Friday, December 1, 2017

Cooking for a Classic gears up for 2018


The cooking competition that is known as Cooking for a Classic has released it schedule for its 2018 showdown starting on Monday, January 22. The event, which raises funds for the Lucy Daniels Center, will see two chefs compete head-to-head for a chance to win a restored 1949 Chevrolet pickup truck.

The chefs will use a secret ingredient to conjure up three dishes each, for a total of six menu items for you to enjoy – and judge! Held at catering event venue, 1705 East, guests will be able to purchase local brews, spirits and wines at a cash bar, with proceeds benefiting the Lucy Daniels Center.


And now for the lineup:


Monday, Jan. 22

Chef Troy Stauffer of City Club, Raleigh vs Chef Matt Hannon of Ironwoods Café, Southern Pines

Tuesday, Jan. 23

Chef Jonathan Ballard of Dean's Kitchen and Bar, Cary vs Chef James Patterson of McConnell Golf Dining, Raleigh

Wednesday, Jan. 24

Chef Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill, Chapel Hill vs Chef Aaron Matyac, Whiskey Kitchen, Raleigh

Chef Aaron Matyac of Raleigh Whiskey Kitchen.

Thursday, Jan. 25
Chef Dean Thompson, Concord Hotels, Raleigh vs Chef Nick Fay, Coquette, Raleigh

The semi-finals will be held Monday, January 29 and Tuesday, January 30. Then the final two chefs left standing will compete in the championship battle on Wednesday, February 7.


We went to the inaugural event this past February.


Related Story: New Raleigh cooking competition finds chefs battling for vintage Corvette Stingray

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DTR Holiday Happenings


Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and we officially kick off the holiday season, we thought we would put together a list of holiday happenings in downtown Raleigh.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, lace up those running shoes, get all decked out in your favorite holiday costume and come on out to the Jingle Bell Run 5K hosted by the Arthritis Foundation of North Carolina. The run starts at 9 a.m. at Saint Mary's School on Hillsborough St. For more information, click here.


Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration

On Saturday, Dec. 2 from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., the Downtown Raleigh Alliance in partnership with the City of Raleigh will host the Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration to kickoff the winter season. You can expect a giant inflatable slide, Gingerbread House competition, Santa himself and of course the Mayor's Official Tree Lighting ceremony. For more information, click here.


On Sunday, Dec. 3, Purr Cup Cafe is hosting a Pop-Up Holiday Cat Market at Raleigh Provisions from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. This event will raise money towards the start up costs for the first ever cat cafe coming to downtown Raleigh, Purr Cup Cafe. For more information, click here.

Related Story: Raleigh couple plans to bring first cat café to town

On Wednesday, Dec. 6, Woody's at City Market will host the 7th Annual Toys for Tots. For the beer drinker out there, Woody's will be tapping 7 rare specialty beers for this event and everyone who brings a new, unwrapped toy or donates money to Toys for Tots will be entered into a raffle. For more information, check Woody's Facebook event here

On Thursday, Dec. 7, Seaboard Wine & Tasting Bar will host its 21st Annual Champagne & Sparking Wine Tasting from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. There will be Champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world to sample. Space is limited and reservations are required. Tickets are $39 per person and must be prepaid. For more information, check out the Facebook event here.


N.C. Executive Mansion Open House
From Wednesday, Dec. 6 through Saturday, Dec. 9, the N.C. Executive Mansion will host its annual Holiday Open House. Guests will be able to tour the home and enjoy seasonal music by local entertainers. Admission is free. Click here for more details.

Related Story: Executive Mansion Holiday Open House

Holiday Lantern Tour at the Mordecai House
On Saturday, Dec. 9 from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. the Mordecai House will be host to the annual Holiday Lantern Tours and take guests back in time to how the holidays would have been celebrated in years past. Tickets are $5.

Related Story: Raleigh's Mordecai House celebrates with open house for the holidays

Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10 come on out to enjoy the 46th Annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour. The hours are from 1 p.m. - 7 p.m. The homes in Historic Oakwood date back from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. This event affords you the opportunity to tour the interior of some of these homes. There will be about a dozen homeowners who will open their doors to visitors. For more information, click here.

Friday, Dec. 22 Oak & Dagger will host its Yule Ball Holiday Soiree starting at 6 p.m. Featuring new beer releases, special holiday buffet, full bar with holiday themed cocktails as well as live music. Tickets are $30. Click here for more information.

Now through Saturday, Dec. 30 is the Adults Only Downtown Holiday Lights Tour! For $37 per person, your ticket includes two-hour adults-only tour aboard the Great Raleigh Trolley, the sights and sounds of DTR light displays, complimentary Absolut seasonal shooter at Isaac Hunter's and priority entrance into the best dance club in Raleigh!

The tour begins at Paddy O'Beers Bottle Shop and ends at Coglin's Raleigh at 1 am. This is a 21 and over tour. For more information, click here.
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Upcoming holiday events at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical runs until Dec. 24 at Fletcher Opera Theater

Theatre In the Park: A Christmas Carol runs from Dec. 6 - 10. Celebrating its 43rd Anniversary, this is Ira David Wood III's musical comedy and take on this classic. This is a highly recommended must-see at least once. For ticket information, click here.

The Raleigh Ringers will perform on Dec. 9-10. Photo c/o Raleigh Ringers.

Raleigh Ringers 2017 Holiday Concert Dec. 9 - 10. If you've never had the pleasure of attending a Raleigh Ringers concert, this is another must-do that we recommend. The Raleigh Ringers are an internationally acclaimed handbell choir founded in 1990. To learn more about the Raleigh Ringers, click here.  

Joy of the Season - NC Master Chorale concert will be on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. This holiday concert features 170-voice Chorale and the NCMC Chamber Choir joined by brass choir featuring selections such as "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," "Gloria," "Here We Come A-Wassailing," "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and many more to warm your heart to the season. To learn more about the NC Master Chorale, click here.  For ticket information, click here.

Nutcracker - Carolina Ballet takes place Dec. 15-24. This holiday tradition is perfect for the whole family. For more information on this performance as well as the Carolina Ballet, click here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Holiday Happenings: North Carolina Wineries

Christmas time at Roaring Rivers Vineyards in Traphill, N.C.

There are so many ways to celebrate the holidays. With one of our favorite pastimes visiting our local North Carolina wineries, it only made sense to seek out holiday happenings at some of our favorite wineries (and meaderies).

Friday, Dec. 1 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Medaloni Cellars located in Lewisville, will be hosting its Christmas Decorations Reveal Party. You will be enjoying the first look at the wineries holiday decorations in the tasting room along with live piano Christmas carols and ... a Christmas cookie competition!


Saturday, Dec. 2 from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Burntshirt Vineyards located in Hendersonville, will be hosting Winemaking 101 - Holiday Blending Session. At this event, guests will be able to blend their own holiday wine with Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc and Merlot led by the winery's winemaker and general manager. Light hors d'oeuvres will be included. The seminar is $30 for general admission. To buy tickets, call Burntshirt Vineyards at 828-685-2302 or email events@burntshirtvineyards.com. 

Saturday, Dec. 2 from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Starrlight Mead located in Pittsboro, will be hosting an Ugly Sweater Day. Come to Starrlight Mead decked out in your ugly Christmas sweater and get a free mead tasting!

Sunday, Dec. 3 from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Junius Lindsay Vineyards located in Lexington, will be hosting its annual Christmas Open House complete with Christmas carols, light snacks and mulled sangria.

Sunday, Dec. 3 from 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Adagio Vineyards located in Elkin, will host its monthly violin duet series featuring Christmas music. Look to celebrate the season with music, wine and of course Christmas cookies.

Saturday, Dec. 9 from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Parker-Binns Vineyard and Winery located in Mill Spring, will be hosting its Holiday Appreciation Party. There will be heavy appetizers, music, fellowship and fun. And any holiday  party is not complete without the ugly Christmas sweater for a chance to win and of course, Secret Santa. This sounds like a fun event at one of our favorite wineries. This party is RSVP only.

Saturday, Dec. 9 from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Starrlight Mead located in Pittsboro, will be hosting it 8th Annual Holiday Open House. You can look forward to Samhain Faerie Creations with their crocheted creatures, Shades of Nature with jewelry and Burning Sphinx Studios with their fairy wings and accessories. There will be live music from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Mead Wenches and Cork Knaves serving up warm Spiced Apple Mead.
http://www.starrlightmead.com/upcoming-events/

Sunday, Dec. 10 from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Raffaldini Vineyards located in Ronda, will be hosting An Afternoon of Holiday Cheer. Holiday music, refreshments, and storytelling. This is a family-friendly event, admission is free but an RSVP is requested. Raffaldini is also sponsoring a gift drive "Fill the Barrel with Toys" to be donated to the Children's Home of Winston-Salem. To RSVP, stop by the tasting room, visit www.raffaldini.com, call 336-526-1078 or email info@raffaldini.com for more information or to reserve your spot.


Thursday, Dec. 14 from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Honeygirl Meadery located in Durham, will be hosting Honey of a Holiday Open House. You can expect hot mulled Honeygirl Chai cider, mead tastings, and truffles from GerDan Chocolates! You will also have the opportunity to make some cork ornaments, decorate cookies and more!

Related Story: Raleigh candy-makers win Good Food Awards

Saturday, Dec. 16 from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
RayLen Vineyards & Winery located in Mocksville, is hosting its Holiday Open House serving up sparkling cider sangria, a hot chocolate bar and Carronni's Handcrafted Creations selling their products. This event is complimentary and open to the public.

Related Story: Carronni's Hand Crafted Creations have N.C. wineries in mind

Saturday, Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Round Peak Vineyards and Skull Camp Brewing located in Mt. Airy are hosting a Jingle Dog Vineyard Stomp 5K & 2.5K Dog-Friendly Fun Run/Walk! The 5K is a human-only race, followed by a 2.5K dog-friendly run/walk. Costumes are encouraged and awards will be given out. After the run, you are welcome to hang out around the bonfire and relax. Proceeds will be donated to a combination of the Mt. Airy Museum of Regional History and to local dog rescue organizations.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1335791879882986/

Saturday, Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Chatham Hill Winery located in Cary, will be hosting a Holiday Open House Riedel Wine Tasting Experience. Tickets are $30 per person and the Riedel glasses are yours to take home.

To sign up for the 1 p.m. session, click here.
To sign up for the 3 p.m. session, click here.

Saturday, Dec. 16 from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Starrlight Mead located in Pittsboro, is hosting Sounds of the Season, featuring flutist Andrea Luke playing holiday tunes.

Be sure to like Triangle Around Town on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and follow our adventures.

Related: Christmas at the NC Wineries 2016

Related Story: Rating some of our favorite North Carolina wineries

Related Story: The Best Wineries of North Carolina in 2016

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Broadway's Ramin Karimloo and members of the Avett Brothers team up for charity

Ramin Karimloo, center, performs with members of the Avett Brothers and The Dives.

By Jennifer Primrose
Monday, November 27

On Sunday, November 19, King's nightclub in downtown Raleigh was host to a night of Bluegrass versus Broadway. It was a one night only special performance that brought together Broadway sensation Ramin Karimloo along with members of Hickory-based The Avett Brothers.

The collaboration was put into place this past February during the annual Triangle Wine Experience Gala, where proceeds go to help the children of the Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center. 


The two "lots" in the gala's live auction program, "Dinner with the Band" and "A Little Night Music," raised around $36,000 for the foundation. But just what was included? 

In "Dinner with the Band" a total of 56 hungry guests paid a total of $600 each for a 4-course meal cooked by Cheetie Kumar and Paul Siler of Garland restaurant. Joining in for the dinner were Karimloo along with Joe Kwon and Tania Elizabeth of the Avett Brothers and Sergio Ortega of The Dives. Although we were not there for the dinner, we heard TWE chairperson and matriarch, Eliza Kraft Olander, brought some wine to dinner. Bottles of Arista, Hirsch, Bodegas la Tercera and Dom Perignon (Bjork and Chris Cunningham label) few just a few of the libations.

After dinner at Garland, guests made their way upstairs to King's to take in the performance. The intimate concert featured a medley of Broadway hits blended with subtle hipness of Bluegrass. Karimloo has appeared in many leading roles such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.

Karimloo and friends performed a total of 15 songs that evening including "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," from Oklahoma and "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. The encore to end the evening was a fun cover of Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel," which had the room of 120-plus singing along with the performers.

It always makes your heart feel good when you see all the people that step forward and help out special needs children – but there can always be more. If you are interested in learning more about the foundation and how you can help, please get in touch with Ken Place at info@frankielemmonschool.org.

Related Story: 2017 Triangle Wine Experience: Sip, Shop 'n Sign



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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Bourbon County Brand Stout: Do You Collect or Criticize?




It’s funny to see how people react in the beer world, at least here in North Carolina, when Black Friday rolls around.

It's the annual release of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout and its variants.

You have some craft beer loyalists who will drop some form of an F Bomb saying how InBev owns Goose Island and they’d rather spend their money on something else … until they’re at their next bottle share when a bottle of Coffee Stout or Proprietor’s pops open. … but you didn’t buy it, right?


Related Story: Bottle Shares: The Do's. The Do Not's. And when do you consider yourself an alcoholic?

I prefer buying locally from my state, with so many great breweries from the mountains to the coast, but I still collect beers from all over the U.S. And that’s what I do with BCBS on the day after Thanksgiving. 


You have some that set their day on who is getting the beer first, and scoping out Total Wine distances apart. Total Wine at 8 a.m. Bottle Rev at 9 a.m. Another Total Wine at 10 a.m. BottleMixx at 11 a.m. Greenway at 3 p.m. Hop Yard at 5 p.m. And so on, and so forth. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just too old to be hunting down beer.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a fan of InBev and its practices, and I was one that voiced some opinions on the collard green stank of the Wicked Weed buyout earlier this year. But I didn’t let that stop me from going out this past Friday to look for a beer that I enjoy drinking.

My only alert came around 10:30 a.m. as I was at our local grocery store, and a friend text me. “Are you at home? Total Wine off Capital has around 6 cases of BCBS.” Since I was 5 miles away I thought to myself – why not go get a few? By the time I showed up, the 6 cases was down to 9 bottles. We picked up six.

I figured last years debacle with the tainted bottles filled with Lactobacillus acetotolerans was just that – a rare debacle. There were two ways to test that. One was to head to Greenway Beer & Wine, where owner Annette Henson, had 2017’s BCBS on draft, as well as 2016 BCBS and the Northwoods Stout (with flavors of blueberry and almond). They all tasted good. And while I was there, she still had a few tickets left, so I picked up a ticket and purchased 4 more. The other was to crack open a bottle, which we did at the end of the night. No tainted beer this year.

So I’m good with 10 bottles – a couple bottles going to a friend who picked me up some of Mother Earth’s Silent Night variants and some Java BA Ten Fidy. I didn’t get any of the barleywine variants that were sold this year – but have no doubt I’ll be able to sample one sometime.


Dilly. Dilly!



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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gobble 'til You Wobble: Boys & Girls Club of Wake Forest Gobbler's Run Celebrates 12 Years


Thanksgiving. A time to gather with friends and family and give thanks for all that we have been given. A day of feasting on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. A day of curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, a day of watching and playing football and of course, a day to give back to the community. And over the past several years, for us, the day begins bright and early with the Wake Forest Boys & Girls Club Gobbler’s Run 5K. It’s a great way to start the holiday and erase the guilt that is sure to follow after the Turkey Day feast later in the day.

The Gobbler’s Run is in its 12th year and expects over 2,000 runners, joggers and walkers to hit the streets of Wake Forest while raising money for the Boys & Girls Club. This year, however, will be a little different for us as injury has sidelined one with a knee injury. The irony is over the past couple of years we dubbed ourselves the “Walking Wounded” as it seems we are always recovering from some ailment or injury – which is what you get for being clumsy! So instead of hitting the pavement in the hopes of making it 3 miles without incident, it’s the cheer squad this year for one of us!

This race is honestly our favorite event of the year. Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday and this event has become our tradition since 2009. It is very family- and dog-friendly. I don’t know that there has been a year yet that we did not run into someone we know at some point on the course. You can expect many people to walk or be pushing a stroller or trying to run with their dog who is looking to make friends of its own while some are participating in their first ever 5K. It’s a fun event and such a great way to start the holiday. But, the best part is knowing that by the fun you are having, you are also helping to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club.

It’s not too late to sign up and join in the Turkey Day fun! Click here for more information and how to sign up!  We hope to see you there!!



Be sure to like Triangle Around Town on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and follow our adventures.

New Wine & Beer Shop Opens in Falls Village Shopping Center

Falls Village Wine & Beer's bar will open to the public on Nov. 21, 2017.

By Dathan Kazsuk
Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017


Falls Village Wine & Beer is opening to the public just days before Thanksgiving. Ready to offer an assortment of 12-16 beers on draft as well 8 wines on draft. The wine and beer retail shop will feature over 450-plus different wines (featuring some high-end wines such as Relic, Biale, Turley and Reynolds Family) and craft beer. Falls Village Wine & Beer is brainchild of Jim Soffe – who many will remember as one of the knowledgeable wine reps with Advintage Distributing. The shop lies at the bottom corner of the Falls Village Shopping Center right next to the Raleigh CrossFit Sua Sponte. This seems to be a perfect place to unwind after a long day with a pint of beer or glass of wine. Grab a bottle of wine for the road, a 6-pack to go, or like something on the tap list? Then get a 32-ounce Crowler filled to enjoy at home.

We recently caught up with Soffe prior to the grand opening – and here are some excerpts from the interview.


So tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get your start in the business? Well, my first restaurant job was at Margaux's Restaurant back in 2000. They knew I didn't know anything, especially about wine. Steve (Horowitz) was very cool to me. They realized I couldn't cut it as a waiter. So they wanted me to be a back-waiter, but I couldn't even see the dishes to run food (because the counter was too tall). I had to stand on my tip-toes. And that didn't work out, so I ended up busing tables. Mark Morrow actually took me under his wing, because no one else cared to train a 21-year-old about wine. There were already guys there for 10 years – some of them are still there. I opened a lot of restaurants as a waiter and bartender, and even managed quite a few of them. To this day I still miss the speed and the work involved. Then I got into the wine side, and I thought it would be great getting to connect with people. I finally put some money away, and came upon this location. 


There are so many distributors out there to get your beer from, not to mention some places you can go directly to them for beer. Will you try to go out of your way to pick up some unique beers that will intrigue the high-end beer drinkers? At first, I wanted to limit the amount of vendors that I plan on dealing with – but I'm so familiar with wine that I didn't even realize how much beer is out there, and how many small guys are out there. And these small guys have beer that I really, really want to have. I'm probably picking up around 12 extra vendors just to bring in one beer. And there are beers that I'll actually go to their warehouse myself to bring to my shop. Some of them might not be affordable beers, but the taste of these beers are paramount.

Related Story: Raleigh's bottle shop shares a passion and vision for wine and beer

I'm sure many of these will be local beers? Will you be a big supporter of NC beer? Of course. I will support local. It's easier to get local beers than some of the hard to find beers from out of state, obviously. Most of these local guys are friends of mine – so I want to support and celebrate a lot of their new stuff. 

We always joke that you can throw a stone across town and it will hit a new bottle shop. With that being said, what will make you different than your typical beer and wine bottle shop? I don't mind the term 'bottle shop,' but I don't want to be known as that. Mainly because I don't want to break up the packaged goods. I want to sell them as they are packaged. I've heard this question from a lot of people. And I thought about that a lot. For me, I'm treating people as guests as they come in. Everyone I've hired has a restaurant background. We are a retail shop, but I want the mentality of a restaurant. If I had the will to do it, I would put a kitchen in the back of the store. I really love that State of Beer did.  

What's some words of advice you would give to someone else who wants to open a wine and beer shop similar to yours? Patience. Patience. Patience. Not everyone is going to see your ambition. It's going to take some time. So be sure to have patience.

Be sure to like Triangle Around Town on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to follow our adventures of local craft beer, wine, cider/mead and travel.

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in our monthly Five Questions With, please send an email to trianglearoundtown@gmail.com.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Top 10 Disney Experiences



By Dathan Kazsuk and Jennifer Primrose

This past week, Triangle Around Town shut off all its computers, ignored any wine or beer events, held off from writing any blogs and packed our bags for a 5-day jaunt to sunny Florida. We were Disney bound.

During our stay we visited Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. We took part in the Monorail Pub Crawl as well as some shopping at the outlet mall and perusing around the brand new Disney Springs (which we barely recognized from our last visit).


While driving home at the end of the week, we decided to put together a list of some of our favorite things from our latest vacations ... and here we go!


10. MEETING FRIENDS
We went to Disney with good friends, but it's always an added bonus when other friends we hadn't seen in awhile were also at Disney the same time as us. What does that mean? Well, a hop on the ferry from Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness for adult beverages and some catching up. 


9. CUSTOMER SERVICE
We had some of the best service from our table servers at many of the restaurants we visited while at Disney. From Crystal Place to the California Grille. Our servers were great. You're probably thinking, "Well, it's Disney, they need to be nice." But that's not always the case. You'll see the downside of customer service in another blog. Even employees at Disney Springs were helpful with telling us how to spend our remaining food credits before we left WDW.


8. FIREWORKS
From atop of the Contemporary Resort while having dinner at the California Grill to standing near Main Street at the Magic Kingdom – Disney fireworks are magical. We also caught the fireworks at Epcot as well.


7. STAYING AT A DISNEY RESORT
There are many perks when you stay at a Disney resort. All the resorts are on Disney property, so they're all close to the parks. Staying at the resort, you get free parking at all the parks instead of having to pay $20 each day. Another plus are your Disney Magic Bands and Disney Meal Plans. 


6. TRADER SAM'S GROG GROTTO
This little known bar located inside the Polynesian resort is a great place to visit. This bar features many specialty cocktails such as the Polynesian Pearl, Krakatoa Punch, HippopotoMai-Tai and the Uh-Oa! We should have spent the entire evening in there trying all the drinks – but we didn't. Just be warned, the bar's maximum capacity is 51, and you can be on a wait list for over an hour, just to get inside – and then it's a crap shoot if you get a table or you need to stand.


5. THE RIDES
Part of the Disney experience are the rides. And this time around we got to experience three of Disney's latest rides – Pandora's Flight of Passage, Frozen and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Flight of Passage was an amazing ride, but come early to the park and make a beeline for this or you're looking at a 2-plus hour wait for the rest of the day. Frozen was interesting just seeing how they changed up Maelstorm. And the Mine Train ... well it was a fun ride, but very short. Other enjoyable rides include Test Track, Soarin', Expedition Everest, Big Thunder Railroad and Space Mountain.


4. THE FOOD
Signing up for the Disney Meal Plan prior to arrival introduced us to many great new food items. From jumbo scallops and beef filet at California Grill to an incredible buffet at Boma, we tried some amazing food. We ate braised pork (Coq Au Vin-style) and Croque Monsieur while sitting inside Beast's castle at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom. At the Polynesian we had chicken breast with pineapple sambal and red quinoa and pork nachos with a spicy mayo and pineapple salsa. And that doesn't include all the food we had at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival. 


3. FIRSTS

This was the first time we visited Disney World staying at a resort as well as visiting other resorts around the parks. Unlike our usual "grab and go" meals, with the meal plan we were exposed to incredible restaurants we may never have even knew existed. One of the highlights of Epcot, believe it or not, was the Short Film Festival (formerly 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' and 'Captain EO'). Three short Disney originals that had us all smiling on the way out. Another first was seeing the River of Lights show at Animal Kingdom.


2. MEETING POOH AND FRIENDS
We used one of our table credits at Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace. This character-themed buffet is home to Winnie the Pooh and all his friends. The buffet food was on par with your typical buffet with carved meats, vegetables and starches – but the thing that makes this dinner stand out was meeting Pooh and his friends. First Winnie. Then Piglet. Following him came Eeyore and finally Tigger. If you love Pooh Bear like us, and have a table credit, this might be a great option for you.


1. FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL
This was one of the main reasons for our Disney vacation. Two days at Epcot to experience the food and wine festival. Epcot  featured 35 kiosks with food and drink from around the world just in time for the park's 35th anniversary. Grab your passport and make your rounds throughout the park to find all the great food. Kahlua pork sliders, lobster rolls, corned beef hash with beer fondue and tender beef filet from Canada are just a few of the items you'll find on our tour. Not to mention all the wine, beer and spirits you can drink up as well.

  


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Public House at NC State Fair served up NC wine & craft beer

The brand new Public House at the N.C. State Fairgrounds will now feature local craft beer and wine.

By Jennifer Primrose and Dathan Kazsuk

Wednesday, October 25


It was back in August, during an inaugural event to kick of N.C. Wine Month, North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler, announced that wine and beer flights would be available to purchase inside the state fair. The first time in 150 years! We were shocked.

Not because we want to venture to the fair to drink, but because the industry is finally beginning to get some of the attention it deserves. With how much money flows into this state via the wine and beer industries, we're surprised it actually took this long to happen.

And as talk of the fair drew closer, we started reading comments on various platforms – which varied from one extreme to the other. Everything from, "I can't wait," to "This is the worst idea ever," Concerns about public intoxication, throwing up on rides with the addition of beer and wine was going to bring out the rowdy folks to reap ruckus upon the fair's Midway – bringing destruction and chaos.

We were rather perplexed to say the least. Let's hope that those who might have doubted the new addition had an opportunity to check out the Our State magazine's Public House, and were not only able to sample what this state has to offer, but also realize this was not in any way a "bar" atmosphere, but a gathering place to celebrate North Carolina's libations.

And this one goes out to you - the skeptics. This was a controlled setting. Everyone was carded upon entry, had to get their wrist stamped, checked again by an officer on duty, and you are only allowed one flight per person, per day. The beer flights were four samples, poured into 3-ounce cups. And for the wine, four 1.5-ounce pours. So essentially the equivalent of a 12-ounce pint of beer and one 6-ounce glass of wine. No one is getting drunk here – move along. There's nothing to see here!

As far as our review of the Public House, we can only give a review the evening that we attended and what was available to purchase on that Tuesday evening.


The beer selection was pretty weak the evening we arrived. I was considering the "Hoppy" flight, but wasn't keen on two of the beers in the flight, and the other two I've had many times. The "Dark" flight was on my mind from the beginning, but by 6:30 p.m. that evening, that flight was officially sold out. I usually feel "Light" beers aren't worth the price of admission, so I went with the "Sampler." This sampler had a Pilsner, Pale Ale, Brown Ale and Gose - hailing from Ponysaurus, Uptown Brewing, Yester Years and Tarboro Brewing Company, respectively. I liked the diversity, but the beers were a little bit of a let down. Ponysaurus was a nice, light beer, and actually felt like it belonged in the Public House on a night like this. Uptown's pale ale was just that - a pale ale. Nothing bad about it. But then again, nothing great. The Brown from Yester Years had a cool name, Münster Mash, but fell flat on taste. My favorite of the night was the Seed Spitter Watermelon Gose from Tarboro. The taste of the beer hit the spot, but the smell was like rotten watermelon rinds. So I had to hold my breath while drinking all this one. With over 40 breweries taking part in the week-long festivities, I'm sure many were able to pick up a great flight of beer – it just wasn't in the cards for me this time around.


My greatest fear became true when I perused the wine flight selections. Muscadine. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it just is not my taste in wine. It's way too sweet. There are so many other amazing wine varietals in our state that I was hoping for more variety that night. Also, as “NC Wine” bloggers, we try our best to help spread the word about our own NC wine country and the variety that this state offers, so to see this lack of diversity in the flight options was disappointing. There were four flights to choose from. The sweet flight I did not even look at the list knowing I am not a sweet wine drinker. The white wine flight I considered, but decided on this cool Fall evening, I just wasn’t feeling like white wine. The sampler intrigued me, but it wasn’t all wine? It was a red Muscadine and three ciders. Now I love my ciders, but I felt like ciders and meads should have their own area and let the wine shine. I was hoping for the sampler to be a white, a rosé and two reds. So, I went to my favorites – the red and rosé flight. I knew what I was getting into but still remained disappointed. And this is why. A flight of four reds; two Muscadine and two drier reds. I drank in order that they were given which meant the Muscadine first. If you’re thinking, so what? I’ll tell you. Coming off the sweet Muscadine to the Childress Three Red Blend did not make this wine taste good. I knew I had tried this wine in the past and was initially surprised by the taste. By the time I got to the last one, the Grove Winery 2014 Estate Block Red Blend, it was starting to finally taste a little more of what was intended.

In years past, and continues today, there are also wineries represented pouring small samples in … the Horse Complex.  We made our way over just as they were packing up for the night. We were able to try some Chatham Hill wines – a Malbec and a spiced wine warmed to perfection and perfect for the upcoming holidays. Not to sound like a snobbish wine aficionado, but why have these wineries feature their wines in a place that – for lack of a better sentiment – smells like horses?  What are the 5 S’s of wine tasting again?  See, Swirl, SMELL, Sip and Savor. I’ll leave that here.

So, as we bid adieu to the 2017 North Carolina State Fair, our thoughts on the new Our State Public House … we actually do give this new venue two thumbs up! It may not sound like it from our critical review, but it’s time this industry was given the attention it so rightfully deserves.

We look forward to 2018 and hopefully options that better suite our discriminating palates!