Sweet and Tart Spaghetti and Meatballs

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Back when I lived in Raleigh, I used to love to visit the Got to be NC Festival. It was like the State Fair but with more emphasis on local. Seeing all the local food vendors made my heart sing.

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Got to be NC Festival | Logo Used With Permission

Before this year’s event, I had the opportunity to speak one of the Homegrown Fare vendors, Fadia House of Floury Apron. Fadia started Floury Apron after her kids went to college. She’s always enjoyed cooking and creating new recipes and wanted to share her unique take on Eastern and Western flavors with others.

When asked if she had any advice to offer others interested in starting their own food-based company, she had this is say, “Love what you do and do it correctly.  Work hard and learn your customer’s needs and fulfill it.  Ask questions, attend seminars.”

While a few of her products are sold at Southern Season in Chapel Hill, they can also be purchased directly from her website.

Some of her products include wheat crackers (in flavors like zaatar and parmesan) and baklawa but her best selling product is her Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauces. Available in oregano, ginger, or spicy, her sauces are a great accompaniment to items like meatloaf, hot dogs, and my personal pick – spaghetti and meatballs!

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There is nothing simpler for me to fix after a long day of work than spaghetti and meatballs. Sometimes I will use jarred spaghetti sauce from the store, sometimes I will use our own tomato base that we can every year. This recipe uses store bought sauce for ease. Once the sauce is prepared, you can start to relax as everything bubbles away together. While Fadia’s Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauces are not intended as a substitute for spaghetti sauce, it is a great addition.

Sweet and Tart Spaghetti and Meatballs
(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente in salted water
  • 2-30 oz. jars of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1-8 oz. jar of Floury Apron’s Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauce, Oregano
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/4 cup. panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Place spaghetti sauce and the Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauce in a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat.
  2. In large bowl mix together beef, Italian sausage, egg, panko, garlic, salt and Parmesan.
  3. Shape into 9 large meatballs.
  4. Place meatballs in simmering sauce.
  5. When sauce returns to a simmer, cover and cook 50-60 minutes till cooked through.
  6. Serve sauce and meatballs over your spaghetti.

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Don’t forget to check out Floury Apron’s booth at the Homegrown Fare presented by Lowes Foods May 19-21 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. The event, part of the annual Got To Be NC Festival, will feature 100 local food, wine and beer companies. Admission is $3, but you can get in free with your Lowes Foods loyalty card. Plus, you can get a free gift while supplies last by mentioning this blog at the Got To Be NC merchandise booth. More information about the Homegrown Fare and the Got To Be NC Festival is available at www.gottobencfestival.com

Also something neat to think about is that when you go and make a purchase in the Homegrown Fare tend, swing by the Got to be NC booth so you can get a selfie in the frame. Make sure to use #homegrownfare17 when you share it!

Want to see what everyone else made? Check out these Got to be NC Blogger Posts for #HomeGrownFare17

Two Roads Tavern [Outer Banks]

This weekend was a cold, rainy weekend in Northeastern North Carolina. We even experienced snow flurries on Sunday (none of the snow flurries had the opportunity to stick as the ground was already so saturated). My initial plan for this weekend was to venture up to Williamsburg, Virginia to scoop out their farmer’s market but once I saw the weather forecast, I changed my plans and decided to take a drive to the Outer Banks.

Our agenda was simple: Duck Donuts, Two Roads Tavern, and the Manteo Aquarium. I came across Two Roads Tavern’s website a few months ago and have been interested in trying their food since then. Two Roads Tavern is a burger joint with a neat retro vibe inside. But the burgers aren’t just your regular run of the meal burgers. They are a mix of 80/20 Hereford ground chuck combined with amazing toppings. Now, you can build your own burger but I scoped out the menu and knew I wanted one of their Specialty Burgers.

We started with the Cajun Fried Cheese Curds served with a Jamaican jerk aioli that we couldn’t get enough of. The cheese curds were crunchy and flavorful and the gooey cheese inside was just what we needed on a dreary day.

I ordered the Hangover [bacon, hash browns, fried egg, and cheddar cheese with maple bacon jam] while Robb ordered the Sounds Good [American cheese, BBQ sauce, bacon, onion rings, jalapenos, and a fried egg]. I ended up stealing a couple of Robb’s jalapenos (I trades him a hash brown for some) and he opted out of the BBQ sauce, instead requesting Jamaican jerk aioli on his burger – the sauce was that good. Even though the menu says no substitutions, they were willing to accommodate his request.

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“Sounds Good”
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“Hangover”

Though I didn’t try Robb’s burger, mine was absolutely delicious. The meat was juicy and the flavors melded together well. The maple bacon jam gave my burger a whole “French toast” vibe that I loved. It was like eating breakfast!

The burgers come with hand-cut fries that were perfect. I couldn’t get enough of them and continued to shove them in to my mouth like I was starving.

All in all, this place is awesome. The food is delicious and the entire staff is great. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about eating out at a place.

We followed up our lunch with a quick jaunt to Duck Donuts. I cannot say enough good things about this place and I plan my Outer Banks trips around getting my donuts. Even though we showed up near closing time, they had donuts left and were more than happy to fix us right up.

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Don’t worry – it rained on the box but the donuts were safe and warm inside.
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Cinnamon Sugar | Chocolate Glazed with Peanuts| Powdered Sugar | Blueberry with Powdered Sugar (a surprise favorite)

Continuing our beach adventure, we made our way down to the Manteo Aquarium. I hadn’t been there since they completed the sea turtle conversation area and enjoyed looking at their work. The last time I was at the aquarium, the otters weren’t out so I was tickled when I saw them swimming about. Robb attempted to touch a sting ray at the touch tank but every time one drew close, they would suddenly realize he was there and ran away from him.

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Sharks!
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The sea turtle conservation area – and I managed not to be a single good shot of a sea turtle.
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Alligators!

Even though it was raining, we didn’t let it ruin our fun and explored the Nature Play Area/Nature Trail. It was great fun and made us both feel like children again! I can’t wait to go back to the aquarium once they have their jellyfish exhibit complete.

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[Note: I just got a new cellphone on Friday so during this trip, I relied only on my cellphone for photos. I still need to play with the built-in camera so that I can take better quality photos without lugging around my big camera. I might have accidentally turned on MACRO for some of these.]

Two Roads Tavern
3105 N. Croatan Hwy (Milepost 5.5)

Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
In The Seagate North Shopping Center
Monday – Saturday 11:30 am to 9:00 pm

North Carolina Oysters

During the late 1880’s, North Carolina oysters were being harvested as an alarming rate and shipped out all over the country. At it’s peak in 1902, 800,000 bushels of oysters were harvested, exhausting the supply and threatening the future of the species [information from NC Oysters]. Thank goodness that efforts have been made to rectify this and increase the population.

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Like I’ve said before, I have been fortunate to grow up surrounded by fresh seafood. Oysters aren’t a delicacy to me but are simply another reason to gather around at my grandparent’s house. We’ve had oyster roasts for as far back as I can remember, though when I was younger, the oysters were heated on top of a wood stove until they popped open. Now we steam them over a cooker but they taste just the same – delicious. Typically we wait until January to cook oysters the first oysters of the season(sometimes we will have them on Christmas Eve) though the recreational harvest season runs from October 15 through March 31.

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I tend to like my oysters a bit firmer than most (otherwise it tends to look like snot). I also  chew my oysters (unlike most of my family). Once I’ve waited as long as I can wait, I snatch the oyster from the cooker, careful to avoid the steam. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned to open an oyster with moderate success. You lay the blade of your oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster and twist until it pops apart.

If there is any juice, I sip it. The salter the better and where/when your oyster was harvested sometimes dictates the saltiness. I slather the meat in homemade cocktail sauce (a mixture of horseradish and ketchup, though I’m a bit heavy handed on the former) and eat it.

When we get fresh oysters, we always eat them steamed. If we are wanting to fry oysters, we usually will pick up a jar of already shelled oysters from Quality Seafood.

This wouldn’t be a post on oysters if I didn’t highlight the oyster knife of my dreams. Made by Carolina Suckers from an old railroad spike, this oyster knife is practically a work of art to me.

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The Mother Shucker

Maybe one day I’ll get my hand of one of these beauties. For now, I’ll just keep using the crusty – well, let’s call them vintage – oysters knives rummaged from drawers at my grandparent’s house.

Do you eat oysters? What is your favorite way to eat them (steamed, fried, make into an oyster stuffing)?

Barley’s Pizza [Elizabeth City]

Barley’s Pizza opened up last fall in Elizabeth City but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I was able to get out there (even though it’s located just a few miles from where I work). The restaurant is a good example of re-purposing the space you have. Located in an old Burger King building, Barley’s Pizza still sort of sets off that BK vibe. Little has been done to really impact the interior, which makes sense to me. When you decide to start any business, everyday you are unable to sell to customers is money down the drain. Besides, this is a pizza joint. As long as the food is good, we don’t need white table linens and fancy decor.

So how IS the food? Not too shabby really. After returning from Alaska in October, I compare all of my pizzas to the delicious one we ate at Moose’s Tooth and the pizza I had at Barley’s Pizza was almost there. I tend to like a more unique pizza so we ordered the Capri [Ricotta Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Garlic Oil , Mushrooms, Tomato, Spinach & Broccoli]. It may sound a little weird but all the flavors melded together nicely. There was a nice saltiness that I enjoyed and though we ate until we were stuffed, we still had plenty of leftovers.

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That’s another thing I noticed about Barley’s Pizza. The portion sizes are huge! A few weeks later, I ventured back and ordered a Reuben. I love Reuben’s but I’m not such a fan of corned beef sometimes, so I typically special order my Reuben with turkey. If you’ve never tried a Reuben with turkey then you are in for a treat. I ate half of my sandwich, a few waffle fries, and was beyond stuffed.

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Robb and I definitely plan to return and hope to someday have the occasion to order the party size pizza. That thing is HUGE!

If you read some of the reviews on the internet, you’ll find that most people say that the food is good but service is slow. While I don’t necessarily disagree with that, I think that in a new place, it can sometimes take a little while for the staff to get their footing. All in all though, definitely check out Barley’s Pizza for a great deal on good food.

Barley Pizza Family Restaurant
1333 N Road Street
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Monday-Thursday 10am -11pm
Friday-Saturday 10am-12am
Sundays 10am-11pm

 

A Farm-to-Fork Dinner

This is one of those posts that I should have typed up long ago. But life happened (we left for Alaska a few days after) and I wasn’t exactly happy with my photos.

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At the beginning of October, a friend of mine had an open invitation for people to come to her family’s farm for a delicious farm-to-fork meal that she helped produce along with a friend of hers from Raleigh. I couldn’t resist the urge to go even though rain somewhat threatened the day (only to reward us later on with a gorgeous rainbow). 

This wasn’t the first time I had been out to Somerset Farm and I hope that it will not be the last. I love spending way too much money at their table at the Edenton Farmer’s Market picking up delicious and fresh vegetables. The menu at this particular event featured produce and lamb straight from the farm.

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The menu:

  • lamb pate with blood orange marmalade + rosemary crisps
  • chioggia beets with feta + berbere chickpeas
  • couscous with roasted butternut + golden raisins
  • eggplant with za’atar + pomegranate molasses
  • grilled lamb ribs
  • pear + date croustade with vanilla cream
  • lemon balm mojitos
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lamb pate | blood orange marmalade | rosemary crisps

Everything that I ate was delicious, and yes, I even braved the pate! My evening was spoiled slightly when I locked my keys into my car, which contributed to some of the less than flattering plated photos, but my boyfriend came to my rescue (eventually) and brought me my spare keys.

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lamb ribs being grilled
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chioggia beers | feta | berbere chickpeas
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My plate – prepared by a friend that I had invited while I was out dealing with my car issues.

All in all, it was quite the magical evening! She hosted a November event in honor of Guy Fawkes Day that featured Indian food, but unfortunately I was not able to attend. I hope that she resumes these events once the weather grows warmer.

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Expressing My Excitement to Come!

(Note: I’m filling this posts with pictures of some of the food I made when I lived in Raleigh – pulling these from my defunct flickr stream)

When I lived in Raleigh (in what seems like another lifetime now), I tended to shop at either Food Lion or Harris Teeter (depending on where I was living at the time) with visits to Whole Foods every other week. Mostly to enjoy the prepared foods bar, but also to view what new and unusual products they had in the produce section. Typically it was items that I could either not afford on a student’s budget or thought I didn’t like (such as mushrooms) but it was fun to view them. I think that was the budding foodie in me starting to emerge. About once a month or so, I would venture over to Trader Joe’s – that was back when “Two-Buck Chuck” was actually $2. If you are a Trader Joe’s fan, then you’ll know what I’m referring to.

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A delicious chicken & vegetable soup I made using brother, corn, potatoes, carrots, spices, and a rotisserie chicken back in October 2010.

Since moving back home, my grocery store choices have been limited to Food Lion, mostly to supplement what I can’t grow myself. Sure there are a couple of other grocery options (Farm Fresh and a small health food store), but I find their prices are typically higher for the same products I find in Food Lion. As the years passed, I found myself missing my Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Finally, my mom and I ventured up to a Whole Foods in Virginia and you would have thought that I was a kid in a candy store. It was heaven even though I didn’t buy much, if anything. Fast forward to dating my boyfriend. We were bored one weekend and after driving up to Bass Pro Shops, we traveled a bit further to Trader Joe’s. I think that it when he started to see the magic.

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My dinner in March 2010 – pork roast and frozen potatoes from Trader Joe’s (the potatoes were delicious) and cucumbers from a family recipe.
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Trader Joe’s purchases from March – the potatoes and pork roast pictured above are included.

Half a year later, I took him up to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and he realized that they really had some awesome things and that it wasn’t just for “hippies”. Though we spent more than we probably should have at both stores (but how could he resist the olive bar??), we made a vow that we would try to go a few times per year.

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Chicken katsu with tonkatsu sauce and cucumbers from the same family recipe as before. I crave this meal (from October 2009) even now.

So guess what time it is now? YES, it is time for our quarterly trip. Our last trip was over the summer so I wasn’t able to get the frozen items I wanted but I have a few days off from work between Christmas and New Year’s making it the perfect time for our little adventure. We are making the effort during the next two weeks to empty our fridge, freezer, and pantry of as much food as possible with no trips to the grocery store.

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Preparing for the Superbowl in February 2010 – I made shrimp dip, pigs in a blanket, velvetta cheese dip, and we had oreos.
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Shrimp dip (as mentioned above) – this recipe will be coming soon!

Duck Donuts [Outer Banks]

Every year around the 4th of July, my family go down to the Outer Banks to stay in a timeshare. From middle school thru college (and a few years after), I was able to go every year. Then life got in the way. 2016 marked the first time I had been able to attend since 2012 and I certainly have missed going.

Now, to be honest, my favorite time to visit the beach is in October – the off-season. The weather is still decent, there isn’t much traffic, and most of the businesses are still open. There is something so magical about being able to sit on the beach and watch the waves without the excessive heat and noise of Summer surrounding you.

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Taken in March 2016

Duck Donuts is a must each and every time I go to the beach – no matter what time of the year it is. I first discovered Duck Donuts not long after its opening in Kitty Hawk back in 2007. Funny story – the original Duck Donuts is actually the Kitty Hawk location, not the Duck location! The one located in Kill Devil Hills is my favorite one though and just a brief bike ride away from our beach condo.

Duck Donuts are the best donuts I have ever eaten – and this is coming from a girl who was born and raised on Kripsy Kreme. Duck Donuts are made to order, so when you get one, it is crispy, crunchy, and blistering hot. The inside is more cake-like than yeast and it tastes like something decadent and buttery. The really neat thing about Duck Donuts is that you get to customize your own donut with any variety of coating/topping/drizzle. I usually go for just the chocolate glazed (or chocolate glazed with peanuts if I’m feeling adventurous) but they are all delicious (cinnamon sugar is my second favorite). The maple glazed with bacon is pretty popular, so I’ve heard.

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Chocolate glazed with peanuts… mmm.
Be warned – during the Summer, there will be a line at Duck Donuts. I went on a Saturday morning at 8 and waited 20 minutes, then returned the next day at 7 and still had to wait 20 minutes! Even though the line was out the door, don’t get intimidated and leave. The line will move quickly and the donuts are worth the wait.
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All hands are on deck to get your donuts out in a timely manner.

You can even have the donuts shipped to your home, but nothing beats a fresh one.

Keep an eye out on their website – new locations are popping up everywhere and one may be popping up near you!

Kill Devil Hills, NC
710 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948, United States
Mon – Tues: 6:30 AM – 9:00 PM*
Wed: 6:30 AM – 3:00 PM*
Thurs – Sun: 6:30 AM – 9:00 PM** I suggest visiting their website or their Facebook page to make sure the hours are still valid if you are going in the off-season.

bu•ku [Raleigh]

[Note: Same as in my previous review, there are no pictures of the food below. Though I had my camera with me when I was in Raleigh, I neglected to carry it inside as I wanted to focus on my friends. Plus, I do think that sometimes you forget to enjoy your dish when you are busy trying to find the best angle to photograph – contrary to what recent research has found about how Instagramming your food may make it taste better. I will try better in the future.]

bu•ku opened up in downtown Raleigh about the time I decided to move back home. It’s one of those rare restaurants that had intrigued me for years and I have been waiting for the right opportunity to try it. I finally had the opportunity last weekend. While in Raleigh for a business meeting, I coerced an old friend of mine to gather a couple of her friends to meet me up there.

I cannot say enough positive things about bu•ku. Everything was phenomenal from the food all the way to the ambiance and the service of the wait staff. Even the reservation process itself was super simple and I even received a personal call on Friday to confirm my reservation. I arrived early (well, technically on time) while the rest of my party ran about 15 minutes late but I was still seated at our table so that I could enjoy a drink. I elected to go with a glass of Ricossa Moscato D’Asti while I waited – one of my favorite beverages. Sequestered off from the rest of the dining area in its own room, there were 4 tables, each having plenty of seating for groups. I loved the large windows in the room that gave me the opportunity to glance outside.

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The menu at bu•ku is eclectic. It features street food from around the world and can be a bit intimidating to look at. Luckily enough, our waiter was able to give us some great recommendations.

We all ordered a different small plate to start – the Aloo Chana Chaat [spicy potato cake, chickpea, cucumber, cabbage, cashew, raita, tamarind, cilantro-mint chutney], Chinese Steamed Buns [Szechuan pork belly, pickled vegetables, hoisin-tamarind], Seared Pork Dumplings (Napa cabbage, scallion, ginger, chile-soy), and the Baja Crab Flautas [jumbo lump crab, pineapple, cream cheese, pickled serrano, cilantro, mango-habanero salsa, crisp flour tortilla].

Everyone raved over the Aloo Chana Chaat (which was my pick), but I enjoyed the creaminess of the Baja Crab Flautas best of all.

For dinner, I went with the day’s special – Chilean seabass with roasted maitake, grilled eggplant, massage kale salad, local cherry tomato, Burgundy macerated raspberry, sweet potato crisp. It was delicious! The seabass was perfectly moist and flaky. I tried a bit of the duck confit leg (from the Filipino Duck Adobo dish) and it was equally as good.

I ordered the Filipino Halo-Halo [parfait of coconut custard, sweetened plantains, guava sauce, ube ice cream] for us to share between the 6 of us at the table for dessert. It was different. There were aspects of the dish that we liked and aspects that we did not (including a red gummy that we thought tasted like cherry cough syrup). We all had a blast eating it and trying to guess what each component of the dish was. The custard and ice cream were delicious and I would order this dish again just for how fun it was to eat.

Now, bu•ku isn’t cheap. For just myself (for a glass of Moscato, appetizer, entree – which I did go with a pricier entree, beer, and dessert), my tab was close to $85 after tip. But the experience was worth it. There aren’t a lot of places where I live now that I can visit that are just different. Plus, I rarely am able to visit with that friend. All in all, it was certainly a memorable experience.

Tip: The traffic in downtown Raleigh was certainly bustling on a Friday night. Instead of driving around in circles looking for a parking spot, I parked in the Moore Square Parking Deck. Sure it cost me $5 to park there (which I heard caused some contention at one point) that night, but it was just easier and I didn’t have to worry about my vehicle being towed. Some of my friends used Uber, which is another great option (plus it allows you to drink as much as you want and avoid getting behind the wheel).

bu•ku: global street food
110 E. Davie St.,
Raleigh, NC 279601
Monday-Thursday 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday/Saturday 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Sunday 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM/5:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Garland [Raleigh]

[Note: There are no pictures of the food in this review. Though I had my camera with me when I was in Raleigh, I neglected to carry it inside as I wanted to focus on my friend. Plus, I do think that sometimes you forget to enjoy your dish when you are busy trying to find the best angle to photograph – contrary to what recent research has found about how Instagramming your food may make it taste better. I will try better in the future.]

Back in May, I found myself in Raleigh thanks to work. I had lived in Raleigh for about 7 years previously and the only thing that I miss now about the city are the food options. You can find pretty much anything that you are craving at any hour of the night. Not so much where I am now but living here still has its perks.

I decided to call up an old friend of mine and arrange dinner. At the suggestion of another friend, we went and ate at Garland, located in the downtown area. I had forgotten how much I did not miss having to drive and park downtown. I don’t parallel park. I’ve never had the need to. Instead, I prefer to just drive around in circles until I find a place that I can zip in. Thankfully with my little car, there are lots of places that I can now just zip into.

We started off the night with cocktails. I elected to go with the Dearly Beloved… [gin, rhubarb shrub, pink & Szechuan peppercorns, sparkling rose, lavender] while my friend went with the Lodger [tequila reposado, Aperol, yellow Chartreuse, cocoa, ancho chile, coconut]. She wasn’t able to try my drink as there was something in it that she was allergic to (lavender maybe? Or maybe the rhubarb?) but I tried hers. I did not like her drink at all but that didn’t surprise me. I like more of a delicate sweetness to my drinks almost to the point where you wouldn’t think of them as containing alcohol. She loved her drink however, and I loved mine. I would probably drink it on a daily basis if I could get away with it.

We ordered the Pakora [“bird’s nest” fritters of farmers market vegetables, spicy chickpea & rice batter, tamarind and cilantro-mint chutneys] as an appetizer. My friend had tried pakora before, at a different restaurant, but she thought that the one at Garland tasted much better. The fritters were perfectly crispy. While I enjoyed the cilantro-mint chutney (again, it’s a sweetness thing), my friend enjoyed the tamarind chutney better.

For the main course, I had to make a tough choice between the Local Catch and the Tandoor Chicken. They both sounded delicious but in the end, I ordered the Local Catch [pan seared NC fish, fragrant broth, sauteed local greens, Laurel Branch Gardens shiitakes, shaved fennel, puffed rice salad, chili oil], which was simply a beautiful dish to look at.

My friend ordered the Vegetable Curry [roasted cauliflower, house-made paneer, local root vegetables, baby peas, tomato broth, coconut milk, cardamom basmati rice, pickled onion, whipped coconut cream]. I enjoyed my dish, especially the puffed rice salad (I liked the texture) and my friend’s dish was equally as good.

The vegetable curry was a bit heavier than my dish, so my friend did fill up quickly. But that just meant that she had some delicious leftovers to take home.

The service was great and I loved the little touches such as having the glass bottle of water sitting on our table (I drink a lot of water). The decor of the restaurant was pleasing and certainly gave off a “hip” vibe. While it wasn’t that busy when we first arrived (at 6:30 on a Thursday night), it was hopping by the time we left. I would definitely come here again for another drink and to try the Tandoor Chicken.

Garland
14 W. Martin St.,
Raleigh, NC 27601
Dinner: Tuesday-Thursday 5:30 PM-10:00 PM,
Friday/Saturday 5:30 PM-11:00 PM
Lunch: Wednesday-Friday 11:30 AM-2:30 PM