The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 83

In Episode #83, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

The Tims talk about:

  • Le’Chateau Bakery opens in Sprague area
  • Providence Kitchen to hold soft openings this week.
  • The Tims try the Kettle Corn Oreo that listeners/readers voted on.
  • “Tequila Time with Tim (J).” The first week: “What is ‘Blanco/Silver’ Tequila?”
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 82

Warm butter lobster roll from Rabia’s in Boston

In Episode #82, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

The Tims talk about:

  • Chef Travis Myers named Chef of the Year by the NCRLA
  • Mary’s Gourmet Diner updates hours and a new menu coming September 17.
  • Tim and Stephanie visit Boston.
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

Les Secrets de Fromage Revealed

I had the distinct honor of attending the Winston-Salem Open yesterday with my good pal, Jim Young. However, our journey there was not for tennis. While that is thrilling, I am sure, for some people, I was there for one reason only. Cheese!

What do they have in common, cheese and tennis? I have no clue. However, being at an event like the WSO, and seeing the cheeses in the environment — all the pomp, circumstance, grandeur and so on — it made perfect sense. 

I have long said that cheese is nature’s perfect food. Yes, I understand that while things with cheese making happen naturally, it is really a man-made thing. You get the picture, though. So, when I received an invitation from the representatives of Cheeses of Europe to attend this expo of cheese, I couldn’t, and wouldn’t turn that offer down.

Jim and I were treated to the finest of French cow’s milk cheese and were guided by Richard Clarke of 15° Marketing who represents the Cheeses of Europe and is also an admitted, avid cheese connoisseur.

We tried the Emmental, which is a Swiss-style cheese that is mild and easy to eat, but it is savory as well. It was creamy. That was one thing that we found with most of these cheeses: creamy.

Mimolette

Brie

Next up was a strange and unique cheese to me, the Mimolette. The Mimolette is a bright orange cheese, at least this one was, which comes from the addition of the seasoning annatto. The taste was a flavor punch at first, pungent but pleasant and then hints of butterscotch and nuttiness came through.  This cheese was a 12-month aged cheese. The 24-month aged was banned by the USDA because the cheese mites could cause allergic reactions if consumed in large quantities. It surpassed the “mite-per-inch” rule. The 12-month, however, is perfectly fine and it is perfectly delicious. It was a bit denser in texture.

We then moved to the creamier brie styles of cheese. There were two brands of the regular brie and I wish I had written down (or had them write them down) the names. The first was good and creamy but the second was even creamier and it had hints of that “ammonia” that I actually like in brie cheeses. Do not read that and be turned off. The mold that is added to make that beautiful white rind is what causes that smell. As Richard, Jim and I talked about, the smellier the cheese, the more potent the flavor. The rind gave the cheese a good texture as well.

Triple-Crème Brie

After those “ordinary” brie we moved on to the Triple Crème Brie. Again, two different brands and each with its own qualities. The first was creamier and had a milder flavor. The one thing I did not care for was the bread they put the cheeses on. It is my understanding that they were given the bread. I think even they liked it better plain. In and reality, I like cheese on its own. I do not need a lot of pairings to make me happy. Then again, I do not turn down a good wine or beer when the opportunity arises. I believe of the two and possibly the entire selection, this was Jim’s favorite cheese.

Comté

The second Triple Crème was my favorite of the two. It was a little cakier and more pungent, which is how I like my brie. Again, the stronger the cheese the more flavor, at least by the general rule. I have come to really enjoy brie more and more. When I first tried it some 15 years ago, I could not get past that ammonia flavor but, I persevered and here we are and it is one of my favorite styles. I think that cheese would be great on a grilled cheese sandwich. Add some balsamic or even bourbon braised stonefruit and dark chocolate to it, put it on a nice Italian or French bread and grill it up. Now my mouth is watering.

Next up was the Comté. Comté is traditionally a little denser and is smoky or nutty. This that we tried had those qualities, but also a little fruity and silky in texture. I have always enjoyed comté cheese.

But, the best, in my opinion, was yet to come. I have to say bleu cheese is my favorite kind of cheese and that’s saying a lot as I really like all cheese, at least that I have tried. The Roquefort almost made my eyes roll back in my head it was so pungent and acidic, salty and tangy, dreamy and creamy. This stuff was everything a cheese lover could want in a cheese. There are not enough words in the English language to describe how delicious this cheese was. Again, it was better without the bread. The color was bright and the texture silky and crumbly. It fell all over the place as I was eating it. My evening was made right then.

Delicious Bleu

And, while not cheese, I have to say if you have never had Président® French butter, you’ve never had butter. It is like eating flavorful velvet and there is an ever-so-soft hit of nutty in there. That was on the table as well. Try it. Thank me later.

After the wonderful tasting tour, we sat down with Richard Clarke and had a nice conversation with him. I asked him about his history with cheese. “I think it was probably more happenstance, but my father used to bring home different things on Friday night and he and I enjoyed it together. That was our thing,” he said. “He would bring home some ‘stinky cheese’ and I would try those with him. I didn’t always like it but it was always fun to try things and spend time with him. There was one time he made a bleu cheese, diced onion and butter mixture and we put it on our steak. And, from that point on, I could never eat steak without it.”

Tim (me): “So that stinky cheese that you didn’t like so much, at the time, do you like them now?”
R: “Absolutely, I do. That’s the bleu cheese we talked about, and I eat it a lot.”
T: “What is your favorite kind of cheese?”
R: “I kind of like the hard, nutty, textured cheese like Parmesan, Comté, even the Mimolette. But, the Bleus are the ones that put me over the top.”

I asked him about the perfect cheese board with a wine pairing. He said, “If you’re going to a party and you really want to impress people, bring a bottle of rosé, bring a creamy cheese like a Triple Crème, bring a hard cheese like the Mimolette or Comté, and bring some bleu just to round out the flavors. Bring about 5 cheeses. Also, bring a little story about them.”

The cheeses that Richard promotes can be found in just about any major grocer’s cheese section. Richard is from New York, but is traveling with the US Open series and said he likes to visit the local grocery stores and check out their selections. The three that he mentioned by name were Harris Teeter, Publix, and Whole Foods, but I can guarantee you that most of the chains around town and including specialty shops and stores will have these cheeses. If not, Richard said to absolutely ask the cheesemonger about getting it for you.

Richard Clarke (Photo ©15°)

Jim asked about the public’s aversion to stinky cheese and Richard’s argument was spot on. As I mentioned earlier in this article, the stinkier the cheese the more flavorful the cheese, you just have to make it past the smell. He says, “with cheese, you want to see it, smell it, feel it. The smell of it is so important to how it tastes. A lot of people at our sampling today who say they don’t want to try it because it may smell a little bit. But, after I convince them to just try it, it becomes their favorite cheese.”

I mentioned in the interview that people are looking for something to “wow” them and while the tamer cheeses are certainly delicious, you need the stronger aromatics of “stinky cheese” to get that “Wow Factor.” Richard agreed.

Richard asked how many times we have gone to a party and tried a cheese we had never had before and found that you really loved it? Well, because I am a “foodie” and a self-proclaimed “cheese lover,” that happens a good bit. Cheeses of Europe now have an amazing app that acts as an amazing resource for trying, tracking and pairing your favorite, or new favorite cheeses. You can get it for both iPhone and Android devices. I equate it to Untappd, except for cheese.

Richard and his crew did a phenomenal job at presenting one of my favorite things, cheese. They are quite knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to these creamy, pungent and yes, sometimes stinky treats. They will be in the USTA tent through this Saturday, August 25. So grab your tickets, talk with them about fromage (that is French for cheese) and enjoy some tennis. If you don’t make it out to that, download the app and start your own cheese journey. It is the cheesiest! Bon appétit! Oh, and tell them I sent you!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 81

In Episode #81, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

The Tims talk about:

  • Atelier on Trade closes “Forever.”
  • Canteen Market & Bistro opens today
  • Tim and Stephanie visit Penny Path Café & Crêpe Shop.
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Goes to Mozzarella Fellas

Last week, Stephanie and I were invited to Mozzarella Fellas to taste their fare. 

The location is spacey with a comfortable atmosphere. There’s a to-go bar up front where you can watch all the magic happen and then the rest of the dining room has some cool embellishments like sparkly cubes in mason jars dangling from the ceiling. It was nice. The servers were all friendly.

We were told that we were getting a large sampling of their food to give us an idea of what MF was all about.

The first things that came out were the “Fellas Mozzarella” and “Cauliflower Bites.” The Fellas Mozzarella is basically their house-made deep-fried house mozzarella. It was pressed and compact and crunchy, but the cheese inside was gooey. Great seasoning and taste. It was served with their house-made marinara sauce.

Fellas Mozzarella

The Cauliflower Bites came to us (and are on the menu as such) in both buffalo and bbq flavors. I was kind of skeptical when a friend of mine told me about them but, wow. They way they do them, which I assume is grinding them up and pressing them and then frying them and tossing them in sauce, makes these babies taste just like boneless chicken wings or bites. It was amazing how much they really were chicken-like. But, Stephanie was happy that I was eating plants and I was happy that they didn’t taste like cauliflower. You may get a hint of cauliflower here and there and that’s fine. I don’t mind cauliflower, it’s just not my favorite. If I could do this at home, I’d eat much more of them.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Next came the “Fellas Margherita.” This is one of their specialty pizzas with a house-made crust, house-made mozzarella, house-made marinara, garlic, pickled red onions, sweet basil, heirloom tomatoes and a tangy balsamic glaze. The crust was done quite well. It wasn’t overly chewy or tough that you nearly lost teeth pulling apart and it wasn’t burnt. There’s something to be said for wood-fired pizza but I believe this was done in an electric oven. I’m not saying I like one or the other better, I think I like them equally. But, sometimes they can be overdone. The heirloom tomatoes were acidic and more of that house-made mozz. The pickled onions were slightly tart and paired well with this pizza. We have started eating a lot of Caprese salads and this was like that but on pizza crust (which is basically what a Margherita pizza is).

Fellas Margherita

We then got two pappardelle dishes. One was “Pappardelle Carbonara” and the other was my favorite dish of the evening, “Pappardelle Bolognese.” Both are made with house-made pappardelle noodles. The Carbonara is made with smoked prosciutto, egg, black pepper, green onions and parmesan cheese. I loved the creamy egg mixture and salty prosciutto matchup. Black pepper made it earthy while the green onions gave a little bite and all of that’s a great thing. But, the star was the Bolognese. It’s made with an “eight-hour house-made meat sauce,” house-made marinara, basil and Parmesan cheese. The eight-hour meat sauce, I believe is made from veal, beef and pork. It was meaty (I know, duh), acidic with the tomato-y marinara and the earthy basil.

Pappardelle Bolognese

Finally, we were served a “Pie – O – My” dessert pizza. It’s made with the house-made pizza dough, Nutella, strawberries, bananas and coated with a sweet powdered sugar. Yum!

After it settled down a bit, owner Brian Ricciardi was able to come out to speak with us. He’s a young guy and has a passion for what he’s doing. One thing that MF is making a name for themselves doing is having a lot of gluten-free options as well as vegetarian-friendly options and he says that’s a lot of his business. He’s proud of that and that he can offer it to his diners. I have plenty of friends who are either gluten-intolerant, sensitive to gluten or have a full out-and-out gluten allergy. You can get sandwiches on gluten-free bread and small individual pizzas with gluten-free dough.

MF’s sandwich selections include a Philly, grilled chicken, chicken parm, a “Brando” (salami, ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, house mozz, pickled onions, tomato, pesto aioli), a meatball parm, prosciutto, a jackfruit filly (mushrooms, bell peppers, sautéed onions, mozz, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ranch), jackfruit bbq (arugula, pickled onions, fried shallots, ranch) and a vegan chicken parm, which must just mean the chicken because it has mozzarella and parm on it and I don’t think those fall under the moniker of vegan.

Pie-O-My

They have several salads, including the standards and a strawberry arugula salad. I like the sound of that. Sweet juicy strawberries and peppery, crunchy arugula? Yes!

They have make-your-own pizzas and a long list of specialty pizzas. Some of those include the “Camel City” (mozz, marinara, bell peppers, mushrooms, red onions, pepperoni, sausage), “Popeye” (mozz, ricotta, spinach, garlic, olive oil), “S-P-O” (mozz, marinara, sausage, roasted peppers, onions, basil, parm) and a “Nashville Hot Chikin” (mozz, cheddar, pickles, tomatoes, marinara, ranch drizzle). There are plenty more on the menu and remember you can get that on gluten-free dough.

You know one of the things I’m going to look at is the beer and wine selection. He had New Sarum’s 142 Blonde Ale and I really dig that beer. Stephanie had a red wine and I didn’t write that one down. We both liked it, though.

Brian has a great thing going here and he’s a cool guy. We did talk a little about my “official sponsor” DiLisios and it turns out he worked with Maria Di Lisio’s brother at another pizza joint. He spoke highly of them. So, I didn’t feel too guilty that I went to another Italian restaurant. And, really, they do different things so it wasn’t the same anyway.

You can find Mozzarella Fellas at 336 Summit Square Blvd in Winston-Salem (that’s the Sam’s Club parking lot off of University Parkway) or on their website. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And, if you or your friends are gluten-free and are missing your Italian food… this is the place for you. Tell them that I sent you!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 80

In Episode #80, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

We welcome Tim Johnson (that’s right, “The Tims”) to the show as new co-host until Kelly is able to get back to us. The Tims talk about:

  • King’s Crab Shack and Oyster Bar opens its second location today.
  • Tim and Stephanie visit Mozzarella Fellas.
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

Want To Be On a Podcast?

Hiya listeners, readers and soon-to-be-viewers of everything The Man Who Ate the Town. 

As you probably know, Kelly Bone hasn’t been on the podcast in a while. She has not left the podcast. She is still very much the cohost of the show. What she has been doing is working a lot more, she got injured a few weeks back and she’s working on a major life and work project in which she has asked for a little time off. So, with her permission, I’m going to look for a “stand-in” to help me with the podcast until she is able to return.

What am I looking for in a cohost? Well, you need to know about food. Preferably you have at least a slight knowledge of the food scene here in Winston-Salem, or maybe even another town. But, we obviously talk about food and want to make sure that the host(s) are at least as knowledgeable as I am, which could be perceived to be “not much.”

You have to be able to record during the day. Right now, I try to record on Mondays around 3 pm, however, I can do it on Tuesday early afternoon as well. Monday is my preference.

This is a non-paid gig. I make very little money doing what I do and Kelly is a “volunteer.” Any prospective cohosts would need to be as well. You may get some perks but that’s not guaranteed.

This is on an “as-needed” timeline. The moment Kelly is back in the game, the seat is hers. Now, prospective cohosts may be asked to join as a three-person crew, but that isn’t guaranteed.

Prospects must be willing to be on mic, potentially on camera and do some research for the show. It’s not incredibly time-consuming but I do need the cohost(s) to come prepared.

I don’t know how long this gig will go on. I am willing to break it up among several cohosts but my preference is that it be one person willing to sit in.

I don’t care if you are male or female. Just be a good match.

If you have any questions, comments, ideas, or suggestions as to cohosts, send me an email.

Thank you in advance!!

Break

The podcast for The Man Who Ate the Town is going to take the next couple of weeks off. As I said last week, a lot of the food happenings around town are a bit slow. But, don’t worry. The podcast will be back, soon. And, if food news comes along, you can certainly get that news here. The site will still be updated regularly.

Four things that aren’t going anywhere? That’s DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant, The Humblebee Shoppe, Washington Perk and The Lab at Industry Hill!

Dilisio’s Italian Restaurant is the Italian Restaurant in town. The richest, most flavorful sauces with the freshest of ingredients can’t be beaten. Tony and Maria know what they are doing and once you’ve had Dilisio’s, you’ll crave more and not want any other Italian food in Winston-Salem. Find them on social media and on their website. Or, you know what? Just go to 300 Brookstown Ave. and see what I’m talking about!

The Humblebee Shoppe is located at 1003 Brookstown Ave in the West End of Downtown. Visit the bakery for cookies, cakes, pies and other dessert goodies, made just for you. Everything is carefully crafted and made 100% from scratch. The Humblebee Shoppe wants to challenge your perception of scratch made and leave you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! For more information follow them on Facebook and visit the website. Tell Brittany we said, “hi!”

Washington Perk is located at 301 W 4th Street. Wolfies Custard. Larry’s Beans Coffee. Eggs, milk and cheese. Condiments. Bread. Beer and Wine. Need we say more? The Perk has them all. Washington Perk is better than a convenience store, not quite a grocery store.

Industry Hill is a business-minded neighborhood in the former Warehouse District. In the district is Mary’s Gourmet Diner, Black Mountain Chocolate, Broad Branch Distillery, Sunshine Beverages, two breweries, The Ramkat and more to come. To find out more follow them on social media or visit the area’s website. Thanks so much to Industry Hill for having a place for us to bring you our podcasts.

Again, keep an eye on this blog and ears out for the podcast. If we need to break in for “breaking news,” you know we will!

Taking My Place at the Table for a Second Helping

I was honored to be a guest contributor to Triad City Beat, for their “Dinner Guest” column in “Triad City Bites.”

This time around I stayed with the minimalizing sodium theme and talked about making spaghetti sauce. Executive Editor, Brian Clarey, allowed me to use my humor in it and I was proud of the result.

So, if you’ll do me the favor, you can read the article either in the print form, which can be found all around the Triad, or you can read it on their website, and you can do that HERE.

Thank you so very much Brian and Triad City Beat for the opportunity.

And, thank you to our readers and listeners for supporting our blog and podcast.

Pho Hien Vuong Aboard the Triad Touring Tasters Express

Scallops at Willows Bistro

I wrote on Monday that Stephanie and I would be going on a little journey and that I would write about it this week. Today is that day.

We started out at our home base, Willows Bistro, and met up with Mary Lacklen and Deanna Watson, both from Triad Local First and Triad Touring Tasters. We had a fantastic appetizer of scallops with roasted red peppers and oddly enough, lima beans. Stephanie even ate the lima beans, which isn’t something she usually does. And, we also were treated to a lovely beverage of our choice and we both chose the sangrias because they are the best in town.

After the warm-up, we jumped on a beautiful bus with horseshoed seats, lights and a great stereo system. It looked new. The bus was provided by Matt Logan, Inc. and I — The Man Who Ate the Town — recommend them for your business transfers or “party bus” situations.

Group photo @Mary Lacklen

The bus took us to Greensboro to Pho Hien Vuong where we met co-owner Trang Trinh (she along with her brother, Ben own this lovely culinary palace) and several friends and fans of the Triad Touring Tasters. Pho Hien Vuong has been around for a while and has become a favorite among Greensboro diners as well as Winston-Salemites willing to cross the dreaded “Sandy Ridge Line” to get their Pho “eat on.” I can see why it has become so popular.

Trang made sure we were comfortable and took wonderful care of us.

Appetizers from Pho Hien Vuong

The tasting adventure included a round of appetizers featuring “The Appetizer Tray” including a few different styles of wings like Spicy Buffalo and Thai Style Basil, fried and fresh spring rolls, shrimp rolls and fried tofu. I had never had tofu and I tried it. I don’t really care for it but Stephanie does and she said it was good. So, if you’re into tofu, absolutely this is a great place to get it. But, the introduction wasn’t finished there. The rest of the appetizers were delicious. I’m a sucker for peanut sauce and the sauce at Pho Hien Vuong was very good.

We all got what Stephanie and I thought were full bowls of their meatball Pho. Turns out this was a smaller portion than the full bowl. The Pho alone could have been a full meal. Most of the dinner guests had to get to go boxes at the end of the evening. The Pho was so deep in flavor with a cinnamony broth that wasn’t too thick but it wasn’t watery, either. The meatballs were flavorful and seasoned and the clear noodles were so tender. The onions and scallions were a magic touch. This was so good. I am craving more as I type this.

Pad Thai with Seafood

But, wait, there’s more!

Caramelized Chicken w/Ginger

Then came the entrees. Stephanie ordered the Caramelized Chicken with Ginger. This is boneless dark meat chicken slowly simmered in traditional Vietnamese caramel sauce. Pho Hien Vuong uses white meat chicken almost exclusively. The only exception is this dish which uses dark meat. It’s cooked in a caramel sauce and you should know that Vietnamese caramel sauce isn’t the same as American dessert caramel. It’s still a little sweet but is known more for its smokey flavor. The dish was really good.

I was going to order something else, but Trang talked me out of it only because it wasn’t “Thai” but “Hawaiian” and I wanted to try more Asian-style. So, instead, I ordered the Veggie Pad Thai and added seafood to it. This pad thai featured stir-fried noodles with sprouts, scallions, and eggs. Now, I didn’t find a lot of sprouts in mine, which is okay. But, the flavors were slightly salty, sweet, sour and slightly spicy. Topped with ground peanuts added that nutty flavor that I think Thai food should have. Someone asked me about it and I said it was “fantastic.” They said they most they figure from pad thai is that it’s “good” but “fantastic?” I ate all of it, even after all the apps and Pho.

Sticky Rice & Banana

For dessert, we had a sticky rice with banana pudding. Sweet and sticky, just how it was supposed to be. It was in a banana leaf “bowl.”

We were at Pho Hien Vuong on a tour, but we will definitely go back again. The staff was polite and friendly. The ownership was amazing. The company vibrant and fun. And, they had real chopsticks, not bamboo sticks that leave splinters in your mouth.

Triad Touring Tasters (TTT) is part of the Triad Local First concept. The folks in Greensboro don’t want to come to Winston-Salem. Winston-Salemites don’t travel to High Point. Asheboro folks don’t travel far to eat. At least that’s what the overall consensus is. TTT is hoping to at least blur that “Sandy Ridge Line” if not eliminate it altogether. To be clear, the Sandy Ridge Line isn’t just between Winston-Salem and Greensboro, it’s the imaginary magnet that repels all the other culinary magnets in the Piedmont/Triad area.

Winston-Salem talks about having such a great culinary scene, and I agree with “them.” But, our idea of “ethnic” food is Mexican, Italian and “Asian Fusion.” I love all that, but it’s overdone. There are a few places here that have Pho but, it’s not very exciting. Greensboro has a reputation for having a lot of ethnic options but their overall culinary scene is lacking. That may be a myth, it may be a fact. But, we each need to meet one another in the middle while meeting each other on our own turf when it comes to our culinary scenes. We have a lot to learn from each other and what better way to do that than actually get out and try it.

I get it, I don’t feel like driving to Greensboro, High Point and especially not Asheboro to eat, have an adult beverage or two and then have to drive back. But, I don’t mind when there are others with me and we are having good conversations and none of us have to concentrate on the road or worry about getting pulled for intoxicated driving. That’s where TTT comes in.

For one price, you get your gathering location apps and/or beverages and then you transfer via a bus to a place in another city where you’ll try something different than where you started. Your alcoholic beverages are generally extra. There may be other charges but you’ll be informed of those ahead of time. The idea is to introduce the residents of one place to the culinary scenes that surround them that they may never have known about.

So, I’m glad that my first foray into this experience tour was to Pho Hien Vuong because I know this is a place that I can actually frequent when I decide to cross the SRL. Why? Because it is amazing. And, Stephanie works in Greensboro, so she can go there when she wants.

Triad Local First is a non-profit membership organization based in Greensboro, North Carolina, with over 360 members – retail shops, real estate agents, insurance brokers, marketing and advertising firms, accountants, dentists, restaurants, farmers, breweries, and more.

The Mission of Triad Local First, a network of locally owned and independent businesses in North Carolina’s Triad, is to share a commitment to building a strong local economy and a vibrant, unique community.

Pho Hien Vuong is located at 4109 Spring Garden Street in Greensboro.

Willows Bistro is located at 300 S Liberty Street in Winston-Salem.