A Movie Review: The Missing Ingredient

I was given the opportunity to screen and review a film for the RiverRun International Film Festival. You may ask yourself, why am I reading a movie review on a food blog? Well, it’s because the film is about food, sort of. It’s about two restaurants in New York City; one that was an “institution” and well known with a large repeat clientele and one that is MIngr_posternewer, still trying to find its place and purpose. The film is a documentary called The Missing Ingredient (2015), directed by Michael Sparaga.

Two restaurants. Two stories.

Gino’s, a multi-decade establishment (it opened in 1945), a staple in Manhattan’s Upper East Side achieved international status, partially due to its food, mostly because of the atmosphere and practically because of its red wallpaper adorned with two zebras, the smaller missing a stripe with arrows. It was a busy, no reservation, hipster haven (when being a hipster was cool in the 60s and 70s) that drew celebrities, dignitaries and other important people and was a way of life; probably more than being a restaurant.

Pescatore, is a Midtown Italian restaurant that has been somewhat popular since 1993, but just can’t gain traction and is dealing with stiff competition of other restaurants that are moving in around it, especially since the focus of the neighborhood has shifted. Now, that Charles Divigne, the new restaurateur of Pescatore wants to try other tactics, a different approach to attract new business to his establishment. He decides to “borrow” something from Gino’s. The move is controversial and the reaction is mixed. This film examines why only a handful of eateries of over 24,000, especially in New York, ever reach the status of “institution.” I don’t know that it ever finds its answer but the question is interesting.

The film interviews the former owners, other restaurateurs and long-time regulars of Gino’s about what made the now closed establishment an “institution.” The film explores the reasons for that closure and the emptiness left in the lives of those who called it their second home. Conversely, you hear the perspective of Devigne about his decision-making and the designers quitting in the process, searching for the “missing ingredient” to put his restaurant on the map. You do have to suffer the arrogance of the executive chef of Pescatore (whose name I don’t recall ever being mentioned) and Gael Green, former food critic for New Yorker magazine, but mostly the documentary felt genuine, even when you yourself may question why Devigne does what he does.

Being a lover of food and also being a fan of the behind-the-scenes aspect, this film gave me a lot to go on. I think you’ll enjoy it, too. The film is being shown at 1:00 pm, at the Hanesbrand Theatre, located at 209 North Spruce Street in Winston-Salem. Tickets can be purchased at the Stevens Center Box office or by visiting RiverRunFilm.com.

Bon Appetit!

Restaurant Week is Back

The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership’s Restaurant Week is almost here! The new restaurant weekannual event is running this year from Monday, February 22 through Sunday, February 28. The event is to highlight the restaurants as well as our beloved downtown and its fantastic aesthetic and diverse nightlife. Each location will offer specials intended to entice you to try their wares as well as that of their colleagues.

The list of restaurants in the downtown Winston-Salem area is out and available for your perusing. You can see the full details of the event here. To highlight just a few of the establishments and a sample of their specials to whet your whistle:

DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant$30 Special – 1 shared Appetizer, 2 Baked Dishes, 1 Shared Canoli.

Willow’s Bistro & Bar:
$20 Special – 
1st Course: cup of soup or salad
2nd Course: Grilled Scottish Salmon: over wild mushroom risotto, asparagus coins, shaved manchego.
3rd Course: Makers Mark creme brulee with fresh berries

$30 Special –
1st Course: roasted veggies or grilled romaine
2nd Course: Grilled 8oz. Cafe Steak: over gouda mac n cheese, grilled asparagus, & fried onion rings
3rd Course: Sous Vide Banana Pudding

King’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar:
$20 Special – Full Bucket – Dreamy Steamy Bucket: steamed mix of spiced up snow crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters

$30 Special – Bucket for Two – Dreamy Steamy Bucket: steamed mix of spiced up snow crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters

Meridian:
$30 Per Person –
Choice of Starters:
Soup du Jour
Little Gem Artisan Lettuce Salad: with roasted tomato, English cucumber, house made crouton & aged red wine vinaigrette

Choice of Entree:
House Made Pasta of the day(eg. Ravioli, Lasagna, Manicotti)
Pan Seared NC Mountain Trout: with starch, vegetable & sauce
Grass Fed Bistro Steak Lyonnaise: with pommes frites, dressed artisan lettuce & Meridian steak sauce

Choice of Housse Made Dessert:
Bread Pudding: with caramel & creme chantilly
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
Dark Chocolate Torte with ganache & creme chantilly

Mellow Mushroom:
$20 Dinner for Two –
Choice of 2 lil’ salads (tossed or caesar)
1 medium 1-topping pizza to share
1 brownie sundae to share

$30 Dinner for Two –
Choice of Hummus or Bruschetta appetizer to share
1 large specialty pizza to share
1 brownie sundae to share

Mission Pizza:
$20 Special –
1 pizza of your choice, green salad, and daily dessert

$30 Special –
2 pizzas of your choice OR 1 pizza of your choice and 1 plate of your choice, and dessert

Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar:
Classic Spring House: $20 –
Choice of seasonal soup or HOUSE salad
The Colonel 2.0.16: crispy buttermilk fried chicken atop corn waffle with brown sugar smoked apple infused maple drizzle
Warm Bread Pudding
**please no substitutions

Winter’s Bounty: $30 –
Shrimp and Crab Beignets with Red Beet and Horseradish Remoulade
Choice of seasonal soup or HOUSE salad
Fred Flintstone’s Pork Shank: Savannah inspired red rice with lemon, parsley and dijon bread crumbs and HOUSE pepper jelly
**please no substitutions

Camino Bakery:
$20 Special –
Bag of Krankies whole coffee beans and a loaf of bread of your choice

$30 Special –
Bag of Krankies whole coffee beans, loaf of bread of your choice, and a bottle of Honoro Vera Garnacha

There are plenty more wonderful restaurants participating. Again, see the full list on the DWSP website.

A few disclaimers that are very important here:

*Restaurant Week Specials are dine-in only so, no take outs.
*Restaurant Specials are subject to change and that’s a possibilty. The prices exclude tax and tip. Take care of those who take care of you.
*If you’ve a food allergy, questions about ingredients or any other special restrictions, please check with individual restaurants.
*Restaurant Week Specials are subject to availability; they may, and often do, run out of the Special.
*Please check with restaurants prior to dining if you have questions about the Specials; don’t call the DWSP about it, they’re not in control of that info.
*If they run out of the Special, the restaurant is not obligated to provided a replacement dish.
*Coupons are not accepted in conjunction with these specials. Check with restaurants for coupon policies.

If there is an error on this page, the official restaurant special at the Restaurant is correct; I’m but a guide through the awesome food land and I have been known to almost make a mistake a time or two.

The important thing here? Go enjoy delicious food and support local establishments. You never know who you may see out there!

Former Winston-Salem Shop Gets AMBUSHed

When Justin and Sarah Hummell were in Winston-Salem, they owned Cafe Roche Coffee Shop in Ardmore (where Ardmore Coffee is now). They were the “Official Coffee Sponsor” of the pop culture podcast that I produce called The Less Desirables. We were heartbroken when they moved away to start SiP Bistro, but we were glad they were following their dreams. They are now in Holly Springs, NC.

This past week, SiP was taken over by the Food Network’s makeover show, “Restaurant Impossible: AMBUSH” hosted by Chef Robert Irvine and produced by former Double Dare (and Family Double Dare) host, Marc Summers. They were featured in the Triangle, NC’s own News & Observer. I’ll let that article speak for itself. Be warned, the article was kind of poorly written, but it tells the story. Enjoy! And, much congratulations to Justin and Sarah! We miss you guys!

Read the article here.

Famed Chef Paul Prudhomme has Died

by Timothy G Beeman II

I’ve never been to New Orleans. I know as a “foodie” (if that’s what we really are) that’s almost sacrilege but it’s true. I’d love to go someday and for no other reason but for the food. One place that I’d really like to go to would be K-Paul’s

Chef Paul (photo ©ChefPaul.com)

Chef Paul (photo ©ChefPaul.com)

Louisiana Kitchen. From what I have heard (and not being there and experiencing it) that pretty much changed the rules for a lot of things in the culinary world. I can still go there but it won’t be the same without Chef Paul Prudhomme. Instead of trying to make up something I really don’t know about I’m going to include a link to the article I read about his passing. Enjoy!

http://www.nola.com/dining/index.ssf/2015/10/paul_prudhomme_dies.html

All rights reserved to the owner/writer/publisher of the article as listed within

Empty Bowls: Ending Hunger One Artfully Crafted Bowl at a Time

By Timothy G Beeman II

Have you ever eaten out of a piece of art?  I’m not talking about an old McDonald’s Happy Meal box with drawings and games on the outside.  I mean an actual piece of art?  On Wednesday, April 22, you’ll get your chance. The following excerpts are from the SHFBNWNC press release:

“Foodies and art lovers alike are anticipating the wildly popular 14th annual Empty Bowls, the signature event for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

“The drop-in luncheon, presented by Texas Pete® Sauces, will be held from 11am until 2pm at the Millennium Center in downtown Winston-Salem. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door, and include lunch donated by the area’s top restaurants and a choice of one bowl from a selection of handcrafted and painted pottery bowls donated by area artists.

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Empty Bowls 2015

“‘The bowl that each guest selects is not used at the event,’ explains James Caldwell, Development Manger of Special Events for Second Harvest Food Bank. ‘It remains empty as a reminder of our neighbors struggling against hunger.’

“The event will also feature a fabulous silent auction and the Empty Bowls Store, filled with an array of hand crafts, Empty Bowls branded items and stocks of sweet and savory selections prepared by Providence Catering of Triad Community Kitchen. All event proceeds support Second Harvest Food Bank’s food distribution programs and special meal programs for children, including the BackPack Program, commemorating 10 years of making hunger-free weekends possible for kids in need; Kids Cafes; School Pantries and summer feeding initiatives.

“Free parking and shuttle service are available at the event. To purchase tickets online, visit: hungernwnc.org.”

Tim Beeman (of this food blog, the food news and views podcast, Tart & Tangy Triad and the pop culture podcast, The Less Desirables) will be a “Floor Ambassador” for the event from 10:30 until 12:30 (or beyond).  He hopes to see you out there and to shake your hand and get you set up with a meal for a great cause.

SHFBNWNC also wants to bring attention to the event’s generous sponsors: Presenting sponsor – Texas Pete® Sauces; Signature sponsor – Food Lion; Potter’s Wheel sponsors The Abe & Miriam Brenner Foundation, BB&T, Harris Teeter, Reynolds American, Inc., The Sawtooth School for Visual Art and Wells Fargo & Company; Media sponsor – The Winston-Salem Journal; and Contributing sponsors An Originals By You, The Millennium Center and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC is the leading hunger relief organization for an 18 county service area (Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin), working in partnership with more than 400 local food assistance programs that include food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and special feeding programs for children and seniors. Together they provide critical nutritional support for nearly 300,000 neighbors in need each year, including 100,000 children, as we passionately pursue an end to hunger through outreach, education and advocacy. Special Second Harvest Food Bank programs include special initiatives to combat childhood hunger, the Triad Community Kitchen culinary job training program, Nutrition Education Services and others. To learn more, visit hungerncnwnc.org. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.  Second Harvest Food Bank is part of Feeding America.

Make a date to end hunger on April 22.

Small Batch Beer Releasing Beer Based on Old Salem

From the Small Batch Beer Facebook Invite:

“Small Batch and Old Salem Museums & Gardens have teamed up to offer a limited edition beer based on a historic recipe that dates to the late 1700’s. In celebration of NC Beer Month we are releasing this limited supply for all to try!”

View the invite here.

Weather Can’t Stop Restaurant Week

It’s Thursday, which means the week is almost over.  However, there are three more days of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership Restaurant Week left! That’s until February 21st!restaurantweek The weather has been crazy but these restaurants are still cranking out awesome deals and even more awesome food.  Be sure to go to the DWSP site to find out more.

The Man Who Ate the Town: A Food Blog Switches Formats and Address

Guess who made the jump to WordPress from Blogger?  That’s right, Tim & Stephanie did.  We were able to drop the annoying “I’m” on the front of the web address, as well.  So what used to be “ImTheManWhoAteTheTown.blogspot.com” is, for now, “TheManWhoAteTheTown.wordpress.com”

We’re keeping the format that we chose at the end of January, we’re still doing restaurant reviews as we get to them, but we’re going to focus more on the “Tart & Tangy Triad” aspect and let it be “Food News & Views” based.  Keep an eye out for posts and interact with us, that’s why we’re here.

Have a great day!

No Personality Equals No Return

Chelsee’s Coffee is a cute, artsy, boutique coffee shop in the middle of the historic Arts District of downtown Winston-Salem; Trade Street specifically.  It owes most of its business to the placement, not so much its product.  Residents and urbanites that work downtown have coffee options.  Many, many coffee options.

4th Street dwellers have Camino Bakery (our preference) or the brand new Washington Perk & Provision Company.  5th Street consumers have Starbucks (if you’re into subpar chain coffee) or venture to the aforementioned 4th Street locales.  East of Liberty Street peeps and those who want trendy, over-roasted and sometimes burnt options over substance go to Krankie’s.  Trade St. gets Chelsee’s.

I will admit that we didn’t actually get coffee on this trip.  We were wanting to try the smoothies that they advertised both in the store and on the street sandwich board.  We were downtown for the annual Bookmarks Festival and even though the weather was spectacular, it was still warm enough to warrant some smoothie goodness.  Smoothies are part of their product line and we figured we could get one, enjoy it and be back to talk to sponsors of Tart & Tangy Triad, Barnhills Books, Wine & Gifts.  Yes, the line was long (and by long I mean about 4 customers ahead of us), but nothing that would have made it incredibly overwhelming for the employees.

They have modern machinery and had two veteran and seasoned baristas behind the deck making drinks.  Neither seemed to have any problems making drinks.  The line was moving at an expected pace.  The person in front of us ordered and was told by the lifeless statue that was stationed behind the cash register that they “weren’t making smoothies right now.”  The customer said that was all she had wanted so she walked out of line, just as the barista known as DJ RedStar called out to the waiting gallery, “Lemonade Smoothie,” with a playful voice.

So we approached the counter and Venus de Void-o’Personality informed us upon the question that indeed they weren’t making smoothies.  I inquired about the one that just passed over the counter and she said in stone faced zeal (that’s sarcasm), “that was the last one.”  I said, “well, I’ll just have a Perrier,” as Stephanie went to look for something instead, as well.  The Human Bust stood there, just looking around.  “Well I guess I’ll go ahead and get it since you don’t seem to want to do anything,” I said, more than slightly annoyed.  Stephanie had a Diet Cheerwine and I my Perrier.  I wonder had we asked for Iced Coffee if we’d have had the same reaction?

They acted like ice was the problem, or they felt too busy to worry about smoothies.  There was plenty of ice in their machine.  Giving benefit of doubt, the machine could have been down.  But can’t you say that instead of making it out like we all didn’t see the three smoothies prior to the customer in front of us walk out the door?

This is not the first time that I have gone to Chelsee’s  This trip was not at all unlike most visits I’ve made here. The service is almost always lacking any personality.  No matter who is behind the counter.  Yes, there may have been circumstances that I didn’t know about going on in the unfortunate cashier’s life.  But, you know what, that’s not our problem.  Customer service is driven by happy customers, satisfied customers.  Customers aren’t and don’t have to be ones who care what is going on in your life.  That’s not to say I don’t have empathy or even sympathy to your plights, neither am I a bad nor hard to please customer.  However, you are paid to do said service, do your job or go home.  Unemployment is high in this state and there are plenty of people that could have your job.  Even when she was off of work she walked through Trade St. with a look of painful disdain.

I can’t imagine that any other factor than location is the reason Chelsee’s stays in business.  The coffee drinks are less-than-inspiring and the smoothie flavors are basic.  Yes, coffee is coffee but coffee shops bring a certain degree of self-importance that all of us do indulge in from time-to-time and need something more than the Folgers or Maxwell House we can make at home.  The flavor of the coffee is mediocre at best. The atmosphere does brag a nice fireplace and a TV to distract from the overall banality of the location.  Still, customer service is a huge factor of a return visit and since this is not the first time, yet the worst time, this has happened, I doubt I’ll give any more money to Chelsee’s Coffee.

This experience, on top of the past experiences, deems that the location doesn’t even warrant a rating.