Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bronto Open House

This evening, I went to an open house for Bronto Software, which is located at the American Tobacco Campus, in Durham. Bronto provides software for direct email marketing. As Adam Covati (@covati) explained, above, they make sending mass e-mails easier as well as providing detailed statistics on which users are reading the e-mail and how they are interacting with it. Once this information is available, it's possible to target changes to specific sets of recipients. Depending on the audience, it's sometimes difficult to understand how or if a message is being received and Bronto's tools provided a lot of insight into this. While those of us who work in higher-education may constantly hear that college-aged kids don't read e-mail, e-mail is apparently much more effective as an advertising and sales tool than print or telemarketing.

I enjoyed looking around their new offices, running into a few fellow bloggers and meeting the Bronto staff. DJ (@djwaldow), above, is watching an entertaining video of himself giving a tour of the offices.

I am also now the proud owner of an inflatable brontosaurus, a very nice and large coffee cup and a temporary tattoo. They have sophisticated swag selection skills.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Six Plates Blogging : Bacon and Eggs

While I sometimes enjoy dining at Six Plates Wine Bar alone, it's always a treat to share a cheese plate. This time we had, from left to right, aged Gouda, Mahon and Rogue River Smokey Blue. The blue, of course, was my favorite, particularly with honey.

My friend chose the pan seared tuna with apple and fennel farro and passionfruit caviar. What I tasted was excellent.

I had Six Plates Bacon and Eggs. It had Cane Creek pork belly, a fried quail egg and "breakfast" potatoes. The pork tasted like something between bacon and pork roast and the potatoes were simply amazing. Owner Matthew Beeson seemed disappointed that I didn't eat more of the house made ketchup, which he thought was "like crack", but I thought it was all perfect the way it was.

For dessert, my friend had an olive plate and I'll have to consider sharing one of these sometime, because my olive epiphany has turned into more of an olive obsession. In addition to several different kinds of olives, it had pimentos and lupini beans.

Finally, I had the flight of three small scoops of sorbet, but I, once again, chose three scoops of passionfruit, because it is exquisite.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Four Square Blogging : Pre-Appetizer

I forgot to include this photo in my previous post about Four Square. This was a complimentary pre-appetizer of hummus on some kind of chip. I thought it was both adorable and elegant. Of course, it was tasty, too.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Four Square

I've been remiss in bringing you all the details of my dining life. It's been over a couple of weeks since I went to Four Square, which, as always, was a wonderful experience. I went there with a couple of friends, just two days before I received my new camera. So, these photos were taken with my old camera and you'll just have to endure. My Hippest Friend had the baked Stump Sound oysters with yukon gold potatoes on whole wheat blinis and smoked char roe. It looks good to me, and, as you can see, he was eager to try it.

I had a bowl of the Orange Cranberry Bean and Housemade Bacon soup. It was very good, but somehow I was thinking that it would have cranberries in it instead of having cranberry beans in it. I was craving fruit and I thought cranberries and bacon would go well together. I enjoyed it, though.

For my entree, I had grilled mahi mahi with stir fried soba noodles, red kuri squash, green mango with coriander, coconut-shellfish emulsion and lime pickles. I think I ordered this mainly because of the mangos and they weren't very prominent in the dish, but there were some. Overall, it was very good and perfectly prepared.

One of my friends had pan seared scallops with roasted apple and foie gras bread pudding, braised celery, saba and a creamy chestnut sauce. That was absolutely fantastic and I would definitely order that if I had another opportunity.

That friend was on a roll, because he also ordered the almond cake with olive oil ice cream, coriander-honey croquant and an orange-cava sauce. He described it as the "sleeper hit dessert of the year".

I had a dessert special, tangerine "but not so tangeriney" smores. Aside from the fact that the top half was camera shy and kept trying to escape before I could photograph it, it was a delightful dessert. This photo was taken after I had reassembled it twice, so it may not be quite the presentation that was originally intended, but it's pretty close. I like tangerines and I was still in the mood for fruit at that point, so I was happy. The cookies were almost like granola bars and the tangerine marshmallows were subtly flavored.

In addition to getting our own desserts, we all shared a bowl of sorbet and ice cream. We got chocolate mint chip, blood orange sorbet and brown sugar ice cream. These were served with a madeleine cookie and were delicious.

I believe this was the fourth time I'd been to Four Square, but I hadn't been there in many years. It's in a quaint and potentially romantic four square house with tables that are spread far enough apart to allow conversation. The service is exceptionally attentive and Chef Shane Ingram came to our table to introduce himself. It's a perfect place for a special occasion or when you feel like splurging on a leisurely evening out.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Rum Raisin Banana Bread

My Most Faithful Reader read about Marcellina's banana bread on Eschaton and her recipe is based on Nigella's recipe. My MFR then decided to soak some non-sulfured white raisins in rum, to prepare one of the main ingredients. Once I found out that she'd been soaking them, I offered to make the bread. Not long after that, a bunch of bananas appeared on my kitchen counter and their brown spots began to indicate how I would be spending my Saturday afternoon.

I used the US version of Nigella's recipe, which appeared along with the raisins. Like most banana bread recipes. it was comparatively easy. Marcellina also has her own varation of the recipe, which I'll have to try at some point. Both recipes actually recommend that you boil the raisins and let them sit for an hour. The raisins I had been provided had already soaked up most of the rum, so I didn't think that step was necessary.

It turned out to be delicious. The raisins add a moist tartness and the overall texture is excellent. I sliced one of the loaves and froze all the slices individually, so I'm looking forward to having something good for breakfast for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New Sitar India Palace Location

Today I got to try out the new Sitar location on Chapel Hill Boulevard. As far as I could tell, the food tasted exactly the same, which was very good. The decor was fresh and new as their renovations almost completely obliterated any traces of the Lonestar Steakhouse, with the exception of the back porch area.

One exciting thing is that they apparently have a drive-through-window. I absolutely love drive-throughs and will be sure to take advantage of it soon.

According to Bull City Rising's post, their old location will continue to remain open, but it will concentrate on catering.