Chapel Hill on my #trianglebucketlist

Triangle Bucket List: a conclusion

Over the years following my study abroad in Australia, several of my international friends visited me. I was thrilled to see them but always struggled with where to take them. After taking them on a tour of my campus, feeding them North Carolina barbecue, and introducing them to my local friends, I was always at a loss for what to show them about my hometown. It’s a fantastic place to grow up, but what here appeals to someone just stopping through?

It took me a few years, but since graduating I’ve really grasped what this place has to offer. The idyllic college campus is only the beginning: the variety of fun, the arts presence, the scope of restaurants and the access to nature only scratch the surface of what makes the Triangle special.

I love my city.

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Getting classic Napoli pizza at IP3!

Italian Pizzeria 3

Do you want really good pizza? As in classic Napoli-style cheesy goodness?

When Logan and I made our final list of the last few Triangle Bucket List places to visit one more time before we move, IP3 hit the top of his list.

Getting classic Napoli pizza at IP3!

Getting classic Napoli pizza at IP3!

Yes, it’s name is Italian Pizzeria 3. I have no idea where Italian Pizzerias 1 and 2 are, but they’re not in Chapel Hill.

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Chowing down on sweet potato fries at my favorite Chapel Hill burger joint: Buns!

Getting off campus with Buns!

Every college needs a place right next door where you can get a good burger and fries. Preferably milkshakes also. For UNC, that’s Buns. It opened my sophomore year and I’ve never gone anywhere else for burgers on Franklin Street!

It’s right off the intersection of Franklin and Columbia, so an easy walk from campus. It’s also open late and quickly became my preferred late night grease-stop as a student.

Chowing down on sweet potato fries at my favorite Chapel Hill burger joint: Buns!

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This way to He's Not Here!

He’s Not Here

This weekend UNC hosted Homecoming!  Our friends Lucy and Ian organized a game day party, it was so great to get together and cheer on the heels with so many people we love. Plus the Heels won, so it felt like the a perfect send off for our leaving!! So in honor of the weekend I want to share another Franklin Street favorite: He’s Not Here!

If you asked a Carolina student to name the bar that most connects with students, odds are they’d pick He’s Not Here.

At first glance, it’s not much: a big outdoor space with picnic tables and corn hole, and a dark grungy inside that only sees students when its raining. A dive, for sure. But it’s our dive, and Carolina students & alums can’t get enough of this place. It’s casual, it’s low key, and that atmosphere makes it endearing.

This way to He's Not Here!

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Shiki sushi for the win!

Addicted to Shiki

Today I’m sharing one of those restaurants that I adore and eat at regularly, yet somehow never got around to sharing with you! It’s the type of place I’m equally likely to go for a nice work lunch or for a date night – any excuse to eat my favorite sushi!

Shiki sushi for the win!

Shiki Sushi is around the corner from Southpoint mall, within 10 minutes of Chapel Hill, and Shiki sushi for the win!only 10 minutes from my house. One of those places that feels close to everything.

It’s also a very popular place. Any given weekend night, you’d better make reservations or be prepared to wait 30+ minutes. It’s worth the wait though!

Everyone has a slightly different take on sushi, but there’s something to fit every taste. If you want the classic flavors, they’ve got it. If you want creative twists, there’s something for you. If you want rolls stuffed to the brim with as much seafood as possible, you’re covered too. Tempura fried roll? Check. Sushi run under the broiler just before serving? Done.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

  • Tokyo Sunrise roll: Start with a classic California roll, but with piles of salmon, crab, and roe. So good. I pretty much ALWAYS pick this one.
  • Fabulous roll: Great subtle fish flavors, topped with a kick of Sriracha!
  • Sumo roll: Not for the faint of heart. It’s tempura fried and a bit of sweet eel sauce. Very rich.
  • Blue Devil roll: Much as it pains me to order something Duke-themed, its a great roll with spicy tuna and a touch of wasabi.
  • Volcano roll: Most unusual of my favorites – it’s  baked! I’m not entirely sure on the exact compilation, but it’s a roll topped with scallops and spicy mayo and served warm. An unusual preparation, and I’m in love with it.

Shiki sushi for the win!

There are a TON of other choices, those are the ones I typically land on. Bonus: grab 3 friends and order the boat! We did that for my birthday and it made my WEEK. So fun.

Shiki sushi for the win!

Forgive the blurriness, there’s only so long you can hold people up from digging into sushi.

They serve other non-sushi dishes, but no one should be surprised that I’ve stuck to sushi. I could eat sushi twice a week and not get tired of it.

all images copyright Teaspoon of Nose

 

 

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

My favorite fall tradition: The State Fair

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

Growing up in the Triangle, the biggest harbinger of fall wasn’t sweaters or Halloween costumes or even the leaves changing. It was the NC State Fair!

I grew up in a household that believed the fair was a MUST every October, and each year I often ended up going more than once with various friend groups. The fair at night is magical and  has a special allure to teenagers eager to spread their wings a bit. Then in college, one of my favorite things every fall was to take friends who’d never been, especially if they’re from up north (or anywhere that things aren’t constantly fried) to watch them experience deep fried twinkies or oreos or bacon – whatever was the new fried thing that year. Yes, the state fair has a new fried thing each year. This year, I think it was jello.

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

This year, Logan and I went during the day for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, mostly because I wanted to see the animals. Yes, I am actually an 8 year old girl still and can’t get over the baby animals. That’s me.

First, food. Surprisingly, my favorite fair food is actually corn on the cob. It’s grilled, drenched in butter, and there’s lots of seasoned salt options. It makes me happy. And I’m that local kid who has a specific corn booth that’s my favorite – the big one near the Village of Yesteryear (yes, that’s a thing. We’ll get to that.) right next to the rabbit exhibit. Best corn at the fair, hands down.

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!Don’t misunderstand me – just corn is not a true fair experience. Over the course of the afternoon, we cobbled together “lunch” at about 5 different booths. Need protein? There’s burgers, BBQ, ham biscuits, turkey legs and lots of other options. Try a weird fried thing, it may surprise you. Our favorite is the bacon-wrapped Reese’s cups, but we ALWAYS have to get a funnel cake. It’s a classic and not to be overlooked. Like all the best things in life, its better when shared.

There’s also fantastic ice cream. N.C. State University always has a booth with a 30 minute line, but it’s that good. Every third booth has soft serve if that’s your thing, and we discovered a new homemade ice cream place with strawberry, so that attracted our spoons this trip.

Backing up a bit, I’m sure you’re wondering about the Village of Yesteryear. It’s such a quintessential thing at the fair, but I get how it’s strange to first time visitors. There’s this corner of the fair, away from the rides and the midway, that’s got semi-permanent buildings. One is an old mill, another details the history of the fair. They used to have a working blacksmith, but I couldn’t find it this time. There’s musical and clogging performances throughout the day – I had a friend who clogged competitively and we always went to see her at the fair. The costumes are AWESOME. It’s also where you can find the petting zoo, handicrafts for sale, and things like that. Definitely worth browsing.

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

The main reason I wanted to go during daylight this year was the animals. There are competitive animal shows, which for some reason I find fascinating (have you ever watched a “best in show” style goat competition? It’s ridiculously cute!) and next door is the Ark, which has the prettiest cows and tiniest piglets you’ve ever seen! Seriously though, these are the best-groomed farm animals I’ve seen in my life.

Side note: it made me laugh to realize that my husband took the bar three months ago in the exact spot that we saw the goat competition. A whole new level of mixed-use facilities, right?

Speaking of animals, my absolute favorite thing at the fair is the pig races. Yes, you read that right. A farmer and his wife set up a mini track where they race pigs, geese and goats for a cheese doodle prize! It’s not to be missed. They do this every two hours or so, so make sure you check it out!

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

There’s so much to do at the fair! I haven’t even touched the rides; there’s something for everyone, from the ferris wheel and kiddie rides to gravity defying contraptions my mom doesn’t want to know I ride. There’s concerts every night in Dorton Arena, usually with a few up-and-coming artists you’ll hear more from in a year or two. There’s also random performances scattered throughout the fairgrounds – one year, I came across a hypnotist show and it was the funniest thing I think I’ve ever seen at the fair.

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

We ran into my college roommate, Taylor and her husband!

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

This year, we discovered a wolf exhibit too! Their “show” is educational, focusing on conservation and their natural behavior in the wild.

A note about parking: there is free parking! You just have to know where to go. Carter-Finley Stadium offers free parking and the walk to the fair isn’t too bad. They had a park-and-ride situation, but we decided we were going to eat enough to merit the extra 100 yards to our car.

My favorite fall tradition is only around 10 days every year, but that makes it all the more special. The state fair wraps up today, but mark your calendars for next October!

Having a ball at the 2016 N.C. State Fair!

What’s your favorite fall tradition? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

Celebrating UNC's powerhouse basketball program at the Carolina Basketball Museum!

The Carolina Basketball Museum

In honor of UNC basketball season kicking off tonight, I wanted to share one of Chapel Hill’s hidden gems – the Carolina Basketball Museum!

Celebrating UNC's powerhouse basketball program at the Carolina Basketball Museum!

I say hidden only because I’ve grown up as a Tar Heel fan and lived near the campus my whole life, but I’d never been! So we decided we had to check it out before we moved.

Celebrating UNC's powerhouse basketball program at the Carolina Basketball Museum!

My first impression was that it had way more paraphernalia than I was expecting.  Game balls, rings, uniforms, and even ticket stubs in addition to press clippings and medals.

You first walk in to a trophy room. They’re bigger than I expected, and it’s cool to see the ways the design changed over the years. They’ve also got rings from each championship – they’ve definitely gotten more blinged out recently.

Celebrating UNC's powerhouse basketball program at the Carolina Basketball Museum!

The main room has a floor painted like the court, and stations throughout highlighting major players, coaches, positions, or some other aspect of the game. My favorite display was the one showing all the buzzer beaters on a loop.

Some of the stuff in there made me laugh, like the letter from Coach K responding to Michael Jordan after he made his decision not to attend Duke. The envelope had even been saved!

Celebrating UNC's powerhouse basketball program at the Carolina Basketball Museum!

Celebrating UNC's powerhouse basketball program at the Carolina Basketball Museum!

Seeing the size of players’ shoes was almost unbelievable. The photos don’t do it justice. Eric Montross’ shoes were at least double the size of mine, seriously!

One of the great things about UNC basketball is that there’s such a tradition of excellence. I know, those of you who aren’t UNC fans are probably rolling your eyes, but you can’t argue with 5 national championships spread over 60 years.

As someone who’s grown up on UNC basketball, it was so much fun to see uniforms from players there in my college days as well as names I grew up hearing as Woody Durham commentated. I spent countless winter evenings as a high schooler working the concession stand at the Dean Dome, and have fond memories of rushing Franklin Street as a student celebrating the 2009 National Championship.

If you follow college basketball, it’s worth checking out. If you’re a Carolina fan, you have no excuse. The hours are a bit weird (weekdays and Saturday mornings), but I think they open it before home games too, so build in some time next time you’re in town!

Celebrating UNC's powerhouse basketball program at the Carolina Basketball Museum!

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents if you book or buy something via that link. Feel free to use or not use! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

 

Coffeeshop sipping, European dreaming.

The best iced mochas at Joe Van Gogh

Coffee sipping just outside Duke's campus!In my efforts to hang out with my bar-studying husband this summer, our sweet spot ended up being the “go somewhere to study” date. But the sweltering mess that is North Carolina in July means there’s only so much outdoor studying one can handle, particularly on Saturday afternoons.

SO, the coffeeshop scene it is! We took advantage of the fact that Duke students are mostly gone for the summer and headed to Joe Van Gogh. It’s right off campus and shares a parking lot with Watts Grocery (free parking! yay!).

They’re known for their coffee. Shocker, I know. But they sell their beans as well as coffee drinks, and I’ve had several friends recommend them as the sweet spot of taste and price when I lament how quickly our house runs through coffee.

Confession: I heart espresso drinks. If I could have a mocha or latte or something with espresso every single day, I would. Its just… good. Smooth. Rich. Logan is the same way: I will likely get in an espresso machine someday, because he loves the complexity and attention to detail making good espresso requires. And that way he can make me fancy drinks.

Coffee sipping just outside Duke's campus!

So with that in mind, you won’t be surprised that we both went for iced mochas. Nothing too fancy, no additional syrups or twists or frufru.Coffee sipping just outside Duke's campus!

But y’all, this was possibly the best iced mocha I HAVE EVER HAD.

I love them. I love them with whipped cream
and chocolate shavings. But this one, with just the basics, was so well done that it beat the ones with all the extras on tops.

I think it was so good because it wasn’t very sweet. Lots of cream and plenty of chocolate, but not sweet. Just that creamy-chocolate-coffee dreaminess.

If I had an unlimited budget (and calories weren’t a thing), I would drink one of these puppies every day. It was that good.

Coffeeshop sipping, European dreaming.

So the coffee really is worth it alone. I also liked the vibe: relaxed, a little quirky, but also the type of place you can pop some headphones in a get work done. It’s bright and happy with a wall of windows and art everywhere. You can also get popsicles – don’t you love it when popsicles are a thing in a coffeeshop? – or play with the plastic animals by the cash register. To be honest I don’t know what the story was there, should’ve asked. Plus there’s the coffee beans for sale right by the door, smelling amazing every time you walk by.

Coffee sipping just outside Duke's campus!I love it when coffeeshops are small enough to feel intimate but not so small that there’s never any seating. Joe Van Gogh has tables and chairs for maybe 20 or so – enough to be comfortable, but I could see how students fill tables fast during finals.

Logan and snagged a spot where he could spread his papers. I took advantage of the time to plan our Europe trip and book some airbnbs (updates soon, I promise!), and together we spent a few hours escaping the hot summer sun with some cool drinks.

My take: best iced mocha I’ve had. Definitely worth a visit!

Opinions are my own and I didn’t receive compensation for my writing. The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

On Fire at Pompieri Pizza

Pompieri05When my little brother visits, the family always eat at one of two places.

Bull City Burger & Brewery, because you can’t beat its namesakes. Top 2 burgers in Durham (tied for me with Burger Bach), and one of my favorite breweries in a city full of amazing local beer. So Ben ALWAYS makes it over there, usually with the whole family.

The second place we nearly always go with him is Pompieri Pizza. Ironically, it’s owned by the same people as BCBB. Clearly they have a good thing going according to the Clarks.

So when my brother planned a quick work visit to NC, he squeezed in a dinner with us at Pompieri!

On fire at Pompieri Pizza!

On fire at Pompieri Pizza!First off, the locale. Its in an old fire station, and they kept enough of the bones of the
structure to see it. Not to mention that pompieri means firefighters in Italian. The menu keeps it simple: 9 or 10 regular pizzas, two daily specials, and of course the build-your-own option. They also offer salads, appetizers, and just started including sandwiches, but I’m pretty committed to this whole pizza deal here. It’s Neapolitan, complete with that perfect chewy-but-thin crust and sauced just right.

I love to try new things, so I mostly get whatever the daily special turns out to be. And y’all, I have never not loved it. This most recent trip it had cabbage on it, which isn’t a favorite veggie of mine, but on this pizza it was great! A contrasting crunch and with just a tiny bit of sweetness. Plus, how can you resist a pizza with a meat called “porkbasa?” That and parmesan with red sauce and I’m all in. My brother picked the veggie special, which included squash and tomato chunks and felt very summery.

On fire at Pompieri Pizza!

I know this is silly, but one of my favorite parts of going to Pompieri would be the scissors. Every pizza comes out of the kitchen with scissors for cutting slices. Novelty way to slice + the freedom to pick your slice size = win. Plus, there’s no excuse to not share bites now.

On fire at Pompieri Pizza!

[clockwise from top left] veggie special, margarita, daily special, and drunken horse

When I do order off the menu, my favorite is the Drunken Horse. The sausage has some kick to it, balanced perfectly with the rich sauce and creamy mozzarella. It’s my favorite of their regulars! With a cold beer, it’s perfection.

Pompieri07

Speaking of beer, they offer their sister store’s beer on tap! Naturally, I’m all about the local stuff – and there’s so much to choose from in Durham – and one of my favorites at BCBB is their Golden Ale. I like having a lighter beer with pizza – I’ll save the stouts and porters for after dinner.

Another bonus about Pompieri: they do a ton of stuff related to sustainability. Their herbs are grown in-house in an aquaponics setup (read: fish are involved), and they source a bunch of their ingredients locally. I love places that commit to caring for the community immediately around them!

On fire at Pompieri Pizza!

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

A little bit of everything at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo

We stayed in town this past weekend. We had only just returned from our big Europe trip, and were loving sleeping in our own bed a little too much to venture too far just yet. Plus, the jet lag meant we still had trouble stringing full sentences together. (Does jet lag affect anyone else this way? Even if I’m awake, I can’t seem to speak properly. It’s an issue.)

Anyway, two things made this the best possible decision.

  1. my best friend and her husband came into town!!
  2. Durham had a food truck rodeo!!!

[All the exclamation points!!]

Can you ask for a better Labor Day? I think not.

A perfect day at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo!!

foodtruckrodeob-1

These food truck rodeos happen a 4-5 times a year, but I find myself out of town most of the time. So when I do manage to be local, I convince whomever is nearby to come with me!!

A perfect day at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo!!With Armando and Laura in tow, we headed over to Durham’s Central Park where 50 food trucks gathered. The first truck we saw, Cousin’s Maine Lobster, elicited a cry of joy from Armando immediately. He filled us in that they got their start on Shark Tank. Which is pretty impressive, if you think about the novelty factor required to gain traction on that show.
We saw several of our favorites – Chirba Chirba, Only Burger, Pie Pushers, Local Yogurt. It’s so much fun to see some of these places grow into opening brick and mortar places too – while there, I heard that American Meltdown had opened up in Southpoint Mall‘s food court! I will definitely be eating there next time I’m at the mall.

First we did a lap, assessing all the options. A perfect day at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo!!Some of my favorite names had to be the Wandering Moose and Heavenly Smoke. A clever name should be required to open a food truck.

Logan and I have a strategy for food trucks: we share, and try to only get one thing from each truck we visit. So we get to try several of them (balancing our go-to’s with new tastes) in one day, embracing the rodeo as much as humanly possible. We started out pretty hungry, so for our first “course” we wanted something filling. We tried The Humble Pig‘s pork BBQ sandwich and it didn’t disappoint!! An enormous brioche bun filled with a meal-sized amount of BBQ, topped with a healthy amount of sweet and spicy tomato-based  sauce!

A perfect day at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo!!

Meanwhile, Laura and Armando found a Cubanos truck getting some good-looking empanadas and seriously, some of the best yucca fries I’d ever tasted.

One of the things I love most about Durham is the local beer scene, and several great local places made an appearance! We opted for Ponysaurus this time, trying a fig saison which sounded like a perfect labor day drink: summery, with just a hint of fall sneaking in.

A perfect day at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo!!

With beer and our first round of food, we found an open patch of grass and listened to the band, a bluegrass-y group with a fun range of styles. The sunny but not-too-hot weather made the perfect setting for catching up!

A perfect day at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo!!The joy of a food truck rodeo is that when you get too hot sitting in the sun, you just go find another round of treats. For part two, Logan went for dumplings while I moved on to some dessert crepes from Parlez-Vous Crepe, another consistent favorite.

Like most outdoor gatherings, the rodeo is ripe for people watching. We played with babies, petted dogs, overheard hilarious out-of-context conversations, and even caught a few people dancing.

If you ever get the chance, I would definitely encourage you to go. Durham food truck rodeos have food for any palette and fun for any age. Last one for 2016 should happen in late October – when the date is set, it’ll likely show up here.

A perfect day at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo!!

See you there!!

Opinions are my own and I didn’t receive compensation for my writing. The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.