Competition Dining: Posana Cafe Vs Red Stag Grill ~ Nik Snacks

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

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It's 2013 and you know what THAT means? Another action-packed, seasonal and local food-fueled year FULL of the best chefs in North Carolina competing in the "Got to be NC" Competition Dining Series.

This calendar year kicks off with a two-part Fire On The Rock competition. The first installment began this January in Asheville,NC and the second installment begins in Blowing Rock, NC in April.


2013 also brings the Queen City of Charlotte (!!!) into the mix and introduces Fire In The City in September and October.
Fire On The Dock: February/March
Fire In The Triad: May/June
Fire In The Triangle: July/August
Final Fire Championship Series: November
The entire state of North Carolina is about to be ON FIRE! Can I get a woot?!

And what's more--You can now download the FREE Competition Dining app from iTunes AND Google Play for Android. The app is for voting when you attend a dinner, purchasing tickets and up-to-date information about the competition.

Yes, dearest reader, YOU TOO can be a part of this experience by purchasing your tickets HERE.


Once again, I was able to join in on the fun that is Competition Dining and head to The Lioncrest at Biltmore for a six-course dinner courtesy of Chef Peter Pollay of Posana Cafe and Chef Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill. I'm not familiar with Asheville or its food, but I am familiar with food and the impact Asheville has on the state of NC and the Southeast region. The first of the Fire On The Rock semifinal dinners started off with excitement and wonder: The secret ingredient(s): Mona Lisa Chocolate and Mountain Dew, courtesy of sponsor Pepsi Bottling Ventures.

 First course: Chocolate-Curry Sweet Potato Soup
 Tempura Shrimp Roll, Thai-Carrot Salad, Mt. Dew Ponzu
This course set the tone for the evening. Presented with an impressive showing, the tempura shrimp roll plate sat atop the cup of soup, like a tower waiting to be conquered by us hungry diners. Thai usually means tree or ground nuts, so I was not able to enjoy the sweet potato soup or the carrot salad. BUT--The tempura shrimp roll was truly a delight and my favorite savory component of the evening. Beautiful, chilled, spicy, expertly rolled, tempura implies hot and/or fried and this part was lost, but I would have gladly eaten six more pieces of this. I ate about six pieces of bread to compensate. Womp womp.

Second Course: Fried “Chicken” and Grits
 Mt. Dew-Glazed Crispy Quail, White Chocolate-Truffle Grits
Only in the South will your starches outweigh your meats and vegetables on the plate. This course was no exception. The white chocolate-truffle grit cake dwarfed the Mt. Dew glazed quail. I didn't detect any truffle (which may have been a good thing), but the white chocolate part was something that should show up on breakfast menus around the country. It was deliciously soft, sweet and crunchy. I wasn't a big fan of the quail: it wasn't crispy, it wasn't seasoned very well, but it did have a nice ginger aftertaste.

Chocolate Ravioli
Dark Chocolate Ravioli, Mt. Dew-braised Pork Belly, White Chocolate Parsnip Puree, Mt. Dew Pomegranate Gastrique
The lowest scoring dish of the night, no one seemed to be impressed by the cross between entree and dessert presented in this course. Encased between the thin sheets of chocolate pasta were rich, thick pieces of pork belly. Smooth and unctuous, the pork melded well with the white chocolate parsnip puree. The puree, however, was too sweet and the familiar but pleasant bitterness of parsnips was lost in translation.

Third course: Mt. Dew-Brined Coffee-Cocoa Rubbed Duck Breast
 Mt. Dew-Glazed Carrots, Bacon-Onion Jam Wonton with Dark Chocolate-Cilantro Chimichurri, Dark Chocolate Mole
The second-highest scoring dish of the night, everyone seemed to be impressed with this showing of duck, mole and chimichurri. Again, I could not have mole because of my allergy, but I didn't feel anything was lacking on my plate.
In my opinion, the best part of the dish was the bacon-onion jam wonton. I want to make hundreds of these and serve them on Super Bowl Sunday, Monday and every day after. My duck was a little rare to my liking, but it was juicy, well-seasoned and the tiny bit of toasted sesame seeds gave me the nuttiness I needed to compensate for the missing mole. The glazed carrots were a lovely golden color that loved to soak up the fresh chimichurri.

Fifth Course: Chocolate Cherry Dew
Chocolate-Glazed Éclair, White Chocolate and Cherry Mousse, Lemoncello-Mt. Dew Gelee, Dark Chocolate Sauce
The highest scoring dish of the night, this was my personal favorite. Every component of this dish was delicious. You could taste the butter, eggs and flour in each bite of the choux pastry. The mousse was chilled, as were the cherries buried inside it. The baby disk of Mt. Dew gelee did not necessarily go with the rest of the dish but I didn't care. It was a bright spot on the plate that reminded me of the hard candy my grandma always had in her purse.

Sixth Course: Milk and Cookies
 White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies, Ginger-Mt. Dew Ice Cream, White Chocolate Panna Cotta
I'm not a fan of panna cotta. It's always too loose, gloppy and never executed well. This dish almost restored my faith in custard. Almost. Composed beautifully, the layering of the panna cotta with a Mt. Dew gel had good intentions, but I wished it had been layered with chocolate sauce instead. The delicate white chocolate was muted by the strong flavor of the Mt. Dew. The ginger-Mt. Dew ice cream was fabulous, though! Oh my--so smooth, creamy, and perfect, it was still in solid form between my two shortbread cookies when it came to the table. The cookies were perfect, too. It's just the panna cotta part that left something to be desired.

After the chefs and their teams paraded around the dining room at the Lioncrest at Biltmore, the winner was revealed--Chef Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill!

For photos, score breakdowns and more Competition Dining information, click HERE. Remember to "like" on Facebook and follow #CompDiningNC on Twitter. Don't forget to check out Official Blogger for Fire on the Rock, Johanna Kramer (aka Durhamfoodie) at JohannaKramer.com

And remember, it's Got To Be NC!