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Kris Fullerâ€™s Neighborhood Joint
Take a pass on the salt and other cooking tips
love food. There, I said it. In 2012, at 41 years young, I had triple-bypass heart surgery. And, it turns out that it was not the food that by Timothy G. Beeman II I had been eating that precipitated it. It was, mostly, genetics and sleep apnea. But I did realize I hadn’t been doing myself any favors with my food choices. Once an eater of fast food three times a day, seven days a week, I radically changed my diet. That meant eating at better restaurants, but less frequently, and more eating at home. I did not like to eat at home. I like going out, trying new and unusual foods and that wonderful feeling of being served, at a table, with whatever I ask for. But it all had to change, at least in frequency. Today, I have not had fast food in four years. And I no longer dread sitting around my own table at home. If I am going to eat at home, I want restaurant-quality food. So I started to cook it myself, sidestepping the boring “journey” stuff and going right for the cuisine. I gained a passion for cooking and eating really good food that I could make at home. It is now a team effort between my wife, my 15-year-old son and me. We are like a home version of a kitchen line in a restaurant. It gives us time together as a family, and it allows us to control everything we eat. These days I have to monitor my intake of sodium. Many foods are “diet” or “healthy” but they only measure that in terms of cholesterol and fat. Sodium is the real villain here. In that, we have turned to alternative methods and substitution in our search for healthier, yet very flavorful cooking options. I love Asian food, but those dishes are notoriously high in sodium. Soy sauce, even the low-sodium alternative, is not very low sodium at all. Fish sauce? Forget about it. I
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have found that whenever a recipe involves soy sauce, we substitute with low-sodium, and then use just half the amount the recipe calls for, substituting Worcestershire sauce for the other half. Worcestershire and soy sauce have the same basic savory profile, what the Japanese call “umami.” However, a tbsp of Worcestershire has only 195 mg of sodium compared to the low-sodium soy at 533 mg. Also, I prefer the flavor of Worcestershire. Most of the time. I have found there is no substitute for salt. Americans love salty foods and I am just that sort of American. I have tried to wean myself from salty delights but it is almost impossible to escape them completely. And does one really want to? Salt does have its benefits. And sodium is not salt. Salt is sodium. Using it in moderation, as is the case with just about anything, is the idea. I use salt in my recipes and I make sure to pull back on whatever the recipe calls for. You can always add the salt later; do not screw up your whole dish by throwing in too much during the cooking process; there is no turning back. Recently, my son and I made a Mongolian beef and spring-onion dish. Instead of a quarter-cup of soy sauce, we pared that down to less than a quarter-cup low-sodium and quarter-cup of Worcestershire plus a little extra. We did not miss the salt flavor at all. The savory umami was present but the salty overtones were tamed. It was healthier and the sodium wasn’t a factor. In fact, I thought the flavors were perfect. Small substitutions can make all the difference. Tim Beeman has been eating his way through Winston-Salem since 1998. Read about his exploits at the Man Who Ate the Town blog and podcast (themanwhoatethetown. com), part of the Less Desirables Network. Don’t ask him if you can have any of his fries.
The Quiet Pint $$
facebook.com/quietpinttavern 1420 W. First St. WS, 336.893.6881 Gather at the Quiet Pint for pub trivia hosted by Geeks Who Drink every Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. This is team trivia and winning teams will be awarded prizes in the form of Quiet Pint gift cards and craft-beer schwag. Follow the beer menu in real-time with the TapHunter App and receive notifications when new beers are tapped. Live music season will be starting soon — follow the Quiet Pint on Facebook to see the schedule.
Natty Greene’s Kitchen + Market $$-$$$ nattygreeneskitchenandmarket.com 2003 Yanceyville St. GSO 336.656.2410
In April, patio season is in full swing. Check out the 5,400-square foot Deck at Natty Greene’s Kitchen + Market with full-service dining, lounge furniture and enclosed Deck Bar. The fully stocked bar includes two TVs, 33 seats, a concrete bartop and 10 taps. Grab a Mill Sub (pictured), a pint and enjoy the outdoors. After changing the face of downtown Greensboro in 2004 with the opening of the original brewpub on Elm Street, Natty Greene’s kicked off a massive project at Revolution Mill with the opening of Kitchen + Market, with everything from house-ground burgers, sausages and house-cut steaks to fun cocktails, wine and, of course, the full cadre of Natty’s signature beers.
Undercurrent Restaurant $$$ undercurrentrestaurant.com 327 Battleground Ave. GSO, 336.370.1266
Mary’s Gourmet Diner $$ marysgourmetdiner.net 723 Trade St. WS, 336.723.7239
For 20 years Undercurrent Restaurant has been a destination for an elegant farm-to-table dining experience in downtown Greensboro. Over the last two decades, in both its original Elm Street location and its current spot at the end of Battleground Avenue, the commitment to seasonal menus, quality service and memorable events have remained a constant thread. Brothers Wesley and Chris Wheeler proudly continue the flavorful tradition while looking toward the future as downtown Greensboro continues to grow and thrive. Open for lunch, cocktails and dinner as well as brunch on Sunday, Undercurrent’s menu changes with the seasons but the quality remains the same. Undercurrent Restaurant continues to be the downtown Greensboro destination for private events, specialty dinners, business meetings and informal gatherings for family and friends. Reservation suggested, not required.
Burke Street Pizza $
Burkestreetpizza.com 1140 Burke St. WS, 336.721.0011 3352 Robinhood Road WS, 336.760.4888 2223 Fleming Road GSO, 336.500.8781 Dave Hillman is from Long Island, so he knows what pizza is supposed to taste like. He took that knowledge and opened his first classic pizza joint after the turn of the century, when Burke Street was the epicenter of Winston-Salem nightlife. The Burke Street location still serves pies and slices and everything else a neighborhood pizzeria should, while a second Winston-Salem spot on Robinhood Road caters to family-style dining and takeout. A third Greensboro location, in the Cardinal neighborhood, adds a slate of pasta dishes — baked ziti, eggplant parmigiana, fettucine, lasagna and ravioli among them — to the pizzas, Stromboli, heroes and calzones. All have in-house lunch and dinner specials and delivery every night. And at all three locations the pizza stays true to the New York style, hot and fresh from the oven.
Mary Haglund owns breakfast in Winston-Salem. Her first venture, Mary’s of Course! Which opened in 2000, was the original farm-to-fork restaurant in the city. There she solidified her relationships with local purveyors and her commitment to real, local ingredients, as well as her biscuit recipe. Her egg dishes are legendary, her pancakes sublime. And the specials board always has something interesting. Open only for breakfast and lunch and the sweet spot in between, Mary’s Gourmet Diner is a Winston-Salem original.
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Bites & Pints Gastropub $ bitesandpintsgastropub.com 2503 Spring Garden St. GSO 336.617.5185
Greensboro Chef Kris Fuller cuts a singular profile around town: a dapper boi with tattoos and metal and a porkpie hat, and more often than not a custom set of knives tucked under her arm. She gets recognized, both literally and figuratively, everywhere she goes — most recently, she was awarded a 40 Under 40 award by the Triad Business Journal. Fuller’s distinctive style can be seen in everything she touches, most notably her three Crafted installations in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and the other menus in the area she’s curated. But while those other places are the sorts of endeavors where she might work, Bites & Pints Gastropub, her newest concept, is more the kind of place
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Kris Fuller' from the g she likes to hang out. Fuller’s involvement with Bites & Pints Gastropub was crystal clear and right up front. She’s the owner, and partner Mike Bosco, renowned for his work at Westerwood Tavern, would handle the back end of the house while she worked her magic. Kris designed the space to suit her needs, and drilled down to make sure the menu was on point. And then, seven months ago, they opened for business. She leaned into the gastropub concept in the same way she did with the taco at the original Crafted restaurant, the way she did with with street food in Crafted’s second incarnation, and even harkened back to her days at the Bistro in Adams Farm for inspiration. “Some people don’t understand what a gastropub is, exactly,” she says now from a stool at the bar at B&P. “What it is is bar food, but done with a little more care and attention. “It’s kind of like what I did with the tacos,” she continues. “I took that fine-dining background and applied it to a concept that everybody can enjoy.” So there is definitely a deep fryer in the kitchen, but they’re dropping tempurabattered shrimp and red-and-white onion rings in the baskets. The Philly steak
's gastropub, ground up sandwich is made from sliced brisket, the same brisket that’s blended with short rib to make their burgers — a fantastic burger menu in a town full of great burgers. Old-timers who remember the Spring Garden Street location from its time as Fat Dogs would be pleased to find a good list of hot dogs on the menu, and perhaps even more pleased to find that one of them has avocado on it. “I knew we had to do a range of the usual suspects,” she says. “Gotta have a burger menu. Gotta have hot dogs. Gotta have great appetizers. But I wanted to take what people expect from bar and grill food, mash it up a little
bit and then present it as something unexpected.” A genuine po-boy. An Asian hot dog with house-made Asian slaw. A goatcheese melt with red-onion jam. Chicken-and-waffle sliders. Even the condiments are made on the premises. Her personal favorite is a burger: the green-chile burger, with queso fresco, avocado, pickled onions, cheese sauce and cilantro, with a definitive layer of green chiles. It’s basically a taco on a burger. And like the chef herself, it’s the only one like it in town.
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Flash in the pan
mong those who know my friend Usha, having her bake you a cake is the equivalent of Beyonce writing you a song. So when she baked a cake for my son Remy’s fifth birthday, everyone knew it was a big by Ari LeVaux deal. Remy knew as much after seeing her cake photos on Facebook (which I guess means that Facebook now has my son’s cake preferences in its database). Luckily, we had plans to be in Hawaii during Remy’s birthday, and that is where Usha lives. In the months before the trip they corresponded about the flavors that Remy’s cake would contain, in what I call the “interview phase” of an Usha cake experience.
Hawaii works quite well for a February birthday. His cake interview, however, began much earlier. This part of the process is when Usha and the cake recipient figure out a baseline list of flavors for the cake-to-be. All additional goals that the honoree has for the cake, or the event it headlines, are explored as well. When these conceptual pieces are in place, Usha then designs the cake around them, custards, frostings, decorations and all. Her only hard fast rule is no money. There will be no reimbursement or compensation of any type, be it cash, trade, barter or subway tokens. The gift of cake exists outside of time, occasion, place and the economy. Appropriately, Remy went with a tropical fruit theme: mango and liliquoi (“lily-quoy”), aka passionfruit. Mango season had just passed in Hawaii, but farmy folk like Usha have freezer bags full of frozen filets, among other fruits, including liliquoi.
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I’ve seen Usha bake cakes in a lot of places, from the peaks of Portland to the suburbs of Boston to the Vermont hills, and it was nice to see her do what she does with Hawai’ian ingredients. The only ingredient in Remy’s cake that can be scarce on the mainland is the liliqoui. When perfectly ripe, passionfruit looks pretty bad, it’s yellow skin covered with sunken brown splotches. The edible part consists of extremely sour goop with seeds stuck in it, and must be strained and sweetened before use. If you can get ripe liliquoi or a suitable concentrate, by all means use it in this cake. Otherwise lemon is a good substitute. There is just one more thing you will need if you want to make Remy’s cake. A copy of a book Usha had won in a law school baking contest in the years since the last time I’d watched her bake. It’s not just any book. It was written by my first boss, ever: Judy Rosenberg, founder of Rosie’s Bakery in Somerville, Mass. I was hired on as a “Rosette” during the summer after my sophomore year in high school. My first day on the job was the morning after my first hickey. Rosie’s was legendary in the Boston area, largely thanks to a frosted brownie called the Chocolate Orgasm. It was a fun summer. I never met her, but I remember the importance carried by the word “Judy” in that summer of ’86. I don’t think I even knew her last name until I saw it on Usha’s copy of Rosie’s Bakery All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book. Never before has a book been so perfectly tailored to a reader’s interest than this book is to Usha’s. Or to Remy’s. Four different recipes from Judy’s book combine to make Remy’s birthday cake. When we arrived at Usha’s house on the big day, she was making lemon custard, but substituting liliquoi juice ice cubes for lemon juice. Sweetened and creamed, the sour liliquoi creates a cantilevered, balanced flavor that is thrilling to
consume. She could have just stopped right there, as far as I was concerned, and we could have just eaten custard all afternoon. But Usha was just getting started. Using the recipe for Banana Cake, Usha measured a cup of chopped mango, instead of the bananas the recipe called for. She soaked the mango pieces in “…a cup plus 2 tablespoons” worth of buttermilk. I’m just saying: You know that a recipe is serious when it gives quantities like, “...a cup plus two tablespoons.” Remy worked the mango pieces hard into the buttermilk with his bare hands. Somewhere along the line that afternoon, Usha and Remy decided to add some frozen pineapple, by way of a bowl of vanilla custard that Usha happened to have prepared earlier, just in case. Remy found the greasing of a 9-inch baking pan with butter to be an intuitively easy task to learn. Usha then lay a circular piece of parchment paper over the butter on the bottom, then had Remy rub more butter on top of the parchment. Then she added flour to each pan, rolling it around for total coverage, before spooning in the batter. That cake, in other words, would not be sticking to anything. Cake makers on Usha’s level have no time for that. When tackling Judy’s recipes, it’s really nice if you have a cake mixer. Otherwise you’ll need quite a bit of elbow grease, or perhaps skip the Rosie’s Buttercream frosting (page 85), which took about five minutes in a food processor, followed by 20 minutes in a Kitchenaid mixer until in looked like lacquered taffy. Remy’s first Kitchenaid cleaning was a good one. The buttermilk-mango cake batter, meanwhile, mixed relatively quickly, with a teaspoon of cinnamon powder from Usha’s tree. After about 20 minutes at 350 degrees (preheated, center rack), Usha removed the cakes from the oven and palpated them. She was absorbing information through her fingertips like some
Mission Pizza $-$$
missionpizzanapoletana.com 707 Trade St. WS, 336.893.8217
kind of cake whisperer, channeling the situation at the cake’s core. She was feeling the degree to which the skin bounced back after being pushed down upon, in search of a near-but-not-quite-total recovery. “You want it to spring back maybe 90 percent,” she estimated. If you’re at a loss, she added, insert a knife or toothpick to test if it’s done. When personalizing a cake, the list of extra considerations is potentially long, beyond mere allergies and sensitivities and intolerances. If the cake is not being baked on-site, there is the issue of transport. “I often travel with my cakes,” Usha says. Which, on the Kona coast of the Big Island, can mean lots of curves and G-forces and bumps. Thus, she prefers to deliver her cakes in pieces, and recommends having other people in the car to hold them. Other, more fun problems to address include how to fit so many custards and creme and frostings into one cake. The answer, it turns out, is to slice the cakes in half along their horizontal planes, multiplying the surface areas from two discs into four. This allows more alternating layers of vanilla pineapple custard and liliquoi custards. A final consideration, specific to Remy’s fifth birthday: Should there be a school of five gummy fish swimming atop the buttercream frosting? Ultimately the cake is a reflection of the recipient, by way of Usha’s talents. So yes. There were five blue gummy fish swimming amongst the candles atop Remy’s mango liliquoi custard vanilla pineapple custard buttercream frosted birthday cake. After a quick drizzle with some big puffs of Remy’s birthday spittle, we dove in.
Founded by Peyton Smith, Mission Pizza Napoletana is the Carolina’s first Neapolitan pizzeria, a pioneer in the style regionally and beyond. Mission Pizza aims to combine outstanding food and warm hospitality in a convivial atmosphere. Fresh salads, seasonal vegetables and traditional pastas share top billing with the highly acclaimed pizzas emerging from the 1,000-degree, wood-fired oven. An extensive list of Italian wine and NC beer pair perfectly with the food. No buzzwords, no gimmicks, no pretense. Just thoughtful food made with the best ingredients that can be sourced, by people who give a shit. Eureka!
1618 Midtown $$-$$$
1618midtown.com 1724 Battleground Ave. GSO, 336.285.9410 1618 Midtown is located in Greensboro’s newest neighborhood, right in your back yard. Come to Irving Park Plaza to try Max’s newest cocktail creations, Cherish and Jon’s amazing menu or have Stacey, our Certified Sommelier, pair wine with it all. Celebrating its 7th year, Midtown is a young, fun and casual restaurant that mixes classically inspired, modern cuisine with hand-curated wines, artisan cocktails and craft beers to create inventive, fresh and local flavors. There’s a new paint job, but the same amazing service you have come to expect from the 1618 family.
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Jerusalem Market $$
jerusalemmarket.com 310 S. Elm St. GSO, 336.279.7025 5002 High Point Road GSO, 336.547.0220
Vintage Sofa Bar $$ vintagesofabar.com 1001 Burke St. WS, 336.905.9008
When the time came to build his own bar, Tony Stevens knew exactly what he wanted to do with the Burke Street space, which he would call Vintage Sofa Bar. Couches and conversation areas, leisurely table sports, a sunken patio, cocktails from true mixologists and a wine list curated by a sommelier. And Vintage is home to the best bar menu in the Triad, created by Chef Stevens himself, with homemade beef jerky, house-cured olives, small-batch charcuterie and a rotating cast of small plates that relies on the ingredients at hand and the whims of the chef. Open four nights a week, with brunch on Sundays, there’s no dress code at Vintage and no cover charge; $5 gets you a lifetime membership. It’s dogfriendly, available for catering and private events, and there’s a private parking lot out back. It’s everything a grown-up could ask for.
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Since 1989, the Triad’s favorite Middle Eastern Grocery built a loyal following near Adams Farm with its international market and sandwich counter in the back. Jerusalem Market specializes in imported groceries and ingredients, and the most unusual soft-drink cooler in town. It’s newest location, downtown on South Elm Street, carries a full board of specialty sandwiches using ingredients like Italian mortadella and salami, Turkish dried sausage and in-house butchered lamb and beef. Fresh-made baba ghanouj, tabouleh and “the best hummos in the world” every day, with organic produce and locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. Open for lunch and dinner. “You will be pleased.”
Don’t see your business? Call Brian at 336.681.0704 to get listed.
Bites & Pints Gastropub: Kris Fuller's neighborhood joint