Friday, October 28, 2016

Football, Food + 100 Beers in the Village!

Fall is finally upon us and is probably my favorite time of year in Raleigh. Being able to enjoy relaxed, outdoor dining in the warm sun, watching football and hanging with friends, sharing a couple of tasty North Carolina seasonal ales on tap, is the perfect way to enjoy a weekend.

Village Draft House in Cameron Village offers all these things and more. While they are a beer drinking establishment, they are also serving up some tasty and surprising dishes that makes them stand out from the standard idea of typical pub food. We sat down this week to some rather delicious food paired with a couple of NC beers. We started our meal with a generous serving of Chicken bites made with fresh chicken, hand-breaded and cooked golden, then tossed in a Jim Beam Honey Reaper BBQ sauce and paired it with a Double Barley Abby's Amber Ale. This is a great and very shareable dish while drinking a beer on the patio.

Next we paired a lighter NC beer, the Red Oak Hummin' Bird with the Sriracho Taco platter. Two generously filled flour tortillas with shredded green & red cabbage and carrots topped with Sriracha aioli, chopped Ahi Tuna (or Shrimp if you like), and Pico de Gallo with avosalsa on the side. It's served with garden blend long grain & wild rice and a side Caesar salad so you will not leave hungry nor feeling guilty. The menu has a variety of food options and is the same for both lunch and dinner. There are weekly specials, burgers of the month, desserts and daily drink specials, so definitely check the special board at the entrance.

You can also visit Bass Lake Draft House in Holly Springs
Village Draft House has remodeled a bit with glass doors that open out to the patio for sitting outside and they are pet friendly so you can bring your dog and enjoy a cold brew outside with your dog friends!

Being close to NC State, the Village Draft House is a great spot to hang on the weekend with friends or visiting guests, and enjoy some college football. Large flat screen TV’s are everywhere inside and out and they have access to satellite subscriptions and sports packages for catching pretty much any game that's on!

And beer. There are 100 taps at Village Draft House. Over 40 of them are local beers from North Carolina. Seasonal ales are on tap and there is a good mix of all types of beer. They use TapHunter so you can go to their website or their Facebook page anytime to see the latest and greatest beer selection on draft.

On Fridays, you can usually catch some live acoustic style music. Definitely not a bad way to spend these lovely Raleigh Fall days and nights!

I'm excited to partner with Cameron Village over the next few months to feature some of the great merchants in the Village and highlight some 2016 Fall Trends and great "hidden gems". I love shopping and dining local and it's been an amazing opportunity to get to know these merchants, their stories and their passion for what they do!

Location: 428 Daniels Street

Hours: Monday - Wednesday: 11:00 am - 12:00 am
Thursday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 2:00 am
Sunday: 11:00 am - 12:00 am

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Feast like the Romans in Chapel Hill November 15

Two summers ago, we took a family vacation to Italy. We traveled to many of Italy's famous cities, seeing the sites and enjoying authentic Italian food. Honestly, it was the simplest of dishes that we enjoyed the most. Spending time in Rome and venturing into the backstreets and neighborhoods for dinner was an experience I will never forget.

After that trip, I was fortunate enough to meet and spend some time in the kitchen with Chef Teddy Diggs, Executive Chef of Chapel Hill's Il Palio restaurant. I was thrilled to revisit the authentic and pure dishes that reminded us so much of our time in Italy.

(READ MORE - Il Palio, A Taste of Italy in Chapel Hill)

This summer, I enjoyed following along as Chef Teddy Diggs visited several cities in Italy and his 48 hours in Rome. While he was there, he met up with Katie Parla, a fun energetic girl from New Jersey who moved to Italy and has been there now for almost ten years. She has spent her time visiting backstreet kitchens and flavors of Italy’s capitol. She’s written and edited more than 20 books." on Italian cooking and hobnobs with the likes of Mario Batali.

Katie and Chef Teddy heard about each other through the grapevine and were determined to connect to discuss their shared love for regional Italian cooking. Katie Instagrammed Teddy a dinner invitation, and as luck would have it, he just happened to be in Rome.

Katie Parla and Chef Teddy are hosting a Roman feast at Il Palio November 15.

Diggs and Parla first met in Rome for pasta at acclaimed restaurant Flavio, a meal that served as the inspiration for the their own collaborative dinner in Chapel Hill coming up November 15.

The Tasting Rome feast at Il Palio will delight guests with a multi-course menu reminiscent of an intimate dinner one might enjoy on the cobblestone streets of Rome. The evening will feature Rome’s quintessential dishes from Parla’s cookbook along with hidden gems discovered during each chef’s travels. In true Italian fashion, Diggs and Parla will craft dishes that also reflect the local flavors and fare by highlighting North Carolina ingredients.

“Katie and I have a common passion for sharing the spirit behind Italian cooking,” said Diggs, executive chef, Il Palio. “Our goal is to transport guests to the streets of Rome and invite them to experience not just the flavors but also the emotional connection that is inherently part of an Italian meal.”


Guests can enjoy a cocktail reception featuring passed appetizers at 6:30 p.m. followed by a seated dinner.

Tickets may be purchased for $125 by calling 919-918-2545 and include signed copies of the Tasting Rome cookbook, wine pairings, tax and gratuity. RESERVE YOUR SEAT NOW.

Il Palio is an award-winning Italian dining destination in Chapel Hill, N.C. and the premiere restaurant of The Siena Hotel Autograph Collection. Consistently awarded Four Diamonds by AAA, Il Palio marries the traditional flavors of Italy with a casual elegance that regions and vintifications produced in every corner of the Italian Peninsula, a selection that earned Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence. Executive Chef Teddy Diggs brings robust training from the Culinary Institute of America along with rich national experience, including appointments in the Washington D.C. dining spotlight and tenure at Martha’s Vineyard. Il Palio offers breakfast daily and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit or call 800-223-7379. Connect with Il Palio at, or on Instagram at @Il_Palio.

Katie Parla is a Rome-based food and beverage educator and journalist. Originally from New Jersey, she has an art history degree from Yale, a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”, a sommelier certificate from the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoratori and an archeological speleology certification from the city of Rome. She has written and edited more than 20 books, and her food criticism and travel writing have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, Saveur, Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler, Condé Nast Traveller UK, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, Lucky Peach, Corriere della Sera, Imbibe, Monocle, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Olive, AFAR, Punch, Wine Enthusiast, National Geographic Traveler, Eater, Delicious, Epicurious, Serious Eats, Food Republic, The Atlantic, Gather Journal and The Sunday Times Magazine.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Village Deli Celebrates 20 Years!

For twenty years, Village Deli & Grill has been serving up sandwiches, drinks and much more in the heart of Cameron Village. This year marks their 20th anniversary of being in the village (their first location) and as the years have passed and times have changed, Village Deli remains true to their original vision from 1996. Village Deli and their friendly staff continue to serve up quality food made to order partnering with local NC farms and businesses for their ingredients. I'm thrilled to see they are sustainable as well, using biodegradable cups and containers, served up with great customer service at a reasonable price.

Raleigh locals know that one of the "hidden gems" of Village Deli is their homemade chicken salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayo on homemade bread (GF available). Enjoy a tasty side of sweet potato fries, paired with a glass of freshly brewed iced tea, loyal customers have been coming back again and again, some for as many as all 20 years! I have to agree, this was one delicious sandwich! The menu is extensive with everything from salads, soups, seafood dishes, burgers, paninis, subs...they've got it! Vegetarian dishes are on the menu. Breakfast is served until 11am. Cold beer and wine are available. Daily lunch and dinner specials. They are open every day of the week.

At Village Deli, you can enjoy dining in the rustic and comfortable dining room or opt for outdoor seating with plenty of tables to sit outside and enjoy people watching on one of Cameron Village's busiest corners.

Village Deli cares about their customers and the quality of the food they offer. They've proved it with being able to stand the test of time. 20 years. Congratulations Village Deli! Stop in and wish them a Happy Anniversary!

#CVTRENDREPORT: I'm excited to partner with Cameron Village over the next few months to feature some of the great merchants in the Village and highlight some 2016 Fall Trends and great "hidden gems". I love shopping and dining local and it's been an amazing opportunity to get to know these merchants, their stories and their passion for what they do!

Village Deli & Grill
Location: 500 Daniels Street

Hours: Monday - Friday: 7:00am - 9:00pm
Saturday 8:00am - 9:00pm, Sunday 11:00am - 4:00pm

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wagyu + Wine at Capital Grille - NORTH HILLS

Last week, my friend Trish and I  enjoyed a long lunch in the lounge at the new Capital Grille in North Hills.  We were there to check out the WAGYU + WINE special that is currently being featured in their lounge. From now until November 20, you can enjoy one of three gourmet burgers of famed Wagyu beef paired with an exceptional glass of red wine from Duckhorn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 or Goldeneye Pinot Noir 2013. This unique pairing is available for only $25 and is such a great deal.

You can choose from three delicious burgers including a Wagyu Cheeseburger with Havarti, Fried Egg and Crisp Onions, a Wild Mushroom Wagyu Cheeseburger with 15-Year Aged Balsamic Caramelized Onion, or a Wagyu Burger with Jarlsberg Cheese and Shallot Mayo. Each one comes with fries. I sampled both reds and they were fabulous and it was hard to make a choice between the two. Both were carefully selected to pair specifically with the burgers. This pairing for $25 is a great deal perfect for lunch or dinner with a friend or date night!

We decided to stay for dessert and selected a delicious Warm Double Chocolate Cake with Port Wine Infused Cherries and Ice Cream and Seasonal Berries with Vanilla Bean Crème Anglais. Both desserts paired nicely with a glass of port and topped off with a perfect temperature cappuccino! Needless to say, I did NOT need dinner! Did I mention we also sampled a STOLI DOLI, The Capital Grille Signature Martini. Stolichnaya Vodka infused with fresh pineapple, chilled and served straight up.

Service was amazing, the lounge is stunning, and we both left full and relaxed, having really enjoyed a rare long and leisurely lunch in North Hills.

For more info, you can click here. Reservations are not required and repeat visits are encouraged. ;-)

Capital Grille Lounge

A delicious seafood Amuse-bouche from the Chef!

We sampled this white wine that was truly AMAZING! (Not included in the W&W offering)

Wagyu Cheeseburger with Havarti, Fried Egg and Crisp Onions

Wild Mushroom Wagyu Cheeseburger with 15-Year Aged Balsamic Caramelized Onion

Seasonal Berries with Vanilla Bean Crème Anglais

Warm Double Chocolate Cake with Port Wine Infused Cherries and Ice Cream

Perfect cappuccino finish

Stoli Doli signature martini

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fresh Tacos, Pink Chips & Incredible Guacamole at Cantina 18

Last week I was lucky to sit down for lunch with some tasty tacos and Chef-proprietor, Jason Smith of 18 Restaurant Group at his Cantina 18 restaurant in Cameron Village Raleigh. Cantina 18 underwent a huge renovation nearly a year ago adding almost 2000 square feet to the original space and a much bigger, naturally lit and modern restaurant with an upstairs bar as well as downstairs and a flexible private event space. Cantina 18 hosts plenty of outdoor seating as well with doors that open out to the patio for enjoying a meal al fresco on nice days.

Chef-proprietor, Jason Smith is passionate about his farm to table Cantina. He relentlessly searches for the freshest seasonal ingredients from North Carolina farms and purveyors for his affordable take on Southern-Tex cuisine. He brought out catfish and shrimp tacos and an amazing shrimp salad with house made cilantro-lime vinaigrette. The seafood is sourced from Pamlico Sound. Local hydroponic lettuce is featured in tacos and salad dishes. Holly Grove Farm goat cheese from Mount Olive NC, adorns tacos and guacamole. All the flavors are fresh, local and delicious!

  1. During the month of October, Cantina 18 is serving up PINK tortilla chips with salsa partnering with Don Pancho Power of Pink, to help raise money for research and prevention of breast cancer during the month of October.
  2. Did you know that Cantina 18 offers a "Taco of the Day" EVERY DAY?! Along with a variety of different tacos on their seasonal menu, you will always have a unique 'taco of the day' featured for lunch and dinner. My favorite taco was the grilled chicken, apples, cranberries, goat cheese taco! Delicious and healthy!
  3. Attention GF fans! Everything other then flour tortillas in the restaurant is Gluten-free!
  4. Every day things like Cilantro-lime dressing and Fair Game Beverage Company Flying Pepper Tobego infused vodka Bloody Mary mix are made in-house daily and served up fresh at the restaurant. Also brunch is served Saturday and Sunday.
  5. I love guacamole. I have to say I was inspired by Chef Jason's take on guacamole with his addition of black beans and goat cheese! Goat cheese guacamole is made fresh to order at Cantina 18 and pairs very nicely with those pink chips!
  6. A glass of delicious and refreshing house made Sangria is on special every Friday for $6.50!

If you haven't been to Cantina 18, October is a great time to visit and enjoy this cooler Fall weather on the patio or at a table near the open doors.  Snack on pink chips and help a great cause.  Dig into some delicious guacamole and tacos and enjoy a guilt-free meal that's healthy and fresh while supporting North Carolina farms and purveyors. What's better then that?

#CVTRENDREPORT: I'm excited to partner with Cameron Village over the next few months to feature some of the great merchants in the Village and highlight some 2016 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! 

433 Daniels Street
Hours: Monday - Sunday: 11:00am - 10:00pm
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday morning 11-2pm