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foodie b’eat: Taking an inside peak and taste of the new Crafted–The Art of Street Food

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Last week I got to represent myself, YES! Weekly and foodies across the Triad (we ARE triadfoodies, after all) and we got to go where no foodies have gone before…inside Chef Kristina Fuller’s new Crafted. She revealed the name as Crafted–The Art of Street Food.

Everything was AMAZING. Greensboro is so lucky to have a talented chef like Kristina and the concept will be quite the hit I’m sure. She was just voted Best Chef in the Triad by the voters of YES! Weekly.

The new restaurant is set to open on May 19.

YES! Weekly’s CHOW… featuring the new Crafted The Art of Street Food. Some photos of the eats and the interior are below.

Read all about it here! 

The bar...graffiti spells out "Street Food"

The bar…graffiti spells out “Street Food”

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Indian Street Food: Bhel Puri

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Indian: Fried Okra

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Latin Street Food: Mexican Street Corn

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Caribbean: Jerk Chicken & Beans/Rice

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Asian Street Food: Ramen

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Asian Street Food: Spicy Prawn & Coconut Rice

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Dessert: Chocolate & Tamarind Ice Cream

Chef Kris Fuller and her mom and business partner, Rhonda Fuller
Chef Kris Fuller and her mom and business partner, Rhonda Fuller

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foodie b’eat: Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series is coming to Winston-Salem!

You may notice a few changes with Competition Dining. First, it’s now being referred to as the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series. Gone is the “Fire in the…” title. The other BIG change is that this year it’s in WINSTON-SALEM. And it’s about time! We know we have great chefs across the Triad and especially Greensboro, but it’s time that the rest of the Triad came on over to the Twin City to see its gorgeous downtown and enjoy this competition, where plenty of WSNC chefs will be featured along with their counterparts across the county line and beyond. Take a look at the brackets which were announced today at the media event at the Benton Convention Center.

The Winston-Salem series features 16 chefs starting May 26. Here’s the official release from the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series which lists the chefs and the match-ups. Come out for one of the greatest night’s of food…ever.  And be sure to catch the full story and some one on one interviews in the next issue of YES! Weekly coming out on May 13.

IMG_3721The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, a single-elimination tournament highlighting the best of the state’s food, agriculture and culinary talent, will pit 16 highly competitive chefs against each other in its upcoming regional tournament in the Triad. For the first time in competition history, the local series will be held in Winston-Salem. All of the 15 interactive battles will be hosted at the Benton Convention Center from May 26 through July 7, and tickets are now available at www.competitiondining.com/events/triad.

In every Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series dinner event, two chef teams battle it out preparing three courses each centered on a featured North Carolina ingredient that is revealed only an hour before they start cooking that day. Ticketed dinner guests savor a full-service, six-course meal without knowing which chef prepared which dishes. Unlike any other cooking competition, attendees vote on each course using a free app, and ultimately help determine who moves on to the next battle round and who goes home.

Series competitors are randomly assigned to brackets. The Triad preliminary match-up battles include:

“We’re excited to be going to Winston-Salem and really impressed by the level of culinary talent in the competition this year,” said Jimmy Crippen, Competition Dining Series founder and host. “We have chefs from Winston-Salem, Greensboro and across the state. They’ll all face off in what I know will be one of the most fun, competitive and delicious tournaments for everyone involved.”

During 2015, the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series is hosting bracketed tournaments in three regions of the state: Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and two brackets in Charlotte. For the first time ever, the tournament will also host a bracket in South Carolina, which will be held in Greenville this summer. The five winners each receive a grand prize of $2,000, a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge and the coveted “Red Chef Jacket” provided by ALSCO.  Additionally, all five move on to compete in the battle of champions at the end of the year.

All Triad events are held at the Benton Convention Center located at 301 W 5th Street in Winston-Salem. Tickets range from $55 to $75, excluding beverage, tax and service fee. Guests can attend as many dinners as they like and tickets must be purchased by midnight the day before a battle. Reservations are open now at www.competitiondining.com/events/triad.

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, Libbey, ALSCO, NC Egg Association, Hits Technology, Joyce Farms 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 www.competitiondining.com or get in on the conversation at www.facebook.com/competitiondining and @CompDiningNC on Twitter or Instagram.

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foodie b’eat: Cinco de Muncho at YES! Weekly

Cinco de Mayo is upon us. It just happens to coincide here locally with Hope du Jour so please be sure to eat out at a local restaurant on May 5 as a portion of all proceeds benefit Crisis Control Ministries. You can read more about Hope du Jour and Crisis Control Ministries here.

And if you are having trouble making a decision, here’s a list of faves that are sure to have something to hit the spot this May. We call it our Cinco EN Mayo.

Read all about it in my YES! Weekly blog article here.

What’s your favorite Mexican restaurant?

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Recipe: Toscana Soup or Zuppa Toscana or Spicy Italian Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup

After the cold winter that we had the misfortune of enduring this past April weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to post a recipe gets requested a good bit, particularly the last 2 days. And since in a couple of days it’s going to be a little chillier than late April ought to be, with more rain (yay), it’s as good a time as any. And if you can’t bear the thought of a spicy, potato-y soup in April (why the heck not?), then it can live in your archives until you deem it cold enough. :)

This soup is a copycat of the very popular one from OG (you know where I mean). I don’t know what their recipe is. But a few chefs out there have placed their own versions on the blogosphere and mine may be just like those. All I know is that I’ve done it so many times, I don’t go by a recipe but I know the ratios well enough. I’m not writing a cookbook, so you’ll have to trust me. This recipe gives you a bit of leeway depending on the amount of sausage you want in it and how you like your potatoes. mr. foodie likes his meaty. So I double the sausage from 1 to 2 pounds. And he likes varied texture so I usually slice up link sausages and ground sausage and brown them together. It’s vital that you use HOT Italian sausage. I guess you can use sweet/mild and add heat but this way— It’s just so yummy and spicy. It will make you feel ALIVE.

Toscana Soup

1-2 lb hot Italian sausage (you can use links or go with ground. Ground is easier but links are more true to the original)
2 cloves finely chopped garlic (or equivalent garlic powder)
1 tsp. minced onion (I use dry, but feel free to sweat in some fresh)
4-5 Medium sized russet potatoes, roughly cut into bite size pieces or sliced thin. Whatever.
4 cups chopped kale (again bite size pieces or bigger if you like it rustic). The pics show a Tuscan kale, but I usually use the curly kale too that’s more common.
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2-1 cup heavy cream. Depending on how creamy you want it. You may replace with milk or half &     half. It just won’t be as creamy. Here’s what I do. I use a half cup of cream, then I add milk until it just hits the  top of the ingredients in the pot.
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (no lie)
salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven or large pot, brown the sausage. If you use links, you’ll want to take them out, let them cool a bit then slice at 1/2 inch thickness.

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They may crumble out of their casings a bit. That’s okay. You may decide to drain a bit of the grease. It varies for me. I kind of like the color that reddish bit of rendered fat gives the soup. It’s up to you. While the sausage browns, chop your potatoes. Chop or slice as thin as you like. We like it rustic and we cook it a bit longer so they get very tender but you get larger, more tender bites. You know what you like.

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Add potatoes to the sausage in the pot. Add onion, garlic, and seasonings, then kale.

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Add stock or broth and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in cream or milk. You’ll want the liquids to just graze the the top of where the veggies come to.

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The kale will wilt down a lot. Just simmer on medium low until the potatoes are tender. You can go back and mash them up with the back of your spoon or you can leave larger…again, up to you. I let mine go for a couple of hours but it will probably be ready in one hour. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. If you need more heat and you used spicy sausage then you are a bada…mamma jamma. You see, you do get a bit of rendered fat on top. It ain’t bad, I promise. Enjoy!

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Here’s picture for reference. This time I just used ground hot Italian sausage. It didn’t render nearly the fat. And it’s a more golden potato looking soup. Both were magnifico!

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Graze Burger..ain't it a beaut?

Graze (as in sip, share, savor) Restaurant: Winston-Salem

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Sometimes I think few things make people shudder than the thought of eating in a “hotel restaurant.” Granted, it’s not always the best dining experience. BUT!! The Marriott Hotel in the Twin City Quarter of Downtown Winston-Salem houses Graze Restaurant…and though technically not “locally-owned” (okay, okay I’m a bit of a badgering snob about that), the dedication to source most of its ingredients locally as well as the talents of the culinary team are enough to make all of us change our thinking.

I liked the space when it was WS Prime. But, when it was revamped into Graze in early 2014, it became more comfortable and communal. They now offer small plates, a few more salads and sandwiches and scaled down the selection of entrees. Oh and lest you think you can’t take the kids, you totally can. Grab a booth because all of them have personal flat screen TV’s, put on some kids programming and you’ll be in heaven. Or you can catch up on your own favorite.

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The Chef de Cuisine, Richard Miller, is becoming a force to be reckoned with…placing first runner-up in Competition Dining’s Fire in the Triad last year. He’s ready to battle again this summer. Really, he’s a super nice guy with a passion for exemplary food with local fare. By the way, you can see him in action at our Food and Wine University Tent on June 6 at Salute! NC Wine Celebration. He’s accepted the All-Local Challenge Entree Demonstration. Mark your calendars for that.

On a recent visit, mr. foodie and I shared an appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes with pimento cheese, goat cheese, honey habanero and a balsamic reduction. One of my favorite salads is a Wedge of Iceberg Salad, and Graze’s is just a touch delightfully different with chipotle bleu cheese, bacon, queso fresco, heirloom baby tomatoes, grilled white corn and pickled red onion. The sweet and sour pickled red onion makes that salad top notch.

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Fried Green Tomatoes

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Wedge of Iceberg

And get this…right now and for who knows what kind of limited time, that crazy chef and his team are offering the Graze Burger. This burger. Gah! I die. A 4 oz. Certified Angus burger, with smoked gouda, cheddar, Texas Pete Cha buttermilk ranch, bacon AND AND a Joyce Farms fried chicken breast on top. If you are thinking ‘calorie buster”   “awesome protein to carb ratio,” you’d be RIGHT! :) This is not an everyday burger. This is an “I’m feeling like splurging because I’m awesome and deserve it” burger. Okay? So, get it.

Graze Burger..ain't it a beaut?

Graze Burger..ain’t it glorious?

Inside view of the Graze Burger

“Inside view” of the Graze Burger

The menu changes seasonally at Graze and Chef Richard and his team like to offer special features to celebrate our region. Know that no matter what the season, you’ll find local chicken, lamb, NC trout, NC sweet potatoes, Johnston County meats, locally-sourced veggies. For a hotel restaurant and for MANY restaurants, few support our local farmers and providers like Graze. Prices for small plates are $5-9, lunch will be from $10-15 for any number of great looking salads, sandwiches or burgers and dinner entrees are $20-28. Check back during the work week for Happy Hour specials…snacks for $5.

I will say that if you get a chance to pop these deviled eggs into your mouth, I highly recommend. They are so good. They aren’t always offered but if you luck out, you won’t be able to decide if you like traditional best or the smoked salmon or the pork belly-topped best. It’s a 3-way tie.

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“Traditional w/ Cha! & Microgreens; Pork Belly; Smoked Salmon

A couple of other interesting options, Okra Nachos. Fried Okra with pimento cheese, goat cheese, honey habanero sauce, tomato and scallions. Don’t they look yummy? There are also some good looking flat breads, one with Maple Leaf Farms Duck.

Okra Nachos (photo: Courtesy Graze Restaurant)

Okra Nachos (photo: Courtesy Graze Restaurant)

Oh and presently on the appetizer selections is Joyce Farms Fried Chicken Skin with Texas Pete Cha! Aioli. I I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want that in your belly, foodies.

I look forward to hearing back about your experience at Graze.

Have you been presently surprised by a hotel restaurant?

Enjoy eating local!

Graze Restaurant
425 North Cherry Street
Winston-Salem, NC
336.722.5232