The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #19

In Episode #19, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

  • Ed Witt no longer with Katharine Brasserie & Bar.
  • Tavern in Old Salem on Winter Break.
  • Chef Kevin Reddick lands new gig.
  • Slappy’s Chicken now making deliveries.
  • The Big Eat happens tonight!
  • Food holidays and history.

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!

Triad Local First’s Community Table: the Menu

So, here it is. The menu review for Triad Local First‘s Community Table event from October 2, 2016. Mary Lacklen called on Chef Travis Myers, of Willow’s Bistro to gather his culinary family together from both Winston-Salem and Greensboro to make this fantastic feast a reality. Here is what we had…

The Appetizers

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The appetizers were every bit as plentiful and as filling as any of the supper menu’s items.

Seafood Paella

Chef Jeff Bannister made a great seafood paella. It was prepared on an open flame in a large paella pan that had to have been 3 feet in diameter. Gorgeous pieces of shrimp, mussels and chorizo mixed with green beans, tomatoes, peas and other veggies resting on and in a bed of rice. Great flavor. I’m trying to think the last time I had paella that was this good; and I love paella. The whole thing was topped with a specially made saffron sauce. That was delicious.

Hay Roasted Oysters

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Chef Jordan Keiper, of The Tavern in Old Salem, manned the hay roasted oysters, smoke billowing from the dampened hay laying on the hot fire to roast these delicate morsels of mollusky goodness. It was fun to watch him prepare these, but it was even more fun to eat them. They were topped with a milky tomato foam, which I believe was Chef Travis’ concoction. The smells and flavors, between the hay and the oysters were a lot to take in and oh, Stephanie and I took them in.

The Supper Menu

The supper menu started with a glass of wine, either the Clos du Gaimont Vouvray 2015 chenin blanc or Mazzocco Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2013.

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A large cauldron was pitched on a chain and tripod with the beautiful soupy bounty inside, stewing away. It had rabbit, pit pork, butter beans, corn and okra. The broth was think yet still very liquid-like. I like thicker stews and soups and this one was right on the money. I like rabbit and pork and the two meats with the veggies and the tangy tomato-based liquid, was a very, very hearty start, once we sat down. Delicious.

Panzanella

2016-11-01-17-34-18Soaked charred bread topped with heirloom tomatoes, shaved red onion, pea shoots, olives from Olinda Olives, what I believe were cucumbers, and a vinaigrette. If you’re wondering, yes, I ate the onions; at least a few of them. Even though it was October, the heat was still with us and traditionally panzanella is a summer salad. It fit here, for sure. I have mentioned many times how I love pea shoots and microgreens, good bright crunch and mixed well with the acidic tomatoes and olives.

Border Springs Pit-Cooked Lamb

Very lovely lamb from Border Springs Farm that was prepared with a rosemary mop sauce on a black-eyed peas and rice combo, sometimes called “Hoppin’ John,” a natural jus and microgreens on the top. The lamb was “pulled” and was tender 2016-11-01-17-36-09and the mop sauce was great. The microgreens on top were, once again, the secret star of the dish. Mixed with the rosemary in the mop, the greens meshed and brought bright life to the Hoppin’ John. Yummy.

Heirloom Tomato and Flat Bean Salad

Chef Jeff Bacon, from Providence Restaurant and Triad Community Kitchen, and his lovely wife sat next to Stephanie and me and he was the one that portioned our end of the table’s plates for the next course. He did a fine job, like he’d done it before. It had, obviously, heirloom tomatoes, haricot vert, wax beans, micro beet greens, Olinda olive oil, and Goat Lady Dairy goat cheese with scallion ash. The bright red beet greens were 2016-11-01-17-37-26fantastic, both in presentation and in flavor; not earthy like their name would suggest. The deep colored greens and richly colored tomatoes were a great departure from the heavier lamb we had the previous course. I am and will always be a sucker for goat cheese, especially that what comes from Goad Lady Dairy. That stuff is the best goad cheese out there, in my opinion.

Heritage Farms Lexington-style Pit Cooked Hog2016-11-01-17-38-20

Heritage Farms pit cooked hog. It was served on top of Old Mill of Guilford’s yellow grits and on a kale salad with croutons and red onions (and perhaps shallots?). I’ll admit, I’m not one for kale or onions, as we know. But, I ate most of this, I believe. Honestly, it’s the dish that I remember the least about. I think the onions and kale threw me off.

Three Hour Braised Short Ribs

2016-11-01-17-39-29The meat was topped with leather britches beans and microgreens and sat on a bed of mashed potatoes with some jus spooned on. This was a huge block of beef that just fell apart when you put your fork to it; no knife required. The beans and microgreens added a brighter flavor to the savory meat. It was juicy, tender, succulent and delicious. And what is a slab of beef without potatoes to go with it? The mashed potatoes were creamy and the perfect companion to the chuck of beef. One of my favorite dishes. But, I was about full. We’d had a lot by then.

Orange Creamsicle Mousse Cake

But, that wasn’t all… Next, or finally, came the orange creamsicle mousse cake made by Chef Lucia Bobby of Greensboro Country Club. It was served with 2016-11-01-17-40-46charred citrus confit and had a small shortcake cookie on the top. This was paired with a fantastic dessert wine: Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaume-de-Venise 2012. There was a lot of sweet in that course, and that’s just fine to me. The whole thing, sweet wine, dessert, citrus, all what would top this festival off. Bring it all to a close, if you will.

A very special thank you goes out to Mary Lacklen and Chef Travis, as well as all those involved in making this a memorable evening. I don’t think anyone walked away that night, disappointed. From the start to the finish, it was classy, elegant and delicious. I mean, even the port-a-potties had mood lighting and flowers. Class act right there.

Triad Local First’s Community Table: It’s Not Just for Greensboro, Anymore

The Community Table event for Triad Local First happened last month, on October 2, and it was a very well-planned2016-11-01-17-32-14 and successful event. Committee chair, Mary Lacklen, pulled her secret weapon out for the event, too. That would be one super chef, Chef Travis Myers of Willow’s Bistro, taking the reins of Executive Chef. In doing so, he unleashed a master plan that would help take the event, held at Hidden Lane Farm in Summerfield, from a traditionally Greensboro restaurant focus to a true “Triad” event.

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Mary Lacklen (©KristiMaier)

In the past, the event featured mostly (or only) Greensboro restaurants and chefs. Chef Travis wanted to bridge that gap with this event, saying, “What I wanted to do was intertwine Greensboro and Winston. Winston restaurants have a lot of events, like John Bobby (Executive Chef of Roosters: A Noble Grille) has events that get Winston restaurants together, he’ll have a crawfish boil or something. Greensboro doesn’t do that. They’re too spread out. A lot of great restaurants but they’re stretched out. So, I wanted to leave the door open for communication. I invited them to work with me.”

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Chef Travis Myers

Some of Triad Local First’s board members were kind of doubtful of Chef Travis’ ambitions and his ability to gather the chefs and restaurants he needed to pull off something this grand. He continues, “out of the twenty that I wanted to get to help me (including chefs, staff and help), twenty-six showed up. That’s six more than I wanted.” So, soon the board realized they were in good hands. Chef Travis certainly didn’t let them down, either. The event, at least to those sitting at the tables and taking in all the food involved, was nearly flawless.

One thing Chef Travis was adamant about was getting Triad Community Kitchen involved. Getting students and members of Chef Jeff Bacon’s tutelage (and watchful eye of Chef Janis Karathanis) was important because he felt it was in the scope of the organization’s goal: to create community. It was two fold, however, as it 1) served as a networking opportunity for the students to get to know some of the restaurateurs and chefs and perhaps finding work and 2) gave Chef Travis extra hands around the “kitchen.” It was a lot of work for him and having TCK there helped with the workload.

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Chef Brent Andruzzi

A lot of the prep and actual cooking was done beforehand, most of it at Willow’s Bistro, Chef Travis’ home base. Of course, the final touches were done at Hidden Lane Farm. Some of the top level chefs that were out to help Chef Travis’ cause were Chef Tim Thompson of Greensboro Country Club, Chef John Bobby, Chef Jay Pierce of Traveled Farmer in Greensboro, Chef John Jones, Chef Brent Andruzzi -the Chef de Cuisine at Willow’s Bistro, Chef Richard Miller of Graze in Winston-Salem, Chef James Patterson of Sedgefield Country Club, Chef Jared Keiper of the Tavern in Old Salem, and pastry chef, Chef Lucia Bobby of Greensboro Country Club. That list is probably truncated but it’s a good start. Chef Travis was reeling them in and dedicating a lot of time for this event, wanting to not only show that he could do it, but that he could with flair and style. That meant extra time from home, from his wife and kids, including his newborn daughter. It was, however, worth it. He threw a party. The party was good. But, no matter how good all the participation was, the event would have been nothing if the food hadn’t been extraordinary. It was, and all of it was locally sourced. To keep the posts to a minimum, I’m going to do the actual food review in another post, later this week, so keep on the lookout.

I would totally be remiss to forget to mention the awesome Esteban McMahan from TOPO Organic Spirits, who offered NC Whiskey Punch, Blood Orange Collins and Spicy Cucumber Lemonade as drink specials in addition to their special reserve that he’d give upon request. The special reserve is my favorite, but the drinks were all great, too. At one time there was one of each of the mixed drinks on my table in front of my courses.

Chef Jared Keiper

Chef Jared Keiper

Also, Pig Pounder Brewery was on hand and had four of their delicious brews on tap. And, Zero Wine and Cheese Shop were the wine curators for the event, which included Grove Vineyards’ Viognier (2015) and Malbec (2014) and Weathervane Winery’s Cirrus White and Nor’easter Chambourcin. Afterwards, The Grinder Cafe Coffee Truck was there to keep any of the diners that had gotten a little chilly warm with their lovely wares.

You can look at this menu and immediately know that Chef Travis Myers poured his heart and soul into creating a fantastic menu for Triad Local First’s annual fall spectacular. I think Mary Lacklen and her organization had a true winner here. Chef Travis said he’s already signed up for next year’s event. I, for one, cannot wait. And, from what I can tell from the (I’m guessing and this is a guesstimate) 100+ diners that sat, enjoyed and absorbed this fine feast, everyone else can’t wait for it, either. Bravo, Chef Travis Myers and Mary Lacklen; to you and all you had involved in this soiree!

Esteban McMahan of TOPO Organic Spirits

Triad Local First is a non-profit membership organization that is based out of Greensboro. They have over 280 members, including farmers, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, all the things you’d expect to be included in something that deals with community. But, it also includes dentists, realtors, retail shops, marketing firms and other industries that you may not think to remember. For more information, visit their website.

Beautiful BBQ, Bourbon and Bluegrass

by Timothy G. Beeman II

Friday night, October 23, 2015, Old Salem’s Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (known as MESDA) celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary, the completion of a six-year renovation, and the opening of two new self-guided galleries. To commemorate this, they put on a party that included BBQ, bourbon and bluegrass. The event, held in the Horton Meadow, just below, and even under the bridge and walkway of the wooden bridge that crosses Old Salem Road from the Visitor Center to the museum entrance, boasted a showcase of fourteen master distillers from sixteen distilleries, as well as two of the areas’ popular breweries. While all of the distilleries brought some good products, some really stood above the rest of the field.

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(photo © Susan Jones)

Both versions of the Limoncello (regular and jalapeno-infused) from Seventy-Eight ºC Spirits (Raleigh) were not only good, but the spicier-flavored of the two was a true standout; not hot but flavorful. From Asheville Distilling Company (Asheville), the Blonde Whiskey is one of my favorites, overall. It was smooth and full-flavored. Trey Herring’s Carolina Bourbon (Charleston, SC) had a more robust and earthy, yet still pleasant flavor and aroma. You certainly can’t forget local up-and-comers, Sutler’s Spirits from Winston-Salem. Distiller Tim Nolan was on hand to promote the brand.

The highlight of the tasting table, however, was the Krupnikas, a Lithuanian style honey liqueur from The Brothers Vilgalys Spirits (Durham). The sweet of the honey ends with a spiced flourish. Beyond the tasting table was a special Reserve from an NC distillery that I’ll not mention by name because the booze was in a hidden stash under the table. I was lucky enough to try it and it was possibly some of the most smooth tasting whiskey I’ve ever tried. The rep told me to wait until the tasting cup was empty and smell it. The aroma of tobacco swelled as the cup dried. Minutes later that aroma was even stronger. When this special reserve gets released, I’ll certainly purchase some of that.

Area celebrity bartender, Lele Nguyen, was the “guru-in-the-know” for the evening, dispensing the goodies at the tasting table and she was very detailed with the descriptions of all the various liquors, no matter the style. The true superstar of the “bourbon” part of the event was the resident mixologist and co-owner of The Tavern in Old Salem, North Carolina’s oldest tavern, Jordan Keiper. Keiper designed a bar program for this event that highlights the new generation of Southern craft distillers, creating a variety of signature cocktails featuring the four spirits that made the early South “wet:” bourbon, rum, gin, and moonshine, especially moonshine. There’s a push to show North Carolina’s distillers are more than just moonshine; so much more.

This event was also more than booze. There was Eastern style North Carolina barbecue and fried chicken from the Barbecue Lodge in Raleigh. Eastern style is my preference in the “Carolina barbecue” realm. I don’t mind Lexington style, but I prefer the strong vinegar taste over the ketchup heavy, if I have my choice. A white barbecue slaw that tastes like the “red” stuff we have here and hush puppies. The fried chicken was absolutely delicious. Just the right amount of seasoning and the inside was juicy and perfect. In fact, I had two breasts. I liked it that much. And let’s not forget to mention the banana pudding. That, too, was delicious.

In addition to the liquors and delicious food, both Gibbs Hundred Brewing Company and Hoots Beer Company had two brews each available. Gibbs Hundred had The Guilty Party ESB and Blind Man’s Holiday GPA (Greensboro Pale Ale). They were both quite tasty with the ESB (one of my favorite styles of beer) being my favorite of those two. Hoots had their Oktoberfest and a wheat on tap. Stephanie had the wheat and I, the Oktoberfest. Hoots is always solid and this was no exception. These beers made fine companions to the rest of the festivities. I feel the same is to be said of the breweries. The theme of the event, a celebration of southern arts, was represented well by the brewing artists at these two breweries.

If there was anything that I can say that was less than optimal was that the bluegrass band, Carolina Tradition Bluegrass Band was set up right beside the tasting station. They were a fine band, indeed, but the music was loud under that bridge and it was hard to hear what Lele was saying about the various libations. Again, it wasn’t the band, it was the positioning. However, if that was the worst part, that just goes to show how good this event was.

To Jordan Keiper, to MESDA, to Old Salem, many kudos for putting on such a spectacular event. Keiper himself said that he’s hoping that this will put Winston-Salem, North Carolina on the map. Not only the Southern map, no. The American distillers map. Not necessarily for the distilleries themselves, although those certainly don’t hurt, but for the city as a distillers’ event location. I can’t wait for the “second annual” version of the event. It has the potential to get support and attendance numbers of a wine festival and this town knows wine festivals. This was a bold undertaking on everyone’s part, but the event was a rousing success and was a complete sell out. Great news for the city, the museum, the distillers and the attendees. An honor to attend, indeed.