Carrabba’s Lunar Effects Wine Dinner

Last night, Stephanie and I had the pleasure of getting to attend a wine dinner with our dear friends, The Lowders, at Carrabba’s in Winston-Salem. It was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. Of course, the moon landing was the goal of that mission and it was successful.

The best part was afterward when several of the diners including Stephanie and me, went out with the Astronomy Club and Proprietario of Carrabba’s WS, my friend Daniel Butner, to see extraplanetary and celestial wonders like Saturn, Jupiter (and several of its moons), and our Moon through some cool telescopes. And the kicker? The International Space Station passed by around 9:37 pm or so.

Calabrian Wings

Daniel, a repeat guest on our podcast, is a huge space buff and the fact that the whole of Carrabba’s (nationwide) was doing these dinners across the country was like a dream come true for him. “You mean I get to participate in two of my passions (the restaurant and space) at once?” he asked. Sign him up!

But, this is a food blog, so let’s talk about the dinner, shall we?

First Course: Calabrian Roasted Wings paired with Blue Moon Wheat.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Wings? Beer? At Carrabba’s? Well, that question isn’t too far-fetched. I believe Daniel questioned it, too, but he, like everyone else, totally understood as soon as we tasted the wings. Baked and seasoned and then seasoned with spicy Italian Calabrian peppers. Served with a lovely gorgonzola sauce. I even ate the Calabrian pepper. It was hot but it was tolerable. Great starter. And, we got to keep the commemorative Apollo 11 50th-anniversary pilsner glasses from Blue Moon.

Mezzaluna Carrabba

Second Course: Mezzaluna Carrabba paired with Rocca Delle Macie Moonlite (white blend). 
Mezzaluna translates to “middle-moon” or “half-moon.” These were half-moon shaped ravioli stuffed with chicken, spinach, Ricotta and Romano cheeses and tossed in Alfredo sauce. It was then topped with wood-grilled chicken, stuffed mushrooms and peas. I loved the mezzaluna ravioli.

Pollo Sorrento

Third Course: Pollo Sorrento paired with Alta Lina Pinot Noir.
Wood-grilled chicken stuffed with crispy eggplant, mozzarella and tomatoes then topped with their housemade Lombardo Marsala sauce. I wasn’t big on the Pinot Noir by itself but this dish made the wine POP! Daniel had sent me a picture of the prep of this dish with the eggplant and mozzarella getting ready to become the warming food blanket that it was. That sauce, that Lombardo Marsala sauce kicked this dish up about three notches. It was my favorite dish of the night.

Cinnamon Apple Crostata

Fourth Course: Cinnamon Apple Crostata paired with Saint M Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle.
Crispy cinnamon apple tart with a thin layer of hazelnut filling topped with caramel sauce and mint. A nice, mildly-sweet Riesling to go with the sweetness of the Crostata was a great end to a delicious wine dinner. At least as far as the food goes.

In addition to the stargazing and food, we were presented with a history of the US Space Program into the 70s and a brief talk on the recent Solar Eclipse that happened in 2017 and one that happened two weeks ago. One of the presenters from the Astronomy Club viewed the latest one from Brazil while on “business.” He shared a timelapse video of it. I have always been moderately interested in space stuff but this really made me think a lot about it. I was fascinated all night long.

They’re doing all this again next Tuesday, July 23. There are spaces available. You will not be disappointed. You can sign up by visiting HERE.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 113

Chef Antwan Hairston

In Episode #113 proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

Tim and Ray talk about:

  • Spirits of Summer Festival
  • Tim does a chain, Carrabba’s Italian Restaurant
  • Tim does a food journalist tasting at Mac N Nelli’s
  • Tim talks Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse
  • Tim starts the “Summer of Burgers” with Food Freaks, Mac N Nelli’s and Willows.
  • Food holidays and history.

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!

Spirits of Summer is Back!!

My favorite wine/food festival of the year, the only one that really matters as far as I’m concerned is here!

Tomorrow, Spirits of Summer, the festival that took Salute! and The Texas Pete Culinary Festival and paired them nicely, will be on Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem between Marshall and Spring streets from Noon until 6p. If you haven’t gotten your tix yet, well shame on you! You can get them for $25 but you have to go right now! (before 5pm Friday). If you wait until you get there, that’s okay, too, but the tix are then $30. Still, six hours of all the wine you can taste and food to purchase and the cool shops and bars along Fourth will be open. All that is hard to beat for $30.

It features the best music, food, wine and beer from the region. NC-based wineries and breweries will have tastings that you can then purchase if you like what you taste and local restaurants will be cooking up their goodies for you to purchase. Many local shops and bars along the street will be open and welcome you in for a respite from the heat as well as have things to see, do and purchase.

The big music stage will be set up outside of Foothills Brewing which will also host the after-party that happens, well, after the event around 9p.

The Lowes Foods Demo Tent will be highlighting chefs from WSNC all day. I am hosting two events one at 130p (Chef Richard Miller of Butcher and Bull) and the other at 230p (Chef Tony Dilisio of Dilisio’s one of our sponsors!).

To purchase your tix visit the Spirits of Summer website.

Come have a great time tomorrow. Eat. Drink. Be merry. But, as always, be responsible.


The Man Who Ate the Town Featured in Winston-Salem Monthly Magazine

So, I’ve known about this for a while but I’ve held off on saying anything until I had actual “proof” of it.

©Jay Sinclair

I was featured in the Winston-Salem Monthly Magazine this month, which is “unofficially” their food issue.

Michael Breedlove contacted me to put my two cents in about meals/dishes/etc in Winston-Salem that I just couldn’t live without. They contacted a few of my foodie friends/blogger friends and asked them the same things. Chef Travis Myers and Willows Bistro got my vote (well several of them did, but this was the one that was highlighted as “mine.”). But, that wasn’t the end of it.

Michael also interviewed me about this blog and the podcast that goes with it. So, instead of me doing a lot of “self-horn-honking” I’m just going to point you over that way, for those who aren’t subscribers to Winston-Salem Monthly, which, unfortunately, I am not. But, you should be! It’s a great little publication.

I’ve gotten a few shoutouts because of it. I’m proud of it, I must say. And, I got a Kelly Bone mention in, too!

Here’s the article. Thanks, Michael, Suzy, Jay and all others over at Winston-Salem Monthly!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 74

Chef Jay Pierce (©Triad City Beat)

In Episode #74, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

  • Chef Jay Pierce is the new executive chef at Mozelle’s.
  • Texas Pete Spirits of Summer is this weekend, June 2.
  • Chef Travis Myers to host Chef Cynthia Graubart in a Sunday Supper on June 10.
  • Dave and Buster’s coming to Hanes Mall
  • Zesto Burgers and Ice Cream opens in East Winston.
  • Food Holidays.

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 72

In Episode #72, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

Kelly and Tim talk about:

  • We have a new sponsor! DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant. Hear us rant and rave!
  • Today is Hope Du Jour around WSNC.
  • Josh Trusler announces Shakunin Ramen popup at Roots.
  • O’Brien’s Deli Downtown closes.
  • Subway on Fourth closes.
  • Social Southern Kitchen & Cocktails to open.
  • Incendiary Brewing to open.
  • Food Holidays.

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 Burke Street Food Truck Festival Come Rain or Shine

Sixth Annual Burke Street Food Truck Festival

Tomorrow, April 7, 2018, is the sixth annual Burke Street Food Truck Festival and this year is the biggest one yet.

There will be 70+ trucks with an entire slate of various cuisines, from Italian to Mongolian, Latin to African, Italian Ice to doughnuts. There will be something for everyone there. In addition, there will be beverage service and all the bars and shops along Burke Street, Fourth Street and Brookstown will be open and inviting you to taste their wares.

There is also a ton of vendors there to show off their goods and also there will be some public seating. Three entertainment stages will be set up along the path which reaches from the corner of Fourth and Broad, back to Fourth all the way to First/Fourth/Burke intersection. Plus, there will be things up both sides of Brookstown. The stage at First and Burke is presented by Signature Real Estate, there’s a Ramkat Stage on Brookstown and also a third stage. All full of fabulous entertainment, much from this town. That adds to the intrigue, I think. Swami’s Vintage Flea will have a plethora of vendors. The Winston-Salem Dash will have a Kids’ Zone and there will be an NC Beer Garden, as well. After all, April is NC Beer Month!

VIP tix get you an hour prior to the general population to keep the lines shorter and get more of what you want. Check this link to find more about the VIP tix presented by Allman Spry.

Now, the weather forecast is looking kind of wet. But, this is a rain or shine event and there will be plenty of places to duck into. And, just bring an umbrella. Get out there and support your local events. Don’t worry about getting a little wet.

The festival is presented by PMG Research, whose mission is to bring clinical research to as many lives as possible while delivering unparalleled service and exceptional value to our clinical trial partners and stakeholders. All proceeds from this event go to H.O.P.E. of Winston-Salem which is dedicated to preparing and transporting nutritious meals on Sunday to children in neighborhoods with high food insecurity.

So, not only are you getting great food, great times, great entertainment, but you’re providing help to a very awesome charity. That’s always awesome.

Don’t be afraid to wander into the shops on Burke Street, too. They’ll be open and ready for you. You can get a map of the food trucks by visiting here.

Enjoy! Bon appetit!

West End Cafe and Wise Man Team Up!

Wise Man Brewing is taking over the taps at West End Cafe and Chef Sean McCulley will be creating a special dinner menu to accompany the event, each course made from Wise Man beer. This starts tonight, March 22, when the beer dinner will happen and the takeover will run for a week. So, your “what will I do for dinner tonight” question has been answered!

Wise Man will have three or four taps at West End Cafe.

The special menu will be as follows (the menu is subject to change with availability and is on a first come basis):

Small Plates:
Body Electric IPA-Apricot Glazed Seared Diver Scallops with Arugula Salad and Hibiscus Vinaigrette
Chasing Happiness Hefeweizen Tempura Chicken Skewers with Chili-Coconut Jam and Jicama Slaw

Citrus-Body Electric DIPA Striped Bass en Papillote with Fennel, Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper, Scallion and Carrot over Basmati Rice.
Alt-Acquaintance Braised Pork Ribeye Ribeye with Apple Mostarda and Roasted Red Potato-Bacon Hash

Alt-Acquaintance Beignets with Banana-Hefeweizen Caramel

Of course, the regular full menu will be available as well. There is no preset price as everything is à la carte.
No reservations, no call ahead, just show up and enjoy some delicious food (because it is, after all, West End Cafe) and delicious beer.

West End Cafe is located at 926 W 4th Street in Winston-Salem. For more information call (336) 723-4774. You can always visit them on their Facebook page.

The Beer Dads Go To Cúrate

I know that Winston-Salem is “the town” in The Man Who Ate the Town. But, every once in a while you have to step outside the box. Sometimes that’s to Greensboro or High Point. Sometimes it’s further out. This time it is Asheville, NC.

Yep, Stephanie and I went up the hill (I can’t call NC mountains “mountains” being as I’m from WV; these are hills) but we didn’t go alone. We met up with my cohorts from The Beer Dads, Jon Lowder and Paul Jones and their pilots Celeste and Susan (respectively). We were going up to celebrate Susan’s birthday month. It was a milestone one and I won’t get into which milestone that is. We set out to have a grand time with some great food, great drinks, and especially great company. We got all of that in abundance.

But, this post is about one restaurant in particular. This restaurant is called Cúrate (pronounced coo – rah – tay). Cúrate means to cure yourself in Spanish, or according to their website, to eat Spanish tapas. That’s what the restaurant specializes in, tapas. It has a reputation for being amazing and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. Paul and Susan had been there before and the restaurant had changed a bit, expanded, since then.


Our server, Michael, got drink orders from us all, which we opted for the pitcher of red sangria. The glasses were kind of small but perfect for the setting and the service. Each pitcher got us about two glasses each and there were six of us. Twelve glasses is a good amount for a pitcher. The sangria wasn’t overly boozy and it also wasn’t overly winey. The fruit didn’t take over either. To me, it was a perfect blend. It was very refreshing and light but you still felt like you were getting your drink on.

Tabla de Jamónes

Michael then explained to us the concept of the “Spanish Experience.” That is where Michael and the chefs come up with a custom menu for the table, ensuring we all get to try each item, and they bring until we say we can’t have anymore. We decided, as a table, that this was the right course for us. Basically, he asks us questions like: are there any food allergies or is there anything you just won’t eat? The answer to both was no. I was willing to eat (around) asparagus had it come out on a plate. I don’t know how much asparagus is used in Spanish cooking. Something to research, I guess. Paul ate octopus and while it wasn’t his favorite dish, he said it wasn’t “bad.” Props for that. And, I think we were all ready to experiment and just try new stuff. That’s the point, right?

Pan de Cristal con Tomate

Before we got into the heart of the meal, we did order something from the “para el aperitivo” (appetizers) and “charcuteria y quesos” (charcuterie and cheeses). We had the tabla de jamónes or a selection of all four of their cured hams. Most of these were Ibérico pigs. The difference in the four was the length of aging and the cut of meat. They ranged from being cured one year up to three years. The nutty flavor of the Ibérico and the stronger flavor of the longer aged pig was magnificent. We got that at the same time we also had the pan de cristal con tomate which is toasted crispy bread with fresh tomato, garlic, and olive oil. With that, we got the manchego cheese. So, let me explain something. When you take the manchego cheese and have that with the Ibérico ham and the chase it with the tomato bread… magnífico!

Gambas al Ajillo

Then came the fantastic Spanish Experience.

First, we had the gambas al ajillo which was sautéed shrimp with sliced garlic, sherry, and a chili. To me, the one thing that made this one of my favorite dishes of the night was that broth! The broth was spiced just right, the right consistency, garlicky, and when they bring you sliced bread, you sop that broth up – greedily. I was moaning and laughing I was so giddy and the table laughed at me for it. I deserved the laugh but it was so good. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, not overcooked and it was tender. The garlic slices were sautéeed with the shrimp in the sherry and I just shuddered writing this. This dish was so darned good.

Berenjenas con Miel

Berenjenas con Miel
One of the surprises of the night! This was fried eggplant drizzled with wild mountain bees honey and garnished with rosemary. I’m not the biggest fan of eggplant but ¡Dios mío! this was great stuff. The eggplant, fried, wasn’t watery but it wasn’t chewy, either. It was easy to cut through with a knife but firm. The wild bees honey was so sweet but savory as well. Add the rosemary and those flavors burst in your mouth. It was one of the dishes that we all talked about the rest of the night and some of the next day. Stephanie is a huge fan of eggplant so it was definitely one of her faves.

Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la Gallega
Galician-style octopus served warm with sea salt, olive oil, Spanish paprika, and Yukon Gold potato purée. This was the oddest dish of the evening. I enjoy octopus. It’s a little chewy but usually flavorful. This was indeed that. It had a warmth from the Spanish paprika and it was prominent. That spicy was a little offset by the sea salt and olive oil. The meat itself was chewy but it wasn’t overly so. It was near-perfect consistency. The potato purée was very smooth. Almost too smooth to know it was even potatoes. Almost. They were buttery and were a nice compliment to the octopus. I believe it was the least favorite of the table. It was my least favorite but I also didn’t mind it.

Pimientos de Piquillo Rellenos

Pimientos de Piquillo Rellenos
This was one of my favorite dishes, as well. Roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with Spanish goat cheese. The peppers were sweet and powerful while the goat cheese was creamy, earthy and only subtlely tart. It was a perfect marriage of those flavor profiles. I have mentioned many times about how I’m a sucker for microgreens and there were some nice earthy microgreens on this dish. I couldn’t believe the deep red color of the peppers. Their texture was fleshy as you’d want a pepper but so very tender. I can’t write enough adjectives to describe how good this was.

Pincho Moruno

Pincho Moruno
Moorish spice marinated lamb skewers carry a little of its marinating juices on a plate with housemade pickled cucumbers. The lamb was good bite-sized morsels that were cooked to a medium rare temperature. It was so succulent and juicy. I could taste hints of cumin, cilantro (or coriander), cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg in there among others. The meat wasn’t at all chewy. In fact, when I held it in my mouth, it melted. Of course, I sopped up some of the spice marinade, too. The pickles reminded me of Niki’s Pickles but they were made there. A briny concoction that wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t too heavy on the dill. I like pickles that are a good balance of the in-between of those profiles. There was none of this left.

Migas con Verduras

Migas con Verduras
Another odd dish for me and one of my least favorites, but others around the table were oohing and aahing over it. Still, I did like what I had, I just didn’t want a lot of it. It was fried breadcrumbs with roasted brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and raisins finished with a celery root/yogurt mousse. The meal was crunchy and you didn’t taste the oil, you tasted the bread, the veggies, and the fruit. Sometimes fried things leave too much of the oily taste from its cooking. The mousse was creamy and earthy, but the lemon zest on top of it gave it a fresh and vibrant kick. Like I said it wasn’t my fave but I did think it was done well. The next three items came out about the same time.

Migas con Verduras

Setas al Jerez
Sautéed mushrooms with a splash of sherry. I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms but I have really started to get into the oyster mushrooms from our own local Gnomestead Hollow and these had both oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms. There was a third variety in there and I don’t remember what that was. The sherry made a sort of umami-flavored sauce that coated the mushrooms, adding to their earthy flavor. The mushrooms were very tender and had a slight hint of saltiness.

Patatas Bravas
These crispy fried potatoes were topped with a slightly spicy tomato and garlic sauce. They were a bit red and its color was beautiful. Unfortunately, my picture for these didn’t come out very well, so I left that out. The potatoes were indeed crispy but not too hard. I don’t like my potatoes nuggets of rocks, I like them to be firm on the outside and soft on the inside. These were that, just with a bit of a bite on the back end. The potatoes weren’t spicy hot but were spicy “warm.” You could still taste the potatoes through the sauce. That’s a plus.

Cerdo Ibérico a las Finas Hierbas

Cerdo Ibérico a las Finas Hierbas
Another of my personal faves of the evening. Grilled Fermin pure Ibérico pork “skirt steak” with fresh rosemary and thyme. Oh. My…! This was great stuff. The pork steaks were perfectly medium/medium rare and there was this crust around the tips. Wow. The herbs were so prevalent in the flavor, too. Thin slices but, oh so juicy. I fell in love the first time I had Ibérico pork at Spring House. This made me fall in love all over again. There is nothing like Ibérico pigs from Salamanca. Now, the trick here was to have a piece of the potato, a bit of the mushroom mixture and this at the same time. Luckily, everyone was getting full and they were keeping back a bit. That left room for me (the fat guy) to have a little bit extra. Man…

Flan de Huevo


Flan de Huevo
Orange-saffron egg flan with smoked caramel and sherry poached raisins. This delightful, sweet custard was warm but cool at the same time and the whipped cream made it extra fluffy. The sherry poached raisins were thick and saucy, too. Great addition.

Tarta de Manzana
Apple tart with roasted apple butter, goat milk pastry cream, hazelnut praline and crème fraîche. The glaze of the roasted apple butter was amazing. It was tart and the goat milk pastry cream, tangy. If this was had earlier in the evening, it would have been even better but we were all getting stuffed by this point.

Tarta de Manzana

So, our one pitcher of sangria turned into two. Susan had a couple of beers and then I had to do something silly (but fun). I tried the Spanish porrón, which is a drinking vessel that is a lot like a watering can for your indoor plants. Some call it a wine bong and that’s pretty much what it is. A filling shaft, a belly, and a pouring spout. It’s meant to be used communally so the idea is to pour it into your mouth, extend your arm, still pouring and then bring it back. Well, all that is well and good except the bringing it back. That was kind of difficult. I was really the only one to pull it away from my face. I ended up with shandy (Estrella lager mixed with lemonade) all in my beard, up my nose, in my lap and so on. The table close to us was having a ball watching me.

Tim doing the Porrón

So, the night came to a close and we did a communal check divided three ways. We were all bracing for the worst because we didn’t hold back. It was a celebration, it was meant to be a blowout and we expected it to be really bad. Divided three ways, it came down to (pre-tip) about $118 per couple. I was expecting $120 per person with all that, but it wasn’t. The food was really reasonably priced and so very good. We were all in shock.

Michael took such good care of us, never letting our water glasses get empty, pouring the sangria when someone was low, choosing our food, expediting that food (with the help of his friends) and entertaining us. He also helped me keep track of what we were having on the giant menus I got to bring home.

I have dined in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, London, Edinburgh, Walt Disney World, Costa Rica, Charlotte, Wilmington, and so on. I’ve been a few places. This was a Top FIVE dining experience for me. The food, the service, the ambiance, the experience. Five stars over here. I think we were all taken aback by the amazing time they provided for us.


I will say that I believe you should experience this restaurant in a larger group, say six or more people. I believe if you’re just two people your choices will be more limited because you’ll eat more at once and not spread it out. It’s a great time with your friends. It was a great time with mine! Memories we won’t soon forget. I told the assistant manager that.

Cúrate is located at 13 Biltmore Ave, in Asheville. Find more about them on their website and on Facebook. We are already talking about our next Beer Dads trip there and taking even more friends!

Willows Bistro and Wise Man Brewing Making Wonderful Tastes Together

On Sunday, February 25, Willows Bistro‘s Chef Travis Myers and his fantastic crew and staff provided guests an opportunity to pair their culinary delights with the liquid gold that is Wise Man Brewing‘s beer.


Chef Travis wanted to showcase the quality of beer that is made here in Winston-Salem and what better way to do that than with one of the top chefs in the area? And, he delivered. He delivered big. What diners were treated with was a ten-course (which turned into around 12 courses) pairing with five Wise Man brews.

There was no one who left out of there not satisfied. I know of no one complaining they didn’t get enough food.

Let’s talk about the courses.

Mountain Calling Beer Cheese

Starting off the shindig was the pork rinds from Harmony Ridge Farms. Willows do them in-house but the skins come from the hog that they butcher. It’s deep-fried and spiced with scallion ash and micro shungiku from Fair Share Farms. When you bite into it, it’s crispy but then it melts in your mouth – and I mean melts. Delicious.

NC Coconut Shrimp and Beer Battered Onion Rings

Mountain Calling ‘Beer Cheese’ Chowder
Beautiful pancetta, monkfish from Low Country Shellfish, fingerling potatoes, micro ruby streaks and scallion ash from Fair Share Farms and this was paired with the Wise Man Dance in the Sun Kölsch and the Mountain Calling West Coast IPA. The idea was to have both beers and see which one you thought paired better with the dish. The beer cheese chowder was creamy and delicious. The monkfish, which Chef Travis calls the “poor man’s lobster,” was tender and perfectly cooked, it also nicely complemented the salty pancetta. And, since it has been a while since I have written a pairing review, let me state, right off the bat that I love any micro-green that comes from Fair Share Farms. Eliot and Em create tiny green miracles in their greenhouses. I am not the world’s biggest IPA fan so the Dance in the Sun Kölsch wins that contest.

Coconut Fried NC Shrimp & Mountain Calling Beer Battered Onion Rings
Coconut Fried NC Shrimp & Mountain Calling Beer Battered Onion Rings, Dance in the Sun-wasabi aïoli, Plum Granny Farm‘s ginger glaze, NC shrimp powder mad in-house by the Willows folk from all the leftover shells that don’t get used for stocks and other cooking needs (I think that’s clever), topped with orange zest. This too was paired with both the Dance in the Sun and Mountain Calling IPA. Again, the Kölsh wins that battle. I love when chefs take beer and incorporate it into other things like batter for the onion rings (and possibly the shrimp) and creating a wasabi aïoli. I especially like it when it’s done with the beer that you’re tasting. That’s keeping the theme. The shrimp wasn’t overcooked. Chef Travis told the secret to great shrimp during his introductions. He knows what he’s doing.

Crispy Duck

Pork Belly Croquette

Harmony Ridge Farms Crispy Duck
Crispy Duck from Isaac at Harmony Ridge Farms with Alt Acquaintance fermented mustard seeds, Fair Share Farms’ ruby streaks, fermented green tomato from Gnomestead Hollow – pickled and jus vinaigrette, pickled seed powder. This was paired w/ Alt Acquaintance – Altbier from Wise Man. I could have eaten a whole plate of the duck. That was delicious. Duck sometimes can be gamey but these ducks are exercised and allowed to roam the property at Harmony Ridge, it was tender and not at all gamey with a nice crispy shell, done to the perfect temperature. This matched perfectly with the malty Alt Acquaintance. More on that beer later. One of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Harmony Ridge Farms Pork Belly Croquette 
Ever since Stephanie and I spent time in Europe and fell in love with croquettes, we have wanted to try to make our own and we try to eat them anywhere we can find them. This pork belly and smoked risotto version of it was amazing. The risotto was creamy and the pork belly rich in flavor. The pickled mustard seed, confit pearl onion, pot likker, as well as the nasturtium & micro chard from Fair Share Farms were an ideal accompaniment. It was creamy and savory and the onions were very tender, too. This was once again paired w/ Mountain Calling IPA and that made for a fine dish. Another of my faves.

Pickled Okra

Plum Granny Farm Cajun Jewel Pickled Okra
The Cajun Jewel from the great folks at Plum Granny Farms pickled in brine, with extra virgin olive oil from Olinda Olives with micro shungiku from Fair Share Farms. I don’t like okra and I ate every bit of it. So that is telling you something, right?

Roasted Carrots

Roasted Local Carrot Variations
As the name implies, this is a group of roasted local carrot variations. I saw them peeling and prepping them earlier in the day. Take those carrots, roast them and top them with Fair Share Farms’ micro carrot tops, Bertie County Peanuts, red curry, seed oil and Sea Love Sea Salt‘s garlic salt, then shave a bit of Goat Lady Dairy‘s Providence cheese and you have some flavor bursts here.  If you’ve not had Goat Lady Dairy’s Providence, it’s earthy, nutty, creamy and a little bit umami. I can eat that on its own. This course was paired with the Alt Acquaintance and the malty altbier mixed fabulously with that Providence cheese.

Hen Roulade

Joyce Farms Hen Roulade
Hen from Joyce Farms with a Shiitake soubise from Myers Mushroom with Harmony Ridge Farms celery root and Fair Share Farms pea shoots all in a broth made from Miso Master miso and Plum Granny Farms’ ginger. This is paired with Noble Alchemy, Farmhouse/Saison. Rolled and filled hen was earthy and meaty. Doused in the miso-ginger broth, the savory saltiness lends a good dichotomy to the earthiness of the mushrooms and micro greens.

Bone Marrow

Bone Marrow
Southern Food’s bone marrow (in-bone) with Myers Mushrooms’ shiitake mushrooms fried in pork fat from Yellow Wolf Farm, creole-miso aïoli from Miso Master, ponzu, zest, Fair Share Farm’s micro cilantro and Sea Love’s citrus salt. This, too, was paired with Noble Alchemy Farmhouse/Saison. Perhaps the scariest plate of the night. Really, it was just imposing. It was a half bone with the marrow right in there. Chef Travis had us scoop it out with a spoon. This was a bit pasty but that was just how you wanted it. Chef Travis loves charred bread and he highly recommended that you put the marrow on the bread. When you spread it and tasted it, it was kind of like butter. Earthy, umami-like which was very nice with the shiitake. I heard some people around me moaning; that’s how well it was liked. I preferred it without the bread because I don’t like hard bread. It tears up the roof of my mouth. The high malt/low hop profile of the Noble Alchemy was good with the buttery umami of the marrow. I also know that several folks took the bones home to their dogs.


Yellow Wolf Farms Porchetta
Kune Kune Porchetta from Yellow Wolf Farms with Moss Farms‘ Mutsu apple mostarda, Lusty Munk Mustard‘s Original Sin, Mountain Foods‘ butternut squash, golden beet from Harmony Ridge Farms, Fair Share Farms’ micro beet, seed & pancetta powder, apple cider and 3-day pork demi. This was paired with Dancing Problems English Brown from Wise Man. Absolutely my favorite dish of the night. I love porchetta. I love the top cut with the belly rolled up into a delicious bundle just waiting for me to bite into it. And, what goes better with pork but apples and mustard, right? Man, this was the pièce de résistance. The English Brown and its chocolatey maltiness also lent to this dish being so fantastic. That porchetta, though…

Beer Float

Satisfy My Soul Beer Float
Wise Man’s Satisfy My Soul Stout with salted caramel, vanilla ice cream, nuts turtle style! Scott from Wise Man said, “just stir it all up and drink it!” The salted caramel with the salty nuts and this chocolatey stout, well, that’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. You needed a spoon and then you just chugged it, nuts and all. Rich and creamy but delicious.


The Humblebee German Chocolate Macaroon
The Man Who Ate the Town official sponsor, The Humblebee Shoppe, and our dear friend Brittany McGee, created a magical cookie sandwich with a ganache that makes you say “oh my gosh.” Yeah, that’s cheesy, but it’s true. I can’t tell you or describe in words how good this was. This is paired w/ Alt Acquaintance – Altbier and Satisfy My Soul Stout. Macaroons aren’t easy to make and Brittany is a macaroon maven. I loved both the altbier and the stout but the stout won the contest.

Apple Tart

Apple Tart
In probably the absolute most perfect beer pairing of the night, in my opinion, this apple tart, made with custard, spiced crumb, a variety of apples from Moss Farms and cheddar cheese-laced crust, was paired with the Mountain Calling – West Coast IPA. I know I talk that I don’t really care for IPAs but, wow. In this case, however, the spices and the cheddar cheese were made to marry the flavors in this IPA. I was darn-near stuffed when I had this put in front of me. I am not a fan of apples, either, but the flavors in this dessert popped and popped hard. The porchetta was my favorite dish but this was my favorite pairing. 

The Beer
Wise Man, since arriving on the scene just over a year ago, has taken this town by storm with their flavors and their mastery of the brew. Sam Victory, the head brewer, is the Wizard of Hops if you ask me.

Mountain Calling West Coast IPA – Dry-hopped with a pound and a half per barrel of Citra, this clean and crisp IPA resonates with strong citrus and floral qualities. It’s hoppy but it’s not offensive to the tongue. It’s pretty easy to drink, especially with its pairings (and extra especially with the apple tart). 

Dance In the Sun Kölsch – The Kolsch is a delicate and elegant, crisp and quaffable brew originating in the city of Cologne. A tantalizing touch of sweet apple on the front leads into a light base of German pilsner malt, with Noble Saaz overtones. I love when I can taste “hay” in the beer. That crispness, especially with the apple notes, that’s just splendid and I preferred it with its pairings over the IPA.

Alt Acquaintance Altbier – A rich and clean malt profile is balanced with wonderful German hop character. Toast, nuttiness, and a hint of cherry mark the palate, while a smooth finish concludes this cup of kindness. The nuttiness and hints of cherry were fantastic and, again, paired perfectly with that crispy duck!

Noble Alchemy Saison / Farmhouse Ale – Dry-hopping adds a blast of orange to a rustic base of fruit, herbs, and spice. The beer transcends its roots, awash with gold and nutmeg spice, and presents a mid-palate pop of bubblegum ester, banana, and a dozen other impressions. Low impact but formidable in flavor, nonetheless. Sam and pals did a good job with this one.

Dancing Problems English Brown Ale – Get on the good foot with this Northern English brown ale. Rich mocha and brown sugar slide in with each sip, while almonds and spice linger to dance on your tongue. Put that with the porchetta and you have a dream in your mouth and in your belly!

Satisfy My Soul Stout – A less-attenuative English ale yeast allows the beer to keep a hint of residual sweetness that expresses bready, chocolatey, and lightly roasted notes from the complex malt bill. I think it was like a roasted marshmallow and was perfect with the ice cream float.

Of course, the food offerings were special but you can find culinary delights at Willows Bistro in form of daily specials or even on their everyday menu. You can find them at 300 S Liberty Street.

Wise Man produces beer year-round and their taproom is open 7 days a week.

I highly recommend you try both of them because it will certainly be worth your time.

Thank you to Chef Travis, Chef Brent, Chef Terrell, the rest of the kitchen staff, Lele, Erica, Jamie and, of course, Ryan for all you always do at Willows and thank you Scott for bring the beer to us and making us happy!