The sunflowers at Dix Park started blooming last week. The combination of rain and sun in June and July have resulted in a lush crop this year. I expect the field to be filled with blooms by this week and in peak bloom by the weekend.
Visitors are welcome to check out the sunflowers all month long from dawn to dusk. The fields can be a little muddy if it has been raining and it is always a good idea to wear a hat and bring some bottled water. There isn’t much shade out there and it gets super hot under the July sun!
The sunflower field at Dix Park is located off Hunt Drive near the soccer fields and the historic cemetery. The best way to find them is to enter the park on Hunt Drive off Western Boulevard. Once on Hunt Drive you will quickly notice signs for parking in a large soccer field and gravel parking lot on your right. You can park there and easily access the field from the gravel lot.
In January, owner and master blender Brandon McCraney saw his vision and hard work come to life with the opening of Olde Raleigh Distillery. Olde Raleigh is a small family-owned craft-spirits distillery specializing in small-batch whiskey blends. It occupies a completely remodeled 10,000 square foot space in downtown Zebulon that is home to a tasting room, production area, barrel storage and special event space. With the launch of Olde Raleigh McCraney hopes to create a welcoming community space while also establishing the Triangle region as a new destination for bourbon lovers.
First Batch Bottle Release – This Saturday! Just four months after opening, the distillery is now set to release their signature blended bourbon under the flagship brand Olde Raleigh Whiskey Society this Saturday, April 24th! The celebration will start Satruday morning with a roaring bag pipe band (in an homage to bourbon and whiskey’s roots) to announce the release on Zebulon’s Main Street at 11:30am. The doors to the distillery will open at noon with bottle sales of the signature blend taking place in the “Society Room”. The Tasting room will be open to the public with full bar service from noon to 11pm and there will be live music throughout the day and a food truck from 4-7pm.
About the Owner Brandon McCraney’s journey to opening the distillery spans several years of planning and hard work. After seveal years working in the corporate world, he has spent the past several years learning everything he can about spirits industry, traveling the country to visit distilleries and amassing an impressive collection featuring hundreds of different whiskeys. As the owner and master blender he has big plans and is off to a great start of making Olde Raleigh a “must visit” for any bourbon lover.
What’s Next for Olde Raleigh? Following the relase of the signature blend this weekend, Olde Raleigh has additional long-term plans for creating cask-finished limited-release whiskeys, a line of vodka and gin and their own house-made heirloom bourbon.
McCraney’s vision for the distillery goes beyond seeing it just as a business and hopes to develop Olde Raleigh as community oriented brand that gives back to the local community by showcasing the positive environmental and economic impacts distilleries contribute from the farms that source the grains to glass of spirits poured at their bar. He is working to develop partnerships with North Carolina farmers to supply the grains that will be used to distill their spirits and the distillery has already become a central meeting location for the town of Zebulon and regulars from around the Triangle by hosting weekend markets, music and food trucks. You can view their calendar of events here.
If you haven’t been to downtown Zebulon before it is SUPER EASY to get to. It’s actually just a 30 minute drive from North Raleigh and you may even find it easier and quicker to get to than downtown Raleigh. Just hop on 540 and take 64 to 264 east and you’ll be in downtown zebulon enjoying a glass of bourbon neat or a cold cocktail before you know it. Happy Exploring!!
Olde Raleigh Distillery 209 N. Arendell Avenue Zebulon, NC 27597
Now that the warmer weather is here it is time to get outside and get working in the garden! If you are looking to add some beautiful color by planting Bearded Iris in your landscape there is no better place to get them than the Rocky Toad Road Iris Farm in North Raleigh. They are located at 1216 Rocky Toad Road off Falls of Neuse Road just a little north of Raven Ridge Road in North Raleigh. The farm is only open for a limited time each season when the Iris are in bloom and they just announced this week they will be opening TODAY Friday, April 23rd from 4pm-6pm.
I love planting Bearded Iris in my yard becasue they add a nice splash of color each spring, are super easy to grow and best of all the deer don’t touch them so you can plant them almost anywhere! Don’t worry if you can’t make it over on opening day, they will also have hours this Saturday (10am-5pm) and Sunday (2-5pm) and will be open each weekeday from 4-6pm, but make sure you don’t wait to long to stop by. They are usually open for just a week or two before they sell out for the season!
When you go to the farm be sure to bring cash to pay for the plants. The unique thing about getting Iris plants at Rocky Toad Road is that you actually get to walk the fields and point out plants you want. Proprietors Robert Wilson or Randy Ray then dig up the plants for you. They are a lot of fun and happy to give you gorwing tips and advice. Last time I was there the plants were 3 for $20 or you could try your luck with some pre-trimmed pot-luck bulbs that go for 5 for $20. All of the plants they have are sourced from a great selection of show winners they divide each year. There are lots of colors to choose from and you wouln’t find a better stock of Iris around. Happy Gardening!!
Good news Raleigh Friends! Chef/Owner Scott Crawford announced this week the re-opening of his French bistro Jolie with a French picnic menu to complement Crawford & Son’s dinner service.
Chef Scott Crawford
“It feels amazing to activate the Jolie space again. We have missed her energy!” Crawford added, “We are very thankful that our customers have responded so well to Crawford Curbside. It has been really meaningful to safely feed our community. Now, with more of our team on board, and experience crafting meals to-go, we’re excited to bring Jolie back to life by sharing that quintessential French picnic experience – perfect for enjoying at home, in your backyard, or in one the Triangle’s beautiful green spaces, for lunch or dinner.”
Jolie’s all-new menu can be viewed here and ordered á la carte, complete with bubbles, rosé or craft beer. Jolie’s menu will be ever-evolving and available for curbside service beginning Wednesday May 20th and on-going, Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon and to 6pm. Orders may be place daily from 11am until 6pm by calling 919-803-7221. Walk-up orders can be picked up at Jolie’s charming French window and curbside pick-up will operate on Pace Street.
For more info Follow @JolieRestaurant on Instagram & Twitter and Jolie Restaurant on Facebook. Sign up for the newsletter and view the menu at www.restaurantjolie.com
A lot has been going on since my last post in February. Everyone’s routine has changed as we all work through this new normal. Like so many others I needed to take a few weeks to focus on other things. As we all look to a brighter future I am continuing to explore ways we can lift each other up and support our great local businesses in the Triangle that are navigating through these challenging times.
One thing I have been doing to support some of my favorite spots is buying local coffee. Most if not all of the local coffee shops in the area remain open offering to-go orders that can be conveniently ordered online for curb-side pickup. Many also roast their own coffee and selling their retail bags is a great way for them to generate revenue to continue paying their staff.
Areli Barrera de Grodski & Leon Grodski de Barrera Little Waves Coffee Roasters & Cococa Cinnamon
Durham’s own Cocoa Cinnamon is a great example of this approach. Their in-house coffee roasting business is called Little Waves Coffee and it supplies all of the coffee served at their three shops. You can buy their beans at the shop (curb-side pickup) as well as online and they recently announced the launch of their coffee subscription service with different coffee options to suit your tastes and delivery options from once a month to every two weeks.
Signing up for the Little Waves Coffee Subscription service is an easy way to make a major impact on the long-terms sustainability of their business and in the short-term it will go a long way to ensuring they can continue to pay their staff a living wage during the pandemic.