Beer

Fire in the Triangle: Battle Market vs. New Southern Kitchen

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I was thrilled to again judge a Fire in the Triangle battle, having judged my first last year when NC Competition Dining premiered in the Research Triangle. If you love food and live in the area, then you simply must make next year’s series—it’s too late for this year’s. All the battles have been sold out for weeks!

WRAL is the local media sponsor for the competition, and they already have a great summary up of Monday’s night’s competition between Market and New Southern Kitchen, but I just have to add my own spin.

 

The competitors await the results.

The competitors await the results.

First, though, I should make clear that my meal was complimentary as one of the evening’s professional judges. Second, I was plied with wine by a fabulous group of dining companions the entire evening. That may affect my opinions. But mostly it affects my dehydration today. Thank you again, ladies, wherever you are!

Diners and judges enter their scores in six categories for each dish, including aroma, execution, flavor, presentation, accompaniments, and the creativity used with the secret ingredient. Diners’ ratings making up 70% of the total score and judges get 30%. We were blessed with two—two!—secret ingredients for this meal, heirloom tomatoes and TOPO spirits. You may recall that I visited TOPO’s distillery last month, so I was excited that their unique, organic, local gin and vodka would be highlighted in these dishes. Making them stand out in a dish was the most difficult part of the challenge, in my opinion.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Onto the dishes! The first course, by Chef Sokum Slama of New Southern Kitchen, was napoleon heirloom tomatoes with couscous, lobster, and a TOPO vodka and basil beurre blanc.

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This was a strong start for Chef Slama, using beautiful colors and pulling out all the stops by starting us with lobster. The tomato had wonderful flavor, but the vodka was impossible to pick out. It was Course #2 from Chef Chad McIntyre of Market that probably did the best job of highlighting the vodka.

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It didn’t quite get my highest score of the evening, but this green tomato and crab salad with poached tilefish and a citrus “Mary” sauce was my favorite for flavor. That citrus sauce captured the spirit of a Bloody Mary effectively, garnering it high creativity scores. The peppers and greens (kale, I believe), were delicious with the sauce, and the fish was perfectly done. Pistachios for crunch are always a plus!

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Triangle Foodie Happenings

The exciting events for Triangle-based foodies are piling up yet again! Honestly, I’m not sure they ever stop piling — we seem to support an awful lot of delishness for a relatively small metro area. I think that means all us eaters deserve a round of applause … or of digestives. Ouzo, anyone?

I’ve cherry-picked a few upcoming dinners and tastings for this week among the press releases I’ve come across. Here they are in order of soonest to latest:

AndreaMoore-44Tonight at 6:30 pm, Antonia‘s in Hillsborough is hosting a five-course, family style, Italian meal including wine pairings and the very special entertainment of opera singer Andrea Edith Moore. Ms. Moore, a featured soprano with the North Carolina Opera, will perform select arias throughout the dinner. She “currently serves on the voice faculty at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has performed with companies including the Hamburg Kammeroper, Central City Opera, Aspen Music Festival and the North Carolina Opera. Her most recent roles are Micaela in Carmen and the Governess in Turn of the Screw. Among many honors, Moore has received the distinguished Yale School of Music alumni award twice.”

6/21 at 12 pm is a family-style lunch celebrating rose wine at Raleigh’s Zely & Ritz. For $20, you can try all these refreshing summertime sips:

Domaine Les Aphillantes Cotes Du Rhone, France
Marc Plouzeau Chinon Rive Gauche Rose, Loire Valley, France
Elio Perrone Bigaro, Piedmont, Italy
Tegernseerhof Zweigelt Rose, Krems, Austria
Markowitsch Pinot Noir Rose, Carnuntum, Austria

RSVP at 919-828-0018.

On 6/20 at 6 pm, Chef Steven Devereaux Greene of An is putting on a pop-up dinner at the King’s Daughters Inn bed and breakfast in Durham. It’s 5 courses, and the menu is $100 without pairings and $125 with. Chef Greene “is known for his unique take on modern Asian-inspired foods, using local vegetables as well as the freshest seafood and meats, and will be bringing this artistry to his meal.” The courses sound absolutely divine:

Course 1: Chef cocktails and Canapés

Course 2: Hamachi Tartare–Yuzu, Cucumber, Coriander, Barley, Aged White Soy

 Course 3: Sea Scallops–Tapioca, Asian Pear Salad, Ginger Puree, Thai Coconut 

Course 4: Border Springs Lamb–Marbled Potatoes, Preserved Lemon, 7-Spiced Honey

Course 5: Goat Cheese Cheesecake–Pickled Strawberries, Szechuan Dust, Moscoto Sherbet

For reservations, click here.

Bull City Burger and Brew is hosting Paul Saginaw, co-founder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses at 6/22 at 8 pm on the patio in Durham. As BCBB writes,

Zingerman’s is an inspiration to Bull City Burger and Brewery….We are thrilled to have Paul visit and talk about his business and developing a business within a community….Zingerman’s Delicatessen was founded in 1982…Today they have over 500 employees with a family of 15 unique businesses all related to food, community, service training, and more.

The event is limited to 30 people, and for $16.50, you can build your own burger, get dirty fries, and an alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverage of your choice in addition to listening to Paul speak. Reserve a spot here.

On 6/26, Donatos Pizza, an Ohio-based chain, are opening a new restaurant at Seaboard Station in Raleigh. Donatos’s “golden crispy thin crust is legendary and when paired with the finest freshest toppings, the result is a pizza taste that you just can’t find anywhere else!” Donatos’s signature is the Edge-to-Edge pizza, meaning the toppings cover every inch of every slice. The menu is here, and Donatos offers delivery and limited in-house dining.

6/26 at 7 pm is the Elizabeth Spencer Wine Dinner, also at Zely & Ritz. The menu and wines are as follows:

Starter-Reception: Wine: Elizabeth Spencer Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino, CA 2012

1st Course: NC Mussels Steamed with Honeysuckle, Dried Pineapple and White Wine. Wines: Elizabeth Spencer Chenin Blanc, Mendocino, CA 2011

2nd Course: Tuna Tartar with Raw Chiogga Beets, Fresh Strawberries, Lemon Thyme  and Sweet Strawberry Vinegar. Wine: Elizabeth Spencer Grenache Rose, Mendocino, CA 2012

3rd Course: Duck Confit with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Braised Chinese Cabbage and Blueberry Sauce. Wine: Elizabeth Spencer Syrah, Sonoma Coast, CA 2011

4th Course: Ribeye of Beef with Creamy Risotto and Elderberry Sauce. Wine: Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA 2009

5th Course: Chocolate  Truffles. Larry’s Beans Coffees & Teatulia Teas

mystery beer dinner

For a third 6/26 option, try the Mystery Beer Dinner at the Washington Duke Inn at 6 pm. I’m just going to let the flyer speak for itself. Click it for all the details.

 

Is that enough for one week? Probably not, because I’m sure plenty of Triangle foodie fun in missing from this list. Enjoy, wherever your stomachs take you!

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Bar Lusconi

Bar Lusconi
117B East Main Street
Downtown Durham
Website
Weds – Sat, 5 pm – 2 am

Hey folks, I posted this review of Bar Lusconi over at Carpe Durham last week, and I didn’t get the chance to report here until now! So here you go:

Bar Lusconi is a downtown beer and wine bar that soft-opened this week, so don’t expect perfection or a wide food selection just yet. However, I was very happy with everything we tried last night and can report no kinks in the service. There’s a great article in the Herald-Sun that covers the details of the bar opening. It’s owned by Timothy Neill and Jesse Gerstle, who opened Peccadillo last year, which is a somewhat secretive cocktail bar in downtown Carrboro. Bar Lusconi is at a readily accessible streetfront location, but right now, the main sign there’s anything going on behind the butcher-paper-covered windows is the sound of an animated crowd when you walk by. Eventually, those windows will be covered with curtains, but it’s one thing at a time for this bar. So far, that’s been renovating the space, keeping the beer and wine list stocked and the bartenders well versed in its particulars, and working on a selection of small plates from Chef Eric Akbari that will hopefully be expanded soon, once logistics of their tiny kitchen space are worked out and more dishes make their way through the bartender-approved quality assurance method.

The space is narrow, loud, and lively, and it feels bright although the lighting was mostly a warm glow from candlelight and a few overhead ceiling fans. It was packed until late last night with a crowd of mostly 30-to-40 somethings.

Owner Timothy and Dean James, one of the super friendly and knowledgeable bartenders you must make friends with, gushed about the distressed walls and white tin ceiling. We particularly liked the wood bar that lines one wall and was made from reclaimed wood found on the property. Tim is especially excited to open the small beer garden space in the back once the weather cooperates and allows him to finish renovations for it.

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