Month: August 2009


Went to Charlotte last weekend.  Ate some excellent home-prepared food.  Also had a lovely brunch at a French bistro type establishment called Cafe Monte.  I consumed a seafood crepe that was stuffed with lobster and crab and game with a lovely lemon-butter type sauce.  No pictures, but that’s because I was meeting-the-parents and I didn’t want them to think that I was odd.  I did, however, take some pictures of an excursion Jon and I made to the Mint Museum:


The Mint Museum has a fairly large South American/Central American collection and surprisingly has a costume collection.  I was most amused by the series of masks used in Mexican pageant rituals.





Also, there was a room full of absurd platform shoes which, awesome.

Charlotte is a lovely old southern city with an area that was all landscaped by Frank Law Olmsted of Central and Prospect Park fame and lots of giant old southern houses.  The downtown also seems to have potential, and the football stadium is vast and impressive.

Also, saw Jon’s high school.  I feel old.

Dos Perros: The Review

As posted at Carpe Durham on August 28, 2009:


I went to Dos Perros last Thursday with a group of ten for a birthday dinner.  Since the original review was of the soft opening, I figured I’d give an update of the restaurant running at full-force.  I was extremely excited to try the restaurant as buzz has been excellent and I am a big fan of Jujube.  Also, how adorable is their logo?  Major points to the design team.

My date and I arrived a bit early and were greeted immediately by a friendly hostess.  Since the rest of our party was absent we decided to have a drink at the bar while waiting.  I had a lovely light and summery glass of sauvignon blanc which, as the menu described, tasted pleasantly of grapefruit.  We were also brought a bowl of toasty flour tortillas and complex salsa to munch on while we waited.  The interior of the restaurant is a definite win.  I love the bold yellow-gold colors and the fantastic works on the walls, especially the old film posters in the bar area.  Look for the one called “They Say I’m a Communist.”

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Our party arrived and we were led into the dining room which, as XOR noted, has the original stamped metal ceiling intact (love it).  I was a bit nervous as to how a medium-large party would be handled so soon after a restaurant’s opening, but our waitress was a pro and there was not an issue with orders being confused or food arriving late.  Chips and salsa were refilled regularly.  Also, one of our party is gluten and lactose intolerant, and I am happy to say that she was easily accommodated by the establishment.  She’d e-mailed Dos Perros the day before to inquire about food possibilities, and she received a response within twenty minutes of her inquiry.  Dos Perros clearly cares about their customers, which I appreciate.

Allright, onto the food.  The fun part about large groups is that you get to try many a dish!  My date and I split the plantain fritters ($6) for an appetizer.  I love plantains (had them every which way as a kid), and the plantains in this dish were perfectly sweet and crispy.  I could have used a bit more of the filling, however.  My gluten and lactose intolerant friend ordered the orange, jicama, and cilantro salad ($6), which she described as an excellent pairing of summery tastes and textures, although I think that I like jicama more than she does.

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Gluten and lactose intolerant friend’s (I should think of an acronym for her, especially since she is a frequent dining buddy) husband ordered the tamal oaxaqueno ($4), banana leaf wrapped chicken with mole negro.  Since I heard no negative comments, I assume he found it enjoyable.


I was unable to get pictures of all of the appetizers ordered–one of the perils of eating with a group, people don’t like to wait for the foodie to photograph everyone’s food before digging in!  However, I did try the ceviche ($8), which I highly, highly recommend.  I love a good ceviche, and Dos Perros’ is excellent.

I ordered the mole poblano ($15) for my entree, which was fantastic.  The chicken was slow cooked and extremely tender, and the mole was perfect: subtle, complex, with a chocolatey flavor that was pronounced but not overwhelming.  Also, there was a lovely heat to the dish.  The rice and beans which accompanied the mole were a little underwhelming in comparison; they were perfectly cooked, but the flavor of the mole was so intense that it blotted out all other foods.  Mixing the rice and beans with the mole sauce provides an easy remedy, however.  The mole was served with hot flour tortillas for wrapping but I was content eating the mole with a fork.  My date ordered the garlic and chile sautéed shrimp ($16), which would have been the perfect amount of garlic for a normal eater.  He and I are garlic freaks, however, so I say more garlic please!  Also, thumbs up to the zucchini-based veggie side.

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My gluten and lactose intolerant friend and her husband ordered the roasted whole red snapper that came with a lovely tomato and olive based sauce ($18).  They loved the fish and the sauce, although grew a bit nervous when our waitress suggested that they eat the fish cheeks.  My friends raved about this dish.


I photographed, but did not try, the chile relleno ($12), a vegetarian friendly cheese and vegetable stuffed pepper with black bean puree, and tried but did not photograph the baked corn pudding ($12) with grilled poblanos, garlic sauce, and queso asadero (awesome, I will have to get that next time I am at Dos Perros).  Apologies for not getting photographs of every dish!  The table was long and people were hungry.


We were all too full for dessert, so that will have to be another trip.  The flan looked yummy, however.  Dos Perros is an excellent restaurant in a lovely space.  The staff win major points for being so accommodating, especially to the dietary restrictions of my tablemate.  And, of course, great food.  Hopefully the establishment will become a staple in the downtown Durham scene.

Dos Perros

200 N. Mangum

Durham, NC 27701

Appetizers: $4-8

Entrees: $12-$20

Bliss Boutique Bakery

Okay y’all, I got spoiled in New York City.  I ate many a delicious cupcake, mainly at my Upper East Side neighbors Crumbs and Two Little Red Hens.  And while New York City doesn’t have the monopoly on all good food (there’s some pretty rocking authentic Mexican in the Triangle y’all) i’m afraid that they might have the monopoly on amazing cupcakes.

Or maybe I just havent found a good cupcake in the Triangle yet.  Sugarland, which is close to the Haines Art Center where I spent  the majority of my time the past few years, caused me much excitement when it opened but makes the most dismal cupcakes with icky frosting that sticks to the back of your throat like a high fructose plastic sheen.

Now Bliss Boutique Bakery, located in the old Three Cups space next to Sandwhich, is nowhere near as terrible as Sugarland.  Actually, bliss cupcakes aren’t bad at all–they’re pretty delicious in a pinch, all things considered.  But they do not nearly come close to the perfection of, say, Two Little Red Hens’ red velvet cupcake.

Bliss assortment: yellow cake with vanilla buttercream, yellow cake with chocolate ganache, snicker cupcake with chocolate buttercream.
Bliss assortment: yellow cake with vanilla buttercream, yellow cake with chocolate ganache, snicker cupcake with chocolate buttercream.

Bliss has a set of daily cupcakes and then specials for each day of the week.  The day I visited was a Monday, and I opted for the special Snicker caramel cupcake, which is yellow cake filled with caramel made at Bliss and topped with chocolate buttercream and a little Snicker garnish.  A good cupcake, but with a few issues: the chocolate butter cream is too light on the chocolate, the cupcake could’ve used a bit more of the really excellent caramel filling, and I feel that the cake could be a little lighter.  The chocolate ganache icing is far more chocolatey but almost too rich and thick, not really frosting-y at all.  The vanilla on vanilla is fairly solid, the buttercream icing isn’t as curiously flavorless as the chocolate buttercream.

The inside of the Snicker cupcake, needs more caramel.
The inside of the Snicker cupcake, needs more caramel.

Between 5:30 and 7:30 Bliss has “cupcake happy hour” where you can get up to six cupcakes for half price (hence the above assortment).  Not a bad deal.  I’d like to go back and try some of the other daily specials, especially Wednesday’s red velvet cake and Thursday’s dulce de leche (anyone tried them?)  Some of their other baked goods look promising.  Bliss needs to do a bit more tinkering before it achieves the cupcake perfection I found in New York, but for now it will suffice.

District 9 + Pita

Julie and Julia was followed immediately by a screening of District 9, because tales of culinary gusto should always be followed by allegorical science fiction.  District 9 is an excellent little film.  Tight, thrilling sci-fi with aspects to thrill all viewers: gross-outs for those who liked The Fly, plenty of action, tight political commentary, excellent acting, and a somehow-adorable child alien who plucks at the E.T. type heartstrings.  I also appreciated the telling of a story that is typically ignored–what we do to them, as opposed what they will do to us like in ID4 etc.

After a bit of alien goodness we headed into the mall, more specifically to William and Sonoma, and Jon bought the knives to end all knives, the sort of knives that cut through anything as though it were butter.  They are beautiful knives, and they are now his babies.

The precious.

We used said knives to make a light dinner of a grilled chicken pita.  Said pita was stuffed with a mix of cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and spinach and topped with a cayenne-greek yogurt mixture that was tangy and just the right amount of spicy.  An easy, light summer meal, especially with the assistance of the knives of glory.