Nevertheless, as my husband can surely tell you, nothing can turn around one of my bad moods quicker than a good meal, especially if it's one I didn't have to cook.
Over a year ago I happened to be reading when Julie first wrote about going to Taste of the Nation, an event that offers tastes of lots dishes from local restaurants. I immediately tried to google similar events in my area and didn't really have any luck. Taste of the Nation is also held in Charlotte and I came upon Taste of the Town which takes place in nearby High Point. But I wondered why Winston-Salem didn't have any such event.
Fast forward to more than a year later and I saw someone mentioned something on Facebook about Tour de Food which had just started a walking tour in Winston-Salem. Basically you meet and walk with a guide from local restaurant to local restaurant to try different dishes all over downtown. I immediately looked at everything on the website trying to decide if it was something I wanted to commit a nice chunk of change to trying one Saturday.
I guess I put it off because of the money or because of the timing with Saturdays long run or for whatever reason, but I received an email a couple of weeks ago from Rachel with Triad Moms on Main telling me that I'd won a gift certificate from one of their giveaways. I was delighted!
So this past Saturday Jonathan and I got a babysitter and met up with Lisa and Jessica from Tour de Food at Jeffrey Adams on Fourth Street. After introductions Lisa gave us ID badges to wear and an itinerary for the day's tour and explained that we had room to take notes if we liked. We then set off for Wolfie's.
Wolfie's is a local gourmet frozen custard shop where everything is made in-house and everything is delicious. I know because they offered us sample of anything we liked. I tried red velvet and black and gold. Jonathan tried coffee, black and gold, and
We got to choose a small cup of custard or a seasonal custard treat. Saturday they had red velvet pops (red velvet custard rolled in Valentine sprinkles) and cannolies filled with vanilla custard and dipped in Valentine sprinkles. I chose a cup of the black and gold custard and Jonathan chose a cannoli.
I loved that Wolfie's creates flavors based on the events that are happening locally. For example, the black and gold flavor was butterscotch custard with mini chocolate chips inside based on Wake Forest's team colors. When we were talking with the manager Alex, she mentioned that they'll often do seasonal flavors like Gingerbread, Peppermint, and Creme Brulee or tie the flavors in with something going on in the Dash like a special flavor when the School of the Arts performs the Nutcracker across the street in the Steven's Center.
I think my head wasn't quite in the game yet because I failed to take a picture of our treats before we gobbled them all up! I did snap the above picture of the Wolf before we left though.
Next we headed down Fourth Street to Bib's which happens to be one of my most favorite places to eat downtown and ironically one of the few scheduled on the tour that we had actually already been to. There we got a short history lesson on RJ Reynolds' first homestead (before the Reynolda House) which stood where the public library is now located and we heard the story about Dr. Dalton's house across the street which was torn down and made into a Firestone before Bib's opened up.
We chose a drink and listened to the manager tell stories about the owner while we were served a plate of barbecue pulled pork, slaw, beans, and a fabulous hush puppy. There was a man playing guitar in the corner of the restaurant the whole time which is just awesome for a BBQ joint and the casual atmosphere in my opinion really can't be beat.
We toured the Hickory Room which can be rented for more formal events and special occasions and then we headed off to The District. This was the longest walk of the whole afternoon and it wasn't long at all. For an afternoon in early February the weather was perfect too and Lisa told lots of little stories about the places we passed along the way.
The District was the place I was most looking forward to checking out and I was certainly not disappointed. It was gorgeous inside! Rich woods and fresh flowers filled the place. The heavy dark draperies made it look really classy and the food was really amazing.
First we had a salad with candied pecans, mandarin oranges, feta cheese and the most delicious dressing. I can't remember what it was but we could have licked the plate clean. It was that good.
Then we ate a bleu cheese crusted NY strip steak served with asparagus which was also divine. We got to look over the menu and I saw several things that I'd love to go back and try especially considering they all seemed to be reasonably priced. The chef talked to us for a while and then took us upstairs to the rooftop bar where we got to admire the view of Winston-Salem's skyline and hear stories about the Reynolds Building. While it was a bit chilly on the roof, we really couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous day. Look at the sky!
From there we were directed down a couple of blocks and around the corner to 6th and Vine for a chocolate fondue plate and a glass of wine. The fondue rivaled The Melting Pot and I could have sat on that couch watching ACC basketball eating fondue and drinking wine for the better part of the afternoon, but we needed to finish the tour.
Once we were seated we were introduced to the chef and served wine while he explained the connection to the Millineum Center. Artisan opened this past Fall (in other words, not long ago) and the same week the owner's first child was born. When I tasted the butternut tortalachi with shrimp and roasted root vegetables he served us, I think you could have picked my jaw up off the floor. I was so amazed that food could taste so good and knowing that it was perhaps prepared on just a few hours of sleep certainly impressed me. I look forward to going back there.
The final stop was back to Jeffrey Adams where we had a glass of sangria, beef tenderloin, asparagus, and mashed potatoes. It was hard to pick a favorite but when pressed I would say that they saved the best for last. This small plate was like pouring liquid gold in my mouth it was so yum.
This was an experience I'm so glad I had. The whole tour took almost four hours and we were completely satisfied at the end. Even being a Winston-Salem native, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the stories about the town and seeing places "behind the scenes." I determined on the way home that I wouldn't have minded paying full price one bit. It was well worth it. It turned out to be a lot more fun than I think a Taste of the Town or a Taste of the Nation event would be. I think it would be a lot of fun to take a group of friends and tour the city together. For this tour it was just Jonathan and I which was the perfect Valentine's date. We even made Yes Weekly.
If you're a local interested in taking a tour check out Tour de Food's website and book a spot. There's only two per month, but since Lisa says the chefs decide what they want to prepare and show off each day so the dishes vary greatly I just might do it again. Maybe I am a foodie...?
The next tour is February 23rd.
Who wants to go with me?