Tag Archives: farm to table

Get Your Foodie Self to Roots!

A version of this story was also previously published in YES! Weekly. To read it, click here.)

Behold, quality casual fine dining. In Yadkin County. WHERE I GREW UP! It’s not a chain or seafood or a steakhouse or hot dogs and ice cream, which is basically YC. Roots Restaurant at Sanders Ridge Winery opened its doors in April with two young, eager superstar chefs at the helm. And the YC should be thrilled about this. And you should drive to the YC to be thrilled about this too! O

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Hailed as a hidden gem, Roots is located at the vineyard’s grounds in Boonville. Within the gorgeous timber-framed tasting room, Roots is at least the fourth incarnation of the restaurant space in recent years. For whatever reason, previous tenants of the kitchen space haven’t been able to make a go of it. It’s not the easiest place in the world to get to even though it’s only about 25 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. But folks from Guilford County and beyond have said Roots is well worth the drive. And what a scenic drive it is, with the Yadkin County pasteur land and beautiful rows of corn and tobacco.  It is quite best to make a day of it, tour the wine country and let your final stop be at Roots. In the winter months, a stone hearth fire located in the center of the room will welcome you. A perfect a bite or for a larger function, as it’s available for private events such as weddings receptions and celebrations.

You have seen the work of Chefs Ben Hurst and Brent Andruzzi if you follow your favorite eateries on any social media. Hurst trained Andruzzi at River Birch Lodge and Andruzzi left Willow’s Bistro to take on this new venture. Hurst says he actually was going to open a food truck and use the kitchen as a commissary when owner Cindy Shore approached him about running a full-fledged restaurant there. “I wasn’t sure about it. I hadn’t even managed a business much less started one. And then I asked Brent to come on board.”

Andruzzi said, “no.” 

Andruzzi clarifies it was a kind, apologetic no. But an entire month later, Andruzzi had a change of heart and the no became an enthusiastic, “yes.”

Hurst graduated with two non-culinary degrees but his first job was at River Birch and that’s where he met Andruzzi.  After a few stints in other kitchens, Hurst went to culinary school at Guilford Tech and finally at Johnson and Wales. After searching for his place in the kitchen, Hurst took some time and worked at Harmony Ridge Farm, where he learned the other side of food. “That’s worked out really well. because I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned with me.  Now we have a greenhouse on the hill where we grow a lot of our own vegetables.” Andruzzi grew up cooking with his parents encouraging his creativity in the kitchen by buying him whatever ingredients he wanted. After some time working at Lowes Foods, he also found himself at River Birch under Chef Travis Myers. “Like Ben, I worked at all the different stations.  We learned a lot there. A good foundation was built there.” Andruzzi eventually joined Myers at Willow’s Bistro where his creativity was truly allowed to shine. “When you have that kind of freedom, you learn what works and especially what doesn’t.”

Andruzzi says he’s been gardening too and the fact that Hurst has been farming, that there’s a  greenhouse and farm and the opportunity that exists here was a strong factor in his decision to take a chance and exit his place at Willow’s. “We have freedom to grow whatever we want as well as cook whatever we want, so that’s a bonus.” Roots also sources other local farms when they can.

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Hurst says his goal at Roots is to create dishes that people can’t get at home. “Even as a chef, I when I eat out, I don’t want my experience to be something I can create at home. I want it to be surprising, full of flavor, creative…something you can’t quite replicate in your own kitchen.”

Course One
Duck Two Way Tostadas with duck sauce, radish, scallion, house made pork rinds

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Out of the gate, the chefs immediately showcased their ability to take an upscale protein and make it attainable tapas-style.

Course Two
Pimento cheese stuffed poblano with bacon jam and cilantro scallion cream

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This course may have been close to my favorite dish of the evening simply because it was so different than anything I’ve ever had before. The spicy poblano filled with Sanders Ridge now famous pimento cheese AND bacon jam. Both. Together. Some of us had to clear our throat but the scallion cream cut the heat of the slightly devilish kick from that pepper.. And the people, said “wow.”  The pimento cheese and bacon jam are available for purchase at the winery as well as Cobblestone Farmer’s Market in Winston-Salem.

Palette cleanser
Lemon basil freeze pops

Before the courses emerged, Chef Hurst gave the guests a teaser of what was to come and simply said there would be a surprise in between two of the courses. So these platters full of freezer pops that looked like smaller grown-up versions of the colorful pops we all grew up with were met with delight from each table. The basil complemented the fresh slightly sweet lemony-ness. I kind of felt myself wanting another pop later.  A freezer full of those on a summer day would not be the worst thing.

Course Three
Shortbread herb crusted scallop, greenhouse salad, strawberry vinaigrette, pickled onions

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I’d heard accolades from the scallop dishes so I am glad the chefs decided to feature these on their menu this evening.  If I’m coming back to eat in the future (and I will), I’m getting scallops.

Course Four
Ribeye over basil bread pudding, local mushrooms, fig jam, Fair Share Farm micros

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A very close #2 to my favorite, a beef course will always be a winner in my book and for most carnivores.  The steak was perfectly cooked and the savory bread pudding was so delicious with it.  Note: Roots has a menu item that is called “Deconstructed Beef Wellington”. I imagined the flavor profile is not so different though the execution might be. I’ve been told it’s incredible.  After tasting this dish, I have no doubt.

Course Five
Strawberry and blueberry Shortcake and sugar cookie with homemade ice cream

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A beautiful summery dish with sweet berries, perfect cake and richly textured ice cream rounded out our evening. A great ending.

And then the chefs re-emerged from the kitchen to applause and a standing ovation. Chef’s Tables are always stellar but these young chefs received such praise that it was truly heartwarming.  Hannah Waggoner, of Rural Hall, has been to a number of Chef Table events and she even got the proverbial ball rolling on getting the Roots event off the ground. “My first visit to Roots made my foodie heart happy,” she said.  “All the dishes my table ordered were loaded with flavor, finesse, and beautifully plated! The staff were friendly and accommodating. I knew that Roots would be an excellent location for a Chef’s Table.” Waggoner says she knew it would pay off.  “The guests were not disappointed. Each of the five courses was unique and delicious! It was great to get a taste of some of Roots’ specialty dishes with a few surprises!”

By the way, I’d suggest you follow Roots on Facebook and any other social media and perhaps get on their email list because on Thursday nights, the chefs do a little something different by having a Thursday Supper. And it’s amazing. And if you can get in there for the fried chicken, you’ll send me a thank you letter and maybe, if you really love me and are super thankful, you’ll send me gifts. That’s a how delicious that fried chicken is. Super crispy every inch. See?

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And how’s this for making a name for oneself?  In a reader’s poll,  USA Today’s 10 Best just announced that Roots Restaurant was just named in the top 10 of the best winery restaurants in America. Roots placed 6th. Way to go!  Read about that here. 

If there’s anything I’d say at this point it’s this: Yadkin County, this is your moment. Finally there’s a restaurant in the area that celebrates not only the wine country but the wonderful bounty that the area brings forth. I grew up in Yadkin County and having to go to Winston-Salem for a great meal was a top complaint.  If a restaurant of this caliber can succeed with Yadkin’s and its big city neighbors’ support, it will pave the way for other restaurants like it. Napa wasn’t built in a day. It’s taken 170 years, plus it survived Prohibition and the Great Depression. You might consider the Yadkin Valley winemakers pioneers here. And the restaurant owners want to blaze a trail much like their West Coast counterparts. The talent and deliciousness is there and Roots Restaurant is digging deep and taking a chance on the area’s support.

Wanna go? Roots Restaurant at Sanders Ridge located at 3200 Round Hill Road, Boonville.   Open for dinner Thursday from 5:30-9:00 for Family style supper (check website or Facebook for features). Full service menu Friday & Saturday 5:00-9:00. Full service lunch is available in the tasting room Friday-Sunday 11:00-3:00. The wine bar also has a full menu available from 12:00-5:00. Visit sandersridge.com for info.

Bubbly and Brunch at Vin 205

Back in September when we enjoyed a wonderful Chef’s Table with Chef Oren Feuerberg at Vin 205 Farm to Table Bistro, owner Caleb Flint said he wanted to do it again, but this time to show off Chef’s skills at brunch.

Twist. My. Arm.

We decided to kick off the new year with a Bubbles and Brunch a couple of weeks back.  And man, was it delicious. But I expected it to be. The food at Vin 205 is superb and Caleb Flint really knows how to make his guests feel special. And our Chef’s Tables are just filled with foodies and fellowship and we just have the best time. You should join us for one soon!

You’re met at Vin205 with the Wine Merchants shop. I’m not sure what’s more difficult, trying to refrain yourself from being drawn in by the wonderful aromas of the kitchen because you came to do a little shopping, or not taking a seat immediately because you’re interested in the market. Hopefully you make time for both.

Caleb continues to add more and more to the wine market and now shoppers not only can find wines from boutique vineyards from our local region and all over the globe, but also a plentiful selection of Joyce Farms meats and regional cheeses, chocolates and gourmet items.

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Chef Oren Feuerberg and Owner Caleb Flint, Wine Merchants & Vin 205 Bistro

Vin205 is certainly gaining ground during the week with dinner featuring live music and wine events. But what Executive Chef Oren and Caleb are endeavoring to highlight is their Sunday brunch. The chef-driven menu changes often with special spins on traditional favorites. And Caleb brought in some of his favorite local purveyors to give them special recognition during our four courses. Batistini Farms, Camino Bakery and Magic Beans Coffee were all special guests at the table and on the palate.

Course 1

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Duo of Mini Quiche (Potato & Bacon; Spinach & Mushroom paired with Vin 205 House Salad tossed in Raspberry Vinaigrette with Batistini Farms Vanishing Grape Balsamic, goat cheese

I’d like to think I get out enough but I can’t think of a single quiche I’ve had that has potato AND bacon and to me that just seems like a delicious no-brainer. And I’ve also never had spinach WITH mushroom in a quiche. And of the tasty tasty two, the spinach and mushroom was my favorite. Batistini’s Vanishing Grape is a new favorite of ours and was recently featured in our holiday gift guide. See it here. It’s so worth the purchase as it adds incredible flavor to salads and cheeses. Tom Sephton, imports and bottles the balsamic and oils in Clemmons. “We have basic olive oil and flavored olive oils as well as aged balsamic. All of the oils we bottle are very, very fresh and the harvest date for all oils is right there on the bottle.”

Course 2

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Truffled Scrambled Eggs with Camino Brioche Toast

Here we are, days later, and I’m still thinking about those light and fluffy eggs that had been scrambled in truffle oil and topped with truffle shavings…and that bread which Chef and his team griddled so perfectly.

Emily Masters, of Camino Bakery, told the group that the brioche is one of the most popular offerings at Camino. “It’s baked fresh every day, like all our other baked goods. It’s fluffy, buttery with flour from King Arthur Flour, milled in Graham, and milk from Homeland Creamery in Julian.” 

Course 3

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Brown Butter Poached Shrimp & Pimento Cheese Grits

A twist on a traditional brunch favorite and charmingly served in a glass jar. The grits were cheesy perfection.  Our guest, Chris Roth, then praised the chef as the best shrimp and grits he’d ever had.

Course 4

House made Raspberry & Blueberry Muffins with Coffee Service by Magic Beans Coffee

The muffins were lightly sweet and fluffy with whole berries throughout and a great little sweet ending to our brunch. Our “dessert” was paired with Magic Beans air-roasted coffee served two ways. The first tasting was with Magic Beans Essence, a concentrated coffee extract that is added to hot water or other liquids. The second tasting was Wine Merchants and Vin 205’s exclusive Magic Beans blend in the French press. Owners Neal and Mary Pruett served each guest . Neal Pruett told us, “Air roasted coffee is so smooth. One of our mottos is that you can ‘drink ours black’.”

Caleb told the group, “Folks who know me know I’m a rather enthusiastic coffee drinker and we just love how unique and special Magic Beans is.” Not only does Wine Merchants serve the blend, but the beans are sold in bulk as well as the Essence.

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Mary and Neal Pruett, Magic Beans LLC

Though guests at Chef’s Table are usually responsible for purchasing their own beverages, which makes it unlike a wine dinner, what we love about Caleb Flint is that he takes advantage of owning a wine shop and offers everyone a taste of what the shop has to offer. Each of the 27 guests were allowed to share bottles of bubbly rose on the tables. And each setting was made even more charming by the varying coffee mugs at each place. Those attention to details is what keeps me coming back to Vin 205 and what will bring us back there again, possibly in the summer, for another Chef’s Table to let Chef Oren surprise us, yet again.

Wanna go? Vin 205 is located at 205 S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem. Open for dinner Tuesday  through Thursday 4-9:30pm; Friday Lunch and Dinner 11:30am to 9:30pm, Saturday Brunch 10am-3pm; Saturday Dinner 5-9:30pm, Sunday Brunch 10:00-3:00. Wine Merchants is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday 10am-3pm. vin205.com

PS: Foodies, our next Chef’s Table at B. Christopher’s sold out in 24 hours. We are so thrilled you are supporting our local chefs. We’ll announce a new Chef’s Table soon!  Where would you like to see us?

Vin 205 Farm to Table Bistro

Foooooodies.

OMG. Please eat here. ‘Nuf said if you ask me  but I’ll go a touch further.

I’ve enjoyed a few great meals with mr. foodie at Vin 205 recently. One was a Wine and Swine Dinner that blew us away and blew our wine budget too, lol…because we bought some great new wine.

So good, in fact, that we decided to bring Chef Oren Feuerberg in on one of our Chef’s Tables. Four courses, family-style, with a great group of foodies and friends.

Read about it here in my latest food column in YES! Weekly! 

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Vin 205 has a little wine market with all kinds of lovely wine,  plus local meats, boutique cheese, chocolates and wine accessories and they have plans to add even more. Vin 205 also has a great-looking brunch. Check them out!
Our next Triadfoodies Chef’s Table will be announced later this week. We’ll be doing a special kick-off of our High Country Events in October with Vidalia (date announced soon) and our November Chef’s Table returns to the Triad at Sophie’s Cork & Ale in Lexington on November 13. You’ll see that update in a future email.

Cheers!

 

foodie b’eat: Sweet! Chef Harrison Littell Joins The Honey Pot

This is an expanded and slightly more personalized story from today’s earlier blog post in YES! Weekly

In what might be one of the most closely guarded secrets in recent months in Winston-Salem, The Honey Pot has finally announced who will be taking over the kitchen and we won’t keep you waiting like they did to the rest of us…

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Chef Harrison Littell Photo credit: Andrea Littell/TowniesWS

Harrison Littell has been welcomed as Executive Chef!  The suspense was killing some of us. But we are super duper excited because he’s totally awesome and nice and just flat out TALENTED! 

Chef Littell is a Winston-Salem native and after a stint in the Northeast, has been executive chef at Five Loaves Catering.  He’s been getting around town a good bit with chef collaborations, like at Mission Pizza Napoletana’s Knife Fight among other things. And generally being on the scene with his wife, Andrea. They’re fabulous. I met them at Knife Fight and enjoyed dinner with them a couple of weeks later at a tasting to introduce The Katherine Brasserie at The Kimpton Cardinal in WS.  And I saw them again not long after at the Industry Crawfish Boil that you can read about here.

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Getting ready for Mission: Knife Fight with Chef John Bobby of Rooster’s-A Noble Grille

The Honey Pot announced via its Facebook page  that Littell’s connection with the local community of farmers and purveyors along with his time at acclaimed restaurants puts him in a unique position to lead The Honey Pot into its next phase, “As I’ve gotten to know Harrison over the past month or so, I’ve been really excited about how aligned we are in our philosophies on everything from sourcing to working with people. Not to mention he has an incredible palate and aesthetic,” announced Honey Pot GM, Beau Tate via his Facebook page.

Chef Littell told me earlier, “It’s going to be a great platform for me to get back to doing some food that’s close to my soul. They have a great reputation and following as well as a great staff. I’m super stoked to be working with Beau as well.”

Littell will start the 3rd week in July. “I’ll work for a couple weeks to get my feet wet and then we will go through a full menu change to celebrate the height of the summer! We plan on continuing the mission there and utilizing as much as we can locally. I’m fortunate to step into a kitchen that is working uniformly. Matt had done a great job there and I look forward to continuing the growth.”

Littell will fill the position being vacated by Matthew Pleasants who intends to travel and expand his culinary horizons. I can’t wait to go back to The Honey Pot to  see what chef does to the menu. If you’re curious about The Honey Pot, definitely go check them out. I did a review for YES! Weekly about a year ago. You can read it here.

Tate and Littell both say that we should expect to see some “really exciting news in the next few months including the new menu launch, some additional lighter snack fare, farm dinners, wine dinners and much more.”

You can get to know a little bit more about the Littells over at their blog TowniesWS. It’s a pretty great space about the happenings in the town of #WSNC.

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From TowniesWS…Chef Harrison and Andrea Littell

Eat local, foodies!

Willow’s Bistro and a bit of a foodie b’eat

Photo Feb 28

We’ve been wanting to do a review of Willow’s Bistro featuring its new chef, Travis Myers. Travis is no stranger to the foodies and we love him just about to pieces. Here’s a piece of work a couple of months in the making as mr. foodie and I have hopped over to Willow’s a couple of times just to get a feel of the deliciousness. Truly it’s so fun to watch Chef Travis come into his own.

Here’s my piece from YES! Weekly!  although feel free to keep reading for more of my personal spin.

Willow’s Bistro has always been a popular eatery in Winston-Salem and the food has always been pretty stellar, which keeps customers coming back. The open kitchen concept and great atmosphere are another plus. The brunch is one of the most popular in town. Last October, owner Will Kingery scooped up one of the city’s most endearing chefs, Travis Myers. Myers not only loves to cook, but he loves to talk about it too. You can count on Chef Travis for some good chatter when it comes to deliciousness. It’s one of the big things you notice as different when it comes to Willow’s new presence. Myers agrees, “We do a lot of social media here. A lot!” Seriously, follow chef on social media and he’ll take you on some food adventures plus tantalize your eyes with photos of beautiful food.

Myers spent ten years at River Birch Lodge, making a name for himself and honing his skills. Participating in wine dinners, special events, cooking competitions, you name it. Myers says, RBL helped him become the chef he is. “I have a great relationship with them, even after leaving. They witnessed everything major in my adult life from meeting my wife, Jen to our first child.” He says he loves the fact that a lot of the regulars that dine at RBL are regulars at Willow’s as well.

Myers says he and Will had bumped elbows the past few years and more frequently in the fall. Kingery was dividing his time between three restaurants, Willow’s, King’s Crab Shack, and Silo so he wasn’t able to spend as much time at Willow’s as he wanted. “We just started talking about working with each other,” Myers says. “He wanted someone to reflect his vision when he was a chef at Willow’s. Our son was getting old enough and it became a great opportunity to tap into my local passion and create more farm to table.” Myers says it didn’t take long before he knew he was meant to be in this new environment. “Everybody wants to be here and everybody wants to learn, to grow, and to be local.  Front of house and back of house are one complete team who work at just about all three locations, which makes us one big family. The stress level is relaxed outside of the banging of pots and pans during the normal lunch/dinner rush. Everybody pretty much does their job and is not lazy…it’s hard to explain really. We all are one tight family.”

Myers’ duties at Willow’s also fall well beyond the kitchen and keeping the business thriving is a huge part of his goals. “I’m developing a relationship with farmers, the community and our customers. I’m also in charge of developing a team but I also have to balance the business needs as well. Now that I have a grasp on the business, I can focus even more on the culinary part. We’re in the middle of launching a new menu in the next month. I want to make a move towards everything being made in-house.” You can see the new, more enhanced focus on local ingredients on the current menu. We have visited twice in the last couple of months just to get an idea of how the menu is transforming. Myers’ creativity is able to shine like never before.


From a delightful salad of roasted (yes roasted) olives, to his Bradford Watermelon molasses fries,it’s clear, the chef is having fun with local ingredients. Myers adds, “Nothing here is produced on a large scale and everything is touched by a chef. It matters.”

Myers adds that he wants to create more events as well, but go beyond the typical wine dinner. “Food and service is just part of an event. I want to host events that are created around people. More of a gathering, with food and beverage just being the vehicle for the event.” One such event was last Sunday’s Bourbon Dinner which featured five courses of locally-sourced ingredients, like Guilford Mills Grits, Hunter Farms apples, Lusty Monk Mustard, Border Springs Lamb and Fair Share Farms Micro Greens paired with bourbon inspired cocktails. Fifty-two guests enjoyed the night of pairings which ended with an olive oil cake paired with a Bourbon Root Beer Float. Like dessert with dessert! Even local energy drink, Sunshine, was infused with Jim Beam and lime juice for a palate cleanser. Not only did Myers get to show off some of his chef skills, but the innovative cocktails by the bar staff featuring various bourbons and whiskey were also a hit.

Recently, Myers’ former counterpart at RBL, Brent Andruzzi landed at Willow’s as well. Myers says he’s looking forward to working with the chef again. “I feel like we have a lot of the same passion and strive for building relationships with farmers and keeping everything in-house and local. He’s a big part of my team and will be at just about every event I will be at, but eventually he’ll be hosting his own and I will be helping. That’s the ‘team’ in us, just striving do do and get better.” Andruzzi says, “I enjoyed working with Travis and we started talking about it and the time just felt right to join him here.”

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Others are taking notice as well. If you’ll recall, last fall Chef Tim Thompson was the chef at Triad Local First’s Community Table. It’s an awesome event that raises money to fun TLF’s “Buy Local” holiday campaign. For the first time ever, TLF’s Community Table will feature a Winston-Salem chef and that chef is Travis Myers. This will be a great event for the chef to shine.

Myers says he’s enjoying playing up his new digs as #SOB40, aka South of Business 40. “For years at RBL I would refer to #SOB40 because all the marketing and volume seems to go to 4th Street and now Trade Street. Although, we have a restaurant on 4th (King’s Crab Shack), it is not our goal to take business away from those areas, but to create our very own location down here below Business 40. Kind of like creating our own district.” Myers laughs, “Who knows, maybe one day Alan will listen to my nagging and turn our movement into a district!”

One can only hope. For now, next time you see the hashtag, #SOB40, you’ll know what it means.

Willow’s Bistro is located at 300 S. Liberty Street, Winston-Salem.