The Chef and the Shopping Trip

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year dear friends!
Now is the time for a fresh start, new resolutions, and mass confusion for the next month every time you have write down today's date and remember that it is now 2014.
How was everyone's Christmas break?
I have really enjoyed mine. I can honestly say that I have done absolutely nothing productive since my last exam. (Well, I've been baking like a mad woman, but as far as education goes-- nuh-uh, nada, nothing, zilch, zero, people.)

I did go shopping!

...And try Caribou Coffee for the first time!

...And I discovered that Bojangles now has chicken wraps! Who would have thought? (Compliments to Mother for being my hand model.)

AND... drum roll please...
I went to Chef and the Farmer for the first time!

But let's not get ahead of ourselves; there is a story behind this. (Shocker, right?)

I've talked a little bit about my Dad's side of the family, and all of the wonderful traditions we have with them. But Mama's side of the family brings all the more, just as special traditions.

I like food. A lot. I enjoy looking at food, reading about food, eating food, learning about food, and making food. One of the main fuels to my food love is my Mama's Mama, Gigi.
Honestly, she is more like a best friend than a grandma. (If you haven't noticed, God has blessed me with a wonderful family all the way around. The relationships that I have with them are, I guess, "untraditional" in a sense, but I wouldn't change it for anything. Stepping off of my soapbox now.)
Gigi is my culturally-exposed foodie Grandma; she is the one that has really supported me in my quest to become cultured and has introduced me to the grandeur of the food world.
Every time we go to Raleigh, (and I mean every time), we make a stop at one of my favorite stores in the UNIVERSE (an exaggeration? Not a bit.): Trader Joe's. Many times we have ventured out early on a Saturday morning to make it to the local Farmer's Market, Whole Foods, the Fresh Market, Harris Teeter, and other food lover havens. She keeps me stocked with the latest food magazines, and is always supportive of my latest food obsession infatuation. She also seems to know absolutely everyone everywhere. I think it has something to do with her affectionate, amiable personality; she has connections that absolutely baffle me.

She and Pops (her husband and my beloved granddaddy) are also the cause of my going to Chef and the Farmer for the first time. My birthday is coming up soon, and since I am going to be away at school, they decided to treat us (my entire family) to a glorious night at the Chef and the Farmer.

This one is for you, Gigi. Love you.

So, about the Chef and the Farmer: if you haven't been, go.
Here is a little taste- no pun intented- of our experience the other night. Here we go!!!!!!

The Appetizers:

Three Cheese and Sweet Potato Pizza

This was a free appetizer that we got for having to wait so long at the door. It had taleggio (cheese), fontina (cheese), and mozzerella (obviously a cheese), garlic, and that is not pepperoni you see on that pizza, ladies and gentleman, that is sweet potato. Yum!

Flash Fried Collards with Sea Salt

These. Were. Delicious. Like the ultimate unhealthy Kale Chips, but so worth it.

Marinated Winter Green Toast

Another free appetizer for having to wait so long for our appetizers, this toast was absolutely marvelous. It was a little hard, but the whipped butternut goat cheese was to die for.

Grits #1

This was my personal favorite off of the "Pimp My Grits" menu. White cheddar grits with stewed apples and country ham.

Grits #2

These grits were daddy's favorite. Pimento cheese grits with salsa and a jalapeño cornbread.

The Entrees:

Bone-In Ribeye

This huge coffee-encrusted cut of beef was served with roasted sweet potatoes and sauteed onions, and a rosemary chimmichuri (similar to a rosemary pesto).

Fried Rabbit Tenders

This was my first time trying rabbit, and I really enjoyed it. It had a game-y taste, similar to chicken, with a texture similar to steak. It was served with collards, creamy rice grits, and gravy. Country cooking at its finest.

Wood Roasted Yellowfin Tuna

This was my entree. I love fish. I love raw fish. I love seared fish. So I really enjoyed this! It came with a cucumber, grapefruit, and watercress salad and coconut fritters. Oh. My. Word. Those coconut fritters. DEE-licious. Thank you Vivian.

Chorizo Stuffed Chicken

Tender, juicy chicken stuffed with a spicy sausage over roasted sweet potatoes with a hint of citrus. It also came with greens and a beautiful cranberry pecan relish.

Seared Tile fish

I had never heard of tile fish before this culinary adventure, but I quite liked it! It came with shrimp and clams, delicious creamy rice, and a "green herb broth." Not quite sure what the herbs were, but it was pretty good.

By the time we got to dessert, nobody wanted it. Not that it wasn't good, but we were so stuffed.

But, our gracious waiter insisted that we have dessert, and he even brought us a free one because we were celebrating birthdays!

Chocolate Pot de Creme

Pronounced POH-deh-'Krehm, (or as daddy would say, POT-duh-'Kreem), was DIVINE. We split it between all seven of us, but it was so rich that it was more than enough to go around. It was a dense chocolate custard with a coffee-graham crust (I think) and chantilly cream. Good choice, a very good choice.

Overall, it was a wonderful night, and we made some beautiful memories with the family.

Today, I also had a photo shoot with one of the local photographers who goes to my church. Here is one of the pictures that he took today:

He very graciously volunteered to take some pictures of me for my blog. He is really good; I highly recommend him. You can find some of his work here.

Much love,
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