The Bottle Shop


HV Bottle Shop doesn’t look like much and the name doesn’t really make sense (as in Hope Valley), but further investigation reveals a much needed spot for more casual wine drinking and two very helpful owners.  Thomas and Drew have been around the block for a while (having worked at Nana’s and Foursquare(?) or the like) before opening their welcoming bottleshop in Woodcroft Plaza.

All of the Carpe Durham squad has been there by now and the results are officially tallied: it’s a great place.  They have a handy-dandy wine dispenser for tastes and up to full glasses.  There are frequent tastings as well.  Every Saturday from 4:30 to 7pm they pour free tastings, usually three whites and three reds and a smattering of crackers and cheeses.  I’ve found some fantastic stuff during these tastings and they usually mark down the featured wines significantly.  And tastings aren’t just for Saturdays.  It has seemed like every week now there has been an odd-ball tasting on a weeknight (a Monday, Tuesday, and the more common Friday).  Tonight was a so-called 90+ tasting, meaning all the wines scored ninety or above in the wino magazines.  Delicious.


The wines are nearly all neatly lined up against the wall in a readily recognized fashion.  There is also the beer corner, full of great stuff, lots of it in big bottles.  And there are nice couches to hang out on and try some juice from the dispenser.  But even more than that, the place excites me because of their promotion of alternative packaging.  They are constantly looking for more tetra packs (the carton looking thing) and boxed up wine.  No not that box wine.  Please.  There is nothing bad that can come from storing wine in a box or carton.  Maybe aging is up in the air, but who’s really sitting on bottles and bottles instead of drinking and drinking.  Which is what you can do when you get three liters of wine for a whole lot less.


They also have a few of these liter bottles.  They have a bottle cap.  I bought one, it was tasty.  Crisp and apple like as I remember it.  If it is ready to drink, why risk the cork?  The organic treatment of the grapes keeps the cost up more than I’d like.  But at about $10.50 or so for the liter it was still worth the try. 

Keep an eye out for their Irregular Bin of random single beers and their Fire Sale wines.  I got a box of Pinot Evil for real cheap a little while back.  I might remember the cost if I didn’t enjoy my three liters so much.

Tomorrow’s tasting is all North West wines.  I’m excited about the pinot gris and noirs from Oregon.  There’ll also be a cab blend that should be serious business.

Published in: on June 5, 2009 at 8:03 pm  Comments (8)  

it’s early, scratch me up some vittles

As a new dad who’s on baby duty from 4-8am I often find myself hungry before the chickens are up. It’d be easy to write about all the great late-night eats (Honey’s, Waffle House, Cosmic until 4am), but not so when it comes to breakfast before six. Here are my favorites:

-Wimpy’s on Hillsborough: where else can you get a fatback biscuit?
-Biscuitville on Club: my normal routine is to wait for the wall street journal (which arrives around 4:55), then walk two blocks and bug them to let me in. When the fried bologna appears on the seasonal specials I come runnin’.
-New York Bagel Deli III on Kildaire Farm Rd. in Cary: the best bagel in the region hands down. The owner is from NJ and contributes free bagels to my various animal welfare fundraising efforts. It’s worth the drive, though I usually go at lunch to avoid the killer morning traffic.
-Dunkin’ Donuts, despite their fare being a little too sugary for my tastes. I pine for Ibrahim’s Donut Shop on Ninth St. (where the Mongolian barbecue joint is now, next to Dale’s), especially because I lived next door to Magnolia circa 1990.
-Alivia’s at Gregson and Main is open early (and late).
-Kroger at Northpointe: when all else fails (though they have recently instigated a “no concealed weapons” policy — Grrr). I bought Neese’s Hot Country Sausage (the one in the paper wrapper) to christen my new cast iron skillet:
Breakfast of Champions

Published in: on May 20, 2008 at 8:14 am  Comments (1)  


I have been feeling very sorry for myself lately, so I decided to take a break from sitting in front of my computer not studying to go out for some tacos while not studying.  La Superior  (3325 North Roxoboro) provided a perfect diversion–it’s like a Latin American market nested inside a Latin American grocery store.  It has an almost carnival atmosphere that I knew would put me in a better mood.


Juice Bar      



We could have gone grocery shopping in Superior’s full-service grocery and butcher shop, but the goal of today’s trip was to get some tacos.  The cafeteria area is tucked into the back part of the store and is divided into a panaderia/tortilleria, juice bar, and taqueria.  Each of these separate shops occupies a wall in a very large room which a mysterious staircase that apparently leads nowhere right in the middle of it.  Tables and chairs are set up around the staircase.  And, of course, there are always televisions on playing soccer or telenovelas.

La Superior has an impressive salsa bar

First, we stopped at the taqueria and put in our food orders.  I got a taco pastor (these have pineapple!) and a chicken tinga tostada, and my friend got a taco pastor and a taco de tripa.  I like lots of vegetables, so I buried my food under a large pile of salsa and cilantro at the salsa bar.  At the juice bar, I picked up a nice fruit cocktail of fresh papaya and pineapple, and my friend got an agua fresca de mango and an elote (ear of corn) slathered with crema, then sprinkled with soft white cheese, lime juice, and chili powder.   No, I am not sure why corn on the cob would belong to the juice bar section.  Either way, it was pretty delicious.  My friend says that fully-loaded elotes are difficult to find in the area.


Beautiful Elotes

Pastor on the Left, Tripa on the Right

My friend is a taco pastor expert and thought that they were only so-so, but I really liked mine.  The meat was way more tender than is often the case, and infused with a subtle pineapple flavor.  The chicken tinga had just the right amount of smokiness, and they gave me an extra tortilla for the top, like a sandwich.  I’d never had tripe before–it was OK, basically superrich like any other organ meat.  It was not too dry or chewy as my friend had feared.


After we ate, we checked out the grocery.  The butchery is pretty impressive, with whole tilapia, big steaks, and an entire case filled with various dried pork skin products.  There’s also a good array of fresh fruits and vegetables, jars of honey with honeycomb, and a kitchenware section where they sell huge stockpots and comales.


Various pork products

Lots of beans!

A note on getting there:  it comes up very suddenly around a bend on Roxboro.  Be vigilant, or you’ll drive right by it.

Published in: on April 25, 2008 at 3:04 pm  Comments (4)  


Halgo (4520 S. Alston Ave) is a quite cute Polish grocery store and flower shop. They have rows of Polish snacks and candy, kielbasa and other meats, cheeses, crazy juices, pickled fish, a freezer full of frozen pierogies (12 kinds), cabbage rolls, soups (borscht), and generally lots of things I have never seen before (not being Polish or from a big city). Apparently next week they will start to serve up the pierogies hot, but today we fried some up at my house and they were awesome with some delicious Polish sour cream. I was of course hoping for some fresh in-house stuff (they are made in Chicago), but my friend who is a pierogi expert was pretty happy with them.

Published in: on April 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm  Comments (5)  

My mini-haul from the Durham Farmer’s Market

The Durham Farmer’s Market is one of my favorite Saturday traditions (other than brunch at Piedmont/Watts).    I try to make it out to the market every weekend, but I also like to sleep in on Saturday, and the market only runs until noon, so that’s not always successful.  I happened not to get much sleep today, so I made it out!  I picked some sweet curry goat cheese from Celebrity Dairy, a box of Dolly Mama chocolate truffles, a fresh bouquet of narcissus and tulips, a dozen fresh eggs from Brinkley Farms, and a basket of strawberries.  This is the first time I’ve come across Dolly Mama, and the chocolates are truly worth a try (it’s 3 hours later and I’m almost done with the box of 6).  They’re made using Mapleview Farms milk, and come in exotic flavors such as Meyer Lemon, New World Truffle (it’s made with 3 different types of chili), and Jasmine Coconut.  They easily rival my fave chocolates of all time, Richart, but at probably a quarter of the price.   As mentioned, Amy Tornquist from Watts was there, making a strawberry salad, but there was a big crowd, so I didn’t get to a chance to taste it.


Published in: on April 5, 2008 at 1:43 pm  Comments (1)  

Farmers Market Tomorrow

The Durham Farmers Market (at the Pavilion in Central Park, 501 Foster St) starts summer hours (8am-noon Saturdays) tomorrow. Apparently Amy Tornquist (Watts Grocery chef) will be cooking there starting at 9:30am. Durham’s local hipster marching band Scene of the Crime Rovers is supposed to play at 11am. They’re kind of fun even if you are one of our non-hipster readers.

UPDATE: I use “hipster” broadly and non-derogatorily.  I actually might be a hipster myself (not speaking for the rest of Carpe Durham).

Published in: on April 4, 2008 at 10:59 am  Comments (3)  

We Love Meat


Parker & Otis just got a shipment of bacon-related goods that caused me to go on a shopping spree. It includes lunch boxes, band-aids, and wrapping paper, among other things, and apparently they will shortly be getting in some placemats.

They also regularly have fancy chocolate with bacon bits in it. SO GOOD. If you’ve never tried it, the chocolate/savory combination is amazing.


Published in: on March 28, 2008 at 2:23 pm  Comments (2)  

Places you should shop: Compare Foods

As much as I love living in North Durham, there are many times when it is a pain. This is particularly true when it comes time to food shop, considering almost every option north of 85 is old and decrepit. The arrival of a new Harris Teeter on north Guess Rd is anxiously awaited. Luckily, we have Compare Foods, which is an awesome international supermarket. Their prices are the lowest I have found in the area, and they have tons of stuff you will not find anywhere else. More importantly, their fruits and vegetables actually look healthy, which is more than I can say for other supermarkets around here (including Whole Foods). They also have tons of hard to find meats. Between Compare and King’s Red & White, North Durham is livable. Now if only they would move them 10 miles even more north.

Compare Outside

Ah, many fresh fruits.

Compare Inside

Very cheap and tasty treats. Total was $2.70.

Compare Treats

Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 5:23 pm  Comments (9)  


Thanks to one of our very special readers (Britt) we were tipped off to the fact that Little India, an Indian grocery store behind Target, sells home-made chicken biryani on Thursdays (and Fridays, it turns out). When I went on Thursday I got there right before closing (9pm) and the biryani (packed in to-go containers) was no longer warm, but was still quite good, especially with the yogurt sauce. Not that it would take much, but it was far better than the level of Indian I expect around Durham. Apparently it was even better when my friend happened to get there for a fresh batch (around 8pm) on Friday.*** They also have fresh samosas—by 8:45 there was only one cold sad one left, but it would be worth checking out to see if they’re better earlier in the evening.

***(From the friend) Actually, I picked mine up at Spice Bazaar, which is in front of Target. (Random aside/tip for those of you with wheat and gluten allergies: check out Spice Bazaar’s great selection of flour, much cheaper than you will find at some yuppie health food store).

I had never been to Spice Bazaar before, and by happy coincidence was there at the same time that they had received a fresh shipment of the biryani, still hot. The guy at the counter pressured me into buying it. He said that it was homemade by his friend. Anyway, I was weak with hunger and had no will to resist. They had chicken curry and biryani, plus samosas. The guy said that I absolutely should go for the biryani since it involved special rice that I couldn’t make at home. (Nevermind that I would have no idea how to make chicken curry at home.) The biryani consisted of some streaky-looking yellow rice mixed with little bits of dark meat. There was also a chicken leg in there, and the rice mixture was topped off with cashews, some unidentifiable green herb, and caramelized onions. Finally, there was also a little container holding some kind of yogurt and onion sauce. The guy insisted that I pour this over. That turned out to be a good choice–the biryani was very flavorful, had a little kick, and I really liked being able to stir all of the condiments on top into it. 

So yeah, it’s definitely the same biryani at both stores, maybe one is only Thursdays and the other only Fridays?  They’re basically around the strip-mall block from one another so if one doesn’t work out, try the other. 

Published in: on March 15, 2008 at 6:08 pm  Comments (3)  

King’s Red & White

I’ve always heard that the Red and White is one of the best places to get groceries, but I never get groceries so I’d never been. Now that I’ve gone once, I know that if I do ever start cooking for myself like an adult I will definitely start shopping here.

According to people who actually buy groceries, there are a lot of good deals here. There are also a ton of local goods: meat, honey, cheese, spiced nuts, eggs, candy, produce, “personal pies,” etc.


The meat is the main reason to go: among other things, there are so many sausages, plus chicken feet, turkey necks, frog legs, rabbit, lots of seafood, and big bags of meatballs. We didn’t get anything from the butcher but he’s rumored to be one of the best and he looks completely competent:


The produce section is also extensive, and includes giant bins of greens and fresh strips of fatback (in case you were looking for the fatback and would not have thought to look in produce, that’s where it is).


Published in: on March 15, 2008 at 6:02 pm  Comments (4)