May 30 – June 14
Elements of this trip kept changing as we got closer to taking off, and we would continue to make plans on the fly as we went, much as we did in Europe last year. The impetus for it was a facilities management conference sponsored by ACUI and APPA at Virginia Tech, where I would make two workshop presentations on Tuesday June 2nd.
Not part of the trip itself, but a great way to start the two weeks we’d be traveling, was our drive up to Durham on Saturday to meet up with Joanna’s sister Nicole and her roommate Becky to take in the inaugural Annual Durham Blues and Brews Festival. After a brief stop at Nicole’s house, we made our way to Durham Central Park, parking in a lot across from the site for the short walk to the entrance.
Long story short, it was a very good event. Organized around a small footprint, we found a partially shaded spot to place our folding chairs with a direct view of the bandstand, the beer vendors close by. Instead of the normal small taster glass utilized at these types of festivals they used a 12oz glass that meant you could fill up and go sit down for a period before getting up again to taste more beer. During the early part of the event I just got half pours, about six ounces in order to be able to try a lot of different beers. Later I’d settle on the Aviator Devils Tramping Ground Tripel, a 9.2% Belgian that consumed on a warm day has a tendency to leave one feeling numb, but in a good way.
The event also featured ten different food trucks, which we visited multiple times. Joanna and I split a dynamite chicken pita sandwich from Gussy’s Greek Street Food, an even better burger from Only Burger, a mediocre shrimp etouffee from Baton Rouge Cuisine and a so-so waffle from Belgian Waffology.
It was enough food to keep us from completely feeling the effects of our beer consumption and we finished out the evening listening to the three bands that played that day, the closer being Armand & Bluesology with special guest Will McFarlane, who played lead guitar for Bonnie Raitt from 1974 to 1980.
Nicole had to work the next day, Sunday, and as we’ve done before took Becky out for breakfast before hitting the road back to Charlotte. Becky had wanted to go to Guglhupf but it was closed and so we settled on Foster’s Market, just a block away. I ordered the omelet of the day, Joanna a scone and Becky a fruit salad, accompanied by good brewed coffee.
The market is a comprehensive quality food shopping experience and the café attached to it makes for a strong combination; this is a place we’d frequent often if we lived in the area.
The drive home went smoothly and we arrived early afternoon, giving us time straighten up the house and make some snacks in anticipation of a one night visit by Carolyn, on her way back home after some vacation time near Wilmington. Upon her arrival we adjourned to the screened in porch at the back of the house, chilled white wine to welcome here along with some melon and prosciutto and peppadew’s stuffed with herbed goat cheese.
It was nice to be able to spend time with her after visiting her in Birmingham in April; as we all get older friends we’ve made throughout the years tend live far away and opportunities come few and far between for visits. To see her twice in a month or so was a complete bonus. After relaxing a bit we drove to Dilworth for dinner at 300 East, a place we’ve become fond of. We arrived to find it was half-price bottles of wine night, meaning more than one would likely be consumed over dinner. We skipped on appetizers since we’d snacked at the house and thus Joanna ordered the Braised Lamb & Mushroom Ragout with Goat Cheese Ravioli and a Lemon-Mint-Goat Cheese Butter; Carolyn settled on the Crab Cake entrée and I went for a daily special, Halibut in a beurre blanc sauce served over a wild rice pilaf.
It was delectable meal and is the case with 300 East, reasonably priced. We finished by splitting the Goat Cheese Panna Cotta served in a Chocolate Espresso Crisp, with Mocha Crumble, and Raspberries for desert, a perfect way to finish off the second bottle of wine. The ride home was spent in that zone you arrive at with good friends after a good meal, a quiet, contented silence interrupted occasionally by an insight worth remembering.
In this case these would be a number of restaurant recommendations for our coming trip to the Outer Banks and Charleston, tips we’d take advantage of when we arrived at those destinations. It had been a great way to start a trip, unusual in that we’d not really left town. Maybe we should travel like this more often.
Virginia Tech: https://www.vt.edu/
Durham Blues and Brews: http://www.durhambluesandbrewsfestival.com/
Aviator Tripel: http://www.aviatorbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/DTG_can_TTB.jpg
Will McFarlane: http://www.willmcfarlane.com/
Foster’s Market: http://www.fostersmarket.com/
300 East: http://www.300east.net/