Monthly Archives: February 2016

#followmeto…a 1618 Food Crawl

foodie b’eat….From YES! Weekly

Thinking how much we love a good food crawl, the hubs and I contemplated what we could do on our date night. And since 1618 Concepts has 3 successful restaurants all reasonably close to one another (driving distance), we thought, wouldn’t it be fun to crawl just those three spots? Owner Nick Wilson and business partner George Neal’s three restaurants are supremely popular and we’ve watched them grow from the Grille on Friendly to three restaurants and a food truck (1618 On Location). We saw that it was the last weekend that all 3 locations would have some sort of calamari on the menu and the Wilson and his personable team were encouraging all kinds of interaction on social media, etc. We decided to get in on the fun.

Remember, food crawls take pacing and if you’re on a budget, just be mindful of costs going in. Appetizers (or even entrees) are meant to be shared. Preferably with more than two people. We were on a date night, so we knew we’d only likely order one plate per restaurant.  Are you going to get drinks with your shared apps? Consider that too, as wine or cocktails can be $8-12 and beer around $4. If you avoid cocktails (but why?), you can do a 3 x food crawl for about $50-60 with tip. Mr. foodie and I almost never play it that way. There’s almost always a cocktail at least one place and usually the menu looks so good, we want one more item to try. Like I say, the more the merrier. Bring your peeps!

Going in you have to plan and that’s just what we did. Our itinerary: 1) 1618 Seafood Grille 2)1618 Downtown 3) 1618 Wine Lounge. When we got to the Grille, it was p.a.c.k.e.d.  Even the bar. So, going in you also have to be flexible so we altered our plans, decided first to hit the Downtown location, then come back to the Grille. So first stop…

1618 Downtown, 312 South Elm Street, Greensboro

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Szechuan Glazed Calamari

The featured calamari was a Szechuan Glaze with basil cream sauce, roasted peanut remoulade, chili oil, sesame carrot sprout and cilantro salad. Beautiful to look. The calamari was incredibly tender. The roasted peanut remoulade and the chili oil gave it a great sweet and spicy kick you might have had on sesame noodles at an Asian restaurant. We were really hungry and plowed right through it. It’s about enough for 2 people. This is the only calamari that is leaving the 1618 menus this week. It’s very customary for 1618 Downtown to change its menu often and the only items staying are the sandwiches. We ordered one more item, the spicy tuna crispy sushi roll. The reason is that we want to show you something that will be familiar when you go. There’s almost always a sushi grade tuna dish on the menu here. This tuna roll was still shareable, with pickled butternut squash, granny smity apple wasabi and balsamic caviar. We wish it had been a bit bigger, but it was still great. Still, calamari wins and I really wish they’d consider keeping it on the menu for a few more weeks (just so you get the chance to try it). Libation Manager, Jake Skinner, had his own suggestion, “You could do a 1618 crawl just on pomme frites. They’re that good.” If you don’t mind the carbo load, they’re of the truffle variety with spicy ketchup and honey parmigianno reggiano aioli.

Stop 2….1618 Seafood Grille, 1618 West Friendly Avenue

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Wasabi Glazed Calamari at 1618 Seafood Grille 

So in the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I’ve had the calamari at 1618 Seafood Grille.  And since, it has set the standard for any calamari I’ve had far and wide. It also has some very odd ingredients as far as calamari goes. Tossed in a wasabi glaze over red bean salsa, chipotle remoulade, sprouts and fresh basil oil. They like their sprouts at 1618. This visit was no exception. Still the most tender, crispy flavorful calamari. The red beans are very tender and have a hint of cumin, then the sweetness of the wasabi glaze and basil oil, the spicy remoulade. It’s indescribable. They absolutely won’t take it off the menu because it’s such a hit. It goes down easy and is over too soon. We would’ve order something else, but a 3rd calamari was calling our name.

Stop 3…1618 Wine Lounge, 1724 Battleground Avenue

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Back when my blog, triadfoodies.com was just a little bitty baby, 1618 Wine Lounge was my very first real post. My, haven’t we come far! And the Wine Lounge is just as popular as it ever was. Stylish, sexy and a great vibe. And just as known for its terrific small plates. The calamari is tomato glazed with percorino romano cream, fresh mozzarella, basil salad and lemon aioli. It reads like the kind of calamari you are used to. The kind that has a slight Italian spin which is dipped into marinara. But it certainly doesn’t look like that. It was so pretty, with lovely sweet heirloom grape tomatoes that paired nicely with the pecorino romano cream and the mozzarella. It almost didn’t need the aioli, but a little dab here added brightness overall. We were told by one of our servers that this calamari dish is here for another couple of months.

Winner of the night: 1618 Seafood Grille’s gorgeous wasabi glazed with the red beans. The beans!! No lie. It’s the best and we’ve ordered calamari…well, lots of places.

Sufficiently filled with baby squid, we then called it a night, only to start scheming about our next food crawl. Who wants us? Winston-Salem?….High Point?…Kernersville?

Shout out to #followmeto, founded by photographer Murad Osmann and his wife, Nataly, who travel the world and take photos of her leading him….or him following her to exotic or interesting places worldwide, hence the hashtag. They kind of started a movement so we thought we’d have our own foodie version of it here.

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Wanna go? 1618 Seafood Grille is located at 1618 West Friendly Avenue, open daily for dinner as well as Sunday brunch; The Wine Lounge is located at 1724 Battleground Avenue, open Monday-Saturday evenings until late. 1618 Downtown is located 312 S. Elm Street, open for lunch Monday-Friday and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. For more details and links visit 1618concepts.com

foodie b’eat: Competition Dining is Back…with a Twist!

Here’s the latest from our friends at the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series.

They’re back again this Spring and Summer with a slight twist. Here’s the latest and if you’re a chef, a link for building your team! What’s cool this year is a 3 night showdown in Winston-Salem AND then, two weeks later a similar showdown in Greensboro. The 6 winners will go on to face each other in brackets in October. Read on for info.

2016 Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series
The Year of the All-Star Dream Teams!

Build your team and apply now

Dear Chefs,

This year we are mixing it up, stirring the pot and putting a new spin on things with an exciting collaborative twist for North Carolina’s most competitive chefs!

Over the years through competition dining and various other events, you, the North Carolina culinary community, have come together to become a close knit family. You have collaborated on exciting theme dinners, charitable causes and disaster relief fundraisers just to mention a few. 

So, in the spirit of collaboration, and in keeping with Competition Dining’s #1 Rule – Have Fun, get together and create your All-Star Dream Team! 

Teams can comprise of 3 members from your own establishment, or from 3 separate establishments. Our only requirement is that team members are professionally employed by, or in business as, a foodservice establishment.

This concept will be less taxing on the labor force of any one given establishment by only requiring one member to be out of his/her kitchen to participate in a battle. Also, you’ve only got to win twice to get to the Battle of Champions!

2016 teams will be selected by March 10th so get your application in now! 

Call me if you have questions and we’ll see you on the Battlefield!

Jimmy Crippen 

828-265-9075

jimmy@competitiondining.com

 Details

Durham – 4 Team Bracket – April 18th, 19th & 21st

Winston-Salem – 4 Team Bracket – May 23rd, 24th & 26th

Greensboro – 4 Team Bracket – June 13th, 14th & 16th

Raleigh -Two 4 Team Brackets – First Bracket:July 11th, 12th, 14th & Second Bracket: July 18th, 19th, 21st, Final Battle July 24th (Winner gets bye in Battle of Champions)

Charlotte – Two 4 Team Brackets – First Bracket: August 15th, 16th, 18th & Second Bracket: August 22nd, 23rd, 25th Final Battle Aug 28th (Winner gets bye in Battle of Champions)

Wilmington – 4 Team Bracket – September 19th, 20th & 22nd

Battle of Champions – 6 Team Bracket – October dates TBA

Thank you for your ongoing support and enthusiasm for the 2016 Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series.  We look forward to seeing you! 

Click Here To Apply

Follow Competition Dining on Twitter @CompDiningNC, Facebook at Competition Dining and Instagram at @CompDiningNc for all of the delicious details and inside scoop on all the action – you can even join in on the fun and get in on the conversation – plate by plate, bite by bite.

Thai Harmony

From Chow in YES! Weekly.

It wasn’t so long ago that we were oh-so-excited about Pho and Sweet Chicken (no Sesame) …you can read that story here (if you feel it’s worth your time, ugh).  Then boom! The restaurant that we reviewed was gone. Oh…and just for fun (not), here’s what my little one thought about the closing.

Without missing a beat, enter in Thai Harmony & Sushi, which has taken up residence in the former Xia Asian Fusion in the Sharpe building at 102 West 3rd Street in downtown Winston- Salem. To say we were shocked by Xia’s closing is an understatement. We have an office very near there and we visited a lot. For the sweet chicken (really Sesame chicken, no sesame) and the Pho. So good. My little one was truly devastated. And I questioned the need for yet one more Thai restaurant in Winston-Salem, particularly downtown.

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Thai Harmony is definitely different than its predecessor. No pho.

Okay here’s where this blog post gets different than the article.  I asked if  there was pho and I swear and was told not yet. I looked and looked on the menu on my 3rd visit and could not find the words pho and I am not an expert, but noodle soup is not always pho, or am I crazy?) Anyway in the above linked article, I said there’s wasn’t pho, but there IS! That’s good news. I love love love pho. So stay tuned soon for an update pho sho! 

There’s a good amount of curry. Much more noodles. And we still have sushi. And fortunately for the under four-feet in my crowd, we still have sweet chicken. And it’s pretty great. Dare I say better?

Thai Harmony has pretty decent sushi from what I’ve tried. They offer an incredible deal of two rolls for $9.99 for lunch and it includes the soup of the day. Actually all lunch items include the soup. The sushi offerings on the lunch deal are quite simple, but fresh.

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2 sushi rolls for $9.99

I recommend some curry dishes or noodle dishes such as Pad Thai or Drunken Noodles. They are pleasantly spicy with plenty of flavor. There’s an item on the menu called American Pad Thai. And described as “Our favorite Pad Thai but with a flavor you are familiar with.”

“What’s American about it,” we asked.

“It has ketchup in it,” was the reply. Hmmm …as an American, I am slightly offended that to make it “American” it needed ketchup.We’ll give them a pass this time. I didn’t ask if they sell a lot of it and I pray that they don’t.

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Drunken Noodles w/ Chicken 

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Chicken Pad Thai

Mr. foodie ordered the curry and he said the flavor was on par with some of his favorite curry, but Thai Harmony’s version is packed with crispy, colorful vegetables which make it more filling. And beautiful. It looks like a small bowl, but you actually get a nice portion.

About that sweet chicken? We just get sesame without the sesame and all is right in our little ones’ worlds. The lunch version comes with rice, spring roll, salad and soup. Plenty of food. You like spicy? Order General Tso. It’s lightly fried with that great rich sauce and with just the right amount of heat. The sauce isn’t too sweet and the breading isn’t too thick.

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Sesame Chicken w/ no Sesame aka Sweet Chicken to a microfoodie

 

Service is excellent and speedy. The bar is still there. The servers are polite but be mindful of that possible language barrier. Use the numbers if needed on the menu.

Speaking of the menu, it’s pretty extensive and we’ve only had a chance to try a few things. And only at lunch. But so far, everything has been stellar enough to give it a thumbs up. Now for the pho!

What’s your favorite Thai restaurant? ThaiHarmonysign

Thai Harmony 
102 W. 3rd Street
Winston-Salem, NC

 

foodie b’eat: Krispy Kreme bringing back Doughnuts AND Coffee #cuptocup

From Chow in YES! Weekly.  The article referred to one of the managing partners as John Hart, but John’s last name is Ward. We apologize for the error.

When Krispy Kreme invites you to a tasting, the answer to whether or not to attend the tasting is obvious. And when the company tells you it’s a tasting of doughnuts AND coffee, well that’s a no-brainer. The food writing business can have its perks (pun intended).

Last week, Krispy Kreme invited all of us lovers and sharers of food (and coffee) to an event they called Cup to Cup…a very unique BlogWorthy Beverages, Baristas and a Bold New Store. Not only were local food writers invited to get an inside look and tour of the new Krispy Kreme in Clemmons, but the purpose was to really show us how Krispy Kreme is looking at changing future models to elevate their coffee and beverage business and make each location more welcoming. Look around the new store and you’ll see soft seating, screens, USB ports, electrical outlets so that you can work or just kick back for a while. The new location has set a goal to be a place of relaxation and fellowship but if you need to get a little work done, you can. And it has the super-fun element of watching the doughnuts being made and seeing them come ‘round on the conveyor. Kids love it and I dare say, adults do too. This newest location is a test model for future Krispy Kreme stores and is the only one like it in the world. For now.

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You’d think that coffee and doughnuts go hand and hand, right? We jokingly refer to cops enjoying their coffee and doughnuts on or after their shift. But at Krispy Kreme, that hasn’t been the case, at least not recently. Krispy Kreme Director of Beverage Operations Branan Wagaman says, “We want customers to know that we are more than just a doughnut shop. People walk in and they have doughnut blinders on. They’re not thinking about how a cup of coffee can enhance their experience.”  And Krispy Kreme is training their baristas to know which coffee will pair great with a specific doughnut. 

Interestingly, this was set up much like a food and wine tasting would be. We were introduced to several coffee beverages, each paired with a popular doughnut. And throughout each “pairing” we tasted the coffee and the doughnut and allowed our senses to take over, smelling the coffee and the doughnut, tasting each and learning how a bold coffee is enhanced by the light and fluffy doughnut that’s been filled with a sweet and fruity raspberry filling or a tart lemon filling for that matter. And how the coffee enhances the doughnut too. We later moved on to pairing #2 to taste how a Valentine’s doughnut can pair nicely with a latte or cappuccino. For pairing #3, A Caramel Mocha (a hot version and a frozen version) and how the world’s favorite, glazed and doughnut holes matches up.

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Did we get a little full tasting all of this?  Yep. And I literally just had a bite (maybe two) at each course. It’s a tough job, ya’ll.

S & D Coffee, which provides the coffee for Krispy Kreme, has taken whole-hearted approach to educating the company’s employees about coffee. Master roaster, Toby Foreman shared his passion for roasting coffee and finding the best ways to bring out the nuances of the bean. “The bean comes back to life with something dormant to its destined complexities. We want to take the mystique out of coffee. And we want the customer to accentuate that experience and have a conversation with the barista and complement that moment, just like you would with any other culinary experience. My job is to create coffee but you get the sensory experience to create a memory.” 

The Clemmons Krispy Kreme is a bustling location. When they’re making doughnuts, they can produce 2,400 dozen glazed doughnuts a day. One Friday evening, at 6:00, the line for the drive-thru was literally wrapped around the building. Managing partner, John Ward, says that’s nothing unusual for them. “You’d think a Krispy Kreme would be busiest from 6-8:00 in the morning and traditionally that has been the case. But my morning business is actually a bit lighter. I’m an afternoon and evening store. After 3:00 we are rocking and rolling. It changed our business model across the country.” He attributes it to the beverage business and said they adapted to the customer’s needs. “People are coming home from work or school, they’re getting a frozen drink, setting up their laptop or picking up doughnuts for dessert and for the next morning’s business.” Ward says the business overall hasn’t changed, it’s just when business happens has changed. “It’s encouraging to me, because this is a test concept for beverage and people are getting doughnuts, but also the coffee. And this doughnut guy is okay with that.” Ward has been with the company for 22 years in various corporate and training positions and jumped on the opportunity to have a vested interest in the business last July as an operating partner (much like Chick Fil-A). The Clemmons location is testing this managing partner concept as well.

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Managing Partner, Clemmons location-John Ward

The building’s foundation had already been laid when executives with Krispy Kreme got the notion to do something a little different, eliminate what wasn’t working and dive into a fresh approach. Granted, not all Krispy Kreme’s are going to have the beverage program that the Clemmons location offers, but officials are hoping to change that. KK’s Wagaman says, “We’re proving to ourselves that it can be done.”

Wanna go? The new Krispy Kreme is located at 2442 Lewisville-Clemmons Road, Clemmons.  krispykreme.com.  If you dare, there’s an app for the “hot light” that will tell you where the freshest doughnuts are on the road or activated in your neighborhood.

Giveaway!! triadfoodies finds for Valentine’s Day

From the latest Chow in YES! Weekly….

Can you feel it? That’s love in the air. The love of local food. We just loved putting together our Holiday Gift Guide and thought it would be lovely to do the same for Valentine’s Day. And once again a lucky reader will win this entire basket. We chose items that we thought celebrated this much-hyped “holiday” in a slightly different way. Sure, we’ve got some token chocolate, but we tried to think a bit out of the heart-shaped box too, all the while celebrating some wonderful North Carolina purveyors. 

Foothills Brewing Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout

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This is one sexy lady. Foothills Brewing releases this vintage annually, to much fanfare. The night before the release (which was this past weekend) Foothills throws a pre-release party. The party then heads outside where people literally camp out to be one of the first to get their hands on a coveted bottle. The Foothills team encourages the fun with swag. Then the doors open at 8:00 am with the tap flowing (with breakfast even) and then bombers go on sale at 9:00 am. Foothills Marketing Director Ray Goodrich says, “it’s really a fun party. And it’s become such an experience that it’s gone from a craft beer tradition to ‘Winston-Salem tradition’.” You can get Sexual Chocolate at the tasting room and at the pub and most local beverage stores for a limited time (and often limited sales customer). What to pair it with? Foothills’ Dave Goliszek says, “Grilled meats because the char of the meat pairs with the roasted barley. But also any dessert that would go great with coffee. Think molten lava cake or especially a raspberry cheesecake because the bitterness cuts the sweet, just like coffee.” foothillsbrewing.com

Cloister Honey (Ghost Pepper)

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Why not add a little heat to your night?  Produced in Charlotte, Cloister Honey’s Ghost Pepper was named Southern Living Magazine’s Honey of the Year. The honey is many a favorite of chefs around the state. Ghost Pepper will bring a bit of heat to your flavor party. How we love it….Drizzled over some goat cheese or brie, it has a sweet and spicy kick to jazz up whatever it touches.  Or warm it up and drizzle it over a pizza with some arugula and pancetta or sopressata. Owners Randall York and Joanne Delarionda have also dressed up their other honeys with lavender, bourbon, vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon. If you are not quite sure what to do with your flavored honey, they can help you with that.  Says Randall, “We have recipes on our website that are easy and the flavors are very interchangeable.” You can take a look at the full line of honeys on their site and find it on the shelves of several local retailers. Savory Spice Shop in Greensboro for one, almost always has a good variety. cloisterhoney.com

Two Triangles Sparkling Wine

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The signature sparkling from Carolina’s Vineyards & Hops. We’ve featured CV & H before as the destination to enjoy North Carolina Wine and craft beer with local menu items like charcuterie and panini, plus desserts. In addition to the celebrated vineyards across the state, CV & H produces their own line called Two Triangles. This sparkling is is one of the first wines they created and bar manager Ashley Jones says it’s a top seller. “This wine is a toast and tribute to North Carolina. It’s not too sweet and not too dry and a reminder of how balanced our state is from the mountains to the coast and the two triangles that represent the Triad and Triangle.” This wine features tropical flavors, peach and honeysuckle and a hint of effervescence.  What we love it with….artisanal cheeses like a creamy brie or something spicy with jalapeno. Chorizo would be marvelous, as would a great spicy curry dish. 111 S. Marshall Street, Winston-Salem; carolinasvineyardsandhops.com

Brasstown Chocolate

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Named after the town in Western, NC because it’s home to one of the premiere folk art colleges in the country (John C. Campbell Folk School). Brasstown Chocolate’s founders Rom Still and Barbara Price wanted the name to be a reflection of the artistry of their chocolate. Still is an award-winning chocolatier tempering and molding handcrafted chocolate in Winston-Salem since 2010, when it simply started out as a hobby. His bars have won International Chocolate awards for the past few years running. We love this chocolate because of the complex flavors imparted by the native region from which the bean hails. Our winner will enjoy Ecuador, awarded the Whole Foods Market Good Food Award and the bronze winner in the 2015 International Chocolate Awards. The bar is made from organic Nacional beans from Manabi and has flavors that are more floral than fruit, with spice and the natural taste of honey. These bars average $8 retail. Obviously meant to be savored.  brasstownchocolate.com 

Granny Roselli’s Pasta Sauce & Pasta Wench Fettuccini

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What’s more decadent and romantic than light, handmade pasta topped with a satisfying and rich pasta sauce passed down from generations? There’s just something about this simple Italian dish that says “romance.” And not because of Lady and the Tramp. But feel free to do that, when no one’s looking on your date night in.  Maybe it’s the twirling of the pasta. Of course it’s definitely the red. Granny Roselli’s pasta sauce is made in Surry County and inspired by Daisy Roselli, who owned Sunny Italy Restaurant in Wilkes County for years before her passing a few years ago. Now, her son, John, keeps the tradition alive. Pasta Wench All Natural Gourmet Pasta (formerly of Boone) is now made right here in the Triad, on site at Musten & Crutchfield in Kernersville. Our winner will enjoy Original flavor but when you see this pasta (available at locally-owned markets), check out their other flavors like Chocolate or Cabernet, Wild Chipotle or Black Pepper. It’s mostly available in noodle form but they are working on a ravioli to be available soon. Granny Roselli’s Pasta Sauce, Salad Dressing and her famous Seasoning Blend are available at area supermarkets, as well as Musten & Crutchfield.
For more info about Pasta Wench, visit the online store, pastawench.com

Tart Sweets Macarons

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Special for Valentine’s Day, Tart Sweets Boutique bakery and coffee shop created these lovely conversation hearts with messages of love for your sweetie. Why we love them? Have you seen them? They’re adorable. And crazy deliciously, crispy light and creamy. You’ll find all kinds of yummy confections at Tart Sweets, in addition to bourbon cherries, chocolate dipped stemmed berries, and other delights.  Not to mention rows of French macarons filled with flavors only limited by pastry chef, Chelsea Tart’s imagination. Our winner will love their gift card to customize their selection.
848 W. 5th Street, #110, Winston-Salem  tartsweets.com

As always, reach out to us if you know of a product that deserves to be loved and gifted, maybe you’ll see it in a future guide. If you want to get your hands on Valentine’s Day basket, follow the YES! Weekly Facebook page to learn how you can win! The winner will be announced on Friday, February 12. And be sure to watch WFMY’s Good Morning Show at 6:45am on Friday as I share this on live TV!