Monthly Archives: February 2013

Crafted The Art Of The Taco

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Few things are more fun and casual to eat than a taco. And sure, you can find them in plenty of Mexican restaurants. Downtown Greensboro has been graced with Crafted The Art of the Taco, and it is NOT a Mexican restaurant, it’s a TACO JOINT. And you can have just about any custom taco with side combination you desire, but it won’t be served with an enchilada, baby. It WILL be served with another taco…and pico…and maybe a salad and some other really cool stuff.  And here’s almost the best part, UNDER 10 bucks.

The foodies really, REALLY have been wanting to go on a date to Crafted The Art of the Taco (we’ll just call it Crafted for a bit). We didn’t think it would be a place where kidlets who only like PBJ and rice and honey dipped bacon would appreciate, but we took them anyway. You’ll see why later 🙂

These folks know what we are about to learn….

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First, the place was PACKED. There was about a half hour wait and that’s usually too long for waiting in a crowded place with hungry kids but we stuck it out. Plus there’s this really neat, long hallway where you wait and can watch the kitchen and it has a chalkboard so your kids can stick their fingers all over it OR draw and write, depending on their inclination.

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We chatted with some folks for a bit, snapped a few pics and were seated in what seemed like LESS than 30 minutes. The joint is casual, festive and the decor is very cool with remnants from what looked like old farm houses, like cabinet doors, armoires…just neat and interesting. And the ceiling kind of reminded me of those umbrellas at the Palazzo in Las Vegas.

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As for libations, only wine and beer are served here at Crafted and the draft beers (and non-alcoholic bevs) are poured into a mason jar. Our beers came in bottles but we had to be cool like everyone else and asked for jars.

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This has inspired me to break out some mason jars at home (I was saving them to make DIY lanterns, yeah right) and pretend I live in the progressive farm house of my dreams.  So after much perusing and discussing, Mr. foodie and I decided to order 3 plates of tacos. You can build your own custom taco with your choice of meat like tuna, shrimp ceviche, chicken, pork, beef and even tofu or falafel or scrambled egg with the customary toppings or you can see what Crafted is really all about at dig into some truly mouthwatering options. We chose the 1) FIXIE…Beef brisket, grilled pineapple, sweet chili sauce & coconut aioli…they say it’s “effin’ spicy but it was totally tolerable 2) WAYFARER…Pulled pork, hoisin BBQ glaze, pickled red onion & bok choy slaw and 3) BOW TIE…Beer battered fish, roasted corn salsa & sweet chipotle aioli.

IMG_2352Clockwise from left: Fixie, Bowtie and Wayfarer. Here are some closeups…

IMG_2356 IMG_2358 IMG_2357About the flavors. HOLY guacamole! By far, some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. The Fixie was the favorite between the three followed by Wayfarer and Bowtie. I loved the creamy coconut aioli on the Fixie and how it offset any heat (it wasn’t at all a bother) along with crunchy, juicy bits of pineapple. It tasted like vacation. The Wayfarer’s pulled pork and bok choy slaw tasted like an Asian street taco.  I think one of the unsung heroes of tacos and nacho fabulousness is pulled pork. Fantastic.  And the Bowtie was just what you’d expect from a fish taco. It might have needed a bit of salt is all. You can add that yourself.  You get your choice of sides like black beans, sweet potato chips or fresh pico de gallo with homemade chips. These chips are are hot and puffy, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and ruined the rest of the dinner for my kids, for whom we ordered a cheese quesadilla (not on the menu…they just helped us out with that). Now the nice folks at Crafted, including owner Rhonda, know how my kids felt about their quesadilla. It could’ve used a little work but they loved those chips. Chips simply come as a side so you don’t fill up on all that gloriousness and be too shamefully full for tacos.

Now Crafted doesn’t offer desserts and if you are like us and get 3 (!) orders of tacos then you might not have room for dessert. I ate as many tacos as my man (3 of 6) without so much as a blink.  When we were looking at the appetizers, though, we saw something that could be dessert….a high protein dessert. Yeah, that’s what I told myself. It’s the Mason of Bacon. Applewood bacon, salted caramel, cracked pepper & spicy chocolate (for dipping). Do you think my kidlets liked THAT?

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Yes, indeedy.  This mason of bacon was gone in like 3.5 seconds. I didn’t even get a chance to see what bacon dipped in chocolate tasted like with a Toasted Coconut Porter.

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This kid and bacon….he is my son for sure except for the not liking much of anything else part.
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Crafted the Art of the Taco is a venture by daughter-mother team, Kristina and Rhonda Fuller, who also own sister restaurant, The Bistro at Adams Farm in Greensboro. Chef Fuller participated and made even more of a name for herself at Fire in the Triad last September, part of Competition Dining Series.  I must say that this foodie visit has prompted me to make haste to The Bistro soon.

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If tacos aren’t your thing (which I can’t fathom), then you can try the nachos, stuffed avocado or a burger. Here’s what I DO wish Crafted had…a taco combo plate…you know one Fixie and one Wayfarer instead of 2 tacos of the same. Maybe for lunch? They have a great selection of craft beers that are local and regional by the bottle or on tap and a small selection of domestics. It’s great fun and so delicious and I know where I’m going the next time I get a craving for a taco. And “dessert” bacon.

www.craftedtheartofthetaco.com

219-A South Elm Street, Greensboro, NC
336.273-0030
Open Tuesday-Saturday Lunch and Dinner
Crafted The Art of The Taco on Urbanspoon

Camino Bakery

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Camino Bakery is not your typical “bakery” full of confections. It’s more of an urban/Boho/chic type of bakery where you can enjoy homemade artisan breads or healthy sandwiches followed by a wonderful homemade slice of cheesecake. Or the biggest slice of chocolate cake…EVER. You can enjoy them with a coffee drink, powered by downtown Winston-Salem’s beloved Krankies Coffee or with a nice glass of vino in the evening with a friend…or a craft beer.  So NOT your typical bakery.

I love the comfort of Camino Bakery. It’s very warm and welcoming. You can take up residence on a bench seat at a rustic table by the windows or a bar seat to watch street traffic and all the activity on 4th Street.  Or you can even make a few friends at the little community table in the middle of the place. You’ll find folks of every persuasion…students with their laptops, older ladies catching up or maybe a family of foodies (that’s us!) grabbing a after-lunch treat.  You really can’t go wrong with Camino’s chocolate chip “as big as your face” cookies after all. They are huge. Really, my two little ones can share them for 2 days. Well, I MAKE them do that.

They promote their locally sourced ingredients  and there’s a board in the middle of the shop to show you from whence it came. I am always thrilled to see the awesome Homeland Creamery from Julian, NC on a vendor list.

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Different breads are made daily depending on the day of the week. You can check out their website to see what’s being made any day of the week. Some things like Multigrain and White you’ll find almost every day. The menu also depends on the TIME of day as well. Morning is devoted to pastries and a sweeter selection of breads. At lunch, there are at least 5 types of fresh veggie-filled sandwiches every day along with quiche and a special focaccia and a very popular tomato pie.
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Of course, it wouldn’t be a bakery about the delicious confections! I will say that I tried the coconut swirl pastry and it was so moist and delicious and not too sweet. I didn’t have room for coffee but the pair would’ve been divine. If you are on Facebook, you can be tantalized by Camino Bakery’s page and drool over their dessert pics in the albums. They’re downright artistic, those photos.
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The place was jumping so I felt funny butting in and snapping away unannounced so I got a few shots in.
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Owner Cary Clifford started Camino Bakery out of a passion for baking. She took her little treat-making business for Krankies and turned it into this little blessing of a bakery in 2011. You can grab a loaf or cheesecake to take home. They offer catering too. Mostly, it’s a great place for a fresh veggie sandwich, a morning pastry or a nice glass of wine with dessert. You’ll feel right at home in this cozy little spot in downtown. And unlike some places downtown, they are open on Sunday :).

www.caminobakery.com
310 W. 4th Street, Winston-Salem

336.721.9990

Camino Bakery, Cafe & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
 

Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro

Mozelle's Mosaic

Don’t you hate it when you are craving Brunch on Saturday and you can’t find any place that serves it, except places that serve breakfast all the time? Brunch die-hards know it’s just not the same. Fortunately, Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro is one of the few places you can get a wonderful brunch on Saturday in addition to Sunday (for you traditionalists). The foodies were after a place that served biscuits. You won’t find a lot of biscuits at brunch either so we scoured some menus and decided ultimately on Mozelle’s because they have all the other brunch greats like Benedicts, omelettes, salads and french toast PLUS biscuits.

I’ve been to Mozelle’s a few times, but this is my first brunch experience there. We quickly ordered some biscuits for the kidlets and then started making our choices. I decided on Mozelle’s Benedict with candied bacon, collards, chorizo gravy + fried egg on a brioche bun served with cheese grits and fruit.  IMG_2295

I’m looking here and I just realize I don’t see the fruit. I don’t think I had any after all. Hmmm, don’t care. I wouldn’t have had room for it. The brioche was wonderfully soft and buttery good, the fried egg was just a little runny like I like and the collards and chorizo gravy were savory and delicious. Yummville. This is one of the top 2 Benedicts I’ve ever had. The chorizo gave it just enough spice and ethnic flavor without transporting you out of the South.

Mr. foodie stayed as health conscious as possible (when you are also getting biscuits) and ordered the California Omelette…Turkey, havarti, avocado and tomato marmalade with biscuit. It comes with a choice of breakfast potatoes or fruit. He decided to get fruit instead of potatoes (because he got biscuits). The omelette was light and delicious and the marmalade was a little sweet and acidic and offset the egg and avocado. Spot on California. Guilt-free, almost.  IMG_2302

Kidlets shared two eggs and 2 strips of bacon and enjoyed their biscuits along the way. Oh about the biscuits. They were delightful. Warm, fluffy in the inside and golden on top with that familiar crispiness the tops of biscuits have.

IMG_2297We had our server bring along some honey for the biscuits and…apparently for bacon dipping….

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I mean, who can blame the kid, really?

I said earlier that I’ve been to Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro a couple of times. The menu changes seasonally and with what’s available but I do know that the Tomato Pie is always on the menu. It is incredible. It’s a homemade crust surrounding ripe, red tomatoes with an awesome cheesy grit filling. You can order whole pies or you can enjoy a slice at lunch, dinner or brunch (when the dinner menu is also available).  The meatloaf is a can’t miss. It’s a great combo of comfort food and gourmet. It comes bacon-wrapped with havarti, marmalade and served with collards and cheese grits. As an appetizer we LOVED the Lobster Sloppy Joe’s. The other time I’ve been to Mozelle’s, I ordered a braised beef special which was amazing. If you do hold out for dessert, be sure to try ANY of the chef’s signature desserts. The one I tried and loved was the Coconut Cream Pie. It was how you’d imagine it to be but with a hint of almond flavor that made it stand out from among its peers.

On this Saturday with a light snow falling, you’d expect the kitchen to be running maybe without the head chef. BUT! To the foodies delight, Chef Janis Karathanas was there and came over and introduced herself. I LOVE IT WHEN THE CHEF IS COOKING! Of course a testament to true genius and leadership is when the kitchen can do it without the beloved head, but I liked it that Chef Janis was there. We told her we hoped to see her again at the annual Fire in the Triad Competition this Spring.

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Chef Janis and the peeps who make the ship sail…

IMG_2316   Tamara who runs the Front of House and keeps things moving

I love Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro for the food and the ambience. They have great outdoor sidewalk dining but even when you are inside, you sort of feel like you are outside because of the big windows. They even have blankets at chairs on every table in cooler months in case you feel the need to wrap yourself in snuggly warmth. It’s tiny, intimate and casual and the front part of the bistro puts you practically in the kitchen. Mozelle’s is open for lunch and dinner and brunch Saturday and Sunday.  They are also participating in The Big Eat, downtown Winston-Salem on Tuesday nights when said meatloaf is half price at $8.50.  That’s great reason to try them tonight! But try them, you should…very soon!

www.mozelles.com
Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro,
a downtown Winston-Salem restaurant
878 West Fourth Street
Winston-Salem, NC
336.703.5400
Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro on Urbanspoon

Dioli’s Trattoria

Dioli's Trattoria

You know how you can go to the Italian chain restaurants and order a bowl of FRESH pasta? Pasta made THAT VERY DAY? Nah, me neither. But foodies, if you can extricate yourself from the chains of well, the chains, you might discover that right here, in our own backyard, is an Italian trattoria that makes their pasta fresh daily. And frankly, some locally owned restaurants don’t even make their own pasta. It’s a bit of a pain and a lot of a mess. But Dioli’s does fresh pasta right.

Dioli’s Trattoria is in a location that some people might think is perfect for people watching and enjoying downtown Winston-Salem. It’s next to the Stevens Center for the Peforming Arts. You can see people filing into the “theatah” while you enjoy your breadsticks. Or you can have dinner before the big show.

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These are real “sticks”, see? It’s great because they are flavorful and you don’t fill up on all those carbs before your really tasty, meaningful carbs arrive.

The foodies have been to Dioli’s a few times. The first time they placed us in the upper part of the restaurant where it felt very fancy. We were all alone and my kids ran all over the place, eventually. I guess they called that one, huh…get the kids away from the other patrons. Anyway it was nice and it’s kind of my favorite place to eat there now. My family and friends dined on many of the specials and house specialties and we were very impressed. But what has kept me going back is this…the FRESH PASTA.

Prior to our carbo-load we decided to try the Antipasto Plate as an appetizer. It was great nosh food. Some great Italian salami, Taleggio cheese (a little on the puny side), Tuscan olives, roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms and house-made focaccia grilled to perfection. Now, truly, my foodies know I could eat like that all day. Give me a plate of meat and cheese and I’m a happy foodie.  Image 7  Not enough of that yummy cheese, Mr. Dioli…but it is fabulous…it’s still all love.:) It was probably the right amount for someone who couldn’t eat like that all day.

Next, our pizza loving son received his pizza, which they made special for him. This type of regular cheese pizza was not on the menu but the chef did us a favor. Thanks, Chef!

Image 11The sauce was robust with a hint of nutmeg and the crust was crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, just as it should be. I love a rustic pizza like this. My kids don’t eat much so this made good leftovers a few days later.

Now, for what we came for. Pasta, pasta, pasta. FRESH, made that day pasta.

My favorite thing at Dioli’s is simply the Spaghetti and Clams, served traditionally with herbs, garlic, tomatoes and white wine. I prefer mine Fra’diavolo style with a medium spice. They will make it as spicy as you dare.

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Mr. foodie ordered Spaghetti with house made meat balls, marinara. He added extra meatballs.

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What I love about Dioli’s spaghetti is that the pasta is not so long that you’re wrapping and wrapping and splashing your clothes with pasta sauce. They are about half the length of regular pasta. Of course, you can also get a fresh lasagna, tagliatelli, manicotti. All of the pasta is made in Dioli’s Italian Market & Deli on Reynolda Rd. I’m told you can also order it to take home. There was NO pasta when I arrived on a Saturday afternoon and I know now to order ahead.  Also at the trattoria for lunch or dinner, you’ll find a not too overwhelming selection of seafood, quail, pork and the most amazing Veal Scaloppini which is lightly breaded and sautéed with Marsala wine, garlic, butter, capers and fresh herbs. This is served with Taleggio polenta and grilled asparagus. If you need some pasta, they will bring it on the side, but that polenta is pretty banging.

On to dessert, because the other thing that Dioli’s does that you don’t hear EVER in the chains and rarely at any local establishment is they make their own cannoli cream with ricotta impastata, imported from Italy. It gives the filling just the right consistency while not being too sweet and the cannoli shell stays crispy, just like I like it.

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Mr. foodie had their famous Tiramisu. It is creamy and coffee flavored and just drunk enough with liqueur. We like our Tiramisu a lil’ tipsy!

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As you can see it has lots of nice shaved chocolate on top for your chocolate needs. Heaven knows why we didn’t take a side shot of this pretty thing. We were prepared to “dive in”, apparently.

You can find desserts like this and many more cakes as well as lots of deli items at Dioli’s Italian Market on Reynolda Road. There you’ll find sandwiches, etc. for dine-in lunch and bulk items for your lunch or dinner or party on the go. There might be some last minute deliciousness you can score if you go ahead and make your Valentine’s order (who knows, you procrastinators!).

Dioli’s is also participating in The Big Eat in Winston-Salem and the feature, which will be half off on Tuesday, February 11, is scheduled to be Fettuccini with Rabbit & Mushroom ragu—a Dioli’s original made with seasonal mushrooms and local rabbit. That sounds really good to me. I recently fell in love with rabbit, though my children are horrified.

Dioli’s Trattoria is another example of a family-owned business, rolling out pasta, turning sauces and baking cakes and breads with love. So next time you are in the mood for pasta, you really should try FRESH pasta. It is definitely a treat. And while you are at it, save some time before or after your visit to the Trattoria to visit the Italian Market (seen here). You’re bound to walk away with something marvelous (if it’s not all gone). They can handle private parties and catering too.

Dioli's Italian Market (front)

www.diolis.com

401 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem
336-331-3451

Dioli’s Italian Market
2898 Reynolda Road
Winston Salem, NC
336-724-9900
Diolis Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Spring House + Wine Dinner= You Owe it To Yourself This Love

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To say it was a pleasure to attend Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar’s Chef and Winemaker Dinner with Honig Wines is an understatement. It was unexpected, fun, delightful and you really do owe it to yourself to reserve a spot at a future wine event. Wine dinners are so awesome because you get a delicious tasting menu to accompany the featured wines provided by the winemaker (who will be there in person or at least represented). In this case, Michael Honig of Honig Vineyard, Napa Valley, shared with us 5 signature wines from his family vineyard and Chef Tim Grandinetti had a thoughtful tasting of small plates and entrees to show off these wines (and vice versa).

We gathered before the dinner in the bar where Sister Foodie and I got to chit chat with the chef, Mr. Honig and other “foodies” who were excited about this sampling. Chef Tim also invited several of his farmers who provide him with so many of the local foods on his menu and inspire that farm to table experience. It is such a casual and easy time with plenty of excitement in the air because we know what’s to come…”foodieliciousness!

The first course was Shrimp, Scallops, Clams, & Mussels en Papillote (see the little bag?) enhanced with Smoked Shallots, Roasted Garlic, & Herbs. It was paired with Honig’s signature Sauvignon Blanc, which is marvelous and beautifully displayed in an artistic bottle.  I don’t have a picture of the bottle and I’d place an image right HERE if I knew I wouldn’t be subject to copyright issues.
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Spring House’s mussels are awesome and the clams were plump and perfectly sweet. Add a little shrimp and scallop for good measure and you have a winner.

Chicken Mousseline with Foie Gras
Hydroponic Spinach (from Shore Farm Organics), Citrus Pistachio Vinaigrette
Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc
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What is Chicken Mousseline? It probably doesn’t sound like something you’d want to order, but you should! Pureed meat with some type of egg or cream. It looks like a chicken loaf. This was very light and filled with flavor from the herbs. It was enhanced with Foie Gras and some candied pistachios and sat upon a beautiful speckled spinach from Shore Farm in Yadkinville. The citrus pistachio vinaigrette was very light and tangy. This course was served with Honig’s Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc. I preferred this more intense wine but both were wonderful.

Yellow Wolf Farm’s Rabbit
Goat Cheese Gnocchi (served on a “schmear” of carrot puree, because “rabbits like carrots” –quoting the chef)
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
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LOVED LOVED LOVED. I need not say more. There are a couple of local restaurants showing off their rabbit skills. Chef Tim has a wonderful rabbit story from his “Chopped” (Food Network) episode. I don’t want to say rabbit tastes like chicken. It kind of tastes like that with a bit of turkey or pork thrown in. Doesn’t matter! Chef Tim’s braised rabbit was awesome. It was paired with a smokey and chocolatey 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon which apparently is now hard to come by. The next day Spring House’s special was Deep Fried Rabbit. I bet you hate you missed it. I know I do.

Adam Musick’s Pork, served with a puree of NC sweet potatoes enhanced with honey and truffle oil. And look! Spring House’s own broccoli. Chef Tim grew it in their own garden.
Bartolucci Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
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This pork was like home cooking and was tender and served with a beautiful cabernet and marsala reduction. The button mushrooms were perfect and the broccoli (a bit lonely) was sitting there so proud. I say lonely because I really love broccoli but it’s a tasting and we don’t need a cup of cruciferous veggies, though Dr. Sears would approve, I’m sure. The Bartolucci Cab was wonderful and bold and fruity and intense. And…hard to come by. This was a special occasion according to the winemaker. I WISH I had bought some there. I don’t know if it was an option, as they say it’s pretty much sold out, but I could drink it again. Very pleasant…it transported me to a mahogany-rich lounge.

And finally, what would a tasting be without dessert?
Pineapple Grits Cake
Shore Farm’s Pumpkin Ice Cream
Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
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This dessert was not new to me as I enjoyed it as my birthday cake a few weeks ago on my very first visit to Spring House. The Pineapple Grit Cake is a MUST TRY at Spring House. It still has the texture of cake but with the complexity of grits so you get a heartier cake. It was served with Shore Farm’s pumpkin ice cream. I took 3 pictures of this dessert during our wine dinner but none of them ended up in my phone. Technology! So here’s what it looks like from my first visit. It was the SAME size as the normal portion….way more than a taste. It was served with a very intense Honig Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc in a beautiful slender bottle. This wine is delicious, but a little too sweet for me at dessert, at least. But some people will love it and I bet it is really good with something spicy. There’s a picture of it at the beginning of the post, but here it is again in case you are feeling lazy and don’t feel like scrolling.
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Many of our local restaurants have lovely wine dinners like this. The cost varies from restaurant to restaurant…usually $50-75 per person. If you think about what you get with the multiple courses and the wine plus the wonderful attention to detail at each table, it’s very much worth it. It is fun and friendly, yet intimate and relaxing. You also will probably taste foods that you’d never dream of ordering, maybe not have the nerve to try. That’s why I think you OWE it to yourself to try a wine dinner. These are wonderful opportunities to get to know the owners and/or chef and find out what makes them tick and why they love to cook and what makes them crazy or sane.  I love meeting the men and women behind the dream. Here’s Chef Tim and co-owner, Mr. Lynn Murphy…
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Don’t they look they had fun?

Stay on the lookout for postings about special Happenings on Spring House Restaurant Kitchen & Bar’s website and don’t forget, there are only a few more weeks left of the Big Eat where restaurants like Spring House offer 50% off signature entrees on Tuesdays.

www.Springhousenc.com
450 North Spring Street, Winston-Salem, NC
336.293.4797

For more information about Honig Wine (you might recognize their vineyard landscape on the interior of their Sauvignon Blanc)…www.honigwine.com. You can also find them by the bottle at Spring House or local retailers.

Thanks, Chef Tim for a wonderful and fun evening!