Favorite things: Featuring Cackalacky Sweet Sauce, Gorilla Grains, Fogwood Farm Spiced Tomato Jam, Cheerwine, Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter and this most awesome mini sifter from Southern Home & Kitchen

triadfoodies’ Favorite Things 2014

Every year, for years now, our family has been giving the gift of our favorite things to a few select people in our lives…mainly close family. It’s usually quite the hit! It always always has foodie items and sometimes something cool like a mug or lip salve or anything funky that we discovered or became “reacquainted with.”

Here’s this year’s list of our favorite things…a good list this year with Got to be NC products and one or two out-of-towner’s but at least one was purchased at a locally owned business. Links to the companies that make the products are in the list! Merry Christmas!

Mark and Kristi’s (and Ava’s and Beck’s Favorite Things 2014

Favorite things: Featuring Cackalacky Sweet Sauce, Gorilla Grains, Fogwood Farm Spiced Tomato Jam, Cheerwine, Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter and this most awesome mini sifter from Southern Home & Kitchen

Favorite things: Featuring Cackalacky Sweet Sauce, Gorilla Grains, Fogwood Farm Spiced Tomato Jam, Cheerwine, Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter and this most awesome mini sifter from Southern Home & Kitchen

Merry Christmas! We can’t believe this season happened upon us so quickly! It was so fast we nearly forgot this beloved (we hope) tradition. This year, most of our favorite things just so happen to be “Got to Be NC”.

Cackalacky Sweet Sauce: This Famously Original Sauce is from the awesome guys in Chapel Hill who grabbed our state’s nickname and threw it on everything they make. This BBQ-type sauce is made with NC’s own Cheerwine and it gives the sauce a sweet, fruity element that’s amazing on meats, especially pork belly. Cackalacky also makes a sauce from Sweet Potatoes called “Spicy” and they make these killer peanuts as well. Lots of restaurants around the state use their products. And if you ever see Cackalacky beer in the beer aisle, be sure to pick it up. It’s made by Full Steam Brewery where the two companies partnered to bring a unique ginger pale ale that’s different than any other beer you’ve probably ever tried. cackalacky.com

Fogwood Food Spiced Tomato Jam: Not to be confused with ketchup, this is a slightly sweet and spicy tomato “jelly” that tastes like the holidays. It’s especially good on cream cheese and awesome on garlic bread with some parmesan sprinkled on top. Try it with a bit of hummus and veggies (pickled or not). This wonderful farm in Reidsville also grows shiitake mushrooms, peppers and dehydrates them and they make this amazing buttered pecan syrup that we’d loved to be able to put in your treasure trove here but we just couldn’t get our hands on it. You can probably order it online! You should! Highly recommended on pancakes. Check their website as well for a list of local shops that sell their products, which includes various Lowes Foods as well as Kernersville’s own Musten & Crutchfield and another fave, Let It Grow Produce.  fogwoodfood.com

Speculoos Cookie Butter:  This is almost Ava’s favorite thing. We are on a roll with the cookie butter. If you like the original from two years ago you will love this. This has the cookies (from last year) not all the way mushed into cookie butter. So you get crunch and cookie butter and it’s still meltable and pourable after melted and we really just eat it off the spoon and enjoy. You do whatever you want. Located at Trader Joe’s.

From Beck:  Gorilla Grains Granola: Let me tell you, the butteriness of this granola will make you so happy to be alive. You really will just consume it right out of the bag and not bother with all that fussy stuff like yogurt or milk (unless it’s to drink it). It’s just too good for snacking. And you can get it with cranberries and other troublesome things in it but the original is just too darn fabulous to pass up. Beck will not eat any other granola. He asks if it’s this. He can tell with just one bite. How this woman who owns this company is not a millionaire used to be a mystery…but a recent conversation with owner Alicia Rehburg explains that she keeps it small so she can have the best quality control possible, but who knows what the future holds?  You’ll have to find Gorilla Grains on Facebook and order personally by calling or messaging. And you can find her just about every weekend at the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market. Also at Summerfield Farms. 

Powdered Sugar Spoon: Isn’t it like totally cute? I mean, enough said. We found this at Southern Home & Kitchen in WS. You can probably find them at most kitchen stores. This will give your desserts, coffee or whatever a nice teeny tiny dusting that’s just enough with not a big mess. LOVE!

From Ava:  Cheerwine: (see first entry)  Ava has probably drunk her weight in Cheerwine this year. This soda was born in Salisbury, NC in 197 and is wild cherry cola yumminess. It’s as authentic North Carolina as gets with a juicy burger and fries, mmmm.  You can have the “legend” delivered right to your door! cheerwine.com

So that’s our favorite things 2014. If you think there’s something we should try that ought to be on our list, suggest to us please! What are some of your faves this year?

The Marshall Free House: Tour/Tasting

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We were graciously invited to tour the new The Marshall Free House  (1211 Battleground Ave, Greensboro) and get a tasting of some of their signature items this week. This was our first dinner at The MFH, though we had visited at brunch a few months back. This UK style gastropub has transformed the old …eh–it’s been so many things it’s hard to remember…next to the Carousel Theatre into something truly unique, with an amazing Olde Worlde decor and a seriously cool whiskey bar/laboratory. That’s right, laboratory. We didn’t go for “dranks” but many do and we’ll talk about that in a bit (stay tuned for info about a giveway), but first–the FOOD!

One of The Marshall Free House’s signature items came first, the Scotch Eggs, a boiled egg wrapped in a sausage and then breaded and fried. Have you ever tried them? LOVE Scotch Eggs and these were so scrumptious with a perfectly crispy exterior and the egg was very soft as in, what I like to call “dippy.” So, so yummy. The way they are served they are perfect for sharing. I could make a meal out of them, but they are so decadent, they are mostly suited for sharing. Oh, and the girl kidlet LOVED. I’m already liking this place!

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It’s not a British pub experience without some Bangers & Mash. The perfectly cooked sausage with its rich gravy on top of the “mash” (potatoes)—indeedy. Delightful. Total man food!

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We also were surprised by a wonderful Shrimp & Grits. Not something you typically think of at a British style pub, but Chef Derek Fontenot is from Louisiana so he’s having some fun with his roots. And let me tell you, mr. foodie says they were the BEST Shrimp & Grits he’s ever eaten. I’d definitely agree they are way up there. There packed with andouille sausage in a very rich, slighly tomato-y, spicy sauce. Old Mill of Guilford grits were perfectly cooked and just soaking up that sauce and getting happy. By now, so were we!

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Of course, it’s not a true UK experience without Fish & Chips. One of my favorite things in the whole wide world. And these, these fish and chips…I gotta say, though on the bit of the pricey side for such an entree, are every single bit worth it. Plus it’s huge and you could totally share. Instead of cod, chef is using 10 oz. of Haddock and it’s denser and flaky, a bit more like flounder, and they batter it in Everclear and Stella Artois beer. The exterior is completely adhered to the fish and if you love fish and chips you know that this matters. Whatever is happening with that Everclear and beer is righteously suited for that fish. And..AND! The kidlets ate the fish. I mean, I nearly fell off my chair. Even THEY couldn’t believe they were eating fish. This beautiful entree is served with handcut fries and mashed peas. I’d go back and get just that again and again.

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For a taste of something a bit different, we were also introduced to the  MFH Chicken Sandwich, but not just any chicken sandwich. This grilled chicken was packed between two buttery crispy pieces of toast and melded together with gouda, prosciutto, roquette, pistachio pesto mayo and its crowning glory–tomato confit–tomatoes cooked all day into this wonderfully rich “jam,” for lack of a better word. Served with chips, of course. A beautiful sandwich and scrumptious.

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And you know Shepherd’s Pie at a pub like The Marshall Free House is also a given. This pie is the way it’s supposed to be made. Braised lamb shank, shredded and mixed with veggies like peas then topped with mashed potatoes that have been enhanced with the braised lamb drippings. The fragrance of that dish. Heavenly on a cold day and a very large serving as well. You don’t go home hungry here.

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And not to be outdone, Chef Fontenot also brought out what they say is one of the highlights of their menu and we’d have to agree. Pork Cheeks cooked in aromatics like anise and herbs and sitting in a rich gravy on more mashed potatoes. These are hardy people in the UK and they like their taters. Served with asparagus and just warm and tender. If you’ve never had pork cheeks, then you owe it to yourself to try this beautiful aspect of the piggy. My children liked the pork cheeks as well. I’d say we have a winner.

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At this point (or 2 entrees ago) you pretty much could’ve rolled me out of there but they didn’t stop there and here comes a beautiful Banana Pudding with a homemade pastry crust, a delicate pudding and fresh whipped cream all made in-house by their pastry chef (as all their desserts are). Loved it and so did the kiddos even though it was not our “southern” banana pudding. And next, Sticky Toffee Pudding. My first ever. I’ve always wanted to try it and not many people make it. It’s rich and just swimming in a caramel sauce and so amazing. The chef also brought out some Chocolate Cake for the kidlets. So nice. Of course, they gorged themselves on that and afterward I believe we were ALL in a near food coma.

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Now, I know my blog is not about the bad and the ugly and I have pretty much maintained my goal to only post yumminess here. And I was a guest in their “House,” but seriously nothing that came out of the kitchen wasn’t short of amazing and most of the entrees that came out were dishes that I already really love and some I’ve made at home so we know what we like. And when possible, Chef Fontenot is using local ingredients and you know that makes the foodies happy.

Let’s talk a bit about the decor and the bar. In one area of MFH, you’ll see the pub area…there’s no seating at the high bar, much like a traditional UK pub–the better to mix and mingle. Across from there is the speakeasy style Whiskey Bar stocked with all kinds of liquor, but get this— 160 different whiskeys! And you can’t miss the beautiful laboratory where the magic happens.  In this Molecular Mixology Lab, you can see drinks even if you are standing outside. We didn’t really get a chance to partake there (who had room?) but it’s definitely something to consider for a future night out.

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A view of the Mixology lab from outside

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Chef Derek Fontenot

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Our server, Graham

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GM, Sean O’Brien

Speaking of, Bar Director Lentz Ison, who was voted BEST Bartender at the Bartender’s Ball, will be holding a cocktail class and pairing dinner on Wednesday, December 3 and I have 2 tickets to give away to this four-course dinner which will feature an amazing menu, cocktails and instructions on how to make house-made bitters, incredible cocktails and all the elements going into each and every drink of the evening. The class is $75 per person so what an awesome opportunity!  Just comment below and let me know what your favorite UK-style food or drink is. Good luck!

Cocktail Class Dinner

For more information about The Marshall Free House, click here. Details about the Cocktail Dinner & Class are on the site as well as all their other events and info. Also, check out their sister properties, Pig Pounder Brewery, Burger Warfare and Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill (the one and only, last-remaining and locally-owned of its kind).

And here are some pics of our brunch from a few weeks ago. Also LOTS of winning items on the menu and not to be missed, the Nutella & Bananas Foster Pancakes. Get the table an order and chow down for a sweet complement o their other savory items like Yorkies, Sausage and Eggs. Everyone at least once in the lives should try a “Real English Breakfast,” and if they ever have Welsh Rarebit. Get it, get it!

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Know going in that The Marshall Free House has kind of “elevated” the idea of typical pub fare or even “gastropub fare.” It’s considered slightly more upscale and the prices will reflect that. But the attention to detail and the service make it worth it. The items are very sharable and it’s fun to try appetizers and split entrees and that’s just one of the ways we try to make eating local and eating well more budget-friendly. We will definitely be going back. I mean, the microfoodies loved it so, I have to…lest they starve. :)
Marshall Free House on Urbanspoon

triadfoodies were invited guests of The Marshall Free House for a tour and tasting and the dinner was provided gratis. We were not paid for this review. This blog post is based on our own, honest opinions.

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Exploring Asia in the Triad

The entire triadfoodies clan has been hitting some bucket list spots lately here in the area. Most of them…well ALL of them…Asian. Did I mention the microfoodies, who surprise me with their annoying quirks about food, pretty much LOVE Asian cuisine? I mean, these kids turn me into a liar. One day, I say they don’t eat anything but grilled cheese and PBJ and then the next day they are scarfing down Tikka Masala like a champ. I mean, what the what??? And it doesn’t stop there. They like Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian (??) and Moroccan (I know, NOT Asia). But it’s pretty much nuts since I can barely get them to eat a cheeseburger. It’s exhausting.

Due to being slack about consistent posts, I’ve now, ahem…compiled a lovely treasure chest of goodness that you definitely should check out in Winston-Salem and Greensboro. These are in no particular order except the first one. If I don’t list them first, my kidlets will tackle me and demand all my naan.

Nawab Indian Cuisine 129 South Stratford Rd, WS

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My first taste of from scratch Indian food was in my own home when I made a slow cooker Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken). The flavors were to die for and my children, God bless them, ate it like it was their last meal on earth. I even went all out and allowed them to eat with their fingers as we sat on the floor around our coffee table. Fun times, but I digress. At Nawab, you will eat at your standard table with standard utensils and the flavors there are authentic and delicious and as spicy as you want it. Go Indian hot for the full effect. You can’t go wrong with a delicious Tikka Masala with its slightly smoky, sweet and zesty flavor. Amazing. And we highly recommend getting Rogan Josh. They have various choices with seafood, lamb (which is what we ordered), goat, etc. You GOTTA get the naan bread. Everything is pretty much family style, so the 4 of us shared 2 entrees with plenty left over and clean plates even. Not so sure yet? Nawab has an amazing buffet that has everything from Mango Steak to Tikka Masala to Tandoori Chicken and plenty of veggie options too along with a salad. $12 for the all you can eat buffet. True bliss. It gets busy at lunch so if you get there at peak time, you may wait for your table but it goes pretty quickly. And the service is just impeccable as the owner makes her way to every table to make sure your experience is an enjoyable one.

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Another trip: Lunch Buffet

Cha Da Thai 420 Jonestown Rd, WS

Located in a shopping center on Jonestown Road (as well as a location in Boone) there’s a great selection of Thai specialties and favorites and pretty moderate prices. Food here is also served somewhat family style as most Thai places and it comes out piping hot with fresh vegetables cooked al dente. The boy kidlet even ate his fried spring roll. He was not aware there was cabbage in it so we won’t say anything. I ordered the crispy duck and mr. foodie ordered the Chicken Curry. He gets that nearly everywhere and he has a standard so if it’s delicious then that’s great news. Great spice in the broth that soaked up the rice and great tender chicken. We ordered the boy the chicken fried rice and helped him put a good dent in it. We had plenty left of that though and it was enough to make an entire family of four “leftovers” with some rotisserie chicken. Delicious day of and a few days later.

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Sushi Thai 826 South Stratford Rd, WS

At first glance, this little place in a former something else (maybe a steak place?) looks like you might just pass it by. But we say, do not! Delicious fresh Chicken Teriyaki for the kids, Chicken Curry for mr. (I told you) and it was chocked full of fresh veggies as you can see below and I ordered sushi. It was all really good and it came out in a timely manner with great service. It was pretty deserted but for 3-4  tables on a Sunday evening. Definitely check them out for a nice quiet meal that won’t cost a lot of $$.

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Thai Sawatdee (3 locations)

Thai Sawatdee has 3 locations,  but if you ask anybody in WS, they will probably tell you that their favorite Thai is actually the one that’s a walk up counter at the Harris Teeter on Cloverdale Avenue. Affectionately called Teeter Thai. But the new location on Robinhood may be able to give the walk-up a run for its money as there’s way more space to sit and enjoy dinner with your family. I can only speak of the Teeter location which did not disappoint with its Spicy Noodle and Pad Thai. I did think the Pad Thai was on the sweet side, my wide spicy noodles were great. And where else can you end your meal with a quick jaunt over to the dessert section at HT and buy some tiramisu? It’s definitely a perk. Plus you can order, then shop, then have Thai food. That’s pretty awesomely convenient. You ain’t hitting Teeter Thai for the ambiance, that’s for sure. I was just at the HT today to get some olives from the olive bar and I sure wish I’d gotten some spring rolls while I was at it.

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Wen Hwa Asian Fusion Cuisine 134 N Spruce Street, WS

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Speaking of ambiance, there’s just about nothing that compares to it Wen Hwa.  Its black and red interior definitely transport you to an exotic place. It’s pretty quiet and the general feel of it is really nice, yet casual. Cloth scroll menus that unroll…pretty cool! Service is terrific and we were checked on a number of times by the lovely owner. The General Tao’s chicken is slightly spicy and amazing, the Singapore Street Noodles are so yummy. Also worth a try is the Sesame Honey Chicken. AND the Chicken Wraps. As I type this I’m thinking it’s definitely time to go back. There’s an entree called Vietnamese Black Pepper Beef & Shrimp that has my taste buds wondering….
UPDATE: We did go back…for lunch…and though the above beef and shrimp dish was tempting, I simply couldn’t pass up the lunch special of General Chicken with Spring Roll for 5.95. It’s really the best General Tao chicken in the Triad bar none. So fresh and crispy and just-right spicy. By the way, I have a STACK of 10% off coupons so if you want one, holler!

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General Tao's Chicken $5.95 with Spring Roll

General Tao’s Chicken $5.95 with Spring Roll

Chef Samir Shaltout (pronounced Shal-toot) Egyptian Treasures 4212 W. Wendover Ave., GSO

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Egyptian and Mediterranean done right. With terrific service and maybe even a visit from the Chef himself. We decided to go for the Babaghanoush, Falafel, Chicken Shawerma and Lamb Kabobs. I really could eat food like this nearly every day. I love hummus, feta, rice, flat bread, all of it. All of the items we tried were freshly prepared and the restaurant itself has a nice Egyptian decor in spite of the fact that it’s in a shopping center that’s anchored by a Staples. For something truly unique, we highly recommend. Plus he has a catering truck! If it just opened on one side, Chef Shaltout would have one heck of a food truck option. I mean, people would flock, don’t you think?

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Chef Shaltout

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Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe  101 W. 4th Street, WS

And by no means does being last on this list, mean anything at all except it’s a blend of Greek, Lebanese and other Mediterranean fare so it’s not all Asia all the time at Mooney’s. Mooney’s is definitely one of the more popular restaurants in downtown Winston-Salem at lunch. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a seat. At lunch, you walk up, order and take a number then get your food. At dinner, it’s table service. Of course the hummus and falafel are divine as is the babaghanouj. Here, I’ve also gotten the Shawarma and for lunch I ordered the Kafta with steak. This is a wonderful restaurant in which to just nosh, nosh, nosh.  Hummus, pita, dips, wraps, falafel…so good. Heck for the less adventurous people in your life, they even have burgers! And fries! Win win.

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Not pictured above and not to be missed: Phoenix Asian Cafe (1641 New Garden Road, GSO) has been open a few years and looks VERY similar to that large Pan Asian chain restaurant, but I swear it’s even better and the bonus is eating local. Plus, Phoenix has great sushi. My favorite items on the menu are the appetizer, Firecracker Shrimp, and the entree, Spicy Fish. Phoenix’s food comes out so hot that you will have to let it cool before you can enjoy it and that’s okay, right? Very similar in concept in Winston-Salem is Hakka Chow (615 St. George Square Ct) Also with pretty decent sushi and the Hakka Zen Shrimp (kind of like the aforementioned shrimp) and good Chicken Curry. This restaurant is brought to you by the restaurant family that owns Bernardin’s and Bleu so you know they don’t do things halfway. If you find yourself craving that big Chinese chain you find at upscale malls, drive the extra few minutes to the locally-owned version. You won’t be disappointed and you may save a few bucks.

That’s barely touching on all the amazing places to eat that represent such a vast continent. I’ve already talked about Winston’s Mizu and Greensboro’s Pho Hien Vuong and High Point’s Full Kee in separate posts (they’re that good…and…I had way more time on my hands to do separate posts :D). This compilation is  much more convenient for me and hopefully for you. Definitely let me know if you have a suggestion for a can’t miss spot for Asian cuisine in the Triad and beyond.

Until next time, foodies…eat local!

Beyond the Triad: A mini-Tour of the South’s “Tastiest Town”: Durham

Mr. foodie decided it’d be fun to to take a quick weekend getaway to Durham, recently dubbed by Southern Living as the south’s “Tastiest Town.” Now, some of my peeps in the Triad may disagree and we do love our restaurants here, but there’s nothing wrong with checking out the goods in other places of NC and Durham does not disappoint.

We finished our trick-or-treating ritual with the kidlets Friday and then hit the road. We decided NOT eating candy would make us plenty hungry for a craft cocktail and some bar eats. But at Alley Twenty-Six, you aren’t just getting bar food. Think meat plates, cheese boards, homemade pimento cheese, olives (of course), nuts (of course) and sliders, etc. This small, hip bar has live music, themed drinks (Friday was “Fright Night”) to celebrate the evening and great appetizers that are made to order…pretty much right in front of you. I’ve never had pimento cheese with pepper jelly, but man—I’m a fan now. As you may know, this is my and mr. foodie’s favorite way to eat…just noshing.

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On Saturday morning, we had plans to hit up Rise, a super-popular biscuits and doughnuts spot near Streets at Southpointe. Go there if you can get there early or during an off-peak time–I have NO idea when that is, however. Great spot for you to hit instead of a chain. But unfortunately the line, which was out the door into the parking lot, was too long for us as we were starved by 11am. But our good fortune was that Harvest 18 (also recommended and part of 18 Restaurant group which owns 18 Seaboard and Cantina 18) is across the way for a real, sit-down, farm-to-table brunch and it was amazing. I mean, the service here was top-notch. Patrick, our server, took wonderful care of us and made us think we were really funny when we cracked our lame jokes. :D  I ordered the highly recommended Pamlico Shrimp and Grits Benedict with poached egg and Anson Mill’s bacon flecked local grits, asparagus and hollandaise. mr. ordered the Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Loin with root veggies and Guilford-Ashe Co. cheddar grits. The chef also offered these INCREDIBLE and I ain’t lying, Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Belly lettuce wraps, which were not on the menu for brunch, but they were amazing. So if you see those on the menu, you gotta get them. It’s like a gift to your precious self. You will thank me. And thank YOU, Chef Mike for the treat!

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We also tried the carrot cake for dessert. Nearly every dessert Harvest 18 has comes with their homemade caramel sauce. Totally didn’t need to any more…but maybe save room for dessert.

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I have a tendency to do two meals a day, even though I love to eat and eating so late and so much meant, no eating until dinner. We saved it up for Piedmont Restaurant. Several of my bloggie friends in the RDU area said this local spot was not to be missed.  Everything about this place I loved. The decor, the art, the music, the servers’ wardrobe…it was very casual, yet rustic and just relaxing. We ordered the Carolina Smoked Trout Dip which was served with homemade lavash crackers. Mmm..total deliciousness. And I must tell you, that we were nearly bowled over (no pun intended) by the Lil Farm’s Heirloom Pumpkin Soup, topped with NC blue crab, crème fraîche, truffle oil, fresh herbs. Absolutely one of the best soups I’ve ever had. I’m dying to know how to make that…oh, chef?  We also were surprised with a gorgeous, mouthwatering Duck-Rabbit Stout Glazed Sweetbreads, gnocchi, NC muscadines, blistered, sweet frying peppers. The sweetbreads were small, like the gnocchi and were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with the flavor of the stout hinted throughout. Wow. We even convinced our dining neighbor to try them and she officially became a “gland girl.” Ha! It’s the little achievements, foodies!

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I ordered this beautifully light, NC Tilefish with local fingerling potatoes and fennel surrounded by a fumet. Basically that’s foam. But the kind you want to eat.  And mr. ordered chicken. What?? Chicken Roulade… but it was stuffed with goat cheese with these amazing little confit and get this…Anson Mills farro..served like a savory oatmeal that was just the perfect thing with the chicken and the root vegetables. I die.

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We ordered some delightful drinks that I can’t quite remember and mr. foodie forgot to snap pics of his. I can tell you one was called Hair of the Dog which featured Topo Distillery Gin and and the other was a Honeybee, which is basically Makers Mark dropped in honeycomb then infused for a long time, then served on the rocks. And it was lovely.

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We got our extra hour of sleep and tried in vane to hit Rose’s Meat Market & Sweet Shop (not open at 10am when we headed out) and again, Rise (line out the door and into the parking lot, again) so we decided to take on Chapel Hill and visit the Weathervane at Southern Season. Green Chile Chicken Chilaquiles with sunny side up eggs and salsa verde for me. And mr. had a delicious Wild Mushroom & Duck Hash with a sunny side up egg.  Really great. And..because we felt we needed extra calories and carbs we ordered the Banana Nut French Toast for that sweet element that positively has to go with brunch.

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Needless to say, we left Durham and Chapel Hill quite satiated and we even got a little shopping done in Durham and at Southern Season. Have you ever been there? It’s like a food lover’s and cook’s paradise. The perfect spot for filling your tummies stockings for the holidays or gift-giving. Check out all theses spots by clicking the links.

Until next time, foodies.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the Triangle?

foodie b’eat: Get Ready for Competition Dining’s Final Fire!

You know I LOVE THE Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series. So much so that I have worked at the event. It’s so much fun and incredibly delicious. And we’ve really been introduced to some rising stars through this competition. Well tickets to Final Fire go on sale this week. Check out the latest:


Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Announces Chef Brackets and Ticket Sales for
Statewide Championship, Final Fire

Interactive Dinner Competition Returns to Raleigh for Championship Battles Nov. 19 to 22

Raleigh, North Carolina – Oct. 22, 2014 – The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, a tournament highlighting the best of the state’s food, agriculture and culinary talent, is gearing up for its Final Fire series in which five chefs from across North Carolina will battle it out to take home the statewide championship. Community members are invited to attend the tournament’s four live dinner events, savoring the six-course meal and serving as judges, from Nov. 19 to 22 in Raleigh. Tickets to these interactive battles go on sale Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at http://www.competitiondining.com and are guaranteed to sell out quickly.

The five competing chefs won their regional series to move on to earn a place at Final Fire. It’s all part of the 2014 Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, a single-elimination, Iron Chef-style challenge between local chefs across North Carolina. Regional series included Wilmington, Asheville, Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte, with eight to 16 talented chefs competing in each tournament.

The five winning chefs, representing some of the best North Carolina culinary talent, recently drew knives to determine the championship bracket for the upcoming Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Final Fire, which is scheduled as follows:

Nov. 19 Dinner: Fire on the Dock Champion Antoine Murray of Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, versus Fire on the Rock Champion Michelle Bailey of Season’s at Highland Lake in Flat Rock
Nov. 20 Dinner: Fire in the City Champion Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill in Charlotte, versus Nov. 19 winner
Nov. 21 Dinner: Fire in the Triad Champion Tim Thompson of Marisol Restaurant in Greensboro, versus Fire in the Triangle Champion Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh
Nov. 22 Championship Dinner: Nov. 20 winner, versus Nov. 21 winner

Along with bragging rights, at stake in the Final Fire series is a grand prize of $4,000 cash, two handmade chef knives by Ironman Forge and a trip to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, California, compliments of Kikkoman and the Pro Chef Program.

In each of the Final Fire dinner battles, just as each dinner throughout the year-long Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, two participating chefs each prepare three courses centered on a secret or featured ingredient that comes from a North Carolina farmer or artisan producer. Featured ingredients are revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking that day and must be used in each course.

At the dinner events, ticketed guests get in on the action, savoring the combined six courses without knowing which chef prepared each plate. Alongside culinary and guest judges, diners rate each dish using an interactive app, ultimately determining who moves on to the next round and who goes home.

“North Carolinians are really getting into these interactive events; we’ve had such an amazing response from fans across the state,” said Jimmy Crippen, Competition Dining Series founder and host. “With the level of talent competing, the four Final Fire dinner battles are sure to be extremely competitive and entertaining for everyone in attendance. It’s the culmination of the fun, creativity and talent we’ve seen throughout the year and we expect tickets to sell out really fast – in fact, last year’s Final Fire tickets sold out within eight minutes. Those interested should be online and ready when the tickets are released!”

All Final Fire events are held at Renaissance North Hills Raleigh, located at 4100 Main at North Hills Street. Tickets to attend the first three battles are $129 each excluding beverage, tax and tip. Tickets for the final championship battle are $139 each excluding beverage, tax and tip. Learn more and buy tickets starting Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. via http://www.competitiondining.com.

About The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series
The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series is sponsored by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Pate Dawson-Southern Foods, Certified Angus Beef®, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, the NC Wine & Grape Council, Hits Technology and local partners in each region of the state. The goal of the series is to celebrate local North Carolina products and agriculture, and to showcase the culinary ingenuity and talent across the state. For more information, visit http://www.competitiondining.com or get in on the conversation at http://www.facebook.com/competitiondining and @CompDiningNC on Twitter or Instagram.