Foodie fortune has smiled upon me during the last few weeks. One encounter nourished my soul, and another my tummy.
Buddy the Cake Boss
First, I have to confess that I’ve never watched a complete episode of TLC’s popular Cake Boss show. (Hey, I’ve got a good excuse: I ditched my cable channels.) But I’ve seen clips, and heard plenty of people talk about the show and their love of Hoboken’s own Buddy Valastro.
And now I, too, heart Buddy and will have to make a point of catching the show online.
Make-A-Wish of Eastern North Carolina offered a handful of lucky kids an early-morning opportunity to meet and decorate cupcakes with Buddy when he was in town to do a live show. One of my wish kids was chosen, and her wish granter got to tag along (that would be yours truly).
The event was held at local radio station MIX 101.5, where Buddy was scheduled to do an on-air segment and also shoot a brief promotion for the affiliated TV station. I fully expected the PR opportunities to be his primary focus, but upon entering the studio the Cake Boss headed immediately to the kids, speaking to each one, and then shaking the hand of each parent, volunteer and Make-A-Wish staffer. He continued to shoot the breeze and pose for pictures until he was called away to do the promos.
As soon as he was finished, he came back into the break room, and that’s when the real fun began. He decorated several cupcakes, giving tips all the while, then helped each child — one by one — decorate their own. He was funny, patient and loving, and lingered well beyond the event’s scheduled end time.
Buddy made it very clear with his words and actions how much he loves children and how important causes like Make-A-Wish are to him. What a special and gracious man. And proof that celebrity chefs can be genuine, nice, warm people despite their fame.
One additional note about that morning: Props to Chapel Hill’s fabulous Sugarland bakery, which provided the cupcakes pictures at the top of this post. (The Cake Boss, biscuits and cupcakes for breakfast — what a way to start the day!) Psssssttt … Sugarland is opening a Cameron Village location this spring. Stay tuned!
Pizza pie at Troy Mezze Lounge
I’ve had plenty of Mediterranean food during my lifetime, from restaurants based on the cuisine of several different countries. It’s one of my favorite ethnic food types.
But Turkish food hasn’t been as readily available in Raleigh as Lebanese, Greek and the like. At least, not until Troy arrived on the scene — in downtown’s City Market, to be specific.
The interior design of the small eatery is colorful and warm, just like the food.
I wish I had a photo of the fantastic bread and dipping sauce our server delivered with our drinks. The bread looked hearty and dense, but was light and almost fluffy, sprinkled with sesame seeds and served warm. The dipping sauce — oh my. It was a beautiful orange-red color, and my palate tells me some of the ingredients included olive oil, lemon juice, pureed roasted peppers and I-don’t-know-what-kinds of Turkish spices. Heavenly. (Actually, you can see the dregs of the dipping sauce in the background of the photo below.)
I had a piedeler — Turkish pizza — for my lunch entree. Again, the bready base was fantastic. Very unlike typical pizza crusts in taste, texture and shape. It was topped with spinach, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, cheese and a perfectly cooked sunny-side-up egg. A nice variety of textures, colors and tastes — great eye appeal, and seriously delicious. And it felt lighter than its American- and Italian-style cousins.
Even the tea was different and delightful, brewed with mint, orange and I’m not sure what else.
My dining companions were equally pleased with their choices (one was a lamb and veggie clay pot concoction — ummmmm, lamb, my cheat meat).
I’m looking forward to visiting again. This time for dinner, when I can enjoy drinks and maybe even catch some belly-dancing. (You won’t see my full belly out there — never fear!)