Sunday, March 30, 2014

Free Ticket Giveaway! - Winston-Salem Dishcrawl

Calling all foodies! Who doesn't like FREE stuff?? I'm so excited to partner with Dishcrawl Winston-Salem for their upcoming Mad Men-themed Dishcrawl! The TV show "Mad Men" will kick off its 7th and final season on Sunday, April 13, and it's the perfect reason to don (draper) some stylish 1960's garb and enjoy some 1960's-inspired cocktails and cuisine!

Want a chance to win a free ticket and be my date?!
Don't let Jon Hamm and me down. Enter today!! (Photo courtesy of Quotivee)

To enter, answer this question in the "Comments" section below:

"What's your favorite old school cocktail?"

Even if you don't watch the show, you'll want to be sure and enter - Shrimp Cocktail, Old Fashioneds, Oysters Rockefeller - this is the type of deliciousness you can expect on the Crawl, but the venues are a SECRET! After dessert, we'll head over to a/perture cinema for the "Mad Men" season premiere!

Good luck and happy crawling! I'll see you there!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


MCouls Public House has quickly become one of my go-to spots in Greensboro. The bar is cozy, the drinks are good, the food is even better, and you're likely to see a friendly, familiar face. Young and old, couples and singles, men and women - everyone loves this place. The patio is especially inviting in the summer months, but the warm, dimly lit interior is also just as appealing.

I tend to start my meals with the Blue Velvet - a combination of Blue Moon and Crispin Cider. It's hard to beat the sweet citrus flavor here. I've also ventured into Hot Toddy territory, with Jim Beam Maple being the secret to a really tasty one. If you're looking to spice things up, try the Habanero Bourbon.

The Banger Plate is everything you could want in an appetizer. This favorite features plump, grilled Irish Sausages with Irish Cheddar or Port Wine Cheese, Whole Grain Mustard and Toasted Rye Points. Every bite you build is the "money bite." The salty sausage, tangy mustard, nutty cheese and bitter toast combination is perfection.

MCouls' Veggie Burger is one of the best renditions I've had. Avocado, Provolone, Tomato and Sprouts top the lightly fried patty, which crunches beautifully between a toasted Kaiser Roll. At one point, Tots were offered as a side, but alas, they have broken my heart and removed them as an option. Try the Tabbouleh, an herby, tangy couscous, if you're looking to stay vegetarian. If you enjoy Shepherd's Pie, MCouls' version is a dream. Ground Beef and Lamb are cooked with Mixed Veggies, and covered with a blanket of warm Mashed Potatoes and Smoked Gouda. The dish is modest, so you will be tempted to eat it all. Steal a bite of your dining partner's meal while you let this cool. (Waiting will be difficult.)

Shepherd's Pie. Heaven.

I adore the Chicken and Goat Cheese Salad. Mixed Greens get some excitement from a juicy, tender Grilled Chicken Breast, Walnuts, Fried Onions, Tomatoes, Cucumber and Goat Cheese. Order it with the Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette. The quality and consistency of the Falafel in the Falafel Wrap is impressive, but the Remoulade which I requested to be on the side, was not. It made for a pretty messy meal, and unfortunately took over the dish. Otherwise, Sprouts, Tomato, Cukes and Mixed Greens would have been enough of a topping. This was really the only time an order wasn't delivered to me correctly after many, many visits.

You absolutely MUST save room for the Bread Pudding. MCouls' offering isn't like any you've ever had. Slightly toasted yet moist slices of Cinnamon Raisin Bread are drizzled with a warm Bailey's Cream Sauce. Hot walnuts give texture. This is a unique preparation and one of my favorites. This pub is worth the drive from Winston or High Point.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New Orleans

Ah, NoLa. The Big Easy. Home of Emeril, Crawfish and Mardi Gras. Actually, after having spent a few days prior in Mobile, Alabama, they claim to be the birthplace of Mardi Gras. Either way, I knew I wanted to find some King Cake during my trip and get some colorful beads (by just asking for them, nothing crazy). What can I say about New Orleans cuisine? Everything I ate was better than the last thing I put in my mouth. I said "this is my favorite meal" every single day. I had my first "out of body" food experience - this is what dreams are made of, folks. The Cajun/Creole favorites are delightful, but I have to admit that I fell for the adventurous "foodie" options more than the traditional NO fare.

Sweet Potato Beignets
My first bite set the bar insanely high. Little did I know I'd be having beignets twice in 3 hours. SoBou's offerings aren't for the weak-stomached. Sweet Potato Beignets are stuffed with "Duck Debris" and drizzled with Coffee Ganache and Foie Gras Fondue. I died over this. The balance between sweet and savory is perfection. I'm afraid Cafe Du Monde has nothing on these beignets. (They were darn close though, especially when dunked in a Cafe au lait!)

Like Emeril, John Besh is a celebrity chef, but didn't "sell out" quite as hard. His restaurant August was on my dream/never gonna happen list. This meal was one of the top 3 of my life. In these establishments, you'll welcome an amuse bouche (a free bite); in this case, an egg shell whimsically filled with a yellow squash and garlic mousse. Gnocchi with Blue Crab and Black Truffle is fantastically decadent. You'll want to lay on these gnocchi pillows and be covered with this cream sauce blanket. The Brioche Crusted Trout is the most visionary piece of fish I've ever eaten. Not to mention the Crab, Shrimp and Mushroom topping. Every brain cell was focusing on how delicious this was. It was difficult to speak.
Market Vegetable Salad

In the Garden District, Sandra Bullock can walk to Coquette for brunch (her house is enormous) and enjoy Pork Cheeks with a Pimento Cheese Biscuit. The Market Vegetable Salad balances out the richness here, with fresh, raw veggies atop a Cashew Puree with Olive Praline. The idea behind these dishes is genius.

Luckily, I found the city's last few remains of King Cake - a Nutella, Raspberry rendition - and it reminded me of a Cinnamon Roll, minus the Cinnamon. I would have liked to try the classic variety, but just sampling the sweet, yeasty pastry was enough for me.

Scallops, Black Truffles, White Bean Puree, Celery Salad
Restaurant R'evolution is lively, not too expensive, and some of the best food you'll find. Especially if you like freebies. After a Black Eyed Pea amuse bouche, the Beef Tartare is served with Pickled Vegetables, Grilled Crostini and a smear of Black Truffle sauce. I couldn't get enough of this combination. It was reminiscent of a cheeseburger - everything just worked. This is what food is supposed to be. The Scallops with shaved Black Truffles, White Bean Puree, Celery Salad and Foie Gras stands out as one of the richest dishes I've ever had. I thoughtfully chewed each bite and was very aware of the delicacies I was eating. White Chocolate Bread Pudding Creme Brulee is the most outstanding dessert I've had in a restaurant. The custard-like dessert is so full of White Chocolate flavor, with Salted Caramel, Lemon-Scented Apricots and Pistachios on the plate. I thank my lucky stars I found this dessert. As if this place was meant for me, a mini jewelry chest appeared, with a bite-sized dessert in each drawer. Strawberry and Raspberry Shortbread Bars, Rocky Road Fudge, a White Chocolate Rum Ball, a Cake Batter Cookie and White Chocolate-dipped Crostini made my night, and made the trip.

Put New Orleans on your to-visit list. Happy hour is 10am-4pm daily. The Garden District is gorgeous, the St. Charles Streetcar is old-timey, Canal Street makes you feel like you're in Miami Beach. This place is a fun escape.

Mom and me at Jackson Square

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Mundo has filled a traditionally troubled spot in downtown Winston-Salem, as well as the need for a "foodie" tapas bar in the city. One would think it's the perfect location - right next to the Stevens Center, at the prime corner of Marshall and 4th Streets, but that also makes it a destination spot. I dined here prior to seeing a show at the Stevens Center, so the restaurant was packed. On any given weeknight, I'd be interested to see the numbers. I'm thankful a spot like this has opened in Winston, challenging diners to partake in Lamb Belly and Octopus. Served tapas style, all the dishes I sampled were delightful.

You'll want to indulge in one of their Craft Cocktails (all $9.) The Singapore Sling is stronger than you'd think, with pineapple and mango juices and subtle notes of Brandy. The wine and beer list is impressive. The menu is creatively labeled "Mini Smalls," "Veggie Smalls," "Biggie Smalls" and "Skewers." We decided that for 3 people, two Veggie Smalls, two Biggie Smalls and a Skewer would do. We did not leave hungry.

We asked that the dishes be staggered, starting with the Camarones Zarandeados and Chili-Lime Grilled Asparagus, a flavorful pairing. The Chili-Lime notes of the Camarones (Shrimp) impart a nice char and saltiness on the Asparagus, dressing up the standard veggie. Cilantro and Pico de Gallo top the shrimp and Asparagus, which rests on a bed of Black Bean Puree. This is smooth and velvety, drizzled with a touch of Mexican Crema and Queso Fresca.

The Scallops Grenolboise (a French sauce featuring Browned Butter - YUM) are cooked perfectly, and the tender little things are served on a bed of lemony Parsnip Puree - a nice change from Mashed Potatoes - with Hazelnuts and Asparagus. This is a wonderful dish, probably large enough for one person. You get three Scallops with this preparation. I detected a slight note of Balsamic Vinegar, which enhanced it even more.

If you haven't tried Korean BBQ, make it a point to order it whenever you see it on the menu. The Short Rib is served on the bone, to make for some UBER-melt in your mouth meat. The Persian Rice, Pickled Vegetables, Peanuts and Kalbi (BBQ) sauce really make this dish. You could even make a little wrap with the tender Butter Lettuce leaves. I am in love with this preparation.

If you're weary of Indian flavors and cuisine, the Chana Masala is very safe. Lightly Curry-Stewed Chickpeas and Green Peas are served with Persian Rice (like toasted Basmati), with Yogurt-dressed Cucumbers. The Curry is just barely noticeable, not offensive in the slightest. This is enough for one vegetarian entree.

I look forward to many repeat visits to Mundo, and curious to see others' reception of the spot.