Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fire in the Triad Finale

Last night’s Fire in the Triad Finale was no joke. And I came *this close* to missing the whole thing when by some crazy chance, I checked my FB and I saw that someone needed to SELL their tickets. Hark! My prayers were answered when the lovely Chef Adam Rose from Hotel Siena’s Il Palio in Chapel Hill returned my call to unburden him of his tickets as he couldn’t attend the Finale. After much srambling to find a sitter, etc., Mr. and Mrs.Foodie made it happen to attend the most anticipated event of the region’s series, which featured 2 incredible Greensboro talents– Chef Michael Harkenreader of Undercurrent versus George Neal of 1618 Seafood Grille. You have to know, that it is way more than about the six course meal that is beyond most anything we common folk have tasted. There’s a camaraderie among the diners because we are all there for the joy of food. And it’s a wonderful spirit of competition in which other restaurants are cheering their fellow chefs to achieve their personal best. So, on with the competition…
After some very cool introductions and pomp and circumstance the secret ingredient was revealed…PEANUTS (you should’ve heard the gasps from my fellow blogger, Nikki Miller-Ka of NikSnacks…she’s allergic…uh oh–no worries they modified for her and she took some meds) and what goes with them? Beer! Let Battle Peanuts & Beer begin.
Course 1/Harkenreader
Red Onion Smoked Cheddar Tarte Tartin, IPA Roasted Peanut Vinaigrette, Lavender-Orange Marmalade

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This dish was pleasantly sweet with nice hints of the IPA. The salad along side offered a nice freshness to offset the sweet. I didn’t get much lavender. Still it was very different.

Course 2/Neal
Peanut Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Compote, Caramelized Onion, Romano, Andouille Oktoberfest Risotto Cake, Coconut Sauce, Curry Oil & Balsamic

This was a marvelous little tenderloin with a sweet compote on top. I fell in love with the risotto. I’ve done wine in my risotto but never beer. What a great idea. I’ll do that soon. Neal said he didn’t use much stock in the risotto. The beer yielded a lovely flavor in the background and complimented the andouille.

Course 3/Neal
Korean IPA Braised Pork Open Faced Taco, Parsley, Radish, Carrots & Peanuts, Puff Pastry Ball Stuffed with Shrimp, Peanuts, NC Tomatoes, Basil & Goat Cheese, BBQ Beer Sauce, Sweet Potato Buerre Blanc

Everyone loves a taco, right?  Delicious with lots going on.  I like goat cheese but felt it might be a bit much, but when added to the sweet potato buerre blanc, it tamed it some. The BBQ beer sauce was nummy.  A little hard to eat when it’s all stacked like so, yet a sight to behold.

Course 4/Harkenreader
Bacon Wrapped Pork Osso Bucco, Apple Turnip Puree, Oktoberfest Peanut Mole, Boiled Peanut Hummus, Celery Gremolata

This was my favorite of the night, though it did not get the highest marks.  For sure it was the most creative dish of the night because NOTHING was expected.  Oktoberfest peanut mole?  Boiled peanut HUMMUS?  Pork osso buco (aka ham hock, thanks Nik) and though you can’t see it, he put a little potato baton where the bone should be.  Turnip puree, wow. The gremolata added freshness.  Sister foodie said it wasn’t her favorite.  The more Mr. Foodie and I ate it, the more we LOVED.  Very cool dish.

Course 5/Harkenreader
Ginger & Sea Salt Chocolate Ganache, Caramel-Honey Ice Cream, Peanut Buttermilk Cake, Porter-Molasses Glaze

I LOVE sea salt and chocolate and caramel. Holy cow it’s divine.  So was this dish. The chocolate was like velvet with bits of the sea salt and ginger.  The ice cream was delish. I couldn’t get much out of the little peanut buttermilk cake but it did make an able vessel to soak up the ice cream and porter molasses glaze.  It was a hit.

Course 6/Neal
Cinnamon Roll with Candied Peanuts, Chocolate Bowl filled with Chocolate Peanut Porter Ice Cream, Crème Anglaise

This is the one shot that’s our photo.  I just like it more than the little cup sitting on my perfectly delightful cinnamon roll.  That cinnamon roll made all right with the world.  The porter ice cream had chunks of peanuts in it.  We slurped it up with the cup (isn’t that what cups are for?)  The little peanuts on top made a nice compliment and so different since we are so used to pecans in our cinnamon rolls.

After the votes it was revealed that George Neal of 1618 Seafood Grille is Fire in the Triad Champion.  When asked if he expected to make it to the finals he shyly said, “kind of, yeah.”  I love it!  There was never a doubt the foodies knew he had it in him.

Here’s George along with the other 3 red coat champions from The Rock, The Dock, The Triangle.

Chef Michael Foreman/Bistro Roca-Fire on the Rock; Chef Ryan Payne/Weathervane-Fire in the Triangle; Chef George Neal/1618-Fire in the Triad;
Chef Andy Hopper/Chefs 105-Fire on the Dock

Coming soon, THE FINAL FIRE.  I hope to bring you all the details if I’m lucky enough to score some tix.  Until then, visit Competition Dining and remember IT’S GOT TO BE NC.

Pegg House Tea Room

 

I just love girly lunches. So Lil Miss Foodie, MomFoodie-in-Law and I recently took advantage of a Living Social Deal and enjoyed quite the decadent lunch at Pegg House Tea Room in Kernersville.  This charming, old Victorian harkens back to 1885 and the decor captures times gone by.  Our “deal” was for Tea for Two, which is basically double the traditional “High Tea” that they offer during lunch service.  In addition to our High Tea, Lil Miss Foodie ordered the Chicken Pie, which had flavorful chicken in a rich, creamy broth and a flakey crust.  Very old fashioned, very satisfying and homey.  It was served along side a salad.  Our High Tea for Two came with two of everything.  Think finger sandwiches like cucumber and cream cheese, smoked turkey with cranberry spread and egg salad; and chicken salad in mini phyllo tartlets, tiny pastries and fruit and homemade scones.  And of course, Devonshire cream to smear on anything you wish.  We were hungry so it’s a good thing it was a deal for “two.”  Unless you want to eat very light, the normal High Tea for lunch may not be enough to share as it doesn’t have two of everything.  But Pegg House has a wonderful assortment of wraps, sandwiches and salads, Quiche of the Day, a small kids menu and a nice dessert selection.  There are appealing items for men…we did see men there, so guys don’t let that stop you. Imagine taking your lady or your daughter there.  Awww, how sweet.

Pegg House Tea Room is ranked #5 of the 86 tea rooms in NC on TeaMap.com. You can reserve it for parties, showers or luncheons or stop in for lunch during the week.   It’s an appealing departure from the every day lunch.  If you have a job, you’ll probably feel so refined and relaxed that you won’t be inclined to head back to work, but rather your rocking chair…or hammock.  Here are some of the photos we took along with their contact information.

Pegg House Tea Room

Pegg House Tea Room
237 N Cherry Street
Kernersville, NC 27284
(336)993-4100

 

Chicken Pie with Pear Salad

High Tea (for Two)

One of the many teas


Pegg House Tea Room on Urbanspoon
 

Josephine’s Bistro & Bar

Jospehine’s is relatively new to Greensboro, but they have not had a quiet run. No way. Proprietor and Chef Chris Blackburn just made it to the final four of the Fire in the Triad Competition and though he did not pull out a victory, he is by NO MEANS just a “runner-up.”  When you enter Josephine’s, you first see the open kitchen, then the modern and warm environment which invites diners to sit down and enjoy themselves.  A beautiful bar with vintage lighting and lovely wine storage is on the far end near the patio. And the patio, you’d never think something so close to the road would be quiet and even romantic, but the overhead beams and drapery close you off from the rest of the world so you can concentrate on your dining companion(s) and of course, the delectable, delightful, deliriously magical food! We ordered a pair of drinks (Me–Lemon Flower, Him–Manhattan) along with the wonderful Seafood Chowder.  It was more like a bisque in thickness but it had small chunks of potato, corn and generous bites of all kinds of seafood, including salmon.  Satisfying and not too filling.  Perfect for sharing.
           
It was so hard to choose from the selection of small plates, entrees and specials but I decided to go with the Crispy Skin Duck Breast with White Bean Fingerling Arugula Salad, Quail Eggs, Shitake Mushrooms and Blueberry Hibiscus Gastrique. The duck was perfectly salty and crispy and wonderful with the fresh salad and mushrooms. Different than I’m used to as duck usually accompanies root veggies and/or something sweet. Mr. Foodie’s dish was a sight to behold. Seared Scallops with pasta that had taken on the color of the beet pesto it was tossed in. Hot pink! It was like a Carbonara with English peas and pecans. Beautiful. YUMMO! Those scallops were perfection.

Finally, we just had to get dessert. We do it for you, Foodies! It’s a hard life. I have been craving Creme Brûlée since Battle Eggs at Fire in the Triad netted zilch, so we went with Josephine’s White Chocolate Frangelico Creme Brûlée. Uh…this is the only pic I have. Sorry. We dove right in and it was perfect. Just creamy enough, not too set and not too liquored up either. The perfect cap to the evening.

What’s left of the White Chocolate Creme Brûlée

We even got to say hello to Chef Chris Blackburn himself (he says, “Hi.”) and he talked with us about what to expect in our dishes.

Chef Chris Blackburn. He’s one to watch.

This is why I have such a passion for local eats. These guys are cooking!! In their restaurants!!  It’s a beautiful thing. Below are some more shots of this beautiful bistro.  Josephine’s Bistro & Bar, 2417 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro,  www.josephinesbistro.com

               
Josephine's on Urbanspoon

Fire In The Triad Semifinal #1

Hey, Foodies…as promised here are a few pics from last night’s Fire in the Triad. I uploaded what we were served since they differ a bit from the really beautiful presentation shots on the series’ website. I mean, those photos are ART. I’m keeping it real by showing you what we were served. Still beautiful to look at, especially the sushi 🙂

This was a Foodie’s dream. A food crawl without moving from your seat. There is immense talent among us here in the Triad and, for sure, Chris Blackburn of Josephine’s Bistro and George Neal of 1618 West are without a doubt two of the best. This was my first Competition Dining Series seat and it was such a thrill to be there with Sister Foodie. After a lot of exciting introductions we found out that the secret ingredient was…..NC Eggs. What?!? Not pork belly or filet or prawns or truffles?? I had just told Mr. Foodie how eggs didn’t really do it for me. But, I couldn’t wait to see what the chefs came up with. After all they aren’t any old eggs… These were Ostrich, Quail and Poulet Rouge. As a participant and judge we had to vote on presentation, aroma,
flavor, accompaniments and then creativity and execution of the secret ingredients.
So here goes, a play by play on the courses and a very brief opinion.

Course 1
House-made Chorizo, Poulet Rouge Egg Samosa, Yellow Pepper Pesto, Poached Quail Egg with Chipotle Crema, Grilled Red Pepper Bisque, Cinnamon Pappadam, Cilantro/Chef Blackburn
Delicious. A little southwestern. The samosa was like puff pastry. That tiny little poached egg was remarkable and just let all the flavors come around it, while it added creaminess. So different!

Course 2
Pan-Seared Sea Scallop with Scrambled Egg and Chorizo Sushi Roll, Tempura-Chili Glazed Onion Ring, Pickled Radish, Quail Egg, Srirachi-Tomato Sauce, Bing Cherry Reduction/Chef Neal
Spanking good. Please put this on the menu! There was so much to look at, so many things to try. Absolutely beautiful to look at. That Bing Cherry Reduction was amazing.

Course 3
Pulled Pheasant, Smoked Lamb Crepes, Sauce Espagniole, Scallion Oil, Lemon-Aioli Slaw, Poached Shrimp Hollandaise, Parmesan Cookie/Blackburn
This was also quite different…Chef said he was playing on enchilada. It was way better than an enchilada. Most people didn’t seem to see how the Parmesan cookie fit. I agreed but it was still great. Maybe not my fave of the night but it was definitely creative.

Course 4
Grilled Cilantro-Lime Marinated Flank Steak topped with Caramelized Onions, served over Poulet Rouge Potato Cake, Ostrich Egg Hollandaise, 3-Mustard Sauce, Bacon-Deviled Egg/Neal
Oh my goodness. That steak was killer. And tender. And flavorful. On top of a ridiculously crispy and fluffy on the inside potato cake. The ostrich egg hollandaise was incredible. That deviled egg cannot be found at your church potluck….unfortunately. He had to use it and it was great. One of the highest scores of the night.

Course 5
Bacon-Molasses Coffee Cake, Roasted Pattypan Squash and Duck Egg Ice Cream, Blueberry Jam, Sweet Honey-Comb, Glass of Milk Crème Anglaise/Blackburn
This was my highest scoring plate. I can’t do the cake justice. It was a coffee cake, but was smoky and gingery and the ice cream was pure brilliance. Squash!! These people cook here right here in our town! A tiny little honey comb that looked like brittle but tasted like heaven. I couldn’t stop eating it. I didn’t stop. Well, when it was gone, I mean, when they took away the plate I stopped.

Course 6
Napoleon of Chocolate Torte, Poulet Rouge Caramel Cheesecake, and Chocolate Cake accompanied with Crème Anglaise Caramel Sauce/Neal
So it turns out I wasn’t as thrilled with this one. I love chocolate but normally don’t do chocolate desserts. But this tiny little thing was lovely and fudgey and everything it should’ve been. Interestingly, this dessert got huge marks from the voters, but not as high from the pros. I agreed with the pros on this one.

In the end it was Chef George Neal winning Battle Eggs. Who will win Semifinal #2? I’ll post pics on Wednesday! If you can’t wait, check them out at http://www.Competition Dining.com

Foodies Service Announcement

I swore my blog was not about food bashing, but Foodies, I owe you this solid.

We discovered a town in great need of locally owned restaurants and that is Beckley, WV, After many attempts, we discovered that anything with a good rap is closed on Sunday. SO because it was way past lunch and we wanted to get a salad and appetizer and get in and out we stopped at Applebees. I know a crime…for which I quickly lived to regret. Let me paint you a picture.

We:
Waited several minutes for a table
Waited several minutes for server to greet us and take our drink order.
Mr. Foodie ordered unsweetened tea, she brings him sweet tea.
She took his tea away. He didn’t get a new tea until she came back 10 minutes later and said, “Do you need anything? Another drink? ”
Waited 36 minutes for our appetizer and salad. Even Kidlet said “Our food should’ve been here by now!”
Server did not return after she eventually replaced the tea until she brought food.
Food was just okay. Big shock….sigh.
Charged us for kid drink when it actually comes with the meal. We didn’t bother to argue the $1.
No manager came to speak with us though he did stop by to bring Kidlet #2 his toast. Yes, toast.
Kidlet #1’s Kraft Mac-n-cheese was overdone and sticky. It looked old. But she loved it. Whatever.
In the end we’d been better off with fast food. Taco Bell for 1/4 of the price. I hear the Cantina Bowls are great. Live and learn! I speak for the Foodies, bypass the Beckley Applebee’s.