Weekend Picks: October 21st-23rd


Halloween Decorations in Historic Oakwood ~ Raleigh, NC

Halloween is still two weeks away, but in the meantime I suggest swinging by the cool Halloween House in Historic Oakwood (pictured above) to check out the decorations. It is located on the corner of Oakwood Avenue and N. East Street in Raleigh. As you can imagine that corner gets pretty crowded on Halloween so checking out the display in the days leading up to the 31st is your best bet. Below are two other suggestions for the weekend ahead and of course you can also still catch the NC State Fair which runs through this Sunday.

Friday – October 21st
Big Bad Breakfast Takeover at Joule Coffee
Chef John Currence will be at Joule Coffee in Raleigh Friday from 8am-12pm celebrating his new book, Big Bad Breakfast, an ode to breakfast that you absolutely do not want to miss.He will be signing books all morning, while the kitchen at Joule features a handful of dishes inspired by the book. Think sausage-pancake sandwiches, crab cakes benedict, and tomato gravy over cheddar biscuits.

Saturday – October 22nd
Cary Fall Festival
This Saturday Bond Brothers Beer Company and the Town of Cary are teaming up for the Downtown Cary Fall Festival with an afternoon of local artists, vendors, and food trucks, followed by a free concert from local touring artist Southern Culture on the Skids at 6pm. Food trucks in attendance include: The Humble Pig, Fetch Hot Dog Co., Chirba Chirba, The Tot Spot, Fuzzy’s Empanadas, Tacolandia, The Cookie People, and Del’s Lemonade. Event runs from 12-9pm and is free to the public.

Rocky Horror Mystery Show
On Saturday night Wiley Fosters Present “THE ROCKY HORROR MYSTERY SHOW!” at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough. The show will be performed LIVE with two performances (8pm & 10pm). Opening & Intermission Act by Tom Merrigan. Free Admission. 21+ Only. While you are there I recommend a pint of Mystery Brewing “Apple of you Eye”. All of their beers are excellent, but this is one of my favorites!

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Winston’s Grille Turns 30!


Winston’s Grille in North Raleigh

I’d love start this post off about how I discovered a “hidden gem”, but the fact is Winston’s Grille has been a staple of North Raleigh since it first opened in 1986. In fact they are currently celebrating their 30th anniversary this month! I am simply just late to the party. Now that I have experienced firsthand the great food and service I now understand why, after three decades in business, Winston’s continues to be a such a popular dining location and a second home to diners in the Triangle.


The Bar at Winston’s

Winston’s has a lot to offer and is very versatile in both it’s menu and ambiance – all the more reason for it’s long running success. It can serve as place for a special date night while at the same time being a “go to” spot for a favorite weekly dinner. On each of my visits one thing in particular struck me. There are many regulars who have been dining at Winston’s for years – if not decades. It’s not uncommon to overhear waiters and patrons great each other like old friends. On more than one occasion I heard a guest request their “usual table”. That said, Winston’s warm hospitality extends to all guest including those like me who may have only just recently discovered them.


Tomato & Goat Cheese Bruschetta

The menu at Winston’s has something for everyone and incorporates many elements made from scratch in house. Offerings range from light appetizers like a tomato and goat cheese bruschetta, to hearty entrees such as beef shortrib tacos and cashew salmon. There are also a host of sandwiches and salads to round out the menu. I’ve dined there for both brunch and dinner at this point and have found everything I’ve ordered well prepared and delicious. I’m more of  meat and potatoes guy so I have enjoyed trying their pork chop with bourbon-maple glaze for dinner and their burgers and sandwiches when I go there for brunch. Pro tip: when you go for brunch they offer free blueberry muffins. I can put quite a few away, but I recommend leaving room for your entree!


Bourbon-Maple Glazed Pork Chop

When we visited Winston’s for brunch (offered Sundays from 11am-2pm) my wife enjoyed the Jam Jam shrimp appetizer, which comes with a spicy sriracha sauce and chopped citrus cilantro & lettuce. The homemade chicken salad was quite nice as well. The menu seems to always have something new. The lunch menu changes daily while the dinner menu has different offerings every 2 to 3 weeks. They do keep several favorites throughout the year as well. Like meatloaf for lunch on Tuesdays and a Friday fish fry. You can view the full menu here.


Jam Jam Shrimp

Along with the varied menu there are several seating options at Winston’s. Guest can enjoy a meal at the bar, in the main dining area (which covers several different rooms) or outside dining at one of the many tables the circle the outside perimeter of the restaurant. You can also reserve a private room for your special event. I like having different seating options because it provides for a different dining experience on each visit. I’m particularly fond of the outdoor dining area. I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy the bar just yet, but I plan to go back soon to grab a cocktail and maybe a special dessert.


Outdoor Seating

Reservations are not required at Winston’s but they are suggested. Weekends are particularly busy there and I would highly recommend a reservation if you know your plans ahead of time. You would also be wise to plan ahead if you have Mother’s or Father’s Day Brunch plans at Winston’s. It is a very popular spot on those days!


Private Rooms Available for Events

One final thought about Winston’s. Make sure you always leave room for dessert. Both of the owners, Wil and Charles attended a special course at Penn State to learn how to make their own homemade ice cream. They have passed on the craft to their kitchen staff and there is always plenty of fresh made ice cream on hand that can be bought by the pint. Of course the dessert menu is quite impressive as well, with classics like key lime pie and a brownie sundae. The standout favorite in my book is their bananas foster. Like the rest of the menu at Winston’s, it does not disappoint!


Bananas Foster!

The fact that Winston’s remains so popular after thirty years speaks volumes about the quality of the experience they offer. I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to experience it for myself and I highly recommend you check them out as well. In world where restaurants come and go in the blink of an eye, it is nice to see a local favorite that has successfully navigated change while remaining true to itself and its customers. The future is bright for this landmark of the Raleigh restaurant scene.

Winston’s Grille
6401 Falls of Neuse Road
Raleigh, NC
(919) 790-0700
website: http://winstonsgrille.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/winstonsgrille
instagram: @WinstonsGrille
twitter: @WinstonsGrille

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Fun Home at DPAC October 25-30th!

Fun HomeCircle in the Square Theatre

Fun Home Cast – Photo Joan Marcus

Fun Home, the groundbreaking and Tony Award-winning Best Musical, will hit the DPAC stage next week with shows October 25th – 30th for its premiere Triangle engagement.

Based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home introduces us to Alison at three different ages as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood that connect with her in surprising new ways. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Fun Home is a refreshingly honest, wholly original musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes.


Robert Hagar

In preparation for seeing the show next week I had a chance to speak with Robert Hager, who plays several different characters in the show that pop up at different time periods in Alison’s life. Robert shared how Fun Home is unique from other musicals in that it doesn’t follow the typical formula of big flashy numbers. As he describes it “Fun Home has a more intimate feel – more like a play with music”. Even more importantly, Fun Home is first show to hit Broadway with a lesbian as the leading character.

The main character, Alison, is played by three different actresses portraying her at different ages in her life. Incidents are told and re-told in the light of new information or themes. “The story is not told in a linear fashion” explains Robert. “It is narrated in present time by Alison (now 43) as she looks back on her life and her relationship with her father”.

Robert also mentioned that the traveling production will have a slightly different feel than when the show was on Broadway where Fun Home was at the Circle in the Square Theater. “On Broadway, the show is performed on a circular stage surrounded by the audience that goes only 10 rows deep.” According to Robert the traveling production will have a more “cinematic feel” as it is performed on more traditional stages like the one at DPAC.

Fun home has it’s lighthearted moments, but it also has and important message. “This show speaks to the power of communication, not holding a grudge, and not leaving things unsaid”.

Fun Home plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center Tuesday, October 25th through Sunday October 30th. For more information and to order tickets visit http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/fun-home.



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Tasting Rome Feast at Il Palio in Chapel Hill ~ November 15th


Teddy Diggs, executive chef of Il Palio in Chapel Hill, and renowned author Katie Parla are teaming up to host a culinary tour of Italy’s capital. Hosted at Il Palio on November 15th, this Tasting Rome feast will feature recipes from Parla’s acclaimed cookbook, Tasting Rome, along with classics from Chef Diggs’ regional Italian repertoire.

Diggs and Parla first met in Rome for pasta at the famous restaurant Flavio, a meal that served as the inspiration for the their own collaborative dinner in Chapel Hill. The Tasting Rome feast at Il Palio will delight guests with a multi-course menu reminiscent of an intimate dinner one might enjoy on the cobblestone streets of Rome. The evening will feature Rome’s quintessential dishes from Parla’s cookbook along with hidden gems discovered during each chef’s travels. In true Italian fashion, Diggs and Parla will craft dishes that also reflect the local flavors and fare by highlighting North Carolina ingredients.


“Katie and I have a common passion for sharing the spirit behind Italian cooking,” said Diggs, executive chef, Il Palio. “Our goal is to transport guests to the streets of Rome and invite them to experience not just the flavors but also the emotional connection that is inherently part of an Italian meal.”

Tasting Rome Menu – November 15th, 2016

Aperitivo: Supplì Classici, Crostino di Burro e Alici, Pizzette, Cracker con Ricotta di Pecora

Antipasto: Arugula and Pine Nut Salad

Primo (served family style): Rigatoni all’amatriciana and Tonnarelli cacio e pepe

Secondo: Chicken with tomatoes and sweet peppers and Tripe simmered in tomato sauce with mint and Pecorino Romano

Dolce: Fried dough balls with sugar and Mint panna cotta

Ticket Information 
Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception featuring passed appetizers at 6:30 p.m. followed by a seated dinner. Tickets may be purchased for $125 by calling 919-918-2545 and include signed copies of the Tasting Rome cookbook, wine pairings, tax and gratuity.


About Il Palio
Il Palio is an award-winning Italian dining destination in Chapel Hill, N.C. and the premiere restaurant of The Siena Hotel Autograph Collection. Consistently awarded Four Diamonds by AAA, Il Palio marries the traditional flavors of Italy with a casual elegance that regions and vintifications produced in every corner of the Italian Peninsula, a selection that earned Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Executive Chef Teddy Diggs brings robust training from the Culinary Institute of America along with rich national experience, including appointments in the Washington D.C. dining spotlight and tenure at Martha’s Vineyard. Il Palio offers breakfast daily and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit www.ilpalio.com or call 800-223-7379.

About Katie Parla
Katie is a Rome-based food and beverage educator and journalist. Originally from New Jersey, she has an art history degree from Yale, a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”, a sommelier certificate from the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoratori and an archeological speleology certification from the city of Rome. She has written and edited more than 20 books, and her food criticism and travel writing have appeared in numerous publications including the The New York Times, The Guardian, and National Geographic Traveler just to name a few.

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RENT Still Relevant 20 Years Later


Skyler Volpe & Kaleb Wells Rent 20th Anniversary Tour (Photo Carol Rosegg, 2016)

A lot has changes since RENT first hit Broadway in 1996. I saw it almost 13 years ago when I was briefly living just outside New York City. As I watched the performance this past Tuesday at the DPAC in Durham, I was struck by how this story about a year in the life of a group of young artists struggling to survive in the East Village, while dealing with addiction, love, and AIDS is still as relevant today as it was two decades ago. RENT ‘s powerful message still resonates. In the face of fear, reminds us to celebrate joy and measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters – love.

The overall feel of this 20th Anniversary production is simialr to the original, but the young casts injects a new energy into the characters on stage. It was exciting to learn that one of leads is played by a Triangle native. Aaron Harrington, who plays Tom Collins, went to Cary Academy and graduated from Shaw University before becoming an actor. He does a wonderful job playing the endearing character of Tom, an HIV positive professor who falls for Angel, a drag queen and street musician suffering from AIDS, played by David Merino.

Merino is excellent as the flamboyant Angel, injecting a positive energy on stage during the first act reminding each of the struggling characters to embrace what they have and live for today. Strong performances were also given by Danny Kornfield (playing Mark) and Kaleb Wells (playing Roger). Mark and Roger are struggling artists living rent free in an apartment with no heat. Roger is struggling with the life-changing news that he is HIV positive – a revelation he learns from a suicide not left by his girlfriend.

Mark and Roger can’t pay their rent, but their friend and landlord makes them a deal. They can continue to live in the apartment for free if they can stop Mark’s ex-girlfriend, Maureen, from holding a protest in opposition to his redevelopment plans for the block. The highlight of the first act is when audiences are first introduced to Maureen (played by Katie LaMark). She does a wonderful job with a bit of performance art in “Over the moon”, which is delivered as a comical protest song that had the audience laughing.

Rent remains a timeless musical with just the right nostalgia sprinkled that hints at it’s 90’s origins. In a time with so much uncertainty, RENT continues to remind us of the passion and unbreakable spirit that flows through each of us when travel through life focusing on what counts.

RENT plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center through this Sunday, October 16th. For more information and to order tickets visit http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/rent.


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