#TastyThursday Review on @HoneySmokedFish #Superfood #HoneySmokedSalmon + Recipes !

Recently I went to the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Expo held at the Raleigh Convention Center and had the opportunity to sample “The World’s Finest” Honey Smoked Salmon. I was not only hooked on this healthy, delicious protein but inspired to share some recipes and prepare some dishes for friends to taste and experience this amazing superfood themselves! 

Before I share the menu, recipes and feedback from my #SobeSavvyEats Lunch, let me give you THE FACTS (courtesy of Skyler Mason, owner of Honey Smoked Fish Co.) on what makes the Honey Smoked Salmon different, why you should add “the Protein of the Future” to your dishes and why fully-cooked, ready-to-eat Honey Smoked Salmon is one of the most versatile, nutritious products on the market today:

  1. Honey Smoked Salmon is delicious on its own, but is best used as an ingredient to compliment any dish.
  2. Our proprietary firing system incorporates honey into the smoking process without ever touching the salmon directly, making it diabetic-friendly. When the honey hits the flame, it causes a combustion explosion that seals the salmon, locking in 3x the omega-3s than other comparable products.
  3.  The result is a highly concentrated SUPERFOOD Salmon. Our unique process also makes Honey Smoked Salmon more cost efficient than other proteins — allowing smaller portions to be used while still remaining filling, energizing, and packing a high concentration of nutrition.  
  4. Longer shelf life! Honey Smoked Salmon has a 90 day refrigerated shelf life before breaking the vacuum seal, and will remain fresh and tasty 10-12 days after opening. 


THE INVITE

THE MENU + Recipes

Honey Smoked Salmon is vacuum sealed for long-term freshness. Fresh out of the oven and never frozen. 

I served 3 of the 5 flavors: Original, Chipotle & Lime, and Cracked Peppers at ROOM TEMPERATURE so the salmon could soften, which brings out its natural juices and flavors from the rich moisture of the Omega-3’s! This is what stands them out from any other smoked salmon. It is also diabetic friendly, gluten free and certified kosher. Here is what the ‘Original’ flavor looks like out of its packaging:

Honey Smoked Salmon is fully cooked, lightly smoked, ready to eat & 99% boneless. No preservatives, coloring, artificial flavors ,nitrates or MSG added.

Serve this easy appetizer recipe at your next party! Because the salmon is highly concentrated in taste, a little goes a long way to flavor any dish.

In this recipe, I combined both the Original flavor of Honey Smoked Salmon and the Chipotle & Lime together to create a light, pasta dish with a hint of spice and citrus.

This is the dish that got me hooked in the first place at the expo! It is loaded with spinach, Honey Smoked Salmon, mandarin oranges, almonds, tomatoes..and more!

Honey Smoked Salmon | Five Superfood Salad Recipe

Not only is it tasty but has so many health benefits, and is easy to make. Check out the video >>here<< showing how simple it is to make this energizing superfood salad! I used the Cracked Peppers flavor for this and had it flaked for guests to top their salads themselves.

Honey Smoked Salmon ‘Cracked Peppers’ flavor

THE FEEDBACK

Guests enjoy wine before lunch time for #SobeSavvyEats Honey Smoked Salmon Tasting

The Honey Smoked Fish Company’s All Natural Honey Smoked Salmon was Voted Best Smoked Salmon and my guests loved the fish and the recipes they tried. Here is some of what they had to say: 

  • The cracked pepper flavor was my favorite! I loved how it was spicy with a hint of sweet. ~   Nicki McNeil, Blogger at SingleBubblePop
  • I was so impressed with the Original Honey Smoked Salmon but fell in love with the cracked pepper. This salmon is delicious and I enjoyed trying the different recipes. ~ Jovanhanna , The Spiritual Love Coach
  • The cracked pepper on the salad was a great combination of flaky, peppery and creamy. I’d definitely make this salad at home. ~ Erica Santos , #ericasantosphotography
  • All 3 were delicious in it’s own served dish deviled egg, pasta salad and tossed salad. My fave: cracked pepper salmon/tossed salad with rasberry vinegrette/ranch dressing. Great spicy and sweet combo! ~ Mom
  • Loved the Chipotle Lime Salmon! The versitility of the smoked salmon was the most impressive. Great idea to show us the video of their process and to provide all of the possible recipes by scanning the QR code provided. ~T.Hedley

    See more Video Recipes on You Tube from Honey Smoked Salmon

  • I loved how Leslie incorporated the salmon into every dish we tried. My favorite was the deviled eggs topped with salmon. Definitely some good, quality salmon. ~Kiara , @kiararuth

I am so happy everyone enjoyed themselves and loved the Honey Smoked Salmon. No one left hungry or unsatisfied. The number one thing everyone wanted to know was where can we buy this locally?! It can be found at Sam’s Club and if you don’t see it there, Demand It! It can also be ordered online. For more information and recipes, please visit their website http://www.honeysmokedfish.com.

@FeedtheDialogue #FeedtheDialogueNC Dinner + Discussion at #18Seaboard | Recap 🍴

“Food is more fun when you know where it comes from”…

I could not agree more! That’s why when SobeSavvy.com got invited to Feed the Dialogue’s exclusive Media Event on Thursday, September 7th at 18 Seaboard, I was excited to join them for a night of food, farmers and fun. 

Feed the Dialogue is a non-profit organization who’s mission is to “reconnect NC with the foods we eat and the farmers who feed us”. They are passionate about educating North Carolinian’s about our farmers, and the food they grow across the state. This foundation bridges the gap between consumers like us and farmers. So when I received the invitation (see below), I knew I had to go and take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions about the food being featured at a restaurant I enjoy here in Raleigh, NC !

Guests were treated to wine from Jones Von Drehle Winery plus a complimentary five-course dinner followed by a panel discussion hosted by Lynda Loveland from WRAL.  Three of the farmers, who’s products were featured during the dinneras well as Chef Jason Smith of 18 Seaboard (who prepared the meal) served on the panel. 

In preparation for the upcoming panel discussion during the dinner, we were asked to pass along at least one question that you’d like for the panelists to answer. The panelists for the evening:

  • Dr. Richard Bonanno | Associate Dean, CALS  Director of NCCES 
  • Lynda Loveland |WRAL 
  • Scott Farms – Lucama, NC ( If you #lovesweetpotatoes, check out Scott Farms for recipes, tips, tricks and more)
  • Moore Brothers Beef – Lumberton, NC (family owned, beef is all natural, non gmo, cattle is grass fed, renowned for their quality of beef) 
  • Sweet Pea Urban Gardens-Micro-Greens – Raleigh, NC 
  • Executive Chef/Proprietor Jason Smith |      18 Restaurant Group

Here are some of the questions I presented for the panel:

Question for Scott Farms:

 1. How many varieties of Sweet Potatoes do you grow on your farm and can you explain some of the differences between the varieties?

Question to entire Panel:

2. Do you feel the term “farm to table”  is being overused in todays restaurant industry?

Question to Chef/Proprietor
Jason Smith

 3. When deciding on a new menu addition, what one criteria is most important?
 
Question to Dr. Richard Bonanno


 4. In your opinion are there some fruits and vegetables that buying organic is simply not worth the extra cost ?

The panel did not have the opportunity to answer all questions, but here are some answers/quotes from the evening that I took away from the experience.

  • Shared ownership plus value..that’s what the whole ‘farm to table’ movement is about
  • Local is local no matter what size your farm is
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the person who’s growing your food were there any pesticides used
  • Moore Brothers Beef is known for having the best quality of beef because their cattle are grass fed and then finished in feed that the farmer creates himself. The feed is 100% vegetarian. 
  • Farmers are an interesting breed. They’re not in it for the money, they do it because they love it & take pride in what they do.


Also, listed below is the menu + photos I took for the evening:

MENU

Course 1

Heirloom Tomato Salad + Candied Cashew + Sweet Potato Sorghum Vinaigrett

Course 2

Oyster Beignet + Cotija + Crystal Cane Syrup + Purple Sweet Potato Buttermilk Puree 

Course 3

Beef Carpaccio + Sweet Potato Vichyssoise + Pickled Muscadine + Shishito Mignonette 

Course 4

Butter Poached then Cast Iron Blackened Ribeye + Smoked Hominy + Roasted Japanese Sweet Potato + Pickled Crimson Okra + Burnt Tomato Vinegar

Course 5

Sweet Potato Hand Pie + Salted Beef Fat-Buttermilk Ice Cream + Lemon Verbena 

I had a great time and learned alot at the Feed the Dialogue dinner and panel discussion. The meal at 18 Seaboard was amazing and the people I met (food writers, food bloggers, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and media) , who shared in this experience were wonderful! If you want to see more from the event, check out the hashtag : #FeedTheDialogueNC 

For more news and information about animal care, antibiotics, environment, food choices, food safety, food security, gmo/organic, health/nutrition, and trade practices here in NC, follow on TwitterFacebookInstagram or website here>> Feed The Dialogue NC. 


Looking for a daily #HappyHour in #Raleigh ? Try @BoneFishGrill #BoneFishHH Cocktails🍹+Bar Bites🍴

Disclaimer: Thanks to Bonefish Grill in Raleigh North Hills for hosting me, along with fellow Raleigh/Durham bloggers for my #SobeSavvyEats series. Complimentary bar bites + cocktails were provided for our #SundayFunday meetup, however my opinion for this review is 100% my own.

#SobeSavvyEats Event~ ‘Bloggers & Bar Bites’ Happy Hour ~BoneFish Grill Raleigh, NC

Yesterday was a ‘Sunday Funday’ I will never forget thanks to seven blogger baes and one of my favorite restaurants! After a long year of studying, I wanted to celebrate the passing of my CPC exam with some fellow foodie friends, who are also NC Bloggers/Influencers. After hearing about the New Hand-Crafted Happy Hour menu at Bonefish Grill, I knew that would be the perfect place to meetup! 

A high top table for our large group was reserved in the bar area (which is generally first come, first served seating). After being greeted by staff, it was time to put in our drink order. 


COCKTAILS | Tonight we had two options to try:  Fresh Watermelon Martini or..

.. Sparkling Blue Hawaiian Martini 

Both of these cocktails were refreshing, made with fresh ingredients and beautiful to the eye. Not only did they look good but it was love at first sip for me! If you are looking for eternal summer in a glass, these are the cocktails to choose. 

BAR BITES | The menu consisted of these six $6 items ranging from seafood to beef.

Everyone enjoyed the variety of options on the bar bites menu and I discovered some personal faves that I can’t wait to eat again! Take a look at what BoneFish Grill is offering up during Happy Hour, daily from 4pm-6:30pm:

Crispy Cod Sliders

~  Fresh Alaskan Cod served on 2 potato buns with lettuce, tomato and a signature sauce. This is no McDonald’s fish filet. It’s a healthier, tastier option for fish sandwich lovers.

Wagyu Beef Sliders  

~  Want some meat instead? Order the beef sliders! You can’t go wrong with these because its made from Wagyu Beef which makes for 2 juicy mini burgers.

Crispy Au Gratin Bites

~  Every good bar menu requires something starchy right?! Get your carb fix with these cheesy potato bites. Those who do not eat bacon did not try them but those of us who did really liked the crispy au gratin bites, which comes with 2 sauces for your dipping pleasure.

Ahi Tuna Poke 

~  We had a self-proclaimed ‘poke snob’ amongst us, as well as someone who never tried raw tuna before who gave this dish a thumbs up! This dish paired with the Sparkling Blue Hawaiian drink will transport your tastebuds to a beach in Hawaii. This was one of my favorites.

Calamari 

~  I liked the asian twist on this classic dish. Instead of marinara or cocktail sauce, you get a sweet/spicy sauce on the side. Not too greasy and flash fried with peppers and asian noodles, this is a great dish to share with other calamari fans.

Prince Edward Island Mussels Josephine 

~  Although this is a nice sharing portion, this is one bar bite I did not want to share! Simply because I love mussels and these were my favorite out of everything we tried. You are going to want some of BoneFish Grill’s bread to dip in the flavorful broth and enjoy…by yourself!

SOBESAVVY TIP: Today only, All Day enjoy $5 Martini Mondays

I am happy to advise I will be back for the Hand-Crafted Happy Hour ! The all-new menu items and hand-crafted cocktails are something you are going to want to enjoy with family, friends, co-workers, loved ones or even by yourself (if you don’t want to share the mussels like me~lol). It starts daily at 4p.m. and end times vary by location. Please check your location page for location-specific Happy Hour offerings and times. Prices, product availability, participation and hours may vary by location.
Again, Cheers to everyone who joined me for a #SobeSavvyEats Sunday Funday and special thanks to BoneFish Grill ! The new Hand-crafted Happy Hour is not to be missed!

Also, check out my fun video recap on YouTube : https://youtu.be/LNHMfyr6sT8

Bonefish Grill 
4421 Six Forks Rd

Raleigh, NC 27609

#TastyTuesday Spotlight on @OroRaleigh ~ Where to Eat #DowntownRaleigh #LunchDate #NC

Downtown Raleigh has an amazing culinary scene with some great options being on Martin St. One of them being the stylish ORO Restaurant and Lounge. But let me tell you its not all just style, there is substance being served on those plates!

Recently I met with fellow NC Blogger\Influencer, Jen Lawrence of JenOni.com. We made plans to enjoy lunch and feature ORO since we’ve both heard awesome things about the restaurant, menu, drinks and of course the food.

The Restaurant

As soon as you walk in, the sleek white decor will catch your eye. Opt to sit at the chef’s table for a closer look of the magic in the the kitchen, 

in the main dining area or in the mezzanine, which has a fireplace.

Although I was there for a casual business lunch, I can definitely see myself coming back for a date night or a fun girls night out. If you are looking for a casual yet chic place to dine in Downtown Raleigh, this is the place! Looking for a place to hold your Private Event and /or offers Catering? ORO provides those services as well.

The Menu

Serving fresh, local ingredients that is pleasing to all and designed to be shared among friends is the mission of ORO. Created by Hylton Hospitality, Christopher and Cara Zalcberg Hylton has done a fantastic job featuring a variety of small plates and signature dishes since Spring 2012.
Executive Chef Chris Hylton has created lunch (served 11am-2p) and dinner (served 5-10pm) menus where all items  are identified with respect for dietary  restrictions. So if you are looking for Vegetarian, Vegan or Gluten-Free dishes that are flavorful and delicious, reservations at ORO are a must. The restaurant also offers some off the menu items that are chef’s selections using seasonal ingredients. 


The Drinks

Looking for an after work spot to enjoy cocktails and conversation? Step up to the full bar and order any of their exclusive wines or beer on tap and check out their specialty cocktail list. I recommend the Mimosarita.

 It’s made with peach infused 1800 reposado..mango infused moscato..lemon.. orange and a large ice cube made of orange juice and sparkling water. Once the ice starts to melt, you get a nice effervesent surprise! Also on the menu is 3 types of mules. Jen tried the classic Moscow Mule made with Tito’s Vodka. Both drinks were refreshing and memorable in a good a way.

The Food

Soups,Salads and Starters...Oh My! Everything on their lunch menu sounded so good, we could not wait to try. The Truffle Mac & Cheese is a staple on the menu. Since the restaurant has been open for the past 5 years, it has been a favorite of guests. So I had to order the vegan dish to try for myself. Made with yellow and white cheddar cheese and fine herbs, the truffle mac and cheese is served as a shareable plat , but you might hesitate and keep all that yummy goodness to yourself. Jen ordered the Chef’s feature soup which was green curry and chicken. I love a good soup because when all the flavors come together, it’s like a party in a bowl. Let me tell you, I had a sample of her soup and my tastebuds were dancing at the party.

From the Sides menu, I tried the Wok Fried Brussels, which is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. The soy, ginger and chili flakes gave it a wonderful flavor. Not too salty or too spicy,  but just the right balance to make me happy with this side dish. 

Everything looked so good under the Main Dishes portion of the menu that I was a bit undecided. Do I want seafood, or beef or chicken? Thankfully, Maresa was there to guide me thru and offer some of her personal favorites. I ultimately ordered the Fish Tacos. You get 4 tacos topped with mango salsa, cucumber, red onion and cilantro lime aioli. For me the aioli and salsa is what elevated the dish from being just a basic fish taco.

Beef & Broccoli is what Jen opted to order. It was a nice portion of marinated filet served with chinese brocoli and water chestnuts. She enjoyed it and mentioned she would recommend this dish for those who enjoy the Chinese classic. 

Be sure to save room to order something sweet from the Dessert menu. I had my eye on either the creme brulee or banana bread pudding, but an off menu featured dessert was described and we went with that. Ladies and Gents, feast your eyes on this celebration on a plate! 

A housemade funnel cake ice cream sandwhich with birthday cake ice cream in the middle and confetti sprinkles. Since my birthday is on Thursday, it was apropo to go with this and make an early birthdy wish! This was heavenly indeed! Such an amazing sweet ending to a great lunch. 

SobeSavvy Tip: Visit ororaleigh.com and subscribe to ORO’s Newsletter to receive updates and the latest news!

ORO Restaurant & Lounge

18 E Martin St

Raleigh, NC 27601 

Phn 919-239-4010 

Enjoy the Tastes of Summer with #wines from @wineawesomeness + #recipes with @neomega3 #avocadooil 

I love to entertain at home. The formula is simple: Good Food + Good Wine = Good Times. So when I had the chance to review 2 wines from Wineawesomeness.com and pair it with recipes using four speciality Neomega Avocado Oils , I took the opportunity to invite a couple of friends over for a tasting. 

THE INVITE~

Well what was meant to be held outside on my redecorated patio ended up being done indoors due to the rain.  I believe part of being a good hostess is always having a plan B so that not even a storm can rain on your parade!

THE MENU~

  • Roasted Shrimp and Grits appetizer with Chili Pepper Infused Avocado Oil
  • Watermelon, Arugula, and Red Onion Summer Salad with Ginger -Tumeric -Orange Infused Avocado Oil Vinagrette

Paired with 2017 LEKKER, ROSÉ Wine

  • Steak Skewers marinated with Rosemary Infused Avocado Oil
  • Roasted Garlic Potatoes made with Roasted Garlic Infused Avocado Oil

Paired with 2013 LA PINOT, PINOT NOIR

THE WINE~

If you want to experience what summer tastes like in a glass, try Lekker ROSÉ handcrafted by South African winemaker, Nico Grobler. It is the first 2017 rose on the market, making it the freshest, most easiest drinking wine possible. We all enjoyed the tanginess of this wine and how it was balanced with hints of fruit like strawberries, guava, orange, lemon,grapefruit and watermelon. No, it is not sweet but indeed refreshing and memorable! 

We also tried a Pinot Noir out of California named La Pinot, which is WA’s first ever wine collaboration! I was so excited to try it with friends and talk about our own wine notes. Some of us smelled rasberries, wood, mushrooms, caramel. We all had different thoughts and did not think it would be any of our favorites but agreed that: The best wines are the ones we drink with friends! 

Did you know the WA (wineawesomeness) journey kicked off just 4 years with the mission to make it easier than ever to explore wines from around the world? You can drink, discover and learn about wine by becoming a wine club member to receive a curated set of bottles and a customized magazine, called theblacklabel, which is filled with tasting notes, recipes and more! Be sure to follow @wineawesomeness #wineallthetime for member reviews and wine news.

THE RECIPES & Review of Neomega Avocado Oils

I was excited to learn of Neomega Avocado Oils created by Judit Beres and made right here in North Carolina! So yeah eat and support local y’all! She offers regular avocado oil as well as infused oils perfect for trying in your favorite recipes as a healthier alternative. Whether you are vegan, following the Whole 30 or Paleo diet, in search of gluten free options or just enjoy clean eating, these versatile culinary oils are something every cook and foodie needs to have in their home as a pantry essential!

Roasted Shrimp and Grits appetizer with Chili Pepper Infused Avocado Oil

Inspired by Bobby Flay’s Oven Roasted Shrimp with Toasted Garlic and Red Chile Oil  , I decided to make an appetizer version of shrimp and grits. I used japanese spoons to serve it in, making it the perfect one bite! It was simple, quick and delicious! I followed the recipe but made it my own by eliminating some ingredients like the toasted garlic chips (opted to use minced garlic instead). I replaced the olive oil and substituted it with the Avocado Oil infused with Chili Pepper. It had just the right amount of heat. Not too over powering but just enough for you to enjoy the flavors. 

Watermelon, Arugula, and Red Onion Summer Salad with Ginger -Tumeric -Orange Infused Avocado Oil Vinagrette

 Inside wineawesomness.com ‘s magazine called ‘thebacklabel’, which is included with the monthly wine club membership, are tasting notes and recipe pairing suggestions. Lekker Rose wine went well with the suggested recipe from Food52.com : Watermelon, Arugula and Pickled Onion Summer Salad. However, I decided to make a DIY salad dressing, a Ginger -Tumeric -Orange Infused Avocado Oil Vinagrette. We all thought it had a nice, light, citrusy, flavor that was perfect for the watermelon salad.

  1. Combine 1/8 cup of champagne vinegar ( can use red wine or apple cider vinegar, balsamic..your choice) 
  2. 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3. 1 tsp of salt
  4. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of  Ginger Tumeric Orange Infused avocado oil  (or any of Neomega Nutritionals Avocado Oils..I bet this would be good with the Basil Infused Avocado Oil too!) 
  5. Taste, Toss and Serve with your favorite summer salad 

Steak Skewers marinated with Rosemary Infused Avocado Oil + Roasted Garlic Potatoes made with Roasted Garlic Infused Avocado Oil

You can’t have a summer gathering without kabobs right! So easy to make and enjoy without the use of utensils. I would normally marinade my meat and veggies for skewers using olive oil, but this time I used Neomega’s Rosemary Infused Avocado Oil and roasted some potatoes using the Roasted Garlic Infused Avocado Oil. So how does avocado compare to olive oil?  Per neomega ‘s website

Here are 3 main differences 1. TASTE : our avocado oil has a light neutral taste. Because of that it has a wide use of application: baking, frying, grilling, every day cooking. 2. SMOKE POINT: Extra Virgin Olive oil is 425 F . Our avocado oil is 550 F, safe for high or continuous heat. Once an oil begins to smoke and burn it creates free radicals which are harmful to your health. 3.VITAMIN E: Due to its high vitamin E content, avocado oil is a winner in this category compared to olive oil and is widely used in skin care as well.

After experiencing these flavors, we all commented on how the mild flavors would be delicious to use in so many dishes while providing us with optimal nutrition. In other words, not only did these speciality oils taste good but it is good for you too! If you’d like to get your hand on a bottle or two or four, follow on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and shop at neomega3.com. SobeSavvy Tip: Save 10% on orders $23.99 & up with code: 10OFF

THE GIVEAWAY

Whenever possible, I like to give my guests something to go home with as a ‘thank you’ for coming. This time in addition to goodie bags with wine scented candles and a wine guide, one lucky guest got to go home with a bottle of Avocado Oil infused with Chili Pepper, courtesy of Neomega! Congrats to Interior Designer/Blogger Niki McNeill for winning my #SobeSavvygiveaway ! I can not wait to see what she makes with it. 

Tell me what are your favorite wines/recipes this Summer? Have you ever tried or cooked with avocado oils? Share you experience below⤵ 

Thanks for reading ! CHEERS 🍷

Western #NCFarmTour Recap: The Food, The Farms, The Fun w/@NCAgriculture #gottobeNC #avlbba

Disclosure:  I joined food bloggers/writers from NC on a sponsored tour of agriculture in Western NC. Lodging, Transportation and meals were covered , however the opinions shared here are 100% my own. Thanks again to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA &CS) and the Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association for hosting our group. Also thanks to Kristen Baughman of Tabletop Media Group and Heather Barnes, the marketing specialist for the NC Dept of Agriculture who did an amazing job organizing the tour! 

On July 19-21, 2017, I went on a fantastic tour of agriculture in Western NC and let me tell you, I learned so much about food, where it comes from, how its sourced and the people. Our group traveled from Raleigh,NC to Colfax, Salisbury, Hickory, Marion, Black Mountain and Asheville and came back with so much knowledge and respect for what it takes to produce quality food from farm to table!

I shared with you some of the highlights from our two and a half day tour on social media @SobeSavvy but encourage you to also check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram of our groups social media shares at #NCFarmTour. Growing up in the city, it was great to meet farmers, experience farm life and learn about the diversity of NC agriculture. I mean as a ‘foodie’, I think it was a right of passage for myself to see where it all begins. So let’s begin…..

DAY 1 |Wednesday, July 19

Here I am with Quinn and Paten Carlton, SoulFull Sisters departing from the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax. We left from Raleigh Farmers Market but made a stop here to pick up bloggers from Charlotte,NC. I am happy we stopped here because I was able to get a to- go snack from Moose Cafe , voted “Best Restaurant for Best use of local ingredients”.  I got one of their homemade biscuits and signature apple butter to try and it was just like grandma used to make..so good! 

Fading D Farm -Salisbury, NC

Owned by Faythe (head cheesemaker) and David DiLoreto, this is the only working water buffalo dairy herd in NC and is one of the stops on the NC Cheese Trail. During this stop we toured the fields, farm, creamery and store and got to hear how a trip to Italy and their love for cheese sparked their passion to produce at a farm of their own . Fun Fact: The water buffalo get nicknamed after cheeses and their milk is used for making their award winning fresh/aged cheeses, which we got to enjoy tasty samples of. I learned that the water buffalo milk is 30% higher in protein and if you are dairy sensitive, these milks/cheeses are a better option. In addition to selling the cheese at their on-site farm store, you can buy soaps, other gift items, and  select cuts of water buffalo meat (which is low in cholesterol and flavorful). If interested in trying some for yourself, join Heidi Billotto of Heidi Billoto Food for her On The Farm cooking class, which features 5 courses/wine pairings and fun! It’s being held at Fading D Farm on July 30 from 2-5pm! Email to make a reservation HLNC@carolinarr.com. Check out my photo album of this tour stop >>>>here

Highland Avenue Restaurant –    Hickory, NC 

For the record, this part of the blog post is making me hungry as I look over the menu and pictures from this farm to table feast we enjoyed courtesy of Highland Avenue Restaurant. Led by Executive Chef Sam Stachon, the team at this restaurant provided us with top notch service along with their amazing dishes. It’s no wonder they have received regional and national recognition for sourcing local foods. The Chef shared with us that he sees this as a ‘friends to table’ restaurant because of the personal relationships he has built with the farmers and the food they provide. See some of the delicious dishes that we enjoyed for dinner>>>>here.

DAY 2 | Thursday, July 20

Sweet Biscuit Inn, a Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, NC 

This Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association Inn was my accomodation during the tour. Our group was divided among the different 15 Asheville area inns, that work together to promote outstanding guest service, guest safety and quality. The Sweet Biscuit Inn’s hosts, Claudia and Christian Hickl, exceeded in hospitality by making our stay comfortable and sharing their insights of the area. My room (check out youtube for room reveal video)  was decorated with European style and a southern charm. It was spacious and suitable for 2 adults and 1 child. This inn welcomes children of all ages and is convenient to downtown Asheville and only 1/2 mile north of the Biltmore Estate entrance. The 3 course gourmet breakfast prepared by Chef Claudia was mouthwatering and memorable! Watch my video to get a taste of Sweet Biscuit Inn and make plans today for your next Asheville stay!  https://www.instagram.com/p/BW-jZcVh4S0/

Pisgah Brewing Company –                 Black Mountain, NC 

Before moving to NC, I would casually drink beer only in the summer as a pairing with Maryland steamed blue crabs. Then when I moved to Miami, I started covering beer events, festivals and grew to develop my palate thru tastings. I even have a category on the blog dedicated to Spirits/Beer. So I was excited to tour NC’s own Pisgah Brewing! We learned all about this brewery , founded by Dave Quinn. Our tour guide, Tom, shared that the #1 ingredient in beer is water and because of the great quality there in the western NC mountains, they are able to produce brews consumers enjoy! Since 2005, they have specialized in craft brews made with 100% whole leaf hops and organic grains and malts. We got to walk threw the brewery and learn about the history of Pigsah and process of making beer. Outside we saw their real beer garden, viewed the hop vines and learned how they use local produce to make beer. My fave part was sampling some of Pigsah’s brews inside their taproom, which is open 7 days a week and often has live music and other events. Wanna see more from this part of the tour? View pics >here.

New Sprouts Organic Farms-Black Mountain,NC

Ever wanted to follow the journey of a seed to the grocery store? Well Founder, Alan Rose and his son took us on a tour of New Sprout Organic Farms -it’s office, packing house and we even got to visit the fields(see pics >>here).  The family owned farm grows, pack and ships certified organic fruits and vegetables to East Coast grocery stores, including Ingles, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and Harris Teeter. During this part of the tour, I learned what it means to be GAP certified. It means Good Agricultural Practices are met for food safety.  For optimal health, it’s important to eat local to ensure the days from field to plate are not long. This is a way to to make sure you get the most nutrients from your vegetables. Check out the youtube video of my photo recap of this tour.  And thanks again Alan for our New Sprout Organic Farms swag!

“Taste of Local” event at Ingles Market

After a delicious lunch at locally owned Black Mountain Bistro , it was time to head to Ingles Market in Black Mountain for their “Taste of Local” event. This event is held every Thursday at Ingles stores and gives customers a chance to meet local farmers/vendors who supply Ingles and sample their products. I came home with some edible souvenirs like Unicoi Preserves, which owner Suzy Neal explained are “perfect pairings with cheese and charcuterie” !

All of the staff/farmers/vendors were so passionate about their products and a pleasure to talk to. Special thanks to Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian Leah McGrath (we share a Maryland connection, Go Terps!) who not only is a pioneer in her field, but has done an amazing job connecting brands and products to consumers and informing customers about health and nutrition.  

If ever in the area, this is a free event you should attend! Here is my event recap : https://www.instagram.com/p/BWyMOjQB1K4/

Engadine Inn & Cabins at Honey Hill-Candler, NC

So much to see and say about this wonderful evening at Engadine Inn & Cabins. The Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association (ABBA) welcomed us to a feast featuring dishes from many of the B&Bs. We got to tour the historic inn, and enjoy dessert by the fire pit. Dinner was delicious and the sunset views of the Blue Ridge Mountains were amazing! I captured some of it here via Facebook live. This 12 acre property offers the choice of staying in one of the B&B elegant rooms(adult only) or in the cozy,comfort private cabins(which allows pets and children). This is also a perfect place to host a wedding or any indoor/outdoor event. Want to see more photos, check them out >>>>here

DAY 3 | Friday, July 21

Harvest Farm- Marion, NC

Harvest Farm is a conventional family farm owned by Cassandra Benfield. During this stop on the #NCFarmTour, we learned that in addition to distributing their produce to wholesale distribution facilities, the farm also works with local produce stands, local restaurant delivery trucks, food shelters, Move With Compassion Ministry, The Society of St. Andrew, and a local cattle farmer. Cassandra is passionate about freshness and makes every effort to provide the best produce to a diversity of people within the community. We were thankful to not only learn about her and what she does but we also got a chance to pick tomatoes to take home and plant cabbage! We hope to return in the fall to the Harvest Farms Corn Maze and Pumpkin patch. See my photos from our visit>>>>>here.

Ingles Distribution Center

The final stop on the Western NC Farm Tour was the Ingles Distribution Center, which is located within 250 miles of Ingles stores, allowing it to meet the store’s standards for freshness and quality. Now that’s an #InglesAdvantage that customers appreciate! All merchandise (grocery, perishable, frozen, health & beauty) for Ingles stores is distributed by the company’s 1.6 million square feet distribution center. No cameras were allowed inside, but we were in awe of how much product was stored, the organization of operations, and positivity of the employees (many who have been there for years). There are approximately 200 stores in six southeastern states all accepting deliveries 7 days a week. After lunch, sponsored by Ingles, we were on our way back to Charlotte & Raleigh, with memories, knowledge and a great appreciation for agriculture and the people in Western NC. 

4 Reasons Why You Don’t Wanna Miss the Grand Opening @41HundredLounge on 7/25 @RenRaleigh

Raleigh..and the surrounding Triangle,have you heard?! A new, multi-level bar is celebrating it’s grand opening tomorrow and let me tell you: YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS IT ! Step inside and experience the new 41Hundred Restaurant & Lounge!

I had the chance to enjoy a media lunch and a sneak peak tour of the beautiful 41Hundred, located at 4100 Main St. at North Hills inside the renovated Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel. We got to meet excutive Chef Dean Thompson and tried some of his crafted sharable plates described as “simple sophisticated, international cuisine”. During the tour (see some of my photos here), he encouraged us all to tell everyone to come out to the grand opening celebration! Here are 4 Reasons Why:

  1. THE AMBIANCE The new 41Hundred and 41Hundred Lounge has a lobby level and upstairs. I would describe both areas as having a casual ambiance and suitable for hotel guests, North Hill visitors and locals. They wanted to create an uncomplicated space that brings the outdoors inside and I believe they suceeded!
  2. THE FULL BARThis is a stylish bar area I would bring anyone to who enjoys good libations. Step to the bar, order beer, wine, a cocktail or drop by for their house-aged whiskey. Come watch a game on any of their number of flat screen tvs or plug in to any of their usb outlets. And ladies whether you are there to work or werk, there are purse hooks by the bar. I love that kind of attention to detail, don’t you?!
  3. THE FOODThe food we got to sample was from the sharable plates menu.  They offer unique dishes like oxtail poutine and took my taste buds on a journey to Korea with their Korean BBQ wings (pictured above) and my fave dish tuna poke had me on the beaches of Hawaii!And if you just want to satisfy your sweet tooth try the Chef’s Hot Cheesecake or the locally made ice cream exclusively sold there. Come get a taste of shareable plates, you won’t want to share! 


  4. IT’S FREE !

As per the flyer, come out and enjoy complimentary bites from the 41 hundred menu and drink samples from Topo Distillery, Bombshell Beet Company & Aviator Brewing Company. 

I plan to be there to support and celebrate! Be sure to follow @SobeSavvy Twitter/IG/Facebook for event highlights. Come out and see why this is not your average hotel bar for yourself. Hope to see you there !