Category Archives: Beyond the Triad

foodie b’eat: Competition Dining Dates Announced…Get Your Pre-Sale Tix!!

Greetings, foodies!

Here’s the latest from our friends at the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Competition with schedule details for all the cities plus a link to PRE-SALE tickets!  The chefs are building their teams and we should know soon who’s on the Dream Teams. There will be teams this year in Winston-Salem AND in Greensboro, along with Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and Wilmington and the winners of those cities will go to the battle of champions in the fall. And guess what? Once again, this year, I’ll be in WS and GSO for all the action so be sure to follow along at @compdiningnc on Twitter for photos and descriptions as well as chatter!  Below is a photo of last year’s winners. Winston-Salem’s own, Chef Richard Miller, of Graze, was our local winner and  Chef Ryan Conklin (second to left) of Rex Healthcare was state champ (that’s right…a HOSPITAL chef won…but Chef Ryan is no ordinary hospital chef.) Tickets are on sale beginning in April for the Durham event. Be sure to check out their webpage for PRE-SALE tickets . Many events sell out, so you might want to get a jump on it before tickets go on sale for the masses.

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Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Announces 2016 Schedule with Battles in Six North Carolina Cities

Interactive Chef Tournament Launches Dream Team Concept for the Ultimate Dining Experience

The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, a single-elimination tournament highlighting the best of the state’s food, agriculture and culinary talent, is back for 2016 with a total of eight tournaments across the state, each made up of four chef teams vying for the local title. The touring competition will have dual brackets in both Raleigh and Charlotte, and one tournament in each of Durham, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Wilmington. It all culminates in October with the Battle of Champions to name a statewide victor.

Applications for chefs interested in competing are currently being accepted for all locations. This year, the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series is switching formats to allow chefs to create All-Star Dream Teams. The change allows chefs from different restaurants to partner together to create their three-person team, upping the potential caliber and creating a more fun and competitive atmosphere for all.

“We’re excited to introduce this new Dream Team concept that will further showcase the immense culinary talent and agriculture in North Carolina with the 2016 Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series,” said Jimmy Crippen, Competition Dining Series founder and host. “Our mission is to connect and celebrate with foodies across the state through this dynamic, entertaining culinary experience. We look forward to sharing unique chef collaborations with our diners to make for an unprecedented year of highly competitive events with innovative dishes like never before.”

Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series battles include two chef teams each preparing three courses centered on a featured ingredient that comes from a North Carolina farmer or artisan producer. Featured ingredients are revealed to the chefs the morning of the dinner event and must be used in every course. Ticketed guests get in on the action, savoring the full-service, six-course meals without knowing which chef prepared which plate. Alongside culinary and guest judges, diners rate each dish using an interactive app, ultimately determining who moves on to the next round and who goes home.

The 2016 Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series dinner battles will be held in:

Durham: April 18, 19 and 21
Winston-Salem: May 22, 23 and 25
Greensboro: June 20, 21 and 23
Raleigh (two brackets): July 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21 and a finale to name one Raleigh champion July 24
Charlotte (two brackets): Aug. 8, 9, 11, 22, 23, 25 and a finale to name one Charlotte champion Aug. 28
Wilmington: Sept. 19, 20 and 22

The six winners will move on to compete in the Battle of Champions at the end of the year. Since Raleigh and Charlotte teams must compete in an extra battle to win their local title, these chefs will receive a bye for the first round of the championship.

Tickets to attend an interactive dinner battle are $59 to $69 each and will officially go on sale for each series once that local bracket is announced. Discounted pre-sale tickets for all tournaments are available now for $10 less than standard pricing at http://www.competitiondining.com. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly, and people interested in attending are encouraged to signup for the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series e-newsletter for the most recent ticket updates and news.

All chefs are invited to apply to compete in any of the six tournaments. The application and a complete list of rules are available at www.competitiondining.com/compete.

The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series is sponsored by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Pate Dawson-Southern Foods,Certified Angus Beef®, and local and regional partners throughout the state. The goal of the series is to celebrate North Carolina products and agriculture, and to showcase the culinary ingenuity and talent across the state. For more information, visit http://www.competitiondining.com or get in on the conversation at www.facebook.com/competitiondining and @CompDiningNC on Twitter or Instagram.

beyond the triad: Over Yonder

We recently took a family trip to the mountains to go skiing/snow boarding. I’m not much of a skiier, more of a faller,  but I wasn’t about to waste an opportunity to cross the bridge to H’Appyness and spend the afternoon in my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains with my beloveds. After an afternoon at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort where I fell ONLY ONCE (queue applause, thank you!), I suggested to mr. foodie a warm and cozy dinner at Over Yonder in historic Valle Crucis (3608 NC Hwy 194). It really didn’t take much persuasion. We’ve been there before and blogged about it, but at the time the restaurant was known as 1816 Farmhouse and just about everything about the restaurant has changed, new ownership, now under Mast Farm Inn and a new menu. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the gorgeous ambiance of the old restored farmhouse in which they are all nestled. They allowed us to choose our table next to the fireplace in the BAR and even turned the fireplace on for us.

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The first thing about the menu we noticed is that it is more casual with prices to reflect it. By the way, we were wearing ski clothes and though I’m sure you could go dressy to Over Yonder, they certainly made us feel welcome in our most laid-back attire and hat hair. Menu items range from Pork Skins to Grit Skillets, salads and sandwiches to a selection of entrees all under $17. The NC Trout special was the highest price item on the menu and it was still under $20. Really great prices with the average about $12.

We were starving, obviously, after several hours of skiing, so we ordered the Pork Belly special appetizer with sorghum glaze, red onion slaw and some candied almonds. I actually missed the description as I wasn’t at the table at the time, but I trusted mr. foodie. The pork belly skin was crispy and the meat was silky and decadent and everything it should be. There was the smokiness to the meat and the sweetness of the sorghum that combined so wonderfully with crisp veggies and it lent a slightly Asian flavor while keeping its southern essence. And was it ever pretty.

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For my entree, I went with their custom grit skillet. There are a number of options to choose from and I chose Over Yonder’s House-made Ginger & Sage Sausage with Caramelized Onions, Peppers & Provolone, piled onto some hot and perfectly cooked Adluh grits. Just the thing after being on the slopes.

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mr. foodie ordered the Griddled Pork & Beef Meatloaf with Cheerwine BBQ Sauce with Cheesy Grits and Butterbeans.  It doesn’t get much “over yonder” than that. The meatloaf was so tender and really just melted in you mouth. No knife required.

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The boy kidlet was with us and he ordered Kid’s Grilled Cheese. It was really good and cheddar-y on my fave, Texas Toast. He also ordered the applesauce as a side. It was a chunky applesauce and he wasn’t a fan because he’s just like that, but it was delicious applesauce. He likes apples and we tried to explain, but he is who he is. :/

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And though I tried not to do it, I just had to get the Banana Pudding. The BEST banana pudding I’ve ever had was right there at 1816 Farmhouse so I was curious if this version would live up to my memory. It was every bit as good with a fresh whipped cream and a beautiful wafer toffee crumb rather than the traditional vanilla wafers. They stayed crispy in the pudding, which totally worked with these particular wafers. And was it ever pretty.

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mr. enjoyed a lovely Apple Cobbler with Buttermilk Ice Cream. Also delicious. You can pretty much count on a cobbler on the dessert menu at Over Yonder. The microfoodie got ice cream, of course.

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There were so many items on the menu I wanted to try…it wasn’t an overwhelming menu at all, just that everything looked really, really good with lots of local ingredients. And Over Yonder is open for lunch and Sunday brunch so if you are traveling they are definitely a place to check out. Be sure to make note of their hours below as it changes when it warms up. Of course, the Mast Farm Inn, their Mama Bear, is another place on my bucket list.

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What’s your favorite place to stay at and eat in our gorgeous NC Mountains?

Over Yonder
3608 North Carolina Highway 194
Historic Valle Crucis
Sugar Grove, North Carolina
(828) 963-6301
Hours
Jan-March: Wed-Sat, 11am-8pm; Sun: 11am-3pm
April-Dec: Mon, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, 11am-8pm; Sun: Noon-8pm

Beyond the Triad: A mini-Tour of the South’s “Tastiest Town”: Durham

Mr. foodie decided it’d be fun to to take a quick weekend getaway to Durham, recently dubbed by Southern Living as the south’s “Tastiest Town.” Now, some of my peeps in the Triad may disagree and we do love our restaurants here, but there’s nothing wrong with checking out the goods in other places of NC and Durham does not disappoint.

We finished our trick-or-treating ritual with the kidlets Friday and then hit the road. We decided NOT eating candy would make us plenty hungry for a craft cocktail and some bar eats. But at Alley Twenty-Six, you aren’t just getting bar food. Think meat plates, cheese boards, homemade pimento cheese, olives (of course), nuts (of course) and sliders, etc. This small, hip bar has live music, themed drinks (Friday was “Fright Night”) to celebrate the evening and great appetizers that are made to order…pretty much right in front of you. I’ve never had pimento cheese with pepper jelly, but man—I’m a fan now. As you may know, this is my and mr. foodie’s favorite way to eat…just noshing.

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On Saturday morning, we had plans to hit up Rise, a super-popular biscuits and doughnuts spot near Streets at Southpointe. Go there if you can get there early or during an off-peak time–I have NO idea when that is, however. Great spot for you to hit instead of a chain. But unfortunately the line, which was out the door into the parking lot, was too long for us as we were starved by 11am. But our good fortune was that Harvest 18 (also recommended and part of 18 Restaurant group which owns 18 Seaboard and Cantina 18) is across the way for a real, sit-down, farm-to-table brunch and it was amazing. I mean, the service here was top-notch. Patrick, our server, took wonderful care of us and made us think we were really funny when we cracked our lame jokes. 😀  I ordered the highly recommended Pamlico Shrimp and Grits Benedict with poached egg and Anson Mill’s bacon flecked local grits, asparagus and hollandaise. mr. ordered the Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Loin with root veggies and Guilford-Ashe Co. cheddar grits. The chef also offered these INCREDIBLE and I ain’t lying, Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Belly lettuce wraps, which were not on the menu for brunch, but they were amazing. So if you see those on the menu, you gotta get them. It’s like a gift to your precious self. You will thank me. And thank YOU, Chef Mike for the treat!

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We also tried the carrot cake for dessert. Nearly every dessert Harvest 18 has comes with their homemade caramel sauce. Totally didn’t need to any more…but maybe save room for dessert.

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I have a tendency to do two meals a day, even though I love to eat and eating so late and so much meant, no eating until dinner. We saved it up for Piedmont Restaurant. Several of my bloggie friends in the RDU area said this local spot was not to be missed.  Everything about this place I loved. The decor, the art, the music, the servers’ wardrobe…it was very casual, yet rustic and just relaxing. We ordered the Carolina Smoked Trout Dip which was served with homemade lavash crackers. Mmm..total deliciousness. And I must tell you, that we were nearly bowled over (no pun intended) by the Lil Farm’s Heirloom Pumpkin Soup, topped with NC blue crab, crème fraîche, truffle oil, fresh herbs. Absolutely one of the best soups I’ve ever had. I’m dying to know how to make that…oh, chef?  We also were surprised with a gorgeous, mouthwatering Duck-Rabbit Stout Glazed Sweetbreads, gnocchi, NC muscadines, blistered, sweet frying peppers. The sweetbreads were small, like the gnocchi and were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with the flavor of the stout hinted throughout. Wow. We even convinced our dining neighbor to try them and she officially became a “gland girl.” Ha! It’s the little achievements, foodies!

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I ordered this beautifully light, NC Tilefish with local fingerling potatoes and fennel surrounded by a fumet. Basically that’s foam. But the kind you want to eat.  And mr. ordered chicken. What?? Chicken Roulade… but it was stuffed with goat cheese with these amazing little confit and get this…Anson Mills farro..served like a savory oatmeal that was just the perfect thing with the chicken and the root vegetables. I die.

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We ordered some delightful drinks that I can’t quite remember and mr. foodie forgot to snap pics of his. I can tell you one was called Hair of the Dog which featured Topo Distillery Gin and and the other was a Honeybee, which is basically Makers Mark dropped in honeycomb then infused for a long time, then served on the rocks. And it was lovely.

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We got our extra hour of sleep and tried in vane to hit Rose’s Meat Market & Sweet Shop (not open at 10am when we headed out) and again, Rise (line out the door and into the parking lot, again) so we decided to take on Chapel Hill and visit the Weathervane at Southern Season. Green Chile Chicken Chilaquiles with sunny side up eggs and salsa verde for me. And mr. had a delicious Wild Mushroom & Duck Hash with a sunny side up egg.  Really great. And..because we felt we needed extra calories and carbs we ordered the Banana Nut French Toast for that sweet element that positively has to go with brunch.

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Needless to say, we left Durham and Chapel Hill quite satiated and we even got a little shopping done in Durham and at Southern Season. Have you ever been there? It’s like a food lover’s and cook’s paradise. The perfect spot for filling your tummies stockings for the holidays or gift-giving. Check out all theses spots by clicking the links.

Until next time, foodies.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the Triangle?

Beyond the Triad: Tastes of Charlotte…get them here.

You probably know that one of our favorite places to visit and eat beyond the Triad is the Queen City. There are so many talented chefs and delicious restaurants in Charlotte. Remember my blog post about The Cow Fish?  That awesome place is not alone. Here’s a look at some places Mr. foodie and I have tasted that definitely deserve a visit:

Halcyon Restaurant - Flavors from the Earth

Halcyon Flavors From The Earth

Located inside Charlotte’s Mint Museum, Halcyon is modern and quiet with an open kitchen and wonderful, unique cuisine. Full of farm to table wonderfulness, yet very global.

I had a cocktail before dinner and one during…they were both pink, ha! The Pink Heel Splitter and  Mr. foodie got Some Pig with its bacon fat-washed Maker’s; orange bitters, maple syrup, kosher salt. Like a Manhattan but with some pig.

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One of the top suggested items for a starter was the Squash Blossoms. Stuffed tempura blossoms filled with ricotta…delicious. Mr. foodie ordered the Rabbit Saddle…AWESOME and I got the Scallop & Belly…like surf and turf but the turf is pork belly! Wonderful.  

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Nan and Byron’s

On another trip, we enjoyed Nan and Byron’s (it was a New Year’s Day brunch). I love the atmosphere of Nan and Byron’s. The space looks like a converted garage with cool decor. The vibe at brunch was casual and lively.

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Deviled eggs…love!!

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I got the meatloaf and eggs (left) and the Mr. got the Boston Brawler which was roasted pork, baked beans, eggs, and a side of your choice of meat (his choice was sausage). Nothing fancy here…just a tasty, simple brunch with great flavors. I’d like to go back to Nan and Byron’s for lunch or dinner. Definitely worth another visit.

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5 Church

Also suggested for brunch/lunch, Nan and Byron’s sister restaurant, located Uptown, 5 Church. I heard their dinner was fab but we went for daytime eats. I enjoyed a terrific Sunny Side pizza with prosciutto, mushroom and a dippy egg on top. Mr. ordered the highly touted lamb burger, which did not disappoint. It was huge and messy and oh so tasty.

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Bubble Champagne Lounge

One of the most recent additions to Uptown and what’s called The Epicentre is Bubble Champagne Lounge. It looks just as it sounds. Kind of Vegas-y, sexy with thumping, clubby music, but not too loud. Apparently Bubble gets clubby much later in the evening but Mr. and I just needed eats so we had to give it a try. Reviews have been mixed about Bubble but trust me, we had tremendous service and great small plates. Check it out…

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Smoked Salmon Carpaccio with Imported Scottish Smoked Salmon  red onions, and lemon aioli. You putthem on waffle cut potato crisps. Washed down with some champagne…perfect. I could eat and eat and eat…there is something about fries or chips with champagne…have you ever tried it??

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Calamari. Pretty simple, dusted and flash-fried with wasabi cream and some sriracha…

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Tuna Tartare with wonton crisps. Beautifully light with that delicate wasabi cream and sweet chili drizzle…again, so terrific accompanied by the bubbly.

I had to add a picture of my Mr. here so you can see him enjoying martini but also you get an idea of decor.

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Bubble is definitely a place for a special celebration but from the looks of the place, fun with friends or on a date.

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The Wooden Vine

This is absolutely our kind of place. A bit smaller, quiet, casual, rustic, local ingredients, delicious soul-soothing small plates, eclectic…need I go on? You can be dressy or you can be in jeans. We were dressy because it was Valentine’s Day. We passed on the Aphrodisiac Prix Fix menu because we don’t need it and ordered from the normal menu. We especially love small plates because you get to try a few tastes without killing your gut or wallet.

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By far our favorite was the Short and Corny. A braised short rib with this incredible cast iron corn casserole and bone marrow butter. Lick the skillet delicious. I swear I’m making it my mission to contact the chef to get the recipe for that corn casserole. It’s a humanitarian thing. Sticking with the bone marrow theme, we also ordered the Bone Marrow Ramen…I’ve never had ramen except the $1 bag variety. The fresh noodles were paired with rye whiskey and bone marrow broth, spicy pork dumplings, a 60-minute egg and veggies. A little splashy for me because I’m a klutz with noodles but marvelous.

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We also ordered the Belly-kopida…a spin on spanakopita with braised pork belly, roasted apples, brie all wrapped in phyllo and drizzled with truffle honey. Yes it tastes as good as it looks.

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Being Valentine’s Day, we allowed ourselves a splurge of something sweet and ordered the Turtle S’mores. A brownie with roasted marshmallow ice cream. Just give me the ice cream. I usually never say that, but that fluffy goodness was like eating the inside of a Three Musketeer’s bar.

Mr. foodie and I voted that The Wooden Vine has to be one of our favorite places in Charlotte so far.

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Bistro La Bon

Lastly, we hit you with a much-loved restaurant that you absolutely MUST try on a Sunday. Why Sunday? Because that’s when Bistro La Bon has their brunch smorgasbord. It is not like anything you’ve ever seen. Not because of size…it’s actually not overwhelming. It’s because of the deliciousness that presents itself on this buffet. You may find smoked sausage. You will find Swedish meatballs and the fixins. Grits…check. Salad…check. Pastries…check. Lox…you betcha. It’s a different kind of brunch and it’s so up my alley.  Our last time there, the owner/chef added biscuits and gravy and we strongly encourage it to be a regular buffet item…holy smokes were they good. But…but! Also included in this smorgasbord is made-to-order eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles and/or french toast…all brought to your table fresh and piping hot…not stale on a buffet for a half hour. The chocolate waffle at Bistro La Bon is dessert, I tell you. So rich and chocolatey topped with some cream. Food coma is waiting to happen. But it’s so worth it.

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Use the links provided at each restaurant mention for details about each delightful place. Of course, we can’t wait to go back and try more restaurants and report our findings. We do it for you, foodies! And we reserve the right to use a meal to re-visit some place great.

What are some of your favorite restaurants in Charlotte?

Beyond the Triad: The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar-Southpark

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You know, sometimes you get to  visit a hip and happening place that simply lives up to the hype…don’t you just LOVE when that happens? There’s nothing worse than getting (or giving) a recommendation to a restaurant that has raves and then you get (or the recipient of the rec gets) less than stellar service or food. Happy to say that wasn’t the case at the super popular The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar in Charlotte.

My foodie friend, Ashli, told me The Cowfish was one of her favorite places to eat in Charlotte and a few of my blogger friends also recommended it. I can see why…I mean it’s like my two favorite concepts in one place…Sushi or Burger?…at The Cowfish, it’s YES, PLEASE! I’ve been following their growth the past few months after their appearance in Fire in the City so when an occasion to head to Charlotte for an evening of fun presented itself, we excitedly headed to South Park.

It’s definitely a busy place…no need for super passionate food bloggers to encourage folks to eat there. They are there. And for good reason. It’s inviting, invigorating and well…let’s go ahead and talk about food and service.

The menu is huge…you could get overwhelmed…but you have these Cowfish “experts” there that want to “present” the menu. Sarah, our server, shared with us the various sections of the menu, what they meant, what she liked, what was popular and then we were left with the still somewhat daunting task of deciding what to order. We got a cocktail each (me the 1/2 price Itsy Bitsy Tini-Weenie Fresh and Berry Great Martini and Mr. the Bacon Maple Manhattan). We were starving and ordered a fresh and tasty appetizer that hit the spot.

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The Blackened Ahi Tuna Nachos with 5 crispy wonton chips topped with our famous Crab Rangoon Dip, spring mix, housemade guacamole, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, sliced seared rare blackened Ahi tuna and microgreens. Awesome…so fresh, the crab rangoon dip was marvelous on top, given it a creamy contrast.

Next we decided on two items The Cowfish is known for…a sushi roll and something called Burgushi…which is a sushi roll using beef and burger ingredients in interesting ways. We were intrigued by “The Prime Time” Filet & Lobster Roll which features Filet Mignon, portabella mushrooms, asparagus inside, topped with lump crabcake, baked and drizzed with a spicy cream sauce. Heaven. I’m craving. Typing this is somewhat painful!

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Sometimes the iPhone just doesn’t do the beauty of a dish justice does it? Well we had a very dimly lit room which was fabulous and it’s better to not use the flash…but here it is with the flash 🙂
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The other roll we ordered was the Tropical Storm Roll, from the regular sushi menu. California roll topped with 3 layers of fresh sashimi (tuna, salmon and yellowtail), then topped with Japanese cream sauce, sweet brown sauce and sriracha. Each pieces is then covered with multi-colored tobiko (flying fish egg) for a fantastic presentation. Served with a side of wasabi yuzu dipping sauce.
That’s The Cowfish’s own descrip from the actual menu. I can’t mess with perfection. It was a terrific presentation and the flavors were bam!
What a great place to spend lunch or dinner. Really great service and food. Top-notch all they way. Locally-owned and they just opened a location in Raleigh. Now if I can just convince them not to let those cities have all the fun and drop a spot right here in the Triad….hmmmm….
For now, when you get Beyond the Triad, you definitely have a sure bet at The Cowfish.
The Cowfish–South Park Charlotte
4310 Sharon Road
Charlotte, NC
704.365.1922
The Cowfish–North Hills Raleigh
North Hills- CAPTRUST Tower
4208 Six Forks Rd, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC
919.784.0400

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Urbanspoon