Sunday, April 26, 2009

Maple View Farms

After watching the award ceremony, I decided it was too nice outside to spend it inside the computer lab at school. I wanted to go on a hike, but Nick hurt his knee during ultimate that morning so we decided to drive 15 miles into farmland in Chapel Hill to visit the country store of Maple View Farm. They are a dairy and the store features homemade ice cream, milk, chocolate milk, butter, buttermilk, eggs, beef, and gifts.

The store was buzzing with activity by the time we arrivedat 3pm. With rocking chairs on the porch, picnic tables, and a beautiful view of farmland, why wouldn't there be a crowd? There is even a hitching post for people who come on horses.

To start, Nick got strawberry ice cream on a sugar cone and I got butter pecan on a cake cone. We figured we'd try our favorite flavors first then branch out some other time.


The scoops were extra generous, almost overwhelming the small circumference of the cones. In fact, when Nick was in the process of licking his ice cream, the whole scoop fell off the cone! Luckily he was able to catch it in his hand. He was pretty happy that he caught it, but sad that the heat of his hand caused his ice cream to melt faster. My butter pecan was extra creamy with toasted pecans studded throughout.

We sat in rocking chairs licking our ice cream cones while looking out on beautiful green farmland and rolling hills. It was very relaxing. Afterward we decided to buy a few things to make the drive out worth it. We ended up getting a quart of chocolate whole milk, a dozen eggs, a pint of butter pecan ice cream, and an empty small milk bottle with the Maple View Farms logo. I have a slight obsession with glass bottles.

So imagine my delight when I saw this:

It's a collection of milk bottles from dairies across the country! If you look closely you might be able to make out Nick's profile in the reflection of the glass. =)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Washington Duke Inn and Robert Redford

This past weekend I walked to the Washington Duke Inn across the street from campus to attend a lunch for Robert Redford and the Board of Visitors for the Nicholas School. Redford was in town to accept the inaugural Duke LEAF award. I was boycotting the award ceremony because I think it's total crap (and they shafted the students because of it) but I'm willing to overlook my principles for some free lunch. =) I also wanted to see what the inside of the fancy hotel looked like.

The lunch was buffet-style: caesar salad, sesame green beans, cheese ravioli, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, shrimp and corn chowder, and bread with butter. I had a picture of my plate, but it turned out blurry because of the dim lighting. When we sat at our seats in the ballroom, a cream and fruit tart was waiting, along with water and unsweetened iced tea.

I thought the food was pretty good, especially for being mass-produced at a hotel. It probably also helped that it was free! Some of my dining companions were not impressed, however. The chicken was a bit overcooked and the ravioli a bit plain, but everything else was great.

Robert Redford sat at the tabel next to mine, and I kept trying to surreptitiously take photos of him. Here's the best one:

Afterward, we all lined up to meet him, but Dean Bill Chameides cut it off after the kids of some Board of Visitors got to meet him and shake his hand. I think he should at least have let Redford acknowledge the students with a wave! Little things like that make me wonder how much the administration really cares about its students, as opposed to the big donors.

Nick and I watched the award ceremony online, and Robert Redford's speech was the best one. All of the other ones just fawned over him, which gets tiring after a while. I am happy for him, but I'm sad that a long-standing student tradition such as Field Day had to be canceled for it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sushi and more theater

Edit: Apparently I forgot to upload the pictures!

On Thursday Nick and I went to a production of Pride and Prejudice on the UNC campus, which was an adventure (not all of it good). Beforehand, we stopped at Akai Hana for sushi in Carrboro, a town in which I have not had much experience. After getting confused by the street numbering, we finally found a little sushi restaurant which only had a few diners because it was just a little before 6pm.

I ordered the chicken teriyaki combination which came with chicken teriyaki, mixed tempura, rice, vegetables, a California roll, and salad and miso soup. Nick got the chirashi bowl. Then we decided to order two rolls: a spider roll and a salmon skin roll. Needless to say, it was a lot of food.

My combo was pretty solid if not outstanding. My friend Lyndsay judges Japanese places by the quality of their miso soup, and Akai Hana's version was pretty good. Nothing next to Zen Toro, but that's to be expected.

Nick enjoyed his chirashi but commented that there was way too much rice for the relatively small amount of fish he was given. This is coming from a guy who loves his rice. I thought the piped wasabi was a nice design touch.

Our rolls were mediocre based on texture and the variety of flavor presented. I decided I will only get salmon skin hand rolls from now on.

The Pride and Prejudice performance was marred by confusion of seating. They let people sit in our ticketed seats because we arrived at exactly 8pm (after getting lost) while people were still being seated and the performance had not yet started. They told us we could get our seats back at intermission, which meant awkwardly kicking out the people who had been in our seats during the first act.

I also had issues with casting and off-portrayal of characters. I don't mind if they set the play in a new era or have fun with the text. But I don't think you should totally change the essence of the character. I doubt Elizabeth Bennet would really be that weepy or Mrs. Gardiner really that silly. That is wholly reserved for Mrs. Bennet, thank you very much. Also, there was no chemistry between Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley. You didn't even get the feeling that she was desperate for him. Where's the fun in that?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Toast and a musical

I think I've mentioned Toast before in this blog but it's high time for a legitimate post. I've been there twice before, liking the place but not really liking my sandwich choice all that much. I take the blame for that in choosing badly for myself because Toast's quality is top-notch.

Nick and I ate here for dinner before watching Legally Blonde at the Durham Performing Arts Center back on Tuesday. I just hit the end of a bad week and the Tax Day special meant we could go for $15 each. Score!

At Toast, I finally hit on a great sandwich choice for myself: the rapini, Italian sausage, roasted garlic, and asiago fresca. It was full of different textures and flavors that all worked together really well. I also got a salad on the side.

Nick ordered the prosciutto, tomato, and mozzarella sandwich that he really liked. He also ordered the soup of the day which was a minestrone with pasta, garbanzo beans, asparagus, and parmesan. It was light and good.

The performance was excellent and lighthearted. It was a night of fun and not a lot of thinking which was what I needed. DPAC is amazing, thought the gradation of the seats are a bit steep. Here's our view from our top row of the balcony seats:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Some home cooking

In the beginning of April Nick and I took time to make something new at home during the horrific two weeks I just had. Inspired by a picture of katsu curry on Gastronomy, I decided I wanted to make it. Nick is already skilled in making katsu and we happened to have a block of Japanese curry sitting in the pantry so it seemed like a perfect fit. After researching on a good side dish, we made a shredded cabbage salad with a custom ginger-miso dressing.

It took a while, but Nick made the katsu perfectly while I did the curry with ground beef, carrots, and onions and made up the salad and dressing. I think I'm getting the hang of the homemade dressing now!

Here's our dinner on April 5th:

Looked delicious and tasted delicious, too.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring banquet

I decided to keep posting while I have a small amount of free time on my hands. Last night Nick and I attended the Nicholas School's spring banquet at the Durham Hilton. We had awards presentations, a slideshow, a cocktail hour, and a 3-course dinner with a salad, entree (choice of vegetarian or chicken) and caramel apple pie. It was a lot of fun to see everyone dressed up and dancing the night away after a stressful week. I'm posting a few preview pictures, but you can see the whole album here. Some of the pictures were blurry because of the dim lighting. =(

Pho 9N9

Two weeks ago I was extremely homesick and decided that even though I was extremely busy, we'd have to remedy it somehow or I'd never get anything done. So, Nick and I headed over to RTP to have dinner at the best (out of a whopping total of three) Vietnamese restaurant in Durham, Pho 9N9. Apparently the name stems from the fact that the restaurant used to be open from 9am to 9pm.

We ordered goi cuon (spring rolls), bun bo hue (spicy beef noodle soup) for me, pho dac biet for Nick, and some com cha thit nuong to go for lunch tomorrow. It was all decent, and hit the spot, especially the goi cuon. My mom used to make them for me after school sometimes. I am thinking I will try to make them myself when the weather gets warmer and I have some free time.

At the end of the meal the owner's daughter took a liking to me and showed me her teddy bears. She proceeded to diagnose and fix their ailments while I dutifully held the doctor's bag and concurred with her recommendations. Nick was pretty amused by the whole thing.

It was a good way to cure the homesickness. By the way, my lunch the next day was excellent.