Includes: blueMANGO, Market, Chucks, Batistellas in Raleigh, NC, and a recipe for granola
Yet again I find my writing way behind my eating — or more accurately, the time allotted for writing is inadequate compared to the time devoted eating and doing other fun activities. So here goes with another unrelated assortment of experiences to blog about.
Battle of the chic, upscale Indian eateries
Can two Indian restaurants survive in Raleigh’s Glenwood South district?
blueMANGO is the latest addition, and Mantra just opened last summer. Both are upscale and chic. (blueMANGO’s decor is a bit brighter and hipper, and Mantra’s is more lush, with dark wood and beautiful murals.) Each boasts acclaimed Triangle chefs who ran kitchens at other successful Indian establishments — if I’ve got the facts straight, Mantra’s chef came from Saffron in Morrisville and blueMANGO’s from Azitra at Brier Creek.
blueMANGO has one distinct advantage: It’s actually located on Glenwood South, and gets plenty of walk-by and drive-by traffic. Mantra is not in a bad location (just around a couple of corners, on West street), and many people might actually prefer the less-frantic street. It also has a fabulous patio.
I dined at blueMANGO the first week it opened. The ambience was nice and I enjoyed the music and service. Food standouts included samosas and Hariyali Tikka.
I adore samosas, but for an appetizer they can be kind of dense and filling. blueMango’s are much more delicate and lighter than most, and the accompanying chutney drizzles are jewel-bright and tasty.
The Hariyali Tikka patties were a nice surprise — a perfect hint of heat and very flavorful.
The rest of my meal was good, if not great — satisfying, yet expected veg dishes.
For now, I’ll have to give a slight nod to Mantra, whose cuisine pushes the edge and is quite exciting without straying too far from native tastes and techniques.
Market has become one of my favorite dining spots. And on several occasions, it’s chef Chad’s pickled versions of something or the other that knocks my socks off.
Recently I enjoyed a lunch fish taco special, which was very tasty indeed. But the accompanying slaw blew me away. Colorful, nicely textured and punctuated with sort of sweet-and-sour pickled onions. Wow.
Chucks just keeps getting better
I love, love, love Chucks veggie burgers, and have written about them here before.
I took a side-view photo yesterday to give a better impression of the fabulous texture. They are so yummy.
And now Chucks has added a build-your-own toppings feature (smart) and a daily special (smart again).
I got the small veggie special, which included onions, mustard, sauerkraut (obviously house-made), Jarlsberg cheese, roasted tomatoes and a light-and-creamy Russian dressing. Ummmm …
I don’t know why I neglect to take photos of their milkshakes. Probably because I’m in such bliss when sucking them down that it totally skips my mind. Back in the winter I had a salty peanut butter roasted banana shake (or something like that) spiked with spiced rum. (You know it must be good when I don’t go for chocolate.) Yesterday it was a salted pretzel rocky road-type concoction.
It was my dining companion’s first visit, and he loved his meaty burger and fries-and-dipping sauces (the favorite was the beef-booster mayo).
Go there. Soon.
Dirty rice cakes (Bojangles, eat your heart out), poached eggs, micro greens and two, count ‘em, two, awesome sauces: spicy creole and hollandaise. Need I say more?
It’s hard to find really good dates. (And no, I’m not just referring to the romantic kind — although the same can be said!)
I’m partial to the gigantic, moist medjools from Sphinx Date Ranch in Arizona. But shipping’s pricey and I just don’t get out to Arizona enough.
To my delight, I recently spied what looked like fat, juicy dates at Costco, of all places. A huge two-pound container for less than $10. It turns out they’re pretty damn good.
Here’s my go-to granola recipe (well, it’s not mine; it’s just the one I use). It’s simple and you can vary the ingredients to your liking with no adverse effects.
What I particularly love about it is it’s not too sweet, not too sticky (uses much less honey than many recipes) and has a better texture than many granolas. Some claim that’s due to the use of butter instead of oil, and I’m guessing they might be right.
My alterations: I use unsweetened coconut and far less allspice, and I throw a few pinches of salt in with the melting butter and honey.
Another tip is to use a Silpat for simple cleanup and no sticking at all.