Thursday, March 22, 2012

NC's DMV Denies "EURO" Vanity Plate.

The letter from the DMV that states "You
cannot use anything European in NC!"

So it was time to re-register the car. When you renew they send a little piece of paper with the opportunity to receive a personalized license plate. A lot of people get hobbies or interests on the license plate to represent their passions, and considering it's no big secret that I'm a bit of an europhile (someone who love all things Europe), I decided upon the cheeky, (very thought out,) yet (assumed) family friendly license plate of EUROTIC. Since some Porsche owner already got EuroGirl, I figured that certainly I'd have no problem getting the license plate. Apparently NCDMV thinks EUROTIC is a play on the word erotic since they denied it (or they just can't spell). Of course, I could also think they're all a bunch of redneck hill-billies with no intelligence in Raleigh, but that doesn't make it true. It's a completely different word, and last time I checked, freedom of speech guarantees my right to expression. It's not profane, it's not offensive, it's not sexual, and heck, last time I checked it's not even a real word, but they denied the plate. The reason, written on the application: "context".

I love Euro ticks, and Euro flies, but I can't
have the license plate.
It's argumentatively one of the best reasons to be skeptical of exactly how many freedoms we claim to have, which when exercised, are found to be empty barren shells of ideals, stripped from us by some nut-job in a cubical in Raleigh.

Did the DMV agent run out of the office yelling "The Red-coats are coming!" too?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Best Ice-Cream in Greensboro?

Serenity sports the wind-blown hair look with
strawberry ice-cream, and matching sticky
Another quick spring break side-trip was to take the kids to the farm.

 I suppose I should technically clarify that the best Ice Cream in Greensboro isn't actually in Greensboro, but on a little farm in Climax, (just give annexation some time) just south of Greensboro by about five minutes, called Homeland Creamery.

The working farm, has a on-site ice-cream shop selling their home-made ice-cream made from a family recipe. It's unlike any other ice-cream you've had before. Why? It's made with high levels of butter-fat in the European tradition. It's so rich, and smooth, and full of natural goodness, your likely to fall asleep from the increase in serotonin levels immediately after consumption.

Almost everything they sell, like their chocolate milk, and their grass-fed beef is downright awesome, but my favorite thing is to get a milk-shake. Their traditional milk shake is made with chocolate ice-cream and milk, but I prefer my own style of vanilla ice-cream and their chocolate milk. Order it like that, and you'll have the best milk-shake in town. Shannon swears by the butter-pecan ice cream, and worries about the day when we move and can no longer buy it. 

Truly, this is the best place for ice-cream in Greensboro. 

Besides ice-cream there are tons of farm animals. Note, the
farm dog, carefully eyeing the rabbit.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Old Salem Sugar Cake & Winkler's Bakery

"Sexy Legs" Shannon exits with her sugar bread. 

We decided on Thursday, to crown the last of our spring break, by visiting Old Salem. I hadn't been there in ages, and Shan, well, just hadn't ever been. What is Old Salem? Honestly? It's like a single street in an old neighborhood in Winston Salem. But to leave it at that, is to overlook some historical significances. It is more than that.

Though you do get the feeling, of a run-down, tired, roadside attraction when you visit. First off it's expensive. Even with our AAA discount, it's around $40 a couple, and you will spend more. (On food, souvenirs, etc.) You both enter, and exit through a modern gift shop, but at least the parking is free.

You cross a giant wooden bridge across four lanes of traffic, and suddenly your in a traditional Moravian neighborhood. Some houses are privately owned, and some are a part of the Old Salem attraction. It's rather odd. You're asked to wear a giant green price tag around your belt-loop as proof of admission when entering the various themed attractions. I unfortunately was wearing leggings, and a tank-top, but I attached it to my zipper on my jacket. 

Along the journey you meet The Gunsmith, The Shoemaker, and various other characters in full traditional garb. I found, for the majority of the "actors", that they lacked enthusiasm and broke character constantly. Many of them complained of the bus-loads of children who had arrived for field trips to Old Salem. There were notable exceptions. The "lady" in the basement of the Tavern was very "lively", and the bakers who were explaining to a group of 4rth graders the inner-workings of a stone oven, gladly gave us "big kids" cookies too.  I think everyone there enjoys there job, but this ain't Disney, that's for sure. Several buildings were closed on our visit, and one closed for lunch, though you could see the fully costumed men inside swallowing a Big Mac. My willing suspension of disbelief was not strong enough to bare witness to this.

This is why you go to Old Salem: Sugar Cake.

Of course the star attraction of Old Salem, is Winkler's Bakery.This is where they make (and did make) goodies and sweets and then sell them for top dollar. Of course they are really good, and it really is something to see them bake in the traditional colonial fashion, in the tight cramped rooms, with its stone oven, at the South Main Street bakery. In fact,  I would suggest you visit Old Salem at least one time at ticket price for the full tour, but since this is an open neighborhood, and the bakery is open to everyone, it might be worth just dropping by to pick up some baked goods if you're in the neighborhood. You'll pay top dollar ($30 for a pound-cake) but where else can you buy Moravian Sugar Cake (This is their speciality, GET THE SUGAR CAKE!) across from where George Washington stayed the night?

Of course that's Old Salem's claim to fame. An inn whereupon President Washington spent the night, drank, and partied with the Moravians. It is kind of cool to stand in the actual building where he stayed. Old Salem also allows you to better realize both European and American life during this period, while being schooled in the slave-trade, and religious over-tones of the period. Old Salem, indeed brings history to life in a way that's special, and valuable, but also at quite a cost. A cost worth paying, at least once, in my opinion.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Japanese Sushi Restaurant with a Euro Twist : Toshi's Cafe

It's like a Starbucks, a Pret A Manger, and a Japanese
Sushi Restaurant rolled into one.
My carpool partner arrived at UNCG today with a brown paper bag to pick me up. What was inside this brown paper bag? Well she had stopped by Adam's Farm Shopping Center and visited Toshi's Cafe, a Gourmet sushi bar that sells Japanese cuisine, and Euro-style deli sandwiches with a spicy mayonnaise similar to andalouse sauce. (It's a Belgian thing) Who even knew such a place existed, let alone one with such, err, a diversified niche? Unlike the expensive and theatrical Japanese steakhouses in Greensboro, Toshi's is (I'm told) is quaint and cute... and obviously allowing take-out. They serve tempura, maki, salmon, crab among other varieties of posh uncooked fish. In addition, they have breakfast burritos,steak and cheese wraps, and roast beef sandwiches among the more traditional Euro-American menu.

It's bring your fish to work day.
Today, inside the brown paper bag, I received a roast beef sandwich on a croissant, with lettuce tomato and that killer spicy mayonnaise. It was fresh, light, and tasty. Very cool was the side-order of potato and beef croquettes. Little deep fried breaded balls of potato and beef. Very cool, and very unique.

Of course when I got home, I looked at the menu, and realized that my carpool partner made a huge mistake. Toshi's has katsu-don!. What's katsu-don, you ask? It's probably the most popular Japanese comfort food, which often is sold by street vendors. It's traditionally made of deep-fried and battered pork cutlets, onions, broth and partially cooked eggs over rice. It's outrageously good! Considering the rareity of finding such a dish in Greensboro, I can't wait for my chance to get back and try their's.

In fact my family fell in love with katsu-don while researching my first book, Nosh. My only complaint with Japanese food is the lack of cheese. (They're not fond of cows are they?)  Especially on katsu-don, I think it would be amazing. Since I've never tried it, I can only suspect it would be some sort of faux pas, but since Toshi's is a unique, paradox in itself, I'm thinking Toshi's should add a bit of Euro essence (since that is their unique niche) and create a Gruyere topped katsu-don. Might be amazing?
Katsudon, may make this Livvy's new favorite foreign restaurant in Greensboro.