Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bosphorus restaurant, downtown Cary

A convenient Turkish restaurant in downtown Cary, NC. If you like Lebanese or Greek food, you'll like this.

Just arrive early, and be prepared to wait a while since this place can get crowded.
They bring wonderful fresh hot sesame pita & olive oil to your table while you wait.

The Mez platter is fairly large.
The spinach pide is like a nice personal pizza with feta.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

KoMo KoMo Korean

While grocery shopping at one of our fave local stores: Kroger, we finally timed it right to go to the KoMo KoMo Korean restaurant next door. (They have annoying hours.)

Not quite what we were expecting: it has a nice "date-night" atmosphere with the lighting down low, however, the chairs are un-padded hard wood, so you won't want to sit around too long. It wasn't crowded at all, and the service was very nice.

Among the typical Korean offerings there were a number of vegetarian options. We ordered the Rice Bowl (BiBimBop), and the Asian Noodle Salad. Both were very good. Perfectly substantial entrees, although not enough for leftovers to take home.

We'll definitely be returning to this establishment, but not quite as often as we'd like, since the prices are significantly higher than other local options.

Low lighting = grainy pictures.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jake's Wayback Burgers

Who says you can't find vegetarian fast food?

Finding ourselves in a hurry (read that as: shopping emergency), we just wanted a quick and cheap bite to eat.

Normally, we would've ignored a place named "Jake's Wayback Burgers" on our Google Maps search, but they have a decent website which claims they can serve a veggie burger.

We've survived the fast food veg burgers at Burger King and SubWay, so figured we'd likely survive Jake's as well.

We were correct!

Just the standard greasy burgers & fries (the onion rings were extra greasy). If you really hate yourself, they also do yummy-looking milkshakes.

So, yes, if you want the true "fast-food experience", Jake's Wayback Burgers is perfectly acceptable for vegetarian food. (We're not officially giving this one a thumbs up or down though.)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Morrow Mountain State Park

This weekend is the 50th anniversary celebration of the federal Wilderness Act, and the 30th anniversary of North Carolina's Wilderness Act. So we signed up with the local Sierra Club and had a celebration at Morrow Mtn SP, just outside Uwharrie National Forest.

It's an easy 2-hour drive from Raleigh to the group camps at Morrow Mtn.
The group camps have minimal facilities and aren't spread out very much, but they are quite inexpensive to register.

We took a tour of the Kron house and grounds and were treated to a park history lesson from Ranger Ron Anundson. The (now restored) buildings date back to the early 1800's. Ron was to-date the most knowledgeable and friendly park ranger I've ever met. I'd say he can rival any college professor with his knowledge of local geology, anthropology and historic cultural events. We learned quite a few interesting facts dating back 12,000+ years ago when native americans inhabited the area.

Then we drove to the top of Morrow Mountain and took the easy .2 mile hike around the peak. Some decent views of the relatively flat countryside, but the most interesting aspect of this trail is that there are tons of remains of stone chips from Paleo-era quarry activity here. (We looked for points, spear heads, but didn't find any.) This is the definite "must do" hiking trail of the park.

The next day we went on another short & quick hike around Quarry trail (.4 miles), and saw a much smaller quarry area.

Lastly, since everyone told us that "the Rocks Trail is the most scenic hike in the park," we figured we had to try it. This is the most disappointing hike I've been on in quite some time. Even the perfect weather didn't make up for this abysmal trail: nothing but downed trees and burned vegetation from a previous forest fire. After a 2+ mile hike (some of it on a boring bridle trail) we finally got to the end: a 30 yard scrabble down some rocks to get to a decent overlook of the Yadkin River.

Meh. Nice view, but certainly not a "scenic trail". I recommend skipping this trail and spending extra time at the top of Morrow Mtn.

All in all, Morrow Mtn SP was ok, but the history is far more interesting than the actual hiking trails.

On the way back we had to eat a veggie patty at SubWay since there were no decent restaurants open in the town of Troy on Sundays.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thai Spices & Sushi of Cary

This is becomming a regular dinner location for us. Conveniently-located for grocery shopping, Thai Spices & Sushi is a good vegetarian-friendly restaurant.
The staff is very nice & attentive. They have the usual minimal veg-friendly sushi options, and the usual Thai tofu options. Some dishes are spicy, but there are others that are only flavorful.

This time, we tried the crispy tofu appetizer with sweet peanut sauce (yum), an avocado roll, a veg-sushi roll, and the sweet & sour tofu. All were great, at a fair price. We were a little over-stuffed since we didn't want to deal with leftovers.

We went back a few weeks later and just got the crispy tofu appetizer, one roll of veg-sushi, and the cashew tofu entree. We were still full, but not overly so. Next time we might forgo the appetizer and try a dessert...

Update: On our next trip back we tried something completely different. Mostly.

Praram is named after a Hindu god (it's complicated).
"Sautéed and served with steamed spinach and broccoli, topped with peanut sauce."
We'll have to remember the name of this guy.

The manager kept telling us how "Nobody ever orders this dish."
Okay... But it was still very yummy and healthy-tasting.

March 18, 2015:

Tried a different appetizer on our latest visit. Quite good, but judging on volume, maybe not quite worth the price.

July 28, 2015:

Another very happy visit.
Ginger cashew tofu, and Pad Thai. Both excellent.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Last Day in Linville

We knew we would be a little tired out this morning, so we planned on taking it easy and staying around the cabin.
It's only a short 15 minute drive this Sunday morning to eat breakfast at the River Dog Cafe. Some yummy light fare and good coffee, but also a little touristy. Looks like they have some decent lunch options as well.

Since we'd already driven all the way in to town, we figured we'd grab another quick geocache or two.
Back to the same Riverwalk, we explored just a bit farther.
One last find on the short drive back to the cabin. A nice roadside waterfall park. More than meets the eye from the road.

<sigh> Our vacation is over.
On the drive back, we passed through Greensboro around noon, so we just had to go to The Boba House. Sadly, they're closed on Labor Day.
So then we decided to check teh inernets and found a nearby burger joint that claimed to have 3 kinds of veggie burgers.
Hops Burger Bar actually now only has two different veggie patties: mushroom cauliflower & nutty patty. Both of which are surprisingly great! Even more surprising is that their "side salads" are rather large and awesomely fresh. We would've ordered a second salad instead of fries if we'd known.

These burgers make Red Robin look like fast food. :D
And the beer selection here is quite impressive too.
Our only complaint: the Hawaiian pineapple burger with "sweet" chili sauce was a bit too hot for our taste.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Carvers Gap

Another day of perfect weather. So we drove back to Roan Mtn SP, and kept driving all the way through it. 15 mins south of it we hit Carvers Gap.

First thing, one must drive to the top and see where the old Cloudland Hotel is (meh), and then do the 0.5 mile hike through a beautiful old-growth forest to get to the Roan High Bluff overlook.

Then drive back 2 mins to the Carvers Gap parking lot. From here it's a short half-mile hike to Round Bald.

All of the balds are fairly popular, so it's worth hiking another mile to Jane's Bald (the best) to get a little more privacy.

These Tennessee balds are starting to become not-bald. Climate change is affecting the otherwise naturally low growth on these mountaintops. In order to keep these balds in their previous state, and preserve their ecosystem of flora and fauna, numerous methods are being tried; including goat herding.

The weather was perfect, so we hiked on to the next Grassy Ridge overlook too.
Don't worry, the hike back down is always easier and faster.

Oh, and don't forget to practice: Leave No Trace (of blueberries... ;)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Free Supper!

One of the many benefits of renting a cabin is that you can bring and prepare your own yummy vegan food. Cornish pasties with a side of succotash. Mmmmmm...

Roan Mtn State Park

A short 25 minute drive to Roan Mtn SP. Perfect weather today.

Roan Mtn has very nice staff, and well-kept grounds.

We opted for a number of shorter trails, rather than tackle any of the longer ones.

The Miller Homestead was neat to walk through.

Raven Rock trail had some strenuous inclines, but a decent view at the summit. Maybe not as breathtaking as some of the relatively nearby Linville Gorge vistas, but still nice. And we had the entire trail system to ourselves today (Friday).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Mason Jar Cafe

Downtown Newland is 5 minutes away.
I believe the best restaurant in town is The Mason Jar.

The baked brie may be expensive, but it's pastry-coated caramel-drizzled awesomeness. We had it as an app, but it would make a great dessert too.

The veggie plate options are very fresh and yummy, although the usual "country style" (fried and slightly greasy). The black bean burger is quite tasty (also country style). ;)

The pie desserts sound delicious, but we were too stuffed to partake.

It has been quite a while since we geocached, so we thought we'd give it a go.

There's a very good one off of a surprisingly nice Riverwalk, next to a relatively amazing public urban garden. Well worth checking out.

The Cabin

Cabin / chalet / cottage / whatever is a smidge up the mountainside, but only a limited view.

Inside it's a rather nice and tidy place.
A decent-sized deck out back also.

Our only significant complaint was that the cabin was a bit musty smelling. It'd been a few weeks since anyone had used the cabin, and there was likely a slight water / mold problem.
So, sometimes VRBO saves you money, and sometimes there are a few oddities to deal with.

To Newland!

Three and one half hours to get to our Mountain Laurel Hideaway rental cabin. Halfway there we stopped for lunch at Century Chinese buffet. The buffet had nothing of interest on it, but luckily the menu had a number of tofu options. Surprisingly good, and a great price. Two thumbs up.

You know you're getting very close when you can see Grandfather Mountain:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Flight Back

Luckily we had time to spare at the airport, because we didn't count on being doubly-violated today.  Apparently, Homeland Security doesn't trust Ireland's competence, since we had to go through two separate security gauntlets before getting on our plane this time.  One with shoes, and one without.  But no X-rays at all, so bully for that.

We'd again reserved our vegetarian and vegan meals in advance.  Again, we were served before everyone else on the plane.  Nice!  ;)
Penne pasta, side salad, roll, and a choco-chip biscuit-packet.  (The vegan had a fruit cup instead of cookies.)
Followed by coffee or tea, of course.
Not bad for airplane food.  Thanks Aer Lingus!

We received a nice flapjack bar and tea service as an afternoon snack as well.  UK flapjack bars
seem just a little larger / moister / heartier than an American granola bar.

What's worse?  Being on a plane for 6 hours with a loud and fussy infant, or sitting directly behind an old man who's obviously having some sort of intestinal issue.  :(

This time our flights end with us back in good ol' Raleigh, NC at 6:00pm, so the jet lag isn't bad at all.  This is definitely the way to go.

Back home safe & sound.  Not a whole lot to eat in the fridge, but at least our soymilk is still good.  Go veggie power!

Monday, May 5, 2014

No Sleep 'Til Dublin!

Had some time to waste at the Edinburgh airport before the short flight out to Dublin, so we had a quick lunch at  Yo! Sushi.
Novel concept for an airport restaurant.  You just sit and eat in front of a conveyor belt bringing you an infinite supply of colored dishes containing sushi et al.

The avocado sushi was fine, and the veg yakisoba was ok, but nothing to write home about.

Followed by the mad dash to our prop plane.  Apparently "Departing Time" and "Boarding Time" are two different things.  Who knew?  :}

So long Scotland; we hardly knew ye.

The shores of Ireland, at last!  (Well, after about an hour flight, actually.)