Eating Out at Blue Denim

Published August 26, 2016 by microncat

Disclaimer:  I am still learning how to insert images and align text, so y’all bear with me, ok?!

outside sign

When I was a kid, there were no Hispanics in my school.  There were no students from Africa.  There were no students from India.  The only two “foreigners”, as we called them back then, were two Korean brothers, Chae Song and Chae Hyuak (totally phonetic spelling!).  Otherwise, all the students in my school were either black or white.  (This was, of course, in the Middle Ages.) Back when I was teaching elementary school Art, I used to completely shock my kids with this information every year when we started talking about how Origami spread worldwide from its origins in Japan. I say ‘shocked’, because my students have never lived in a world without a rainbow of skin tones, and the culinary variety that is available as a result of this cultural melting pot.

I tell them, when I was their age, there was no such thing as a Mexican restaurant on every block, like we have now; there was Taco Bell.  There were no Italian restaurants; there were Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn, and Godfather’s (all within less than 100 yards of each other).  There was no Indian, no Thai, no Vietnamese, no Greek, and no Middle Eastern, but there was a metric butt-ton of Barbecue (with vinegar-based sauce, thankyouverymuch!).  The closest you’d get to Asian was Bamboo Garden, the local “Chinese” place.  My kids would be looking at me all wide-eyed and flabbergasted, because they don’t know a world where food choices are limited.

The Greensboro, NC area seems to have about a trillion restaurants.  It used to be a barren wasteland around here, but in the last ten years or so, the possibilities have become many and varied, especially in the Downtown area, where many trendy eateries have recently bloomed. Thanks to the migration of people to this area from all over the world, we now have a huge variety of places to choose from; in fact, there are about ten or so different cuisine types between Wendover/Aycock intersection and Horsepen Creek Road.  Hooray!  About two months ago, Ginny and I made a deal that at least once a week we would eat somewhere we either had never been before, or hadn’t visited as a couple, in over a year.  This has been a pretty fun thing to do – I challenge you to get out of your restaurant rut and try it yourself.

This week’s choice was Blue Denim restaurant, which is the latest culinary adventure owned by Mississippi native Jody Morphis, formerly of Fincastle’s fame.  Jody went to culinary school in New Orleans, and the food at Blue Denim is sort of a blend of Cajun and Delta influences.  Full disclosure:  We have known Jody, in a friends-of-friends way, since around 2002 or so.  We talked to him tonight, but he had no idea I would be writing this…

The front-of-house has really high, pressed-tin ceilings, with one bare brick wall on the right.  The other walls are a dark gray with darker gray trim.  There are some really lovely paintings by Fisher Park area artist Denise Landi, the subjects of which – an Antebellum house, girls dressed for Mardi Gras, and a couple of landscapes – really fit in with the Cajun/Delta theme.  There is also a large photo of workers in one of the old denim mills, which is a tip of the hat to the textile heritage of Greensboro.

A view across the room.

A view across the room.

The view to my right.

The view to my right.

Wait staff wear denim aprons, and on Jody’s business card and at the bottom of the check, the restaurant address is listed as being in “Jeansboro, N.C.”. On the right-hand wall as you walk in, there’s a huge sheet of denim with the restaurant name stitched on.  The place seats just shy of 60, at kraft-paper covered, two-and four-top tables.

We arrived just about 6pm and were the first table seated for dinner, at a two-top along the brick wall, which was set with flowers and a candle in a tray.  Thursday night is “Shrimp Boil” night, and the live musician, a guitarist, was just getting his stuff set up.

 

Menu

IMO, many restaurants make too many things to be really good at ANY of them.  Blue Denim does not have that problem.  The menu is short, sweet and to the point, which I like.  There’s one page of clear, easy-to-read text, with food on front and wine/drinks on back.  As one might expect, given the Cajun/Delta theme, the offerings are seafood-heavy; however, there’s also chicken, pork, burgers and salads – a little something for everyone – and we had a hard time deciding!  After some debate, we ended up ordering the Appetizer Board and the Shrimp Boil as entrees, which we shared.

 

The Appetizer Board is a sampler of three of the apps on the menu – Delta Chinese Ribs, Fried Green Tomatoes with chowchow and butterflied shrimp, and Crawfish Beignets – plus one app that is “chef’s choice”.  Tonight’s “choice” was barbecued shrimp on toast.  The whole thing is quite literally served on a wooden board, and the board spanned the width of our table.

SRSLY – it’s as long as our table is wide! Left to right: BBQ Shrimp on Toast, Delta Ribs, Crawfish Beignets, Fried Green Tomatoes

The BBQ shrimp on toast was the first thing I tried, and it was amazing.  The sauce is both tangy and smoky at the same time.  The toasts had crispy crust, so the sauce didn’t make it too soggy.  The only thing I didn’t like about it was, the shrimp had tails on.  (That’s not really a knock on the chef here; it’s something that happens in a lot of restaurants, and it’s a pet peeve of mine.  I mean, I was raised to eat food with a fork or spoon, and I HATE sticky stuff on my hands, especially at table.  I really don’t like when a chef leaves tails on shrimp in sauce, and then I have to pick it up with fingers to pinch the tail off.  Blech!  But I digress…)

Next up was what turned out to be what we both liked least, the Crawfish Beignets.  These were round pieces of fried dough about the size of a golf ball or so, and topped with a spicy mayo-type sauce.  The dough was really soft, which was nice, but neither Ginny nor I was a fan.  They were like a smooth, seafood-flavored hush puppy.  We expected to see red crawdad meat inside, but were disappointed.

I tried the Fried Green Tomatoes next, and they were really good!  The coating was crunchy, which was a surprise – I figured the tomato juices would make it soggy – and the chowchow was a terrific combination of sweet and tang that was very much like my mother-in-law’s brine for watermelon rind pickles – lots of cinnamon.

Last but not least – and in my opinion, the best damn thing on the board – was the Delta Chinese Ribs.  O to the MG, y’all.  The menu description says the ribs have “char siu”.  I have no idea what that is, but it’s some damn fine eatin’.  The sauce!!!!!  <<Swoon>>  Just a teeeeeeeeny bit sweet, with the overall sense that someone in the kitchen had waved some anise in its general direction, and the smoke from the super tender rib meat sneaking through…mmmmmm!

 

The Shrimp Boil!

The Shrimp Boil!

Ginny got the Shrimp Boil for her entree.  This was served on red and white checkerboard paper in a metal cake pan, and there was a lot of it!  The Boil consists of some really humongous shrimp, a “niblet” ear of corn, red skin potatoes, and slices of spicy sausage, all cooked together with seasonings. There was some garlic bread along for the ride, as well.  I enjoyed the Shrimp Boil quite a bit, and Ginny did, as well.  Those were some of the largest shrimp I’ve ever laid eyes on.

 

 

 

Dessert, before its disappearance.

Dessert, before its disappearance.

Ok, are y’all ready to hear about

We didn't leave y'all any dessert....you'll have to go get your own!

We didn’t leave y’all any dessert….you’ll have to go get your own!

dessert?  I REALLY wanted to eat more of the ribs, but we decided to box ’em up and get dessert instead.  There are two on the menu:  Lemon Thyme Icebox Pie and White Chocolate Pecan Bread Pudding.  <<Swoon, again!>>  We got the icebox pie, and it is very possibly the best dessert ever eaten in a restaurant.  It was GORGEOUS, too.   The plate and the pie were drizzled with raspberry coulis and mango sauce.

 

Prices at Blue Denim are about average for the area, with the exception of the Appetizer Board, which was the most expensive thing on the menu at $26.  Other apps range from $8 to $12.  Salads are $9 plus choice of meat, Sandwiches range from $10 – $16 and Entrees range from $16 – $19.

The bottom of the check lists the address as "Jeansboro", NC.

The bottom of the check lists the address as “Jeansboro”, NC.

Here’s a link to the Blue Denim Facebook page.  They are open for lunch Tuesday – Saturday, 11:30 – 2, and for dinner Tuesday – Saturday, 5:30 – 9. They do take reservations, and all the contact info you need is in the photo above.  I am looking forward to going back to Blue Denim – I think there’s watermelon salad in my future…

 

annnnnd, we’re back!

Published August 24, 2016 by microncat

Well, as you can see, I have made some changes. I changed the theme of the site so that there was a lighter color, and I have updated a lot of the information. There’s been a lot going on since I last posted, a year ago. Let’s catch up!

When I posted last August, there was a ton of stuff going on here. We had just started a renovation, converting what used to be my pottery studio/the garage of our house that had never had a car in it, to a fully functional mother-in-law apartment. I had just started the last round of three chemo treatments to get rid of the endometrial cancer, or more accurately, to keep it from coming back. I finished those treatments up in October, and my mother-in-law moved into the apartment around the same time. I had started making jewelry again over the summer, and some of my new metal work was featured in my booth at the fall 2015 Keep It Local! show in Oak Ridge, North Carolina.

My mother-in-law began a decline in health over the Thanksgiving weekend, and she died on December 14. (We now have the apartment listed on Air B&B!)  I started learning about enameling around the beginning of the year, and have been working on that ever since, in addition to designing and fabricating jewelry using sterling, copper, glass, natural stone and other materials.

In January, Ginny and I attended a lecture by Dr. Renee Raynor, a brain researcher/neuropsychologist from Duke University about “neurological deficits” caused by chemotherapy, a.k.a.: chemo brain. I really thought the woman had been following me around and making PowerPoint slides about my life! Apparently, contrary to the opinion of many oncologists, chemo brain is NOT a psychosomatic problem; it DOES exist. According to her research, chemo brain can happen to anyone who has had chemotherapy, and the severity of symptoms, onset and progression (or lack thereof), varies from person to person. For some people, chemo brain never happens. For some other people, chemo brain happens, but it gets better over time after chemotherapy is stopped. For other people, chemo brain occurs later in treatment, or even after treatment has finished. For some people, chemo brain never gets any better.

Chemo brain is somewhat similar to ADHD, with main symptoms that include short attention span, difficulty with concentration and memory, reduced ability to retain new information, depression, anxiety, short temper, changes in personality, etc.. Dr. Raynor stated that some symptoms of chemo brain can be helped with ADHD medications, so I started taking mine again, and have noticed a slight improvement.

I was supposed to start back to work teaching in February; however, due to a massive fustercluck on the part of the school system, coupled with the fact that I really wasn’t healthy enough to be back in the classroom at that point, I ended up resigning my teaching position. I started physical therapy, which was very helpful in terms of physical mobility and reduced pain, and joined the LiveStrong program at the Spears Y. I started spending more time in the studio, selling pottery equipment to purchase jewelry making equipment and supplies, and building up inventory. The spring 2016 Keep It Local! show was a nailbiter for me, because my booth had no pottery at all. For the first time since Leanne Pizio and I started the show in December 1998, I sold only my metalwork and some of the jams and pickles that my loyal customers have come to expect. The work was well received, and I have continued trying new techniques and expanding my skills.

In May, we went to Denver. Ginny had been there before, but I had never been. She had a business meeting there, but we went three days early to do the tourist thing. We stayed at one of those really extremely tall business hotels downtown, I think maybe a Hyatt? I can’t remember. Anyway, it was very nice. We took their brand-new commuter train from the airport into town. It was just like the commuter train from Cherry Hill, New Jersey to Atlantic City, only newer and with better colors. (Atlantic City trains are brown on the inside.) The train had an armed policeman every two cars. It takes about 30 minutes to get into town from the airport.

Denver is a pretty nice place, but it is very spread out. Thanks to their new recreational marijuana law, there are dispensaries on almost every block, literally. We went in a couple of them because, when in Denver…. For some reason, the dispensaries seem to be mostly in the basement of whatever building they are in, LOL. There is a lot of security, because marijuana selling is an all-cash business – no credit cards. The banks won’t deal with dispensaries, because marijuana is still a federally prohibited drug, and the banks are run by the feds, so…. In the dispensaries, they have every form of marijuana that you can think of, and a whole lot that you never thought of or dreamed about. They have chocolates, like truffles and caramels, that are made with THC. They have this weird stuff called resin, which looks like really thin peanut brittle. I never did figure out how that stuff was supposed to be ingested. They have joints, they have loose leaf and buds of every description. One of the places we went was actually growing the stuff on site. Apparently, there are two different strains of marijuana. One of them provides a “head high”, which is the type of high that is usually seen in movies. The other varietal provides a “whole body high”, which is, supposedly, very relaxing. We did try the stuff, in candy form, but it was nothing to write home about. Big whoop.

Most things in downtown Denver happen along 16th St., where they have a lot of high end shopping, restaurants, etc. There is a free bus that goes up and down 16th St., and stops every block, 24 hours a day. You can get on the bus, ride to where you need to go, do your thing and then reverse the process. We had a lot of really nice food while we were there, and I got to go to a jewelry supply store! There is not even one jewelry supply store in the state of North Carolina, and I really like being able to see things and touch them in person before I buy them.

The one downside to Denver is the homeless population. We have been in several major cities up and down the East Coast and across the country, including New York, Boston, Provincetown, Washington DC, Orlando, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Augusta, San Francisco, etc., and nowhere else have we ever seen a more obviously mentally unstable homeless population. They are, almost literally, everywhere, and they raise all kinds of ruckus at all hours of the day and night, on the buses and in the streets. At one point, we were on the bus when a verbal confrontation broke out between one guy and a couple of others, and we ended up having to get off the bus because we were afraid there was going to be a fight right there in front of us.

Ginny talked to some of the homeless folks, and found that they weren’t actually from Denver. The cities where they had originally been located, paid for them to go to Denver and stay, instead. I never heard of such a program before. Homelessness is a really big problem in Denver. The week after we got back, we saw an article that said Colorado was going to spend a big chunk of the marijuana tax money on doing something about the homelessness problem in Denver. I hope that happens.

In June, we went to New York City for Ginny’s 50th birthday, and we stayed in an Air B&B apartment near Union Square. It was quite interesting. The neighborhood was great, and there was a Blick art supply store (drool!), a coffee shop and several restaurants in our block. There were a lot of restaurants in the neighborhood, and we did eat at a couple of them. The two places I had wanted to eat were a Poke’ restaurant, and the Second Avenue Deli, which was actually on Second Avenue the last time I ate there. Apparently, that was quite a while ago. They are no longer on Second Avenue, and we were told that they had not been there for over 10 years. The corned beef and the house made pickles were just as good as the last time. Yum!   Poke’works was awesome!  if you haven’t heard, Poke’, pronounced, “pokaaay”, is the recent food fad from Hawaii. It features cubed, sashimi grade tuna, dressed in soy sauce and sesame oil. Here on the mainland, this is usually made into a  Poke’ Bowl, which means the fish is served over rice, and with various toppings of choice. It’s delicious! We also went to Metalliferous for jewelry making supplies, which we mailed back home so we would not have to carry them. (Sheet-metal is heavy!)

Last week, I had hand surgery, done by Dr. Robert Wainer. Making jewelry requires a lot of fine motor coordination and manipulation of small items with the fingers. This caused a problem called stenosing tenosynovitis (a.k.a. “trigger thumb”). Currently, I am typing this using voice recognition software, because my left hand is wrapped up in a giant ball of Ace bandage. I go back to the doctor tomorrow to have the dressing changed. There has not been very much pain since surgery, for which I am very glad.

Having my hand all balled up like this has made it very hard to create new pieces in the studio, but I will get back to it as soon as the doc will let me, probably next week. This will be just in time to create new pieces for my booth at the Southern Ideal Home Show in Raleigh. I plan to be there all three days, September 23, 24 and 25. If you are in the area, come see me! There will be a special area at the home show for artists working in various media.

 

 

 

Updates!

Published August 17, 2015 by microncat

Hey everybody.  Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote anything here.  So much has been going on since spring, and I have been thinking about catching up and doing more blogging.  Here are a few highlights:

First up, Homage to the DaVinci Surgical Robot!!!

In December 2014, it was determined that I had endometrial cancer.  I was 47 at the time.  To make a really long story short, I switched to a different GYN practice, and I’m SO glad I did.  The new doctor I chose, Dr. Sandra Rivard, happens to do robotic surgery.  The MRI she ordered came back suspicious for cancer, so she referred me to Dr. Brewster, an OBGYN Oncologist down at UNC-Chapel Hill who specializes in surgery with the DaVinci Surgical Robot.  So in March (yes, it took three months for them to get it all together – there is only ONE surgical robot in Greensboro, and there are three in Chapel Hill, and scheduling is at a premium!) I had removal of all the internal female plumbing done by Dr. Brewster with the DaVinci Surgical Robot.

Y’all lemme tell you, whether you’re male or female, if anybody ever says you have to have any kind of internal surgery, DEMAND A ROBOTIC SURGEON.  If there’s not one where you live, GO FIND ONE.  I’m not kidding.  A typical hysterectomy, even laparoscopic hysterectomy, requires at least one night in the hospital, and minimum 6-weeks of downtime, because they have to cut holes through the abdominal wall large enough for the surgeon’s hands to get in there and move around.  With the robotic surgery, the surgeon operates the robot from a remote station, and the holes they cut only have to be big enough for the tiny robot parts to get in.  As a result, I had five, 1-inch incisions.  I was in hospital overnight, off pain pills the next day, and driving around doing my thing the next week.  I still had restrictions – any abdominal surgery is gonna have those – but nothing like what it would’ve been like with open surgery.

Here’s a link to a video about how the DaVinci works – it’s awesome!

Taking a Break

Published April 12, 2015 by microncat

I haven’t posted anything on my blog in ages, because I never could seem to get in the habit of doing so.  Several folks have asked about new Zentangle(r) classes.  Because I have a lot of things going on in my life this year, I’m taking a break from teaching ZT classes for the foreseeable future.  I may teach again at some point, but I just don’t have the energy right now.

If you are interested in taking a class, I would refer you to my friend Susan Williams, who is in High Point.  Message me for her contact information.

Thanks!

 

 

Published August 3, 2013 by microncat

If you are on the Crystal Coast in NC and bring your dog, we have found three places you can take them with you when it’s meal time in Atlantic Beach:

1.     Frost Seafood House – they don’t really have outdoor seating, per se, but there are two picnic tables out front, and they allowed us to buy takeout and eat it there with Maggie.  The waitress actually did a smidge of table service, although they really don’t officially offer that outdoors.  

2.     Molly’s at the Doubletree Hotel.  They have their own pier, and most of their seating is outdoors.  Be prepared to wait an eternity for your food, but when it gets there, it’ll be worth it…at least, if you order the fish tacos it will.  Best damn fish tacos I’ve ever had.

3.  The Crab’s Claw.  Really good flounder sandwiches,  excellent tartar sauce, and clam chowder PACKED with clams.  Don’t get the conch fritters.  You’ve been warned.  Service was slow, but we were talking to other customers (our dog is a chick magnet😉 !) 

 

 

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