To Market, to Market to buy a fresh, local meal

Wayback post from fall 2010

When I cared for a young child with a disability as a Certified Nurse Aid a few of years ago, if I wanted to go to out to lunch or run an errand I was actually required to walk to get there as part of the health care program my client was enrolled in. We all know driving is a big deal in the Triangle and most of us have this option whether we need to go a mile up the road for groceries or ten miles away to Target. But for the Raleigh downtowner choosing to walk – for lunch or to pick up the dry cleaning – is much more feasible. Ah, such is the beauty of downtown life.

For me it was going on one of these walks that led me to Market Restaurant. It’s tucked off N. Blount Street, beyond Peace Street in the opposite direction of downtown near Peace College. And though it’s location and surroundings are not typical for the area, at the rate downtown is growing and pushing (out and up), sooner rather than later this area is going to start looking a lot more like it belongs. It’s a natural process: the heart grows, beats louder and stronger, and eventually it can support more veins and organs.

Market has rustic appeal – calmness outside, openness inside and a short/sweet menu. Water comes with a cucumber (quirky but cool), lemonade with rosewater and tea with mint. And if you order coffee a full french press is delivered to the table for $2. Then there’s fresh fish, homemade dressings and aiolis, and cool ideas like “kale chips” and “crack fries”.

P.S. If you work downtown and have next to no time for lunch, don’t drive, don’t even get up. The American Courier & Concierge service is only a $1 through September 30. Or, if you need to drive but would love to conserve a little money and energy, share a WeCar.

Update: The Market will open up in a new location, with a grocery store!, in the renovated shopping center beside Raleigh City Farm and Yellow Dog Bakery.

fashionSPOTLIGHT: DRC ApeParel

DRC ApeParel’s new line Fresh Off The Boat captures the essence of what fashionSPARK 2010 is all about – Wear What You Are. They are cool fashion. They are conscious minds bringing awareness to social injustices.

From DRC ApeParel: Our focus is on these times of great need for transformation and change in countries where people are being removed from their homes and land and where their livelihood is being stripped from them. We strive to reach the masses through bright colors, strong patterns, meaningful images, and apparel that makes you feel good when you wear it. Read more about us at our blog.

This year what you see is what you get too. Garments will be available for purchase at the fashionSPARK Shop the next day at City Plaza on Saturday, September 18th from 10am-5pm. Check out DRC’s promotional deals and enter the raffle to win a garment. And just to kick it up one more notch, their website will have an online sale.

P.S. Designing a fashion line is a mysterious process for us on the outside but students at the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham will be revealing some of the secrets tonight at the American Tobacco Historic District from 5-8pm. Check out the details.

fashionSPOTLIGHT: Jaclyn Anthony Designs

Photo Credit: Jeriann Cramer of Photoconsortia

Jaclyn Anthony loves X’s and O’s. I know because in the process of getting to know her via internet magic, she has signed all of her correspondences with XOXO. I love it. She’s passionate about her work, grateful to her supporters and overall has an amazing attitude. In the business of jewelry making that counts for a lot. As an entrepreneur it can be difficult to find your place among your peers and to get your product in front of enough faces to make your business viable. But Jaclyn describes working as a jewelry designer in Raleigh since 2008 as something like having this wonderful treasure chest to put her gems of success in.

Inspiration goes a long way too. In 2006 Jaclyn saw jewelry by Molly Anderson of mollybeads that blew her away and it dawned on her – “This is a real girl making real jewelry. And it’s unique to her style. I could do this too.” Both Jaclyn and Molly are Raleigh residents and met just a few months ago at a SPARKcon meeting. They shared stories of stars aligning and fortuitous sparks of talent, desire and inspiration that led them to exciting careers in jewelry making.

The first time Jaclyn Anthony Designs became available for retail was at Revolver, a local boutique at Glenwood South, around Thanksgiving 2008, and she admits, “I couldn’t keep up, everything was selling so fast.” A year later her first line was born, and earlier this year while working on a custom-made leather item, she got the inspiration for her new Fall line that will debut at fashionSPARK 2010. Conquistadors vs. Natives was created based on the juxtaposition of jewelry and accessories worn in the 1500s by Spanish Conquistadors and their conquest, the native Incas.

Photo Credit: Jeriann Cramer of Photoconsortia

From Jaclyn: The new materials that will be used in the Fall 2010 line include 3 different styles of leather; a buttery soft robins egg blue, a stiff neutral that softens and molds to the body, and a cheetah hair print that is soft and sexy. The metals will be truly 3-D as well and continue the “open” style seen in the Batllo, Echinoidea and Gwen cuffs.   This 3 dimensional, “open” style will showcase in necklaces and earrings as well and I have done more wire wrapping of gold-foiled geodes rings and necklaces. Cuffs are a must for the Jaclyn Anthony woman so here I have paid special attention to the incorporation of leather, leather fringe and gold colored wire.

If you would like to be featured on Downtown Dame send me a message or leave a comment just saying you enjoyed the post!

get fashionSPARKed

Photo Credit: Veronica Villegas, Jacyln Anthony Designs on Hollis Guerra

Riding on the heels of Raleigh’s first music festival, Hopscotch, is this weekend’s SPARKcon – a series of events focused on everything from fashion, art and music to the more unexpected circus, bazaar and graffiti, to name a few. By showcasing the genuine and bold creativity of our local community on a large scale that encompasses the representation of fifteen culturitas (mini-cultures, some counter), SPARKcon strives to live up to it’s name. When passionate ideas and ingenuity come together sparks fly, and given the right circumstances they can start a fire.

fashionSPARK will bring us new and seasoned designers, all with new lines, on Friday, September 17th at 8pm at City Plaza. Most of the runway models will be wearing new garments but two designers will adorn their models in jewelry this year. And if you notice something you must have, stop by the fashionShop on Saturday, September 18th from 10am-5pm at City Plaza to buy it.

This Thursday, Downtown Dame will bring you a sneak peak into DRC ApeParel’s new clothing line Fresh Off The Boat and Jaclyn Anthony’s new jewelry line Incas & Conquistadors, before the show. Then check back next week to see the DD review of their performances.

Get fired up! Get fashionSPARKed.

Hey, I DON’T have a ticket to HOPSCOTCH…

Here is what you need to know if you don’t have a wristband (entrance into venues for all three days) to Hopscotch – Raleigh’s first music festival – but do have a ticket for one night or none at all. There will be tons of people and mayhem, join in! Here’s my five fabulous things to do if this is you.

1. See free bands playing before 9pm, when the scheduled fest starts, at downtown bars and restaurants.

2. Band-and-Fan watch as you comfortably sit and enjoy beer and food specials.

3. Buy your way in to see one of the 120 bands at a bar that didn’t hit capacity.

4. Start Halloween early and dress up. It’s the cool thing to do.

5. Just go and see what happens! (Vamp up your creative juices for SPARKcon!)

There are 9 bars downtown that will serve as venues for the 120 bands coming to downtown Raleigh from Thursday to Saturday this weekend, September 9-11. The one spot that is not a bar that will be featuring three bands Friday and three bands Saturday is City Plaza. You can still buy $30 tickets!

Downtown Dame’s schedule:

Friday, #1-5 of my list. Saturday, #1 and ticket to City Plaza (Public Enemy!)

photo credit: boston.com

It’s Harvest Time at Big Boss Brewery

I’ll be forever rep’n Big Boss Brewery. When I became acquainted with the oddly located warehouse at 1249 Wicker Drive off of Atlantic Avenue in 2006, it was undergoing a major transition to a new name and ownership. The brewery is not downtown, we’ll call it the edge of (down)town, but with all the bars and restaurants on Hargett, Davie, Blount and many more, that serve Big Boss beers on a constant basis this establishment is worthy of a post on Downtown Dame. From the start, the beers and people that make this place special have been worth celebrating and the Indy agrees, they just keep giving us reasons to continue.

Upstairs the tavern is without a doubt a man’s bar. The walls are plaqued with panels from WWII fighter jets bearing names (and ladies) that now identify the beers made downstairs, like Bad Penny, Blanco Diablo and Hells Belle, to name a few. And each room has fun and games in mind, whether its the taps themselves or Megatouch, darts, ping-pong and pool. But the tavern’s masculinity embodies characteristics that men and women appreciate. It’s style is inviting, lights are low and warm, and strong beer is served by able bartenders.

I’ve even spent some time behind the bar, sling’n beers for the regulars and college kids who rightly favor the seasonals and beers only offered on-site. Harvest Time was released this past Wednesday, on the 1st day of event-packed September and during Raleigh Beer Week. It’s Halloween’s official beer, as my friends at the blog The Devil’s Demons like to say. Beer that is golden and crisp fall weather boiled and churned into drink form. So, go have a pint at the tavern Monday through Friday after 5 and Saturday after 3 (or 2 if it’s a brew tour day). There’s outdoor seating too, beside the homegrown hops, or grab a growler to go…this is the Big Boss seasonal brew that will be gone, just like Fall, way before you’re ready for it.

Jibarra, step it up!

The excitement was high as I pulled into a parking spot at Jibarra with my friend Carla last night. She is also a big fan of margarita specials and they have theirs every Tuesday. We didn’t originally plan to go there but a series of events led us to the old Depot area, and since things that have a twinge of fate attached to them are much more exciting we quickly agreed on the new dinner spot. I had coincidentally worn my blue beaded “Frida” necklace after all.

We made our margarita order first, of course. Carla would have the Blood-Orange version and I wanted the original – a Gordon Ramsey lesson I picked up from one of his gazillion shows when he’s looking for clues to whether a restaurant has their stones together or not. The waitress’s response was a question of if I wanted the Grand Marnier in it, because it’s extra. “Well, that makes it a $8 drink like all the rest so if it’s still part of the Margarita Special, absolutely”, I said. She was sweet enough and went to check.

The verdict was the bartender would add the GM for a $1, so my special margarita would be $6 instead of $5. I was then fed a misguided explanation that added up to be the exact reason why it should have been fine, something about the other margaritas being made from special elixers. What? To me it was all quite silly so after I chose something different, I checked with Carla to make sure I had heard the girl correctly. I had.

Ok, moving on, right? I’d been told the food was great, so again, I ordered something basic from their Mexican menu – the 3 tacos and a side dish. Carne Asada, Pescado, Hongos and the Chipotle-aioli Fries. After a wait undeserving of the food I was eventually served, I was left with a plate of half-eaten tacos and a bowl of devoured fries. You don’t have to be a food critic to know that’s a bad sign. It was bland, bland, bland…and lots of extras to hide the bland is even worse! Fried fish tougher than day-long boiled chicken was my first mouthful of ruined expectations, then I peered through a hill of chopped white onions on the next taco to find dreadfully unseasoned beef.  The mushroom taco was moist at least but lacking any sense of authenticity. Ah, but perhaps a saving grace, I thought! The fries, though some partially burnt, were laced in a tasty aioli so I finished the bowl (while dodging thoughts that these were in fact not good at all but edible enough for a hungry girl).

Simply put, the food was careless. The word I hated my teachers in school to say more than anything else. Coupled with an unfortunate decision by the bartender, or perhaps the manager, the evening made my first shut-em-down, shut-em-up post on Downtown Dame.

Jibarra – Don’t blow this great downtown opportunity by serving mediocre meals and nit-picky margarita specials. The location is spot on (your neighbor, The Pit, is doing quite well) and the indoor decor nails Mexico-meets-Manhattan. Step it up!