Tag Archives: Relevant Eats

The Cookie People, The Carrot Cake Lady, & La Farm Bakery via Raleigh Farmers Market

3 Aug

It’s a given that one will find an abundance of produce at the Farmers Market, but have you paid attention to the vendor area where all the carbs sit? Even if my arms are full with fruits & vegetables, I can’t resist stocking up on the breads and sweets that local bakers are offering there. Sure you can find these products at your nearby Whole Foods/Fresh Market, but its ‘all the rave’ to be shopping locally & why miss out on these deliciousnesses.

The Cookie People:
These folks are the definition of small business – marital couple churning out a magnificent product from their home kitchen… These cookies are worthy of conveyor belt production, or at least local market distribution. I tried 8 varieties: Chocolate Chip, Triple Chocolate, Oatmeal Golden Raisin, Molasses Crinkle, Peanut Butter, Sugar Cookie, Mexican Chocolate, & Lemonade.
Each was fantastically perfect in moisture & flavor.
My suggestions is to up your marketing & distribution, Cookie People: sesame st. logo, website, product packaging, etc. The cookies are so moist they crumbled in the paper bag & the logo/site are elementary — but then again, who is a cookie’s target consumer: the same folks watching sesame street : ) Load up on your next farmer’s market trip.

thecookiepeople.net
The Cookie People on Urbanspoon
The Carrot Cake Lady:
If you’re dubbing yourself THE carrot cake lady, its an assumption you’ve mastered this spiced confection. Safe bet: She has, and you’ve got options: mini cakes, large cakes, cupcakes (with, without nuts) — The Carrot Cake Lady is distributed throughout the triangle (Cary, Chapel Hill, Raleigh) & also has an order form online.

carrotcakelady.com

La Farm Bakery:
Fancy, fancy bread – locally baked. You can find LFB products at the Farmers Market, as well as at their store in Cary, NC.

larfarmbakery.com

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The Remedy Diner

20 Jun


pic:hellometro.com

The combination of the 2011 Indy Weekly ‘Best of the Triangle’ and Triangle Restaurant Week has provided a ‘for the people, by the people’ directory of restaurants deemed relevant to try. I recently visited The Remedy Diner (RD), the Best of the Triangle 2011 winner for Vegetarian friendly in Wake County. RD exudes such enormous eccentricity that it’s begging to be an early 90’s movie cliché’ via Reality Bites or any other Janeane Garofalo film. The ‘way out’/anti-conformist motif, staff, and clientele really add to this interesting impression. Let’s be fair…our waitress was very engaging and menu-helpful; but be wary: the slogan of ‘curing what ales you’ is no joke; the booze is stiff and is sure to sanitize your inners.

The 2-sided menu is ~75% vegetarian, so you can bring that inflexible, carnivorous date in for a bite, while accomplishing one’s own veggie interests. To start, we had the Buffalo Non-Chicken Wings with vegan ranch. This is the most deceptive soy meat substitute I have ever eaten…it was amazing. The texture and flavor was extremely close to the real deal. The buffalo sauce was spicy (as it should be), and the vegan ranch tasted more like a dill-y yogurt sauce, but was complimentary. For entrees, we sampled the herby non-Meatball Sub (vegan “meatballs”/mozzarella/marinara). The texture was not as moist as beef, so I did have to request additional marinara to dress it up for finishing. The Under the Volcano (buffalo non-chicken, gorgonzola, veg’s on Kaiser) was also ordered. The Buffalo non-chicken appetizer is by far the best thing on the menu – so why not just get it on a sandwich. I recommend RD do more entrées with this chicken substitute. With different marinades – imagine the menu possibilities… Lastly, we gave a meat entrée a spin, the most popular, according to the waitress, being the Turkey Pesto (turkey, bacon, avocado, pesto, sourdough). You’ve got Boar’s Head, you’ve got my attention. I love their product. I think it’s very ironic that a vegetarian restaurant has such robust, flavorful bacon…it was a delicious medley (but it is bacon). Also, the majority of the menu is editable by an ingredient or two to meet vegan dietary needs without compromising the intended flavor.

All in all, RD deserves their award. As a vegetarian/vegan, you’ve got a variety of entrees ready made for your enjoyment without having to cross your fingers the staff remembered to omit the cheese or substitute this with that. As a relapsed carnivore, I was content with my overall experience. Give soy a chance, man.

theremedydiner.com
The Remedy Diner on Urbanspoon

Ain’t a cupcake.

7 Jun

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In reference to the Indy Weekly article here.
Finally got my mits on the supposed upcoming pastry trend: French Macarons (out of town). Pretty lil chews but the textures/flavors were a real letdown from what I imagined. Boo. Pass me a cupcake. Where are you finding these locally? I’m sure NC does it better 😉 -R.E.

Buku

31 May


pic:examiner.com

Upon reading the mission statement of ‘global street food’ and browsing over the menu, you’ll be ready for an exotic experience when journeying downtown to Buku. If you’re a Facebook fan like myself – you’ve also seen the daily photo postings of attractive plates and specials, successfully amplifying the anticipation to get inside. However, some may experience anxiety about the foreign or unknown, but Buku’s presentation of international favorites has a real modern, westernized feel from the posh interiors (a la waterfall walls) to the conventional proteins of chicken/beef/pork/fish. The Buku staff conveys poise in their workplace, and they should with its reputation of respectable food and atmosphere. I loved that our waitress was so self-assured in the menu – she was sincerely confident we were leaving happy, regardless of our choices –evident pride.

We started our adventure with signature cocktails, which were beyond global, actually out of this world good. The Buku Dark & Stormy (Cruzan vanilla, brandied cherry, lime, housemade ginger beer) is one of the best spiced cocktails I’ve ever had. Side story: the bartender is still brandying cherries and muddling stuff to ensure good quality just after having a baby… street credit. The habanera margarita was also a distinctive concoction, with its subtle (yet very present) heat & sweet balance. I feel props is due to Foundation Bar for upping the RDU cocktail game & Buku is a solid contender.

Food: Tip:Share: We started with Pierogis (chicken, butternut squash, brown butter) I was/am a little confused with this dish, mostly because of my own unawareness of what a pierogi is. It is featured under the dumpling menu, so naturally I assumed it was of Asian flavors. I was way off – the chicken had hints of Spanish/chipotle flavor? Today, I looked up the pierogi’s origin, which is European/Polish cuisine. I’m still left a bit perplexed about the flavors. The Buku Roll (crab, avocado, cucumber, roe, topped with spicy tuna tartar) was incredible. I know I’ve had good sushi when I think about at lunch the next day. I recommend Buku develop an appetizer featuring that excellent tuna tartar – yum. Lastly, we tried the Korean BBQ – again, a very new dish to me. I was anticipating beef with grill-marks?, and investigated today to find Korean BBQ’s presentation varies. Buku’s version was a heap of steamed, shaved sirloin. I’ll pass on kim chi (vinegary cabbage situation) and the sesame spinach was bland. Overall, this was not a hit plate for me.

All in all, Buku is foreign cuisine with training wheels for the Americana-frequenter. I found myself researching the cuisine post-dinner – which is concrete evidence of the chefs’ literal feeding of the patrons’ curiosities about foreign foods and ensuring their return for more exploration. It’s also a crowd-pleasing restaurant with a wide diversity of menu options. I actually encourage one to visit in a large group so you can better sample the entire menu (we were beyond stuffed with only three small plates).

Also, a noteworthy event is their Sunday Brunch Buffet.

bukuraleigh.com
Buku on Urbanspoon

Chef & the Farmer – Kinston, NC

16 May


pic:jeanmage.com

The character cup runneth over at Chef & the Farmer (C&F). I just can’t decide what is most extraordinary…the location? the history? or the food? They really hit it on all cylinders to bring you a truly unique culinary experience. Synopsis: NYC trained, NC local chef gets hitched, comes home, and brings the man and the swank with her. En route, you may doubt Kinston has the capacity to host such a place; however, C&F nestles quite contently in its small town package. Do not be deceived. Upon entrance, you will witness a neo-southern eatery fit for Manhattan. Let’s face it: exposed brick & abstracts will never lose their cool, and C&F smartly intermingles southern facets (i.e. twigs of cotton, doilies) with this modern décor.

I’ve had the privilege to dine at C&F twice; most significantly I chose to spend my birthday dinner here with family. Service was exceptional, ranging from the bubbly college-aged girl to the dry witted lady – both dedicatedly knowing the fine details of the menu. FYI: First-timer seating recommendation – the kitchen is exposed via a large glass window; there is a flat of elevated seating with one table positioned against the window for prime peeping into the kitchen … this is the foodie penthouse of seats- sit here!

The Food (latest visit): Traditional southern concepts with sophisticated, modern twists. Starters we have sampled include: the Butterbean Hummus – this was a cool alternative to the chickpea & all the salads are ridiculously tasty. Their pimento cheese & sausage dip is a local, as well as national favorite, with Chicago Sun Times acclaim.
The entrées included their Chicken & Dumplings, more of a plated entrée vs. a stew and was garnished with the most dainty, edible flowers (perfect dish for my mother). Triggerfish? atop a collard greens puree, this was described to be a white fish of lobster, not flaky consistency. It delivered good flavor and the promised texture; however, I doubt we’ll get this again – nor will we have the opportunity, considering the menu is constantly changing. Lastly, the Pork chop with root vegetable cake – the well-prepared chop was fit for sharing and the root vegetable cake was so inventive! (thinly sliced and layered veg’s made this baked mass of deliciousness) We finished with donuts with a lemon glaze. This was mediocre, but there were definitely better dessert options…what were we thinking?

All in all, C&F is a ‘sensory overload’ experience. Audibly: the hustle & bustle makes you excited to be there; visually: the food is beautiful; and flavor: it all tastes delicious. The commute is well worth the gas – so give Kinston a visit.

{Afterthought: when I first considered writing this review, I snooped on the internet and found C&F’s twitter page…I saw a comment from Poole’s Diner’s chef stating she’s interested in a visit… I’m confused how the James Beard folks haven’t acknowledged C&F…yet Poole’s get this enormous praise. just sayin’}

chefandthefarmer.com
Chef & The Farmer on Urbanspoon

Caffe’ Luna

10 May


pic:cafeluna.com

It’s so refreshing to arrive at a reputable Italian restaurant and admire your surroundings. I say this because it seems Italian eateries use atrocious décor to prove authenticity a la fake ivory, short ceiling columns, and elementary wall murals of landscapes. Not the case with Caffe’ Luna – after a day of shopping, my dinner mate and I were actually intimidated to enter, as we feared we were underdressed. However, we soon learned that anything goes at Caffe’ Luna (CL). There were large formal dinner parties, as well as, casual families all dining under the same roof. The dining areas are large, tenderly lit rooms divided by a wall of refined archways – the perfect stage for a rehearsal dinner or intimate dinner party (which I later found out is available). Call me crazy; however, amid these subtle elegances, I was incredibly distracted by the soda cans on the tables? It may better preserve carbonation; however; it was an eyesore in such a graceful picture.
The Food: We started with the safe options of Mozzarella Fresca: caprese-style app which was fresh and delightful & the Insalata del Pastore – Crumbled Goat Cheese with Walnuts over Mesculin Greens: generously portioned, tasty salad. These items were of well-known flavors – nothing too inventive, but delicious.
Entrees included the Fantasia di Mare (black taglierini w/ diced grouper & shrimp tomato sauté) I’m pretty novice with seafood; however, I’m confident one needs to be a descendent of Poseidon to really embrace this dish. With squid-ink pasta, fish, and shrimp…personally, I was overawed by the ‘sea-full’ flavor. The Tortelli Crostacci (lobster/crab/prawn ravioli with cream sauce) was also ordered. How can you go wrong with a lobster & cream combination? – Definitely rich and delectable. In retrospect, I wish I had ordered the pasta marinara; mountainous plates of this enticing entrée were frequently exiting the kitchen.
Lastly, we opted for dessert and sampled the Tiramisu. In regards to tiramisu, my personal preference in ingredients is the usage of espresso vs. coffee liquor. It tastes fresher, and less artificial. Regardless, we polished the dessert plate.
Caffe’ Luna is a traditional restaurant in every sense of the word, conveying a memorable experience through beautiful décor and familiar Italian flavors.
FYI: Free parking available across the street for Caffe’ Luna patrons

cafeluna.com
Caffe Luna on Urbanspoon

Capital Club 16

10 May


pic:dtraleigh.com

Impromptu visit into CC16’s early opened doors Saturday yielded a sure pleasure. CC16 is one of the most endearing establishments in downtown Raleigh – with tons of natural light and vintage decor… I felt like I was taking a rest in the sunroom of grandmother’s manor. In observance of the KY Derby, the staff was adorned in various hats and conducting charitable bets for victims of the recent tornado – only adding to the bubbly charm of this place. Hospitality comes naturally to these folks…with more than five staff members visiting our table to ensure we were content with our visit.

Looking back, I am a bit confused that I was directed to order off the chalk board menu, when CC16 has three full menus (brunch, lunch, dinner) – Perhaps I arrived during a transitional hour of sorts…but I’ll be back soon to test drive these comprehensive menus.

The Food: Pimento Cheese Spread w/ Fig Crostini… excuse me? Who thought of this … give them a hug.
We also tried some cucumber fanciness, which was basically an open-faced tea sandwich… and artfully prepared… I noticed the specificity of those pepper grains. Lastly, we carbed with Shanny Fries (cut potatoes + oil + rosemary w/triad of sauces) …CC16 can make some sophisticated spuds – eat them. For a light/bar eat, it was a success.

Menus are accessible on the CC16 website.. but for the most current info visit their Facebook page.
p.s. Late-night, I’ve passed by CC16 in transit to it’s neighbor King’s Barcade and noticed a large gathering inside – so it seems CC16 is a prime social spot as well.
capitalclub16.com

Capital Club 16 on Urbanspoon