Wednesday, December 6, 2017

#LocalWanderer for Raleigh! My Alaska Airlines Instagram Takeover

This past week, I got a very exciting opportunity to partner with Alaska Airlines to be one of their Local Wanderers and to show off a little of our wonderful city of Raleigh. I got to highlight some of my favorite parts of Raleigh on their Instagram account as well as featuring some photos on my RaleighWhatsUp Instagram account as well.  I also got to be featured on Alaska Airline's website on their blog, feel free to jump over there and have a read!

I am happy to help them spread the word that Alaska Airlines offers several direct flights to many amazing destinations out of RDU airport. We flew Alaska Airlines last year to Seattle with our family and friends and it was a fantastic experience from start to finish. They fly to some great destinations out of RDU like Hawaii, Mexico City, Seattle, Canada and more.

I wanted to do a little recap of some of the places I chose to spotlight over my Instagram takeover/Local Wanderer experience.

Brewery Bhavana is a must visit in downtown Raleigh!  They recently received the honor of being one of  Bon Appetit Magazine’s 10 best new restaurants in America!

When we made our first visit here we knew something amazing was happening in Raleigh.  Not just an outstanding brewery with an incredible array of beers to choose from, Bhavana is also a bookstore, flower shop, dim sum restaurant, and an amazing place to gather with friends.  The space pleases all your senses from the aroma of freshly cut flowers, to a curated bookstore, a library to peruse, beer to taste + delicious dim sum dining. The space is bright and airy, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and professional.  Every detail is intentional and has meaning and purpose. This is a one of a kind place to visit again and again and Raleigh is lucky to call Brewery Bhavana their own. 

I recommend trying a beer even if you aren’t a beer drinker (Yield - Luscious Little Session IPA 4.5% is my personal favorite). The food is delicious, comforting and thoughtful.  The menu is ideal for sharing. Raleigh has a strong sense of community and you really feel it here.  Truly a unique experience, definitely put Brewery Bhavana on your Raleigh list of things not to miss!

A few additional places that I love to visit in downtown Raleigh for dining out:
St. Roch, Bida Manda, Trophy Brewing Pizza, Garland, Beasley’s Chicken, Virgil’s Tacos, Stanbury, Gonza Tacos y Tequila, Fiction Kitchen, Death & Taxes and Crawford & Son.

Looking for cocktails in Raleigh?  One of our favorite spots is located in a former garage in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Whiskey Kitchen has well over 200 whiskeys stocking the bar shelves, along with plenty of other options!  It’s definitely the spot for a proper drink.  Next door to Nash Square Park and bordering the warehouse district, there are plenty of fabulous southern kitchen dining options as well as outside patio seating or classy casual drinking + dining inside. 

Additional cocktail spots: Foundation, Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria, Bittersweet, The Haymaker, William & Company, Fox’s Liquor Bar, Watts & Ward and Person Street Bar.

Lots of great local coffee flowing in Raleigh.  One of my favorite coffee shops is Sola Coffee Cafe.  Located in North Raleigh about 15 minutes from RDU airport, Sola Coffee serves up plenty of great food and drink options for breakfast, lunch and dinner AND they are some of the nicest people I know!  Grab a few hot mini donuts with your coffee and snap a selfie in front of their ‘I Believe In Raleigh’ mural outside!

Additional coffee cafes:  BREW, Jubala, Morning Times, Cup a Joe, Liquid State, Yellow Dog Bread Co., 42 and Lawrence, Sir Walter Coffee and the brand new Hummingbird.

North Carolina is famous for its top notch breweries throughout the state.  Some of my favorite NC breweries in Raleigh include Trophy Brewing, Brewery Bhavana, Neuse River Brewing, Crank Arm Brewing, Lynnwood Brewing Concern, Big Boss, and Bond Brothers.  Stop by for a quick beer at Lonerider Brewing Company just minutes from RDU airport!


NC Museum of Art is one of my favorite places to explore in Raleigh!  The NCMA is a premier destination museum with stunning permanent and temporary exhibits.  The museum is home to a Rodin exhibit featuring 30 sculptures in the gallery and garden.  It is the most extensive Rodin collection between Philadelphia and the West Coast.  The museum also hosts a wonderful outdoor park with works of art all along the walking/bike paths.  Great way to spend an afternoon in Raleigh!

NOTE: They are currently featuring an amazing exhibit called Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair - I have a recent post on that for more info.

Another great Raleigh museum to visit is the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) located in the warehouse district in downtown Raleigh.  CAM seeks to curate the most contemporary works of art and design possible and they are very community-focused.  The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is the state’s most visited museum and you can’t miss it with the giant planet earth globe outside.  It’s a fantastic place for the family with four floors of exciting exhibits.  Be sure to visit the dinosaurs at the top! 

Raleigh is extremely fortunate to have a state park directly within our city limits.  Umstead State Park is perfect for so many outdoor activities such as biking, camping, hiking, picnicking and more.  Newly acquired by the City of Raleigh, Dorothea Dix Park is a 308 acre park that is sure to become our ‘Central Park’ and is currently open to the public daily from dawn to dusk.  Pullen Park on the NC State college campus, has tons of fun rides for the kiddies, including a train and a classic wood carousel built in 1900 and is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.  Raleigh also hosts an amazing greenway spanning over 112 miles and 3800 acres for running and biking throughout the city and beyond.

I hope you will find these recommendations helpful and come visit the City of Oaks soon!

Sola Coffee Cafe

Brewery Bhavana beer

Bhavana Flower Shop

In-House Library at Brewery Bhavana

Bhavana Bar

Rodin Garden at NCMA


Whiskey Kitchen

Friday, November 24, 2017

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair - See it this weekend at NCMA

Looking to get out and about this weekend? Company in town? I recommend checking out the newest exhibition at the NCMA - Inspiring Beauty: 50 years of Ebony Fashion Fair. This awesome and stunning exhibit covers 50 years of glamour and transformative Ebony magazine fashion history with 40 stunning haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion ensembles by Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, and many more. Learn the amazing and important story of Eunice Johnson, the creator of the Ebony Fashion Fair and how she changed the fashion world with her charity Fashion Fair and redefined concepts of beauty and style and empowerment for African Americans.

Here's the NCMA's holiday weekend hours and events around the exhibit:

Friday, November 24
  • The Museum is open from 10 am to 9 pm.
  • Museum Store Sunday all weekend long, starting Friday.
  • Iris after Dark starts at 5:30 pm.
Saturday and Sunday, November 25, 26
  • The Museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm.
  • Free guided tours of the Museum campus and permanent collection are offered.

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 entrĂ©es 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!