Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I'm Finally Going to Pepper Fest!

I have wanted to go to this event for years, but something has always come up that's kept me from snagging tickets ($30 here)... until this year, y'all! Can you imagine how excited I was when my girl Cherith from Clairemont Communications gave me a buzz to ask to me to volunteer as a beer judge? Well dang, Cher... twist my arm, why don't ya? (PS: Thanks for the invite, giiiiiirl!)

Billed as, "(The Amazing Pepper Festival is) a celebration of sustainable agriculture, farmers, renewable energy, and the creativity of the Piedmont’s chefs, brewers and artisans. An afternoon of fun, food, children's educational workshops, breweries, distilleries, music and entertainment!", I'm pumped to make the 20 minute trek over to Chapel Hill for my first taste of the fest. Be sure to tune in on Instagram and see just how much heat this girl can sample in one afternoon.

So here's what you need to know - especially if you might be able to find yourself in Chapel Hill on the afternoon of Sunday, September 27th!

Tickets get you:

  • The most delicious pepper-themed dishes from some of the Piedmont’s best chefs and food artisans using locally grown and produced food.* (Alcoholic drinks not included - bring some extra $$.)
  • Live music - The Stacks are playing! Tania Elizabeth (of the Avett Brothers) and Andy Stack.
  • Participation in fun activities for kids and adults about local farms, renewable energy, and the abundance of great local food in and around the Triangle!
In addition to spending the afternoon enjoying flavorful, and occassionally spicy, dishes and drinks, you can feel pretty darn good knowing that all proceeds benefit Abundance NC

Who is Abundance, you might ask? They're "About Us" page reads: "At Abundance, we aim to be a hub of community resilience in central North Carolina, sourcing out the abundant local opportunities for us all to live and act sustainably, and bringing people together to exchange ideas and build the communities we want to live in." Quite simply put, the group believes: "We don’t have to rely on goods and services brought in from elsewhere to eat well or to live fulfilling lives. We have everything we need to create a flourishing and interdependent community, right here at home."

Local and sustainable. I am definitely down with that. Add peppers and afternoon cocktails? I'm in.

Hope to see y'all there! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Garner Ups Its Game

You'd think a small town like Garner would really embrace the local indy business movement, but the busiest places on the weekend are almost always chain concepts - that's why i'm really excited to share a few new places that are earning my local dollars.

Zin Yoga Studio & Wine Lounge
This business isn't as new as the following two (maybe around for a year or so, already?), but what Kara is doing here is pretty innovative. Yoga + wine = in one place. Get your yoga on at this Aversboro Square studio and then after class, enjoy samples of wine, indulge in a glasses, or take a few bottles of wine home to enjoy. Occasionally, Kara has even turned the studio into a pop-up dinner venue with featuring the culinary talents of Chef Joe from Backyard Bistro and the wine knowledge of Cory Sloan from Tryon Distributing. I've taken several yoga classes here with both Kara and Mary and have enjoyed all of them. And I love the variety of days and times that they offer classes. Sunday afternoon zen session? Yes, please!

And yes, of course, I've also sampled the wine and thoroughly enjoyed that too. :-) Check out the class and event schedule schedule online at Namaste, y'all.

The Beerded Lady Bottle Shop
Just down the street from Zin is The Beerded Lady Bottle Shop, Garner's first (and currently only) craft beer indy retailer! (Kroger grocery store doesn't count, kids.) Gal pal Adrianne and I popped in last Sunday after yoga to check this spot out. It had just opened that week, so they were still getting a lot of things worked out - like the right inspections and permits to be able to serve flights and ciders. All good things to look forward to as this new business grows. In the meantime, grab some friends, family and neighbors and taste your way through their draft menu - which is fun to do 5 ounces at a time... a unique offering I haven't seen before in this area. Read up on what's available at and then visit them in the 5th Avenue shopping center.

Click here for more pictures! (Note I have GOT to move this blog over to WordPress so I can create a nice gallery for these things!)

Krafty's Burgers & Brews
Also just opening last week is Krafty's Burgers & Brews in Garner's White Oak shopping center, next to the movie theater (where Shuck 'Em Shack used to be). Johnnie Bud and I stopped in last week at the friends and family event to wish owner Robert Stapleton well in the new venture. Keen observers might notice the bar is a carry over from Robert's original Napper Tandy's in downtown Raleigh that was located in Powerhouse Square. (Napper's has since moved to Glenwood Avenue, but Robert kept one of the bars and re-used it here.)

We were on a tight schedule when visiting and didn't get a chance to try any food from the menu, but are looking forward to getting back for a visit soon. There are actually quite a few vegetarian-friendly items for me, including a "build-a-burger" option that has a veggie burger base choice! No website yet, but check out updates from their Facebook page at

Click here for more pictures from Krafty's!

Are there any other new, locally-owned businesses in Garner that I need to check out next weekend? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

New Favorite: Chanticleer Cafe & Bakery in Cary

Having grown up just a few miles from the intersection of Tryon Road and Cary Parkway, I've seen a solid handful of businesses come and go from the corner free standing building in the Wellington Park shopping center. This is the first that I think has a real shot of lasting!

Chanticleer Cafe & Bakery is open seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., and I've read that they hope to expand into evening hours, too. Visit them at 6490 Tryon Road in Cary.

I stopped in a few weeks ago to grab a quick lunch to-go when I was on that side of town and totally loved the Apple & Brie Panini (Sliced Apples and Brie Cheese with Dijon Mustard on a French Baguette) - although it was hard to pass up the Grilled Cheese option (Ashe County Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheeses toasted between thick slices of white bread). I'm a sucker for anything with brie, but i'll probably order the Grilled Cheese next time I find myself over there for lunch - especially with fall approaching and it's a done deal if I can get tomato soup on the side. Both paninis and sandwiches are served with your choice of potato chips, cole slaw, pasta salad or garden side salad. I chose the potato chips and was pleasantly surprised to find that these are large, house-made chips. #NailedIt

Check out the full menu that includes breakfast and salads online at (Their website,, also offers separate menus for their coffee selection and bakery items.)

I asked for four sweet bakery items (manager's choice) to be packed in a to-go box to send home with my client who I was meeting with after lunch. The total bill for my sandwich and side, plus the sweet goodies to go, was less than $20.

Save Room for the Sweets!
On a second visit about a week and a half later for brunch/lunch, the Manfriend, my parents, and I all ventured around the menu. Johnnie and my dad both enjoyed breakfast sandwiches served with Ashe County Cheddar, eggs, and bacon on croissants. Mom ordered a salad and it was so large, she took half home for later. I ordered the Caprese panini (Italian Bread brushed with Olive Oil and filled with Basil, Fresh Mozzarella and Sliced Tomatoes) and although it was good and exactly what you'd expect with basil, mozz, and toms, the Apple & Brie still ranks above it for me.

This time around, we ordered a French Chocolate Silk Tart which was served basically as a mini-pie. Although the crust was a bit too tough to break with a fork easily, it didn't our four-some from cutting it up into smaller bites and devouring it. The chocolate silk was true to form - super light, yet rich, and a perfect end to the meal - even though we did sneak a few bites early after we sat down and were waiting for our sandwiches and salads. For all four of us, plus the single dessert, the total bill was about $40.

Each time I've been, there have been equal amounts of diners enjoying the outside seating as well as inside. I've never had to wait long and on each visit, the service has been friendly.

According to the N&O's food writer, Andrea Weigl, the bakery is owned by chef Craig Freeman, a longtime Raleigh caterer and owner of Edible Accolades.

If you're local, stop in soon and let me know what you think of this new local spot in the comments below!