Scatterbrained…

There are so many things I’m thinking of writing about at this moment – and none of them are connected to the others.  So I apologize in advance if this post seems like one long, frightening stream-of-consciousness exercise!!! After reading the first draft of this post, I decided that section headers were definitely in order!!

The following is an abbreviated list of topics rattling around in my brain: what I’ve been doing for the last two days, my first nitro cold-brew experience, the horrific sound my laptop is making, last night’s dinner, why I hate humidity, noosa yoghurt, the benefits of iPhone reminders, what to do today…… Ugh, sometimes I wish I could reboot my brain!

LAPTOP
I’ll start with the horrific sound my laptop is making.  Approximately every 25 seconds it sounds like my laptop is slogging up the hill on my most challenging walking route carrying 500 extra pounds!  It’s kind a high-pitched whine of exertion that lasts about 15 seconds.  I fear this, coupled with the fact that the laptop no longer holds a charge, means I’ll soon [or NOW] be in the market for new technology.  New technology IMHO is a double-edged sword.  It’s exciting…..shiny, fast, light, small…..but it’s also sad….saying goodbye to this laptop that has served me well – we know one another’s idiosyncrasies, I know exactly how far I have to stretch my left pinkie finger to hit the [ctrl] key and I could identify it with my eyes closed because of the double-sided tape residue on the top!  It’ll be like a melancholy goodbye when you drop a friend off at the airport knowing you won’t see them for a long time AND the excitement/expectancy of a first date all rolled into one!

NOOSA YOGHURT
Ok….on to noosa yoghurt! I’m sure there are some of you out there that have known about noosa for years, but I am relatively noo noosa lover.  The first noosa I tasted was Key Lime and it remains my favorite; however I also like the raspberry and coconut A LOT!  Last time I went to the grocery store I bought the noo apple flavor by mistake – it’s in the same color packaging as the Key Lime.  I’d say to date, the apple is my least favorite flavor but it is good and if I had to choose between noosa apple and a different brand of yogurt, I’d choose the noosa. Although I haven’t noticed them in stores, I just discovered on the noosa website that they make two interesting flavors I’ll now be on a quest to locate – blackberry serrano and raspberry habanero!!!  So why do I like noosa? It’s sooooo creamy (mouthfeel really does matter when it comes to enjoying food), it’s not too sweet and the 8 oz. size makes a great meal that keeps you full.  But, never fear, they do offer smaller sizes as well and they offer plain noosa in a 24 oz. container!  Something for everyone.  To learn more about noosa, visit their whimsical website!

WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST 2 DAYS –  MY FIRST NITRO COLD-BREW EXPERIENCE – LAST NIGHT’S DINNER
Now I’ll tackle: what I’ve been doing for the last two days, my first nitro cold-brew experience, and last night’s dinner.  Ready?  Let’s go….

NITRO COLD-BREW
Tuesday I woke up with a craving for coffee [I am fully aware that I wake up with a craving for coffee every morning; however I do not indulge it every morning] and a plan.  I showered, dressed, ate a noosa (I’m not kidding) and hopped in the car.  I set waze to take me to BREW.  [I could go on a rabbit trail here talking about how helpful waze has been on this trip; but I’ll resist the temptation]. Incidentally, I am here at BREW again writing this post!

I arrived at BREW and was lucky to get the last available table – throughout the time I lingered at BREW people came and went, but the tables were always at a premium. There are several outdoor tables, however I did not choose to take one of those [this might be a great place for rant about why I hate humidity – but I will spare you].

Nitro cold brew (NCB) was my drink of choice.  It was my first nitro cold brew experience and was inspired by their menu, which reads, “Iced Nitro Cold Brew – Cannot be described with words.”  I’ve heard about nitro coffee, but haven’t had the opportunity to try it until Tuesday. Nitro cold brew is cold brewed coffee charged with nitrogen to give it a rich, creamy head – similar to a nitro draft beer like Guinness.  The nitrogen effect cuts the acidity of the coffee and [because of a lot of sciency stuff about the size of the nitrogen bubbles] gives the coffee a thicker mouthfeel (it is a strange coincidence that I’m writing about mouthfeel again)!  The coffee tastes sooooo smooooooooth.  So smooth, in fact, that I drank the first one without cream or sugar, which is somewhat miraculous for me.  Yes, I did write FIRST ONE.  It was so good that I had a second one, which I regretted at 1:00 a.m. when I wasn’t sleeping.  So today, I’m enjoying a nitro cold-brew again, but I’m drinking it earlier in the morning and only having one!!!

CAMERON VILLAGE
After the second NCB and a shot glass filled with salted mixed nuts I embarked on a shopping adventure.  I strolled through several shops at Cameron Village, the first shopping center between Washington D.C. and Atlanta which opened in 1949.  Of course it has evolved over time, but it has always included apartments, homes, retail, office buildings and grocery stores.  Although it was really hot and humid [this might be a great place for rant about why I hate humidity – but I will spare you] I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon at Cameron Village. When I left Cameron Village I had not completely scratched my shopping itch, so I took a quick ride to the North Hills area (where I walked on Monday) and hit a few shops there too.

POOLE’S DOWNTOWN DINER
Although I was invited to join Jeff and his cronies for dinner, I opted to keep shopping and find dinner on my own.  And I’m glad I did.  I took the opportunity to try Poole’s Downtown Diner.  ‘Diner’ alone is not a fair, complete description so I’ll borrow the description for their website and hope that it gives you a truer glimpse into Poole’s…’A modern diner with reimagined comfort food.’

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Poole’s started as a pie shop in 1945 and due to customer demand quickly began offering savory options. Eventually the pie shop moved out and the location morphed into Poole’s Luncheonette.  Although Poole’s still embraces its double-horseshoe lunch counter, it has a modern, hip, dark vibe. And I love that “Don’t forget kindness” is stenciled on their front window!

I read the chalkboard menu (I wish there had been a handheld version of the menu, but understand the kitsch) with an open mind, but the review that I had read about their macaroni au gratin repeated in my memory.  Ultimately I decided on a glass of Albarino, the macaroni au gratin and haricot verts with shishito peppers, lemon and fried garlic.

I enjoyed a book, some people watching and my wine while I waited for my food.  And by the time the macaroni au gratin and haricot verts arrived I was really hungry [no, the food didn’t take too long, I took too long to decide where to eat].  The first thought that went through my mind when the waitress set down my food was, “I’m going to eat every last bite.”  HA!!!!  The portions were generous, but the reason I couldn’t eat every last bite was the richness of the macaroni au gratin.  It was incredibly comforting, smooth, and gooey with a just-right crispy cheesy crust on top. The haricot verts were the perfect complement to the mac-&-cheese, although I thought they would have been better without the butter.  In fact, had I known they were finished with butter I likely would not have ordered them as my side – I would probably have chosen the roasted beets with summer melon.  But they were DELIGHTFUL – the garlic was fried to perfection and added a wonderful nuttiness to the dish, while the lemon added a periodic burst of freshness.  I would have liked more shishitos because they added an unexpected flavor to the dish. My glass of Albarino was cold (but not too cold) and crisp with the perfect sharpness against the creaminess of the macaroni au gratin.

Poole’s was an excellent choice!

By the time I got back to the hotel, Jeff was there.  He was tired from a long day of training and a yummy, filling Italian dinner.  So he decided to read and I, after taking a little time to digest, made my way to the fitness center to walk off some of the creamy goodness of my dinner at Poole’s. About an hour later I returned to the room, showered and fell into bed – only to toss and turn for a while with my eyes wide open and my brain spinning from the NCB!!!!!

RALEIGH STATE FARMERS MARKET

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Yesterday I did not indulge the coffee craving…..I needed to detox from the caffeine overload on Tuesday.  But I did have a noosa for breakfast!  After breakfast I threw on some workout clothes, a baseball hat and sneakers and jumped in the car for a quick drive to the Raleigh State Farmers Market.  My first stop was Market Imports – a large shop on the market grounds that sells everything from garden art and planters to furniture, reclaimed architectural pieces and home and garden accessories.  I had fun wandering through the “aisles” and looking at all the interesting offerings.  Then I went through the market stalls and enjoyed the aroma of fresh peaches and other produce in the air.  I admired lots of native plants and relived a frightening memory of the pineapple peppers I purchased at the RSFM last October.  The signage on the pineapple peppers indicated in October (and still does today), ‘sweet and spicy.’ I take issue with that description.  In fact, if I had to describe them I’d choose, ‘lip-meltingly hot…hazmat suit required.’  But, as usual, I digress!!!

HISTORIC OAKWOOD CEMETERY
Wanting both a nice walk and a bit of local culture, I opted next for a stop at the Historic Oakwood Cemetery.  It may sound strange, but Oakwood Cemetery is listed in the guidebooks as a must-see in Raleigh and it was the perfect place for a peaceful walk. And as an added bonus, Tom Unger and Mark Shuey, it is an historic confederate cemetery!!!  I spent about an hour at the cemetery – sometimes briskly walking and others studying the tombstones and snapping pics of the beautiful surroundings.

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After my walk I was craving something nutritious so I typed the address from the Cold Off the Presses website into waze and began my short drive – or what I thought was my short drive.  When waze announced, ‘you have arrived’ I was in front of a pile of rubble.  I drove around the block twice but wasn’t able to locate my destination.  So I pulled over and typed ‘Cold Off the Presses’ into waze and found a different address.  So I followed the path and again was promised, ‘you have arrived,’ which I had not.  Again I circled the block to no avail and finally gave up (not my usual MO), drove back to the hotel and ordered what turned out to be a sadly ordinary (maybe even less than ordinary) room service salad.

I was again graciously invited to join Jeff and his cronies for dinner and decided to do just that!  I spent the rest afternoon reading in the air conditioning and taking my time getting ready for dinner.  I even took the time to do my nails, which ended up bubbling [this might be a great place for rant about why I hate humidity – but I will spare you] but at least were polished.

18 SEABOARD
With the address for the restaurant in waze, I left to meet the guys for dinner and arrived moments after they did (had it not taken so long to make a left onto Peace street I would have arrived at almost exactly the same time)!  Interestingly enough, 18 Seaboard (our dinner destination) is right across the street from BREW.

18 Seaboard serves contemporary Southern-style dishes with over 60% of ingredients sourced from North Carolina farms, ranches, fishmongers and dairies. And it does so quite well!  The group shared several appetizers including: Crispy Pamlico Sound Shrimp with Texas Pete Aioli, the Heirloom Tomato Sampler with goat cheese and balsamic drizzle, Fried Oysters with a delicious herb pesto, and Fried Okra.

Everyone in the group tried the Sneads Ferry She-Crab Soup, which was really yummy, but not nearly as good as the she crab soup at the now defunct Market Inn in D.C.  Oh, what I would give for a bowl of that soup and a tiny pitcher of sherry!!!!  Anyway…..for my entrée I had the hardwood fired trout with charred peach vinaigrette, cheddar grits and grilled asparagus. Oh my goodness!  Not only was the restaurant perfumed with the aromas of oak and hickory (two of my favorite scents), but the trout was enveloped in those flavors as well and the smoke profile was just right….I could easily identify the smoke, but could still taste the freshness of the trout.  The grits were cooked to perfection and the asparagus was grilled exactly to my liking – still al dente, but definitely not raw – also had a hint of smoke and tasted great with the peach vinaigrette.

Jeff ordered a wonderfully chocolately dessert…..a chocolately chocolate cake in a mug, with a warm fudgy sauce and a scoop of bruleed marshmallow fluff!  Since I was already so satisfied from my meal, one bite of dessert was enough.

The service at 18 Seaboard was spot on – attentive and friendly, but not intrusive.  Our group was visited and modestly thanked by chef/owner Jason Smith, who also sent out a plate of tiny chocolately brownies dusted in powdered sugar and topped with a drop of caramel sauce.  I enjoyed the food and getting to know some of the guys from Jeff’s class and am humbled to have been invited to join them.

Note: Being with a new group, I did not feel comfortable snapping my usual pics during dinner.  

THE ENDING
I am happy to report that my laptop did not die…YET.  Although I didn’t cover all the topics whirling through my brain when I started this post, I do feel less scatterbrained.  I still haven’t decided what to do today, but my knee is stiff from sitting so long and my coffee is precariously low [perhaps I can attribute the ‘less scatterbrained’ to the low coffee] so it must be time for a long walk.  While I’m walking I’ll think about how I’ll spend the afternoon after a refreshing shower!  There’s lots of Raleigh that I haven’t seen yet.  And there’s Durham.  The world is my oyster……did someone say oyster? Maybe still a little scatterbrained!!!