I used to drive past Guglhupf three times a week on my way to an internship. I drove past it for months before trying it because by the time I would get off work, it was closed. Once I finally went there, it became one of my favorite cafes in the Triangle area. The unmistakeable European feel will put you at ease and allow you to make new friends out of strangers. The cafe is spacious, with plenty of outdoor seating and two floors inside. The adjoining bakery emits the delicious smell of freshly baked bread out onto the patio area. If the weather allows, sit outside and enjoy a sandwich or a snack like you have no where else to be.
I visited Guglhupf before Thanksgiving to spend some quality time with my friend Liat. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us after I took her there for the first time last year. I don’t usually stray far from my favorite item on the menu, a turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich. However, this time I got something a bit different, a turkey, grilled pear and gorgonzola sandwich. The sandwich was heavy on the turkey, but the strong flavors of arugula and gorgonzola cheese complemented the sweet, grilled pear. I still prefer the turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich, but this one is a close second. Guglhupf also has an assortment of small plates and salads.
Liat got what she always gets – the strawberry tart. I have yet to try it because the sandwiches always fill me up. The menu is not large but there is an option for everyone, whether you are craving a hearty soup or something sweet. After, or even before, going into the cafe, check out the bakery. I dare you to walk out without trying anything.
Nutzen den tag!
If you have been to Charlotte but not to Amelie’s French Bakery, shame on you. This 24-hour bakery in the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte is perfect for a lunch date, a late-night macaron craving or Sunday brunch – if you’re willing to wait in line. The pastries and the decor will fight for your attention as you walk in. A chandelier made of pots and pans, a translucent lamp shade, Parisian themed photo montages and the tempting bakery case.
You will be tempted to try one of everything, but the prices may steer you away from that - $1.99 per macaron is a steep price for a small delicacy, but it is worth it. Amelie’s prepares their pastries around the clock, ensuring that everything is fresh. I had the salted caramel hot chocolate last weekend and it was one of the best hot chocolates I have had. What can beat a delicious hot chocolate, a reunion with an old friend and all the board games you’ve ever wanted in a coffee shop?
Macaron vs. Macaroon - One is a chewy coconut treat and one is a crispy merengue. The delicacies pictured above are macarons. They have a crisp outer shell with a ganache-like filling. My favorite flavor is rose, but you cannot go wrong with chocolate. While macarons have more of an almond flavor, macaroons have a coconut flavor. You can read more about the ingredients and find some recipes here.
If you don’t have a bottomless stomach or wallet, order at least one macaron and one salted caramel brownie. Or take some goodies home with you! But stay at Amelie’s long enough to enjoy the creative interior design. You will be hard-pressed to enjoy all the nooks and decorations in just one trip to Amelie’s.
I suppose I should have mentioned the “real food” before dessert. Amelie’s has a selection of sandwiches, salads and soups. My favorite dishes include the spinach asparagus leek soup and the turkey and brie sandwich – roasted turkey, brie and seasonal compote on a baguette. These light dishes are satisfying while still allowing room to try some of the desserts.
I try to make it to Amelie’s whenever I am in Charlotte and no matter if I get the same flavor macaron every time, it is always a different experience. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Charlotte, otherwise I’d never leave Amelie’s! It is open 24 hours, after all.
They spend hours slicing, marinating, sifting, curing and preparing our food. It usually doesn’t take us more than 10 minutes to finish the masterpieces they create.
Now, imagine they get a secret ingredient that they must incorporate in every dish. Things like caviar, pecans, pintade (guinea fowl), peaches, Cheerwine and truffles. The chefs who participated in North Carolina’s Competition Dining Series took these North Carolina ingredients and transformed them into appetizers, main courses and desserts.
Host and founder of the competition, Jimmy Crippen was right when he said, “Tickets will be gone in less than an hour.” If you were not lucky enough to be on your computer at 6:55 p.m. the night the tickets went on sale, please enjoy the post and visit the link at the bottom for more photos.
During the “pecan battle” in the Final Fire series, Dean Thompson of Flights was up against John Bobby of Noble’s Grill. The battle was held in Raleigh at the Renaissance Hotel, home to the Flights Restaurant, so Chef Thompson was the favored competitor. The mystery ingredient was pecans from High Rock Farm in Gibsonville, NC.
Chef Thompson appeared to be making a dish that resembled chicken and waffles for the appetizer round. The smell in the kitchen while he was making this was irresistible. I found out the dish was quail, which I had never had before, but I can say that this pecan-crusted quail and waffle dish was delicious!
The most interesting dish I tried during this battle was Chef Bobby’s entree dish. What stood out was the citrus ravioli. The mix of the tangy citrus filling and the savory ravioli was a nice complement to the flounder. ”One dish will make you or break you,” said Crippen. “One dish could be everyone’s favorite to the point where it won the competition for them. Other times it will lose the competition for them.”
Chefs are not allowed to cook anything from their restaurant’s menu. This allow for creativity and anonymity. “We don’t want this to be a popularity contest,” Crippen said. “I’m looking for true opinions of food based on the food itself.”
The teamwork I witnessed in the kitchen went above-and-beyond. When it was time to plate the dishes, the chefs and Chef Refs, headed by Laurence Willard of Southern Foods, came together to stack dishes three to four plates high on an island in the kitchen. They had 150+ people to feed and no time to waste. The chefs assembled their teams and the Chef Refs gathered to form an assembly line. Chef Bobby and Chef Thompson may have had quail in the deep fryer or whip cream to prepare, but they helped each other as much as possible. Chef Bobby finished the battle first with round five, and the relief on his face was evident. He gladly helped Chef Thompson plate the final dish of the battle.
Chef Bobby made it to the final battle. Chef Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grille won against Chef Gerry Fong of Persimmons to advance to the final. The secret ingredient in the final battle was Battle Black Perigord Truffles and Truffle Honey from Keep Your Fork Farm in King, NC. This battle proved to have an interesting dynamic in the kitchen. Both chefs were competitive; while Chef Bobby and his team were more reserved and focused, Chef Hayes’ team was more energetic and seemed more confident. Chef Bobby’s wife, Lucia Bobby, was perhaps the most patient chef in the kitchen – or at least she gave that impression.
The community involvement in the competitions involved tweets, sometimes between tables. The dining room had a large screen that showed up-to-date tweets with the hashtag #CompDiningNC. Some of my favorites:
The competition, teamwork, camaraderie, hard work and cooking was unbelievable. The way the chefs assembled like clockwork to plate the dishes took a lot of practice and patience getting used to the other team’s work style.
Chef Hayes won the Final Fire, but both chefs, and all chefs who competed in the Competition Dining Series, deserve a round of applause.
Check out more photos here.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Eat up!
Asheville makes for a great day trip, if you’re hungry, thirsty and willing to make the drive. Our first stop was Wicked Weed, where strangers and locals meet to drink great beer. And that’s exactly what we did. We sat downstairs in the tasting room, at a community table, and met a local gentleman who suggested some of his favorite items on the menu.
When I go to a brewery, I usually don’t expect anything more than average pub food. So, when I saw the food options, I was surprised by the creative combinations on the menu. Just check out these sandwiches on their menu:
I ordered the fried chicken sandwich. The crispy fried chicken was complemented by the sour, fermented cabbage (kimchi) and the sweetness from the miso mayonnaise. It was different than any sandwich I’ve ever had and it was quite satisfying.
My friend ordered the classic burger. If I were him, I definitely would have gone for the bison burger with haystack shallots and blue cheese coleslaw. However, he enjoyed his classic burger, although he said it could have been juicier.
If you are an IPA fan, you must also try Wicked Weed’s “Freak of Nature Double IPA.” The Freak of Nature is 8% abv and has too many ibu’s to put a number to it. They have quite the beer selection, ranging from local IPAs and pale ales to Belgian and wood-aged beers. I sampled the muscadine beer, because I have only ever had Muscadine wine, and I was intrigued. I am not a fan of muscadine wine, but the beer was pretty good. They also had “apple pie saison” and perhaps the most interesting was “sweet potato and grits saison.”
After getting some food and beer, it was time to visit the highly regarded French Broad Chocolate Shop. This is where you want to go to indulge. Try one of their brownies, whether you eat it there or take it for later. I took mine for later (ate it that night) and ordered Mexican hot chocolate. I could not let this delicious sounding concoction pass me by: ”contemporary Mexican-style hot chocolate with house chocolate, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and milk.” It smelled delicious and after letting it cool enough to drink – or so I thought, until I burned by tongue – I was disappointed because it didn’t taste as good as it smelled. While the chocolatey taste was phenomenal, the chili powder was overpowering. I was hoping to taste more of the other flavors, like the cinnamon and almond. Nevertheless, still visit this lovely shop if you’re in Asheville. Just make sure you will like what you order!
While at Wicked Weed, the gentleman told us of a cidery down the street. Urban Orchard is a new establishment in Asheville, serving a selection of ciders and beers. We both ordered the flight, which included a seasonal cranberry cider and an apple-ginger cider. The ginger cider was my favorite and tasted the most like actual cider. I also enjoyed the unfiltered apple cider. However, the other ciders seemed to be missing the crisp, refreshing taste that I am used to in ciders, rather leaving me with the taste of flavored champagne. Urban Orchard is a good spot to meet friends, kick back and have a beer. But if you’re going for cider, don’t waste your time on the flight. Go for the ginger cider. With that said, I like the idea of the company, which sources apples from Hendersonville, NC, and crafts the ciders in-house.
Noble Cider was also recommend and I sampled their cider at Wedge Brewing Company. We didn’t stay at Wedge long because it was getting late, but I will be going back because of the friendly laid-back vibe and the big outdoor courtyard that hosts food trucks and corn hole games.
Thank you for all of your suggestions on our Facebook page. I will be making a trip back to Asheville soon to try some more of your recommendations. If you haven’t already liked our Facebook page, you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/eatitnorthcarolina
Have a great week!
You’ve probably heard the name, or seen the truck at one of the many food truck festivals in the Triangle area. But do you know the face behind all that delicious La Farm bread?
Lionel Vatinet opened La Farm Bakery in 1999 and since then has been baking La Farm’s signature sourdough loaf among other types of bread including ciabatta, multi-grain rolls, challah, baguettes and more.
Last week, La Farm had a book party for Lionel’s new book “A Passion for Bread.” The bakery was overflowing with bread enthusiasts and there was plenty of bread to go around. I enjoyed trying the different dips which were in a cut-out baguette. The honey butter was delicious, if you have a sweet tooth like me. The kitchen was open for guests to walk through and see where the magic happens.
If you missed this event, Lionel has more book signings coming up. Wednesday (11/13), he will be at Flyleaf books in Chapel Hill, NC for a book signing and tasting at 7 p.m. Saturday (11/16), he will be at Western Wake Farmer’s Market at 10 a.m. There are more events listed on La Farm’s website.
Please feel free to leave a comment if you have tried one of the recipes from Lionel’s book and let us know how it turned out.
“Life is about the journey, not the destination,” my friend says to me during dinner. And that’s exactly the attitude you should have when eating at Aviator. You will need to put aside the thought of what the consequences may be, and just enjoy the crispy, beer-battered, blue cheese-smothered journey.
I recommend starting off your dinner with the Aviator beer-battered onion rings. These crunchy delights are served with a spicy-sweet mustard sauce. It’s a huge portion and definitely big enough to split between 2 people.
I got the chicken wings with the “Aviator” sauce, which is the mildest. The sauce options for wings are listed on their menu as:
Moco Loco: This will remove the flesh from your tongue.
Crazy: Very Hot! Habaneros, Jalapenos and Thai Peppers!
Monster: Habenero, Jalepeno, Honey and Spices…manageable.
Buffalo: The sauce that made wings famous.
BlackMamba: Our BlackMamba stout with a little kick to it.
Thai Red Devil: Little bit of spice with our Devils Tripel.
Aviator: Our sweet and tangy sauce….delicious.
The wings are served with blue cheese and ranch, both of which are homemade. You can tell that everything is fresh and homemade. The wings are smoked and fried to perfection and then covered with your choice of sauce. I enjoyed the sweet-tangy Aviator sauce and the homemade blue cheese. It’s about the journey, right? So, hand over the onion rings and deep friend wings.
My friend got the “Brewers Beef Brisket,” which he finished to the last bite, along with french fries and coleslaw. I tried some fries and they were extra crispy and delicious.
Remember, life’s about the journey!
I love a good veggie burger that is overloaded with black beans, corn, mushrooms and other vegetables. But the Busy Bee Cafe in downtown Raleigh serves a different kind of veggie burger.
I had my first spinach and artichoke “burger” at Busy Bee Cafe. And it was delish! I was expecting a messy burger but the spinach held together nicely. This was one of the freshest tasting veggie burgers I have ever had.
My friend got the “Tom and Jack” burger with tater tots. He enjoyed that as well. The atmosphere at Busy Bee is casual, and I would recommend eating on the rooftop. It’s not the best view of downtown, but with the nice fall weather and good food, the rooftop provides a nice setting for a casual dinner with friends. Out of the three times I have been to this restaurant, I’ve seen couples, groups of friends, families and a bachelorette party. Needless to say, Busy Bee Cafe has something for everyone. Check out their menu here: http://www.busybeeraleigh.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44&Itemid=60
Sea Glass Cafe & Bakery has been around in New Bern for quite a few years. It is located on Martin Luther King Blvd just off of Glenburnie. It actually moved just down the road a few years ago and the old sign is still up just off of Highway 70. I went for brunch after a wedding last weekend and had a good experience. The staff is extremely friendly and the brunch options were pretty fantastic ranging from multiple types of omelets and eggs benedict. They are all reasonably priced and they also had a nice coffee bar which had about 10 different blends of coffee that you could choose from.
I ordered the Working Man’s Benedict which was a four ounce steak with mushrooms and two poached eggs covered in hollandaise on top of a split English muffin. It wasn’t the greatest brunch that I’ve had but I still enjoyed it. The restaurant was packed so they had a lot going on.The English muffins weren’t crisp and the steak tasted like it was from a Golden Corral. My order came with some breakfast potatoes which could have been a little warmer but still had good flavor and I topped them with some Texas Pete for added zing. They weren’t on top of their game in the kitchen but I had a great experience there.
Brynn ordered the special which I can’t remember exactly what she ordered but it looks like it was a combination of biscuits & gravy and eggs Benedict. I am pretty sure that she liked her meal and it looks like a good hangover cure.
All in all, it was a good breakfast but not great. SeaGlass is a cool place to get together for food but I feel that our experience was only a step-up from getting the food through a drive-thru window for breakfast. I think I will probably try to stay in historic New Bern and dine down by the water next time. It may be a little bit more expensive but probably worth it.
The first thing you will notice as you walk into Pizzeria Toro – aside from the smell of freshly made gourmet pizza – is the long wooden table in the middle of the restaurant. The second thing you will notice is the wood fire grill producing that sensational smell. While some may not be fond of the intrusion of a communal dining table, they will soon forget their worries when they take their first bite. As I look at the menu, I am excited that they have multiple options for ”red” and “white” pizzas.
As a non-tomato eater, I go for a white pizza. “Soft egg, Old N. Durham oyster Mushrooms, Arugula.” Pizza with a lightly poached egg? You had me at hello. My friend and dining accomplice also ordered a white pizza. “Sweet potato greens, house pancetta and Rustico R.P.”
Although a bit too heavy on the arugula for my taste, the juicy egg hiding underneath was scrumptious. It was my first time trying an egg on my pizza but it definitely won’t be my last. The pizzas have a thin, crispy crust that is also deliciously chewy at the same time. I will also be going back to Toro because there are a few more pizzas I’d like to try – “Burnsville delicatta squash, garlic, gorgonzola” and “Summer squash, garlic, ricotta, grana padano.”
(Please excuse the quality of the photos. I am using my phone camera until I get a new camera.)
Many of you may be heading to downtown Raleigh this weekend for the Wide Open Blue Grass Street Festival. With 100+ bands, multiple music stages and the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship, the event draws a large crowd. The event also has multiple food vendors and you can find such items as gluten-free BBQ sauce from Baldie’s BBQ and homemade old-fashioned cookies from Tonya’s Cookies (Tonya is Mama Dip‘s granddaughter).
If you are looking for N.C. products, head over to Fayetteville Street between Martin Street and Davie Street for the “Got to be NC” area sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture. Walk towards Hargett Street and you will find the “Beer and Wine Tasting” tent. If you’re still hungry, head to City Plaza for the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship, where chefs compete to become the state’s whole hog barbecue champion. After the judging on Saturday, the barbecue will be chopped and sold in sandwiches.
If the hog competition does not cut it for you, and especially if you’re an out-of-towner or someone who does not get downtown often, try The Pit Authentic Barbecue. I’ve even had their turkey barbecue and tofu barbecue, and those were phenomenal. The Pit deserves its own review, which will be coming in the near future.
The festival will take place Friday and Saturday, September 27-28, from noon-11 p.m.
If you’re not one for big crowds – the festival is expected to reach 60,000 attendees – there is a “Bluegrass Ramble” leading up the festival. Some venues have been hosting “rambles” since Tuesday night and will continue up until the festival.
Enjoy the festivities and let us know what food you decide to try!