Where Nobody Knows You, and Nobody Gives a Damn

If you’ve been reading for a little while, you know that the past few months have been full of big changes.  If you haven’t, Cliff notes version involves moving to Philadelphia (after 7 years in North Carolina), starting graduate school at Penn, a dissolution of a 4.5 year relationship, a new job, applications to numerous OTHER new jobs, and basically my life was one of those salad dressings that was all shaken up and is finally starting to settle into the layers and make a little more sense.

As things are approaching a sense of normalcy (though how long does that ever really last?), I’m finding my stride in academia. I’m feeling pretty good at my job (and also picked up another part time job that I’m sure will make some appearances on the blog in the future….)

Easiest hint ever.

I’m getting into the swing of things at the gym (despite some ABYSMAL Zumba instructors which are really harshing my mellow.)  Translation? I’m staying busy. It’s impossible not to. That being said, I find myself missing one thing (err… one “concept”, multiple “things” I guess) more than anything else.

Couch pile with the sibs (Spring 2008 maybe?)

Riesling Fall Break 2009

We have the very best hair (Summer 2011)

Fakesgiving 2008

NCGPO Founding Six Pack

Summer 2010 (ish)

Late 2010, I’ll assume. Getting lazy with these dates…

Third Eye Blind, last summer was it?

Seeing a trend?

I miss the friends that became family. I miss the folks I can call, not to go out to some sort of discotheque or impress with my knowledge of the finest happy hours in the city (confession: I don’t even know them, so don’t ask), but to just sit and watch like… tens of episodes of Law and Order: SVU and relax. The ones whose company fills me with total comfort and joy, even when we’re not saying a word. The ones who know you better than you know you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m starting to make friends here in Philly, and Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that jazz. But MAN, I can’t tell you what I’d give for a weekend in Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh, surrounded by my Delta Psi brothers and sisters, playing Kinect with my volleyball buddies, and geeking out over hops with my NC Beer buddies.  It’s true: you never TRULY realize what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Luckily, it’s not gone.  It’s just a few hundred miles South of here.  And, even luckier, this time next week I’ll be headed back home for the one thing that’s even better than friends that became family….

The Clan

Yup. Family that became friends.

No real point to this post other than to share with everyone how much I miss and love them, and how lucky I am to have two places in this world to call home.








Pinup Themed Bachelorette Party, Anyone?

You know what I haven’t enjoyed NEARLY enough of in my life?


Bellini Mix-ins!

Following the recipe of Food Network’s Italian heartthrob herself (You might know her as Giada), and with the aid of a SERIOUS Vitamix power house (courtesy of Renee, the hostess with the mostess), we whipped up a DIY Bellini Bar for my girlfriend Katie’s Pinup Bachelorette Party!

All we had to do was puree some fruit (frozen and/or fresh), add some simple syrup, and buy approximately a case of cheap champagne. VOILA!! Instant party! (and, alas, delayed reaction hangover the next morning… but that’s neither here nor there.)

The guest of honor was simply told exactly what to wear by her sister (the mastermind behind this amazing fete!), and when to show up.  And show up she did.

Classic Beauty Katie, all ready for a night out on the town!

Some presents were given, MANY Bellinis were consumed (my favorite combination: Strawberry Puree, a splash of cranberry juice, and lots of Extra Dry Andre. Because I’m classy like that), and the Goodie Bags contained CANDY CIGARETTES AND FAKE TATTOOS!!!

Probably the most fabric of any present given… gotta keep it relatively clean here.

I call it “StrawCrAndre”

Puffing… or maybe chewing.

After we were all lingerie’d out (if there is such a thing…), we Pinup Posed, and head out the door!

Fierce, yes?

Mother Nature, however, wasn’t in the mood to party.  She was weeping (maybe because Katie was off the market?)

Dear Sky – Please close, thanks. -JP

Luckily, our seats at Top of the Hill were indoors, so we stayed dry (for a bit).  I enjoyed their “Marco Polo” – tender ginger & soy braised Korean beef with fresh kimchi, cilantro & sweet onions salsa & creamy asiago risotto.

Kimchi MAY not directly translate to a bunch of cabbage, but delicious otherwise.

And then, it was onto the bars.

Lemondrops, anyone?

We soon realized that all we REALLY wanted was a cup full of sugar-covered lemons.  But beggars can’t be choosers. Or something, I don’t know.

Another drink, please.

That nameless drink where you can’t use your hands. Shhh.

We got to know each other better with some hilarious stories, and demanded that all bartenders play 90s music.

It was ideal.  Though the rest of the night was definitely snapped with the point and shoot, we’ll keep that stuff off the blog world. The evening ended the only way Katie and I know how to end any evening – Snacks. Namely a grilled ham and cheese sammy for me.

I’ll just leave on this note:

I make The Shades of Shame look GOOD.

Show me yo’ teeth!

What’s your favorite party theme?

This could be a new fav of mine…

The Hazards of Being Fabulous

I know, I know, it seems like all I talk about these days is Zumba. How I dress for it, how much I love it, how great it is. Whatever, old news, right?

Well, did you ever know how dangerous Zumba can be?

It’s risky to shake it as hard as I do, sometimes.

Let me explain.

Certain instructors like to split the room in half and work the room in a dance-off. A battle of epic, Step Up proportions. And these are excellent times. On Monday, I visited Women’s Only Workout in Chapel Hill for the first time (membership is a perk from the Healthiest You Challenge). I figured I’d tour it and try a Zumba class.  Only my fellow participants weren’t exactly as hyped up as I’m used to. While I was hooting and hollering, they were sort of silent coyotes, dancing without words.  So, when the room was split up, the instructor called me out.

Instructor: “Who do you Zumba with? Like, who taught you?”

Me: “Oh, goodness, like… any and every instructor, really.”

Instructor: “Well, class, you gotta Zumba like THIS GIRL! Get into it, let’s hear some noise!”

Me – “Challenge ACCEPTED.”

That was a challenge, right? So I decided to REALLY bring it.

The side vs. side dance-off began simply enough, lots of shaking and shimmying.

Then, we took it to the next level. We’re talking booty-popping, locking, and dropping.  So I decided to top it off with a grand finale, guaranteed to garner cheers and joy from my fellow Zumb-ers.

After shaking my way to the center, I thrust my hand in the air (like so):

You know what’s coming

Then, in an epic gesture, I dropped it low and SMACKED the floor. Like this:


And, the moment I spanked the living daylights out of that floor, I felt it.  Right in my hand, a searing pain that one might expect to get had they slapped a brick wall for sassing them, or had their hands rapped with rulers for being snarky in school.  So, I continued to dance as the crowd roared with laughter and cheering and claps.  But what I WANTED to do was this:


The result?

Hand bruises are no jokes, y’all.

What did we learn from today’s lesson, friends?

Winning a Zumba dance off is worth any and all pain.

I don’t regret a thing.

Triangle Bucket List: Crook’s Corner’s Honeysuckle Sorbet

My Triangle Bucket List is coming together nicely. And deliciously.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of engaging in a two-fer.  As in I hit one spot (Crook’s Corner) twiced and enjoyed the most delicious, mouth-watering, and memory inducing dessert of all time.

Pardon the dim image. The dimage?

Crook’s Corner is a Chapel Hill staple, touted by The New York Times as “Sacred ground for Southern foodies.”  The head chef and mastermind behind this slice of heaven, Bill Smith, has been in the final four for Best Chef Southeast by the James Beard Awards. And I’m lucky enough that a solid chunk of my buddies work at this establishment (Sunday brunch, it was all I could do to stop saying “HI!” to friends).

The ambiance outside is all pigs and hubcaps, and a kitschy hodge podge of piggies decorates the inside.


I’m not sure if it’s the decorations or the food, but the restaurant definitely makes me wanna pig out!

Thursday night, after dining on the tasty mudbugs at the Rockfish Crawfish Boil, I was alerted (via Twitter)  that the limited engagement honeysuckle sorbet (the feature on my Bucket List) was featured on the Thursday night menu (their menu changes regularly, I love it, always a surprise.)

After calling to be certain they still had some of the sweet treat (it’s a hot ticket item that goes fast), I dragged Amanda along with me for dessert.

Sweet backlighting courtesy of Amanda's iPhone

Served in a tiny chalice, this nectar was presented with a sprig of mint leaves and two spoons.  Talk about romantic….

Anticipation is killing me

I couldn’t wait for the first bite…

Pure joy

Oh sweet mother of all things tasty.

I don’t know how one bite could convey so many tastes…  It was sweet, it was fresh, it melted the moment it hit your tongue… it reminded me of sunshine, of bike rides, of summer and the shore. Swing sets in each scoop, my brothers and sister running over to the one bush on my grandparents’ street that always provided ample honeysuckle.

I got the inside scoop on how it’s made from one of my buddies/waiters.  Apparently, Bill Smith rides his bike around at night time (the best time to pluck the blooming blossoms) with a beer and a bucket, emptying one and filling the other with tiny flowers.  He puts the flowers in cold water and lets them soak for 24 hours, turning the water into a virtual essence of honeysuckle.  Then (I assume) he pours the mixture (sans actual blossoms, which have been strained out) into an ice cream maker and VOILA! Heaven.

Cook and Most Popular Student at UNC? I think Bill and I make a good pair.

I Amanda spotted Bill himself, and I made sure to thank him for all he does for the Chapel Hill food scene, as well as for creating numerous meals I’ve enjoyed over my past 7 years in the area.

I loved it so much that I came back on Sunday for brunch, and enjoyed a teensy bit more, due to my secret sneaky hookups in the back (they didn’t have it on the menu that day… but I know a guy, or four). Brunch should ALWAYS come with dessert.

Triangle Bucket List, you are one of my best (and tastiest) ideas ever.

Putting the FULL in Fullstreet Wings!

I LOVE chicken.  I love it roasted, fried, grilled, slow-cooked, and slathered in sauces.

Perhaps my favorite style of chicken consumption is in wing-form.  Wings bring people together, they’re my favorite eats during sports events, and they are actually finger-lickin’ good.  As in I shamelessly lick my fingers every time I eat wings.  The only problem is that, more often than not, they’re deep-fried and loaded with a buttery sauce.  And while that doesn’t negate the tastiness at all (on the contrary), it does stop me from eating wings constantly.

Well, I might be in trouble.

Wing me, baby!

Look unto the works of Carmen from Full Street Wings Cafe, Durham’s newest gourmet chicken wing spot!

These  never-frozen chicken bits are grilled and, trust me, the pictures don’t do them justice.

All smiles, wings for miles!

Carmen Settles, owner and chef, invited a number of folks from the Durham area to show off her delightful drumettes and have a little meet and greet.  She was also spreading the word about her KickStarter campaign which, if you like wings, you should consider donating to… I just love KickStarter, it gives community members the chance to back local projects they’re passionate about and be part of the entrepreneurial process.  Exciting, no?

Just some of the good stuff.

Carmen set out all of her favorite flavors and what kind of wing-eater would I be if I didn’t try them all?

  • Naked (Okay, I lied, I didn’t try this one, but can imagine if it’s anything like the other, it’s a clean crisp and juicy chicken wing)
  • Garlic Herb & Parmesan – Our first wing, the Parmesan and garlic pair up perfectly for a savory, flavorful bite. Delicious.
  • Classic BBQ – Sweet and saucy, though, I’ll admit, it was not my favorite wing.  Not because it wasn’t tasty…. but because the others were beyond tasty.
  • Papi’s Original – A medium heat wing, these are the recipe that Carmen’s father started her off with, and she never looked back. Loved the spices without hitting you in the face with salt.
  • The Full Street – Carmen’s classic wing, these are the closest to a classic wing-heat as I think we tried, and I could eat a dozen. Crisp skin, plump chicken, with all the right spices.
  • Jerky – See that sexy and proud wing on the top of my pile in the picture above? That was the jerky. It was excellent! It was savory with a nice heat, though, obviously a very different flavor than the next one.
  • Just D*%# Hot – The heat on this one was a nice, slow burn. It was a nice “hot” flavor and avoided the gimmicky “THIS IS SO HOT YOU NEED TO SIGN A WAIVER AND MAN VS. FOOD WILL BE HERE IN 15 MINUTES!”  I love this.  I’d probably get a number of these if I were making a big order. I don’t even need blue cheese to cool my mouth down (though I bet it’d be great with some blue cheese!)
  • Honey Hot – Our surprise favorite. I never would’ve thought that the flavors of honey and spice would pair so nicely, mostly since I don’t consume honey all that often.  Honey + chicken + spicy = a sneaky heat that creeps up on your palate and rocks your tastebuds like a hurricane of flavor!  Definitely sucked the bone dry on this wing…

Hungry like the wolf!

I think the best part of this whole experience was the fact that, despite eating 7 large, juicy wings, I didn’t feel sluggish, stuffed, or sleepy after the dining experience. These wings filled me up, but didn’t weigh me down or have me craving the usual post-wing coma.

Seriously, if you have the chance, TRY THESE PUPPIES CHICKIES! And the next step to getting Carmen all around the Triangle is to check out her KickStarter and, if the spirit moves you, donate! Every little bit counts and pushes her closer to the goal of getting a trailer to bring her wings to the masses.

Do you like chicken wings? 

And what’s your favorite flavor of chicken wing sauce? (or, if you’re not a meat-eater, ever try those veggie friendly wingz? I wonder what those are like…)

Pure Barre: A Breakdown (by a First Timer)

Good morning folks!

You’re probably here because you’re interested in this:

(Click for source)

Yup, I tried my very first Pure Barre class yesterday!!

Pure Barre in Chapel Hill, NC recently had a Groupon-esque deal through OurLocalDeal based in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County in general. For $36, I got 4 Pure Barre classes and, after asking around, this is one heck of a deal!!

I’ve been looking for a new exercise method to get me excited about working out again. Well… look no further.  I look excited, right?

Excited, nervous, they’re all the same.

Ok, I’ll shoot you straight: I was actually totally nervous! I’d go so far as to say there were butterflies in my tummy. After reading an INTENSE review of Pure Barre from Lauren of Raw is Sexy, I was ready for the worst. I walked in the studio, accompanied by my buddy, Anne, and, as expected, the studio entrance was chock-full of Lululemon attire for sale, as well as some fancy shmancy Pure Barre socks.  Luckily, I brought my own.

This little piggy went to Pure Barre

I was honestly more nervous, initially, as to what to wear than anything else. Luckily, my ToeSox have little grippy dots on the bottom that are perfect for not slipping and sliding, considering the floor is carpet!!  For some reason, I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

As for what else to wear:

  • Most women were rocking yoga pants, with the occasional legging/crop legging mixed in there (I went for the crop legging). I would NOT recommend wearing shorts, as they could ride up during the seated portion
  • Tank top/tshirt that breathes. You’re going to be sweating a lot, don’t make it worse by over-dressing. Again, I’d recommend a longer length, as there are portions that could lead to riding up.
  • Socks – Grippy dots are helpful, if you’ve got em or have access to them

My instructor asked us to grab some equipment, and I picked up what I needed.

All the Accoutrements for a Pure Barre class!

What you need:

  • Resistance band
  • Mat
  • Ball
  • Weights (2lb set and 3lb set…. but I only ended up using the 2lbs!!)
What I wish I’d brought:
  • Water bottle
  • Towel
  • Another towel (seriously, I was drenched in sweat)
But I managed to make due.
The class started out promptly (which I LOVED) and, honestly, the music was much less irritating than most workout classes I’ve taken part of (like, for instance, the BodyPump track featuring none other than…. Nickelback. Blech.)  Within the initial five minutes, I was sweating.
Within the first set of pushups, I was straining.
After the first set of squats at the barre, I was burning.
Not just a little burn.  A burn that felt like the insides of my thighs were literally being hit with a cold blue flame.
We started with some small weight lifting and a few leg actions that were very reminiscent of that time I hated tried pilates. We did pushups, we straightened our legs, and, without fail, I was the first person who was approached by the instructor who fixed my form.

You want me to do what with my butt?

There was a lot to think about, much like pilates. You were tucking your hips in, you were straightening your leg, flexing your foot, pointing your toes, and squeezing balls between your legs (in the least sexual way possible). Despite all the well-dressed ladies looking fierce in their form fitting Lulu gear, I’ll admit, there was NOTHING about this class that looked sexy. That’s not to say that the women didn’t all look gorgeous. But when they’re drenched in sweat, standing on their tiptoes, thrusting their hips back and forth, it’s a lot less sexy than you’d think (who bets someone finds my blog in the future searching “Lulu hip thrust”?)

My thighs and butt definitely felt the most worked out, with my abs feeling the least. The thigh set at the bar was AMAZING! Literal burning, like Icy Hot minus the sexy rubbing that goes on beforehand. Just Pure Burn. The portions where we were squatting and on our tiptoes, working in tiny little thrusts and tucks, I felt like my legs were about to reject the rest of my body and walk away.

They didn’t.

I think, however, I have figured out why the abs weren’t getting their full workout.

Oh, don’t mind me, giant wooden bar. Just trying to workout.

An entire ab set was supposed to be set with us sitting against the wall, and your head/back against the wall. Only, when you’re 6’1″ with a torso that goes on for days, well…. apparently the studio wasn’t ready for that.

My head was literally jammed against the wood of the bar and I couldn’t even turn it straight. It was…. ridiculous. Anne looked over at me and chuckled as I strained to turn and face the instructor (which required a bit of bobbing/weaving around the wood.) It was hilarious, it was distracting, and it was REALLY difficult to adjust accordingly.

Oh well, I guess there aren’t too many tall ballerinas, right?

The tail end of the class focused on…. our tail end.  Lots of booty work including lifts and bridges that pushed the burn out to the last moment of class.  I felt worked the entire time. There were very few breaks, very little arm work, and LOADS of sweat (I think my perspiration may have left watermarks on the bar.)  I felt worked out the whole time.  I feel like the lifting at the beginning was kind of silly and put in there just to make use of those fancy looking weights.  However, the aspect of the ball was CRUCIAL and I think a core part of this Pure Barre method.  The resistance band was best for stretching.

My fanny is sore, my thighs still feel like there’s some creep who’s lighting small fires on them now and then, and I honestly can’t even wait to go back.

Pure Barre Virgin, NO MORE!

What’s been an exercise that’s gotten you excited lately?

Have you ever tried Pure Barre? If so, what do you think? If not, would you want to?

How to Not Get a Date with Me (alternative title: Creeps at Bubs)

[WARNING: the below, for the sake of timeliness, is all illustrated through recycled photographs from facebook. and in one, there’s a cameo by a pig that’s been barbecued. You can see the pig’s face. if that kinda stuff makes you uncomfortable, don’t read further… but if you wanna hear a funny story, get someone to narrate it. Also, I talk about weeping mosquito bites. No holds will be barred, here, folks. You’ve been warned of a possible grossout factor.]

Good evening ladies and gents! I’ve got a little bit before I meet my beautiful cousin, Devon, for a little date at one of my favorite spots, Mellow Mushroom.

Dev's too cute. Tonight, fancy dresses optional.

While I have a hot second or two, I decided to share a lovely story with y’all. It’s a tale of unrequited love, of sweaty passion (well, of sweaty something), and a tale of an itch that shouldn’t’ve been scratched.

If I haven’t lost you yet, come along with me on this journey. A veritable trip down memory lane (if memory lane were 3 days long).

As I mentioned, Saturday was a glorious day of tailgating, eating everything grilled/imaginable, and fun with friends. It was also, strangely, a day of accidental four hour naps that result in a 10:30 pm wakeup and a very confused Jordan.

Wait, where'd everyone go? What happened?

I don’t get out on the town in Chapel Hill all too often, though, so I didn’t want the rest of the night to go to waste. Oh, and I was hungry (go figure?)

I called my old roomie/fraternity sister/lifelong friend, Linnea, to see if she wanted to escort me to Franklin Street for a bite and a sip (namely, pizza and a beer).  Ever the kindly lady, she promptly hurried over to satiate my hunger and thirst (primarily for sustenance, secondarily for human companionship.)

Sisters are always there for you. and there for beer.

We scampered over to Artichoke & Basil and I couldn’t help but notice all the smiling faces on Franklin Street. It might have had something to do with the three day weekend, or the fact that it was a Saturday night, or the fact that we’d given a whooping to JMU earlier in the evening, but whatever it was, folks were getting rowdy. That’s okay, I had my eyes on the prize: pepperoni pizza with spinach. MMmmm.

After getting quite possibly the best parking space I’ve ever had the pleasure of parking in on a weekend on Franklin Street (seriously, people would give their left [arm/nut/breast/whatever is important to you] to get this spot), we casually strolled ourselves and my pizza slice to Bub O’Malley’s, a nearby watering hole on Rosemary Street that I have, shockingly, never visited once in my 6+ years living in/around Chapel Hill.

Why would you avoid this sexy fellow?

As a sidenote that will soon become important, earlier in the day, I’d scratched a mosquito bite on my right calf and irritated it to the point of inflammation and hideous red color. Oh, and it was weeping nasty mosquito juice.

Yeah, I told you it could get gross.

Back to Bub O’Malley’s (affectionately known as “Bubs”). We waltzed in there (well, sort of. First we got carded, then we filled out some sort of form because Bubs is one of those spots that requires membership since they don’t serve food, then we talked to the guy who carded us about my pizza. then we waltzed in) without a care in the world and admired their rather impressive tap selection.  I was a happy lady, and a lady that wanted nothing more than a quality beer to match my SUPERB pizza.

One Aviator Trippel later, I was sitting pretty.

Here's how I sit, only imagine it prettier than that. And with pizza and beer. and on a bar stool. and not in California.

Here’s the thing that I quickly noticed about Bubs (and probably why I never ended up there): The clientele is, generally, older than most Chapel Hill bars. The music played on the jukebox was the kind of stuff that give hipsters giant indie boners, and if I had a nickel for every pageboy cap I saw there, I’d have $0.05. But that’s still more pageboy caps than I’d see in most of the bars I frequent, where the music is meant to get your booty shaking and your fists pumping.

I digress.

The age was really the main difference. And, on a game weekend, UNC is flooded with many more older folks than regular. I’m not talking older like… well, like me (I’m 24, and graduated in 2009.) I’m talking old enough to be parents of students themselves. Yet they still seem to think that a college town is the number one spot to pick up the ladies.

Linnea and I were just kicked back, enjoying the ambient noise of conversations and music I don’t like, when we heard a commotion at the door.  I paused from my pizza long enough to see two of these fellows mentioned before holding a similar looking dude, only this one was a little wider, a little drunker looking, and drenched in sweat. He had short curly, brillo-pad like hair, the kind that does that horrible head-clinging when you get sweaty. He didn’t NOT look like Milton from Office Space (minus the glasses and facial hair, with curly hair.)

You trying to date this?

He stumbled in and his friends placed him on a chair.  I thought that’d be the last of it.

Having itched my mosquito bite to the point of weeping, yet again, I was trying to prevent myself from feeling drips of mosquito juice down my leg. So I utilized one of the tiny bar towels to wipe it up. Never one to waste, I kept using the same one over and over again.

Back to curly haired Milton. He must’ve taken one look our way, and became determined to woo one of us, because shortly after being sat down, he stumbled over in our direction to make small-talk. Neither of us were interested, so I kindly suggested he scamper back to his friends and physically boxed him out with my shoulder. Milton, persistent son of a gun that he was, took this as flirting. And then he did something so shocking that I was speechless.

He snagged my mosquito-juice napkin.

Was he trying to wipe something up? Was he needing to blow his nose? Or, most likely, did he feel like this was an appropriate method of flirting much like a 1st grade boy would steal your pencil case because “he liked ya”?

Whatever it was, that was the point of no return.

I quietly turned to Linnea and explained what he was clutching to his heart, in a Gollem-type of “precious” grip, and we both bust out laughing, hoping that was the end of it.

It was not, though, as we realized moments later when he popped his head between us to chime into our chit chat.

Ok, that’s enough, I was over this.

Instead of explaining to Milton, though, I just turned to him and, without hesitating, at a volume level one or two notches below a yell, started saying “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!”

I’m pretty sure this is the most effective way I’ve ever told a fellow “back off” at a bar and before I knew it, the bartender had told him to back off and I was free.

Linnea was, I’m sure, impressed at my skills.

And there you have it: How to NOT Get a Date with Me.

(also, I’m in love with my beau, so really, if you’re anyone other than him, you won’t get one either…. but this was definitely the worst attempt of all time.)

Hope you’re having a great night, it’s pizza time for me!

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.