that means Thursdays are typically light eating for yours truly.
School is out for the summer, so my 13-year-old is hanging with me today. As a way to thank her for sitting in a boring coffee shop, we drive to Benton for a cookie. Yes, I know, again with the cookies today. But it’s not just any cookie. This is a Crumbl Cookie. I pluck down $195 for six (only a slight exaggeration) and watch her tear into them. This company, through expert social media skills, has convinced every 13-year-old kid in the country that their product is the second coming of Harry Styles. Kudos to Crumbl, but frankly, these things are straight butter and sugar, so a few nibbles is all I can handle.
Back home and I am hungry. A couple handfuls of pita chips paired with Boar’s Head Hummus does the trick. I help coach my daughter’s softball team and we have our last game tonight, followed by a post-game party at The Pizzeria, so dinner is likely to be more substantial.
The softball game got rained out, but fortunately, The Pizzeria has a roof, and we need to eat. Food is flying around with this crew, but I settle on a piece of Pop Supreme pizza, half a Caesar salad, a margarita, and a couple bites of an ice cream ball. Do not even get me started on this chocolate ball. I love that dessert like it’s a member of my family. Here is also a truth bomb for you: The Pizzeria makes the best margarita in town. Better than Local Lime, Heights Taco and Baja Grill, which is hard to believe because those are all outstanding margaritas. Trust me on this one.
Friday, June 3
Up way too early, but such is life when your oldest daughter needs to be at the airport by 6. To prepare for the 25-minute journey, I consume … you guessed it … a breakfast bar and cup of coffee. Just to prove that I am not some lame-o who eats the same thing each morning, I opt for a KIND Bar with peanut butter and dark chocolate.
Ever been to Judsonia, the tiny town two exits north of Searcy? First time for me. A tasty-looking sandwich pic someone posted on my blog inspired the one-hour trek from Little Rock. KJ’s Market & Sandwich Shop is the place, and these sandwiches are worth the drive. I order three — Italian Hero, Jalapeno Popper Turkey Melt and Ham & Spicy Pimento Melt — then quarter each sandwich. In the end, I basically eat a total of three-fourths of a sandwich, along with a couple bites of a brownie. It is a weird way to eat, I know, but again, without some form of moderation, things tend to get out of hand. I pack up the rest and head back home, making a quick stop back in Searcy at one of my favorite BBQ joints in the state, Knightfire Craft Barbecue. If you have never been, go, and make sure to get the sampler platter. This ‘cue travels well, plus there are far worse things to drive home with than the smell of sliced brisket and pork steak wafting throughout the car.
I love being in restaurants on Friday nights. Such energy! Tonight, however, is different. I am a lifelong New York Rangers fan and playoff hockey trumps everything else on the planet. Sorry. Those are the facts, and it’s been eight years since my team has made it this deep. No problem, this is why the Knightfire pop-in happened. Eating BBQ in the confines of my home while watching the Rangers destroy the Tampa Bay Lighting will be a fun night. UPDATE: Rangers won 3-2.
Saturday, June 4
Woke up and am not feeling well. Damn this allergy crud that everyone seems to have. Thankfully, it is not COVID (tested). Wanna fancy a guess of what I’m having for breakfast? Bingo, a cup of coffee and a Nature Valley Biscuit. Sorry for being a breakfast broken record. I am old and set in my ways.
Who has two thumbs and loves a Saturday morning farmers market? This guy. I head down to the Hillcrest Farmers Market to see what’s shaking. Unfortunately, we are not deep into growing season, so there is not exactly a bounty of goods to choose from. I do hit up the Wye Mountain Mushroom, Rattle’s Garden and Natural State Microgreens stands for some mushrooms, onions and microgreens. Fresh blueberries and the last of the strawberries from a couple other farmers end up in my reusable bag as well. Is there anything better than a fresh, local strawberry? Maybe a tomato, but they won’t be ready for a few weeks.
Remember those dynamite sandwiches from yesterday? Yup, they are today’s lunch. Pro tip: Place the cold sandwiches in a cast iron skillet, set the oven to 450-degrees, and bake for 10 minutes. Perfection. The Jalapeno Popper Turkey Melt reheated well.
My allergies continue to linger, but I just caught wind that a new bakery, Caked Up, literally just opened in the Heights. Thankfully, my wife picked up a half-dozen cupcakes for us to try. Of the six, strawberry cheesecake was my winner. The double chocolate with sprinkles was no joke either. Here is your 10-second review: great cupcakes, sizable, very moist, flavorful and heavily iced. I would go back for some in a heartbeat.
No restaurants for me tonight. More leftovers. See, I really do not eat out three times a day. The rumors are untrue. A cup of fresh strawberries and a sandwich of sliced turkey, cheese, microgreens and Duke’s mayo will suffice. I’m off to an early bedtime in a couple hours, but maybe a few more bites of the cupcakes, if my kid left me any.