Tag Archives: NC

Welcome 2015: New Year’s Beach

Happy New Year, people.

It’s 2015 and apparently the millennium was 15 years ago. So, there’s that. Fortunately, the Willennium is still going strong and will never, ever end.)

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I was lucky enough to ring in New Year at the beach in North Carolina with friends old and new. It was my second trip to Southport/Oak Island with Anna and Kevin and we BALLED SO HARD.*

*As you all know, ‘balled so hard’ means cooking, eating at restaurants, baking, drinking a few beers, watching movies and antiquing. Wait, what do other people mean when they ball so hard?

Anna is one of my favorite people to cook and eat with because she’s up for anything. (One of the many reasons I love her!) We threw together a delicious feast for New Year’s Eve dinner where everything was so perfect because we’re really amazing cooks and we’re great at everything forever.

If my sarcasm wasn’t coming through there, well, it should’ve been.

We DID throw together a delicious feast for New Year’s Eve. Kevin and his brother-in-law, Marty, grilled some pork tenderloins and shrimp. Anna and I concentrated on making some amazing copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits. I wasn’t going to go to Red Lobster anytime soon, and now, I’ll never need to go again!

Seriously though, the last time I was at a Red Lobster was after the softball Final Four my sophomore year of high school. We’d just lost in the semifinals and we were in the middle of nowhere Florida and the only place to eat was Red Lobster. My dad ordered a baked potato and there was a cockroach BAKED INTO HIS POTATO. He alerted the server, who alerted the manager, who promptly came over and gave my dad some Red Lobster Bucks as an apology. My dad left the Red Lobster Bucks as a tip because THEY DID NOT COMP HIS MEAL. Absurd.

But their biscuits are bomb as hell.

In addition to our biscuits, Anna made some lovely bacon brussels sprouts. And she and I collaborated on a really terrible cake. We had the idea to do a tres leches cakes (that’s three milks, y’all). We found a relatively unfussy recipe from FoodNetwork.com. I won’t go into details, but basically, it overcooked on the outside and didn’t bake AT ALL in the middle. We followed instructions! It was gross.

Redemption came two days later when we made an improvised Cranberry Cake out of ingredients we had in the pantry. We made them as cupcakes, which made us feel like we had the God given right to eat as many of them as possible.

As I mentioned, we BALLED SO HARD by eating at some of the local restaurants. WHAT?!!? WE ARE SO GD RICH WE ARE BASICALLY OPRAH!!!!

The food at the beach is really fun. Obviously a generalization, but it is unpretentious and focused on simple food with big flavor. These three places are terrific and should not be missed on a trip to Southport/Oak Island.

  • Terry’s Barbecue: This is a relatively new barbecue joint and it is the real deal. The chef/owner, Terry, is classically trained and spent years in big city catering. His retirement plan was to open up this tiny barbecue joint and do what he loved. We took it to go, since there isn’t a dining room yet (next spring, they say!) The pulled pork is excellent, served with an North Carolina vinegar sauce as well as a thick, sweet sauce, but the ribs? The ribs are the star of the show. They were smoky and falling off the bone. Go to Terry’s. Don’t tell him I sent you because he does not know who I am.

    Dat barbecue, tho.

  • Loco Jo’s Grill: A trip to the beach isn’t complete until you’ve had Loco Jo’s. It doesn’t make sense to have fish tacos on a menu with shrimp egg rolls, but it’s delicious and somehow all works together. I would’ve taken pictures of my food, but I was too busy eating it. Sue me.
  • Fat Andy’s: This is a wonderful example of food executed perfectly in a no-frills environment. It’s a cash-only place on the side of the road with picnic tables outside. Ain’t nobody got time for indoor seating. This burger was absolutely delicious. Every component was super fresh, served alongside the crispiest fries I’ve ever eaten. Fulton appreciated the fries as much as we did.

IMG_3343 FullSizeRender

At any rate, my first trip back to North Carolina was a great one. It was wonderful to spend time with Anna and Kevin and meet Anna’s sister, Susan, and her husband, Marty. I was also really lucky that my other friend Anna happened to be in town as well. I got to spend one morning hanging out with the Annas drinking bloody Marys and comparing Serial theories. Even more random, I ran into one of my theatre professors at a coffee shop.

2014 was a year of a lot of change for me. It’s been exciting and hard and scary and wonderful and sad, sometimes all at the same time. But it seems that fate was reminding me at the end of the year that even though I’ve physically left my friends, my friends haven’t left me. Sappy though that may sound.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled balling: 2015 style.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Damn Delicious

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
For the topping:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper, if using.In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and butter. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Gently fold in cheese.

Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, scoop the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. For the topping, whisk together butter, parsley and garlic powder in a small bowl. Working one at a time, brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter mixture.

Serve immediately. Leave no biscuit behind.

Better than the original because you don't have to go into a Red Lobster to eat them!

Better than the original because you don’t have to go into a Red Lobster to eat them!

Cranberry Cake from The Kitchn

Makes one 10-inch springform cake. Alternately: Four 4-cup loaves or 24 to 30 cupcakes.
Ingredients:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries (12-ounce bag)

Optional pecan topping | This topping is optional, but should not be dismissed.

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, unroasted

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan (or a collection of smaller pans. This make 10 to 12 cups of batter.)

Use a stand mixer or hand beaters to beat the eggs and sugar until very smooth and increased in volume. If using a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes, using the whip attachment. If using hand beaters, beat on high speed for 6 to 8 minutes. The egg and sugar mixture will double in volume and turn very pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters.

Beat in the butter, vanilla, and almond extract, if using. Beat for 2 minutes or until the butter is smoothly incorporated.

Use a spatula to fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries. The batter will be quite thick. Spread gently into the prepared pan.

To prepare the optional pecan topping, heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir. Add the pecans and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the butter and sugar mixture is shiny and smooth and the nuts are well-coated with the butter and sugar. Spread over the cake batter.

Bake 60 to 80 minutes for the springform. For smaller pans, start checking after 30 minutes, but expect small loaves to take at least 40 minutes. Tent the cake with foil in the last 30 minutes of baking to keep the top from browning (this is especially important for the pecan topping).

Cool for 20 minutes then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.

The cake keeps and freezes well. To store, wrap the fully cooled cake tightly in plastic wrap and leave in a dry, cool place for up to 1 week.

To freeze, wrap the fully cooled cake in plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature, still wrapped.

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Lover’s Boat for 2 for 3: My Top 10 Restaurants in Winston-Salem

In the middle of February, Bourbon & Boots posted a link to the Eight Most Overlooked Foodie Towns in the South. And it was pretty exciting because two of my favorite towns were on there: Decatur, GA and Winston-Salem, NC. The Decatur list was spot on. I mean, the chef from Cakes & Ale was nominated for a James Beard award this year. Go ahead, that guy. But when I look at some of the places to go in Winston…well, heck. I can’t say that I agree with many of the selections. To be fair, I’ve never been to Winkler Bakery. So, I can’t speak about that at all. In fact, I better get off my fass and go. (Fass. That’s a contraction of fat and ass, so ‘fass.’ I made it up, whatever, NBD.) Village Tavern is great…but there’s one in Greensboro, Denver, Alabama and the PHILIPPINES, for crying out loud. Not exactly a Winston specific spot. And, how do we solve a problem like Willow’s. At it’s best, it’s great. And at it’s worst, the wrong food is brought to your table and when the right food is brought to you, it’s unsafely undercooked. I hate to say it, but I stopped going months ago. With all due respect to Bourbon & Boots and the author of the article, the list felt like it was written by someone who maybe lived here during college and then left. Rather than someone who currently lives here in Winston-Salem. So while, I applaud Bourbon & Boots for recognizing our fair town’s joie de vivre, I’d like to take another stab at it. In no particular order, this is my Top 10 list of Winston-Salem Restaurants. To quote Scarlett Johansson O’Hara, “With God as my witness, we will never go hungry again.”

  1. Mizu: In my opinion, the best sushi in town. Go with two of your best girlfriends. Order the Lover’s Boat for 2….FOR THREE. Discuss being (nearly) 30, family, life, and love. Essentially, live that dinner like you’re in the first half of a rom-com. You know, before you meet the guy. (Alison and Jennie will LOVE living in a rom-com. You will resent it and wish you were a part of a musical.)

    We're on a boat!

    We’re on a boat!

  2. Mission Pizza Napoletana: I will refer you back to my previous post here, but this place is the tits. Pizza? Great. Salads? Great. Specials? Insane. Don’t skip their bone marrow, even if the name scares you. I ususally go two days in a row because you can’t just have one pizza in your life. My coworkers are planning an intervention.

    Prosciutto pizza. Tastes like breakfast, y’all. #runnyyolk

  3. The Porch: I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the Porch for the first time. But when you walk in, you know exactly what you’re gonna get. A vibrant meal that matches the atmosphere. The food is the star. We have nothing in this town like it. It’s Tex Mex-esque. Tacos, burritos, burgers and the biggest salads you’ve ever seen. Plus, a rotating crop of specials that make deciding impossible. Whatever you do, listen to this one piece of advice: do not miss the green chili cheese fries. Sunday brunch is excellent, too. Logistics of ordering can be a bit chaotic, especially as the line lengthens and tables fill up. (Expect to do the “excuse me, pardon me” dance a LOT.)

    Don't think. Just order. Green chili cheese fries.

    Don’t think. Just order. Green chili cheese fries.

  4. Mozelle’s: Food in the south is more than just barbecue. And while everyone is wont to say that Southern=Bar-B-Q and Bar-B-Q alone, Mozelle’s elevates Southern fare. They are a fresh Southern bistro. Their meals are light and elegant, yet rooted in the culinary traditions of the south. Their menu rotates seasonally, like any good southern household’s would. Their decor is intimate and cozy, just like a good southern household is. But unlike a good southern household, you will not be asked, “when was the last time you went to church?” or made to watch a NASCAR race.
  5. Mooney’s : Winston is a great place to live, but it lacks something in the ethnic cuisine department. Which is why it’s so good that a place like Mooney’s exists. Bright Mediterranean flavors permeate everything from their house salad (the fettoosh, y’all) to the decadent kafta burger. The sides are awesome–do not forget the hummus, tabouli, baba ganouj or falafel. Better yet, get all four and make it a meal. Mooney is looking our for YOU.
  6. Millennium Artisan: Full disclosure, y’all. I’ve never actually eaten a full meal at this restaurant. Jerky Naysayer: Well then, Bethany, why are you putting it on your top ten list of restaurants in this town? Bethany: Bless your heart, let me explain right here. I went to Millennium Artisan on the Winston-Salem Battledish. I ate the offering that they had: duck with a leek and lobster bread pudding. And it was the best thing I ate all day. It paired incredibly with their cocktail, which was a lemon/gin/thyme deal. Here was a chef who was thinking about diner’s overall experience and who in that bite made me want to go back for more. Their hours are a little funky, so be sure to check  the website.

    The taste from Battledish. Can't wait to go back for more.

    The taste from Battledish. Can’t wait to go back for more.

  7. West End Café: Why mess with perfection? This is a comfortable, cozy spot that has lunch on lock. Sandwich? Nailed it. Salad? Nailed it. Burg? DONE. But West End Café has unexpectedly delicious dinner entrees. You can go and get anything from their lunch menu for dinner, which is clutch. But their ravioli are delicious. And they do wonderful things with fish, particularly their seafood soups. Their service is one of their strongest attributes, though. Always friendly, always over-delivering. A wonderful neighborhood spot.
  8. Silo: This is the best new sandwich and salad in town. Sit outside if the weather is nice and nosh on grazeables like homemade white bean hummus or have a full meal of a sandwich or salad. Truly the epitome of simple food done incredibly well.
  9. Camino Bakery: If you haven’t been to Camino yet, then get off the toilet (let’s not pretend here…you’re reading this in the bathroom), wash your hands, disinfect your phone (cause…ew) and go there right now. Just go there right this instant. Their pain au chocolate is enough to break your heart, but then re-heal it for you. There is wine. There are pastries. There is coffee. There is tomato pie. There is wine. There….is cheese. Like hunks of cheese. That you can eat. YOU’RE ALLOWED!!
  10. Skippy’s: If I was married to a food, it’d probably be hamburgers. We fell in love a long time ago and we’ve had such a long, fairly fulfilling relationship. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It doesn’t surprise me too often. But when the burger is out of town at it’s burger conventions, I will go to Skippy’s. And I will sneak a quick Chicago Dog on the side. What my burger doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Cause the only thing hotter than a hot dog, is a hot dog on a pretzel bun toasted on a flat top. Oh baby.

Honorable Mentions

  • Thai Sawatdee: You may not want to sit and eat inside a Harris Teeter (you don’t), but the food that comes out of Thai Sawatdee is delicious.  The Teeter Thai delivers on Thai flavor, but sadly, does not deliver their food. A girl can dream…
  • Small Batch: Go for the small-batch beers and hand crafted cocktails, stay for the flatbread pizzas (“breadzzas”) and the duck fat fries with dipping sauces made from said beers. Drink another beer. Repeat as necessary. The draft beers are always changing, but their bottled beer and wine list is incredible.

    Evan, Breadzzas and some Duck Fat Fries

    Evan, Breadzzas and some Duck Fat Fries

  • Diamondback Grill: I used to go to the DBG an embarrassing amount when I lived down the street. Since moving out of the neighborhood, I no longer frequent it, but their casual atmosphere, great food and ability to make you feel like family makes this place tops in my book.
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