Tuesday, June 28, 2016

North Carolina Symphony pays tribute to David Bowie

Bowie fans arrived early to enjoy food and libations before the performance.


By Dathan Kazsuk | June 28, 2016
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

On Saturday, June 25 we were excited to go to Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre to hear the North Carolina Symphony pay tribute to David Bowie as part of its 2016 Summerfest schedule.

We arrived around 6 p.m. to claim a space close to the stage. A blanket. A picnic basket. Two lawn chairs. Appetizers and two bottles of wine and we were ready to settle in for the evening. The wine for the afternoon was courtesy of Williamsbur Winery out of Williamsburg, Virginia. We started with the 2014 Governor's White Riesling and ended the evening with the 2913 Barrel-Aged Claret.

One of the things I noticed prior to the show, was on the Symphony's website, it mentioned that "Randy Jackson" was the vocalist? Randy Jackson? You can't be serious, DAWG! And they weren't. I mean, this guys name was probably Randy Jackson, but not the Randy Jackson we were use to seeing on American Idol. This Randy Jackson looked like he can't drive 55 ... or maybe he wound up in Cary when the levee broke! See what I did there? Mr. Jackson came out with a wavy, long, blonde head of hair, hence the Hagar and Plant references.

Either way, this didn't look like a guy ready to croon away hits by one of the most iconic musicians that ever lived. But this guy was going to give it a shot. And while he wasn't anywhere near the spitting image of Mr. Bowie, he did suffice.

Jackson introduced himself and along with the North Carolina Symphony, a bassist and guitarist proceeded with the first Bowie classic, "Rebel Rebel," from the 1974 album Diamond Dogs.

Looking around the crowd, we saw many tapping their feet almost immediately, while sitting in rows of assorted colored lawn chairs. Others, well, they looked like they didn't know what was being performed on the stage and how they wound up here on this evening.

Vocalist Randy Jackson introduced the musicians 
before getting to the music.
Jackson, thanks to looking Bowie facts up on the Internet, was pretty informative with trivia between most songs. That made it easy for us to predict almost every song before the first note was played. Some of our favorite Bowie songs were performed that night such as "Ziggy Stardust," "Under Pressure," "Heroes," "Space Oddity" and "Fashion."

It wasn't until the sun set behind the trees that people began to get out of their chairs, put on their red shoes and dance the blues to classics like "Golden Years", "Let's Dance" and "Fame." At one point, members of the audience started to dance up on the steps leading up to the stage, and were quickly asked to step down.

Come on Koka Booth ... let them have some fun!

Here was the complete set list from that evening:
  • Rebel Rebel
  • Ziggy Stardust
  • Changes
  • Blue Jean
  • Suffragette City
  • Under Pressure
  • China Girl
  • Starman
  • Heroes
  • Modern Love
  • Fashion
  • All the Young Dudes
  • Space Oddity
  • Young Americans
  • Ashes to Ashes
  • Golden Years
  • Let's Dance
  • Fame
  • Life on Mars    

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Summer of Swine & Rosés

By Dathan Kazsuk and Jennifer Primrose | June, 2016
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

In the wine world, you typically hear Rosé as a "Summer" wine. And while you may hear the terms "Summer Whites" and "Winter Reds," but for anyone that knows us, knows that we never follow the norm. As a general rule, we do not like Rosé wine. We think of Beringer White Zinfandel, the wine of choice while in our 20s. 

However, in the past several of years, something astonishing has happened. Throughout our many visits to wineries and tastings, we discovered something interesting. A good Rosé wine. With each winery we would go to, we discovered a new found love. Is it a change in taste buds? A good year for the grape? Or maybe a new secret recipe among the winemakers? Either way, along our journeys we started picking up bottles of this pink liquid and thought it would be a fun idea to do our own comparison of North Carolina Rosé wines. And to make things more interesting and taking a twist on the movie, 'The Day of Wine and Roses' we bring to you … 

A Summer of Swine and Rosés
We paired each Rosé with a pork dish over the course of several weeks. We rated each bottle on smell, color, taste, sweetness/dryness and winery itself and came up with the following results.

Each one of these seven wines were good, and they were all ranked pretty close. The wines we sampled for this tasting include the following: Adagio Vineyards; Burntshirt Vineyards; Cellar 4201; Jones von Drehle Vineyards & Winery; Parker-Binns Vineyard and Winery; Linville Falls Winery; and Biltmore Estates.

Monday, June 6, 2016

South Carolina brewery launches successful Beer & Bluegrass Festival

By Dathan Kazsuk | June 6, 2016

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

Jen and I made a vow to steer clear of “large” beer and wine festivals in the past. And to be honest, we’ve actually done pretty well in avoiding large crowds of people standing in outrageously long lines just to try a sample of that rare beer or that California Cabernet. But for the Barrels & Bluegrass Festival in Hilton Head Island, it was agreed upon that this would be one of the few exceptions.

Why? Well, there are several reasons. 1) Being the inaugural event we figured the crowd won’t be as crazy as an established event. 2) We have friends living on the island which we haven’t seen since December. 3) It was a nice opportunity to try out some South Carolina and Georgia beers which haven’t yet made it up to the Raleigh market.

So we made the longer than expected trek from Raleigh to Hilton Head Island on May 27 to meet up with our friends David and Debbie. After a quick pit stop at Southern Hops Brewery in Florence, for a quick bite to eat and a mediocre flight of beer, we continued our journey. Arriving in Hilton Head, we met our friends at their condo overlooking the Harbor River, then hopped in their Jeep for a brief tour of HHI and some of their local hangouts.

The next day, after a quick breakfast, we got in the car for the short drive to Honey Horn Plantation where the Barrels & Bluegrass Festival was being held. Located off the William Hilton Parkway at the intersection of Gum Tree Road, the plantation seems to be a hot-spot for local events such as an annual Chili Cook-off and other community festivals.

The Barrels & Bluegrass festival was essentially the brainchild of River Dog Brewing Company out of nearby Ridgeland, South Carolina. The festival brought in 50 breweries to pour samples of some of their favorite suds. 

From the well known breweries such as Anderson Valley, Crooked Stave, Stone, Allagash, 

Founders, New Belgium and Ballast Point – to some N.C. locals like Hi-Wire, Carolina Brewery and Charlotte’s Unknown Brewing Company.

But we were more interested in the beers being poured by some of the South Carolina breweries.
  • Seminar Brewing Co., Florence, S.C. – Alpha Crucis, PHD, An IPA with grilled pineapple and habanero peppers.
  • River Rat Brewery, Columbia, S.C. – Imperial Milk Stout, a 12% ABV stout.
  • Holy City Brewing Co., Charleston, S.C. – Barrel-Aged Holy Coast, a black rye IPA aged in Woodford Reserve Barrels for a year; and the Barrel-Aged Quintuple, a Belgian Triple barrel-aged in red wine barrels for 6 months.
  • Birds Fly South, Greenville, S.C. – Brand New Eyes, table saison blended through red wine puncheons; and a very sold Juniper Berry Saison.
  • Tradesman Brewing, Charleston, S.C. – Barrel-Aged Coconuts and Bolts, bourbon barrel-aged with notes of oak, coconut and chocolate.
Those were just a few of the 30-plus beers we sampled that afternoon.

Now let’s not forget the the food. Admission to the Barrels & Bluegrass Festival included two tickets good for a meal courtesy of Chef Brandon Carter of FARM and Chef Orchid Paulmeier of One Hot Mama’s. I’ve never heard of either one of these chefs before today, but our friend Debbie swears by the food produced by Paulmeier and the One Hot Mama’s restaurant.

We stood in line for a good 10-minutes to get our food, and that was the longest line we stood in that entire afternoon. No long lines to get any beer that afternoon, so none of us felt we had to slam beer after beer just in order to try something new before it runs dry.

Chef Paulmeier’s plate was two pieces of Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken with Honey Drizzle and Smoked Sea Salt and Mexican Street Corn. Now the chicken was tasty, but it was the corn that made the meal. An entire ear of corn, roasted on a charcoal grill, lathered with a mixture of mayo, sour cream, chili power and cayenne, then sprinkle some Cotija cheese crumbles on the corn.

By this time remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie started to fall upon our heads. But it was off for a whole new round of drinking. We all enjoyed No Hero, a 7% ABV Stout from Evil Twin Brewing. We followed that up by trying beers from Freehouse Brewing, Green Flash, Hilton Head Brewing and Revelry Brewing, which offered a barrel-aged stout that would give Westbrook’s Mexican Cake a run for its money.

The rain started to fall a little more steady by the time we decided to head back to shelter and pick up our last food dish of the afternoon – a Mibek Beef Burger with Charleston Artisan Cheese, Chow Chow, Black Pepper-Garlic Mayo and hand cut fries.

We all had a great time at the event, and being with friends who love to drink as well made this event something we’d look into doing next year. But we all agreed on one thing – if the event title featured “Bluegrass” in its name – the bluegrass should have been a little more apparent. There were a couple bluegrass bands playing that afternoon, but it almost seemed second fiddle to the beer.