Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Cuisine & Screen: Home Edition

How is everyone doing these days? Hanging in there? It's certainly weird times we're living in, but we're all in it together and we'll get through it. I've been doing a lot of cuisining and screening at home (you should be, too!) and thought I'd share a few recipes and films I've enjoyed lately.

I have finally mastered the art of oven-baked salmon. The trick? A meat thermometer! Truly, it is the best kitchen gadget I own. It takes all the guesswork out of cooking meat. Below is an incredible topping for salmon (though it would be fabulous on just about any fish, or even chicken and pork):

-Mince equal parts flat leaf parsley, garlic, capers and anchovies, then squirt with a bit of lemon. It's a flavor BOMB and really addicting. I usually start with about 1/4 cup parsley, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 TB of capers and 3 anchovies. I cannot recommend enough!!

Green Rice is a recipe that's been in my family for over 100 years. It comes from my great-grandmother on my dad's side. It makes a TON and is really satisfying:

-1 cup uncooked rice (don't add salt)
-1 beaten egg
-1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
-1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
-1 green pepper, chopped
-1 cup milk
-1 TB salt
-1/2 tsp pepper

Cook the rice. Then add milk, eggs and all other ingredients. Stir to combine. Put this in a buttered casserole dish (1 quart) and bake for 45 minutes, uncovered, at 350.

Salmon with Anchovy topping, Green Rice and Brussels (I ate all my roasted ones before remembering to take the picture!)
I also have been living for Rachael Ray's Korean Sloppy Joes, and I baked an old-school recipe, Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing, and it's nearly impossible to stop eating. (I added craisins and subbed sweetened condensed milk for the cream in the frosting because it was all I had!)

I love a good Netflix binge, but I also love watching old films. Here's a few you might enjoy if you can get your hands on a copy:

-Funny Girl - the Babs Streisand classic, and she won an Oscar for it

-Moonstruck - Cher was fabulous, as per usual, and won an Oscar for this

-Urban Cowboy - not a feel good John Travolta musical but entertaining if you like Honky Tonks and Texas (like me)

-Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - only worth watching (kind of) if you were a fan of the first one

-Lawrence of Arabia - widely regarded as many famous directors' favorite film, and it was absolutely stunning, rightfully winning the Oscar for cinematography, but being 4 hours long? I just can't.

I hope this provided you with a little bit of humor and that it was a brief distraction. Now y'all seriously need to go try my anchovy topping. It's a showstopper!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Beefmastor Inn

The Beefmastor Inn is iconic. It's an institution. And it is as good as they say. No menus, and no worries. This is top-quality beef in an old-school environment. If you find yourself in the proximity of Wilson, NC, do yourself a favor and have dinner here. Arrive early to avoid the line (they only have 10 tables!) and if you're in the know, you'll show up with a beverage to pregame in the parking lot with (they have cornhole set up for that very reason). This place has been on my culinary bucket list for quite some time. I knew I was especially in for a treat when the owner opened the door to the awaiting crowd and said, "come on in, let's have some fun."
I finally made it!
The Beefmastor has been around since at least the 1970s, because my dad ate here shortly after moving to Wilson for a job. He's detailed his Beefmastor experience enough times for me to know I had to check this place out. Red and white checkered tablecloths adorn the tables, and a stick of softened butter is ready for your baked potato or your steak. Prompt and friendly servers come around taking drink orders (they do sell wine and beer), and then the chef comes around with an enormous slab of rib eye. He positions his knife (machete) at 8 ounces and asks how much more you want. I stuck with 8, and asked for medium rare. The only other choice you have is whether or not you want a baked onion (you do). The chef visits one table, then slices, seasons and starts searing your steak before advancing to the next.
Slicing my 8 ounces
The salad bar contains the usual suspects, as well as some that got me excited - sardines, dill pickle spears - they even offer pineapple and cottage cheese if you want a sweet start to the meal. Not 5 minutes after I finished my salad, my sizzling hot entree arrived. The steak was absolutely phenomenal. Seasoned and cooked to perfection. The fat melted right into the meat, and for not being a huge steak gal, I would eat this every week, easy. The baked potato is a classic side (I like all potatoes with ketchup - don't judge) and the baked onion brought a nice sweet acidity to break up the richness of the meat. A piece of buttered, grilled bread is also lovely to dunk in the sweet onion juice. You can really just lose your mind here. They want you to. That steak was out of this world.
Beauty in simplicity
Dessert is not an option, but don't worry, you won't have room for it anyway. I am so thrilled to finally try such a historic NC spot that my dad has been telling me about for years. It didn't disappoint. Frankly, it was much better than I could have anticipated.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


At last. Foodies all over Greensboro have been patiently waiting for Machete to expand their dinner parties to a brick and mortar. We have been so eager for them to open their doors in the space previously occupied by Crafted Street Food. We have salivated over their Instagram posts, read dish descriptions in awe ("Cornbread, Popcorn, Cream" anyone?) and I'm thrilled to say: the wait is over. And it's been worth the wait. Machete's doors will open to the public tonight.
Love that glow light
The creative culinary team at Machete is churning out "Iron Chef" or "Master Chef" quality dishes, so my dining companions and I decided that they deserved an Iron Chef review. Meaning, everything was excellent, a few dishes we never could have possibly imagined, and a few tweaks might make some dishes outstanding.

I took advantage of the "Roll the Dice" offering on the cocktail menu, which literally means that you roll 3 dice containing different spirits, flavors and techniques, and let your bartender do the rest. I rolled "spicy", "vodka" and "shaken" and was delighted with the Vodka Gimlet with Spicy Bitters I received. I also appreciated the wine tastings to help me determine which glass I wanted.

I was encouraged by other friends to try the Bread Service - Focaccia with Carbonara Butter. The perfectly fine Focaccia is clearly just a vessel for the Carbonara Butter, which is the star of the show. The butter is super airy and whipped - frankly I don't know how they managed to get it quite this light - and boasts major umami from smoky bacon (liquid smoke?), sweet corn and saltiness from the butter itself. I would have appreciated another piece of bread to go with all this butter!
Bread Service

Simply described as Yellowfin Tuna + Charcoal Crisp, this was my second favorite bite of the night. The charcoal crisp had great flavor - more savory than smoky, which was my preference. Incredibly flavorful and tender raw tuna was nestled into each crisp,  just waiting to be devoured. Each crisp was topped with small strands of seaweed. I would eat 100 of these.
Yellowfin Tuna, Charcoal Crisp

While perusing the menu, my eyes went immediately to the Short Rib with Coal-Roasted Cabbage and Kimchi Butter. The Short Rib was reminiscent of a really good pot roast - no bones, complete with gravy. While I was hoping for the promised tang of Kimchi, I got more of a smoky, charcoal flavor from the cabbage. I was disappointed at first, notably missing that acid, but then tried the bites together and was able to find a nice acid in the gravy, so when paired when the cabbage, it kind of made for a riff on kimchi. My party later spoke with the very gracious owner, who explained that their vision for this menu is to suggest flavors, and suggest that you alter your expectations. The dishes and their explanations are not necessarily promising you flavors, but suggesting them. It's a very cool concept, if your diners are willing to go along with it. My dining partner noted that he would have liked a base to soak up all the gravy - potatoes, riced cauliflower, maybe even polenta. I don't disagree.
Short Rib, Cabbage, Kimchi Butter

My party wanted to try several things on the menu, and we were especially pleased with the reasonable price points. Nothing seemed out of reach, and it was nice to be able to try a variety of dishes. We noticed that the dishes were staggering out of the kitchen a bit slowly, but we agreed that this time between each course really encourages conversation about the dish. The environment promotes a culinary adventure. Servers don't hover, so you can speak your mind with your dining companions. Discussing the meal is party of the meal. This place really isn't for non-foodies. We also found out that they've only been in this space for 6 weeks, and the staff has only been together for 1 week! Crazy impressive.

Roasted Cauliflower is hot right now, and pairing it with Aji Amarillo Peppers and Smoked Tomato sounded divine. There was a yummy roast on the cauliflower - the veggie itself was tender and the tops were crispy.  This was a very satisfying dish, and fabulous with the itty bitty aji amarillos, which provided a slight sweetness and spice. One of my dining partners remarked that they wanted an aioli from these peppers - again, I don't disagree!
Roasted Cauliflower, Aji Amarillos, Smoked Tomatoes

We ordered the Double-Fried Chicken with Grilled Lemon and were slightly surprised to get what reminded us of tempura-fried chicken nuggets on a skewer. But the chicken was incredibly moist and really shines with the grilled lemon aioli. Again, we didn't quite receive what we were expecting, but we were happy to just roll with it. My dining partner once again offered his thoughts and would have liked to see a spicy element to this dish, maybe in the aioli, with a charred lemon half to squirt on top. (If you couldn't already tell, this dining partner has several opinions, but many of them are thoughtful and good suggestions).
Double-Fried Chicken with Grilled Lemon

The desserts were my favorite part of the meal. They were absolutely sensational. Come for the dinner, but STAY for the dessert. The Fruity Pebbles ice cream is incredibly nostalgic. Being millennials, we all lost our minds when we bit into balls of cereal milk ice cream, rolled in slightly salted fruity pebbles. No spoon required, but it might make this last longer. All of a sudden, it was 1994 again and there were zero worries in the world.
Fruity Pebbles Ice Cream

The pièce de résistance was the "All Cheese, no Cake", which upon my cursory review of the menu, I thought meant a cheese course. That would have made perfect sense for a dessert course, but when my bartender acquaintance insisted we order this, I knew there had to be a trick up their sleeves. I would have been utterly devastated if I had missed it. Immediately, my entire party had a physiological response to this dish. We couldn't eat it fast enough but wanted desperately to discuss it - what in the world were we eating?! We decided it was a deconstructed cheesecake, with notes of buttered popcorn, sweetened condensed milk, salt, spice from the meringue and graham cracker cookies - this dish was literally everything. Perfectly balanced, and in my top 3 (maybe top 2?) best ever restaurant desserts. DO NOT MISS.
All Cheese, No Cake

We loved the opportunity to chat with the owner, who came around and spoke to every table. He asked for feedback and initial thoughts prior to their grand opening, and they really want to make a home in our community. I was eager to tell him how excited we all were to welcome them, and can't wait to see the awesome things they'll do.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

RiverRun International Film Festival

Y'all - tickets for the RiverRun International Film Festival are now on sale! This is such an awesome event and I'm so proud that it's in my hometown every year. What a cool thing for Winston-Salem to have! The Festival runs March 26 - April 4, and this year, the staff had a record 2,100 submissions to screen. That's pretty unreal! They've selected some incredible films, shorts and documentaries, and they're even showing some throwbacks. Red Cinemas in Greensboro will run some screenings, so whether you live in Winston or GSO, you can take part in the Festival!

I was thrilled to attend the 2020 Festival Launch Party at the Carolina Theatre's Crown Room this week, where they announced the lineup. It's exciting to see so many people of all ages and backgrounds unite around film. We got to see several reel clips and previews, and there's seriously something for everyone.

I'm most looking forward to seeing "Love Sarah", "Blue & Gold Marching Machine" (part of the NC shorts), "Standing Up, Falling Down" and "Slay the Dragon" and will see as many more as I can possibly fit in my schedule. You can read about each film here.

I encourage you to get involved and go check out a film. And more importantly, secure your tickets before they sell out (and they will!) I'll meet you at the movies!