18 Seaboard {triangle restaurant week}

Triangle Restaurant Week is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants.  Participating restaurants offer special three-course menu options and fixed pricing, a great opportunity for residents and visitors alike to indulge in the area’s finest cuisine!

I have made it a personal goal to participate in Triangle Restaurant Week every year.  As soon as the dates are rolled out, I immediately pencil it in my calendar and pray that I’m able to make it happen.  If you remember, last June we went to Bida Manda during Restaurant Week (and it remains one of our favorite restaurants).  This year we decided to make reservations at 18 Seaboard.  Years ago I ate at 18 Seaboard with a friend and I’ve always wanted to go back with Big Guy.  18 Seaboard is owned by the same group that owns another one of our favorite restaurants, Cantina 18 (by the way, if you’ve never been and you live in the Raleigh area – go! – the best sangria ever).

As usual, Triangle Restaurant Week did not disappoint.

Starters

Chilled carrot soup with garden pea oil and radish salad

N.C. fresh lettuce with holly grove goat cheese, sugar snaps, blueberries and M&M Farms herb vinaigrette

Heritage Farms pork terrine with mustard, pickles and grilled bread 

salad

Big Guy started with the soup and I obviously had to try a spoonful.  Great flavor and texture!  You could really taste the pea oil.  I started with the salad and there is absolutely nothing better than fresh, local lettuce.  So crisp!  The sugar snap peas were a welcome addition and goat cheese makes everything better.

Entrees

12 hr braised pork cheek with sautéed spinach, Carolina Plantation hoppin john and Poblano cream

Spring Vegetable Lasagna with Johnson Farms squash, zucchini, peas, and house herbed ricotta

Pamlico Sound shrimp with duck fat grits, Johnston County asparagus and smoked bacon butter

pork cheek

It took us a while to decide which entrees to order – we both were eyeing the pork and the shrimp – but Big Guy ended up with the shrimp.  The grits were surprisingly sweet, which I loved, but I think it threw Big Guy for a loop.  I wish the shrimp would have had a little bit of a sear on them for some color.  The pork cheek was amazing.  Seriously one of the best parts of a pig (sorry, it’s true).  I loved the combo of the rice, spinach and pork but when eaten alone, the rice was rather bland.  Not to mention this was a huge portion.

Desserts

Banana Pudding Sandwich w/ vanilla wafers

Hot Mug of Chocolate Cake w/ marshmallow fluff

Lemon crème brulee w/ coconut macaroon

My favorite part of this dinner – dessert!  I am typically a chocolate girl so I surprised us both by not ordering the chocolate cake mug.  But I am so glad I didn’t go my usual route.  I’ve been on a lemon kick lately and I just can’t get enough.  This might be one of my favorite desserts ever.  I am obsessed with the lemon + coconut combo now and I really want to recreate this sweet treat.  Big Guy ordered the banana pudding sandwich and while the banana pudding was a strong contender against any Grandmama’s puddin’ – the vanilla cookies just weren’t a favorite.

We left full – but not overly stuffed – and completely happy.  While I can’t say that 18 Seaboard is my new favorite restaurant, we both really enjoyed dining on three courses at a restaurant we had never been to together.

And now I have to wait patiently until the next restaurant week rolls around…

 

Friday Favorites

Schoooool’s out for the summer!!!!

{image via}

But I’m not.  Whomp Whomp!

But I love summertime so-so much and am excited that we have a plan-free weekend ahead (the first in over a month).  I’m looking forward to hanging around the house, getting a much-needed massage (!!!), catching some rays at the pool while reading a good book and just spending some quality time with Big Guy.

Here are some of my favorites from the week!

Favorite Cooking Adventure:  Goat Cheese-Stuffed Fried Zucchini Blossoms.  I must find zucchini blossoms.

Favorite Spin:  Watermelon, Feta and Balsamic “Pizzas.”  Instead of a side salad…

Favorite Update:  Pineapple Bedding. I am dying over this bedding.  It makes me want to update the guest bedroom.  (Pretend you didn’t read that, Big Guy.)

Favorite Summer:  Whipped Feta-Ricotta with Shaved Zucchini, Grilled Corn and Chimichurri Vinaigrette.  How gorgeous is this bowl of food?  I need it in my life.

Favorite Studs:  “anyway you slice it” earrings.  These just make me smile.

Favorite Flavors:  Heirloom Potato Salad.  Anything involving roasted fennel and bacon is good in my book.

Favorite Vegetarian:  Spinach-Artichoke Enchiladas.  One of my favorite appetizer dips turned into a healthy entree.

Favorite In Season:  Blueberry-Thyme Pie Bars.   This is why I’m going to the Farmers Market on Saturday morning.

Favorite Splurge:  Strut Your Stuff pouch.  How perfect is this to hold my lip gloss/lip stick/chapstick?

flamingo

Favorite Cocktail:  Blueberry Salty Dog.   It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

And now it’s apparent that I’m obsessing over flamingos and blueberries this week.

Cheers!

Chicken + Avocado + Peanut Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Warning:  This might become your new favorite summer salad.

A crisp, green bed of salad greens.

Creamy avocado slices.

Crunchy, nutty peanuts.

Mild red onion slices.

Tender grilled chicken breasts seasoned with salt, pepper, chili powder and a little bit of cayenne pepper.

And finished off with a drizzle of nutty yet tart vinaigrette.

My favorite bite included avocado, peanuts and the vinaigrette.

I loved the use of sesame oil instead of EVOO or canola oil in the vinaigrette – SO much flavor.

A seriously delish combo.

 

 

Ultimate Smoothie Bowl

I almost titled this post “The Weekend That Took Three Days to Recover.”

It’s Wednesday and I’m finally feeling normal after our weekend.  But it was totally worth it.

I haven’t had so much fun in our hometown as I did this past weekend.

You might recognize these two from Sonoma.  Well they came back into town as our guests for Member-Guest weekend at the country club and let’s just say we think we started an annual tradition.

I spent the weekend laughing and playing (and drinking) with some of my favorite people in the world.

But I’ve always said that life is about balance.  So to make up for the mimosa that I had on Friday morning (and all the bubbles I drank the rest of the weekend)…

We enjoyed Ultimate Smoothie Bowls for dinner on Monday night.

I felt healthier just making this bowl of goodness.  And even though it’s super healthy, it’s also super filling.

That’s the best part of a smoothie bowl – there’s some bulk in there and it takes you longer to eat.

The base of the smoothie is almond milk, frozen banana chunks, frozen berries, protein powder and peanut butter.

And on top of the smoothie you’ll find all the good stuff – granola, berries, chia seeds and banana slices.

Detoxing never tasted so good.

2015 Summer Reading List

One of my favorite summer activities is sitting by the pool with a good book in hand.  I’ve put together a summer reading list for myself so that I’ll never be without a good book to read.  Think of this as your grown-up summer reading list – similar to the lists that were distributed at the end of the school year to keep you reading over the summer.  Except there won’t be a text come September.  Promise.

1.  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes  

I am almost finishing reading this book but I wanted to include it on the list because it’s so good!

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

2.  The Vacationers by Emma Straub

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: Oover the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together.

3.  Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin

It was a culinary journey like no other: Over the course of 195 weeks, food writer and blogger Sasha Martin set out to cook—and eat—a meal from every country in the world. As cooking unlocked the memories of her rough-and-tumble childhood and the loss and heartbreak that came with it, Martin became more determined than ever to find peace and elevate her life through the prism of food and world cultures. From the tiny, makeshift kitchen of her eccentric, creative mother to a string of foster homes to the house from which she launches her own cooking adventure, Martin’s heartfelt, brutally honest memoir reveals the power of cooking to bond, to empower, and to heal—and celebrates the simple truth that happiness is created from within.

4.  The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer

Sensible thirty-six-year-old Sophie Anderson has always known what to do. She knows her role in life: supportive wife of a successful architect and calm, capable mother of two. But on a warm summer night, as the house grows quiet around her and her children fall asleep, she wonders what’s missing from her life. When her husband echoes that lonely question, announcing that he’s leaving her for another woman, Sophie realizes she has no idea what’s next. Impulsively renting a guest cottage on Nantucket from her friend Susie Swenson, Sophie rounds up her kids, Jonah and Lacey, and leaves Boston for a quiet family vacation, minus one.

Also minus one is Trevor Black, a software entrepreneur who has recently lost his wife. Trevor is the last person to imagine himself, age thirty and on his own, raising a little boy like Leo—smart and sweet, but grappling constantly with his mother’s death, growing more and more closed off. Hoping a quiet summer on the Nantucket coast will help him reconnect with Leo, Trevor rents a guest house on the beautiful island from his friend Ivan Swenson.

Best-laid plans run awry when Sophie and Trevor realize they’ve mistakenly rented the same house. Still, determined to make this a summer their kids will always remember, the two agree to share the Swensons’ Nantucket house. But as the summer unfolds and the families grow close, Sophie and Trevor must ask themselves if the guest cottage is all they want to share.

5. The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.
 
When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities,The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

What’s on your summer reading list?

Friday Favorites

The weekend is here, the weekend is here!  Yes, it was another short work week for me and I couldn’t be more excited for the weekend ahead.  Big Guy and I have never been able to participate in Member-Guest weekend (only the biggest weekend of the year at the country club) because of other obligations.  But this year we’re taking part in all the festivities and the best part is that one of our favorite couples (our wine/food/travel buddies) is coming into town to be our guests!  Eeeeeek!!!  And while I’m not sure how well the guys will do in the golf tournament – I can assure you that it’s going to be a weekend full of fun with all of our friends.

But before I go convince the sun to come out so we can go to the pool, here’s my favorites from the week:

Favorite Flavors:  Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits.  I can’t even handle this dessert.

Favorite Crispy:  Hash Brown Waffles.  There’s never been a better reason to have breakfast for dinner.  Or breakfast for lunch.  Or breakfast for breakfast.

 

Favorite Summer:  Marcel Romper.  If being 31 and wearing a romper is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Favorite Up-Grade:  Roasted Potato Salad with Mustardy Old Bay Dressing.  Now I’m just waiting to get invited to a summer cookout…

Favorite Travel:  The Bespoke Scandi Houseboat.  I can’t even imagine.  There’s a few of the water in every single room!

Favorite Dinner:  Chicken and Goat Cheese Enchiladas.  We love enchiladas.  And goat cheese makes everything better.

Favorite Wake-up:  Homemade Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk {for iced coffee}.  Last Saturday morning in Nashville, three of us set out on foot to find iced coffee.  And once we did, it was the best thing ever.  Now I just need to start making it at home.

Favorite Dinner Party:  Vietnamese Braised Beef Tacos.  Can a party of two be considered a dinner party?

Favorite Indulge:  Mini Ricotta + Parmesan Cheesecake.  These must happen A to the SAP (aka immediately).

Favorite Tropical:  Toasted Coconut Pineapple Cocktail.  This reminds me of our honeymoon and our trip to St. Thomas.  Oh, what I would do to be on an island right now drinking out of a pineapple…

Cheers!

Lemon-Herb Chicken Skewers with Blueberry-Balsamic Salsa

Typically I meal plan on Sundays.  I lay out what the evenings look like for the week and go from there.

But this past weekend didn’t quite go that way.  I had a late afternoon arrival into Raleigh after being in Nashville, TN all weekend and then I met up with Big Guy for an errand at the mall followed by a sushi date.  Arriving home at 8pm on a Sunday night after being gone all weekend is late for this gal.  That’s typically when I’m getting ready for bed on Sunday nights (sorry, I’m not sorry).

Seeing as though I left the bags unpacked and on the floor (the horror!) I can assure you that no meal planning happened on Sunday night.

However, waiting to meal plan on Monday before I left for work ended up having it’s advantage.

I arrived at the gym on Monday morning way before the sun came up (I was also cursing myself for being so dedicated to my 5am classes) and one of my friends arrived with a pint of fresh, local blueberries just for me.

As soon as I saw the blueberries I knew they were making their way into my dinner plans for the week.

Those sweet, succulent blueberries were destined for Lemon-Herb Chicken Skewers with Blueberry-Balsamic Salsa – a recipe that caught my eye the moment I flipped through my latest issue of  Cooking Light.

The recipe is fairly simple but it does require about an hour of hands-off work – that is time for the chicken to marinate.

The chicken (I ended up using organic chicken breasts because our grocery stores never have a decent selection of chicken thighs – note to self:  stock up at Trader Joe’s) is marinated in a mixture of garlic, parsley, basil, cilantro, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and fresh cracked black pepper.

While the chicken marinates, make the salsa.  Half of the blueberries, balsamic vinegar and honey is brought to a boil and then simmered until thick and syrupy.  Be sure to use a spoon to mash the blueberries as it cooks.

The other half of the blueberries are given a quick whirl in the food processor before being added to a bowl with the cooked blueberries along with the other salsa ingredients.  I totally forgot to buy a red onion at the store so I used green onion that I had from the night before.

The chicken is then grilled to perfection and served with the sweet and sour blueberry salsa.

Word to the wise:  double the blueberry salsa.  It would be fantastic as an appetizer with goat cheese and crackers.

Just sayin’.