Tag Archives: the triangle

Farina Neighborhood Italian – Raleigh, NC

farina-logoThe Friends had been hearing the buzz about the new Italian restaurant, Farina, by chef-owner Nunzio Scardo, who also owns the Driftwood Southern Kitchen. Both are located in the Lafayette Village, off Falls of Neuse Road.  We loved the food, service and ambiance of the Driftwood and had high expectations for Farina.

We loved their mission statement:  Farina is a casual, neighborhood spot serving up delicious, handmade American-Italian fare. We want you to feel right at home dining with us. Don’t worry, we’ll even clean up and do the dishes. Enjoy a sampling of our small plates, a wood fired pizza, fresh handmade pasta or a glass of vino from our eclectic list. Dining with us should bring you right back to those Sunday family dinners at Nana’s.

pizza-kitchenSaturday at 7pm, the restaurant had many open tables, which surprised us.  We always like speaking with the staff, and quickly learned the wait staff were employees of the previous Italian restaurant at this site.  In fact, the Hostess referred to the restaurant by its previous name Paparazzi.  She was not familiar with the menu and told us to speak with the waitress.  This was a new menu, but management needs to train the wait staff appropriately.

The waitress let us know that she had worked at Paparazzi as well.  She had some familiarity to the menu and gave suggestions on what she had eaten.  But through the course of the evening we learned the reason Farina charges $2.00 for their bread is that they wanted to save money.  They had originally charged $3.00 but lowered the price.  If they offered complimentary bread, they would have to charge more for the entrees.

The room was very dark and there were no candles on the tables.  I pulled out my handy IPhone flashlight in order to read the menu.

octipiI started with the Octopus salad.   It was expertly prepared and tastedgoatcheese lovely! Belle ordered the Baked Goat Cheese.  The goat cheese was ample and well prepared, but there were only two crostini’s on the plate.  The ratio to the crostini to the goat cheese was unbalanced.  We like to share our food, so Belle asked for more crostini.  The waitress brought only one.  She later told us that we should have requested a specific number of how many was wanted.  I assumed they wanted us to pay the $2.00 and order bread.

IMG_2031The waitress had raved about the braised short ribs, so I ordered IMG_2033it.  I received one piece of meat that looked like a chunk of roast beef.  I counted 10 undercooked gnocchi with little sauce.  I could not find the Gorgonzola cheese in the sauce.  I also order ordered heirloom tomatoes with Barrata and vegetable pesto.  This was my favorite part of the meal.

rigitonniBelle ordered Rigatoni with grilled chicken, rosemary, goat cheese andraviolli parmesan cream.  She felt it was too heavy and under season.  Badboy ordered Melina’s lemon cheese ravioli, topped with crab and heirloom tomatoes.  Badboy found it delightful, although skimpy on the crab.  He also ordered the chocolate and Nutella Tiramisu.   He thought it was awesome.

The manager was not circulating among the diners.  Typically in a new restaurant you want to make your diners feel welcomed and appreciated so you chat with everyone, looking for input, feedback and critiques. The owner needs to look at what makes the Driftwood so successful and apply it to Farina.  We support local businesses and wish Farina luck, but they have a lot of work to do to live up to the standards set by the Driftwood.

mary_smUntil Next Time…Traveler

Snap Pea Pop Up Dinner


UnknownSnap Pea Underground is the work of Chef Jacob Boehm, a Stanford University graduate who spent some time working for James Beard-award-winning chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok in Portland, Ore. The name snap pea was thought up Chef Boehm on a run in East Palo Alto while he was living in the Bay Area.

Chef Boehm states he developed his love of cooking out of his love of eating. Additionally, in his family growing up, if you cooked, you didn’t have to clean!​ Much of his creativity is rooted in his mother’s creativity with ingredients that she had around, or ones that were on sale, or looked particularly good at market. He remembered one occasion during citrus season when Blood Oranges were super on sale, and she bought maybe 30lbs of them and we just went at them, making all kinds of things.

I had the opportunity to meet his mother, and she was truly a delight. She is obviously very proud of her children and their accomplishments. Chef Boehm’s sister, Tova Boehm, has a company called Short Winter Soups.

I enjoyed the Chef’s unique creations and hope you will want to experience this as well! I shared the evening with Laura who works at the Umstead Hotel, Carla and David from Chapel Hill, previous clients of Chef Boehm, Bruce and Nancy, Parents of the Chef, Leyla employee of the Chef enjoying dinner as a guest and Cathy, visiting Carla and David, childhood friends from Canada. They were great dinner companions, as we critiqued each course.

 How Snap Pea Dinners Work:

The eight-course dinner will be held at a secret location near the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh. The specific address will be emailed to the attendees 36 hours beforehand. The dinner is BYOB. The dinners start at 7 p.m. and last about three hours.

Info and tickets: snappeacatering.com

On March 12 I received an email giving these details:

Pop-up dinner: tomorrow!

Here are the details:

  •  Time: Please arrive between 6:30-6:45 to grab seats (and pop open your wine). Dinner will start promptly at 7PM and last around 3 hours.
  •  Location: RAC (Raleigh Arts Collective) 500 Royal St, Raleigh, NC 27607. Please park on the street or to the right of the building.

To Bring:

Any alcoholic beverages you’d like! The event is BYOB, which means you can bring beer, wine, liquor, anything you like, at no charge. For the menu, we’d recommend:

  • White Wine: Dry Viognier
  • Red Wine: Oregon Pinot Noir

See you soon!

-Snap Pea Underground

Owners of RAC; Raleigh Artistic Collections


  • Matthew Willoughby
  • Hatcher Perry
  • Aaron Burkhart

Manager: Ryan Robinson

The Raleigh Arts Collective or RAC was started in January 2014 by three friends with the dream of creating the ultimate work/play space. With the support of the City of Raleigh and especially the community known as the Fire Triangle the RAC came into being. As it grew we began to see the true potential and need for an underground collaborative workspace, event space, and multi-use space. With area for people from entrepreneurs, to artist, to weekend projectors of the Raleigh area to come together and have an inspiring place to create and enjoy life. The RAC is like no other space in the triangle and we would love to have you a part of it, a place for you to explore your own curiosities.”

“The Raleigh Arts Collective is a maker-space; a creative, Do-It-Yourself space “where people can gather to create, invent, and learn”. Through the sharing of skills, knowledge, and resources, we hope to inspire creativity, strengthen community relations, and promote collective consumption. By working together and alongside other makers, we love to see members of our community share their knowledge, expertise, and encouragement.”

Membership at the Raleigh Arts Collective gives you access to the space, tools and community to work on your creative projects. Whether you’re a master maker or a curious novice, the RAC is the place for you. Check out the different types of membership we offer below. All members of the maker space must take a shop safety class prior to gaining floor access. -Insurance Requirements… DUH-

We charge collective dues to help us do what we do so we can help you do what you do. In other words, collective dues help us keep this place running. Lots of coffee and beer also help this place run, and donations are always accepted. **Collective Dues are built into the pricing.**

Unlimited Hall Pass (1-month): $120.   Gives you access to the shop to use all the tools and have all the fun for a full month. Seven days a week, open to close.

***Sign up for an unlimited monthly pass by April 1st and get $20 off!!!***

Day Pass: $20. Gives you all day to play with full shop access, from open to close.

Three-Day Pass: $40. Gives you full shop access for any three days of your choosing, from open to closing.

RAC Pass (1-year): $1000. Gives you full access to the shop for an entire year. It’s like everlasting recess!!

RAC Hack Pass: $50. Gives you access to shared floor space to work on computer-related projects, hacking, Arduino, robotics or whatever else you can think of for a full month. No access to any shops.

We offer a 20% discount for students (with valid ID) and seniors for all monthly memberships. Group discounts also available.

Steelmaking is the process for producing steel from iron and ferrous ores and scrap. Chef Boehm created his concept of creating his menu from the process of making steel due to the industrial feeling of the RAC space.


Course 1: Imputs

  • Sesame Brittle
  • Lime Coconut Cream
  • MX Coke Syrup

Course 2: Molten Ore

  • Sweet Potato Peanut Soup
  • Crispy Quinoa
  • Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil

Course 3: Recycled Material

  • Oat and Feta Salad
  • Austrian Winter Pea Tendrils
  • Charred Grapefruit Vinegrette

Course 4: Oxygen Furnace

  • Smoked Sweet Potato Mousse
  • Sweet Tooth Mushrooms
  • Really Good Olive Oil
  • NC Balsamic

Course 5: Hot Rolling

  • Roasted Rampini
  • Le Puy Lentils
  • Salted Yogurt
  • NC Balsamic

Course 6: Semi-Finished Casting

  • Sun Chokes a Bunch of Ways
  • Blood Orange Reduction
  • Annatto

Course 7: Continuous Casting

  • Braised Young Romain
  • Crispy Pastured Egg
  • NC Black Walnut

Course 8: Ladle

  • Roasted Apple & Sticky Rice
  • Honey Pecan Butter
  • Stinging Nettle Pesto
  • Spicy Daikon Chutney

Course 9: Cold Rolling

  • Oat Cake
  • Chamomile Mousse
  • NC Grain Crumble
  • Ginger Pickled Apples

Course 10: Surface Treatment

  • Ashed Pecan Cake
  • Honey and Coriander Cream
  • Lemon Jam
  • Candied Pecans

Course 11: Tempering

  • Ice Cream Sandwich


  • Rachel Schmidt (Guest Pastry Chef)
  • Tova Boehm
  • Sarah ​ ​Acuff
  • Byron Wall​

NC Sources

  • Brinkley Farms
  • Woodfruit Woodland Delicacies
  • Heeks Farm
  • George Jones Plant Farm
  • Jones Farms
  • Wise Farm
  • Cottle Organics
  • Triple J
  • Sunshine Cove
  • Coastal Plains
  • Maple View Dairy
  • Boulted Bread
  • Whitfield Farm
  • Anson Mills
  • Highland Gourmet Local Bakery
  • Carolina Ground
  • Mills River Creamery
  • Honeysuckle Tea House
  • Lindley Millsa

mary_smTill Next Time…The Traveler.

King’s Authentic Philly at Nickelpoint Brewing


UnknownIn my continuing series of pairing food trucks with local breweries, I have chosen to sample King’s Authentic Philly with Nickelpoint Brewing Company. As random as some of these pairings might seem, I selected this one because the Traveler had met Nicklepoint’s co-owner, Shaluka Perera, at a recent Competition Dining Event the previous week, where Nicklepoint Brewing exhibited several of its crafted beers for those fortunate enough to attend. Shaluka seemed eager to grant us at Triangle Street Eats, unadulterated access to his establishment, for the purposes of this informative write-up.

The name ‘Nickelpoint’ loans itself for the nearby neighborhood of Five Points, to which it is located at 506 Pershing Rd, Raleigh. This location provided Nickelpoint with a convenient location for nearby residents, as well as opportunity to grow and expand. They are currently a 20-barrel microbrewery. Bruce Corregan, Nickelpoint’s other co-owner and brew master, told us about how they plan on developing a canning operation in the foreseeable future. He also express that he would be developing new and original brews for thirsty patrons to enjoy – pushing the envelope of creativity and diversity as it relates to brewing.

One of the more interesting aspects I found of Nickelpoint was that Bruce’s son, Braeden, was working to develop soft drinks – currently root beer and an orange-cream soda – to offer to patrons as well. Belle and I sampled these, and found them to be unique and outstanding. I hope that young Braeden continues to develop original flavors for Nickelpoint’s growing fans and followers.

Unknown-1After looking over the food trucks that frequent Nickelpoint, I had decided that King’s Authentic Philly would be my choice of fare for this pairing. Especially when you consider that I had yet to experience their spin on this remarkable sandwich, which is a Philly staple. Once I had made my pairing, and tweeted-out about my next adventure, I got an immediate response from King’s Authentic Philly to pair Nickelpoint’s Vienna Lager, with their Smokin’ Joe Frazier. The pairing of a hearty, handcrafted lager and a rendition of a classic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich with jalapeño peppers and Pepper Jack Cheese? It was like they knew me – how perceptive! We met the owners of King’s Authentic Philly, John and Barbra Kingston, and found them to be dedicated and friendly, with a passion for food in general, and obsessed with all things Philly…especially cheesesteak!

Belle sampled the ‘Philly’ a more traditional version of the classic Philly, with Provolone cheese. The sandwiches were outstanding, with ample heat from the jalapeño peppers and pepper jack cheese for my Caribbean-based palate, which I extinguished between bites with the Vienna Lager. This experience was warm and friendly. You can enjoy Kings Authentic Philly for every first and third Wednesday at Nickelpoint Brewing for yourself.

I feel that I should mention that there are a few events scheduled for Nickelpoint Brewery that involve beer pairing. The first, celebrating NC Beer Month, will be hosted by Manna, another food truck that frequents Nickelpoint’s establishment. This event will be held on April 6th, from 7 to 9pm. Go here to get more information and tickets. Also, Nickelpoint has bruce_smplanned a beer pairing with Midtown Grille for sometime in April as well, but as of posting, the details have not been made available. Stay Hungry My Friends…Badboy.

Trial By Fire: The Final Battle – Chef Ryan of Rex Health and Chef Curt of Curt’s Cucina


How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state. Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “secret” ingredient. For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking and it must be used in each of their three courses Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, will rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home. Semi-Final Round – both chefs had competed and won in the first round of competition.

Contestants: Chef Ryan Conklin CEC from Rex Healthcare and Chef Curt Shelvy of Curt’s Cucina.   At stake is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket.

Location: Fire in the Triangle takes place in Raleigh, at 1705 Prime, E Millbrook.

Secret Ingredient #1: Certified Angus Beef Short Loin

Secret Ingredient #2: Uno Alla Volta Cheeses

First Course: 1: Uno Alla Volta Ricotta & Arugula Gnudi, Winter Vegetable Fricassee, Parmesan Brodo, Peppered Certified Angus Beef Charred Rare Tenderloin, UAV Hay-Smoked Mozzarella prepared by Chef Shelvy with a score of 28.367

Second Course: Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper-Horseradish Rubbed Certifed Angus Beef Strip Loin, Uno Alla Volta Hay-Smoked Mozzarella Logan Turnpike Grits, Béarnaise, Asparagus-UAV Burrata Whey Purée Fennell & UAV Ricotta Little River Crab Salad, and Tangerine prepared by Chef Conklin with a score of 25.140

Third Course: Whole Roasted Certified Angus Beef Strip Loin, Fingerling Potato Confit, Una Alla Volta Mozzarella-Shallot Fondue, Green Tomato Salsa Verde, and Natural Jus prepared by Chef Shelvy with a score of 22.148

Fourth Course: Braised Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin, Una Alla Volta Ricotta-Lusty Monk Original Sin Spätzle with Bacon & Brussels Sprouts, Pickled Onion-Perry Lowe Orchards Apple Salad, Melted Leeks,and Fried Parsnip prepared by Chef Conklin; with a score of 24.223

Fifth Course: Marcona Almond-Logan Turnpike “Polenta” Cake, Vanilla Scented Uno Alla Volta Ricotta, Chocolate Soufflé Glacé, Black Pepper Anglaise, and Pomegranate-Strawberry Compote prepared by Chef Shelvy with a score of 26.505

Sixth Course: Uno Alla Volta Ricotta-Toffee Cornmeal Upside Down Cake, UAV Ricotta Semifreddo, Meyer Lemon-Blueberry Compote, UAV Ricotta-Vanilla Bean Cannoli Cream, Pine Nut Crumble, and Balsamic-White Peach Coulis prepared by Chef Conklin; with a score of 28.546

The winner was Chef Ryan Conklin CEC of Rex Healthcare with a score of 25.975 over Chef Curt Shelvy with a score of 25.674.

Conklin took home a $2,000 cash prize, a handmade chef knife by Ironman Forge and the coveted “Red Chef Jacket” provided by ALSCO. Additionally, the Rex Healthcare team moves on to the final battle of champions in October where they will compete against the winners from each of the other North Carolina tournaments.

Additional Sponsors:

  • Hitstech
  • NC Agriculture
  • JoyceFarms
  • Pepsi
  • Certified Angus beef
  • SouthernFoods NC
  • Whole harvest

Trial By Fire: Battle – Christopher vs. Ryan


logo2How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state. Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “secret” ingredient. For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking and it must be used in each of their three courses Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, will rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home. Semi-Final Round – both chefs had competed and won in the first round of competition.

Contestants: Chef Christopher Hill of Faire and Chef Ryan Conklin CEC from Rex Healthcare At stake is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket.

Location: Fire in the Triangle takes place in Raleigh, at 1705 Prime, E Millbrook.

Secret Ingredient #1: The incredible edible North Carolina Egg

10995903_894144763975816_8967496200503378977_oNorth Carolina Egg Association Representing NC Farmers. Egg production is an important segment of the agriculture industry in North Carolina. The Egg Industry ranks 7th in North Carolina commodity receipts.

Our egg farmers are located all over the state from Dare County to Cherokee County. We have approximately 9 million birds which lay about 7 ½ million eggs a day. That is about one bird per person North Carolina. And since the average person eats about 255 eggs per year, we produce enough eggs to feed our residents. Hens lay an egg about once every 26 hours and usually skip a day in the week.

Secret Ingredient #2: Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchokes

11004591_894144213975871_11912609820241294_oPoplar Ridge Farm is a North Carolina Organic Certified Farm Established in 1995 – Owner/Mgr Marianne Battistone – Contrib Expert SELF Magazine since 1980. Poplar Ridge Farm is a Certified Organic Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm offering produce & flower memberships, weekly online orders, an open to the public on-farm market stand, and deliveries to Charlotte metro restaurants.

A sunchoke is a tuber, like a potato, and is often prepared and eaten as a root vegetable. Light brown and bumpy on the outside and white inside, the sunchoke looks somewhat like a small potato or ginger root. It is native to North America and was cultivated by Native Americans prior to the arrival of European settlers. Also called a Jerusalem artichoke, its name can be a source of confusion because the plant is not closely related to the artichoke; rather, it is a member of the same flower family as the sunflower. With a nutty, somewhat sweet flavor, many cooks enjoy adding bits of the crunchy, raw vegetable to salads or salsas, while others prefer them roasted or mashed.

lonerider Topo Distillery, LoneRider Brewery and the North Carolina Beer Guys supplied drinks. I loved my spicy Bloody Mary again last night. While we were waiting a basket of bread supplied by La Farm Bakery was placed on our table. Ymm! Belle enjoyed her Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen.

Table 13, a change from my favorite table #4, consisted Linda Barnes, Belle of Triangle Street Eats, Lisa and Jeff, Katey and Matt, John and his date, Christy and Cole and myself. Everyone was excited to be at the dinner. Lisa and Jeff had attended the competition with cocoa nibs. Katey and Matt recently had a baby girl, and were on a date celebrating their anniversary (wink wink) and Linda was celebrating her birthday. They received glasses from Libbey.

First Course: Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke-Sweet Potato Steam Bun, Spicy Braised Octopus, Cheshire Pork Belly, Sunchoke-Collard Kimchi, Anaheim Pepper Purée, Sunchoke-Carrot Hoisin. Prepared by Chef Hill receiving a score of 21.85

Second Course: Roasted Veal Medallions, Black Truffle, NC Egg Hollandaise, Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke-Bacon, Homemade Mac & Cheese, Rainbow Chard, Perry Lowe Orchard Apples, Sunchokes prepared by Chef Conklin; receiving a score of 29.5

Third Course: Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke-Black Garlic Glazed Certified Angus Beef Bistro Steak, Goat Lady Dairy Goat Cheese-Bacon-Caramelized Onion NC Egg Tortellini, Black Truffle Lacinato Kale, Sunchoke, and Veal Glace Cream prepared by Chef Hill; receiving a score of 25.64

Fourth Course: Rack of Lamb, Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke-Potato- NC Egg Puff, Tomato-Shiitake Jam, and Lacinato Kale Salsa Verde prepared by Chef Conklin; with a score of 23.94

Fifth Course: Coffee-Choclate IncredibleEggs, NCEgg Cake, Burnt Italian Meringue, Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke Caramel, Cabernet Fluid Gel, and Sunchoke Graham Cracker Butter Cookie prepared by Chef Hill with a score of 25.92

Sixth Course: Poplar Ridge Farm Sunchoke & Sweet Potato Beignet, Milke Chocoalate Glacé, Apple Cider- NC Egg Sabayon, Candied Pistachio Crumbs, and Salted Caramel prepared by Chef Conklin; with a score of 30.94

The winner was Chef Ryan Conklin CEC of Rex Healthcare with a score of 28.14 over Chef Christopher Hill with a score of 24.47. It was a battle to the end, who both chefs preparing an outstanding culinary experience, Conklin’s Chocolate Ice cream was the winning course that pushed his score over the top.

The final battle will be between Chef Ryan Conklin of Rex Healthcare and Curt Shelvey of Curts Cucina on March 9. It will be a great competition between two great competitors!

Additional Sponsors:

  • Hitstech
  • NC Agriculture
  • JoyceFarms
  • Pepsi
  • Certified Angus beef
  • SouthernFoods NC
  • Whole harvest

mary_smUntil next time – The Traveler

Relay Foods – A Different Kind of Food Truck


Operations.TrucksRelay Foods is an innovative online grocery company with a mission to bring the best in local produce, sustainable foods and everyday groceries directly to their customers. Relay offers about 8,000 products in their catalog; 30% of the catalog is sourced locally to the markets they serve. With simple online ordering and convenient home delivery or free pick up, Relay Foods is changing the way people get their groceries, simplifying the process and raising the standards for local quality. Launched in Charlottesville, VA in 2009, Relay Foods has quickly grown to serve much of Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metro areas. Now they are growing their market in the Triangle Area with pick-up sites in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Morrisville and Cary.

The Friends discovered Relay Foods at Pop-Up Sunday Market and signed up for their promotional offer. We were very pleased with our first experience and found Relay Foods to be a dynamic online grocery company. First we “shopped” at Relay Foods online from our home computer (you can also use you mobile device). After our cart was filled, our order was hand bagged, making sure of freshness, cleanliness and accuracy. It was then placed on one of the Relay trucks to be delivered at one of the many pick up spots.

Recently Relay Foods has added a new meal planning service that takes the ease of shopping with Relay one step further. With the meal planning, you can shop by meals rather than individual ingredients. There are several different meal plans with 3-4 meals in each plan. You can pick and chose meals from different plans, making menu planning a snap! For now, this service is still in beta mode; that means Relay is giving customers access to it in small groups. Relay Foods reached out to The Friends to see if we would like to participate in the beta testing. We were excited and happy to take part in this.


“The Meal Plan Beta Test”

IMG_2010We planned to do this for one of our Saturday at-home-dinners. Last weekend, Traveler and I tried out one of the meals from “Flavors to Fall in Love With” meal plans. Traveler selected the Simple Strip Steak with Mushroom Bacon Risotto meal. Relay Foods home delivery service brought our order right to the door late Friday afternoon. I could hardly wait to unpack our order see what we had to work with. I unpacked our groceries to take an inventory making sure we had everything called for in the recipes. After verifying we had everything needed, I put it away.

IMG_2027When Traveler arrived Saturday afternoon, we reviewed the recipes from the Relay meal plan and made our game plan for the Simple Strip Steak with Mushroom Bacon Risotto dinner from Relay Foods. Since the steak needed to marinate for at least 2 hours, we made the simple marinade of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, rubbed it on the steak and set it aside to rest for two hours. Using simple seasonings enhanced the rich pure flavor of this great steak.

IMG_1487According to our game plan, Traveler would take pictures and tweet out our prepping and cooking of the meal. Since the Mushroom Bacon Risotto would take longer, I would prep for and cook the risotto so Traveler would have time to do plenty of tweeting. As I finished up the risotto, Traveler would prepare the Strip Steak. Our planning and timing of meal prep and cooking was spot on. Both the steak and risotto came off at the same time and we plated a very eye-pleasing meal. We found the meal to be as tasty as it looked.

IMG_2034Traveler and I enjoyed our experience with Relay’s Meal Plan. Shopping by meals rather than individual ingredients is very convenient. You don’t have to worry about finding out you have forgotten something when you begin to prepare the meal because Relay’s Meal Planning has taken care of this. We found the recipes easy to follow using simple cooking techniques to complete a delicious meal.   Traveler and I recommend giving Relay Foods Meal Planning a try. It’s great for busy people on the go.



Trial By Fire: Battle – Benjamin vs. Ryan


logo2How it works: Paying guests get to sample each course in a blind tasting alongside a panel of culinary and celebrity judges in a series of 15 dinner competitions hosted in the four regions of the state. Each evening, two restaurants “battle” it out side-by-side in a single elimination format. Guests savor a six-course menu (three dishes from each chef without knowing whose food they’re tasting) created around a “secret” ingredient. For almost all series, the secret ingredient will come from a North Carolina source. The secret ingredient is revealed to the chefs only an hour before they start cooking and it must be used in each of their three courses Diners, alongside culinary and guest judges, will rate each dish and determine who moves to the next round and who goes home. Quarter Final Round – both chefs have competed and won in the first round of competition.

Contestants: Chef Benjamin Harris from the Midtown Grill and Chef Ryan Conklin CEC from Rex Healthcare At stake is a grand prize of $2,500 and a coveted red chef jacket.

Location: Fire in the Triangle takes place in Raleigh, at 1705 Prime, E Millbrook.

Secret Ingredient #1: Chestnut Flour

High Rock Farm is currently the largest chestnut orchard in the mid-Atlantic. With over five hundred chestnut trees High Rock Farm produces about 26,000 pounds a year of chestnuts. Harvesting happens between September and October. This is done by picking up the chestnuts by hand every day.  Once in the barn the chestnuts go through a cleaning and sorting process which removes the unwanted debris from the nuts as well as any weevil eggs. After the nuts are sorted into various sizes the chestnuts are then stored in cold storage before they are shipped off to market. Some of the chestnuts are dried and are sold as kernels. These can be re-hydrated and then used in a wide range of foods and assorted dishes. Many of the nuts are dried and grounded into gluten free flour and sold at market. Since the chestnut is naturally gluten free the flour remains gluten free since it is grounded chestnuts with no additives.

Secret Ingredient #2: Certified Angus Beef

In 1981, Joe and his wife, Robin, began Back Creek in Mt. Ulla, N.C. He says they wanted something they could do together – and the decision to raise Angus cattle is one he’s never regretted.

Angus is everywhere these days. Over the last couple of decades it’s even become a bit of a buzzword. It’s true. Angus beef is good. But the Certified Angus Beef ® brand? It’s on an entirely different level. It defines the standard by which all beef is measured. No shortcuts and with a virtual obsession with flavor and juiciness.

Topo Distillery and the North Carolina Beer Guys supplied drinks. I loved my spicy Bloody Mary again last night. While we were waiting a basket of bread supplied by La Farm Bakery was placed on our table.

Table 4, my favorite table, consisted of Gwynn a psychology professor from Meredith College, her husband Brad a manager at SAS, Alison and Justin psychologists. (It is a small world Justin was from a dairy farm turned cattle ranch from upstate NYC close to where my Father’s came from.) Erin, Matt and Rebecca. These couples have been experimenting with food by hosting a supper club monthly.

Shaluka Perera co-founder of Nicklepoint Brewing; Shaluka also works at IBM. His partner Bruce Corregan, also a former IBM employee was not able to attend. They are pleased with their rapid rise in the microbrewery in the Triangle region, providing Strong Scotch Ale or Nickelpoint English IPA for the nights beer drinking pleasure.

Nickelpoint Brewing Co.® is a craft microbrewery located in Five Points neighborhood north of Raleigh, North Carolina offering classic European style ales. It is a family and dog friendly establishment. It was nice making a new friend. Located at 506 Pershing Road in Raleigh, NC 27608

First Course: Dashi: Black Garlic, Homemade High Rock Farm Chestnut Flour Pasta Braised CertAngusBeef Tri-Tip, Smoked Fennel Kimchi prepared by Chef Harris; receiving a score of 27.21

Second Course: Latin Braised CertAngusBeef Tri-Tip: High Rock Farm Chestnut Flour-Crusted Butternut Squash Guacamole, Perry Lowe Orchards Pink Lady Apple-Fennell-Radish Salad prepared by Chef Conklin; receiving a score of 29.82

Third Course: Carpetbagger: High Rock Farm Chestnut Flour-Fried Virginia Oyster, Grilled Tri-Tip, Benton’s Bacon Emulsion, Goat Lady Dairy Chevre goat cheese Polenta, Foy Farms Radish Sprout and Harissa prepared by Chef Harris; receiving a score of 30.49

Fourth Course: Seared @CertAngusBeef Tri-Tip: High Rock Farm Chestnut Flour & Cocoa Crust, Smokey Red Chimichurri, Scott Farms Sweet Potato-Bacon-Farro Salad, Avocado Purée and Foy Farms Radish Sprouts prepared by Chef Conklin; with a score of 28.18

Fifth Course: Buttermilk Cake: Meringue, Carbonated-Pickled North Carolina Blueberries, Chestnut Flour Crumble and White Chocolate Cream prepared by Chef Harris; with a score of 27.87

Sixth Course: Free Form Cobbler: Perry Lowe Orchards Caemo Apple- Chestnut Flour-Foie Gras Cobbler, White Chocolate Semi Freddo and Butter Pecan Syrup prepared by Chef Conklin; with a score of 29.71

The winner was Chef Ryan Conklin CEC of Rex Healthcare with a score of 29.23 over Chef Benjamin Harris with a score of 28.52. It was a battle to the end, who both chefs preparing an outstanding culinary experience.

The talk at our table was questioning how a Hospital Chef could be competing in Trial by Fire. After learning Chef Conklin had been a chef at the Four Seasons in NYC, we quickly were made aware of Chef Conklin’s abilities and why he is helping to change hospital dining along with the other Blackhat Chefs.

A special mention to Felicia Perry, for all the tweets and retweet. Trish W @tdub_hokie, who I met and enjoyed her tweets, as well as making a new friend. Also, a shout-out to the elusive Triangle Explorer, who I finally had the opportunity to met. Now that we have met, I hope to speak with you at other events.

I have my ticket to attend the battle on Feb. 17 to see Chef Spencer of the Weathervane battle with Chef Brandon Stark of Michael’s Seafood Restaurant.

mary_smUntil next time – The Traveler
























Holly Springs Art Festival


hollyspringstownlogoThe Holly Springs Arts Council celebrated the arts with the 3rd Annual Holly Springs Community Arts Festival February 4-7 held at the Holly Springs Cultural Center. This year’s celebration was center around the theme of “Winter Blues.” During the celebration the Arts Council had planned multiple activities including classes, live auction, Art Vendor show and a gala fundraising evening with a silent auction and featuring a performance from Scott Ainslie, a delta blues musician. The funds raised will support the Holly Springs Arts Council and its efforts to promote the arts in the community.

The Arts Council had planned several activities for Saturday: An Art Vendor Show, Art exhibit, and food trucks. Traveler and Belle decided this would be a nice way to spend the morning, maybe do a little shopping at the Vendor show and then enjoy fare from a food truck we had wanted to try. The Art Vendor Show featured local artists and crafters. There were clay sculptures, photography, quilts, hand dyed silks, handmade jewelry and soaps among the items on display and for sale. After strolling through the vendor show and enjoying the art on exhibit, we headed out to the food trucks.

We found that the lines had already begun to form for the three food trucks in attendance: Dusty Donuts, Olio and Aceto and Kocina. Dusty Donuts has Hot and Fresh Mini Donuts ‘dusted’ with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or chocolate sugar. Olio and Aceto was offering several sandwiches including the Southern BLT with fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese. They also had Cinnamon Sugar Zeppole, a deep-fried Italian pastry filled with custard. Kocina food truck features authentic homemade Latin and Spanish cuisine from empanadas to paella. In the past The Friends have enjoyed the fare from both Dusty Donuts and Olio and Aceto and recommend putting them on your list of food trucks to try. Since Kocina was on The Friends list to try, The Traveler headed Kocina’s way to make the selections for lunch we would take back so Bad Boy could also enjoy the experience. Belle also got Zeppole from Olio and Aceto for a sweet finish to our lunch.


Belle and I love and support the endeavors of local artists. An Artist, artisan, artiste are persons having superior skill or ability, or who are capable of producing superior work. Based on this definition a food truck chef is an artist and this definitely describes JP Murcia of the Kocina Food truck who serving patrons at the Art Show in Holly Springs. JP was born in Columbia, South America. He lived in NYC for many years working as a Chef for NYU and other facilities in the New York area before coming to the Triangle to work for the Duke Hospital system. He worked there for seven years before becoming the Chef for IBM. He now is the owner/Chef for the Kocina Food truck.

Triangle Street Eats has wanted to sample the offerings of the Kocina Food truck for nearly a year and we were not disappointed. We selected Beef Empanadas, which are a popular snack in Colombia; basically a fried meat pie. The Kocina Empanada is a tasty treat. The meat is well seasoned – not spicy, and the crust is tender and easy to eat. We would come back for more!

The Arepa, is a delicious grilled cornmeal patties filled with sweet or savory ingredients. The Kocina arepa is filled with Ropa Vieja. Ropa Vieja literally means “old clothes” in Spanish. The name describes the shreds of meat and vegetables, which resemble colorful strips of rags. We found the flavor and texture to be excellent. It was one of the best I have tasted and definitely recommend it!

The Choripan was chorizo sausage link split and served on crusty bread. Chorizo is a variety of heavily seasoned sausage, either cured or fresh, that is common in Spanish and Mexican cuisine. It had the consistency and taste of a Kielbasa sauce, non-spicy.

The final selection was the Parmesan Roasted Corn on a stick. The corn, while hot had a great flavor, which was enhanced by the slight char and the subtle cheese.

We enjoyed the offerings of the Kocina Food Truck and will return. We want to make sure we try the Paella and see Chef JP’s spin on it. Thumbs Up to the Kocina Food Truck and we recommend following them so you can sample their food.

mary_smTill next time – The Traveler

Restaurant Week – The Piedmont, Durham, NC


  • Executive Chef: Ben Adams
  • Location: 401-B2 Foster St. Durham, NC 27701
  • Phone: 919-683-1213

Emblem_Triangle2015v4Piedmont Restaurant in Durham was the last designation for The Friends during their Triangle Restaurant Week adventure. Piedmont is known for using local, organic and sustainable NC products. According to their Facebook page Piedmont states, “Our food is inspired by seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and purveyors.”

Ben Adams is the chef at Piedmont. By chance earlier in the week, Traveler had attended one of the Trial-by-Fire events in the Triangle NC Competition Dining Events where Chef Adams was one of the competing chefs. In his bio for this event, Chef Adams says, “My cooking style is modern American, refined comfort, seasonally driven and local.” The dishes Chef Adams creates are innovative and exemplify the farm to table concept done right.

logo-smallWe took a few minutes to look over the menu and make our selections. Piedmont’s Restaurant Week menu was varied and large enough to allow us each to select something different and share tastings around the table. During the NC Competition Dining event Traveler met Jennifer Noble Kelly, the publicist for Piedmont Restaurant, and shared that Piedmont was one of our choices for Restaurant Week. Jennifer told Traveler to let her know when we would be dining at Piedmont. Traveler made sure Jennifer knew we were on our way. To our surprise we were treated to additional appetizers Pan-seared scallops and house-made fettuccini with NC blue crab, trout roe with a smokey crème fraiche off the regular menu. The scallops were seared to perfection and locked in the tender juices. The fettuccini had the most delicate sauce that tasted fantastic.

The Traveler choices for the night were fried NC oysters for a starter and Smoked spiced-rubbed Green Buttons Farm’s pork chop accompanied by Shotgun Betty-braised cabbage and pine roasted fingerlings. The pork chop was juicy and flavorful and the cabbage cooked to perfection.

I decided on Lil’ Farm’s organic greens followed by spice-crusted NC flounder with pine-roasted fingerlings and braised fennel with a smokey fumet. The flounder was cooked just right – light and flaky.

Bad Boy selected marinated Heeks Farm beets with house-made ricotta and blackened NC Catfish with Carolina Gold hoppin’ john and braised collards. Bad Boy said the catfish was blackened to his liking and the sides added great flavor to the plate.

All of us felt the spices were used to arouse the palate but left plenty of room for the natural flavors of the food to come through. Also the chef’s mixings of flavors and textures added interest to each plate.

As Traveler and I were discussing the desserts, Bad Boy made the decision for us. Since there were three desserts and three of us, we would just order one of each:

  • Horchata semifreddo, avocado-coconut sorbet with sweet potato-tamarind sauce
  • Sticky Date Cake, salted caramel ice cream, dulce de leche
  • Coconut cashew cake, salted caramel-chocolate sauce with chocolate cashew ice cream

Each of the deserts was delicious but the Horchata semifreddo was our favorite.

The Piedmont is located in a refurbished 1930s Nash dealership. The environment is hip and urban complimented by a simple décor, high ceilings and soft lights. The ambiance is cozy, intimate and comfy. This can be attributed to General Manager, Crawford Leavoy’s belief in “guest-focused attention.” He wanders throughout greeting and engaging diners. When Crawford stopped by our table, he and Traveler discovered they had something in common – Traveler had worked in the town Crawford was born in Louisiana.

We had amazing service making our meal extremely enjoyable. Alexis, our server, was knowledgeable, friendly and attentive but not hovering. She could easily explain ingredients, techniques used in preparing the dishes as well as the flavorings and paring of the foods.

The Friends rated their meal and evening at Piedmont their best overall experience of Triangle Restaurant week. The fresh meal prepared with attention to detail and severed in a great restaurant environment didn’t disappoint. The three of us left with smiles on our s_belle_smfaces and looking forward to a return visit.


Restaurant Week 2015 – Lunch at The Big Easy, Raleigh, NC


  • Executive Chef: Frank Ferlo
  • Location: 222 Fayetteville St. Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Phone: 1-919-832-6082
  • Date Visited: 1/31/15 at noon

Emblem_Triangle2015v4Initially, the friends had intended to have lunch at the recently opened restaurant, Bolt Bistro. When we arrived, we found it unexpectedly closed for lunch. Befuddled, we were determined to find a nearby location participating in the Triangle Restaurant Week. In dining, as in life, always have a contingency plan. Across the street we saw, The Big Easy, a restaurant that we had originally selected for our list of eatery to try, but only offered dinner samplings for restaurant week.

“Now is as good a time as any,” I remember telling Belle and Traveler, followed by “Laissez les bon temps roulez!”

dragonflymarket_1373571988_140As you could guess, their specialty is Cajun cuisine, indigenous to Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta region of the US. I must warn you, their menu,whether lunch or dinner, is vast and diverse. Since this was lunch, we selected an appetizer of fried oysters and sandwiches: shrimp Po’ Boy for Belle, oyster Po’ Boy for the Traveler and a muffuletta for me. As luck would have it, I have wanted to try a muffuletta for some time. This sandwich is served on muffuletta bread, which is round in fashion, with a hearty crust. It is filled with a variety of meats; mostly consisting of sweet soppressata, mortadella, capicola and provolone cheese, and topped with olive tapenade and giardiniera. Thank God I could order a half-a-sandwich. The size of this portion is almost disturbing to a light luncher. All of the food was well prepared, and the staff was pleasant and knowledgeable. If you enjoy, or have ever been temped to sample Cajon food, I would recommend The Big Easy.

As fate would have it, The Big Easy will be celebrating Mardi Gras in block-party fashion on February 17, from noon till 10 pm. This event will have street performers, music, as well as several food trucks from around the Triangle, including:

For more information, go here.

bruce_smLet the Good Times Roll – Badboy