Monthly Archives: June 2021

SALAD DAZE: Seven Summery Salads

I’m constantly inspired by the local seasonal ingredients around us to create fun, fresh salads to keep lunches interesting and add a cool component to dinners. Try some of our favorite salads we’ve been loving this summer. Most of these recipes are built for 2 4 people as a side or entree salad. Adjust your ingredients if you’re feeding a crowd.

Summer Squash Salad

I’d be remiss if I didn’t kick off the list with our favorite summer salad, with summer squash taking center stage. It made its debut here a few years ago. It’s crunchy, herbacious and satisfying. Try slicing the squash into ribbons for a fun twist but sliced thinly is superb. Click here for the recipe.

My version of Summer Squash Salad

Farmer’s Market Power Salad

It’s lettuce season. It’s corn season. It’s blueberry season. It’s squash season. It’s cucumber season. One visit to the farmer’s market and you’re on your way to this banging power salad. Simply add cooked quinoa and your favorite dressing. This month, I was gifted Oleamea Olive Oil so I used that. It’s organic extra virgin olive oil sourced from Aydin, Turkey, and I have to say, I’m impressed. It’s fruity and clean and the Everyday Extra Virgin used here made a perfect Shallot Vinaigrette. The premium Extra Virgin will be beautiful on caprese and with fresh bread. Typically, this salad would include freshly chucked corn in its raw form, but feel free to use cooked. I had leftover skillet cooked corn so I simply used what I had. But, raw corn on a salad? 100% yes do it. With the squash salad above? That too.

Ingredients:
Salad greens (I used arugula, mâche and tender romaine here)
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup RAW corn or cooked if you prefer
1/2 zucchini quartered
1/2 cucumber quartered
1/2-1 cup cooked quinoa
Place greens and other ingredients in a large bowl
Dressing:
1/2 shallot chopped
1 clove garlic grated
1/4 cup vinegar (champagne or white wine is great here)
Juice of half lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Oleamea)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together, adding lemon juice, s/p to desired taste.
Disclaimer: After being contacted by their representatives, I was gifted a set of Oleamea Extra Virgin Olive Oil to give honest feedback as well as taste test for our Holiday Gift Guide. You can find Oleamea at The Fresh Market in North Carolina or online.

Triadfoodies House Side Salad aka Greens & Parm


If you’re fortunate enough to find some locally grown mâche in your area when its in season, I highly recommend adding them to your salad rotation. Great alone or combined with other salad greens, mâche (this from Daffodil Spring Farm in Valle Crucis) comes in these pretty rosettes and are a bit nutty, like watercress or arugula without the peppery bite. They complement every salad I’ve had them in. This salad, with any green or combo of greens I have on hand, is our go-to with entrees all year long, especially with pasta. But in the summer, you know we’re adding tomatoes. The two ingredient dressing is a must-try. You don’t even need a bowl…just drizzle oil & vinegar style. Super simple!

Ingredients:
Seasonal greens like mache, spinach, butter lettuce, romaine
Cherry Tomatoes, halved, optional
1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino, shaved or grated
Dressing:
1/8 cup white balsamic dressing (I like Batistini Farms)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
You can simply drizzle the vin and EVOO over the greens adding more of either when necessary. Finish with s/p and cheese.

Everyday Cucumber and Tomatoes Salad

Inspired by Chef Vivian Howard and her cookbook, Deep Run Roots, this memory triggering salad reminds me of dinners at my Grandma’s. The cookbook re-introduced this perfect salad to me and provided the ratios too. Enjoy the colors and crispness with BBQ, ribs, burgers, fried chicken or really any dish. It adds the perfect amount of acid and freshness to your meal. And as she states in DRR, the recipe is highly adaptable for adding all kinds of seasonal freshness, from watermelon to corn to blueberries and peaches. You can add a boiled egg and call it brunch and I’ve happily done so.

Ingredients:
1 tomato quartered or cherry tomatoes (use ends from a tomato sandwich..no waste!)
1 cucumber, halved
1/4 red onion, sliced very thinly
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Per Howard’s book, combine the cucumber and onion with the sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Allow to marry for about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and vinegar and allow to mingle again for another 20 minutes to four hours. Best served at room temperature.

Speaking of cucumbers and salad….

Everyday Cucumber Salad

Here’s another version of a cucumber salad, taking notes from Chef Howard’s recipe but adding some garlic with options of changing up the dressing for a different flavor profile. Note: Add sesame oil and rice wine vinegar in place of balsamic and extra virgin olive oil and you have the perfect dressing for an asian inspired cuke salad. Add a chili flavored oil with white balsamic or sherry vinegar for some heat and pair with seafood. Persian, Piccolino or English cucumbers are best here but use what you’ve got. Feel free to add mâche, watercress, avocado or onions here for even more flavor, but they are not necessary, because…well it’s a cucumber salad.

Ingredients:
1-2 Cucumbers halved
Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic dressing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
salt/pepper to taste
Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over cukes and give them a toss. It’s okay to do this a little while before you eat as the cukes have time to quick pickle in the dressing.

Asian Cabbage Salad w/ Ginger Dressing

Okay, so this stunner with all the colors of summer is absolutely simple to make. You can use any number of veggies here. Mr. foodie doesn’t love cucumber (lol that this post has several salads with cukes) so I didn’t add it here, but cukes would be delicious and I might say necessary. As for the dressing, you can make your own as I provide a recipe here, but I will offer no judgement if you use a favorite brand from the store. Been there. Done that. Makoto forever! And Little Black Dressing Co. too.

Ingredients:
1/2 purple Napa cabbage, shredded thinly
1/4 head Romaine lettuce, shredded thinly
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
1 bell pepper sliced thinly
Red onion, carrots, cukes optional
Dressing:
2 tbs. fresh ginger, grated (jarred is okay ..it really is)
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tbs. soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup sesame oil (or combo of sesame and neutral oil)
1 -2 tsp. sugar or honey to taste
sesame seeds (optional)
Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients except oil, sugar and seeds and whisk. Slowly add the sesame oil, tasting as you go. If you like it less sesame-y, begin adding the neutral oil like olive oil. Sweeten to taste. Add sesame seeds if desired.
Toss the salad and pour dressing over. Serve immediately.

Summertime Pasta & Corn Salad

Who doesn’t love a pasta salad with a light, yet creamy dressing? This herby salad has it all. Better still, you can make your own creamy dressing (think Greek yogurt, cilantro or other herbs, lime, s/p) or just use your favorite ranch. I used a Sriracha Ranch from a local restaurant, F.A.R.M Cafe in Boone. The dressing from the squash salad above would be fab with this. The salad is terrific the next day.

Ingredients:
1 lb cooked pasta (I used trottole, but any spiral or shaped pasta will do)
1 cup cooked fresh corn (the sweeter the better)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 cup fresh cilantro
Handful fresh chives (optional)
Salt/pepper to taste
Your favorite creamy dressing.
Cook pasta, drain, add the rest of the ingredients to a bowl and toss. Pour enough over to cover well but not drench. You can always add more, right? Toss and enjoy.

I hope you enjoy these summery salads. Any one would be great with the addition of some protein to turn it into more of an entree. If you try them let me know!

A Chef’s Table is Back! Meridian Restaurant w/ Mark Grohman

It’s been a loooooonnng 16 months since our last Chef’s Table. We had a great launch in 2020, but things went downhill fast after everything was shut down in March last year due to the pandemic. Staying open with takeout was one thing. Reopening to dine-in was another. From staffing issues to supply problems, we weren’t quite sure when we might be able to offer events again.

But one day, mr. foodie traveled for business in the beautiful city of Winston-Salem, stayed at the Brookstown Inn and walked over to his favorite, Meridian Restaurant, for dinner and cocktails and my Mark and Chef Mark resurrected the Chef’s Table.

Meridian Restaurant is located at 411 Marshall Street SW, in the beautiful Brookstown area of downtown Winston-Salem. To say Meridian is one of our top restaurants in the Triad is an understatement. From tapas to a delicious steak, excellent wine pairings and cocktails, Meridian has never disappointed. It’s modern, beautiful and elegant but unpretentious. You can have dinner in your jeans and still feel comfortable. And Chef Mark Grohman knows how to treat his guests.

Chef & owner of Meridan, Mark Grohman, always brings his best game.

Once the ticket sales for the Chef’s Table went live, it sold out in about six hours. In keeping with the spirit of distancing, we kept the event as close to 30 as we could. And on June 15, 36 happy faces greeted one another with hugs and excitement. This is meaningful because after 5 years of Chef’s Tables and it’s evolution over the years, many of our returning patrons have become friends with me and with each other! Each month, it’s like a reunion with veterans and newbies. It was so great to see everyone again. We are back!

Before I show you the courses, I’d like to invite you to take a listen to my podcast, “At The Table With Triadfoodies” on Triad Podcast Network on Apple and here on the web. I talked with Chef Mark about navigating the last 16 months, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, and what that was like as a business owner. What he had to say was really insightful from a business owner and employer’s perspective and I think you’d enjoy it.

Chef Mark wanted to simply give us a “Taste of Meridian,” five courses that represent the flavors of the restaurant. A little something different along with traditional fare we might be accustomed to seeing at this gleaming restaurant. Let’s take a look at the courses.

The menu

Course 1:
Tete de Porc with ruby port shallot marmalata & strong mustard

Course 2:
House made gnudi w/lemon cream & herbs 

Course 3
Seared yellow fin tuna with Shore Farms spring onion red pepper couscous & Gnomestead Hollow mushroom relish

Course 4
Steak au poivre garlic mashed potatoes fire roasted vegetables wild mushroom cognac sauce

Dessert course
Corsican style lemon cheesecake with caramel sauce

Beautiful Meridian Restaurant
Guests arriving and enjoying cocktails and fellowship

Stay tuned for a new Chef’s Table announcement, coming soon! You’re going to love it!

Restaurants We Love in Banner Elk

I often get asked for dining recommendations when people visit our hometown of Banner Elk, NC. For such a small little town, BE has quite the offerings. So much in fact that we often don’t feel the need to go outside the area to eat (but we still do, because duh). I am currently working on a post that is much more extensive of top spots to eat in the entire High Country, but for now, here’s a list of restaurants that rarely disappoint in Banner Elk, NC, where you can come relax and just BE. This list is in no particular order, but I did place the higher end restaurant on top. Also, don’t let the all over the place addresses fool you. All of these restaurants are in Banner Elk proper. There are some restaurants that are literally in the same complex and one address will say Linville and the other will say Sugar Mountain and don’t ask me why….we’re all just scratching our heads up here.

Artisanal Restaurant 1200 Dobbins Road, Banner Elk $$$$
Artisanal is one of a kind. The quality of the food, the service and the ambiance are simply extraordinary. You’ll enjoy a truly elevated chef curated experience with a menu that changes often. We have taken our children here (youngest is 12) and they’ll make a meal for them too if they’re picky (chicken tenders, buttered noodles). My older child loves the food here. All that to say, it’s best enjoyed as a date night or with adults. It’s business casual so be prepared to dress cute.

LP on Main 171 Main Street, E, Banner Elk (Lousiana Purchase) $$$
One of our absolute favorites and most visited for a date night, LP is in a new space in downtown BE and is just beautiful. The food and service never disappoint. I love the BBQ shrimp, but I also enjoy trying new items from the menu. The salmon, the burgers, the meat loaf, the lobster poutine! There’s a variety of price points to suit your budget and now that it’s the high season, LP is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday.

LP on Main

Reid’s Cafe & Catering 4004 NC 105 Suite #8, Sugar Mountain $$$
Hyper local and focused on seasonal ingredients and craft cocktails, Reid’s is definitely a favorite of mine and go-to if you want to really see those ingredients in play and truly promoted. They make it all in-house. I recently enjoyed brunch at Reid’s for the first time last month and it was stellar (they are not serving brunch this summer). It’s absolutely not your run of the mill shrimp & grits or duck at Reid’s. Be prepared for some creativity. Open Tuesday-Saturday lunch/dinner.

Reid’s

The Painted Fish Cafe 2941 Tynecastle Hwy, Banner Elk $$
Another frequently visited restaurant facing beautiful Sugar Mountain, The Fish, as it’s affectionately known is a wildly popular for Sunday brunch and for changing up his menu. Very family-friendly, reservations are always still recommended this time of year. We love Fried Chicken Wednesdays and Fried Catfish Thursdays and you can count on a chef’s special all the other nights as well. Open Wed-Sunday.

Stonewall’s Restaurant 344 Shawneehaw Ave, Banner Elk $$$
For a great steak, you’ll find it at Stonewall’s, which has been locally owned for decades. If the Cowboy ribeye is on the menu, we recommend as it is suitable for sharing. Don’t miss the deviled eggs or the wedge salad while you’re here.

Luna Thai & Sushi 3990 NC 105, Linville $$
BE’s brand new itty bitty baby Thai/Vietnamese/Asian Fusion restaurant just a few doors down from Reid’s (notice the address is totally different). Stir fry, pho, Tom Kha, Curry dishes with noodles or rice and sushi. It’s all just delicious and we haven’t had a bad meal there yet.

Banner Elk Cafe 324 Shawneehaw Ave, S. Hwy 184, Banner Elk $
You might call BE Cafe the most popular spot in town and I wouldn’t argue. It’s a very large restaurant, dog-friendly patio, and generally where most people go for a quick easy bite. They offer two huge menus (one is the Lodge menu) and you can find sandwiches, salads, pizza, pasta, burgers and entrees. I personally go for the burgers and the trout here. Mr. foodie loves their salads for lunch. They have a dessert case and a coffee shop too. Full disclosure: It ain’t always rainbows and fairy tales here. I’ve had some moments where I walked out disappointed, but for the price point and the vibe, I keep going back and the fact that they have live music is a big plus.

Sorrento’s 140 Azalea Circle, SE, Banner Elk $$
Not the cheapest place in town for a pizza or plate of pasta, but Sorrento’s in the Village downtown has been around a long time and the pizza is very good. You might enjoy bringing your pup and sitting out on the patio, where you can enjoy live music from the amphitheatre. We usually just get pizza here but if pasta is what you’re craving, you’ll find all the classics plus a very tasty lasagna.

Bodega’s 488 Main Street West, Banner Elk $$
We even have Cuban food in BE! Go to Bodega’s for their beautiful al fresco dining experience and load up on all the little tacos and black beans and be sure to get a Cuban too.

The Ham Shoppe 32 High Country Square, Banner Elk $
This iconic shop is now located in the heart of BE. All of the sandwiches are prepared fresh and you can even order bulk meats (call ahead to check availability) for a longer stay. I love to grab a few sandwiches and take them for a picnic. Annnnnnnnd…..if you see an entire apple pie in the case for sale, I’m going to suggest you go ahead and buy it because it is amazing.

BE. Scooped 144 Azalea Circle, SE Banner Elk $
After you visit the Village or hit Sorrento’s be sure to stop by BE Scooped for a fresh waffle cone filled with ice cream. It’s a sweet little ice cream shop with plenty of flavors and the service is excellent.

Dunn’s Deli 134 Main Street West, Banner Elk $
Another iconic sandwich shop in the heart of downtown BE, grab a warm or cold sandwich to go or BBQ. We love Dunn’s BLT’s and pastrami sandwiches. You can dine in or out.

So there you have it. I promise it’s not all of the restaurants in BE, but these are our tried and trues. Let me know if you try any of these restaurants and what you think. And if I’ve left anyone out that you think deserves attention, please comment below. Also, I’d be remiss to not tell you to give the Wilderness Alpine Roller Coaster a try for a fun family thrill. Come see us!