Tag Archives: local

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 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 

Triadfoodies Holiday Gift Guide

Happy Holidays, foodies! Christmas is my favorite time of year. As we sit here on a mountain still under a mountain of snow (23 inches over the weekend), I am so excited to share my favorite finds from 2018. I was doing a gift guide before it got popular, ha! Or…at least I didn’t realize other bloggers were doing it.  This guide of glorious deliciousness is ALL LOCAL and easy to get. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ve probably seen many of these items before.  These are products I use in my home. I buy them all year. And they are the perfect gift giving items too. It’s NC …right there in your stocking!

You can read the whole story and find out how to win over at YES! Weekly. You’ll need to comment on their Facebook page to win.

Abby’s Better Nut Butter (Date Pecan Butter):

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To say that Abby’s Better Date Pecan is a top fave would be an understatement.  Abby was 15-years-old when she started making her own nut butter, which turned into a business. Now three years later, you’ll find her nut butters on the shelves of most main grocery stores regionally. Abby’s Better also has a a website where you can purchase nut butter, bars and merchandise to your nutty delight. abbysbetter.com

Y’all Sauce

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As seen in YES! Weekly a few weeks back, Y’all was born Baptist in Louisville, KY and moved to Winston-Salem where it’s made with passion. We love Y’all sauce because it really goes with everything.  Y’all became a fave when we tried the Come Back sauce in late summer. Then the Jezebel sauce went on the Thanksgiving turkey and man, oh man was that good! Guess what? The winner gets a gift set of all three Y’all Sauces: Henry Bain, Come Back and Jezebel.  You can find Y’all Sauce at Southern Home & Kitchen and Canteen Market & Bistro in Winston-Salem. Check out their website, yallsauce.com for retailers or to have it shipped to you.

As Good As It Gets Salsa

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I love a good salsa, especially a local one. Andrea Cardwell makes the Triad’s newest salsa by hand, pours it and distributes it…all by hand. This salsa is super fresh tasting with a small chunks of veggies you can see and taste. The black bean and corn salsa is just as good and both types of salsa come in mild, medium, hot. Another flavor…get this…called Butt Burner is available in regular chunky salsa only and is made with jalapenos, habaneros and Carolina Reaper peppers.I tried it and lived! You can find As Good As It Gets at many local Lowes Foods, Colony Urban Farm Store and small grocers. Check out asgoodasitgets-nc.com for a complete list of locations. By the way the winner is getting Medium Salsa and Butt Burner. Two delicious salsas! 

Bee Pollen at Colony Urban Farm Store

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Bee pollen? You mean you can actually eat that stuff? Why, yes! It’s fruity, floral and nutty. It tastes to me like a honey infused grape nut cereal. It’s superb on smoothies, smoothie bowls and yogurt.  It’s suitable for ice cream and even salads and other recipes that might require a touch of street and crunch. The possibilities are endless. Bee Pollen is considered one of nature’s most complex foods as it is a complete protein and is stocked with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and anti-oxidants. A spoonful before a workout can give you a bit of energy without it being heavy on your stomach.  A little goes a long way. This bee pollen is produced locally and is supported by Bee Our Future, a local bee conservation initiative that delivers, installs and maintains beehives for businesses and residences throughout the Triad.  Colony Urban Farm Store is located at 492 West End Blvd., Winston-Salem colonyurbanfarm.com 

14-Degrees Coffee

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Joey Burdette and Terry Miller, owners of Twin City Hive Coffee Lounge in Winston-Salem, have endeared themselves to many with their cozy coffee shop with desserts and confections, pastries and teas. And this fall they launched their very own specially roasted coffee. And coffee great coffee must go on the guide, foodies.  You know it’s fresh and wonderful when there’s a roast date on it. Note to yourself: All coffee should have a roast date on it.  TCH is located at 301 Brookstown Ave Ste 300, Winston-Salem.

Fainting Goat Spirits Tiny Cat Vodka

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A triadfoodies Holiday Gift Guide would not be the same without some local booze. And we think Fainting Goat Spirits Tiny Cat Vodka is the local staple spirit for your bar and your party.  Tiny Cat starts with organic grain and finishes clean in your glass. Distiller Andrew Norman is even throwing in a recipe for his famous Slightly ImPEARed Cocktail for you here. Check it out at the end of the list. And get the Cat at ABC stores.  faintinggoatspirits.com

Batistini Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil

IMG_4662Cooking and condiments in my kitchen have been elevated to new heights thanks to Batistini Farms olive oils and vinegars. It’s hard to choose a favorite but you pretty much can’t go wrong with their truly impressive and earthy and fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Organic notes. This EVOO is meant to be savored as a condiment, not to be cooked with. A balsamic drizzled into this oil for a salad or even better, to dip your bread in, is not to be outdone. You’ll see why this combo is a staple at renowned restaurants, like Blackberry Farm.  We also love Tom and Cindy Sephton’s commitment to bringing quality olive oil and vinegar to the area and so much knowledge along with them.  You can find Batistini Farms at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Wine Merchants & Vin 205 Bistro, just to name a few.  Visit b-farms.com for a full list of locations or to order.

Shady Creek Farm Facial Scrubs

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You know how sometimes we like to mix it up and throw in something that’s not food? Well, this is one of those times. And our favorite non-food this year is a reusable facial scrub from Dallas, NC. How cute is this??  Use these scrubs to get the grime off your pretty face or put on some toner. When you’re finished you toss them in the wash and let them dry. Reuse for another day and feel great  that you’re not adding more trash to the world. Shady Creek Farm also sells “swiffer” type wipes, washcloths, soaps and a whole host of sustainable goodness. Check shadycreekfarmandnursery.com to order or for retailers.

Gorilla Grains

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A perennial fave in my house and was featured in 2015 in our original gift guide. We felt the need to bring Alicia Rehburg’s amazing 100% granola back into the lineup. Mainly because since I’ve moved and I’m farther away from easy access to this crunchy goodness….well, let’s just say absence has made the heart and tummy grow fonder. What makes Gorilla Grains stand out is that it is buttery…you can taste the butter. Other granola has oil as their fat, but the Gorilla’s is butter and once you’ve tasted it, you’ll understand.  You can find this amazing granola at Musten & Crutchfield, Elon College and various markets or order at gorillagrains.com 

Black Mountain Chocolate Fruit Cake

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The quintessential reigning alumnus that’s never been off the list and never shall it be, unless they stop baking it. The boozy chocolatey concoction with Broad Branch Distillery’s Night Lab is for adults only and oh so good. Great with wine. Decadent with coffee or tea. Naughty with a bit more bourbon on the side (in a good way). It’s a Black Mountain delight made at 732 NW Trade Street, Winston-Salem.  blackmountainchocolate.com

Slightly ImPEARed Created by: Distiller & Mixologist Andrew Norman, Fainting Goat Spirits

 1.5 oz Tiny Cat Vodka

.75 oz Winter spiced simple syrup*

.75 oz Fresh lemon juice

2 oz Pear juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake over ice. Strain into a coupe or martini glass.

 *To make the winter spiced simple syrup combine 1 cup brown sugar with 1 cup warm water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 1 clove, 2 star anise pods, 3 cinnamon sticks, ¾ inch of peeled ginger and sit for 10 minutes. Strain out the solids and keep refrigerated up to a month.

Deck yourself. Deck your friends with these local goodie! Shop local and enjoy.

 

White Pinot Noir Could Be Your New Fave

Caleb Flint of Wine Merchants in WS offered me a bottle of Amity Vineyards White Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2017 for an honest review. We are grateful for the opportunity (and the wine). All opinions are my own.

My favorite kind of wine is red wine. And of the reds, my favorite has been Pinot Noir. And no that has nothing to do with the film, Sideways. 😀 . Though a Malbec sometimes does sometimes hit the spot.  I also do try to support NC Wine as much as possible but I do like to change up.  So when Wine Merchants talked about a White Pinot Noir, I was intrigued. After grabbing a bottle,  I took a little time and meal planning for when to enjoy it. Mr. foodie and I like wine, but we have two kiddos at home and sometimes we can’t just open a bottle up and enjoy. And we rarely finish a bottle between the two of us in one night. Plus, I wanted to have a mushroom pasta dish. I am particular like that.

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Then the night came. Opened up a bottle of the White Pinot on a pasta night. I enjoyed a glass while cooking. What we found was a lightly fruity, very clean wine with body that drinks quite easily alone and is wonderful with pasta, cheese and poultry and particularly, mushrooms. Bonus points if you can manage that in one dish, which we did (a browned butter balsamic mushroom sauce over ravioli with grilled chicken). The photo of the dish didn’t come out well. But I’ll make it again and share the recipe.

The wine went perfectly. I have a feeling this is going to be in the regular rotation.

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i see you

White Pinot Noir is gaining in popularity but is still considered somewhat “rare” compared to other varietals.  it takes a special process because Pinot Noir grapes are obviously red. This is an excerpt from VinePair.

To make white wine from red grapes, winemakers take careful steps to ensure that there is minimum contact, or maceration, between the pre-fermented must and color-giving grape skins. To eliminate maceration for white Pinot, only a small amount of the grape’s juice can be fermented into white wine.
Free-run juice is released when grapes are piled, and their skins break under their own weight. In white winemaking, this produces the highest quality wines because there’s minimal contact with bitter skins and seeds. Free-run juice, and occasionally must from a very light pressing, are used to make Blanc de Noirs still wines.

White Pinot Noir also listed as Pinot Noir Blanc or Blanc de Noirs.  In Winston-Salem, you can find Amity Vineyards for about $25 at Wine Merchants & Vin 205 Wine Bar at 205 S. Stratford Rd. in Winston-Salem.  (336) 765-8175.

By the way, if you haven’t been to Wine Merchants or the bistro next door, get yourself over there. The restaurant is one of the most underrated spots in all of the Triad. Read about them here.  Site of 2 Chef’s Tables! That’s how good.

Cheers!

The 411 on Canteen Market & Bistro

A previous version of this story can be found at YES! Weekly

Oh my, have I found my happy place!

Children get Disney. What’s my adventure land? A beautiful little restaurant that has a little market inside so I can order food, shop while I wait, or just swing in and shop, seeing something new every time. Look!

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That’s Canteen Market & Bistro. Billed as a gourmet market and dining experience, you have no doubt of its intended function as soon as you breeze in. Plus there’s a beautiful, communal bar right in the center to ground the entire gleaming 6,000 square foot space. It’s dreamy. Heaven I tell you! 

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The business, opened in September, is the love child of Claire Calvin and Eric Swaim, (I’m sorry if that sounds awkward).  She of The Porch Kitchen and Cantina and Swaim, her neighbor at Hoots Roller Bar and Beer Co at West End Millworks. The two had talked for a couple of years about opening up an urban market. When the space at 411 West 4th Street, also known as Commerce Plaza, became available, it was originally conceptualized by the property owners as a fine dining restaurant. But Claire and her dream of a downtown market with a distinct urban feel could not be dissuaded. “This space would be too big just a market or just a restaurant but altogether, it just works.”

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I have to agree. The market side of the restaurant features staples like pasta and sauces, some on the higher end, but still budget friendly for a night “in,” as well as local sauces like Ya’ll Sauce, made in Winston-Salem, and international sauces, mustards, grits, gourmet crackers, bread mixes, jams, jellies, endless varieties of pickles, you name it.

Mr. foodie will tell you that I get positively giddy in places like Canteen.

Claire says they’re just getting started and happily takes suggestions for fun items to add. During my visit there, she had to step away to help a customer who had a request for a product not on the shelves but Claire took note of it…the customer also had her arms full. She had come for one thing (don’t we all) and appeared to need a basket. Claire hastily retrieved a mini-cart. We joked that her budget was no longer limited by what she could carry in her arms and she went on her way.  So helpful! 

In the back, the dining area sits adjacent to a beautifully curated wine and beverage area,called “The Cellar,” with hard to find boutique wines, fortified and specialty styles, and local and international craft beer, kombucha, coffee and artisanal mixers featuring companies that have a story to tell.

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Eric and the bev team put a great deal of thought into the beverage program. The large communal space features the obligatory craft cocktail menu. For beer, there’s a NC focus behind the bar, with everything on draft while the cooler includes beers from around the world. And the wine at the bar boasts a relatively new, tap concept.  “All wine by the glass is all being poured draft. It eliminates waste and ensures freshness, which is something we really wanted to commit to. When it’s on draft, there’s no light and no oxygen to make it go bad. It’s the perfect temperature for white and for red and gives you control over your pour,” he says. “It’s very concise at the bar with a trip around the world in the back.”

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In front, the kitchen is where Chef Chris Almand, formerly of West End Cafe, is making menu items for the bistro for dine-in and take home and the pastry chef is making the sweet treats. The refrigerator case is stocked with local pimento cheese, goat cheese, deli items…items a customer can run in and grab to go for a quick snack or lunch on the run. Calvin says the menu will change often to reflect what is in season and what is available from their partner farm, Whit Acres.

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This restaurant and market is already seeing tons of support from the local restaurant community. It’s getting some much deserved attention. Y’all check it out! 

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Canteen will have an official grand opening this weekend featuring market samples, wine tastings, demonstrations and giveaways. Visit their social media for more details.

Wanna Go? Canteen Market and Bistro is located at 411 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem. Hours are Monday-Sunday 10am-10pm.