Greensboro, NC Getaway Plan A 3Day Weekend this Fall


heidi head shot 1 -In Need of a little getaway this fall season? Might I suggest that you look no further than North Carolina’s Triad region connecting three major cities all within a half hour drive of each other and about a hour and half in travel time from Charlotte, making a trip to any of the Triad cities –  High Point, Winston-Salem and Greensboro – worthy of a three day weekend status.

Fun to do my October 3 day weekend segment for WCNC’s Charlotte tOday on the city of Greensboro, NC. The details are all here in the post, but if you want to watch the video, scroll to the end and simply click on the link.

Greensboro, home to the sit in protests of the 1960s, Harlem Globetrotter “Curly” Neal and the place where Vick’s VaporRub was invented, is also know as the Gate City due to the heavy flow of railroad traffic that went in and out of the city in the late 1800s. Today Greensboro is still a major Amtrack  hub with trains arriving and leaving from The Greensboro Southern Railway Depot, now known as The Depot, originally built in 1899.

gro_stationinteriorHow to get to Greensboro, Nc

While Greensboro is an easy car ride from Charlotte, a fun nod to our state’s history would be to take the train for your three day weekend visit, and then uber or bike around the city as needed. Amtrack tickets from Charlotte start at just $19 one way and you can book a reservation for your bike as well. While the original Greensboro Depot is now the home to all sorts of transportation, a portion of the original train station still remains and makes for a fun and historic way to kick off your trip.

What to do in Greensboro

imagesOnce you get off the train at The Depot in downtown Greensboro, you are a quick walk or bike ride from the Greensboro Children’s Museum, a great place to spend some time with the kids.

One of the most fascinating exhibits for kids and adults alike is Greensboro’s Edible SchoolYard Garden, the only sanctioned Edible Schoolyard garden to be a major exhibit in a museum.

This working hands-on garden is used to teach kids about growing and planting, raising crops taking care of farm animals – the garden includes its own family of laying hens for fresh eggs, as well as taking care of and feeding the hungry in the community.

The garden is used as a major source of product for adult and children’s cooking classes taught year round int he museum kitchen. And chefs around town also teach at teh museum and use produce from the garden in their seasonal menus. For more information about regular events at the museum as well as the schedule of cooking classes, here’s where to find  the details.

Agriculture is king in North Carolina and there are lots of farms in around the Greensboro area with lots of fun events coming up this fall season – any one of them would be a great anchor around which to plan your three day weekend Greensboro getaway.

images-4Among them High Rock Farm, in Gibsonville, NC. The farm house on High Rock Road was originally used as a stage coach stay in the 1800s and has also been a tavern and a post office. Now it is home to High Rock Farm owner Richard Teague, who planted the first chestnut tree on the property in 1991. High Rock Farm is now the largest working and producing chestnut orchard in the mid-Atlantic Region. The farm celebrates it harvest each year with an annual Chestnut Roasting Festival, this year on Nov 6, from noon – t5 pm. Admission is just $8 per person. The fun includes hay rides through the orchard, music, food trucks, tours of the historic home and more. Kids under 10 are free. For more info 


Goat Lady Dairy in Julian, NC, a stones throw away from Greensboro is home to a large goat cheese making operation and the dairy offers monthly cheese-centric 5 course Dinners at the Dairy as well as farm and dairy tours. The remaining dinner dates for this year are Nov 11 and 12 and December 2 and 3, so make your reservations now. For more information visit

If you, like me love to shop for housewares and china, old and new and find the fun is int he hunt for that can’t live without piece; then you simply cannot miss a trip to Greensboro’s own Replacement’s.

Located at 1089 Knox Rd. in McLeansville, NC, just outside of Greensboro, Replacement’s is  the world’s largest supplier of old and new china, crystal, silver, and collectibles.

great-wall-of-china-in-replacementsThe 500,000-square-foot facilities (the size of 8 football fields) house an  inventory of 12 million pieces in more than 425,000 patterns, some more than 100 years old. You can order from Replacements online, look for a missing piece to your grandmothers good china or browse through the inventory online, but there there is nothing quite like being there and to my mind this one of kind shopping extravanganza is worth the 3 day weekend jaunt in and of itself. For more info, or to buy or sell your favorite china pieces visit the website here

unknown-2Where to stay for the trip?

Lots of choices from the historic, charming  and said to be haunted 1903 era boutique Biltmore Hotel in the downtown area  – an easy walk from the Amtrack station. Visit the website for more info or reservations

unknown-1To The O’Henry,  an elegant hotel located a short and easy 4-minute walk from the Shops At Friendly Center.  Beautiful guest rooms have tall ceilings, unique furnishings, plush beds and en suite bathrooms with soaking tubs and separate dressing rooms. Your reservation includes a free Southern-style breakfast is served in the pavilion or the garden, while afternoon tea and pre-dinner cocktails are available in the lovely Craftsman-style lobby. For reservations and more info visit the website here

proximity-hotel-photos-exterior-hotel-informationThe Proximity , the sister property to the O’Henry, may be one of my favorite hotels in the area. Its the first green LEED hotels in the country with strict sustainable practices designed to save energy and help the environment while still offering a luxurious place to stay. 100 sun panels on the hotel roof, heat the water in the hotel and the energy the elevators create going down, allow them to go up as well. Bicycles are available for guests to ride on the nearby five-mile greenway that extends to over 75 miles of trails and routes throughout the Greensboro area. For reservations and more info visit the website here

Where to eat in Greensboro

Once you have your hotel reservations and have honed in on what you want to see and do in the area, you’ll need to decide what and where to eat. The restaurants at both The Proximity Hotel – Print Works Bistro , fresh local ingredients used to create fabulous comfort food;  and at the O’Henry Hotel – Green Valley Grill – informally elegant interiors serving seasonal favorites in a Mediterranean style-  are both excellent choices.

4213690For burgers, beef, vegetarian and otherwise, Hops Burger Bar  with two locations in Greensboro, is a popular local favorite you won’t want to miss. Parking is tight and there is often a wait, but its worth  each and every juicy bite-o-burger! If Mexican is more your style, go eat where nearly every chef in the Greensboro area sent me – El Camino Real – an understated Mexican joint in a strip center  at 4131 E. Spring Garden Street.

undercurrent-outside-gsoFinally for more white table cloth dining, check out Undercurrent Restaurant in downtown Greensboro, Listed as one of the “Top Ten Restaurants in Greensboro” by USA Today, the focus at Undercurrent is farm to fork. Sourcing all sorts of local ingredients from farms large and small, Chef de Cuisine, Michael Harken­reader  and the Undertcurrent’s team will wow you for sure. Open for lunch dinner and brunch, Don’t miss the opportunity to eat at Undercurrent soon!

Here is the link the to segment I did on Charlotte Today with hosts Colleen Odegaard and Eugene Robinson sharing a couple of reasons why you need to think about visiting Greensboro this fall. Enjoy!



For more info on all that is happening in Greensboro, North Carolina, visit the Convention and Visitors Bureau   #TellThemHeidiSentYou


Battle Goat Lady Dairy “Julian” Aged Gouda with Chef Jon Fortes, Mimosa Grill vs Chef Sam Stachon, King’s Kitchen. The sixth battle of the series and Fortes takes the cheese!

Chef Luca Annunziata from Passion 8 Bistro

Chef Luca Annunziata from Passion 8 Bistro

Chef Rob Masone from Heist Brewery

Chef Rob Masone from Heist Brewery

As I write this post it is early morning on Sept 23. Chef Luca Annunziata and his team  from Passion 8 Bistro are preparing to meet  Chef Rob Masone and his team from Heist Brewery on the culinary battlefield that is, for this competition, the kitchen at Bonterra Dining and Wine Room in Charlotte’s historic Dilworth neighborhood.

The Kitchen at Bonterra Dining and Wine Room

The Kitchen at Bonterra Dining and Wine Room

Chefs will meet around 11 am or so to get a feel for the lay of land in the kitchen, check out the mobile pantry full of excellent product and produce from title sponsors Pate Dawson – Southern Foods; and put together their individual strategies. Around noon they  will find out the secret ingeredient for this Battle 7 of the inaugural  Fire in the City competition dining series.

As the competition’s official blogger,  I’ll be there to cover all the action  – during the day today and again during dinner tonight

The Official Blog of Fire in the Coty

The Official Blog of Fire in the Coty

Follow me on Twitter @HeidiCooks and on the Heidi Billotto Cooks Facebook page throughout the day today for updates; and then I’ll meet you back here with the play by play and photos in  the comprehensive post tomorrow morning.


North Carolina's own Goat Lady Dairy aged Gouda goat cheese

North Carolina’s own Goat Lady Dairy aged Gouda goat cheese

But first, time for a recap on Battle 6 held just over a week ago. On the table – the secret ingredient, goat cheese, local goat cheese from Climax NC; Goat Lady Dairy “Julien” gouda, to be more exact.

Just six dinners in and this food writer is running out of superlatives – somehow the words “wonderful” and “fabulous” just don’t seem enough to describe the Sept 11 evening of Competition Dining, although the evening was every bit of that and more.

Chef Jon Fortes and the team from Mimosa Grill

Chef Jon Fortes and the team from Mimosa Grill

Chef Sam Stachon and the team from King's Kitchen

Chef Sam Stachon and the team from King’s Kitchen

In the kitchen battling it out – Chef Jon Fortes, Executive Chef of Mimosa Grill with his team and  Chef Sam Stachon, Executive Chef of The King’s Kitchen with his team.

As is the case with nearly all of these dinners, the day was fun-filled from the very beginning. These two chefs met through Competition Dining, but hit it off from the get go.

“We both wanted the win,” said Sam Stachon of The King’s Kitchen. “But pretty much from the beginning, it was like we were all working together in our own place.”  It’s this good nature of friendly competition that makes these Fire in the City integrated dining events so much fun.

Sam Stachon , left and Jon Fortes enjoyed the competition and working with each other from the beginning

Sam Stachon , left and Jon Fortes enjoyed the competition and working with each other from the beginning

John "JD" Duncan and  Charlotte Fire Fighters

John “JD” Duncan and Charlotte Fire Fighters

Captain Rob Brisley and the Charlotte Fire Fighters enjoyed and every course

Captain Rob Brisley and the Charlotte Fire Fighters enjoyed and every course

As it was Sept 11, it was a special night. Early on, weeks before the battle, Chef John Fortes told me he thought the historic date would yield a smaller than usual dining audience; but no, this night played to a sold out crowd.

Host, and Competition Dining founder and creator Jimmy Crippen started the evening off with his video presentation as always; but this night included a special tribute to 9/11 with a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by The Charlie Daniels Band.

To make it even more moving, John “JD” Duncan, owner at Bonterra played host to his neighborhood fire station, as he does each and every year since the 9/11 tragedy. Captain Rob Brisley of the CFD was there too, and delivered the fire safety message that has become the mantra of Competition Dining – The leading cause of home fires and burn injuries is cooking; so Keep your kitchen safe and make reservations to dine out at your favorite Charlotte restaurant!

The dinner was delicious – here’s the plate by plate , play by play…

The first course by Chef Jon Fortes

The first course by Chef Jon Fortes

My plate at the end of  the First Course

My plate at the end of the First Course

Course 1 set the tone of the evening for me – this “cheese plate” with  a trio of offerings was, as it turned out, from Chef Jon Fortes and included  “Goat Lady Julian Cheese Trio” Bacon Wrapped Julian with Port Wine Reduction; Goat Lady Biscuit with Heirloom Tomato & Chorizo Soup; and Whipped Cheesecake with Brown Butter Pine Nuts and Country Ham

The Second Course by Chef Sam Stachon

The Second Course by Chef Sam Stachon

In Course 2, Chef Sam Stachon took advantage of a product that had been the secret ingredient just nights before – the very delicious A.B.Vannoy Country Ham  and did it proud, serving it with  Fingerling Potato Hash, Pepperonata,  all topped off with a Goat Lady Julian Frico

The third course by Chef Jon Fortes

The third course by Chef Jon Fortes

Course 3 was the highest scoring course of the evening. Chef Jon Fortes’ Goat Lady Julian & Parsnip Gnocchi, Creamed Sweet Corn, Tasso Ham, Mushroom Conserva


The Fourth Course by Chef Sam Stachon

The Fourth Course by Chef Sam Stachon

Course 4 Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale Braised Manchester Farms Quail Warm Julian Cheese & Farro Salad with Charred Cabbage – while the cheese and faro salad was extraordinary, the quail and cabbage didn’t hold their weight and consequently, this was Chef Stachon’s weakest course and may have been what finally decided the battle

The Fifth Course by Chef Jon Fortes

The Fifth Course by Chef Jon Fortes

Gotta love cheese grits and in Course 5, Chef Jon Fortes brought it with Confit Cheshire Pork Roulade, Goat Lady Julian Grits Soufflé, Dried Apples, Smoked Blueberries


The Sixth Course from Chef Sam Stachon

The Sixth Course from Chef Sam Stachon

A high scoring Course 6 in the guise of a melt-in-your-mouth dessert was a hit for Chef Sam Stachon and the team from King’s Kitchen. On the plate – Julian Cheese & Apple Tart with  Mascarpone Chantilly Spiced Caramel Sauce  – a delicious end to an excellent an most memorable evening!

Chef Jon Fortes, Center with Harpers' Group's Steve Seitz, left and Tom Sasser, right

Chef Jon Fortes, Center with Harpers’ Group’s Steve Seitz, left and Tom Sasser, right

Chef Jon Fortes and his team from the Harper’s Group Mimosa Grill will now go on to compete in the quarter-final battle on October 7 against Chef Brian Mottola and the team from e2 Emeril’s Eatery.

Tickets are sold out so, live vicariously and follow this blog for the bite-to-bite action on the dinner and the day of the battle

For more information about Mimosa Grill located at 327 S Tryon St  Charlotte, NC 28202;   704.343.0700; visit Mimosa Grill on Urbanspoon

For more information about King’s Kitchen located at  129 W Trade St  Charlotte, NC 28202;  704.375.1990; visit The King's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

goat lady dairy

Our Friends at Goat Lady Dairy

For more information on Goat Lady Dairy Goat Cheese in Climax NC, visit

For a great video on Competition Dining’s Fire in the  City check out the  video coverage that aired a week or so ago on WCNC’s  Charlotte Today – reporter Davyee Sutton was at the A.B. Vannoy County Ham Battle and got an insiders look on all the action! Thanks Davyee!!