Treat Yourself To Oysters for #NationalOysterDay (or any day) in Raleigh & Wake Forest NC!

Sunday,August 5th is one of my favorite food holidays because it is National Oyster Day! The seafoodie in me loves to eat these beauties from the sea. Whether you like them raw on the half shell, roasted, charbroiled, topped off with cheese or fried in a po boy sandwich, there are so many places to enjoy fresh oysters in the Triangle. Here are some of my favorite places to enjoy oysters in Raleigh & Wake Forest!

18 Seaboard

NC oysters from Core Sound topped with pimento cheese and proscuitto

18 Seaboard, the brainchild of Chef Smith and his wife Laura,winner 2018 Best of Downtown restaurant for a business meeting, is best known for its locally sourced seafood dishes. Here is where I made my first stop to celebrate National Oyster Day!

Pair the oysters with a glass of Rosé or 18 Seaboard’s Prosecco cocktail

Chef Jason Smith, who was recently featured in the IndyWeek top 100 dishes, gets his oysters fresh from Locals Seafood and serves Core Sounders topped them with pimento cheese brulee +prosciutto +crystal cane syrup ! They are raw but torched at the end to melt the cheese just a little. You get 5 to an order, but you may want more after tasting the hot sauce sugar syrup. It is literally the icing on the oyster!

Chef-Proprietor Jason Smith was recently featured in Indy Week! 18 Seaboard serves delicious local NC seafood dishes!

18 Seaboard

18 Seaboard Ave
Raleigh, NC 27604

Whiskey Kitchen

Oysters, fried to perfection at Whiskey Kitchen

Whiskey Kitchen..winner of 2018 best of Downtown Bar Food, known for best outside patio and an all around great vibe. I recently was here enjoying a girls night out and the fried oysters were such a memorable bite!

The Drink Menu is extensive at Whiskey Kitchen. No matter the celebration, they have plenty of libations!

During the day, Whiskey Kitchen still has a great atmosphere but it is more kid friendly and even dog friendly on the patio. If you are a fan of day drinking, head to Whiskey Kitchen for the best place to enjoy fried oysters on the patio for and pair is with prosecco, a glass of wine, a Bloody Mary, beer or just ask Johnny to make something special!

Whiskey Kitchen

201 W Martin St
Raleigh, NC 27601

bu*ku Wake Forest

If you read my review of bu•ku Wake Forest, then you know I could never say nada to their

~

….

These oysters are on their menu everyday so I can celebrate my love for oysters anytime and so can you!

bu*ku Wake Forest

1228 Heritage Links Dr suite 100 Wake Forest, NC 27587

National Oyster Day may be coming to an end but lucky for us we have quite a few restaurants here in Raleigh that serve up these delicacies from the sea. Hummingbird features Chef Coleen Speaks’ oyster dishes (she does an amazing oyster po’boy, along with smoked marinated oysters and charbroiled oysters), as well as Mandolin, who offers delicious local NC oysters on the half shell with Chef Sean Fowler’s house-made sauces. Another restaurant in Wake Forest that I have enjoyed is Shuckers. Remember, The World Is Your Oyster, go out there and enjoy!

Photo Courtesy of Mandolin

Do you like oysters? Did you celebrate National Oyster Day? If so, leave your favorite oyster spot below!

#NCFarmTour | Where NC Agriculture Meets Educational Fun ~Recap by SobeSavvy.com

On June 27-29, 2018, I joined a group of bloggers on a fantastic tour of northeast North Carolina. We were invited by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to experience the diversity of eastern North Carolina including cucumbers, white potatoes, wine, beer, brats and seafood. Here is a recap of what I learned, where we traveled, who we met and of course, what I ate along the way!

Day 1- Wednesday, 6/27

Stop 1 on the #NCFarmTour – Lunch at Nothing Fancy Café, Edenton

Locally owned, Nothing Fancy Café features made-from-scratch southern home cooking. The restaurant also features a variety of retail items including antiques and baked goods. I left with a beautiful $5 pineapple candle holder and an appreciation for this restaurant who serves field to fork food. The collard greens I enjoyed as a side came from a local NC farmer and tasted like my grandma made it! Nothing Fancy Café is also my new favorite place to enjoy a burger. When the beef comes from a local farmer, trust me you can taste the quality and the difference.
Facebook: @NothingFancyCafe

Stop 2- AJ Smith and Sons Farm, in Edenton, NC

Did you know that Edgecombe County is #1 in growing of cucumbers in NC? We visited a farm started by AJ Smith and is now run by his four sons + grandsons. The farm is extremely diversified. They grow clary sage, peanuts, soybeans, corn,watermelons, cucumbers, and snap beans. The farm also has cattle and hogs. We got to pick some cucumbers at AJ Smith and Sons Farm as well as learn about the process of preparing them for packaging. And just in case you were wondering..yes, they do get waxed for preservation purposes. All cucumbers are not created equal. However, curved or straight if they were grown in NC they will taste great!

SobeSavvy Tip: When selecting a cucumber, look for cucumbers that are very firm and rounded right to the ends.

Stop 3 on the #NCFarmTour is a tour of Historic Edenton

PLAY | Thanks to the Chowan County Chamber of Commerce, we took a horse and wagon tour of historic Edenton. We learned alot of history, enjoyed nature, and viewed beautiful architecture in the “South’s Prettiest Small Town”. WATCH my youtube video of highlights from this tour:

EAT | Ended Day 1 of #NCFarmTour at Cypress Creek Grill, a family-owned restaurant is in downtown Elizabeth City, one block from the Pasquotank River. Their meals feature
fresh seafood and local ingredients. Executive Chef Bradley Chambers created a special menu that showcased the best of what Northeast NC has to offer and combined an amazing array of flavors!

STAY | We stayed in nearby Elizabeth City overnight at Fairfield Inn, which offers guest FREE breakfast with stay plus this comfy, modern hotel has an indoor pool/jacuzzi and mini fridge+ microwave in the room.

Day 2- Thursday, 6/28

Day 2 of #NCFarmTour started off at TCOM, LP

Look up in the sky..it’s a bird, it’s a plane..no it’s a blimp that has been assembled and tested at TCOM,LP located in Elizabeth City,NC. It was so cool to tour the 225-acre facility that manufactures and test aerostats (airship or hot air balloon, especially one that is tethered). The hanger is 150 feet tall and 1,000 feet long and can hold six fully-inflated 71-meter aerostats. Their blimps are used for sporting events, by the US Military and for national security. TCOM,LP
is not a blimp manufacturing company however they do make the envelope and assemble them without the mechanics on it. It was so fascinating to see up close!

SobeSavvy Tip: Here’s an interesting connection to agriculture: The first aerial applicator was not a plane,
but a hot air balloon. It was used in 1906 to spread seed over a valley in New Zealand that had flooded.

Day 2,Stop 2 #NCFarmTour John E. Ferebee Farms

This seventh-generation family farm focuses on potatoes, each year growing and packing red, white and yellow flesh potatoes. John E.Ferebee Farms potatoes are shipped across the US. They’ve also worked with many of NCDA&CS marketing programs. We met both sisters but it was Martha took us on the tour around the facility, which have washed bulk capabilities/cold storage, and onto the potato fields. I learned that summer potatoes of eastern NC come from farms situated alongside well nourished soil beside saltwater sounds/freshwater river beds. Did you know that NC produces over 16,000 acres potatoes? This farm grows 350 acres of North Carolina Potatos.

Day 2 #NCfarmtour Lunch and Tour at Weeping Radish

If you are hungry for bratwurst, beer and knowledge just talk to Uli Bennewitz, owner of Weeping Radish, a brewery, restaurant, butchery and farm that celebrates craft! He came to NC in the early 1980s, from Bavaria, Germany, established a microbrewery and worked with lawmakers to change the NC laws to allow microbreweries to sell beer directly to consumers. In addition to brewing beer, cattle and hogs are sourced from local farms and processed on-site into sausage and charcuterie. The retail counter sells sausage, pastrami, bacon and beer. The Pub serves lunch and a housemade draft root beer that you must try!

Day 2 #NCFarmTour ..a look at our visit to Sanctuary Vineyards, Jarvisburg, NC

The Wright family-owned vineyard grows a variety of grapes on 10 acres. All grapes are picked by hand and the use of french oak barrels gives their NC wine a wonderful taste. We toured the vineyards and learn how world-class wine is made at Sanctuary Vineyards. I purchased a bottle of Morton which is a red wine blend that I can not wait to enjoy!

Jennette’s Pier, Outer Banks

PLAY | Jennette’s Pier is the oldest fishing pier in the Outer Banks and has been a landmark since 1939. Fisherman catch a variety of fish from the 1,000 foot pier including red drum, speckled trout and croaker. We bloggers took advantage of the opportunity to cool our heels from all the farm tour walking at the pier since you get access to the beach!

Today was filled with so much to learn, see and do, here are some of my fave moments from the #NCFarmTour Northeast North Carolina Day 2 w/@nc_agriculture @gottobenc ——————— •A visit to @jennettes_pier_official gave us access to the beach and a chance to see the oldest fishing pier in #OBX • We got to see who makes the envelopes for blimps and learn this history of #TCOM ,LP •John E. Ferebee Farms gave us an inside look of how they grow and pack red, white,yellow potatoes •@weepingradish is where we celebrated the craft of cooking, butchery amd farming. We had lunch at this microbrewery before taking the Beee and Brat Tour • i enjoyed tasting some NC wines from Sanctuary Vineyards and learning about their wine making process •Beautiful views from my balcony room at The Oasis Suites Hotel • Lastly, Dinner @lonecedarcafe Where their fried soft crab was some of the best I ever had caught fresh here in #NC.

A post shared by Lifestyle|Food|Travel|Fun BLOG (@sobesavvy) on

EAT | Dinner at Basnights Lone Cedar Café, located on the Roanoke Sound, is family owned/operated and serves only seafood caught in NC by local fishermen. Pork, poultry and vegetables are sourced from local farms. Herbs are grown on-site. Deserts are made from scratch daily on-site by the pastry chef. Everything we tried was delicious, especially the soft shell crab!

STAY |The Oasis Suites Hotel is the only boutique hotel on the Outer Banks. All rooms have private balconies with water views and are very spacious! Take a LOOK at my room reveal video to see for yourself how lovely this hotel property is:

Day 3-Friday, 6/29

Everything tastes better with bacon right? If you like savory and sweet, try the Maple Bacon Donut from Duck Donuts, Nags Heads

After enjoying breakfast from Duck Donuts, we started Day 3 of #NCFarmTour at O’Neals Sea Harvest in Wanchese. Sara Marabilio, who is the Fisheries Extension Specialist at NC Sea Grant, met us at the family owned and operated
seafood wholesaler to lead the tour and provide more information about NC Seafood. At O’neals Sea Harvest, you can purchase locally caught, fresh
seafood daily. The also sell fresh and frozen seafood (crab, variety of fish, shrimp & scallops) through their retail store and Monday-Friday they serve the fresh catch at their restaurant on-site.

Next stop, was nicknamed by me as Crabmeat Lover’s Heaven because Captain Neill’s Seafood, in Columbia is the largest domestic crab processing (by hand-picking) plant left. Owner Phillip Carawan started buying hard/soft-shell crabs, then opened (in 1997) a facility to process wild caught crabs caught from NC waters and purchasing daily from crabbers that dock behind their facility. Captain Neill’s processes a variety of crabmeat products in
addition to oysters, cocktail fingers and ready to eat steamed crabs.
They sell to a variety of markets, including grocery chains, under the
names Capt. Charlie’s and Capt. Neill’s. I learned that aprox 11 pounds of crab yield 1 pound of crabmeat and that an emplyee can pick the meat out of the crab in aprox 15 seconds! I left there amazed at the efficiency of the process and hungry for crab. SobeSavvy Tip: If you are a member of Sam’s Club you can purchase their crabmeat there.

EAT |Our last stop and final lunch on #NCFarmTour was at Garden Spot Café in Plymouth,NC. Located in a building built around 1900 on the banks of the Roanoke
River, this restaurant is owned by three sisters and known locally for their home-style cooking. They offer a variety of menu items to meet every taste preference. I tried the fried shrimp platter/flounder because after all that time learning more about NC seafood I was craving it!

All of these stops on the tour are just a short drive from the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. I encourage you to take the to time to explore more of NC, shop at your local farmers market, support restaurants where you can eat local foods and buy local goods. There are so many fun ways to support our state’s number one industry, AGRICULTURE! I am so inspired to incorporate what I have learned when it comes to food that my family consumes and make sure it comes from a North Carolina Farm!

Leslie Heigh, Founder of SobeSavvy.com on the #NCFarmTour

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#FoodieFriday Feature| Dinner For Two Review @bukuwakeforest! Eat Global,Support Local and Celebrate Grand Opening 6/28 in Wake Forest, NC

Recently, SobeSavvy.com was invited to a hosted dinner at the new bu•ku Wake Forest, a restaurant that is recognized for its global street food menu thanks to its flagship establishment in downtown Raleigh,NC. Their website states they are inspired by the pushcarts of street vendors from all over the world. I was excited to taste what they offered and hoped it would remind me of my experiences abroad as well as introduce me to something I’ve never had before.

If you are asking yourself… what is global street food?..It is basically no frills food native to the area it originates from. It tastes exactly like they would make these dishes in their home for their families. My introduction to street food was sudden and unexpectedly delightful. The year was 2006 in Phuket Island, Thailand. My friend who lived there at the time was taking my husband and I around and showing us the sights. We were hungry and he said “Let’s go by noodle stand #5”. Not quite sure what that was so we went along with it. We pulled up to a side street where an elderly woman had set up a plastic table on the back of her bike with a steaming contraption alongside. To our western sensibilities this was strange. We had one of the best meals of our lives right there in the alley. That unique dining experience shaped my willingness to try different foods and made me ready to enjoy dinner for 2 at bu•ku.

RESTAURANT VIBES

Since this locally owned and operated restaurant is celebrating global street food in an elevated way, you will not find plastic tables here. The decor is modern and the ambiance is inviting yet intimate. You have the option to dine inside or outside on the patio but as soon as I walked thru the doors at bu•ku Wake Forest, I knew I would enjoy dining in the serene, beautifully designed dining space. I had an early dinner reservation at 6p but soon the restaurant was bustling with quite a few large dinner party celebrations as well as friends casually meeting for drinks after work at the bar. There were even families with children enjoying dinner and couples enjoying a dinner date night. No matter how busy it got, service was welcoming and attentive throughout the evening.

COCKTAILS ANYONE?

If you are one that enjoys a good drink before, during or after your meal, then you will be quite satisfied with the wine list, beer and cocktail menu at bu•ku Wake Forest. Whether you choose to enjoy on their patio, at the bar or with your dinner, I do suggest this restaurant for their interesting selection of wines, beers and craft cocktails. Here are two drinks that you must try on your next visit to bu•ku:

Sangria Roja at bu•ku is the perfect Summertime Sip!

My new favorite bubbly cocktail: The Secret Garden at bu•ku

DINNER MENU

Per bu•ku Wake Forest, their Global Street Food menu is ..”a new type of dining, designed for the type of mix & matched tasting and plate-sharing that sparks conversation.” If you’ve ever been to the Raleigh location owned by culinary visionaries Sean Degnan and Tony Hopkins, you will notice some menu differences. The team partnered with longtime friend, Todd Ohle, owner of the second bu•ku Wake Forest, and each restaurant has its own Chef that develops their own creations while still supporting menus and programs for the entire restaurant group. Just like the Raleigh location ( which is moving to Cary in 2019), bu•ku offers gluten free, vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu. Feast your eyes on the small plates, large plates and big bowls we enjoyed for dinner:

Small Plates | Chinese Steamed Buns at bu•ku | 2 per order- Braised Pork, hoison sauce, pickles and scallions. Served on a perfectly warm “steamed” bun. Perfection in it’s simplicity yet complex in it’s flavors. Yum!

Small Plates | Edamame + Ostras Asadas at bu•ku | Edamame has a bit of a kick thanks to the addition of peppercorn. The grilled local oysters are some of the best I have had in the Triangle because of the flavorful toppings!

Large Plates | NC Catch at bu•ku | Local Seafood meets Global Flavors on a plate! The flounder was perfectly cooked and served on a bed of cauliflower,rutabaga mash, pistachio and topped with fennel-shallot confit. My favorite part was pouring the parmesean beurre on top!

Big Bowls | Vietnamese Phô at bu•ku | The seared filet mignon was so tender and my favorite part about this dish. I wanted more flavor from the broth and plan to do some spice additions to my leftovers at home!

Dessert | Tres Helados at bu•ku | You get a trio of chefs selection of gluten free sorbet and ice creams, toasted coconut flakes, and fresh berries. It was my first time having avocado ice cream and I loved it!

SobeSavvy Tip: EVENT ALERT A celebration for the new bu•ku Wake Forest will take place Thursday, June 28th with a cocktail hour and ribbon cutting for media and city officials on Thursday, June 28th. Dinner service will begin at 5pm and feature live music from Joe O’Keefe’s “3 Second Rule” band (who owns neighboring Wine 101), as well as complimentary sangria for all guests. As founding members of A Place at the Table, Degnan and Hopkins will donate a portion of proceeds from this evening to this charitable cause!

Thanks for reading and I hope you are inspired to make dinner reservations for 2 at the new bu•ku!

bu•ku Wake Forest

1228 Heritage Links Dr suite 100, Wake Forest, NC 27587

Hey #Raleigh, If you seek Authentic Greek, head to @TavernaAgora during @TriRestweek and #TakeBackLunch

Leslie, Founder of SobeSavvy.com visits Taverna Agora to #TakeBackLunch during Triangle Restaurant Week

Greece is known for many things. The Acropolis and inventing the modern Olympic games just to name a few. Something else Greece is known for… healthy and delicious food! Whether it’s how they cook their lamb or use feta cheese in different dishes, Greek cuisine is adored worldwide. Although Greece is 5,000 miles away and eating there for lunch or dinner tomorrow is impossible for most, I have some great news. Greece is right here in the City of Oaks in the form of Taverna Agora Restaurant!

Taverna Agora is a bi-level restaurant serving authentic Greek cuisine in the heart of downtown Raleigh

Located in downtown Raleigh,NC, Taverna Agora offers old world flavors and rustic roots “reminiscent of gathering places found in Greece.” As soon as you walk in you get a feeling of traditional mixed with modern. The atmosphere is quite charming and I loved the decor both inside and on the covered rooftop patio.

At Taverna Agora, get ready to Eat, Drink,OPA!

SobeSavvy.com was invited there for lunch during the special Triangle Restaurant Week that runs from June 4 thru June 10. For a fixed price, you get to try dishes from the regular menu at a discount. Lunch at Taverna Agora during this special is $15 per person (plus tax/gratuity) for 3 COURSES! THAT is such a great deal don’t you think?!

Taverna Agora’s TRW Lunch Menu

Drinks are not included with TRW Lunch menu but I shared on my instastories two cocktails identified as “Village Favorites”. Both the Greek Mule and Greek Lemonade were refreshing!

We started with a couple of great cocktails and got down to the business of food. Our waiter welcomed me back (since I dined there before) and gave a warm welcome to my guest who was there for the first time. We ordered an appetizer, entrée and dessert from the special Triangle Restaurant Week menu as follows:

1ST COURSE

Greek Village Salad at Taverna Agora

Options were Lemon Chicken soup or a choice of two different salads. Both the Greek Village Salad and the Watermelon and Feta Salad were fresh and flavorful. I also was pleased to see that the portions were big enough to share with each other. Thanks to the quality of the balsamic vinegar combined with watermelon and feta, I have found a new fave summer salad!

Watermelon and Feta Salad at Taverna Agora

2ND COURSE & 3RD COURSE

It’s Lunchtime at Taverna Agora!

For entrees we went with the Chicken Penne and a Gyro Pita. Each of these were quite good and we were impressed again by the quality of the ingredients used. I have leftovers of the pasta that I can’t wait to enjoy! We both finished with their signature Greek dessert of Baklava.

Save room for Taverna Agora’s dessert…the 3rd course was amazing!

SobeSavvy Tip: Make some time and join Taverna Agora during your lunchtime to #TakeBackLunch. Studies show you’ll be happier and more productive when you back away from your desk, leave the screen and take time for lunch. You could even win a midday meal for 10! Enter >>>>here.

#TakeBackLunch on June 15th National Take Back The Lunch Break Day at Taverna Agora!

Triangle Restaurant Week ends Sunday but there’s still time to experience multiple dishes and flavors and immerse yourself in the tastes of Greece. You can still get those amazing dishes on their regular menu but don’t miss this chance to try the TRW Menu at this great price! Plus service was attentive and professional and I loved the setting. For all of those reasons combined with delicious food, hurry down to Taverna Agora!

TAVERNA AGORA

326 Hillsborough St.

Raleigh, NC 27603

Thanks Taverna Agora for hosting SobeSavvy.com! I really enjoyed my dining experience and looking forward to next time!

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Dine with a View and Taste What’s New at @OceanicDining + @BlueWater_ILM in #WrightsvilleBeach @WilmingtoNCoast

Today’s #FoodieFriday feature is dedicated to two restaurants my family and I dined at during our recent visit to Wilmington, NC to see What’s In Bloom. Bluewater Waterfront Grill and the Oceanic Restaurant, both located in Wrightsville Beach, are two places that I would recommend for enjoying delicious food/cocktails with gorgeous views!

OCEANIC RESTAURANT

703 S.LUMINA AVE. | Seafood
www.oceanicrestaurant.com/

For dinner on Saturday, we had a reservation at the Oceanic Restaurant, located on the beach and connected to the Crystal Pier. They recently launched a new menu at the Oceanic and SobeSavvy.com was invited to check it out! Having lived in Florida, I have found that usually beachside restaurants either have good food and a non existent view or an awesome view and subpar cuisine. Oceanic Restaurant on Wrightsville, Nc is the rare gem that manages to do both.

Being the only restaurant in Wrightsville Beach situated on the Atlantic Ocean carries a lot of responsibility and they carry it well.
Oceanic also played a huge part in restoring the Crystal Pier, which literally stretches into the atlantic ocean with a fishing pier and outdoor above ocean tables.

We were seated upstairs at a table with a beautiful view of the sand and the surf below. They presented a neat kids menu with crayons for my little one to enjoy.

I ordered a White Sangria unlike any other I have ever had. It came with a frozen stone fruit popsicle immersed in the glass. Loved it! Hubby ordered a nice glass of Greek white wine, which paired well with our appetizer order of Oyster Rockefellers. I am still dreaming about those plump fresh oysters, topped with creamed spinach, pernod and crumbled bacon. So amazingly good!

In lieu of dinner rolls, you can expect an order of hush puppies to arrive in a basket for all to enjoy! My little one ordered the kids pasta marinara and a side of steamed broccoli. Kids and pasta go together like fish and water, so she was happy.

We tried two new items from their dinner menu that caught our attention: Shrimp and Grits and Brick Roasted Chicken. The Shrimp and Grits were large shrimp sautéed with shallots, pancetta, mushrooms, cajun spices, finished with cream and served over a fried Asiago polenta cake. The shrimp were good BUT that polenta cake was the perfect sponge to soak up all that creamy goodness. The chicken was amazing! I don’t usually order chicken at a seafood restaurant, but after the GM described it, I am so glad I did! It was moist, flavorful and the skin was the perfect grade of crispy without being overcooked.

SobeSavvy Tip: This restaurant and its unique seaside setting makes Oceanic very popular amongst visitors and locals alike. It is a place you MUST visit when in Wrightsville Beach, NC. Come for the food, stay for the view and GET IN LINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE with Yelp Mobile App.

BLUEWATER WATERFRONT GRILL

4 MARINA ST. | Seafood
www.bluewaterdining.com/

Bluewater Waterfront Grill, recently launched a brunch program at the restaurant and includes a Bloody Mary bar, champagne cocktails and a new cocktail program. SobeSavvy.com was invited to check out what’s new so this is where we decided to enjoy Sunday Brunch for Mother’s Day!

Brunch, without a doubt is one of the best ways to start of a lazy Sunday morning/afternoon. Brunch on the Intra-Coastal waters of the NC coast is even better. Enter the Blue Water WaterFront Grill in Wilmington Beach, NC. Set amongst beautiful boats and folks pulling up their pleasure crafts right to their dock, this restaurant is a mainstay in the area.

What’s New! They have a special build your own Bloody Mary and Champagne Cocktail Bar on Sundays that we enjoyed. Peach Bellini and Red Sangria set the tone for a wonderful meal experience. Bananas Foster French Toast was divine as was the Egg & Bacon Croissant.

Sitting dockside was a fun treat for our little one. She loved watching the comings and goings of the watercrafts as she enjoyed her kids menu item Fish & Chips. Such a relaxed atmosphere on a picture perfect warm spring morning. This was a brunch to remember!

Thank you to Oceanic Restaurant and Bluewater Waterfront Grill for hosting my #HeighPartyof3 during our visit to Wilmington,NC and Island Beaches. If you are looking for family friendly dining with great service, a delicious food/drink menu and amazing views, make reservations at these two places for a memorable dining experience.

EVENT RECAP | Great Grapes Wine & Food Festival 5/5/18 @GreatGrapesFest @drinkeatrelax @BoothAmp #CaryNC #UncorktheFun

This weekend there was a whole lot to celebrate: The Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo and …. Wine + Good Times at the GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL! This ‘drink.eat.relax‘ event is held at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in the Town of Cary and as a wine lover, I have enjoyed coming to this event each year! [*ICYMI, check out my 2015/2016/2017 past event recaps of this event, here.] I must say, just like fine wine this event keeps getting better with time. These are some of my favorite moments from this year’s GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL!

HUNDREDS of WINES

Yes, HUNDREDS of wines available from over 22 wineries to taste. Everyone gets a souvenir tasting glass to have and stroll from tent to tent and table to table, tasting and sampling the rich heritage of North Carolina vines. Did you know that all NC wine is not made from sweet muscadine? In fact there was some of everything to try from sweet to dry!

GOURMET BITES

If you bought the VIP Ticket option, you not only got early entrance into the event, but also a souvenir glass & bag and access to all the show tastings. Plus you got access to the VIP area which featured specialty higher-end wine selections not available elsewhere, free water and soft drinks, and featured food tastings (served Noon – 3pm).

People ready to UNCORK THE FUN

Wine Lovers from all around come out to the GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL, the largest and most fun casual NC wine festival in the Triangle. I loved seeing all the matching outfits, hats and groups celebrating birthdays. Some couples even turned this festival into a wonderful day date idea!

IT’S FAMILY FRIENDLY!

My favorite thing about this festival is that it is kid friendly. That means we can enjoy the event as a family and not worry about finding a babysitter! Kids 12 and under are FREE and they even have a dedicated area for kids to play. Guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the festival picnic style. Our daughter loved meeting “The Sauce Boss”, relaxing on the lawn and listening to Live Music!

Beautiful GREEN SETTING of the Town of Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre

Although this festival happens rain or shine, thanks to Mother Nature we had a picture perfect day! I love going to events at Booth Amphitheatre because of the scenic setting. You are surroundes by nature, gorgeous trees and a lake that you may even see ducks in!

SobeSavvy Tip: The fun is happening here again on May 19, 2018 at the BEER & BACON FEST. Tickets to this festival is ON SALE NOW!

Also GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL maybe coming to a city near you. Here are some upcoming dates:

For more information go to www.uncorkthefun.com! Hope to see you there next year! CHEERS 🍷

#FoodieFriday Feature | What’s New at Red Monkey Tavern in #Raleigh @ShopCrabtree #dineCrabtree

On a recent visit to Crabtree Valley Mall, lunch and libations were on my agenda. I am excited to share my #dineCrabtree experience at Red Monkey Tavern, who recently switched over ownership and have so many awesome things going on! They have a NEW menu, NEW concept, NEW management and a NEW fan in me!

VIEWS + VIBE

This was my first time dining at Red Monkey and I honestly did not know what to expect. In fact because of my love-hate relationship with monkeys, I just never thought to do anything except take out of town guests to the infamous monkey bench that sits outside the restaurant and let them take funny photos! Do you remember the time when Michael Jackson had a pet monkey named Bubbles? I think this bench lets people have their wish of getting up close and personal with a monkey. You will almost always see someone sitting beside it. LOL!

I am so glad I was invited to step inside and dine at this cozy, casual restaurant. The decor has a bit of a tropical feel to it and in my opinion one to many plush monkeys. However after receiving a warm welcome from the host followed by a friendly greeting from the waitress, I felt comfortable at the Red Monkey. Salsa music and Latin Jazz tunes were playing and I immediately liked the vibe. We were seated at a cozy booth across from the bar but they also have some intimate tables for two

as well as outside patio seating

and a lower level lounge area, which can be reserved for private events!

DRINKS

Before ordering food, I took a look at their “Monkey Drinks” menu, which consisted of beer, wine and craft cocktails. I ordered one of their “Monkey Mules” called a Redneck Mule, which is made with Jack Daniels Honey and ginger beer. I love moscow mules and was impressed with their unique, refreshing twist on a classic drink! My hubby ordered a top shelf L.I.T. Monkey, which stands for Long Island Iced Tea.

After meeting Marcella and learning that she was from Miami, she encouraged me to try a Mojito and I am so glad I did! After living in Miami myself for almost 19 years, I can say Red Monkey will be my go to place when I want a real Mojito without getting on a plane to South Florida. And guess what…on Mondays you can enjoy a Mojito for just $5.00! Yes, I’ll drink to that!

THE MENU

At first glance of the menu, you will see American faves and tavern food like wings, nachos and burgers. I also saw some dishes that reminded me of my favorite foods from traveling in the Caribbean like yellow rice, plantains, jerk chicken and ceviche. The cuisine is Latin Fusion and I learned from talking to the owners/management that many of the new dishes are inspired by family recipes. If you taste sofrito in a dish, you have Randy’s Abuela to thank for that!

Appetizers

When I asked our waitress what was her favorites on the menu, she advised everything is good but she loved the steak! So that’s where we started with an order of the steak nachos plus the Maryland style crab cakes. Considering my husband and I were both born in Maryland, we are a bit of crab cake snobs. ‘Not bad’ we thought but we also shared with the owner they may not want to call it Maryland style. Perhaps simply crab cakes. It did have a nice flavor and I enjoyed the cilantro cream that it is served with.

If you love nachos, definitely order the “Monkey Nachos”! They come in a huge bowl and are gluten free. It is served with chipotle queso, bacon, Pico de Gallo, roasted jalepenos cilantro crema and you can add on chicken or steak for extra yumminess!

Entreés

The menu offers a delicious variety of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and house favorites to chose from. Our eyes were drawn to two classic dishes we enjoyed while living in Miami around so many cultures. Check out the description of the Cuban Sandwich:

As described, I felt like I was on a mini vacation enjoying a sandwich I learned to love in Miami. The bread, the pork, ham, cheese,pickles… everything was just right! However,I could not finish my food due to the constant visits my fork took to my husband’s entreé. He ordered the Skirt Steak Churrassco and as soon as I saw it and smelled the aroma, I knew I wanted to taste his dish. The quality, tenderness and flavor of his steak along with the yellow rice & pigeon peas, black beans and sweet plantains made me secretly wish I had ordered his instead. The chimichurri sauce served with the steak was also very good!

Desserts

Red Monkey has a Happy Hour dessert special from 5-7pm offering $5 specials different days of the week. The food portions were so big I almost did not have room for dessert but trust me you will want to either save room, make room or get dessert to go! The Tres Leche de Coquito was amazing! It’s a moist sponge cake topped with coquito, which some people refer to as Puerto Rican egg nog. There is enough to share but it is so good, you may not want to. Like their Mojito, this dessert is authentic and delish!

SobeSavvy Tip: Save the date for these Upcoming Events!

This upcoming week Red Monkey has a Trivia Night coming up on April 24th along with their weekly Salsa Classes on Wednesdays: https://www.facebook.com/events/145767506137467/

Also on Mother’s Day they are offering an All You Can Eat Buffet Brunch!

The lesson in my dining experience here is to not judge a book by its cover. I let the name of a place and past reviews discourage me from ever stepping in to the restaurant. The staff, service, sips and steak were all satisfying and I know I will be going back! I encourage you to stop in and see what’s new at the Red Monkey Tavern. Follow on Instagram @RedMonkeyRaleigh & @ShopCrabtree.

Hey #Raleigh, Want Tasty #Tacos and #MexicanFood at your #CincoDeMayo party? Check out @Cantina18 ‘s New Catering Menu!

Raise your hand if you are in countdown mode for one of my favorite foodie holidays, Cinco De Mayo! Bring on the tacos, guacomole, nachos, margaritas because it is almost time to Fiesta! Needless to say I was very excited to receive an invite for SobeSavvy.com to join other media guests for an early Cinco de Mayo celebration at Cantina 18 in Cameron Village.

Described as a “festive setup featuring Mexican fusion dishes made with local meats & fish, plus craft margaritas“, this restaurant is one that I enjoy coming to with my family when we want fresh, flavorful Mexican food. Just listen to what my daughter, #outandboutAva had to say about their guacomole during a previous visit.

Last night’s exclusive event showcased the launch of Cantina 18‘s new catering menu and I am so excited to share the information with you! Take a look at the amazing eats you can have at your next Mexican themed party or any gathering:

Enjoy the convenience of letting someone else prepare delicious food for you to serve to your family and friends! No matter if you have vegetarians or meat lovers at the party, there will be something for everyone to enjoy!

My favorite bites from last night were the goat cheese guacomole, the house made salsas, the shrimp quesadilla and chicken tinga. Pretty much anything coming out of Chef Jason Smith’s kitchen is going to be AMAZING! Check out my video recap of last night’s event:

SobeSavvy Tip: Follow along on social media and read more about the dining experiences @Cantina18 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

*Have you ever been to Cantina 18? 🌮 DO YOU PLAN TO CELEBRATE Cinco De Mayo?🎉 Let me know in the comments below!

Cantina 18

Cameron Village

433 Daniels St

Raleigh, NC 27605

Enter to Win 2 Tix @GreatGrapesFest on May 5 + @drinkeatrelax ‘s Beer & Bacon Fest May 19 @BoothAmp in #Cary #NC

Springtime here in the Triangle means the beginning of outdoor festival season and there are two ‘drink.eat.relax‘ events coming up in May that you don’t want to miss! Koka Booth Amphitheatre in the Town of Cary is where all the fun is happening on May 5, 2018 at the GREAT GRAPES WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL and again on May 19, 2018 at the BEER & BACON FEST. Tickets to both of these fun festivals are ON SALE NOW and I have two tickets to giveaway for each event! Two lucky readers will have a chance to win a pair of tickets to enjoy the fun! Here are the details about both festivals:

TWEET THIS:

Follow @SobeSavvy and Enter to Win Tix to 2 @drinkeatrelax events happening in May @boothamp!🍷🍴🍺🥓 Details at https://www.SobeSavvy.com

Great Grapes Wine and Food Festival

Spring is Here and It is Wine Time! Join us for the largest and most fun casual NC wine festival in the Triangle with HUNDREDS of wines available from over 22 wineries. As you enter…take your souvenir tasting glass and stroll from tent to tent and table to table, tasting and sampling the rich heritage of North Carolina vines. As you sip and savor the afternoon, relax in the beautiful green setting of the Town of Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre.

•200+ Wines from 22+ Wineries
•Great Live Music
•Fun Festival Eats
•Arts and Crafts and Gourmet Items
•FREE Kids Area

Guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the lawn. Bring the family, bring your friends and take a day to UNCORK THE FUN!

TICKETS

VIP SESSION TICKET: $49.00 IN ADVANCE: $55.00 ON THE DAY OF EVENT
VIP Session: 11am – 6pm.

REGULAR SESSION TICKET: $33.00 IN ADVANCE…..$35.00 ON THE DAY OF EVENT
Regular Session: 12-6pm.

Designated Driver Ticket: $20 ONLY AVAILABLE ONSITE! Includes admission into the event ONLY.

For more information go to www.boothamphitheatre.com.

PLEASE NOTE: Photo ID IS REQUIRED as proof of age & proof of identity.

KIDS 12 & UNDER ARE FREE!

PARKING
GENERAL PARKING: Parking is free of charge in Amphitheatre owned lots. Some local businesses may charge a fee to parking in their lots. A limited number of PREFERRED parking space are available for $10.00 per car in advance or $15 on the day of event (cash only).

A limited number of accessible parking space are available on a first come first served basis with the proper hang tag or license plate. If using *Uber, I’m giving you $5 off each of your first 4 Uber rides. To accept, use code ‘2ackv’ to sign up. Enjoy! Details: https://www.uber.com/invite/2ackv

Please follow the signs & our Parking Staff to the pick up & drop off area.

ALL EVENTS WILL GO ON AS SCHEDULED RAIN OR SHINE, however in the event of severe weather please check website and social media for any updates or changes to the event.


ITEMS ALLOWED
•Lawn chairs
•Sealed Bottle of water (1 per person)
•Cameras
•All bags are subject to seach

PROHIBITED ITEMS
•Pets
•Drones
•Alcohol
•Weapons of any kind

For more information please visit www.uncorkthefun.com. Please drink responsibly.

BEER & BACON FEST

The BEER & BACON TASTING SESSION offers an exclusive tasting experience. Each guest will enjoy 15+ restaurant tasting stations (until 2pm) and fresh griddled bacon (until 3pm), a souvenir glass and boundless portions of over 75 craft beers and wines, plus 2 extra hours of alcohol sampling and all live entertainment. These tickets are limited and will SELL OUT!

Bottoms Up, Bacon Down
75 Craft Beers
15 Restaurants
10 Bacons From Across the US
LIVE MUSIC… and lots of Piggy Love

Cary’s Porkiest Playtime Returns and this time it will be even better. The ALL-YOU-CARE-TO-TASTE extravaganza comes complete with the best craft beers for your tasting pleasure… and of course the food of the Gods: BACON.

TICKETS
VIP Beer & Bacon Ticket Advanced Price: $59.00 Feb 9-March 18TH (midnight),
$69.00 March 19-May 18 (midnight), $79.00 DAY OF EVENT. Beer tasting session 12-6pm.

Regular Beer & Bacon Ticket Advanced Price: $39.00 Tickets are $45.00 DAY OF EVENT. Beer tasting session 2-6pm.

Designated Driver Ticket: $20 ONLY AVAILABLE ONSITE! Includes admission into the event ONLY.

For more information go to www.boothamphitheatre.com.

PLEASE NOTE: Photo ID IS REQUIRED as proof of age & proof of identity.

Kids 12 & under are FREE.

PARKING
GENERAL PARKING: Parking is free of charge in amphitheatre owned lots. Some local businesses may charge a fee to parking in their lots. A limited number of PREFERRED parking space are available for $10.00 per car in advance or $15 on the day of event (cash only).

A limited number of accessible parking space are available on a first come first served basis with the proper hang tag or license plate. If using *LYFT, Download LYFT app and you get 10$ off your first ride with code: BESAVVY1

Please follow the signs & our Parking Staff to the pick up & drop off area.

ALL EVENTS WILL GO ON AS SCHEDULED RAIN OR SHINE.


ITEMS ALLOWED
Lawn chairs
Sealed Bottle of water (1 per person)
Cameras
all bags are subject to seach

PROHIBITED ITEMS
Pets
Drones
Alcohol
Weapons of any kind

For more information please visit www.beerandbacon.com. Please drink responsibly.

Mandatory #SobeSavvyGiveaway Entry– Please answer the following question below in the comments:

Which festival would you like to attend:

a) Great Grapes Wine & Food Fest on May 5

or

b) Beer & Bacon Fest on May 19

**For more chances to win, click 👉a Rafflecopter giveaway to ENTER.

*One winner will be chosen to win 2 general adult admission tix for option a: Great Grapes Wine & Food Fest Valid Noon – 6pm. Includes a souvenir wine glass, unlimited wine samples, and all performances

*One winner will be chosen to win 2 Beer Only Tasting session admission tix for option b: Beer & Bacon Fest Valid 2pm – 6pm. Your admission includes a souvenir glass and boundless portions of over 75 craft beers and wines, and all live entertainment. Bacon/Food is a la carte.

Contest ends April 26, 2018 at noon. Winners will be chosen at random and have until 4/27/18 to claim prize. Good luck!

Plan a #MommyandMe Lunch Date at @American_Girl Bistro + Enjoy Interactive Shopping Fun with American Girl App! #charactercounts

I recently traveled to Atlanta to visit family and friends during my daughter’s Spring Break. It coincided with Easter as well, so there was a whole lot to celebrate! We enjoyed a fabulous Easter Brunch at the Mandarin Oriental, a fun dinner/show at Medieval Times, and a family-friendly dining experience at The Cowfish during our stay.

While all of these were amazing foodie fun experiences, I knew that planning a visit to the American Girl store would be just the place to make #outandaboutAva’s Spring Break extra special. I was happy to find out there was one in Alpharetta,GA that included a bistro and even happier that I could turn this into a double date with mom/blogger [Ashley of @MommyWeek], her daughter and of course the Girl of the Year doll, Luciana Vega!

Mommy and Me Lunch Date with Ashley of MommyWeek, Leslie of SobeSavvy, their daughters + American Girl dolls!

The Bistro

As soon as you walk into the bistro, you know you are in for a girly good time with all the pretty pink decor. From the pink table, pink menu, pink daisy centerpiece and pink napkin holder (which your child gets to take home as a pony tail holder keepsake), the American Girl Bistro is… “soooo cute” per my little girl. All are welcomed to have a seat at the table, including your doll! They will bring a pink dining chair (with a doll if you don’t have one) right to you for your little one to enjoy. Here is a fun pic from my Instagram instastories showing what the American Girl Dolls look like sitting at the table too!

The Menu

Memories are always on the menu at the American Girl Bistro. Expect to have a delicious dining experience that you can create all on your own! Lunch included an appetizer, entreé and choice of dessert. We ordered speciality Luciana Vega drinks and said a toast to new friends and new memories!

For starters, I had the mozzarella cheese sticks while both girls ordered the fruit fondue, which came with muffins, a fruit skewer and yogurt. We all thought the presentation of the yogurt served like a flower pot was so fun! Our main entreés came quickly and were cooked perfectly. I highly recommend the salmon dish if you are looking for a healthy seafood option. My daughter loved customizing her bowtie pasta by sprinkling as much parmesan cheese on it as her heart desires! Everyone became a member of the clean plate society since we finished every bite. It was that good.

Be sure to save room for the scrumptious sweets to enjoy at the end of your meal. The delicious desserts range from cookies, cupcakes, brownies, ice cream or if you really wanna go all in, get a brownie ice cream sundae!

SobeSavvy Tip: Wanna make your dining experience more fun? Play the the conversation starter game, which you can find at the center of the table. It’s a great way to learn about yourself and everyone else!

The Boutique

After our delicious lunch, we headed into the American Girl boutique store to explore what’s new. Did you know you can search for exciting augmented reality experiences throughout the store simply using your smartphone? That’s right, you can bring magic to life and unlock interactive experiences, stop-motion videos, behind-the-scenes content, and more!

SobeSavvy Tip: Download the American Girl app for FREE, scan the pages of the catalogue and look for special icons in the stores. Get ready to go beyond the stars with Luciana and discover all of the interactive ways to play at americangirl.com/luciana. Overall our Mommy and Me lunch date was more than just a girls day out, it was a day to remember and a trip we’ll never forget! Just watch this video and wait for the happy dance moves from my little one after all the fun:

Make plans to head to your nearest American Girl store and check out all the fun, new happy spring experiences to share. Check out MommyWeek’s blog post giving her perspective of this fun day! Be sure to stop in American Girl store soon and leave with your smiles in full bloom! Thanks again to our friends at American Girl for hosting us and giving all of us a Spring Break date we will cherish.

All smiles for #outandboutAva and her mom, Leslie, Founder of SobeSavvy.com during their visit to the American Girl Boutique and Bistro in Alpharetta,GA

American Girl Atlanta Bistro

1202 North Point Circle

Alpharetta, GA 30022