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Curated By:

Also featured in this months Issue: The TCB debut of Chef Jay Pierce


My dysfunctional relationship with restaurants


hen I was a kid outside of New Orleans in the 1970s and ’80s, my family didn’t go to restaurants much. We ate at home, at neighbors’ houses or with relatives. We bought watermelons off the by Jay Pierce back of pick-up trucks in the shade of the overpass. We grew the same vegetables in our garden every summer: tomatoes, okra, squash, bell peppers and eggplant. And if my dad didn’t borrow someone’s 16-foot flatboat to trawl for shrimp to fill our freezer, with a little lagniappe to sell on the side, we would buy shrimp or fish from a neighbor who did the same. I didn’t know we were poor — we all lived that way. Restaurants were for other people. For us, restaurant visits were reserved for special occasions, which necessitated a buttonup shirt and ironed pants. A tucked-in shirt and knowing which fork to use wasn’t my idea of fun, so restaurants always felt uncomfortable to me, full of unwritten rules and strange etiquette. I didn’t know what I was expected to do. To this day, dining in a group causes me angst; I understand classic dishes, exotic ingredients and food words from foreign languages, but I can’t always intuit the intention of the broken English on the menu in front of me. I just want to eat food and listen to fantastic stories; the meal should be about the participants, the diners, the occasion — not about the chef or her staff or her concept. I didn’t aspire to be a chef. I had no idea that that was even a profession when my high school guidance counselor asked what I wanted to study in college. I think I’ve always had an appreciation for that warm, comfortable feeling of hospitality. And my granny, who was perpetually ornery, prepared food that always made us feel loved. I wanted to cook for people and make them feel that way. After high school, when I needed a job, I thought: Why not employ the old adage and do something I love so I will never work a day in my life? Now, having worked in restaurants for almost 30 years, the kitchen — any kitchen — will

always feel like home. I love the way that diners trust the staff to prepare things that will go into their bodies; that trust is sacred. The bites of food shared in the kitchen or the plates scarfed down at a family meal are not so much about what is on the plate, but that the whole team is fueling up together to go forth and care for the community. Veteran servers have a spiel that doesn’t sound like something written or rehearsed; those words welcome the diner as a guest, not a mark or a customer. The most memorable meals, like those of my youth, don’t call to mind the food or service, but the souls gathered around the table, the conversation, the occasion. Nothing can compare to my mom’s smothered round steak, but I don’t have any memory of the dish after my parents’ divorce. It wasn’t the provenance of the ingredients that made Granny’s chicken and sausage gumbo so transcendent, it was when she cooked it and for whom that made it memorable. At Lucky 32, we would gladly hand out recipes for anything you could get in the restaurant, but executing the dish at home would never recreate the feeling of being a guest in that dining room attended by well-trained staff. Culinary miscues and service foibles don’t ruin my dining experience if I enjoy the company of my companions. Even after a bad experience, I don’t ask to see a manager, leave a scathing Yelp review, or even tell friends about it — I don’t want the attention. I just want to enjoy the occasion with my friends and family. One of the unexpected consequences of working in a kitchen for almost three decades is that, once again, I don’t dine in restaurants all that much. When I do, I prefer to eat between meal periods because I have the place to myself and the experience is less mercantile. Most nights I cook at home, dine in the homes of friends or relish family gatherings so I can feast on nostalgic dishes with relatives. Even though I now know which fork to use, I still don’t like to tuck in my shirt for any occasion and I squirm in my seat a bit when I’m fussed over in a restaurant. I want to feel like granny is making the gumbo just for me, but I don’t want everyone in on the secret.

1618 Midtown $$-$$$ 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, the Certified Sommelier, pair wine with it all. Celebrating its seventh 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.

Jay Pierce is an award-winning chef who has worked in restaurants throughout North Carolina and the Southeast, and author of Shrimp in the Savor the South series. This is his first piece for TCBites.


Triad City Bites

April 2018

Undercurrent Restaurant $$$ 327 Battleground Ave. GSO, 336.370.1266

The Quiet Pint $$ 1420 W. First St. WS, 336.893.6881

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.

Mission Pizza $-$$ 707 Trade St. WS, 336.893.8217 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!

April 2018

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.

Triad City Bites


Natty Greene’s Kitchen + Market at Revolution Mill

With the Kitchen + Market, Natty

2003 Yanceyville St. GSO, 336.656.2410


A New-Age Chophouse First there was the Downtown Brewpub, creating a beacon at the corner of Elm and McGee that jump-started development in the district. Then came the Production Brewery on Gate City, which kept up with the demand for Natty’s growing stable of beers. Now Natty Greene’s has made an evolution… to historic Revolution Mills near Irving Park and Dunleith, just a couple miles from downtown Greensboro. Here, co-owner Kayne Fisher has crafted an entire restaurant devoted to the culture of local beer, local food and local flavor. Located inside the carpentry shop of what was once the city’s most productive mill, the Kitchen + Market represents the pinnacle of the Natty’s movement. Kayne calls it a “new-age chophouse” that emphasizes the connection between the diner and the meal. But the cheese boards, small plates and butcher’s selections of chops and cuts have been gaining notice. Others come for the Deck, a 5,000-square-foot outdoor space with dining and lounge areas, overlooking a man-made pond, or the leather couches and conversation pits in the upstairs Mezzanine bar. It’s an entire collection of new experiences at Revolution Mill, that are still unmistakably Natty’s.

Days st when in-h rives near Beef, por menu, as cured me the very s ble. Every smoked,


1. Natty’s signature steaks start at the butcher’s table, where prime cuts of filet, ribeye and NY strip come off the side. Everything else is ground into sausages or burgers — including a special Daily Grind Burger.


Triad City Bites

2. Each steak is cut from premium Braveheart black angus prime beef, richly marbled and cut thick. This is a full pound of ribeye. NY strips run 14 ounces, and the filet is 7 ounces, cut from the center.

3. When a steak is ordered, it perfection in 900 degree charb the steak simultaneously from These same steaks are availab ter in the market, perfect for o backyard grills.

April 2018

y Greene’s makes the Evolution to Revolution



tart early at the Kitchen + Market, house butcher Taylor Armstrong arr dawn to prep with the day’s meat: rk, chicken, fish — it’s all on the s well as house-made sausage and eats. And the meat in the market is same product that is served at the tay morsel has been chopped, stuffed, cured or ground on the premises.

Scratch cooking means baking bread, crackers, and everything else served in the dining room and available in the Market. Desserts, too, are baked fresh daily in the house ovens, with selections that change with the seasons.

Natty Greene’s beer has been the standardbearer in the Triad since the downtown Greensboro brewpub opened in 2004, the first in an explosion that has changed the industry. Now Natty’s beers are available throughout North Carolina, both its legendary core beers and vibrant seasonal menu. And, of course, here at the Kitchen + Market.


4. The Kitchen + Market cooks with fire, grilling steaks over open flame for optimum flavor and texture. The fire does something magical to the beef.

is cooked to broiler, cooking m top and bottom. ble over the counoven roasting or

April 2018

5. Steaks come to the table sizzling hot, perfectly seasoned and ready to for their big moment. And they all go great with beer.

Triad City Bites


Flash in the Pan:

Apicius, and the advancing apical asparagus buds Asparagology


he world’s oldest surviving cookbook is a collection of imperial Roman recipes, compiled around the 1st Century AD. In the intervening millennia the book, Apicius De by Ari LeVaux Re Coquinaria, has attracted plenty of interest from scholars, cooks and food nerds who’ve pored over each line of text and attempted to observe each word from every possible angle like it’s Finnegan’s Wake.  In the game of historical recipe reenactment, a single mistranslated word can derail a dish. In Apicius Book III: The Gardener, for example, one particular asparagus recipe hinges on how the word “rursum” is translated. This is not just any recipe, but one that addresses a fundamental issue in asparagus cookery with an elegance rarely seen since.

Attempts to translate this work have been complicated by the fact that many of the recipes were written in vulgar Latin, an informal version of the language. “Rursu” is followed by “in calidam,” which means “ boiling water.” It’s also at times written as “rursus in aquam calidam.” So, asparagus was cooked rursum/rursus in boiling water, and for centuries nobody knew what that meant. The riddle was finally cracked by Joseph Dommer Vehling, in his 1936 translation of Apicius (Hill, Chicago): “This word has caused us some reflection, but the ensuing discovery made it worth while. Rursus has escaped the attention of the other commentators. In this case rursus means backwards,  being a contraction from revorsum, h.e. reversum. The word is important enough to be observed.” Okay, so we are now supposed to cook asparagus “backwards” in boiling water, but I’m still a bit foggy on the details. Of course, backwards has the figurative meaning of something that’s ob-


Triad City Bites

solete, and it’s tempting to write off the recommendations of such an old book, which I can assure you would be a mistake. Luckily, somehow, Vehling manages to gaze deeply enough between the lines of text to dredge up the answer. “Apicius evidently has the right way of cooking the fine asparagus. The stalks, after being peeled and washed must be bunched together and tied according to sizes, and the bunches must be set into the boiling water ‘backwards,’ that is, they must stand upright with the heads protruding from the water. The heads will be made tender above the water line by rising steam and will be done simultaneously with the harder parts of the stalks. We admit, we have never seen a modern cook observe this method. They usually boil the tender heads to death while the lower stalks are still hard.” Here, Vehling and Apicius acknowledge the culinary riddle that’s wrapped in the botanical enigma that even being counseled to follow diets that are low is asparagus: the fact that one end of in asparagine. the shoot needs less cooking than the other. And Asparagus, not surprisingly, is a rich source of what Vehling said 80 years ago rings just as true asparagine, but hardly the only one. The amino today: we overcook the tips. acid is found in a wide array of plant and animalThe difference between the tip and tail of asbased foods. Beyond that, the body can and does paragus represents the divide between youth and manufacture its own asparagine, as it deems necmaturity. Botanically speaking, the growing tip of essary. If you could somehow limit your asparaa plant is called the apical bud, which is a place gine intake, your liver would simply make more. of rapid cell division and differentiation. After new So I wouldn’t cells are created, overthink the they become speOne particular asparagus recipe hinges on how health implications cialized into difof asparagus, at ferent parts of the the word “rursum” is translated. This is not just least with respect plant. Before this, any recipe, but one that addresses a fundamento the spread of the unfinished tal issue in asparagus cookery with an elegance cancer. And the cells represent a idea of al densoup of enzymes, rarely seen since. te asparagus tips minerals and other remains alluring. materials associSome chefs cook the tips separately from the ated with rapid growth. rest of the spears, which can be pureed into a Of course, fast growth isn’t always a good thing; soup or patina. My default technique has always ask any cancer patient. In fact, an amino acid been to estimate the line between tough and tencalled asparagine has recently been implicated in der by grabbing the tip with one hand and the tail the growth strategies of some cancers. Scientists with the other hand, and bending the shoot past in the UK recently determined that l-asparaginase, its breaking point. The point where it breaks is the an enzyme that breaks down asparagine, can slow line between tough and tender. It’s a handy trick, the spread of breast cancer cells-presumably by but when you cook your asparagus backwards, removing the asparagine. Similarly, l-asparaginase you can micromanage the tips to your heart’s conis used as a chemotherapy against leukemia as tent, while none of the tails get tossed. well, and some patients with these cancers are

April 2018

Asparagorum Reversum This recipe is a direct riff on Apicius’ technique, with just a few modifications. Rather than tie the asparagus with string, I bunch it into a narrow mouthed pint jar like a bouquet of flowers, and immerse it backwards in calidam. You want the boiling water level to be about two inches lower than the top of the jar. And the jar should be filled with a mix of heavy cream and butter, with a clove of garlic, squeeze of lemon, a pinch of nutmeg and salt. With this recipe, there is no reason to break or trim the ends. It doesn’t really matter how tough they are going in, because they soften plenty as they cook, with their cut ends against the hot glass at the bottom of the jar of simmering cream. The asparagus tips, meanwhile, dangle far above in the gentle steam, warming more than cooking. When the butt ends are soft enough — about 20 minutes — I cook the tips by covering the pot with a tight lid, checking obsessively until they are perfect. Alternatively, simply cook the asparagus bouquet until the tips droop over like a fistful of wilted dandelions and call it good. Or, give the tips nothing but gentle steam, and eat them warm and raw. The heat is enough to volatilize a range of flavors, from musky to minty, and the crunch is still audible. At the other end of the shoot, what had been tough and chewy is now soft, and impregnated with creamy garlic butter. The tips, of course, can be dipped into the jar as well. And the asparagus-infused cream sauce should definitely be saved for later. (The butter separates out and can be used on toast). It’s fun to mess around with a cooking method that is so old yet so relevant. To realize you may never cook asparagus the same way again is a reminder of just how little people and food have changed over the years, a point that was not lost on Vehling. “We arrive at the comforting conclusion that we moderns are either very ancient and backward or that indeed the ancients are very modern and progressive; and it is our only regret that we cannot decide this perplexing situation to our lasting satisfaction. Very true, there may be nothing new under the sun, yet nature goes on eternally fashioning new things from old materials.” Ari LeVaux is a food writer based in Missoula, Mont. His work has appeared in hundreds of national and regional publications, including Outside magazine, Grist, Slate, TheAtlantic. com,, High Country News and the Weather Channel.

April 2018

Burke Street Pizza $ 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.

Bites & Pints Gastropub $ 2503 Spring Garden St. GSO, 336.617.5185 Chef Kris Fuller, queen of the Crafted empire in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, joined with longtime Westerwood Tavern owner Mike Bosco to create Greensboro’s only true gastropub. Fuller’s menu takes bar food to the next level, with an eclectic slate of delectables suitable for sharing or grubbing down solo: boiled peanuts, shrimp tempura, chicken and waffles, melts, salads, a full component of burgers and hot dogs and even a kids’ menu. Bosco’s bar has all the necessary accoutrements. Open every day in the Lindley Park section of Spring Garden Street.

Triad City Bites



Jerusalem Market $$ 310 S. Elm St. GSO, 336.279.7025 5002 High Point Road GSO, 336.547.0220

Mary’s Gourmet Diner $$ 723 Trade St. WS, 336.723.7239

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.


Triad City Bites


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.

April 2018

Triad City Bites April 2018  

Natty Greene's Kitchen + Market: The Evolution to Revolution

Triad City Bites April 2018  

Natty Greene's Kitchen + Market: The Evolution to Revolution