Tomatoes While supplies last

first_imgby Kaitlyn Goalenphotographs by Jillian ClarkLabor Day starts the final countdown for my beleaguered tomato bed, each plant on the verge of crying uncle. So, this September I’m committing to the personal goal of eating as many tomatoes as possible while supplies last, from breakfast (egg and tomato scramble) to lunch (tomato salad with parmesan vinaigrette) and dinner (tomato pie).But the workhorse recipe that I’ll be turning to most this month isn’t even really a recipe, but a concept: two slices of white bread, slicked with mayonnaise, and stuffed with seasoned tomatoes.The tomato sandwich lives in an interesting intersection. It appeals to this age of obsession over ingredients because its simplicity lets fresh tomatoes shine. But it is also decidedly low-brow – tomato sandwich zealots will talk your ear off about the importance of using white bread and Duke’s from a jar, swept up in a nostalgic romanticism about processed ingredients that they might otherwise avoid.As for me, I love tomato sandwiches for all of the above reasons, but also for one more geeky culinary detail: I happen to believe that the intermingling of fresh tomato juices and mayonnaise results in an epic, greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts love child, a sauce that deserves its own special attention.So, I’ve been thinking about how to harness this culinary power couple in more ways. It shares genes with the classic British sauce, Marie Rose, which is often served with shrimp cocktail. Other versions of the tomato-mayo combo appear in every corner of the South, from roasted tomato remoulades to the “frozen tomato,” a longstanding dish featured at the Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville, in which tomato juice, mayonnaise, and a few other ingredients are blended together, then frozen and scooped, ice cream-style, onto leaves of lettuce.But the closest I’ve come to experiencing that combination of creamy, slightly vinegary mayonnaise with heavily seasoned tomato juice came in the form of pasta salad at a Fourth of July picnic. Like the tomato sandwich, the dish was unapologetically sparse: just macaroni, diced tomato, black pepper, salt, and mayonnaise. But when the ingredients came together, it formed the most delicious summer side dish I could imagine, a perfect foil to steak, or ribs, or chicken, or anything else that was meant to steal the show.Since then, I’ve been refining that dish, creating a pasta that celebrates the last dying days of summer and pays homage to its most beloved ingredients. It turned out that carbonara, an Italian classic in which bacon and eggs come together to silkily coat noodles, was the perfect template on which to impress my tomato-mayo fantasies. Instead of using raw egg yolks as the base, I whip egg yolks, tomato, and oil into a mayonnaise and then use that as the base of the pasta sauce. In the presence of heat and bacon grease, it relaxes into a creamy, undeniably delicious carbonara, rich with that familiar flavor. Think of it as a tomato sandwich in black tie attire.Tomato Sandwich CarbonaraServes 61 large ripe tomato1 egg2 egg yolks3 cups plus 1 tablespoon canola oil, dividedSalt and freshly ground pepper2 medium yellow squash, sliced in half lengthwise½ red onion2 ears corn6 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced into batons1 16-ounce box short pasta, such as penne, macaroni, or orecchiette½ cup toasted breadcrumbs¼ cup basil leavesSet a box grater over a plate. Slice the tomato in half, then grate it, starting with the cut side, until you reach the stem. Discard the stem.In a food processor, combine the egg, egg yolk, and grated tomato. Puree for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is lighter in color. With the motor running, slowly add 3 cups canola oil in a thin stream until it is completely incorporated and the mixture has thickened. Season generously with salt and pepper, and set aside.Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.Set a cast iron skillet over high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil. When it shimmers, add the squash, cut side down, and sear until charred and blistered, about 5 minutes each side. Transfer the squash to a plate. Add the red onion to the skillet and sear about 7 minutes on each side, then transfer to the plate with the squash. Finally, add the corn and sear, turning frequently, for about 7 minutes, or until the corn is blistered and golden brown. Roughly dice the squash and red onion and cut the kernels from the corn. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Return the skillet to medium heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered. Turn the heat to low. When the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare a large heat-proof bowl with ½ cup of the tomato mayonnaise. Set it next to the skillet with the bacon.When the pasta is done, strain it, leaving a few inches of the pasta water in the pot. Add the strained pasta to the skillet with the bacon, stirring to coat the noodles in the bacon grease, and return the pot of pasta water to the stove over low heat. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the bowl with the tomato mayonnaise and stir to coat. Place the bowl to sit over the pot with the simmering pasta water, creating a double boiler (this will help thicken the sauce). Stir constantly until the sauce has reached a thick, creamy consistency and is clinging to each noodle.Add the reserved charred vegetables and stir. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with basil and breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.last_img read more

Arrive hungry

first_imgby Kaitlyn Goalenillustrations by Emily BrooksAs soon as the weather warms, the wanderlust kicks in. Maybe it’s an evolutionary side effect, something about the biological need to migrate. Maybe it’s just the result of being cooped up all winter. Whatever the reason, when the mercury rises, so does a yearning to cover new ground.A three-week vacation to an exotic locale isn’t always in the cards, but with a car, Google Maps, and a good appetite, a good trip can be no more than a 10-minute drive away. We’ve rounded up five different food-focused itineraries within a short drive of Raleigh, from an afternoon of Indian food to a weekend in one of our coolest burgeoning food cities.CARY12 miles from downtown Raleigh; one afternoon Raleigh’s best-known exurb is not top-of-mind for most when it comes to planning a day trip. In fact, we know more than a few Raleighites who would scoff at the suggestion. But those willing to stable their high horse will discover that there’s way more to Cary than chain stores, particularly when it comes to food.Those in the know head to East Chatham Street, where a constellation of Indian restaurants and shops cover much of that country’s cuisine, from the biryani of the Hyderabad to the vegetarian buffets of the South.Start at Biryani Maxx Indian Cuisine, a humble canteen of a spot that opened last fall with a menu dedicated to the eponymous Hyderabadi rice dish. Lunchtime brings a packed house of RTP businesspeople and locals, many of whom opt for a thali – the traditional Indian version of a lunch tray – piled high with the lentil dish daal, naan bread, and the house specialty, biryani, a fragrant rice dish studded with vegetables and meat. The goat biryani in particular is rich, aromatic, and delightfully spicy.Then head over to Patel Brothers, a grocery store where you can load up on Indian ingredients. Aisles lined with dozens of types of dry lentils, the clarified butter known as ghee, prepackaged samosa pastries, and more offer plenty of cooking inspiration.For dinner, head to Sri Meenakshi Bhavan, a brand new restaurant that specializes in the vegetarian cuisine of South India. Freshly steamed idli (rice and lentil cakes), oversize, paper-thin lentil and rice crepes called dosas filled with spiced potatoes, and coconut-laden cauliflower korma (a typical Southern slow-braised sauce with yogurt) render meat completely unnecessary. Do not leave without ordering the mango lassi, a type of yogurt-based smoothie – simply the best we’ve ever had.Finish your adventure at Mithai House of Indian Desserts, which stocks traditional Bengali sweets. Our suggestion: grab an assorted pack of cardamom-spiced cookie-like treats from the case and take it with you for the drive back.HILLSBOROUGH38 miles from downtown Raleigh; one afternoon and evening Sleepy, quaint, and just a short drive from Durham, Hillsborough is home to a thriving community of creatives, which, in turn, has fed a tight-knit food scene. In addition to its status as a destination-worthy dinner spot, the tiny town features an exceptional no-frills wing joint and the best Bloody Mary for miles.You’ll find the latter at La Place Louisiana Cookery, worth the drive for brunch. One of the owners hails from Louisiana, and he pays homage to his origins with classics like boudin balls, po’ boys and red beans and rice. Back to that Bloody Mary: customize your own by choosing from three different mixes, plus garnishes that range from a run-of-the-mill celery stalk to a house-smoked oyster.But don’t fill up, because you’ll want to sample the chicken wings (plus the holy trinity of fried things: pickles, tots, and fries) at The Wooden Nickel Pub next door. Crisp and fiery hot (if you order them “frickin’ nickel” style, like we did), these wings put the soggy bar snacks of your college years to shame.Work off your morning meals with a stroll along the Riverwalk, nearly 2 miles of trail that winds along the Eno River. Then stop in at Restaurante Ixtapa, a family-run Mexican spot that makes everything, including their corn tortillas, from scratch. Resist the urge to order everything and settle for a sope (ground beef) or a lengua (tongue) taco, because you have one last meal ahead of you: Panciuto.Far more ambitious than its location would suggest, Panciuto has some of the best Italian-inspired dishes in the area, thanks to chef Aaron Vandemark’s thoughtful approach to hyper-local ingredients. A fiery squid-ink spaghetti, for instance, is nestled around shrimp meatballs, locally foraged stinging nettles, and is doused in a pork broth; ricotta gnocchi co-mingles with grilled beet tops.KINSTON80 miles from downtown Raleigh; one full day As recently as a decade ago, Kinston was the kind of town you’d drive through without even stopping for gum. But thanks to a few culinary-minded pioneers, Kinston has become a cultural capital of eastern North Carolina, drawing regional and national attention.Vivian Howard and Ben Knight are at the epicenter of this change. The New York City-trained chef and her husband own Chef and the Farmer, an upmarket spot that celebrates the local growers with dishes like boiled peanut “risotto,” which is embraced by the smokiness of Benton’s bacon. Vivian has amplified her reach through her TV show, A Chef’s Life, which airs on PBS and spotlights the culinary community that she inhabits.Plan ahead to make a reservation for dinner here; or, if you can’t get a table, head to Vivian’s second project, Boiler Room Oyster Bar. It features exceptionally delicious burgers and steamed, fresh-from-the-coast seafood.But arrive early for a BBQ lunch at Kings Restaurant’s flagship location and try the signature dish, the Pig in a Puppy. This gargantuan special updates the classic pulled pork sandwich by ditching the white bread and stuffing hand-chopped pork barbecue into an oversize hushpuppy.Digest that behemoth with the help of a beer at Mother Earth Brewing, then take a tour of their impressively eco-conscious facilities. Solar panels power the place, while rainwater is collected in a cistern to be reused.WILMINGTON133 miles from downtown Raleigh; one weekend The primary draw of this waterfront town is the beach, of course. It’s a fact that has kept Wilmington’s food scene somewhat stagnant, since longstanding seafood shacks with oceanfront views can detract attention away from out-of-date menus (we’re looking at you, over-breaded calamari with cocktail sauce). But the tide might be slowly shifting, with a few new options for exactly the type of beach food we crave: fresh, ingredient-driven, and delicious.Blue Surf Cafe, an all-day spot that opened almost 2 years ago, certainly fits that bill. Think breakfast sandwiches with feta and arugula, spinach salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette, and mojo pork with coconut rice.Then there’s Rx Restaurant and Bar, which has raised the dinner bar with dishes like pan-roasted quail with johnnycakes, or local triggerfish over split pea risotto. The chef, James Doss, is an alumnus of Sean Brock’s Husk in Charleston, and his devotion to using pristine ingredients shines through the ever-changing menu.Those who’d prefer to cook their own dinner should head to Seaview Crab Company, a seafood purveyor with multiple locations, slinging crab, fish, and shellfish just hours out of the water. The last time we were there, the coolers were stocked with North Carolina tilefish, monkfish, and royal red shrimp.Don’t pack up your beach chairs without a final cocktail at King Neptune Restaurant. Yes, it’s pirate-themed, and yes, there’s that calamari we railed against, but the drinks are strong and the ambiance reminds you that you’re on a vacation.GREENVILLE, S.C.264 miles from downtown Raleigh; one weekendThis South Carolina city is in the middle of a metamorphosis, stepping out of Charleston’s shadow to find its own cultural footing. The city’s Main Street is a beauty, encompassing a 40-foot waterfall and plenty of high-end boutiques. A spate of new restaurants have opened in the last two years and many more are slated for the next two, making this leafy, pedestrian-friendly place a city to watch.Kick off your day with an expertly rendered cappuccino at the just-opened The Village Grind. The design is as exquisite as the coffee, with blonde wood paneling the walls and deeply colored rugs anchoring a handful of chairs scattered around the room.Passerelle Bistro harnesses the magic of French cooking with a loyally bistro-centric menu. Beautifully composed salads make use of local ingredients, while classic French dishes like cassoulet are given Southern context, swapping white beans for locally available limas.For a postprandial drink, take to the roof at SIP Tasting Room and Rooftop Lounge, an alfresco wine bar that also features pitcher cocktails and beer. Lounge on one of the outdoor couches for excellent people-watching.And before you head to bed, visit the new late-night taco takeout window, Ventana Magica. Open from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on the weekends, this casual outpost is quickly garnering a following for chile con queso nachos loaded with pickled onions, chipotle-lime sour cream, and cilantro.last_img read more

A Presidents legacy Andrew Johnsons relatives return

first_imgcourtesy of Brandon Wrightby Thad Woodard, president and CEO, N.C. Bankers AssociationSchool children gather before the statue on the Capitol grounds in Raleigh every day to admire the three presidents noted as North Carolinians by birth: James Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson. But modern-day North Carolinians don’t know much about Johnson, a Raleigh native and our 17th president.I wanted to know more about him. A man who was born here in 1808, became president when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, who oversaw Reconstruction and was the first president to be impeached. My curiosity led me on a quest that began with the National Park Service, which administers the Andrew Johnson National Monument at his burial site in Greeneville, Tenn. I thought they might have information worth learning about.As a result, I was able to establish contact with Johnson’s two closest living descendants, Corinne and Emily Null, who live in New Hampshire. My wife Jan and I met for lunch with this mother and daughter near their home there. A friendship began, and the Nulls visited Raleigh in May. It was their first visit to the home of their great, great, great (and great) grandfather.The Nulls knew that Andrew Johnson had come from lowly beginnings and never attended school. They had heard stories about his parents working for Casso’s Tavern and Inn. When they went to visit that location, just across the street from where the Wells Fargo tower now stands, and not far from the Capitol and legislature, the Nulls realized that Johnson was likely exposed to politicians and legislators who probably debated issues over their meals and drinks. Surely that was a major influence upon the young man who sprang from meager beginnings to the highest office in the land.courtesy Brandon WrightWhen the Nulls visited Johnson’s birthplace and early childhood home, now on the grounds of Mordecai Historic Park, they were deeply moved. The curator gave them the keys so they could open the door and walk in as if it were their own residence. When the Nulls stepped inside, both thought it was a nice little place, but then realized that the Johnsons lived on the lofted second floor, above the kitchen and laundry facilities for what was once a working inn. It wasn’t until they ventured up the staircase that they were able to grasp just how far their ancestor came in his lifetime.Later on their tour, Corrine and Emily visited Raleigh City Cemetery, where Andrew Johnson’s father is buried. Jane Thurmon, chairman of the board of Raleigh City Cemeteries Preservation, guided the ladies around as if they were foreign dignitaries.   At Historic Oakwood Cemetery, under the guidance of director Robin Simonton and historian Bruce Miller, President Johnson’s relatives had a chance to hear stories about Raleigh’s most influential politicians and residents, many of whom Johnson knew and interacted with during his time in Raleigh or afterward in his national political career.These delightful ladies from New Hampshire – with a deep North Carolina heritage they had previously known little about – were struck by the connection that Andrew Johnson had to Raleigh during his developmental years, and as he served throughout his career.When the Nulls bade farewell to the hometown of their ancestor, they thanked the people of this city, then and now, for the preservation of so many important portions of Andrew Johnson’s history. Before they left, the two placed a wreath at the historic statue on Capitol Square that honors their ancestor.last_img read more

Up close and personal

first_imgFirst row: Summerific “Berrylicious” Hibiscus hybrid; Agave ovatifolia; Cynara cardunculus. Second row: Hosta “Stained Glass” hybrid; Dasylirion texanum; Summerific “Cherry Cheesecake” Hibiscus hybrid. Third row: Opuntia macrorhiza; Ardisia japonica “Hakuou”; Dasylirion texanumPhotographer Shawn Rocco took a trip to the N.C. Arboretum in late June. Using a 100mm macro lens, he captured some of the botanical beauties in the early evening light before a summer storm rolled in. The magnified perspective makes the plants seem otherworldy.last_img read more

Spotlight Not your fathers thrift shop

first_imgFather and Son AntiquesDon’t let the rack of vintage clothes plunked down on the sidewalk – or the store’s name, for that matter – mislead you. Inside the two-story emporium of vintage-ness on West Hargett Street, Father and Son Antiques also stocks a revolving assortment of sought-after mid-century modern furniture and accessories without the typical high-dollar prices. For nearly two decades, owners Brian and Kiyomi Ownbey has been selling these in-demand pieces along with vintage clothing, records, and “a little, kitsch too” to customers not only in Raleigh, but all over the country.Courtesy of Father and Son AntiquesChosen by The New York Times in 2009 as one of the must-visit places for 36 hours in Research Triangle, N.C. (before Raleigh was considered a destination of its own), the store has attracted mid-mod devotees – and celebrities like actress Hilary Swank – who keep up with new arrivals via Facebook and Instagram feeds. Savvy out-of-town dealers snap up bargains from notables like Bertoia, Eames, Knoll, and Saarinen and have them shipped sight unseen. Raleighites get to see what’s new in person while – vehicle permitting – taking home what they’ve scored instantly. So while loading up the George Nakashima chair, consider grabbing a ’70s Disco dress or a puffy ’80s one-piece ski suit for that upcoming Halloween party. -J.R.Father and Son Antiques: 107 West Hargett St. Find Father and Son Antiques on Facebook and Instagramlast_img read more

Natural treasures The extraordinary collection of Dr Jim Goodnight

first_imgGoodnight’s collection fills the SAS founder’s extensive office suite. He holds Pyrite Cubes in matrix from Navajun, Spain. The green mineral beside him is Prehnite from the Sichuan Province, Catherine Kimrey Breedenphotographs by Jimmy Williams “When I was a young boy, about 10 or 11 years old,” says Jim Goodnight, “and living on the edge of town in Greensboro, I’d venture out into the surrounding area and look for arrowheads and quartz crystals.”Years passed, and Goodnight’s boyhood fascination with natural objects found in or beneath the earth’s crust took a back seat to other interests while he earned distinction as one of the nation’s most successful entrepreneurs. The founder of multi-billion-dollar business analytics software giant SAS, Goodnight is also a philanthropist and advocate for education.“Then,” Goodnight says, “about 20 years ago I was at an antique store in Blowing Rock and saw a couple of nice specimens and thought they would look nice at home. That’s when I started collecting.”Emerald on Limonite from Hiddenite, N.C.    And so – with the purchase of a banded fluorite from China and a kyanite cluster from Brazil – began a significant mineral collection that sparkles and shines in the corridor leading to Goodnight’s office at Cary’s SAS headquarters.Numbering more than 400 items, the collection throws off every color of the spectrum and spills over into his office and conference room. Each specimen sits atop a Plexiglas pedestal. The name and provenance of each mineral is etched into its base.A year after his initial purchase, Goodnight says, he was in Sedona, Ariz., where 10 more minerals caught his eye. That began Goodnight’s habit, one that continues to this day, of buying 10 to 12 minerals, rocks, fossils – or perhaps a meteorite, dinosaur egg, or piece of fossilized wood – every year. Goodnight travels to gem and mineral shows to find the new additions. He says he goes with an open mind and selects only those objects that strike his fancy.For a man known to be taciturn and private, Goodnight is passionate and forthcoming when discussing his hobby. “Lately what I look for are things that are old and unusual,” he says. “Just looking at the beauty of nature and all the things that have been created inside the earth, you have to be amazed by all the colors and formations that are out there.”This emphasis on beauty is consistent with the sensibility of a man who, with his wife Ann, is a noted patron and collector of the visual arts.  He credits her with the idea, as his collection grew, of incorporating museum-style shelving in his office suite to house his treasures. He also mentions, as an aside, that she had made it clear there would be no rocks in their home library.As he shows a visitor around, it is obvious that Goodnight, a self-described “science and math person,” loves each piece of his collection. He points first to one and then another, extolling its color, structure, texture, point of origin, and other features that drew him to it. He picks up and cradles individual pieces, some quite fragile, in his large hands as he points out their appealing aspects.Here is pyrite from Peru, displaying the naturally occurring cube shapes that distinguish the mineral; there is pure white quartz from India looking like a cluster of icy snowballs; here is brilliant green malachite from the Republic of Congo; there is glowing purple fluorite, a perfectly preserved specimen presented on its matrix of sphalerite, from Tennessee. There is a 70-million-year-old nautilus-shaped fossil from Oklahoma; nearby sits a fossilized dinosaur egg from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.Viewing these treasures from nature, Goodnight describes their sculptural shapes and saturated colors as being the “first art; art that can’t be replicated by man.”A recent acquisition that Goodnight particularly prizes is a piece of crystallized gold from Kalgoorlie, West Australia.  He explains that the specimen, with its intricate and perforated shape, is rare because, unlike most gold, it has not been smoothed by water. And he mentions that North Carolina was one of the first gold-producing states.The collection contains a number of pieces from North Carolina, among them emerald on limonite from Hiddenite, which for many years had the only known emerald deposits in North America; mica and red garnet from Spruce Pine; agate from Reedy Creek in Raleigh; pyrite on quartz from Cary; quartz with chlorite from Durham; and pyrite in pyrophyllite and quartz from Glendon.Nineteen states are represented – from California with its pink halite to New York with its double-terminated crystal Herkimer diamond.All told, the Goodnight collection contains specimens from some 40 countries, ranging alphabetically from Afghanistan with its bicolor tourmaline to Zaire with its stunning combination of malachite and chrysocolla.While not many people are privileged to view and appreciate the collection in its entirety, Goodnight has loaned some special pieces to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, where they can be seen by the public.Betsy Bennett, the museum’s former director – for whom the Betsy M. Bennett Bridge to Discovery connecting the museum to its Nature Research Center wing is named – collaborated with Goodnight to select the 24 minerals displayed on that bridge.She is enthusiastic about the educational opportunities these specimens provide, and with their “wow factor,” which she says encourages learning in the museum setting. Bennett finds it gratifying to watch families and school groups discover and exclaim over the minerals, pointing out that the display also dovetails nicely with Goodnight’s longtime work to improve education for all children.Back in his office, Goodnight keeps a favored piece, a large citrine from Brazil, behind his desk. This golden colored quartz – known as “The Merchant’s Stone” – is associated with success, personal power, prosperity and abundance, especially in business.  It is also said to promote generosity and sharing.While Goodnight says that he doesn’t consider any of his minerals to be good-luck charms, the qualities attributed to citrine quartz are clearly reflected in his life as a visionary innovator and generous community contributor.In a poetic turn, Goodnight’s collection also contains two arrowheads that were discovered on the very site where SAS is located. Those arrowheads date to the Archaic Period, which is the second oldest known cultural period in North Carolina (c.8000 B.C. to c.1000 B.C.).The serendipity of this occurrence, bringing the past into the present, raises the question of whether Jim Goodnight’s Merchant’s Stone just might have some magical properties, whether he believes so or not.last_img read more

Oakwood oddities

first_imgDowntown’s Historic Oakwood offers plenty for visitors to see. There are period homes, lush gardens, and Raleigh’s oldest private cemetery. The News & Observer’s photo editor and staff photographer Juli Leonard took to these tree-lined streets with iPhone in hand to photograph some of the more unusual aspects of the neighborhood she calls home. Leonard says her limited equipment provided a creative challenge, and changed her perspective entirely. The result is a collection of mysteriously spooky images befitting the season.last_img read more

Making a list checking it twice

first_imgby CC Parkerillustrations by Emily BrooksLast fall, my husband and I decided it was time for our children to see Theatre In The Park’s A Christmas Carol. A friend suggested seeing a matinee at the Durham Performing Arts Center, then an early dinner at The Angus Barn on the way back to Raleigh.  Ira David Wood III’s riotous interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale has become a Raleigh holiday tradition. My mother took me to the premiere performance 41 years ago – of course, no one knew at the time what a smash hit it would become. The Angus Barn was a perfect spot for dinner, especially at such a festive time of year. For children, it is heaven on earth: unbridled snacking on the scrumptious gingerbread men plattered throughout the lobby, an elaborate antique gun collection displayed in the waiting area, and an upside-down Christmas tree. Live “elves” toss candy down to patrons from the rafters. (For adults, a libation from the Wild Turkey Lounge is a lovely bonus. Ho ho ho.)Imagine my shock when I called for A Christmas Carol tickets the week after Halloween and, alas, all the good seats were sold out!  Stumped, I called The Angus Barn to secure a table and, yet again, there was no room in the inn for the Parkers. Sold out – and it was the first week of November!Not long after my botched plan, I unpacked our 20-year-old Christmas decorations and realized that I could not resuscitate the wreath bow for our front door. It looked pathetic: a little, flaccid blob. I called Davenport at Five Points, my favorite place for all things green and decorative, to order a new bow. Carlette Peters, Davenport’s effervescent proprietor, was happy to make the bow on such short notice. The only caveat was that they had already sold out of her ribbon. Again, I couldn’t believe it – the holidays had truly snuck up on me.  I was unprepared.Obviously, times in Raleigh have changed: You have to make a reservation, order your tickets, and place your holiday orders a little earlier these days.But perhaps my loss can be your gain. With that in mind, here’s one Raleigh native’s guide to preparing for the holiday season – it’s a Five Points-centric list, reflecting just one perspective, so take it for what it is: My personal picks. At the very least, you won’t be left with nowhere to go, nothing to see, and a sad and crumbled wreath bow like me!Buy your ticketsA Christmas CarolTheatre In The ParkThis year is the 41st anniversary, and there’s no telling what Ira David has up his sleeve. Both DPAC and Raleigh Memorial Auditorium offer fabulous venues for this hilarious Raleigh tradition. December 9-13 (Raleigh Memorial Auditorium) and 17-20 (DPAC); $30-80; theatreinthepark.comThe NutcrackerCarolina BalletThe classic story with a splash of magic will be performing in Durham and Raleigh, too. December 12-13 (DPAC) and 18-27 (Raleigh Memorial Auditorium); $37-105; CinderellaRaleigh Little Theatre Another long-running Christmas tradition, Cinderella has returned to its home in the rose garden. The stepsisters are worth repeat visits. December 4-20; $33; Order your Christmas cards and thank-you notesPaperbuzz Longtime owner Jeana Young offers Christmas cards, holiday cards, and thank-you notes. Stock up on paper plates for Christmas Eve dinner as a gift to your spouse. The Alexan at North Hills, 4209-125 Lassiter Mill Road; 919-781-0351; If It’s PaperA fabulous variety of packaging will showcase your homemade goods (or re-packaging if you’re pretending the treats were made in your home). They also have lots of options for paper plates, napkins, and all sorts of wrapping boxes and accoutrements. Ridgewood Shopping Center, 3546 Wade Ave.; 919-615-4333; ifitspaper.orgStock your freezer with dinners for your familyNOFO @ the PigWhen in doubt go to NOFO for any and everything. You can fully stock your freezer from any number of local sources: casseroles, ham biscuits, caramel cakes, ice cream, Bloody Marys – the list goes on and on. 2014 Fairview Road; 919-821-1240; LadyfingersUnexpected house guests? Impromptu Christmas cocktails at your house? They are famous for their ham rolls (Amen) but everything in their freezers is divine.627 E. Whitaker Mill Road; 919-828-2270; ladyfingersofraleigh.comMake your restaurant reservationsThe Angus BarnMagic is in the air! Gingerbread cookies are offered in the lobby as a special treat at Christmas. Live “elves” toss candy to patrons from the rafters. As always when families dine at The Barn, children are invited to find a prize in the treasure chest and can decorate their own cake in the kitchen. 9401 Glenwood Ave.; 919-781-2444; angusbarn.comIrregardless Cafe and Catering They are open Christmas Eve 5-9 p.m. and Christmas Day noon-8 p.m. I’ve been told that Christmas Eve diners are also participants in an ad-libbed “play-along” with instruments provided by Irregardless. 901 W. Morgan St.; 919-833-8898; irregardless.comKankiAdmit it: At some point you will have had one too many ham biscuits. Kanki is open Christmas Eve until 9 p.m. 4500 Old Wake Forest Road, 919-876-4157; Crabtree Valley Mall, 4325 Glenwood Ave., 919-876-4157; kanki.comFamily outing to buy your children’s annual Christmas ornamentAcquisitions, Ltd. Don’t let the antiques scare you. Ben and Ross buy all sorts of well-priced ornaments that are darling, though you may want to pick up a new piece of Imari while you’re at it. 2003 Fairview Road; 919-755-1110; QuintessentialsThey have ornaments that will become your heirlooms. The Alexan at North Hills, 4209 Lassiter Mill Road; 919-785-0787; NOFO @ the PigWhen in doubt go to NOFO for any and everything. 2014 Fairview Road; 919- 821-1240; nofo.comBailey’s Fine JewelryChristopher Radko and more. Cameron Village Shopping Center, 415 Daniels St.; 919-829-7337; baileybox.comFluff up your wreath Davenport at Five Points A week’s notice is appreciated, and they are happy to use your ribbon. Prices start at $35. 2007 Fairview Road; 919-834-0336; davenportat5.comLogan Trading Company Family-owned and always reliable. Prices start at $30. Seaboard Station, 707 Semart Drive; 919-828-5337; logantrd.comNOFO @ the Pig When in doubt go to NOFO – I think you get it by now. 2014 Fairview Road; 919- 821-1240; nofo.comChrist Church Greenery SalePre-order various greenery, or buy the day of the sale. Plus, there’s lots of food to stock your own fridge or give as gifts. December 6, 10 a.m. – 12noon; 120 E. Edenton St.; 919-834-6259; christchurchraleigh.orgAnd then, treat yourself… House of LandorFind the perfect outfit: Mary Beth Paulson has a flair for modern and stylish high-end vintage clothing at affordable prices. Located within Finds vintage furniture store, 2009 Progress Court; 919-605-0982Parlor Dry BarBlow out your locks – they have lots of looks to choose from and glasses of champagne to heighten the experience. Crescent Cameron Village, 402 Oberlin Road; 919- 665-9816; parlordrybar.comStyle HawkPersonal stylists Helen Wallace and Alex Long put it all together in a way that jives with your own clothes. They’ve got the magic touch. Appointments via ToastSpray on a holiday glow here, where you can choose from several shades of brown. I personally love their logo. 3040 Berks Way, #102; 919-523-2569; toastarts.comlast_img read more

Due diligence

first_imgphotos courtesy NCMAA curatorial team dives into an island’s influence on American Impressionist Childe Hassamby J. Michael WeltonChilde Hassam was more than America’s foremost Impressionist painter. He was a global force, a peripatetic artist who wandered the world to paint Paris, New York, and the West Coast. But he found his muse on the humble and rustic Appledore Island, among the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. Invited there in the early 1880s by poet and author Celia Thaxter, Hassam returned to paint the island during 24 summers over the next 30 years. Its light, water, and rugged geological features appealed to him immensely, inspiring as many as 300 pastels, watercolors, and oil paintings – or 10 percent of his entire lifetime’s work. The finest of these works have been assembled by the North Carolina Museum of Art, with help from the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. and New York art historian Kathleen Burnside, for an exhibit on display through June 19. It’s called American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals. Four years in the making, the show got its initial start when John Coffey, NCMA’s deputy director of art, suggested adding three of Hassam’s Appledore paintings to the Goodnight Collection of American Art at the museum. In 2000, the first, Isles of Shoals (1907), was acquired from a New York gallery, followed by The Laurel in the Ledges, Appledore (1905) in 2007, and Morning, Isles of Shoals (1890) in 2010.Curators from NCMA and and the Salem Peabody Essex Museum spent multiple summers on Appledore Island locating the sites of several Hassam paintings.Following in Hassam’s Footsteps The acquisition of the paintings over a decade’s time piqued Coffey’s curiosity about the island’s influence on the artist. He sent an email inquiry to the Shoals Marine Laboratory, asking about locations where the three works might have been painted. His request was directed to Hal Weeks, who was then the Lab’s director.  Weeks “has a sort of hobby of locating Hassam painting sites,” Coffey says, “He knows Appledore Island like the back of his hand.” Weeks invited Coffey to the island four years ago, and it made an impression. “I was blown away,” Coffey says. Coffey ended up touring the island six times, starting in 2011. He first visited sites where Weeks pointed out how faithful Hassam had been to the the geology and the personality of Appledore. “He was painting a mosaic portrait of this one very small island,” Coffey says. “It’s  constantly changing – it’s fascinating – even though it’s small, it’s broken up geologically.” On their forays into the wild, Weeks carried a notebook of paintings and locations to match, taking Coffey from one corner of the island to another in search of the places where Hassam painted. “I dragged this guy’s butt all over hell’s half-acre on this island,” Weeks says. “He’s a real trouper – we’d schlep around, then stumble and fall – but he did that and kept on going.”Childe Hassam The Laurel in the Ledges, Appledore 1905 Oil on canvas 25 × 30 in. (63.5 × 76.2 cm) North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Promised gift of Ann and Jim Goodnight Courtesy of North Carolina Museum of Art The location for one particular painting was extremely difficult to get to; the pair had to carry a ladder, and get their feet wet, but the indefatigable Coffey was up for it all. “He was a lot of fun,” Weeks says. “He has an eye for what Hassam portrayed in his paintings – and the geology – much more so than I did.” Before long, Coffey was taking Austen Barron Bailly, the George Putnam Curator of American Art at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, along with him. She wanted to understand the way Hassam pushed his Impressionist style and techniques, and how he took license. “In some instances he was looking right at the site of a rock face in a watercolor,” she says. “Geologists today can tell what he was painting and what he was seeing and how he was turning up the volume of the color in those rocks – or manipulating the foreground to make it appear more monumental.” Eventually, Coffey and Bailly brought along the education staffs from NCMA and PEM to join them, along with a professional photographer, videographer, and sound recorder, as well as Coffey’s former curatorial assistant. Together, they experienced an unforgettable exploration of the artist’s intent. Bailly, who travelled to Appledore in 2013, 2014, and 2015, took notes of what the artist had painted there a century ago. “You see the island palette – the colors that became part of his artistic DNA,” she says. “I’ve seen it in all different weathers – the first time, it was socked in and cool, but last summer it was really hot – you felt the intensity of the sun beating down and the lack of shade. The gulls were everywhere – there was the incessant sound of seagull calls.”An Artist’s Retreat and Respite On their tours of the island, Weeks, Coffey, Bailly, and the rest carried yardsticks to fend off aggressive gulls protecting their nests. But when Hassam was painting there, they weren’t much of a problem at all. Appledore then was an artists’ retreat with a large hotel and cottages built by Celia Thaxter’s father. The hotel could house 300, and attracted wealthy society figures and literati from New England, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Hotel owners, sensitive to gulls harassing their well-heeled guests, kept their population down – probably with shotguns. Celia, 30 years Hassam’s senior, kept her own cottage and garden, where she raised flowers – poppies, pansies, pinks, and rose campions among them – for use by the hotel. These blooms would all become some of the first subjects of the artist’s work on the island. He painted seascapes from her porch, and watercolors and oils of the flowers she grew. “In the early 1890s, Hassam appears to have seen Appledore through Celia’s eyes,” Coffey says. His paintings illustrated her book, An Island Garden, published just before her death. “You can almost split up his work between the time Celia died in 1894 and his work in the 1890s – particularly oils and watercolors in the book,” says art historian Burnside, who’s been cataloging Hassam’s work for the past 30 years. “The watercolors might be among the finest work of his career – they’re a scrumptious, evocative, and multilayered Impressionism that is spectacular.” A pallbearer at Celia’s funeral, Hassam stayed away from Appledore for five years after her death. But when he did come back, he explored areas farther away from Celia’s cottage, and his work took on a new kind of fervor. “He turned his proverbial back on her garden and spent more time on things more nature-oriented on the north side of the island, rather than her house and garden,” Burnside says.An Elegy to Celia? Hassam did, however, return to one particular site – a spot where he’d painted a sunrise called Morning, Isles of Shoals in 1890. Ethereal and other-worldly, with a bright sun hovering over the horizon in a pink sky, illuminating ocean and rocks in the foreground, it’s a masterpiece from his early years with Celia. This time – in 1899 – he painted the same rocks, the same ocean, and the same horizon, but with a different orb – the moon – lightly floating in the nighttime sky. Moonrise, Isles of Shoals joined the earlier seascape as the only known pair that Hassam would ever paint. But why? Is there some kind of special meaning to them? Elegy may be the answer, though Coffey says he’s not quite ready to go that far definitively in print. “One dates from 1890, the year of Hassam’s first extended stay on the island,” he says. “The other dates from 1899, the year Hassam returns to Appledore after a long sojourn in France. In between is Celia’s death. So, I think it is possible to interpret this pair with its transit from radiant sunrise to wan moonlight as perhaps a metaphor for the loss of his friend.” It is that unusual combination of scholarship and feeling that Coffey, Bailly, and Burnside have brought to the exhibition, delivering new meaning to the phrase “due diligence.” The show is a tour de force of the artist’s work in a particular place and time, one that guides the viewer from geological explorations of rock formations to palette-knife sunsets and abstracted watercolors that slash through geology and the sea –  a travelogue of the island, seen through the eyes of one of America’s most accomplished artists.Childe Hassam painting on the porch of Celia Thaxter’s cottage, 1880–1910,archival photograph, Portsmouth Athenaeum, Isles of Shoals Photograph Collection, P21.095last_img read more

EVOLVE Movement

first_imgYoga teacher Carson Efird and husband Joe Westerlund, lead drumming and yoga classes.“There’s something about shaking off the Newtonian mechanical man-made time – minutes, seconds, days – that allows you to let go of tension and stress and the need to be perfect, or something other than who you already are.”–Carson Efird, yoga program director and teacher at EVOLVE Movementby Jessie Ammonsphotograph by Travis Long“A student said to me once, ‘I feel like I just  had a vacation in the middle of my week,’” says yoga teacher Carson Efird. The student had just finished a Wednesday evening class at EVOLVE Movement, which Carson typically teaches to the accompaniment of her drummer husband Joe Westerlund. She credits the class’s unique structure for the feeling. “When we align with our natural rhythms, whether it’s the rhythm of our heart or our breath – or the organic rhythm that a drum puts into space – we get back in touch with what I call our authentic groove.” Efird and Westerlund know that same feeling. “We met for the first time at an improvisation for dancers and musicians class,” Efird says. “I was dancing and Joe was drumming, and that was really the foundation that our whole relationship was built on.” They eventually married, moved from Vermont to North Carolina for Westerlund’s music, and opened a yoga studio in Five Points. On Saturday mornings, the couple offered a flow class to the tune of improvised drums. “It became a way of us spending time together and having a creative practice together,” Efird says.  A decade later – after a stint in Los Angeles, and the evolution of Efird’s yoga studio into EVOLVE Movement near Cameron Village – the couple have reintroduced the yoga-and-live-music sessions. On Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, “both of our professions come together and the spark of what brought us together shines through,” Efird says. This summer, they’re trekking to Westerlund’s native Eau Claire, Wis. to perform at a music festival. Along the way, they’ve scheduled yoga-and-drum class stops. The tour isn’t their first: They frequently travel nationally and internationally to teach, play, and study. Westerlund says the invitation for “everyone to follow their own tempo” appeals to yogis of every level. Whether you work up a sweat or enjoy long and leisurely stretches, all are welcome to breathe and listen. “It’s not like we’re counting off like in a dance class. We tap into a biological type of rhythm, a universal pulse.”last_img read more