Valentines, Schmalentines

To Feel The Love  

Forward: When I sat down yesterday to write this post I wasn’t sure what to say, or how to say it. I didn’t know my ending goal or have a point to my story, I just felt like writing about what love meant to me. Here is what unfolded after I sat down.


I don’t know how to start this post and I’m not really in the mood to write it. Tomorrow is Valentines Day and I will be celebrating with the one I love.

I love, love. I am a hopeless romantic. I am a super huge fan of movies that make me cry. My favorite part of any TV series and Movie is always the love story. I.E., Rachel and Ross, Noah and Allie, Jim and Pam, Olivia and Fitz, just to name a few. I am secretly sappy. Love is hard to explain, and the word is thrown around so much that it’s not always believable anymore. The reason I am even doing this post is because not everyone is surrounded by love, and when you are someone who happens to be lucky enough to have and be loved, then you should embrace it.

My heart has been broken to the point I felt as if there was no return. But, I come from a family who showered me with so much love that it was impossible to give up in life. Love isn’t just about flowers, heart candies -although delicious, cute, and wonderful-, and teddy bears. To me, love is a blessing. I am not bragging, I am not gloating, I am just simply recognizing that my parents and grandparents, along with close and distant family members were the first people in my life to show me what true love was supposed to be, and how it was supposed to feel, and I am forever grateful.

My Grandparents were married for 50 years. My Parents divorced when I was 1. Not a day in my childhood from birth to 18 went by without the support of both my mother and father. They might not have loved each other, but they loved me so much that it taught me how to truly care about someone. After I left for college, obviously, I didn’t always try to talk to my parents everyday because I was too busy trying to “discover myself”, but I never forgot how I grew up. When someone would try to take me down, mentally, or by breaking my heart, I would remember how much I love the world, how much I love to laugh, and how much I love the idea of creating the perfect life for myself, and I would get up and move on. Love is hard. It’s hard to find, it’s hard to maintain, it’s said to be easy with the right people but that doesn’t mean it is effortless. It’s only easy because love is the common denominator, and when that is understood, you can overcome anything.

The older I get, the more the definition of love changes. I mean, I have always loved pizza, cats, cheese, and ice cream but, saying you love someone, and committing to that in reality changes as you become older. When I moved to North Carolina 5 years ago, love showed up. My Mom and my Dad, whom don’t speak to each other, drove separately to Pittsburgh from Columbus, helped me pack up a van, a station wagon, and a car, and we all followed each other on this 8 hour adventure. 3 cars, all of us seperate yet, all of us doing this together. I was moving from Pitt to Raleigh because of a boy. Even though I kept telling myself it was for a “change in career”, and to be somewhere warmer, I knew it was because of a boy, and so did my parents. My divorced parents drove me from PGH to NC so I could be with the one I love. I don’t know much more of a love story than that. They moved me into a random house, with random roommates, and “the boy” was there to help. Afterwards, they kissed me on the cheek and separately drove back to Columbus, OH, as Mitch and I waved goodbye. That is why I love, love.

Mitch and I met in middle school, went to high school together, then didn’t see each other for about 8 years, or talk for that matter. On my 26th birthday I came to Raleigh, NC because my best friend was here on business and heaven forbid if we weren’t together to celebrate the big 26! Mitch happened to have a place in Raleigh for us to crash that April, and then, well, that following August I moved here. I’m now 31 and we will be celebrating 6 years together this spring. We both came from terrible heart aches, and helped each other back into trusting someone. He is my rock, my best friend, and he makes me feel like I must have done something right in this world, to have been so lucky to land someone like him. I love you, babe, Happy Valentines, Schmalentines Day.


I’ve decided to share some of my favorite photos with you guys! Scroll through to see the fun times we’ve had over the years, the awesome Pizza my Dad sends us on Valentines Day, the pancakes I made one year that spell out “I Love You”, and my favorite way to show him I care, the art of the sandwich. 

Snowmageddon 2017.

Edible, I Love You’s.

42nd St Oyster Bar.      -Raleigh-

When You Love Someone, Make Them A Sandwich.      -2015-

“Smile” ( He said he could pose better than me.)     -Just A Wedding-

That One Time My Dad Sent Us Heart Shaped Pizzas From Lou’s For Valentines Day!

A Foodies Way of Saying, I Love You, Honey.      -La Farm Bakery-

One Rad Wedding, 2017.     -Colorado-

One of My Favorite New Staples in Raleigh.     -Lucette Grace-

Brewery Hopping.     -Bond Brothers-

Happy 5 Years.     -2017-

Cheers To Year Number 6!     -Chocolate Chip & Bacon Pancakes-

Why It’s Not OK, If You Haven’t Been To Sommelier’s Roast in Raleigh, NC!

As I walked into Sommelier’s Roast on October 26th, with barely a foot in the door, immediately my nose started doing the happy dance. The smells, oh my goodness, the smells. From the freshly roasted coffee beans, to the mini cupcakes and beautiful cakes on display, to the amazing hot and cold sandwiches, gourmet salads, and speciality sides they have available, I was in love immediately. 

In the beginning of summer 2017, a couple of old friends called me up and told me they were going to finally open up their own coffee shop. What seeed like a casual phone call was actually an, OMG our dreams are finally coming true, phone call. It was a miracle, a beautiful blessing, if you will.

I met Lance and Ashley Odvody back in 2014, when I was running the Baguettaboutit Food Truck & Cafe out in Durham, NC. They have three of the most adorable children on the planet, all boys, and I absolutely LOVED when they would visit our cafe. Their boys would run around with more energy than an entire Kindergarten class, and it just filled the restaurant with the most amazing energy every time they were there.

Lance worked at the Angus Barn at the time and Ashley was busy tending to her three little children – a 24 hour job. Any chance he got, Lance would always bring us his Bethesda Roasting Company coffee beans, and I started becoming addicted to them. Those beans were so fresh and it always smelled up the entire cafe, and it was glorious!

Fast Forward 3 years later when I got that phone call; I’m pretty sure I cried a little. What had seemed impossible for the Odvody’s was now becoming a reality right before our eyes. I was fortunate enough to sit in meetings, drink endless amounts of coffee, take part in tea, and lunch meat tastings from all kinds of vendors, and help out in any possible way that I could. It was truly an incredible experience and I could not be happier, or more proud of these two individuals.

The name Sommelier’s Roast came about because Owner and Operator, Lance Odvody, is a certified sommelier. A Sommelier (pronounced, Sew-Mall-Yea) is a trained wine professional specializing in wine tasting, food pairings, and service. This training uniquely qualifies Lance to bring out the subtle flavors of coffee, to create food and beverage pairings, and to bring excellent service to the everyday coffee experience.

Sommelier’s Roast is conveniently located at 3700 Glenwood Avenue Suite 150 Raleigh, NC 27612 on the Ground Floor of the Grubb Ventures and Regions Bank Building, right at the intersection where I-440 meets Glenwood Ave.

Whether you’re going to or from work, school, or meetings, you must stop in for some of the best Coffee, Tea, and Gourmet Cafe Food, that you will ever have; ever, I’m serious! They have a handful of house made items, like this incredible Veggie & Hummus Wrap!

Along with their house made items, they brew their own coffee, and mix in some special treats provided by local vendors; one being the ever so famous, 9th Street Bakery!

They are open 7AM – 4PM, M-F, and occasionally host tea and coffee tasting events on the weekends. Make sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or by visiting their Sommelier’s Roast website!

And this is, Why It’s Not OK, If You Haven’t Been To Sommelier’s Roast in Raleigh, NC! You’re Welcome 🙂

How To Be Irish Twice a Year: Hibernian’s Halfway To St. Paddy’s Day Party v2.0

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Hibernian’s Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day Block Party This Saturday September 16th!

The Hibernian Pub at 311 Glenwood Ave. in Downtown Raleigh is hosting a Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day Block Party for their second time, and this time it’s in the rebuilt, 2 story, 4 bar Pub!

You can expect to find Live Music all day featuring Rattle & Hum a U2 Tribute Band, The Gravy Boys, Irish Dance Groups, & many more! For those of you who love the beer scene, there will be 24 different beers on tap, and 3 of the 4 bars will offer full liquor service. There are also going to be food and beer tents outside, making it easy to refill and refuel while listening to the live bands.

This event has free entry all day. The Hibernian Pub will be open normal hours 11AM-2AM, serving up their full menu, and the Outside Block Party is being held from Noon-11PM on North Ave. at the corner of Glenwood. 

Our staff is the best in town! 

 

Everyone loves a reason to day drink! 

Everyone’s Irish on 1/2 Way to St. Paddy’s Day, Day!

Food & Beer tents outside to serve our guests faster!

View of the crowd from the balcony!

That Patio Pub Life!

The Drink of the Irish 

How To Play it Cool When You Eat & Drink Too Much At The Annual NC Chef Showdown

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How To Play it Cool When You Eat & Drink Too Much At The Annual NC Chef Showdown

We’ve all been there, that moment in time when you realize you’re too uncomfortable to sit down, you can’t stand the thought of having another bite of food, your alcoholic beverage that is absolutely beautiful, has no curb appeal at all anymore, and all you want to do is put on your pajamas and think about what you’ve done,… and hope that maybe, just maybe, your food belly – coma like state, won’t last more than a few hours. Don’t lie to me, you’ve been here and you know it. 

This was me about two weeks ago and unfortunately, it wasn’t the normal acceptable excuse of, “The Holidays”. It happened to me on August 21st, 2017, on just your normal and average Monday. Even worse, MONDAY! The one day at the beginning of the week where everything you want to do is perfect, so you can set the precedent for the rest of the days ending in Y. Nope, not this week.

Food, and really really great food, is a privilege. Two weeks ago I was honored with the pleasure of attending my first NC Chef Showdown Event, and it was everything I had hoped it would be, and more. To be surrounded by some of the best mixologists, pastry chefs, chefs, food bloggers, and food industry leaders in one room, was a truly amazing experience. From the moment you walk through the door and grab your name tag, it’s on! Just like everyone else I was given 3 tickets; 1 to vote for mixologist of the year, 1 to vote for pastry chef of the year, and 1 for chef of the year.

Now sure, you don’t have to try everything available but, how is one supposed to cast an honest and true vote without trying at least one bite from everyone? I couldn’t cast my votes without knowing I did my part and taste everything so, that’s exactly what I did. I had my favorite gold sparkly skirt on, (pretending it was sweatpants), and I walked around and wined and dined myself like a true champion. The chefs were on point, the drinks were top of the line, and the desserts, those desserts made me feel like I myself, was a melting pile of chocolate. So creamy, so delicious, so meticulously planned and sought after, so perfect. 

The respect level for those in the restaurant industry will never be high enough if you ask me. Well, I’m biased because I am in the restaurant industry but, there is so much planning and prepping, testing, buying, rebuying and retesting, panicking, and trying not to panic, giving it 110% and knowing that pleasing everyone is the most impossible task on the planet, but yet, never giving up. It’s such a beautiful and specific process, and I have nothing but respect for everyone who wakes up every morning and accepts this challenge day in and day out. 

I survived my experience by smiling a lot, like, a lot! I also took small bites of everything to save as much room as possible. I drank some water too. I would try a chef’s dish, then a pastry dish, then hop on over to one of the mixologists stands and see what they had going on. After about 4 rounds of this, that is when “the game face”, really comes into play. It was a little warm in the event space, and as I looked around to browse the room I could see people fanning themselves and clinging to their bottled water, and that’s when I knew I wasn’t alone in this feeling.

Things to remember: Talk to people to distract yourself for a while, and mingle! There are so many fantastic people in this room every year, and to not mingle would be like buying a ticket and not eating! Also, pace yourself. (You’ll thank me for that note if you attend this event next year.) 

Now that I’ve share with you why I was beyond Thanksgiving full, and why it took me 24 hours to recover, I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed consuming my way through City Market to make this blog post possible. Thank you to the Hibernian for the opportunity to mingle with fantastic restaurant industry leaders at the NCRLA conference this year, and thank you to everyone at the NCRLA who made this conference possible. I have made many new friends these past two years and look forward to seeing everyone again next year in Charlotte, NC! 

To read more about the event and why you should attend year after year, click on the link below to visit The N&O Website, and get details about the Chefs and where they work! Chef Showdown N&O Article

Lastly, call an Uber or Lyft for a ride home, you’ll need a sober driver 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photos by Gillian Rose McLane

Joca’s Big Sexy Dawgs!

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Cold Beer & Meat Sweats Visits Jocas Dawgs in Raleigh, NC at Lafayette Village!

My friend Arlene and I have a Yelp! bucket list that we like to attend to about two times a month, minimum. Considering it’s the 4th of July, hot dogs or cheeseburgers were a must, and Jocas was at the top of the list, so off to Lafayette Village we went. I mean, look at these Dawgs 🙂 

Raleigh can seem so tiny, but yet so huge. My Yelp! bucket list grows each week, and it’s an amazing and delicious challenge to try and get to all of the restaurants this city has to offer.

We went to lunch on Monday July 3rd and it was slower than usual because of the holiday. Which, turns out, is great when you plan on doing a photoshoot before devouring all the Dawgs!

The outside and inside of Joca’s is very simple and straightforward. The menu is handwritten and hung on boards on the wall, and changes from time to time. (He was still finishing the boards when we arrived, so the Sweet Treats board was the only one up at the time.) 

I respect, love, and appreciate small and simple operations that produce large and powerful menus. I also loved the Coca-Cola cooler full of glass soda bottles; took me immediately back to my childhood. 

Let’s talk about these Dawgs!

My first instinct and immediate thought was; ORDER EVERYTHING ON THE MENU!!! Taking into consideration that ordering all the Dawgs probably wasn’t in our best interest, we went with our top 3 choices; The Campfire Dawg, The Mexi-Corn Dawg, and The Philly Cheese Dawg. 

The Campfire Dawg was everything you dream a hot dog should taste like. Nothing says Happy Birthday America!, like a Hot Dog wrapped in Bacon, smothered in Baked Beans, Queso, Joca’s Smoked Ale Mustard, Joca’s Chipotle & Honey Ketchup, and Sweet Relish. OH MY DAWG! This little tiny, enormous beast had so much flavor is was like getting punched in the face, but in a good way! 

(Side note; the Campfire Dawg comes with sweet relish but if you prefer a different relish, just ask because they have both!) 

The Mexi-Corn Dawg is unrealistic. It almost seems illegal by all rules of a good hot dog. First, I have never tried or wanted to try, lettuce on my dog. Second, I’ve never thought to put a corn dog in a tortilla, alongside veggies and cheese, and call it a day. I’ve been doing it all wrong. Life is so much better with corn dogs inside tortillas, covered in cheese, and smothered with veggies. Do not ever turn your nose up to a corn dog in a tortilla, trust me. 

I have to be honest, this picture makes me want to lick the computer screen. I mean, SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! This dog will change the way you think about dogs. On this glorious fire grilled tortilla, they layered a mixture of chopped lettuce, green onions, and freshly diced tomatoes, then topped it with an All Beef Frankfurter Encrusted with Sweet Corn Kernels, served it with a combination of Cojita and Queso Cheeses, and drizzled it with Chipotle Mayo. This is a real thing, and it exists in the world, and it happened to me yesterday!!!

It also came with Lime wedges because, why not? 🙂 I hope I have been able to express to all of you, just how enjoyable this particular dog was. What an experience! If you go to Joca’s and try this dog, make sure to tag #JocasDawgs and #ColdBeerMeatSweats because, I want to hear all about it!! 

The Philly Cheese Dawg is a game changer. I feel as if I’ve been to quite a few hot dog shops in my day, and no one has ever offered me sliced hot dogs, in the form of a Philly Sandwich. And now that someone has, I don’t know why all other hot dog shops wouldn’t follow suit?! I wasn’t sure what to expect, it was a love it or leave it type of situation for me, and I absolutely loved it!

The mixture of the sliced and grilled hot dogs with onions and peppers, Jocas Hot Pepper Relish, and melted cheeses on a Amoroso Hoagie Roll, was phenomenal. I know I wrote how amazing and delicious all of these dogs were but, in this case, I saved the best for last. If you don’t go with a friend, or just want to try one at a time, this is the one I would try. It’s so different, and the flavors and creativity dance around your mouth like… the Macarena on your tongue!! 

Unfortunately, we were too full to try a milkshake, or a piece of their “Million Dollar Pie” but, we will be back my friends, we will be back! Also, I love this sign, it makes me so happy! 

Lafayette Village has so much to offer! This place is such a beautiful and fun area, and is perfect for the whole family! (Click on the Lafayette Village link above to go to their website!)

Other places we visited yesterday in this area that I love are; Orrmans CheeseThe Chocolate Boutique, and The Olive Wagon .

*Don’t forget to check out Jocas Dawgs online menu so you can plan for your next trip! *

Local Favs – Raleigh Edition

The Big New Boss in town, AKA, The Raleigh Beer Garden

I love Big Boss beer, and I especially love when they takeover the roof at The Raleigh Beer Garden! This photo was taken last year on their first tap takeover, and I still get excited every time I see it! It was such a beautiful day, we were drinking on the roof, and every tap was taken by a Boss. To see what’s going on over at the Big Boss Brewery, Go Here! 

The RBG does tap takeovers all the time, and is located right on Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh, NC! Check out what’s available on tap by visiting THE RBG website, and definitely go! 3 floors, Guinness World Record for # of drafts with over 360, and more varieties in one place than anywhere else in the world! For all beer lovers, and out of town guests, this extraordinary gem should definitely be on your “To Do Raleigh”, list! 

 

Trophy, Maywood 

 

I am in love with this hidden brewery. It’s not so hidden if you’re familiar with the area, or Earp’s Seafood but, other than that it feels like your GPS took you off road and is going to abandon you on a weird side road. Trophy is exploding in the Raleigh area and it’s great because their beer is delicious! My first experience was at this tiny little pizza shop right outside of downtown, over by Charlie Goodnights, and I was blown away! Then they opened up Maywood Brewery, State of Beer, & revamped Busy Bee into a restaurant & Trophy Taphouse. Like I said, they’re blowing up all over this city! The brewery has food trucks, their first born has the best pizza in the state, and every space has a certain feel and it’s own vibe and atmosphere. To see what’s going on at each spot, click here Keeping Up with The Trophy’s 🙂 

 

Crank Arm Brewing & The Warehouse District 

 

Adam and his business partners, staff, and loyal following, has made this brewery into one of the most humble breweries in the city. It’s smallish, pumps out award winning beer, and is loved by all. (Seriously, they won the Bronze Medal for Whitewall Wheat at the 2016 Great American Beer Fest in Colorado last fall!!) Almost every restaurant in the city has their beer on draft, and they are true to their name by scheduling weekly bike rides throughout Raleigh every Wednesday! Rather it’s Yoga on Sunday in the brewery, or City Bike Rides on Wednesdays, there is always something exciting going on here! Check them out by visiting their site Crank Arm Brewing

 

The Warehouse District 

 

The Warehouse District is poppin these days! When I first moved here back in 2012, the only reason I would ever go over there was for BBQ and beer. Some of my best friends (Sean & Ellen, love and miss you), introduced me to Tasty Bev and it was love at first site. Tasty is this glorious little bottle shop that has a famous tiny bar in the back, where they serve a unique selection of draft and bottled beer. They ALWAYS have the best, newest, and freshest beers on tap, and believe me when I say, get in line! 

Tasty isn’t the only reason to hop over to the WHD; BoxCar Bar & Arcade is full of local and national beer, and all kinds of games! My friends & I visit here frequently and it never gets old. They have skee ball, pinball machines, air hockey tables, and games for people of all ages. The best part of BoxCar is knowing that when you’re done playing games, you can walk across the street to Raleigh’s very own Chocolate Factory!!!! Yes, I am serious when I say Videri has some of the best chocolate in the state, and is located across the street from BoxCar Arcade, and next door to Crank Arm brewing. What amazing times we are living in 🙂 

 

Hibernian Irish Pub & Restaurant 

 

Shout out to the Hibernian Pub on Glenwood Ave.! I’ve been a manager here for 2 years now and I absolutely adore this place. It’s crazy during the weekend and humble during the week. We have $5 Build Your Own Burgers on Mondays, Bingo on Tuesdays, Trivia Wednesdays, .50 wings and $4 NC Drafts on Thursdays, and parties all weekend long! The patio is gorgeous, the views never get old, and the best part, people watching! 

We have rotating taps up on the roof, and reserve those 12 taps for beer brewed only in North Carolina. Taps do change pretty frequently, so make sure to check on availability by calling, or by visiting the Hibernian Website 🙂

The bartenders take their job seriously. When you ask them to dress up for halloween, this is what you get! 

Hibernian also throws one mean Halloween party every year! 

My love for this city grows each and every day, so I will try to keep up with local posts as much as possible! The small businesses that deserve a shot out is an ever growing list, and I look forward to continuing to share my love of all that is Raleigh, as much as possible! 

 

To get the most of Small businesses, and learning to shop local, no one does it better than Jennifer over at Shop Local Raleigh 🙂 Visit this site for upcoming events, and learn where all small businesses are thriving! 

 

 

Lucky in Durham

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Lucky’s Delicatessen!

 

Lucky’s Sandwich shop in Durham, NC is FANTASTIC! As an obsessed Sandwich Lover, I’m always seeking really great sandwich shops when I’m out and about. In September of 2016, my friend Arlene and I were Lucky enough to have stumbled upon this awesome shop, and immediately, I knew that it was going to be necessary to share with the world how delicious it was!

 

 

Here is a link to Lucky’s if you want to browse their amazing menu. I highly suggest checking out this little deli the next time you’re in Durham for lunch! (P.S. A majority of their sides and pickles are made in house, so make room alongside that sandwich!) 

 

 

The Deli

 

 

A great sandwich can change your day, and a bad sandwich can ruin your day. Lucky’s is exactly that; you feel lucky that you stumbled upon such an awesome sandwich shop! If you don’t love sandwiches, I’m not sure we can be friends…. Unless of course you’re gluten free and cannot have bread, then I’ll think about you being an exception! Shout out to Lexie, we can still be friends 🙂 

 

 

Durham, NC has been in the news for being one of the Best Foodie Towns in the South, and that is not by chance or mistake. Durham is a Gem, a beautiful, old, thriving, re-building Gem, and I am loving watching this city grow. I wish I got out here more. It’s only 25 minutes down the road, but when life gets busy those 25 minutes are a long way, so it seems. The perks of traveling for food…. look below. Are you kidding me?! This Reuben was the most delicious and glorious sandwich I have ever eaten. #AllHailLuckysReuben

 

 

Taking a Stroll Through Durham 

 

 

Down in the Beyu

 

 

Because I don’t get to Durham as much as I’d like to, I usually spend hours downtown trying to make up for lost time. Not to mention the fact that there is always a new spot opening up, and a new coffee I need to try. After we ate at Lucky’s that day, we took a stroll trying to walk off some of our sandwiches, and ended up passing Beyu, pronounced Be-You! What I was hoping for was an iced, cold beverage to save me from the heat, but what I found was this amazing restaurant/coffee shop/wine bar/jazz club. This was the most delicious beverage I think I’ve ever had! I told the barista what I was in the mood for, and he just made it. It was perfect and I wish I had a name for it, but it was a “Create Your Own”, special! If you want to see what they have going on, which is a lot, go here; Beyu in Durham 🙂 

 

Music is Everywhere 

 

Whatever kind of music you’re into, Durham has you covered. Rather it’s spots like Pinhook, Beyu Jazz, or Motorco, or the Carolina Theatre and DPAC, there are all sorts of places to jam, and there is always something to listen to, or someone.

 

Beer is Everywhere 

 

 

The Durham Bulls Baseball Stadium now has their own brewery, Bull Durham Beer, and along with the views, it’s fantastic! If you’re not going to a game, Fullsteam Brewery is right down the street, along with Ponysaurus Brewery, and both these breweries are phenomenal! 

 

 

Hopefully, after reading this blog entry, you’re getting the gist of why people go on, and on about how cool Durham is, and why it keeps popping up on Foodie, Beer, and Southern Living blogs. 

 

 

Ponysaurus and Fullsteam are also known for Food Trucks and awesome, open spaces, where people can eat, drink, and relax. A couple of years ago, I was one of the key leaders, and General Manager for the Baguettaboutit Food Truck, so Food Trucks have a special place in my heart. I used to spend Friday nights slinging sausages into baguettes in front of Fullsteam, and they were some of the greatest nights of my life. Most breweries have Food Trucks now, making it very easy to eat and drink the day away! 

 

 

When is comes to Durham and how cool it can be, the fun times aren’t over yet! Stay tuned for more on the Durham food, beer, and lifestyle scene!