Thursday, June 28, 2012

Noooo Climate Change isn't real.

103? Really? I moved away from Arizona because I hated triple digit heat. I feel for my homeless people hanging out down on Elm-Eugene this week. North Carolina should consider the facts of history when it comes to climate change. Climate change and heat leads to poverty (just look at Mexico or North Africa), and people move away. Perhaps that's Canada's plan all together... just wait it out, flood the earth with co2 and then reap the benefits as everything south of them becomes, like Mesopotamia, just a barren waste land?

...these advantages were only created due to the influence of geography... ...stemming from the early rise of agriculture after the last Ice Age. He proposes explanations to account for such disproportionate distributions of power and achievements. cite: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

So in essence, one can argue, the grass does grow greener on the other side.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Smith Street Diner | Best Breakfast in town.

8 days a week? Clearly a temporal distortion.
Their legendary "monster" biscuits are meals in themselves. Softball sized, buttermilk, crumbly, flaky biscuits of gigantic proportions. (Likely the Guinness World Record holder for the largest biscuit.) Their glistening home-fries, cooked to perfection with grilled onions, and their six ingredient omelets made of egg-whites and fried ham are to die for. (No really, they should invest in a defibrillator.) Sweet, fresh squeezed orange juice, (their OJ robot sits behind the counter, constantly making it fresh) and unlimited perky coffee quench the throats of those who find themselves in this biscuit utopia. I swear I dreamt this once upon a time: The most perfect breakfast in the world, at a quaint corner cafe off some town on Interstate-60 (I-60 is in a metaphysical alternate reality). Except I found this magical place in reality, in Greensboro no less. I was absolutely stunned, my mouth agape in amazement of perfection. The service, absolutely lovely, the food stunningly, tremendously, awesome! Like some child-hood memory of breakfast from the past which had died and gone the way of commercialization, and genetically engineered foods, Smith Street Diner has managed some rare cosmic event in the time and space continuum that preserves gastronomy of old in their quaint eighties diner. Known locally as "the Big Ass Biscuit Place", Smith Street Diner dishes out world famous southern comfort food to locals, and the rare few of those who hear the whispers, and drive for miles to experience "the legend".

A biscuit beyond all biscuits. The size of small Ethiopian village: it's the...

Let me make this easy for you. Go and order a omelet, a biscuit (required), and fresh squeezed orange juice right now (get in the car, and go). Every moment of your life you go without the pleasures of this truly spectacular dining experience leaves your life pointless and without purpose. It is hands down the best breakfast in town. It makes Cracker Barrel seem like a convenience store hot-dog, it makes the other local diners, drive-ins, and dives- look like dating Bubba,  the town drunk at the Waffle House at 3 AM. If Guy Fieri visited Smith Street Diner it would change his life so much that he'd dye his hair biscuit. Paula Dean would become confused and disoriented at the realization she's been doing it wrong all these years, that she'd self emolliate in cheese sauce.  If we were to define the success or failure of mankind as a species based on their breakfast offerings- Smith Street Diner would prove to us that we had finally evolved, and the universe would cheer.

This is definitely the best breakfast in Greensboro
North Carolina.
What to expect: a small hole-in-the wall corner diner that seats a dozen or so tables, (possibly a line) amazing food, and service.  Overbearing kitschy decor of pigs (Yes, I am a Ziggy Pig) on every inch of the wall. Biscuits the size of Volkswagens. Huge proportions, and likely the friendliest staff I've ever had the opportunity to meet in my life. I must warn however, this will be your new life-long breakfast place, and Smith Street Diner is now the bench mark for breakfast everywhere in my opinion.

It's a restaurant that shouldn't exist, but it does. Or perhaps Smith Street Diner's biscuits were all a dream to begin with?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Authentic Mexican Food | Villa Del Mar

Chile Rellenos, covered in an enchilada like
sauce and sour-cream. I'd prefer some deep-
fried crunch, but they're more of a soggy
I find it funny that the passive aggressive rants of Villa Del Mar (Little Town of the Sea) as an authentic Mexican restaurant come across as the ramblings of a gringo trying to sell the concept of traditional Mexican food to BBQ eating southerners. After all, it's unlikely that's the case, yet their tag line: "For those who know REAL Mexican", combined with a disclaimer on their menu that white people shouldn't request silverware as many dishes are finger foods "similar to your hamburgers.", perpetuates that image. Then there's the overbearing decor, like the Cracker Barrel of Tijuana, and the warning on their business cards that say (and I quote) "Local Mexican Nujeress Bonitas are known to frequent and eat in this place.[and] MIGHT STEAL YOUR HEART." (Really?)

Villa Del Mar is located in a little strip mall next to Toys R Us on High Point Road, which if I  remember correctly is the exact location of the former Mexican Mafia (MS 13) and a large shoot-out that occurred a few years ago when I worked in the neighborhood. A large cctv security camera sign remains posted at the front-door, though I do not believe that this is the same business. Yet Villa Del Mar has that Mafia front feel. Corner tables filled with the chuckles of some men the size of construction workers. Were they actually construction workers, or merely hit men? I do not know.

Nachos were actually pretty good. I'd
definitely consider their steak nachos.
Each table has a bell to ring for service, and there's a menu which includes octopus, cow tongue and goat. The special of the day is a guy named Paco who "accidentally" fell into the meat grinder Sunday evening. Upon trying to order in butchered Spanish from the 12 year old waiter, he looked at me as if I just sat on his childhood perro (dog). My use of his native language brought tears to his eyes.

Their salsa, as with salsa from all Mexican restaurants (which tends to vary from each restaurant to restaurant) is purportedly based on their family recipe, but tasted like seasoned store bought (Mexican store bought, but store bought non-the-less) hot-sauce rather than the expected fresh compositions you'd expect from a restaurant that prides itself on authenticity. Of course the reason I know they're pulling one over on me is, I have that exact same hot-sauce sitting in my fridge. Now we know why they're mad at Paco.

Shan's mole chicken. It's like a chocolate
covered cinnamon chicken. 
That said, the moment the food came, I was happily surprised. The tacos looked typical (though Chance clamored over them), and the nachos looked and tasted good (I stole a few from Ren). I ordered Fajitas-Texana, and found the flavors rich and tasty, with a large, above average proportion. They provided me exactly two tortillas, which meant I ended up eating my fajitas with a fork. Shannon got the chicken-mole, which she liked, and a chile relleno, which I didn't. The food and service was hit or miss. My strawberry daiquiri was great, and topped with cinnamon which instantly led me to believe this was more a southern Mexican (perhaps Yucatecan cuisine) type of restaurant than the usual Tex-Mex cuisine we've come to expect. Yet there's nothing unusual, nothing truly spectacular about Villa Del Mar. (Sans the goat. Where do you even buy goat?)

Would I go back? Sure. But consider this. We took a $25 coupon, and the four of us each ate a dish. Total before the coupon? $68. That's right, muy expensivo. I ended up spending $50 with the tip (18% included) for good, but not great Mexican food. Is Villa Del Mar a good Mexican restaurant? Overall, yes. Is it authentic? Definitely not (what is?). Is it worth $50? Probably not, unless octopus is your craving. My advice, drop in for their $1.50 (special: .99) tacos, get five, and leave the fajitas to someone not charging and arm and a leg. (Sorry Paco.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Greensboro's Cake Boss

So I was sitting around earlier today, and it hit me, I promote a lot of things on Greensboring, but rarely do I promote family. Perhaps it's because I'd be a bit biased, and want to maintain credibility, but you knew that already. The thing is, a lot of you already know about Shannon, our local Cake Boss. (She likely would kill me for posting this, but I'm going to boast, and flatter her anyways.) She's a former west-coast cake rock-star, classically trained in European pastries and cakes, editor of The NOSH Cookbook, and who has been working part-time these last few years at our neighborhood Forest Oaks Food Lion. She used to decorate cakes for Hollywood's elite in California, but she's sacrificed it all to raise our children for minimum-wage pay her in North Carolina. The thing is, she's gotten quite a reputation for being an amazing cake decorator in Greensboro, and people drive from all over to get cakes from her. While many of the local grocery stores have gone to pre-decorated, frozen cakes- Shannon's unique clientele, and her unique skill-set has allowed her to maintain the opportunity to produce hand made cakes.

Now I should disclose, Food Lion doesn't necessarily offer all of these cakes, but to give you an idea of what she does (these are some of her previous creations):

While Shannon doesn't get to do wedding cakes for the stars anymore (like above [F.L. doesn't allow it, and she's contracted to not do them privately]), she still gets to do creative stuff, especially for friends and family. For instance check out these way-cool BBC Doctor Who Dalek Robot Cup Cakes:

Almost every year I pick out a new Cake Boss challenge for her on my birthday. I've asked for everything from an Egyptian Pyramid with a Stargate, to a Cardiff Wales Millenium Centre, to my Life on Mars/Doctor Who/Wizard of Oz+ combination cake:

Ok, so can you name all the references?
There's the Quattro from Ashes's to Ashes. 
The Tardis from Doctor Who. 
The Flux Capacitor from Back To The Future.
The door from Being Erica.
A Belgian waffle, a French baguette, and croissant.
 (from our trip abroad to Belgium & Paris), 
"Bad Wolf" from Doctor Who & Torchwood,
A Welsh Daffodil from Cardiff Wales, (A little Gavin & Stacey?)
the "Eat Me" cake from Alice in Wonderland,
The Celtic spiral used in almost every meta-physic sci-fi show ever. 
(Including a spec script I wrote)
Oh and there I am with my big ugly Uggs. LOL.

Do I win for the most Sci-Fi themes on one birthday cake yet? 

What you've got to remember, is she's doing cakes every weekend, and since she doesn't work during the week- people are actually moving their parties to coincide with ordering a Shannon cake. For instance check out this cool Dolphin-Ocean cake.

For our daughter's birthday Shan managed a full-sheet butterfly cake for her Pre-School swim party:

Ren's birthday ended "deliciously ever after."

I of course, could go on and on, but you get the point. Shannon is lucky enough not only to decorate cakes, but to be a part of her customer's life-memories, the happy joyous (Kodak) moments of people's lives through their cake. While she is restricted by Food Lion to certain aspects of decorating, if you're in the need for a good cake, drop by the Woodymill (Forest Oaks) Food Lion and ask for Shannon in the bakery.