Although I was born in January, it is without a doubt my least favorite month of the year. I always am inspired by those who craft ambitious New Years Resolutions. However, the first of the year always ushers in an air of melancholy, with the short days and long nights. It also brings an anniversary that I never enjoy celebrating. My sister Callie passed away on January 27th, 2010, after courageously battling a malicious muscle cancer for two years. Thus, this month always proves challenging for my family and me, as we face our own fight against the inevitable wave of sadness that creeps up after Christmas. I breathe a huge sigh of relief when we reach February 1st, and regardless of whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow on the 2nd, I know spring and the sun will come eventually. Sorry to be a downer here, but I promise this post is full of positive vibes and fun…just keep reading!
Overall, this February in North Carolina has been fantastic. My friends visited me for a few days at the beginning of the month (Read about my staycation with them here); I’ve made some new friends (mostly through food-related gatherings); the weather has been warmer than average; and obviously, I’ve eaten some delicious food. I’m dedicating this post to my February foodie faves. Hope y’all enjoy! Comment below if you’d like to see more posts like these at the conclusion of every month.
Favorite food appliance: my pizza stone! Seriously, y’all. Homemade pizza will never be the same again! Heat the stone in the oven on 450° for about 20 minutes while you roll out your dough. The dough will crisp perfectly as the cheese and toppings cook, and you won’t miss delivery pizza; I promise! If you’re looking for a badass, spicy pizza sauce recipe, look no further than my previous post. Pictured below is a pizza I made with my friends for our Galentine’s Day celebration that also included lots of wine, cupcakes, and a Broad City marathon.
Favorite fast casual restaurant: Blaze Pizza! In keeping with the pizza theme, I have to rave about this new spot off 15-501 in Durham. I was able to attend their grand opening celebration last week (the perks of writing for Triangle Food Adventures.) You can build your own pizza with as many toppings as you like, and they have vegan cheese. The location is ideal, as it is within walking distance of Bottle 501, a local bottle shop that sells amazing craft beer at ridiculously cheap prices.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Mateo Tapas! I celebrated my good friend and roommate’s birthday at this classic, and classy establishment in downtown Durham. Each dish was incredible, and my two favorites are displayed below: the bone marrow and patatas bravas with two aiolis. Mateo is ideal for a girls’ night or another special occasion. Not only am I lucky to have such wonderful friends, but I’m especially thankful that they also enjoy splitting and sharing multiple dishes, so we can maximize our enjoyment of the broad menu.
Favorite food event: Acme‘s 20th birthday celebration! Acme is my favorite restaurant in Carrboro. I can and will wax poetic about their cornbread, and I am #blessed that they have been such a staple in the Carrboro community. Throwing it back to 1998, the party included 90s jams, an epic dance floor, delicious cocktails, a cotton-candy machine and other treats, and a photo booth. I was able to spend some quality time with friends from my program and one of my favorite local bloggers, McKenzie of 20 Something Nutrition. Her blog is also a February fave because she shares beautiful photos, recipes, and most importantly, a beautiful outlook on life, the Health at Every Size approach to wellness.
Favorite drink: My customized Bloody Mary at LaPlace in Hillsborough. Although the biscuits at LaPlace were pleasing and delicious, the Bloody Mary menu is a thing of beauty. My friend said this breakfast beverage was one of her favorite items she consumed on her visit to the Old North State. I love customizing a dish to my liking (see the previous pizza pics), and this drink combination was particularly satisfying if I do say so myself. I selected the spicy mix, added hot sauce, cracked pepper, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce (Am I really weird for loving this condiment?) You can select multiple garnishes, and I chose homemade pickles and a raw oyster. If you like it, then you should’ve put an oyster on it…a new hit for Queen Bey, right?
Favorite foodie find: M Kokko! Chicken wings, ramen, and other authentic Korean noodle dishes? Sounds too good to be true, right? Tucked away in a small space near the Durham Hotel, this gem can only accommodate about 20 people at one time. Hanger is real after a long day of dissertating/procrastinating, but I promise it’s worth the wait! I’ve gone here twice this month. I’m even planning to go back soon, so I can order the vegan curry udon noodles my friend tried on our first visit. The soy garlic Korean fried chicken wings are M Kokko’s signature dish and also are by far my favorite thing on the menu. However, their ramen is my favorite in the area, as the chef actually made it spicy. The broth is so hearty and delicious, perfect for a cold day or a warm day (thanks to climate change, this month has been so hot.)
I hope y’all had wonderful Februarys as well. As far as I’m concerned, life literally and figuratively gets brighter from here. March is one of my favorite months, and I’m stoked to visit my family and friends in Texas in two weeks, then travel to Charleston for Easter weekend. Do y’all have any fun spring trip plans?