Weekend Picks: October 17-19th

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Hillsborough Handmade Parade

The weather looks great this weekend and there is plenty to do. Everything from neighborhoods carnivals, visiting food trucks, to one of my favorites – the Hillsborough Handmade Parade. Hope you can get outside and enjoy the beautiful fall weekend!

Friday
80’s Music Tribute Band at North Hills
Free Tribute Band concert series wraps up Friday with “The Breakfast Club”. Bring lawn chairs & blankets.
http://www.northhillsraleigh.com/event/friday-night-tributes/

Cameron Village Back Yard Concert Series
Free concert 6:30-10:00pm with the AJ Ghent Band and Matrimony in Cameron Village on the corner of Woodburn & Cameron St.
http://www.shopcameronvillage.com/info/concerts

Saturday
Cooke Street Carnival
Fantastic neighborhood carnival with local vendors, bands, beer, and 11 local food trucks!
http://cookestreetcarnival.com/

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck in Raleigh
The famous ice cream truck from NYC pays Raleigh a visit Saturday. It will be parked near Poole’s Diner from 3-10pm.
http://biggayicecream.com/blog/2014/10/2/everything-is-going-south.html

Sunday
Hillsborough Handmade Parade
Fun parade of larger than life handmade puppets through downtown Hillsborough!
http://www.hillsboroughartscouncil.org/#!handmade-parade/c1860

Triangle Veg Fest!
Meet local farmers and organic food producers from the Raleigh/Durham community. Sample some delectable delicacies that support vibrant health and boost your energy while making your mouth water.
http://www.trianglevegfest.com/

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Weekend Picks: October 10-12th

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NC Art Museum “Blue Loop” Trail


There are so many great events going on this weekend that I had to put a quick summary together with my suggestions. Whether you are looking for music, beer, or food trucks there is something fun going on each day this weekend. Below are my top pics. If you are just looking to get outside I recommend visiting the blue loop trail behind the NC Art Museum in Raleigh. I recently paid the trail a visit and snapped the picture above. It is a great spot for a short walk or run and enjoy this great fall weather! Have a great weekend of exploring!

Friday October 10th

Zac Brown Tribute Band at North Hills
Free music at Midtown Park. Bring chairs & blankets. Alcohol not allowed.
http://www.northhillsraleigh.com/event/friday-night-tributes/

Music on the Porch w/ The Johnny Folsom 4 – Mordecai in downtown Raleigh
$7 for adults, children free. Bring Chairs & Blankets. Usually has food truck.
http://www.musicontheporch.com/

Sol Tacos at Big Boss Brewing Company
Gourmet tacos & Beer. No better way to spend a Friday!
http://www.soltacosnc.com/


Saturday October 11th

Second Saturday Raleigh Food Cooridor
A celebration of food & community
http://raleighfoodcorridor.org/secondsaturday/

TerraVita Food & Drink Festival – Grand Tasting on the Green (Ticketed Event)
Food from 45+ chefs & artisans from across the state and  more than 100 sustainably-produced beverages.
http://terravitaevent.com/

Sola PopUp Market
Over 20 local artisans selling their wares.
http://www.solacoffee.com/new-events/

Draft Line Brewery Falls Festival
Beer, Food Trucks, Music, & Dogs!
https://www.facebook.com/events/845823095447907/

Triangle Yarn Crawl
Self-guided tour of local yarn shops
http://triangleyarncrawl.com/


Sunday October 12th

Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo
50+ Trucks Along Fayetteville Street!
http://www.downtownraleighfoodtruckrodeo.com/food-trucks.html

Saxapahaw Octoberfest
Lots of great music, market, beer, sausages!
http://www.hawriverballroom.com/event/685259-saxapahaw-oktoberfest-saxapahaw/

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Places to Get Pumpkins Around The Triangle

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It is finally October and once again I am on the prowl to find the perfect pumpkin!  There are several different local farms where you can go right to the patch and pick your own.  A few of my local favorites include Page Farms in Raleigh,  Ganyard Hill Farm in Durham, Green Acres Farm in Cary, DJ’s Berry Patch in Apex, and Vollmer Farm in Franklin County.  There are many other great farms in the area as well. If you have any specific suggestions feel free to share them in the comments section.

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You can also pick up a great pumpkin at the Raleigh Farmer’s market (pictured above).   They have a wide variety of sizes and shapes and even sell white pumpkins!  A pumpkin decorating contest will be held at the market on Thursday October 9th with cash prizes for the best decorated pumpkin in each age group. Check out the Farmers’ Market website or download the contest announcement here for details on how to enter.

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Discover Great Cuban Cuisine at Gregoria’s Cuban Steakhouse in Durham!

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Gregoria’s Cuban Steakhouse ~ Durham, NC

One of the things I love most about writing this blog is discovering great new places to eat.  Sometimes it is a brand new place and other times it is me simply stumbling upon a hidden gem that is “new to me”. This time around it is a little bit of both. You see Gregoria’s Kitchen has been reborn after temporarily closing in 2013 due to a fire. This past January it reopened as Gregoria’s Cuban Steakhouse in a new location on Hillsborough Road in Durham.  The new incarnation of Gregoria’s features a bigger space, a revamped look and an enhanced menu featuring home-style Cuban dishes and new menu additions like steaks with Spanish, African and Caribbean influences.

Appetizers

Let me get right to the point, the food was FABULOUS! The kitchen is run by veteran executive chef Michael Pirnik. Born in New York of Cuban parents, Chef Pirnik was trained in Paris and has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe and New York. His menu does a wonderful job of spanning the spectrum of traditional Cuban fare while incorporating new additions to the previous menu. I started of with an assortment of appetizers to familiarize myself with the range flavors. My two favorites were the spinach and cheese empanada, and the platano maduro relleno, a sweet plantain stuffed crisp pork belly & picadillo, drizzled with buttermilk crème.

Grilled marinated flank steak, yuca frita, chimichurri

While considering what to get as my entree I was  initially drawn to the the traditional Cubano sandwich. However I was also craving some of the more modern fare like the beef-and-chorizo sliders or house-cured pork belly chicharrones. Ultimately I couldn’t resist one of the steak selections added to the revamped menu. After sharing this dilemma with my friendly waiter I ordered the grilled marinated flank steak, with yuca frita, and chimichurri. The green chimichurri, with it’s finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, and olive oil, provided the perfect accent to my medium-rare grilled skirt steak. It was so flavorful. I’ve never had yuca before and was pleasantly surprised by the crispy texture and it went really well with the steak.  Just an aside, but I was also a big fan of the ornate “Deruta Style” dishes used to plate each course dish.

Main Dining Area

Before I go on more about the food I need to mention a little about the layout and decor of the interior. I enjoy restaurants that offer various seating options since they can suite many different occasions for dining out. At Gregoria’s the main dining area is spacious and intimate at the same time.  It has warm lighting accented by chandeliers and black and white photos of Cuba adorning the earth tone walls. There are both large and small tables making it perfect for a quiet date or meal out with a group of friends and family. There is even a separate room in the rear of the dining room that can be closed off for private parties of up to 60 guests.

Bar Area & My Mojito

The bar area provides a casual option with large booths along the rear wall and high-top tables placed spaciously across the dark wood floor. Perfect for a more casual lunch or dinner and drink with friends while enjoying nightly drink specials from the bar. I was there on a Thursday night and had a great $5 mojitos to tame the tickle in the back of my throat. Other weekly specials include 1/2 off bottles of wine on Tuesdays, $5 martinis on Wednesday, and $5 wine by the glass to go along with mojitos on Thursdays. Sunday Brunch drink specials include $5 bloody maria’s and $10 bottomless mimosas.

Tres leches

Of course I couldn’t leave without trying one of their deserts. Ive never had Tres leches before but the way my waiter described it I knew I had to try it. I’m sure my foodie friends already new this but a Tres Leches is a sponge caked soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. The cake at Greogoria’s is a light fluffy cake with many air bubbles. The perfect texture to ensure it doesn’t suffer from soggy consistency, despite being soaked in a mixture of three types of milk. Topped with sliced strawberry’s the dessert was delightfully sweet and a perfect ending to a great meal.

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Outdoor Patio

As I prepared to leave I wandered outside though the restuarants secluded outdoor patio. It is a great outdoor area filled with bentwood chairs and tables with umbrellas and strings of suspended lights that reminded me of a dining club at the beach. The manager explained to me they have live salsa music most weekends (Friday / Saturday nights) and even have dancing demos from professional salsa dancers.  I’m am always on the hunt for a place to take my wife for salsa dancing (she is a much better dancer than I) so I know we will be back soon!

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Bartender Crafting my Mojito!

I was really impressed with every aspect of Gregoria’s. From the food to the specials, to the entertainment offerings. I highly recommend checking out this place out whether you are looking for fun date night spot on the weekend or just a great place for delicious Cuban fare on a weeknight. Of special note, if you happen to stop by Tuesday through Thursday they are currently offering a special $20 Three Course Dinner option that is a really a nice deal. As always, if you pay them a visit I’d love to hear what you think. Enjoy!

Gregoria’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. Brunch is also served on Sundays between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. To learn more, visit www.gregoriascubansteakhouse.com.

Gregoria’s Cuban Steak House
2701 Hillsborough Rd
Durham NC 27705 (919) 973-2717
website: http://www.gregoriassteakhouse.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GregoriasCubanDurham
twitter: @GregoriasDurham

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Raleigh City Farm Annual Harvest Dinner – October 5th!

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Raleigh City Farm Harvest Dinner ~ October 5th, 2014
(Sean Barker – Kailyard Farm, Sean Wilson – Fullsteam Brewery, Christopher Rumbley – Raleigh City Farm, Chef Scott Crawford – Standard Foods, Graig Heffley – Wine Authorities)

Standard Foods is collaborating with Raleigh City Farm to host their second Annual Harvest Dinner at 6pm on October 5th, 2014. “It’s an honor to raise awareness and funds for our neighboring urban farm, Raleigh City Farm, so that it can grow into its full potential in serving this community,” explained John Holmes, who will open Standard Foods this winter with Chef Scott Crawford, and who is also responsible for revitalizing Person Street Plaza. “We’re especially proud of what we’ve accomplished, growing into a unique model of community-supported urban farming,” explained Christopher Rumbley, CEO of Raleigh City Farm. “The support of Raleigh’s extraordinary culinary community has been crucial and Standard Foods, opening directly beside the farm, has the potential to take it up another notch for all of us.” Raleigh City Farm is located at Person Street Plaza at 800 North Blount Street (map).

Harvest Dinner Details
Together, Standard Foods and Raleigh City Farm invite guests to join them Sunday, October 5th for an allvegetable family-style feast on the farm. Just as at Standard Foods, Chef Scott Crawford will let Raleigh City Farm’s fall harvest dictate the menu. Crawford will prepare a diverse selection of fall vegetables – raw, pickled, smoked, braised, and in desserts. This seated, multi-course, family-style dinner, will be paired with wines from neighboring wine retailer, Wine Authorities, who has developed a national reputation for their commitment to small estate, “farmer-grown” wines. Fullsteam Brewery of Durham will be providing plow-to-pint beer for the dinner. They use only local ingredients to give their beer distinct character and because they believe the act of local commerce creates jobs and wealth for North Carolina farmers and food producers.

MENU

Yellow Dog Bread with Butter & Pickles

Potato & Peanut Chowder
Smoked Apples, Lacinato Kale, Rosemary Croutons

Baby Lettuce
Pickeld Field Peas, Capers, Radish, Buttermilk, Herbs

Barely & Wheat Berry Risotto
Caramelized Onion, Crispy Mushrooms, Goat Parmesan

Paw Paw Pudding
Salted Butter Cookies, Coconut Cream, Hazelnuts

SIDES

Roasted Beets
Orange, Brown Butter, Pecans

Hot & Sour Eggplant
Sweet Pepper, Pac Choi, Thai Basil

Raleigh City Farm

Ticket Information
For guests seeking a more intimate experience with the farm, they may attend at 5pm for a special program including wine cocktails and snacks, an opportunity to meet Chef Scott Crawford and learn about Standard Foods, and enjoy informative farmer guided tours, prior to the dinner at 6pm, for $200. Tickets for the farm dinner beginning at 6pm are $125. During the dinner, RCF will host a brief auction, including experiences such as a dinner prepared by Chef Crawford in his home, and a wine tasting for 10. All tickets can be purchased through http://raleighcityfarm.brownpapertickets.com.

About Raleigh City Farm
Raleigh City Farm, located at 800 North Blount Street, is a high-production, community-supported, urban farm in the heart of Raleigh. RCF accelerates new farm entrepreneurs through co-location, shared infrastructure, collaborative production planning, co-marketing and distribution. www.raleighcityfarm.org

About Chef Crawford
Inspired to pursue his own restaurant concepts and contribute to the burgeoning downtown Raleigh community, Scott Crawford joined forces with John Holmes to form Nash Square Hospitality and open Standard Foods this fall, and Nash Tavern in 2015. Renowned for elevating regional American cuisine in North Carolina, Crawford is now poised to share his progressive and much more casual, seasonal Southern cuisine with a broader audience, and ultimately, to have a transformative effect on his community. Under Crawford’s direction as Executive Chef at The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Herons received the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond awards for the first time, and in 2012, Newsweek named Herons among the “101 Best Places to Eat in the World.” Prior accolades include Esquire’s “Best New Restaurant” which Crawford earned in 2006 at The Georgian Room at The Cloister Hotel in Sea Island, Georgia. Crawford is also a three-time James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for “Best Chef: Southeast.” Twitter: @chefcrawford; Instagram: @scrawford1340

 

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