Farm 2 Fourth Harvest Dinner a Success for Downtown WSNC

I recorded a podcast of this this past Tuesday (see previous post). 14095926_10154296661620490_1926267465363315423_nThis past Sunday, Stephanie and I were lucky enough to get tickets to the very first “Farm 2 Fourth Harvest Dinner” event hosted by the Winston-Salem Journal’s own, food editor, Michael Hastings. The event was a highlighting of local chefs using only local ingredients from local farms and making basically, a seven course feast for 140 diners to enjoy. Before I talk about the food, I do want to say that there were RayLen and Childress wines and port and, of course, the official “liquid reward” of The Man Who Walked the Town, as well as Presenting Sponsor of The Beer Dads, Hoots Roller Bar and Beer Company brews on hand. We had plenty of that, too. Now, on to the food!

The hors d’oeuvres were from Chef Lucas McGill, of Hutch & Harris. It was crostini with country ham, farmers’ cheese and radish sprouts. I had two of them and Stephanie one, at the insistence of one of the service captains; they had two left they needed rid of. Very good, not overly salty and the microgreens were right on spot. Good stuff. 14079830_10154302032545490_2702548163340851777_nQuaint but delicious. Chef McGill does great stuff over at Hutch & Harris.

Next came a very colorful and flavor-packed morsel of cherry bomb compressed watermelon with balsamic-basil syrup prepared by Chef Jeff Bacon of Providence Restaurant and Catering. The color was vibrant red, almost glowingly so and the bright greens on top with the darker balsamic-basil syrup created an almost mind-blowingly beautiful square of wonderful. The flavor of the greens disappeared mostly but the crunch they left behind was what the melon needed to balance the soft texture and spiced vinegar glaze. If I’m not mistaken there were tiny chunks of walnuts and feta or some other soft cheese to accompany the dish. Chef Bacon loves his watermelons and this was his pièce de résistance.

Chefs Christian Froelich of The Hearth at Sanders Ridge and Richard Miller of Graze prepared a fantastic veggie 14102433_10154302082135490_840297715253272217_nbaba ghanoush with red onion and cucumber relish and homemade naan. Baba Ghanoush (or ghanouj) is generally eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. I can only suppose that was what was in there. I do believe I tasted the eggplant, so I figure they stayed true to form on it. Yes, for those of you wondering, I did eat the pickled red onion and cucumber relish. There were also beets and microgreens on top. The naan was firm but not leathery or tough, it was still soft and delicious. Michael Hastings of the Journal made sure to get a picture of me eating the onions as anyone who knows me knows that I hate onions. But, for the benefit and integrity of the dish and festivities, I ate them. Pickled, they’re not that bad. Not something I’d want all the time but in this dish, it was definitely outshined by the baba ghanoush. Chef Christian couldn’t be there because of another commitment but Chef Richard Miller handled it quite nicely. It was delicious.

14192188_10154302097210490_4766992602351391198_nNext up, Chef Jared Keiper of the Tavern in Old Salem provided us with basil marinated goat cheese, charred red onion and heirloom green tomato pie. Now, again, with the onions, I ate them because they weren’t prevalent. And, neither was the green tomatoes. I’m not a huge fan of those either. But, don’t hear me wrong; I loved this dish. I’d have this dish again and again. The Tavern in Old Salem is always a fantastic place to dine and the wit and skills of Chef Jared are what makes it so. That combined with his brother, Jordan creating some of the best craft cocktails, made from the best local and regional spirits he (or we) can find. The Tavern is tough to beat. The crust of the pie was flaky, yet firm, great tasting and when topped with the heirloom cherry/grape tomatoes and microgreens (you know I love me some microgreens) and the tangy, tangy goat cheese (I also love me some goat cheese)? Holy smokes. Another winner!

Chef Harrison Littell of Honey Pot provided the sides for the night. This was a roasted potato hash (which I didn’t get14141643_10154302122435490_3872696077436112559_n a picture of because it was already being passed around before I could get to it) and Hoots braised greens and green bean salad with feta cheese. The seasoning on the potatoes were perfect. It was salty without being overbearing. The seasoning on the bean salad was kicked up a few notches. It was some spicy stuff. Not too spicy for me, but when you’re not expecting it, it can be a surprise. The cauliflower was from my pal Niki Farrington’s Niki’s Pickles. I am quite sure that’s where the spicy came from. Chef Littell held nothing back on this dish. Vibrant colors, punchy taste, smiling faces afterward. I’d say it was a hit. The “greens” came after as well and I had it with the next dish.

The main course for the evening was a combo dish from Chef Travis Myers (my buddy) of Willow’s Bistro and Chef John Bobby of Rooster’s: A Noble Grille. 14100398_10154302174700490_353053953512636586_nChef Travis smoked a porchetta and the meat was banging. I don’t usually use that word with food, but it was. Tender with the meaty middle and the crisp skin on the outside. The flavor was right on point; hearty. Chef Bobby made smoked lamb with chimichurri. He made it both in slices and in “pulled’ style. Both were great and seasoned just right. Both Chefs Travis and John shared the smoker and it is always fun watching Chef Travis use his knife skills. It was also fun watching Michael Hastings come around getting “privilege tastes” of everything. This, of course, was my favorite dish. Why? Because this food had a mother. Kudos to both Chef Travis and Chef John Bobby.

Then it was time for dessert. Dessert was also a tag-team effort. Chef Janis Karathanas of Providence Restaurant made a mascarpone cheesecake with a port wine reduction. She told us all what she made this of and I had no time to write it down. Plus, I was too busy tasting it. Even though I don’t know exactly what was in it, I can tell you it melted 14088459_10154302224620490_649515975873410144_nin your mouth and if you have it, you won’t care what was in it. I promise. Also on the plate was a sea-salt caramel stuffed fig dipped in dark chocolate and a honey ganache truffle prepared by Chef Tirra Cowen of Black Mountain Chocolate. The sea-salt caramel was that sweet, salty deliciousness that you knew you were going to get and the honey ganache truffle was perfect. To see these two desserts on the same plate lined 140 en masse on the old Community Arts Café bar? That was a thing of beauty. And the flavors were even more beautiful than the taste. Hat tip to Chef Janis and Chef Tirra.

And hats off to Michael Hastings, Justin Gomez and all the Winston-Salem Journal staff on hand to make this a wonderful event. And to all the chef and local growers, farmers and suppliers, thank you for all that you do for us in food fandom. You make us so very happy and we can’t thank you enough. The volunteer staff and restaurateurs were fabulous, as well. This event was a first for Winston-Salem but Michael Hastings said they were definitely doing it next year. I refuse to call anything “First Annual” because how do you know, really? You don’t. So, next year can be the “second annual” edition. I loved it.

Salute! the North Carolina Wine Festival is Here!

The wine festival that gets me going the most, Salute! the North Carolina Wine Festival, is tomorrow, June 4, from noon until 6pm in downtown Winston-Salem. I’m excited about the wine, the atmosphere, the people watching and yes, the food. I’m going to reprint the entry from the NC Food & Wine University page with some of my own stuff, if you’ll indulge me. Again, this excerpt is property of Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership and Salute! the NC Wine Festival.1045x299_fill_header

For decades it seems, the fine art of wine appreciation and selecting the proper wine to go with certain foods left many beginners a tad intimidated.  There was a sense of mystery surrounding the different varietals and a classic stereotype of “wine snobbery” that accompanied those who had solved the puzzle.  More recently, as wines have become more affordable and available from national, regional and local vineyards, many novices continue to feel unqualified to tiptoe into the world of oenophiles, the wine experts.

Salute! The North Carolina Wine Celebration wants to forever put aside those feelings of wine incompetence with an entertaining and educational opportunity perfect for all levels of wine-lovers.  De-mystifying the wonderful world of wine, and clarifying the art of food and wine pairings that bring out the best in our North Carolina wines is the mission of “North Carolina Food & Wine University,” back by popular demand at this year’s festival.

Five unique presentations will be held at NCF&WU every 45 minutes throughout the day.  The knowledgeable local chefs from some of the best restaurants and winemakers from some great NC wineries will help unravel the mysteries of wine, including how to swirl, sniff and savor the luscious varietals that are being produced in our state.

But the biggest lesson to learn at NCF&WU is how to relax and enjoy the experience and the experiments of mixing and matching your favorite wines with different foods.  Or maybe you are trying to find your favorite type of wine?  At this University, there are no wrong questions, and the only test will be as you rate the flavors of wines you’ll try while enjoying the festival!  Be sure you don’t skip these classes….plan to attend at least one during your day at Salute!

Schedule of Chefs Demos and Wineries:   

12:30 – 
Chef Stephanie Tyson, Sweet Potatoes and Hanover Park Vineyards 
– Cornbread Hoe Cake with collard green bruschetta & goat cheese topped with Texas Pete CHA! spiced Shrimp with caviar

Chef Stephanie is the culinary genius behind much of Sweet Potatoes’ success, along with her partner, the awesome Vivian Joiner. Hanover Park has always impressed me with their wares and I’ve had several tastings with them in restaurants in this town.

1:30 –
Chef Richard Miller, Graze Restaurant + Raylen Vineyards
– Grilled NC Shrimp and Oysters with Good Night Brothers Country Ham
      Cucumber Salad, Tossed Local Greens, Lemon mustard vinaigrette

Chef Richard is the reigning champion of the Competition Dining series and makes Graze a not-of-the-ordinary hotel restaurant. Raylen is a beautiful vineyard that produces some great wines. They have their own festival coming up in July.

 2:30 –
Chef Travis Myers, Willow’s Bistro and Jones von Drehl Vineyards
ALL LOCAL CHALLENGE featuring fresh produce from Minglewood Farms

– Duck 2ways with Harmony Ridge duck breast, pulled confit leg, duck dirty risotto, wilted Cheshire Farms dino kale, bacon jam & roasted duck jus. 

Chef Travis is one of the most talented chefs I know and there’s a reason I call him “Wonderboy.” You’ll see when you taste his food. I don’t know about Jones von Drehl but I am sure I won’t be able to say that after tomorrow.

3:30
Chef Kristina Fuller, Crafted: The Art of the Taco and Raffaldini Vineyards 

– Bahn Mi Taco Bulgogi beef, pickled daikon radishes, carrots and onions, jalapeño, white sauce, cilantro  

Former guest on The Less Desirables, Chef Kris has a way, and a vision, with the non-conventional when it comes to food. She’s a great talent and Raffaldini has to be one of the most pristine wineries in the Yadkin Valley, not to mention in the state. It’s picturesque and looks like you’re in Tuscany (at least from what I have seen that Tuscany looks like), plus the wine is fantastic.

4:30
Chef Tirra Cowan from Black Mountain Chocolate and Lake James Cellars 
– Dark Chocolate Torte with Levering Orchards Sour Cherry Compote

Another former TLD guest, Chef Tirra makes some out-of-this-world confections over at Black Mountain Chocolate. You can go by and watch her work through the glass and you can certainly see her do her magic at this event. Like Jones von Drehl, I don’t know about Lake James Cellars but I can’t wait to.

Salute! tickets are $25 in advance (you should purchase, now!) and $30 at the event. You can purchase tickets and get more info from their website. If you see me out tomorrow, please, come say hello. I love to meet my readers and friends.

DWSP Presents Restaurant Week 2/15-2/21

Did you know that the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership is presenting Restaurant Week from Sunday, February 15 through Saturday February 22?  Well, you do now!

restaurantweek

DWSP Restaurant Week

What is Restaurant Week?  We’re glad you asked.  Restaurant Week is a food event where many of the downtown Winston-Salem restaurants offer special prix fixe menus of $20, $30 or both.  For example: a restaurant can offer an appetizer, an entree and a dessert (chosen to form a combo) for $20 per person or they may offer a double portion for $30.  Make sense?  Maybe not.  Let’s give some real examples:

Bib’s for example has the following:


 

$20 Special for 2
3 Rib Bone Plate: Each person gets a plate that comes with 3 Rib Bones, Choice of Red or White Slaw, 1 side item, Hush Puppies and Toast
Choose 1 dessert to share

$30 Special for 2
Half Rack Rib Bone Plates: Each person gets a plate that comes with 6 Rib Bones, Choice or Red or White Slaw, 1 side item, Hush Puppies and Toast
Choose 1 dessert to share

They can also offer extras such as this: Beverage Pairing Suggestions (Additional Charge)
WINE: Our ribs pair nicely with the Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon or North Carolina’s Childress Pinnacle
BEER: Our ribs also pair nicely with the Olde Hickory Ruby Lager or the Highland Gaelic Ale which are both North Carolina brews


Let’s look at another restaurant’s offerings.
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar offers this:
3 Course Dinner $30 per person
BOOM! M-80 Crispy Shrimp: texas pete voodoo sauce
Filet Mignon: cabernet franc butter, oyster cornbread dressing & gorgonzola fritter
Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Nutella Cake: hibiscus cherry infused sweet cream

$20 Special per person
Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Pan Gravy: atop smoked tomato and pimento cheese grits, M-80 sauce, ‘Bama BBQ sauce, Sriracha aioli
Spring House Bread Pudding: caramel Kahlua sauce and sweet cream


So these are only examples.  Here is a comprehensive list of participating restaurants…

6th & Vine Wine Bar & Cafe
Augustine’s Bistro
Bayberry Bistro
Bernardin’s
Bib’s Downtown
Black Mountain Chocolate
Camino Bakery
Di Lisio’s Italian Restaurant
District Rooftop Bar & Grille
Downtown Thai & Sushi
Foothills Brewing
Graze
Hutch & Harris
Jeffrey Adams on Fourth
Kabobs on Fourth
King’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar
Mellow Mushroom
Meridian
Mooney’s Mediterranean Café
Mozelle’s
Mission Pizza
Old Fourth Street Filling Station
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar
Twin City Hive
Wen Hwa Asian Fusion Cuisine
Sweet Potatoes…a restaurant
West End Coffeehouse
Willow’s Bistro

We could have saved you reading that and just sent you to the website, but what fun would that have been?  We recommend calling ahead for reservations and remember that these are dinner specials only and, of course, they’re subject to availability and all that jazz. Also, the restaurants are subject to change and more could be added or some may drop out; it happens.  Go, eat, have fun, take friends, enjoy and tell us what you think. Even better, let DWSP and the restaurants know what you think.  Help make this Restaurant Week a success.

Have fun!