by 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.
by 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.
by Mimi Montgomeryphotographs by Jill KnightWhen a friend approached Lily Chan a couple of years ago about starting a dragon boat festival in Raleigh, she was hesitant. “Are you kidding me?” Chan said. The founder and president of the Asian Focus group, which aids Asian Americans, worried her nonprofit organization was too young. “We are only about four years old. This is a huge project and there is a lot of organizing involved.”Yet she dove in. And last September, the group hosted its first annual Dragon Boat Festival. Fourteen community and corporate teams participated in the race, and more than 3,000 people came to watch. This year, on September 19, Chan predicts over 20 race teams will compete, and as many as 5,000 fans will cheer them on.Dragon boat racing is originally associated with the Duanwu Festival, a Chinese holiday that commemorates the death of the Chinese poet Qu Yuan. When the poet was banished from the Emperor’s court, he jumped into a nearby river; the local villagers attempted to save him by racing out in their boats, and the tradition of dragon boat racing was born.In recent years, dragon boat racing has boomed in popularity. The tradition has evolved beyond the Chinese holiday and become a beloved sport, with multiple festivals in over 60 countries dedicated to celebrating the act of racing itself. Originally popular in Hong Kong and Europe, the sport made its way over to Canada and has now trickled down into the United States – even all the way down into North Carolina. In May, Charlotte celebrated its 16th annual Asian Festival and Dragon Boat Festival.In Raleigh, Asian Focus partnered with Pan Am Dragon Boat Association, a Florida dragon boat production company, which provided boats. While each boat has a sleek, streamlined structure for modern day racing, the ornate dragon heads and tails are a nod to ancient Chinese origins.Each racing team is composed of 20 paddlers, a drummer who keeps the pace, and a team member at the back of the boat who steers. Needless to say, a great deal of synchronization is required. “The key is not how strong you are, it’s the organization,” says Yun Chuu, vice president of operations for Asian Focus.Some teams are made up of experienced dragon boat racers, such as the Raleigh Dragon Boat Club. Others will be out there just for fun – many local corporations, school clubs, and community groups have formed teams as a way to bond and increase cultural awareness. “Last year, one of the school groups that had no experience whatsoever won the championship in the B Division,” Chuu says with a smile. “They were so happy.”In addition to the races, the festival will host over 60 booths and 32 performances throughout the day. There will be live music, a children’s area with games, food, a health fair, a magician, and even an international fashion show. Each activity is targeted to boost cultural and international appreciation. “This is more of an international festival instead of just a Chinese holiday,” says Chan. “It’s beyond just that … Our objective is to promote diversity, to promote culture, to promote cultural understanding, and then offer all these different facets of tradition and ethnicity and bring people together cross culturally.”Sept. 19, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; free; Koka Booth Amphitheatre, 8003 Regency Parkway; dragonboatnc.wix.com/festival
WRAL’s Monica Laliberte poses with Idle, a Golden and Labrador Retriever cross at WRAL’s gardens in Raleigh.by Mimi Montgomeryphotograph by Travis Long“If I could have 12 dogs, I would.”– Monica Laliberte, WRAL 5 on Your Side reporter and Canine Companions for Independence volunteerYou probably know Monica Laliberte as the face of WRAL’s 5 On Your Side, fighting for the rights of consumers. Fewer know that when she’s off duty, Laliberte fights for another cause: the rights of people with disabilities to live independent lives. For the past 11 years, she has been a volunteer trainer for Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit that provides assistance dogs.In her early reporting days, Laliberte covered a piece on assistance dogs and was instantly intrigued. “I thought this was a great thing that my whole family could be a part of that was charitable,” she says. They tried it and were hooked – her family recently started training their seventh puppy.Each Canine Companion volunteer undergoes a rigid screening process and is educated on how to properly train an assistance dog. Then they receive a puppy from the organization’s California headquarters (usually either a golden retriever, labrador, or a mix) and train it for 18 to 20 months on socialization, commands, and manners. Once the puppy graduates, it’s sent “off to college,” as Laliberte puts it, where the dog works with professional trainers for six to 10 months on everything from how to open and close drawers to how to retrieve things out of the fridge. It’s an intense process. “These dogs pretty much have to be perfect,” she says.Of course, each dog’s graduation comes with a bit of heartache. “We cry our eyes out every time,” she says. “It’s kind of like giving up a child.” But she knows each puppy will go on to serve a huge purpose. “I think it’s so fulfilling…to see how these dogs change people’s lives. How they not only just help people to function in everyday life (but also) the social interaction that that dog can provide people – it’s just huge.”
Goodnight’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, China.by 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.
Courtesy of Leslie Herndonby Liza RobertsWhat nature can create, the gardener can nurture, tame, and frame. And, if you’re Greenscape floriculturist Leslie Herndon, turn on its head and hang on a wall.Live, vertical, growing artwork is what Herndon creates year-round at Raleigh’s Cameron Village. With feather grasses and annuals, evergreen herbs, ferns, cherry tomatoes, and ivy, among many other plants, Herndon creates giant vegetal “paintings” to brighten otherwise-blank walls and spaces. These works incorporate a multitude of hues and textures, scents and shapes. She has made them to commemorate events, to celebrate seasons, and to encourage people to stop and smell, touch – even taste.First patented in 1938 by University of Illinois landscape architecture professor Stanley Hart White and made famous more recently by French botanist Patrick Blanc, living walls – or vertical gardens, as they’re also known – represent a horticultural trend that has found its way to Raleigh and seems here to stay. The new Citrix building downtown, for instance, is home to a massive, two-story living wall that hangs from a crane left over from the building’s previous life as an industrial warehouse. Designed by the Baltimore firm Furbish and Alliance Architecture of Durham, the Citrix wall is home to 8,000 plants from 14 different species, including philodendron, orchid, and fern.Courtesy of Leslie HerndonNot to be confused with wall-covering climbing vines like ivy or jasmine, walls like these incorporate live plants in individual containers, happily growing vertically and in precise formation. The growing-vertically part turns out not to be that big of a deal for the plants, Herndon says. It’s the tiny space for their roots that’s the challenge. It’s one of the reasons that living walls are hard to care for and haven’t yet gone mainstream outside of corporate settings.Constant watering helps. Typically, watering systems are built into the scaffold or frame that holds the living walls up. The infrastructure at Cameron Village doesn’t allow for that, so Herndon’s creations are watered by hand six days a week.They’re worth the effort, which begins with painstaking planning and experimentation. Herndon begins with a life-size sketch. She maps out color, shape, and texture, and decides what plants will help her achieve the desired effect. Then she plants the creations and waters and fertilizes them in careful conditions for up to eight weeks before installation.Her inspiration comes from lots of places. She created an edible wall this past summer to help promote healthy living. Cherry tomatoes, basil, thyme, oregano, arugula, radishes, and carrots were all featured. It worked. “People actually ate things off the wall,” she says. “We had to rotate the plants out to replace them.”Another time, she created a planted replica of Claude Monet’s famous painting San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk (above). “I wanted to do something different,” she says. “I’m a big Monet fan.”Courtesy of Leslie Herndon
by Jessie Ammonsphotographs by Missy McLambAt Tutu School Raleigh, enchantment is par for the course. “I believe in that experience that I have when I’m dancing, in sharing something – movement, music, storytelling – with an audience that’s magical,” says Lara O’Brien Muñoz, principal dancer with the Carolina Ballet. It’s why she chose ballet years ago, and it’s why she opened Tutu School Raleigh. “Being able to give the young members of our community that sense of magic is an extension of what I’ve been doing professionally for the past 15 years. I get to share it in a unique way.”O’Brien Muñoz first became enthralled with dance as a girl growing up in Chicago, where she took lessons with her best friend, Genevieve. “The experience we had of moving to music was so joyful and freeing and gave us so much,” she recalls. “We both went on to dance professionally.”Genevieve Custer Weeks settled in Northern California, where she eventually opened Tutu School, a boutique dance studio designed to nurture the carefree atmosphere she and O’Brien Muñoz had loved as children. Meanwhile, O’Brien Muñoz landed a position at the Carolina Ballet and moved to Raleigh. Despite a schedule brimming with rehearsals, she had “seen Tutu School in action for years,” and couldn’t shake the urge to open a Raleigh version. “It didn’t seem worth waiting,” she says. “We just worked it out.”In June, the studio opened its doors in Glenwood South. Parents of aspiring ballerinas and ballerinos (from 18 months to 8 years old) pay a monthly membership rate that covers weekly dance lessons – O’Brien Muñoz often teaches, alongside a staff of other trained dancers – plus regular special events. Last month, the young dancers helped paint nearby crosswalks as part of the Cool Walkings public art project, and they’re getting excited for a Nutcracker tea party, open to the public, on December 19.The school’s approach in all things is whimsical rather than militant. “I don’t believe that you should be training prima ballerinas when they’re 6,” O’Brien Muñoz says simply. “It is something to dedicate your life to, should you choose to take it on. It takes a lot of discipline and structure and self-motivation. But when you’re young, it can be a much more joyful, warm, encouraging environment.” For more information on Tutu School Raleigh, including monthly membership rates, visit tutuschoolraleigh.com. On December 19 from 3 – 5 p.m., O’Brien Muñoz will don her Carolina Ballet Sugar Plum Fairy costume for a Land of the Sweets tea; the public is welcome, RSVP at [email protected] or 919.792.8032.
“At the end of the day, a good job is key to people’s quality of life.”–Tim Giuliani, Raleigh’s new Chamber of Commerce presidentby Mimi Montgomeryphotograph by Travis LongNot many kids want to be a chamber of commerce president when they grow up. But even at a young age, Tim Giuliani, 33, knew he wanted to be a leader in his community. “From the first grade, I was involved in student government,” he says. “I actually ran for treasurer and I couldn’t even really count.” That early tenacity paid off: In May 2015, Giuliani became the youngest person ever to be appointed president and CEO of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. He believes his age is an asset to his role as chamber leader: “By hiring somebody young it sends a message to young entrepreneurs, startups, emerging business leaders that … the future is here,” he says. “I represent that turning to the next generation for leadership.”Giuliani was previously the president and CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce in Florida. His time there prepped him for his transition to Raleigh, which has one of the largest chamber organizations in the Southeast. The move from Florida to Raleigh was a big one, but Giuliani says he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. “To me, this is a very special place,” he says. “Not only is it a great place to live, it’s also a place that’s growing and is progressive.” And Giuliani looks forward to guiding that growth: He cites solid job opportunities as the number one determinant of municipal expansion.As a long-time Floridian, Giuliani has a bit of trepidation about the winter. Thankfully for he and his family, Raleigh has a lot of indoor activities, too. “In February, there will be a lot of days at Marbles,” he says. His children Tyler, 9, John Parker, 6, and Analeigh, 3, are huge fans. “We got a membership … they love Marbles.” It’s these little things that make Giuliani glad to live and work here. “To us, this is a great place where we could raise kids.”
by Jessie Ammonsphotographs by Nick PironioPerson Street Bar is about community. “The cocktails are a consequence of spending time with people,” says co-owner and founder Jeff Clarke, above. He and his partners, all close friends, live in Oakwood, walking distance from the watering hole on North Person Street. “I’m not saying we’re the first neighborhood bar,” says Clarke, “but I do think we’re a unique neighborhood bar. It’s a little more Type B, a little slower paced. We spin records. It’s a nice place.”It was during a particularly crowded night downtown about three years ago when Clarke, attorney Justin Pasfield, and IBM employees Joseph Maxey and Walker Bradham found themselves unable to get another round of drinks. The men envisioned a Cheers-like alternative to the late-night crush, and Clarke, who had learned the ropes of hospitality at hipster haunts like Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill and Kings in downtown Raleigh, had been looking for an opportunity to open a spot of his own. “I’d written a business plan for a bar and a coffee shop and was sitting on them.” The time had come: The foursome decided to go in on it together.It took a year and the help of still more friends – some from high school and college days – to transform the warehouse into an open space with black panelled walls, a stained wood bar, and lush back patio. The craftsmen they hired were local. The builders were local. The art they chose was local, and now rotates often. When possible, drink ingredients are also local. “People are the reason a place like this happens,” Clarke says. “Get the most creative people and give them a platform. We’re lucky to have so many wonderfully talented friends.”Today, it’s the gathering place the friends had envisioned. The team behind the bar – a close-knit crew drawn from Clarke’s deep network – keeps it welcoming. “Our staff has driven most of our success,” says Bradham. “They’re well-liked and they brought their own crowds in, too.”Clarke and his partners are quick to say that Person Street Bar is not a rejection of the downtown scene as much as a refreshing complement, and a reflection of their Oakwood/ Mordecai community. It “really needed a hub,” says Bradham, “a place for the community to come and be social and talk about ideas and politics and sports. People walk, they can bring their kids and their dogs.”Person Street Bar has a logo on the front door, but no sign. Instead, block letters spell out “Peden Steel Co.,” a nod to the space’s former tenant that jibes with its current mid-century-modern-meets-industrial aesthetic. On any given day, at least one of the bar’s owners is there, alongside longtime neighbors catching up, cyclists refueling from a ride, the suited after-work crowd, creative types brainstorming, and everybody in between. “The foundation of everything we’ve done is focused on the neighborhood, the customers, the staff, and the atmosphere of welcoming community,” says Pasfield. “We started from there, we still start there, and then it takes on its own life.” Person Street No. 6Drinks at Person Street Bar lack titles. “When you seasonally rotate a cocktail menu, and we do, that’s a lot of names,” explains Clarke. For simplicity’s sake – and to keep the focus on the drinks’ quality ingredients – they’re numbered instead of named.12 blueberries6 blackberries2 mint sprigs2 ounces Redemption rye whiskeyDash Agnostura bitters1 ounce Blenheim’s ginger aleIn a cocktail shaker, muddle 10 blueberries, 5 blackberries, and a small fresh mint sprig. Add whiskey, bitters, and ice, and shake. Double strain over new ice in a rocks glass and add ginger ale. Garnish with 2 blueberries, 1 blackberry, and 1 smacked mint sprig.(Smack the mint by placing it in between your hands and clapping them together. This helps release the herb’s flavor.)
“This is about relationships. It’s not about how much coffee we can put out there in the world.”– Lem Butler, Counter Culture Coffee employee and national barista championby Jessie Ammonsphotograph by Christer BergIt’s not every day you meet a national champion, but around here, it’s as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee. You may be served by Lem Butler, who by day works in wholesale customer support at Durham-based Counter Culture Coffee, and by night and weekend is a renowned barista. After winning the U.S. Barista Championships in April, he earned fourth place in the World Barista Championships in Dublin in June. Butler, who can sometimes be found behind the coffee counter at Jubala, training the baristas at Joule, or at a latte art throwdown at Bittersweet, didn’t set out to become a competitive barista. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, the Raleigh native “saw an ad for a barista position starting at 6 a.m.,” he says. “I didn’t know what a barista was, but I was a morning person so I thought I’d go for that early shift.” His post-grad stint at an on-campus coffee shop soon “turned into this rabbit hole career in coffee.” He was driven by the people at first: “I kept meeting these coffee geeks who knew so much more than I did. That’s what kept me coming back … You continue to build and re-hash those relationships.” As he traveled to trade shows, he learned about barista competitions, too – and he was good at it. Competitors make 12 drinks in 15 minutes: four espressos, four cappuccinos, and four signature drinks. They’re judged on the taste and appearance of their drinks, as well as their overall performance. “It’s kind of like fine dining … You treat the judges like the top customers in your cafe, and you create an experience for them.” With competitions satisfying his cafe service fix, Butler entered another side of the industry when he joined the Counter Culture team in 2007. There, he maintains and discovers wholesale customers and farmers. The exclusively wholesale coffee roaster was founded and is still based in Durham, where it supplies a slew of cafes across the country, including local spots Jubala Coffee, Sola Coffee Cafe, The Morning Times, Joule, and Bittersweet. “We want to be sure their philosophy fits our philosophy,” Butler says of the shop-roaster rapport. “We’re looking for relationships we can continue to grow with, and vice-versa.” That means Butler often steps in behind the bar to pull an espresso or pour a latte, working side-by-side with shop employees. “I’m a better coffee professional and I understand coffee more now. But there’s always more to learn.”counterculturecoffee.com