Tag Archives: food

A Lao Chef’s Table

Hi, foodies…

I want to make sure you get our recaps of our Chef’s Table when they happen…and …um…I might be a bit behind. But here’s a look at our event from May 6, with Lao Restaurant + Bar. It was an amazing evening of courses shared family style, as is the Lao tradition.  This story ran in YES! Weekly!  but of course I’m gonna lay it all out for you here too.

Fresh off YES! Weekly’s Triad’s Best, Lao Restaurant + Bar is basking in the glory of being named Best Restaurant in Guilford County. The Laotian restaurant opened with much anticipation and excitement last summer and they’ve feeling the love. What’s interesting is that for YEARS I’ve been saying a restaurant like Lao would kill it in Winston-Salem. Well, Greensboro beat WS to the punch and the city still remains the place to be for great Asian cuisine. 

Fifty guests of a recent sold out Chef’s Table at Lao prove that even further.  Here’s a little of how it went down (paraphrasing):

Me: I’d love to feature you at a Chef’s Table in the future.

Vonne: But I’m not a chef.

Me: It matters, not. This is about you, your restaurant and your delicious food.

Vonne: Let’s do it on Monday, May 6.

Me: Great!  (creates event, tickets go live, tickets sell quickly–all the while thinking “huh…they’re closed on Monday so that’s cool that she’s doing something special”)

Vonne the next morning (less than 12 hours later): Uh oh, I messed up. We’re closed on Mondays. Ooops. But maybe we can still do it, depending on ticket sales.

Me: Well, it’s sold out at 25 tickets so…now what?

Vonne: Add 25 more tickets!

And in the end the Lao Chef’s Table, with the additional 25 tickets, was sold in out 24 hours. So owner Vonne Keobouala closed her restaurant for all 53 of us as she and her team gave us an exclusive peek at some of her favorite Lao dishes. By the way, the restaurant is now open on Mondays.

Vonne Keobouala was born in Laos, which is in Southeast Asia between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. At age seven and as a result of the Vietnam war, her family moved to California.

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photo by Wong Kim

She grew up surrounded by a community who enjoyed their culture’s food. But as time went on, they adapted to the American way of life and eating. Still, Vonne says it has always been important to her to share the culture and cuisine of Southeast Asia.  When her brother, Matt “Jit” Lothakoun, moved to North Carolina, she followed soon after and they opened Simply Thai in Elon, with a focus on Thai food and sushi.  Ten years have passed and they have since expanded to a location in Jamestown. But it was the food of Laos that Vonne says needed celebrating. “Here, there are Asian restaurants. We see Chinese and Thai, but not the food of Laos, not the food of my mother. But I think people are ready to accept our cuisine. Food brings people together and we want to introduce our culture through our food.”

What makes Lao food different is the vibrant colors and unique textures of the dishes. The freshest herbs and produce make for meal that’s pleasing to the palate while you enjoy working with your hands. And that’s mostly how the guests at Chef’s Table enjoyed their meal. Hands washed, enjoying a family-style meal of lettuce wraps and other hand-held items that were crispy, crunchy, spicy, sticky and just tantalizing in so many ways.

Guests were greeted upon arrival with platters of Shrimp Crisps. They looked like colorful pork skins with a similar crispy texture but they were made with shrimp. They were great for snacking and conversation.

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Appetizer
Vegetable Spring Rolls & Sakoo Sai Moo
Tapioca dumpling pouches filled with pork peanuts, caramelized palm sugar and fried garlic

You can’t go wrong by starting out with the quintessential spring roll and Lao’s is one of the best around.  The Sakoo Sai Moo were sticky little dumplings with a little chili kick and we wrapped them in beautiful lettuce leaves for a fresh yet sticky, sweet, salty, spicy bite.

First Course (photo by Wong Kim)
Nam Khao
Lettuce wraps, crispy rice, coconut flakes, peanuts, sour pork, with fresh cilantro, green onions

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More eating with our hands. These wraps were similar to what you might find in a great Chinese restaurant with lots of cilantro and onions. The crispy rice in this dish helps it stand out.

Second Course
Chicken Laab
Chopped roasted chicken seasoned with spicy lime sauce and fresh herbs

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This popular Laotian larb was fantastic as well.  Served with a bowl of sticky rice, which acted as your vessel from hand to mouth. You made a bowl in your hand with the rice and placed the chicken mixture inside. If you like playing with your food, this dish is for you. “Laotians use sticky rice like bread,” Vonne told us.

Third Course
Lao Sausage & Beef Seen Lod
Jeow Dipping Sauce
Sticky rice

The sausage and beef may also play nicely as an appetizer. Like a Lao charcuterie board, the spicy sausage was so full of flavor and the Beef is considered to be like jerky.  The dish was served with more sticky rice and a delicious dipping sauce.

Fourth Course
Aom
Chicken Herbal stew with fresh dill, green long beans and Lao eggplant

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The description says it all. The stew was hot and herbaceous and filled with chunky chicken and veggies. Great for a cold day.

Dessert
Nom Vaan Lorm
Mixed flavored jellies, cantaloupe and corn, served in sweetened coconut milk

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Now this little dessert might read odd. Flavored jellies? Corn? But it was fantastic to me. It tasted like a coconut infused cereal milk. You know how Sugar Smacks taste? That’s what it reminded me of…but with the freshest of real fruit  mixed in.

To say that the Chef’s Table guests were stuffed and blown away is putting it mildly. And Vonne says she loves seeing the faces of happy customers enjoying the cuisine of family’s heritage.  “Seeing people come in, meeting them and knowing they are so happy to be here and enjoy the food and then they continue to support us…that’s the biggest reward.”

I just love her.

Lao Restaurant + Bar is located at 219-A South Elm Street, Greensboro.

Click here for my podcast with Vonne on the Triad Podcast Network

 

A Take On Takeout: Sichuan Noodles

If there’s anything you’ve heard me griping about, it’s that my children are so weird with their food choices. They are keen to eat junk all day (if I’d let them) but I’d say about half the time I make a meal at home, I can barely get them to eat half of it. But NOT when we make anything from some other continent. Spaghetti? Pizza? They gobble it up. Asian food? They pretty much inhale it and then lick the plates (not really but they really really like Asian food. And Indian food.) Weird?

So I’ve been trying to add to my repertoire, if you will. Mr. foodie has already bought a wok and tried his hand at General Tso’s chicken (amazing), Lo Mein (also delish) and in our regular rotation is the Korean Beef Bowl from How Sweet Eats. I can’t describe the goodness of this bowl…impossibly delicious!

So a loooooong time ago, I saw Maggie Zhu’s recipe of Omnivore’s Cookbook for Sichuan Chicken aka “Saliva Chicken” and it included her Red Oil Sauce. You’ve seen similar sauces at Asian restaurants and maybe at the store. But homemade is best, obvs.

And I have yet to make that recipe…but I have all the ingredients. But I am still going to, honest. It’s not even a difficult recipe…I have no excuse really.

Then I saw Tieghan Gerard’s “easy” Szechuan noodles recipe on Half Baked Harvest and I decided to use HER noodle recipe and marry Maggie and Tieghan’s chili oil recipe to make a little Mag-Tiegh chili oil baby. 😀

It also helped that I had some ground chicken I needed to use up. 🙂

I jooshed up both recipes to incorporate what I had on hand and what I know my kids like, but I’m so glad to have these ladies for inspo. Like I say, you get inspiration from all over…just keep your eyes and mind open. Note: Maggie’s tip says you can use bay leaf and star anise in your aromatics. After playing, I love the combo of flavors below.  You can make the oil in advance and use it on all kinds of things later. The noodles themselves come together in less than 20 minutes (if you count cooking the noodles).

Oh, and in case you were wondering….yes indeedy, this dish was a hit and gobbled right up by all the humans. Go figure.

Sichuan Noodles with Red Chili Oil
(Prep: 5 min, Cook: 30 min.)
Serves 4 (you should make double, for real)

Chili Oil (adapted from Omnivore’s Cookbook & Half Baked Harvest)
1/3 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
2 tsp. Sichuan chili flakes (these are what I used), regular is fine too
1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder
1 tsp, ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional + I left mine whole and it was fine)
1 inch knob fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 TBS. sesame seeds

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and cook 3-5 minutes until it sweats down a bit. Add all the remaining ingredients except sesame seeds and simmer for another 3 minutes. The oil will  turn a beautiful amber red color. Add the sesame oil and the sesame seeds and simmer for another minute. The oil will be probably be sizzling but don’t let it go hard or it will make your chili flakes and sesame seeds taste bitter. Carefully transfer to a heat proof glass jar or bowl.

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Sichuan Noodles (adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
(Prep: 5 min, Cook: -20 min)

16 oz wide Chinese egg noodle (if you can’t find, pappardelli is fine)
1 lb ground chicken (ground pork is also fine) or leave out if vegetarian
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbs. honey or brown sugar
2 tbs. garlic chili sauce
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (or more to taste)
2-4 green onions, chopped
2-4 stalks of bok choy, chopped

1. Cook the noodles
2. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, garlic chili paste + 1/3 cup water in a bowl.
3. Place the same skillet  over medium high heat. Add the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper, crumbling as you go and cook for 5 minutes.   Add the onions and bok choy, and cook until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Pour in the soy sauce mixture.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the chicken is coated with the sauce, about 5-8 minutes.
4. Once noodles are cooked, drain and add to the chicken mixture. Add 2 TBS. chili oil and toss well.

Remove from heat, serve immediately and top with more chili oil, green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Note: You can add more or less seasonings to taste. You can also add mushrooms if you love them and omit the meat if you prefer.

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A Can’t Miss “Feast of Thrones”

“The first lords of the Valle didn’t have much, but they had these mountains, and they knew how to use them….”—Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger)

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What could be more fun than a kickoff to the final season of our beloved series Game of Thrones? Why, a kickoff right here in the Vale Valle with Over Yonder’s Feast of Thrones.

We think it will be worth the travel time across The Westerlands and The Riverlands to the Valle of the Cross.

The “feast” will be prepared by “The Mountain” (Chef Andy Long) and his culinary knights

Supported by “A Girl Who Is Someone”: Lavadia Spaugh

Come sit on the Iron Throne and have your picture made so that your subjects can adore you on social media.  There will also be:

Costume Contest
Dragon Egg Hunt
Mead Tasting
Cersei the Mountain Dawg, Queen of the Mountains and the HooMen will be there on a leash signing pawtographs early on.

And the long night is coming and you need to feast!

FOOD FROM THE NORTH/WINTERFELL:

Brown Bread w/ cured sausages and hard cheeses
Pork Pies
Honey Chicken
Warm Cider
Applecakes
Iced Berries

We promise no Frey pie.

FOOD FROM KING’S LANDING:

Hot Pie’s Hand Pies
The Boar that Killed King Robert
Bowls O’ Brown
Fingerfish
Onion Tarts
Lemoncakes
Quail Drowned in Butter

FOOD FROM DORNE AND THE SOUTH

Grape Leaves w/ Rice, Nuts, and Lamb
Ground Peas and Flatbreads
Stewed Rabbit and Chiles
Duck w/ Lemons
Honey Biscuits
Arya’s Fig Tarts
Peaches w/ Honey & Thyme
Lemonsweet Drink

Everyone across the entire Seven Kingdoms and beyond the realm is invited to the feast. But know this! You must depart before the Game of Thrones makes its anticipated premiere.  We wouldn’t want you to be trapped beyond the wall. Aka…they’re not airing the show there. 

Feast of Thrones will be held Sunday, April 14 at Over Yonder Restaurants from 12pm-7pm. It’s a come when you can event.  Over Yonder is located at 3608 NC Highway 194 S. Sugar Grove, NC 28679

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A Chef’s Table with Adam Barnett and The Katharine Brasserie

A version of this story can also be seen at YES! Weekly.

After 18 months in full-blown get-to-know-you mode, Chef Adam Barnett is feeling very much part of the culinary scene in Winston-Salem.

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Barnett, who was hired in July 2017 as Executive Chef at the relatively new The Katharine Brasserie and Bar, which was the location of the first Chef’s Table of 2019 on January 8th. The event sold out in less than eight hours and then Barnett agreed to add another 15 seats for a total of 45. Those additional seats sold out in less than 30 minutes. Needless to say, people are interested in what Barnett is doing. Many of the attendees of Chef’s Table, which was held on January 8, had never been to The Katharine and they were ready for what he was cooking up.

Named for Katharine B. Reynolds, The Katharine has been written about by me and others a number of times, from media events and regarding seasonal menu changes or new additions, so if you’re a regular reader of YES! Weekly or Triadfoodies, you know I’ve walked away impressed with the food and service more than once.  And just about every time I’ve dined at the brasserie, we’ve enjoyed some of the best wine pairings I’ve ever experienced.

I got to know Barnett a bit better when he was a guest of my podcast, “At The Table with Triadfoodies.” Barnett grew up as a regular kid in Columbus, Ohio and enjoyed summers with his mother’s family in Nova Scotia, which he attributes to his sense of wanderlust. After deciding that academia was not for him, he took a more “hands-on approach” in construction. And you know how winter is in the construction field. “I needed some winter hours and I started working in a restaurant,” he says. “I had one chef take some interest in me, then I got shuttled along to another restaurant and then I hit the road.” Barnett has had stints in Aspen, Colorado; Toronto, Ontario; Vermont, Big Sur, and Los Angeles, California; and most recently Washington D.C. “I spent eight years in the school of hard knocks, real world training and eventually landed in the advanced placement program at the New England Culinary Institute.”  Afterward, it was in California that he honed his skills in modern French techniques, which serves him well at the Katharine, a French-Inspired brasserie, but Barnett says they don’t want to be too dogmatic about it.

“I’ve worked with some very, very good classically French chefs and that’s always been the underpinning of what I do,” he says. “But like everything else, cuisine evolves. You sit back and take a look at who inspires you or you look at re-discoveries of ethnicities and I try to incorporate that into what we’re doing here.” While we may think of French cuisines as heavy with butter and cream and bread, Barnett feels that France’s influence in its former colonies in places like the Mediterranean allows him to offer a more relatable, global approach and the menu of the Chef’s Table was a reflection of that.

Course One
Apple Rutabaga Soup garnished with Parsley Oil.

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Course Two
Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad, Parsnip Crisps Preserved Lemon Dressing

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Course Three

Seared Diver Scallops, served with a Ginger – Carrot Emulsion, Batonet Beets and Radish Sprouts.

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Course Four (Meat Course)

Grilled Painted Hills Flat Iron Steak, Caramelized King Trumpet Mushroom, Foie Gras and Madiera Sauce.

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 Cheese Course
Thomasville Tomme (from Sweetgrass Dairy in Thomasville GA), Campo d Montalban (a blended Cow, Goat, and Sheepsmilk Cheese from Spain), Honey-Walnut Spread, House-made Ginger-Apple Butter, Herb Salad

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Okay okay…so you’re wondering where is dessert…heh heh…funny story.  I actually really enjoyed the cheese course, after all it IS a French-themed restaurant. But there’s the story of a pastry chef and rice pudding gone awry. We’ll leave it at that. 

Barnett took some time to get to know the space and cultivate an air of good community with the culinary team itself. The Kimpton hired new management, a new sommelier and he says now The Katharine is better than it has ever been. “I feel so tremendously honored to work with this group, from our back of house to our management and our sommelier. They’re a big part of the engine. It’s never a one person show.”

Barnett says he’s enjoyed the community and has felt the embrace and he can’t imagine doing anything different.  He says, “I love the visible, tangible marker of a day well spent. And that’s one of the great things about working with food.  You get raw ingredients in, you apply technique, you hand it over to someone and you get to see the satisfaction. There’s a profound sense of enjoyment from that.”

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By the way, this wasn’t served at our Chef’s Table but if my favorite dish at The Katharine is this Beef Tartare. It’s divine.

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Wanna go? The Katharine Brasserie & Bar is located at the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, 401 North Main Street, Winston-Salem. katharinebrasserie.com 

Paleo Banana Bread

I don’t know if you’re like me but I tend to buy bananas with the best of intentions.

“The kids will  have them as snacks!” (yeah right).

“I’ll put them in smoothies!” (but it’s so cold).

“They make such good sandwiches!  (then I forget) “Especially with fried chicken!” (who’s making fried chicken though?)

That means there are always 2 or 3 just hanging out going overripe. So now I just let them do their thing because I found the perfect banana bread that’s grain-free, refined sugar-free. Basically it’s healthier banana bread. You’ll hardly miss your old banana bread once you try this. At the very least you can have it with your coffee and not feel an ounce of guilt.

I say “hardly” because it won’t rise all nice and high like a typical banana bread but that’s okay because the texture is on point! It’s delicious and my 12-year-old can’t even tell the difference. And dare I say it? It’s moist! Moist (sorry weirdos, there’s just no other word here)!

I first ran across my favorite paleo banana bread recipe over at Peanut Butter Runner’s blog. I modified this recipe just a touch and played with my sweeteners a bit. But it’s pretty close to Jen’s.

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Paleo-Friendly Banana Bread

  • 3/4 cup of blanched almond flour (this is a finer texture like regular flour)
  • 1/4 cup of coconut flour (you can sub extra almond flour here)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash to 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I do the lesser amount)
  • 2 TBS melted coconut oil (I like refined so it doesn’t have flavor)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup, coconut nectar or honey ( I have used Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup) + option of an additional tablespoon or so.
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions: 

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan or dish or line with parchment.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices. Separately in a small bowl, mix together coconut oil, eggs, bananas, maple syrup and vanilla until well combined.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry and gently mix together until combined being careful not to overmix. But taste it at this point. When it comes to baking with these type of flours and adding the soda/powder/salt…you don’t want the batter to have that acidic/salt background so if it does, just drizzle in a touch more sweetener. The bigger the bananas, the sweeter it will be too. 
  • Pour batter in prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until set in the center and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 15-20 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Does anyone ever do this if it’s in a pretty pan?) I did this time. 😉
  • Once cool you can slice and try to make it last the day. You will want some with coffee (again) tomorrow.

Enjoy!

Do you have favorite banana bread recipe?