Triadfoodies’ Favorite Things: 2020’s Holiday Gift Guide of Glorious Deliciousness!

What. A. Year it has been. Fa La La Lawdy!

We’ve been quarantined and kept from our friends, our restaurants and our monthly Chef’s Tables (we barely squeezed one in back in March before the world shut down). We miss you all very much. Honestly, with all that’s going on and all that’s not, I haven’t had a lot of desire to hop on here and blog. There aren’t restaurant reviews to churn out and I haven’t really kept track of my recipe making (except on insta…I do post pics of food). But! Pandemic or no, we’ve had a few opportunities to discover new local yummies and behold! With some new to us and some that have finally found their rightful place in our gift guide, here are just a few of our favorite things from 2020. Keep reading for your chance to win the entire list! We hope you’ll mask up and get on out there and support your local shops. All of the items mentioned make for great snacks and stocking stuffers.

Triadfoodies Favorite Things Holiday Gift Guide

Carolina Kettle Potato Chips

Specifically, the Sir Walter Cream Cheese & Chive. A riff on the sour cream and onion, they’re slightly less tangy than the latter but definitely pack a flavorful punch. We actually love all the Carolina Kettle chips, founded by Josh Monahan. You can find these chips at Mast General Store, Wine Merchants Bodega and quite a few local markets. Check the website carolinakettle.com for locations.

Memaw’s Cheese Tiddies


I hope y’all know what a Memaw is. The name is cute and attention getting and the little cheese crackers are great for snacking. Cheese Tiddies are brought to you by the same folks who make the above Carolina Kettle chips, 1in6 Snacks, so they know their …well…snacks. Give them a read when you get a chance as the company gives back to the local food bank with every purchase.You can find Cheese Tiddies at local markets, Mast General Store and online. 1in6snacks.com.

A La Brava Hot Sauce


This Winston-Salem hot sauce is gaining quite the popularity around the Triad. I love the Diablo on chicken wings mixed with a little butter and honey. Owner Marcos Medina is giving the winner one of all three hot sauces, Diablo, Habanero and La Mayan. You can find A La Brava at Wine Merchants and other independent shops, Lowes Foods, Publix, Harris Teeter, Deep Roots, GMart and several other stores in NC, SC, VA and TN. Visit goalabrava.com for more info.

Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice


If you know, you know. Honestly, Anson Mills heirloom rice is top of the line and a chefs best friend. It is a little bit pickier to cook with than traditional store bought rice, even the highfalutin ones, but it’s so worth the extra step, which basically requires you to spread it out in a baking sheet and put it in the oven to help “dry it out” after cooking. It smells like popcorn when it cooks. It elevates any dish you prepare. No wonder it’s the choice of chefs all over. And our friends at Anson Mills not only included the Carolina Gold Rice, but also some grits! Happy day! Ansonmills.com

Smoke City Meats Pimento Cheese 833 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC


As you know, pimento cheese doesn’t pack well outside of refrigeration. I love all of Chef Matt Pleasant’s pimento cheeses but you really ought to try the White Pimento Cheese with white cheddar, parmesan and olives. Truists will also love Chef’s original and spicy pimento cheese. Follow SCM for specials, take homes and recipe ideas. Winner receives a $25 gift card for whatever they want in the store. We hope it includes pimento cheese….and MEAT (obviously). smokecitymeats.com

Wine Merchants & Vin 205 Bodega 205 S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem, NC


Remember pre-pandemic when I had that Chef’s Table at Vin 205 and it was incredible?? As in back in February? Doesn’t that seem so long ago? And doesn’t it also make sense that we’ve had three Chef’s Table’s there? Sure does! Well, honestly I can’t decide what my favorite thing about Wine Merchants is. Caleb? Yes. Alan? Yes. Justin? Yes. The wine? Yes, yes. The bodega with all the great shopping, confections, local meat, pasta, snacks? Heck yes! The take and bake items? Oh please, absolutely. So winner gets a $25 gift card and then you can meander and get whatever you want, like a take and bake and wine. You deserve it. vin205.com

Black Mountain Salted Caramel Bar + Drinking Chocolate standing in for the BMC Fruit Cake


So because 2020 is being so 2020ish and all, Black Mountain Chocolate did some moving (literally) and shaking and at the time of this posting, they were only taking pre-orders of seasonal items. We have loved the Queen of Fruitcakes since the inception of our Favorite Things and it’s still available to order. To play it safe, BMC is giving the winner a candy bar, chocolate to drink and a $20 gift card. So, the lucky winner will also get to shop at the brand new Black Mountain Chocolate located in the Innovation Quarter. blackmountainchocolatefactory.com

Now, get shopping! But….how to win??
We’d like to thank all the makers above for giving these items for our gift bag of gloriously delicious favorite things!

Please, foodies, we implore you to support these and all local shops this season and the sooner the better. It has been so hard for so many and your support is keeping them alive. Comment below on what holiday item you are looking forward to trying this year OR drop any new finds in the comment section. We’ll give them a try and maybe they’ll make it to our finds next year. By commenting here or on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll also be entered to win the ENTIRE Favorite Things Gift Guide as a goodie bag. And I’ll have some runners-up too, who will take home one of each A La Brava Hot Sauces as well as Cheese Tiddies and Carolina Kettle Chips.

****IMPORTANT****Winner will be announced Sunday, December 13 and must be able to take possession of the goodie bag in person. NO SHIPPING. Winner should expect to pick up the goodies on Wednesday, Dec. 16 (weather permitting), in Winston-Salem and can be contactless, if preferred. I have arranged that the winning bag can be picked up at Wine Merchants at 205 S. Stratford Road if an in-person hand-off cannot be made.

As always, foodies, thank you for reading and supporting local! Merry Christmas and may your New Year be blessed and healthy.

Red, White & Blue BFR Beef Burgers

I’ve once again partnered with BFR Beef to test and recipe develop burgers for your next burger feast. All opinions are my own. 

This recipe  would’ve come at you well before your July 4th grill out, but I didn’t get my hands on these beautiful BFR Beef burgers until the day before, so bookmark this recipe for 2021. As a matter of fact, these burgers are delicious any time and I hope you try them as soon as possible this summer.  You can order BFR Beef online or shop at High Country Food Hub. You can read more about the food hub here. Essentially, it’s an online farmer’s market featuring multiple farmers and producers all across the High Country. It is my go-to for shopping and has been a life-saver during the time of stay-at-home orders.

My last post showcased Browns Farm Ridge’s Beef Osso Bucco and how lovely they cooked up for a nice Sunday dinner.  Daniel at BFR asked if I’d like to test out their ground beef for grilling and well there’s only one correct answer. BFR sells ground beef in bulk but for added convenience you might be like me and love the pre-pattied options. You can get them in 4 oz patties for a thinner, diner style burger (or to double up like I did), or a thick, 7oz portion for a bigger burger. Nothing wrong with either. I opted to make 2, 7 oz thick burgers for the kids (yes, the kids) and 2, 4oz burgers each for mr. Foodie and myself (yes, I can eat that much, no shame here). We wanted double red, white, & blue burgers and they did not disappoint. The burgers were juicy and full of flavor, which I would wholeheartedly expect from my recent experiences with BFR Beef. These are pretty straightforward and besides the ketchup, the whole ensemble is done on the grill. You can sub out other ingredients for your red and white here (tomato instead of bacon, blue cheese or swiss cheese instead of onion or blue cheese for another “blue” …really the blueberry ketchup is all kinds of awesome so I’d keep it in there no matter what).

Red, White & Blue Burgers 

Ingredients:
Beef patties, portioned to your desired thickness
Bacon, 1 slice per burger (okay you can do more if you want, no judgement)
Onion, sliced into rings, as many as desired per burger
Blueberry ketchup (recipe below)
Hamburger buns, one per person

Anytime before, prepare the ketchup and allow to rest.

Prepare the onions by slicing. Place onion rings on a medium size piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with oil, salt & pepper. Heat grill on high, and cook burgers until desired doneness. Thinner burgers, of course, take less time. Top with cheese if you like and allow to melt. While the beef is cooking, grill your bacon on the opposite side of the grill if possible at medium high temperature, until crispy.  Next to the bacon, add the onions on foil and cook until very lightly caramelized. They’ll just hang out there on the foil and do their thing.

For serving:
Smear a good bit of the blueberry ketchup on the top hamburger bun. Once everything is finished on the grill, place the burger on the bottom bun, place onions on the burger, then bacon on top of the onions. Add the blueberry coated top bun and there you have it….a Red, White & Blue Burger.

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Smoky Blueberry Ketchup (adapted from Saveur)
2 lb. fresh blueberries
1- 1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. onion powder
1 chipotle in adobo sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 lime, juiced

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Place over high heat and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 35-40 minutes until thick, stirring occasionally. Taste along the way and adjust seasonings if needed.  Once thickened, remove the sauce and blend in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Fun fact: a blender works better for a smoother puree but for burgers, chunkier is fine. This ketchup is great with sweet potato fries and anything pork.

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If you make this burger, be sure to let me know and let us know what you think!

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Microfoodie approved!

 

Osso Bucco w/ Creamy Polenta: BFR Beef Partnership

BFR Beef graciously reached out to me offering their osso bucco beef products gratis for a full review. All opinions are my own.

You know that supporting local is very important to me. One of the local farmers I’ve been enjoying supporting is BFR Beef. I first found them on High Country Food Hub. BFR’s farm is owned by the Brown family since 1942 and is located in Boone. You can order their products from the hub or on their website as well as visit them at the King’s Street Farmer’s Market in Boone and Blowing Rock Farmer’s Market.

For me, the most convenient way I purchase their products is through the High Country Food Hub, which is basically an online farmer’s market featuring many local farmers and artisans in the High Country. It’s a great one-stop source for lots of my produce and beef, even baked goods. You can find out more by visiting their site. Or for a review by me, click here. By the way, the market is open through Monday at 11:59pm! Click here to shop from the hub.

I have seriously never been disappointed in any of BFR Beef’s products. My first product was their Beef Italian Sausage — it’s so good in spaghetti sauce! But I also love their soup bones, which make for a wonderful broth, but they have so much meat on them, you literally can make chili with them, then save the bones for later (for that broth).

Recently, BFR Beef reached out to me to see if I’d like to try my hand at beef Osso Bucco. I’ve only made Osso Bucco once EVER so I jumped at a chance to collab with these great folks. I’ve found that you treat Osso Bucco much like you would any other type of beef that needs braising with a slightly longer cook time. The size of the BFR shanks are literally like a “personal roast” for a hungry adult. My kids split one and it was plenty for them. Take a look at how I made these osso bucco for a delectable Father’s Day meal. These osso bucco shanks did not disappoint. The beef variety is not quite as tender and unctuous as veal, but it’s rich and meaty and so homey. You’ll find a bit of fat in and around the shanks but it cooks down quite nicely. And honeys, I know the photography here is not the best. Osso Bucco in the evening is very difficult to photograph on a dark, rainy evening. You get the idea.

And full disclosure regarding the polenta. I literally used a tube of it from Trader Joe’s and added milk until it got heated and creamy, then added a handful of leftover fontina and allowed it to melt through. I then folded in some fresh parmesan. You can use instant polenta from a package too. Just follow the package directions. Mashed potatoes would be an obvious excellent choice or since we’re talking Italian here, why not some pasta with browned butter or your favorite marinara?

Beef Osso Bucco w/ Creamy Polenta

Beef Osso Bucco (one shank per adult, Veal would work fine too)
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch Italian parsley
2 tbs. tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2-4 cups beef or veal stock
salt/pepper to taste

Instant polenta
Milk
Butter
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300-degrees.
Heat enough oil in a hot deep skillet or dutch oven to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle s/p on both sides of the shanks. Sear both sides until browned. Remove from heat. To the hot pan, add any oil as necessary (you shouldn’t need any) add tomato paste and cook until deeply browned but not burnt. Add onions, carrots and saute until slightly softened. Add wine to deglaze then add garlic. Return the shanks to the pan. Add enough broth to just cover the shanks and toss in your herbs. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Occasionally you may want to lift the lid and check that the liquid isn’t absorbing too quickly. If it is, just add a bit more broth. At the end of cook time, the beef shanks should be very tender. Serve atop polenta and fresh thyme and parsley as a garnish.

For the polenta:
Prepare according to package directions, finishing with milk or cream and a great melty cheese plus parm.

















Recipe: This is a Copycat of a RENOWNED classic: Village Tavern Spinach Dip

Hi, foodies!

One hundred and fifty seven years ago, I was a server at Village Tavern in Winston-Salem…the super cute historic Reynolda Village location. Back in the 90’s it was THE restaurant. I actually enjoyed working there. The tips were good, the vibe was fun, the patrons were nice and the menu was (and still is) awesome. Founded in 1984 and headquartered in WS, they had a Greensboro and Charlotte location too, but Village Tavern has now grown so much over the years with locations in several states. It’s truly a local success story. You couldn’t beat the good food, fun atmosphere and the price. And that still rings true today. And no this isn’t a sponsored post. This about that recipe!

The VT menu has also evolved with their growth over the years but one thing that will probably never ever go away is their famous Spinach Dip. If you’ve ever had it, then you know the “spin dip,” as we called it. And I figured out how to make it a long time ago. I had forgotten how much I love that appetizer until I was reminded of it recently and made it for the fam. I think you need to make it too, maybe this weekend for your Fourth of July festivities. This dip has a Tex Mex flair with flavors of cumin and pickled jalapeño and tons of cheese. It’s served piping hot and melty with soft, warm tortillas. You can use crunchy chips and you may be tempted to, but the warm tortillas is the OG method and absolutely perfect for snacking. There’s nothing quite like getting a scoop of that cheesy goodness and wrapping it into those warm wedges. Mouth watering!

Copycat VT Spin Dip

Copycat Village Tavern Spinach Tortilla Dip
Serves 4

Cheese Mixture
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced finely.
1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
4 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro, if desired

Veggie mixture
1 pound spinach, I use fresh but you can use boxed frozen, thawed & squeezed, dry
1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, diced plus a few extra slices for topping
1/2 cup fresh Roma tomatoes, diced. Allow the tomatoes to drain some of their liquid.

Directions:
Preheat a skillet or sauce pan with a bit of oil
Saute onions and cumin for 10 minutes until onions are tender and somewhat translucent. Add salt, pepper, cream cheese, and half-and-half. Simmer until cream cheese melts and it’s all creamy and smooth. Fold in Monterey Jack cheese until smooth and melted. Set aside. Allow to cool a bit.

Mix the spinach, jalapenos and drained tomatoes together.
Add to the creamy mixture very gently being careful not to crush the tomatoes.

Place mixture in a deep dish or divide into two smaller oven-proof dishes. Mix enough shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese to cover the top. Don’t be stingy.

Place the dish on a baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven and bake until cheese is fully melted and bubbly. Garnish with additional sliced jalapeños and cilantro (if desired).  Serve with soft warm tortillas cut into wedges or chips.

Do you have any fun Village Tavern memories? Tell me about them!

If you make this, be sure to comment and tag us on social media @triadfoodies.

Mozzarella Fellas Menu is now 100% Plant-Based

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Photo: Lindley Battle Photography

That’s right…Mozzarella Fellas, the popular pizza/Italian restaurant with a heavy emphasis on vegetarian and vegan specialties has gone off the meat and dairy. Straight from pandemic to plant-based.

It might seem odd when your name has Mozzarella in it.

The Fella, Brian Ricciardi, has been vegan and gluten-free for years all the while making homemade mozzarella on the regular and piling sandwiches and salads high with Italian meats. And when Mozzarella Fellas was founded several years ago, there were several vegetarian and vegan items on the menu, from the mushroom “calamari” to Jack Fruit BBQ pizza and beyond burgers of late.  Little by little, Brian was making his way to completely plant-based. Last week, he made it official. He says the prospect was terrifying and he “wonders if he’s crazy.” Trust us when we say the vegan dishes at Mozzarella Fellas are every bit as good as any of the former meat and dairy based products.  And plenty of people are excited about it. Click here for the menu! 

Brian assured me last week that he still has mozzarella and pizza and all the great things, only now they’re plant-based. The mozzarella is dairy-free, the parmesan is from almond milk. Ceviche features hearts of palm and no seafood, nachos have jackfruit, which trust me, tastes exactly like pulled pork. Beyond meat is also strongly featured throughout.

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Photo: Lindley Battle Photography

Now that restaurants are phasing in, Mozzarella Fellas continues with its takeout and delivery menu and reservations are strongly recommended for dinner.

Mozzarella Fellas is located 336 Summit Square Blvd, Winston-Salem