Sunday, December 3, 2017

Gadding About With The Chef and The Farmer in Kinston, NC


Ever since Vivian Howard opened The Chef and The Farmer in Kinston, NC eleven years ago I have been dying to have dinner there.  Yesterday I finally had my chance thanks to my friend Jen who discovered that Walter Magazine was featuring an event, A Day With Vivian Howard.  Jen and I signed up early and were among the 80 guests who were lucky enough to get tickets (There were 40 folks turned away).

Our first treat was making biscuits with Lillie over in Vivian's Test Kitchen.  Three volunteers from the crowd under Lillie's supervision made biscuits using Lillie's recipe.  As an hors d'oeuvre before dinner (in the south where I grew up, the noon meal was called dinner and the evening meal was called supper) we had a taste of  biscuit with various kinds of jams and preserves.
Making biscuits with Lillie and Vivian in the Test Kitchen (Photo by Jen Salisbury).
A short walk back over to the restaurant and dinner was ready.

The four at our table shared Vivian's Party Magnet with Mimosas served from the bar.

The bar with a reflection of Jen in the mirror above the bar.
Next came the crispy apple salad topped with shaved Calavander cheese.

Until now I have not been a fan of collard greens, but that changed once I tasted the Vegetable Collard Chowder.  It was my favorite course of this meal.  There is no photo, because I was so taken with the soup that I forgot to take one.  I hope the recipe is in her book, because I will make that.   The main course was a melt in your mouth pork with field peas and potatoes and garnished with cress. Yum, yum, yum!
What better than an apple fritter with buttermilk creme fraiche to top of this unbelievably delicious meal!

Vivian Howard is bringing Kinston back to life!  The Chef and The Farmer is as outstanding as the superb reviews it has garnered and awards it has won!  I'll be back.

This event sponsored by Walter Magazine was a day long event, so I will be posting a second blog later about our afternoon and evening fun. Stay tuned. 


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Manicure and Dinner at Chuy's with Granddaughter Grace

Grace's Manicure
Last night granddaughter Grace stopped by for a visit.  We had planned to make cookies or a chocolate chess pie, but we decided to go have manicures and pedicures.  She a manicure and a pedicure for me.  Grace is sixteen now and has her driver's licence so she chauffeured me---fun!
At Lee Salon at North Hills. 

Grace is having fun. 
Grace chose a deep purple glossy.  (Somewhat a Broughton High purple)  Pretty. 

After the salon I suggested we get a bite to eat.  I asked her if she liked Mexican cuisine and she said , "Yes, let's go to Chuy's".  I responded that I didn't know that restaurant.  She couldn't believe I didn't.  It's apparently a favorite of hers and her family's.  Of course I'm always looking for new spots to eat in town.
Chuys at North Hills. 
Lovely outdoor seating. 

Colorful decor. 

Menu.  Originated in Austin where Grace's family came to love it. 
Grace ready to eat.
I had the Stacked Enchiladas with beans and rice and I had enough to take home for another meal. 

I'll have to ask Grace for other recommendations for restaurants because this one was a hit.  And it was so much fun having a gadabout with Grace.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gadding About at My Sister's Halloween Party


For years my sister and her family have had a Halloween Party up at their cabin, and it has been on my bucket list to attend.  So this year I went as a leopard.  I even surprised my sister who didn't recognize me at first.  It was a fun party and there were lots of creative costumes.
Ally and Zane as scarecrows.

 Andy actually is a UPS driver, so Bays is dressed like his Dad.  Kristen is Sally and Cason is Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas movie. 

Adam as Grim Reaper, Casey as witch, Leila as cat.
My sister as a cow, and I'm a leopard. 


Hal is a cowboy pulling his covered wagon. 

Kelly and Scott as Axl and Slash from Guns and Roses.

CeCe is a gypsy. 

Leslie and Jeff as body snatchers. 
Three grand. 
Even  Pepe was costumed. 

Now I'm thinking how to make a creative costume for next year.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Muscadine Pie at The Lakewood

Wild Muscadine Grapes. (Photo from the Web.)
One of my fondest memories of childhood was eating Muscadines, the wild grapes that are native to the Southeastern United States.  In the woods near our house was a wild vine that had grown high up into a tree, and in September and October the fragrance of these delicious deep purple grapes wafted into my play area.  The vines were too far up to reach, but when the ripe grapes fell the ground would be covered.  The grape has a thick skin that can be discarded and there are seeds inside the fruity flesh ( I usually spit out the few seeds but eat the thick skin which I'm sure has the most nutritional value.) 

A recent review in the News and Observer of The Lakewood, a restaurant in Durham, featured one of their desserts, Muscadine Pie.  I knew I had to try that.  Laura and Anthony both have October birthdays so to celebrate we had dinner at The Lakewood last night.  The restaurant is located in a building that was once The Davis Baking Company.  That seems fitting since owner Phoebe Lawless is well known for her baked goods at her other restaurant, Scratch.  Much of the original building has been retained, including the tin ceiling, and there is outdoor dining on the roof.  The somewhat contemporary tables and decor suited my fancy.  I was intrigued by the wooden bird sculptures on the shelf at the edge of the wine glasses and asked Anthony to go over a get an artsy photo.  He's an excellent photographer. 
Roof top dining at The Lakewood. (Photo by Anthony Benson.)
Anthony's artsy photo with my Iphone. (Photo by Anthony Benson.)
I was tempted to order the Muscadine Pie first, but there were so many other interesting choices on the menu, I resisted.  We shared a small plate of their smoked blue fish dip with homemade potato chips.  I recommend this!  A side of charred beets with NC apples and dilly ranch dressing was also shared. (We were attempting to sample several of their offerings.) Equally good.
Smoked blue fish dip with homemade potato chips.  
Laura and Anthony both ordered the Bavette steak with long cooked broccoli, seared lemon gnocchi, and olive oil hollandaise.  I ordered the BBQ Pamlico shrimp with crusty baguette. The large shrimp were served with heads on (as they do in France) and with a spicy broth perfect for sopping with the bread.  It was a bit messy to eat, but they provide a slice of lemon and a wet napkin for cleaning your hands as you finish. 
Bavette steak with seared lemon gnocchi. (Photo by Anthony Benson.)
Pamlico shrimp with crusty baguette. 

Time for dessert.  Laura is on a low carb diet and resisted dessert, but Anthony and I shared desserts.  The Apple Scrap funnel cake with sesame caramel ripple ice cream was good, but finally the piece de resistance, the Double crust Muscadine Pie with creme fraiche ice cream and candied pecans was even better than I could have imagined.  Absolutely delicious!!!!
Funnel cake with caramel ice cream. (Photo by Anthony Benson.)

Muscadine double crusted pie with creme fraiche ice cream  and candied pecans. 
As we were eating our desserts, two children at a table near us were served the most delicious looking drink.  It was pink with a grape on the edge of the glass.  I asked the waiter about it, and when she replied that it was a Muscadine Soda, I immediately ordered one.  This drink from the children's menu, was the perfect nightcap to this Muscadine featured meal.
This Muscadine Soda garnished with a Muscadine grape was beautiful and tasty.
(Photo by Anthony Benson.)
I hope Muscadine season lasts a bit longer and I hope Lawless keeps the Muscadine Pie on the menu, because I'm going back!

Read Patricia P.'s review of The Lakewood on Yelp




Thursday, October 12, 2017

Culinary Journey Aboard the Cape Cod Dinner Train




Our visit to New Hampshire where we enjoyed a bus tour through the White Mountains was a little disappointing because the leaves had not reached their peak color partly due to the warm and dry weather.
The White Mountains. 
A pretty red maple.
For the last leg of our Rails and Sails Tour we headed for Cape Cod.

Without a doubt, the most memorable meal of our entire trip was dinner aboard the Cape Cod Dinner Train that included a three hour ride through quaint villages. Romantic music and soft candlelight set the perfect ambiance for enjoying our five course gourmet meal.
Appetizer and the lobster mousse spread was outstanding.  This was shared by all four.
Clam chowder or chowda as they say here.
A delicious fresh green salas. 
Beef tenderloin as the entree and cooked to perfection. 
Lemon tart with raspberry sauce. 
After this delicious meal, we stepped off the train and were welcomed to Hyannis.

It might be worth another visit to Cape Cod just to have another meal aboard this train.  It seems as I travel my bucket list gets longer instead of shorter.




Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Day Three On to Maine



We departed early on our third day of this trip for the Amtrak Station in Boston to board the train for Wells, Maine.  Perhaps making ones way through a crowded train station during rush hour for those who had never experienced it made this worthwhile, but the train ride itself was quite ordinary.  It arrived at Wells late, and we had to hurry on to the waiting bus and didn't have time to enjoy the pretty train station at Wells.  In the future Rails and Sails, I recommend going from Boston to Wells on the bus and ditch the train ride.

The cruise around the harbor at Kennebunkport allowed a view of the Bush home and some pretty scenery.  On to Portland where we had dinner on our own, and we chose something close to the hotel, Grittys, who did not serve grits, but where the clam chowda was excellent.



Dinner at Grittys (L to R: Gail, Sally, Ann, Pat W, Peggy, me

Following a bus tour of Portland, we had a delightful tour on a lobster boat where we were learned how lobsters are harvested.
Beautiful lighthouse in Portland, Maine. 


Two female lobsters, one with many eggs.  

Natasha, a former student of mine, lives in Kennebunkport, and she met me for lunch.  It had been nine years since I had seen her, and we had a delightful visit.  Having a visit with Natasha was the highlight of my time in Portland.  Dan and I had taking her under our wings when she was newly arrived from Russia and was studying at the college where I was teaching. She is now happily married with three lovely children.
Beautiful Natasha.  

The lobster dinner at Dimillos on the Water was incredible and the lobster and steamed clams were delish.  It was amusing to watch those who had never eaten lobster manage to extract the lobster from its shell.  Everyone in our group enjoyed the evening.
Our lobster and steamed clams dinner at Dimillos on the Water. 

Tom, our bus driver, sat at our table and helped some manage their lobster. 

On to New Hampshire to continue our Rails and Sails New England trip.