Sunday, February 5, 2012

Piedmont in downtown Durham

We had another nice meal at Piedmont last week with friends.

Everyone loved their entrees and also the price, since Piedmont participated in Triangle Restaurant Week. The included desert was beneigts(can't spell that) and they were good. But the chocolate cake that a friend ordered instead really was fantastic.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taste Carolina Tour of Durham,NC

Yesterday I went on the Taste Carolina Tour of Durham, NC from 2 - 5pm EST. We visited these eateries:

1 - Toast
2 - Parker and Otis
3 - LocoPops
4 - Piedmont
5 - Rue Cler
6 - Tyler's Taproom

We also sampled cupcakes from and ended the day tasting popcorn samples from The tour guides were Joe, a co-founder and Jenn, a tour guide. Both were very friendly. Joe was really impressive in his knowledge of downtown Durham's businesses, architecture and restaurants. He was charismatic and really made me feel that he cares about Durham and about sharing his passion for the city with those of us on the tour. Before the tour, I had spoken with the other co-founder, Leslie, who was very helpful addressing my concerns about logistics and all the walking.

And now to the fun part!! A little about each place we visited:

Toast -- Modeled after a high-end Italian eatery, Toast has bright colored walls and a tasty menu. We sampled a soup and a crosstini with tomatoes and mozzeralla. I didn't sample the soup, but heard it was delicious. The crostini was fantastic. There was also plenty of seating outside which was nice.

Parker & Otis -- I have been there several times for delicious lunches and was glad to find that it was on the tour. We sampled a home-made pimento cheese sandwich and got to meet with the owner Jennigs as well. I am always impressed with their offerings of goodies -- everything from candy, to tea, to coffee to wine. Plus, they have a lovely outdoor patio that just makes me want to hang out there for hours. The owner was so friendly and spoke with us with pride in her voice about her business and how she really supports local vendors, doing her best to source only foods from local farmers.

Locopops -- We didn't walk all the way from downtown to their location at 2600 Hillsborough Road, which concerned me because that would have been a hike on foot. We met with the owner in the heart of downtown next to her facility where she makes most of her "locopops". She gave us samples of a brand new flavor -- Duck Rabbit Beer with chocolate which was delicious. She also had an interesting story about quitting a corporate day job, then discovering these popsicles on a trip to Mexico and then studying how to make them in Mexico for a whole year. It was a fun and inspiring story of entrepreneurship.

Piedmont -- If you've ever glanced at this blog, you'll know that this is my #1 favorite restaurant in the Triangle area. Every time I have been there, the selection of entrees is new and exciting and always fantastic. Even my father would agree, and he's not easy to please (aka: a foodie from New York City). He was also on the tour with us and the smile on his face when he sampled the home-made flat noodles with vegetables and shredded pork said it all. I sampled the vegetarian option which was light and wonderful. I'm running out of ways to say "delicious". My friend Ashley commented that Piedmont was her favorite on the tour. The owner was very gracious and caring. When my father asked to purchase a fresh loaf of French bread, the owner insisted that he take it for free; now that's great business savy.

Rue Cler -- The owner was extremely inviting to us and set up the bar area with place settings for everyone on our tour. Rue Cler and Piedmont seemed the most prepared for our visit. Each setting had a glass of white wine and a frieze salad with a shallot vinagrette and candied pecans. My father was tired from all the walking, so he took at pause at the Marriott. One of the tour founders, Leslie, insisted that we box up the salad to go so that my father could sample it too. I thought that that was very thoughtful.

Tyler's Taproom -- This was the only place where we sampled drinks and not food. Well, sampled is a relative term. Usually sampled means more than one, especially when it comes to beer. Instead, the lady who worked there gave us each 1 small glass of beer which was very hoppy and bitter. To my surprise, when my father said that it tasted like "mouth wash" the lady simply shrugged and said that smaller shot glass samples were available at the bar. My suggestion is that if they keep Tyler's on the tour, that they offer 3 glasses of 3 different beers, and keep that hoppy Indian Pale Ale only as 1 option, or remove it entirely.

Overall, it was a really fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon and even the Carolina skies were bright blue and sunny, except for a brief rain storm at the end. I'd really recommend these tours to local foodies, especially if they out of town guests visiting them. I plan to take the Chapel Hill/Carroboro tour soon and then the Raleigh tour.

Please let me know your thoughts about these places & feel free to comment if you've gone on this tour too!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dos Perros - a new eatery in downtown Durham

This past weekend I had the pleasure to enjoy my first meal at Dos Perros in downtown Durham. The restaurant was packed on a Saturday night, a good sign, especially for a once desolate downtown Durham.

The menu was quite interesting and the vegetarian options refreshing. The vegetarian options included a Chile Rellano, which can be pretty standard. But I tried one of the other two options - Tortitas de Calabaza Dulce -- Butternut squash-masa cakes with kale and hominy stew. It sounded like an odd dish, but I had to try it. It was quite tasty and the best kale I've ever had. The third vegetarian entree was the Mole Amarillo con Chochoyones --vegetables and masa dumplings simmered in a rich sauce of tomatillos and spices. I'd like to try that another time. My friends all ordered various sea food dishes and were quite pleased as well.

We only tested on appetizer, the cactus, which was very tasty. We did, however, each sample one of their margaritas. I ordered the Skinny and another friend ordered the "1967 Cadillac". The "Skinny Dip" has Cointreau in it, so I thought I'd like it, but it was a tad too dry for my taste. I preferred the Cadillac which has some Gran Marnier in it. Luck would have it that my friend preferred my drink, so we switched.

For desert, I tried the Mexican chocolate ice cream with orange zest. It was yummy.

I hope to go to Dos Perros soon. Also, as a dog lover, I'm fond of the name of the restaurant, which means "two dogs" and appreciated the walls covered in framed photos of dogs and dog cartoons at the back of the restaurant.

Overall, I was very impressed. The restaurant is on a nice corner location and the decor is elegant and modern. The service was also excellent. This might be one of my favorite restaurants in Durham, next to my all time favorite, Piedmont!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Delicious dining at my sister's house

Staying with my sister & her husband is like visiting a gourmet restaurant - EVERYTHING tastes good.

Treats that they served up included, but not limited to:

Grilled eggplant - This is my #1 favorite vegetable and #1 favorite grilled vegetable. Oktavijan showed me just how to prepare it. To my surprise, it was much easier than I had done. Here are the simple and easy steps:

1. Peel the eggplant. This prevents bitterness.
2. Slice lengthwise roughly into just a few large thick pieces.
3. SKIP drying & salting - he said that this is unnecessary, time-consuming and messy.
4. Place them on the grill and drizzle some olive oil.
5. Cover & check on. Estimate time on grill is about 20 minutes, depending on heat. I think the temp was about 450.

Perfectly grilled quarter pound hamburgers with Vidalia onions (not just any onion) ketchup and lettuce. It was one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever eaten. I’m not sure of the secret, but I think it has to do with cooking them to “medium” and not to “well done” to retain the moisture. While enjoying our hamburger, we all relived the scene in the movie, “The Pink Panther” in which Steve Martin’s character is trying to learn how to say, “I want a hambuger” but instead keeps saying, “ I want a DAMburger.” My little niece did almost the entire scene. It was funny.

Sorbet from a gourmet store in NYC. They found it at a local boutique grocery store. I tried the strawberry and chocolate flavors - very yummy. The strawberry was, in fact, so popular in the house that Oktajivan resorted to sanctioning out small allotted portions per person. Therefore, I had to try the chocolate instead of strawberry. My sister kindly gave me her “allotted strawberry gelato” for the day.

Pesto flatbread Mozzeralla Pizza - this they made from scratch, using fresh crushed basil for the pesto sause, fresh Mozzerella and a sprinkle of pine nuts. They put the square delectable creation on the grill and it was delicioso!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Peak City Grill, Apex, NC

Peak City is known for its great food, which is why I brought my parents there. I didn't know that Sundays at lunchtime there is a buffet. At first, I was unhappy about this as I worried that it was only breakfast food. But, I was pleased that they had an array of offerings including beef medallions, barbeque chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans as well as an omlette station with the best hashbrowns (baked with cheese) that I've ever had. My father was smiling the entire time he was savoring his lunch. And the deserts - esp the chocolate mousse that was sugar free - was delicious. The staff was very friendly too. Most options, save the chicken and soup were gluten-free too.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Shopping, not eating.But still important

Okay, this posting isn't about food, it's about shopping, something I don't usually write about. But, this new store in downtown Durham, called Vert&Vogue is just super cool.

It just happens, that I had eaten at 1 of the restaurants in Brightleaf Square and decided to just take a stroll. I was delighted to find this new gem of a store.

First of all, they have very fashionable items, especially shoes, that you won't find anywhere else. Secondly, all the materials are good quality and vegan! So, if fashion and vegetarianism are important to you, you have to stop by.

Only down side is that is a tad pricey. I did find some very nice soft cotton t-shirts for just $10, which was very reasonable. The service there is also excellent.

PF Changs - great GF menu

I usually don't like "chain restaurants", but since I've been gluten free, I appreciate that PF Chang's has a gluten free menu & it offers a broad selection. I think it's very thoughtful of them to do so! Plus, it's really yummy.

Actually, the other day, I was craving Moe's, but their entire list of offerings has gluten in it. I was also surprised that even their meats have soy added to them. Perhaps it's just soy oil and not actual soy.