Spoonfed (Raleigh)

Mark Petko photographs Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill's culinary scene.

Archive for the ‘Contemporary’ Category

Mandolin | Raleigh NC | Chef Sean Fowler

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All content ©Mark Petko Photography (click here to request permission)

Tilefish, Hot and Sour Consommé, Eggplant Croquettes, Seabeans, Broccoli, Lotus Root

All content ©Mark Petko Photography (click here to request permission)

Mandolin

2519 Fairview Road

Raleigh, NC 27608

919.322.0365 (reservations)

www.mandolinraleigh.com (link)

I had been itching to visit Mandolin to shoot for some time now, ever since first hearing about their opening.  The desire started early on by following their twitter account @MandolinNC last fall.  They wisely chose to begin collecting a following before opening and tempted all of us with some construction photos during the progress of renovating their space, which I’ll have to say, is very tastefully  done.  When mixing brick floors, pine paneled walls and multiple fixture details with flower topped, white linen tables and ivory upholstered chairs the result is comfortably sophisticated.  This aesthetic seems in-line with the presentation of Chef Sean Fowler’s dishes, ‘Down Home’ enough to not alienate the average diner yet skillfully elevated enough to create a unique experience.  A native son to Raleigh, Mandolin is Fowler’s debut restaurant after polishing his skills at multiple heavyweight restaurants, most recently with a stint at Pittsboro’s Fearrington House.

Through speaking with Sean during the shoot, I found his passion for food obvious, not only in his descriptions to me about menu items like an ever changing trio of sorbets based on what ever is in season but with minor details on the finishing touches like the use of begonia petals as garnish that not only add beautiful color but a bright punch of flavor to the most recent Gray Snapper dish (seen below).  Fowler also supports his local vendors as he promotes the use of local ingredients with a chalkboard list of recently acquired goods alongside the farms they came from displayed next to the hosting station as you enter the space.

In addition to Mandolin’s regular fare they are also open for weekend brunch Saturdays and Sundays 11am-2:30pm as well as offering Wine Tastings on Wednesdays from 6pm-7pm with wine director Charles Kirkwood.

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Grilled Shrimp, Watermelon, Cucumber, Cous Cous, Cilantro

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Pan Seared Gray Snapper, Grilled Cucumbers, Herbed Hominy, Muscadine Grapes, Caper Berries, Preserved Lemon

detail from above: (shot with smart phone): cucamelon, also called pepquiño, mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, and sandía de ratón.

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Fig Pudding, Brown Butter Cake, Lavender-Black Pepper Tuile, Sage, Orange Sherbet

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Chef Chris Malito expedites the pass

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August 16th, 2012 at 8:51 am

Market Restaurant | Raleigh NC | Chef Chad McIntyre

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Market Restaurant

938 N. Blount St.

Raleigh, NC 27604

919.754.0900

www.EatAtMarket.com (link)

I wonder what country folk think when they hear someone use the term ‘farm to table’?  Likewise does the rest of the world guff-ah at us when they realize that we are naming to a trend, something that is so basically natural to them?  Go to the bush in Africa, or a farm in Russia, a mountain in China or a jungle south of America.  Sit with a tribesman, a sharecropper or a Sherpa. Shake their worked hands, and look into their weathered faces, tell them of your home and try and sell an idea of the wonderful transition restaurants and food producers seem to be going through, focusing on the supplying of fresh, local, organic food to your palate.  I’m sure the blank stares of non-amazement and furrowed ‘no shit sherlock’ brows will help to remind you how American you are.  Don’t get me wrong, over the past couple months I have attempted to change my own eating and shopping habits for the benefit of my health and have bought into the mass appeal.  I find myself favoring Trader Joes, scouring labels looking for keywords and reading ingredient lists looking for the unpronounceable, clues to aid my purchasing decisions.   I have watched and found influence from movies like Food, Inc. and Our Daily Bread and am coming to know the pleasure of farmer’s markets and local staples.  But as I notice this declaration of  ’farm to table’ becoming more popular and the frequency of which makes it sound of a sales pitch, I realize that there is money involved and as more and more corporations shift to a conscious platform towards ‘green’ and ‘organic’ my skeptic nature kicks in.  After thirty-seven years of being ‘sold’ to in America I now pick up a piece of fruit or a box labeled “organic” and actually wonder…really?  I feel that at any moment the evening news will reveal some scandalous event discovering that the only distinction between a pesticide laden piece of fruit and an organic piece is the placement of a sticker and a weighted price-tag, dubbing us all to the category of ‘sucker’ yet again.  I imagine shopping for groceries one day and being approached by a man,  ”I’m Chris Hansen,” stepping from behind a conspicuous bar placed awkwardly in the middle of the produce section, “Did you know that ‘organic’ mango you just bought is basically poison?”  Until that time I may just have to trust onto others and tread the marketplace unabashed.

Since I have been trying to make more conscious choices with the quality of food I eat, I was excited to hear of the opening of Market Restaurant, not only due to it’s close proximity to my home, but also for their philosophy.  Instead of being a business that has ‘transitioned’ to follow a trend, Market was created in it.  Born to a standard and living for the purpose.  From their website: Market Restaurant is committed to serving whole, all-natural, unprocessed foods from local sources. We make every effort to support organic and sustainable farming practices while providing our guests with the best experience possible. Healthy food, prepared fresh, from local seasonal ingredients. Chef/Owner Chad McIntyre has created a laid back atmosphere in a small duplex plaza in the historic Mordecai neighborhood, sharing a wall with local-Wonkas Escazu.  There is not much to the space but a few touches lend themselves to a tasteful decorative palate including a decent patio cornered by a visible herb garden with the inclusion of pepper plants and also a vintage RC Cola cooler stocked with brew kept at a prime temp.  The menu, being based on local ingredients is uncluttered and mildly priced with notations for Vegetarian and Gluten-free diners.  The small and viewable kitchen adds to the intimacy of Market and to the comfort of knowing the truth to the food you are delivered.  I feel good in the knowledge that when I am ready for a wholesome meal, and don’t want to worry about the mysteries of what I am actually eating, Market will provide.

All content © Mark Petko Photography (click here for permission)

Kale Chips w/side of homemade ketchup

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Grilled Shrimp & Watermelon over mixed greens w/ white pepper vinaigrette

Fish Tacos, fresh flour tortillas, lime creme, thin sliced cabbage and pico-de-gallo, served w/roasted corn salad

Check Out Our Sister Site ‘Your Kitchen Camera’ to learn how to photograph food.

Creme Fraiche Cheesecake, topped w/ bourbon-vanilla peaches (and a vintage RC cola machine to boot!)

All content © Mark Petko Photography (click here for permission)

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August 17th, 2010 at 10:21 am

Escazu Artisan Chocolates | Raleigh NC

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Escazu Artisan Chocolates

936 North Blount St.

Raleigh, NC 27604

919.832.3433

www.escazuchocolates.com (link)

The owners of Escazu have just recently moved their retail operations to new space combining it with their artisan’s factory where the chocolates are born.  When contemplating their new surroundings I can’t help but relate their process of chocolate making to life in general, I realize this may be getting a bit too Chocolat (the movie) but last night I had some lucid dreams where I chose to fly around and explore, so this morning I’m experiencing some pensive mindsets.  Put on some boots and buckle up, it’s gonna get thick and bumpy.  Having recently moved part-time to Raleigh, I can attest to the awakenings provided by new digs, of which Escazu must surely be experiencing.  Change is good, sometimes difficult, but if embraced with that fact placed in the proper lobes, then change will eventually lean positive.  It is during these times of change that internal and ingrained wiring is reset, shifting our perceptions, creating new connections and seeding the ground for new growth (ahhh the cocoa bean is planted).  As one travels a lifetime, inevitable and repeated experience with change will force individuals to form their own processes with which they practice change, a process reflected in chocolate making.  Some aspects of change will involve choice and selection, similar to the choosing of a proper cocoa bean, life’s choices are often foundations that hold the essence to later flavors.  In Escazu’s chocolate making process the beans are then roasted and cracked to remove the husk.  I liken these processes to the simmering and unveiling of truths in ideas and thought.  Through contemplation and examination, one discovers new realities to put into use in an attempt to verify their validity, testing them in the workings of an individual life. (Damn, your in it now).  The chocolate nibs, left over from the shucking process are then placed into an antique stone grinder and ground, sometimes for days.  This is the practicing of new concepts, mentioned before, the daily grind.  The weight of the world pummels a chocolate life and breaks it down, reshaping it, transforming it.  Repeated revolutions, monotonous drone, the challenge of existence.  Other ingredients are sometimes added during the grinding process, some sugar, maybe vanilla.  As in life, one adds past experiences to the mix, bringing past knowledge to new ideas, learning and growing along the way, making of the mixture what they will.  As growth happens and past choices form new opportunities, new days take on shape and the seeds of change become realized as with chocolate poured into molds, forming little gems of sweet living.  After being formed the chocolate is wrapped in gold and silver linings, then packaged with declarations, definitions, names and titles being given to each creation.  With life this package is similar to our own thoughts and ideas on living itself, our newly learned truth, dressed up, titled and ready to share with others.  The only thing left to do is enjoy until you run out, then start a new batch.  If you need some help during the process, stop by Escazu’s new retail shop, peek into the factory process, sip some coffee and taste a bit of their life’s work.  Live well.  (you may now unbuckle and hose the muck off you boots, it’s out of my system…back to the grind).

All content ©Mark Petko Photography (click here for permission)

Pomegranate

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Chipotle Chili & Vanilla bar

Chipotle Chili & Vanilla bar

Dark Chocolate Cherry Vodka (front)

coffee break

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Mura | Raleigh

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Mura @North Hills

4121 Main at North Hills ste. 110

Raleigh, NC 27609

919.781.7887

www.muranorthhills.com (link)

It is amusing to me how a camera tends to divide a room.  As a photographer I’ve noticed that when one enters an environment and unsheathes their equipment there tends to be two common reactions.  The first is from those that immediately feel suspicious.  You can see the fear building in people as their peripheral viewing sends vibrations of unease.  You can sense and almost hear the tracking of thoughts racing through their minds questioning your motives, ‘who, what, where, when, why and how…do I look?’  It is a revealing of a threat of exposure and some will recede into the dark corners, disappear, or give you the ‘don’t even think about it stare’.  In contrast there is the opposite reaction, there are those drawn to the camera like ninjas to a sword shop.  This camera-captive group goes on to separate into three categories: other photographers, photo-gear heads, and ninnies with questions.  It is possible to be totally defined within one single group but also for someone to pull traits out of each group in a combination.  Photo-gear heads and ninnies with questions are separated only by intention.  The gear heads approach with questions but only with the purpose of sizing you up, to compare, to try and trick you into making them feel they are better or know more.  Ninnies with questions are just people who want to learn and are quite harmless and wonderful people, I just call them ninnies because they assume that since one is a photographer, then you must know out of the ka-trillion variations of point and shoot cameras, which one is the best and will suit their specific needs.  Other photographers are my favorite.  They approach with caution, knowing that you may be doing a job.  They may ask about equipment, but not to size you up but to just collect information that may be helpful someday.  They are also providers of an equal exchange of knowledge, opportunities, appreciation and camaraderie.  While I was shooting at Mura I was approached by one of these ‘other photographers’.  Terrence Jones is working as a waiter there to help pay the bills while trying to make his way into the pro-shooter realm.  I appreciate the fact that he wanted to hang around, just to learn, to see how someone else accomplishes a photographic goal.  This is something that I, myself try to do when seeing other photographers unsheathe their equipment.

(back to the matter at hand)

Mura is one of a triad of restaurants created by Eschelon Hospitality and is sibling to it’s downtown counterparts, The Oxford and Sono.  Self described as “a Japanese Fusion restaurant serving world renowned Kobe beef, a variety of steaks, seafood, mixed cuisine and the finest grade sushi.”, Mura boasts the recent awards of “Best Sushi in Raleigh” by Metro Bravo 2009 and “Best Sushi and Best Japanese in Raleigh” by Citysearch 2009.  Located at the foot of the North Hills keystone, The Renaissance Hotel, Mura takes it’s place amidst this ‘Disney-esque Anytown’ shopping district and is primed for visits from any variety of shopping, business, local or traveling family expeditions.  Mura’s sophisticated design multi-tasks by skillfully separating it’s space to include a bar area, a sushi bar, a suave dining room and a couple of  tatami rooms for private functions.

all content ©Mark Petko Photography (click here for permission)

Cucani Roll-Four spears of kani crab surrounding avocado and cream cheese, wrapped in layers of finely sliced cucumber and soaked in Sunomono sauce with smelt roe

Orange Duck-8 oz. Vermont duck breast tenderloin w/orange & sweet chili glaze, pan roasted, served over soba noodles w/ green & red bell pepper, broccoli and yellow onions

Miso Marinated Seabass- 8 oz. Chilean seabass soaked 24 hrs. in miso/sake marinade, pan seared, served with sesame Hikari rice & ginger sauteed asparagus spears

Nippon Spider Roll- Tempura battered soft shell crab stacked with kani crab, wasabi, green onions, cucumber & masago-peppered avocodo. Wrapped in mirin-infused sushi rice and nori, then with thinly peeled daikon radish, topped w/ house-brewed eel sauce

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all content ©Mark Petko Photography (click here for permission)



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February 11th, 2010 at 10:26 am