Friday, November 17, 2017

6 Scenic Day Drives near Raleigh for the last of the Fall color

One of the best things about living in the Raleigh area is the number of easy weekend driving destinations we have near us. From Raleigh a trip to the mountains, or the coast, is within 2-3 hours drive. If you are looking for a destination within 40 minutes to see the last of the Fall color, I've got a few recommendations. We recently went for a drive out to Saxapahaw, NC and spent the afternoon exploring the NC countryside. With cooler temps and leaf color in its prime, a Saturday or Sunday afternoon can be great for getting out of the city or suburbs and enjoying a scenic drive. I am continuing my partnership this Fall with Cameron Village and Jaguar Land Rover Cary and they recently provided me with a 2017 Range Rover to test drive for a day.

I decided that a drive to the countryside would be a fun way to experience the Range Rover first hand. We decided on driving to Saxapahaw, NC. We drove through pretty farm country on back roads and arrived in Saxapahaw in about 40 minutes from North Raleigh. We stopped in for a beer and a visit with the locals at one of the best breweries in NC, Haw River Ales. We enjoyed sitting outside on their patio in the cool Fall air. You can enjoy a meal upstairs at The Eddy Pub or a coffee in the coffee shop. There's also the The Saxapahaw General Store where you can dine in or grab some healthy snacks and drinks for the road.  The Range Rover I was driving was a lot more vehicle than what I'm used to driving but it was fun to be King of the road for a day! I do love the super comfortable and supportive leather heated seats and for a big car it really has some get up and go! Rear and side cameras are really helpful and the power lift gate is definitely a "must have" feature for easy loading and unloading. I also like that the diesel engine cuts off to save fuel when you are at a traffic stop with no delay in getting started again.

We continued our afternoon drive through the town of Pittsboro for a quick peek of what the town has to offer. There were plenty of people out enjoying vintage shopping, pumpkin hunting, dining and much more. The well known Fearrington House Inn is also located here.

Follow up your drive with dinner in the Village! After a nice Fall drive consider finishing the day with a range of dining options in Cameron Village  like the Village Draft House, Cameron Bar + Grill, Brixx, Tazza Kitchen, Cantina 18, so•ca and much more!

Village Draft House
Cameron Bar + Grill
Tazza Kitchen
Cantina 18

Haw River Ales, Saxapahaw, NC

Saxapahaw, NC

Pittsboro, NC

#CVTRENDREPORT: I'm excited to partner again with Cameron Village and Jaguar Land Rover Cary this Fall 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!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Latin Inspired Street Fare + Caribbean Small Plate Dining at so•ca in Raleigh

so•ca cocina latina offers a large selection of Latin American-inspired street food and Caribbean soul small plates, designed for sharing and enjoying. The creatively-inspired menu is full of delicious and fresh ingredients that come together in unique ways and each dish is like a work of art when it arrives to the table.

so•ca (so•ca stands for “south of the Tropic of Cancer), is one of the newest restaurants to join Cameron Village and is located in the previous Faire location on the corner of Oberlin and Clark Avenue. The restaurant is the sister to downtown Raleigh's bu.ku global street food. The dining rooms and bar provide an upscale casual environment that's fun and approachable. so•ca is modern and beautiful and every detail down to the linens and plates are thoughtfully selected, contributing to an exciting new dining experience in Raleigh.

You can select from an array of small plates as well as entrées and larger dishes that provide plenty of options for sharing. Street inspired dishes of steak, fish, lamb, chicken and vegetable dishes create a wide variety of menu choices. Gluten free, vegan and vegetarian available as well, making so•ca a unique experience for all guests. Craft cocktails, beer and an extensive wine selection are available, as well as an amazing dessert list!

|  1/2 price wine bottles on Tuesday and Family Style Paella on Thursday!  |

so•ca dishes are inspired by food commonly eaten by the local families and street food vendors in over 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Peru, Mexico, Jamaica and more. These dishes are not commonly found here in the south, creating a truly unique dining experience. Dinner is every night of the week and brunch is available on the weekends.

I was excited to try a variety of very delicious (and beautiful!) dishes last week that included:

  • Black bean empanadas with charred NC sweet corn, pickled onion, oaxaca and salsa verde.
  • Red snapper dish was tangy and delicious with crispy plaintains and pureed sweet potato. 
  • Argentinian charred pork cheeks are simply amazing. (I also heard its probably one of their most popular dishes). Don't miss them!
  • The stunning Paella is so beautiful and thoughtfully presented and a seafood lover's dream with mussels, local clams, shrimp, and monkfish served with preserved tomato, sofrito and charred green onion oil. 

Helpful tips! so•ca offers complimentary valet parking since it can be a little tricky finding parking during busy evening times at Cameron Village.  They offer plenty of large group seating, including a private room for hosting any upcoming holiday events or special occasions.

You will be amazed by the stunning presentation and delicious flavors of these dishes and with shareable plates it's a great place to join up with friends for a dinner you will not likely soon forget!

Little Mendoza - Bulliet Rye, house bitters, Lillet blanc, Malbec-chicory reduction, brandied cherry

Empanadas de Huitlacoche - maseca, black beans, charred NC sweet corn, pickled onion, oaxaca, salsa verde

Red Snapper Tiradito - leche de tigre, plaintain, choclo, star anise, sweet potato puree, fresh lime

Argentinian Charred Pork Cheeks - goat cheese polenta, roasted garlic chimchurri, pickled onion, bacon-beef jus

Paella soca - crispy calasparra rice, mussels, local clams, shrimp, monkfish, tomato, sofrito, charred green onion oil

HOURS: Mon-Thurs: 4pm-10pm, Friday: 4pm-11pm, Saturday: 11am-11pm, Sunday: 10am-10pm
LOCATION: 2130 Clark Avenue Telephone for Reservations: 919-322-0440

#CVTRENDREPORT: I'm excited to partner again with Cameron Village to feature some of the great merchants in the Village and highlight some 2017 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!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Discover Comfort Food + 5 Tasty Fall Beers on Tap at Village Draft House

Cool weather is finally here! College football is in full swing and there's no better time to enjoy some fantastic FALL beers on the patio! I got to sample some amazing beers* at Village Draft House in Cameron Village this week and with 100 beers on tap, I thought I'd select five beers on tap worth trying that feature a range of Fall flavors. Village Draft House offers an outdoor patio that is dog-friendly and they've got all the college and NFL football you could ever want!

  1. Stone Xocoveza Stout - Imperial Milk / Sweet 8.1% ABV | Stone Brewing
    This is a fantastic take on a Mexican hot chocolate and is super smooth with flavors of cocoa, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Should be warned, it's a strong one but definitely no trick, it's a real treat.

  2. Night Owl Pumpkin Ale (2017) Pumpkin / Yam Beer 6.7% ABV | Elysian Brewing Company
    This beer is brewed with over 7lbs of pumpkin per barrel and includes flavors like nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and allspice. This one is hard to put down!

  3. Pumking Pumpkin / Yam Beer - Imperial 8.6% ABV | Southern Tier Brewing Company
    Deep copper in color, you will immediately taste the pumpkin and pie spices, vanilla, clove, cinnamon and allspice. It's heavy on the ABV but delicious on taste.

  4. Märzen 4.6% ABV | The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery
    Light German-style lager for easy drinking. Perfect for a day on the patio!

  5. Wild Turkey Nitro Bourbon Barrel Stout | Anderson Valley Brewing Company
    If you are a bourbon fan, you will love this stout! Strong bourbon flavor, with woody, vanilla-like notes imparted by the barrel and other rich flavors like chocolate and roasted barley, so savor this one!

    *These beers were available on draft this week and due to the popularity and availability of kegs, the beers on tap may change and are updated on their online beer tap list.

The menu at Cameron Village Draft House is extensive with everything from bar snacks, salad plates, sandwiches, burgers and delicious platters. I was in the mood for comfort food and I want to share two dishes that feel like Fall that offer up plenty of food, even enough to take home for leftovers!

1. SHRIMP AND CREAMY CHEESY GRITS | Sautéed shrimp seasoned with a savory spice mixture, chopped bacon, and chives over creamy, cheesy grits and a drizzle of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. The flavors all come together so well and pair nicely with a dark beer on the patio!

2. MAC & CHEESE FEATURE | Ask your server or read the chalkboard for the current creamy concoction, but today's dish  we sampled featured blue cheese in the mac & cheese and buffalo chicken with a little kick! Rich and delicious! This dish pairs nice with any pumpkin ale on draft!

HOURS: Monday - Wednesday: 11am - 12am, Thursday 11am - 12pm, Friday - Saturday: 11am - 2am, Sunday: 11am - 12am
ADDRESS: 428 Daniels Street

#CVTRENDREPORT: I'm excited to partner again with Cameron Village to feature some of the great merchants in the Village and highlight some 2017 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!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cameron Village "Joy Ride" + 8 NC State Hidden Gems

Last weekend I had the thrill of taking a "joy ride" around Cameron Village and NC State University in a beautiful red 2017 Jaguar XE! Truly a dream car, I couldn't believe I was actually getting this car to test drive for 24 hours! I've partnered again with Cameron Village this Fall along with the great folks at Jaguar Land Rover Cary and they were kind enough to provide me with this stunning and sporty red Jaguar XE for the day and I decided with the perfect weather to take this beautiful car out for a "joy ride" and explore some amazing places around NC State.

As you know I love all things local to Raleigh and since I am not originally from Raleigh, I really have not spent much time on NC State campus other than a few visits to the amazing James B Hunt Library and Pullen Park. I was excited about getting out and exploring NC State more in depth. We were pleased to find several "hidden gems" on campus!

We swung by Cameron Village Friday night in the Jag for a quick bite at Cameron Bar and Grill. By the way in case you have not heard about their Thursday Night Brunch, you can read more about it on a blog post I shared last month. Its fantastic!

Driving the Jaguar was a dream for me...I loved the get up and go power of the engine, beautiful interior, back up cameras, moon roof, and its actually a good starter opton for getting into the Jaguar brand with a more affordable price then I thought! Check out the exact details of the car here.

Saturday morning we got up and headed to NC State Campus to explore some of the cool places around campus on Hillsborough Street and just minutes a way from Cameron Village Shopping Center.


1. Gregg Museum of Art & Design on Hillsborough Street.
Admission is free to the brand new (just opened in August!) Gregg Museum of Art + Design and there is free parking. It's located at 1903 Hillsborough Street. Be sure to check out the current exhibits in both buildings as well as the gardens in the back. They are beautiful and educational. The museum are closed on Mondays but have hours the rest of the week.

2. Theatre in the Park.
Theatre In The Park, located in the northern end of Raleigh’s scenic Pullen Park, is internationally acclaimed for its outstanding theatrical achievements, with more than 40,000 people attending shows last year! Beautiful gardens surround the venue. You can click here for a full list of what shows are coming up.

3. Family friendly Pullen Park.
Another "hidden gem" of Raleigh is Pullen Park. We used to bring our kids here when they were little. It's a dream day out for families with young children. They've completed some recent park  renovations and there is a lot to explore here.  Big park and great playgrounds, perfect for picnics, a fantastic train to ride, kiddie boats, paddle boats and their restored indoor carousel is stunning! There's good parking and food options available.

4. James B. Hunt Jr. Library.
The NC State James B. Hunt Jr. Library is the library of the future and probably one of my favorite places to hide out and explore! Stunning design, amazing selection of fantastic chairs, and don't miss the sunset on the fifth floor terrace! Definitely a "hidden gem" on campus! We just recently checked out Hunt after Dark on First Friday featuring Brewery Bhavana and it was an AMAZING evening out!

Terrace views.

Hunt After Dark with special guest Brewery Bhavana

5. Lake Raleigh.
How did I not know there was a lake in the middle of NC State? And you can fish and you can walk the trails around the lake! We will be back to hike the path for sure when the temps cool down. Stunning and peaceful respite from the city!

6. State View Hotel. Marriott / Autograph Hotel.
This brand new luxury hotel is just opening this week! Located on the Centennial Campus, this stunning location is the ideal event space for social gatherings, meetings, weddings and more. Check out the new Flask + Beaker restaurant and bar, as well as an outdoor pool and patios.

7. The Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center.
Located near Lake Raleigh, this building is the on-campus destination for reunions, post-game gatherings, weddings, receptions, parties and seminars. It’s located on Centennial Campus near the Lonnie Poole Golf Course. Snap a picture here with the wolf sculpture in front of the NC State University Park Alumni Center. It's also next to the new State View Hotel.

8. Talley Student Union.
Worth a stroll through this building to enjoy vibrant art, natural light, comfortable furniture and amazing views, Tally Student Union is such a great place for students. It's reminiscent of some of the same style as the James Hunt Library. There's coffee, ice cream and more dining opportunities and plenty of spaces to sit, work and relax.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

#CVTRENDREPORT: I'm excited to partner again with Cameron Village and Jaguar Land Rover 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!