Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rearn Thai

My first real Thai experience since moving to Greensboro could not have been more wonderful. As I was seated beside a colorful, lush garden, I hadn’t quite braced myself for the outstanding flavors I was about to enjoy. Sipping on Thai Tea – black tea, topped with sweet cream – and hot Jasmine tea, my dining partner and I chose a sampler special to taste a little bit of everything. This is the way to go here: you’re exposed to several unbelievable flavors.

Pork Dumplings are a tasty first course, alongside a dipping sauce with a savory umami taste. I happily dunked the wontons in, and would have dunked my head in, too. A carrot flower provides a nice, fresh crunch, as does the leaf lettuce the dumplings rest on.

In a timely fashion, steamed rice appeared with four small bowls of intricately prepared entrees. What claims to be for 2 people easily serves 3-4. My favorite, the Seafood Combination, marries Octopus, White Fish and Shrimp with mixed vegetables – classics like Baby Corn, Bamboo Shoots and Water Chestnuts. The depth of flavor in the broth is incredible. I couldn’t get enough. My second favorite featured Ground Chicken that had been cooked and seasoned with Thai Basil, Cilantro and Spring Onions. This combination will blow your mind. I’ve never had Thai food like this.

Ka-Rhee Curry with Chicken, Potatoes and Onions is creamy and a little sweet, lacking the heat one usually anticipates with curry. This dish set the best on top of the steamed rice, which soaked in all that rich broth. Chicken with Cashews, Spring Onions and Carrots would have been wonderful, had we not experienced the other three dishes. This was the least exciting, but still tasty. I adore the delightful crunch of a nut in my Thai food.

Dessert is one of my favorite things about Thai cuisine. Coconut Ice Cream is much like a sorbet. It’s heavenly. Luscious. Divine. Use the fried sweet sticks it comes with to shovel it into your mouth, as opposed to a spoon. Savor it. The perfectly rounded scoop melts beautifully on the clear dish.

The ultimate Thai dessert is Sticky Sweet Rice with Mango. My sweetie introduced this to me on an early date, and I’ve been sold (on both) ever since. The sweet and savory combination in the rice is indescribable. Notes of honey and sweetened condensed milk are present. If you haven’t tried this, Rearn Thai and Bangkok Café both have sensational renditions of this dish. The juicy freshness of the mango paired with the gooey, sticky rice is perfection. I thought that mixing the coconut sorbet with the rice and mango would make a delicious combination, but it’s just best to rotate the dishes and enjoy each of them in their own rite.

You will be so pleased with your experience at Rearn Thai. The friendly service, calming atmosphere and knock-your-socks off food ensure many a repeat visit from me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This is The End

Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride
Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Rating: R

If you’re a fan of the recent stoner comedies – "Pineapple Express," "Superbad" and the like - first of all, you’re in good company (I’m a sucker for them), and secondly, “This is The End” is money. For a girl who is more of a silent laugher than a laugh out louder, there were moments I was hooting and hollering. It was a lively bunch in the theatre, though quite a few were rather young – a Ruff Ryder reference went totally over their heads. Cameos by several favorites (Mindy Kaling, Jason Segel, Michael Cera and Aziz Ansari to name a few) prove that everyone wants to work with the popular boys in the “comedy school.” These guys know how to make a smart, funny movie.

Some of today’s best comedic talent play exaggerated versions of themselves, making fun of how people view them – is James Franco gay? Is Seth Rogen that big of a pothead? Is Craig Robinson really just a teddy bear? The obvious standout with the most hilarious insults is Danny McBride (UNCSA alum), but I’m becoming more and more partial to Jonah Hill, despite the Rolling Stone interview I read that portrayed him as a self-righteous prick.

Jay Baruchel, the actor with the least amount of “celebrity,” is the focal point of the film. Against his will, he goes to a party at Franco’s house, only to wind up getting stuck there with the aforementioned jokers when what appears to be the end of the world occurs. Is it really the apocalypse? Or is it zombies? Seemingly the last few people on Earth, the men divide up the food and drink, and begin waiting for the unknown.

I especially appreciated the hilarious filming of “Pineapple Express 2,” which featured a car crash sequence: alternating shots of Hot Wheels cars crashing down the stairs with close-ups of Franco and Rogen pretending to drive. Clever. Jonah Hill being possessed was something I didn’t find too funny, until I uncovered my eyes and noticed his typical humor amid the possession.

Smart quips, improv that could last for days – including a rather R-rated conversation about ejaculate – this is exactly what we want from these guys, and it's obvious they had a blast doing it. Underneath all the weed, pee and zombie jokes, the underlying message is clear: if you want to be “saved,” don’t be an asshole. A little bit of self-sacrificing here and there for the benefit of others is just the ticket.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


If Osteria is still around in a year, I look forward to a repeat visit. For now though, decently yummy food with poor organizational structure isn’t going to cut it. They need to find their footing, or they will be in trouble. An off-putting location, Osteria is relatively small, with a stark atmosphere, blank walls and polished concrete floors, so it’s a little loud. Wonderful aromatics and an ample wine selection make a good second impression.

Though we received visits from several different servers, I was impressed with the meticulous delivery of the evening’s specials, from memory. The mentioning of several items being removed from the menu, however, is a bad sign. And the fact that 3 months after opening, the webpage still says “website coming soon,” is also not good.

Questionably homemade rolls are presented with a White Bean Bruschetta. I’m pretty sure the gel that you find in the can of White Beans was the base for this Bruschetta; they just threw in Onions, Tomatoes and Basil. The Panzanella Salad differs slightly from the traditional preparation, and features Capers, Kalamata Olives, Tomatoes, Red Onions and killer grilled Polenta Croutons atop Mixed Greens. The salad is totally large enough to share, but I wouldn’t, so that you can enjoy all of those yummy croutons yourself.

As far as entrees go, we waited about 40 minutes. Famished, we were tempted to dive right in, until we saw the cloud of steam hovering over each dish. Strozzapetti noodles are short, a little thinner than penne, and are lathered with a creamy meat sauce. The sauce was yummy, though the pasta was just too al dente for me. A sprinkling of fresh parmesan added an appreciated and needed salty bite. The half portion is way more than one serving.

Sheets of homemade pasta are stuffed with Prosciutto and Mozzarella, then rolled up and topped with a Béchamel Sauce before it’s baked au gratin. It gets a topping of fresh parmesan before it’s presented, again, insanely hot. I found it similar to lasagna, with Prosciutto and white sauce in place of Ground Beef and Tomato sauce. This dish is very indulgent. A hint of nutmeg is noticeable in the Béchamel (typical), but I just couldn’t help but imagine how quickly it was sticking to my thighs.

I hope they work out the kitchen and staff kinks, because the food has potential. I just don’t like waiting 40 minutes for food that isn’t exceptional, or made by my sweetie.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Five Points

What has a history of being a troubled location – bouncing from Lucky 32 to Big Shotz Tavern to Buena Vista Grille (which went under despite their killer seafood risotto) – Five Points now seems to be right on the money. They are taking meticulous steps to do thoughtfully-prepared and well-executed dishes. The restaurant is named after the famed intersection in Buena Vista, where Stratford and Country Club Roads meet Miller and First Streets, across from Thru-Way Shopping Center, where I spent many an afternoon as a teenager (RIP Borders!)

On Saturdays and Sundays, visit Five Points for their outstanding brunch. A basket of warm, sugary Beignets is presented with Berry Butter. I wanted to eat as many as I could fit in my mouth. Beignets are like donut holes, but less cakey. They are insanely tasty. The Five Point Scramble is a steal for the amount of food you get: A hash of Scrambled Eggs, Duck Fat Potatoes, Bacon, Oyster and Shiitake Mushrooms, Green Onions and Shredded Cheese, alongside Three-Cheese Grits and Fresh Fruit. The Duck Fat Potatoes left me a bit underwhelmed, as I was looking for a richer flavor, but overall the dish is extremely satisfying. Being a cheese grits fan, I enjoyed this preparation, and would surmise the three varieties to be goat, white cheddar and parmesan. The fruit was tossed with a lovely, light mint dressing to cleanse the palate.

The server asked for egg preparation preference for the Eggs Benedict, which is rare. Soft Poached Eggs were chosen, versus Hard Poached. The English Muffin was nicely toasted, not charred, with Canadian Bacon and Hollandaise. Prime Rib and Eggs reminds me of my Spring Break in Vegas – one of the few things I remember from Vegas - I believe the special was $4.99 for steak, eggs, toast and hash browns, and it was actually delicious. Five Point’s variation is a bit more expensive, and includes an 8-ounce Slow Roasted Prime Rib, with Eggs any style and Grits. Hearty.

For lunch, the Grilled Chicken Salad is simple, but as good as they get. It’s a classic “lady” salad: Craisins, Goat Cheese, Dates and Tomatoes are spritzed with a Tangy Champagne Vinaigrette. Delightful.

I will be back to try the Carolina Hash and the White Chocolate Bread Pudding. I’m rooting for this place, as I think many are.

Monday, June 3, 2013


In preparation for my impending trip to Italia, I decided it most appropo to meet some friends at Nico’s, an authentic Sicilian restaurant in downtown Greensboro. It’s in a great location – right on the corner of Elm and Friendly. Walls are adorned with abstract art and photographs of beautiful Sicily, and the thoughtful server made suitable suggestions when wine choices and sides were not available. I was most impressed with the quality of ingredients and execution of dishes. They have a good thing going here.

One of my dining companions was a former employee at the restaurant, so upon her arrival, Nico sent over a plate of Bruschetta on their homemade, grilled Focaccia Bread. Topped with Fresh Tomatoes, Onions, Balsamic Vinegar, Microgreens and Parmesan Shreds, this makes for the perfect summer appetizer. Another basket of homemade Focaccia arrived, alongside Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. The bread is outstanding, with just enough of a salty bite. I went against the majority of my "wino" group and chose The Split as my beverage: an aperitif of Aperol and Prosecco with an Orange slice. Refreshing. Reminds me of my time in Germany.

We decided on an entrée as an appetizer - divided into four portions. When in Sicily! Capesante e piselli (roughly, Scallops and Peas) presents perfectly cooked plump Scallops atop a bed of creamy Cracked Risotto, with a Sweet Pea Puree underlying it all. The puree was a nice pop of color, a paint brush stroke, if you will. The salty crust on the scallop is to die for. Crisp Italian Green Beans are a nice crunchy addition.

Linguini al frutti di mare is essentially like eating the sea, in the best way possible. Notably homemade pasta swims alongside large Scallops, Shrimp, Mussels and Clams in a White Wine Sauce, with just a drop of Marinara (per the chef’s recommendation.) The portions are huge! This is spicier than I expected, but really tasty, fresh seafood.

Gnocchi Ricotta doesn’t disintegrate, like some I’ve had in the past. The tender homemade dumplings are nestled in a bed of Cured Tomatoes, Wilted Greens and Mushrooms in a deeply flavorful sauce. Vegetarians and carnivores alike will be pleased. Pollo Canzanese is a winner; the best of the evening. Braised Chicken (the most tender I can remember having) is topped with salty Prosciutto and paired with creamy Sage Polenta, which is like grits but more decadent. Sautéed Broccolini is a tasty side substitute, as they were out of Zucchini. Our gain.

Be prepared to drop some dollars, but it is so worth it. This was the best research I could have done for my trip. Come August, I will tell you all “Ciao!” briefly, but come back with fantastic stories and photos.