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Where to Buy Turkish Ingredients in CH/Durham?

Locally, I recommend Al Baraka.

While not local, I continue to shop at and highly recommend Kalustyan's. Their web site seems to be down otherwise I would link.

Sep 03, 2014
dbird in Southeast

New chefs at One (Chapel Hill)

Interesting. I was there for first time a few weeks ago with some one who likes to say he could eat a tv dinner every day of the week, but nevertheless volunteered that the pomegranate seeds overpowered the pickled persimmon in one dish, and declined to finish his scallops in another citing 'sand'. (That said, I swallowed the last bivalve and found it clean. Lucky? Perhaps. More indulgent? Not a chance.).

The tilefish I ordered was not well served by its presentation (oh, a rectangle. Got it.). I first had tile as a quenelle some 30 years ago and it's lovely soft and poached that way; North Carolina has amazing tile fish and since I've settled here I've learned its more robust charms grilled, pan fried, and otherwise on centre stage.

One's presentation tiptoed between the poles and across the 'tiles' of squash cooked to the same texture, which came across as flabby, not to say patronising.

And did nothing to showcase the fish or make it more delicious.

Practically and conceptually, it would have been as simple and more visually and texturally interesting to fry up a half moon of skin from both fish and veg as a boat to convey the succulent innards (perhaps as internal 'scales'?)

Just a thought.

Sweetbreads were beautifully CLEAN. I have been surprised to discover how infrequently bistro standards appear on bistro-assertive menus in the Durham-Chapel Hill region, and how poorly they perform in certain categories (e.g., sweetbreads, steak tartare, frisee aux lardons, rais aux beurre noir) when they do. 'One' clearly understands the basics in the kitchen and how sweetbreads must be soaked and cleaned. Maybe they have a better source for veal or lamb than I have been able to discover, as well. Likely.

I'm not a fan of the unexpected sweet-and-sour preparation of but would not hesitate to order ris de veau in future.

I would agree that One's kitchen is already ONE of the best in the area, but One has more to work on to overcome the region's most chronic, significant problem: service. In this case, the servers offering bread, refilling water and otherwise attending were impeccable. Many were young and obviously new to the business and it was lovely to interact. It was jarring to be addressed repeatedly by those who seemed in charge, however:

'How are we enjoying this?'

'Are we still working or can I remove your plate?'

That's just bizarre, and I can't imagine it's part of the training.

So, I am thinking that perhaps One has hired smart people with good records in other parts of the industry, and just needs to work a bit on polishing their presentation skills?

For now, and based on my limited experience in the region over the past 5 years, I continue to accord Lantern my personal first place overall. Nowhere else-- including One, so far-- comes close in terms of assurance, consistency and polish delivering on well-timed, well-pitched, and well-sourced invitation and promise-- seamlessly from kitchen, bar, and floor.

Nov 24, 2013
dbird in Southeast

low sodium meal delivery in Baltimore?

Came across this thread as I was searching for options for delivery of vegetarian meals to Catonsville (?). Is Vicki still in catering? Any other recommendations?

Thank you.

Cherimoya in Chapel Hill/Durham

my favorite. That said, I have found it a couple times in local markets and it was never right.

Aug 02, 2013
dbird in Southeast

Turkish Pistaschio Nuts

Al Baraka has them sometimes. Otherwise you can purchase from Kalustyan's. Anteps have become scarcer and more expensive over the past few years. Not surprising.

Jul 03, 2013
dbird in Southeast

is it possible to can crisp half sour pickles that don't require immediate refrigeration?

Would appreciate technique, if so.

Jun 28, 2013
dbird in Home Cooking

Closed: Korean grocery in Durham

Shilla is a good alternative, but they carry different items including different banchans. I'm still sorry the other grocery closed. Gochujang does not contain wheat btw.

Jun 22, 2013
dbird in Southeast

Seeking Korean Makgeolli in the Triangle

it is made from fermented rice (not wheat). It's all over LA now and here and there in NY. You might check in with Rick at Sakaya (sakayanyc). It's not exactly his line but he is an excellent source for soju (as well as sake of course) and may be able to point you in the right direction.

Or, you could brew your own. It's really a home brew type drink, made from rice whey? Used to buy it from the farm....

Jun 10, 2013
dbird in Southeast

Closed: Korean grocery in Durham

Last week, I drove up to the Korean grocery I had too recently discovered on the service road off the Durham-Chapel Hill freeway only to find it closed. Permanently.

Does anyone know what happened? Are the owners relocating? Will they be offering their kimbap, kimchi and misc occasional banchan elsewhere? They also carried certain mixed rice that I came to rely on.

I had no idea they were closing. This is a loss.

Jun 09, 2013
dbird in Southeast

Seafood and/or Cajun themed Food Truck a good idea in Raleigh area?

I'd love to see a fish oriented truck but the New Orleans thing was played out in the early 1980s, and while I'd love to see some one offering top notch lobster rolls (nothing like that in the area. Maybe a branch of Luke's?) I would be put off by a menu as eclectic as the one you suggest (lobster rolls to tacos to gumbo? can you really do all of these well?) A partnership with a local fish purveyor (eg Core Sound, Locals) or other guarantee of fresh and sustainable would help establish your credibility, and is what I would look for.

Jun 05, 2013
dbird in Southeast

Mateo, Durham, NC

Mateo has improved for me with each visit. That said, I must agree that I've learned what to avoid (and unfortunately they don't know the first thing about sweetbreads, ie, how to clean them!), and also have had greater success at lunch.

May 10, 2013
dbird in Southeast

knife sharpening [NC- Triangle]

Following up to say that I did take a knife to Southern Season and was pleased with the result. They told me they use a service called Pro Chef.

Jan 19, 2013
dbird in Southeast

knife sharpening [NC- Triangle]

Yes, sorry, I did mean Kitchenworks. I've used them twice for 2 different knives and afraid my experience wasn't as positive as others'. One of the blades was visibly bent when it was returned (not to say that they bent it, but that they didn't fix it). Maybe I'll try Southern Season.

Dec 12, 2012
dbird in Southeast

knife sharpening [NC- Triangle]

Looking for recommendations, preferably iin Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh area. I use a diamond and steel on regular basis but my knives are still dull. I've been disappointed in results from a recommended shop in a Chapel Hill shopping centre. Appreciate suggestions.

Dec 07, 2012
dbird in Southeast

Former Head of AN in Cary Opens New Restaurant in Chapel Hill

hugely disappointing. Some one in this thread already issued a warning re tuna tartare. I hadn't seen it on a menu anywhere in years and ordered out of nostalgia. They clearly threw it in a food processor. It was stringy and disgusting. Service was appalling, even by local standards. Arriving as a single woman in advance of my party I was ignored by host who seated later-arriving parties before me and worse. Waiter had no knowledge of the menu and no sense to offer to find out. I could go on but prefer to... go on.

Oct 17, 2012
dbird in Southeast

saran wrap and corked wine

Any updates on this method? I opened a 2001 Anne Gros Burgundy that I've carted back and forth from east and west coasts for the past decade and perhaps not surprisingly given history, it was badly corked. Just poured it into a decanter with a wad of Glad brand plastic wrap (it's what I have, and not sure if it was concluded that the trick was effective tout court, and that Saran brand wrap was essential or superior, if so. Appreciate advice, as it's not the only bottle that has endured the journeys.

Aug 07, 2012
dbird in Wine

Lantern, Chapel Hill

Couldn't agree more about the fried fish. Also very tired of the pickled carrot/jasmine rice thing. To DRC: are you talking about Slanted Door move from Valencia or has it moved from Ferry Bdg? I started at Valencia but have been going to Ferry Building since it moved-- early 2000? and it's just as good, but I admit I usually ate at the bar when I was known! I have NOT been in the past couple years and hadn't heard that it had relocated.

Aug 03, 2012
dbird in Southeast

Padron peppers in the Triangle

padrons and shishitos are in season and available from multiple vendors at Durham and Carrboro farmers' markets.

Aug 03, 2012
dbird in Southeast

Duck breats in Chapel Hill, Carrboro or even Durham?

Spain Farm has them just about every Saturday at the Durham Farmers' Market. As some one else mentioned, Fickle Creek has started duck and had fresh this past Saturday.

May 08, 2012
dbird in Southeast

Favorite soup in Durham or Chapel Hill, NC?

Agree with recommendation for Neal's chicken noodle and would add that their daily special (which I think is generally vegan) is also invariably excellent. Toast soups make a good start but would be significantly improved by a lighter hand with salt and cheese. They are often more like sauces than soups. I sometimes take them home an heat up with additional broth or water. Guglhupf often makes a decent soup, as does Scratch. Very disappointed with all Chinese restaurant soups (and Chinese food in general) in this region. I had an excellent soup at Pomegranate Kitchen on my recent first visit. Foster's soups are leaden, consistent with their other offerings. Front Street Cafe does avgolemono which I long for, but I suspect them of cornstarch, or cream, or both. The place is just a little too strange for me as is Spartacus which I also discovered in search of avgolemono-- if soup was really good at either place I would not even comment on the weird environment or service. Cinelli's in Durham used to do a very nice stracchiatella but the last couple times I had it (over 6 months ago) I did not detect any chicken in the broth, just salt and water. I LOVE soup and might add that a good soup begins with and exhibits a highly extracted stock. I would truly love to find a real, regular source of consommé (other than my kitchen).

Apr 09, 2012
dbird in Southeast

Recs for Albemarle/Norwood NC area.

concur. Off the Square is passable which is best you can get (my experience is limited, to be sure). Assume your visitors are coming to The Fork. Nothing I mean nothing to eat in the area.Why would you even mention Thai in NC?

Mar 19, 2012
dbird in Southeast

195 in Pinehurst

Thanks for your counsel. I believe I tried Elliott's before based on their aspirational web site.

Mar 02, 2012
dbird in Southeast

195 in Pinehurst

I've been to the area about 3 times in as many years, and have enjoyed 195 twice, and on the other occasion still preferred to other local options. Will be making a return trip soon but something about the web site says 'transition'. Maybe I just overlooked this before but it occurs to me to ask if anyone has news or recent experience to report. Many thanks.

Feb 28, 2012
dbird in Southeast

Need 2 restaurant picks (Lantern, Glasshalfull, etc.) in the UNC/Chapel Hill area!

Lantern and Nana's. Or you could do Lantern twice.

Nov 11, 2011
dbird in Southeast

Nanataco in Durham open

I guess I'm looking forward to trying, but I can't fathom why Nana's hit on a taco restaurant as a concept. I like Nana's. But I don't get the slavish (dare I say kitsch) dedication to the taco and the burger in this region. Ditto food trucks. I'm bracing myself for a wave of ssam bars.

Sep 12, 2011
dbird in Southeast

Herons, Cary, NC - New chef Scott Crawford introducing $20 3-course prix fixe lunches

Lunch today was neither prix fixe nor terribly promising. Far too many staff tripping over one another and guests, hovering; reciting a menu and adhering to a script rather than engaging out of a more complex and deep understanding, appreciation of food, wine and service that are the basic but unexceptional hallmarks of a good restaurant. The server introduced himself by name and volunteered his recommendations about what to order the better to 'fill [us] up' and countless others stopped by to check on this or that, but my dropped napkin went unnoticed and unaddressed throughout the meal. The overall impression is one of a restaurant too deeply in awe of itself and its patrons (and perhaps too wedded to a business formula?) to be able to comprehend and serve either effectively. One wonders what family meal looks like here. On two occasions in the past 6 months I've had 'tuna tartare' (actually poke) that tasted of refrigerator. Today I tried the 'southport salad' and the snapper was very well prepared but in need of salt which was undistinguished, and the vegetables pretty but inedible-- pickled and al dente to the point of participating exclusively in the attractive presentation of the dish.

Tea is served in a sachet and coffee is suburban gourmet.

Overall it's just a weird place without a functional ethos to unify sourcing, preparation, service etc in a coherent identity. Or maybe I am just so far outside of their target audience that I cannot perceive it. In any event it's a pity as we need decent places for business lunches (not a one on in Durham or between Durham and Cary) and overall for good chefs and restaurants to help raise the bar.

Heron's lapses are the more egregious for its evidently lofty aspirations coupled with resources to support them.

Jun 24, 2009
dbird in General South Archive

Green Leaf Indian Cuisine-- Durham, NC

do you know anything about how they source their products (eg, free range chicken, local veg)?

Apr 09, 2009
dbird in Southeast

Driving from Norfolk to Edenton on I-17

I need to find a good place for a long lunch this weekend between Virginia Beach & the Triangle. Are Edenton & Elizabeth City my best bets? Chero's gets high marks but it sounds pretty pedestrian to me. Fresh local fish and decent wine would be ideal. Also would be very interested in learning about the seasonal places mentioned above (esp if they are in season now).

Apr 09, 2009
dbird in General South Archive

A week in Manhattan - please help us make the most of it

Pearl and John Dory are somewhat surprising omissions from your list.

You don't mention Japanese and perhaps get to LA often enough to mitigate the need in NYC. Nevertheless if this does matter at all to you, I recommend you consider securing a lunch time reservation with Yasuda-san at Sushi Yasuda.

To me, your list seems pretty one-dimensional, but perhaps it is just very focussed on what you care about.

Mar 17, 2009
dbird in Manhattan

looking for quality oysters, raw bar, seafood restaurants in the Triangle

So, Revolution doesn't actually have a raw bar & they're all thrilled to announce that they have blue points (oh dear) but they're not bad for the area. They have added a fine steak tartare to the menu. That said, I was back in NYC last weekend for the long awaited John Dory and it was great-- not so much for oysters but the uni toast with oyster pan roast (skip the oyster pan roast) was super; and the new menu at Momufuku (noodle bar) includes more raw bar items including a great Taylor bay scallop and a Rhode Island oyster that I can't now recall. But I digress.

Jan 19, 2009
dbird in General South Archive