Aaron Merritt’s Year In Review

I’ve mentioned Aaron in this space before, but that was a furtively self-serving moment wasn’t it?  Today’s post isn’t about me.  As Aaron explains, it’s…

For me specifically.

But then, teachers in general.

But- also- everbody.

This post isn’t like the others, but then, neither is Aaron.

Enough of this.  LESS WORDS, MORE PICTURES.

December 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

Jason Bissey’s Top 10 Things to Eat in Durham NC

While, as a former chef, I am often asked for restaurant recommendations, I find that I end up offering a selection of actual Things to Eat rather than the establishments themselves.  So, here’s a list of some of my favorite meals in the Bull City.  It was tough to limit, but I’m pretty happy with it besides the absence of one or two items I will reliably get excited about going to Raleigh or Chapel Hill for.  But whatever; OUR HOUSE!

Anyway:

10.  Phở at Saigon Grill

I’m actually pretty new to this place up on Roxboro, and haven’t had much on the menu, but the phở is proper.  You can get it with any combination of round, meatball, tripe, and tendon that suits your fancy.  Nice rich broth, a generous portion, and plenty of cilantro, limes, chilis and shit served on the side.  Awesome in the winter.

9.  Tomo’s omakase at Thai Cafe

Ok, so I was gonna keep this a secret, but the old sushi chef from Kurama on 15-501 has resurfaced.  He is Tomo.  He is the real deal, no matter what you may think of Kurama or Thai Cafe.  Like, he actually has a cadre of Japanese businessmen who will follow him WHEREVER HE GOES to eat his food.  Now, if you like sushi in general, usually sticking with rolls and maybe a couple tuna nigiri, you certainly won’t be disappointed at Thai Cafe.  You’ll probably end up going back to Sushi Love or whatever for their 2-for-1 deal, though.  The deal with Tomo is that he is a Japanese food geek, and for him raw fish and sushi rice are just the tip of the freakin’ iceberg.  So, go brush up on some etiquette (check out the great comments) like a good white person and just tell him you want the good stuff.  If you’re feeling froggy you can say you want “omakase,” but I wouldn’t blame you for feeling a little douchey for doing so.  Just let the man feed you.

8.  OnlyBurger farmer’s market special with veggie burger, egg, and bacon

I like burgers, but honestly I’ve kinda given up on them.  When OB launched, I was pretty excited because I know the owners and they have a good pedigree, chef-wise, and I thought they’d be cranking out some seriously amazing product.  Sadly, for the most part their food is pretty average.  Still, putting two fried green tomatoes, pimiento cheese, an egg, and bacon on a burger is a no-lose kind of situation.  At that point, would you really care if you’re eating beef or beans and soy?  I don’t.  See also the veggie burger with bacon at Bull McCabe’s.

7.  Kevin’s blueberry muffins at Rue Cler

This is Kev.  He is my friend and the charman of the Durham County Democratic Party.  His muffins are just WRONG!  Get there early.

6.  Rue Cler’s poulet rôti

rue.jpg

So I am a little biased, as I opened this restaurant as the chef in 2006, and the poulet rôti was one of my flagship plates.  Still, it’s the best roast chicken I know of in the Triangle for three reasons: it’s an intact half chicken with all the bones, it’s pan roasted with my special kung-fu, and it’s made from scratch to order without any pre-cooking.  It might take a half hour longer to get your food, but it’s worth it.  Perfectly simple.

5.  John’s pastrami sandwich at Bull McCabe’s

John Spicer is the chef at Bulls.  He is grumpy, intolerant, looks like a serial killer, and one of the best cooks in Durham.  He makes his own pastrami and it is delicious.  Eat your pickle or he may hurt you.

4.  Substitute goat cheese for mozzarella on a Pop’s Backdoor Pizza

(that’s Dave.  He owns Elodie Farms where delicious goats and their delicious cheese comes from)

‘Nuff said.  I don’t want to hear anything about other pizza joints; you’re delusional.  Pop’s Backdoor is the best pizza in Durham and for chrissakes they deliver beer and wine.

3.  My hummus.

I’m generally a pretty humble guy.  I was born and raised in a land where corn is plentiful and talking about oneself is a misdemeanor in most jurisdictions.  But man do I make some fucking great hummus.  It’s ridiculous.  Seriously.  Yes, you can have the recipe.

2.  Toast’s egg panino / Toast’s salad

When people ask me my favorite restaurant in the Triangle, I usually tell them it’s Toast.  Sure, it’s just a sandwich shop.  SANDWICHES FREAKIN’ RULE, OK?  And Billy and Kelly have hit the sandwich nail on its proverbial head.  Also they are possibly the cutest and nicest people ever.  OK, so the egg panino.  It’s loosely scrambled local eggs folded with taleggio cheese and chives.  It is perfect and crunchy and gooey.  Get it with Toast’s inexplicably ethereal salad and you’re in lunch heaven.  God, I’m hungry.

1.  Oysters and steak tartare at Vin Rouge

Ah, Vin Rouge.  Most of the best meals of my life have been sitting at their bar.  They have served racks of wild boar for my birthday and spit roasted whole lambs for my wedding reception.  I have likely eaten over a pound of foie gras from their kitchen.  Being good friends with Matt, the chef/owner, certainly helps with the quality of my food, but my favorite two things on the menu are freely available to all.  They are also raw.  I’m still not sure who makes a better tartare, Matt or I, but things tend to be more enjoyable when you’re not the one who prepared them.  As for the oysters, there is little to say.  Get some Champagne or a mineral-y Loire valley wine and go to town.  Heaven.  Raw heaven.

Bon appétit, y’all.

December 28, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. 1 comment.

Gwen McCarter’s Top 10 Most Wonderfully Bad Fashion Trends of 2010

10. Man jammies

[image via Cool Hunting]

9. Alpen-clogs

[image via My Style]

8. Hammer time parachute pants for women

[image via Celebrity Beauty]

7. Bubble lady hips

[image via SugarScape]

6. Stirrup-pant revival

[image via the Cheap Girl]

5. Tights masquerading as pants

[image via Can We Please Stop and Reflect]

4. Winky-ass pants

[image via Winkers Design]

3. Furry shoulder pads

[image via TrendHunter]

2. Lady Gaga meat dress

[image via Huffington Post]

1. Unisex jeggings

[image via NY Daily News]

December 27, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. 1 comment.

Vicky Youn’s Top 10 Adorable Animal Videos of the Year

Vicky, like myself, has excellent taste in adorable animalia.  I think this should cover Caturday and Sundog, which I flagrantly skipped this weekend.

Since I’m such a sucker for animals being cute, here’s my list of my top 10 precious animal-related videos of 2010.

Surprised kitty

Sad day for ducklings!

Baby monkey! Baby monkey! Riding on a pig, baby monkey!

Man goat!

Adopted purring baby squirrel. aww :)

Dramz!!

Precious precious slow loris.

Cattycakes.

Marcel the shell– ok it’s not an animal but it counts. :)

OK Go, with friends

December 26, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

Ashley Denton’s Top 10 of 2010

Readers, be sure to visit Ashley in the new year, when I’m sure she’ll update her blog more often. ;)

Thanks Ashley!


The following are in no particular order other than then order in which my brain processes information. I like funny, so funny seems to be what I remember most from 2010.

10. Double Rainbow Video.


9. Julia and Jody Haupt dressed up as Double Rainbows for Halloween.

8. “Lobster Focus.” – New CrossFit Durham quote due to Cliff Dyer’s auto correct error.

7. Cold Stone Creamery Groupons. (Not funny, but muy important.)

6. This guy…

[image via People of WalMart]

5. “Give ’em a Herkie to the face!” – Lindsay Hill giving me advice on how to rough someone up.

[image via Marilah Bersorak]

4. Making fun of Justin Bieber whenever possible.


[image via Emily the Person]

3. Ke$ha too…


[image via Bloginity]

2. Mie Yoshingaga’s quote, ” What I learned this week: Screaming something with a Japanese accent WILL lead to a really good snatch.”

1. Finding a truck in a bridge.

December 24, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. 2 comments.

Geoff Edwards’ Ecclectic Top 10 List

Geoff Edwards runs a tumblr blog dedicated to beautiful maps.  I’ve featured his stuff a few times, but he deserves far more re-blogs in this space.  Consider it a new year’s resolution.  On to the list.

Deerhunter, “He Would Have Laughed” (from Halcyon Digest). The transition to the last melodic section of this song—beginning at about the 5:20 mark—is my favorite musical moment of 2010.

Killer Mike & T.I.P, “(Grandhustle) Ready Set Go.” The best hip-hop production of 2010.

Nicki Minaj’s verse on Kanye’s “Monster.” The album itself is good but in no way essential or classic. “Power” may be the most boring song ever to generate so much hype. But Minaj nails everything on this verse: lyrics, timing, intonation, and—most importantly—menace.

Catfish. Don’t read anything about it, just find a way to watch it. (Guilty pleasure: Kick-Ass. Chloe Moretz kills it as Hit Girl.)

“The Rejected” (Mad Men season 4, episode 4). My favorite episode of last season is the first time we see 1960s counterculture begin to bubble-up through the slick, modernist facade. (“The Suitcase” is also very good.)

An Ask Metafilter thread from May — http://bit.ly/eRgvpk . One user of the service sought the help of his fellow MeFites in convincing two Russian friends not to fall victim to a human trafficking scam here in the United States. The massive outpouring of advice, support, and donations eventually resulted in a happy ending and at least one poignant interview on a Newsweek blog (here: http://bit.ly/hKDext ). 

2 Years in Prison—A Man’s Storyhttp://bit.ly/ekFbGL . You may think your impression of prison has been sufficiently ridded of naiveté. Prepare to have that impression reupholstered.

Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. West Coast pale ales are my favorite genre of drink. This is tops.

[image via Brewed for Thought]

Jason Heyward’s first at-bat. My sports highlight of the year, ranking just above the Olympic hockey final and the group-winning US goal in the World Cup.

The ash cloud. The sub- and superterranean tangled in April when Eyjafjallajokull led to the biggest disruption of European air traffic since World War II. It also spawned some neat visualizations and Stranded, a MagCloud issue produced by a bunch of stuck travelers.

[image via the Big Picture @ the Boston Globe]

December 24, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

Keith Roberts’ Top 10 Local* Bands

*Local in this context means Central North Carolina, dear reader.
Keith knows local music partly because he is local music.  He’s the talented bass player of Of Whiskey and Blood out of Raleigh.  Keith’s too humble to include his own band on this list, but make no mistake.  They put on an excellent show.

I’ll let Keith (pictured on the right) take it from here:

Ranked by a combination of stage presence, local availability, sound quality, lyrical creativity and my own wacky musical intuition.  I am by no means an expert on local music, or music in general. But I am a fan, and these are a few bands I like to keep track of, listen to, and enjoy.

Top Ten Local Bands

10.) Transistor Zen
Creative lyrics spun through a distorted, almost electronic sound. A relatively new band worth checking out.

9.) Louder Moonlight
Worth the cover charge (if there happens to be one) if only to hear the guitar parts.

8.) I Was Totally Destroying It
Feel good 80’s style rock with a local twist.

7.) Inflowential
Creative hip hop that foregoes a back beat in favor of the more classic human beat box.

6.) Red Collar
In my mind the quintessential local rock band.  High energy shows with excellent crowd involvement

5.) Lost In The Trees
Though more of a touring band these days, which drops them a few spots due to less local availability, this band still merits a mention for being from here, and providing slow, thoughtful melodies.

4.) Kennebec
An excellent mix of tempos and excellent guitar parts. Americana style music equally suited for thinking or dancing, your choice.

3.) Rat Jackson
More of a parody than a musical style, the creativity of humor of this group, along with their recent documentary: Beer Y’all, should provide you with at least a little entertainment.

2.) Carolina Chocolate Drops
A true southern band if I ever heard one.  Fun, bluegrassy songs with a hint of spiritual sass thrown in for a cultural auditory experience.

1.) Mandolin Orange
Slow expert bluegrass instrumentals combine with thoughtful lyrics to provide the perfect charging state for my introvert batteries.  By far my favorite local band. Truly beautiful music, professionally done.

December 23, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

Jimi Trout’s Top 10 Yarn Tastings of 2010

Submitted by: Coraghessan A. Cat

1. STITCHES South Knitting Expo Yarn Tasting
Atlanta, Georgia; www.knittinguniverse.com/stitches/south/
Easily the highlight of the 2010 yarn tasting season.  This year’s 50g
skeins were divine, featuring subtle hints of nepeta and lemon.
Breathtaking.

2. The National Needlehearts Association Yarn Tasting
Zanesville, Ohio; www.TNNA.org
Outstanding selection of double-knits; impeccably crafted, remarkably
complex, simply stunning.

3. Interweave Yarn Tasting
Loveland, Colorado; www.interweavestore.com/
The hippest yarn tasting of the year, every bit as good as your
friends said it was.

4. Lion Brand Yarn Company Yarn Tasting
New York, New York; www.lionbrand.com/
Dazzling array of medium-bodied skeins, presented in typical regal fashion.

5. Red Heart Yarns Yarn Tasting
Charlotte, North Carolina; www.redheart.com/
Red Heart Yarns = Red Hot Flavors, particularly in the 25g class.

6. Knit ‘N Style Magazine Yarn Tasting
Stanhope, New Jersey; www.knitnstyle.com/
Charming venue, crowd-pleasing yarns, always a good time.

7. Craft Yarn Council Yarn Tasting
Gastonia, North Carolina; www.craftyarncouncil.com/
Highlighted by a lively panel discussion on Fair Trade fibers.

8. Naturally Caron Yarn Tasting
Washington, North Carolina; www.naturallycaron.com/
Solid, if unspectacular, entry into the yarn-tasting circuit.

9. Crochet Today Magazine Yarn Tasting
New York, New York; www.crochettoday.com/
A mild disappointment given the amount of hype, but still worth the
price of admission.

10. Vogue Knitting Yarn Tasting
New York, New York; www.vogueknitting.com/
Unfortunately not the yarn-tasting trendsetters they used to be;
slightly more fun than a nap.

Jimi runs (ran?) Trout Mask Replica.  Miss you Troutie.

December 23, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. 1 comment.

John Parsell’s Top Twelve (12) Albums of 2010

John:

Greetings!  From where I’m standing, this was a pretty great year for music.  So much so, that I felt inclined to make a list of my favorite albums that came out this year.  At first I resigned myself to a top 10 list, but I have created a top 12 because they are all such strong records.  I included ‘honorable mention’ to cover albums that I’ve just recently heard or that came very close, but didn’t quite win my heart this year.   One quick note about the album that occupies the number one spot – it is rare that I find an album that I feel compelled to play in so many different contexts…it’s so good, I definitely recommend it!

2010 Top 12

12. The Black Keys – Brothers

11. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

10. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

9.  Superchunk – Majesty Shredding

8.  Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me

7.  The Roots – How I Got Over

6.  Girl Talk – All Day

(Check out Mashup Breakdown found via GOOD)

5.  Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid

4.  Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty

3.  Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

2.  LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

1.  Beach House – Teen Dream

Honorable Mentions:

  • Hot Chip – One Life Stand
  • Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
  • Kings Go Forth – The Outsiders Are Back
  • Robyn – Body Talk Pt.1 & Pt. 2 (I still haven’t heard the Body Talk full length)
  • Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
  • Sleigh Bells – Treats

December 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

Paul Potorti’s Top 10 Songs of 2010

1. Cee-Lo Green – Fuck You

2. Darren Criss – Teenage Dream

3. Sufjan Stevens – Too Much

4. Arcade Fire – Ready To Start

5. LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change

6. Lady Gaga – Telephone (Feat. Beyonce)

7. Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris – Hallelujah

8. Jonsi – Hengilas

9. BT – The Emergency

10. Crystal Castles – Not In Love (Feat. Robert Smith)

December 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

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