Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Margaritas + More Secret Tacos from bartaco

Last week, when the sun decided to show up for a day, we decided to get out and roadtrip for lunch at bartaco in Chapel Hill. This was our second time eating here and honestly, round two was even tastier! Bartaco has launched a series of margarita-inspired cocktails, with one featured each week. Using bold new flavors, these drinks are a spin on the classic margarita.

Bartaco kicked off these new drinks on #NationalMargaritaDay, Thursday 2/22 but we were there last week and had the featured drink, the Esmeralda. SO good! I loved the great mix of unique ingredients like Elderflower liquor, lime, matcha and thai basil! I'm sure the other cocktails are just as fantastic. Here's the line up of new drinks and when they were/are being released!

• Chai-Chica-Rita: Feb 22 - Feb 28
• Dos Piñas: Mar 1 - Mar 7
• Spring Riser: Mar 8 - Mar 14
• Esmeralda: Mar 15 - Mar 21
• Blood, Sweat + Cheers: Mar 22 - Mar 31

We started our lunch with chips, guacamole and two salsas, a roja and a verde. The guacamole was amazing and both salsas were unique and really flavorful. We selected six tacos to try including the #bartacosecret taco, the Spiced Lamb taco. This secret taco is a Mediterranean Kofta inspired taco made with ground lamb, harissa and topped with a preserved lemon crema, and a fresh tomato, cucumber and herb salad. It was really good with a nice crunch. Remember you have to ask for this one because its a secret and its not on the menu! ;-)

We also loved the cauliflower taco, mojo pork carnitas, baja fish and pork belly tacos. We were pleased with all of our choices. I have to say everything we had had such great fresh flavor.

We couldn't help but order the churros dipped in chocolate to finish. I can't even. They were as good as the churros we had in Mexico City recently. The dipping chocolate had a hint of sea salt which I really enjoyed.

I have to say I really like the relaxed coastal vibes of bartaco, and the fresh bright interior of the restaurant. The place was nice and busy at lunch and even the music was spot on. We plan to come back when the temperatures go up a bit and take in the patio dining. I will be back for that drink. AND guacamole + churros for sure!

Get to bartaco + Enjoy!
Click here for more about our first visit to bartaco in January.

The Esmeralda

guac + roja + verde + chips

baja fish taco with chipotle slaw

six tacos for lunch for two of us

#bartacosecret - spiced lamb

churros + chocolate

see you soon, patio!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

In-Town Getaway: A "Staycation" at the AC Hotel in North Hills

After the busy hustle and bustle of the holidays have passed and the decorations are put away, my favorite thing about the month of January is slowing down a bit, a lighter calendar and making some time for myself.  It also happens to be my birthday month so I treated myself to a "staycation" last week at the modern + hip AC Hotel in North Hills.

I arrived late Friday afternoon and checked in. The guest rooms are clean and streamlined of unnecessary furniture and soft, subtle lighting made the room a welcome place to relax a bit. Guest bathrooms host beautiful glass enclosed showers with rainfall shower heads instead of tubs. Menus and alarm clocks are removed to keep clutter minimal and clean and a 55" flat screen Smart TV provides all your dining menus, hotel and local info.  Comfortable beds with high quality premium bedding are included as well.

After checking in, I headed upstairs to the Level7 Rooftop bar to meet up with girlfriends for a little birthday celebration. I enjoyed some drinks, spanish wines, tapas, charcuterie and dessert in the lounge as well as great service, along with the wonderful company and conversation of best girlfriends. We ended up walking across to the other side of North Hills for dinner at Coquette, one of my favorite North Hills restaurants. There are SO many options for dining out, movies, shopping and even bowling, all conveniently located to the hotel so once you park your car, you don't need to use it until you leave!

The hotel pays a lot of attention to detail involving all your senses as you enjoy your stay with subtle scents, textures, lighting and music that change throughout the course of the day. If you pay attention there is always easy and relaxing music, a subtle, fresh scent in the air and food/drink items in the lobby, featuring products from local NC artists and businesses, highlighting our unique city.

After dinner when I headed to the elevator to head up to my room, a small table was set up at the elevators with lavender sachets you could scoop up and take back to your room. Perfect for slipping under your pillow for a little aromatherapy treat!

Breakfast and coffee are served in the morning up near the Level7 rooftop bar. The breakfast is euro-inspired featuring meat and cheeses, bread items, pastries as well as fresh fruit, juice, yogurt, cereal, eggs and a chef dish of the day.

After breakfast you can enjoy a work out or some quiet time in their library near the breakfast room. Or, like I did, take a walk after breakfast for a little Saturday morning North Hills shopping at the many different boutiques and shops. There are many new places still to arrive at North Hills such as the new Vita Vite wine bar and the BarTaco arriving later in 2018.

I really enjoyed this (escape from reality for 24 hours) staycation at the AC Hotel for my birthday. Sometimes it's nice to get away but not have to travel to far, + this euro-style hotel was the perfect birthday gift to me.

AC HOTEL: 101 Park at North Hills Street Raleigh North Carolina 27609

Charcuterie Plate

Roasted Citrus Salmon with Israeli Couscous and Olive Tapenade

Ice Cream Trio - Dolce de Leche, Pistachio + Lemon

Chef's Egg of the Day

My staycation was sponsored by the AC Hotel. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 22, 2018

North Carolina Museum of Art Hosts Fourth Annual Art in Bloom March 22–25

I'm SO excited to receive all the details for this year's Annual Art in Bloom at the NC Museum of Art.

Dates have been announced (March 22-25) + I've added all the details below for the event. Be sure not to miss this once a year event, especially if you've never been! It's truly spectacular.

For a sneak peek from last year's events you can have a look at my gallery here. 


Presented by PNC Bank, the festival of flowers fundraiser features new artists and workshops

Raleigh, N.C.—The North Carolina Museum of Art turns its galleries into a greenhouse March 22–25 for its fourth annual Art in Bloom fundraiser. Featuring more than 50 florists from around the country, the event pairs paintings with peonies (and flora of all types) for a one-of-a-kind experience. Florists are randomly assigned a work of art in the NCMA’s permanent collection and tasked with building a floral display inspired by the art.

“This is one of the most exciting weeks at the Museum,” says Laura Finan, coordinator of programs. “The galleries are completely transformed and you get a new view of favorite pieces of art.”
This year’s featured florist is Arthur Williams from Denver, Colo. Williams runs Babylon Floral, producing edgy and avant-garde arrangements, as well as headpieces and crowns. He’s a two-time Colorado Florist of the Year winner and regularly featured in International Floral Art. Williams hosts the Saturday, March 24, Body Botanicals Master Class.

Other featured presenters and workshop hosts include Steve Taras of Watered Garden, Megan George of the Zen Succulent, and bonsai expert Harold Johnson.

“The North Carolina Museum of Art has been a cornerstone partner of PNC and is instrumental in bringing unique art forms to our region,” said Jim Hansen, PNC regional president for Eastern Carolinas. “We are excited to be the presenting sponsor of the fourth annual Art in Bloom event. Be on the lookout for pop-up floral installations that will be blooming throughout the community leading up to Art in Bloom.”

The four-day fundraiser will be packed with related events including floral workshops, lectures, and a floral tattoo party. The Museum will have special extended hours and food options, along with daily trunk shows in the Museum Store. See more information on related events below, or by visiting ncartmuseum.org/bloom or calling (919) 715-5923.

In preparation for Art in Bloom, the Museum’s West Building (including the permanent collection galleries, Iris restaurant, and the Museum Store) will be closed on Wednesday, March 21. East Building and the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park will remain open for visitors. Proceeds from Art in Bloom support Museum programming and exhibitions and benefit the NCMA Foundation.

During the four days of Art in Bloom, tickets are required for admission to the permanent collection in the Museum’s West Building. East Building and the Museum Park will remain open and free to visitors. Tickets for members go on sale Tuesday, January 23, and for nonmembers Friday, January 26.

$13 Members
$18 Nonmembers
Free for children 6 and under
Available at ncartmuseum.org/bloom or (919) 715-5923

Related events are ticketed separately. Additional fees are charged for select workshops, presentations, and other events (schedule below).

Visitors who purchase tickets to Art in Bloom may use their ticket stub to receive a $2 off a ticket to the special exhibition You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences, opening April 7.

Thursday, March 22 9 am–9 pm
Friday, March 23 9 am–9 pm
Saturday, March 24 9 am–5 pm
Sunday, March 25 9 am–5 pm

During the four days of Art in Bloom, the Museum’s West Building will open at 9 am, an hour earlier than usual. The Box Office in East Building will open at 9 am, and East Building galleries will open at 10 am.

“Ask Me” Docents
Thursday–Sunday, noon–2 pm
Docents will be in the galleries to answer art-related questions

Museum Store
West Building
Trunk shows daily, 11:30 am–1:30 pm

Thursday, March 22
Susan Devine, jewelry artist
Sugar Mountain, North Carolina
Jewelry made from found materials curated from world travels

Friday, March 23
Cynthia Drake and Tim Gavin, jewelry artists
Durham, North Carolina
Intensely colored jewelry completely handmade using ceramic and metal techniques

Saturday, March 24
Lucia Shaw, soap artist
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Intricate shea butter soap sculptures scented with essential oils

Sunday, March 25

Laura Weant Gullie, ceramic artist
Mebane, North Carolina
Handmade ceramic tiles inspired by the natural world

Food and Drink
Iris, West Building
Sophisticated full-service restaurant specializing in seasonal fare using many locally sourced ingredients. During Art in Bloom, some menu items feature edible flowers. Reservations encouraged: (919) 664-6838. Iris will begin taking reservations January 23.

Thursday 11 am–2 pm
Friday 11 am–2 pm and Iris after Dark 5:30–8:30 pm
Saturday 11 am–2 pm
Sunday 10:30 am–2:30 pm
Brunch served Saturday and Sunday

Sip, West Building
Coffee kiosk featuring local Joe Van Gogh coffee, espresso-based drinks, sandwiches, salads, and pastries. Sip is located next to the Museum Store with limited lounge seating.

Thursday 9 am–8:30 pm
Friday 9 am–4:30 pm (then becomes Iris after Dark wine bar)
Saturday 9 am–4:30 pm
Sunday 9 am–4:30 pm

Blue Ridge Café, East Building, Level C
Casual, quick-service café featuring sandwiches, salads, snacks, coffee, beer, wine, and other beverages. No reservations needed.

Thursday–Sunday 10 am–4:30 pm

Related Events
Separate ticket required. Visitors can register for events online at ncartmuseum.org/bloom or by calling the Museum Box Office, (919) 715-5923.

Thursday, March 22

Modern Succulent Terrarium Workshop
Thursday, March 22, 10 am–noon
East Building, Studio 1
Members $58, Nonmembers $65

In this hands-on class, Megan George of the Zen Succulent shows how to create a terrarium featuring North Carolina–grown plants. She covers plant selection, building techniques, choosing a container, and tips for maintenance and display. All materials are included, but participants are welcome to bring personal mementos as well. For all experience levels.

Flowers! Flowers! Flowers!
Thursday, March 22, 2–3:30 pm
East Building, SECU Auditorium
Members $27, Nonmembers $30

Steve Taras of the Watered Garden is known as the premier floral designer for the NCMA, but he’s also an expert at gracious centerpieces that fit in any home. Taras lights up the stage with charm and wit amid a backdrop of sensational color. He shares tips for making flowers a part of everyday life.

Friday, March 23

Flower Care 101 Workshop
Friday, March 23, 10 am–noon
East Building, Studio 1
Members $58, Nonmembers $65

Which flowers last longest? Should I use flower food? How much water do I need? Learn the answer to these questions and more from Terry Godfrey, lead instructor of floral design at Anne Arundel Community College. Godfrey discusses conditioning procedures for the flowers most commonly used in floral design.

Influenced by the East—Elements of Sogetsu Ikebana
Friday, March 23, 2–3:30 pm
East Building, SECU Auditorium
Members $27, Nonmembers $30
Denver floral artist Arthur Williams uses elements of Japanese design to create extraordinary designs of organized chaos using straight lines, bold colors, and organic textures. Williams’s vibrant designs are so full of life, you’ll want to take one home. And some lucky participants will!

Flower Meditation
Friday, March 23, 6–7 pm or 7:30–8:30 pm
East Building, Level A, Threads of Experience Gallery
Members $36, Nonmembers $40

After a busy week of doing, experience the serenity of being. Take a walk through nature while sitting still amid the flowers in this mindful guided meditation. No supplies needed; wear comfortable clothing.

Saturday, March 24

Art in Bloom Scavenger Hunt
Saturday, March 24, 9 am–5 pm ongoing
Free with Art in Bloom admission

Pick up a family-friendly scavenger hunt card at the Information Desk in West Building, and follow the clues to find fragrant flowers and artful treasures in the galleries.

Body Botanicals Master Class
Saturday, March 24, 2–5 pm
East Building, Studio 1
Members $225, Nonmembers $250

Special guest speaker Arthur Williams is known for his floral headdresses and the use of natural tension in his work. Students in his master class will work on live models, and their work will be showcased at the Pinks and Inks party Saturday evening. Admission to Pinks and Inks and all materials included.

Pinks and Inks Party
Saturday, March 24, 7:30–10 pm
West Building
Members $40, Nonmembers $45

Live models “tattooed” in flowers in the style of guest speaker Arthur Williams roam the galleries during an evening version of Art in Bloom. Ticket includes admission to Art in Bloom, open bar, and a rose to take home courtesy of Witherspoon Rose Culture.

Sunday, March 25

Art in Bloom Scavenger Hunt
Sunday, March 25, 9 am–5 pm ongoing
Free with Art in Bloom admission

Pick up a family-friendly scavenger hunt card at the Information Desk in West Building, and follow the clues to find fragrant flowers and artful treasures in the galleries.

Bonsai for Beginners Workshop
Sunday, March 25, 10 am–noon
East Building, Studio 1
Members $58, Nonmembers $65

Bonsai expert Harold Johnson and members of the Triangle Bonsai Society return to teach our most popular class. Participants create bonsai under their guidance. All supplies are included.

Designers Challenge—Seeing Red
Sunday, March 25, 2–3 pm
East Building, SECU Auditorium
Members $27, Nonmembers $30

Learn about the color red in art, its meaning, and how it gets there from Museum conservator Perry Hurt, while two floral designers show how red influences their work. The winning designer of this fast-paced competition will go home with a prize, and a lucky participant will go home with their flowers! Sponsored by the Cleveland Plant and Flower Company.