Saturday, April 25, 2009

Grand Opening - Eronel Designs

Back in the dark ages, when I was a teenager, I used to make jewelry. In the past few years, I've still made jewelry, but I used to sell it, along with my paintings, at Womancraft, an artists' cooperative in Chapel Hill, and at Horizon Gallery, which used to be in Brightleaf Square, in Durham. Working at Womancraft was great, because every weekend, I got to spend 4 hours meeting new people that came in the store, catching up with the regulars and talking to my fellow artists and artisans. As you can guess, many of our conversations went something like this:

"After I leave here, I'm going to the Persian Carpet."
"Is that a restaurant?"
"No, it's a rug store."

I don't think I need to provide attribution for the individual quotes, unless this is the first post of mine that you've discovered. I'm afraid that I didn't have to make up that example either.

In any case, once I started college, particularly when I was a sophomore, my classes interfered with how I had chosen to spend my spare time for the previous four years. I had to quit. I not only quit working at Womancraft, but I pretty much quit making jewelry and I quit painting. I concentrated even more heavily on my studies and then leapt right into my career, which did not involve my artistic abilities.

Recently, I've started making jewelry again with wild abandon. I still have all of my supplies from the old days, my sterling silver and gold-filled wire, my semiprecious gemstone beads and my tools. Now I have an art studio, so I can spread out all of my work without having to put it all away before preparing for exams or writing a paper.

I decided to set up an Etsy store to sell my work. For those of you who haven't checked out Etsy, it's a way for artists to sell their handmade crafts on-line, within a nice framework. When I was younger, I sold my jewelry and my paintings under "Lenore's Creations", but I decided to be a little backward and my wares are now called "Eronel Designs". Like most things, I have no idea how successful my new business venture will be, but if I come anywhere close to selling as many earrings and necklaces as I did long ago, my fingers will be pretty busy on the weekends.

In reality, I only did this so I would have an excuse to create a third Twitter account, @eroneldesigns, to communicate information about the store and spout random bits of enthusiasm.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Saigon Grill

Last Tuesday, I went to Saigon Grill with several friends and we had a lovely feast. Carpe Durham also just reviewed the restaurant, so I encourage you to read about their experiences. We started with two kinds of spring rolls, one with grilled pork and the other with shrimp and pork, both of which I liked.

They have a nice selection of interesting non-alcoholic drinks, which I find pretty exciting. As of Tuesday, they did not yet have their liquor license, but hopefully they will soon, if they don't already. I tried the Young Coconut Drink and definitely enjoyed it.

The owner waited on us and he recommended that we try the egg rolls, which contained ground pork and shrimp with beanthread noodles. These were delicious. There were four and I photographed the last one while I could.

One of my friends got the eel sauteed with curry and coconut sauce. This was probably my favorite of everything I tried. I'm a big fan of eel, but the entire dish was so interesting and good. This was the first time I'd tried eel with bones in it and it certainly had a different texture from typical sushi barbecued eel. We marveled at some of the unidentified vegetation in the dish.

Another friend had the pork chop and he seemed to really like it.

Two of us ordered the duck soup with egg vermicelli. I thought it was very good and thought that the only thing wrong with it was that eating it was a little awkward. It had huge chunks of duck that were still on the bone, large pieces of bok choy, large pieces of mushroom (one of which I intentionally ate), and a large mass of noodles. I ate half of it for lunch a few days later and thought it was miraculous that I didn't get any on my blouse. If you like duck in all its fatty glory, then you will like this. If you aren't sure, then order something else. It's just ducky.

Overall, I enjoyed it and hope I can con someone into going back with me soon.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

ShangHai House

Friday night, I was fortunate to go to a new Chinese restaurant with friends of mine who had lived in China for a year and who could order in Chinese. It was amazing watching them alternate between giddiness and being close to tears at being able to order some of the dishes that were extremely close to what they routinely ate while they were there. The location is where the No. 1Panda House used to be, across Guess Rd. from where the old Willowdale theatre used to be. The sign still remains, so, for now, that's what you'll need to look for. The take-out menu and their website state that the name of the restaurant is actually ShangHai House.

The sweet corn and minced chicken soup was the least exciting offering that I sampled. It was good and it would be nice on a cold winter day, though.

These green beans were the Pleasant Steamed Bean - Jam Bun Silk. The beans were excellent. They had a thin sauce that reminded me of fermented beans, but I wasn't exactly sure what it was and I was too busy chewing to ask.

This was Fried Tofu, Home Style and was my favorite of everything we tried. The tofu was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, with a delectable brown, ever so slightly sweet, sauce.

The Yu-Shiang Shredded pork was also wonderful and was served with a much sweeter sauce.

We each received a compimentary orange at the end, which was delicious.

The service was very friendly, but the restaurant, which was almost empty when we arrived at 6pm, was almost full when we left and it was challenging getting a bill, to say the least. We ended up having to just go up to the cash register with our money in hand.

I carefully photographed their entire menu and was thrilled with the results, but it turns out that their entire menu is online. Be sure to check it out, because it's at the least entertaining and at best exciting for the adventurous. They appear to serve dim sum all the time, so I'm craving pork buns and scallion pancakes, which I haven't had in years. They also have dishes listed like "Sizzling Cowboy Bone" and "Spoiled Chaotic Pork." There are just so many dishes I would like to try, but I'm not quite sure braised pigs' knuckles are on that list yet.

Definitely check this place out at your earliest convenience.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Help Find GEE's Bike!

Google Earth Evangelist's bicycle was recently stolen. Please help her find it! Check out for more information. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dear Secret Admirers from the West Coast

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This was quite a nice and sweet surprise today!