Wednesday, August 16, 2017

DURHAM SPOTLIGHT: Taste & See NC

Taste the Flavors of North Carolina
Sample the artisan food communities of North Carolina with Taste & See NC with North Carolina-themed city food gift boxes. This small business idea came from travel and food journalist, Shayla Martin who has explored many countries of the world and been to many states in the US and is currently making her home and business NC-based in Durham.

The City Collection includes gift box themes like the Durham, the Raleigh, the Winston-Salem, the Asheville and the Charlotte. Having launched the business in 2016 as a monthly subscription-based box delivery, Shayla is now transitioning to a quarterly subscription  and will feature 7-10 small batch snack and cooking ingredients from all over the state. The city collection will still be available for gift-giving.

Shayla recently sent us the Asheville city box filled with some great local food items from the Western NC area. Included in our box was honey from Asheville Bee Charmer, glulten-free pancake/waffle mix from Dolci di Maria, coffee beans from Biltmore Coffee Roasters and apple butter from Imladris Farms. These boxes are a great way to share a personalized taste of NC as a gift or sign up for the quarterly subscription box to receive your own boxes that she will be launching later in September.

A percentage of sales from Taste and See NC quarterly subscriptions will support a North Carolina-based charity specifically focused on feeding children in food insecure environments. Sign up for updates regarding Taste & See NC boxes via her website to receive more information.

If you want to check this out yourself, get $5.00 off by using a
special 'raleighwhatsup' coupon code.

EAT LOCAL. SHOP LOCAL. SUPPORT LOCAL NC BUSINESS










Wednesday, August 9, 2017

CARY SPOTLIGHT: Let's All Scream for Homemade Ice Cream at Andia's in Cary

Stacey Sprenz Photography
Last week I packed up the teenagers and went on a mission for some homemade ice cream! We ventured out to Cary to visit the brand new Andia's Homemade Ice Cream shop that just recently celebrated their grand opening.  Their adorable new shop is located at 10120 Green Level Church Road, #208 in Cary.

We met up with several other media folks to hear their story and sample their ice cream treats and it was such a pleasure to meet Andia & George Xouris and their two children, Alyssa and Alex. We enjoyed hearing the story of their Greek family roots and how they came up with the vision of their homemade ice cream treats and the passion of creative flavors and top notch customer service.

Andia's Homemade Ice Cream is family-friendly and features 20 flavors of ice cream and sorbet like baklava, salted caramel, blueberry cobbler, lemon basil sorbet and cookie Xplosion. Vegan options are available as well. I had the lemon basil sorbet, which was fresh, zesty and full of great flavor. Very refreshing on a warm summer evening.

Andia's Media Event - photo by Stacey Sprenz
They feature unique menu items like the doughnut ice cream sundae, which includes a glazed doughnut with ice cream in the center, which is warmed and topped with a chocolate and caramel drizzle. Another unique menu item is the ice cream cannoli, which is just like eating a cannoli but with cannoli ice cream instead of cream. Also delicious!

It's summer and prime time ice cream eating season! Take some time to swing by Andia's and say hello and experience friendly people who genuinely love what they are doing, and enjoy delicious + unique ice cream treats (and free sprinkles!) for yourself! Be sure to take some ice cream TO-GO as well!

Let's all scream for ice cream! #scoopedwithlove

Lemon Basil Sorbet
Happy kids!

Garbage Can 

Cookie Xplosion + Birthday Cake

Warm Donut Sundae

Birthday Cake
Chocolate rocks, rock!



Take it TO-GO!

The Xouris Family, photo courtesy of Stacey Sprenz Photography

About Andia's Homemade Ice Cream
Founded in 2014 as the Freezing Pointe, Andia and George Xouris re-branded their ice cream catering business in 2016 to Andia's Homemade Ice Cream. With a focus on their Greek background and family, Andia's Homemade Ice Cream currently offers premium quality ice cream and sorbet through their catering operation and a retail store opening July 2017 in Cary, NC. Connect with Andia's Homemade Ice Cream on Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, July 24, 2017

DURHAM: The NEW Unscripted Hotel in Durham / Now Open!


Fresh off of a couple weeks away from Raleigh and the Triangle, it was fun to get back in the swing of things, attending last week's media premiere party at the brand new Unscripted Hotel in downtown Durham.  Durham is the first location of the new Unscripted hotel lifestyle and hospitality brand, part of the Dream Hotel Group, and they officially opened their doors last Wednesday, July 19. The 74-room hotel is located in the old Jack Tar Motor Lodge, at 202 N. Corcoran St. in the heart of downtown Durham.  All 74 private rooms offer fully stocked minibar, luxury linens and robes,  complimentary wifi, Jonathan Adler amenities and more. Room rates start at an affordable $169/night. The prime location features great views of the city of Durham and puts guests within walking distance from the American Tobacco Campus, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, DPAC and many of Durham's fabulous restaurants, breweries, local boutiques, bars and more!


The renovated hotel embraces the mid-century modern design which I absolutely love and I'm thrilled that they've stayed true to the original space, keeping that bit of Durham history in tact but reinventing it at the same time and giving it new life. They were careful in their steps of preserving the original design aspects and materials. There is also plenty of parking available with the adjoining four-story parking garage. The Unscripted theme features an overall fun, hip and creative vibe in its design. The lobby space (the Studio) is a great spot to meet up for a drink or to just hang out and catch up with a friend. The cafe, (allday) is open with outdoor tables on the street and offers coffee, breakfast and grab and go food/drink. The rooftop patio and pool area (the Patio) is open to the public for drinks and light snacks with music and nightly events.  The Patio is a retro-inspired homage to poolside lounges.

We sampled several of the menu offerings and there was a nice variety of tasty dishes with something to please everyone, featuring ingredients from local farms and businesses. They have partnered with Fullsteam Brewing in Durham to offer a unique lager brew called the Unscripted, as well as offering additional beers, wine, and cocktails.


Other food and drink offerings located in the hotel plaza space include, Neomonde Mediterranean restaurant (not currently open), which will be offering a variety of flavorful dishes featuring authentic family recipes and is targeted to open in the Fall. Jack Tar Diner is a new lunch/dinner restaurant coming soon from the owners of Pizzeria Toro, also planning to open in the Fall. Pour Taproom is currently open and serving up pay-by-the-ounce beer where customers pour their own drinks from 60+ taps, featuring a wide variety of selectively curated craft beer, wine and ciders.

Unscripted will be offering plenty of fun weekly events to guests and the general public. The schedule includes:
  • Monday “The Dive Inn” movies at The Patio 
  • Tuesday “Sounds of The Studio” album listening sessions 
  • Wednesday “Epic Sketch” art classes in The Studio* (To launch in August) 
  • Thursday after work “Mixer Mixer” in The Studio* (To launch in August) 
  • Friday “Night Swim” at The Patio 
  • Saturday “Stereo Patio” live DJ sets by the pool 
  • Saturday “BOOM” nightlife live DJ sets at The Studio 
  • “Sunday Best” mimosas and bloody mary’s at The Patio 
  • Sunday night “Mr. Kites Industry Night” variety show at The Patio (To launch in August)
Overall, I like the creative, unique atmosphere of this hotel.  Almost everywhere you look, there are fun messages, bright-colored furniture, fun music, cool architecture and signage that keep you smiling and who can disagree with a "don't take yourself so seriously" lighthearted vibe like that! Be sure to stop in for a drink or a snack next time you are out and about in Durham, check out the rooftop patio and pool and awesome Durham views, and see what you think! It's sure to make a "splash"! ;-)

Media premiere party
Watermelon Martinis







Jonathan Adler amenities

The Sea & Land dish


Lamb Pops


The Patio burger


Unscripted lager by Fullsteam Brewery


Sushi Cone










allday cafe on Parrish Street entrance

Pour Taproom now open