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Food Porn visits: Zoe’s Kitchen

Today’s Food Porn tour takes us to Zoe’s Kitchen, a Greek/Southern fast-casual restaurant. This particular item is one of their nicest, the Steak Kabobs. For $11.50, the dish comes with two steak kabobs (of pretty decent quality), red bell peppers, onions, grilled potatoes, and roasted vegetables. Other winners at Zoe’s include their Greek Salad, Pimiento Cheese, Rice, Chicken Orzo Soup, and Greek Chicken Marinara (on orzo) .

Zoe’s has three area locations: Oberlin Rd (at Wade), North Hills East, and Park West Village (Morrisville).



Vinyard Vines Coming to North Hills

vineyard-vinesGreat news for the Raleigh clothing scene! Upscale casual clothing retailer Vinyard Vines will open their 32nd store in North Hills, in the 3,500 sq ft location where The Varsity and Acorn once were. The nautical-themed stores feature bright, preppy pastels in a classic Massachusetts nautical style. This will be North Carolina’s second location (the first is in SouthPark Mall in Charlotte).

Boaters will love the arrangement of sconces at the stores’ entrances; one green light, one red light. (true enthusiasts will know which light will be on the right when shoppers are returning…to the store).


Triangle Racks Up Beard Nominations

magnoliaA hearty congratulations goes out to all of the area chefs named today to the 2014 Semifinalists list by the James Beard Foundation. Out of the 433 national nominees, 9 are in the Triangle area, joined by 3 others from the rest of North Carolina for a total of 12 in this state. No restaurants from Charlotte, the Triad, or Wilmington were nominated. Only 6 nominees went to each Virginia and South Carolina, while 11 went to Georgia. Austin, Texas? They got just 3.

The North Carolina-based nominees for 2014 are:

National Categories

  • Outstanding Pastry Chef (20 nominations awarded): Phoebe Lawless, Scratch, Durham
  • Outstanding Restaurant (20 nominations awarded): The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro
  • Outstanding Restaurateur:  Giorgios Bakatsias, Giorgios Hospitality Group, Durham (Kipos, Parizäde, Village Burgers, and others)
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Katie Button, Cúrate, Asheville

Regional Categories

Best Chef: Southeast

Honorable Mention

  • Outstanding Restaurateur:  Mike Klank and Eddie Hernandez, Taqueria del Sol, Atlanta 
    (Taqueria del Sol has a location in Crossroads Plaza)

The 2014 James Beard Awards will be held in New York City on May 2 and 5.


Food Porn visits: Casa Carbone

One of Raleigh’s great, old family joints is Casa Carbone. The family once owned the great Italian restaurant Villa Capri in Ridgewood Shopping Center. Eventually the family found a new home “out Glenwood Avenue” in Oak Park Shopping Center, where they have continued to build an extremely loyal, older, and quiet following.. Casa Carbone is one of the best places in the Triangle to get Italian veal dishes. Featured in today’s entry is Veal Piccata which comes with a side of pasta and a salad. I requested Fettucine Alfredo. One of Casa Carbone’s delicacies is the bread, which is delicious with that brown sauce!



Food Porn visits: Red Monkey Tavern

I had always heard that Red Monkey was put there to catch the runoff from the long waits for tables at the Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s. We had a coupon, though, so we tried it. As expected the salads tasted like they came out of a food service bag, and my wife’s hamburger was just OK. However my dish was a real knockout: Duck Enchiladas. The red chile sauce was outstanding and gave this dish the punch that so many Mexican dishes in the area lack. At $17, this dish is one of the best bargains in the Triangle.



Food Porn visits: Busy Bee Cafe

Yesterday we took in the Sunday brunch at the Busy Bee Café in downtown Raleigh. The menu selection was somewhat limited, however what was offered was excellent. My wife got the Crab Eggs Benedict which was a good dish, though the crab meat was cold. My dish was much better: Pulled Pork Hash. The dish starts with pulled pork that thankfully doesn’t offer as much vinegar kick as expected. Then they add onions, tomatoes, potatoes, a fried egg, and hollandaise sauce. All in all a really nice dish, plus a fantastic waiter.. Keep up the good work, Busy Bee!



Food Porn: Valentine’s Edition

This one goes out to all you lovebirds who…love like you do. This is a little dish I put together for my wife last year: Homemade Brownie with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberry Hearts, and Frangelico Chocolate Sauce. It was delicious, but be careful with the Frangelico. A little bit goes a long way.


The recipe comes from the September 2009 Bon Appetit issue.

Brownie Heart Ice Cream, Strawberry Hearts, and Chocolate Sauce

Amt Meas Ingredient -- Preparation Method

--- ---- --------------------------------
1     c  Sugar
2    tb  Sugar
1/2   c  Unsalted butter
1/4   c  Water
10   oz  Bittersweet chocolate -- chop
3        Large eggs
1     t  Vanilla extract
1     c  Flour -- all purpose
2     t  Flour -- all purpose
1 1/2 T Baking soda
1     t  Salt
3/4   c  Macadamia nuts -- chopped
2    qt  Vanilla ice cream
8    oz  Bittersweet chocolate -- chopp
1/2   c  Hot coffee or*
6    tb  Frangelico(hazelnut liqueur)

* or 1 1/2 tbsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 c hot water.


Strawberries, sliced and shaped into hearts, sprinkled with sugar

Fresh Mint, for garnish

FOR BROWNIES: Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Line 17x11x1in baking sheet w/ parchment. Bring sugar, butter and water to boil in heavy large saucepan over med. heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate; stir until smooth. Whisk eggs and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt, then nuts.

SPREAD batter over prepared sheet. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 min. Cool completely. Freeze until firm.

CUT around brownie to loosen. Turn out onto work surface. Peel off parchment. Trim brownie to heart shape. Place on baking sheet. Cover brownie w/ ice cream. Freeze until slightly firm.

FOR SAUCE: Stir chocolate and coffee in saucepan over low heat until smooth. Add liqueur. (Can be made 1 wk ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm before serving.)

SERVE by topping brownie with scoop of ice cream, several strawberry hearts, sauce, and a mint garnish.


Food Porn visits: Taqueria del Sol

Today we take you to Cary’s Crossroads Plaza where one of the most interesting southwestern restaurants in the area quietly sits. Taqueria del Sol is an 8-store chain out of Atlanta, with a fast-casual setting. The restaurant serves some tacos and enchiladas, along with an always-interesting full entrée weekly special. The salsas, cheese, and chowders are excellent, but I’ve selected the Chicken Enchilada with Red Pepper Sauce for this entry. Also recommended: the Green Pepper Sauce (HOT).



Food Porn visits: Bahama Breeze

One of the Darden food group’s best properties is Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean-themed, 38-store national chain restaurant. Be prepared to wait for a table, though, as Bahama Breeze seems to be always crowded. Pictured here is one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had in North Carolina, Bahama Breeze’s Blackened Chicken Pasta. The cream sauce is somewhat heavy, but isn’t so rich or overwhelmed with garlic that the dish gets monotonous. Add some parboiled asparagus, and you have a delicious entrée.

With the pasta I’ve also selected a photo of the Yaka Hula Hickey Dula, a delicious Hawaii-inspired concoction of pineapple juice, Meyer’s Dark, and Bacardi 151.

Also recommended: Bahama Breeze’s ribs are in my Top 5 of the Triangle.



Food Porn visits: Bida Manda

One of my favorite restaurants in the Triangle is downtown’s Bida Manda. The restaurant’s theme is Laotian, which finds itself somewhat between Chinese, Thai, and Indian. Pictured is the outstanding Amphone’s Chicken Curry. Also suggested: the Laotian Sausage-stuffed Peppers.



Food Porn visits: Rise

The line at Rise Biscuits & Donuts is out the door for a reason. Once you get over to the strip shopping center next to SouthPoint’s SuperTarge, you’ll find a fascinating menu and food that never disappoints. Beware: Rise closes daily at 2pm (5pm on Fridays). Pictured is the Chorizo and Egg Biscuit. I also highly recommend the ham biscuit.



Food Porn Visits: Guasaca

OMG, have you been to Guasaca? The Venezuelan-inspired arepas are the most interesting quick bite around. Pictured (L->R) are a chicken arepa, a shredded beef arepa, and a cup of Guasaca sauce, a Venezuelan cousin to guacamole.



Food Porn Visits: Weinberg’s Deli (RIP)

Until mid-2013 North Raleigh’s Weinberg’s Deli served the area’s best Reuben sandwich as well as a fantastic Rachel. Pictured here is the Heidelberg, if I’m not mistaken. It was a heart-attack on a plate, but delicious for some occasional European decadence. We’ll miss you, Weinberg’s.


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