Tag Archive for five points

Dishcrawl Durham

Dishcrawl, based in San Jose, has spread its food-tour wings throughout the US and Canada. Their expansion into the Triangle is new, with the first Dishcrawl being held in Raleigh last February. Durham’s Dishcrawl debuted last week over two separate evenings due to high demand.  I attended the first night on a press pass (which is my obligatory disclaimer that this $45 tour was free for me).

There are a few things that set Dishcrawl apart from other local food tours. First, they focus on one neighborhood and the cuisine you can hit within walking distance of that neighborhood. Five Points was the neighborhood this time, though the argument could easily be made that it was more of a downtown Durham jaunt than specifically Five Points. Second, they keep the particular destinations secret up until the moment you enter the next storefront. That means there’s a fair bit of prying to get the Dishcrawl ambassador, the sweet and congenial Hayley Teater in this case, to spill, so knowing how to keep a secret is in the job description.

The first location is revealed by email the day of the event because the group needs to meet somewhere! On this night, Taberna Tapas was the place of origin.

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I had never been to Taberna, so I was excited to begin there, and I think it was probably my favorite of the stops. Chris, the owner, explained to us that he had redone the interior of the restaurant himself, using a lot of reclaimed and repurposed wood and fabric. He aimed for a rustic yet chic feel with clean lines, and I think he achieved that in both the décor and his food.

We were served a trio of small bites.

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From left to right is a bacon croquette, a smoked salmon crostini with goat cheese and a stuffed olive, and an avocado and Spanish chorizo crostini with shallots. The croquette was well executed, its texture wavering between creamy and toasty with a paprika-infused crust. The salmon tasted nice and smoky, and I still dislike olives, but the saltiness of this one contrasted nicely with the richness of the cheese. The best offering was the simple avocado and chorizo crostini. It’s my ideal comfort food, something I could whip up in my kitchen that gives me the rich avocado I love and the spice of chorizo with it.

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Triangle Foodie Happenings

It’s time for another Triangle Foodie Happening post, in large part because Dishcrawl is going crazy in the Bull City this week! What is Dishcrawl? It is a nationwide company that puts together one night events with the goal of focusing on a city or neighborhood’s cuisines. If you are thinking food tourism, you are right! But Dishcrawl has a twist: the four restaurants that are featured remain a secret until that evening’s tour. Dishcrawl first came to Raleigh in the spring, but now it’s set its sights on Durham, and demand has been so high, they added a second night for back-to-back events. I’ll be joining on a press pass on 7/9 at 7 pm for the Five Points Feast. Want to meet up with me and Dishcrawl? There are still a few tickets left here: $45 gets you four courses, and vegetarians can be accommodated. The originally scheduled event, on 7/10, is sold out so Tuesday night is your only chance!

Only chance for Durham, that is. Dishcrawl is also holding an event in Raleigh in July. On 7/24 at 7:00 pm the historic Moore Square district will be the tour’s focus. Tickets are again $45 and include four courses at four restaurants, locations to be revealed. Locations will remain secret until the reveal, but I can guess a few likely suspects...get your tickets here!

 

Zely & Ritz, in Raleigh, is gearing up for their annual series of tomato dinners. What more do you need to know than summer-fresh tomatoes? How about that it’s six courses for only $49? If you’re a drinker, that’ll be $75 with wine pairings, and the menu is as follows:

  • Reception, BLT Bite, Las Lilas Vinho Verde Blanco, Portugal, 2012
  • 1st Course, Coon Rock Farm Heirloom Tomato & Vegetable Gazpacho, possibly Michlits Frizzante Pinot Noir Rose
  • 2nd Course, Coon Rock Farm & Wild Onion Farm Heirloom Tomatoes: Cherokee Purple, German Green, Chocolate Stripe, Persimmon, Virginia Sweets & Richard’s Black with Chapel Hill Creamery Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fresh Basil, and Sweet Balsamic Vinegar Glaze Wine, and likely the Domaine de Aubuisieres Cuvee de Silex Vouvray,(Chenin Blanc) Loire Valley, France 2011
  • 3rd Course, Assorted Heirloom Tomatoes Stuffed with Rabbit and Sweet Corn Served on a Bed of Creamy Sweet Corn Risotto with a yet to be determined Pinot Noir, from the Willamette Valley, OR
  • 4th Course, Harris Robinette Ribeye of Beef Roasted with Caramelized Onions and Tomato Guts, Served with Grilled Eggplant, Grilled Squash, Roasted New Potatoes and Finished with Over Dried Amish Paste Roma Tomatoes with a yet to be determined Zinfandel probably from Napa Valley, CA
  • 5th Course, Sungold Tomato Panna Cotta almost certainly with La Spinetta Bricco Quaglia Moscato D’Asti, Piedmont Italy 2012

Want in? Make sure to RSVP soon, because these dinners sell out! Available dates are 7/10, 7/18, 7/23, 7/25, and 7/31. Call 919.828.0018.

On 7/26 at 6 pm, Larry’s Beans in Raleigh is hosting a Hard Coffee Throwdown, a coffee cocktail competition, which sounds delightful! Bartenders will pair up with baristas to create the perfect cocktail made with Larry’s cold-brew coffee. For $5, you can sample their shots and get in on the judging. Now that’s a deal! It’s taking place at Foundation downtown, and more info can be found here.

Last for this Triangle Foodie Happenings post is the Red, White, & Blu American Classics dinner at blu Seafood in Durham on 7/17 at 7 pm. The wine pairings are from my favorite local wine shop, the Hope Valley Bottle Shop, and the menu is four courses for $50. That menu is…

  • Oysters Rockefeller with Benziger Chardonnay
  • Lump Crab Cobb Salad with A To Z Pinot Gris
  • Fresh North Carolina Catch of the Day with Stone Ground Grits, Collard Greens, and Local Oyster Mushroom Vinaigrette and Three Wine Co. Zinfandel
  • Caramelized Lemon Tart with Sawtooth Riesling

Make your reservations with the restaurant at 919.286.9777.

Enjoy!

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Pizzeria Toro

Pizzeria Toro
105 E. Chapel Hill St.
Five Points, Durham
Website
$12 to 1$16
11 am to 11 pm daily

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Pizzeria Toro is an alluring and exciting gourmet pizza restaurant. I am jealous of downtown Durham residents who have this gem down the block.  At first look, the main dining room appears to be an office conference room with light brown, wooden, spinning chairs and a long, central table, which may be off-putting for some. But the cavernous, open-air pizza oven and kitchen dominate and bring a warm, casual vibe to the space. It’s a big city restaurant that successfully fosters a neighborhood feel. I want to spend whole nights there. I really do.

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Even the dish towels used as napkins contribute to that relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. And any restaurant playing independent rock instead of contemporary anything gets bonus points. There is a darker bar adjacent to the dining room space, but I never went in.

There are a few more cocktail combinations at Pizzeria Toro than there are appetizer or salad choices, which is a plus in my book. I decided on the Horsefeather made with rye whiskey, Blenheim’s “Old #3 Hot” ginger ale, and orange bitters served on the rocks in a tall glass.

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Going down like cinnamon candy, the drink had plenty of heat, great complexity from the bitters, and a touch of sweetness from the ale that made for a fabulous concoction. I nursed it throughout the meal, and it was good to the last drop, which is rare for an iced drink.

My husband and I shared a salad, pizza, and dessert. The salad was shaved chicory, fennel, Chapel Hill Creamery’s Calvander cheese, and truffle.

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This is when I again remark that I have no idea what truffle contributes to a dish. I have no idea if I tasted it at all. But the rest of the salad was crisp, intriguing, and fun to eat if too bitter overall. The Calvander gave the dish a fair bit of creaminess to dilute the bitter vegetables’ flavors, but it wasn’t entirely successful. I blame that on the tangy vinaigrette. Add a little cream to that, and this dish would soar.

I had no such concerns with the pizza.

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We chose the spicy lamb meatball pizza with rapini and Cacia di Roma sheep’s cheese. The thin crust was coated in something like semolina to give it grit, attractively bubbly all around, and charred on the edges. The whole pizza was shiny with that appetizing grease sheen. You know what I mean, when it’s enough to pull you in but not enough to gross you out. In other words, probably brushed with olive oil before baking. The meatballs fall apart at the slightest jostling and melt away fast in your mouth. Perhaps the roasted whole garlic cloves are a bit much, but that’s me pulling critique out of my ass. It’s a great pizza.

Dessert was just as satisfying. We had a pear crostada with clobber and caramel.

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Clobber, based on our devouring of the dessert, is that lemon curd and clotted cream hybrid dolloped on the side. The pastry was baked perfectly, and all the ingredients were top-notch. I especially liked the note of savoriness the basil sprinkle added.

Other than finding the salad a touch too bitter, our meal at Pizzeria Toro was amazing and I didn’t even try the antipasti or special ham charcuterie. I am now accepting invitations to be anyone’s dinner companion there in the future. I can’t think of a better way to while away the evening in Durham.

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Pizzeria Toro on Urbanspoon

Reviewed 6 Feb 13.

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