Nik Snacks

Bite it and write it. That's what I do. Fueled by butterbeans & collard greens.


On 4:30 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , ,    No comments
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by National Pawn & Jewelry. I was compensated but all photos, thoughts, words and ideas are my own.
Buying Rolex watches or high-end kitchen appliances for a fraction of the cost doesn’t have to sound too good to be true. A North Carolina store makes it a reality. 

National Pawn is a BBB accredited business with a wide variety of inventory, including TVs, tablets, small kitchen appliances, music equipment, fine jewelry, designer bags and more. And in a surprise move, National Pawn is also well-known for giving back to local schools, scholarships and other donations. Just last year, the chain's president, Bob Moulton donated over 50 instruments to a middle school in Winston-Salem, right where I live! 

The staff at the Battleground-Greensboro location was incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and worked fast to complete transactions of everyone coming in to shop/pawn/borrow.

They also left me alone to shop and peruse everything in the store. I asked to see a number of things and at no time did I feel silly or guilty for taking up the staff's time. It was truly a pleasant shopping experience.

Recent reality TV shows like "Pawn Stars" have brought a lot attention to the pawn industry.  While the mainstream media attention may be new, the industry is not.  In fact, the history of pawn shops dates back more than 3,000 years. 
America’s pawn shop industry deals with a huge variety of items including musical instruments, jewelry, and electronics. And National Pawn is no different, but they have a few extras that people probably don't know about...

I’ve visited pawn shops in the past, merely to walk around to pass the time before my bus was to arrive. Once I sold a diamond ring I won in a contest, because I had no need for the ring. I never thought to visit a pawn shop to actually shop for things I wanted, or needed. I found a cadre of electronic equipment like tablets, phones, Bluetooth speakers and cameras and lenses. I even found a BRAND NEW 4.5 QT KITCHENAID MIXER, y’all. It's NEVER BEEN OPENED and it's a beautiful Copper Pearl. I took home a brand-new ice cream maker, too. I look forward to more sorbets, ice cream and frozen confections on the blog in months to come.

I got a new-to-me Coach purse. I’ve never had a Coach bag before. I feel like I now have this cute little statement piece that cost <$30. I coveted a Burberry scarf and an old-school Nintendo gaming system with my all-time favorite game, Super Mario Bros. 3, too. I couldn’t get enough. 

One of the greatest things I learned about National Pawn, other than their commitment to giving back to the community, is their layaway program.

Most stores have a 90-day limit on layaway. At National Pawn, it's 10 months. 10 months to pay off that Rolex watch. 10 months to pay off that 4K TV. 10 months to pay off all of the Christmas gifts for the kids. It's fantastic. I can't tell you how many times I wasn't able to get things I really wanted out of layaway because I didn't have the money or I simply forgot about it. So even though I have this great story to tell and now a great many new items, I can't wait to go back and layaway a nice diamond ring for myself (or let my boyfriend know which one I'm coveting [nudge, nudge; wink, wink])

On 7:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , , ,    No comments
These empty bowls are the reason why I volunteer with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

This face is the reason why I volunteer.
Empty Bowls is the reason why it’s important for me to give back to my community.

Photo Courtesy: Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC

Here’s a quick fact: 1 in every 6 people living in Northwest North Carolina struggles with hunger, while 1 in every 4 children goes without the essential nutrition they need to thrive. But we can all help. 

The sole purpose of my day job is to showcase the hedonistic ways you can eat, drink, travel and have a good time. I highlight North Carolina farms, farmers, producers, restaurateurs, events, wineries, vineyards, breweries, distilleries, entrepreneurs, sauces, produce and chefs. Because my job depends so much on luxury, it’s important for me to spend time thinking about and taking action to do something about food insecurity in our area.

Many families do not know where their next meal will come from or when that meal will take place.

Many families are not able to produce sound and solid nutrition and rely on agencies like Second Harvest Food Bank to fill in the gaps.

Join me on on Tuesday, April 17 for our dinner meal or Wednesday, April 18 for lunch. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. Price includes meal and a pottery bowl. Join me and bring your family and friends. We can fix the hunger problem in our area.

While the event costs $35/$40, each ticket can create dozens meals across our 18-county region. Whether it’s support by purchasing a ticket, volunteering to pack boxes or donating foodstuff for the pantry, every bit helps.

Second Harvest of NWNC Board Members and Local News Celebrities serve others

2018 boasts of TWO empty bowl-filled days where you, your friends, coworkers, families and loved ones can give to my favorite organization and bid on some great silent auction items as well. You’ll find me sporting a Celebrity Server apron as I volunteer this year. 
Mayor Allen Joines of Winston-Salem and I serving as Celebrity Servers in 2017

You’ll spot other local celebrities sharing their time and attention as well.

If you’re not able to attend, I encourage you to make a sizable donation and spread the word. 

On 12:04 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    3 comments
Last Spring I was invited by the N.C. Department of Agriculture to attend a Butcher Social at Shipley Farms in Vilas, N.C. a 10-minute drive from Boone. A handful of local chefs, butchers and restaurant professionals gathered at the 145-year old family farm to spend the afternoon being immersed in beef.

Shipley Farms Beef is in the N.C. mountains where they raise Appalachian grown, pasture-raised beef.  They are raise specially bred steers from English breed stock, mostly Angus and Hereford – the family brought Hereford farming to N.C. in the late 1800’s –The cattle are raised on pasture with “no shortcuts”: dry aged with no steroids, antibiotics, feedlots, etc. The farm is incredibly photogenic and picturesque. Rolling hills, sweeping views of mountains and cows dot the land.

We were treated to live demonstrations and samples of cutting and cooking a variety of beef cuts, led by Chef Danny Bock of Coyote Kitchen. Below, watch a 1 minute video of Chef Danny butchering ribeye steaks.

Restaurant chefs spoke and asked questions about value cuts and how to get the most out of primal cuts of meat.

A little snack of housemade beef jerky made from Shipley Farms beef

PRO TIP: For restaurants and home cooks alike, it’s more economical to purchase primal cuts of meat and butcher them yourself in the kitchen. Excess waste is eliminated and you’re able to control the outcome.

Grilled Eye of Roast

We met Bob and Gray Shipley, stewards and owners of the farm as well as others on the agricultural team that gave us an insiders’ look on what goes in to raising Shipley Farms' signature beef. The Social was sponsored by a grant provided by Tobacco Trust Fund and support from the state’s Got To Be NC program that helps farmers and producers provide quality products to consumers.

Gray Shipley, a 5th generation farmer, greeting us with signage

We were also treated to a little social lubrication provided by one of Boone's local breweries, Booneshine Brewing Company, opened in 2015.

Not only is Shipley Farms beef available in the High County and the entire state of North Carolina, they ship meat packages anywhere in the Eastern and Central Time Zones. Check out their online store and make their passion for beef yours. Today! 

Reservations, for those place that accept them, are strongly encouraged. Some of the restaurants (indicated with an asterisk) have limited seating and/or counter service. 

Please include number of children and highchair/booster seats needed for your party. Most menus are available online. All independently-owned restaurants appreciate your patronage and cannot wait to welcome you!

Crafted: The Art of the Taco
On 1:21 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , , , , ,    1 comment

Paris is my favorite city in the world. There are so many things to eat in Paris that it would take years to be able to experience them all.  While overwhelming, it’s good to go in with some sort of a plan otherwise you may miss out on favorites and end up eating mediocre meals (yes, even Paris has bad food).

It would be fair to say that food is my main focus when I travel. After my flight and lodgings are booked, I usually have a list of foods I want to try and restaurants I want to visit.  Because I feel I don’t have enough time or money to try everything on my list, I’ve learned to prioritize.  I try to experience foods that can only be found in whatever location I am in or are just done the best there.  I want to eat things that allow me to take in the moment and remind my taste buds there is no where else in the world I could have that experience.

This list of my favorite foods to eat in Paris. The list is not exhaustive and I update it with every trip.  If you feel I am missing anything, please let me know! I love to discover new-to-me places that I can add to my ever-growing list.

What to eat in Paris

Croissant: Ble Sucre

The first time I visited Paris, I received a message from a friend who said,"You have to have a chocolate croissant in Paris!" I did a search for "croissant" and the nearest patisserie and Ble Sucre came up in search after search. Yes, Virginia. I will attest that the best croissants from from this place. At first, I was worried, because I passed at least 8 other boulangeries with lines snaking out of the door and when I arrived at Ble Sucre, there was not one. By the time I'd made my purchases (I got some rose marshmallows, too) there was a line wrapping around the front and out of the door. Butter croissant is what you want, but anything else from here will be the best you've had as well.

Macarons: Pierre Hermé

I never had a macaron until I had one at Pierre. I mean, I had--I'd gone to Laduree (the Target of French macarons)--the pastel awnings and beautiful storefronts are inviting and popular, but Pierre is where the real players go to play. Like a fashion designer, Pierre issues a new line of macaron flavors and other confectionery items in limited release. There are multiple standalone locations in the city and outlets inside big-box stores and pharmacies. These macarons and classic pastries like the Ispahan (croissant, macaron) will blow your mind. The boutique on St. Germaine-des-Pres is the flagship. Go there. Go change your life.

Macaron et cafe

I spent one day strolling through Paris, stopping into every single bar I saw to order Aperol Spritzes (that are advertised on EVERY. SINGLE. BILLBOARD) and commenced to get drunk on them. After an entire day of drinking, I thought it would be a good idea to hop on a bus in search of the best falafel in town. It was a race against time, because they close at midnight and my metró card expired at midnight and it was already 10:30 p.m. Well, I made it! And then I got lost. Found myself in BFF (bum f*ck France) holding my falafel in one hand and my dreams in the other. I did make it back safe and sound to my hotel and continued to munch and dip into my falafel. This was the not the best falafel I've ever had, but it was definitely the most flavorful and full of vegetables as well as the fried chickpea and parsley fritters also known as falafel. You can get it with or without harissa, a spicy red pepper condiment. GET THE HARISSA. It was not as spicy as I expected it to be but it was flavorful. I can't say I would have liked the pita without it. BE ON NOTICE: This is a tourist trap and it's crowded and busy. Order from the window for faster service. That is, if you don't mind walking around holding your (falafel) balls in your hand.

Duck: anywhere

Duck is to France as chicken is to the United States. Duck is the preferred fowl of choice on menus. In the U.S., duck is a delicacy and very expensive. It's not uncommon to pay +$25 for a plat du jour of duck at a fine dining restaurant. Casual restaurants rarely even have it on special. Because of those facts alone, if you see duck on a menu--get it. Most prices were 9-14 euros, which equates to $11-$17. And it's prepared better in France, too. No tough, fatty skin to peel away, no visceral, glistening pieces of flesh. The skin is always crisp and the meat done to temp (of your choice, of course--I always order mine medium rare in France).

Perfect duck breast with mashed potatoes garnished with parsley and pomegranate seeds

Bistro: steak frites

To me, steak frites is a quintessential French dish. Dining at a neighborhood bistro is the quinesstential French experience. Whether it's for an espresso, a glass of wine or a quick meal, the bistro is the place to go. And you should definitely go for steak and french fries. Whether it be a cut of steak (entrecote, filet, porterhouse, steak hache [hamburger]) and the starchy fingers of the Devil, it's a must have. There are numerous lists of the best places, but nearly every bistro and cafe sells it, so if the price is right--try it!

Steak frites from Verse Toujours--excellent place

Croque madame/monsieur

Enough said. I don't feel like I have to elaborate on why you should try one in Paris. I will say, the one pictured below was not very good and it was too expensive to be made on cheap bread. But that side salad was over-the-top fresh and flavorful.

Hot Chocolate: Cafe La Flor

I explain here why hot chocolate in Paris is like none other.
This is a photo of espresso, but the hot chocolate looks similar


Crepes were on my to-do list. I ate crepes stuffed with everything from sliced Bresse duck to orange segments from Seville. The thin, pancake-like sheets were spread thin on large, hot round griddles with a crepe spreader, a utensil similar to a rake with no tines, and cooked slowly to golden perfection. I watched a street cart vendor hand squeeze real lemon juice onto the crepe palette. He carefully and quickly scraped off the seeds and the thin wisps of caramelized crepe batter that had escaped down the sides of the griddle. He placed cold, whole pats of butter on top. I watched the butter melt slowly into the crepe. He flipped and folded the crepe into a triangle and I continued to watch the butter and lemon juice bubble and caramelize while the crepe became a toasted pale bronze. A dance and a work of art all in one.

On 12:07 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    3 comments
My blog is 10 years old. 
The only thing I’ve done for 10 years straight, is be alive. This is very overwhelming. 

Lord, I need a drink.

In order to celebrate, I’m going to tell you a little secret. 

I’m going to tell you my top 10 favorite restaurants in my favorite place in the world. Well, in America. Specifically, North Carolina. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

I tell people,"I wasn't born here, but I was bred here. Lots of bread. I eat it all of the time"

I get messages and texts weekly from friends, acquaintances and followers who want restaurant recommendations in the city. Every single request sends me into a panic because there are so many factors to consider: price range, cuisine, allergies, parking, time of day, night of the week... 

My chest is tightening, just typing this part out. This list is the 100% definitive list of Nik Snacks' absolute favorite restaurants for 2018.

The criterion range from economical to very expensive, quality of service, atmosphere, ease of takeout ordering and online presence (its important to have an updated, easily accessible menu online in 2018). This list is in no particular order. There is no ranking here. My #1 favorite restaurant knows who they are. There’s no need for me to broadcast it here.

It's okay if you don't agree with me. This list is based on personal experiences. It's not okay if you received terrible service in the past and refused to darken their doorstep. This list is more about my experience as a culinary professional and self-proclaimed cosmopolitan hedonist than a curated list based on Trip Advisor, Yelp or Facebook reviews.

Mozelle's: The tomato pie, gourmet meatloaf and shrimp & grits are the three best dishes on the menu. Available year round, these are the most popular dishes and after nearly 10 years of service, the taste has never changed. The shrimp & grits here--bar none--are the best in the Piedmont. Every restaurant that specializes in Southern cuisine has a version and they will tell you its their best seller (I mean, c'mon, it's shrimp--HECK YEAH, it's your bestseller, buddy), but the white cheddar stone-ground grits, the sherry cream sauce and diced proscuitto send me through the roof with each bite.

Graze: Located inside the Marriott hotel, not only does Graze raise the bar and hold it above all other hotels' heads for ridicule, it has changed the game on hotel food. Flatbreads, burgers, blackened catfish, smoked duck...Have you ever seen things like that on a hotel menu? Easter, Mother's Day and Thanksgiving are never lonely in this hotel restaurant because the buffet would put any Bacchanalian celebration to shame. Last, but not least, if you use the hotel valet to park, Graze will validate your ticket. Boom.

West End Cafe: Open for over 30 years, people have been sleeping on how great this West End staple is. It's my place of choice for a quiet dinner with a friend or a low-key date night with my boyfriend. Whether it's lunch or dinner, I always find something new to love here. My go-to is the cook's salad (bascially a chef's salad; you get to add 2 additional "fixins" for free) but at least twice a year the menu changes and the options always blow me away. Fried oysters, tonkatsu ramen, short ribs--oh, yes. But this place also has one of the best Reubens in town. When I think Reuben, I think West End.

Miss Ora's Kitchen: My first time here, I thought my deceased grandmother was in the back giving instructions on how to make her potato salad. I also thought I saw her swishing to the back through the kitchen door. The food here is anointed with the Holy Ghost, I swear. It's not my grandma back there, but it's owner/chef Stephanie Tyson's grandmother--Miss Ora, the inspiration behind the restaurant. Simple menu: 3-piece and a biscuit. That's all you need to get by. And so do I.

The Carving Board: I've been eating here since I was in high school. I always get a chicken salad sandwich on toasted wheat bread with honey mustard (it's very spicy and a little sweet), lettuce, tomato and Swiss cheese. Other things I like: sesame noodle salad, cucumber salad, bowtie pasta (not the Mexican one), egg salad, tuna salad (crunchy bits of Granny Smith Apple, sweet dried cranberries), citrus grilled shrimp (so smoky and sweet) Everything is by-the-pound and you can tell them you "just want a little bit" and you can ask what the prices are. There is no shame in not wanting to pay more than $2-$3 per item for a little taste of a lot of things. Everything is absolutely fresh and always garnished. 

Mayflower (Rural Hall): Every Friday for as long as I can remember, we have fish on Fridays. If we aren't frying it, we're buying it and it's usually from Mayflower.Now that I'm an adult, I have fish on other days, too, usually Thursdays--because it's Popcorn Shrimp Day (it's only $3.99). I prefer this location over the Peter's Creek location. That one hasn't been the same since it burned down years ago and was rebuilt. Even though it's outside of the city, it's the only exception to my list.

Little Richard’s BBQ : I think Lexington Style BBQ is the best barbecue in the world. I'm not here for debates--it's simply my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Little Richard's was the first pork barbecue I ever tasted as a young girl, I think it's best. Whether I get it chopped, sliced on a tray or the big seeded buns or a mess of hushpuppies with the red barbecue slaw, I'm always satisfied with my choices here. And little known fact: the burgers here and good, too! Yes, I know there are other locations, but Country Club is the original and the only one that matters.

Cloverdale Kitchen: When I come here, I'm usually the youngest person in the place and I'm well over 30. I usually eat in if I'm enjoying breakfast and get takeout if I'm having dinner. I don't want anyone to see me tear into the food as if I have no manners or home training. The fried chicken and macaroni and cheese are my favorites. 

Crafted: The Art of the TacoThe kitchen is open and it really is a beautiful space overall. Crafted is quick to tell you that this is a taco joint, NOT a Mexican restaurant. The tacos are eclectic (barbecue pork and macaroni and cheese on a taco? Dude, it's awesome) and there are so many interesting menu items, you have to come back multiple times to get it all in. A Mason jar of crispy bacon, great burgers, fresh chips, chunky guacamole, perfectly diced pico de gallo, and there's even an option to make anything into a rice bowl. I love this place and I'm so happy to have a Crafted family member in my favorite city in the world.

Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar: The commitment to using local products, the extreme attention to detail, the genuine hospitality and the professionalism of every staff member,make we want to come her over and over again. The menu changes every season, there are nightly specials and I've never had a bad meal here. Every dish is beautiful, Instagram-worthy (without a filter) and each bite is a food experience unto itself. My favorite things: TUESDAYS: $1 oysters; WEDNESDAYS-- Three-course prix fixe menu for dinner is only $20.13.

On 2:48 PM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , , , ,    No comments
“Fiesta de Camotes” is a promotion of the NC SweetPotato Commission and was funded through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. I was compensated for this post, but all photos and opinions are my own.

Crafted, The Art of the Taco in Winston-Salem has joined in on the Fiesta de Camotes fun and created Dirty South Nachos, an appetizer to highlight the beauty and joy of sweet potatoes. Whole sweet potatoes are sliced thinly, fried until extra crispy and topped with juicy pulled pork, a sweet and creamy chipotle aioli and garnished with chopped scallions. It's the perfect start to your lunch or dinner before diving into your selection of handpicked (or should I say--handcrafted??) tacos. Crafted, The Art of the Taco is quick to tell you: It's NOT a Mexican restaurant. It's a taco joint.

I like the DSN (that's what people in the know call them--jk,don't do that--if you try doing that no one will know what you're talking about) because of the sweet potato chips. They're real! And they taste great on their own. They're an option as a side with the tacos and that is my go-to. But I do have a PRO TIP for you: ask for the rojo and verde sauces on the side. You won't regret it. I promise.

red means go. and so does green. just get them both.

What's Fiesta de Camotes, you ask? It's a month-long party to highlight Hispanic restaurants and bakeries throughout North Carolina featuring sweet potatoes in a special dish.

With 22 restaurants and bakeries participating, Fiesta de Camotes’ mission is to highlight the use of sweet potatoes in traditional Hispanic dishes as well as fusion dishes. Each restaurant or bakery will be showcasing their special dish from September 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017. Patrons are encouraged to try sweet potato dishes throughout September at one of the participating locations listed HERE.

Born in and opened in 2012, Crafted's big brother opened in Greensboro first. The menu is inspired by international influences. trends, fresh ingredients and diverse taco selections. Nearing its year mark in Winston-Salem, Crafted's little sister has worked itself seamlessly into the DADA section of Downtown Winston-Salem. I have been a fan of owner and executive chef, Krissy Fuller since I met her in 2012. She's my celebrity chef crush. And I crush on her food, too. Hard.
me & the love of my taco life, crafted.

Even though Fiesta De Camotes 2017 is almost over, I have a little hint and a SURPRISE for you: Dirty South Nachos are available ALL YEAR LONG at Crafted AND--

There's a recipe! Right HERE so you can continue the party and enjoy sweet potatoes at home.

For more sweet potato fun, ideas and recipes you can visit the NC Sweet Potato Commission’s website (