I got a little behind. Then a little more behind. Then a lot behind. So much so that the thought of trying to get caught up was kind of daunting.
It’s certainly not because I haven’t been eating great stuff. Far from it.
So I came up with two ideas to remedy the situation: A one-time systematic catch-up post, and a heartfelt pledge to not ever get so far behind again.
Lots to tell, so here’s how I’m going to tell it:
- Show a photo.
- Explain where/when/how/why I ate it.
- Describe — concisely — what was so good about it.
I’ll wax more eloquently in future. (Not sure whether that’s good or bad, from your perspective.)
Explain: Standout salad at a Panzanella farm dinner featuring Chapel Hill Creamery products.
Describe: Peppery baby arugula and fresh figs, two all-time favorite ingredients. The buttery, brie-like Carolina Moon cheese lent a buttery richness, and candied walnuts a nice crunch. A perfect, fresh Indian-summer starter that, for me, eclipsed the main dish.
Explain: Lunch at downtown Raleigh’s new Zinda restaurant, a slick, shiny-chic “new Asian” spot. Lots of buddhas (including a waterfall of golden buddhas spilling down a tall red wall) and color-changing lights. (Admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea, ambience-wise.) Exciting, creative, and artistically presented food to match.
Describe: Two starters comprised my lunch. First, a colorful-but-plain salad elevated to something more thanks to two ingredients: salty, crisp-fried wafers of taro and a pear-ginger dressing. Then samosas — nicely fried with a typical, satisfying filling. Jewel-bright chutneys were what made this one special: cilantro and — in particular — cranberry mint.
Explain: A hearty fall meal eaten with friends in the Virginia mountains after biking 34 miles — Giada’s Pasta Ponza, crusty bread and salad with a simple lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette.
Describe: Give the pasta dish a try — it’s simple, cheap, colorful and very tasty. Perfect now that the weather’s cooled.
Explain: I needed a beverage idea for a chilly morning football tailgate party. Smitten Kitchen’s bourbon-spiked milk punch recipe to the rescue.
Describe: Yes, it’s semi-frozen, which seems less than ideal for cold weather imbibing. But the high alcohol content warms you right up. I chose this recipe over others because Deb did the over-analyzing for me, and it uses bourbon and forgoes brandy. It’s like eggnog, only better — trust me on this. (And it’s way easier to make than real eggnog. And less rich and sinful. Kind of.)
Explain: A Matador sandwich from the American Meltdown food truck at this year’s Cooke Street Carnival. This mobile eatery features a variety of gourmet melts that makes choosing just one difficult.
Describe: I picked the Matador that day because of its simple and few — yet high-quality and flavorful — ingredients: Manchego cheese and Romesco sauce on sourdough. Oh, and it was pretty, too, don’t you think?
Explain: 2 starters = 1 lunch at Machupicchu Peruvian restaurant. (You can probably tell I have a tendency toward multiple starters.) The menu is huge and it’s not easy to narrow down choices. So I picked the Tamalito Verde and the Solterito Arequipeno salad instead of a main course.
Describe: The tamale was a pretty green color, thanks to the cilantro blended in with the masa. It was stuffed with cheese instead of meat — a bonus for me. The salad was the Peruvian equivalent of a chopped salad, bright and delicious with lima beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, cheese, parsley and cilantro all tossed in a light vinaigrette.
Explain: Tea sipped with Erin in Asheville’s atmospheric Dobra Tea shop.
Describe: Dobra is one of the coolest tea shops I’ve frequented. Plenty of them offer a variety of teas, but Dobra’s are all served in special pots with particular cups, and are beautifully presented on stylish trays. The tea-makers are in an open area off to the side and it’s fun to watch them work their skills. Erin had a very sweet hot mint tea, and I drank Memories of Prague, a black tea with bitter chocolate served with a tiny pitcher of hot milk.
Explain: When Erin and I strolled through Asheville’s Jewish heritage festival it was tough to decide which goodies to eat. Had we not indulged in a big brunch several hours earlier I’m sure we would have tried more than two items.
Describe: The latkes were different than most I’ve had — the potatoes seem to have been almost mashed before forming into patties and frying, as opposed to grated. The texture was unexpected but the taste familiar. The cheese-filled blintzes served with sour cream and gooey blueberry jam were heavenly. Especially eaten on a cold, sunny mountain day.
Explain: Every time I eat at Chapel Hill’s Sandwich I try something different. The plethora of unusual offerings and rotating specials make it easy.
Describe: The Keema Naan (minus the chicken) consisted of warm, pillowy naan folded around chickpeas, curried eggplant, basmati rice, raita and spices. According to the menu, the ingredients are “snuggled-up” inside the bread — an apt description. Indian comfort food.
Explain: Brand-new BurgerFi’s veggie offering is pretty good — but since Chuck’s is still my favorite I won’t go there. The fries, however, deserve a mention.
Describe: I’m not a huge french fry lover. Thin, slightly crispy Belgian frites with mayo or aioli for dipping, sure. Or German fries in curry ketchup. Um-hum. Well, BurgerFi’s are right up in that same elevated category. I can’t really put my finger on why they’re so delicious. They’re not that thin (but not thick, either). And I’ve had them twice now with just ketchup for dipping (even though you can order them topped with all sorts of fun things). You’ll just have to take my word for it and try some. And throw in a few h-u-g-e onion rings while you’re at it.
Explain: Regular readers of this blog already know how much I love Jubala Village’s Liege waffles. My go-to is the chocolate chip-banana, but once in a while I’ll branch out and order one of the seasonal specials.
Describe: A work of art! And it tasted as yummy as it looks. This seasonal was drizzled with honey and then adorned pinwheel-style with thin slices of pear.
That’s it — and that’s enough! — for now. The next post will be shorter and sooner. Promise.