Category Archives: restaurant reviews

Even More FonDOs: My Trip To The Melting Pot in Raleigh

Wednesday is kind of a hit or miss day, don’t you think? It’s either really awesome or really MEHHH. Today, methinks, might fall into the first category.

First of all, my new (to me) Cannon Rebel XT  camera body arrived this morning. Of course, since the lens hasn’t arrived yet, I can’t actually photograph anything. But still- lots of smiles.Smile

Second, Jessamyn Not Jasmine was the runner-up Best Blog in Yes! Weekly’s Best of The Triad awards! You may not be able to tell by my fairly serious facial expression, but I’m REALLY excited. Oh wait, this is the internet and not reality TV so you can’t actually see my face. AWK-ward. Anyway, if you scoped my name through Yes!Weekly and this is your first visit to my little piece of the internet- Hello! Be prepared for seemingly random very liberal hysterical rants and unplanned blogging sabbaticals. I also really like to talk about food.

Speaking of food…

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend North Carolina Arts Day, which is a day/event where NC arts supporters converge in our state’s capital and lobby in support of government arts programming. Obviously, as an arts administrator, going to Arts Day was a pretty exciting event. It was really cool to see so many arts professionals take time off to make a statement in favor of arts funding. I met a lot of people (including lots of local politicos) and (since my hotel was across the street from my favorite grocery store) even snuck in a quick Trader Joes adventure. WIN-WIN.

 The night before Arts Day, however, I had an impromptu fancy dinner at The Melting Pot. I’ve discussed my love of fondue before, and the charm was definitely not lost on me. Not even kidding, the Melting Pot is (probably) my absolute favorite chain restaurant. However, eating there is NOT cheap and I’m only able to do it on special occasions (or during emergency eating escapades in the Carolina capital). Of course, since my camera was stolen right before my Raleigh adventure, I feared I wouldn’t be able to capture the magic of The Melting Pot in photographic form. But thanks to iPhones and friends, photographic memories were still made.

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In addition to their everyday fondue selections, The Melting Pot offers a rotating Big Night Out menu with fondue/salad offerings which fit into a specific theme. Currently, the Big Night Out theme is Latin America, and the cheese fondue special is a very fancy version of queso fundido. So…OBVIOUSLY we had to get it. This wasn’t the queso fundido you’d get at your local Mexican restaurant. I mean, I love melted queso fresco sprinkled with greasy chorizo just as much as the next cheese-aholic. But this fondue contained gruyere, fontina, AND gran queso. One of the best parts about The Melting Pot is that they make all the fondues table-side, and you’re able to see every element that goes into your meal. Our waitress was EXTREMELY knowledgeable, and she made sure that we knew about every aspect of our meal. As a restaurant patron, this is something that’s very important to me and I always appreciate when wait staff take the time to build relationships with their clientele. The queso fundido was served with the usual Melting Pot cheese dippers (an assortment of fresh veggies, bread, and apples) as well as a bowl of corn chips. Seriously, this singular fondue was enough to validate the cost of the entire meal.

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Next came the salad course. I just ordered the spinach and mushroom salad- nothing fancy. Actually, I wasn’t really a fan of this salad. It’s a certain kind of person that truly enjoys sweet flavors in a savory context and I AM NOT THAT PERSON. The dressing was a burgundy shallot vinaigrette- besides the fact that I kind of hate shallots, I thought the sweetness of the wine completely imbalanced the acidity of the vinegar, and the combination proved to be fairly unpalatable. I get the impression that this is a very popular salad at the Melting Pot, so I’m not going to completely denigrate it. It’s possible that my dislike of the dressing was based purely on my personal preferences. Basically, this is the Jessamyn version of reasonable doubt.

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As far as the entrée goes, each diner chooses a selection of dipping items and they share the actual fondue cooking liquid. My companions and I chose the court bouillon fondue (a no-nonsense veggie broth), and we each chose different entrée selections. Since I lead a functionally vegetarian lifestyle (save for the special occasions- you know, locally raised meats and barbeque festivals), I decided to get the Vegetarian selections. This particular plate includes Portobello mushrooms, asparagus, (REALLY FREAKING DELICIOUS) Thai-peanut marinated tofu, artichoke hearts, spinach-artichoke ravioli, and the Big Night Out Pasta (a fire-roasted corn salsa ravioli– stop drooling on your computer).

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It also included a bowl of semi-frozen edamame which, after they went for a swim in the court bouillon, were perfectly cooked and delicious. The Melting Pot also offers several delicious post-cooking dipping sauces for your entrée. My favorite, the gorgonzola cream cheese, is hanging out to the left of my edamame.

We also ordered the Dark and Dulce chocolate dessert fondue( a combination of dark chocolate and thick dulce de lece sprinkled with coarse sea salt) but I was too busy stuffing my face and soaking up the awesomeness of that flavor combination to remind Anna (my very patient photog companion) to take a photo. Have you ever met anyone who didn’t like chocolate and sea salt? PLUS DULCE DE LECE? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Fondue is not just a delicious style of eating, but a study in food culture. It forces people to communicate while eating, and it can be reinvented in countless fashions. In my mind, that’s the essence of food- like music, it can bring any manner of people together in a positive way. The Melting Pot encapsulates this theory, and I will always recommend that my friends and family (that’s you, by the way) take the time to seek out one of these restaurants.

If you’re concerned about the price (a CONSTANT concern for yours truly), eating at the Melting Pot with a few friends can definitely help alleviate some of the financial pain. By splitting a cheese fondue between four people, you’re only paying about $8/each for a first course which could easily serve as a main course. Each salad is only $7. A Chocolate fondue for four is about $5-6/each. And if you decide not to get an entrée ( roughly $19-30), you can have a VERY filling cheese, salad, and chocolate fondue dinner for about $20. While it’s not the cheapest dinner for a student living on the verge of imminent bankruptcy, it’s definitely still a viable special dinner option.

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Dinner At Milner’s: A Very Critical Restaurant Review

Last Friday night, due in large part to the fact that we both had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weeks, I decided to treat Kate to a very indulgent and decadent dinner at Milner’s, a new(ish) restaurant in the Dash.

Ok, to be fair, this wasn’t a truly random outing. I purchased last Thursday’s piedmont/triad livingsocial deal, and it was $20 for $40 worth of food and drink at Milner’s. Kate and I ate at Milner’s in the winter and absolutely loved it, so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to pragmatically study all the aspects of a Milner’s dining experience. Or at least be very critical of the food presentation. Winking smile

Milner’s specializes in New Southern (Southeastern) cuisine. I’ve encountered a number of non-Southerners who think classy Soul food is impossible, but this is absolutely not the case. Many staple Southern foods (grits, macaroni and cheese, barbeque, even chicken cum waffles) can be served and prepared in a highly dignified fashion. That being said, I’ve eaten at a number of ‘upscale’ Southern eateries, and more than a few of them fail to recognize that the beauty of Southeastern American cookery is not in its flair or technical mastery, but in the love you can taste in every bite.

Above all else, Milner’s is a steakhouse. In fact, the first recommendation I ever received for this particular restaurant was crafted entirely around a steak. The last time my girlfriend and I dined at Milner’s I chose the pulled pork- a delicious option, but this time I prepared myself in advance to order a steak.

(STOP– Some of you might be raising your eyebrows and giving me disdainful looks because I don’t eat a lot of meat, and I rarely talk about the preparation of meat when it comes to my own personal recipes. However, I have very specific reasons for not labeling myself a vegetarian- reasons which are being gradually deepened by my internalization of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. However, if you’re curious about why I still eat meat, check out my ‘Why I’m Not  A Vegetarian’ post. Now, what I was saying? OH RIGHT…)

Anyway, Kate and I both ordered the red wine and herb marinated hanger steak, but with different sides- she chose succotash and sauteed spinach. I chose collard greens and whipped potatoes. Oh, and of course we both ordered macaroni and cheese (because, yes, we’re equally too greedy to share. Our love of food is what brings us together .Smile)

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I’m not a steak aficionado, but believe me when I say that Milner’s hanger steak is a force to be reckoned with. It is too tender for words, and literally falls apart on cue. It’s almost as though the steak quivers when it sees the knife approaching. Kate and I ordered two different sauces- she ordered the house steak sauce, and I ordered the cremini mushroom sauce. My sauce was chock full of mushroom chunks and paired with the steak herbs very nicely. However, as nice as the steaks proved to be, I found some of the sides to be lackluster.

Ok, here’s the deal- I love collard greens. If I’m ever on death row, I want my last meal to be my mom’s macaroni and cheese, saffron basmati rice, and the largest helping of day long cooked collard greens ever created. Collards have a very strong flavor (similar to mustard greens), which can be off-putting to those unfamiliar with the taste. They are especially good when infused with vinegars, or very salty pork pieces. In my opinion, the perfect collard greens have been carefully looked over (one grain of sand can ruin a bowl of collards), rinsed thoroughly, and cooked for multiple hours. I can usually tell when my collards have been cooked in an unorthodox fashion, or have been cooked for a shorter period. I believe the Milner’s collard greens are steamed heavily and then allowed to steep in their own juices for X number of hours. However, I could be wrong- it could be possible that the greens are slow cooked for a number of hours. It’s hard to tell when they are NOT CHOPPED. I’m sure the chef has a perfectly good aesthetic reason for serving whole collard leaves. I just don’t agree with this reasoning. I think the best collards are given a rough chop prior to being cooked. I think it makes every part of the green cook evenly, and it makes them significantly more tender. I am ready to accept that this could be a Jessamyn preference, and it’s possible that no one else on this planet feels the same way. But all in all, I was not a fan of these particular collard greens.

(Look, I’m very passionate about breeds of wild cabbage, ok? Smile)

Also, while I love macaroni and cheese, I hate when people get too fancy with it. First of all, I don’t like crunchy breadcrumbs on top of my pasta– I mean, I’ll eat it, but it’s certainly not my preference. Also, I’m not totally against using sharp white cheddar in mac and cheese, but it should be used in moderation. Sharp white cheddar has a much more pungent flavor than regular cheddar, and it can be a bit much to handle. Sometimes a chef will try to balance out this flavor by adding in other spices, like nutmeg or even cinnamon. Again, I’m not against this (in general), but it can be VERY off-putting and make the dish taste almost dessert-like. Milner’s appears to do all three of these things (white cheddar, nutmeg, cinnamon), with the result being that I’m not in love with their macaroni. Of course, because I’m me, this was the second time I’ve ordered it and I thought the exact same thing last time. I think the addition of more aromatics (white onion and garlic, primarily) might balance out the sweetness from the spice choices.

The mashed potatoes were ok- nothing to write home about, but not worth panning. Even I have to admit that Kate’s succotash was pretty delicious (and I’m not a fan of succotash), and the spinach was quite tasty (though, in all fairness, sauteed spinach is pretty difficult to mess up).

All in all, regardless of my criticism, I really enjoyed my meal at Milner’s. It was quite pricey (this is not a bargain restaurant and will remain a special occasion spot), but it was worth the money to spend time with the woman I love, eating food that we both enjoy.

On an unrelated note, my name (and this blog) have been thrown into the ring for Yes! Weekly’s Triad’s Best Blogger Award. Even if you’re not a triad resident, I would be absolutely thrilled to have you go to their website and vote for me. There are tons of categories, but you don’t have to vote in every category. It’s very simple to cast your vote:

1.  Click this Link.

2. Type in your name and e-mail address, then click ‘Save’

3. Click ‘Media’, scroll down to ‘Best Blogger’ and select ‘Jessamyn Not Jasmine’ from the list of options.

4. Click ‘Save’. You’re done! Smile

Of course I’ve found out about this at the very last minute, so I’m sure my last ditch effort to win probably won’t be enough to shoulder out some of the frontrunners. However, it’s really wonderful to be recognized and I hope this leads to more Triad residents checking out Jessamyn Not Jasmine.

Happy Hump Day! (Oh, get your mind out of the gutter.)

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What I Ate This Spring Break: Vacation Restaurant Edition

So today is the final official day of spring break. Boo Hiss. As much as I hate to say good-bye to my free time, I have to admit that this break was the perfect combination: I went on a mini-vacation with awesome people, cleaned my apartment, and got to see my family. All in all, this has been one of the most well-balanced spring breaks in my personal history.

(I also did quite a bit of cooking and recipe documentation. Among other dishes, I made potato-leek soup, chocolate Guinness cake, and my own take on Chipotle burrito bowls complete with homemade slow-cooked pork barbacoa. Get your appetite ready: this week’s recipe posts are going to make you drool all over your computer.)

In honor of the end of my restful week, I’ve decided not to do anything productive today. You heard me right: instead of fretting over details of the coming week, I am going to lay low and enjoy my last day of freedom. Plus, today is the final day of the Baha’i Fast: tomorrow is Naw Ruz, the Baha’i New Year! Needless to say, it’s a pretty exciting time in my apartment.

I’ll probably spend the majority of the day reading the two books which have claimed my attention this week:

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Having free reading time has probably been the absolute best part of this break. I’m usually so bogged down with work and school that I don’t have time to read for pure enjoyment.

However, before I fall into the Reading Rainbow vortex, I really want to share some of the meals I ate while on my Wrightsville Beach vacation earlier this week. Before we get started, be warned: I ate without concern over calories. And while some of my meals were not the healthiest in existence, they were really freaking delicious.
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Let’s start with the Causeway Café, a very popular Wrightsville Beach breakfast haunt. I was quite charmed by the restaurants beach décor- it was all driftwood accents and kitschy souvenir shop goodies. They have a very detailed menu and it’s predominantly breakfast- since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (I could probably eat breakfast for every meal), I was all too eager to try out one of their famous offerings. And, in spite of my vegetarian tendencies, I really couldn’t help myself- I didn’t hesitate when I decided to order the “Meat Lovers Breakfast”.

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The Meat Lovers Breakfast includes a GIANT sausage link which (I’m pretty sure) was homemade. It also included FOUR strips of bacon, and a slice of ham. Not salty country ham (which I kind of hate), but thick and moist regular ham.

BUT WAIT: That’s not all-

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We can’t forget about the scrambled eggs, grits, and pancake.

The pancake was almost the size of my face (and I have a HUGE face). It was thin (just the way I like ‘em) and had a very nice flavor. In my opinion, pancakes are frequently ruined because they are both too mealy, and they taste like flat slices of bread. This pancake was delicately sweetened, and the texture was nice and fluffy.

Also, I’ve spoken extensively on my grits theories, and I’m constantly frustrated by the ways that restaurants manage to ruin this subtly complex dish. In fact, as a rule, I try to order grits at every breakfast restaurant at which I eat- I think it’s a great restaurant comparison measure (plus I freaking LOVE them.) With all my needs and wants, I frequently expect to be disappointed by the average grits bowl- however, Causeway Café exceeded all of my expectations. Their grits are clearly made by real Southerners who know what the dish should taste like- smooth, creamy, and perfectly seasoned (the best grits should not require additional seasoning- another common mistake.) Also, in my opinion, the best grits should be so creamy that individual nuggets of corn kernel are indistinguishable- this is a trait that can be very difficult to attain. Causeway’s grits were the very definition of creamy- honestly, if I had not already been swimming in food, I probably would have ordered another bowl. They rocked my world.

(The eggs were great, too. I am really picky about my eggs- so picky that a paragraph in a beach wrap-up blog entry is truly not good enough. One of these days I’ll have to get around to writing my egg manifesto. In the meantime, just know that all the eggs I ate on this trip met my ridiculously high expectations.)

On to the next spot: during our last night in New Hanover County, my companions and I decided to go big before we went home and we dined at a French restaurant called Caprice Bistro.

As one might expect, Caprice is not known for its inexpensive or healthy dishes. It is, however, known for its delicious eats, and I figured: “JESSAMYN YOU’RE ON VACATION JUST SHUT UP AND EAT!”

Well, Jessamyn’s manic sub-conscious, I can’t argue with that logic.

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I love a good dimly lit restaurant photo, don’t you?

I ordered duck confit, served with sauteed potatoes, petit salad, and balsamic jus. The duck was positively sinful- it fell off the bone and was moist beyond belief. However, for the record (and I know I’m about to be admitted into a special layer of culinary hell), I hate balsamic vinegar. I try to like it- trust me, I try. But the sweet yet oddly nutty and savory flavor is always an unwelcome taste in my mouth. I’m not so unrefined that I don’t understand why balsamic is the chosen accent ingredient for this dish (or, for that matter, in most dishes), but I personally find the flavor to be very unpleasant. By no means did it ruin the dish for me, but it certainly didn’t help.

(I also ordered pomme frites with homemade mayonnaise and I ate them too quickly for a photo to be taken. Surprisingly, I was not very impressed by the fries. They tasted just like any french fries I could get at any restaurant. And, to worsen matters, I’m absolutely certain I’ve eaten better fries at significantly lower brow establishments. The mayo was good, but it was a little too thick for my taste, and dipping the frites in it was very difficult. Again, a very good dish, but it wasn’t a home run.)

After a great trip, and with sadness in our hearts, my posse and I were eventually forced to head home.On the way home from Wrightsville Beach,we decided to console ourselves at a restaurant called Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen.

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First of all, I need to applaud Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen’s proper use of social media- before heading out, my clan checked out yelp to find the best ‘on the road’ brekky option. The Cosmic Kitchen had excellent reviews AND an offer for a free drink simply by mentioning their presence on yelp. Therefore, guess who had a free cup of hot tea with her breakfast? THIS GIRL. By this point in the trip, I was starting to remember my food ideals and I decided to order the egg white Farmer’s omelet, served with rye toast and grits.

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The farmer’s omelet is stuffed with lots of yummy vegetation- peppers, spinach, mushrooms, etc. It was quite tasty. However, the grits did not live up to my aforementioned expectations. They were very thick, which is usually a good thing. However, the thickness could be attributed to the grainy texture of the grits. I could taste and feel every individual corn kernel. For the record- NOT A GOOD THING. They also required a fair amount of additional seasoning (from very unruly salt and pepper shakers). All in all, I was not pleased with these grits- they weren’t bad, and I’ve definitely had worse. But I probably wouldn’t order them again.

Ugh- writing about all this food has got me jonesing for another beach trip. Sad smile

In other news, I’m thinking about starting a mini-herb garden in one of my kitchen windows. Whole Foods has a really exciting selection of organic and local herbs for sale. However, my gardening thumb is definitely not green- it’s more like a muted grey. Do you have any at-home gardening tips?

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OF COURSE We Went to “Breakfast of Course”!

To quote one of my life heroines, Scarlett O’Hara (she ranks on the same list as Beth Ditto, Clarissa Darling, and, of course, her majesty Queen Elizabeth II),

“As god as my witness, this disease isn’t going to lick me…I will not miss school because of a stupid illness again!”

Ok, she definitely didn’t say that. At all. But if she were 23, living in the year 2011, and suffering from a nasty hybrid of food poisoning/influenza (oh, and not a fictional character), she DEFINITELY would have amended her original statement.

I’ve mentioned this restaurant before, but I can only think of a few places in Winston-Salem (forget it, the entire STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA) who are doing breakfast as well as Breakfast of Course.

I actually briefly mentioned the lady Mary and her wonderful restaurant in a previous post about a new restaurant in the Dash called The Screaming Rooster. Some of you may know BOC by its old name and location, Mary’s of Course. BOC takes everything that was awesome about MOC (great food, great service, cute/mismatched table decorations) and brings it into an awesome new downtown location which solves all of the old problems (too small, cramped tables, long lines).

Ok, I lied about the last part- the tricky thing about restaurants being tasty and awesome and popular is that EVERYONE IN TOWN WANTS TO EAT THERE AT THE SAME TIME. Therefore, if you’re trying to eat Sunday brunch at BOC, you need to be prepared to wait. And wait. I’ve legitimately waited over an hour for a table at BOC (I KNOW, I couldn’t believe it either). Was it worth it? Oh, yes. BOC serves some of the best grits outside of my mom’s house and trust me when I say that I will wait for a bowl of decent grits. Was I frustrated? Meh, not as important. I mean, hello: those grits are damn good.

Another awesome thing about BOC is that they have a lot of vegetarian and vegan friendly options. For the record, the vegetarian sausage gravy is delicious, and they have a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses which can be ordered a la carte. Because sometimes a girl just needs a plate of vegetarian sausage and a slice of brie, you know?

In fact, just the other day I was in the mood for something really light*, fresh, and… not actually on the menu. That’s right, I was going to be THAT customer: the customer who thinks they can order anything they want just because the restaurant has a kitchen and the customer has a mind of their own.

For starters, I didn’t want the typical ‘on the menu’ cup of grits. I wanted a bowl of grits, a tureen of grits, a BUCKET of grits-

but ok, I’d settle for a bowl.

I’ve asked for an enhanced bowl of grits at numerous restaurants across the U.S. and the responses have run the gamut of waiter/waitress emotion- from intense eye-rolling and snide remarks, to (at a VERY memorable Carolina Beach hole in the wall) the waiter delivering a mixing bowl of grits. Basically, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Also, while I wanted eggs, I really only wanted egg whites. Scrambled hard. With fruit on the side.

Did my BOC waitress roll her eyes, make a snide remark, and bring me a cup of grits with two whole scrambled eggs on the side? Nope. She wrote down my annoying order, smiled, and gave me what I wanted:

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‘Pleased’ does not adequately describe how I felt upon seeing this plate. Thank you, Breakfast of Course, for making my brunch dreams come true.

*And yes, I fully realize that a tureen of grits is not typically seen as ‘light’. Yeah, whatever.

OH AND BY THE WAY:

I lost 3.3 pounds today at my weigh-in. While part of me wants to write this off as a by-product of my disease riddled body, the other part of me is doing a happy dance and saying, “AY-YO!”

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“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.”

There are many thing for which I am thankful- indoor toilets, yard sale Saturdays, seeing ONE MINUTE LEFT on the treadmill.

But above all else I am thankful for my friends. Their companionship, support, and smiles make so many things which might be typically unbearable absolutely worthwhile and rewarding.

After having the fortnight from hell, I was all too happy to spend a night in Greensboro with some of the universe’s most spectacularly sparkly and smiley people.

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As you can see, I was not speaking metaphorically when I said ‘sparkly’.

We saw The Hood Internet at Artistika Nightclub in downtown Gate City- we danced, we smiled, we posed cheesily for photographs. All in all, it was one of the better nights I’ve had in a long LONG LONG time.

After a brief decompression on Saturday morning, I decided to brunch it up with a couple of my favorites at one of my absolute favorite restaurants, Smith Street Diner.

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Smith Street serves breakfast all day, and they make biscuits the size of your head (I’m not even kidding- I didn’t get a biscuit, but one of these days I’ll photograph one for you guys- seriously, the size will blow your mind). The waitstaff is really friendly, and the restaurant is decorated with pictures of decoupaged pigs. Of course, we’re not the only people in Greensboro who know about the awesomeness of Smith Street- since the restaurant is very small, be prepared to wait for a table. Luckily, our timing was perfect and we were seated immediately.

Oh yeah, these kids came too:

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From Left: Tom Tom Club (Tommy), Bob The Builder (Bobby), and ReynoldsWrap (Sara)- Look At Those Sleepy Breakfast Faces

One of the best parts of Smith Street Diner is that if you get an omelette, you can get it stuffed with an array of toppings- for no additional charge! What does that mean? It means that I ate my weight in mushrooms and black olives, that’s what.

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More specifically, there were lots of peppers, mushrooms, olives, and other vegetables spilling out of my delicious breakfast. For an additional $1, you can have an egg white omelette- I opted to do this, and so my ww points+ values were slashed dramatically.  I also made the mistake of ordering “hot peppers”- this meant my mouth was engulfed in flames of jalapeno pain. The omelette is served with grits (or home fries) and toast (or the aforementioned epic biscuit). I had rye toast, and only ate one slice (a freaking miracle). Also, the other nondescript bowl on the plate is gravy- that’s right, Smith Street serves a true Southern breakfast with a side of sausage gravy. I managed to curb my gravy enthusiasm and left the bowl relatively untouched (please don’t begrudge me the teensiest toast gravy dip- it had to happen).

All in all, Brunch at Smith Street Diner is the perfect addition to a Greensboro day- especially when you can share it with your “glitterazzi” friends.

(on an unrelated note, early Friday evening was highlighted by a spirited water jogging session. I really love water jogging, but quite ironically I got caught in the rain without an umbrella on my way home from school on Friday- so basically, I went water jogging TWICE.)

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Breakfast at the Screaming Rooster and a Tasty Calzone Lunch

My schedule has been so congested recently that I haven’t had time to stop and smell the roses- I’m just rushing from one location to the next like an insane person. Earlier this week, my girlfriend and I were going to have breakfast at a new restaurant in town but we both couldn’t make the time to do it. Today we finally got our acts in harmony and had an early breakfast at the Screaming Rooster.

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There are few things I love more in this life than eating out in restaurants. ESPECIALLY a new restaurant (or new to me, anyway). The Screaming Rooster is housed in a building which used to house one of my other favorite restaurants, Mary’s of Course (MOC is now called Breakfast of Course and has a lovely new location in downtown W-S….and vegetarian AND vegan options…seriously, so freaking delicious).

Both the Screaming Rooster and BOC use lots of local ingredients from farmers with which they’ve built personal relationships, and they serve their food in a friendly, unassuming atmosphere. I was so excited about going to the Screaming Rooster that I looked at the menu earlier this week and decided to order the Irish Steel Cut Oats with roasted seasonal fruit. Sounds delicious, right? Well, when we actually arrived in the restaurant, the inner Southern girl in me took over and I ended up ordering bacon, eggs, and a bowl of grits (with fruit on the side):

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Feel free to thank my incorrigible appetite for the shaky camera work.

This breakfast may seem a little boring and uninspired, but nothing could be further from the truth. Making a perfect bacon, eggs, and grits breakfast is not as simple as you think- MANY restaurants ruin these dishes spectacularly. However, the Screaming Rooster’s “Morning After” is cooked just right: the bacon is nice and crispy, the eggs are not too runny, and the grits are SO SMOOTH (and trust me, I’m an amateur grits aficionado- I’ll never steer you wrong when it comes to glorified gruel). This plate totals 9 WW points+, and only costs $7– basically, I’ve found a new favorite restaurant.

In other food-related news, remember when I made a thousand pounds of whole-wheat pizza dough and didn’t know what to do with it? (ok, so it wasn’t quite a thousand pounds- but it was more than a single household needs to keep on hand.) Well, I decided to make myself a calzone for yesterday’s lunch.

I’m not sure, but I think calzones are probably in my top 15 favorite foods- it’s basically just cheese and whatever filling you want. And for someone who doesn’t love tomatoes they are especially awesome because calzones traditionally do not contain any sauce. However, because of their cheesy goodness, calzones tend to be pretty high in fat content and generally really unhealthy. However, I scaled down the caloric content of my calzone by putting in 1/4 cup of fat-free ricotta cheese (1 wwpoint+) and 1 oz of reduced fat mozarella cheese (2 wwpoints+) Ok, so maybe I actually put in 2 oz of mozz- but do as I say, not as I do. Winking smile

Anyway, I also loaded up my calzone with olives, spinach and onions. You can put in whatever you like, but those flavors make my tastebuds sing.

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After these process photos were taken, I cut slits in the top, baked it, and it turned out perfectly golden brown and delicious. You’re probably wondering why there are no final shots of the calzone. Yes, that’s right- I ate the finished product before it could be photographed.

What tasty foods have you made recently? Are there any awesome restaurants in your town which make eating out even more exciting than usual?

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