Friday, July 25, 2014

The Creative People in Raleigh Are Trying to Kill Us, But We're Cool With It.

There are so many creative people in the Triangle, it blows my mind.  Every time I think that every restaurant or bar idea's been done and done again, someone comes up with a new idea.


For example, there's BREW.  That's a coffee bar, of course.  BUT! They also sell beer.  Get it?  Brew.  Sorry, but that's genius.

Then, there's the people who came up with the idea of not just a food truck rodeo in downtown Durham, but a breakfast food truck rodeo, on a Friday morning.  Again, I know it's a simple, easy idea.  But it never would have crossed my mind.  It, too, is awesome.

That brings me to Bittersweet.

Since I read in Triangle Business Journal it was opening, I have wanted to go to Bittersweet, but I've been joking that all this creativity in the Triangle is killing me because I want to try it all--but no one needs that much dessert, beer, cake, craft beer, fancy food, etc.  It's on Martin Street in downtown Raleigh, right across from another of my favorite spots, The Mecca.  When you walk in, Bittersweet reminds you of a 30s or 40s diner:  dark wood, marble bar top, black and white tile.  Here's a shot down the bar:





I also really loved how they set up the taps:





My husband and I took a seat at the bar and ordered amazing desserts--the Key Lime Tequila parfait with Cointreau whipped cream and an awesome tasting peach cobbler thing--all I know was that it had cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, maple ice cream, warm peaches and candied bacon on it.  The desserts are awesome and different, and the drinks were pretty great, too.

A peek at the menu:



Our bartender was Louis, a young guy who knows a ton--he was clearly not just a bartender but a mixologist.  We struck up a conversation with him and learned that this Sunday night, Bittersweet is showing The Goonies on their big screen TV, and they're making themed drinks to go with it. And, here's where I'm going with the creativity thing--I would never think to do something like that, let alone make themed food and drink for it.  Louis was trying out the Chocolate Explosion.  Know that scene where Chunk eats all the Chocolate Explosion ice cream while locked in the freezer?  Well, Louis was trying to concoct a drink to go with that scene.  Other folks at Bittersweet were working on drinks, too, and (I think!) there will be themed food, too.  They'll be showing the movie behind Bruce Willis.  Yep, I know that sounds weird, but check this out--there's a big screen TV back there:

Bruce wants you to Pie Hard.


So, yeah.  Head to Bittersweet on Sunday night at 9.  Watch Goonies, eat dessert.  Mama Fratelli would be happy with that--we think.  And, even if you miss the movie, go after dinner one night.  It's yummy, and Louis is awesome--ask him about his Chocolate Explosion.


Alli

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Rooftop View




I got married last month.  But getting to that day, as many brides and grooms know, can be a huge pain.

For starters, you have to find a place to have your reception.  So, we went looking for and at every venue we could find or think of in Raleigh.  As a result, we got to check out a lot of places we most likely never would have gone before.  We were in restaurants, private clubs, parks, you name it.  And then, thanks to the magic of Google, we found an awesome spot.

We finally settled on the Grand Ballroom, which is the top floor of the Capital Club building. Don't confuse it with the Capital City Club, which is on top of the Wells Fargo Building downtown.  No, this is in the Capital Club building--where Capital Club 16 is--at Martin and Salisbury Streets.  It's a renovated ballroom from the 1930s with panoramic views!  Who even knew it was there?  I certainly didn't, and I make it a mission to visit all the local merchants I can downtown in Raleigh.




While you're not on top of a 30 story building, but instead a 13 story one, it's amazing to see the Oak City from up there.  Sunset came and was perfect on the day--and then night time, where the city was lit
up.

The place is truly a little hidden gem that is used for events--something that I never would have known was in my city unless I was getting married.  How many other awesome places are there like this out there?  I bet there are many in the Triangle.  Do you have a favorite?  Comment and tell us!

Unfortunately, since professional photos take forever to come in, I can't show you the sunset or even the skyline from our day.  Hopefully you'll one day get to see those panoramic views for yourself--or you've got a hidden treasure place to explore yourself!

Alli

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Eat Lunch and Help Your Neighbors: It's a Win-Win!

For years, I've heard of the Tammy Lynn Center. It was the charity that Band Together chose last year, I've heard of other local events to benefit them, too. But I've never taken the time to actually find out about them and find out what they do. Guess what? They are amazing. They are more than just "the charity that Band Together picked last year."

The Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities is amazing. They do so much good work- and they help children and adults all over Wake County.  I went and toured their facility a week or so ago- they do so many amazing things there. They help families with disabled kids-whether it's helping families caring for their loved ones at home by providing respite care, to giving up to 70 adults homes on their Raleigh campus, or taking kids at risk for developmental disabilities and getting them ready for main-stream kindergarten, or making sure families in Wake County who are caring for their disabled loved ones at home get what they call respite care-someone from the TLC comes in and helps out so that families can get on with the things they need to like errands.  They provide therapy for kids and adults in their care, too. They do so much to provide the people in their care a normal life. 

Won't you help the Tammy Lynn Center?

Luckily, you don't have to go out of your way. All you have to do is eat lunch! Visit any one of the 26 Raleigh area Jersey Mike's Subs between now and June 25th. Make a small donation to the Tammy Lynn Center, and get a coupon for a future visit.  It's that easy! Eat lunch, help your neighbors. Do good while eating good food. Who's in? 'Cuz I know I am.

Check out the video of my visit to the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilites here:


Do good at Jersey Mike's! Now 'til June 25. 

Alli

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bruce Springsteen Review

What is there to say about Bruce Springsteen that hasn't already been said?

I mean, it's like the guy isn't real.  When I'm 64 (and losing my hair, many years from now, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah), will I be:

*Crowd surfing??
*Engaging Tom Morello (who was filling in for Little Steven, who is in Norway filming his Netflix TV show) in a scorching guitar duel on "The Ghost of Tom Joad"?
*Leaning back in the crowd and letting them catch you for selfies?
*Sweating so hard your shirt is soaked just 40 minutes into the show?
*Playing a 2 hour and 45 minute show with no intermission?

No.  Of course I won't.  Because there is only one Bruce Springsteen - who continues to set the bar so high, it is awe-inspiring to watch.  The set list was terrific at PNC Arena last night, peppered with hits, sign requests, and an onstage appearance during "Dancing In The Dark" by Bruce's daughter Jessica, who attends Duke and was in the front row.  How cool must it be to watch your mom (Patti Scialfa) AND dad jammin their guitars in front of you, in front of 15,000 people?  That makes your accountant dad look even uncooler.

2 hours and 45 minutes is actually short for a Bruuuuuce show (he played 3 hours and 20 minutes in Charlotte two shows ago and 4+ hours (!) earlier this year in Australia and New Zealand) but it's far more impressive than just about anyone pulls off these days.

He's still the boss, applesauce.



Foster
Radio 96.1

Friday, April 11, 2014

Win a Home Makeover--Be Amazed



Yes, that's a real pic of my real bedroom and those are my real slippers next to the bed.  We moved into our house two years ago and have done NOTHING with our bedroom.  It takes us forever to decide to buy something.  In fact, this furniture took us a year to find, agree on, and buy.  We aren't risk takers really.

But then I met Certa Pro painters, and they introduced me to Roger Hazard, formerly of Sell This House on A&E.  Roger is an interior designer who knows his stuff and he offered to come to Raleigh,  make our bedroom over, and film it for his new show, Roger That!

How could I say no?  I've spent a lifetime watching Trading Spaces and Sell this House and every other home transformation show there is.  Roger and Chris, his partner, are going to be at the Southern Ideal Home Show at the State Fairgrounds this weekend, so while they were in town, they came to do my bedroom.

This past Wednesday, a production truck showed up. There were like 5 people inside, including one guy named Dave who never seemingly got to leave the truck.

I would put these photos side by side but I am not that fancy.  Sorry.



My cat, Tim, who hates everyone for the most part, loved the crew and hung out all day both days. My other cat, Charlie, who loves everyone, HATED the crew and hid for two days.  I don't understand cats.


A blurry pic of the crew petting Tim, who lapped it up.

We were kicked out of the house a lot so that we didn't see some of the DIY projects that Roger and Chris were doing.  When I came home on Wednesday, Certa Pro was there, so I knew painting was afoot! While the painting went on upstairs, Chris chatted with me about my room before hand.  He asked why I chose what I did, why I kept the bedding I did, etc.  I was NOT allowed upstairs, and neither was my fiance, which worked out because he was away on business.


 Then, I made both Roger and Chris pose with me outside my house for posterity.  But that was the extent of my time inside my house on Wednesday.


We stayed in a hotel on Wednesday night, and were basically kicked out on Thursday, too, so everything could be finished.   We were finally allowed back in on Thurday night around 6pm.  For the first time in my life, I am SPEECHLESS at how awesome it looked.  




Amazing, right?!?!?!  See the full gallery of before and after pics here--I've included pictures of my living room and my fiance's office because they pulled our white chair from our living room and the Union Jack pillow is from my fiance's office, which is the green room in the before pictures.

The bed is from Roger and Chris's own furniture company, which, BTW--is made in the USA in North Carolina. The lamps were ours, but they put new shades on them and used fabric to make them custom.  They also brought in one of my favorite vintage radios I've had in the living room and a print my sister in law did.  (She's an artist, it's the one above the white chair.)  

This was an amazing experience.  I am so excited about it and I want you to have it, too.  Click THIS LINK and register to win your own home makeover from Roger and Chris--you have to enter by 8pm on Saturday 4/12, and you've gotta be within 15 miles of the Southern Ideal Home Show at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.  

Roger and Chris are at the Southern Ideal Home Show all weekend.  Go by and see one of their Q & As, or just say hello.  They're GREAT guys, and the production team will be there too.  I wonder if they'll let Dave out of the truck?  

I'll stop by there Sunday 11am-1pm if ya wanna come say hey.


Follow Roger on Twitter, like him on Facebook and follow on Pinterest.
Follow Chris on Twitter and on Facebook  
Visit Roger + Chris online  at RogerandChris.com 
And, do yourself a favor and watch this commercial Chris made for their furniture company when they lived in Austin, TX.  It's a few years old, but it's just freaking hysterical:








Thursday, April 3, 2014

Be Cool and Check Out the Full Frame Film Festival This Weekend in Durham

You know that the folks behind Durham's Full Frame Documentary Film Festival mean business when they open their annual event with The Kid Stays in the Picture. The 2002 film about legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans may be the most entertaining documentary ever made.

Full Frame is underway now, but it isn't too late to get tickets and check out some of the classic documentaries and films making their world premier including Sex(Ed) the Movie. It explores how we (the TV generation) learned about the birds and the bees through pop culture. That may be the movie I'm most looking forward to seeing. It makes it's debut on Thursday afternoon at 4:00, but Full Frame dedicates its final day to awards and encores of the festival's most popular films.

The real highlight this year is a panel celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hoop Dreams. Director Steve James (who is the subject of this year's Full Frame Tribute) will be on hand along with the movie's subjects Shelia Agee and Arthur Agee Jr. to discuss the movie's lasting impact.

You can find out more and get tickets to any movie screening at the festival by clicking here.

D

Friday, March 14, 2014

Behind the Scenes with DPAC on Broadway



Earlier this year, I went on a super-secret trip with the folks from DPAC to New York.  They were getting their 2014-2015 SunTrust Broadway Series ready.  But before it was going to be announced, ABC 11 was doing a special on all the upcoming shows, and I got to come along for the ride along with my colleague Brian Freeman from News Radio 680 WPTF.  We were going to interview all kinds of people who have North Carolina ties, but are a BIG deal on Broadway.  People like Terrence Mann, and Charlotte D'Amboise, who are basically Broadway legends.  People who have multiple Tony Awards for their work, like costume designer and Raleigh native William Ivey Long.  People like Martin Charnin, a guy who is one "O" away from his EGOT.  (That's abbreviation for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.) The most powerful female producer on Broadway, Daryl Roth.  I have interviewed scores of celebrities in my lifetime, but suddenly, with all of these powerful, successful people around me...

...I was scared.

I went into overdrive, prepping to talk to these people, all of whom now have shows that will be hitting the road and coming to DPAC in their 2014-2015 season.  I watched Angela Hampton from ABC 11 interview William Ivey Long backstage at Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella:



The guy is fascinating.  He spent the first three years of his life LIVING in the stage-right dressing room at the Raleigh Little Theatre.  He does the Lost Colony on the Outer Banks every year, and gets super famous Broadway folks to do it with him.  He designed ALL of the sumptuous costumes you see in that pic.  He is also, by the way, hysterical, sweet, and incredibly interesting.  Cinderella is part of DPAC's shows next year, and it's truly magical.  Here's a shot of Jennie Lanning from DPAC, me, Angela Hampton from ABC 11, and Brian Freeman from News Radio 680 WPTF seeing the show that night:




The stage at Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella before the show at the Broadway Theatre.


Here's where Brian and I set up shop to interview these people.  It was at the theater in Times Square where the Lion King is:


If you watch Good Morning America, look at the bottom of the window.  There's ABC News and their ticker.




Here's a better view.  It was Super Bowl weekend--yes, that's the Lombardi Trophy over there.

While I waited for the people I was interviewing to arrive, Rachel from DPAC snuck me into the theater.  I got to make my Broadway debut!

Well, okay, no one was interested.  Like, at all.  But still!  A Broadway stage!



Now, I've always sort of been a Broadway nerd.  My parents took me to see the touring production of Annie in like 1980.  Click the link and hear me talk to Martin Charnin, the guy who licensed the Annie comic from the newspaper in the 70s and turned it into a smash.  He tries to goad me into singing "It's a Hard Knock Life."  How can I sing that for him?!? I'm no Andrea McArdle (come on, Broadway nerds, I know you get that joke!) Plus, the guy has a Grammy, a Tony, two Emmys, a freakin' Peabody, and two Drama Desk awards.    Annie is at DPAC December 9-14th.  Not gonna lie, Miss Hannigan.  I can't wait.  



Motown is coming, it's all about Berry Gordy and his rise to fame.  But did you know that the guy who put it on stage went to Duke, was pre-med, was sitting on the steps on East Campus one day and was like, "uh, I want to be on Broadway?"  So he quit the pre-med program at  Duke, and graduated with honors.  He went to Alvin Ailey (school of dance that African-Americans are known for) and trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London.  He was so happy to see us that he told Brian and me he wants to come visit us on opening night.  Motown: The Musical is known as a jukebox musical in that it uses the whole Motown catalog.  It's at DPAC February 17-22 of next year.  

We spoke with Eleanor Bergstein, the woman who wrote the movie Dirty Dancing and turned it into a West End smash in London.  That's coming to DPAC with more 60s music than was even in the movie.  It'll be in town September 16-21.

We spoke with everyone who was anyone.  It was truly a whirlwind day.  In addition to the folks above, we chatted with: 

  •  Daryl Roth and her producing partner.  A woman who has SEVEN Pulitzer-Prize winning plays under her belt.  She produced Kinky Boots, and Cyndi Lauper wrote all the music.  It's a pretty awesome musical based on the British movie about a guy who wants to save his family shoe factory and turns it into a place that makes boots for drag queens.  Check out Kinky Boots at DPAC March 10-15.
  • Laurence Connnor, the Englishman who has helped re-stage Phantom of the Opera.  I got him to do a John Lennon-like accent.  My fiance Neil is from the same area as he has worked, so we chatted about that.  See Phantom at DPAC October 8-19.
Adam Kaplan, the 21 year old who just got his big break and is appearing in Newsies.  You know Newsies.  If you don't, just Google Christian Bale and Newsies.  You'll be reminded of the singing newspaper boys right away.  It's now a smash musical, and will be at DPAC June 2-7 2015.

Lastly, we spoke with Charlotte D'Amboise and Terrence Mann.  I guess we saved the best for last, for real. These guys are basically Broadway royalty.  Terrence created the role of Rum Tum Tugger in Cats years ago, he made Javert in Les Mis.  He WAS Beast in Beauty and the Beast.  And now, he stars in Pippin.  But!  Did you also know he's a professor of musical theater at Western Carolina University?  That he and Charlotte, who has been Roxie Hart in Chicago, has starred in Sweet Charity, and who met her husband while they both were in Cats, have started a camp for kids in  North Carolina who want to get on stage?  It's called Triple Arts.  They teach you to be a triple threat:  acting, dancing, and singing.  They came to Raleigh in February and had tryouts for locals.  They have strong North Carolina ties, and click the link to hear Terrence talk about how North Carolina saved his life.  



They both star in Pippin, which will be at DPAC May 12-17 2015. See what their camp for kids is all about by visiting triplearts.com.

DPAC has so many shows coming, it's an amazing season.  And, that's why they're calling it their "I Love New York" season.  Shows that have been tried and true over time will visit us in the Triangle next year, and ones that are new and fresh will be here, too.  As a Broadway nerd at heart, I can't wait.  

Get season tickets now for DPAC's 2014-2015 SunTrust Broadway series at DPACNC.com


Alli

Here are some more pics from the trip:


shhh!  Quiet!

It was cool to see this cape on stage later.  I made sure to be on the lookout for it.


William Ivey Long takes Angela into the "closet" where all the costumes are stored





The horses for Cinderella's carriage.  They are stored above the stage until show time.

They sent a limo for us at the airport.  Good idea in theory...bad idea if you're me, a person who gets car sick super easy.  Blurgh.


It was fancy, though.  And pretty ballin'.