gaining ground(s): black sheep coffee.

burgIMG_4552Remember when Black Sheep Coffee was tiny? It was so cute, this little fledgling coffee shop testing the water in downtown Harrisonburg. The barista was also the cashier; money changed hands on the same sliver of countertop as coffee was served; and you were freaking lucky if you were able to get a seat in the itty bitty internet cafe area. Another reason for the cuteness is that Black Sheep’s wife, The Yellow Button, was right next door! That’s right, Black Sheep and The Yellow Button are owned by Harrisonburg’s power couple, Chance and Miranda Ebersold. But after a while, relationships change. The Yellow Button wanted some new scenery, and Black Sheep Coffee needed space. So the two businesses separated. Don’t worry: Chance and Miranda are still very much married (with two children who make their story even MORE adorable)… they just work a couple blocks from each other now.

So Black Sheep was able to stretch its legs into the old Yellow Button space, and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Now, directly in front of you when you walk in is the cashier — she’ll take your order. The baristas at the old counter on the right will make your crafted espresso drink, drip coffee, or pour-over and serve it to you there. And you’ll have MULTIPLE seats to choose from. There are a couple of cozy areas with armchairs and coffee tables and chess sets and such, plus a looooong counter along the wall of windows on the left side of the place. They even installed a counter and stools around a concrete pillar in the middle of the space, maximizing the number of folks they can seat. And, the old Yellow Button dressing rooms are now cute little cubicles for when you need to buckle down and get something accomplished. There’s even space for a Multicade arcade-style video game.

burgIMG_4555burgIMG_4545burgIMG_4500Their food selection expanded with the space. On the Sunday we were there, the pastry case held biscotti, banana bread, cinnamon buns, oatmeal creme pies, sundried tomato pesto goat cheese wheels, Nilla wafer cupcakes (!!), grapefruit pound cake, vegan powerballs, scones, cookies, muffins, donuts, coffee cake, quiche, and veggie pies, ALL of which are made in house, and some of which are gluten free and/or vegan. PLUS, they have a made-to-order menu, too! Breakfast and lunch, including items like salads and paninis. And if you don’t want coffee, you can get Rishi brand tea or a soda — they carry Fentiman’s, Maine Root, Harmony Springs, and Blenheim.

burgIMG_4566burgIMG_4560burgIMG_4541burgIMG_4532burgIMG_4521burgIMG_4514burgIMG_4505All this new space allows them to sell some retail items, as well. They have Chemex supplies and coffee mugs, plus bags of coffee like Mudhouse, Bob & Tom’s, Lone Oak, and Red Rooster. The newest addition to the shelf are sauces from The Shack in Staunton — Sorghum BBQ Sauce and Sorghum Hot Sauce, made by Chef Ian Boden. Miranda and Chance were so impressed with the sauces when they tried them at The Shack that they just had to bring a whole bunch back to share with Harrisonburg.

Get into Black Sheep soon! Order something fresh and stay a while. There’s plenty of room for ya.

Black Sheep Coffee is located in the Ice House building, 217 S Liberty St, and are open every day from 7am – 7pm.

burgIMG_4509Copyright © 2012-18 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Words by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

comfort station: grilled cheese mania.

cold drinkThe last week or so has presented me with events that fall into the category “It Could Have Been Worse.” First, my cell phone started acting up. Well, wait, FIRST, I thought everyone in my world was ignoring me because I hadn’t gotten any texts or calls all day. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case; it was my lame phone. (I have a three-year-old Samsung slider that AT&T gave me for free when my previous lame phone finally pooped out.) On further investigation, however, it WASN’T my lame phone; it was AT&T’s tower. Aha! So, it could have been worse: I could have had to buy a new phone. Or get new friends.

I have a small TV in my bedroom. I actually watch it more than the big one in the family room because I’m usually in bed before I get a chance to watch any TV at all. A few days ago, the color started wigging out, and now everything I watch is gold and blue. But… the TV’s not dead; it could have been worse.

And the real kicker happened Sunday, when my son was pushing some other kids on a bench-style swing, and he somehow tripped and got tangled up underneath it and gashed his head open. Blood. Lots of blood. I threw my lame phone at some lady who called 911, the ambulance came, and we scooted to the ER. He’s fine. He has staples in his scalp, but he’s fine. It could have been much, much worse. In fact, after I knew Cal was okay, the hospital visit was actually enjoyable. Everything went very quickly, the doctor was excellent, and our nurse was pleasant and funny. She’s worked as an ER nurse at RMH for 37 years. She had to wrap Cal’s head in this big, white, gauzy apparatus, and she told him enthusiastically that he would be King Cal for the day and wear “this cool crown!” And then she laughed and said, “Who am I kidding? You’re gonna look like a Q-tip and there’s nothing I can do about it!” Meanwhile, Michael and the other four kids waited patiently in the lobby and greeted Cal with cheers and hugs and a giant stuffed shark when he emerged through the double doors. Really, it could have been much worse in many ways.

Monday morning I washed the dried blood out of my son’s hair and then met Brandy and her kids for some comfort food. Between my near-disasters and her Art Lotto event quickly approaching and 4287473892 photos to edit, the two of us needed some ding dang comforting!

red food truck with logored food truckWe met at Grilled Cheese Mania and my mouth was watering before I got out of the car. Owned by Kathleen Mania-Casey, the truck has been in operation less than a year and has already been ranked by Tripadvisor the BEST restaurant of 108 in Harrisonburg, and voted Best Food Truck 2013 by Harrisonburg residents. I stared at the menu for quite some time while the girl at the window waited patiently, smiling. Choosing was excruciating, because I wanted them all, but I decided on the Larold. My kids got Classic Johnnys, Brandy got the Mama Mania, and Blake got his with tomato. We also got a couple sides of mac & cheese, and Kathleen was gracious enough to let us sample the chili and the tomato soup. Both are excellent. I especially like the tomato soup. Some say its flavor smacks of pizza, but I think it’s about halfway to salsa.

cheesy sandwich mac n cheese cheesy sandwich overhead view of foodgrilled cheese sandwichKathleen’s niece was visiting and helped her aunt serve our food under the tent where we sat. And we each got a pair of official GCM sunglasses, which the kids happily put on so they could all be fully expressed as the maniacs they are.

woman and niece kids at picnic tableWe gobbled our sandwiches in relative silence. “Simple Comfort Food” is the perfect slogan for Grilled Cheese Mania, because there is something uniquely nostalgic about a grilled cheese sandwich. Every time my mom visits, she wants a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. And when I sit down and eat it with her, I’m six years old again, not worrying about cell phones or deadlines or scalp infections. You know that scene in the movie Ratatouille when Anton Ego takes the first bite of Remy’s ratatouille and is instantly transported back to his mother’s kitchen? It’s like that. You simply cannot be UN-comfortable when eating a grilled cheese. And Kathleen’s sandwiches beat the heck out of any grilled cheese I’ve eaten or made. Everything on the menu is made from tried and true family recipes using only the freshest ingredients.

chiliboy eating grilled cheese girl eating grilled cheeseKathleen’s goal is for her customers to be happy. My guess is she means not just happy with their order, happy with their food, but happy altogether. Like a true mom would. When you miss your mom and need a little comfort, know that Grilled Cheese Mania is just down the road. Or, when you just want a really good sandwich.

After a trying week of bizarre events, FINALLY, something couldn’t have been BETTER. Grilled Cheese Mania is located on Rt. 42 south, between the Food Lion shopping center and Tangier Seafood. Go hungry.

women in sunglassesCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.