January 1, 2010

Winsome Winston-Salem, NC

Field Trip Alert!

Today kids, we’re talking about Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I can almost hear you saying, “What’s that got to do with Denton?!” Well, remember how DFW is one of the things that makes Denton so swell? Happily, you can get direct flights from DFW to Greensboro, NC (GSO), and from there travel over to Winston-Salem.

A better question might be, “Why Winston-Salem?” Well, I’ll tell you. One of my sisters, a former Dentonista, made her circuitous route (via Syracuse and D.C.) there and put down roots. So now, after 10 plus years of being the home for the holidays, SHE (and her S.O.) hosted the family this year. So my S.O. and I and our other sister posse-d up there for the holidays. And y’all, you know how you dread having to get together with your family for enforced festivities? Well it’s not like that for us. We were all looking forward to it (maybe no one more than me, the former hostess), so we were all prepared to have a great time. I won’t bore you with the details of all our family traditions and frolicking, because that’s not something you can participate in. No matter how good a hostess my sister is, she’s not up for random Dentonites knocking on her door, but I WILL detail what’s good, fun, and tasty in Winston-Salem.

I will warn you now; I was totally lax in taking pictures - other than of our Christmas celebration. Pathetic really. After each delicious meal, I’d think, “D’oh! I forgot to take pictures!” Although, I think we can both agree, my food photography could be described as ‘unappetizing’. In fact, if anyone can give me some advice, so my food looks more like this or this, PLEASE let me know.

Where to stay
Well, on our last trip there, we stayed at the Shaffner House Bed and Breakfast, and I can totally recommend it. Beautiful, historic home turned into a Victorian-style B&B, with excellent breakfasts.

On this trip, inspired by my sister’s previous success with Priceline, I cheaped out and bid. I got us booked at the downtown Marriott for $52 a night, y’all. I’m a convert now. Plus, you know the Marriotts all have those fluffy blankets and squashy mattresses? Oooh, like sleeping on a marshmallow covered in marshmallow fluff. Diviiine.

What to do
I don’t think any trip to W-S is complete without a trip to Reynolda House. In fact, with Hanes shutting down, I think that (and Wake Forest University, and Wachovia Bank) may be the economic strong holds in town; I could be wrong though.

Anyway. Never heard of Reynolda House? Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. How about this – Reynolda House Museum of American Art displays a premier collection of American art ranging from the colonial period to the present. Built in 1917 by Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the house originally occupied the center of a 1,067-acre estate. It opened to the public as an institution dedicated to the arts and education in 1965, and as an art museum in 1967.

That’s right. I think the house it worth seeing, just to see how our tobacco barons lived. Can you say “personal pipe organ” kids? Yes. That’s correct. Well, in addition to the former occupants’ opulence, there’s all that art. Totally worth seeing.

Old Salem – OK, I have to mention Old Salem because it’s a big part of Winston-Salem and some people (including the resident sister – let’s call her “K”) love historic villages. The Other Sister, “J”, and I can’t believe it. J said, “Haven’t we seen every oldest house, library, civil and revolutionary war battle field, whatever in the US?!” I could add dusty county registrar’s offices too. How else did you look up the family tree before the Internet?

Yes my dears, those were our family vacations. Well apparently one of us did not regard them as the total rip-off they were. One of us became a total nerrrrrrrd. Might I add, K likes road trips too?!! Maybe she’s a changeling…


Now, all that said. Go check it out. There is something for everyone there, including a toy museum, which is fun for the kiddies and adults alike. I’m telling you, there were some creepy looking toys back in the day. I’m also partial to the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. Enter your own Velvet Elvis joke here. Got that out of your system? Good. I admit I had plenty of fun with that myself, but there are so many really cool things there, you’ll stop looking for John Wayne clocks -with burnt edges - and really start digging it. I imagine once you see Winchester , the smiling ceramic lion, you’ll fall in love. Don’t worry; there are soft, stuffed Winchesters to take home available in the gift shop. And, if you’ve never been to one of these historic villages, you will stand around with your mouth hanging open wondering how a family of 11 could live in a house the size of your bedroom or your living room, at the largest.

Downtown - I mentioned the Marriott was downtown, right? Even if you're not staying there, you will want to come down, park, and walk around. There are shops, galleries, food (K recommends the Mellow Mushroom) and pretty much everything else you'd want from a little walk around a nice little city - including old architecture and a farmer's market.

Drive Around - Winston-Salem is a much older city than Denton, and it shows in the beautiful and diverse architecture. Check it out.

Where to eat
6th & Vine – I like to think of this downtown restaurant as a smaller, less pricey Hannah’s. The food is that good, the wine list that extensive, and there’s even original art on the walls. Did I mention, it’s even in walking distance from the Marriott? Oh, and Sundays? Half price wine. Yeah. This go around we met up for Sunday brunch, and I can tell you the Crabcake Benedict is not to be missed.

The Old Fourth Street Filling Station – Not cheap, but not budget busting for two on vacation and so lovely, especially if you can sit outside. I got the Small Bites special (3 for $19) and was not the least bit disappointed (or hungry). I honestly can’t remember what the rest of our party had, but I DO recall they were all pleased. Plus, it's always cheaper at lunch...

West End Café - Oh this is the perfect place for lunch. With daily soup, sandwich, and dessert specials on top of their already extensive, homemade menu, you will find something you want to eat. And, it’s one of those places that work whether it’s hot or cold outside. Oh! And if you have to wait a few (and you might) you’ll want to be outside, so you can observe the koi pond.

Simplyummy – The out-of-towners gave our hostess and host a break, and met up here for breakfast one day. Oh man, am I glad we did! Located in the tiny, former blacksmith’s shop at Reynolda Village, they had an extensive, delicious, and cheap breakfast menu. I’m talking 3 eggs with your choice of bacon, sausage, or turkey sausage, toast, and fruit or grits for $6. Yeah. $6. (Next time, I’ll get the fruit; the grits were bland.) Of course, because I’m used to getting everything (and exactly what) I want when I eat out (have been since I was a kid), I also had a latte (luke warm) and the NYC cheese biscuit with cream cheese (not to be missed).

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – Have you noticed how wood fired pizzas are all the rage now? I for one am quite pleased about this, and was very happy when K suggested we grab dinner here one night. Not only do they have an extensive beer list, they offer beer flights! Aside - I LOVE flights. Beer, wine, sake, champagne, tapas, whatever it is, if I get to sample many things vs. one, I’m so very satisfied. And, their pizzas were incredible. I really enjoyed K’s grilled vegetable pizza. When does that ever happen? I don’t know what they did to those vegetables, but even I was digging the broccoli (ack) and green peppers (ick). In fact, I think I’ll order the veggie next time around - it was the best one on the table!

In closing, I will say that this is obviously a small fraction of what you can enjoy in Winston-Salem, and doesn't even touch the surrounding areas. However, I can guarantee, you can have some fun if you find yourself over that way. And, if you've been and want to mention what you enjoyed there, I'd love to hear from you.


Anonymous said...

My door is always open for Dentonites! After these fab descriptions, I'm sure you all will want to come visit!

Anonymous said...

oh, and Old Salem rules!

Maxine from Texas said...

ooohhh, I have many memories hanging out at the county registrar's office in my youth. Did you guys hang out at cemetaries making rubbings, too? I did. And I did actually enjoy it :) I'm on my way, K!

All that food sounds yummy! Glad you got to go visit for the holidays.

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista said...

Cemetary rubbings?! CERTAINLY NOT! I would have had nightmares for weeks. Now, of course, I think that's cool. Very little beats an old grave yard.

p.u.r.e said...

Nice write up!

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista said...

This has turned out to be a surprisingly popular post, and I'm glad. Winston-Salem is a surprisingly awesome little city. (And, at population 200K, it's about twice the size of Denton.)Check it out. You can wine, dine, and sleep cheap.