Tag Archives: american meltdown

Much Ado About Cheese – Durham, NC

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Recently I was assigned to a new project at work and each Friday I have a conference call with the project director to review the status of the project. Since this is a Friday call we usually take a few minutes to talk about our week-end plans. This has grown into a sharing of events happening in the triangle area as well as discussing restaurants, food trucks, markets, etc. One of the things to come from our discussion was meeting face-to-face at a RTP 180 event. Both of us agreed it was an awesome event and will be attending more RTP 180 events in the future. It was during one of these calls that Much Ado about Cheese came up. My colleague had gone to the first Cheese Festival and thought it was fantastic. Knowing The Traveler enjoyed good cheese, I took this information to The Friends and we agreed to make plans to attend.

IMG_0873 American Meltdown’s second annual cheese festival “Much Ado about Cheese” was held in the Cotton Room in Durham. Last year’s festival at the Cookery had been such an overwhelming success this year’s event was moved to a larger venue. Much Ado about Cheese provided the attendees an opportunity to taste and explore what North Carolina has to offer in its awesome world of cheese. Free samples from some of the best cheese in the area highlight this celebration of fromage. Wine and beer were available for purchase. If you were still hungry after sampling all the cheeses the American Meltdown food truck was selling their tasty grilled cheese sandwiches. Porchetta and R Burger food trucks were also on hand.

We arrived early and the promoters graciously let us come in to take pictures and wait comfortably on the cushy sofas. While we were waiting, we met new friends Drew and Noelle and had a great discussion around food, food trucks and customer service. When the event opened, we all headed to the vendor’s tables to taste the cheesy delights offered. The Friends started out together tasting and talking about our favorites but as the crowd grew we became separated. We each plunged ahead to continue tasting. Coming from opposite directions The Traveler and I did meet up again at the same table and decided we would both purchase the Quatro Berry Chevre from Once Upon a Meadow. The Traveler continued her way and I mine to continue sampling and taking pictures.

At times the flow of participants was almost at a standstill due to the linear arrangement of the tables and the proximity of the bar to the line of tables. Maybe a different layout would lend itself to more mingling and a better flow. Eventually we all ended up in the entrance area and took a few minutes to compare our purchases. Bad Boy and I had Cheese Louise! a goat cheese and Tomme Sweet Tomme, a raw milk aged cheese from Paradox Farm and a Vermont Artisan Racletee from the cheese department of Weaver Street Markets in our bag. The Traveler had purchased a cheese Weaver Street Market was offering and a chimichurri blend by Piemonte Farm. Although we didn’t purchase something from each vendor here is a list for this year’s festival.

We agreed this was a great event spotlighting local farms and cheese makers. The Friends give Much Ado about Cheese 2 thumbs up (total of 6 thumbs up) and plan to attend next year’s Cheese Festival. – Belle

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Triangle Trick or Treats

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It had been a busy couple of weeks for Belle and Bad Boy and we had decided to take this past week-end “off” to recharge.   Then I started seeing lots of buzz on Twitter about all the Halloween events happening in the Triangle: Spooky Saturday at NC Museum of Life and Science, The Midtown Farmer’s Market Boos and Brews, Trick or Treating at City Market and Moore Square, Raleigh Zombie Walk 2014, Monster Dash, and Cary’s Great Pumpkin Carve, just to name a few.   After a little cajoling, I was able to convince Bad Boy we needed join the fun of one or two of the Spooky Saturday events. We decided on Boos and Brews and The Great Pumpkin Carve. Since Boos and Brews was happening at the Midtown Farmer’s Market we could get in the “spirit” of Halloween as well as replenish a few grocery needs from some of the vendors. At the Great Pumpkin Carve I was hoping to pick up new carving techniques for this year’s Jack-o-Lantern.

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It was the perfect autumn morning, cool and crisp, as we boos brewsheaded to the Midtown Farmer’s Market.   On arrival we strolled through the market. The Halloween theme of Boos and Brews brought in several local breweries in addition to the normal vendors and there several Halloween activities such as pumpkin bowling and scarecrow stuffing. We began our shopping at The Coon Rock Farm booth with some polish, chorizo and breakfast sausage. I plan to surprise Bad Boy with a new polish sausage dish (I will post it on our Facebook page http://tinyurl.com/okqzbtq ).   Bad Boy selected a pumpkin muffin and a pecan sticky bun from the Yellow Dog Bread Company and a bottle of hot pepper vinegar from The Pepper King. Other purchases of the day included sour dough bread from Got Thyme, fresh pasta from Melina’s Fresh Pasta, and a couple of bouquets of zinnias from Happy as a Coneflower Farm.

American Meltdown was at the market serving their gourmet breakfast melts and we decided to enjoy a couple of their melts. I went with the classic Bacon Egg and Cheese melt. Bad Boy couldn’t resist ordering the Scarborough Breakfast since he is a fan of Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe. Our breakfast melts were both hearty and delicious. After our breakfast melts Bad Boy decided to head to the craft brewery section to do a little tasting.   Brueprint Brewing, Lincoln Bottle Shop and Tap Room, Raleigh Brewing Co, White Street Brewing and Sourwood Brewing were the breweries in attendance. While Bad Boy was enjoying the samplings from the breweries, I did a little people watching and stopped to watch Maria of Maria’s Fancy Faces paint the faces of excited children dressed in their Halloween costumes. As we were leaving everyone was lining up for the costume parade.

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The Great Pumpkin Carve

pumpkin carveThe Town of Cary had several Halloween events scheduled for Saturday. We decided to go to The Great Pumpkin Carve at the Performance Green in Downtown Cary from 2 – 8 pm. The Great Pumpkin Carve was a family friendly event with a pumpkin patch, carving stations and Halloween theme movies. Participants could stop by the Pumpkin Patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin or bring their own pumpkin to carve. There were 3D Pumpkin Carving Instructional sessions at 2:30 and 4:30 where you could learn how to carve a 3D face on a pumpkin. After time for carving, the pumpkins were judged and then a pumpkin lighting.

We arrived a little after the event began to find the pumpkin patch almost empty. Many were already carving their choices. We did catch part of the 3D carving instructions and watched the older carvers try their hand at 3D carving. I realized this type of pumpkin carving was above my crafting skills, so I will be sticking to the traditional carved Jack-o-Lantern.   We took time to visit each of the carving stations and watched both young and old engaged in carving the perfect pumpkin. These were judge later and ribbons were awarded in the following categories: Scariest Pumpkin, Funniest Pumpkin, Most Artistic Pumpkin, and Most Original Pumpkin. Then there was the pumpkin lighting and after the pumpkin lighting, family friendly Halloween TV specials, including Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown were shown outdoors under the stars. S. Belle

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Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo – 3rd Edition

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Walking or driving through downtown Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street, you will pass through the business district. Fayetteville Street is tree lined with many benches and tables, giving you an opportunity to relax and enjoy the diversity that has attracted many businesses and residents to call Raleigh, North Carolina their headquarters and home. If, by chance, you are a resident of the greater Triangle Area, you are aware of a myriad of festivals and events that use the Raleigh Downtown district as their backdrop. These events attract thousands of participants from around the state, as well as from around the country. There are several activities to participate in on any given weekend. Once you decide what peaks your interest you can avoid the parking hassles by taking Uber.

For Triangle Street Eats, our vice happens to be food trucks. We have found the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo with its energetic atmosphere and numerous food trucks offering diverse flavors to be an event worth attending, again and again.

Attendees are often left to navigate a labyrinth of food trucks and crowds, in order to sample the wonderful fare offered by nearly 50 venders. There are locally crafted beers that can be sampled as well. When you see how the Downtown District is used as a backdrop for this event, you will understand why this event is so popular. If you haven’t had an opportunity to participate in a Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo, and have been meaning to, you have one more opportunity to do so this year on Sunday, October 12, from 1pm – 6pm.

As is typical for larger events, The Friends started to form a plan-of-action a week or so in advance. Since we have sampled fare from many of the food truck participants, we tried very diligently to sample from those we hadn’t tried yet, as well as from a few tried and true. Below you will find the results of our effort, as well as their links. It is important to appreciate some of what we sampled was specifically offered for the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo attendees, as is not necessarily part of their regular menu.


 

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Food Trucks We Visited:

From Virgil’s Jamaica, the Belle and I had sampled the Jerked Chicken before. I enjoyed this flavorful island dish, and asked the Traveler to try it for herself. She said that it was moist and to her liking, but could have used more heat.

From King Creole, we had the blackened pork chop, which again the Belle and myself had sampled at the 2nd Food Truck Rodeo, but the Traveler had not. She commented that it was wonderful in both taste and portion size. She will definitely repeat.

From Hanu Food Truck we sampled the B.S. (Brussel sprouts). They were incredible with a creative medley of flavors. Look forward to having these again, since none of us eat enough greens. We also sampled their duck dumplings, which were delight flavorful, and the dipping sauce was sweet and tangy.

From Parlezvous Crepe, we had a savory special, which is not a regular menu item. It consisted of a delicate crepe, wrapped around smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill and onion. Highly recommended by the friends

Dank Burrito Truck offered jerk chicken tacos, which was one of my favorites of the event. The Traveler commented that it was spicy and great tasting. She loved the moistness of the chicken and would definitely eat it again. A glowing review if ever there was one.

We sampled the truffle mac bites from Olio & Aceto before, and had them again at the Raleigh Downtown Food Truck Rodeo. As they were previously, they were to our collective liking and would recommend them to anyone looking for gooey goodness.

From Mama Dukes, we sampled their breaded shrimp. They were tasty but would have preferred more shrimp and less fries and salad. $10 for only 5 shrimp is over-priced.

From Barone Meatball we sampled the crab balls. We collectively determined that they had too much filler, and seemed slightly undercooked.

From American Meltdown, one of most popular food truck in the Triangle, we sampled their Pigs & Figs. It is no wonder that this is one of their more popular sandwiches – very sweet, smooth and moist.

From Gussy’s Greeks, we sampled Greek Lasagna and gyro. The lasagna was not spicy enough. The béchamel sauce was light and fluffy, but lacked flavor. The gyro, on the other hand was very good, loved the meat and sauce.

The sheer amount of food that can be sampled at one of these events can be overwhelming. Try as we did, it was impossible to taste more than we did, even when we paced ourselves. One thing is certain, to experience one of these events first-hand is a must if you want to get a feel for the extraordinary phenomena culture surrounding food trucks, and all things related, like this blog. Stay hungry my friends!

The Traveler, Southern Belle and Bad Boy

 

 

 

Lowdown on Chatham Street Chowdown

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The Chatham Street Chowdown, Cary’s first food truck rodeo, was held in the heart of the downtown. There were 15 food trucks along with craft beers from Fortnight Brewing Company and wine choices from Chatham Hill Winery. Live music was also provided during the rodeo. In addition some of the local merchants opened their stores showing their support for the event. The atmosphere was that of a community block party showcasing Downtown Cary. Although this was a first time event, it was well executed and we could tell there had been a lot of behind the scene planning prior to “going live.” The Friends were very pleased with the ample seating available, recycling bins, and the presence of EMS and police.

The dreary start to the day didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of The Friends as they headed off to the Chatham Street Chowdown. As usual we had done a little pre-rodeo planning and were ready to put our plan in action when we arrived. But too our dismay, the online menus were not what the food trucks were preparing for the day. While there were plenty of food trucks to satisfy our appetites and give us a large variety of delicacies to delight our palates, we had adjust our plans to the actual menus. Perhaps with future events, which is sure to happen based on the turn out, maps of the truck’s locations and a highlight menu will be provided.

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This food rodeo brought back memories of living in Louisiana. I love good boudin, but it is not readily available in North Carolina. For those of you not familiar with this treat, boudin, the king of Cajun food, is my favorite thing in the world to eat. It is a unique food in that it can be breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, or car food. No two boudins are exactly alike—that’s amazing, considering they all have basically the same ingredients of rice and pork.

While in line for the boudin from Baton Rouge Cuisine, I started talking to the man in line behind me. I asked him where he was from. He told me he was from Alexandria. I started laughing; telling him it was a small world because I too had lived in Alexandria. We talked about great food, favorite restaurants, such as Pre Jeans and the Country Tyme Store in Lake Charles, where to get the best cracklings or boudin. He told me that the LSU Alumni Associate had a yearly Crayfish Boil and it was open to everyone. He said they cooked nearly 400 lbs of crayfish for the event. I have already made a notation on my calendar.

Olio and Aceto made a great truffle macaroni bite. It was made to order, so it was hot and sticky, a delight to the taste buds; a true gastronomical wonder. This is a wonderful comfort food.

debbieSunday was a day to make new friends. Debbie and her husband Ron joined our table and were happy to talk about their food. Ron had selected Jambalaya from the Baton Rouge Food truck. He said it was very good, giving it a 3 out of 4 tires. Debbie had selected the chicken Pita from Gussy’s Greek Street Food, since she liked less spicy food. She loved the tzatziki sauce. Ron had considered ordering the boudin, so I parted with a piece so they could taste it. They loved it, giving it a 4.

The Cary Food Truck Rodeo was a great success and l hope it becomes a regular event, to bring the community together, as they did at this event.

s_belle_smSouthern Belle:

When we arrived, I headed off to get us a table and The Traveler and Bad Boy each went off in different directions to gather our food selections. I found us the perfect spot in the center of the rodeo, in the shade and close enough to the bandstand to have music for our dining experience. I waited patiently for my friends to return with the goodies. The Traveler dropped off Boudin Balls from Baton Rouge Cuisine before she went on to get the Slaw Plate (barbeque and slaw) from the Humble Pig and Truffled Mac and Cheese bites from Olio and Aceto. When the Bad Boy finally arrived with a selection of paninis and watermelon gazpacho from Deli-icious, we were ready to dig into and sample our selections. My favorite of the day was the pulled pork with the “kick butt sauce”. The meat was very juicy with just the right amount of smoke flavor. I tried each of the panins and “Lucky” was my pick. Olio and Aceto did not disappoint with their Truffled Mac and Cheese bite. It was a lightly breaded bite of gooey goodness, yum. After we had finished off the main course, I headed out under the pretense of “just wanting to look around” but my real mission was ice cream. I found several selections at The Freezing Point and returned with a bowl of salted caramel and a bowl of coffee with chocolate chip. Besides all the great food I also enjoy talking with other rodeo goers. At different times a couple of groups of dinners join us at our table. One particular group had visited Baton Rouge Cuisine and chosen the crawfish etouffee and the shrimpetouffee. Both said the dishes were delicious.

bruce_smBad Boy:

First time organized events, like festivals, can be demanding, as well as awkward for community organizers. There are the variables which they have control over; venue, location, amenities and public safety. Then there are those elements that they have no control over; turnout, no-shows, conflicts/controversy, and weather – being among the least predicable. All of these elements collectively can make-or-break future events of the same venue. Team Triangle Street Eats arrived a bit early for the Chatham Street Chowdown. I like to arrive at any event a little early, to see the layout, and to get a perception of people interaction, as the event unfolds. Also, arriving early helps to avoid the long lines for food, beverage and seating. Arriving early also gives me a good perspective on “crowd-swell,” the phenomenon by which an event or venue can increase/decrease its turnout by any of the above-mentioned elements through social media.

It would be an hour after we arrived that I noticed that the “crowd-swell” was headed in the positive direction, and the likelihood of rain did not deter many who had initially planned to attend. Before long, long lines had formed at all of the trucks and there were still many hours of planned activities.

My highest regards to the Town of Cary, and to all of the people who worked so hard to make the Chatham Street Chowdown a success. It was exceptionally well planed. Since Triangle Street Eats is based in Cary, I know that Team TSE can look forward to reviewing other Cary food truck events in the near future.


 

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Never Have I Had a Better Time

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bruce_smAs mentioned in a previous blog, the Southern Belle and I were contributors for the Kickstarter fund for Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo. These food truck rodeos will be held over the summer. In return, contributors received various awards. One such reward was an event delightfully entitled, “Stuff Your Face Food Truck Dinner“.

The event was May 1st between 6 and 9 PM at the historic City Market/Cobblestone Hall. Just this particular setting alone set the tone for what promised to be an enchanted evening. We had decided since we were going to participate in something that would likely be very trendy, as well as an annual event, we would add one more element of excitement to the evening. We used Uber,a startup transportation service new to Raleigh that offers riders significant discounts. I am certain that this service will catch on. If you have an opportunity, try it out yourself.

Walking into this large historic venue, I noticed the room already swirled with anticipation. Beer on tap, wine, as well as sodas and bottled water were available. Beer had been provided by two local microbreweries, Lone Rider and White Street Brewery. I had decided to sample a Shotgun Betty, while I enjoyed the Mint Julep Jazz Band. This was my first exposure to jazz in the Raleigh area and it proved to be delightful. Perhaps I need to make a point to get out more often.

While we waited for the dinner hour, the Southern Belle and I took the opportunity to walk around and chat with other contributors, as well as do a little networking before going to our previously assigned table. When we arrived at our table we introduced ourselves to our tablemates, who were from Smith Mountain Lake Virginia, and Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Happy and Hale provided a Walters Harvest Salads, with arugula, roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese and fresh pressed orange honey vinaigrette that was waiting for us on the table.

Shortly after we had finished sampling the fine, fresh, delightful salad, the next course, from Chirba Chirba arrived at our table. It was at this time that I realized how unique it was to be at a sit-down dinner event, and being served what is usually eaten in an outdoor venue. The selection provided included:

  • Juicy Buns: Succulent pork-filled steamed dumplings…yum!
  • Bayside Chive: Pork dumplings with Chinese chives, carrots and cabbage
  • Veggieling: Dumplings filled with three types of mushroom, carrots and scallions

My favorite from this selection was the Juicy Buns. They were sweet and tender.

The next course arrived. It had been prepared by Porchetta. It included Rosemary and Juniper Berry Brined Pork Loin, and a side of fluffy pimento cheese polenta cakes. I had previously sampled their pork a few months before. I found it to be tender, moist and delicious. I knew they wouldn’t disappoint.

It would be some time before the next course, prepared by American Meltdown, would arrive. As you have likely guest, their specialty is grilled cheese. However, their grilled cheese sandwiches are award winning. A Whitman Sampler of the following were provided to each table;

  • Hangover Melt: Their signature sandwich featuring their own recipe pimento cheese, a runny egg and salsa verde with bread baked from Durham’s Guglhupg Bakery
  • Honey Pot: a combination of tucks sheep’s milk ricotta cheese, with toasted pecans and peach balsamic compote, with grilled brioche from La Farm in Cary, NC.
  • Grilled Cheese of Champions: Durham jack cheese from the Cultured Cow, between slices of Havarti bread.

I believe it was the Grilled Cheese of Champions I found to be most to my liking.

Of course, at the end, there were cupcakes! These cupcakes were prepared by Not Just Icing. The cupcakes had been taunting diners since the beginning of the event from the elegant display in the back of the room. Now it was time to bid them ado. From a selection that is too vast to list here, the Southern Belle and I took delight in their mocha love cupcakes.

When there was a delay between courses, we had great “food” conversations with our tablemates or sent out tweets about the food and music we were enjoying. I had noticed that other diners were doing the same and some of us were inadvertently following one another’s tweets and re-tweeting about the event. All seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Bellow you will find our patented rating system for the night’s events. Rest assured that it was one of the most memorable night outs I’ve had in a while. I only hope this becomes an annual fundraising event. Make no mistake; although our meal was prepare by food trucks the quality of the food was right at home for a sit-down banquet

Until Next Time…Stay Hungry My Friends            Badboy

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