I mean well, really I do, and when I promised to bring back the ncgypsy.com Blog, I had good intentions. Then life got in the way, and... well... I realized that it has been awhile since I posted anything. Imagine my shock when I looked and saw the last post was more than a year ago. Sorry about that. Thoughts came and went, the action to follow through didn't happen. So, time to get cracking and what better subjects to move forward with than holidays and food?
It's my favorite time of the year (late July through the end of December actually), and things are in gear for an early Hanukkah (Nov. 27 - Dec. 5), a late Thanksgiving (Nov. 28), and what promises to be, in my house, a scrambling Christmas season (I won't go into details, just trust me here). At the center of it all is food.
North Carolina is fast becoming a foodie paradise, a destination that rivals the best of other states known for fabulous cuisine. Here you can find culinary artisans creating palate pleasing works of edible art that are made with locally farmed or regionally obtained ingredients.
The masters behind North Carolina's culinary revolution are young, hip, creative, and excited about what they're doing. Even better, they are supportive of each other's efforts. Gone are the days of chef rivalries, this generation knows a good thing when they taste it. I'll be writing more about the food in North Carolina in future posts, but to whet your appetite, click HERE for a great article on StarChefs.com about Rising Stars in the Carolinas...
Now don't think for a second that the seasoned restaurants are taking a back seat to the new kids on the block. Many are changing the menus and adding special events to spice things up. One event, a personal favorite, happened recently at The Weathervane in Southern Season, Chapel Hill. An Afternoon Tea that was positively scrumptious and gave this native New Yorker a chance to feel like a Southern Belle. I am a huge fan of English tea time, but southern Tea has a different feel to it - and a different taste.
Unlike the English offerings (which are increasing in diversity), some of the tea options at Afternoon Tea included Organic Jade Cloud, Creme Caramel Oolong, and Nutcracker Suite, a 'nutty, sweet tea w/ flavors of candied nuts and pineapple'. My friend, Tingmei and I opted for Nutcracker as one of our pots - now one of my 'must haves' for the holiday season (it can be purchased at Southern Season).
Afternoon Tea is a Weathervane special event, not offered on a regular basis. If you are - or will be - in the Triangle area, get the scoop on Weathervane and Southern Season special events (that include visiting celebrity chefs like Curtis Stone - positively scrumptious in his own right) by signing up for their newsletter HERE.
For more Tea offerings in the state, check out Tea Map.
Anyone who answered open casting calls for "Caged Heat" in April soon realized that it was a production code name for "Iron Man 3", now filming in North Carolina. Today, the stars in the NC Triangle are a lot brighter as the cast and crew move from Wilmington to Cary where they're taking over a portion of the Epic Games building (look for the Christmas tree).
North Carolinians are accustomed to seeing stars out and about as the state has hosted location and studio shoots for many films past and present, but when Gwyneth Paltrow tweets that she's looking for a good restaurant in Raleigh, people take note. The food in the Triangle is as good as it gets anywhere else in the world with options to choose from that include all variations of ethnic fare, fusion, southern specialties, and everything in between. With many restaurants using local, regional, and state supplied ingredients, it's a good bet that wherever they choose to dine, it's going to be a win-win for everyone - delicious meal and Robert Downey, Jr. at the table!
Diverse location options, great weather, experienced film industry workers for hire, production studios located in various NC cities, and a 25% tax incentive for filmmakers bring film companies to the state - and jobs to NC residents. Plus, it's fun to be part of the production, whether you're working on it or watching the action unfold. And who doesn't love seeing a finished film with familiar locations transformed into something new for the reel world?
To learn more about "Iron Man 3" and Marvel Entertainment, click on the photo above. For more about the NC Film Office, click HERE
Second Saturdays aren't the only thing that's back! After a long, self-imposed hiatus, I'm giving in to the many requests to bring back the NC Gypsy Blog. Not that the masses were waiting with bated breath for me to start writing again, but there were enough of you kind souls suggesting I bring the blog back so I thought I'd do just that.
And what better way to make a comeback than with a plate full of Yana's fruit fritters? Is there anything closer to Heaven - and sugar shock - than this? I mean that with the utmost sincerity. I absolutely LOVE them, but you have to be ready and willing to share because the fritters come fully loaded with hot fruit, topped with a load of powered sugar and the creamiest whipped cream. Did I mention this plate is actually a bowl? Yeah, they're piled in there and if you're not drooling by now, check your pulse.
Yana's Ye Olde Drug Store Restaurant is a pip of a place located in Swansboro, an artsy, picturesque waterfront town built on the remains of an Algonquian Indian village located on North Carolina's Crystal Coast in Onslow County. If you're a fan of Elvis, Marilyn, James Dean and the hotties of yesteryear, then you'll love the decor. And the food - comfort at its best, all cooked fresh from your order and beyond worth the wait. Yana's fruit fritters are made with fruits in season and there hasn't been one that I didn't adore. Highly recommended are banana, peach, and strawberry - although any variety will satisfy (I'm an apple fan).
After you sate your palate with Yana's finest, check out Yanamama's 50's Memorabilia Shoppe adjacent to the restaurant (enter from the outside). Like the fritters, the store is fully loaded. Delightful bits and bobs of retro nostalgia from Hollywood's Golden Years take up the limited wall and counter space. Shoppe capacity is four customers at a time - it's small, but impressive and fun to peruse.
Yana's is located at 117 / 119 Front Street, Swansboro, NC. Contact them at: 910.326.5501. Click on the photo above for a link to Yana's web site featuring their restaurant, menu and Memorabilia Shoppe.