Sunday, April 30, 2017

Raleigh's Wing Fling Slings Humdrum Wings

Demo's Pizzeria was serving up a teriyaki and buffalo IPA wings at the Wing Fling at Raleigh Beer Garden.

By Dathan Kazsuk | April 30, 2017  
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

The Raleigh Beer Garden hosted for the second year in a row its Wing Fling Food/Music Festival on Saturday, April 29, in the back lot of its property. I went last year and thought the $10 fee was a steal to sample 2 different wings from 10 different downtown restaurants. So I decided to go again this year and see what year two has to offer.

Little did I know this year ended up being that sequel that couldn't hold its own to the original. In 2016 we paid $10 to sample from 10 restaurants – this year we once again paid $10, but for two less restaurants. Only 8 participating restaurants brought its wings to the game in 2017. Not to mention, we were there until 1:30 p.m. and Clouds Brewing was nowhere to be found. 

On the left is the ballot from 2016, and to the right is the 2017 ballot.

Here's my take on the wings we were able to sample that afternoon. Now I'm taking in mind that these wings weren't cooked in each places respectful kitchens and taking that into consideration – but only judging on what I tasted at the event with the means necessary.


Demo's Pizzeria

1. DeMo's Pizzeria | 222 Glenwood Ave., Suite 121
These were the first wings we tried that afternoon, and in my opinion the best of the bunch. The wings were cook almost to perfection (I like my wings extra crispy ... the only thing lacking), and the sauces were messy and full of flavor. If I'm not eating a 'dry-rubbed' wing, the sauce needs to get all over your fingers and mouth. There is a picture to prove it! The teriyaki sauce was perfect and so was the Buffalo IPA wings. An extra pat on the back for Demo's serving up two wings per sauce – guess that makes up for Clouds' now showing up when we were there.

DeMo's won first place in the Judges Choice for its wings for the 2017 Wing Fling.

Raleigh Beer Garden

2. Raleigh Beer Garden | 614 Glenwood Ave.
These dry rub wings looked great when presented to me, but after my first bite of the drumstick I couldn't go any further. The bite I took was super "chewy" and the inside still looked half cooked. I didn't even try the other wing – and the people sitting beside me said the same thing about their wings, so I wonder what was going on there. 

The Station

3. The Station | 701 N. Person St.
The wings at The Station were cooked to a standard I liked ... and they were good wings. I just wished there was a little more sauce to them. One day I'll have to go there and check out the restaurant because I've heard nothing but good things about its Banh Mi sandwich, Sloppy Joe and its Station Burger. 

Buffalo Brothers

4. Buffalo Brothers | 3111 Capital Blvd.
I like heat. And although these were honey jalapeno wings, they didn't have the heat I was looking for especially if you call them "jalapeno" ... but they did have a good flavor, and were cooked close to the way I prefer. Just look at that color of the sauce. They did a good job, in my opinion.

Carolina Ale House

5. Carolina Ale House | 500 Glenwood Ave.
Mixed feelings on the two different wings they had to sample. I really loved the dry rub wing! If you look at the photo above, it's the one on the left. Now I only wished it would have been a bigger wing. The rub was a perfect flavor. I could have had a whole plate of these. While the Carolina Spiced wing was a little too bland for my tastebuds. It has some sauce, but not enough to make me go back for seconds. But a pat on the back for that dry rub!

Hibernian Irish Pub

6. Hibernian Irish Pub | 311 Glenwood Ave.
Aww man ... now I'm disappointed. Look at that color. These honey buffalo wings were cooked pretty good, the color looked good, but the flavor was totally lacking. I was expecting so much more. Hibernian makes some amazing "Irish" food, and after these wings, I'm going to stick to its Irish fare. Love the pub, but going forward ... it's Bangers and Mash and a Guinness stout.

Wings Over Raleigh

7. Wings over Raleigh | 2900 Hillsborough St.
They offered three different sauces for its wings. I went with the honey buffalo and its Afterburner. Finally some heat. The sauce had the most "heat" flavor and I loved it, except one thing – the chicken itself was not good. Both my wings look like some deconstructed chicken. And the chicken skin on both my wings felt limp like a snake shedding its skin. For such a nice heat in the sauce I hate that the main part of this dish fell flat.

Even though I didn't like my wings as much as I did in 2016, this is a great event, and will probably be back again in 2018 to see what RBC and participating restaurants will be throwing my way! The more heat, the messier they are, the more I enjoy them – remember that boys!




Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wine and Food highlights Blowing Rock's SAVOR festival

Biltmore Estate wines at SAVOR Blowing Rock's Grand Tasting.
Biltmore Estate was pouring its wines at the SAVOR Grand Tasting on Saturday, April 22.

By Dathan Kazsuk & Jennifer Primrose | April 26, 2017
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

Blowing Rock, North Carolina. A small town in Western Carolina that has a population of roughly 1,200 people. The town is host to annual events, such as its yearly Winterfest which draws in people for its Polar Plunge and wine tasting events. But the town is also home to the food and wine festival known as SAVOR Blowing Rock. Entering its 12th year, this 4-day extravaganza features a handful of food and wine seminars, wine tastings as well as a 5K and a Grand Tasting to end the numerous weekend events. SAVOR welcomes roughly 3,000 attendees each year to sip, savor and learn about the delicacies the event has to offer while taking in the serenity of this quaint mountain town.

Being the wine and beer fans that we are and having attended Winterfest a handful of times we decided it was time to check out this event. Unfortunately, with limited time, we had to plan carefully. So, after perusing the list of events, that range from wine, liquor and beer seminars to restaurant showcases and cooking demonstrations - all ranging from $28 to $125 per person - we finally settled on the Corkscrew and Brew 5K at Chetola Resort and the Grand Tasting event, both taking place on Saturday.

Related Story: Upcoming 19th Annual 2017 Blowing Rock Winterfest

Our adventures began on Friday, arriving in town a little after noon. We decided to head over to Grandfather Winery as we had only been once before and wanted to give it a second try before heading to the Alpine Village Inn to check into our room. GPS decided it would be a wonderful idea to take us on a route that included driving down a gravel mountain road as we prayed GPS would not let us down. We arrived safely and enjoyed our time sampling what Grandfather Winery has to offer. 

Grandfather Winery, Banner Elk, NC

After checking into the Alpine Village Inn and being surprised with a free bottle of wine for staying two nights, we checked out the schedule of evening activities and decided to head over to Sunset and Vine wine shop for a free wine tasting and then to the Sip and Shop Downtown - which featured 21 shops along Blowing Rock's Main Street pouring samples of wine while you shop between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. 

We had a great time at Sunset and Vine chatting with the distributors and Christina from Shelton Vineyards. Next, we headed to Main Street to see what the shops were offering. Unfortunately, we found the Sip and Shop a little disappointing, as many of the shops we checked into were not pouring any wine. We didn't go into every shop, but of the 6 or so we went into, only half had wine or drink readily available for its patrons. The plus is that we discovered some shops we had not yet had the opportunity to check out on our previous visits. We decided to end the night with dinner at Blowing Rock Brewing Company.

Christina with Shelton Winery pours wine inside Sunset and Vine wine shop.
 Related Story: Brewery ProfileBlowing Rock Brewing Company

We thought about calling this next section, 'What were we thinking?,' but decided against it. For some reason that we can't quite figure outnot only did we decide to sign up for the Corkscrew and Brew 5K, but also decided to select the beer/wine option because that is what non-runners do. Sign up for a 5K - in the mountains - while drinking. Bucket list item - CHECK! Would we do it again? Probably. To read more about our adventures, check out our Corkscrew blog.

Related Story: SAVOR: Corkscrew and Brew 5K at Chetola Resort

Drinking wine and beer at 9 a.m. while jogging a 5K in the mountains ... it was a bucket list.

We spent the afternoon at the Grand Tasting, held on April 22, that offered patrons an opportunity to sample close to 100 different wines from around the state and U.S. The event also featured other small businesses and distillers who were pouring samples of their favorite poisons.

Some N.C. businesses included Banner Elk Winery, Linville Falls Winery, Crude Bitters, Call Family Distillers, Covington Vodka, Ugga Mugga Bakery and others. While some of the big names in distributors such as The Country Vintner, Fine Wine Trading and Advintage touted some great wines from California and the West Coast.



All in all, we had a great time at our first SAVOR Blowing Rock and look forward to future events and visits to one of our favorite small NC towns.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Brewery Profile: Blowing Rock Brewing Co.

Blowing Rock Brewing Company opened in 2013.

Blowing Rock Brewing Company
152 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, NC 28605
Phone: (828) 414-9600
Hours: Monday: 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Tuesday: Closed; Wednesday: Closed; Thursday: 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Brewery tours available on Saturday from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.   

Blowing Rock Brewing opened in 2013 when Jeff Walker and Todd Rice decided it was time for the town of have its first brewery. Located in the heart of Blowing Rock's downtown community at 152 Sunset Drive, the brewery is also home to a restaurant and an Inn – and is a nice place to stop when exploring the small shops the town has to offer.

In 2014 Blowing Rock Brewing opened another brewery and restaurant facility in Hickory, which is called American Honor Ale House & Restaurant located inside the historic Hollar Mill. 

Blowing Rock's beers have been broken up into the Legacy and Ale House series. The Legacy features beers such as its Blowing Rock IPA, High Country Ale and Mountain Shadow Black IPA. While the Ale House series features more selections of stouts, porters, IPAs, Belgium beers and a Barleywine.

We were in Blowing Rock during the weekend of its food and wine festival, SAVOR, and were able to sample a few Blowing Rock beers such as its Big Chocolate Porter, IPA and a brand new release, Ridge Radler grapefruit IPA. While at the brewery we tried the Double IPA along with a Gouda burger and flatbread. We thought the beers were alright, but can always find something to enjoy while kicking back in the restaurant, hanging out at the small bar or out in the back playing a friendly game of corn hole.

If you decide to stay at the Inn, they feature five rooms and all are named after beer terminology such as Stout, Hops, Pint, Amber and Wheat rooms.

While visiting or staying in Blowing Rock, we recommend visiting these other places:

Sunset & Vine | 150 Sunset Drive | A wine store that sells local North Carolina wines and wines from all over the world. Stop in to see if they're doing a free wine tasting.

The Spice & Tea Exchange of Blowing Rock | 1087 Main St. #4 | Reminds us a lot of Raleigh's Savory Spice in Lafayette Village. Tons of spice and rubs for grilling and an assortment of loose teas. 

Ugga Mugga Bakery | 1107 Main St. | A new find for us and a pleasant one. Stop in for homemade cakes, muffinspies and Macaroons. Also grab some coffee while you're there.

Canyons Restaurant | 8960 Valley Blvd. | You have to make your way out of downtown Blowing Rock, but this restaurant has a nice scenic view of the mountains, a good menu, and something we love for dessert called the Chocolate Enchilada, a chocolate crepe filled with chocolate mousse and topped with a chocolate Ganache sauce and whipped cream! 

 

Sugar Magnolia Café: A 20-year dream becomes reality


Christine and Howard Sadel (center) opened Sugar Magnolia Café and Emporium in Wake Forest.


FIVE QUESTIONS WITH ... 

By Jennifer Primrose | April 26, 2017
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

Howard and Christine Sadel always knew they wanted to open a café. Howard recalls 20 years ago, while still living in New Jersey, that opening a café would help create a better life for them and their family. "We always had this idea of opening up a dessert café that included selling art," says Sadel.


"I had been training in multimedia at the time and Carolco Films studios in Wilmington popped up in my job search," he says. While viewing Wilmington as a great place to make their dream a reality, the timing was not right. After moving to Raleigh in August of 1996, their family began to grow with their second child - their daughter, Hannah, who was later diagnosed with congenital heart failure. "This put us on a path of 4 years of multiple heart surgeries and procedures both here at UNC and in Chicago," says Sadel. Later, they welcomed a son, Tyler, but the dream of owning a café was never far from their hearts.


Now, many years later, with their eldest son Nick in his seventh year in the USAF, Hannah in her first year at Meredith College and Tyler a sophomore at North Raleigh Christian Academy, it is time to pick up their dream. "God has given us a location that truly fits what our vision was 20 years ago," says Sadel.


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

Excerpts of our 5 Questions With for April were answered by Sugar Magnolia's Howard Sadel.

Tell us a bit about the idea and concept behind Sugar Magnolia café. The concept is to offer fresh made soups, salads and sandwiches, along with great coffee and local craft beer and wine – in an environment that is inviting and as comfortable as your own home. As a marketing digital strategist, I know very well how we have become online "social" but offline to the people right around us. Christine and I hope to be a part of the movement that brings people back to local community awareness and support by making Sugar Magnolia Café a place of gathering and celebration.

You chose a location in Wake Forest on a street that seems to be known for much of the similar things you are doing now. What will make you stand head-and-shoulders above the rest in that area? We see Sugar Magnolia Café as catering to a little different niche and not so much as being a competitor. We are really just as much a restaurant as we are a café – we offer a great solution for private parties and events. (We're) also expanding the craft beer options ... giving craft beer lovers a wider opportunity to sample beers from around the state. We love White Street Brewery, and see them, as we do with all other businesses on the street, as partners to bring more people to White Street.




Sugar Magnolia will be serving sandwiches, desserts and coffee. How much of your ingredients are local? Have you selected local roasters, farmers, etc. to work with ... and how important is it to you to source locally? We are all about local. It's great that it's a global economy and all, but if we jump over people right in our backyards to source a product far away, are we really helping each other? We have so many great artists, artisans and suppliers right here in Wake Forest and the surrounding communities. Our strategy is to seek out local first. Even if that means we need to pay a little more, that's fine.

The Emporium, in the bottom level of the café will feature many local artists. This is very similar to Going Local, which used to be located in north Raleigh. Tell us a bit about this idea? Christine used to sell her jewelry at Going Local in north Raleigh until they closed. The Emporium has a very similar collection of local artists, and we even have one of their managers, Karen Lussi, now working with us. We currently have 35 different local artists and artisans. Each artist leases a space and pays a 10 percent commission on sales for marketing and sales support. After being in this position ourselves, we wanted to create a fair business arrangement that allows both sides to thrive. Charging high rates to artists just forces them to raise prices, slowing sales and discouraging them. We want people to get great exposure, sell their work, and be able to sustain their business. 



What is your game plan for year one? Any special events coming up that people should know about? After a two-and-a-half month build out, we are just thrilled to be open for business. Operating for about 6-weeks now, our grand opening will be the weekend of April 29 then it's full steam ahead. Our location does have a 20-year history as the Olde English Tea Room, and a very loyal following. That said, we intend to honor that history and will be continuing tea service, including afternoon or low-tea. Every Friday night we will be hosting our very own "Art on White" featuring one of our artists starting on May 5.
__________________________________________

Keep up to date with Sugar Magnolia Café by visiting their web page at www.sugarmagnoliacafe.com or follow along on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sugarmagnoliacafe



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

Monday, April 24, 2017

NC Beer Month: North Carolina Sweet Sixteen IPA Beer Bracket



By Dathan Kazsuk | April 24, 2017
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

Sure the NCAA Final Four is over, and our very own UNC Tar Heels are now the champs.Yay! And in honor of the trophy coming back to North Carolina, and being that April is NC Beer Month, we at Triangle Around Town decided to do our own tourney! A beer tourney!

We called this one our NC IPA Sweet Sixteen! It's easy to figure out. We pitted 16 North Carolina IPAs, from the mountains to the coast to compete in this challenge to the road to our own Final Four.

Since Jen doesn't like IPAs we put her in charge of the bracket. She compiled the bracket to this blind tasting by pairing one brewery against another. But unlike the NCAA our bracket is totally a toss up. Those heavy hitters, such as Wicked Weed or Burial could be ranked anywhere from No. 1 to 16 – so this is a true tasters challenge.

Each of the five participants in judging, including Dathan, were all responsible for getting IPAs from different NC breweries (bottles or cans – no growlers or crowlers allowed). All beer was purchased from local Raleigh bottle shops. Other than Dathan, no other participant knows what the other 12 beers were for this challenge. Jen poured the two breweries squaring off into small Dixie cups. The five judges then picked a winner, and that winner moved to the next round. Unlike the Final Four, we decided our winner in one evening

The judges for the challenge were Dathan Kazsuk, John and Charnell Trembeczki, Jason Emory and Matt Lill. With a little over 9,600 unique beers under our belts in terms of unique check-ins on Untappd, we decided to have some fun with this tournament.

Round 1:
• Trophy Brewing's Cloud Surfer vs Fullsteam's Rocket Science
  Winner: Trophy (5-0) 

• Greenman's Trickster vs Lonerider's Hoppy Yi-Yay
  Winner: Greenman (5-0)  

• Deep River Brewing's Mango Tango Foxtrot vs Southern Pines' Suit and Thai
  Winner: Southern Pines (3-2)

• Wicked Weed's Hop Burglar vs Foothills' Terrain IPA
  Winner: Wicked Weed (4-1)

• Burial's Surf Wax vs Catawba's CLT
  Winner: Burial (3-2)

• Ass Clown's Brewer's IPA vs Appalachian Mountain Brewery's Long Leaf
  Winner: Appalachian Mountain Brewery (4-1)

• Hi-Wire's Maneater IPA vs Weeping Radish IPA
  Winner: Hi-Wire (3-2)

• Triple C's 3C IPA vs Big Boss High Roller with Blood Orange
  Winner: Big Boss (5-0)

Round 2: 
• Trophy Brewing's Cloud Surfer vs Greenman's Trickster
  Winner: Trophy (4-1)

• Southern Pines' Suit and Thai vs Wicked Weed's Hop Burglar
  Winner: Wicked Weed (4-1)

• Burial's Surf Wax vs Appalachian Mountain Brewery's Long Leaf
  Winner: Burial (4-1)

• Hi-Wire's Maneater IPA vs Big Boss High Roller with Blood Orange
  Winner: Big Boss (4-1)   

Round 3 (Final Four):
• Trophy Brewing's Cloud Surfer vs Wicked Weed's Hop Burglar
  Winner: Trophy (4-1)

• Burial's Surf Wax vs Big Boss High Roller with Blood Orange
  Winner: Big Boss (3-2)

Round 4 (Championship Battle):
• Trophy Brewing's Cloud Surfer vs Big Boss High Roller with Blood Orange
  Winner: Trophy (5-0) 

Congrats to Raleigh's Trophy Brewing for its Cloud Surfer IPA. Sorry we don't have any trophy to hand out to Trophy, but we'll celebrate by drinking some of its beer this weekend! 

Editor's Note: We already discussed our next battle will be an Elite 8 of some of our favorite barrel-aged stouts from our cellars.