Get Your Foodie Self to Roots!

A version of this story was also previously published in YES! Weekly. To read it, click here.)

Behold, quality casual fine dining. In Yadkin County. WHERE I GREW UP! It’s not a chain or seafood or a steakhouse or hot dogs and ice cream, which is basically YC. Roots Restaurant at Sanders Ridge Winery opened its doors in April with two young, eager superstar chefs at the helm. And the YC should be thrilled about this. And you should drive to the YC to be thrilled about this too! O

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Hailed as a hidden gem, Roots is located at the vineyard’s grounds in Boonville. Within the gorgeous timber-framed tasting room, Roots is at least the fourth incarnation of the restaurant space in recent years. For whatever reason, previous tenants of the kitchen space haven’t been able to make a go of it. It’s not the easiest place in the world to get to even though it’s only about 25 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. But folks from Guilford County and beyond have said Roots is well worth the drive. And what a scenic drive it is, with the Yadkin County pasteur land and beautiful rows of corn and tobacco.  It is quite best to make a day of it, tour the wine country and let your final stop be at Roots. In the winter months, a stone hearth fire located in the center of the room will welcome you. A perfect a bite or for a larger function, as it’s available for private events such as weddings receptions and celebrations.

You have seen the work of Chefs Ben Hurst and Brent Andruzzi if you follow your favorite eateries on any social media. Hurst trained Andruzzi at River Birch Lodge and Andruzzi left Willow’s Bistro to take on this new venture. Hurst says he actually was going to open a food truck and use the kitchen as a commissary when owner Cindy Shore approached him about running a full-fledged restaurant there. “I wasn’t sure about it. I hadn’t even managed a business much less started one. And then I asked Brent to come on board.”

Andruzzi said, “no.” 

Andruzzi clarifies it was a kind, apologetic no. But an entire month later, Andruzzi had a change of heart and the no became an enthusiastic, “yes.”

Hurst graduated with two non-culinary degrees but his first job was at River Birch and that’s where he met Andruzzi.  After a few stints in other kitchens, Hurst went to culinary school at Guilford Tech and finally at Johnson and Wales. After searching for his place in the kitchen, Hurst took some time and worked at Harmony Ridge Farm, where he learned the other side of food. “That’s worked out really well. because I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned with me.  Now we have a greenhouse on the hill where we grow a lot of our own vegetables.” Andruzzi grew up cooking with his parents encouraging his creativity in the kitchen by buying him whatever ingredients he wanted. After some time working at Lowes Foods, he also found himself at River Birch under Chef Travis Myers. “Like Ben, I worked at all the different stations.  We learned a lot there. A good foundation was built there.” Andruzzi eventually joined Myers at Willow’s Bistro where his creativity was truly allowed to shine. “When you have that kind of freedom, you learn what works and especially what doesn’t.”

Andruzzi says he’s been gardening too and the fact that Hurst has been farming, that there’s a  greenhouse and farm and the opportunity that exists here was a strong factor in his decision to take a chance and exit his place at Willow’s. “We have freedom to grow whatever we want as well as cook whatever we want, so that’s a bonus.” Roots also sources other local farms when they can.

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Hurst says his goal at Roots is to create dishes that people can’t get at home. “Even as a chef, I when I eat out, I don’t want my experience to be something I can create at home. I want it to be surprising, full of flavor, creative…something you can’t quite replicate in your own kitchen.”

Course One
Duck Two Way Tostadas with duck sauce, radish, scallion, house made pork rinds

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Out of the gate, the chefs immediately showcased their ability to take an upscale protein and make it attainable tapas-style.

Course Two
Pimento cheese stuffed poblano with bacon jam and cilantro scallion cream

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This course may have been close to my favorite dish of the evening simply because it was so different than anything I’ve ever had before. The spicy poblano filled with Sanders Ridge now famous pimento cheese AND bacon jam. Both. Together. Some of us had to clear our throat but the scallion cream cut the heat of the slightly devilish kick from that pepper.. And the people, said “wow.”  The pimento cheese and bacon jam are available for purchase at the winery as well as Cobblestone Farmer’s Market in Winston-Salem.

Palette cleanser
Lemon basil freeze pops

Before the courses emerged, Chef Hurst gave the guests a teaser of what was to come and simply said there would be a surprise in between two of the courses. So these platters full of freezer pops that looked like smaller grown-up versions of the colorful pops we all grew up with were met with delight from each table. The basil complemented the fresh slightly sweet lemony-ness. I kind of felt myself wanting another pop later.  A freezer full of those on a summer day would not be the worst thing.

Course Three
Shortbread herb crusted scallop, greenhouse salad, strawberry vinaigrette, pickled onions

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I’d heard accolades from the scallop dishes so I am glad the chefs decided to feature these on their menu this evening.  If I’m coming back to eat in the future (and I will), I’m getting scallops.

Course Four
Ribeye over basil bread pudding, local mushrooms, fig jam, Fair Share Farm micros

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A very close #2 to my favorite, a beef course will always be a winner in my book and for most carnivores.  The steak was perfectly cooked and the savory bread pudding was so delicious with it.  Note: Roots has a menu item that is called “Deconstructed Beef Wellington”. I imagined the flavor profile is not so different though the execution might be. I’ve been told it’s incredible.  After tasting this dish, I have no doubt.

Course Five
Strawberry and blueberry Shortcake and sugar cookie with homemade ice cream

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A beautiful summery dish with sweet berries, perfect cake and richly textured ice cream rounded out our evening. A great ending.

And then the chefs re-emerged from the kitchen to applause and a standing ovation. Chef’s Tables are always stellar but these young chefs received such praise that it was truly heartwarming.  Hannah Waggoner, of Rural Hall, has been to a number of Chef Table events and she even got the proverbial ball rolling on getting the Roots event off the ground. “My first visit to Roots made my foodie heart happy,” she said.  “All the dishes my table ordered were loaded with flavor, finesse, and beautifully plated! The staff were friendly and accommodating. I knew that Roots would be an excellent location for a Chef’s Table.” Waggoner says she knew it would pay off.  “The guests were not disappointed. Each of the five courses was unique and delicious! It was great to get a taste of some of Roots’ specialty dishes with a few surprises!”

By the way, I’d suggest you follow Roots on Facebook and any other social media and perhaps get on their email list because on Thursday nights, the chefs do a little something different by having a Thursday Supper. And it’s amazing. And if you can get in there for the fried chicken, you’ll send me a thank you letter and maybe, if you really love me and are super thankful, you’ll send me gifts. That’s a how delicious that fried chicken is. Super crispy every inch. See?

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And how’s this for making a name for oneself?  In a reader’s poll,  USA Today’s 10 Best just announced that Roots Restaurant was just named in the top 10 of the best winery restaurants in America. Roots placed 6th. Way to go!  Read about that here. 

If there’s anything I’d say at this point it’s this: Yadkin County, this is your moment. Finally there’s a restaurant in the area that celebrates not only the wine country but the wonderful bounty that the area brings forth. I grew up in Yadkin County and having to go to Winston-Salem for a great meal was a top complaint.  If a restaurant of this caliber can succeed with Yadkin’s and its big city neighbors’ support, it will pave the way for other restaurants like it. Napa wasn’t built in a day. It’s taken 170 years, plus it survived Prohibition and the Great Depression. You might consider the Yadkin Valley winemakers pioneers here. And the restaurant owners want to blaze a trail much like their West Coast counterparts. The talent and deliciousness is there and Roots Restaurant is digging deep and taking a chance on the area’s support.

Wanna go? Roots Restaurant at Sanders Ridge located at 3200 Round Hill Road, Boonville.   Open for dinner Thursday from 5:30-9:00 for Family style supper (check website or Facebook for features). Full service menu Friday & Saturday 5:00-9:00. Full service lunch is available in the tasting room Friday-Sunday 11:00-3:00. The wine bar also has a full menu available from 12:00-5:00. Visit sandersridge.com for info.

Recipe: Most Requested Sweet & Spicy Meatloaf

Hello, friends!

A few weeks back I was inspired to host “Family Meal” at my home and this week we finally got around to opening the door to do just that. Family Meal is simply a time to gather around the table for food and fellowship. Nothing fancy, keep it approachable. We invited our neighbors over and several of these lovely people were able to join us and bring along sides to go with  what I made…what I consider the ultimate old-school family dish, “Meatloaf.” And my meatloaf is delicious and even my kids, who don’t eat anything much, absolutely love it. This meatloaf is adapted from writer and cook, Mary Beth Albright. There are a number of variations of this recipe all over the internet, but this is my pretty-close-to-hers, slightly modified version. It’s called sweet and spicy, but it’s not spicy hot just spicy spice. It has buttermilk and panko and I swear the secret is that mixture plus the fact that I use a meatloaf mix with beef, veal and pork.  Easily found at most grocers. I get requests for it a lot, so I’m making it officially official by locking it in. Right here.  PS…don’t let the somewhat lengthy list turn you off. It’s a snap to whip up except for the extra step of sweating the onions and garlic and you won’t mind that because it smell so darn good!  Also the photo shown is of my attempt to cook it in cast iron and it turned out amazing but it’s great on a lined cookie sheet and easier to clean up. 

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eh..kinda looks like a brain 😀

Sweet & Spicy Glazed Meatloaf
(adapted from Mary Beth Albright) | Serves 6

GLAZE:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup  BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s but anything rich and smoky will do)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • splash of red wine vinegar (optional)

Heat these ingredients through completely, careful not to scorch.  You’ll use some to glaze the meatloaf at the beginning and you’ll have plenty on hand for the meal and leftovers.

  • 2 lbs meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork or 1 lb beef, 1 lb ground pork if you can’t find the mix)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1-2 tbsp oil or fat of choice (bacon grease is good!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instruction:

Mix the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs together and let it thicken for about 5 minutes. The panko will soak up the buttermilk.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft but not brown. Add tomato paste and herbs and heat through.  Set aside to cool.

Add buttermilk mixture and tomato paste mixture to the meatloaf mix in a large bowl. Mix with hands to incorporate the ingredients.  Add salt and pepper and parmesan. 

Turn the mix onto a lined sheet pan and shape into a loaf.  Spread the glaze on top and sides of your loaf.

Bake at 425 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.  Rest for 5 minutes.

***Variations…you can use sour cream instead of buttermilk and regular breadcrumbs or almond meal. The texture may change ever so slightly.  Fresh herbs are key and I’ve only used freshly grated parm so I’m not sure what happens with the stuff in the can. I’ve probably used it before but I rarely use it anymore. 

Do you have a meatloaf recipe that you and your family love?

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
–Julia Child

Join us at Roots Restaurant for our next Chef’s Table!

Innovative. Perfection. Worth the drive. Fabulous.
 
Those are just a few of the words that foodies fortunate enough to dine at Roots have said about this brand new restaurant located at Sanders Ridge Winery. Just a few months ago, Chefs Ben Hurst and Brent Andruzzi opened Roots to rave reviews. They both honed  many of their skills at River Birch Lodge and most recently, Brent at the incredibly popular Willow’s Bistro. We are so excited that we’ll be letting these chefs surprise us with multiple dishes on Friday (you read that right), August 3 at 7:00pm. Get tickets here! 
 
Roots and its home, Sander’s Ridge Winery, are located just a short drive from Winston-Salem in Yadkin County. It’s a true farm-to-table experience here. Enjoy the summer drive into the Yadkin Valley Wine Country, drive into organic farm and admire the rows of grapes in the vineyard before stepping into the stunning, yet cozy timber frame restaurant that is Roots. These young, talented chefs promise five courses of farm fresh ingredients. Brent and Ben are both known for their passion for quality ingredients, color, vibrancy and celebrating the bouty of the season.
 
We certainly hope that our visit at Roots Restaurant offers you an appreciation of our beautiful growing wine region and the absolutely wonderful produce and wine coming from Sanders Ridge’s Winery and organic farm.
 
Here’s how it works:
 
Reserve with a ticket here and you’ll join us at our table on Friday, August 3 at 7:00. A reminder of our pricing: Your ticket price of $30 INCLUDES your multi-course dinner as well as tax and gratuity associated with the meal. Beverage (and gratuity for the purchase of beverages) are not included in the ticket price. The winery will be open for tasting and wine purchases. Please take care of your server or wine attendant on any beverage service. Seating will be limited.
 
We’ll see you on August 3!
 
**Please inform me as soon as possible of any food restrictions you may have. While the chefs promise to do their best, not all food concerns can be accommodated.
Foodies,
You know I’m from Yadkin County. And it wasn’t wine country when I grew up there. But it’s so beautiful and deserves your love. Just like this restaurant! Please share with your friends, bring them out for a lovely evening and support local food and wine!

GIVEAWAY!! New Wewalka USA Pie Crust

UPDATE: Congratulations to Julie Groce and Jenny Lambeth, you’ve won 5 Wewalka pie crusts!

 

Foodies!! I have a giveaway for you!

If summer is a time for cobblers then surely it’s also a time for pie!

Fruity, light, summery pies that you don’t have to bake a crust for because this HERE crust is ready to be rolled out and filled and topped and you do whatever you want to it.

Or creamy, decadent pies…

Or savory pies! Yes, in summer. Or for freezing because it’s summer.

The best kind of pie is one that’s made FOR you but if you must make it your own little self, it should be just so simple. I hate flour going everywhere. And that’s one of the reasons I’ve loved working with Wewalka European Bakery Style doughs in the past (click here for recipes). The pizza crusts, danish roll, crescent rolls…ALL of it..so easy, ready to roll out on parchment to make my life less messy and time consuming. Plus, the doughs are so delicious that I’d rather have a sure thing than hope I get my crust right, ‘no what I’m saying? This new Wewalka crust is 25% thicker and is completely lard-free.

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So comment below for a chance to win 5..I say… 5!!! Wewalka pie crusts. You can make a whole plethora of pies filled with blueberries or cherries or lemon or chocolate. Or chicken or buttermilk. And that’s what I made with my Wewalka pie crust. My very favorite pie..Buttermilk Pie. It’s kind of a like a vanilla chess pie. Not too sweet, with an ever so barely there tang, with delicate notes of vanilla and lemon. Yum. To say this is an old-fashioned, old as the hills, granny old recipe is an understatement.  There are recipes all over the internets and mine is a combine of things I like. I even add collagen peptides to mine to add some extra protein.

I might go make it again this afternoon.

Buttermilk Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk ( I used fat-free but you can use full fat)
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or just another teaspoon of extract)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional but yummy)
  • 1 prepared Wewalka pie crust

Roll out the pie crust per package instructions and place in a 9 inch pie dish, fluting the crust as you see fit. As you can see above, I’m terrible at it.  For easier transport,  place dish on a cookie pan.

Directions:

  1. Beat eggs until foamy. Add butter, flour, sugar and beat until fluffy.
  2. Add buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice and nutmeg.
  3. Beat until smooth.
  4. Pour into prepared Wewalka crust.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely.

Enjoy with whipped cream (or not) and/or berries (or not). I like mine plain. But I’m a simple girl.

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You can find Wewalka at most major grocers locally…Harris Teeter, Publix and Lowe’s.

Comment below for your chance to win! This is taking place across Facebook and Instagram so post there too! I’ll choose a winner on June 11. What is your FAAAAVE pie?

 

 

 

Join us at our next Chef’s Table!

Hi, foodies….

I’d say get ready for some wonderful back to back posts about all things food…since my children are spending a few days at their grandmother’s but man…the weather has been so nice that I’ve just been enjoying these beautiful NC mountains and just allowing myself to be.

But I can’t be just chilling and eating and doing laundry so I’m going to get a few posts out …one of the most important is to let you know that we literally have only 11 tickets left to our next Chef’s Table. We’re back at Meridian Restaurant to let Chef Mark Grohman surprise us! I was asked over and over if we’re going back and I’m thrilled to make it happen.

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Here’s a link!  And the deets….

By popular request, the foodies AND YOU are headed back to one of the most fabulous restaurants in Winston-Salem. We’re so happy that Chef Mark Grohman is on board for yet another triadfoodies Chef’s Table at his amazing Meridian Restaurant.

Chef Mark’s passion for local ingredients is second to none. And his mantra is: “If I’m able to make it myself, I always will.” Meaning he makes his sausage, his pasta, his desserts…. His restaurant, while being upscale, is inviting and vibrant with a bird’s eye view of the culianary wonders taking place in the kitchen, plus a lovely view of the Brookstown area of Winston-Salem. Chef will be preparing multiple courses of surprises and flavor combinations that you will talk about for months. How do we know? Because we always talk about his dishes, ages later and 15 months after our first Chef’s Table with Mark, the chatter is still going strong. You’d have to see social media for proof!

Here’s how it works:

Reserve with a ticket here and you’ll join us at our table on Tuesday, June 26 at 7:00. A reminder of our pricing: Your ticket price of $30 INCLUDES your multi-course dinner as well as tax and gratuity associated with the meal. Beverage (and gratuity for the purchase of beverages) are not included in the ticket price. Please take care of your server on any beverage service. Seating will be limited.

Food restrictions? Let me know ahead of time and I’ll pass it along to the chef.

We’ll see you on June 26!