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  1. Location and Rates - Website Prologue - Part One Well, I beat the traffic (barely), and I beat the storm (by a full day); now, I just needed to get well out of range, and find a decent place to stay. As I was driving South, I knew I'd be gone for at least several days, and decided to take advantage of the DC Snowstorm by making a themed vacation out of it. A couple months ago, I needed to go to New York, and decided to make that trip "the 2015 James Beard Semifinalists in New Jersey," hitting three of the four (Elements, The Flaky Tart, and Zeppoli); now, I'd do the same thing with "the 2015 James Beard Semifinalists in North Carolina," at least as well as I could under the circumstances: Given the track of the storm, I headed east, already knowing that on Friday evening, I'd be having dinner in Kinston. Washington, DC to Kinston, NC is 293 miles - not brutal by any means, but considering I'd left mid-afternoon, I got in late, and was glad I had some provisions in the car. I got a two-night reservation at the Hampton by Hilton in Kinston which really didn't look like very much: but it had strong reviews online, and turned out to be the nicest hotel I'd stay in for the duration of my trip - which also turned out to be longer than I thought it would. I guess I checked in around 8:30 (after a quick stop at Smoke & Brew ), fairly tired, and glad to have a warm, dry bed to sleep in. I'd gotten a special rate (*) of $89 a night, and these days, any decent hotel you can find under $100 seems downright cheap. Forget the outside of the hotel which is generic and bordering on ugly; this place was pretty nice inside, with an ingratiating front desk staff, clean rooms, a good mattress, a decent bathroom, small exercise room, and linens you have no problem sleeping in. Not only did I stay at the Hampton Inn, Kinston for two nights, I extended my reservation for a third. On a five-star scale, this is a three-star hotel, but it's a *solid* three-star hotel, with no outstanding weaknesses. As with all Hilton properties that I've stayed in of late, there's round-the-clock coffee, and it's not at all bad - I've mastered the trick of carrying three cups *and* pushing the elevator button; it's when you get to your room, and have to set them down on the ground where it gets a little tricky. Most Hampton Inns are individually owned franchises, it needs to be added, so even though there's some "Hilton consistency," there will still be variation from hotel-to-hotel - this place is one of the good ones. Boy oh boy did it rain the next day, but I knew that what I was seeing as rain, was something a lot flakier than that 293 miles to the north - I was *so happy* to be here, and I was even happier when I went to dinner the following evening - this hotel is just a few minutes away from Chef & the Farmer. Also nearby is the CSS Neuse Memorial. (*) Hey look, I'm not implying anything, but those of you over 50 are eligible for AARP at only $16 a year. I would *never*, of course, admit that I'm getting older by joining such an organization (cough, cough), but I'm just saying that you can get a consistent 10% off the lowest-available rates if you do join, and if you spend just two nights a year in hotels, the membership fee more than pays for itself. And this hotel felt like a steal at $89.
  2. I know that many people travel to the beach each year, but most of the time people cook their food at home & hit up a grocery store on the way in to town. Since my family gets lazy sometimes, we are bound to eat out a few times a week while there. But, I noticed the area seems a bit desolate in terms of food options. Does anyone have recommendations? I've found one place we would actually go back to this year (besides places for snacks like donuts). I won't elaborate much since I wrote these places up w/ their own reviews already on yelp. Good: Food Dudes - atmosphere is friendly, food is spot on. Can get crowded. Duck Donuts - get 'em fresh Try My Nuts - just a nice snack place to get different varieties of nuts, popcorns, fudge, candy Ok: Shun Xing - it's cheap and pretty good, though quality has gone down recently Bad: Mama Kwan's Tale of the Whale - we used to go here every year as tradition. Not only has it gotten more expensive, but the quality of food has gone waaaay down. Multiple send backs at the table for inedibility Thanks for any help! -Nicole (p.s. it's a family trip so places with tons of drinking or margarita bars won't work, sadly)
  3. For Labor Day weekend, we're going to drive down the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, NC. Has anyone been, and can suggest anything? The egullet threads were a bit old. Nothing too fancy-- unless it's a must-go. (On the way down, we're stopping in Roanoke for the night, and on the way back, stopping in Charlottesville for dinner. If anyone has recommendations for either of those places, that's appreciated too, but we've already got a few places for C-ville, and Roanoke is really just a pit stop.) Thanks!
  4. Sometimes, when I'm watching a basketball game, I get bored, and decide to focus on a single player - not looking at the ball; just that one, single player ... it sounds wacky, but I get quite a bit out of it, and learn a whole lot about how that player operates. In the past few minutes, it has been #5 for the Portland Trail Blazers, Rodney Hood, who has also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Utah Jazz - in college, he played for Duke after transferring from Mississippi State. My initial impression of Hood is that he's very big (he's 6'8"), and also a step too slow for playing so far out of the paint - he has gotten burned a couple of times based on his lack of quickness, and I wonder if he'd have done better in the NBA of 20-years ago. Anyone who thinks this is a crazy way to watch a basketball game should try it, even if only for ten minutes - you can really get a feel for what a player is doing, and how he plays. I "know" Rodney Hood's game a lot better now than I did just 20-minutes ago. With 5:23 left in the 3rd quarter, he's covering Stephen Curry. He just drove strong to the hoop, and missed a dunk, but was fouled hard by Draymond Green - Hood is a lefty, and sank both free throws - he now has 9 points coming off the bench.
  5. This kid is smart. "The Nation's Top Running Back Is Changing Positions. 'Smart Guy,' Says Adrian Peterson" by Adam Kilgore on washingtonpost.com "Blue Chip Road Trip: 1-on-1 with 5-Star Quavaris Crouch" by Robert MacRae on theclemsoninsider.com (Note: Crouch is uncommitted at this point. This is yet another future-famous person without a Wikipedia entry.)
  6. Does anyone have any dining recommendations in or around Charlotte, NC? My parents are moving there next month, and I'd like to recommend some places for them (as well as come up with some places to try when I visit!) Thanks.
  7. It wasn't worth starting a new thread for Burnsville, NC, which is about 30 miles from Asheville, the county seat for Yancey County. There are not a whole lot of options, but if you happen to be there, Rio is passable Mexican food -- except the chips are meh, from a bag -- and choose Bubba's Good Eats (go for anything pig, plus excellent pork rinds) over Pig & Grits (no smoke in the pulled pork and mushy, so probably braised or sous vide). Garden Deli on the town square has serviceable food, not high end, but potato wedges are fried crispy & not greasy, and the portions are generous for the price, friendly service, kid friendly. Since the last time I was there, Yancey Co. now allows alcoholic beverages, so there's beer & wine in the grocery stores and there's a liquor store and a wine shop in town. --- Charlotte, NC (DonRocks)
  8. Just a quick stinkeye to the Duke Blue Devils for nabbing Zion Williamson from Clemson. Okay, I get it, we get all the great football players (cf: KJ Henry), but can't you at least leave us some basketball scraps from our own state? I mean, Williamson is one of the most highly touted recruits since LeBron James, and you took him from us! Stop it!
  9. "Naismith Hall of Fame Finally Does Right by Lefty and Votes in Driesell" by John Feinstein on washingtonpost.com Brian Magid's Facebook Status regarding the announcement Pam Driesell's Facebook Status regarding the announcement Some insider trivia: The Driesells lived right across the street from Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, MD - I went to school with Pam since 5th grade (when they moved up here from Davidson, NC), as well as Chuck (who played for Maryland), but here's the really esoteric, insider trivia: Their house was literally right next door to the family of Harold Solomon. who is the only tennis player from Maryland ever to be ranked in the World Top 10 (excluding Fred McNair in doubles) - the Solomons (with son Harold, and daughter Shelley) were, as incredible as they may sound, the best-of-the-best in terms of Maryland Tennis - now, having been next-door neighbors (although I think the Solomons might have moved to Florida before the Driesells arrived in the early 1970s) these two families can perhaps boast the only next-door homes whose family members are in the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame (although my former tennis coach, rival, and friend, Gil Scheurholz, who was ranked #1 in the United States in the 35-and-over division for several years, has a father *and* a grandfather who are both in as well - if you ever go to Camden Yards, look on the wall - they're both in there, and I assure you that Gi III deserves to be also - he is the most devastating tennis player I have ever faced in person; not the best, but the most devastating).
  10. It doesn't feel right putting this in the "To Whom Are You Drinking?" thread. To the legendary Billy Graham, who brought my mother so much comfort throughout her life. What a great man this was - always living true to his word, and never selling out for money. This man could have been worth $100 million; he chose to live an "average" life. I would greatly appreciate nobody criticizing Graham in this thread, as he meant so much to my mother - I grew up watching her transfixed to the television, watching him preach to stadiums full of people. Read his Wikipedia entry, and Christian or not, you'll see what a genuine, honest, amazing human being this man was. Here he is with Martin Luther King, Jr. - It was Graham who posted bail for King in Birmingham, AL. Flags need to be lowered to half-staff.
  11. Gee this poor guy is in basketball limbo. Jahlil Okafor has only played in 2 games this year and is awaiting a trade or buyout... Just waiting With lots of turmoil in his career he played decently in his rookie year. Playing time diminished in his second year and now he is a guy awaiting a new team. For a micro second I was thinking the Wizards....but nah. He needs playing time to see if he has a decent career ahead of him "76ers' Jahlil Okafor Remains Hopeful for a Quick Resolution" by Adrian Wojinarowski on espn.com
  12. Wake Forest is an underrated football team in this 2017 season, with a record of 4-1, having lost only to Florida State last weekend, 26-19. One thing that most people don't realize is that, after five games, they *lead the nation* in "Tackles for Loss" with 50 - that's 10 per game.
  13. Hi All, Headed down to the Outer Banks starting Saturday and into the following week. (I'll be staying in Southern Shores, south of Duck and North of Kitty Hawk.) About a dozen of us have a house rented and will be doing most of our own cooking, but is there anything not to be missed? With so many people and varying schedules, we won't sit down to anything fancy, but I'm sure we'll do some exploring, so I thought I'd see if anyone here was familiar with the territory. Are there any walk in places where you can grab some fresh seafood (even maybe to cook up ourselves?), or maybe some BBQ? Where do the locals go? Thanks for your attention!
  14. The painting I refer to above is here: "Jack Johnson, World's First Black Boxing Champion, was Jailed Under Jim Crow. Will He Get a Posthumous Pardon?" by Sarah Kaplan on washingtonpost.com Please read the above story. My contention is based on these simple three words: "It's about race." If you buy that, please keep reading in earnest; if you don't, I value and welcome your differing opinions. Jack Johnson was the child of former slaves, and rose to become the world's first black Heavyweight Boxing Champion. The article goes into sufficient detail about his life where I don't need to (I absolutely *love* the story of him giving the officer a $100 bill - it's great!) There is no question in *my* mind that, yes, "It's about race," and Jack Johnson should receive a full Presidential pardon. But. I believe that pardon needs to come from a white President, not President Obama. Before you launch into me, hear me out. If it's about race, what "good" does it do, in terms of advancing race relations, for a black President to pardon Jack Johnson? Yes, it would right a wrong on an individual level, and yes, black people have every right to say, "We don't *want* help from white people." I understand and agree with both of those sentiments. But for the mending between our races to move forward, we need to have a white person (I fell into the trap of typing "white man" before correcting myself) pardon Mr. Johnson for reasons that are, in my eyes, obvious. No white people would be able to accuse "some black President of taking care of one of his own"; they'd be forced to come to terms with reality, although I can easily see some residual racists claiming that "it's a liberal that dun' it." This has nothing to do with liberal or conservative, but it *does* have to do with race. A very credible, logical argument can also be made that the real issue is that it has less to do with race than it does the most basic tenet of all: "right vs. wrong," and I have no logical argument against that (nor would I *want* to argue against that). So, without getting long-winded, if President Obama doesn't pardon Jack Johnson, I propose that our next President does, and everything and everyone (society, race relations, black people, white people, Mr. Johnson's descendents, and most importantly, Mr. Johnson's Legacy) will benefit the most from his pardon being issued by a white President; my only sadness is that he wouldn't be around to see it, but most great recognitions in this world occur posthumously.
  15. Compared to Humboldt Brewing Company's Red Nectar, which I reviewed recently, Highland Brewing Company's Gaelic Ale is far superior. This is a somewhat balanced, easy-going beer that still has some bite and character to it - I suppose you could classify it as a "red ale," but it's really more amber. I can't say Gaelic Ale is "great," but I do think it's quite good, with a moderate, persistent head, a refreshing, almost rye-like taste to go along with it's medium-high carbonation, and a vote from me as a fine daily drinking selection. There's a hint of sweetness on the finish that I find quite appealing. The bottling date (not expiration date) is clearly labeled, and mine is 07/15/15 - along with sensors that change color when the temperature gets above a certain threshold, these are two very valuable tools (this doesn't have the sensors, but that technology is coming down the pike). If you see an ancient Scot with bagpipe in left hand, and mug of beer in right, that would quite likely be this. I recommend it, and am curious to know what others think. Purchased, I believe, at a CVS, which, quite frankly, usually means it's "microbrew" in name only. Lagunitas, Bell's ... those are two examples of macro-micro-brews that will be living off their names for quite some time, and are no longer to be trusted.
  16. [posted on eGullet 2003-2004] Enoteca Vin, Raleigh, Most Important Restaurant South of NYC? Did I say that? Yes, I did. Chef Ashley Christensen is my idea of a chef's chef. A hard-working craftsman producing world-class dishes without running up against the rampant egos that are the downfall of otherwise talented cooks trying to make a name for themselves in this competitive, cold hard world. How many restaurants have you dined in lately that have the following: 1) a chef who is sweating bullets on the line in the kitchen 2) true, fresh, seasonal local ingredients 3) recipes that are elegant, ethereal, transparent and clean 4) depth of flavor that relies on the essence of the fresh ingredients, rather than some odd juxtaposition of flavors that should never have come into contact with each other. There can be nothing "better" than this without much costlier ingredients and way more hours spent preparing the meal. This is as good as it gets in terms of food, cuisine, wine and fine dining, less the formality of a multi-starred restaurant. And it's in a bistro setting. Oh, and here's a minor detail: if you consider selection and pricing, they have the best wine list in the United States of America. Yes, that's right, I just said that: if you consider selection and pricing, they have the best wine list in the country. Furthermore, my guess is that they have the single greatest Burgundy list in the entire world outside of Burgundy, with the possible exception of some Michelin-starred restaurants in France (but not many). Yes, I just said that too. And this is a bistro in Raleigh, North Carolina. The prices for the wines? About what you'd pay at retail, or about half what most other restaurants charge (assuming they had these wines on their lists, which they don't). When I was last there I enjoyed a perfectly stored 1978 Margaux with my dinner for $195. Think about this: when a restaurant offers expensive wines such as this at-or-near retail, they're taking the risk that the wine is somehow bad or defective, not you. However, this wine, like all other wines I've bought from them, was in perfect condition. There's a lot of good inexpensive stuff, too, and about thirty interesting wines by the glass! Enoteca Vin is a connoisseur's place to dine, and will not remain a secret much longer. The food is simple, elegant, and brilliant. The chef is an artist, but not a tortured, angry artist; merely a talented artist performing her craft with humility to the best of her abilities. Too good to be true? Maybe, but I'm telling you to heed my words before the October issue of Food and Wine Magazine comes out. You heard that little secret here first, my friends. It is a privilege to dine at Enoteca Vin. You should go now, before it catches on, because I promise you, dear reader, that it will catch on sooner rather than later. Listen to what I say here, Rocks. --- Hi Dean, It's precisely that lack of complexity that makes the dishes so magical to me. Nothing is tortured, nothing is busy, nothing is muddled. A bite of corn or tomato will taste like the purity and innocence of the farm, without any of the flavors being challenged or lost. On their dinner menu on the web, they have a dish called Day Boat scallops with local butter beans, white corn, and yellow Tomato-vidalia relish. In this dish, every single kernel of corn shines through, not as a drowned-out drumbeat in a loud song, but as the purest kernel of corn you could imagine. And each butter bean has its own place in the dish. This is a string quartet where each instrument can be enjoyed individually if you wish to hear them, but the entire ensemble works together to offer a testament to the season. Here in Washington DC, we have an all-organic restaurant called Nora whose ingredients "read" of a certain purity, but the execution renders them dried out and boring. We have star chefs who pride themselves on playing with food, pairing this-and-that item with whatever clever ingredients they dreamed up the night before, and then making the dish look like something it's not. The results can be interesting and even quite good, but it's more about the chef than what went into the dish. No chef in the world is more important than a good tomato. And then, of course, there are the cowboys, the race drivers, feeling the need to throw as many items into a dish as possible. But Ashley is young and self-trained, has an uncorrupted aspect to her cooking, and an exceedingly rare ability to let the ingredients speak without feeling the need to put a strong personal imprint on them. She realizes, rightly so, that no human intervention can improve upon the freshest seasonal ingredients. However, she also has the ability to put together plates that amplify and heighten those flavors, without setting them in competition with each other or overwhelming them with external noise. If you go on a night that's not busy, ask if she'll arrange a special tasting menu for you. She truly appreciates customers who put their faith in her to assemble and present a multi-course meal. All this, coupled with one of the best wine lists in the world. Cheers! Rocks. P.S. Did I mention that they have a good wine list? ---
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