Tag Archives: North Carolina

Broad Appetit: The Good, The Bad, The Garbaje

I’m going to blow your mind here: I’m a human being.

I know, I know. There was some speculation because I’m a tall lady that I might be a giantess. Or a cylon or something.

6 via theinstructables.com

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Gallactica. via theinstructables.com

Yeah…I’m definitely not a cylon.

Or, is that exactly what a cylon would want you to think?

So, I’m a totally normal human being and I don’t really like to make mistakes. I think that’s a pretty normal thing. And of course, because I’m a regular ole cylon human being, I make mistakes more often than not.

Here’s a mistake I made earlier this week: I misspelled Richmond. Yep. The city that I live in. I spelled it Richcmond. That’s not how it is spelled. But that will appear on the return address of a card I mailed out this week. Keep your eyes peeled, receivers of my correspondence.

I made a lot of really bad food mistakes this weekend. I went with my new roommates best friends forever, Becca and Evan, to Broad Appetit. Broad Appetit is a lovely food festival on Broad Street here in Richmond with hundreds of vendors, live music and more cute puppies than you can shake (or throw) a stick at (or to). And for as many good decisions I made, l made some really terrible ones too.

Without further ado: food things!

Good decision: Scotch egg from Somewhere.

(That is not the name of a trendy place, I just don’t remember.)

The cure for all hangovers

The cure for all hangovers

Fried and delicious. Only complaint. It was too big and therefore, too delicious.

Good decision: Chicken and waffles with tahini maple syrup.

I kept my shadow in the picture so you knew who took the picture.

I kept my shadow in the picture so you knew who took the picture.

Sweet and crunchy. I want to marry chicken and waffles. I want to be Mrs. Chicken and Waffles. Or Ms. Novak married to Mr. Chicken and Waffles. It’s the 90s.

Bad decision: This ramen situation.

Cold ramen salad. My heart was cold eating it.

Cold ramen salad. My heart was cold eating it.

Listen, this ramen won the best dish of the festival. And I wanted to like it so much because these guys follow me on instagram so I feel like we should be friends. But, this was a cold ramen salad that needed a hit of heat or acid or something. Frankly, I wish I’d taken a hit of acid before I’d eaten it. Maybe that would’ve increased my enjoyment. But, I will go to the ramen joint and give them a proper chance when they are in their element.

Good decision: Barbecue something with something.

(Yeah. I know. I’m crushing these descriptions. I was a little hungover and I forget a lot. Also, it’s a FAKE FOOD BLOG.)

It had cornbread.

It had cornbread.

I don’t remember anything about this dish except that it lead to maybe my favorite picture of all time.

Meet Drunk Sandwich. Coming to Instagram or Myspace or a blog near you.

Meet Drunk Sandwich. Coming to Instagram or Myspace or a blog near you.

WORST DECISION: Summer Vegetable Bacon Salad.

Shoulda been called water salad.

Shoulda been called water salad.

I had been drinking drinks and eating fried things so I thought a summer vegetable salad with bacon sounded delightful. Light and refreshing and bacon-y. Well, sure. That was the theory. This was basically a watery pile of veggies topped with bacon. I returned it from whence it came: the garbaje.

Regret: Cheerwine Slider.

Ok, I get it. It's better than what I got.

Ok, I get it. It’s better than what I got.

I try to live my life without regrets, but it is Wednesday and I still regret not getting this slider. Evan got this slider. I wish I got this slider. The meat was braised in Cheerwine. Thank God I’m going to North Carolina this weekend.

Good decision: Watermelon popsicle from King of Pops.

Perfect summer treat. Also, the guy at the cart was really sexual with how he opened the popsicles. It was awkward to watch.

Damn it, Evan.

Damn it, Evan.

Also, Evan likes to ruin my pictures.

Like another Evan I know.

Evan Pease is the best. But he's dumb.

This sandwich was ruined. Evan Pease will rue the day he touched my iced cream.

Overall, the day was a win even though it was punctuated with food misteaks.

[sic]

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Paloma My God: Steak Tacos, Palomas & Crunch Dynasty

A good weekend requires a nap to recover.

A great weekend requires two naps.

Either I had the best weekend ever or I’m 80, because I took two naps Sunday afternoon and then fell asleep again at 7 pm. As you do.

I did have a pretty terrific weekend. My friends Lindsay, Sarah, and Anna came up to visit from North Carolina and it was just all kinds of fun. Great friends, all the food, and all the tequila. Seems like a recipe for success.

On Friday, they got in 40 minutes early than expected and banged on my back door like cops coming to do a drug bust. I jumped and shrieked a bit, because as I said earlier, I’m 80. Also, I keep a lot of illegal drugs in my house. We made beer-marinated skirt steak tacos on the grill and ate dinner on the porch. Fan living, y’all. The charred tomato salsa is oh-so-good. It’s got that slow burn from the ancho chile, but the sweetness of the charred tomato. I might have eaten the leftovers for breakfast Monday morning.

Taco bar is the best bar after alcohol bar.

Taco bar is the best bar after alcohol bar.

On Saturday, we went to a yoga class. It  was a hilariously hippy-dippy class. “Put your hand down on the ground like an angel is kissing the earth.” I don’t know what it says about me, but I really want to go back.

That afternoon, I hosted a happy hour at mine to introduce some of my North Carolina friends to some of my Richmond friends. And when I say I hosted this party, I mean I drank all the drinks while Lindsay, Sarah and Anna did a lot of the work. I mean, I prepped a lot ahead of time. But they helped so much to cook, clean, buy ice, refill water, pass out mini-Atlantic beach pies, make all the Palomas, drink all the Palomas, etc. I’m pretty sure they hosted the party more than I did. What was I doing? Holding witty, engaging sober conversation. Well, I held conversation. The Palomas were flowing, y’all.

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Double fisting like a champ.

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Another in a series of photos of me taking photos of Anna taking photos of me. I plan to do this for the rest of our lives.

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Seriously, Lindsay and Sarah did all the work. I just pointed at the ice. Photo by Becca! 

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Not pictured: tiny pies. And allllll the palomas. 

Our weekend ended with brunch at Stella’s and a trip to the Stella’s Grocery. Stella’s is no joke in the brunch department. You like sweet brunch? GREAT. Greek Easter bread done French-toast style topped with whipped Greek yogurt, sour cherries and pistachios. You like savory brunch? GREATER. The Loukaniko sausage skillet and the black kale skillet are both excellent. Start your meal with an order or hummus and Bloody Mary or a mimosa. (Virginia lacks the alcohol-limiting blue laws that North Carolina holds onto so dearly, making it so much easier to drink on Sunday. Hallelujah and pass the bottle.)

We stopped by the Stella’s Grocery after brunch.  It’s been open for about a month and sells specialty food items, like boozes, meats, prepared foods, such as smoothies, Greek Salads, and desserts (baklava!). Also, condiments. Why do condiments get their own section? Because I found a condiment, Crunch Dynasty, that is made right here in Richmond and it is made right here by my very own friends, John and Anya. I met Anya through work and John through Anya. They are a hilarious, kind, and cool couple with some kids who are the same. One of their kids knows all the knock-knock jokes ever and the other one told me my hair was like mermaid hair. I’m a big fan of all of them.

But I digress. Condiments.

If Chris Pratt were a condiment, he would be Crunch Dynasty.

Delicious, delicious dynasty. 

Crunch Dynasty is this amazing, mysterious condiment that somehow works on everything. Honestly. It’s as good on vegetables as it is on rice as it is on salmon. It genuinely tastes good on everything. Nay, it makes everything taste better. It makes you happy. And it is spicy. Crunch Dynasty keeps you on your toes. It’s like the Chris Pratt of condiments. If Chris Pratt was from Richmond, was Chinese, and tasted of garlic. To be fair, I haven’t tasted him. He might taste of garlic.

Then as quickly as they came, my friends left. And I took all the naps. And then I wrote this post.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to take a nap.

Tecate Skirt-Steak Tacos from Bon Appetit

  • 1 pound skirt steak, silver skin removed, cut into 6-inch pieces | I doubled the amount of steak b/c it looked wimpy.
  • 1 12-ounce can pale lager (such as Tecate)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • ¼ medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, cored
  • ½ canned chipotle chile in adobo, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for serving
  • 8 fresh corn tortillas
  • Avocado slices, crumbled Cotija cheese, and lime wedges (for serving)

Combine steak, beer, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Seal; chill 3 hours.

Cook onion, garlic, and oil in a small skillet over medium heat until soft and translucent, 5 minutes. Let cool.

Prepare a grill for high heat (if using charcoal, prepare two zones of heat, high and medium-high). Grill tomatoes over high heat, turning occasionally, until well charred but still holding their shape, 6–8 minutes.

Reduce grill to medium-high heat (or use medium-high zone if using a charcoal grill). Remove steak from marinade and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and grill until charred, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let steak rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend onion and garlic, tomatoes, chipotle, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice in a blender until smooth. Add chopped cilantro, season with salt, and pulse until just combined. Transfer salsa to a small bowl.

Grill tortillas until soft and beginning to char, about 30 seconds per side. Slice steak against the grain into ½” strips. Top each tortilla with a few pieces of steak, then some salsa, cilantro leaves, avocado, and Cotija cheese. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

The Paloma from StyleMePretty

  • 2 oz. Reposado Tequilla
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • a pinch of salt (or a salted glass rim)
  • agave syrup to taste (optional)
  • Ice
  • Garnish with lime, mint leaves, thyme, or jalapenos if you like some heat

In a shaker filled with ice mix tequila, grapefruit juice, and lime. Shake, shake, shake. Pour over ice, add a pinch of salt, and garnish. Add agave if you feel it’s not sweet enough.

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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.)

4117PYF1RAL

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.

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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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Saying Goodbye to Winston One Bite at a Time

An excellent group of boyz/men once said: it’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

And they’re not wrong.

Many of you know this by now, but after 12 years of living in Winston-Salem, I’m moving north. I got a job in Richmond, Virginia. (C’mon, you didn’t expect me to leave the south, did you?)

It’s exciting. And sad. Scary, but thrilling. I have no idea what’s around the corner. (Hopefully, not an axe murderer.)

(God, I hope I don’t get murdered by an axe murderer.)

(But I wouldn’t mind watching So I Married an Axe Murderer again soon.)

(I love parentheses.)

(I love overusing parentheses.)

It’s going to be tough to leave Winston. It’s been my home. So many people I love are here. One of the benefits of leaving, at least gastronomically, is that I get to do a bit of a tour de food to say goodbye to my favorite places. Going away lunches, dinners, Togo on the couch, beautifully laid dinners on the porch. Every bite is a way to say goodbye to something I love. Well, hopefully not goodbye–more like ‘see you later.’

I’m lucky because I’m going to a city with some pretty serious food chops, but I’m going to miss some Winston favorites. I’m going to miss the chicken souvlaki from Hero House. (…that’s right.) I’m going to miss massaman curry from Teeter Thai. The burgs from Diamondback Grill. Greek salad from Mama Zoe’s. Tawook and fettoosh from Mooney’s. Cranberry turkey sandwich and spicy noodles from The Carving Board. I’m going to miss pretty much everything from Mission Pizza and The Porch.

I think it’s safe to say I’m going to miss the people with whom I have been lucky enough to share those meals more than the food itself. But, people can visit (…please, come visit) and the food can’t really.

But if a chicken souvlaki hitchhiked it’s way up to Virginia, I would let it sleep on my couch. We’d watch So I Married an Axe Murderer toether. And halfway through the movie, I would lovingly unwrap it and tenderly eat the shit out of him.

It would be rude not to eat him. I mean, he came all that way.

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Facebook Pie: Atlantic Beach Pie

If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it?

If I’m being completely honest, I’d at least consider jumping off the bridge. Maybe there’s a big trampoline beneath the bridge. Or maybe there’s a beautiful lake filled with mermen. Sure, you MIGHT plummet to your death, but what if you were plummeting whilst being surrounded by the gorgeous vistas of the PCH?

The point is, just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a bad thing (e.g., reading Twilight, watching Twilight, admitting you’ve read/watched Twilight). But it really isn’t always.

A few weeks ago, my friend Shaun told me about this pie she’d heard about on NPR called the Atlantic Beach Pie. It was a pie that was made at seafood restaurants in North Carolina back in the day. The theory was if you ate seafood, you really shouldn’t eat dessert because it would make you deathly ill. All desserts, except for this one.

Then I saw the recipe posted on Food52. I posted it to Shaun’s Facebook page and I started noticing it EVERYWHERE. Everyone was making it. Anna made it (and then made it again), then Alison made it, and so on and so forth. My friend Seton’s mom even called her, saying she was going to make ‘the Facebook pie.’ We were all jumping off the proverbial bridge together. And landing in a creamy, delicious pool of citrusy custard and whipped cream.

You want to believe that this pie is going to be weird. It has a saltine cracker crust. But one of my favorite treats is saltine toffee, which is simple, rich and salty-sweet goodness. (Note to self: make saltine toffee soon.)

Start with softened butter, smooshed up saltines and sugar and knead it all together into a ‘dough.’ I couldn’t get the saltine crumbs to come together. So I added a little more butter. Than a little more butter. Than it was almost another whole stick of butter. OOPS, MADE IT MORE DELICIOUS.

After a brief rest in the fridge, you bake the crust off, whisk all the remaining ingredients together, pour and rebake.

Seriously, I think the hardest thing about this pie is waiting for it to be cold enough to eat.

Go ahead, make this pie. Everybody’s doing it.

Pre-Whipped Cream. Or, Pre-Perfection.

Pre-Whipped Cream. Or, Pre-Perfection.

Atlantic Beach Pie, via Food52

For the crust:

  • 1 ½ sleeves of saltine crackers (about 6 ounces or 60 crackers)
  • ½ cup softened unsalted butter
  • tablespoons sugar
For the filling:

  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • egg yolks
  • ½ cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
  • Fresh whipped cream, for garnish
  • Coarse sea salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. (Just use your hands) Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Second piece. I ain't ashamed.

Second piece. I ain’t ashamed.

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Grocery Shopping: French Mindset in North Carolina

How do y’all shop?

Reader: At the store, dummy.

Another Reader: At the farmer’s market, dummy.

Yet another reader: Pushing a cart, dummy.

WHOA, y’all. None of you are Redd Foxx, so you cannot legally say dummy that much.

When I say “how do you shop,” imaginary readers in my head, I mean this: what’s your approach to shopping?

I’d say that I’m a French shopper living in the Piedmont Triad area.

For instance. When I made my Braised Moroccan Chicken with Olives awhile back, I made a list, went to the store to shop for the things I needed for this specific night, and then I cooked. (Consequently, I ate around 8:45.) I pretty much only bought what I needed. So when I was planning dinner two nights later, I had to go back to the store.

I sure looked weird taking this picture in Whole Foods.

I sure looked weird taking this picture in Whole Foods.

Perhaps I’m not a great planner, but I tend to waste food when I buy it ahead of time. I either don’t get to it and it spoils (wasteful) or I don’t want it when it’s time to have it so it spoils (wa$teful).

I really like the theory of French grocery shopping. It might be fake, since I’ve never been grocery shopping in Paris, but I’ve seen Ratatouille so I’m pretty sure I’m an expert.

You get off work, you head to the market, grab your rosé, baguette and cheese, and you make dinner for the night. Your ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. Your meal is a delight. And you go to sleep full and fantasizing about Jean Dujardin.

But that dream, like so many, is about to be crushed. Crushed like that bridge with all the love locks on it. The weight of all that love is about to smother you back to reality.

Because you (I) live in America. And you (I) drive a car to work. And you (I) do the majority of your shopping in a grocery store and not a French market. And you (I) work til 6:45 or 7 almost every night. And you (I) don’t always feel like cooking. Or look at the clock you (I) know that if you cook tonight, you’ll (I’ll) be eating at damn near midnight.

I suppose there’s no one perfect way to shop. Your way may not work for me. And my way certainly may not work for you. Hell, half the time it doesn’t work for me.

But in a weird way, I kind of like it. It keeps spontaneity alive. You’re never going to try something bold if you’re a slave to Taco Tuesday or if you’re eating 8-10 portions of lasagna for a week.

Eh, it might be a dream. Sometimes it’s a nightmare. But hey, a dummy can dream.

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Risky Biscuits: New York City’s Finest Biscuits, Empire Biscuit

I don’t know when I first heard about Empire Biscuit in NYC, but ever since I did, it’s been on my culinary bucket list.

An all biscuit restaurant? I’m sorry, what’s not to like about this place. Biscuits? Good. Stuff on biscuits? EVEN BETTER.

But sometimes, you don’t get to go out to biscuits. Sometimes, the people you’re with want to eat sushi (sort of want) or want banh mi (sort of want) or want to eat salads (the fuck, bro?).

But other times, your best friend wants to eat biscuits with you. And so, you eat biscuits. Laura and I went to Empire Biscuit together. We’d been talking about it. Dreaming. Drooling over the menu together. She’d been a few times before. She even had a regular order (biscuit with fried chicken and pimento cheese). But me? This was my inaugural visit. So I needed to try EVERYTHING.

I got the Scotch Egg biscuit sandwich with cheddar and whole grain mustard. And we split two sammiches that were “meant for each other” (Just like best friends are, RIGHT?!?!?!). The “You-So-Nasty,” which is the best thing to say out loud ever. And the Savory Character, which sounds like someone from a murder mystery. And some cheese grits cause, duh.

This is why I'm hot. And by hot, I mean fat.

This is why I’m hot. And by hot, I mean fat.

But I was scared, y’all. I was really, really scared. Cause what happens when you have biscuits that are made in the north. Who makes northern biscuits? Northerners. That’s who.

When we placed our large order, we terrified the co-owner who was behind the counter by making a bad joke (“we’ll take one of everything!” “…really? Cause that’s happened.”) And then he asked where we were from.  I said I was from North Carolina. And he said, “oh, that’s cool. My business partner is from North Carolina.”

Oh, thank GOD. Because the south will rise again. As a light and fluffy biscuit, that is.

Everything we tried was incredible. The You-So-Nasty was honestly the best bite of food I put in my mouth all day. Tart, sweet and creamy with a hint of spice. They even make their hot sauces in house. The attention to detail is excellent. Friendly service, cool people. Shouldn’t be missed.

Laura thinks that they missed a real opportunity to call themselves Risky Biscuits, after the 1983 Thomas Cruise movie “Risky Business.” But after tasting them? There’s nothing risky about these biscuits.

 

 

 

…That sounded a lot cooler in my head, y’all.

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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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Winston-Salem’s New Favorite Pizza Place: Mission Pizza Napoletana Opens Tonight!

The last time I was with my best friend, LP, I asked her an important life question. If she could eat one type of food for the rest of her life, what would it be?

Immediately, without hesitating, she chose pizza.

And I chose sandwiches. I mean, I love sandwiches. I want to eat those forever.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza, too. But pizza is just pizza, right?

At least, that’s what I thought before I actually got to try Mission Pizza Napoletana.

But let’s back up a bit. To when I saw the Mission Pizza Kickstarter campaign last summer. That’s where I first heard about how Peyton Smith of Forno Moto was going to bring some crazy newfangled pizza to this town. Pizza we’ve never even dreamed about.

And again, I was like “Whoa, guy. Pizza is just pizza.” It’s like the old Jim Gaffigan bit about how all Mexican food is the same. Tortilla with cheese, meat and vegetables.

But it’s so absolutely, totally not the same. How you make it matters. And what you put on it definitely matters.

Mission Pizza has this amazing oven. This hand-built brick oven that cooks pizza at 1000 degrees in minutes. And they’re putting together delicious pies in it.

And because I am a fancy person friends with the person who made their Kickstarter video, I got invited to their soft launch on Wednesday. This was their first real night serving people. (The restaurant was so new the tables still smelled like varnish. Bless.) The atmosphere was electric and with good reason, Peyton and his team have a good thing going.

The interior is clean and cool, the waitstaff is fun and friendly, and the food is excellent. The menu may change a smidge between soft launch and open, but I believe the gist will remain: pizza, plates (salads/apps/etc.), beer and wine.

In an effort to be a glutton support local business, I tried a little bit of everything. I started with the beet salad: very well executed combination of classic flavors of beets + goat cheese. (Bonus, they’re using a local cheese maker, the Goat Lady Dairy, to provide the goat’s cheese.)

They've got the beets.

They’ve got the beets.

Evan, of the Kickstarter video making fame, ordered this pork belly as an appetizer. And an appetizer it was not, but delicious it was. The white bean ragu and balsamic were hearty with a hint of sweetness.

Don't think, just eat this.

Don’t think, just eat this.

I ordered the Soppressata pizza, which our waiter recommended. The crust was thin and crispy, the basil was charred and smoky, the soppressata was sweet and the mozzarella creamy. They say the simplest foods are the hardest ones to do perfectly, but that was not a problem here. Evan’s fiancee/my friend Lauren kept saying that her pizza felt refreshing—it wasn’t a heavy, dense pie that you’d need to take a nap after. This is a pizza you could have before a night out.

Soppressata Pizza

Soppressata Pizza

Lastly, I SHARED the tiramisu with my friends. (I shared the other things too….but, I didn’t share that much cause it tasted too good.) I love tiramisu. I love the creaminess of the mascarpone next to the soaked ladyfingers. (Soaked ladyfingers just sounds disgusting when you type it.) And this one was one of the best I’d ever had. It was light and fluffy. The perfect last bite.

Tiramisu to share. Or not.

In short, I stand corrected. A pizza isn’t a pizza isn’t a pizza.

And, a sandwich isn’t a pizza, either. So, if I can only eat one food for the rest of my life, I think I’d like to change my answer.

Go check out Mission Pizza Napoletana starting tonight! 707 North Trade Street. Regular business hours are Monday through Saturday, 5-10 pm.

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Ooh, heaven is a place on earth: Publix

I think it’s safe to say that there are a few things people are willing to come to blows over in this world: college football (SEC fans will fight you), family drama (your dad’s new girlfriend who is two years younger than you will fight you), and grocery store supremacy (I will fight you).

Now, I am perfectly willing to let each person have his or her own opinion. I just happen to know that my opinion is the correct opinion.

You can keep your Harris Teeters, your Trader Joe’s and even your Wegmans. The greatest grocery store on the face of the planet is Publix.

And it’s coming to Winston-Salem.

Publix!!!

Publix!!!

It’s not to say that those aren’t good grocery stores. Frankly, Wegmans isn’t good. It’s amazing.

But Publix far surpasses all of them. (Hell, Buzzfeed agrees.) But let me explain, if you will. Which you will, because this is my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Publix is a southern grocery store chain that is FINALLY expanding to North Carolina in 2014 and to Winston-Salem in 2015. I’ll pretend I’m unbiased when I go into the details but I’m not, so let’s not kid ourselves.

Publix a beautiful, clean grocery store. Is it weird to call a grocery store beautiful? Yes. If it was a normal grocery store. But Publix is a way of life. Publix is where shopping is a pleasure. And it is. (No seriously, it IS a pleasure and that line is their tagline.) You go in, you get a cup of complimentary coffee, you walk through the lovely produce and the easy to understand aisles. Sometimes when my dad is shopping there, he sends me pictures of the lovely produce. And it soothes me.

Their staff is incredibly friendly. One of my best friends, Lauren worked there all throughout high school. And Lauren is really nice. She’s one of my best friends, y’all. So you can trust me. Friendly staff. CHECK.

They know how to brand themselves. The packaging on their store brand is simple and clean. I’m a label whore and I would exclusively buy their store brand.  Their Thanksgiving commercial is still one of my favorite commercial of all times. And since it is now officially pre-Thanksgiving (IT IS NOT CHRISTMAS YET, PEOPLE), we can watch said commercial.

True story: Publix actually sold a version of the salt and pepper shakers from the commercials and they sold out immediately. They were impossible to find. They made another set at Christmas where the characters were dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus. This is how much people love Publix.

In conclusion, Publix, we await your imminent arrival. With your Publix subs. And your chicken fingers. Your cookies. Your complimentary coffee. Your amazing store brand. Your price + value + service. Your pleasurable shopping.

There’s nothing more I want from you. Except to be here way the fuck sooner.

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