Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A quick trip to all of our favorites

We have been on a tear. Tearing up the landscape trying to hit all of our faves in just a couple of weeks.
  • Vin Rouge for lunch a few weeks ago, seared rare tuna salad nicoise, actually very good!;
  • Neomonde for lunch a couple of weeks ago, chicken shawarma! yum!; 
  • Two Guys for lunch the other day, plate of spaghetti with meat sauce and tea, gooood; 
  • Spice Street in Durham Sunday night, PERFECTLY grilled salmon; 
  • Fosters last night, steak tacos and fresh arugula salad, amazing; 
  • and the piece de resistance, tomorrow night Cafe Parizade!
Just thought I'd let you know what we're up to these days...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pop's is Tops in Durham

After a long week of work travel, my wife said as she was being picked up at RDU, "Let's go to Durham for dinner!" OK! But where? Daughter prefers something middle of the road, with a vegetarian option. Hmmm. As we drove closer to Brightleaf Square it became obvious we needed to revisit an old chow down, Pop's.

Turns out Pop's isn't where it used to be, in the Brightleaf complex. They moved a few months back, across Duke Street into the trendy Liggett and Myers buildings. Parking was always a hassle at the old place, not so now. Wheelchair access was a hassle, too, as one had to traverse a long walkway just to get in the door. In the new location, even though the restaurant is up one flight of stairs, a very convenient wheelchair elevator awaits inside the main door. Bravo!

Bravo! to the food as well! After sharing a salad of field greens and goat cheese with a light creamy balsamic drizzle, we ordered the giant scallops. The vegetarian in our happy trio was delighted to find a vegetarian lasagne as one of the specials. It did not disappoint, as at other places serve light on the veggies and heavy on the sauce. This was a delightful middle ground with fresh sauce, noodles and veggies singing a delicious harmony.

Now the scallops. You know when you bite into a scallop and edges are slightly crisp and the middle just tender, your mouth sends a delicious! signal and your body responds by going all gooey and a sneaky smile lightens your face? Well these are the scallops to do just that. Served with a perfectly seasoned potato gnocchi, roasted local eggplants, mushrooms and caramelized onion broth side, this is a regular-menu item worth the time you take savoring the flavor.

Of course, great "puts-hair-on-your-chest" coffee and a fresh warm peach crisp with a dollop of vanilla gelato are also worth savoring. Overall, Pop's made the right move when it crossed the street. Now it's your turn to make the right move.

Pop's: A Durham Trattoria - 605 West Main Street, Durham, NC 919.956.7677

Friday, July 23, 2010

Neomonde is consistently good!

Went to Neomonde in Morrisville last night for a bite of dinner. Neo is my personal favorite go-to place for great Middle Eastern cuisine. I had chicken shawarma, a whole wheat pita pocket filled with yummy marinated, chopped, grilled chicken, with their authentic garlic paste and small-chop grilled onion. Topped with ripe tomato, pickled okra, and a delicious lemon-tahini sauce, it was a fun rollercoaster ride for the tastebuds. Yum! Highly recommend Neomonde, with locations in Raleigh and Morrisville.   http://neomonde.com/home/index.aspx

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer, food and those who are in need

Hi folks, this is a great time of year: time to relax, time to vacate, time to enjoy good food and all of natures bounty.

As our tables are flush with all the edible goodness we want, please don't forget those who truly don't have all they need. Please join me in making a donation to a food charity this summer.

My food charities of choice are Meals On Wheels of Wake County  http://www.wakemow.org  and the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, http://www.foodshuttle.org. Please donate generously if you are able, you will help a worthwhile cause and help someone in need enjoy a summer of good food!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Planes, trains and automobiles (and ships) and salmon!

Just came back from a 7-day Alaskan cruise last week to Ketchican, Juneau and Skagway. We sailed on Celebrity Infinity out of Seattle, which had just been 'repositioned' to this cruise for the summer, which means it was taken off a previous route. The staff had some newbies, and it showed. Celebrity is supposed to he Royal Caribbean's upscale line, but between the age of the ship and the spotty service I'd rather go back to the big Royal Caribbean ships. The food was OK, nothing spectacular, which is what you can say about RCL's bigger ships.

The memorable highlight was our pre-boarding dinner at Anthony's at Pier 66 in Seattle, conveniently located right next to the cruise dock. We had the Copper River King salmon. Copper River salmon is REALLY good and here they know how to prepare it: Keep it Simple. So good. Mmmmmmm. I can still taste it's delicate sweet salmon flavor.

If you get to enjoy some salmon, make sure it's Copper River from Alaska, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

NoFo SloFo

Remember Piggly Wiggly? If you do you're showing your age. If you don't, you missed out, sorry. Back in the day, Piggly Wiggly was THE neighborhood grocery. Especially in the Five Points area of Raleigh.

A few years ago that PW was closed and turned into NoFo at the Pig, a neat store upstairs and restaurant and bar downstairs. I've been on many occasions and holidays, always looking forward to a great meal.

On a recent visit celebrating having both girls, Hayley and Hannah, home for Mother's day weekend I was reminded that NoFo has been sliding down a slippery slope for a few years. My wife and had the special, a blue crab-stuffed flounder filet with lightly sauteed asparagus and wafer thin sliced onion-topped rice, all atop a delicious lemon cream sauce base. The flounder was overdone, which overshadowed the sweet chunks of blue crab nestled inside. The asparagus was perfectly done and the lemon cream sauce was a great complementary base.

Dessert is a slam-dunk here. Sticky toffee pudding. That's all I'll say. Try it, you won't regret it. We order it every time.

The service was a bit slow, good thing we weren't in a hurry. Our waiter was new but very competent, and I noticed the other tables were slow to have their food delivered. Must have been a slow night in the kitchen. But that was the excuse we used on our last visit, too.

If you go and have a hankering for shrimp and grits, Crooks Corner style, they put on an excellent rendering of Bill Neal's shrimp and grits.

And now a word about their accessibility. I use a wheelchair and when possible I report on an establishment's facilities and ease of use. They have very accessible bathrooms, good placement of  grab bars, sinks, soap dispensers and paper towel holder.

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Wolf in Rams Territory

Being a Wolfpack fan isn't always easy (psst, we got CJ) Basketball season is over. Football season is six months away. But when some of my favorite restaurants are in Chapel Hill, I put rivalry aside and focus on the food. Except at Town Hall Grill in Southern Village. There's enough Carolina blue jerseys and other paraphernalia on the walls to make the hairs stand up on the back of the neck of any self-respecting Packbacker.

This evening we met friends there and had a great time talking, dining and watching the sunset on the outdoor patio.

As always, the food was excellent. This is an establishment, like others I have reviewed, where we have never had a bad meal. Tonight we had onion strings appetizer, thinly slice quick fried strings of delicate "OHN-YON"-as my favorite cajun chef Justin Wilson would say. This was followed with lightly breaded fish and chips (we substituted delicious grilled asparagus). Ask for the remoulade sauce, delicious! Add a couple of glasses of wine and the evening was complete. Only problem was they don't have my favorite chardonnay - Sonoma Cutrer any more, boo!

As we drove away, my stomach was very happy - and my neck hairs finally relaxed.