Raleigh, North Carolina

No one was more surprised than I was that I fell in love with Raleigh, NC.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Fall Colors
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

Gorgeous Fall Foliage
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Our first visit to the North Carolina state capitol was in 2004 when Steve and I went on a 6 week road trip and stopped there for one night. It was a Sunday and we stayed at a hotel in the government center. Everything was closed and the best restaurant we could find was a sports bar. We decided at that moment we would probably never visit Raleigh again. But one should never say never! Fast forward to 2016. Our son and daughter in law moved from Charleston, SC to a North Carolina suburb of Raleigh. And since they have moved away from South Florida we have traditionally spent Thanksgiving with them. 

Raleigh, North Carolina

Dappled sunlight and me
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

The babbling brook
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

Our hiking path
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Though they have raved about their new home town we were quite skeptical. Of course I should have trusted them I still was wary about what there would be to do for an entire week. Oh boy was I ever wrong. The area is just gorgeous and late November was the perfect time for our visit. We got to see the glory of fall foliage and the beauty of rolling hills, beautiful homes and fabulous farms all intermingled. Even the weather was pretty much perfect, for up north that is. Most days were in the 60’s with chilly nights but Thanksgiving Day was in the 70’s with virtually no humidity and bright sunshine.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Farmers Market Restaurant
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

Farmers Market Restaurant
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Many parks offer well marked hiking trails and we spent one of our mornings exploring one of them. Nothing is more peaceful than walking alongside a babbling brook. The crisp air smelled so fresh and the sun streamed through the trees just enough to keep us warm but not hot. Unlike Florida the terrain is hilly which made our mile and a half hike seem a bit more strenuous than it would have at home. It was wonderful and exhilarating. It also made us quite hungry so we headed to our new favorite breakfast spot at the State Farmer’s Market.

Raleigh, North Carolina

1941 Indian Model 441
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1938 Talbot-Lago Teardrop
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

!938 Talbot-Lago Teardrop
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1936 Stout Scarab
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Since we were also hungry for more of Raleigh we thought we would explore the North Carolina Museum of Art. To our delight there was an Art Deco Car Exhibit featuring the most amazing cars from that era circa 30’s and 40’s. We were certainly wowed by how modern the cars looked. Some were even futuristic by todays standards. In all there were 14 cars and 3 motorcycles that proved that elegance reigned supreme. The Art Deco period is synonymous with luxury and glamour and is know for blending industrial design and decorative arts. It is probably my favorite period for art, jewelry, cars, decor and architecture. And this exhibit reaffirmed my love for this era with cars of bold sensuous shapes, hand crafted details and luxurious finishes. They were stunning examples of car design at its peak.

Raleigh, North Carolina

1935 Bugatti Type 57S Aerolithe
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1935 Bugatti Type 57S Aerolithe
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1930 Ruxton Model C
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1938 Delahaye 135M Roadster
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1938 Hispano-Suiza H6B “Xenia”
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

When we finished ogling the cars we wiped the drool from our chins and headed to the main building to view more traditional art. We were blown away by the scope of the museum. With art through the ages the works were divided into smaller galleries which included a fabulous Rodin exhibit and an exhibit that touched our hearts because it was filled with Judaica.

Raleigh, North Carolina

1934 Edsel Ford’s Model 40 Speedster
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1940 Tatra T87
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1940 Tatra T87
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

1934 BMW R7 Concept Motorcycle
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

Thinking with The Thinker by Rodin
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

The Kiss by Rodin
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

Judaica at NCMA
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

Torahs at NCMA
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Raleigh, North Carolina

Judaica at NCMA
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Though we look forward to returning to Raleigh to visit family we also can’t wait to return to see more of what the North Carolina State Capitol has to offer!

 

Taste History Culinary Tours

Do you have company visiting from “up North” and want to give them a taste of South Florida? Taste History Culinary Tours (THCT) is the perfect way to show off our area.

Sampler Plate at Hurricane Alley Raw Bar and Restaurant Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Here I am at Hurricane Alley Raw Bar and Restaurant Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

A couple of weeks ago my husband (and trusty photographer) and I took the Boynton Beach/Delray Beach tour and loved every minute of it. Even though we have lived here for 35 years we learned things about the area’s history that we never knew. For example how Boynton Beach and Delray came to be. I won’t spoil it for you. You can take the tour and find out for yourself!

Four Saturdays each month THCT offers a variety of tours covering Northwood, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Lantana. We met our tour guide extraordinaire Lori J. Durante and the tour bus at 10:45 am in front of Macy’s at the Boynton Beach Mall to begin our adventure.

Each Taste History Culinary Tour is a multi-district trip featuring emerging art and cultural food. And no two trips are exactly the same. They highlight family-owned eateries, bakeries and evolving art districts in off-the-beaten-path areas. The non-profit Taste History was established in 2011 and is the first culinary tour in Palm Beach County, Florida.

On the way to Hurricane Alley Raw Bar and Restaurant, our first stop in Boynton Beach, Lori gave us an overview of the history that led to developing Boynton Beach. Waiting for each of us was a bountiful sampler plate. The ambience is beach side dive but the food was first class all the way. First to be tasted was the thick, creamy and flavorful Seafood Bisque made with bay shrimp, crab and clams. Next in line was the really tender and tasty Conch Salad and then the smoky Fish Dip made with tuna that was smoked in house and spiced up with a pickled jalapeno. And last to be tasted was the Tri-colored Parmesan Pasta Salad. We can’t wait to go back for full sized portions.

Taste History Culinary Tours

Amanda James at her Art Gallery Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

We took a short stroll past kinetic sculptures to the colorful and cozy Amanda James Gallery. As soon as you walk through the door you feel welcomed by the cheerful colors. Amanda and her husband James are the very talented artists whose work adorns every inch of space.

Taste History Culinary Tours

Rolando Chang Barrero at his Industrial Arts District
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

From there we hopped on the bus for a trip to Rolando Chang Barrero’s industrial “art garages”. This is a place where artists can have a studio to both create and sell their work. Since it’s industrial noise is not an issue so many metal artists work there. What is really creative is that each overhead door is a mural so art is everywhere you look.

Back on the bus we learned of how Delray Beach came to be and made our next stop at The French Bakery and Café. We easily went into carb overload with the amazingly delicious treats they set out for us. You could tell that they used the best quality ingredients and lots of love.

Another short ride and we were at Marianne’s Gourmet Foods to Go for another wonderful tasting party. Everything was really great and seasoned to perfection but the star was the Chocolate Chip Cookie. Truth be told we wrapped a couple in a napkin for a treat later on!

Taste History Culinary Tours

Jamaican Food and Drinks at Sweet’s
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Still in Delray Beach we rode to Sweet’s Jamaican Restaurant for “a taste of the island”. Sweet’s put out an huge array of dishes from her native country and each one delivered with flavor, spice and texture. Reggae playing over the speakers made us feel like we were right in Jamaica mon.

 

Taste History Culinary Tours

Delectables at Grandma’s Treasures
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

For our last culinary delight we rode over to Grandma’s Treasures Das Landhaus where the chef and owner uses her grandmother’s recipes to create the most delicious German breads and pastries. We tasted some bread with a dollop of Dark Cherry Chocolate Jam and were quite relieved that we could purchase a jar to bring home. It would be sooooooo good over ice cream.

From there we went to our last two stops The Artists’ Guild Gallery and the historic Colony Hotel, both on Atlantic Avenue and then back on the bus for our ride back to Macy’s. What a lovely day! Can’t wait to go on another Taste History Culinary Tour.

The Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County features cultural food tastings at family-owned eateries, juice bars, teahouses and pastry shops along with showcasing local art shops, historic buildings and emerging cultural districts. The tour is part bus riding and part walking. All tours start at 11am. Sponsors include Macy’s and Iris Apfel. The fee is $50 to $60 per adult; free for children under age 14. Advance reservations required. Purchase tickets online at tastehistoryculinarytours.org or call 561-638-8277.

Swank Specialty Produce

Sunday Steve and I were thrilled to visit our favorite farm in Loxahatchee, Swank Specialty Produce, for the first of 8 farmer’s markets and brunches set under a rustic, pole barn in the middle of a working, specialty produce farm.

Swank Specialty Produce

Swank Specialty Produce is a working farm
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

At each of these events you can enjoy gournmet, farm-to-table food creations, while sitting at hand-crafted wood tables and benches under a sea of wine bottle and mason jar lighting, as live musical entertainment fills the air. And if you loved your meal you can grab a recipe card from the chef and wander through the farmer’s market to talk to local vendors while gathering up the ingredients from the farm-fresh cuisine you just enjoyed to bring home and recreate for your family. Admission is free to these family friendly events and you can shop the 15+ vendors in a variety of categories. In fact one of the vendors, a goat farmer, brought with them 3 baby goats that were less than a week old. They were so sweet and just like kids (pun intended)

Swank Specialty Produce

Baby Goats Less Than a Week Old!
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Swank Specialty Produce

Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Brunch offerings such as a Breakfast Sandwich of  Two “Fancy Chicken” Organic Eggs, 4oz Red Splendor Hand Made Free Range Pork Maple Sausage or Circle C Farm Thick Hand Sliced Bacon, Cheddar Cheese on a Fresh Toasted Buttered Aioli Brioche. Served with a side of Home Fries; the Belgium Waffle: Fluffy Flavorful Hand Made Waffles served with Fresh Swank Strawberries or Blueberries, Maple Syrup and Whipped Cream; or the Big Swank Salad: $10
Mixed Greens, Goat Cheese, Caramelized Pecans, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Radishes, Labelle Cold Press Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar with Thyme Honey & Petimezi range between $10-$15 and and are paid by cash tickets, which can be purchased either online in advance or at the event. If you’re looking to enhance your experience, you can purchase Bottomless Mimosas for $18 or The Unlimited Market Brunch with Veuve Clicquot for $195. This ticket includes unlimited brunch offerings for two people (no cash tickets needed), 2 cocktails each and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label to share. These ticket holders will have VIP seating, near the stage.

 

Swank Specialty Produce

Bradford Pazant of Atticus’ Own Pet Products
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

As we looked around at the sea of people all we saw were smiling faces enjoying fabulous food! But what we enjoyed most was the shopping. On this first trip to Swank Specialty Farms Brunch and Farmers Market we purchased Mango Hot Sauce from the owners of Pascale’s The Delray Beach Jam Company. In fact this hot sauce of mangoes and scotch bonnet peppers was so good that we bought the last three bottles just to make sure we had plenty on hand until the next market day on Sunday, February 12. We also bought Atticus’ Own treats for our Yorkie Hershi. The handmade apple and peanut butter biscuits smelled so good we wanted to eat them ourselves. But for me the biggest treat was being able to purchase produce direct from the farmers. I was like a kid in a candy store. I bought radishes of every color that were so huge I couldn’t believe it. And spinach so fresh the roots and soil were still attached. I also purchased celery, kohlrabi, wild arugula and a variety of sweet and hot peppers.

Swank Specialty Produce

Me with the fabulous owners and products of Pascale’s The Delray Beach Jam Company
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Swank Specialty Produce

Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

I was inspired to use some of these items in my dinner Sunday night. I sautéed some spinach and radish leaves with lots of garlic and some shishito peppers which I served alongside blueberry barbecue chicken with mango hot sauce. By the time I served dinner we were so hungry that I forgot to take picture of our plates but I can promise you we had a delicious meal made from the freshest, best ingredients.

Swank Specialty Produce

Produce for Sale
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

And speaking of dinner Swank Specialty Produce also hosts Swank Table Farm Style Events from December through April each season. The dinners are multi-course affairs prepared by talented chefs and include cocktails and wine at $160 per person. Each event will give back to the community by donating a portion of the proceeds to local charities!!!

Swank Specialty Produce

Owner Darrin Swank with Hydroponic Microgreens Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Swank Specialty Produce

Hydroponic Micro Greens
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

If you missed the brunch you can buy from Swank Specialty Produce at the West Palm Beach Green Market on Saturday mornings. Or you could plan on attending one of the upcoming brunches scheduled for February 5, 12 and 20; March 11 and 25; and April 2 and 16.

SWANK SPECIALTY PRODUCE
14311 North Road
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
tel 561-202-5648