Tag Archives: Mediterranean

Recipe: Asparagus & Sundried Tomato Pasta w/ Feta

Day 137, 157 of staying in. I hope you haven’t found yourself in a rut. I can tell you, I cannot type as I have mistyped every. single. word. up to this point.

The recipe I’m bringing today goes waaaaaaay waaaaaaaay back. Way back to the mid-90’s (ish) in Winston-Salem, NC, well before the city was known for its food scene but still had a few commendable restaurants and a couple of ever so new and trendy coffee shops.

My favorite restaurant at the time was a place called The Maze. It was in Reynolda Village and I loved eating there on my evening break when I worked at WXII. If I remember correctly, it was very vegetarian heavy (not that I am one) and I just loved this creamy penne pasta dish with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes that was topped with crumbled feta. It was creamy, tangy, and savory and the shining star was the sun-dried tomatoes, which I’d never even heard of at the time. We’ve come a long way baby.

Well, The Maze has long since closed but I think I’ve copied it well enough.  Up until this week, I hadn’t made it in forever and thought I’d share it with you. This dish makes an excellent main meatless course, but I also like it as a side. And if you want to add shrimp or chicken for protein, it will not disappoint. Any pasta would do but the original was presented with penne and it’s pretty perfect for it. (If you look closely, you’ll say I don’t have penne here, rather a similar pasta plus another pasta with no ridges because I was using what I had and I refused to go back out just for one thing).


Asparagus & Sun-dried Tomato Pasta w/ Feta

1 lb penne pasta or similar, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1 bunch asparagus, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (either in oil or dried but reconstituted)
1/2 cup fresh feta, crumbled
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs. oil of choice
salt/pepper to taste

As the water boils and pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes until soft and beginning to caramelize. Add asparagus and cook 5-8 minutes over medium heat until the asparagus is beginning to get tender, but do not let it get mushy. Toss in the tomatoes and stir. Once the pasta is completed, add 1 cup of the pasta water to the mixture. Add the cream and stir until thickened and just slightly creamy but not swimming in it.  Add the pasta and mix well, adding a splash of cream if you think it needs it. Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the feta, then top with a bit more before serving.





Review: Chef Dion Sprenkle

A Sprenkle of Deliciousness: “Let The Chef Surprise Us” 4.0

You can see this story in YES! Weekly

This is the continuing story of how we allow the chef to surprise us. We’re kind of changing it up recently. We now get a group of foodie friends/followers together and hit up a local restaurant. This time, Chef Dion Sprenkle…way out in Lexington (actually, a mere half hour from many cities in the Triad). I had visited Chef Dion’s restaurant a few weeks back after he attended a previous foodie gathering at 1703 Restaurant and then he volunteered himself for a similar event the next month. At the end of this post you’ll see where we’re headed next! 

Just as much as a focus on the food, this gathering was an opportunity to meet the chef and get to know him better. Chef Dion Sprenkle is a classically-trained chef, graduating in 1992 from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  Before making his way South, Sprenkle was the chef de cuisine at the New York Palace Hotel, executive chef at The Water Club and at Spazzia Restaurant and chef de cuisine at Spartina Restaurant. He says he also gained valuable experience in the kitchens of Gotham Bar & Grill and The River Cafe. Previously in the Triad, Sprenkle was Executive Chef at Old Town Club in Winston-Salem.

Last year, Chef Sprenkle placed runner-up in the local Competition Dining series, getting edged out by Graze’s Chef Richard Miller in the final battle. Many people took notice of this incredibly talented chef, tucked away in Davidson County. We wanted to know…what on earth brought him to Lexington, where alcohol sales in restaurants are not permitted? “After an extensive search for restaurant locations in Winston, Greensboro and Salisbury areas, none of which suited what I was looking for, this space was available and we quickly realized the need for an upscale restaurant in the area,” Sprenkle told us. “Many people live in Davidson County and work in Forsyth, but come home to no restaurants and then have to travel back to Winston to get something to eat besides BBQ.”

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Sprenkle also features Wacky Wednesday, which offers a selection of chef-inspired burgers in addition to the fine dining menu. It’s a bustling night. The burgers change quite a bit, but the night that we checked out the burgers, I enjoyed a House-Smoked Pastrami Burger. It was a sizable, perfectly cooked burger topped with, I kid you not…a good inch of smoked pastrami. And it was delicious. The pastrami was so smoky and flavorful. It was almost a fork meal. Well, I turned it into a fork meal, anyway.


Mr. foodie ordered a chicken dish from the menu and I forget what it was but it was really tasty.


And he sent out dessert…strawberry  bread pudding


We were then looking forward to what surprises he had in store for us when we got our group together.

At our gathering, course after course came and it went a little something like this:

Course 1

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Watermelon Gazpacho shot with cucumber, rosemary goat cheese, citron sea salt and Fair Share Farms pea leaves

Course 2

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Sweet Corn Puree with Blackened Alligator and ramp oil

Course 3

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Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with oloroso sherry natural sauce

Course 4

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Spanish Lobster and Chorizo sausage Torte with eggs, potato, chili relish, cilantro, lobster tamale, lobster roe, cilantro

Course 5

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Vadouvon Spiced roasted cauliflower with onion, pancetta, basil and Argentinean Extra virgin sunflower oil

Course 6

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Hill Top farms ostrich and havarati cheese quesadilla, spicy chili relish aioli

Course 7

Tasting of Orange scented crème brulee and Ricotta cheese panna cotta with strawberry balsamic glaze, basil syrup and lemon confit.

As you can see, this is a great sampling of some of the menu items and a few “surprises,” just the way we like it. Chef Sprenkle’s cuisine is distinctly Mediterranean and he says he tries to source as much locally as possible as long as it’s of the highest quality. “I will always buy locally when I can, but to me the importance is quality.” 

Keep in mind that Chef Dion Sprenkle is a BYO alcoholic beverages and as customary for such restaurants, they do charge a corkage fee ($10/bottle of wine and $1/bottle of beer. Sprenkle tod me if you bring in a Davidson County Wine (Childress, Weathervane, Junius Lyndsey, Native Vines, or purchased from Tastings Wine and Beer Store) they only charge $5 per bottle.

The chef also says he’s not resting on his laurels and is looking at expanding to other areas in the Triad. He’s also consulting on another project that’s due to open in Winston-Salem in mid-July. While working on those efforts, Sprenkle says he doesn’t mind being “tucked away” as we call it. “Our clientele is diverse and see us as a destination restaurant, but the locals of Lexington sometimes dine with us at least three times a week and see us as their home dining room. Our location allows people in Winston, Clemmons, High point or Salisbury to arrive within 15 minutes. We also get quite a few people from Greensboro or Charlotte. They may stay in town for the weekend to visit the wineries and then come have dinner with us.” He adds, “We’ve survived now for 5 years in a location that is off the beaten path and without alcohol sales. Like I always said when I lived in NYC, If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, and we have!”

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Wanna go? Chef Dion Sprenkle is located just inside Lexington at 5479 Old US Hwy 52.
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 5-9pm. The restaurant is also open for special holidays and brunches and is available for private events and catering. chefdion.com

If you’d like to participate in a future “Surprise Gathering,” follow triadfoodies on social media for all the details. Hint: Next stop is Tuesday, July 26 at Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar as Triad’s Best Chef (as voted by YES! Weekly readers) to get to know Chef Tim Grandinetti and let him surprise us. Just message me at Kristi@triadfoodies dot com to reserved your spot. We usually max out at 12-14 people to keep it intimate and it’s about $25 per person. 

Exploring Asia in the Triad

The entire triadfoodies clan has been hitting some bucket list spots lately here in the area. Most of them…well ALL of them…Asian. Did I mention the microfoodies, who surprise me with their annoying quirks about food, pretty much LOVE Asian cuisine? I mean, these kids turn me into a liar. One day, I say they don’t eat anything but grilled cheese and PBJ and then the next day they are scarfing down Tikka Masala like a champ. I mean, what the what??? And it doesn’t stop there. They like Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian (??) and Moroccan (I know, NOT Asia). But it’s pretty much nuts since I can barely get them to eat a cheeseburger. It’s exhausting.

Due to being slack about consistent posts, I’ve now, ahem…compiled a lovely treasure chest of goodness that you definitely should check out in Winston-Salem and Greensboro. These are in no particular order except the first one. If I don’t list them first, my kidlets will tackle me and demand all my naan.

Nawab Indian Cuisine 129 South Stratford Rd, WS


My first taste of from scratch Indian food was in my own home when I made a slow cooker Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken). The flavors were to die for and my children, God bless them, ate it like it was their last meal on earth. I even went all out and allowed them to eat with their fingers as we sat on the floor around our coffee table. Fun times, but I digress. At Nawab, you will eat at your standard table with standard utensils and the flavors there are authentic and delicious and as spicy as you want it. Go Indian hot for the full effect. You can’t go wrong with a delicious Tikka Masala with its slightly smoky, sweet and zesty flavor. Amazing. And we highly recommend getting Rogan Josh. They have various choices with seafood, lamb (which is what we ordered), goat, etc. You GOTTA get the naan bread. Everything is pretty much family style, so the 4 of us shared 2 entrees with plenty left over and clean plates even. Not so sure yet? Nawab has an amazing buffet that has everything from Mango Steak to Tikka Masala to Tandoori Chicken and plenty of veggie options too along with a salad. $12 for the all you can eat buffet. True bliss. It gets busy at lunch so if you get there at peak time, you may wait for your table but it goes pretty quickly. And the service is just impeccable as the owner makes her way to every table to make sure your experience is an enjoyable one.

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Another trip: Lunch Buffet

Cha Da Thai 420 Jonestown Rd, WS

Located in a shopping center on Jonestown Road (as well as a location in Boone) there’s a great selection of Thai specialties and favorites and pretty moderate prices. Food here is also served somewhat family style as most Thai places and it comes out piping hot with fresh vegetables cooked al dente. The boy kidlet even ate his fried spring roll. He was not aware there was cabbage in it so we won’t say anything. I ordered the crispy duck and mr. foodie ordered the Chicken Curry. He gets that nearly everywhere and he has a standard so if it’s delicious then that’s great news. Great spice in the broth that soaked up the rice and great tender chicken. We ordered the boy the chicken fried rice and helped him put a good dent in it. We had plenty left of that though and it was enough to make an entire family of four “leftovers” with some rotisserie chicken. Delicious day of and a few days later.

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Sushi Thai 826 South Stratford Rd, WS

At first glance, this little place in a former something else (maybe a steak place?) looks like you might just pass it by. But we say, do not! Delicious fresh Chicken Teriyaki for the kids, Chicken Curry for mr. (I told you) and it was chocked full of fresh veggies as you can see below and I ordered sushi. It was all really good and it came out in a timely manner with great service. It was pretty deserted but for 3-4  tables on a Sunday evening. Definitely check them out for a nice quiet meal that won’t cost a lot of $$.

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Thai Sawatdee (3 locations)

Thai Sawatdee has 3 locations,  but if you ask anybody in WS, they will probably tell you that their favorite Thai is actually the one that’s a walk up counter at the Harris Teeter on Cloverdale Avenue. Affectionately called Teeter Thai. But the new location on Robinhood may be able to give the walk-up a run for its money as there’s way more space to sit and enjoy dinner with your family. I can only speak of the Teeter location which did not disappoint with its Spicy Noodle and Pad Thai. I did think the Pad Thai was on the sweet side, my wide spicy noodles were great. And where else can you end your meal with a quick jaunt over to the dessert section at HT and buy some tiramisu? It’s definitely a perk. Plus you can order, then shop, then have Thai food. That’s pretty awesomely convenient. You ain’t hitting Teeter Thai for the ambiance, that’s for sure. I was just at the HT today to get some olives from the olive bar and I sure wish I’d gotten some spring rolls while I was at it.

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Wen Hwa Asian Fusion Cuisine 134 N Spruce Street, WS


Speaking of ambiance, there’s just about nothing that compares to it Wen Hwa.  Its black and red interior definitely transport you to an exotic place. It’s pretty quiet and the general feel of it is really nice, yet casual. Cloth scroll menus that unroll…pretty cool! Service is terrific and we were checked on a number of times by the lovely owner. The General Tao’s chicken is slightly spicy and amazing, the Singapore Street Noodles are so yummy. Also worth a try is the Sesame Honey Chicken. AND the Chicken Wraps. As I type this I’m thinking it’s definitely time to go back. There’s an entree called Vietnamese Black Pepper Beef & Shrimp that has my taste buds wondering….
UPDATE: We did go back…for lunch…and though the above beef and shrimp dish was tempting, I simply couldn’t pass up the lunch special of General Chicken with Spring Roll for 5.95. It’s really the best General Tao chicken in the Triad bar none. So fresh and crispy and just-right spicy. By the way, I have a STACK of 10% off coupons so if you want one, holler!

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General Tao's Chicken $5.95 with Spring Roll

General Tao’s Chicken $5.95 with Spring Roll

Chef Samir Shaltout (pronounced Shal-toot) Egyptian Treasures 4212 W. Wendover Ave., GSO


Egyptian and Mediterranean done right. With terrific service and maybe even a visit from the Chef himself. We decided to go for the Babaghanoush, Falafel, Chicken Shawerma and Lamb Kabobs. I really could eat food like this nearly every day. I love hummus, feta, rice, flat bread, all of it. All of the items we tried were freshly prepared and the restaurant itself has a nice Egyptian decor in spite of the fact that it’s in a shopping center that’s anchored by a Staples. For something truly unique, we highly recommend. Plus he has a catering truck! If it just opened on one side, Chef Shaltout would have one heck of a food truck option. I mean, people would flock, don’t you think?


Chef Shaltout

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Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe  101 W. 4th Street, WS

And by no means does being last on this list, mean anything at all except it’s a blend of Greek, Lebanese and other Mediterranean fare so it’s not all Asia all the time at Mooney’s. Mooney’s is definitely one of the more popular restaurants in downtown Winston-Salem at lunch. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a seat. At lunch, you walk up, order and take a number then get your food. At dinner, it’s table service. Of course the hummus and falafel are divine as is the babaghanouj. Here, I’ve also gotten the Shawarma and for lunch I ordered the Kafta with steak. This is a wonderful restaurant in which to just nosh, nosh, nosh.  Hummus, pita, dips, wraps, falafel…so good. Heck for the less adventurous people in your life, they even have burgers! And fries! Win win.

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Not pictured above and not to be missed: Phoenix Asian Cafe (1641 New Garden Road, GSO) has been open a few years and looks VERY similar to that large Pan Asian chain restaurant, but I swear it’s even better and the bonus is eating local. Plus, Phoenix has great sushi. My favorite items on the menu are the appetizer, Firecracker Shrimp, and the entree, Spicy Fish. Phoenix’s food comes out so hot that you will have to let it cool before you can enjoy it and that’s okay, right? Very similar in concept in Winston-Salem is Hakka Chow (615 St. George Square Ct) Also with pretty decent sushi and the Hakka Zen Shrimp (kind of like the aforementioned shrimp) and good Chicken Curry. This restaurant is brought to you by the restaurant family that owns Bernardin’s and Bleu so you know they don’t do things halfway. If you find yourself craving that big Chinese chain you find at upscale malls, drive the extra few minutes to the locally-owned version. You won’t be disappointed and you may save a few bucks.

That’s barely touching on all the amazing places to eat that represent such a vast continent. I’ve already talked about Winston’s Mizu and Greensboro’s Pho Hien Vuong and High Point’s Full Kee in separate posts (they’re that good…and…I had way more time on my hands to do separate posts :D). This compilation is  much more convenient for me and hopefully for you. Definitely let me know if you have a suggestion for a can’t miss spot for Asian cuisine in the Triad and beyond.

Until next time, foodies…eat local!