NC BEST DISH CONTEST 2010 WINNERS!
Twenty lucky restaurants in North Carolina presented their very best dishes to a trio of judges, and to their eating public, during the months of May, June and July, as finalists in the Best Dish NC. The judges tried to be sneaks, to be "mystery shoppers," and not let on that they were there to taste and witness each restaurants efforts to present local foods at their finest.
There were two categories - fine dining, and casual dining.
Each restaurant could enter one or more courses for their Best Dish entry, although most wound up presenting about three courses - an evening's worth of delicious eating. Each dish was judged not just on how well and yummy it tasted, but also how delicious it looked, or its presentation; on how creative the dish was; how it and the contest were promoted and marketed; and the use of NC products. The contest is, after all, designed to promote the wonderful foods produced in our state.
Fine Dining Category Winners? What a choice.....all are marvelous choices to spend an evening eating well. But here are the final three....drum roll please......
Isn't it interesting that these three represent three unique regions of North Carolina? From the mountains to the sea, and in-between!
Ashten's chef is Ashley Van Camp, who was influenced by her grandmother's old-fashioned country food. The difference? It was cooked with love, she says. Her winning entrees were Egg Drop Soup with chicken, presented with the poached egg at table; an asparagus strudel; trout with black eyed peas; lamb shoulder stew; and finished off with a dessert of polenta cake with strawberries. Chef de Cuisine Matt Hannon and Pastry Chef Jen Curtis helped pull of this magnificent menu. Ashten's is located in a cozy but hip older building in downtown Southern Pines. http://www.ashtens.com/
TABLE AT CRESTWOOD
Chuck Nelson heads up the kitchen at Table at Crestwood, and saw the contest as a way of promoting the fresh, local products he loves to use. His first course arrived at the table as a soup dish with a mound of fresh blue crab with basil, and the server swirled a sweet tomato bisque around it. Delicious! A field green salad followed with a log of fresh, local chevre rolled in almonds, with the main course a grilled ribeye steak from Asheville area's Hickory Nut Gap Farm. A cheesecake made with goat cheese and surrounded with a wild berry compote ended this delightful meal. The location was a plus too. The location was a plus, too, as the view was of Grandfather Mountain. http://www.crestwoodnc.com/restaurant.html
Deluxe is also located in a hip, older building, but in downtown Wilmington, just a block from the Cape Fear River. Chef Trinity Hunt's contest winner was fried soft shell crabs from Snows Cut, gathered by Phil Smith, and presented on a veloute of corn with tomato jam as an accent. What a dynamite combination. It looked pretty and tasted divine. Chef Hunt is a Native American who has developed "a keen sensitivity to the harmony between the fisherman and his fish, and the farmer and his farm, and how enlightening the stomach can be for the spirit." This entree certainly was a prime example of that philosophy. http://www.deluxenc.com/
WINNERS FOR THE CASUAL DINING AWARD
1st Place Bistro 42 , Asheboro
2nd Place Kornerstone Bistro, Wilmington
3rd Place Yancey House Restaurant Yanceyville