Jujube In Depth

April 27, 2008

Jason Perlow, who is in the Triangle for several months, has a fantastic podcast with Jujube’s Charlie Deal. Give Jason credit, he really takes the time to get the story and is an excellent interviewer. Check out the great photos of Jujube’s food and the great interview with Charlie.

New Raleigh Releases “Palate” — A Raleigh Restaurant Guide

April 24, 2008

New Raleigh is one of the websites I go to daily to catch up on my Raleigh news. They’re really dedicated to promoting great discussion of the politics and culture of our fair city, and they have a lot of good food information, too.

I just learned today that they’ve been working on a new restaurant guide, named “Palate,” which is now live. This is a very clean site that provides a lot of great information. Granted, the site is still in its beta stage of development, so the amount of content is somewhat thin right now, but it’ll only get better. New Raleigh has a lot of young, energetic folks on their staff (and I use the term “staff” loosely, as it’s just a bunch of volunteers who like to write about Raleigh), and they’re not afraid to criticize when it’s appropriate to do so. With this platform, they should be prepared to add a ton of reviews in a hurry.

Palate only lists restaurants that are independent or small, local chains. National chains are not included. Most of the establishments are in the downtown area of Raleigh, but I’m hopeful they’ll include other parts of the city.

Navigation is a breeze, and I particularly like the neighborhood classifications in their guide. Click on one of the neighborhoods, then move your mouse from restaurant to restaurant, and the map automatically moves to the particular restaurant’s location. Very slick.

There’s still a couple of bugs they need to fix, as places like The Pit and The Mint are listed under “T” rather than “P” and “M,” respectively. But I think this could become the definitive guide, if they start focusing on the content. One way they could do this quickly would be to include links to reviews from other sites, so their readers will get a broad sense of peoples’ opinions on a particular restaurant. I’d be honored if they linked to my reviews, all 5 of them!

Buttermilk Pie

April 22, 2008

When strawberry season hits, I first think of strawberry shortcake, then Belgian waffles. But right after that, buttermilk pie comes to mind. Buttermilk pie with fresh strawberries. OH MY GOD!!!!

Most Southerners understand the glory of buttermilk pie, but others would choose any other dessert in the world before this classic dish. It’s really nothing more than a simple custard pie, with a touch of lemon and nutmeg to round out the flavor profile. It’s also very light and is very good with fresh berries or a berry coulis. I last wrote about buttermilk pie several years ago on eGullet, and I’m resurrecting the pictures from that time to show you how simple this dish is. Even if you don’t know how to make pie crust (and you MUST learn), you can always use a store-bought version.

I use Bill Neal’s recipe, which is lighter than a typical version because egg whites are beaten and folded into the custard. The tanginess of the buttermilk and lemon offsets some of the egginess and cuts through the richness, so this is really perfect. I also use really fresh, local buttermilk from Maple View Farm. This stuff is a bit richer than what you typically find in the grocery store.

When you take your first bite of this luscious custard treat, be sure you thank me. Yes, it’s that good. Photos and recipe are after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Commercial of the Week — Michael Jackson Edition

April 18, 2008

OK, this is a cute little commercial for Alphabits featuring the Jackson 5. Seems innocent enough, right? Well go ahead and watch it.

Now, when Michael says, “I bet I can make you say yes” or “Look at my B”, do you think a little differently now than you might have 30-some years ago? Funny world we live in.

The Mint — Cutting Edge Cooking in Raleigh???

April 17, 2008

I may have to dine on a little crow tonight. When Raleigh’s The Mint first opened in January, I wrote the following: “The Mint appears to be an old-school, protein-heavy restaurant with a contemporary twist.” Of course, my judgment was solely based on the menu on the restaurant’s website. And if you look at that menu, you probably wouldn’t argue with my conclusion.

But then something happened. Andrea Weigl of the N&O told me she was working on a story about molecular gastronomy in the Triangle, and she was going to The Mint. The Mint? Molecular gastronomy??? She then told me about this lobster dish that I had to try — the crustacean is cooked en sous vide, with a miso and caramel sauce (a combination popularized by cutting-edge pastry chef Sam Mason of New York’s WD-50). OK, something was up, and I was clearly NOT in the know. Read the rest of this entry »

Strawberry Shortcake For a Crowd

April 16, 2008

It’s about to be strawberry season, so I have a perfect recipe for you. A single, large strawberry shortcake. It’s a really simple dish, but it’s a showstopper. Every time I bring this out, I get a ton of “oohs and aahs.” It’s really cool, but the thing is, it takes no time at all.

Here’s what you do. Slice up a bunch of strawberries, add some sugar, and let them macerate for an hour or three (you can add some Grand Marnier, orange curacao or the like if you desire, but it’s not necessary). Then make your big-ass shortcake. It’s just self-rising flour, sugar, salt, butter and buttermilk. Whip up some heavy cream with vanilla and sugar, and then serve by cutting that big-ass shortcake in half, putting berries and cream in the middle, and some more on top. Just look at the picture, will ya????

Anyhow, recipe is after the break. And really, it’s incredibly easy, but it’ll dazzle your guests. And man, does it ever taste good!

Read the rest of this entry »

Beet Cakes — Mmm, Mmm, Good

April 14, 2008

Last Friday, I thought I came up with a completely novel idea: a fried beet pancake, similar to a potato pancake, but with shredded beet. Of course, after a bit of research, I realized that beet roesti are somewhat common, but every recipe I found was different than my creation. So, here you go!

What I did was peel several beets and then grate them with a food processor. I then grated a red onion and cooked all of this in butter in a large skillet. I added a bit of fresh thyme and some salt. Once the beets were mostly cooked, I remove the mix from the heat and allowed to cool. Read the rest of this entry »

Commercial of the Week — Chiquita Banana Edition

April 11, 2008

My wife’s family — and thus, my family, too — has been singing the Chiquita Banana song for ages.  I actually started singing it at lunch today with a bunch of my co-workers.  Yeah, they looked at me funny, but that’s pretty much normal for me.  I was surprised, however, that only one of them had heard this classic song before.

So, for your viewing entertainment, I offer today the classic Chiquita Banana commercial, made by the fine folks at Walt Disney studios.

Jason Perlow and Off the Broiler in the Triangle

April 10, 2008

My friend Jason Perlow, one of the co-founders of eGullet and creator of one of the busier food blogs in the country, Off the Broiler, will be in the Triangle over the next four months. Now Jason’s primary purpose for being here is to handle a large computer consulting matter (Jason is one of the nation’s leading authorities on Linux-based systems), but he’s determined to report on a lot of restaurants in the area. When his gig is over, I suspect Off the Broiler will have more detailed content on Triangle restaurants than any other site.

He’s certainly hit the ground running with his fabulous podcast of Ed Mitchell and his Raleigh-based barbecue restaurant, The Pit. If you have some time, listen to the podcast and look at the photos, and you’ll get a sense of what Jason is recording. Jason’s a really good interviewer — this is great stuff.

Haru Sushi Open in Glenwood Village

April 10, 2008

I dropped by the new Haru Sushi in Glenwood Village yesterday for a little — OK, a lot — of take-out sushi, and I’m very pleased to have this new place in my neighborhood. Haru is owned by sushi chef Fang Yongxing, and he’s obviously committed to bringing a high-end selection of fish to his clientele, featuring several types of “fatty” toro selections, including tuna, salmon and yellowtail. Haru Sushi has a number of creative rolls, too, and frankly, this was some of the freshest, best tasting fish we’ve had in the area. Plus, the ginger they serve with their sushi is fantastic: fresh, with amazingly clean flavor. This stuff is white and slightly more pungent than most of the overly sweet pink and yellow ginger served at most places these days. The restaurant is very small, with much of the room taken up by the sushi bar (featuring some gorgeous granite countertops), so Haru is a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of some of the larger places in Raleigh.

Haru only has two sushi chefs, so if you’re in a hurry, this may not be the place for you. But if you want a quiet evening with the freshest fish in town, head to Haru Sushi.

Haru Sushi
Glenwood Village Shopping Center
2603-155 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27608


Local Farmers Featured in N&O

April 9, 2008

Andrea Weigl has a wonderful story in today’s N&O about the “next generation” of local farmers. Featuring some super photos by Shawn Rocco, this is food journalism at its best. When I told Andrea that this would have made a great multimedia presentation, she pointed me to this link of a slide show of the farmers with a brief audio clip from each.

I know I keep singing the praises of the N&O, but it’s well-deserved.

“Commercial” of the Week: Tequila – The New Wonder Drug

April 7, 2008

We’ve all known this since we were in high school, but now it’s been clinically proven. Tequila is the new wonder drug. Enjoy!!

A Food Blog Dangerous for Computer Screens

April 3, 2008

I don’t know why I hadn’t discovered Thursday Night Smackdown before today, but it required the blog’s creator, Michelle Weber, to post a comment here before my eyes were opened. But when I ventured over to see what Weber’s site was about, my eyes weren’t just opened, they were bloodshot. I had to close my door to stop bothering my co-workers from my laughing. This woman is warped. Michelle is twisted. She’s profane. And she’s really goddamn funny. (And what do you know, she’s a lawyer, too — that explains everything/)

The premise of the blog is that each Thursday, Michelle attempts to cook something from her growing cookbook collection, and then chronicle her adventures on the blog. But this isn’t just a recital of the steps she took combined with a handful of gorgeous, back-lit photos with minimalized depth of field — this is in your face, full frontal, non-stop comedy. If you’re drinking something while reading Weber’s blog, you’ll spray it all over your screen and keyboard. I mean, anyone who can bring back memories of the classic Barnes & Barnes’ “Fish Heads” song combined with a creative way of frying up chopped tuna (fish lollipops, anyone?) is OK in my book.

The information is really good, too. Weber is instructive, but these are recipes and advice that you actually want to read.

Thursday Night Smackdown isn’t for everyone. It’s not for kids, that’s for sure (unless they’re Quentin Tarantino’s progeny). But if you don’t mind profanity, sarcasm, bombastic commentary, and just plain fun, then check it out. Even though we’re only in early April, I’m naming TNS as my Blog of the Year (and what an honor that is!).

Asparagus in Season — Spring Officially Here

April 3, 2008


I had to drop some stuff off at Poole’s Downtown Diner a few minutes ago, and while there, I asked Ashley Christensen what she had on the menu tonight. “Asparagus — first of the season,” she replied with a goofy grin on her face.

Oh, asparagus, how I love thee.

Asparagus is such a wonderful vegetable and goes well with so many things. You can roast it, steam it, stir fry it, grill it or boil it. You can add it to salads or make it the focal point of its own salad. It goes well with dairy, be it cheese or cream-based sauces. It makes a great filling for ravioli, and asparagus soup is a beautiful bowl of tasty green. One of my favorite dishes is asparagus topped with a poached egg and shavings of pecorino romano and lots of pepper. I’ve made asparagus and sour cream omelettes.

But what I love most about asparagus is its symbolism: asparagus represents to me the true beginning of spring. Strawberries will soon follow, and then the farmers markets will be filled with all sorts of goodies. The dull browns of winter’s root vegetables and heavy dishes will be replaced with the vibrant polychrome of summer’s bounty. And the flavors!

So head out to the farmers market and pick up some Spring — in convenient, tasty, spear-shaped servings.

Clafoutis, Southern Style

April 1, 2008


Clafoutis. CLAW-FOO-TEE. Go ahead, say it again. And again. And then make up some completely senseless rhymes with it, like, Booty Clafoutis. Or, Clafoutis in Djibouti. Or my kids’ favorites, Clafoutis makes you go pooty. Whatever that means.

But clafoutis is a classic French dessert, and an easy one at that. My parents are in town for a few days, and I wanted to make a quick and simple dessert for them. I had a bag of frozen sour cherries available along with some fig preserves. So I made two desserts, a standard cherry clafoutis and a really great fig version. A double header of clafoutis action, if you will!

If you’ve never heard of clafoutis, it’s a cross between a custard and a dutch baby pancake. It’s loaded with eggs, but it has enough flour in it to give it a slightly more airy feel. The classic version is made with cherries, but I’ve used lots of different fruits. I eat clafoutis for dessert or for breakfast. When warm, it’s light and fluffy. After it cools, it gets much more custardy, but either way, it’s delicious.

Some people say that if it’s not made with cherries, it’s not a clafoutis — it’s a flognarde. Because I like to say “clafoutis” more than I like to say “flognarde,” you bet your booty I’ll call it clafoutis.

I’m giving you my recipe for a Southern Style clafoutis made with whole fig preserves. We’re blessed with friends who give us lots of jars of these sweet delicacies, and they’re really perfect with this dish. If you use fresh figs — and summer’s not too far away — you’ll want to cut them in half and dip them in honey and cinnamon sugar first! Yum. Read the rest of this entry »


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