Parker & Otis and Parlour Pints

Had a pimento cheese, avocado, sprouts, tomato, and mayo sandwich from Parker & Otis today and consequently forgot to take a picture of it. I did, however, snap this.

Couldn’t handle all that pimento…#lactoseproblems

Also, even though The Parlour has closed their school bus doors until springtime, you should know Yoni and Vanessa are still making the out-of-this-world ice cream we’ve all come to love and cherish. You can pick up pints at Parker & Otis, Bull Street Gourmet and Market, and Bean Traders on Ninth Street. Here are the current flavors available at Parker & Otis. Unfortunately, salted caramel is not one of them. Fig Honey looks really tasty though.

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Iris – NC Museum of Art

Last I night I decided to head over to the NC Museum of Art. I hadn’t been since sophomore year and really wanted to walk through the sculpture park (which I later learned is much more expansive than I had originally thought). If you’re a Duke student and haven’t been to the Museum yet, please do – it boasts a wonderful collection with some impressive special exhibits (Edward Munch is there now and Still Life Masterpieces from the MFA in Boston opens tomorrow). And it’s also free, so you really have no excuse.

View of the Museum from the Sculpture Park trail.

Meals, however, are unfortunately not free. In my impromptu decision to visit the Museum, I totally forgot I have the appetite of a sixteen-year-old boy, meaning my stomach is essentially a bottomless pit. For example, after my lunch yesterday, I preceded to go back and buy a second lunch. And then a snack. You think that’d be enough to hold a reasonable person over for 3 hours, right? Yes, but then again, you’re just assuming I am a reasonable person.

So, I show up to the Museum, ravenous, and proceed to skip all the fine art and head straight to the Museum Cafe (or should I say, Iris). The menu looks fantastic, but my heart dropped when I realized a salad would put me out $14. It was a damn good salad though. Spinach, dried cherries, apples, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese with this awesome maple dressing. Now that I’m looking on their online menu though I’m seeing that they’ve got “seared scallops, light red curry lemongrass broth, coconut milk, fresh ginger, shiitakes, sesame seeds, and forbidden black rice” for $15. Forbidden black rice?!?! I’m pretty sure I need that right now. I swear I didn’t see that on the menu last night or else I would have ordered that in all of 0.0001 seconds. Did enjoy the salad though, all $14 of it.

See that tiny biscotti in the back? It’s unbelievably good. And they gave me two of them (fist pump).

Birds nests…or the dreadlocks in my hair I wake up to every morning.

I didn’t just drive half an hour for the food though, although who am I kidding, that’s definitely something I’d do. I did end up walking the sculpture park and it is beautiful! So nice to do at sunset. Inside the Museum, there was live music, drinks, and a lot of people much older than myself. I enjoyed it though, and altogether, had a very relaxing evening.

Art.

And some more art.

Grilled Cheese Deliciousness

There’s nothing like homemade grilled cheese on a crisp New England fall day. On Monday afternoon, I had a need-you-in-my-mouth-right-now kind of hankering for greasy comfort food, but was looking for something a bit more unique than some halfheartedly thrown slabs of American cheese on Wonder bread. Now, I want to preface this by saying I don’t do much shopping at Whole Foods, but in my intense tunnel vision for nom, my stomach made an overriding decision that good grilled cheese was something worth irrationally splurging on. [Side note: I now feel compelled to vent about Whole Foods. Um, have you seen their elaborate cheese counter? I was so curious by some of their options, until I realized one goddamn ounce of cheese would cost me $17.50. How does anyone justify that purchase?? Okay, had to get that out of my system…moving on.]

I picked up a loaf of rosemary olive oil bread (really flaky and left a mess on the counter later, but all in all delicious) with three types of cheese: brie, extra sharp cheddar, and gruyere.

Like I said a couple posts ago, I really am a sucker for anything salty and sweet at the same time, so I picked up some fig jam for sandwich spreading. Guacamole then caught my eye and anyone who knows me understands my inability to resist avocados in any shape or form.

Got home and voila! A really good lunch.

The perfect pair isn’t a PB&J, it’s GC&TS. You know what I’m talking about.

Dave’s Fresh Pasta – Somerville, MA

I should really cook more often. There are weeks when I’m good with it and head to Trader Joe’s or Kroger on Sunday night and pick up some staples that will get me through the week (chicken sausage and Israeli couscous form my two main food groups). But then there are the weeks where I just fail…and miserably at that. I get back to my apartment and find myself either ordering takeout or microwaving plain oatmeal, a choice entirely dependent on how guilty I feel about my rapidly diminishing food points. Needless to say, these weeks are bleak.

So, with it being fall break and all, I wanted some of my spare time to be spent near a stove or an oven, perhaps making something seasonal and Octoberish like pumpkin bread. I didn’t actually get to this, but isn’t the thought of warm, freshly-baked pumpkin bread so wonderful? What I did make, however, was pasta. Dave’s Fresh Pasta. It’s this awesome store in Davis Square that offers huge sandwiches and homemade pasta and sauces. Deciding that this was my opportunity to spend some quality time in the kitchen (and by quality time I mean approximately 12 minutes), I picked up a pound each of pumpkin/sage and butternut squash/toasted almond ravioli with nutmeg cream sauce to top it off.

I shudder to think what my pants size would be if I ate pasta every day.

The ravioli was good, but it definitely wasn’t what I expected. I guess the fantasy of freshly-baked pumpkin bread was far too incepted in my mind, but when I hear pumpkin or butternut squash, I’m expecting something creamy and rich. Pumpkin puree, basically. Dave’s take on pumpkin ravioli was much, much different. I have a hunch they use green pumpkins (given the color of the ravioli…I don’t have superhero heightened tastebuds), which may have a totally different consistency than their more traditionally orange cousins. Prior to the first bite, I was really looking forward to the sweetness of the pumpkin and butternut squash, but if anything, it was bitter. Still good, just not what I’d been anticipating. What I did absolutely LOVE though was just the overall freshness of the pasta itself. The dough smelled unbelievably good, even before I started cooking the ravioli.

Nine different types of ravioli…changing my attitude towards this whole “Eat Pasta Every Day” philosophy.

About to go into the pot.

Even though my first take with Dave’s wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, I was still floored by their pasta. There’s no question I’ll be back (probably many times), just to experiment with their different pastas and sauces. I’d also like to finish by saying that I’m pretty sure Dave’s helped prove to my parents that I am capable of making something other than plain oatmeal. Does this make me a responsible adult?

Oh yeah, and Dave’s legendary sandwiches will keep me coming back for more.

City Feed and Supply – JP, Boston

Duke has an odd habit of not celebrating traditional American holidays that happen to take place on Monday (Labor Day, Columbus Day, National Kazoo Day…none of that). Maybe they don’t want to give us the 3-day weekend, maybe they’ve forgotten that everyone else in the country recognizes these holidays, or maybe they like the idea of Duke being a bit hipster and shunning Columbus Day altogether. I don’t know the exact reason, but to make up for all these Mondays spent in class, Duke gives its undergraduate student body a “Fall Break.”

Fall Break typically takes place the second weekend of October, and we get the following Monday and Tuesday (huzzah!) off of class. When scheduling classes last spring, I made sure to have Fridays off as well, so took the opportunity to fly home to Boston for a nice five day vacation in the fall foliage. I got in early at 9 AM and spent the day in Jamaica Plain. JP has an incredibly interesting history and is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Boston. It’s seen a lot of changes in the last few years alone – lot of ongoing gentrification, for better or worse depending on how you feel about ongoing gentrification – but when walking around it’s clear JP has an affinity for good food. One of these places is City Feed and Supply, a local neighborhood grocery store that’s got a cool vibe and sells quirky yet overpriced food products and craft beer (Can you believe it? Hipsters live in JP).

Oh look, quirky food products! Side note: If I had a farm, I’d absolutely name it Fat Toad Farm.

At the end of the day though, the heart of City Feed is really a sandwich/coffee shop. They’ve got a great list of options listed on a chalkboard behind the cash register, and being the sucker that I am for everything simultaneously salty and sweet, I ordered the turkey and brie panini with granny smith apple slices on focaccia bread. It was sooo good, the brie was perfectly gooey and the crispness of the apples was spot on. It immediately put me in that “Fall in New England” state of mind and made me be a bit more understanding of Duke’s oddball policy of substituting Monday holidays for Fall Break.

Ze ambiance.

Just look at the brie oozing out, oh my god.

Let’s See Just How Much I Can Fit Into One Post

Wow, long time no see everybody. It’s obviously been quite some time since I last goalie-spooned, and needless to say, much, much food has been consumed in my absence. Over the last few months I’ve been hanging out here in Durham, interning in San Francisco, and exploring Bostonian neighborhoods. Although I’d say it’s near impossible to describe each and every encounter I’ve had with blogworthy meals, I can’t help but share some of my favorite spots from across the country (and out – bonjour, Montreal) that I’ve eaten at since we last spoke.

Let’s begin with San Francisco:

1) La TaqueriaMission, SF

Both the best burrito and the best taco I’ve ever eaten in my young life have been at La Taqueria. Lucky for me this hole-in-the-wall place was located three short blocks from my apartment in Mission, and I’m pretty sure the number of times I went there borderline called for an intervention. No matter what you do, you MUST order the carnitas. Oh…you’re a vegan you say? I could care less. Order the carnitas, and you will be welcomed back with open arms to the world of carnivorous, taco-eating revelry.

La Taqueria has also reached the profound revelation that rice in a burrito is simply uncalled for. At this very moment, you may be standing up and shouting, “Blasphemy!” but trust me, this is a very good thing and it saves your stomach from extending four inches over your pants an hour after your meal. Also, you must get the mango fruit drink – it is literally pureed mango and all the goodness that comes with that statement. I give full credit to this concoction for curing me of a miserable fever I came down with in my third week in SF. Finally, this place is dirt cheap, perfect for poor college kids and everyone else in San Francisco who is fiscally impaled by the absurdity of their monthly rent bill.

Oh, and one last thing I swear, order extra avocado.

The beginning of a long and potentially fatal love affair.

2) 21st Amendment SOMA, SF

I’ll keep this short and sweet – 21st Amendment brews super good beer that I eventually realized you can buy at the Durham Whole Foods Market. I highly recommend Hell or High Watermelon.

3) That’s It MarketMission, SF

On the outside, That’s It Market looks like a small, run-down liquor store. But on the inside…oh, on the inside it is a sandwich haven. Surprising, right? And it doesn’t just sell any sandwich, no, it sells a monster, feed-you-for-weeks sandwich on steroids called the Cubana. Made famous by Anthony Bourdain, the Cubana’s got everything you thought you may ever want between two slices of bread…and so much more. It’s filled with chicken, pork, sausage, ham, beef, bacon, scrambled eggs, lettuce, tomato, avocado, mayonnaise, and cheese. I ordered this twice while I was in SF and was never able to eat more than a quarter of it, yet still felt as if I may undergo cardiac arrest by day’s end.

Heart attack on a plate. Mm, yum!

4) Humphrey SlocombeMission, SF

Just look at their flavors. I’ve had ‘Secret Breakfast.’ Can anyone guess what that may be?

Bourbon and cornflakes. A winning combination if I may say so myself.

Obviously most of these places are from my ‘home’ neighborhood where I spent my eight weeks in SF: the Mission District. Mission is a really interesting place, for a complete lack of better words, and if you are ever in San Francisco, I urge you to take the BART to 16th or 24th Street and explore. Fantastic food, Dolores Park, amazing murals ’round every corner you turn…Mission’s a cool place.

Now onto Boston, from which I’ll probably just post more restaurant escapades at a later date in time:

5) GrassfedJamaica Plain, Boston

I mean, c’mon, just look at this place’s website and you know Grassfed is…hipster. Don’t let that confuse you though, this is a burger place (for the vegans who have since tried a carnitas taco). It’s just that these burgers are outfitted in super obscure toppings like oysters and aioli. Honestly, get any burger from here and I betcha it’s going to be downright delectable. For fries, order the truffle-parm and no matter what time of day it is, you better get an adult milkshake (Hint: Salted Caramel).

Finally, from my brief hiatus in Montreal:

6) CommunionOld Montreal

The online reviews for Communion are subpar, but I thought my dinner there was absolutely divine. A few friends and I came here to celebrate the end of a wonderful summer, and Communion had the perfect ambiance in which to do so (outdoor seating right at the edge of Old Montreal). Before going, you should prepare to share as you order dishes for the table, not just yourself, and everything comes in a cast-iron skillet of sorts that you then serve yourself from. The menu is constantly changing, but Communion was a congenial place to convene before a night out and enjoy soulful, hearty food with great company.

The cozy atmosphere at Communion leaves you feeling comfortable enough to do things like this…

Bollywood…in Durham?

Warning: I have no photos for this evening’s meal. I feel, however, that it would be wrong to exclude a delicious dinner just because of my unfortunate lapse in judgment. Tonight, a good friend of mine and I ventured out to Fullsteam Brewery to indulge in some good ol’ home-cooked Indian food. Apparently Fullsteam does this every Monday and changes up the menu every week. On board for tonight was:

Chicken Tikka Masala: All-natural, succulent, boneless, marinated, grilled chicken enveloped in a sublime cardamom-tomato-cream sauce.

Palak Aaloo: A robust ensemble of fresh spinach and potatoes with a dollop of butter.

Dal Tamatar: Comfort food… red lentils with tomatoes and cumin.

Basmati rice with spices

Garlic naan

Fresh cilantro chutney

Hershey Kisses!

I’m definitely going back, and this was actually my first time at Fullsteam! Such a cool atmosphere with communal picnic tables and a few old arcade video games. Also, something to definitely keep in the back of your mind is that they’re hosting a Mardi Gras party next Tuesday from 4 PM to midnight. Here’s the info, since I’m sure it’s going to be awesome: http://www.fullsteam.ag/events/mardi-gras/

Good Morning Y’all – The Gazebo (Wiliamsburg, VA)

20120211-113715.jpgI am a self-proclaimed pancake fanatic. To paint more of a picture for you of my profound love for pancakes, let me say this – the “Breakfast for Dinner” menu at Elmo’s Diner was a major turning point in my college decision process. The sad part is, I’m honestly not kidding.

I remember the moment so well. “Breakfast…for dinner?!” I asked, “…And they have sweet potato pancakes too?!” With that first bite, I committed to Duke. Then again, the awesome people I was eating with only helped to further affirm this decision of mine.

So, now that you have a deeper insight into who I am and what drives my appetite, it will come as no surprise as to why I love Williamsburg, VA. Every other storefront there seems like it’s either a pancake or waffle house…so in other words, it’s heaven. Every time we travel to play William & Mary, we eat our pre-game breakfast at The Gazebo, aptly named since there is an actual gazebo inside the place.

The Gazebo has two menu items that seem to be made especially for me: a stack of pecan pancakes and a $3 bottomless pit of coffee. The pancakes were everything I could hope for…scrumptious and hearty enough to practically keep me full for the rest of the day (Author’s note: That last statement is clearly an exaggeration. My stomach is more of a bottomless pit than The Gazebo’s extensive caffeine options).

20120211-113833.jpg

Our next stop on the road to Stony Brook could be described as the Mecca of all food destinations: Nashville, TE. All of us here are greatly anticipating the award-winning sandwiches of Bread & Company and what’s sure to be an an equally awesome dinner at the airport. The airport may not necessarily seem like the most exciting dinner venue in the world, but last time we were in town, Casey Beyel and I had a bit of an adventure searching for southern biscuits…so who knows what memories this trip will bring?

Chocolate, pretzel-covered goodness – The Washington Duke Inn

I know, I'm drooling too.

To commemorate our first pre-game practice of the season (one more sleep!) – several of us went out to celebrate with some fine dining at the Washington Duke Inn. The WaDuke boasts a phenomenal menu that I could write about for quite some time, but I’m fairly sure in doing so I would bore you to death. So, I’ll just briefly showcase this gem of a dessert I stumbled upon this evening, and call it a night.

It’s called the Pretzel Crusted Ice Cream Sandwich. And boy, is it good. What you see in the above photo is roasted chestnut ice cream smashed between two homemade whoopee pies drizzled with salted caramel sauce and chopped pretzels.

It is divine.

You’ve been invited to a very informal dinner party…

First off, if you haven’t downloaded the iPhone app, Red Stamp, please stop reading this blog and do so immediately. Red Stamp, for lack of a better word, is awesome. And hilarious. In its most basic sense, Red Stamp is an online card app used for, say, sending your friends a more personal birthday message than a mere Facebook wall post. Trust me, when your download is complete, you’ll be gushing about it just as much as I am. Anyway, to tie this all in, last night I felt in the cooking mood and had several friends and neighbors stop by and have a bite to eat. It wasn’t anything fancy, just some good food and even better company, but Red Stamp’s cute little invitations somehow made the whole affair more memorable, as opposed to what it really was: people eating spaghetti.

Now, on to the nom. On the menu for last night was spaghetti topped with shrimp, goat cheese, and vodka sauce, with a baked sweet potato on the side. Obviously, you can easily find all these things at Kroger, but for those of you on the “financially-savvy, I’d-rather-use-food-points” side, Uncle Harry’s General Store on Central Campus has a surprisingly diverse inventory. I was able to pick up the pasta, goat cheese, sauce, and shrimp (P.S. Harry’s also stocks salmon, steak, and more…who knew?!) from there, and then went to the supermarket for the rest of my cooking needs.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try and remember…I will always forget to take cool Instagramable photos of the whole cooking process. All is not lost though, as I did snap one picture of the meal-in-the-making, so here you go:

Last, but not least, we had pumpkin cupcakes for dessert! The recipe was unbelievable, and I know I’ll most certainly be making them again. We finished the entire first batch in one sitting, but low and behold, there was some extra batter and frosting left over so I was able to whip six more cupcakes up this morning. They’re currently sitting in our locker room fridge, patiently waiting for someone with a sweet tooth to stumble upon them…

Everyone was a member of the Clean Plate Club last night.

This morning's batch. Who will reach them first?

I always have a good time trying out new recipes, and I’m exceptionally grateful last night’s cooking experiment didn’t result in a small grease fire. This actually happened the last time I used my Central Campus kitchen – that particular story ended with a fire explosion making the outside of my apartment look like the stunt set of a Mission Impossible movie. Luckily, I was okay (I still don’t quite know how), and learned firsthand to never throw water on burning oil (and by the way, why was that never covered in my 6th grade Home Ec. class?). Anyway though, last night the food turned out well…but that wasn’t the best part. In my mind, the real point of any good meal is sharing it with others. The dinner party last night consisted of a pretty random group of people – friends from high school, neighbors, and roommates – who didn’t all know each other before sitting down to eat at my tiny table. Food is sometimes the best way to meet another friendly face on campus, and it seems as if everyone seemed pretty happy and content after our carb-crazy feast.