Restaurant Week – The Piedmont, Durham, NC

piedmont

  • Executive Chef: Ben Adams
  • Location: 401-B2 Foster St. Durham, NC 27701
  • Phone: 919-683-1213

Emblem_Triangle2015v4Piedmont Restaurant in Durham was the last designation for The Friends during their Triangle Restaurant Week adventure. Piedmont is known for using local, organic and sustainable NC products. According to their Facebook page Piedmont states, “Our food is inspired by seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and purveyors.”

Ben Adams is the chef at Piedmont. By chance earlier in the week, Traveler had attended one of the Trial-by-Fire events in the Triangle NC Competition Dining Events where Chef Adams was one of the competing chefs. In his bio for this event, Chef Adams says, “My cooking style is modern American, refined comfort, seasonally driven and local.” The dishes Chef Adams creates are innovative and exemplify the farm to table concept done right.

logo-smallWe took a few minutes to look over the menu and make our selections. Piedmont’s Restaurant Week menu was varied and large enough to allow us each to select something different and share tastings around the table. During the NC Competition Dining event Traveler met Jennifer Noble Kelly, the publicist for Piedmont Restaurant, and shared that Piedmont was one of our choices for Restaurant Week. Jennifer told Traveler to let her know when we would be dining at Piedmont. Traveler made sure Jennifer knew we were on our way. To our surprise we were treated to additional appetizers Pan-seared scallops and house-made fettuccini with NC blue crab, trout roe with a smokey crème fraiche off the regular menu. The scallops were seared to perfection and locked in the tender juices. The fettuccini had the most delicate sauce that tasted fantastic.

The Traveler choices for the night were fried NC oysters for a starter and Smoked spiced-rubbed Green Buttons Farm’s pork chop accompanied by Shotgun Betty-braised cabbage and pine roasted fingerlings. The pork chop was juicy and flavorful and the cabbage cooked to perfection.

I decided on Lil’ Farm’s organic greens followed by spice-crusted NC flounder with pine-roasted fingerlings and braised fennel with a smokey fumet. The flounder was cooked just right – light and flaky.

Bad Boy selected marinated Heeks Farm beets with house-made ricotta and blackened NC Catfish with Carolina Gold hoppin’ john and braised collards. Bad Boy said the catfish was blackened to his liking and the sides added great flavor to the plate.

All of us felt the spices were used to arouse the palate but left plenty of room for the natural flavors of the food to come through. Also the chef’s mixings of flavors and textures added interest to each plate.

As Traveler and I were discussing the desserts, Bad Boy made the decision for us. Since there were three desserts and three of us, we would just order one of each:

  • Horchata semifreddo, avocado-coconut sorbet with sweet potato-tamarind sauce
  • Sticky Date Cake, salted caramel ice cream, dulce de leche
  • Coconut cashew cake, salted caramel-chocolate sauce with chocolate cashew ice cream

Each of the deserts was delicious but the Horchata semifreddo was our favorite.

The Piedmont is located in a refurbished 1930s Nash dealership. The environment is hip and urban complimented by a simple décor, high ceilings and soft lights. The ambiance is cozy, intimate and comfy. This can be attributed to General Manager, Crawford Leavoy’s belief in “guest-focused attention.” He wanders throughout greeting and engaging diners. When Crawford stopped by our table, he and Traveler discovered they had something in common – Traveler had worked in the town Crawford was born in Louisiana.

We had amazing service making our meal extremely enjoyable. Alexis, our server, was knowledgeable, friendly and attentive but not hovering. She could easily explain ingredients, techniques used in preparing the dishes as well as the flavorings and paring of the foods.

The Friends rated their meal and evening at Piedmont their best overall experience of Triangle Restaurant week. The fresh meal prepared with attention to detail and severed in a great restaurant environment didn’t disappoint. The three of us left with smiles on our s_belle_smfaces and looking forward to a return visit.

 

Restaurant Week 2015 – Lunch at The Big Easy, Raleigh, NC

bigeasy

  • Executive Chef: Frank Ferlo
  • Location: 222 Fayetteville St. Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Phone: 1-919-832-6082
  • Date Visited: 1/31/15 at noon

Emblem_Triangle2015v4Initially, the friends had intended to have lunch at the recently opened restaurant, Bolt Bistro. When we arrived, we found it unexpectedly closed for lunch. Befuddled, we were determined to find a nearby location participating in the Triangle Restaurant Week. In dining, as in life, always have a contingency plan. Across the street we saw, The Big Easy, a restaurant that we had originally selected for our list of eatery to try, but only offered dinner samplings for restaurant week.

“Now is as good a time as any,” I remember telling Belle and Traveler, followed by “Laissez les bon temps roulez!”

dragonflymarket_1373571988_140As you could guess, their specialty is Cajun cuisine, indigenous to Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta region of the US. I must warn you, their menu,whether lunch or dinner, is vast and diverse. Since this was lunch, we selected an appetizer of fried oysters and sandwiches: shrimp Po’ Boy for Belle, oyster Po’ Boy for the Traveler and a muffuletta for me. As luck would have it, I have wanted to try a muffuletta for some time. This sandwich is served on muffuletta bread, which is round in fashion, with a hearty crust. It is filled with a variety of meats; mostly consisting of sweet soppressata, mortadella, capicola and provolone cheese, and topped with olive tapenade and giardiniera. Thank God I could order a half-a-sandwich. The size of this portion is almost disturbing to a light luncher. All of the food was well prepared, and the staff was pleasant and knowledgeable. If you enjoy, or have ever been temped to sample Cajon food, I would recommend The Big Easy.

As fate would have it, The Big Easy will be celebrating Mardi Gras in block-party fashion on February 17, from noon till 10 pm. This event will have street performers, music, as well as several food trucks from around the Triangle, including:

For more information, go here.

bruce_smLet the Good Times Roll – Badboy

Trial By Fire: Battle – Spencer vs. Rhett

trial-fire3


logo2How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state. Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “secret” ingredient. For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking and it must be used in each of their three courses Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, will rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home.

Contestants: Chef Spencer Carter from the Weathervane in Chapel Hill and Chef Rhett Morris from Rhett’s in Southern Pines. At stake is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket.

Location: Fire in the Triangle, takes place in Raleigh at 1705 Prime.

Secret Ingredient: Videri Chocolate Roasted Cocoa Nibs

Videri-Chocolate-FactoryThe Videri Chocolate Factory began as the shared dream of three chocolate lovers: Sam, Starr, and Chris. From the moment Sam first sunk his hands into a bag of cocoa beans, he knew he had a love for making delicious gourmet chocolate, and the talent to match. His mission was to turn his passion for handcrafted bean-to-bar chocolate into his profession. Sam’s wife, Starr, and his longtime friend, Chris, came on board to head up the business side of the company, and the three have been having a blast ever since.

Topo Distillery and the North Carolina Beer Guys supplied drinks. I loved my spicy Bloody Mary again last night. While we were waiting a basket of bread supplied by LaFarm Bakery was placed on our table.

Table 4, my favorite table consisted of Belle my counterpart from Triangle Street Eats, Ryan Conklin, Chef from Rex Health, Collin Jennings and Steve Pexton, members of the Rex Healthcare team, Paul Amburn from Pate Dawson Southern Foods, Adam Moore representing Libbey,Inc. and Muffy and me (Mary Morehouse). We had a great table. Wonderful conversation, sharing of opinions and critiquing of the gastronomical creations served.   It was nice having Linda Barnes aka the Belle from our Blog Triangle Street Eats sharing the Competition Dining experience.

First Course: Videri Cocoa Nib-Cured Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Belly, Brown Butter Logan Turnpike Grits, Goodnight Brothers Country Ham- “Nib” Gravy, Coddled Egg, House Made Cocoa Nib Croutons. Prepared by Chef Spencer Carter, with a score of 25.55

Second Course: Videri Cocoa Nib Ravioli, Confit of Heritage Farm Pork Cheeks, Looking Glass Creamery “Chocolate Lab cheese”, Arugula, Cocoa Nib Pesto and Romesco Sauce. Prepared by Chef Rhett Morris with a score of 21.75

Third Course: Chili-Videri Cocoa Nib-Crusted Certified Angus Beef registered brand “Bistro” Steak, “Nib” Braised Cippolini Onions, Scott Farms Sweet Potato-Horseradish Puree, Cocoa Nib-Current Steak Sauce, Horseradish Chips. Prepared by Chef Spencer Carter with a score of 27.49

Fourth Course: Fortnight Brewery ESB-Braised Venison Osso Bucco, Videri Cocoa Nib-Rosemary Logan Turnpike Grits Cake, Roasted Kalette and Caramelized Fennel. Prepared by Chef Rhett Morris with a score of 22.57

Fifth Course: Triple Layer Videri Cocoa Nib Blondie, Cocoa Nib-Coffee Whipped Cream, Chocolate Mousse, Maple-Nut-Cherry Compote. Prepared by Spencer Carter with a score of 33.75

Sixth Course: Videri Cocoa Nib Southern Tiramisu, Cocoa Nib Cookies, Coffee, Kahlua, Sweet Marscarpone, Charred Cocoa Nib Fluff, Candied Blood Orange, Chocolate-Caramel Sauce.   Prepared by Chef Rhett Morris with a score of 24.11.

The winner was Chef Spencer Carter from the Weathervane with a score of 28.61 beating out Chef Rhett Morris with a score of 22.82.

The cocoa nib was a difficult ingredient to use do to its strong flavor. The evening was filled with interesting preparations; some hits, some misses, but the hard work of the cooking teams and the production done by Jimmie Crippen and his crew are greatly appreciated. Triangle Street Eats is happy to be able to attend and promote these events.

A special mention to Ashley Korizis, otherwise known as, The Olive The Sea. It is always nice putting a face to the name. Good luck with your upcoming move to Charlotte. It is wonderful that Twitter, Facebook and the internet will allow us to continue following what we are doing. Hope you win tickets to come again to Competition Dining.

Please check out Chef Ryan Conklin’s blog: ‘New School’ Hospital Food – Raleigh, NC. It is very well written and an interesting read.

I have my ticket to attend the battle on Feb. 9: Chef Benjamin Harris from the Midtown Grill and Chef Ryan Conklin from Rex Healthcare. I loved what Chef Harris made at the first competition and am excited to experience what Chef Conklin has to offer. I am certain it will be a great battle of interesting gastronomical delights.

mary_smUntil Next Time – The Traveler.

 

 

 

 

Restaurant Week 2015 – Revolution, Durham, NC

reveloution


  • Executive Chef and Proprietor: Jim Anile
  • Location: 107 West Main St. Durham, North Carolina
  • Phone: 919-956-9999

Emblem_Triangle2015v4On Friday, January 30th Belle and I were going to DPAC to see 50 Shades the Musical, a parody of the Fifty Shades of Gray series by E. L. James at DPAC. Since it was Restaurant Week, we chose to go to Revolution. We were seated promptly and the two-top table had ample room, with lovely place settings instead of the usual cramped table. The bar was large and very busy. The manager, John Ray, greeted us and I let him know we would be blogging about the restaurant. Our waiter arrived to our table with an unpleasant attitude. Belle cannot eat raw meat, so had a question about the Chicken Fried New York Strip, asking about the doneness of the meat. His response was it was done when the breading was done and there was no way to adjust the cooking of the steak. It was delivered in an “I am better than you” attitude.

After this encounter our orders were taken. I chose the Charred Octopus Salad served with shaved onion, red peppers, smoked paprika and shiso gastrique. The octopus was expertly cooked and married well with the other ingredients. I loved the dish. Belle ordered the Haystack Shrimp, spicy shrimp with a nice aioli. The dish was great; the shrimp was cooked well and the other ingredients complemented and enhanced the flavor of the shrimp. I sampled the ample portion and agreed with Belle that it was a hit. I also ordered the Clams & Pork Belly with coconut in a spicy red curry sauce from the regular menu. The clams were filled with sand and the pork belly was difficult to find.

When our waiter brought our entrées he appeared to have done a 360 turn and his attitude became pleasant. Perhaps it was because we were tweeting out complementary statements regarding the food. We both chose Chicken Fried New York Strip: creamed corn succotash, smashed Yukon potatoes with onion gravy. My steak was perfect with a slight hint of pink. The breading was seasoned well with salt and pepper. I loved the mashed potatoes and gravy. I am usually not a fan of succotash, but found this to be better than the usually succotash, providing a textural element to the dish. Belle enjoyed her steak as well but felt the succotash could have been omitted. We both agreed that the entrée was large enough to be shared by two. We ended the meal by ordering a Chocolate Mousse Cake with a hazelnut almond crust, orange coulis and caramel sauce. I am not a dark chocolate fan, so after one bite I was done. Belle loved the cake and since were going to DPAC, after taking her bite, boxed up both pieces to enjoy at a later time.

Service at a restaurant definitely influences patron/customer’s impression of the meal. The food can be outstanding but if the service is bad, I probably will not return. Perhaps our waiter was having a bad evening, but his attitude did change and the food was outstanding so Belle and I would definitely return.

mary_smUntil Next Time – The Traveler

Restaurant Week 2015 – Little Hen, Apex NC

littlehen


 

  • Executive Chef: Regan Stachler.
  • Location: 5160 Sunset Lake Rd Apex, NC 27539
  • Phone: 919-363-0000
  • Visited: 1/29/15 – 6:30 PM

Emblem_Triangle2015v4My selection for Restaurant Week was the Little Hen. I had read many great reviews on Twitter so thought this would be a great time to sample what it had offer. I had some difficulty finding Little Hen because my GPS and Phone were giving me squirrely directions.

I arrived first, asked about the table and told it was not ready, as Belle and Bad Boy came through the door. The waitress appeared and took us to the table. The restaurant has a hopping bar and the dining area offers an intimate dining experience. I loved the comfortable chairs.

little hen_coolveticaThe restaurant was not crowded, yet service was very slow. Our Waitress told us about the menu and the specials for the evening: left and did not return for quite some time.

We all ordered different things; I had the Charred beets with a brown sugar cider gastrique, which were excellent. All of the ingredients married well together. They were my favorite dish of the evening. Belle ordered the grilled Romaine lettuce with bleu cheese and honey mustard dressing. Bad Boy had the potato soup with a unique flavor from the sweet & sour vanilla-apple puree.

The second course did not go as well. I ordered the NY Strip steak, (an upgrade from the Hanger steak) medium well, with crispy fingerlings, pickled local mushrooms and shallots. When it arrived to the table I received a rare steak. I called the waitress to our table since she seemed to have an aversion for us and I let her know. Later she brought over pork belly with fried Sauer Kraut and sweet and sour slaw as an apology from the Chef.

Belle ordered Grilled Shrimp and grits, with bacon-scallion portabella vinaigrette and hoop cheddar, however Chicken and dumplings were brought to the table. The mistake was corrected and Belle finally received her correct order. The hit of the evening entrees was Chicken and Dumplings consisting of potato gnocchi, braised chicken and chives. The gnocchi were cooked to perfection and chicken well-seasoned. The dish was however, skimpy on chicken.

It was finally time for dessert. Belle and I chose the Vanilla Bean Pannacotta with red wine gelee, an orange reduction and walnut brittle. It appeared from the texture of the Pannacotta that it had not been made that day. The Bad Boy ordered the Cheese Cake with peppercorns. He did not feel the flavors of the cheesecake and the peppercorns complemented each other.

The food, while eating from a limited menu was good, but service was an issue.

We love to promote local businesses. I do have a suggestion for the Little Hen. Work with your wait staff. Our waitress seemed to be preoccupied and we were not a priority. Friendly conversation, checking on the patrons to make sure their dining experience is living up to their expectations and providing good and accurate service will make the diner want to return. It was annoying when the table next to us received complementary dishes and wonderful service and we were ignored as first time diners as well as the others patrons in the restaurant. Restaurant Week is intended to ‘showcase’ popular restaurants in the Triangle. You may only have this one chance to make a good impression, make it work.

mary_smUntil Next Time – The Traveler.

P G Werth’s Restaurant and Market

werth's


pgwerth_logoBad Boy and I first met Chef Hamm at Rebus Works during The Saturday Market where we enjoyed Chef’s excellent omelet made with produce from the market. Chef Hamm also took time to talk with us about his plans for P G Werth’s Restaurant and Market in downtown Raleigh. The restaurant would feature Blue Ridge-inspired cuisine using locally grown foods and the market would feature artisan-baked goods, a coffee bar, gluten-free prepared foods, craft beer, wine and cocktails. We asked Chef Hamm about his choice of name for the new restaurant. He explained Patricia Guy Werth, was a culinary instructor who inspired him.

The Friends have been eagerly awaiting the opening of P G Werth’s for the past few months and we are happy to report the wait is over. The restaurant located on the ground floor of the 927 W. Morgan Street apartment building opened this past Friday night. The next night found The Friends experiencing Chef Gregory Hamm’s latest venture. We arrived a few minutes before our reservation time so we checked out the market and coffee bar as well as absorbed the atmosphere. The restaurant is beautifully done, warm, modern and inviting. P G Werth’s has floor to ceiling windows and faces Morgan Street making it a great place to enjoy your meal and watch the world go by.

After we were seated we began to look over the menu. The Traveler and I were both using the flashlight on our phones to read the menu. The hostess noticed this and turned up the lighting for our table – excellent planning to design the lighting so adjustments can be made for individual tables! We had soon made our selections and were ready to order. For starters The Friends decided to share the Calamari Cocktail and Fried Green Beans. The Traveler picked the Fair Game Apple Tipper Pork Chop, Bad Boy chose Duck, Duck Grits and I went with the Signature Rib eye.

Seeing we were ready to order our waiter, Austin, came over. I think Traveler and I made him a little nervous with all our questions and request; however he took it all in stride. First Traveler, since she is not a big sweet potato fan, wanted to know if she could substitute. Then I wanted to know if I could have the Rib eye prepared medium well not Pittsburgh style and with the pimento cheese on the side not smothering the steak. Austin assured us this could be done. Bad Boy ordered his Duck, Duck, Grits as is. As we were placing our order Chef Hamm delighted all the diners by bringing out complimentary Fried Green Bean appetizers for each table.

fried-beansWe enjoyed the appetizers. The Fried Green Beans with ranch drizzle were our favorite. If you’ve never tried fried green beans it is an experience in itself. Next our entrees arrived “just as we ordered.” Traveler had rosemary potatoes instead of sweet potatoes and my rib eye was cooked to the doneness I requested with the pimento cheese in a side dish. All our dishes were well plated.

The Traveler’s pork chop was moist and tender and the apple tipper glaze enhanced the taste. Bad Boy found the duck breast and leg confit to be moist and tasty. The grits were smooth and velvety with a great flavor. The pork belly kale was a nice compliment for the duck. My steak was cooked exactly to my liking. The lean to fat ratio indicated the high quality of the meat making it a juicy and flavorful steak. Traveler and Bad Boy tasted the pimento chees and said it was A-one.

choc-pieWhen we thought we were near the end, Austin returned to tempt us with the dessert offerings. The Friends decided we would share 3 of these: Cold Oven Almond Pound Cake, Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie and Peanut Butter Cheesecake. We enjoyed all 3 and couldn’t come to a consensus – each having their favorite.

As we were waiting for Uber to arrive for our trip home, Traveler and I meet Zsuzsa, the owner of Moonflour Bakery. Moonflour Bakery offers gluten free artisan baked goods. Zsuzsa’s breads are featured the market at P G Werth’s.

I believe Chef Hamm has hit a home run right from the start terms of concept, menu and atmosphere. I can see this delightful restaurant becoming a popular destination for triangle foodies. I encourage you to pay P G Werth’s a visit.

s_belle_smBelle

Trial By Fire: Battle – Chelsi vs. Ben

trial-fire2


logo2How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state. Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “secret” ingredient. For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking and it must be used in each of their three courses Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, will rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home.

Contestants: Chef Chelsi Hogue, from Ed’s Southern Bar and Grill in Goldsboro will compete against Chef Ben Adams from the Piedmont, a restaurant in Durham. At stake is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket.

Location: Fire in the Triangle, takes place in Raleigh at 1705 Prime.

Secret Ingredient: Ran-Lew Cream Top Milk

Randy Lewis has started bottling cream top milk on his family’s dairy farm in Snow Camp, NC. The unhomogenized milk comes from cows kept on pasture. His milk products are outstanding. Samples of milk and chocolate milk was shared with the dinners

Topo Distillery and the North Carolina Beer Guys supplied drinks. I loved my spicy Bloody Mary again last night. While we were waiting a basket of bread supplied by La Farm Bakery was placed on our table. I was sitting next to Jennifer Noble Kelly, publicist representing La Farm Bakery and Chef Ben Adams from the Piedmont Restaurant and Amanda MacLaren from Durham Magazine.

First Course: Pan-Seared Scallop, Aromatic and Spice infused Ran-Lew Dairy Cream Top Milk Broth, Creamed Parsnip, Pinot Noir plumped Cherries, Crushed Cashews and Fried Leeks. Chef Hogue, of Ed’s Southern Bar and Grill prepared it. It received a score of 28.66.

Second Course: Anchovy, Little G Farms Bibb Lettuce Puree, Caper Berry, Marcona Almond, Crispy Parsnip, Ran-Lew Dairy Whey Cucumber Vinaigrette. Chef Adams of the Piedmont Restaurant prepared this dish. It received a score of 23.57.

Third Course: Pan-Roasted Joyce Farms Naked Chicken Breast, Chili-Fingerling Potato Shitake Mushroom Hash, Browned Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham, Ran-Lew Dairy Cream Top Milk Gravy, Smoked Tomato Butter, Basil Pesto – prepared by Chef Hogue with a score of 25.31

Fourth Course: Ran-Lew Cream Top Milk Braised Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork, Curry Scott Farm Fingerling Sweet Potatoes, Black Garlic, Herbs – prepared by Chef Adams, with a score of 24.77.

Fifth Course: Ran-Lew Cream Top Milk Ricotta, Blood Orange, Pomegranate Seed, Fennel Black Current Puree – repaired by Chef Adams with the score of 27.39.

Sixth Course: Ran-Lew Cream Top Milk and Yeast Beignet, Spiced Sugar, Apple Butter Coconut Chantilly Cream, Chocolate Milk and Honey Sauce – repared by Chef Hogue with a score of 27.08.

The winner was Chelsi Hogue from Ed’s Southern with a score of 27 with a close win against Chef Ben Adams with the score of 25.27.

I had a great time. Both Chefs out did themselves with their creations. We had a great crew at our Table 4; Jennifer Noble Kelly, Amanda McLaren, Marcus Hall and his wife, owners of The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, Mike Turner Director of Sales of Pate Dawson, Leah Carter, Chef Spencer Carter, Bo and Vanessa.

I plan on attending the battle on Feb. 2: Spencer Carter of the Weathervane Restaurant in Chapel Hill, versus Rhett Morris of Rhett’s Restaurant in Southern Pines. Chef Carter assured me that he would be preparing 3 outstanding courses.

Sponsors:

  • Got to Be NC Products
  • Pate Dawson Southern Foods PDF Chain
  • Pepsi Bottling Ventures
  • Joyce Farms
  • Certified Angus Beef Brand
  • Libbey Food Services
  • NC Egg Farmers: North Carolina Egg Association
  • Whole Harvest Foods
  • HITSTECH
  • La Farm Bakery

mary_smUntil Next Time – The Traveler

214 Martin Street and Raleigh Brewing Beer Dinner

214_raleigh-paring


rbc_logo_small_red1Thursday night the friends decided to attend the Raleigh Brewery Company’s Beer Dinner at 214 Martin Street. While our evening had a rocky start, all turned out well. I left work at 4:30 knowing I would be cutting it close to get to Belle and Bad Boy’s house. I had told them to go ahead with Uber and I would meet them there. There was a glitch with the first Uber driver, so they had to call another and I managed to be there before the second driver arrived. I thought we would be a few minutes late, but the traffic was horrendous, plus our driver seemed to be lacking in some basic driving skills.

footerlogoThe dinner was to start at 6 pm, we arrived at 6:30 and they were just serving the first course, so it turns out our timing was not that bad. The dinner was located at the top of 2 flights of wooden stairs. I note this because (1) if you were intoxicated and fell you would be severely injured and (2) I have bad knees and it was not a pleasant climb or descent.

We introduced ourselves to the other couples at the table consisting of; Sandy – an RN, her husband Bill – who dealt in party supplies, Carrie – who worked for the EPA, her husband Keith – who was a photographer, Mike – who is a civil engineer and Ann – who works in commercial real estate. We were a motley crew, but fun. The conversation was outstanding and we learned we had all found out about this Beer Dinner though the NC Beer Guys. I hope they will follow our blogs, since meeting the members of Triangle Street Eats.

The first course consisted of roasted pear, apple, beet, arugula, spicy walnuts, Elodie Farms Goat Cheese paired with Moravian Rhapsody Czech Pilsner. The salad was delightful. The ingredients complemented each other. I thought the beets were a great addition. The beer, had a milder less beer taste, which was great for my palette.

IMG_1627The second course was a North Carolina Flounder, cooked to perfection; lemon ricotta tortellini, herb salad, parsnip puree, Cipollini onion paired with Hell Yes Ma’am Belgian Style Golden. The parsnip puree and the Cipollini onion completed the flounder and the other ingredients. It was a hit with the table. Since I am not an avid beer connoisseur, the Bad Boy and the others at the table raved about the great taste of the Belgian beer. Some at the table even had seconds of the beer.

The third course was a Heritage Farm pork tenderloin Porchetta, wrapped in bacon. It was a gastronomical delight, complemented with cooked greens, wild mushrooms, cornbread and a Cider Jus, which was the perfect touch to tie all of the ingredients together. The beer was a Blatherskite Scottish Ale. This beer was also a hit with the table. It was very hoppy.

IMG_1646The final course was a spiced chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache, ginger-sweet potato puree, salted caramel toffee with an orange sorbet. While I normally hate sweet potatoes, this tasted very good. The chocolate cake was moist and the ganache was just the right sweetness. The orange sorbet was the ingredient that pulled everything together. It was paired with the Miller’s Toll Imperial Oatmeal Stout. It was too hoppy for me, but the other diners felt it complimented the dessert course well.

catering_chef1I would like to give my regards to Chef Matt Thompson, his staff and the servers for doing such a wonderful job with this dinner. The 214 Martin Street does a great job in events. A special thanks to the Raleigh Brewing Company’s, Billy Rutherford for giving great descriptions and histories of the beers served. I had such a great time talking and enjoying the dinner, I will be looking for other beer dinners to attend.

Upcoming Events at 214 Martin Street

  • 214 Martin Street “Culinary Experience” Cooking Class on February 12, 2015. Tickets are $79 per person, available at 214cookingclass.eventbrite.com
  • Easter Brunch Buffett, Sunday April 15, 2015 11 am to 2pm. $25 per person. For reservations go to 214MartinStreet.com

mary_smWatch Triangle Street Eats twitter feeds @TriStreetEats and Facebook page for other fun events to attend.

The Traveler

Trial By Fire: Triangle Street Eats Introduction to North Carolina’s Competitive Dining

trianglefire


The friends saw the twitter buzz last fall about the North Carolina Dining Competition; Fire in the Triangle and was interested to find out more about it. I volunteered to see how this competition worked, since it reminded me of Iron Chef, but only better. Since I am a newbie to this dining experience, I was interested in the history of how it all began.

logo2Background of Competition: The first competition; the original Fire on the Rock, held in 2005 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, was organized by Mr. Jimmy Crippen. The competition was started as a way to build business during the off-season and has since exploded into a series across the state promoting local North Carolina ingredients, chefs and local restaurants. Jimmy Crippen was the owner of the acclaimed Crippen Country Inn and Restaurant in Blowing Rock, NC, which closed in 2013. The closure allowed Crippen to shift his focus to his Got to Be NC Competitive Dining Series full-time. He emcees each competition in the Fire series. In year’s past the competition has focused on five regions of the state, but host and creator Jimmy Crippen said the focus has changed to only three sections of the state – the Triangle, Charlotte and the Triad. Competing chefs will come from the surrounding areas of each region.

Battle Ben and Gerry: January 19, 2015

Location: Fire in the Triangle, will take place in Raleigh at 1705 Prime.

Secret Ingredient: Mangalitsa Ham

thVBJS0W8UMangalitsa (US spelling), Mangalitza (UK spelling) or Mangalica (original spelling) is a natural breed of pigs from Europe that are descended directly from wild boar populations. The Mangalitsa pig is unusual as it grows a hairy ‘fleece’, akin to that of a sheep. The Mangalitsa was formerly bred as a lard pig, and animals were large and round. Because of the drop in demand for lard, the breed’s popularity has declined and it is now regarded as a “rare breed“.

We were instructed to arrive at the competition at 6 pm. Heidi Billotto, a fellow blogger from Charlotte, representing La Farm Bakery, greeted me. She was very busy taking pictures and doing interviews, so I greatly appreciated her taking the time to seek me out. I was taken to my table, number 4. The blog team of Triangle Around Town was already seated to my right at our large table. On my left was Jennifer Simmons, a delightful person who loves and appreciates food

Topo Distillery and the North Carolina Beer Guys supplied drinks. I loved my spicy Bloody Mary and the beer made with orange peel and minimal hops, which decreased the bitterness of the beer. While we were waiting a basket of bread supplied by La Farm Bakery was placed on our table. Not being shy and since the basket was placed next to me, I sampled a white chocolate baguette, which was phenomenal!   I did not want to eat too much, so I could appreciate the gastronomical creations by Chef Fong and Chef Harris.

The excitement was building and the clock was slowly counting down the time to discovering what the secret ingredient would be. The clock reached zero and Jimmy Crippen began his role of Emcee. He was engaging and entertaining. He introduced the Chefs and finally announced the secret ingredient, Mangalitsa Country Ham.

How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state. Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out, side-by-side, in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “secret” ingredient. For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking and it must be used in each of their three courses diners. Culinary, as well as guest judges, rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home. At stake in each series is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket.

First Course: Pan-Roasted Scallop, Logan Turnpike Stone Ground Grits, Saffron. Chili. Crispy Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham. Chef Harris and his team from the Midtown Grill created this. It received a score of 28.16.

Second Course: Lavender and Thyme Seared Giant Sea Scallop, Rice Noodle Salad, Sautéed Parsnip & Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham, Currant-Cranberry Compote. Chef Fong of Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant of New Bern, NC prepared this. It received a score of 26.97.

Third Course: Confit of Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Belly and Butter-Poached Crawfish, Looking Glass Creamery “Chocolate Lab” Rustic Porridge, Butternut, Red Onion Jam Red Eye Gravy. Prepared by Chef Harris with a score of 25.41

Fourth Course: Coffee and Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham crusted Certified Angus Beef Brand Rib Eye, Wild Mushroom, Mangalitsa Ham and Looking Glass Creamery “Ellington” Goat Cheese Risotto, Carmel Roasted Butternut Puree, Mangalitsa Ham and Citrus Brussel Sprouts, TOPO Old White Well Demi. Prepared by Chef Fong with a score of 26.81.

Fifth Course: Milk Chocolate Custard, Dark Chocolate Torte, Buttermilk Fluid Gel, Johnson County Mangalitsa Nam salted Carmel, “Fluff”.   Prepared by Chef Harris with the score of 28.61.

Sixth Course: Johnson County Mangalitsa Ham & Chocolate Stout Cake with Mangalitsa Ham and Pomegranate Sorbet, Vanilla Chil & Lime Anglaise Candied Beets. Prepared by Chef Fong with a score of 27.7.

The winner was Benjamin Harris from the Midtown Grill with a score of 27.42 with a close win against Chef Gerry Fong with the score of 27.16.

I had a great time. Both Chefs out did themselves with their creations. Mangalitsa Country Ham is a challenging ingredient. I was hoping for an ice cream from one of the Chefs, but enjoyed the desserts that were created.

I loved meeting Stephanie Beck from WRAL Out and About. I know she follows Triangle Street Eats on Twitter, but I invited her to check out our blog and Facebook Page. I was also fortunate to meet Felicia Perry. She is delightful.   I hope to run in to her again at other events. I loved the NC Beer Guys and hope to see them at the 214 Martin Street Beer Dinner with Raleigh Brewing Company Thursday night.

I plan on attending more of these battles. I hope our readers will attend and follow our gastronomical experiences as well as our choices for Restaurant Week. Here are the upcoming NC Dining Competitions.

Here are the first round match-ups supplied by WRAL: 

Sponsors:

Got to Be NC Products

  • Pate Dawson Southern Foods PDF Chain
  • Pepsi Bottling Ventures
  • Joyce Farms
  • Certified Angus Beef Brand
  • Libbey Food Services
  • NC Egg Farmers: North Carolina Egg Association
  • Whole Harvest Foods
  • HITSTECH
  • La Farm Bakery

mary_smThe Traveler

 

Amigosan at Raleigh Brewing Company

raleigh-brew


rbc_logo_small_red1There are few things more rewarding in the Triangle than going to a nearby brewery for a pint, and finding one of the area’s best and creative food trucks is there to satisfy your hunger. This trend is showing up almost everywhere across the Triangle as it turns out. Recently Belle and I made a return visit to Raleigh Brewing Company to enjoy their handcrafted brews, and as fate would have it, Chef Ed Sautro and his wife Nicole of Amigosan food truck, were on-hand to provide the sustenance. We had met Chef Ed earlier last year, and became immediately enthused by his fusion skills. Taking a Mex-Asian approach, Chef Ed provides the diner with a unique experience.

Raleigh Brewing Company is located at 3709 Neil Street, Raleigh, NC. There artisans, called brew masters, labor to create such masterpieces as: Bl@ther$k!tea – Scottish Ale, City of Blokes – a bitter ale, Hell Yes Ma’am – a Belgian style golden, Hidden Pipe – a hearty Porter, House of Clay – a Rye IPA, Moravian Rhapsody – a Czech styled Pilsner and, my favorite, Oak City Coffee Ale – a coffee infused ale. We began our night with primers: for Belle a Moravian Rhapsody, a crisp, hoppy and refreshing Pilsner brewed with traditional Pilsner malt, Saaz hops, and German Lager yeast. For myself, an Oak City Coffee Ale, whose flavor is simultaneously sophisticated and sassy. ‘Priming,’ I should explain, is properly preparing the palate and exciting the stomach for what is to come. A good handcrafted brew is an excellent primer, and can complement the meal as well.

amigosan


UH5Cjr3yBelle and I arrived via Uber a little before 6 pm, which gave us a few minutes to talk with Ed before he had to set-up for the evening’s hungry patrons.

“I’ll let the food speak for itself,” he explained with an air of confidence, as he turned his attention to the task of prep work. I had no doubt Belle and I would later be impressed.

After finishing our first round, I went out to place our orders, only to find a crowd had already gathered around Amigosan. I knew that this was an encouraging sign.

Belle and I had ordered a wide-range of choices, though the choices that anyone can make can vary significantly between patrons. The menu choices are; pick your protein – chicken, steak, pork or tofu. Next, pick from which style you want with your flour tortilla:

  • Amigosan – Shredded Kale, Napa and red cabbage slaw, tossed in sesame soy dressing, finished with Cojita cheese and sweet and spicy aioli.
  • Taj Mahal – Curried fresh spinach, cucumber and carrots, spiced chickpeas with Masalia Curry aioli.
  • Sombrero – Shredded Romaine, tossed with southwest Caesar dressing, Mexican corn relish, Jack and Colby cheese, topped with Chipotle lime cream.
  • Thai Thai Again – Napa/Red Cabbage blended with peanut sauce, carrots, toasted coconut, finished with Sriracha Crema.

Belle and I selected; Amigoasn with steak, Thai Thai Again with Chicken, Loaded Tater tots, Amigosan style and Loaded Nachos styled Thai Thai Again, with steak. One of the most delightful things about the food is its presentation, ‘a feast-for-the-eyes’. Wonderful colors and arrangements make each entrée visually appealing. Next is the way it tantalizes the palate with a crunchy texture and a burst of dressing flavor in each bite, none overpowering the other.

shrimpAs we were finishing, Ed appeared at our table with a sampling of his nightly special. Just when I thought we had gotten away with a nearly perfect sampling of Amigosan, Chef Ed raised the bar – Shrimp so delicate, highlighted with Napa cabbage, carrots, cucumber with rice wine vinegar, wasabi aioli and black sesame seed. Now the evening had reached its gastronomic summit! I highly recommend you try Amigosan’s food truck some time soon. You won’t be disappointed.

Belle and I have found going to a local brewery where a food truck is on site with windows up a great way to end the workweek and start the weekend. No fuss, no frills – a great casual outing with good food and brews.

bruce_smStay hungry my friends