My uncle is an ER surgeon and has recently rolled out a website for emergency-room related information: when to stay home, when to definitely go, what to expect, and other advice. The site is in its infancy and my uncle and his collaborator are holding a survey to help get some information on how to tweak and improve the site. The survey takes all of two minutes to complete and it enters you into a contest for an iPad. So, gentle readers, if you could take a few minutes to visit Go2Er.com and fill out the survey I know that my uncle would really appreciate it.
We have a new cheese shop in Durham and lo, it is a glorious occurrence! The Reliable Cheese Company was opened to fill a void in Durham’s foodie niche: the local cheese shop, where one can pick up great cheeses, meats, and other specialty goods and receive advice and guidance from a knowledgeable cheesemonger. That cheesemonger is Patrick Coleff, who has been in the cheese industry for five years, learning the trade at the great Murray’s in Manhattan and working at a few other specialty shops in Brooklyn before relocating to Durham. While the Triangle foodie can get great cheeses at Whole Foods or A Southern Season, Patrick really wanted to open a small, cheese-specific, neighborhood spot–and in my opinion he has definitely succeeded!
Reliable Cheese Company is located right off Rigsbee next to Rue Cler in downtown Durham. The significant other and I arrived on early Friday evening toward the end of the store’s second day of business. Patrick was busy with a handful of customers, so I browsed the store. The space is mostly bare bones right now: a check out counter, refrigerated cases for cheeses and meats, and a slicer. Empty shelves and a sign hold the promise of wine from Wine Authorities. Other shelves hold jars of quince paste, cornichons, and marinated olives. There’s a space in the back that I am assuming will be used for future Cheese 101 classes (which I hope to attend) but I might be wrong. Huge open walls are begging for cheese-centric murals or posters; I know it isn’t my store, but I’m hoping some talented Durham artist lends his or her talents to creating a gorgeous mural for the space!
Patrick finished up with his customers and we had his attention to ourselves. We tried a number of cheeses: soft, hard, blue, goat cheese, a blue goat cheese (very mild, perfect for the blue novice!), and they were all fantastic. Patrick sources his cheese from small producers, both American and abroad, who place an emphasis on traditional methods of production. He was more than happy to provide us with samples. Each cheese is fronted by a placard with a creative description from Patrick. My favorite description was for the Fosterkase, a soft cheese which Patrick described as eating bacon while strolling through the forest in autumn.
After trying 8 or 9 cheeses we settled on two hard cheeses: the Fiore Sardo, a smoked cheese from Sardinia with a light, buttery taste not typically associated with smoked cheeses and the Roncal, which is Manchego’s “predecessor cheese” and had a spicy saltiness that I loved. Patrick got us packaged up and ready to go just as the next wave of customers arrived. Perfect timing!
We stuck to the cheese refrigerator this time around but I am excited to go back and get some of the specialty meat: guanciale and bresaola and oh my goodness, it all looked fabulous. According to the Reliable Cheese Facebook page they are now doing sandwiches with their meats and cheeses. They also offer pre-made cheese plates if you are in a hurry. I highly recommend stopping by here for your cheese needs: Patrick was amazingly helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. I am excited to visit again and to pick up some more delicious cheese!
Oh, okay, two more pictures: the cheese money shots! The Fiore Sardo:
Chapel Hill has a new-ish restaurant (okay, not that new, I’m a bit behind) in the Courtyard where Sandwhich used to be. Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe is absolutely a product of the locavore, sustainable, community-friendly, healthy-but-good eats food movement. Vimala Rajendran, who owns and runs the restaurant with her children and is the executive chef, has opened a restaurant that I am more than happy to visit repeatedly! I’ve gone twice for lunch and both meals were excellent and affordable. I’m excited to try their dinner menu and some desserts as well.
I have tried the chole bhatura plate (Slow simmered chick pea curry served with bhatura. Our bhatura is made with Lindley Mills organic flour and Mapleview yogurt, puffed into a balloon. Punjabi dhaaba classic. $7), the tandoori chicken (Local organic chicken, marinated in Vimala’s tandoori masala and Mapleview yogurt, grilled. Served over salad. Gluten free. $8), and the masala dosa (Rice and urad dal fermented into batter and poured into a thin crêpe. With sambaar, coconut chutney and a potato bhaji on the side. Kerala and Tamil Nadu favorite. Gluten free & vegan. $7). All three were excellent but the chole bhatura was by far my favorite. A toothsome, flavorful chickpea curry with a fantastic yogurt-based pita like bread on the side. Who knew chickpeas could have so much flavor?! I couldn’t even tell you half the spices that were happening in the mixture.
The tandoori chicken was good as well, light, tasty, not at all dry, served with rice and a salad. A good, healthy option if you are looking to go low carb, high protein.
I also wanted to try the dosa platter, as I love me some dosa. Not my favorite dosa ever but it was solid and served with a nice array of dipping sauces and sides, ones of which was incredibly spicy but it was opposite a nice, cooling yogurty sauce.
I have tried their lavender lemonade, which is refreshing but not all that lavendar-y (or sugary either, this is a real lemonade) and this intense, spicy ginger ale beverage from their refrigerator. I am really excited to try their desserts, especially the mango kulfi. Love me some mango kulfi.
The great thing about this food, especially if you love Indian food, is that it isn’t heavy. In fact Vimala’s is one of the few places I have eaten Indian food that hasn’t left me stuffed and sleepy afterwards. The food is light; it tastes healthy and nutritious. There are plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options if you are into that sort of thing. Also, did I mention that this place was all community-based? The second time I was eating there a student group came by on a tour to learn about local and sustainable food systems–they’d just come from the Carrboro Farmer’s Market (well, we’d been there too) so, yeah, there you go.
One note: I have hear that at times the wait for food can be inexcusable. I have not yet had this problem as I have only gone during “off” hours–as in, right after they open for lunch. Evidently even take out orders can take a long time during busy hours. Hopefully they’ll get these organizational issues worked out, as the food is fantastic and I’d hate for people to be turned away by the wait. I know I’ll be heading back (during not-peak hours) to enjoy more of Vimala’s food soon!
So remember a week or two ago when I posted about The Parlour and said that they’re usually parked by Motorco but I don’t go there because I’m just not that cool?
Well, I finally got myself back to the Fullsteam/Motorco area (I’ve been to Fullsteam before, once, I know, I’m not really a big beer drinker…) last Friday night, but this was mostly in a ploy to re-visit The Parlour. I know, I know, my priorities are clearly skewed. I did have some cider, though, so at least I imbibed something alcoholic. Also, Fullsteam’s really chill if you haven’t been before–lots of outdoor picnic tables, lots of beer, foosball table, etc. And, food trucks!
Anyways, some friends and I headed to Fullsteam after dinner at Toast, which I love, and while waiting around for The Parlour to arrive (they were pulling up at 9:00) we decided that, since we definitely needed more food we should try a slice from the Pie Pusher’s truck. I mean, it isn’t like I had just eaten the three-cheese and truffle oil panino at Toast, and wasn’t already stuffed with cheesy goodness. I mean, why not add a pizza to the mix, right? To be fair, this slice was split among four people, but between the grilled cheese, the pizza, and the ice cream later on, the amount of dairy fat in my body could not have been good. Anyways, the pizza:
It was good! Thin crusted, crackly, with a good crunch all the way through. I prefer a little bit more sweetness in my sauce but overall this was a solid cheese slice. I think I might like Klausie’s, another local pizza truck that I tracked down once, a bit more–but that could be because it was a big ordeal for me to get there and sometimes food just tastes better after a struggle. Also, Klauise’s pizza is much different from Pie Pusher’s–a thick, grandma-style slice vs. a thin slice. I guess it depends on your mood. I’d also like to try Pie Pushers on a not-full stomach, and maybe get one of their slices with toppings. On a side note, the ladies running the truck were super duper nice! Also, if you are at Fullsteam/Motorco and not in the mood for pizza, the Farmhands Food Sausage Wagon is usually parked nearby. I am loving this food truck movement, truly.
And then, 9:00 finally happened and The Parlour rolled up, and I was reunited with my sweet, sweet salted butter caramel and the excellent strawberry ice cream. And this time I took a picture.
Seriously! So creamy! So delicious! I would bathe in the salted butter caramel, truly. And guess who is going to head out to Golden Belt tomorrow just to track down the Parlour again (okay, and also to hang out with my amazing talented friend Heather Gordon who has a studio there). THIS GIRL.