Category: Restaurants

Raleigh First Friday

I’m going to sidetrack from the birthday month for a minute.  Friday night I made a rare trip to downtown Raleigh to support my friend Heather, who was having a gallery opening at Flanders, a trendy and well-regarded Raleigh gallery.  I don’t often get to Raleigh, because it is a bit of a trek (30-45 minutes, depending on traffic), I frequently get lost, and one of the last times I went to Raleigh I got into a car accident.  However, every time I’m in downtown Raleigh I wish I got there more frequently.  It doesn’t have the gritty, community vibe of Durham, but it is a more urban setting and definitely has the ability to buzz.

First Friday is Raleigh’s monthly gallery night (Chapel Hill has second Friday, Durham has third Friday).  Flanders is down the street from CAM, Raleigh’s contemporary art museum, and a number of great galleries.  I’ve visited some other galleries in the past, but I spent most of this Friday on Martin Street and in the Warehouse District.

Jon and I kicked off the evening by getting dinner at The Pit, before heading over to Flanders to see Heather.  I’ve been to Flanders several times, and it is always extremely sceney.  The atmosphere is very much big-city art gallery, which I always say makes me feel not cool.  However, I knew much of the audience there that night.  So I guess I was sort of cool.

Heather’s work is being shown as part of a group show, called Codework.  All the following photos were taken by me, on my iPhone, so apologies for the graininess.

Painting by Heather Gordon, photo by me!

All the works in the show dealt with language, communication, and interpretation.  Since I have known Heather, she has been interested in codes and language.  This work is from her newest series, which takes locations that we frequent in our daily lives (the above is a parking lot, but she’s also done cubicles and funeral homes) and maps them out in an abstract but still understandable manner (I hope I got that right Heather!)

Painting by Heather Gordon, photo by me!
Painting by Heather Gordon, photo by me!
Painting by Heather Gordon, photo by me!

The above two works are some of Heather’s binary works.  She takes text, oftentimes famous, and converts it into ASC-II (I think, this is all very tech-speak!) which she then converts into binary, which she uses to make these amazing, hypnotic, vortex-y pieces.  I love them.  As you can tell, Heather’s work is incredibly thought out and very cerebral, you can learn more by checking out her website.

I was also loving Peter Oakley‘s carved-marble sculptures of every day objects.



Got a feelin’ 2012 is gonna be a good year.  Y’all.  What did you do last night?  Did you go out on Amateur Night and get sloppy drunkies?  Did you boycott the whole thing and stay in while covertly watching Dick Clark/Anderson Cooper?  Did you do what my parents did and ring in midnight while watching the credits of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (can’t think of a better way to welcome 2012 then with a movie about serial killing and anal rape, really)?

I went out on Amateur Night, because I am definitely an amateur who rarely goes out.  Jon and I had dinner here (good food, TERRIBLE service, but we’ll try them one more time on a non-holiday night because we did enjoy the food), and then we went to Motorco with some friends for their big end of the year bash.  So that was fun and it was hosted by one of those women who sort of looks like a drag queen because she was maybe in a costume and has a lot of makeup and maybe stuffed her boobs and had fake nipples and whatever I loved her.  Anyways, because throughout the night I had 1.5 glasses of champagne and a shot of tequila and because I am not good at going out or drinking, this morning I was feeling sleepies until I ate a giant breakfast and now maybe I will go for a run/walk OUTSIDE because it is like 65 degrees outside y’all and even though the gym is open it is probably full of resolutioners and they are terrible.

So anyways, a Happy New Year to each and every one of you and I hope you are having a lovely Sunday/New Year’s Day!

Oh hey, and checkout my awesome new background of a lady laughing alone while eating a salad.  That is so going to be me this month you guys, I promise!

On Alan Richman’s Review of M. Wells

If you pay any attention to the food world then you are probably aware of GQ food critic Alan Richman’s review of the upscale diner M. Wells.  If you don’t follow food, M. Wells is a hot-spot diner in Long Island City, Queens.  The diner is run by a husband and wife team, the husband being a well-respected chef in his native Quebec.  Bon Appetit recently named the restaurant one of the best new restaurants in America, but due to issues involving the rent agreement the restaurant will be closing at the end of the month.  The owners are already looking for new locations in Long Island City to reopen their restaurant.  To be 100% clear, I have not eaten at M. Wells.

All is not well at M. Wells. Sadly I was not the first person to say this today.


Internet Happenings That Are Making Me Happy

Over at NYMagazine theater critic Scott Brown and Bill Lawrence, the showrunner of Scrubs and Cougar Town, are having a tussle regarding Scott Brown’s extremely negative review of Zach Braff’s new play All New People.

So basically Scott Brown doesn’t like Zach Braff because of his Zach Braffness and also Garden State, and I agree with both points because non-Scrubs Zach Braff is insufferable and, really, J.D. is borderline insufferable much of the time and also Garden State is a pretentious and overrated movie.  Scott Brown spends much of his review of All New People on an anti-Zach Braff crusade before ultimately reviewing the play.  Bill Lawrence, in an open letter to Scott Brown, is all, “dude, you can’t go on a rant about how you hate Zach Braff, who is my friend, and then give his play like, all of two paragraphs, that just isn’t cool dude.”  Bill Lawrence also attacks Scott Brown for being a pretentious, wordy, stuck-up theater critic which, duh.  Come on, what else is a theater critic?

And then Scott Brown writes an open letter to Bill Lawrence and basically ends with “sorry I didn’t like your friend’s play, dude.”

Anyways, Bill Lawrence’s letter is hilarious and Scott Brown’s letter is slightly less so–despite a hilarious and, yes, pretentious reference to H.P. Lovecraft ( ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!) but the whole thing is just really entertaining to someone like me who spends way too much time reading culture websites.   You can read the whole shebang here.

I don't really like Natalie Portman either, by the way.

I’m also really liking the NYTimes’ article on Kalup Linzy, an artist I was only loosely aware of until seeing his work at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s 30 Americans show.  The show had a number of his drawings as well as his film, As Da Art World Might Turn, which I found amazing and hilarious.  Linzy is part Andy Warhol and part RuPaul and part John Waters and part soap opera and he also collaborates with James Franco (but who doesn’t) and I just think he is a lot of fun in an art world that takes itself far too seriously.  I also think it is telling that the article is placed in the NYTimes style section rather than the Arts Section.  Back when I was an “academic” I was all about art that blurred the line between high and low culture, so Kalup Linzy is right up my alley.

Finally, I am definitely all about the NYTimes Magazine‘s profile of restauranteur Danny Meyer.  I have eaten at Shake Shack (numerous times and locations), Eleven Madison Park, and Union Square Cafe and have extremely positive feelings about the food, service, and ambiance at all of the restaurants.  The article is a great look into the crazy busy life of the man who has made perfect hospitality and customer service his trademark and his gold mine.

And those are the internet happenings that have entertained me on this Thursday!

Scratch Bakery

Scratch Bakery in downtown Durham is a place I always mean to get to more frequently but simply don’t.  For one, the hours are a little wonky (they close at 3:00 or 4:00 most days).  And, for two, pie is totally delicious and if I went to Scratch more often all them pies would end up in my thighs, if you know what I am saying y’all.

Scratch got its start at the Durham Farmer’s Market as the project of Phoebe Lawless, a well-seasoned pastry chef who has worked at restaurants such as the Magnolia Grill.  After much success at the Farmer’s Market Lawless decided to open up a brick and mortar location in downtown Durham near the intersection of Rigsbee and Chapel Hill Road–an area that is becoming quite a little foodie hub, what with the proximity of Rue Cler and Reliable Cheese Company.

My friend Annah and I were looking for a quick and easy lunch spot last week and decided to go to Scratch.  Annah had never been, and I wanted to return since I had only visited once.  Early this year I stopped by Scratch on my lunch break (I was working in downtown Durham then) and had a slice of shaker lemon pie.  The pie deftly balanced sweet and tart, and was unusual in that it featured whole slices of lemon.  The crust was fantastic and flakey.  It was unlike any pie I had ever tasted.  I was excited to try Scratch again and also to try some of their savory options.

Scratch has a small, seasonal menu and pies and lunch items rotate regularly.  They always have a few salads and a few sandwich options for lunch.  They also have savory pies like empanadas and tomato pies.  Another great feature is their takeaway case–just the thing if you want to bring home something to nibble on later.  Annah and I both decided to get a slice of Spanish tortilla with a side of green bean salad with a pumpkin seed pesto. Annah also got some balled cantaloupe with mint to go with her lunch.

I love Spanish tortilla: deep-fried potatoes baked with onions into a frittata-like dish.  A cold slice of this was perfect for lunch, tasty and reminiscent of the Spanish tortilla nights some friends and I used to have in college.  Spanish tortilla is delicious and relatively easy to make, but it makes a huge mess and isn’t the best food for you, so it was definitely a special occasion dish.  The green bean salad on the side was also tasty, with fresh, toothsome green beans and a flavorful, light pumpkin seed pesto.  Annah and I were both happy with these choices.

Of course I had to get a slice of pie for dessert.  I settled on a slice of buttermilk sugar which, like the shaker lemon pie I had back in the winter, was unlike any pie I had ever tasted.  Sweet and tangy, the buttermilk had an almost ricotta-like consistency.  The crust had a sugar coating that gave a nice crunch and a slight hit of sweetness, but not too sweet.  This was an excellent slice of pie, my friends.

I really like Scratch.  Some people have complained that the prices are steep but I got my lunch and pie all for under $9.  I can also see how the space must be a madhouse on weekends.  I went at 1:00 on a weekday and had to lay claim to a table pretty quickly.  However, it was all worth it–the food was great!  Next time I am in downtown Durham and am looking for something a little different, and sweet, for lunch, I will stop by Scratch.