Jubala Village Coffee, in Lafayette Village on Falls of the Neuse Road, is one of my new favorite spots to take friends and family when they come to town. The laid back atmosphere, perfectly brewed coffee and delicious food are why I love it so much. I have been three or four times in the past few months and have not had a bad experience. The staff knows their stuff and will walk you through what to order based on your tastes. It isn’t a small, cramped coffee shop like pretty much every coffee shop that I have ever been to. It is wide open with plenty of places to sit down with a laptop and a delicious cup of coffee.
I really enjoy a delicious cup of black coffee. Jubala had a variety of blends available from Counter Culture, one of the most reputable coffee roasters in North Carolina out of Durham. They pour it drip-style at 209 degrees which I decided to go with the Bourbon which an organic, single-variety coffee that is currently completely sourced from Kabirizi, Rwanda. According to Counter Culture’s website, “connoisseurs treasure the Bourbon variety for its deep, buttery chocolate and coffee flavor, its unique sweetness, and its gentle fruit overtones.” It had a great taste with a nice acidity. I’m still working on developing my coffee palate so I can’t quite pick out overtones.
They also offer a variety of espresso drinks including cappucinos, cortados, macchiatos and lattes with some fantastic artwork on top. Their specialty drinks, which I have not tried, include something called the county line cocktail, the Madagascar vanilla and a chipotle/ancho mocha which sounds like something I could really get into. They also carry up to fifteen loose leaf teas and a variety of non-coffee drinks like hot chocolate, Blenheim ginger ale, Sprecher soda and chai lattes.
I ordered one of their pressed sandwiches which are served between 11am and 4pm. I was debating between the Turkey-Avocado with sliced cheddar and house-made chipotle aioli on toasted multi-grain and the pimento sandwich with Palmetto pimento cheese out of South Carolina, maple-cured thick cut bacon and Wickles Pickles out of Alabama on sourdough bread. I went with the latter as you can see above and was not disappointed. I was a little hesitant when I first ordered it because of the pickles but they ended up adding an awesome flavor to the sandwich. The bacon was cooked to a crisp which is how I enjoy it. The pimento cheese was warm but not liquified and spilling out of the sandwich. I wouldn’t mind trying this with the jalapeno version of the pimento cheese to give it a spicy kick. I will be trying to recreate this at home.
The kitchen at Jubala serves more than sandwiches. They also have serve breakfast all day including Belgium waffles, house-made granola, steel-cut oatmeal and biscuits (until they run out). They have all sorts of toppings for both the waffles and biscuits to make them different ranging from pimento cheese and bacon to apple butter to Nutella.
Make it a point to stop into Jubala. Take your iPad or computer in with you a knock out some work or knock out some Facebook time while you sit in a cool place. The warmer weather is coming and the patio which looks out onto Lafayette Village’s lawn will be an awesome place to relax if you can find a seat. Jubala Village Coffee was recently voted as the “Best Place to Get Your Caffeine Fix” in the Triangle by Midtown Magazine and it is well deserved.
Jimmy from Eat It, Atlanta makes his way over to North Carolina occasionally for work. He does his research before he leaves like any good blogger and I am guessing that he probably has a list of a few restaurants in each city that he wants to hit up. He hit up Price’s Chicken Coop (above) in Charlotte. He tried some vegetarian options plus bacon at Spring House in Winston-Salem. He got his fix on Biscuitville and declared it the best fast food biscuit while dissing Chik-Fil-A’s biscuits which I totally agree with. In Raleigh, he went to J. Betski’s (below) and hit is limit of fifteen on schnitzengruben (he didn’t actually eat schnitzengruben…it’s a “Blazing Saddles” reference). He also hit up Poole’s Diner and gave Ashley Christensen lots of well-deserved praise.
We have done a few posts regarding things happening inside the pages of Our State Magazine in the past including some recipes from restaurants that they have featured as well as a feature they did on places to eat breakfast across the state. Some people might consider them competition for our blog but I don’t see it that way. They post a lot of similar things but I figure that the more posts the better! I use Our State as one of my sources whenever I am traveling in North Carolina to find a new spot to eat at.
Our State Magazine has been the magazine that has been a staple on the coffee table throughout childhood as well as presently. The writing and photography is top-notch. It isn’t just one of those magazines that you flip through. This is a magazine that you sit down and read. It opens up dozens of new places within driving distance that you probably have never known about. If you did already know about them, it rekindles something inside you that makes you want to go back and visit them.
I was invited to the Our State April 2013 issue premiere at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill which also happens to be on top of many lists for best Southern restaurant although this was my first time there. It is tucked away right on the line between Chapel Hill and Carrboro city limits at the end of Franklin Street. While it doesn’t look like much more than a shack on the outside, the appeal comes from within in both food & drinks as well as a quirky southern atmosphere.
They had freshly printed copies of the latest issue at the door with a great shot of deviled eggs on the cover as you can see above. I am about halfway through reading this issue but, so far, I’ve really enjoyed the articles about Ashe County Cheese in West Jefferson, the feature on Morehead City and the story on the German U-boats because I am an avid scuba diver. Seriously, those are the first articles and then you get Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que in Southwestern North Carolina near Murphy which I need to check out and then it goes into a series of articles about food and church that I just started before writing this. It is a great issue that you should pick up.
It was a fairly crowded event with lot of contributors to the magazine as well as a few other folks like myself. It would have been a little easier to socialize if they name tags had more information than just the names so I could know who was who and find some like-minded folks to talk about hole-in-the-wall restaurants across the state. The food at the event consisted of hors d’oeuvres based around the food and church portion of the magazine with items like deviled eggs, pimento cheese, pepper jelly & cream cheese and Southern ham biscuits. They also served various desserts that I didn’t partake in or take pictures of.
They were also serving some local beers (Foothills’ Torch Pilsner, Highland’s Gaelic Ale and Carolina Brewery’s Flagship IPA) as well as two featured wines which were not local: Joseph Drouhin 2010 Chardonnay and Crios 2012 Malbec. They also served a Southern Gin Cocktail (pictured above) which consisted of local Cardinal Gin, Cointreau and Fee Brothers Orange Bitters with an orange twist. It was the perfect cocktail for the 70 degree weather outside on the patio at Crook’s Corner during the event.
I really enjoyed the event and getting to talk with various folks that work at the magazine. The food and atmosphere was worth the forty minute drive from Raleigh to partake in. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to Our State. In the digital age, it is really nice to have a copy in your hands.
North Carolina’s competition dining series, “Got To Be N.C.,” is back in full swing. This Iron Chef-style tournament pits chefs at local restaurants across the state against each other. Each single-elimination battle consists of a six dishes (three from each chef) which features a secret or featured ingredient that is from a North Carolina source which varies from event to event. So far this year, the featured ingredients have ranged from Ashe County Cheddar & Bailey Mountain Tomme from Spinning Spider Creamery in Marshall, NC to Cheerwine to Texas Pete. As you can guess, it allows the chefs to get pretty creative in the kitchen.
The winner of each competition is decided by both diners and guest judges. Diner’s scores are weighted by 70% and guest judge scores are weighted by 30% for each event. The winner of each event will advance to the next stage to compete against another chef who won their prior event. The winner of each region will receive a “Red Chef Jacket” similar to the coveted green jacket for whoever wins The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, GA. The winner will also receive $2,000 and a spot in the Final Fire competition held in Raleigh at the end of the year.
The Final Fire competition from last year consisted of chefs from Chefs 105 in Morehead City, 1618 Seafood Grille in Greensboro, Bistro Roca and Antler’s Bar in Blowing Rock and The Weathervane at Southern Season in Chapel Hill (champion). There were only four regions last year so it should be interesting to see how they are going to handle an odd number of regions this year.
Here are links to the five regional tournaments and the championship tournament:
- Fire on the Rock (Asheville – January 14th – 30th/Blowing Rock - April 8th – 30th)
- Fire on the Dock (Wilmington – February 18th – April 3rd)
- Fire in the Triad (Greensboro – May 14th – June 26th)
- Fire in the Triangle (Raleigh – July 8th – August 19th)
- Fire in the City (Charlotte – September 3rd – October 21st)
- Final Fire (Raleigh – N0vember T.B.A.)
The tournament was created by Jimmy Crippen of Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant in 2005 in Blowing Rock. This is the second year that the concept will be executed statewide with a total of five regional tournaments. I think it an awesome concept. It is a great for North Carolina to have its own food competition for chefs and restaurants as well as for diners. You can purchase a seat for the battles online. They do add North Carolina sales tax and a 20% gratuity so be aware of this beforehand. Also, this is a competition based on the food so drinks (not sure what kind but I know wine) is not included in the ticket price but can be purchased on site.
Here’s a gallery of some of the deliciousness that has been prepared so far this year at the Fire on the Rock and Fire on the Dock:
Top Chef is one of my guilty pleasures and the sole reason that I don’t want Bravo to exist anymore as a channel. Bravo used to have some pretty decent shows before its reality makeover in 2003 which is similar to what happened on MTV. I know that there are probably a lot of people out there like me who feel the same. I digress. Top Chef may be overly dramatic but I love watching talented people make delicious looking stuff in the kitchen. If only there were a taste option for all these food shows.
I received an e-mail from the PR agency representing Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division that invited me to an event at a local Kroger. Chef Eli Kirshtein, from Season 6 of Top Chef, will be at the Kroger on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh on February 16th from 11 AM to 2 PM. I am a Kroger customer and actually I tend to shop at the store that he will be visiting. I have been told that he will “share his expert recipe advice and helpful kitchen tips, while preparing delicious meals using easily accessible grocery products.” I imagine that he will be using a lot of ingredients from the shelves at Kroger. I’ve been told that he will be preparing Pork Nam Sod.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Kirshtein, 25, is a self-proclaimed Gastronome. He started his culinary career at the young age of 16 as a cook at Atlanta’s Buckhead Diner under Chef Kevin Rathbun. Kirshtein quickly moved to restaurant Fishbone under Chef Richard Blais before moving to New York to attend school at the Culinary Institute of America. While in New York, he spent time in some of the country’s greatest kitchens with a series of stages. After graduation, Kirshtein returned to Atlanta to reunite with Blais, as Sous Chef at One, Midtown Kitchen. After two years at One, he took a year long hiatus to work under Alberto Cabrera at Miami’s Karu & Y as Executive Sous Chef. He is currently Executive Chef at ENO, Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Kirshtein was a contestant in season six on Top Chef. He fared well making it to the 12th episode before turning in his knives. He won two quickfire challenges. He didn’t win any elimination challenges but his dishes placed pretty high on four episodes and only low in two.
He has been doing a lot of stuff in the ATL including hosting pop-up restaurants, creating an all-Jewish barbecue team and working on a cookbook with Richard Blais. He brings a lot of energy to the restaurant scene as you can see by his green sneakers in the profile shot to the right. He kind of looks like a mad scientist. I know Jimmy over on Eat It, Atlanta has tasted some Eli’s dishes included a gnocchi and a yuzu meringue dessert with pistachio and it sounds like he enjoyed them.
The event will be held at the Kroger at 6300 Creedmoor Road in Raleigh from 11am to 2pm. I’m pumped to learn some good techniques from him and learning how to make his Pork Nam Sod. See you there!
When I hear someone talking about ramen noodles, my first thought goes to the cup of noodle stuff that my friends and I consumed when we had 10 minute breaks during high school. We called it beef water or chicken water depending on the flavor. It was fluorescent. I also ate some similar stuff in college when I was dead ass broke. The cup of noodles are made by Nissin and the other stuff by Top Ramen and neither are very good. Both of these fall under the “instant ramen” category. Instant ramen is to true ramen as what Chef Boyardee is to true Italian.
Good ramen is tough to find in North Carolina. There aren’t many restaurants whose specific focus is ramen and the dish is something that takes dedication. Chefs train for years to learn all the intricacies of ramen as portrayed in both Tampopo (1985) or The Ramen Girl (2008). It is considered an art by many foodies and there are people who make voyages just to try a new ramen place that they have heard about.
On February 20th, Whole Foods in Durham is having a Genji Ramen Night where they . If you didn’t know, Genji is the sushi bar/counter at Whole Foods on the eastern seaboard and San Francisco. They are a national company that is constantly trying to source their products from suppliers using sustainable fishing practices so not to deplete the fish population. Their goal is to contribute towards healthier food consumption habits on a global level. This is your top-of-the-line supermarket option for sushi so I have the feeling that their ramen will follow suit.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to try freshly made ramen, head over to the Whole Foods Durham on Broad Street from 6pm to 8pm and give it a taste. It is a world of difference from the instant. You can buy a bowl of ramen which has been simmering all day in the store with either shrimp tempura and roasted pork (char siu) for $4.50 per bowl but you can also bring a friend or your appetite and get BOGO ramen bowls. They use a Miso Tonkotsu Ramen in the ramen which combines two of the most popular: Tonkotsu pork broth and Miso broth If you are on-the-run, you can pick up a to-go version which you can quickly heat up within 90 seconds using hot water.
I was recently contacted by Keith Alm about reviewing his family’s cheese straws. His mother, Beth Alm, and uncle, Heath Ritchie, are the founders of Ritchie Hill Bakery in Concord, NC. Keith described their straws to me as “the “everyman’s” cheese straws – authentic, simple, not over engineered.” Heath Ritchie has used the same recipe that his grandmother baked her first batch of cheese straws almost a century ago.
The spicy bite-sized treats are a simple recipe: flour, cheese, margarine, baking powder, cayenne pepper, egg, salt and water plus whatever variation that the baker decides to customize the recipe with. Cheese straws are commonly found throughout the south but it is rare to find a bakery or cook that knows how to make them correctly. I have tried a variety of different cheese straws throughout my life and these stood out as being in the top tier of the one’s that I have tried.
Heath’s Cheese Straws come in a resealable package and stay crisp and fresh for three months without refrigeration. They can also be frozen and will stay fresh for up to six months. Ritchie Hill Bakery makes the cheese straws in small batches everyday to make sure that their customers are receiving them as fresh as possible.
Ritchie Hill Bakery is currently offering two different packages through their website. The small package contains approximately three and a half dozen cheese straws for $5.95 and the large contains approximately six dozen cheese straws for $9.95. There is also a gift-wrapped version which contains approximately twelve dozen cheese straws and is professionally wrapped with a ribbon and tin.
I recommend buying the largest size that you can because these cheese straws can become highly addictive soon after your first bite. They have a deliciously sharp cheddar flavor followed by a subtle spicy kick that isn’t too intense or too spicy for the average consumer. They are great hor d’oeuvres or party snacks to place in a bowl that your guests will enjoy.
North Carolina is in the midst of a craft beer explosion. 2012 brought with it announcements that three of America’s most popular craft breweries were building East Coast facilities in the Olde North State. As Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues begin to set up shop in North Carolina, one thing remains unchanged: our state’s brewing industry is firmly grounded upon a foundation of incredibly passionate people who seem to genuinely like each other.
This collective passion was especially evident this past Saturday in Winston Salem, as Foothills Brewing released this year’s installment of Olde Rabbit’s Foot. Olde Rabbit’s Foot is an Imperial Stout, brewed with honey and cocoa nibs. The bottles were only available for purchase in the Foothills Brewpub, but the beer itself came to be through a collaborative effort between Foothills, Duck Rabbit Brewery (Farmvillle, NC) and Olde Hickory Brewing (Hickory, NC). For the fourth year in a row, each brewery provided wort (wort contains the sugars that are eventually fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol). Once fermented, the viscous stout was left to age in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels. In most sectors of business, these companies would be in direct competition with each other; in the beer business, they combine their efforts to deliver a superior product.
As the doors to the brewery opened, I quickly realized that the brewers weren’t the only ones with a collaborative spirit. With two hours before the beer officially went on sale, hoards of people, from all over the south, shared unbelievably rare beers with friends and strangers. If this selection of collectible beers wasn’t enough to please your palate, Foothills also offered Olde Rabbit’s Foot and Sexual Chocolate on draft. When the back room finally opened, people efficiently moved through the line and scooped up their four bottle limit. The rich stout, with balanced flavors of oak and bourbon, was certainly worth the wait (and the nearly dollar per ounce price tag – read as $20 per bottle).
While the eclectic mix of North Carolina beer options will continue to grow, we can rest assured that the breweries responsible for establishing North Carolina as the Fertile Crescent of craft beer will continue to push the boundaries in their beer and their business plans.
If you are looking for a change from the Jersey Mike’s or Jimmy John’s or whatever chain sandwich store that you most likely frequent on the days when you don’t bring your lunch to work, its time that you check out Boondini’s Sandwich Superstore in the Celebration at Six Forks Shopping Center right near I-540 on Six Forks Road.
This was my second trip to Boondini’s but the first with my camera. My last visit I ordered the Boondini’s Special which has ham, Genoa salami and bologna on a hoagie and had it grilled. My friend, Tyler, ordered the same thing but ordered it cold. We traded half sandwiches to try both the grilled and cold versions. The consensus was that the grilled version was a little bit better. I enjoyed the shredded lettuce and tomato and even put a little bit of Cavender’s all purpose Greek seasoning (which was a staple in my family’s pantry growing up) on the sandwich.
The weather in North Carolina hasn’t been very December-like. In fact, it has been hot but I hit up Boondini’s on one of the chillier days that actually required a jacket. I felt like it was appropriate weather for soup so I got a bowl of Boondini’s Outer Banks clam chowder on the side. It was chock-full of tasty ingredients as well as surprising amount of clams. I’m definitely looking forward to trying some of their other soups.
As much as I enjoyed the Boondini’s Special the last time, I decided to branch out and try a different sub. I ordered the Cuban which is a grilled sub with ham, sliced roast pork, Swiss, butter, mustard and optional pickles which are not optional in my opinion. Boondini’s version of the Cuban doesn’t come on the traditional Cuban bread but everything else is damn near authentic to the recipe. Some may argue that the bread is what makes it but I enjoyed this sandwich just as much. There was a chili spice in the sandwich that I couldn’t place so I am guessing it was either from the mustard that was spread on the bread or from the pork’s marinade before it was cooked.
I always like cracking some eggs of knowledge in the posts about the food when I can. The Cuban sandwich or “Cubano” as many people call it traditionally was a working man’s sandwich similar to New Orleans’ po’ boy sandwich. It became a staple at restaurants outside of the cigar factories and sugar mills in Cuba when workers took their lunch breaks. The sandwich then traveled, figuratively, to Tampa and Miami with Cuban exiles and expatriates. The deliciousness that is the Cubano has taken various forms as it has spread across the country from Cuban communities to your local deli’s menu. Like any great sandwich, arguments are common place as to where the original Cuban was made and what the ingredients are.
Boondini’s is well worth checking out. It can get crowded during the lunch hours as local workers seem to flock there but its worth the wait. I also witnessed one intelligent businessman call in his order ahead of time to avoid the wait. I am sure he will be mad at me for leaking his loophole in the system. I will be trying their steak and cheese next. I will let you know how it goes.
It’s December and I’m writing about ice cream that I ate while I was at the beach. Weird.
Boombalatti’s is the place in Wilmington where everyone seems to get their ice cream fix. When I first walked in, I really thought that it was a chain store. It was very well branded throughout the store and the format of the space really seemed like it could have been a chain but the owner said this was the only location. I could see this becoming a chain especially if they are able to keep up the quality of ice cream production that they are known for. It is located on Military Cutoff Road in The Forum shopping center which is very close to both Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach.
I ordered a double scoop of the English toffee flavor. I am a sucker for Heath bars and Skor bars and about any kind of toffee but the ice cream is what makes this so special. The ice cream is made on-site in small batches using quality ingredients. It is rich and smooth the way that ice cream should be. It seems that most ice creams these days are all into cutting out the calories but doing so causes the ice cream to taste awful.
Tyler and Blake both ordered a sampler which came on homemade waffle bowls and had four single scoops of different flavors. This might be the way to go if you can’t pick just one kind of ice cream. I think this cost about $5 or $6 although I had stepped out to the car to grab my camera to snap some shots to post on here so I am not really sure.
I can only imagine how this place kills it during the summer beach months when snowbirds descend on Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach to catch some rays and build sandcastles. It isn’t a place that you can walk to from the beach but it is a not-so-far excursion in the car that you will probably turn into a regular thing after your first trip there.