The colors of spring

Includes: Iris, Raleigh, NC, and several recipe links   

It’s been a delightful few days, filled with bright spring colors and fresh foods … but also been days jam-packed with other activities. So prepare to enjoy just a few photos and just a few words. I’m tired!

I finally got around to eating at the new incarnation of Iris, the North Carolina Museum of Art’s restaurant.

The look is extremely contemporary. The museum’s website describes it as “… open, elegant and filled with light.” Not sure about elegant, but the other two adjectives are fitting.

The food was superb. Particularly the gratis savory biscotti — I take it that the biscotti flavors change regularly. Not sure what some of the others are, but I absolutely adored our rosemary parmesan treats. They were small, and I think maybe just baked once, as they’re more crumbly than hard and uber-crunchy. I nearly cried when my server whisked away my little bread plate when there was still a bite left. (Well, maybe a slight exaggeration. But I was disappointed.)

My lunch companion and I ordered cups of the soup of the day and shared a salad. The soup was my next favorite thing.

It was a generous portion served in a little tureen — bigger than most restaurants’ cups-of-soup. And yum! It was a creamy mushroom, leek (two of my favorite veggies) and spring ale concoction. If I had been in a less classy place I just might have slyly used my finger to wipe the bowl clean.

Apparently the menu changes frequently — all the more reason to return soon. That and the fact that we were too full to try the unique and very tempting desserts.

(Oh, by the way … my blood orange tea was such a lovely color I included the photo at the end for the heck of it.)

My next little foodie event was a lovely Saturday bridal shower. Everything was delicious and beautiful, as you can see from the photos. We nibbled on several of the bride-to-be’s favorites, including pimiento cheese on crackers, dainty little egg salad and cucumber/dill/cream cheese sandwiches, and prosecco with pear or blood orange juice (the blood orange drink was prettier, but the pear tasted divine).

These scrumptious French macarons traveled with the maid of honor from NYC via subway and plane.

And finally, last night several women friends and I had our inaugural healthy supper club dinner. Drinks and appetizers on the screened-in porch were a perfect start to the spring evening and new tradition.

Some of the mouthwatering dishes included apple latkes with creme fraiche, a Greek Quinoa Salad, guacamole, and a Black Bean Confetti Salad (Carol added mangoes) and Blueberry Crumb Bars (using whole wheat flour), those last two from the Smitten Kitchen blog).

My contri-butions were a Black Rice and Soy Salad With Asian Dressing from the New York Times (change alert: I pressed the tofu and sauteed the cubes) and Rosemary Olive Oil Cake from the 101cookbooks blog.

I’ve been dying to make an olive oil cake — they sound so intriguing. And when I saw that this recipe included rosemary and bittersweet chocolate chunks I was hooked.

No picture, ‘cause it’s really not very impressive to look at. (And Heidi Swanson’s blog photo is better than the one I took.) But honest to god, the aroma knocks you off your feet. And it tastes as good as it smells. (I used my pressed-in-November olive oil shipped directly from Chianti.) Really unique — a new favorite.

I seem to be turning away from chocolate-laden and frosted cakes toward their simpler, more natural cousins. A few weeks ago I made a wonderful Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina (fresh orange cake) — another recipe worthy of sharing from a fun show on the Cooking Channel called Extra Virgin.

And that’s all I can manage for now. Not only because I’m tired — it’s impossible to write about the olive oil cake without having a piece of it! Like Nigella, I’m making a late-night trip to the kitchen …

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About atarheeltastes

I'm a passionate foodie who started this "temporary" blog during a gustatory tour of Tuscany. I decided to continue, since I love to dream about, plan for, prepare, eat and write about food!
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