CAROLINA FINE DINING...LA RUE BY GUEST BLOGGER DR. EDDIE PAUL

by adeline talbot


LaRue Can Do

 Greensboro is certainly an evolving place. When we first came to town 34 years ago, it was a place of “old school” steak places and country clubs. Bur Mil presented a sirloin on a wooden plate with piped mashed potatoes, onion rings, a large piece of parsley and a whole pickled red crabapple. Blue blazers reigned.

Nothing wrong with that; in fact, that last generation presentation "pop" and pure old school flavors is still something I miss when I get nostalgic for khakis, Nettleton's (spectators of course), alligator belts, pork pie hats flipped just so, and a gin and tonic looking down a long green fairway. I am, however, here to tell you - times have changed!

The foment underneath the Bermuda Fairway (this year, tundra) is from the new generation. The "teens," as I call them, have decided to nudge us old "f_ _ ts” aside. “We have great ideas, old man.” We have grown up with the "Food Channel" and "Iron Chef." It is our time to make an impact on the world and that, my friend, is what makes this old orb go 'round!

In walks Trey Bell, a graduate of that "other Carolina," the South Carolina native is a world class pole vaulter. His wife Cheryl and he met at an international competition. She too is of the Palmetto state. She is also an equestrienne extraordinaire and manager of Fiore Farms in Summerfield. If you want to learn yoga or gymnastics on horseback - she is your gal!

Trey meantime worked the line at every restaurant job you could imagine in the Myrtle Beach area. He, like Howard Roark in "The Fountainhead" at the construction site, learned the business from the scullery detail up. It just so happens he is also a natural born food genius, chemist and foraging nerd all wrapped up in an attractive package that is both crowd pleasing and eerily intuitive and knowledgeable.

So enter LaRue. Trey was looking for a place to call his own to fulfill his lifelong dream. After a stint at Marshall Free House, he called me one day to look at this curious old seafood place across from the Carolina Theatre and next to the abandoned Rhino. Old and abandoned they definitely were.  Great prescient location sense, eh? Anyway, to make a long story short, he and his crew with their bare hands cobbled together a space that one of my friends recently called "Brooklyn in Greensboro." Apt I say, maybe even I would go far as to say Noma in Copenhagen (I have seen pictures). Every choice of dishes, cutlery, bar stands, blackboards and colors I personally witnessed. Trey's old love of ancient typewriters now greets you at the front door sign-in.

Even the name LaRue is Cheryl's nickname by her track coach. Check out the Greensboro street scene art in the upper level which perfectly matches "the street" theme.

So now no oven, all sous vide with grill pan or blow torch searing for the proteins. No more crabapples.

Instead artfully arranged baby pea tendrils, goat cheese and roasted beet salad. Then this month (it changes q. 30 days) is quail over savoy cabbage and small grains, lamb "lollipops" with an herbal reduction, tuna seared tender over a divine succotash, and succulent scallops. In the past an "onglet" or small hanger steak over beets and French horn and beech mushrooms.  Still present on the menu "duck three ways" (which is jerky or “red neck” prosciutto, confit and foie gras - my personal favorite) and new now - a shank of cooked bone marrow scooped onto bread.

So you get the picture. We have not yet fully benefited from the Fiore Farms forage, but morels, chanterelles and ramps will be fit in (and may already have been) while I write this.

So dense chocolate cake and New York cheesecake finished us off recently with Trey's home brewed Ethiopian coffee.

I think though now you get the images. Think old metal bar artfully etched by the crew with muriatic acid.

The staff are fit, factual, full of finesse, and all have that über, cool vibe you would expect in Berlin, Copenhagen, or as I said, Brooklyn.

You have not lived until you have tried one of their signature mixologist masterpieces which are in and of themselves world class, new age cocktails.

Yes, Greensboro, the "teens" have arrived. For you old - embrace the new, for it keeps us all young and puts this fair city at the cutting edge (God knows we need that). For you young - welcome to the table - you grew up before we realized it and we are hanging on to your collective coattails for the ride.

        by  Dr. Eddie Paul

 

                                                                           

LA RUE

313 S Greene St, Greensboro, NC 27401

(336) 252-2253

Lunch $10 to $13 

Dinner $8 to $31

Open 7 Days A Week

 


CAROLINA FINE DINING...ROWLAND'S AT WESTGLOW SPA BY DR. EDDIE PAUL

by adeline talbot


'The Glow of Rest at Westglow'

Don't you just wish there was this place like "Brigadoon" rising high up over a mountain ridge, glistening white, perfect proportions, and welcoming? This Mecca would feed all the senses and seduce you into its ample bosom with scenery, rest, ambrosia, and tactile pleasure in the form of hands-on kneading of your entire body.

Afterward you would be gently released from this Mount Olympus fully cognizant of the fact that only a few of us mere mortals can be accepted by the gods into their paradise.

Well, my friends, look no further than the peaks around the village of Blowing Rock in our precious western North Carolina. Blowing Rock is a colony long known for its coddling of the southeast's elite. Charming streets, shops, and churches collaborate to bring that old-school feel.

About 3 miles south on U.S. 221 lies the glorious Westglow Resort & Spa. Westglow was once the summer retreat of writer and artist Elliott Daingerfield, one of America's premiere landscape painters at the beginning of the 20th century.

Photograph courtesy of Westglow Spa and Resort

Features of his beloved Westglow and the surrounding plants and landscapes became part of his paintings, including "The Sisters" circa 1920 to 1924. I refer you to Westglow's excellent web site for more on this amazing art history. Westglow, of course, is known for that particular light phenomenon over the westward Blue Ridge at dusk.

Bonnie Schaefer, former co-CEO and co-Chairman of the Board of Claire's stores, has lovingly recreated this paradise into one of the best boutique spas in the world and a fabulous resort with extraordinary dining. Lately it was named to the prestigious Relais and Chateaux distinction of luxe, cuisine, and calm. Further, to read Bonnie's list of activism is astounding.

Westglow itself is decorated in the most elegant early 19th century southern antiques (my particular love) and neutral walls with superb moldings.

Earlier in the day, we treated ourselves to our annual spa fest next door: sauna, steam (with cucumber slices on our eyes), iced washcloths on our heads, a rumbling Jacuzzi, and then favorite magazines overlooking 50 miles out the 2-story windows of the "rest lounge."

Now the "pièce de la résistance" was the 90-minute ride to Heaven under the hands of Brian, my intuitive, intelligent, and nurturing massage therapist. Never forget that the mind can be unencumbered just as much as the body with the right person kneading your muscles.

So, after an invigorating shower in the well-appointed locker room, we went back to Gideon Ridge Inn for a nap that Van Winkle would have envied.

We later dressed up with our best item of adornment being the rested glow of the "Spa on the Mount". That evening at Rowland's Restaurant at Westglow, we were greeted by Gary Brown, sommelier, and ushered into a wonderful fireside bar for a tidy drink and munchies. A nice couple from Raleigh reconfirmed our view that the next generation of young parents and marrieds will do just fine.

So to our table we settled in to an array of specialty little salts in a series of snug vessels.

 A fresh-faced young gentleman over to the side was busy making an EVOO and parmesan mixture with fresh minced herbs on top of a gorgeous silver tray resting on mahogany.

 The amuse bouche was an exquisitely enigmatic elderberry sorbet with a dusting of powdered mint. My "bouche" was certainly amused.

 The first course was a King Prawn with tomato, edamame, and a perfectly grilled baguette. The plates were piping hot and the 'acid' on the plate perfectly balanced the dish.

Gary Brown then brought us a Chateau Pesquie Terrasses. French, of course, and 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. A little tannic at first, later tasting of chewy raisins with a hint of raspberries at the end. This paired with a tray of thin meats and local cheeses, a nice flourish from the house, due to a blogger on the premises.

We chose the grilled beef tenderloin for our main. Wow, superbly fired and nestled with a shitake goat cheese timbale, a little mound of 3-onion mashed potatoes and carefully halved Brussels sprouts. The pluperfect punctuation point was the pumpkin seed tuile, a deft touch.

As we sank back in our chairs with the ecstasy of the moment, Pandora's French Cafe began thumping from the corners. Just at the correct timing, out came Chocolate Earth Custard with a white chocolate crumble topped off with the quintessential double-decaf espresso with a little lemon peel curled cutely.

Totally satisfied, our coats were brought, pleasantries exchanged, and our chariot brought 'round with the mountain moon a cradling slip and the stars sending their myriad electromagnetic spectral signals. Mount Olympus indeed!

Rowland's 

224 Westglow Circle, Blowing Rock, NC  

828-295-4463

Starters: $8 to $22 

Entrees: $30 to $40

Dessert: $10 to $12

 

 


A CITY A WEEK...GETS A NEW LOOK AND A NEW GUEST BLOGGER...

by STUDIO TRAVELER


Must be something in the air--something, that is, in addition to the snow, sleet or rain depending on your luck and locale this week.  On Sunday, the New York Times introduced a redesign of their online edition and here it is not two days later and Studio Traveler rolls out a re-designed website and new blog format.  I know.  I know. We are must definitely not the New York Times---but I hope you won't let mere scale of operation muddle the comparison here.   As I read the NYT's editor's note this past weekend, I was reminded of all the decisions that go into a redesign--and it felt familiar, very familiar.  What will improve the layout? The readability?  The usefulness? And, in fact, in the case of A CITY A WEEK...it's not just our look that's new.  Our focus this year will be on increasing our 'helpfulness quotient'.  A CITY A WEEK posts will now always include more recommendations on that city's restaurants, hotels and cultural events. We are also introducing new guest 'columnists', who will join Camille Cogswell in doing reoccurring posts.  We start today with Vincent Paul's first review.  His 'beat' will be North Carolina restaurants.  Why (more or less) 'local'  restaurants on a travel site?  Because today talent is everywhere.  We believe this is just as true in the arts.  In the coming months, guest columnists on both NYC arts and NC arts will join Camille and Vincent.  So where ever you live and/or travel, you'll have access to just that little bit more info.

Oh and a word about 'Comments'.  We love hearing from you!  And as it turns out we have been hearing from you far more than we ever realized on the old platform--the comments just weren't landing were they should have been.  We think we've got the pipes cleaned out this time around so please--be in touch!  When it comes to travel we suspect you know as much--more?--then we do...and we like that!

A Winter Wonderland

And It's Here In North Carolina!

by Vincent Edgar Paul 

Having spent a number of vacations in the Alps and loving the ambience, we have looked for years for a spot closer to home in hopes of avoiding both the expense and the jet lag.  Having both grown up in eastern Tennessee, my wife Melinda and I have long been familiar with western North Carolina--Beech Mountain and Hound Ears specifically.  An uncle by marriage, Frank Coffey built Tweetsie Railroad with the Robbins Brothers and used a modified steam engine to create the snow machines at Appalachian Ski Mountain and Beech.  Frank took my wife's mother Muriel on hair-raising rides around Hound Ears to look at lots for $3000.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda.  Anyway, many wonderful weekends were spent at Hound Ears Lodge and our kids learned to ski there.  Good food, big fires, big sweaters, Gene Fleri at the piano, stupendous fruit cobblers and general bonhomie.  Greensboro's Ann Cone was also a large part of the scene as were Austrian ski instructors Willie and                                                                                                   Kitty Falger that Anne recruited.                                                                                          Fast forward to today and the demise of winter restaurant service at Hound Ears.  In search of a new and equally wonderful place we lately found Gideon Ridge Inn in Blowing Rock.  Owned these days by Cobb and Cindy Milner, this house was formerly owned by Moses H. Cone.  Solidly built of mountain stone, there is a big fireplace and views all the way to Chimney Rock, Lenoir--and almost to Charlotte.  Rooms are all individually decorated with charming, old world, eclectic touches, evocative of someone's house with the accretion over time of appointments collected with a sharp but relaxed eye.

Off we go on a winter weekend this February.  Snow at home and predicted in the mountains at Blowing Rock with a high of minus 3 and low of minus 14.  Whew!  With long johns and luggage, we headed out with some trepidation.  'No problem' said the staff at Gideon Ridge.  'Roads are plowed and the fire is lit'.  

First off, we settled around the fireplace for drinks.  You can bring your own but a fine selection of wine and spirits is available.  Then to a lovely table by the gas logs in the dining room--a great juxtaposition of crude wood beams and crystal chandeliers.  Winds howling and windows rattling brought thoughts of the movie 'Key Largo'.

                                                                                                                 Gideon Ridge Inn

Now to the starters at a lovely dinner by said fireplace.  I adore chicken liver pâté and it was presented by Chef Hunter Womble as a locally sourced pavé of pâté, with a Dijon sauce, a mild cherry gastrique, a scattering of scallion rings and scooped up onto shards of crackers and the pâté itself was topped with a tousle of micro-greens. Magic! Umami Nirvana!  Another notable starter was the fantabulous pork belly--Hunter's play on NC BBQ with a hoecake as the hushpuppy, then pork belly, vinegary southern slaw and smoked alder wood salt for hickory taste--pure genius!!

                                                                                 Chicken liver pate with elegant acompaniments

                                                                                Chicken liver pate with elegant acompaniments

The salad was arugula; soft and baby, little lardons, hazelnuts for crunch and a very light bleu cheese dressing.  

                Delicious duck...                                                                                                                                                                  ..

               Delicious duck...                                                                                                                                                                  ..

                                                             ...luscious lamb...

                                                            ...luscious lamb...

               ...and terrific tuna

              ...and terrific tuna

While Sirius XM wafted forth with 40's on 4, we waited for the main course.  Out came a perfect Colorado Macho Lamb with three flavorful ribs.  Thinly cut and heavenly with a dense fruit sauce, sides of Brussel sprouts and root vegetables all with a dab of demi-glace. The only thing I left on the plate was the result of my kale textural aversion.  Another notable main course was the duck and the next night the tuna with a Puttanesca sauce of tomatoes, olives and capers.  The tuna was sourced out of an excellent purveyor in Morganton, NC, who services the mountain                                                                                         resorts.                                                                                                       Finally came out the 'TN sorghum' cake, with salted caramel, bourbon burnt gelato. Tennessee molasses                                                                                              indeed--most enjoyable!                                                                                                       So afterward, we gathered ourselves around the fire for a small Courvoisier and chatty conversation with                                          a nice couple from Charlotte.  Always a plus at this beautiful place.                                       Breakfast should be mentioned and there is a lovely afternoon tea with 'light as helium' scones, cherry tomato on cracker hors d'oeuvres, mini-chocolate mousse pastries and cucumber sandwiches.

                                                    Gideon Ridge's cheese plate...yet another grace note at this lovely inn

                                                   Gideon Ridge's cheese plate...yet another grace note at this lovely inn

The start of the day always brings stout Ethiopian coffee, juice and interesting choices.  Particularly notable is the egg and cheese strata and the cinnamon French toast with a side of crunchy bacon. Yummmm!

Two of the three nights we stayed at Gideon Ridge for dinner.  The middle night we tried Rowland's at the Westglow Inn around five miles out of town and to be reviewed at a later date. 

All in all, Gideon Ridge Inn is inn keeping at its best.  Following Emerson's dictum regarding hospitality--'A little food, a little fire and an immense quiet'. If only the wind gods kept it down a little more on the sound. As it is,                   though, you can see we have found our own 'little Alpine lodge', right here in North Carolina, no less.                          Go!