Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Gifts

Ok, so I admit it, I'm a terrible blogger. I did however, get lots of goodies in a foodie filled Christmas gift exchange. Lauren's parents decided to upgrade our pots and pans with the signature edition from Paula Dean, robin's egg with copper accents. I've only made a turkey tacos and a fried egg in them, but so far, fantastic. From her brother I received the long-awaited Sushi set with plates and soy sauce saucers, new chopsticks for four and a spice grinder with 3 storage cases. While these might not help me blog more, I will sure enjoy cooking food more.

Happy Holidays from the Food Monster

Monday, November 16, 2009

Moving again...

I see I haven't made a post in a long while. Not since back in early July. It's now November. The past couple of months have brought me to Wilmington, NC as I took a job as a retail store manager. This has left me with little time to go out to eat at delicious places. However, Lauren has kept me fed well, although I don't have any pictures, I'm not going hungry.

I've also been slack about keeping up with Nick and Rochelle as they ramble along at www.ramblewriter.com Hopefully, soon you will able to read all about their food posts here at the Food Monster. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Angus Barn

My girlfriend did some cool things at work and was rewarded with a Gift Certificate for The Angus Barn. I promised to foot the rest of the bill and off we went.

For those of you not from the Raleigh area, this is the place to go for a steak. It may cost an arm and a leg, but i can guarantee you, that it will be delicious. I got my reservation in a week or so in advance. We arrived and were greeted by a hostess who sent us down to a second host/manager in front of another computer who promptly showed us to our table. There we were greeted by Doug, our friendly and knowledgeable Server (and certified Sommelier).

You are allowed to bring in your own wine, for a small corking fee, and we did just that. Doug properly introduced us to our first glass of wine, as well as the hors d'oeuvres on the table. Two cheese spreads, one of Cheddar/Bleu and a Sharp Cheddar, along with homemade crackers, and let's not forget the relish plate complete with jumbo stuffed olives and pickles. I heard this place was expensive, but this whole spread was free, I couldn't believe it, free.

I could have just finished up there, paid for the check and left, but Lauren insisted we order some food. A Shrimp Cocktail later and I was warming up to the idea of the main course myself.
She decided on the 7 oz. Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon ($32) and I got the 13 oz. Ribeye ($34) with Roquefort Cheese and Balsamic Glaze topping ($4). They each came with a salad and a side. She grabbed up the Spinach salad with warm Poppyseed Dressing while I got the wedge, "for the Bleu Cheese lovers in the group", which contains (Bleu I think) cheese crumbles well as a chunky Bleu Cheese dressing. I simply loved it, that is until I tasted her Spinach salad. Then I wondered why I didn't order one myself. The warm poppyseed dressing was one of the top 3 dressings I have ever had. Boy am I glad I got to finish off the other half of her salad.

The steaks came, perfectly cooked, Medium Well for Lauren (hates blood in her food), and Medium Rare for myself. We both got the loaded baked potato, which Doug personally stuffed full of Cheese Bacon and Sour Cream, table-side. The Ribeye was great, but I guess I like Filet better and wished I had ordered the 10oz. instead. I would like to note, I was able to enjoy this meal again the next day for lunch, when I was glad I got the hefty Ribeye. Also, at dinner the Roquefort Cheese was a little overpowering, although a tasty delight the next day. The next time I will get it "Oscar", with Asparagus, Crab and Hollandaise, that can't possibly disappoint. Lauren was thrilled with her Steak and we were off to dessert. Oh no!, I almost forgot the bread. An abundance of Texas Toast soaked in butter made its way to our table, during our Steak, err main course, and was another treat the next day when I crisped it up in a frying pan.
Doug presented an enormous array of delights, from the Gran Marnier Parfait, to the Sawdust Pie, they all looked like I should take them home with me. We decided on a piece of the Chocolate Chess Pie and Blackberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream. However, at the slightest mention of my love for Cinnamon Ice Cream, Doug made sure to include a small scoop on the side when the desserts made it to the table. Perfect, full, but a perfect ending to a lovely night. Afterward, we were personally escorted on a tour of the Barn, the kitchen, wine cellars (complete with their own kitchens and dining rooms) and upstairs Wild Turkey Bar & Lounge. Hopefully, it won't be as long until we can get back for another Filet. Got something to celebrate? take it to The Angus Barn.

The Angus Barn
9401 Glenwood Avenue
(Highway 70 at Aviation Parkway)
Raleigh, North Carolina 27617
TEL 919-781-2444

M- F 5:30 - 10:30 PM
Sat - 5 - 10:30 PM
Sun - 5 - 10PM

Wild Turkey Lounge
M - F 4:30 - 11PM
Sat - 4- 11PM
Sun - 4- 10PM

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ramble Writer, quick video of Brooklyn

Here is another post from Ramble Writer. A short video shot in Brooklyn.


-The Food Monster

Welcome to Brooklyn from Rochelle Woodward on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Free Kentucky Fried Cruelty

I happened upon this link to a site that helps shed some light on Yo Soy!'s comments to the previous post regarding KFC's animal practices.

Again, I strongly encourage you, if you go to KFC, only go for the free food, and even then, only eat the biscuit. Some of the things they are doing remind me of The Jungle.

Read more here...

Free Kentucky Grilled Chicken from KFC

Free Chicken at KFC. They have a great marketing strategy to get people to try their new Grilled Chicken. Go on the oprah show, and give it away. Thanks to my mom and Joe for sending me the links.
Free Chicken as seen on Oprah!
But you have to download it by tonight, limit 4 per ip address.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Guest Blogger: Ramble Writer, Virigina

Continuing on the trip, Nick and Rochelle of RambleWriter.com headed north through Virginia. Here is their post on Charlottesville, Virginia and surrounding areas. Enjoy.

-The Food Monster


Charlottesville, Virginia, and Surrounding Areas

On our way to Charlottesville, from Abingdon, we stopped at Rockbridge Vineyard, which is a little over an hour outside of Charlottesville. We tried a variety of wines in their tasting room, which is free to the public. I especially appreciated this wine tasting because most of the wines were dry. In fact, nine of the 11 wines that Rockbridge currently offers are dry. I am acquiring a larger palate for dry wines, and have grown to enjoy a full-bodied, dry red to accompany a meal. We bought the Tuscarora Red, which is only $10. The Tuscarora Red compliments a wide range of meals, especially Mediterranean food. It offers berry flavors and is medium-bodied.

I recommend that you stop at Rockbridge for a wine tasting, buy a bottle or two, and walk around the vineyard. The farm and vineyard are on a renovated 1800’s dairy, and the view of the rolling hills is beautiful.

Rockbridge Vineyard | www.rockbridgevineyard.com
35 Hill View Lane, Raphine, Virginia
| 1-888-511-WINE

I had no idea that Virginia was not only a beautiful state to drive through, but has over 140 wineries. Thomas Jefferson even attempted to grow European grapes at Monticello from 1774 to 1816, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s did Virginian winemakers succeed with grape variety experimentation.

For information about Virginia wine and wine trails, visit www.virginiawine.org.
When in Charlottesville, it is helpful to be acquainted with the town’s “districts”: the Downtown Mall, The Corner, Belmont, & The University of Virginia campus.

Here are a few stops we made while rambling through Charlottesville:

Blue Mountain Brewery and Hop Farm

9519 Critzers Shop Road, Afton, Virigina

If you haven’t noticed by now, Nick and I love to drink. Not just to drink, but to drink great beer, wines, and liquors of different varieties and from interesting places. Fortunately, our host in Charlottesville, Sean, had the foresight to take us to Blue Mountain Brewery and Hop Farm, located in Afton, Virginia (about 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville).

We each ordered the Sampler, Blue Mountain’s flight of all 6 drafts for $5. We all were not enthusiastic about the lighter beers in the flight, but the darker beers offered a few unique twists. I enjoyed the experience of Blue Mountain Brewery, which offers a view of the farm and a pleasant atmosphere, but I was a bit disappointed with the beer.

Of the flight, my favorite was #6, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. I don’t think I would particularly enjoy a full pint of this beer (due to it’s sweet and strong flavor), but I do appreciate it’s taste. “It smacked me upside the head,” Sean said. This beer is aged in oak bourbon barrels from the Wild Turkey distillery in Kentucky, which explains my reaction to the initial sip. I immediately thought, “This tastes like liquor,” but I could not pinpoint the specific liquor. I liked the unique taste of this beer - what a great idea to utilize the flavors trapped in the oak barrels!

Para Coffee | in The Corner
A colorful little coffee shop that offers decent espresso (which is hard to find), and friendly baristas behind the counter. I recommend getting the bran-raisin muffin, which is the best I have had in quite a while (great muffin top, moist inside, and filled with carrot and raisins!). Serves Shenandoah Joe coffee and has free wi-fi.

Miller’s | in the downtown Mall
Stop by Miller’s to people-watch outside while sipping on a $2 PBR draft.

Beer Run | Belmont (above)
Since Beer Run lacks the yuppies and undergrads of typical Charlottesville bar clientele, this is Sean’s favorite bar. Beer Run is the best of many worlds; it is a beer store, a coffee shop, a restaurant, and a bar. The beer store has so many different beers that you are sure to find something new, and the bar is a great hang out spot. I especially liked our bartender, who poured me a Guiness with a giant D in the head to represent Durham.

South Street Brewery | downtown
South Street is a bit more upscale, with a selection of microbrews to accompany their meals.


Since Sean has lived in Charlottesville for a few years now and I trust his judgment, I took note of his top picks for Charlottesville that we were unable to see:

The best area to hang around is Belmont, which is about a mile from downtown. Stop in at La Taza for coffee, go to Mas for tapas or Bel Rio for American fare. Afterward, grab a drink at The Local. “If I am going to put my nice shirt on,” Sean said, “I go to Ten.” Ten is a posh sushi restaurant which just happens to a favorite of Dave Matthews, a UVA alum.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Guest Blogger: Ramble Writer, Back in Asheville

Finally, another Ramble Writer post. They are finding gem after gem, and I haven't been able to keep up with their posts. They are well past Texas and I've only left Pisgah, North Carolina. Here is their last stop in NC, back to Asheville, where they list off a whole lot of great places. Definitely, a post to read before you visit the land of the skies.

Follow all of their travels in real time at www.RambleWriter.com
Discoveries in Asheville is the original post.

-The Food Monster


Discoveries in Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville is a wonderful city. It is laid back, is full of great restaurants, has a creative flair, and offers picturesque mountain views. I enjoy simply walking around downtown Asheville, and over the past week Nick and I have visited quite a few restaurants and shops. Below is a quick list of every place - click on a business name to visit their website.

Jack of the Wood :: 95 Patton Avenue
Their Green Man microbrews hit the spot, there is live music playing every week, and bar food to fill your belly. The bar is smoke-free, by the way, which is a bonus in my book.

Zambra Spanish Wine and Tapas :: 85 W Walnut Street
This restaurant is a bit pricier than our trip budget allows, but fortunately Matt, a friend who happens to work at Zambra, took us out. I was excited to have a tasting of various menu items. We sat in the back, where luscious pillows cushioned us as we laid back while enjoying our meal. It was great. I do remember coming to Zambra years ago with my family. The night we visited, belly dancers danced throughout the restaurant. If you visit Asheville, make sure to stop in for at least a couple tapas and a drink.

12 Bones Smokehouse :: 5 Riverside Drive
If you visit Asheville, at least three or four people will tell you that 12 Bones needs to be a stop on your trip. Nick and I split a barbecue plate with cornbread, collard greens, baked beans, and cole slaw. I love the atmosphere - sit down to a picnic table of your choice (each with it’s own napkin dispenser), and chow down on your meal, which is served on a round aluminum tray.

One Love II Jamaican Restaurant :: 42 S Market Street
Great Jamaican food. Nick and I split the jerk chicken large plate (around $11) accompanied with collard greens, rice, and cornbread. I was too chicken to try the oxtail stew, but the option is there, along with curried goat.

The Noodle Shop :: 3 SW Pack Square
It was so cold at the beginning of the week, and a steaming hot noodle bowl was exactly what I needed. Nick and I split a bowl of noodles (around $6.50), and it was served split for us. The meal was wonderful.

Early Girl Eatery :: 8 Wall Street
This is a well-known restaurant famous for it’s brunch. Early Girl Eatery serves local meats and other eats, offering a homey ambiance perfect for a weekend meal. I have heard that Sunny Point Cafe is even better than Early Girl Eatery, so I plan to scope out the competition for breakfast. Check out the comments for my verdict.
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Pisgah Brewing Company :: 150 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain, NC
Check out Nick’s post: Pisgah Brewing Co. Brewery, Black Mountain N.C. He gives this beer rave reviews!

The Thirsty Monk :: 92 Patton Avenue
The Thirsty Monk offers a great selection of Belgian (and other) beers on tap. I especially appreciated their menu. Its detailed beer descriptions helped me in my decision, and the half-pint option for each beer are convenient for us light-weight customers! Get the spicy nuts to share to accompany your beer. And for you mommies and daddies, head to The Thirsty Monk on Tuesdays, 4pm-7pm, for Babies ‘n’ Beer night. It may sound like an odd combination, but I think it is a great idea.
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Chocolate Fetish :: 36 Haywood St
Need I say more? Ok, I will then - dark chocolate covered caramels (and I’m talking about a chewy caramel… not some liquid excuse for caramel).

French Broad Chocolate Lounge :: 10 South Lexington Avenue
I hung out at FB Chocolate for a few hours this week, sipping on my lavender and honey “Liquid Truffle” while using their free wi-fi. For those of you who have had European hot chocolate, this is what to expect at FB Chocolate - thick and rich (yet with a few flavor twists).
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Frugal Backpacker :: 2621 Hendersonville Rd
After walking in a snowy city, I started to realize that my cold toes needed wool socks. So we headed to the Frugal Backpacker. The Frugal Backpacker offers outdoor gear at discounted prices - don’t expect SUPER discounts (I think I am an even more frugal backpacker), but you will definitely save a little extra cash.

Curtis Wright Outfitters :: 5 All Souls Crescent
Nick bought these awesome gloves at Curtis Wright Outfitters in Biltmore Village. Its a fly shop (or you could even call it a boutique), but also carries useful items for a trip such as ours. Nick’s gloves, made by Choti, are mittens that fold over to allow you to use your fingers. Not only are your fingers available, but the thumb piece is foldable as well. AND… they’re windproof.

Three Dog Bakery :: 21 Battery Park
I just browsed this store, but I couldn’t resist writing about it. Look at these “pastries” - these are dog treats! The “chocolate” you see is carob, and they are all sugar free.

Amazing Savings :: 3018 Us 70 Hwy, Black Mountain, NC
It’s amaaaaazzzing! A great place to stock up on discounted health-food, but make sure to check the expiration dates before making your purchases. Nick and I plan to buy some staple items here before leaving Asheville.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Foodbuzz: Growing and now 2,000 strong

Check out this press release from The Food Monster Blog's Publisher Foodbuzz. Now a very real force in the foodie community.



San Francisco – April 23, 2009: Foodbuzz announced today that is has surpassed 2,000 food bloggers in its online food community. These partner food blog websites, when combined with the foodbuzz.com “hub” website, reached 6.7 million people per month according to third-party traffic measurement service Quantcast. This ranks Foodbuzz as the third largest online food property after less than two years of operation. (See Quantcast Media Planner.)

“Our goal is to be the number one online food community by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz. Of the top three properties, Foodbuzz is the only true community that combines social networking for foodies with food content search for everyone. “Both our monthly users and page views grew over 1000% in 2008, and we are on pace to reach the number one spot within the next 12 months”, said Mr. Dehan.

Foodbuzz digs deep into the “long tail” of food publishing to discover and promote thousands of small, yet high-quality, food bloggers. “We are providing a platform for food bloggers to pursue their passion in a community that nurtures and encourages the sharing of quality food and dining content daily,” said Ryan Stern, Director of Publishing. Foodbuzz offers these bloggers a compelling solution for building their traffic, connecting with like-minded foodies, and making money. Foodbuzz has exclusive advertising relationships with partner bloggers which provide brand advertisers the reach and share-of-voice they need to effectively engage the food community.

About Foodbuzz
Based in San Francisco, Foodbuzz is a global online food community of over 2,000 food bloggers connected by the foodbuzz.com “hub” website. In the past month, this community reached 6.7 million people and 33 million impressions according to Quantcast. Foodbuzz.com provides a full suite of social networking features enabling foodies to interact and share their food experiences. With over 900,000 high-quality food blog posts in its searchable database, foodbuzz.com is an essential resource for everyone interested in exploring the world of food. Foodbuzz is a 2009 Webby Awards Honoree!

# # #

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Philly Steak Factory, a review

Each and every time I return to the triangle, the first place I try to get to is the Philly Steak Factory in Durham. I also think to myself, that it will be good like I remember.... and then I take a bite, and it is never like I remember. It is always 100% better, and I try to figure out why I don't go more often.
I have recently moved to Raleigh, and thus don't get over to Durham as easily anymore. However, this past Friday, I was planning on heading over to the campus at UNC, for the annual Carolina Comedy Festival with headliner Lewis Black. This particular night featured Keenan Thompson, who did a fine job, although, I am looking forward to Rory Albanese of the Daily Show, returning to his role as Emcee.
My friend Joel accompanied me and suggested our favorite restaurant so we hit it up on the way.
My order always seems to be taken by the same guy each time (the owner) which gives it a great community feel. We got 2 whole (Philly Steaks) with fries and a drink. They have other items from salads, to Pitas, but I've never bothered to try anything else. I'm sure they are amazing but, if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
As noted in my previous posts on my short Philly Steak Tour, It's all about the little things. The fact that the marinated (hot) meat juice is poured over the hand-chopped meat to melt the cheese, the cajun seasoning for the fries on every table, the fresh brewed sweet tea, you just can't find these things in PA. Above is some great hand chopping going on.
As Joel and I tasted our fresh made sandwiches, we both remarked out loud how it was better than we remembered. I vow to be back, soon, very soon.
As I brought along my camera this time, and we had some time to kill before the comedy show, we walked by Time Out for a Vanilla Chipper. Basically, it is 2 pints of Vanilla Ice Cream sandwiched between two enormous chocolate chip cookies.
Although it takes awhile to eat, as you can see from the pictures, it isn't possible for this to a bad tasting dessert. Enjoy.

Philly Steak Factory
(919) 490-9753
5410 New Hope Commons Dr
Durham, NC 27707

Time Out (open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year)
133 W Franklin St # D
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 929-2425

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Guest Blogger: RambleWriter, Pisgah

Our Ramble Writer series last left off in Asheville, NC. Near there in the Pisgah National Forest, is Pisgah, NC. Let's see what Nick has to say about the Pisgah Brewing Company (follow this link, or the post is below).

And with moving and taxes and now working taking a toll on my time, I'm a few ramblings behind, as they have been to NY, through Memphis and worked their way south already. I will try and catch up this week.


-The Food Monster


Pisgah Brewing Co. Brewery, Black Mountain N.C.

By: Nick

Last night I had a chance to make the 20 minute ride east to Black Mountain and check out the tap room at the Pisgah Brewing Co.’s brewery. Pisgah prides itself on brewing great, entirely organic beer (with primarily American-bought ingredients). I went with some friends, all of whom told me they had been meaning to get out there, but hadn’t. In fact, everyone I talk to about the place says that same thing. My advice to those people is lie to your husband/wife/girlfriend/probation officer, make any excuse you have to, and get yourself out there post haste.

Upon arriving, we turned into a large dirt parking lot with surrounded by looming warehouses. It felt a bit like an old detective film scene down by the docks. We eventually found the brewery by the fire burning out back. Inside it was a warehouse. I don’t mean it was an old warehouse that had been converted into a bar and designed to retain it’s cool ‘warehouse’ feel. I mean it was a working warehouse… with a bar along one wall. There were 20 or so people hanging out and drinking beer, a guy playing well selected soul numbers on a set of turn tables on a small stage and some art on the wall opposite the bar. There were a few folding tables, not nearly enough seats for everyone and the general atmosphere of a speak easy. In other words, it was rad.

The beers at the bar were (for the most part) very reasonably priced and you could sample all sorts of stuff that isn’t readily available anywhere else. I made the mistake of not realizing it was cash only, and so was forced to appeal to the generous nature of my friends Eruch and Isaac. I started with a porter and headed out to sit by the fire. The porter was good. Not amazing, but a good solid example of a porter. Outside there was a fire pit and some seats. People passed by us, heading to a little shack out back that houses a pool table and arcade games. This is clearly a company run by guys… young guys.

Dave Quinn (pictured left) is one of those young guys. He was tending the fire and happy to talk to anyone who would listen about his beer. He is quite passionate about it, and it shows in the beer. We chatted a bit and he kindly bought me a pint of Vortex II (an 11% imperial stout). It was great. Wonderful beer. It tasted of burnt caramel with maple on the finish. The Saison (a raspberry farmhouse ale) was excellent as well. It would hold it’s own with any number of more expensive Belgian farmhouse ales. In addition to the great beer and the friendly people, I liked that the place wasn’t overdone. There was a smattering of decorations, and a good pot of beef chili in the corner on a Bunsen burner for all to eat. It wasn’t any more organized than a good college party. I like that.

I hope that as this brewery expands (as they certainly will), they manage to hold onto that patchwork, salt of the earth feel that fits them so well. If you are in the area, get out there and check it out while it still has that wonderful, youthful, organic feel (no pun intended). Starting next week, they are expanding their hours to include Saturday, and adding tours of the brewing facility 2 days a week.

Check out their wesite at www.pisgahbrewing.com for directions and news about whats going on at the brewery.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Denny's Free Slamwich

Denny's if you recall, offered us a Free Grand Slam. And now, the diner chain famous for baseball themed breakfast plates and smokey late nights is offering a Free Slamwich with purchase of a Grand Slam. While it is not as good as just free for showing up, I still expect a great turnout April 8th from 6am - 2pm. Get them while they are hot, as they say.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quaker True Delights: Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut

Great!.... Here we are with the last flavor in the Tastemaker Program sample bars. Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut. One of three bar flavors in Quaker True Delight's new product line featuring premium delicious ingredients. Last time, I wasn't looking forward to this flavor and saved it for last. However, once I tried it. I changed my mind. It was by far my favorite. There was zero coconut flavor, and it ended up tasting like a Banana Nut Bread bar, I'm not sure how they did it, or if it was on purpose, but it worked. A great surprise ending to my first food sample from Foodbuzz. I am looking forward to the next item that arrives.
$3.49/box (5 bars)
140 calories
0 trans fat
3g of fiber

Monday, March 16, 2009

Guest Blogger: RambleWriter.com, Asheville

The next installment from RambleWriter series, comes from Asheville, and blogger Nick, as they are already several days into their trip. Follow all the action at RambleWriter.com

A big thanks to Nick and Rochelle, for getting out there and providing great food coverage on their trip.

-The Food Monster

previous posts can be found on Greensboro, NC and New York, NY

Eats and Drinks :: Asheville, North Carolina

By: Nick

As you may have noticed, I am not often inspired by something enough to write about it. Today was one of those occasions that inspired me. I was out walking around downtown Asheville with my good friend Matt Shepard. He suggested a turn down a side street and led me into a door on our right to grab a light bite to eat and a beer. The place we went into was called The Vault, located at #7 Rankin Ave. in downtown Asheville. I suggest you go and find it for yourself. Few are the times that so many pleasing aspects can be found in one bar (they refer to themselves as a cocktail lounge, but any restaurant would be proud to serve their fare). The decor was just classy enough to remain playful in it’s art decor style without trying too hard or being pretentious. The sidewalk out front extends out into the street to make a great outdoor seating area, and had me wishing that it was spring so I could sit out late into the evening drinking 20 oz pint after pint. There is very pleasant afternoon light in this place because the whole front wall is made of glass block, which if I had heard about I would have thought would be cheesy, but in fact is not at all cheesy. The french onion soup I had, however, was cheesy in the best of ways. Top notch soup. Anyone can make french onion soup and anyone can slather it with bad cheese. This was not any cheese, though. It was excellent. The combo of the half crisp half soup-drenched croutons and the subtle smokiness of the cheese was spot on. At $4 it was also a steal. However, the soup is not what inspired this posting. It was the beer…….and the service. Matt slid up to the bar and exchanged some small talk with the bartender Dustin, and upon hearing that they had Valdez Coffee Stout, promptly ordered two.

I break the paragraph here to further accentuate the following statement:

The people at Pisgah Brewing Co. in Black Mountain N.C. know how to make beer.

At least stout. Pisgah Brewing Company‘s Valdez Coffee Stout is without a close second the best coffee stout I have ever had. It is not at all the sickly sweet that I have come to expect when I’m presented with a coffee stout. This is truly what coffee stout is meant to be. A cross between the taste of fine malt, and good coffee, lightly hopped and ever so slightly nutty. Not Folger’s. Good coffee. Those of you that know me will understand the gravity of the those two words used together.

Our very reasonably priced ($5) 20 oz. pints of Valdez were served to us by a seasoned professional. Dustin, who is a local artist, is one of those bartenders from the old days when bartenders made you feel at home - like you were in your own living room, and he just happened to be there making you drinks. He was attentive, present and put me totally at ease from moment one. He also made the apt comment that if he didn’t work there five nights a week, he would still be there nearly as much because the place is great and they are virtually giving their excellent food away. Actually they are giving the food away. A sign on the wall behind the bar reads:

At this point if you are reading this and you are less than a 3 hour drive from Asheville, you should be lacing up your shoes and heading out the door, calling good-bye to whoever isn’t moving fast enough to keep up.

In addition to a visit to The Vault Cocktail Lounge (www.rankinvault.com) I strongly suggest you head over to Black Mountain (a short drive east) and check out Pisgah Brewing Company (www.pisgahbrewing.com), who are after only a few short years in operation putting out beer that I forecast will shortly be receiving national acclaim. Their taproom is open Tuesday thru Friday and if the rest of their organic beer is as good as what I had today……… well let’s just say if you come this week, you’ll likely see me there.


On a return visit to the Vault (after hearing my review Chelle wanted to see the place) I discovered why it has the name Rankin Vault. I was so taken with the beer and the soup last time I didn’t really get a chance to look around. This time I did and it seems that the lounge is part of what used to be an old bank building. It has a huge vault in the back that has been turned into a private room with a big screen TV, couches, and curtains that remind me a bit of twin peaks or vaudeville. Sort of otherworldly in it’s quietness too. Definitely worth checking out.

Pictures from rankinvault.com and organicfest.org

Friday, March 13, 2009

Free Chick-fil-A for the faithful fans promotion Cancelled

In case you were looking at my last Chick-fil-A post and were going to go get yourself a free sandwich or biscuit by saying the phrase "Tarheel (Wolfpack, Blue Devils) Fans eat more chicken" and purchasing a large drink, you would instead be paying full price and wasting your breath. The triangle area Chick-fil-A's have halted the promotion in wake of the economic recession. They need all the money they can get apparently. It was fun while it lasted, now eat more beef.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Quaker True Delights: Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry

The second flavor I tried from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program's Quaker True Delights was the Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry. Honestly I couldn't tell a whole lot of difference between this bar and the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond bar I started with. They both had a base of Granola, coupled with something sweet, crunchy, and berry. Underwhelmed I was. Looking down at the last bar, Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut, left me feeling like I wasn't going to like this start to the Tastemaker program. I'm not a huge fan of Banana, less of Coconut, and used to hate nuts as they got stuck in my teeth when I was little. I would recommend trying the flavors, maybe they will strike a chord with you.
$3.49/box (5 bars)
140 calories
0 trans fat
3g of fiber

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ghetto Big Mac

These guys are all about creativity when it comes to the Ghetto Big Mac. Remember, the McDonalds employees are there to serve you, so small requests should be granted. I have found this to be true across the board.

Ghetto Big Mac
Double cheese burger, small fries (value menu)
Ask for Seeded Bun, Big Mac Sauce, and large cut sliver onions.


Guest Blogger: RambleWriter.com

You may recall the first post that I put up from RambleWriter.com author Rochelle. Here is another guest post from February, before she and Nick started their long road trip. You can follow their adventures here. This will also become a regular series as I highlight the food portion of their journey here on The Food Monster Blog. I hope you enjoy this one about their activities in Greensboro, NC

-The Food Monstser


A Day of Activities in Greensboro, North Carolina

G R E E N S B O R O , N O R T H C A R O L I N A
Since I grew up in Greensboro, I almost overlooked it’s rambling potential for newcomers to the city. Greensboro’s restaurants and nightlife have multiplied since I lived here. I created a day’s worth of activities for those interested in spending time in Greensboro:


GREEN BEAN | 341 S. Elm Street
Get your day started with a shot of espresso or a cup of coffee at the Green Bean. The Green Bean serves Joe Van Gogh coffee (the best coffee in the area - and its roasted in NC!), as well as pastries and bagels, and offers free wi-fi. If you don’t make it to the Green Bean in the morning, you can stop by in the evening - they serve beer and have live music during the week.

SIMPLE KNEADS | 227 S. Elm Street
If you didn’t have a chance to eat at the Green Bean, walk down Elm Street and pick up fresh baked goods at Simple Kneads.

GUILFORD COLLEGE | 5800 W. Friendly Avenue
If it is nice outside, drive over to Guilford College to enjoy the campus. Guilford has trails and fields where are great to hang out, throw a ball around, or just to explore.

While you are on Friendly Avenue, you can drive up to the Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market. If you take I-40 to this farmer’s market, you can see it’s blue rooftops from the interstate. The Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market has fresh produce and flowers year-round, including A.B. Seed, the garden center located in the center of the market. Come out and support your local gardeners and farmers!

TAQUERIA EL AZTECA | 5605 W. Friendly Avenue - In Quaker Village
While driving back from the Farmer’s Market, you can consider a few lunch options. If it is Tuesday, go to Azteca Grill for $1.00 tacos. Awesome tacos at a great price - don’t pass it up. Azteca Grill also has free wi-fi.

Not in the mood for tacos? Head to Southern Lights Bistro. Southern Lights serves great sandwiches and always has new specials on the menu. They have wonderful desserts, too!

YUM YUM BETTER ICE CREAM | 1219 Spring Garden Street
This is a Greensboro favorite. Its not just better ice cream; Yum Yum’s serves better hot dogs as well. To ensure you have an authentic Yum Yum’s hot dog, look for the bright pink center of the dog. I recommend the chili dog along with chocolate chip ice cream for dessert.

If you are at Yum Yum’s, walk over to Tate Street and check out the shops. You can also view the art exhibits at the Weatherspoon Art Museum.

FAMILY DOLLAR STORE | 2318 E Market Street
I know this is a weird stop in this tour, but this is a great Dollar Store. I have so many plates, mugs, and bowls from this store in my kitchen!

Apparently Greensboro is now on the map - Friendly Center has exploded! Friendly Center now features the trendiest of the trendy; Anthropologie, a new Apple store, REI (which I now know like the back of my hand), and many other shops and boutiques now grace the streets of Greensboro.

TASTE OF THAI | 1500 Mill St # 101
Taste of Thai is one of my favorite restaurants in Greensboro. This should be enough said. Order the fresh shrimp spring rolls as an appetizer (loaded with fresh basil, glass noodles, celery, lettuce, and shrimp) and sip on a Thai iced tea while you wait for the main course. You will not be disappointed! My parents have recently switched to Rearn Thai at 5120 W. Market Street. I have not eaten at Rearn Thai, but they like it even more than Taste of Thai. I trust their opinion, but the choice is up to you!

LIBERTY OAK | 100 W Washington St # D
If the taste of Thai doesn’t make your mouth water, go to Liberty Oak in downtown Greensboro. Featuring a constantly changing menu, Liberty Oak offers ingredients that uniquely compliment each other within each meal. This is the priciest restaurant on my list, but the dishes are definitely worth the extra few dollars.

106 W. McGee Street, 110 W.McGee Street
Now its time to have a few drinks! Head over to Elm street and bar hop through The Burro, Longshanks, and M’Coul’s. They are all very close together (The Burro is literally located on top of Longshanks), and all have a laid back atmosphere. McCool’s, an irish pub, features a variety of European beers on tap and 2 stories of bar space.

JAN’S HOUSE | 3932 W Market St # B
If you are not ready for the night to end after the bar crawl, head on over to Jan’s House. This 24-hour diner will serve you a greasy breakfast meal that is a perfect after-drinking dining.

I hope you enjoy my picks for Greensboro. If you are familiar with Greensboro and would like to comment / suggest other must-sees to our ramble readers, feel free to comment on this post!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Valentine's Surprise

This February 14th, or as some of you know it, Valentine's Day, I awoke to the smell of Bacon... well Turkey Bacon. Lauren got up extra early, went to the store, and made a delicious breakfast. Before I get to the breakfast, a quick side note about her trip to Harris Teeter.
Lauren later told me that it was a very odd assortment of people. Unusual for our Harris Teeter, other than one or two other female customers, the store was filled with males doing some type of last minute shopping, getting flowers, balloons, cake, who knows what at 7:30am. Just interesting and something to think about.
Back to the breakfast. So we have the Turkey Bacon at bottom, going clockwise, the bowl on the left has some delicious biscuits beneath the cloth. The glasses and carafe are filled with fresh squeezed orange juice, pulp in. I mention that the pulp was left in because Lauren hates it, and as an act of compromise I ended up straining the rest of the carafe (luckily I got to keep all the pulp for myself, some would call it selfish, but I think of it as a compromise) for a pulp-free end to the meal. Continuing to 12 o clock, is a delicious fruit salad, with banana, apple, strawberry and yogurt. There may or may not have been other fruit, delicious though and it was the gift that kept on giving for a few days. The omelets are next with mushroom, cheese (not sure what kind), onion and basil. Last but not least a nice card at my plate. What a sweet girlfriend.

I hope you had a fun day of St. Valentine yourself.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Ahead

This is a friendly reminder from The Food Monster to set your clocks forward one hour tonight. Hopefully, everyone will be on the same schedule come Monday morning. Have a great weekend!!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Random Picture #3: Alice's Egg Sandwich, Mayview Style

One of the local restaurants (you could say favorite for many) in Los Feliz is Fred 62. A diner, known for slightly overpriced American fare that may or may not fill you up. Consequently, it is also the place known for a few celebrity sitings. I am terrible with names and faces, but was able to recognize Glenn Fitzgerald from Dirty Sexy Money. I wasn't like, "ooh, I am stalking him and have to meet him." It was more of an, "I think I have seen him before, oh yeah, Dirty Sexy Money, have no idea what is name is, glad to see he gets out and about and eats like the rest of us."
Long story short, Fred 62 does make one delicious Alice's Egg Sandwich. Which happened to be the first thing I had when I arrived in Los Angeles my first night. Goat Cheese, Avocado, Tomato, Eggs, and Hash Brown, served on a buttery bun sounds great. It was, even though it was tiny. When the bill came at $7.85 per, The Food Monster was grumpy.A few months later, we set out to make our own. Thus, we come across Random Picture #3, from my photo archives. I remember John David made the hashbrowns, and we all helped out to make a better sandwich, for way cheaper.From the looks of things, the ingredient list included:
A Cheese (probably goat)
English Muffins
Scrambled Egg

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quaker True Delights: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond

As my first treat from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received 6 bars of Quaker True Delights Granola Bars. Two for each of their new flavors. In terms of the Dark Chocolate Raspberry with Almond, I have no complaints. It wasn't super spectacular though. There was the right amount of moistness and flavors from the name, but it wasn't very large or filling. If you normally buy granola bars, these are great ingredients and seem to be good for you. You should at least try it out once instead of your usual to see if it will work for you, but I'm not going to put these in my daily life.
$3.49/box (5 bars)
140 calories
0 trans fat
3g of fiber

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Free Chick-fil-A for the faithful fans of Carolina

Tarheel Fans. Apparently, if you "borrow" a state shirt, and a dook shirt, you can get a free chicken biscuit or sandwich with the purchase of a large drink at non-campus triangle area Chick-fil-A locations, three days a week.

I got the following story from my friend Joel.

Joel: "just letting you know I happened to be wearing a UNC t-shirt today when I went to the chick-fil-a on a lunch break. I asked for a number 1 combo for here when the employee asked if I knew the phrase, to which I obviously did not. She helped me out and informed me that if you wear UNC apparell to chick-fil-a in the triangle area (not on campus locations) on Thursdays and say "Tarheel fans eat more chicken", you get a free chicken sandwich [or biscuit] with the purchase of a large drink. I got my free sandwich and googled for an announcement which I found on the News and Observer site."

Or just look below, I have pasted their post on the free chicken.

Here's a good one for fans of Duke, NC State and UNC... Our area Chick-fil-A franchisees are inviting you to earn a freebie by showing your team spirit and purchasing a large drink.

Each school has been assigned a day of the week (Duke is Mondays, NC State is Wednesdays and UNC is Thursdays). On those days, if you show up at Chick-fil-A wearing school apparel and declare at the counter that "Duke Fans Eat More Chicken," "Wolfpack Fans Eat More Chicken" or "Tarheel Fans Eat More Chicken," you will be rewarded with a free chicken biscuit at breakfast time or a free chicken sandwich if you come later in the day. Like I said, a large drink purchase is required, but that seems like a decent deal to me.

The offer is good at participating stand-alone Chick-fil-A stores in the Triangle (but not the ones on the college campuses) It is also a limited-time offer, though no ending date for the promotion has been set yet.


So, to recap,

Monday: wear navy blue

Wednesday: wear red

Thursday: Any heels paraphenalia will work

Head to Chick-fil-A, say "[insert appropriate mascot] fans eat more chicken"

Buy a large drink

Enjoy your free Chicken Sandwich or Biscuit.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A good steak, just needs a good rub

Recently I rediscovered The Wicked Noodle. A great food blog with many, many appetizing treats, dinners, and snacks. If you are hungry for a steak, then check out this particular post titled mmmmm...cow. With a recipe for a rub that I thought was worthy of sharing. NSFV (Not Safe for Vegans/Vegetarians. Enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

CiCi's Pizza Buffet Special $3.99

Yes, you read that correctly. CiCi's in a(n economic) promotion, is offering their eat-in buffet for $3.99 for a limited time only. According to Jim, at the CiCi's in Durham, the special will last for at least 60 days, and he isn't sure of an end date at the moment. They have pizza, pasta, salads, and wonderful dessert pizzas. Go try a plate full and maybe see The Food Monster out at CiCi's.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random Pictures #2: Hamburger

Following up Random Pictures #1, is this mysterious plate. Let's break it down and see what The Food Monster has eaten.
I believe this Hamburger or Turkey Burger was grilled on a George Foreman Grill, served with lots of goodies on a wheat Hamburger Roll with Djion Mustard, Mayo, Lettuce, Freshly sliced Roma Tomato, and Ketchup. However, The real gym of this photo, and the reason I now remember why it was taken is the object in the foreground. That mega Salad and all of its toppings. Start with a bed of Hearts of Romaine, or mixed greens, add fresh sliced Cucumber, Chopped Tomato, Feta and Goat Cheese, Beets, pine nuts, sesame sticks, seasoned croutons, dried cranberries, mozarella cheese, the list goes on and on. And that's all that I can remember/see what's in this fantastic side dish. Get creative, get out the nuts/fruits, dressings, leaves and make something delicious tonight.

***Dressing, I believe was some sort of Asian Ginger Dressing, as I do love them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Easy Broiled Mahi Mahi and Spinach with Pine Nuts

Lauren and I are big fans of Harris Teeter in these parts. We just got a new one where 751 and 54 cross. A weekly weekend shopping trip has become a time when we can go up and down each aisle, joking and picking up things that we have printed out on our list (Lauren is way more prepared and organized in regards to shopping.) You see, with working all week she likes to plan out 2, usually three meals that are homemade, so we can eat those and the leftovers. By the way, I am a Leftover King (a little hint about an upcoming post).

We had Haddock on our list to make the Easy Broiled Haddock. Unfortunately, the fish wasn't fresh, or was all bought out, so we swapped out fish on sale and picked up a couple of frozen Mahi Mahi fillets. Excellent choice indeed. The recipe, (starts below asterisks) is taken off of About.com Southern Food section, and Lauren paired it with an excellent Spinach and Pine Nuts dish, which we have had before, and when I get good enough pictures and a recipe will blog about. Until then, pick up a fish, and follow the below directions for some Easy Broiled Blank (Mahi Mahi).

Haddock fillets [or any fish] are broiled and basted with a soy sauce lemon juice mixture.

Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 pound haddock fillets [or any fish]
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


Cut fillets into serving pieces; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine the soy sauce and vegetable oil.

Arrange the fish pieces on an oiled broiler rack; broil until golden brown, basting frequently with the soy sauce mixture. Turn and broil for about 5 minutes longer, basting. Place fish on a warm platter.

In a saucepan, combine remaining oil and soy sauce with drippings; heat. Add lemon juice and parsley. Pour over fish.
Broiled haddock serves 4. [or two and 1 Food Monster]
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