Girls on Food

Weekly Wanderlust

Take Me, I’m Yours Morgan Street Food Hall & Market in Raleigh, NC

Recently, food halls have been popping up all over the country. When I heard Raleigh was getting not one, but two, my immediate reaction was “great, a glorified mall food court” because really, when was the last time you felt cool eating at the food court, amiright? But there are a couple huge differences at play here, so put your worries aside!

First, food courts are so often chains and standard fare. Morgan Street Food Hall & Market is, for the most part, neither. Rolled ice cream anyone? Poke bowls, empanadas, and ramen were the first things to catch my eye. Cousins Maine Lobster (the only option I would consider a chain) is slightly more accessible here, and with a lot more seating options! The line is still out the door but with a beer in hand and a bustling crowd, a far cry from the hot food truck rodeo lines you’re usually waiting in! Last time I tried that, I was “red as a lobster” by the time I ordered my Connecticut lobster roll!

Raleigh Rolls rolled ice cream, which is a treat for all! (yeah, I shared with the baby!)

When you first walk into Morgan Street Food Hall, you’ll see a bustling crowd and tons of seating options, from picnic tables to couches and arm chairs, and finally, 4 top tables with chairs. There are indoor and outdoor seating options, with a couple bars to frequent as thirst arises. There are 18 dining options, ranging from southern to Mediterranean to Asian; comfort food and hangover food and on to desserts and bubble tea. For our family, this is the perfect place for all of our meals out: we have 2 picky preschoolers who think the margarita pizza at Bella’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tapas is out of this world (and less than $10, thank you!).

For me, I get the “adventurous” foods I can’t talk the whole family into – ramen and poke bowls, while hubby gets to fill up on empanadas, which he loves! We have an Italian au pair living with us this year, and she has enjoyed working her way through the options Morgan Street has at her disposal. Currently, her heart resides in Raleigh.

I’ve now eaten at Morgan Street 3 times. Hubs and I met a group of friends here one night before an Umphrey’s McGee concert downtown. There were a lot of empanadas and some curry plates, a kick ass looking pizza, a whole lot of beer, and my amazing delicious tuna poke bowl, with fresh tuna on their California bowl (from The Bowls), loaded with amazingness and topped with avocado! It was incredible, and I couldn’t wait to go back!

So the next weekend, a girlfriend and I met up there, and she got ramen and I went back to The Bowls for round 2 – this time trying their spicy tuna on the Malibu bowl, which has spicy seaweed salad in it. The biggest difference was that the tuna was chopped up instead of chunks, so I would probably go regular tuna in the future.

We also ventured over to the bar, and I tried the Deep River Brewing Company’s (out of Clayton, NC) pumpkin pie porter, which was oh, so good and also very seasonal! It was delicious after a long afternoon of shopping and enjoying the suddenly cooler temps here in NC! Finally (maybe the first finally), we waited in line at Cocoa Forte Desserts for chocolate dipped cheesecake, which we were saving for when we got home, and then I talked my friend into trying out Raleigh Rolls, the rolled ice cream place! It’s a little bit Coldstone Ceamery (you get to choose 3 flavors that go into your ice cream, and then 3 flavors for the toppings) meets a sushi roll (because in the end, they hand you a bowl with 6 rolls of ice cream). So good news – you can sub flavors – I subbed in coffee flavoring for the graham cracker in my s’mores ice cream, and it was the.best.thing.ever! Little man ate way too much but also thinks I’m the coolest mom ever for sharing my ice cream with him, ha! (Verdict on cheesecake – its on a stick, so go ahead and eat it immediately. I waited a few hours to eat mine, and it fell apart really fast. Pretty sure it was user error though).

So the next day, my hubs was still out of town (he went on Phish tour last weekend), and I needed to provide food for my little ones for the 4th day in a row. So…I started thinking about that pizza, and the fact that cow burger has hot dogs. Surely they could find something to eat…

Here’s the deal – I was nervous to bring a 5 year old and a 3 year old and a 5 month old into such a busy place. But…they loved it! My son is begging to go back, my daughter can’t stop talking about the ice cream, and the baby slept thru the thing. We also found an awesome place for our family photos in 2 weeks. So all in all, a great trip. I will send you all day every day to Bella’s pizza – it was incredible, and the kids ate every bite of that pizza. I loved the portion size of the burgers (I got the classic cheeseburger) and I’d heard great things about it, but I would definitely trust your gut on that place. First, the line took F O R E V E R which I’m not really into, and wouldn’t have waited in it but our au pair and I both wanted a burger so we stuck with it. Second, we waited F O R E V E R for our buzzer to ring. Like it took the entire time the pizza cooked to wait in the line and order. Then the kids ate the whole pizza. And I took them back over to Raleigh rolls and waited for someone to turn melted ice cream into frozen ice cream rolls, and then the buzzer sounded as I was paying for them. So the burgers were delicious, great bun to burger ratio, and overall very satisfying, but with so many faster options, I’m not sure I would wait for it again.

Also, pro tip – if you have a picky child who only eats vanilla ice cream (I know, I know, its super weird but what I’m dealing with right now), there is another small ice cream scoop place in the food hall. Don’t waste your $7 on plain vanilla with a tiny sprinkling of rainbow sprinkles. Spend that money on the whole experience and all the toppings, and get Sir Picky something from the cheaper place!

So final verdict – run, don’t walk, to the Morgan Street Food Hall if you’re in Raleigh. Bring an appetite. Check out the unusual places, especially the bowls, the broth, and curry in a hurry, and take the time to wait in line for Raleigh Rolls! I’m looking forward to heading down there again next weekend after the International Festival to try out some new places!

Weekly Wanderlust 8/4/17: Get $5 off Thrillist’s Taco Knockout Event in LA, Manresa Bread in Los Gatos, CA, Renegade Chocolate in Uxbridge, Ontario and Happy Hour at answer. in Nashville

Every Friday here at Girls on Food, we bring you Weekly Wanderlust, featuring the best our in cities, recipes, videos and advanced notice on events we’ll be appearing at.

TinTin here:

Thrillist’s 5th annual Taco Knockout is Saturday, August 12th, 1 PM – 4 PM at Lot 613, 613 Imperial Street, Los Angeles, CA.

This event is going to be packed with the most popular tacos SoCal has to offer, including Aqui Es Texcoco, Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, La Carmencita Restaurant and many more. There will also be chilled cervezas from Estrella Jalisco and a live DJ set from Electric Taco.

South Bay favorite The Standing Room will be serving an original creation, Tako Poke Tacos, which we’re the most excited for. We predict this taco—a blue corn tortilla topped with smoked octopus, tobiko, ikura and chives—will be the most innovative bite there.

General admission per person is $35, but if you use the discount code THRILLISTVIP at check out, you get $5 off. Just a little gift from Girls on Food. #yourewelcome

Traditionally this event takes place in NYC but it’s about time Thrillist brought it to LA! Not trying to start a Tupac vs Biggie feud here, but SoCal really is the home of the best Mexican street food in the U.S. 

For out-of-towners, I will be live on our Instagram stories feed providing you with footage of the event. But if you’re in LA and at the event, be sure to say hi!

For more info and to purchase tickets, check out:

http://events.thrillist.com/tacoknockout2017

(more…)

Weekly Wanderlust 7/28/17: #GOFxHooch Event at Harlowe in WeHo, FM Kitchen and Bar in Houston, Burger Parlor’s Portland Burger in OC and Paula’s Pesto and Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

Every Friday here at Girls on Food, we’ll bring you Weekly Wanderlust, featuring the best our in cities, recipes, videos and advanced notice on events we’ll be appearing at.

The Botanist Gin and Tonic

Julianne here: The #GOFxHooch event, referenced in last week’s WW column was a blast! Friends of GOF were hosted by the Hooch app at Harlowe in West Hollywood for an evening of drinks and bites!

The favorite cocktail of the evening was The Botanist Gin and Tonic. This G&T incorporates fresh muddled cucumber for a very refreshing taste! Favorite treats included Mary’s Fried Chicken Strips, Margherita Flatbread, Vegetarian Flatbread and the Mushroom and Mozzarella Flatbread.

We’re already in talks to host another event with them, so stay tuned to the Weekly Wanderlust Column for the next collaboration with Hooch!

Margherita Flatbread

Ginger here: Every time I visit Houston my friends take me to wherever Chef Ryan Hildebrand is behind the pass. That place used to be the upscale Triniti restaurant, but since it recently closed Chef Hildebrand has gone in the opposite direction, to the land of burgers and brews (or what I’ve seen described as “road trip inspired food”). But please don’t confuse FM Kitchen and Bar with your average gas station and roadside diner food! The food at FM is leaps and bounds above quickie road-side fare!

Behold the Double Burger with Shhh sauce.

In fact, the burger is so mouth-watering that it won a blind taste-test conducted by staff at the Houston Press, and if you think that’s fake news then consider this: I prefer not to eat burgers often for health reasons and yet I ate this burger twice in a 3-day period (the second time in my car during the 3.5 hour drive back to Dallas) and my nephew dragged his father to FM four times in one week for the burger while mother was out of town.

Order your burger as a single or double with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and secret Shhh sauce (so darn good!) and, instead of the standard fries, pair it with a side of hush puppies or tater tots. I think the burger is a must, but there are plenty of other tasty non-beef items like the fried shrimp and hush-puppy plate (add a side of smothered green beans for some veggies) or the lemon-thyme brick chicken.

You can’t leave without trying one of the cocktails (all under $9), like the strong but refreshing Watermelon Mule made with melon vodka, fresh watermelon and ginger beer or the Farmhouse Tea with TX Ranger whiskey, lemon and tea.

Have room for dessert? Then try a virgin shake for the kiddos or a loaded shake with shots of alcohol for the hard-working adults. You can work off the calories by playing yard games on the patio while listening to live music.

Portland Burger

Carla here: Hey all! I’ve been a pescetarian for more than 7 years now and yet my love for burgers has never left my side. Burgers without meat are always better since they have to try a little harder. #fact. 

I am beyond blessed to have the absolute best vegetarian burger in OC down the street from my home. May I present to you… Burger Parlor’s Portland Burger. Contrary to most vegetarian options, a veggie doesn’t replace the meat patty. At Burger Parlor, a square of fried mozzarella is the patty that brings envy to all your pals eating cows. The pickled carrots, sprouts and arugula are great companions as well, but the marinated beets really get you to flavor-town.  

Friends, please don’t be scared of beets — they are amazing when done right! The onion rings here are beer battered, which make them of the softer variety and beautifully melt in your mouth. If you want to be a little healthier Burger Parlor allows you to get any of their burgers in salad form or, if cheese isn’t your thing,  you could also sub any of the patties for a portobello mushroom. Also, try the shakes, they get slept on way too often! 

Paula here: We are now officially in the middle of summer, which means we are embarking on fresh delicious veggie season! Beans, corn, sugar snaps, and of course… zucchini!

Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable. You can make anything with it! From sweet zucchini breads to my personal fave Pesto and Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini. Luckily, it’s super easy to make and a perfect addition to any summertime BBQ.

Pesto and Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini 

Ingredients 

-2 large zucchini sliced thin and length wise

-1/4 cup basil pesto

-1/2  cup goat cheese

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-salt and pepper to taste

-toothpicks

First either fire up your BBQ or start heating up the grill on your stove. Brush the zucchini with olive oil, both sides and place on the grill. Make sure you get those beautiful grill marks. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium high then flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to a cool plate and set aside for 10 minutes until it has cooled down.

Next, spread a good amount of pesto over each zucchini slice. At the thicker end of the zucchini place some goat cheese. Don’t be shy, goat cheese is life. Once all of that is done start rolling the slice, starting with the goat cheese side, and secure each one with a toothpick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then chill in the fridge for an hour. Such a great little appetizer! Enjoy!

Stay tuned for next week when we feature a Bay Area Bakery and an upcoming event from our friends at Thrillist.

Weekly Wanderlust 7/14/17: Omakase at Kru in Sacramento, Nashville Fall Wine Festival, Hopdoddy’s Impossible Burger and Cristina’s Hojaldres de Nutella

Every Friday here at Girls on Food, we’ll bring you Weekly Wanderlust, featuring the best our in cities, recipes, videos and advanced notice on events we’ll be appearing at.

Julianne here:

I recently visited my mom back home in Sacramento, and I finally decided to make a stop into Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine. Back when I lived in midtown Sacramento, I often dined at the original Kru location (at that time it was on J street… I’m talking 2007), and I was excited to check out the new location in East Sacramento on Folsom Blvd.

The new location is quite spacious, with multiple seating options for diners; bar seating, dining room seating, patio seating, sushi bar. I was a little shocked at how big of a space the new venue is. I’d describe the previous location as “hugable” whereas this location feels more “big time”.

Sushi Chef Ricky Yap

Good things come to those who wait, and I have been waiting a long time to taste Kru’s Omakase, so the day finally came for me! I sat at the sushi bar, and Sushi Chef Ricky Yap guided me through this smorgasbord of special appetizers, sashimi, and nigiri with a couple of wagyu steak dishes.

(more…)

Weekly Wanderlust 7/7/17: Five-Course Dinner at Nerano in Beverly Hills, Paula’s Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries and The Ainsworth in NYC

Every Friday here at Girls on Food, we’ll bring you Weekly Wanderlust, featuring the best our in cities, recipes, videos and advanced notice on events we’ll be appearing at.

The BG Lounge | photo credit Rob Stark

Julianne here:

I am so excited for Nerano and Marchesi Antinori‘s Italian Wine Dinner in Beverly Hills. For this dinner, Executive Chef Michele Lisi and Sommelier Samantha Johnston of Nerano team up with Wine Ambassador and Sommelier Alessia Botturi of Marchesi Antinori. 

This five-course dinner tasting menu paired with Italian wines by Sommelier Samantha Johnston will commence on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at 7 PM, in The BG Lounge. 

Pricing for Nerano’s Antinori Wine Dinner is $140 per person, inclusive of the wine and menu, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Advance reservations required and there is limited seating available for this event, make a reservation here: 310.405.0155 

Nerano & The BG Lounge
9960 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Here’s a sneak peek at the menu for the evening:

The evening reception begins with Stuzzichini – Crostino Di Pomodoro Verde with Apulian Burrata & Green Tomato Marmellata and Bruschetta with Grilled Rustic Crostino, Diced Campari Tomato, Arugula & Parmigiano Reggiano paired with Col de Salici Rosé Brut NV.

Followed by Antipasti  Crudo Di Ricciola with Pacific Yellowtail, Crispy Capers, Fresno Chili Peppers, Rainbow Micro Greens & Citronette paired with Tenuta Guado Al Tasso, Vermentino 2015and Burrata Caprese with Heirloom TomatoesApulian Burrata, Tomato Confit & Arugula-Pesto paired with Castello Della Sala, ‘Cervaro,’ Chardonnay 2014. 

Next is the Pasta course of house-made Orecchiette with Colorado Lamb Ragú, English Peas, Tuscan Mint & Fiocchi di Burrata paired with Guado al Tasso, ‘Il Bruciato’ 2015. For Secondi – the main course – Tagliata di Manzo, USDA Prime New York Steak with Yukon Gold Potato Focaccia & Sautéed Spinach paired with Antinori ‘Tignanello’ 2014.

Completing the dinner is a Dolci of Panna Cotta e Frutti di Bosco – Tahitian Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fresh Wild Berries, Orange Zest & Vin Cotto paired with Fattoria Aldobrandesca, ‘Aleatico’ 2011.

I will be on our Instagram @girlsonfoodblog providing stories and live content, so make sure you’re following us!

(more…)