Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy anniversary

Nick and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary with dinner at Piedmont and a performance of Rent at the new Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). We had reservations for dinner at 5:30pm, which was when the restaurant opened, and we were the first customers that night. It soon filled up with theater patrons, however.

On theater nights Piedmont has the option of a prix-fixe meal of three courses for $30. I opted out because I was more interested in other things on the regular menu. I ordered the maple-glazed pork belly with sweet potato puree and crispy shallots as my first course and black pepper tagliatelle with parsnips, roasted garlic, and local greens as my entree.

Nick, of course, opted to go with the prix-fixe. He had housemade country pate with dijon, pickled vegetables, and grilled bread for his first course. His entree was a crispy leg of duck confit with potatoes lyonnaise and braised kale, and for dessert he picked the ricotta cheesecake with fig and cherry compote.

I have to say that the maple pork belly was worth the $10 it cost for a tiny portion. The maple glaze was delicious and everything worked really well together. I was less than impressed with my black pepper tagliatelle, though. It was very bland and the black pepper did not go well with the parsnips.

One of Nick's favorite things to eat is pate so his first plate was totally cleaned. I really enjoyed the pickled vegetables, and I'm sure they went well with the pate. I think it's funny how I hate American dill pickles but love just about any other kind of pickled vegetables, especially Japanese tsukemono and Taiwanese pickles.

The crispy skin of the duck confit and the braise kale were the highlights of his entree. The two small bites I had were more than enough to convince me that I should have ordered a meat-centric entree. I think meat is the strength of the kitchen at Piedmont.

He enjoyed his dense ricotta cheesecake while I had one of the better cups of decaf coffee in Durham. We then drove a few minutes to the brand new DPAC and its shiny glass facade. Our seats for Rent were less than ideal because they were at the very top row. It is set up as stadium seating so it was a very steep view to the stage which made me feel woozy.

Aside from that the performance was really enjoyable. This current tour of Rent includes two original cast members in the roles that made them famous. I thought the singing was great and the set worked well for what they were trying to accomplish. I feel that DPAC needs to be more inclusive to the student population of the Triangle area. We were spoiled by the Mondavi Performing Arts Center and their dirt-cheap tickets for students in the orchestra section...

I miss Davis.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Restaurants are my happy dance

I wrote this post back on Monday, but was too busy to add pictures to it until now. Enjoy!
I should really be working on my chemistry homework but I decided instead to update the blog...for all of my readers. =) I am excited because I have gotten to eat at two places in Durham that were on my list (although one was #6).

After a hard first full week where I was at school for 8-12 hours every day, I decided I was in need of an end-of-the-week reward. I already had to give myself chocolate cookies Tuesday through Thursday to make it through (they are from Francesca's and cost $1 each and are awesomely delicious). I knew that these fancy restaurants I couldn't quite afford going to for dinner had great deals during lunch. After looking through all my choices I decided that Nick and I would eat lunch at Watt's Grocery, a champion of local food and recipient of lots of glowing reviews.

We made it there around 12:30 and waited in the packed restaurant. I had no idea that reservations were helpful for lunch on a weekday. We were seated at the table closest to the door, which made for a cold lunch since it was 20 degrees outside. Nick and I (well, really me) ordered a whole bunch of food: a bowl of the sweet potato bisque, a catfish po' boy with salad (me), the housemade bratwurst on pretzel roll (Nick), a side of deviled eggs, and for dessert: a butter pecan rum cupcake.

The sweet potato bisque was my favorite part of the meal. It was creamy and a little spicy and perfect for the frigid weather.

Our sandwiches were also delicious. I decided that I really enjoy fish sandwiches. The salad was a little overdressed. Nick enjoyed his bratwurst and the fries even more.

The presentation of the deviled eggs was cute. They were good, but I wondered how I ever ate so many in one sitting as a kid.

We shared this cupcake at the end. It was really, really good. The cream cheese frosting balanced nicely with the cupcake, but the cake itself was my favorite part. It was studded with pecans and had a really good mouthfeel.

On Saturday I watched Duke beat Georgetown. It was a pretty exciting game. I did not fully realize how short our team is until I saw the really tall guys on the Georgetown team. Cameron stadium is super small, and every point we had to cheer or boo or rile up the team. It was really an insane atmosphere in there. I think Gerald Henderson could totally make it in the NBA. He's definitely the best player on the team.

On Sunday I dragged Nick, Emily, and Tali with me to Rue Cler (#2 on the list) for a French bistro brunch. I forgot the camera, which really depressed me. Suffice to say, the presentation was great. The main reason I wanted to go for brunch was the tantalizing mention of beignets on the menu.

I ordered a 1/2 dozen beignets for the table ($4) and they were so good I could have eaten all six myself. For brunch I ordered chicken paillard on greens with brie. It was delicious, but the romaine lettuce leaves were cut into long strips that made it difficult to eat. Nick got the Oeufs Rue Cler (sort of the French-style eggs benedict) that he enjoyed. Emily got the French toast made from French bread with bananas. I tried some and they were delicious. Tali ordered the omelette of the day, which was very dainty and came with a salad on the side.

I made a mental note to return some time and check out the Rue Cler bakery next door. I'll be sure to bring my camera!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The start of a new semester

I've had class for four days now and I think I'm getting back into the swing of things. What's nice about coming back from break is that everyone is happy to see each other again and equally sad about starting classes.

This past weekend was filled with things to do, which was a nice break from home. I like relaxing as much as the next person, but there is something so great about going out with friends and people happy to see you.

Friday night we checked out the new bar in town, called the Pinhook. It's a membership-only club because it doesn't serve any food and it's legally bound to do so. On Friday night they just had us put our names down on a sign-in sheet and voila, we were members. My first impression was that it was a very hipster hang out spot. Red walls, people lounging in tight pants, and old school video games. I liked it. It happened to be a dance party that night, but Emily and I agreed that it would be a cool place to just hang out sometime.

On Saturday Nick and I headed to the mall where we scored some deals. I got a white coat for $19.95 that was originally $100 at Aeropostale and Nick got a cool slate gray heavy cotton shirt from the Converse by John Varvatos for $20 that used to be $225 at Urban Outfitters...insane!

We had to rush home from the mall for a birthday dinner for Emily. Around 20 people showed up and shouted "Surprise!" as she walked in blindfolded with Lisanne. She felt nauseated, poor thing. Afterward we went dancing in Chapel Hill at "The Library" that had a pretty good DJ. And yes, Nick danced! My friends dragged him onto the dance floor.

Now I just need to get through my first full week of class. I've got a pretty heavy schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but at least I made it through my first one!
One week from today: 6 years.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sadly jealous of a 10 year-old

I used to be a dancer. I was pretty average, and not nearly as good as this 10 year old girl who choreographed a short routine to Britney Spears's "Womanizer" song:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back in NC

First day of school with rain: not good. Class at 8:30am and then from 6:00pm to 8:45pm: even worse.

What a nice welcome you have for me, Duke/North Carolina! The only way you can make it up is by having better weather tomorrow and making sure the weekend is awesome.

I just bought tickets to Rent at the Durham Performing Arts Center for our anniversary. We are downscaling from Hawaii last year due to our reduced means, but I think it'll still be awesome. We are planning on having dinner at Piedmont beforehand. The head chef there does his own charcuterie. Did you know he used to be a vegetarian until he worked at the French Laundry under Thomas Keller? Hahaha.

I'm taking it easy during my break today. Plans are for some lunch at our favorite taqueria, La Vaquita, and some market shopping. I'm planning on hitting a new Asian mart in to me anyway.

Here's to 2009!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Last day in California

I'm procrastinating on packing to go back to North Carolina. Lucky Nick gets two more days. I had dim sum today and it was good. I stocked up on groceries at the Chinese supermarket. Now I have to figure out how to stuff my suitcase so that it doesn't weigh over 50 pounds...I bought a lot of stuff. Let's see how many unique to (or cheaper in) California things I did this break:

1. See/play with my nieces
2. Dim sum with carts
3. Seven courses of beef
4. Hainan chicken
5. Fosselman's ice cream
6. Korean BBQ
7. Passionfruit tea with lychee jelly
8. See the Jellies
9. Izakaya food
10. See my cousins
11. Had homemade banh canh
12. Ikea
13. In-n-Out
14. H&M
15. Forever 21 flagship in Pasadena
16. Bought bento supplies
17. Zara (Old Town Pasadena)
18. Papersource
19. See my grandma and aunts and uncles
20. Watch tv on my dad's HDTV

Not bad. I'm sure there are a million other things I could have done, like see the new library or go to the Getty, but it's a pretty substantial list. Now I think I'm looking forward to being back in Durham, except for the school part. And the freezing.