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31 May, 2011

Taste Carolina Tours TriFoodie Tweetup

Posted in : Dining in Raleigh - NC, Events, Product Reviews, Restaurants, Sake, Travel Sponsored Stays and Tours, Wine on by : The Gourmez

Last week, a group of about 40 other foodies and I took a Taste Carolina tour together as part of a TriFoodie Tweetup. If you aren’t aware of these tweetups and you are a lover of Triangle-area food, then start following @durhamfoodie and @andreaweigl on Twitter now, so you can get details on the next one right away—these events fill up fast! For this particular one, we engaged in a four-hour-long tour in downtown Raleigh that led us through a couple of foodie destinations with a bit of Raleigh history mixed in.  First up was the Busy Bee, where we began with some beer samples,

and tator tots and bruschetta appetizers. Our tour guides introduced themselves next and because it was a smaller group, we all introduced ourselves, too. Then we were on our way to the R-Line.

We hopped on to save us some walking on our way to Seaboard Station, where we were treated to a private talk with Chef Jason Smith at 18 Seaboard.

After we learned that he loves to talk while he explained where each ingredient on our appetizer came from and discussed the virtues of our accompanying white wine, we dug in.

Oh my! It was absolutely beautiful, and the fiddlehead fern, red potato, and ramp were wonderful. That may have been the best seared scallop I’ve had, or at least it’s in the running.

Next stop was a few blocks down the road, where Market and Escazu share a corner. Escazu’s chief chocolate maker, Hallot Parson, led us through the steps of making a chocolate bar in their small factory, one of the few small-batch chocolate factories in the US. They perform all the steps of chocolate making from sorting the cacao beans out to molding the bars themselves.

Hallot Parson

A model cacao pod and real cacao beans. We crumbled the husks and tried the nips: very toasty from roasting with lots of smoky, bitter flavor.

The roaster, which is an antique because so few people make chocolate in small patches that only antiques could be found!

A slab of chocolate that’s been aged, making the cacao butter rise up.

A chocolate bar mold. We had a few different samples of their wares, and the goat’s milk chocolate was the best, in my opinion. Definitely worth a try.

Next door at Market,

Chef Chad McIntyre told us about the beignets with local honey, pork BBQ sliders, and duck over cheese grits that we were about to devour.

I wasn’t crazy about the beignets, but the duck was wonderful and the pork BBQ sliders almost had a Vietnamese flavor profile to them with a little heat and some crunch. I loved both of those dishes. We were also served a round of Ginger Slaps, a standard offering on Market’s cocktail list.

Afterward, we headed back to the R-Line, stopping for some Peace College and Raleigh history on the way. We also happened across this crazy maze from the Artsplosure! festivities.

Foundation was our last destination, which is an underground bar that’s amazingly inviting on a hot day with its stone walls and expert bartenders. No complimentary drinks here, but we finished our tour with petite lemon-honeysuckle tarts from Crumb.

So cute and great bursts of flavor. I may have had several—the tour guides kept plopping more down in front of us!

Taste Carolina puts together fun tours that give you a change to relax between each stop and enjoy food and drinks while you’re doing so. You also get nice insight straight from the chefs and owners about their wares. The best part of this tweetup, though, was the extended time involved and the small group that allowed me to meet a number of wonderful foodies and chat more with others I’ve been meaning to forever. We’ve got a great community in the Triangle, and I love getting to know more people in it at each of these events. Can’t wait for the next one!


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