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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ashley Christensen, Death and Taxes Lead the Triangle's James Beard Award Semifinalists

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 11:22 AM

This morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2016 James Beard Awards. Ashley Christensen leads North Carolina's copious nominees; the Raleigh chef's latest venture, Death & Taxes, is among 25 finalists for "Best New Restaurant," while Christensen herself is up for "Outstanding Chef," in which she will square off against 19 others. Christensen won JBF's Best Chef Southeast in 2014. Speaking of Best Chef Southeast, eight North Carolinians are among the finalists in this year's competition for that award: Standard Foods' Scott Crawford, Herons' Steven Devereaux Greene, Chef & the Farmer's Vivian Howard, Cucina 24's Brian Canipelli, Mateo's...

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Sweet on Sours: Dipping into sour-beer parties with Steel String, New Belgium, and Plenty More

Posted By and on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Sours might just be the new IPA. Just a few years ago, India Pale Ales were everywhere in the craft beer industry. You had your Pliny, your Hopslam, your Heady Topper, and you had hype behind all those. Now, everybody wants a sour; if you are a craft brewer and don't have one and don't have the barrels or foudre, you are at a loss. It's not that sours are new. Russian River Brewing's Supplication, New Belgium's La Folie and even The Bruery have been making sours for years. But it seems sour has finally come into its own, no longer the illegitimate stepchild in the brewhouse....

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Raleigh's New The Blind BARbour Opens Friday Night

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 5:57 PM

New Raleigh cocktail bar The Blind BARbour wants to be the place where everyone—or at least the bartender—knows your name. It's the passion project of Joey Barbour and Michelle Palacios. Barbour says the place draws inspiration from the speakeasies and watering holes of old. The name, which Barbour credits Palacios's brother for suggesting, stems in part from the Prohibition-era practice of buying a ticket at some discreet location to “see the blind pig” or “see the blind tiger” and then exchanging the ticket for a drink. (It's also a play on the name Barbour, of course.)  “I want it to be...

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Cary's Sandra Gutierrez wins international cookbook award

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 5:20 PM

The international appeal of Sandra Gutierrez's recipes has never been in doubt, but her authority as a cookbook writer has just been certified by a prestigious culinary organization. This week, Gourmand International named her Empanadas, the Hand-Held Pies of Latin America the 2016 winner in its Single Subject category (scroll down to Section E, near the bottom, to find her name). The Cary author talked with INDY recently about the book and the impact of Latin American cuisine in the Triangle. "Lisa Ekus, my agent, shared the news with me last night," Gutierrez says. "It was a total surprise for me. I had...

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Celebrate! Jubala Coffee Opens on Raleigh's Hillsborough Street Friday Morning

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 1:35 PM

This morning, I lived a little dream: I had a cup of Jubala coffee—a Finca El Puente, grown in Honduras but roasted twenty miles away at Counter Culture in Durham—on Raleigh’s Hillsborough Street. After several months of on-site woes and construction delays, the North Raleigh institution will open its second location—beneath the new Aloft hotel, opposite the latest franchise of Gonza Tacos Y Tequila—Friday morning at seven a.m. Founder and owner Andrew Cash had originally hoped to unveil the second location in October 2015, but the results, he says, will be worth the wait. “What you’re seeing in here is...

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Raleigh's Clouds Brewing will launch its own beer on St. Patrick's Day, expand to Durham in June

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2016 at 7:04 PM

Clouds are growing on the Triangle horizon, but expect downpours of new beer, not rain and snow. That's because I'm talking about Clouds Brewing, the Raleigh restaurant on the corner of Jones and West. Clouds is awaiting a few signatures on permits so that it can finally begin brewing its own beer, which you can at last expect on St. Patrick's Day. When Clouds first opened a little more than a year ago, the plan was for the brewing component of the restaurant to catch up shortly thereafter. Navigating the maze of government paperwork proved more time-consuming than expected. “There...

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Saturday at Cocoa Cinnamon's Second Soft Opening

Posted By on Sat, Feb 6, 2016 at 9:09 AM

It’s a brisk Saturday afternoon in Durham, and Cocoa Cinnamon owners Leon Grodski de Barrera and Areli Barrera de Grodski are in the last stretches of the soft opening for their new coffee shop on Hillsborough Road in Old West Durham. They’ve done this before: Three years ago, the couple opened its shop’s flagship location on the corner of Geer and Foster streets, just two miles east of the new sister space. It has thrived in the middle of the surrounding Central Park District’s reinvention as a food-bar-and-music hotbed. Now, thanks in part to a $50,100 Community Sourced Capital fundraising...

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Drink This Now (Well, Tomorrow): Crank Arm Brewing’s BMX, a Powerhouse Limited-Release Barleywine

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 4:40 PM

To my mind, there are few styles of beer more versatile than barleywine. The European-style versions are often sweet in that malt-heavy way and boozy, dark, and complex, almost approaching old ales. The American take on it, meanwhile, is traditionally more hop-centric and bitter (sort of like a better-balanced double IPA) and often paler, with subtle sweetness. See Dogfish Head’s excellent Olde School Barleywine, one of my favorites of the genre. It is decidedly into the latter category that BMX, a barrel-aged barleywine that will be released by Raleigh's Crank Arm tomorrow, falls. In fact, the beer is reminiscent of Sam Calagione’s...

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Want to Be on TV? Food Network's Restaurant: Impossible Needs Volunteers

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 3:25 PM

On the Food Network's reality show Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine surprises a failing restaurant and offers his help. With two days, $10,000, and a whole lot of elbow grease, Irvine and his crew hope to help turn these spots around. That last part is where you can come in: The show is seeking volunteers to participate in the taping of an episode this weekend in Raleigh. The identity of the establishment is under wraps, in the interest of preserving the surprise. You can read the full press release below, but the TL;DR of it is as follows: If you're...

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

In Imbibe, Chapel Hill Favorite Zog's Gets a Sister Bar and Restaurant

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 4:05 PM

Thanks to the arrival of Imbibe, Chapel Hill has a new restaurant, bar and bottle shop. The joint project of Mandey Brown and Jedd Tyler has taken over the old Rec Room space below local fave Zog's, which Brown also owns. “I've been saying for a while that if the space ever opened up, I wanted to take it over,” Brown says.  Imbibe officially opened last Friday, January 29, offering an array of taps of beer, cider, wine, and nitro-tapped cold coffee. A bottle shop component sells beer and wine, too. If you're the impatient type, you can take whatever...

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Try This Beer: Dogfish Head's Surprisingly Strong Immort

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 11:15 AM

Yesterday, Facebook informed me that a pal was “interested” in attending a tapping of Dogfish Head's Immort Ale at Raleigh's Tasty Beverage Co. I hadn't seen him in a couple of months, so swinging by seemed like a good idea. He never showed, but I barely noticed—sipping Immort was the real reason I came. Immort is part of Dogfish's occasional rarities collection. While the beer isn't impossible to find, it isn't a constant presence on any shelf, either. To wit, Tasty said Immort was “returning to shelves for the first time since 2014." There's maple syrup involved, too, so there's...

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Five Durham Breweries Collaborate to Help Habitat for Humanity Build a Home

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 6:07 PM

One notable trait of the Triangle craft-brewing community is how often its members pitch in to help one another out. Turns out, they don't limit their generosity to the beer community, as a new collaboration between several Durham brewers and Habitat for Humanity demonstrates. Each year, Bull City Burger and Brewery presents an Oktoberfest celebration to support Durham's Habitat for Humanity. Habitat generally considers $50,000 the threshold for building and setting up a house, according to BCBB's Seth Gross. Those Oktoberfest proceeds help, but “that's a long time to wait to build a house,” Gross explains. “So I approached some...

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Triangle Restaurant Week, Night Seven: Underwhelmed in high style at Mura

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 7:13 PM

Sushi in the Triangle has come a long way during the past decade. Gone are the days when our only exposure to Japanese cuisine was through flavorless California rolls and fake crab-meat hibachi. As more and more Triangle restaurants specialize in ever-fresher and inventive Japanese cooking, expectations in quality have risen tremendously. And through endless exposure to food and travel documentaries and reality shows, customers at least have an idea of long-standing traditions in their cuisines of choice. They seek ever-deeper, ever-tastier cultural experiences. It’s a rewarding rabbit hole. Or so I thought. For Triangle Restaurant Week, I decided to...

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Triangle Restaurant Week, Night Six: Not a lot to love at Nazara

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 6:35 PM

Sleek and modern seem to be two words rarely used in describing the many Indian restaurants dotting Cary and Morrisville. Despite its generic strip mall location, though, Nazara Indian Bistro is just that. Deep blue walls and white leather booths and chairs glow beneath hanging pendants. Ambient house music plays overhead as waiters in black saunter about. Indeed, all was calm, cool and collected in the packed, fairly new eatery owned and operated by friends Mangal Singh and Shatman “Sunny” Singh, who have 30 years in the restaurant business between them. Sunny managed Raleigh’s popular Indian restaurant Azitra for a decade....

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Triangle Restaurant Week, Night Five: Smitten with 18 Seaboard

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 6:10 PM

I kind of have a crush on 18 Seaboard. On our first date, this iconic Raleigh restaurant did everything right. And for Triangle Restaurant Week, an event that can be fraught with negatives like boring choices and uninspired food, the joint nailed it again. Located on the outskirts of downtown in the ever-busy Seaboard Station, this restaurant always appears to be bustling, and the same held true for Restaurant Week's Friday night, of course. All three of my hot “dates” came down with the flu, so I was flying solo. I was the only lone soul in the dim, romantic, completely packed...

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Here are three loving ways to help Durham's Urban Ministries in February

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2016 at 9:57 AM

Here comes February, which means Valentine's Day, which means you're likely to be wracking your brain for something to get your sweetie in just a couple of weeks. On top of that, you may be annoyed and put off by the crass Hallmark commercialism of Valentine's Day in the first place. Grrrrr. We're here to help. Bryan Gilmer, director of marketing & development at Urban Ministries of Durham, has  a great suggestion for you that will delight your loved one, and help some folks who really need it. It's the No. 2 item here on a list of three ways you...

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Triangle Restaurant Week, Night Four: Foul fowl—and then redemption—at Raleigh's Faire

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 5:42 PM

When I asked a friend if she wanted to join me for dinner at Faire, a steak-and-seafood restaurant in Cameron Village, her dismissive response was, “Oh, you mean that place where everybody’s parents like to go?” I took her quip to mean she believed the surf-and-turf restaurant concept to be an out-of-date one, appealing to the same folks who shop only at The Fresh Market—an outdated culinary shibboleth, geared towards the moneyed, traditional Raleigh set. “Yes," I shot back, “but this place claims it runs from ‘traditional to trendy,’ so you’re coming with me.” She agreed, albeit with a raised...

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Triangle Restaurant Week, Night Three: Local fondue? Who knew?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 2:56 PM

Weary from a food culture that can take itself entirely too seriously, I opted for kitsch and whimsy for my third night of Triangle Restaurant Week. I wanted yummy fare and good fun, and The Little Dipper—a fondue restaurant that opened in 2013 in Durham’s Brightleaf Square—fulfilled that dream last night. There are worse ways to spend a chilly January evening than lingering over warm bubbling pots of cheese, peanut oil and chocolate with friends, right? I'm not saying there's no place for taste trendsetting in fondue, either. In fact, The Little Dipper moves fondue away from the traditional cholesterol-heavy cheese...

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Triangle Restaurant Week, Night Two: The superficial spoils of Babylon

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 3:06 PM

After surviving the first ice storm of 2016, I felt the need for a brief respite from the short winter slog. So for night two of Triangle Restaurant Week, I chose Babylon, an upscale Moroccan restaurant on the edge of downtown Raleigh. Exotic, right?   In 2011, workers renovated this century-old yarn mill, painstakingly transforming it to reflect the sultry opulence of ancient Mesoptamia. The owner, Samad Hachby, a Glenwood South force who opened Mosaic Wine Lounge in 2006, visited his home country of Morocco several times to hand pick the elements for the restaurant’s interior design. The spot touts its expansive...

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Alternative lender Merchant Cash USA names Raleigh as America's top food-truck spot. LOL.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 9:54 AM

Merchant Cash USA—an alternative lender with 1,234 Facebook "likes" as of this morning and, as best I can  tell, no credentials in the food-and-beverage industry at all—has named Raleigh, North Carolina, as the top spot for food trucks in America, just ahead of Portland, San Antonio, Washington, D.C. and, well, everywhere else in the country. The list is getting some media attention, too, with Time Warner Cable News even airing a segment about it.  Slow clap, everyone. While the Triangle's food-truck scene has certainly exploded in recent years, and while Raleigh's downtown food truck rodeos are crowded enough to look like...

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Triangle Restaurant Week, Night One: Making the most of Mez

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 4:26 PM

I must confess: I have avoided Triangle Restaurant Week since I first heard of it several years ago. To me, the entire affair smacked of an amateur-hour prix fixe circuit, appealing to those who might visit a new or expensive restaurant only for Thanksgiving or Valentine's Day. Like New Year's Eve and Halloween, it's a time for infrequent revelers, not discerning imbibers.  But this week, I decided to approach the event with a different, refreshed attitude. With almost 100 restaurants participating across the Triangle, I have the opportunity to explore restaurants I've been meaning to try or that weren't even...

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Talking Triangle Restaurant Week, which starts Monday, with Kelly Stewart

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 6:02 PM

For more than a decade, Triangle Restaurant Week has aimed to give area eaters access to a plethora of local restaurants for a reasonable prix fixe rate. For the ninth anniversary, which begins today and runs through Sunday, a record-setting 97 eateries are set to participate, with hopes of passing the 100 mark next year. I spoke with Kelly Stewart of the marketing agency Triangle Blvd, the organization that produces the event, to talk about participation, return on investment and quality control for Triangle Restaurant Week.  The INDY is also sending a food writer to Triangle Restaurant Week each day, so...

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Carrboro's Southern Rail to reopen with barbecue restaurant CrossTies, The Station to remain a music venue

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 5:36 PM

At the end of December, Carrboro's Southern Rail closed hastily after many months of money troubles. Community members  mourned the loss of its Station, especially, a hub for free music and rowdy, low-frills fun. Today, Andrew Moore, owner of the nearby restaurant Venable, announced his plans for the spaces that The Station, Southern Rail and The Tiger Room all called home. Moore's new establishment will be the barbecue-focused CrossTies. (A train joke!) Moore, who owns both Venable and B-Side Lounge in Carr Mill Mall, says a lack of Carrboro barbecue and the space's history inspired the new direction. "We saw a need,"...

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Poole's Diner named in Eater's National Top 38 restaurant list

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 1:58 PM

Poole's Diner has joined another elite cast: Esteemed critic Bill Addison named chef Ashley Christensen's Raleigh flagship to Eater's second-ever National Top 38 restaurant list. It is the only North Carolina restaurant to earn the honor, which aspires to answer the question that drives Addison's work: "'What is essential dining?" "Poole's is one of the South's great modern restaurants," Addison told the INDY. "The restaurant's macaroni au gratin may be its most famous dish (every time I'm there I spot people ordering only it for dinner), but beyond that decadent icon, the menu revolves with the seasons in precise, always-appealing ways." Christensen...

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Picking up the Picnic: On the road with Wyatt Dickson, as he buys the cookers for his new barbecue joint

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 9:04 AM

Barbecue man Wyatt Dickson stands in an aisle at Tractor Supply in Hillsborough. He’s searching for the right pintle hitch so that he can haul a 12,000-pound trailer to Elm City, a little hamlet outside of Wilson. There, he will retrieve the two 2,500-pound BBQ smokers of which he’s dreamed. His highly anticipated new Durham barbecue joint, Picnic, opens at the beginning of February, and it's time to install the centerpieces. First, he has to get them. Today, Dickson is behind schedule and not even sure the store has the hitch—the first small snafu of the day's many. “Turkey nuts!”...

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