This Calvin and Hobbes comic (bottom) sums up just how much fun me and a few of the guys had this weekend. While our firefly-sipping ladies were off dancing on bars and surrounded by phallic party chachkas for a friends bachelorette bash we spent our time memorializing the crap out of Raleighwood. Between the grub, drinks, and outdoor adventures I think even ‘dubbya would be impressed (not that it takes much to impress a crack head like lil’bush).
First on the list was Cafe Caturra, a new brick-oven pizza joint in Cameron Village who asked me to stop by so I can write an article for New Raleigh. I won’t go into too much detail here since my review will be on NewRaleigh.com Wednesday, but the atmosphere, wine, and pizzas were all pretty much top-notch. Fast, tasty, and reasonably priced our group of fine gentleman left full and thirsty, ready to tackle downtown.
After a night of epic shuffle board games at the one and only Isaac Hunters Tavern we set out bright and early (around 11, ha!) to fish for dinner. On the way we made a quick stop at Taylor’s Wine Shop and BP for some bait and two beautiful local peaches as a morning snack. This place is less of a gas station and more a specialty store, with the largest selection of Larry’s Beans I’ve ever found, including a blend made especially for Taylor – a community hero apparently.
With peaches, worms, and a cooler full of bud-heavies we cast out hook and lure at Blue Jay Point, a park connected to Fall’s Lake in North Raleigh. Hours passed as we tried everything in the ole’ tacklebox to land some dinner, but alas the fish were far too clever for our night-crawlers or jelly worms and we left empty handed…
But the fish had not won, oh no my friends! Hook or no hook we were grilling up some scaley goodies: enter Earp’s Seafood. This small shack off South Saunders Street supplies the locals with all things waterbred. Among the most interesting were Rock Fish, Black Bass, Baby Pompano, and NC Brown Shrimp.
We chose two black bass and two rock fish to grill accompanied by a cucumber salad and baked ziti. The Black Bass are a favorite of my families, salty and briney with a bottom of the ocean flavor that is to die for. The Rock fish are the complete opposite, sweet and frothy due to their diet of shellfish.
Prior to grilling I managed to find a blackberry bush in our buddies backyard stocked to the brim with perfectly ripe berries. Fingers stained with the sweet purple nectar we turned these surprise berries into Blackberry Mojitos. Following the same recipe as before, simply replace the lime slices with a small handful of fresh blackberries and you’re in business. Don’t let their purplish tone fool you, this thing packed a flippin’ wallop thanks to John’s heavy rum hand (not complaining at all!).
Another night traversing the many fine (and not so fine) establishments of Raleigh left us eager for some stick-to-your-bones grub: enter Poole’s Diner. This would be the second time I’ve been to Poole’s in a couple months, which may not sound like much but I just don’t have the funds to go more often. That said, we arrived around 12 on Sunday for Ashley Christensen’s outrageous brunch menu. Just look at her menu!
Each dish sounded better than the next, but I finally opted for the Egg’s Benedict due to the mention of Porchetta (an Italian street-food I fell in love with in Firenze). Grilled english muffins topped with slices of heavily spiced pork tenderloin topped with pillowy poached eggs topped with a gluttunous Béarnaise sauce….cripes! Too good to put into words, just go there and try it.
We spent the rest of the afternoon deciding on dinner options, contemplating proteins and sides over a friendly round of frolf. Beef? Pork? Chicken? More Fish? How about we let the farmers market decide? Off again on another culinary adventure we found ourselves strolling up and down the market in search of inspiration. Our muse came in the form of a 4lb Pork Butt and some collards. An obvious choice I’ll admit but now a staple during our man-fest celebrations (that sounded wrong…not that their’s anything wrong with that).
The Pork was covered in a mix of sugar, salt, pepper, and vesta, seared, basted in beer and slow roasted at 325 for 4 hours. It could have stood to roast another hour but the beer reduced down to a sweet sauce coating each and every morsel. Along with some baked Annie’s white cheddar mac’n'cheese and Collards (simply braised in a butter-beer-apple cider vinegar mix) we had an all American feast to cap off a very memorialized weekend.
Cheers to the GROSS Club (Get Rid of Slimy girlS): John, Matt, Andy, Tom and Tyler for a kick ass, truck driving, flag flying, eagle soaring, guns blazing weekend. It was like The Sandlot, Old School, The Hangover, and Dazed and Confused all rolled into one real-time documentary (plus copious amounts of food). Rock, Flaaaag, and Eeeeeeeeeeeagle!