Monday, May 30, 2016

Celebrating Raleigh’s Culinary Appetite at the Raleigh Food & Wine Festival


By Jennifer Primrose | May 30, 2016
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

What do you think of when you think of Raleigh? Of course, we’re the "City of Oaks,"  and the state Capitol – not to mention our craft beer scene seems to be exploding. But what about Raleigh as a foodie destination? Asheville is well known not just as a foodie-locale, but also a craft beer mecca in the state. Plus, Southern Living magazine has named Durham “The South’s Tastiest Town.” In Western Carolina, Blowing Rock hosts the Blue Ridge Food & Wine Festival, now called SAVOR Blowing Rock.

However, the scene appears, to yours truly, to have picked up a little recognition in the past couple of years here in the Triangle. There are increasing wine dinners centered around the annual Triangle Wine Experience and beer dinners have been springing up left and right just in time for NC Beer month as well as Raleigh Beer week. We have Restaurant weeks with special 3- or 4-course meals hosted by select local restaurants. Could it finally be that Raleigh is on its way to being mentioned in the same vein as Asheville, Charlotte or even Durham as a food destination?

Related: Triangle Wine Experience celebrates 22 years of fundraising

On Sunday, May 22, the second annual Raleigh Food and Wine Festival grand “tasting celebration” took place at Babylon Restaurant and Melrose Knitting Mill. This is actually a four-day event with food and beverage events taking place across Raleigh, which included Mandolin, Lucettegrace, Midtown Grille, Plates, Rye Southern Kitchen, Babylon and many others. The four-day event concluded with the Grand Tasting on Sunday.

We were fortunate to attend this event for the second year now. There were several food vendors from places such as 18 Seaboard, Babylon, Dos Taquitos, Lucettegrace, Café Helios, Midtown, Oro, Rye Southern Kitchen – the list goes on and on! Click here for the full list of vendors who took part in the event. They served up dishes in the likes of samosas, shrimp and cucumber salad, Reuben sliders, fresh-made macaroons and shrimp and grits topped with deep-fried okra.

As we traversed our way downstairs, and then upstairs sampling food, we also had the opportunity to sample wine. There were at least five vendors sampling or pouring wine, some glasses but mostly samples. We enjoyed wines from Ararat Import, Fair Game Beverage, Queen of Wines, Raleigh Wine Shop and Sanctuary Winery. The wines from Queen of Wines, Gem Wines from France, were fantastic – enough for us to pick up a bottle and, due to my “hobby” of visiting NC wineries, I was intrigued to try Sanctuary. I made an assumption with this winery being located in the Outer Banks that I would be trying the sweet, Muscadine wine that I do not care for. I was pleasantly surprised by the dry wines the vendor was pouring and we are now hoping to visit the winery at some point in the near future.

In addition to wine, as the event so aptly refers to ... do not let that fool you! Also in attendance were Bulleit Bourbon, Crude Bitters, Ketel One Vodka, Raleigh Rum Company, Nickelpoint Brewing and the Raleigh Beer Garden. I’m sure I left someone out!

So, everything from wine to liquor, appetizers to meal samples with a little dessert in between!  If you haven’t been, and decide next year is your year. A word of advice – come hungry! Mark my works, you will leave full!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Taylor’s Wine Shop hosts Parking Lot party


By Jennifer Primrose | May 25, 2016

Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

North Raleigh’s best kept secret … or is it?  It was several years ago that I first learned about Taylor’s Wine Shop from an article in the paper.  I believe the headline read something along the lines of wine and bait shop?  A unique destination where you can gas up your car, pick up your bait for the fishing trip, stumble upon a wine tasting and peruse the shop for locally-made items, craft beer, and an extensive wine selection – one of the best in the area, in my opinion. One stop shop that brings with it dedicated North Raleigh locals.

On Saturday, May 21, Taylor’s hosted its first Parking Lot Party of the season.  From wine tastings to beer tastings, coffee to tea tastings, food trucks,  live music and vendors, Taylor’s knows how to do it right.  

Adoni Uroz from Uroz Beverage Company was on hand with a selection of wines from Spain and Portugal.  Ranging in price from $8.99 to $19.99, guests were treated to a Santola Vinho Verde, Esporao Monte Velho White, Cataregia Gran Reserva, Xenysel Monastrell and Dory Lisboa Reserve.   The wine bar inside had a steady flow of people while we were there.  Glasses of wine were available for purchase as well as bottles at a discount.  

Outside, Railhouse Brewery was serving up some samples of FCA IPA, Ka-Bar Brown, and Mastiff Oatmeal Stout.  From the time we arrived, to the time we left, Cousins Maine Lobster had a steady flow of anxious patrons waiting in line to bite into a lobster roll with a side of tots!  The George Fuller band kept the mood festive and Not Just Icing, Inc. Cupcakes added just the right sweet options to top off the day.

Other vendors on hand were Norm’s Farms with jellies and jams, Carrboro Coffee Roasters with coffee samples, Joe Van Gohg with tea samples and Dixon’s Dollops with chocolate/peanut butter samples.

The next Parking Lot party is scheduled for June 18 with more music, food trucks, beer tasting from Double Barley, wine tasting from Freedom Beverage and more!

Other upcoming events include:

  • Free Spring Wine tasting on 5/27
  • Free Beer tasting with Lonerider on 5/28
Taylor’s has been in business for over 35 years and is located off of Six Forks road, just north of 540.

Wendell Falls celebrates 1 year with a good 'ole fashioned “barn raising”


By Jennifer Primrose | May 25, 2016
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

The new Wendell Falls community feels more like a destination as it offers 10 miles of trails and pathways, outdoor pool, future access to the NC Mountains-to-Sea trail, Grounds Café featuring weekly events such as live music and weekend brunch.  Once complete, this community will include up to 4,000 single-family homes.

On Saturday, May 21, Wendell Falls celebrated its 1-year anniversary with a day filled with family-friendly activities, bluegrass music by Old Habits, food trucks (D’Burrito, Wandering Moose, and Little Dippers Italian Ice), model home tours and a Hoedown Showdown celebrity dance competition. Of course, Triangle Around Town was on the scene!  Advertising this event as a “barn raising” had me a tad confused so I went to the World Wide Web and did a google search.  Did you know?  According to, a barn raising is “… a party, usually providing food, drink, etc., for the purpose of assisting a neighbor to put up a new barn.”   So, there you have it!

As we arrived we were asked to check-in.  Little did I know we would be presented with an exclusive Barn Raising t-shirt and two drink tickets each.  So, now we have our official souvenirs  for the day and we were off to Grounds Café, located on the premises, to get some lunch as we waited for the Hoedown Showdown to begin.

We have only been to Grounds once and absolutely loved it!  Any place that has a “Build Your Own Grilled Cheese” bar gets an “A” in my book.  We decided to split The Justin, a pimento cheese with crispy bacon sandwich, and hand in our first two drink tickets.  I was very excited to see my favorite cider on tap, Michigan-based Blakes Cider.  

The Hoedown Showdown Celebrity Square Dance competition featured six local stars and media celebrities. Those competing for the grand prize of $1,000 towards a charity of their choice were:  

  • Kathy Hanrahan, editor, WRAL
  • Bethany Wright, producer, TWC News 14
  • Tina Currin, writer, Indy Weekly
  • Grayson Currin, editor, Indy Weekly
  • Johnny Whitfield, editor, Eastern Wake News/News & Observer
  • Felicia Perry, photographer and CEO of

Felicia Perry won the competition donating the proceeds to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

We stayed a little while longer chatting with Bryan from Gizmo Beer Works and watching excited children have their photo taken with Muddy the Mudcat.  Had we been able to stay longer, I would have loved to have done some model home tours.

Following the event, Grounds Café, located at the entrance to the development, kept the party going by also celebrating its 1-year anniversary.  Besides the “Build Your Own Grilled Cheese,” Grounds also features coffee/espresso, breakfast items and local beer and wine. Check out their menu here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Don't let Pittsboro's Silk Hope Winery's outsides fool you ... the wine is pleasing

Wines from Silk Hope Winery.

By Dathan Kazsuk | May 2, 2016
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

The old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” is something to keep in mind when you make your first visit to Silk Hope Winery in Pittsboro.

We didn’t obey this adage our first time there a couple months ago, so I’m telling you now, don’t make the same mistake we made. Don’t let the outside appearance of this winery scare you away. There is no ambiance. There is no amazing view. There is no glitz or glam when you walk inside the tin “workshop” that serves as the tasting room.

I even cracked a joke, telling Jen that I should post on Facebook that this is our last stop of the afternoon, just in case we go missing. But seeing a couple cars parked on the lot and laughter coming from the tasting room, we decided to suck it up and check this winery off our list.

“You open the door,” says Jen, as she’s probably assuming I can be the first to get hit with shotgun spray as the door opens wide. Of course that never happened. And expecting to see some old workshop and take in the strong aroma of fermenting grapes, I was pleasantly surprised to see a spread of chairs and tables lined up ready for wine tasting. However, this isn’t like walking into a grand chateau.

An older gentleman wearing cut off jean shorts and a plaid shirt approached us, extended out his hand and introduced himself as Wally. I shook his hand and through deductive reasoning figured he was the owner/winemaker of Silk Hope Winery. He directed us to a table to conduct our tasting.

Silk Hope offers 13 wines in its tasting (7 whites and 6 reds). The fee is $7 for your choice of seven wines, or you can sample all Silk Hope has to offer for $10. One can even save $1 per tasting if you forgo your souvenir wine glass to take home. We selected the 7 wine sample – and off we go.

My selection included the following: Traminette, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, 2013 Norton, 2005 Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc and the 2011 Grand Vista. But thanks to Lala, our hostess for the tasting, she demanded we taste all the reds, so I also got to try the 2012 Chambourcin and the Vineyard Brothers Satisfied.

I wasn’t too fond of the whites I tried that afternoon. The Traminette had a chemical smell to it, and the wine itself tasted rather “homemade.” And while I wasn’t a fan of the two other whites – it was the reds and the two White Chambourcin wines that were on Jen’s sample list that surprised me.

Let’s start with the White Chambourcin. They offered two: a French-style and an American-style. Both were a pleasant surprise, with the French-style being our favorite, featuring a nice “tart” finish. And for $13- and $14-dollars respectfully, they were both a good deal – we picked up a bottle of the French-style Chambourcin.

Now onto the reds. From sample to sample, the red wines at Silk Hope impressed us, as well as the two guys at our table who came from Maryland to catch a Carolina Hurricanes game later that evening. Among my favorites were the Norton, 2005 Chambourcin and the Cabernet Franc.

“Is this your first time here,” ask Jason, one of the two here for the hockey game.

“Yes and no,” I said. “The first time we saw this place we didn’t come in, but this is our first time coming in and doing the tasting.”

“Yeah, we were a little scared as well,” said Jason.

But again, the moral to this story is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Sure, Silk Hope isn’t my favorite winery in the Tar Heel State, but I never would have given them a chance if it wasn’t for a friend telling us in advance that they make some good wines. So I am hoping we can do the same to you. Don’t let the unkempt area around this winery, and the broken down cars and the tin tasting room keep you from spending an hour of your life checking out this unpolished but hidden gem in N.C. wine community.