Sunday, August 31, 2008

Could It Be?

I saw a backhoe, bricks, and survey stakes on the lot between Joe's and the old Bennigan's building. COULD IT BE MOE'S???

Neuse Sport Shop in Kinston

Neuse Sport Shop is about halfway between Raleigh and Salter Path. This was the place to stop for a bathroom break and a snack on the way to the beach. I haven’t been here since 1991 and was I ever surprised. This store used to be one big open area with mostly fishing and hunting supplies, a few snacks and drinks, and a clean bathroom. The store has been expanded to at least twice its original size and the new brick front looks very inviting. The expanded store now includes the kind of gift shop that the ladies love and even a menswear shop. I saw candles, prints, collectibles, clothes, fun hostess items and even the Gullah food kits. These goodies are in addition to the usual fishing gear, guns, camping supplies, boat shoes, and tee shirts. They carry Crocs, Sperry Topsiders, Sweet Tea shirts, Columbia, and Life is Good items. You can still get a candy bar and a drink, but one area of the store has been outfitted with a cafĂ© that sells sandwiches and coffee. The updated bathrooms are still very clean and the variety of merchandise will give you the opportunity to stretch your legs before the rest of your journey if you’re beach bound. I also noticed that they stay open until 11pm on Friday nights which is great for the after work travelers. I was ecstatic that one of my old stomping grounds is not only still around after all these years, but is now even more appealing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sweet Magnolia Cakes

Tonight (Friday) I was able to enjoy two of my favorite things: bluegrass music and dessert! I haven’t been to Fourth Friday in downtown Fayetteville in awhile, but Big Medicine, a band from the Triangle, was playing at the library, so we grilled an early supper and slipped in just around the second song. Afterwards, we headed up the hill to the Belmont Village for dessert. Diane Simmons has a little nook in the back of the restaurant filled with the yummiest of sweets. On Fourth Fridays, she offers a selection of several of her best desserts with coffee or tea for $5.o0. I had the peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake and Nick had an individual lemon tart. Both were delicious and the coffee is really good, even the decaf. Those of you that know Diane know that she is the undisputable queen of the cheesecakes. I have never known anyone who could make so many different flavors of cheesecake. Of course I am a self admitted chocoholic, but my favorite flavor is actually the Raspberry with the phyllo dough crust. Only one phrase can describe this for me, “out of this world”. Diane sells desserts by the slice or by the cake. She would be delighted to provide the sweets for your next special occasion. You can catch her at the Belmont Village or at her website, And don’t forget September’s Fourth Friday is just around the corner!

Minding the Pedestrians

A few weeks ago my friend Beth took me the Vietri outlet in Hillsborough with pit stops to Trader Joes and Crabtree Valley Mall. She had her husband's Tom Tom GPS with her and now I am coveting one. She has it set on a British accent, and who can tell me why ordinary things like going to the bathroom sound so exotic with an accent? ("Would you direct me to the loo?") Anyway, I was telling my husband about it, but of course I am in a frugal mode, so it's way too expensive. The other day on our trip to RDU, I decided to engage our poor man's GPS. I begin repeating phrases that the Tom Tom uses such as "straight on", "continue on the motorway" I added a few of my own from my favorite back seat driver, Hyacinth Bucket (she pronounces it BOOKAY) such as "Mind the pedestrians, and watch the cyclist over there on the sidewalk" Nick was not impressed, he said I just like telling him what to do. I must say what is wrong with that?
(This is a picture of Nick's manly truck. Don't you think it exudes testosterone?)

Where are you, Moe?

I have heard on more than one occasion that Moe's Southwest Grill is coming to Fayetteville. I even had this confirmed by my source inside the City of Fayetteville's inspection department. The location is somewhere around Joe's Crab Shack. How funny is it that Moe’s will be next door to Joe's?? While I don't doubt my source....I can see no evidence of a new building or renovations on any of the existing building (Bennigan's). Meanwhile, I am still eating at Moe's every chance I get. I usually stop at the one in Garner at White Oak shopping center or if I'm on a medical run, the one at Streets of South Point in Durham. I think the marinated steak is far superior to the meat at some of the other Mexican grill type restaurants. I usually get a quesadilla or nachos. I'm not crazy about the salsa bar, but I do love the pico de gallo. So even though I ate at Moe's on Saturday, I could use another fix.
I can't wait to eat at Moe's in Fayetteville!

Mama Dip Disappoints

Saturday we had to drive to RDU to drop off some friends early, early in the AM. Decided to drive on to Chapel Hill and have breakfast at Mama Dips. I have wanted to eat there for several years, since I saw Mama on Sara Moulton's show. I will say that the food was good, although I don't normally spend over $20 for breakfast for two. (Listen, I don't live in New York or California, so a couple of eggs, bacon and toast are usually around $4) Anyway, I got the smothered pork chops with an egg, hash browns and toast. The pork chops were "gnaw worthy" (and I did, but discreetly). I don't know where they get their bread for toast, but it was really good, nice and thick. My husband was disappointed with the biscuits. I am not a biscuit lover, so I didn't taste them. He thought they would be "cathead" biscuits since this was North Carolina farmhouse type cooking, but they were petite. The bread basket came with butter and what I thought was honey. I asked the waitress for some jelly, and she pointed to the "honey" and said it's here. I said I would like grape jelly, I know I have no imagination when it comes to toast and jelly. "We only have apple." WHAT?!?!? A restaurant has one flavor of jelly and it's APPLE? NO WAY! I hate apples, okay, so I do love the fried apple sticks at Big Oak Drive In in Salter Path, but really, they're all about the sugar and grease! So my first visit was a little disappointing. I will probably eat there again, not at breakfast, but seeing as it took five years to make it this time, I may never make it back.

Hunter and I love Trader Joes

I have been enthralled with Trader Joes ever since my first visit to the Cary store in November of 2007 (their very first week in our state!). I never pass up an opportunity to shop there. Fortunately, I frequently visit family in Wake County or I am afraid I would be classified as a TJ Stalker! I love the freshness and originality of all the products. My standing TJ grocery list includes buffalo burgers, veggie Flaxseed Tortilla chips, pineapple salsa, pita bread, pizza dough, hummus, parmesan cheese, pizza sauce, banana waffles, all kinds of cereal and granola bars, and of course, the trail mixes and nuts! My husband and I are just trying low carb eating and I dread my next visit! My dogs love the snacks and my cat is gaga for the cat scratcher. Thank goodness Cary is not that far from Fayetteville or I would be in serious trouble. The staff is really helpful too. I bought enough goodies to fill 40 of their summer bags (surf boards and woodies) for teacher appreciation gifts and the manager assigned a clerk to assist me. He brought out boxes of products on dollies so that it would better fit in my Honda CRV. Everyone loved the gift bags and I am thankful to the staff at the Cary TJs for helping me put everything together. GO Trader Joes!

PS: I recently visited the Trader Joe's in Chapel Hill. I especially liked the Tarheel themed mural on the wall. There was a rumor that TJs was coming to North Raleigh, had that confirmed this week. It will be on Old Wake Forest Road near the intersection of the 440 beltline. Near the Melting Pot if you have been there (not me, too cheap). Anyway, should be open sometime in 2009, and I am so excited because this is much closer to my mother's house!

Logans Roadhouse in Garner

For some reason I did not think this Logans was as noisy as the one in Fayetteville. We sat in the bar because it was kind of crowded. I "second hand smoke" every chance I get! The waitress was really on the spot and the food was good. I think this must be a local hangout for middle aged people: lots of folks hanging around the bar area that all seemed to know each other. I looked for Norm's stool but it wasn't there. I had a cheeseburger with their homemade chips and Nick had a steak with sweet potato. We were both happy with our meals. He shared some of his salad with me and I was surprised at how fresh and crisp it was. I have not had a good impression of Logans until now, but of course I had only been in the one in Fayetteville. We will definitely be back to the Garner location.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome to Our World

Don't you just hate it when you read a great review of a restaurant only to visit it and find it lacking in taste, atmosphere, or an acceptable health rating? We love to eat out, but have had numerous oops experiences after reading the reviews in the local paper. Here is our attempt to offer honest (although sometimes biased) reviews of restaurants in our area, and out of our area, too. This will also be my forum for shopping places, vacation places, and places for just hanging out! Grab a Pepsi and a comfy chair and let's gnosh!
Here's Nick posing with the founder of Weber grills at the Weber Grill Restaurant in Indianapolis! I don't know why this guy wasn't more talkative!