So my parents made arrangements to come down this weekend, and we had a blast.
First order ofbusiness was Duncan (and technically Joe) from HNMTF's joint birthday, which happened to be the same day my parents came to town. Ever the troupers, Mom and Dad helped me bake cupcakes to Duncan'sspecifications, and herequested, and Iquote "strawberry coconut...like those twinkie things, with the coconut, you know?"
Well, I do know. I can only imagine he's thinking about snowballs. And who, as a 10 year old, did not love snowballs. So I set to work. For the base, we made a hearty yellow cupcake. We let the cupcakes set while we had dinner at Dale's on 9th street. My parents did the chicken tikka, but I went old school with Channa Masala. I have to say, I know it's easy to make, but I'm a whore for someone else making me Channa Masala. When we got home, I whipped up a fresh tofu strawberry mousse (to be injected) and lastly, a lightly coconut flavored buttercream, then dyed some flaked coconut pink, rolled the cakes and garnished with strawberry slivers. The cupcakes (all 24) were eaten that night. Score!
The next day, we got up reasonably early and had lunch at the Thai Cafe down the street. I tried their eggplant red curry lunch special for the first time. It is definitely an acquired taste-- the texture of rice noodles in a curry sauce somehow feels wrong to me. My folks ended up going salad and salmon routes. They enjoyed it.
That afternoon we went and saw The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin's Facebook creation myth, which I thought was enjoyable, maybe not as good as his TV shows (although did anyone else see a hellofalot of Matt Albie happening in the "Mark Zuckerberg"?). A lot of other people hated it, but the opening scene's breakneck, trademark Sorkin dialogue had me from the get go. Monday night we hit up Sage Veg Cafe in Chapel Hill. They have added their Sabzhi to the regular menu now! Sabzhi is an herb stew flavored with dried lemon and containing beans, lentils and some sort of meat (traditionally lamb, but in the case of a vegetarian cafe, tempeh). It is served over rice and SO good. That's really all I can say about it. After dinner, we settled into a quick game of the awesome scrabble, then rest.
On Tuesday, we did a little furniture browsing, having gotten a jump on the day. We headed to Classic Treasures, Once and Again and Habitat to see if anyone had a decent small sized desk for me to work at. We found a beautiful used pedestal desk with an espresso stain that fits in very nicely. We hit up Mint for lunch,because my dad wanted to try it. We all know I would kill for some Lime & Basil Summer rolls in my life on the daily. The vegan offerings were pretty slim at the Mint Buffet, but I like lentil soup and love pakoras, so it ended up alright.
We saw Secretariat that afternoon, wandered around the mall and play
ed a little scrabble before the big event: Rue Cler. Oh, can I sing the praises of Rue Cler? I can, but first I will relay a story to you. I've been to Rue Cler before. I've had french fries and a mixed green salad. I've never thought of it in any particular way except a place I don't really eat but that seems pretty popular. When we showed up, with a reservation that I had confirmed twice, we had to wait. Like, a long time. They told me this was because someone wrote the reservation wrong in the book, but finally we were sat. I was kind of annoyed by the waiting ordeal, since my folks had been nice enough to concede to me which "fancy" restaurant we would go to (my dad loves Nana's and the Fairview) and this was not helping the Rue Cler case.
Fortunately, we were given a table and we immediately ordered drinks-- Shiraz for the folks and
a Triangle Imperial Amber for me, which is now my favorite Triangle Beer, but could be because I'm just on a huge Amber kick. The nice thing about the vegan prix fixe meal was that my parents were sort of able to eat parallel to me. My father ordered the regular frisee salad and my frisee salad with homemade vegan bacon, fries and vegan cheese (I am gonna call it out, omfg FYH!) croutons with a roasted shallot vinaigrette was THE BOMB. It was so good. I like salad, but this outdid salad. My dad even tried to convince me that his non-vegan frisee salad was actually the vegan one because mine looked better.
Next course was a remoulette (I think) basically a sweet-ish vegetable paste served with sesame crackers and an arugula salad. I liked this course a lot, flavor-wise, but I feel like its analogue, a pate dish, made more sense, since pate is rich and hard to eat in large amounts, whereas this stuff should've been given to me in a pint tub with a spoon.
Last course was a house made lentil sausage with a spinach and (very large, forgotten name) bean ragout. This was the course that astounded me. Mainly because, frankly, NOBODY else stepped up and made a protein. And these guys did. While the seitan texture wasn't perfect, the flavor was so good that it didn't matter at all. The proportions of the dish were right on. Just the right amount of spicy sausage for a forkful of soothing ragout. To be truthful, that ragout could easily have been a meal on its own, but the added protein made it feel like it was special and for us, not just a tossed together veggie plate of random sides.
After dinner my parents retired to the hotel to get ready to leave in the AM and I hit quiz. All in all, I think Rue Cler may have won my heart (and votes) tonight with their salad and main course. Oh, and their lighting is the jam.