Top of the Hill Goes Green! And a beer review!!

Good evening ladies and gentlemen!!

I actually went to Chapel Hill’s Top of the Hill last night for dinner with the beau.  I’ll admit, I’m a huge fan of Top of the Hill (or TopO as most of us Tar Heels call it).  However, to be totally honest, most of my nights there look something like this:

Sucking back lemon chasers post birthday-cake shots...

Stalking Tyler Hansborough (or any other UNC superstar)

You know… the usual.

The drinks are a little more expensive than your average UNC/Franklin Street bar but, honestly, you get what you pay for: the food’s good, the beers are handcrafted, and the view… well you can’t beat it.

Love it. Source

However, last night, thanks to a LivingSocial deal from a while back, we had a date night to TopO followed by a viewing of Harry Potter 7:2 (it was amazing… but that’s a post for another day.)  I decided I wasn’t in a beer mood, and went with a diet coke to drink.  I stepped out of my box in other way, too, and ordered this:

Edamame Burger, if you please!

On the menu tonight: The Edamame Burger, a house-made soy bean vegetarian patty with lettuce, tomato, red onions, tzatziki sauce & sweet potato fries. And for my stepping outside of the box… I was rewarded!  The burger was delicious!!  It certainly didn’t taste anything like a burger, but it was light, it was flavorful, and the tzatziki sauce paired nicely with it (though the sauce was a little thin for my liking.) The rest of the toppings (onions, tomato, lettuce) were crisp and fresh, good quality. On the side, the sweeet potato fries, which I love in a romantic sense.  Normally, I’ll get the sweet potato fries appetizer, which includes the fries covered in cheese (cheddar and gorgonzola!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!) but I knew that the fries stood strong on their own, so I enjoyed every last bite.  I’d recommend this to anyone, vegetarian, meatatarian, pizzatarian…. it’s just a superior dish, and a steal for less than $10 (but only by 1 penny.)

Since I didn’t have a beer last night at TopO, Ryan and I decided to pair dinner tonight with a new beer we’ve never tried!!

Cottonwood Endo IPA, in a Harp glass. Don't get confused.

The Cottonwood Endo IPA from Carolina Beer Company (the website is very weird/confusing, but there’s the link if you’d like) poured a lovely gold color, lots of carbonation, and honestly, I was just excited because it was from Mooresville, NC (not even 3 hours from where I live, and the hometown of a friend of mine!!)  The smell was hoppy, and I was pumped to take a sip.  It was the sip, though, that burst my bubble.  It’s not that this is a bad beer, don’t get me wrong.  Even at first taste, I thought I tasted maybe some sort of citrus flavor somewhere.  But after letting it sit on my tongue for a bit, the taste went away and was replaced with a bare bones beer flavor (or lack of flavor).  Basically, what I’m saying is that the flavor was short lived, and there was little to no mouthfeel of any sort.  Like a pale ale that just kind of gave up…  It’s a shame, because I wanted to love this beer.  Alas, there’s plenty of love lost.

The only redeeming quality of this beer: drinkability.  I am already on my second one and think, if I wanted, I could have another.  I don’t want to…. but if I did, I’d be set.  I still have hopes for Carolina Beer Company… but not high ones.

Six Pack Sunday: Tuesday Edition

Ladies, gentlemen, and everything between: Life got in the way of blogging this week (with the exception being my Beach Bunny donut journey post).  Accustomed to having the entire summer to soak up the sun, sand, and all the glory of OCNJ, America’s Greatest Family Resort (I believe this statement 118%), when I can only go on a few select weekends living 400 miles away, I try to jam-pack all the fun I can.  Since I don’t want to bore you with every miniscule detail of my trip (false: I really do wanna bore you with it, but I’m too considerate to explain my deep thoughts on Monkey Bread vs. Kohr Bros [team Monkey 4 LYFE!]), it only made sense to sum things up with a (belated) Six Pack Sunday Tuesday.

Six Pack Sunday: This time, it’s Personal Tuesday

  1. My best friend surprised us all on Saturday night by making an impromptu trip to the shore house.  I waited on the porch for her, and greeted the girl the only way I know how:

    One for me, One for Rach!


    Clearly, she was excited for the photog-attack.

    Rachel is one of the most inspiring humans I know, having been diagnosed with breast cancer at the insanely young age of 23.  Through the countless 71 doctor appointments (just fact checked with her), a double mastectomy, and never once dropping the ball as she finished every class at Pennyslvania College of Optometry and is about a year away from being a Doctor of Eyeballs.  Every time we’re together, it’s like we’re 11 again, and I love that she brings that out in me.

    Beach babes!

  2. I got the most amazing ring that I’ve ever owned on the boardwalk.  The Spot on the OCNJ boardwalk is normally much too trendy for me.  Trendy, of course, pairing nicely with expensive.  But, sometimes you see something you can’t pass up. You ask a stranger for a coupon. And you walk out wearing this:

    Tentacles + Bling = My new hotness

    Needless to say, I only took it off to apply sunscreen.

  3. Rogue hairs.  We’ve all had them.  They are normally a single freakishly long body hair somewhere like the arm, the neck, or, in some very rare occasions, on your back right by your armpit.

    Ahhhh!! MUTANT HAIR!!

    Thanks to Rachel’s keen eye, we found it before the night’s activities began on Sunday.  Which brings me to my next point…


    The Trail Mix Sampler by Tommyknocker Brewery, brought to you me and Rachel by our fabulous sommelier of suds:

    Thank you, fine sir.

    I’ll be honest, we didn’t do a formal review of them all, it was more of an impromptu tasting.  But there were definitely highlights (and, alas, lowlights) to this trail mix taste fest!

    Tiny Cups + lotsa chips = ingredients for a perfect pre-party sipping soiree!

    The lowlights: Jack Whacker Wheat Ale and Ornery Amber (though this site calls it Vienna Amber?) were my least favorite. Partly due to the fact that they didn’t really taste very good, but more because they were ones that I expected the most flavor from and actually delivered the least.

    The highlights: Maple Nut Brown Ale was Rachel’s favorite, just as she expected, but I was pleasantly surprised with how fond I was of this chocolatey, nutty beer.  My favorite was the Alpine Glacier Pilsner Lager, another surprise as I very rarely go for the Pilsners…  Fresh and flavorful, it was a winner.

    My favorites in order (left = winner, right = no thanks.)

    All in all, not my favorite six-pack as a whole, but there were definitely a few tasty brews, worth checking this brewery out if you’re able to get some/near Idaho Springs, Colorado.

  5. Thanks to a post by Anne of fANNEtastic food, I was inspired to volunteer to whip up some tasty dessert for the family BBQ. All it took was 2 packages of fresh strawberries, Tollhouse Premier White Chocolate Morsels, and a bottle of bright blue sugar crystals.  Melt that chocolate, dip those strawberries, then dive them right into the blue.  Red, white, and blue stripes.  Fresh and sweet, so delicious.

    USA!! (United Strawberries of America)

    Thanks to Anne, these treats were the MVP of the night.  Maybe I’m biased, but this tray (toted around by Ryan, my beau!) was wolfed down faster than you can sing “God Bless America!”

    Whoah, whoah, plenty to go around!

  6.  My patriotic bathing suit, which I have (painstakingly) been saving since I got it my first Six Pack Sunday was a total hit.

    Stars, stripes, and sisters (from different misters)

    I also spent the second half of the 4th of July rocking my new Ole Miss shirt by School House that I purchased at their sample sale a few weeks back!  So much patriotism.

    Ole Miss, by Damn!

    And, since I’m two days late, here’s two other random bits…

  7. Weirdest parts of the weekend?

    Salon by Jordan

    Washing a friend’s hair before we rushed off to see the fireworks and….  maybe some other late night shenanigans happened on the beach late at night.

    Piles of clothes on the sand near the ocean? Bare legs? Your guess is as good as mine...

    Oh, hijinx.

  8. Fireworks.  They were gorgeous, and I observed them with almost religious reverance, only instead of shouting out AMEN when the spirit moved me, I hollered out different names (none official).  My favorites: Golden showers, the dirty olive (green with a tiny red circle inside), Saturn’s Disco (with the ring around it), and Glitter Shots (which should speak for themselves.)

    The most beautiful part of the weekend.

    Fireworks are my favorite things, and any holiday that features them is A-OK with me.  Hence: the 4th is always my favorite.

To continue the patriotism that is my life, I think I’ll go watch the tail end of some 24 and hit the hay REALLLL early tonight.

How were your 4th celebrations? Or Canada Day?

Do you like fireworks or, like my puppies, are you petrified of them?

Big Boss Monkey Bizz-Ness: This SH** is Bananas!

Happy July, ladies and gents!!  First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for the warm words and amazing response from my last post about my personal Wake-Up Call to change my lifestyle to a healthier, more active one.  It’s great to hear about other people’s wake up calls, or what gave them the drive to change their lives.  Inspiring, right?

Since we hit up a rather heady topic last night, let’s try something a little light-hearted, shall we?  And honestly, what could be more light-hearted and appropriate before the holiday weekend than…. BEER?!

Last night, Lauren and I hosted yet another amazing glass night for the Tri-Beer Meetup group (only THE group to be in if you live in the NC Triangle and enjoy hops, ales, pilsners, and people!) The beer of the evening: Big Boss Brewing Company’s Monkey Bizz-ness.  I’m no stranger to Big Boss Beers, and have toured the brewery before as well as attending a food-truck round-up once or twice.  I’m a HUGE fan of their Angry Angel, and many friends are hopelessly devoted to Bad Penny.  But that’s beside the point.

Monkey Bizz-Ness in a glass!

This beer poured a cloudy hazy gold color that was beautiful to look at on a sunshiney evening.  Only available on draft in June, this beer is described by the brewer:

Monkey Bizz-Ness is spiced to complement the fruit, yeast and malt notes present in this complex, rustic Belgian-style ale. Monkey Bizz-ness is aged for months to blend the bold flavors into a seamless presentation.  9% ABV.

In my opinion, while the smell was divine, it was a little too powerful in flavors for my liking.  It might’ve be the powerful alcohol percentage, but the fruity flavors had me feeling like I was inhaling a tropical mix of produce and flowers, and not in the best way.  I feel like there was  mix of citrus, maybe peach (though that could’ve been the peach I ate earlier tricking my mind), and floral tastes… it was just too much for me.  That being said, my co-host loved it, and it has a very loyal group of followers (who followed us right to the bar!), so clearly my tastes are not similar to everyone.  While I’m glad I tried this one, I think that I’ll stick to their Angry Angel Kolsch in the future as my go-to brew (though their Harvest Time Pumpkin Ale is something I look forward to all autumn!)

A beer, for little ol' me?!

Loyal Tri-Beer member, Will, surprised me by getting my first beer of the night, and it even included a free (BEAUTIFULLY ETCHED) Big Boss Glass which you can buy at their Merchandise Store. The glass normally runs for $3.50, and the beer AND glass cost a mere $2 (or free, if you have a dapper gentleman treat you!), further going to show that Rockfish Seafood Grill at Southpoint truly has the best deal on craft beers in the Triangle (at least that I’ve seen, I challenge you to find me a better one!)

After finishing my Bizz-Ness, I switched over to a beer I honestly didn’t expect to love…  but after one sip of Lauren’s, I knew I had to try it.  Lonerider Brewing Company’s Deadeye Jack, a seasonal porter, infused with… COFFEE! Holy moly.  If you’re someone who likes beer but thought to yourself, “This doesn’t have enough coffee in it!!” this is the brew for you.   It’s deep and rich and full flavored, dark brown in color, aromatic as any mug o’ joe, and easy to drink I would suggest that Starbucks grab a hold of the Lonerider PR person, and work with them on some sort of Brew-Ha-Ha event combining this beer and tasty coffee, and… I don’t know… stand up comedians?  I’m obviously not a PR whiz kid.  alas.

Speaking of alas, the only image I got of this brew was in the side, during an impromptu photo shoot for the Women of Craft Beer NC Calendar:

We'll be taking pre-orders next month...

That’s me on the left (the tall one, shock.), Lauren, and Johanna Kramer, aka the finest  food loving, brew sipping ladies of the Triangle food and drink scene.

After enjoying a delicious night of great talks, lots of laughs, and tasty appetizers (half off from 4-7), I went home to open up my package…  More on this later, but I’ll give you a hint.  This is what I looked like when I opened it.

Like a kid on Christmas morning!

Off to enjoy the tail end of the work-week before the long weekend!!

Mez in Durham and a BEER REVIEW!

Yesterday, thanks to a SaveMore deal (of the century!!) I finally went to get my hair done (done = cut and partial highlights) in Raleigh. For $49, I was able to get both done.  WELL worth the 30 minute drive to randomsville Raleigh when it normally costs me $110 at best (part of the reason I’ve been putting it off…)  I’d say it was a great success, going from this:

Lucky you, not able to see my 5 inch roots.

To this:

And you wonder why they call me "The Golden Child"...

Not the best pictures, as both were taken from within my car, but you get the idea.  With my fancy new hair, I only had one option. SEMI-FANCY DINNER DATE WITH THE BEAU AND FAM!  While I tend to eat at home or make my foods to eat elsewhere like, 75% of the time, every now and then, I pretend to be a fancy pants and head out on the town.  When my hair is polished to a high sheen, that is definitely one of those times.  On the Monday Menu was Mez, a “Contemporary Mexican” joint in Durham.  The table started with some shared guacamole and salsa.


Salsas de la Casa

The Guacamole was described as “Made fresh daily with avocados, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, lime juice. Served with crispy tortilla chips” and the Salsas de la Casa as “A trio of fresh salsas served with tortilla chips. Salsa Mexicana, roasted tomato-chipotle and tomatillo-avocado.” My thoughts?

The guacamole was off the chain.  There was the right amount of spice and a perfect smoothness, and I felt like I could taste each of the ingredients listed, especially the jalapenos! The salsas, on the other hand, truly didn’t taste worth the $6 price tag.  The “Salsa Mexicana”  which is what I assume was the Pico de Gallo bowl, was almost flavorless, other than mostly just tomato. The tomatillo-avocado was pretty quality, but I felt like the dark red one on the left was a glorified mexican “sauce”. That being said, the beau inhaled it, so clearly it couldn’t have been too bad.

For my meal, I was feeling adventurous so, due to the recommendation of our server, I ordered the Roasted Tamarind Pecan Crusted Salmon Served with chipotle sweet potato gratin and sauteed Spinach. My plate looked like this:


The piece of salmon was ENORMOUS and this plate could’ve EASILY been two meals.  As I was a Ravenous Rachel (not to be confused with a Negative Nancy), though, I wolfed down nearly every bite on the plate (duh, I’m the queen of the Clean Plate Club).  The salmon was cooked medium, and had a wonderful pink color all the way through. The spinach was fresh and the chipotle sweet potato gratin, while not tasting like chipotle, was AMAZING!  It was like a mille-feuille made entirely out of sweet potato layers (the literal translation of that French term is thousand-leaf, and I knew that without looking it up, and that proves that my education at Garnet Valley High School was entirely worthwhile.) My only complaint about the entire meal was that the pecans that crusted my salmon were a little overcooked (read: burnt).  I pushed a few off the salmon, and focused on the ones that weren’t burnt, which added a wonderful crunch to the fish.

I’d like to say I chose my beer to best pair with my meal but honestly, I just love this next beer.

Bell's Two Hearted Ale

When I used to work at some crummy Ameri-Mexican place while I was finishing out my senior year at UNC that served sub-par burritos and orgasmic sweet potato fries with a habanero mayo dipping sauce that I need to recreat, my favorite beer we served was Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.  When I’d serve it to a customer, I couldn’t help but sniff the bottle (yup, I’m a creep) because the aroma of this beer is heady, hoppy, and floral. This IPA poured a light amber color, and since I was already intensely familiar with the aroma, I dove right into the taste. The carbonation is delightfully bubbly and the taste hits the mouth with so many fruit flavors that I can’t make them out one by one, all I know is it’s a flavor explosion of AWESOME!  It’s pretty damn hoppy (just how I like it) and, at 7% ABV, not so boozy you’ll feel drunk after 1 or 2, but packs a reasonable punch if you’re throwing them back.

This beer is widely available and, if you’re a newbie to the beer world (or for some reason, haven’t tried it, and feel like you should redeem yourself for your foolish ways) GO GET A SIX PACK! Or even just try one in a pick-6, but bring it to a party and people will want to be your friend.  It normally costs around $10-11 at my grocery store in Durham, NC, so it’s definitely a step up from a sixer of PBR, without being a snobby craft beer.

Now I’m off to figure out what to eat TONIGHT! My prediction: Wanchai Ferry Kung Pao Chicken.