Monday, September 18, 2017

Fiesta de Camotes - Celebrating Sweet Potatoes at Gonza Tacos Y Tequila

One of my favorite North Raleigh places to dine is at Gonza Tacos y Tequila. Gonza Tacos y Tequila creates a twist on the traditional Mexican Restaurant with a rich Colombian influence and eclectic Dia de los Muertos theme. They have several locations throughout the Triangle including North Raleigh, Downtown Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary and Durham. They also have a food truck that travels all around the Triangle area participating in many local events.

It's Fiesta de Camotes this month and sweet potatoes are being celebrated all September long. Several Triangle participating restaurants have created a signature dish featuring sweet potatoes and will serve it throughout the month. 

Last week I had lunch at Gonza at their North Raleigh restaurant off Leadmine Road in the Greystone Village shopping center. We started off with their Sopa de Tortilla (tortilla soup). It was amazing! I didn't want to stop eating it. Because it was so good, I am going to try making it at home! One of the main ingredients in the soup is the sweet potato which gives it a nice creamy texture. Not only are sweet potatoes delicious they are also healthy! Sweet potatoes are full of Vitamins A and C, fiber, manganese and antioxidants (eating the skin provides even more nutrients). Additional ingredients in the tortilla soup include chicken, bell peppers, onion, chipotle in adobo and cilantro.  Topped with queso fresco and avocado, it's a great comfort food for Fall and Winter. If you are interested in making the soup, the recipe from Gonza is available online.

Friday's lunch at Gonza included delicious vegetarian tacos and mahi tacos, guacamole/chips and we even had room for their amazing Talega de Plantano dessert! You can also enjoy outside patio dining at most of their locations which is perfect as we head into cooler Fall weather.

The tortilla soup featuring sweet potatoes will be featured on Gonza Tacos y Tequila's menu throughout September, a month long celebration of sweet potatoes called “Fiesta de Camotes.” Translated to “Celebrating Sweet Potatoes,” Fiesta de Camotes highlights Hispanic restaurants and bakeries throughout North Carolina featuring sweet potatoes in a special dish.

Along with Gonza, several other Triangle area restaurants are featuring sweet potato recipes through the rest of September. Triangle area restaurants include: Gonza Tacos y Tequila, Babalu Tapas and Tacos, Sweet Arielle Bakery, Cortez Seafood & Cocktail and Centro in downtown Raleigh.

“Fiesta de Camotes” is a promotion of the NC SweetPotato Commission and was funded through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Vegetarian + Fish Tacos with Sweet Potato Tortilla Soup

Talega de Plantano

NORTH RALEIGH GONZA TACOS Y TEQUILA: 7713 Lead Mine Rd. #39 (919) 846-5478

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NEW! Thursday NIGHT BRUNCH only at Cameron Bar + Grill in Cameron Village

Night Brunch Specialty Cocktail - Featured here, Strawberry Rosé Margarita 

Breakfast for dinner! What's not to love about that? When Cameron Bar + Grill in Cameron Village invited me to sample some Night Brunch menu items, I was totally excited to see what the Night Brunch was all about. I LOVED the idea from the start and honestly I had never heard of a Raleigh restaurant offering that up. SO EVERY THURSDAY Night Cameron Bar and Grill will feature Night Brunch from 5-10pm.

Honestly I love this menu. I personally like menus to be creative, easy to read and only one page! The first thing I wanted to try were the baby breakfast tacos. Love the name and honestly we make a version of this at home quite often with two hungry teenagers on the go, I always have eggs, tortillas and cheese! These were delicious, love the crispy bits of bacon, really good sauce and black beans.

Next we sampled the shrimp + crab omelette. Delicious. Crab and shrimp were amazing topped with an old bay queso, which was fantastic. Finally we tried a tasty version of the hash bowl. This is a build your own option so you can choose what cheese, meat and veggies you want mixed in with potatoes and eggs. Fabulous.

And, don't forget the drink specials! Mimosas and bloody marys plus a feature cocktail of the night. We tried the Strawberry Rosé Margarita made with Chateau Julien rosé, tequila, strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and the Coffee Margarita made with Patron XO, Frangelico, triple sec, tequila, and Cameron Village's locally brewed Benelux Coffee, plus a beignet garnish!

A big shout out to Head Chef Scott Schabot for such a creative and delicious brunch menu offering (I have to come back for the Hangover Burger + Bananas Foster French Toast!).

If you are looking for something fun and different, grab some friends and try the Night Brunch at CBG. Enjoy some great outdoor patio dining while the Raleigh Fall weather is delightful.

Check CBG on Instagram and Facebook to see what the feature drink cocktail will be each week for Night Brunch.

It's important to eat local, support the local community and take some time to get to know the amazing folks who put their time, effort and passion into creating cool dining experiences for us here in Raleigh. I highly suggest putting Cameron Bar + Grill on your radar for Fall dining!

HOURS: Monday - Wednesday: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm, Thursday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 12:00 am, Sunday: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm. Night Brunch is Thursday nights, 5-10pm.

LOCATION: 2018 Clark Avenue  Raleigh, NC 27605 (919) 835-9463

Shrimp + Crab Omelette

Baby Breakfast Tacos

Build Your Own Hash Bowl

Coffee Margarita: Patron XO, Frangelico, triple sec, tequila, and locally brewed Benelux Coffee

#CVTRENDREPORT: I'm excited to partner again with Cameron Village to feature some of the great merchants in the Village and highlight some 2017 Fall Trends and great "hidden gems". I love shopping local and it's been an amazing opportunity to get to know these merchants, their stories and their passion for what they do!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

New Paddle Pro App + 6 Essentials for Kayaking in the Triangle from Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Cameron Village

Looking to add a little more outdoor adventure to your life? A great late Summer, early Fall activity to do around the Triangle is kayaking. If you are looking to try kayaking and haven't done it before or need some guidance on how to get started, we discovered that Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Cameron Village has created an awesome online app that helps walk you through a short series of questions to find out exactly what you will need.

This new app is called Paddle Pro and you can find it at . The app has six easy questions:
  • what do you want to do on the water?
  • where would you like to paddle?
  • what is your own experience level? 
  • how far do you want to go?
  • what do you want to carry in your boat? 
  • how much do you need to move around in the boat?
You will get results of which boats are the best match for your needs. You can click to make an appointment in the store and go in already knowledgeable about your paddling goals, experience, etc. Easy enough!

Great Outdoor Provision Co. has a lot of information on where to paddle in the Triangle area on their website as well as some great safety and planning videos.  You can also make an appointment to learn more about purchasing a kayak through the Paddle Pro app.

Once you are ready to get going we've got a great "hidden gem" location from GOPC for kayaking: Venture out to Durham, Three Rivers area, named after the convergence of the Eno, Little and Flat Rivers, which form the headwaters of the Neuse before Falls Lake. There are several launching points for canoes, and kayaks, but the Eno River boat ramp access off of Red Mill Road and Teknika Parkway in Durham is perhaps the most accessible. It's a relaxing paddle with a mix of open water and swampy areas.

Got questions? Check in with Chris Garrett, Raleigh Paddle Sports Department Manager is the resident expert in paddling at GOPC in Raleigh Cameron Village.

6 Essentials for a Kayaking trip in the Triangle from GOPC

1. NC-made Kayaks.

Plenty of variety of kayaks available at GOPC. Find the perfect one for you with the Paddle Pro app. The Hurricane brand is locally made in Warsaw, NC.

2. Paddles. 
These Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Hybrid 2 peice paddles are perfect for flat and slow-moving water. The Cannon Wave Slider Paddle has easier pull through the water and a large powerful blade which is good for heavier kayaks/canoes.

3. Yeti Coolers, Tumblers + Bags. Great Outdoor Provision Company has the newest coolers and styles in stock now. The Yeti Tundra 45 keeps drinks and food cold for multiple days of car camping or float trips (and college tailgates!) . The Tundra 45 is Yeti’s best all-purpose cooler and a top choice because of its versatile 26-can capacity and easy portability.

4. Cool, comfortable and stylish feather-weight Helinox chairs. These chairs are great for any outdoor activity including camping, outdoor concerts, football tailgating or backpacking trip. The company Helinox won design and outdoor awards for the slick light-weight design of these chairs. They easily break down to a small portable bag weighing less than 2 lbs!

5. Life vests. Astral is currently headquartered in Asheville, NC. These life vests combine incredible fit, lightweight construction and a great selection of technical features. Its versatility is perfect for sea kayaking or your favorite river or lake. The Linda is a beautifully designed, feature-rich women’s life vest.

6. Water repellent  gear bags. These bags bright colors and texture caught our eye. They are durable and water repellent and good for any kind of outdoor activity and travel. The blue version is especially great for Carolina fans (great gift idea)!

#CVTRENDREPORT: I'm excited to partner again with Cameron Village over the next few months to feature some of the great merchants in the Village and highlight some 2017 Late Summer/Early Fall Trends and great "hidden gems". I love shopping local and it's been an amazing opportunity to get to know these merchants, their stories and their passion for what they do! Cameron Village has also recently partnered with Jaguar Land Rover Cary and they were kind enough to provide us with a Range Rover Sport luxury vehicle for the day!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Luxury Triangle Adventuring + a day in the Great Outdoors

I'm excited to partner again with Cameron Village to spotlight several amazing local businesses in the Village this late Summer and early Fall, in downtown Raleigh. Cameron Village has recently partnered with Jaguar Land Rover Cary and they were kind enough to provide us with a luxury dream car for the day! I was excited to get to drive a Range Rover Sport vehicle this past weekend, the most agile and dynamic of the Land Rover line. Mine was the Turbocharged Diesel SE Td6 model and we spent a little time at the dealership Friday in Cary getting an introduction to the vehicle (including a very entertaining ride over some simulated rough terrain)! These vehicles are amazing!

We started off the morning with the Range Rover in Cameron Village where we loaded up the SUV with all kinds of cool kayaking equipment from Great Outdoors Provision Company. The Range Rover has some amazing high tech features including two sensors on either side of the vehicle for touch-less opening of the tailgate. Simply move your foot beneath either to activate the tailgate to open. Helpful when your arms are full of gear or groceries! Surround cameras are great for getting a 360 view of the car when parking, backing up, etc. I loved the sporty cockpit where the seat feels really comfortable, luxurious and specially made just for you. I knew it was going to be hard to part with this car at the end of the day!

One really unique feature is the head-up display on the window that shows your current speed and the legal speed projected onto the window so you don't have to take your eyes off the road. I also really like the engaging touchscreen display, and USB and charging points are a must.

The SUV is larger than what I'm used to driving but it didn't feel like a large car with it's dynamic handling.  The diesel engine shuts off when you come to a complete stop at a light which seems eco-friendly, fuel efficient plus it's just really quiet. Starts right up when the gas pedal is pressed and there's virtually no delay. The gas mileage on this vehicle is pretty good considering its a 5500 lb vehicle! 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg around town.

We loaded the gear from Great Outdoors Provision Company including NC-made life jackets, paddles, Patagonia waterproof bags, the ultimate camp chair by Helinox and the newest Yeti cooler and bag and headed to Lake Jordan. The back is roomy and plenty of space for gear. I also loved the dual moon roof!

It was my first time visiting Lake Jordan and it's a beautiful spot! Lot's of people there camping, boating, paddling, SUP, having picnics and more. We enjoyed driving the car to the lake on a beautiful crystal clear Saturday morning. The car has blue tooth so we could plug the phone in to listen to our own playlists.

After some lake time we made a quick stop for fresh tomatoes at a local farmer's fruit stand and then drove into downtown Apex for lunch and a little window shopping on main street.  It was time to return the vehicle back to Jaguar Land Rover Cary. It was a lot of fun exploring new places in the Triangle in the seat of luxury for a day!

Thanks again to Jaguar Land Rover Cary and the folks at Great Outdoor Provision Company for a wonderful Saturday out around Raleigh and the Triangle area! UP NEXT: Stay tuned for much more info on all the fantastic gear from GOPC and much more including a cool new Paddle Pro App!

We took a "thrill" ride in the Range Rover over some rough terrain at Jaguar Land Rover Cary

 I'm excited to partner again with Cameron Village over the next few months to feature some of the great merchants in the Village and highlight some 2017 Late Summer/Early Fall Trends and great "hidden gems". I love shopping local and it's been an amazing opportunity to get to know these merchants, their stories and their passion for what they do!