The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #31

Maria and Tony DiLisio

In Episode #31, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsor, 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 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!

Restaurant Week Comes to Downtown WSNC February 20-26

The 2017 edition of Restaurant Week is upon us, starting today! Like The Big Eat before it, Restaurant Week highlights the fantastic food in Downtown Winston-Salem, offered by many delicious restaurants on uniquely made prix fixe meals.  Reservations are highly recommended and if you’re not going to make your reservation, be courteous to the folks who may want your spot, and to the restaurant themselves: call and cancel as soon as possible.

You can find all the specials for each participating restaurant on the official page for the event, HERE.

According to the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership the following rules apply:

Restaurant Week Specials are dine-in only.
Restaurant Specials are subject to change, excludes tax and tip.
Please check with individual restaurants concerning food ingredients, allergens, and any additional restrictions, thank you.
Restaurant Week Specials are subject to availability.
Restaurants may run out of the Special.
If there is an error on this page, the official restaurant special at the Restaurant is correct.
Please check with restaurants prior to dining if you have questions about the Specials.
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.

The restaurants that are participating are:

6th & Vine, Bernardin’s, Bib’s Downtown, Burger Batch, Carolina’s Vineyards and Hops, DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant, Downtown Thai & Pho, Foothills Brewing, Hutch & Harris, Jeffery Adams on Fourth, King’s Crab Shack, Mellow Mushroom, Meridian, Miami Restaurant, Mission Pizza, Mooney’s, Mozelle’s, Old Fourth Street Filling Station, The Porch, Quanto Basta, Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar, Sweet Potatoes, Thai Harmony, Tokyo Shapiro, Twin City Slice, and Willows Bistro.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #22

©Yelp

In Episode #22, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsor, 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 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).

Slàinte mhath!

Mike’s Week: the Video Retrospective

The original plan for the video that I made for Mike’s Week was for me to complete it, Mike Rothman could see it and then choose to allow us to to show it to others or choose to keep it for himself. Either way, I would have been okay. Either way, we all know what an amazing journey it was, what it was we experienced, how we came together as a community and how we made a difference. Didn’t work out quite that way, but that’s okay. It’s here for your to 10170796_10152392983624743_4049441617845107446_nenjoy (link at the bottom of the page).

The video is 23 minutes long. That’s a long time for a retrospective video, I’m well aware, but there was too much to show. Editing down the video from nearly 90 minutes of footage was hard enough. But, I needed this 23 minutes to show the awesome dedication of those who were behind the counter and behind the scenes. I needed this 23 minutes to show the amazing community that came to spend and/or donate their dollars to help their fellow man. I needed this 23 minutes to show the atmosphere, the magic and power that community can create. While a few seconds could come off of it, I felt the 23 minutes was needed to get the full effect.

I do want to say that I really appreciate Will Kingery, Dana Moody and Vivian Joiner for spearheading the effort, along with all the other restaurateurs, volunteers and the Winston-Salem (and neighbors) and thanks to Dana for asking me to participate by filming the events. I can’t explain how proud I am of that.

Now that all of that is done, you can see the video, yourself, by clicking HERE. Enjoy and thanks for watching (and reading!)

Winston-Salem and Hot Dogs: A Love Affair

When it was announced, several weeks ago, that the local restaurateurs were going to reopen Skippy’s Hot Dogs in Winston-Salem, for just a week (actually eight days) and try to raise money for Skippy’s owner, Mike Rothman, the goal was to bring in a few, possibly a few tens of thousands of dollars to send to Pennsylvania and help Mike get back on his feet and pay some of the medical bills and incidentals he’s amassed since having surgery to remove tumors from his brain. That goal was met. That goal was met in a really, really big way.

Eight days of hard work, dedication, sweat and tears (we don’t like to think about blood with food, usually, right?) and 13,009 hot dogs later, the Winston-Salem community, its citizens and its neighbors helped to raise over $111,000.  Read that again: One Hundred Eleven THOUSAND Dollars!

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Photo ©Skippy’s

I had the pleasure of capturing each shift, albeit just seconds at time, for a private video I’m making, on behalf of the organizers, just for Mr. Rothman and I saw an awesome sight. All these different restaurants, ordinarily, all doing their own thing, in their own worlds, standing shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip behind the counter of this small venue, working together for a wonderful cause. Not only that, I watched a 5 gallon water jug (the kind that you put in an office water cooler) fill to the top with money. This was not a one-time thing. It filled to the point that they had to push it down to allow more money to go in. Then, they’d empty it and start all over again. There weren’t just singles, either. There were $5s, $10s and I saw plenty of $20s. There were also some very big orders. I don’t have solid numbers so I’ll not put that out there, but a few companies ordered sizable quantities of “dogs.” And, although, I’ve no confirmation of this, either, there’s a rumor that I’m trying to verify, that someone paid $1000 for one hot dog.

This community, all aspects of it, came together. They did good; for good, for Mike.

I love this city. I have always loved this city. I have always loved and supported the restaurants in this city, especially the downtown establishments. But, now? I am absolutely in love with my city and its citizens. In this time, when tensions are always high, over both important issues and trivial ones, we came in and showed one person – a person that many (I’d venture to say “most”) have never even met – an all-inclusive and unconditional demonstration of love and respect.

“Mike’s Week” wouldn’t have been possible without a plethora of volunteers, not only from the area restaurants, but from the community, as well. The thank you list is quite extensive and I won’t list them all here, however, their time and care made this the success that it is. My thanks, as a member of the community, especially being in there to observe not only from the front of the counter but behind it, goes especially to Dana Moody (West End Coffeehouse), Vivian Joiner (Sweet Potatoes) and Will Kingery (King’s Crab Shack, Willow’s Bistro and Silo Bistro). They were there everyday, making sure all was set and running well. This is not to diminish anyone’s time put in; everyone was immeasurably essential to the cause. I personally thank each and every one of them. And to anyone who bought a hot dog, put a bill of any kind into the water jug or purchased any of the swag, you’re awesome as well.

There is a separate GoFundMe page that is still open and you can still donate to (it’s raised over $15,000 of a $10,000 goal so far) by following this link. Thank you, again, Winston-Salem. And Mike, here’s hoping for a very speedy recovery.

Food Goings On and Stuffs 4/20/16

A few things that are going on around town and, really, around the state.

skippys

Photo©Skippy’s Facebook

Also, something that has been in the local food plane the last few months is happening next week. Many local chefs, restaurateurs and all-around foodie folk are banding together to come to the aid of a local restaurateur in need. Mike Rothman is the owner of Skippy’s Hot Dogs, famous for their pretzel buns. Mike has glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer and had some tumors removed earlier this year. Even though he has insurance, there’s only so much that it will pay and meanwhile he has a beloved (by him and the WSNC folk) restaurant that is sitting idle and unopened. Mike had to move back to Pennsylvania in order to be with family that will help with his recovery.

In what they’re calling “Mike’s Week” (#MikesWeek on social media, please), the awesome people behind some of Winston’s best downtown restaurants are coming to the rescue; at least coming to a relief. They’re going to open Skippy’s for one week starting April 23 and going through April 30. All the proceeds from this project will go to Mike. These opened days are done by volunteers of the restaurants involved, including their executive chefs, owners, bartenders, waitstaff and dishwashers. Everyone is getting involved.

The restaurants that are involved include: Spring House/Quanto Basta, Jeffrey Adams/Old Fourth Street Filling Station, Mozelle’s, West End Coffeehouse, DiLisio’s, Kabob’s on Fourth, Mary’s Gourmet Diner, Sweet Potatoes, Finnigan’s Wake and King’s Crab Shack/Silo Bistro/Willow’s Bistro. I hear there is also inquiries about more openings. Each day the restaurant(s) on duty will create their own twist on hot dogs. Unfortunately, Mike is the only one that does the pretzel buns, so that’s going to be missing, but the restaurant community is coming to his aid in a really awesome way. So, between this Saturday, April 23 and April 30th, won’t you stop by for a great dog for a great cause?

Last week on The Less Desirables, they (we) had Chef Kris Fuller (and her wife, Rachel Walker), owner of Crafted: Art of the Taco and Crafted: The Art of Street Food in Greensboro.  You probably know, that she is opening, finally, 2016-04-13 22.33.58Crafted: Art of the Taco here in Winston-Salem. It will be just south of the intersection of Sixth and Liberty on Liberty Street. She’s very excited about the opportunity and we are very happy that she’s bringing that deliciousness to our fair city.  The timeline, as of right now, is looking like late fall. We that follow restaurants and happenings realize that you take the target and add a little time to it to be realistic. That’s true with just about any business.

Without going into much details about their history, Crafted: Art of the Taco (East), Kris and her mother, Rhonda started another popular restaurant, The Bistro, in Adam’s Farm and had to close it due to road development. The success of that restaurant gave them motivation to open another. Art of the Taco wants it known that they are definitely not a Mexican restaurant, they’re a taco joint, plain and simple. Or, not really that simple. I’m sad to say that I haven’t actually eaten there, but Kris made me promise to come down and try it before Art of the Taco West opens. There’s also talk of a certain “branded” taco when they do open. We’ll see what happens with that.

In news outside Winston-Salem, even outside of the Triad, a Triangle brewing staple has announced that it is closing. In fact, the name of the brewery is Triangle Brewing Company and they’re closing their doors on April 30th. Triangle has been sold at City Beverage, at least in the past, and there are fans of that brewery here in Winston. The Less Desirables met one of their most loyal fans, we call him: Superfan Damien, at Triangle so it’s hallowed ground in TBC-Logo-blackTLD’s lore.

Their brews include: Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale, an IPA, Belgian White Ale, Imperial Amber Ale, all of which were available in cans and sold in this area. There are plenty of other styles that they produced. They will open, as I stated, for the last time at 4pm on April 30. They will stay open until the last drop of beer they have left is gone (or until 2am, whichever is sooner). So, since it’s the same day, perhaps you start with breakfast at Skippy’s and head to Durham for a beer-filled send off? Just drink responsibly and take a designated driver.

I don’t know all the details on why they’re closing but my “man on the street,” Superfan Damien is going to find out and let me know so I can report on it.

So that’s the things happening this week that I found noteworthy. There are plenty of things going on and I’ll do my best to update so you know! If you have WSNC food news and want my readers to know about it, please feel free to send me an email.

Bon appetit!

The Food Pairing Series: DiLisio’s Wine Dinner

We had the opportunity to sit among friends, in an intimate setting for the latest DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant Wine Dinner. Usually these dinners are for upwards of 60 people. For this dinner, there were only 18 people. I think this made the dinner more accessible from both the house’s perspective and the diners’. First, there’s the cosmetic upfitting that Tony and Maria did to the restaurant the week prior. The DiLisios changed the color scheme to a warmer earth-toned theme and moved away from the sometimes drab and dull white that has been the motif since the beginning. They replaced the floors and installed sound baffling on the ceilings and walls to help eliminate the abundance of noise the flat-surfaced walls admeasure at times.

However, the true star of this remodel is the new bar area. They have simultaneously eliminated a less-than-attractive register area and the need to wade through waiting patrons to get to the “hostess” in order to obtain a place in line. In doing so, they created an aesthetically beautiful structure that allows for a few eating seats, a place to service the imbibing and allow for draft beer, a sure attraction. Add this to the fantastic fare that DiLisio’s is known for and you have a win-win. But, we’re here to talk about the pairing, so let’s.

The dinner leaned a little heavy on the seafood and that’s a good thing. In fact, the first three full courses were seafood based. The wine pairings were on point and whether they stood on their own or not, their accompanying the foods they were with, molto bene!

First Course: Insalada Di Gamberi with Arugula Scaglei di Parmigiano Limone Extra Vergine di Oliva

2016-03-14 09.50.42An arugula salad sounds basic enough, but add generous portions of shrimp and heap some shaved Parmesan cheese to the top and it jumps tall buildings in a single bound. Add the lemon extra virgin olive oil and it flies to the moon. It’s amazing how so simple a thing can be so extraordinary. The citrus on top of the shrimp reminded me of ceviche, even though I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the preparation process. And, the citrus wasn’t quaint, it was a full immersion of flavor that took the shrimp, cheese and arugula, all of which are quite flavor-potent in their own rights, for a joyride.

This is paired with Domaine Laurent Miquel Albarino from France. The wine was fair on its own but the citrus and cheese in the salad were even more vivid when paired with this wine. For a first course, it was amazing how plentiful and powerful it was.

Second Course: Ostriche served with Panna Acida and Caviar

Ostriche is Italian for oysters, not ostrich. Three deliciously fleshy oysters, prepared raw with a dab of red roe caviar on each. A tangy creme fraiche dolloped on the plate made a great team when added to 2016-03-14 09.52.42the roe-topped oysters. But, really, what made it near perfect was the addition of the seaweed salad that separated them by position but brought them to a perfect harmonious union. I have become quite fond of this particular style of seaweed and its pickled tang with chewy texture sat on the oyster with the caviar and creme fraiche like royalty upon thrones. The flavor was just as majestic. Some of the guests were a little hesitant because the oysters were raw, which, was good news for me because my near neighbors allowed me to finish off what they weren’t keen to. I believe I had around nine total.

The ostriche was paired with Echo Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand. This light and airy white wine made it easy for the seaweed and creme fraiche to envelop the oysters and caviar creating a party on the half shell.

Interlude: Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon

2016-03-14 09.54.27Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! Sure, it is a cantaloupe that has thinly sliced Italian ham draped over it like it was putting it to bed. But, you add the dark and rich balsamic gastrique to the ensemble and you get a salty-sweet explosion that I really don’t believe your taste buds are ready for. There was more than one person “oohing and ahhing” over this course. It is meant as a palate cleanser and the melon does its job, all while showing you its new friends’ tricks along the way. Okay, simple yes. Plain? No way.

Third Course: Swordfish Involtino with Pane Profumato a Limone with a Marscarpone Orange Risotto

Ah, the steak-like swordfish. Cooked nicely; not too done and not under done. This sitting on some of the creamiest, yet firm risotto that I can remember having tangy from the marscarpone and orange. A 2016-03-14 09.55.48blood orange sits to the side with the crusty bread. As I have said before, the perfect secret ingredient is the microgreens. Earthy and bright, these tiny leaves pack quite a wallop. I think the microgreens are a wonderful compliment to almost any savory dish, here’s no exception. Meld the earthy and bright with the swordfish and lemon-tinged roulade; almost plate licking good.

This was paired with Treanna White Blend, Central Coast. 50% Marsanne, 50% Viognier grapes. I will be honest that I really did not like this wine. At least, not on its own. However, when I took a bite of the risotto, swordfish roulade and microgreens and then sipped this wine, it opened my mind and taste buds to its true potential. It is not a wine that I would go out of my way to drink but if I’m having swordfish with creamy risotto, then I may give it another try.

Fourth Course: Spezzatino di Carne with a Chef Vegetable Blend

Tony DiLisio described this as Italian Filet while spezzatino di carne actually means “stew meat.” I will say it was quite tender. It was cooked closer to medium/medium-well and I would have rather it be medium-rare, but other 2016-03-14 09.56.51than that, its seasoning and texture was spot on. The only thing that kept it from perfect was the temperature and in the long run, that was not an issue. The beef was placed on top of nicely seasoned potatoes along with pickled carrots and, you guessed it, more microgreens.

The pairing for this was Ferrari-Carano “Siena,” Sonoma, a delicious jammy red with a good bit of blackberry, raspberry, vanilla and a bit of darker flavors, those of cocoa and licorice. I have always been a white wine drinker but I have found that there are many reds that I have started to grow quite fond of; especially when having it with red meat. The fruit-forward jamminess compliments the savory beef and vegetables. This is a marriage made in paradise. I will not say that the wine was the highlight of the meal but it was certainly a major contributor.

Fifth Course: Caprese Bianca with Almond Coulis

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©Jillian Hernandez

A moist cake with lemon with a thin, syrupy, almond sauce and edible flowers. It was sweet but not too. The almond coulis mixed with the edible flowers was a nice touch with the cake. This was not my favorite dish of the evening but desserts rarely are. That, however is not to say that I did not enjoy it or that there was anything bad about it. It is fitting that it had an almond coulis as the pairing was almond as well.

The pairing was with the JFJ Almond Brut, California. This is some sparkling white that is fully infused with almond flavor. I had this wine once before and liked it so much I purchased two bottles of it. The almond flavor was flowing abundantly between the coulis and the wine. The cake almost got lost in the mix, but that is not a bad thing, either. The nutty profiles were the stars of this course and with good measure. If you have the chance to have the JFJ, especially when you have other almondy things in the mix, you should certainly jump at that chance.

Tony DiLisio is a fantastic chef. He has a cadre of professionals in the kitchen with him. Maria DiLisio’s servers are loyal and attentive and top-notch. Together this team knows how to bring you finest in food pairings; the best Italian food and wine pairings. Each of their pairing dinners are something new, different and honest. These dinners are where Tony shows off. DiLisio’s everyday fare is exactly what it should be. An Italian meal that is honest, delicious and authentic. Sometimes, Italian (as well as other specialized cuisines) restaurateurs have the tendency to try to “jazz” up the wheel when the wheel is perfect the way it is. When I go for Italian, I want the spaghetti, lasagna, picatta, caccitore, amici and other like meals to be “authentic” and true; not jazzy. I would never call DiLisio’s plain, just “delightfully right.” But, as I said, these meals are Tony’s time to shine. He creates works of art that we are able to, and happy to put into our mouths. The portions are not huge and they are not meant to be.

The one thing I will say about these wine dinners is when they pour the wine, until that course is over, they will continue to fill your glass when you finish it until you tell them to stop. Most places give you a tasting and then you are done with it. Not here, and thankfully so. As I said before, all of these wines were spot-on, whether on their own or paired. Bravo, Tony, il amico mio! Fantastico!

I write this Food Pairing Series with the idea of highlighting the chefs, restaurateurs and other merchants that make this area wonderful for food. You should know where to find the best food and drink when it is out there waiting to be tasted. You can find more about DiLisio’s by visiting their website here. They are on Twitter (@medilisios) and Instagram (@dilisios). DiLisio’s does not accept reservations but if you need to call in an order or ask questions, you can reach them at 336-546-7202.

Bon appetit! or should I say: Buon appetito!!

#SOB40

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!

The Willow’s Wine Dinner Part I

On January 31, we attended a wine dinner at Willow’s Bistro. An elegant dinner with delicious food, lush wines and fantastic community. Owner Will Kingery was a gracious host welcoming around fifty food enthusiasts and letting his star chef, Travis Myers, willows-logo_optshow off his culinary super skills. Chuck King, from American Premium Beverage was there to guide us through the wine adventure while Chef Myers enlightened us to his culinary treats. Some notable food names that were in attendance was Tony and Maria Dilisio, from DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant (I’m sure you’ve read about them here before), local “don’t call him a foodie” food enthusiast, Carroll Leggett and Winston-Salem Journal’s very own food editor, Michael Hastings, who we had the pleasure of having with us at the table at which we were seated.

In this two-part reflection, I’ll give you an idea of what you missed and why you should be on the lookout for the next pairing event happening at Willow’s Bistro.

Amuse Bouche: Roasted Old Salt – Rappahannock Oysters 3 Ways

This was paired with Gloria Ferrer Brut

I believe the consensus around the table was that we all enjoyed the roasted garlic, truffle butter and caviar the best. It was the most balanced. Not that flavor was an issue in any of the three, this was just the clear-cut winner. The bubbly Brut was a good pairing with the oysters.

First Course: Goat Cheese Truffles

Goat Lady Dairy goat cheese rooled in Willow’s own crushed candied pecans, port poached figs & pears, frisée, Fair Share Farm microgreens, Cloister Honey wildflower honey & lemon vinaigrette.  This was paired with Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc.

The goat cheese was tangy but those flavors were tamed a bit by the candied pecans, but I WillowsDinner2don’t mean that it dumbed it down. I just mean that some people don’t like the tang of goat cheese. Instead, they want their cheese to be more savory, yet not void of the creaminess that goat cheese offers. This dish preserved that tang while adding a crunch and when paired with the port poached figs and pears and the honey and vinaigrette gives a breadth of tang and savory.  The Sauvignon Blanc made the whole dish, especially the tangy cheese, sing.

Fish Course: NC Golden Tilefish

Tilefish with a puree made of Evangeline sweet potatos from Hunter Farms, “dip” beurre blanc liquid ravigote (which means reinvigorated) drops, the secret weapon, microgreens and manchego cheese shavings. The best part of the dish – something you’d not expect to WillowsDinner3go with fish – is a bit of Border Springs lamb belly prepared Lexington BBQ “style.” Lamb belly with tilefish? Well, yes, exactly BBQ’d lamb belly with tilefish. It was the fish course, to be sure, but the lamb belly stole the scene. The tilefish was quite meaty and worked with the sweet potato puree and the beurre blanc sauce. That would have stood up on its own, but once you add the lamb belly the flavors jumped into the sapor exosphere. The manchego was a somewhat odd addition and it probably wouldn’t have mattered had it been missing, but what would be missed, the microgreens and the lamb belly. This dish was paired with Stonestreet ‘Bear Point’ Chardonnay.

This was the first three of the six (with a palate cleanser) courses. I’ll catch you up on the rest of the courses in the next post. Part II will be here, soon and i promise it will be worth it!

DiLisio’s Wine Dinner, January 2016 Edition

by Timothy G. Beeman II20160117_180828

On Sunday, January 17, 2016, Stephanie and I, along with our dear friends, Paul and Susan Jones, attended the January Edition of DiLisio’s Wine Dinner Series. It was a Five-Course event complete with French and Californian wines. The restaurant was completely packed full of lovers of delicious foods and beverages. There was plenty of time to converse with the new friends that were seated around you in this “family style” dinner format. I’m going to include a description and pictures of the event.

First Course: Roasted Mission Figs with Gorgonzola and Bacon accompanied by Fennel Blood Oranges

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1st Course

I’ve never really been a fan of figs, but this was delicious. The figs were earthy and creamy but still firm. The flavors of fennel and blood oranges, along with the figs were brought to the front with the salty bacon. I have to admit, though, I didn’t taste a lot of the Gorgonzola, which I really hoped to catch more of. However, it was a good mix of sweet and savory. It was paired with a Bouvel Brut from Loire Valley. Nice bubbly with plenty of fruit flavor.

Second Course: Macco di Fave with Cauliflower Crostini

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2nd Course

Less of a soup but more of a puree. Two different kinds of fave beans with crushed cauliflower and crunchy bread. It was warm throughout and while I generally don’t eat crunchy bread but when left in the warmth it softened and was flavored quite well. A great dish. It was paired with the Terra d’Oro Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend from Clarksburg.

Third Course: Scottish Salmon served with a Carrot Mint Puree, Brussels Sprout Petals and White Chocolate drizzle

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3rd Course

This is by far the most beautiful of the dishes on the night’s menu. Also included is nuts and raisins. The white chocolate really set the flavor of the salmon alight and the carrot mint puree was exquisite. A nice touch was the edible orchids, which, on my plate, were gone immediately as I am a fan. The Brussels Sprouts petals were very light and not popping with flavor, which I think was the point. The raisins and nuts brought a chewy and crunchy aspect to the dish that, while I normally am not a fan of nuts in softer foods, I thought were a welcome unexpectedness. It was asked of Tony DiLisio at least twice for that to be on the regular menu. It was paired with Row 11 Vinas 3 Pinot Noir from California. And contrary to the commercial Pinot Noir does not mean “peanut of the night.” A tasty fruit-forward red that polished the salmon and white chocolate, perfectly.

Fourth Course: Lamb Chop over Wild Mushrooms, Grilled Polenta and Spinach with a Pomegranate Balsamic Glaze

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4th Course

This. This was the dish of the evening. The lamb chop was a fantastic and luscious piece of meat and the pomegranate balsamic glaze was a magnificent marriage of the sweet and savory. Perfectly prepared meat over a polenta cake which was crisp on the outside and creamy inside. This with the spinach and mushroom medley, the flavors were immaculate. This was being asked, more than any other dish, about its potential for being a permanent fixture. Tony explained to me that the lamb takes so long to make that it would probably be best as a special and not as much a full-time entree. This wonderful dish was paired with Domaine Galevan “Le Puy Saint Martin” from Vaucluse. Another red, which made the pomegranate sauce pop and the flavorful juices from the meat even more intense. Deliciously so.

Fifth Course: Espresso Mousse with Pistachio Shavings

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5th Course

Served in a coffee cup, this foamy, whipped wonder was topped with a collection of crushed pistachio and two coffee beans. A dessert that was rich and creamy that was plenty on the java essence and abundant. This finisher was the brilliant conclusion of a most excellent evening. Paired with Beran Zinfandel from California, a which, to me, had a slight vanilla hint made the chocolate and coffee hints of the mousse stand out even more. Other than the absolute-must of lemon sorbet, this would be the second best dessert that I’ve ever had at DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant. If you see it on the menu, you must try it.

As always, my wife and I left happy, satisfied and a belly full of wine.  DiLisio’s Restaurant and their kitchen staff as well as (and especially) their wait staff did a superb job of keeping our drinks full and our plates fresh or freshly removed. They were always good with a quick poke or rib with me and seemed to do a good job with everyone else as well. Taking care of forty plus ingesting and imbibing customers isn’t always easy but Jillian, Stacy, Caroline, Debra and Hailey did a fantastic job keeping us all in perfect order.

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Maria and her “girls.”

Tony and Maria DiLisio, as always bring some the best and freshest Italian food you’re going to have in our fair city. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you never try DiLisio’s Restaurant. They’re open every day but Monday and you can find them at 301 Brookstown Ave., Suite 100 and on the web. Thank you Tony and Maria for throwing a heck of a soiree.