Archive for September, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Tamarind India Bistro
5460 Apex Peakway
I think Wake County is one of the absolute best places to live – hence why I live here! Interestingly, lots of magazines and websites agree with me, awarding numerous accolades to the county. The county is surprisingly diverse. There’s just enough going on to find something to do, but not so much that it’s overwhelming or draws too many obnoxious tourists.
I spent the evening in Apex, west of Raleigh, south of Cary, and north of Holly Springs. The population is estimated to be over 30,000 now, and it’s growing quickly. Apex is most famous for the October 2006 chemical fire, which garnered attention nationwide as part of the town was evacuated. It turned out that it wasn’t as big of a deal as people feared, but that’s what people know about Apex.
My friend Tara decided she would like to celebrate her birthday at Tamarind India Bistro, so Jason and I met her, Keith, Alan, Suzanne, and Dwayne there for dinner. Tamarind is located in the rapidly expanding area of stores and restaurants near the junction of highways 64 and 55. As usual, I could tell as soon as I walked in the door that I was in an Indian restaurant. There’s no masking the scent of curry!
Not long after I arrived, the server brought out two plates of samosas. These are fried triangular-shaped pastry shells stuffed with potatoes, peas, and some other things. You can also get meat filled ones, but Keith ordered them and he likes the potato kind better. There were two dips – a sweet one and a savory one. I think the sweet one was tamarind and date; the savory was green so probably coriander or chutney. The samosas were surprisingly spicy – and delicious! Most of our group preferred the sweet sauce, but I enjoyed both. There were five of us munching on these, and I thought two orders was just right.
As we worked on the appetizers, the server came to take our order. He was very nice, offering to explain things and helping us with pronunciation. I ordered “extra super spicy” palak chicken. It looked disgusting when it came out – like a pile of cooked, mashed spinach. Ha – guess what it was! I spooned some rice on my plate, added a healthy dollop of the palak chicken, and dug in. Yum! It was just the right level of heat – made me almost-but-not-quite sweat. Keith also ordered his “extra super spicy.” He said his lamb dish was a bit hotter than mine.
For dessert, most of us had Gulab Jamen, fried dough balls liberally doused with a sweet syrup. They were unbelievably sweet – one of the sweetest things I’ve ever tasted. I would absolutely consider stopping by just for these!
I think everyone enjoyed the evening – and the food, which was a surprise to some. I would highly recommend anyone who likes or wants to try Indian food visit Tamarind.
On Thursday, I drove about 16 miles south of I-40 to Clinton for a work related matter. Clinton is a sleepy little town that serves as the county seat and has a population of less than 10,000. Clinton’s most famous resident (that I’ve heard of anyway) is Lauch Faircloth, the hog farmer who served one term in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s and was then defeated by Democrat John Edwards. What I saw of Sampson County is exactly what I’d expected from rural Eastern North Carolina – cotton and tobacco fields, some trailers and run-down homes with some nicer ones mixed in. The land is beautiful, but the air is sometimes stinky from a meat packing plant.
I had been to Clinton on Monday for work but didn’t have time to do anything other than grab something from McDonald’s. Today’s visit provided me with an opportunity to visit a local establishment. I was waiting my turn when we broke for lunch. Although I was disappointed that a one hour thing was going to consume my entire day, I was also glad to have the time in Clinton. I’d spotted a little grill just across the street when I’d parked, so I headed over to see if it looked good. I knew as soon as I peeked inside that I was in for a treat. Everyone in the place seemed local – and comfortable. Most of the diners were wearing comfy jeans and big t-shirts. I was the only suit in the place.
It’s a hole in the wall kind of place. The kitchen is part of the main area, with a counter area, some booths, and a few tables for the patrons. The air conditioning either wasn’t working or wasn’t on, so it was pretty warm from the grill. The options weren’t vast, but everything sounded good to me – burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, and homemade pie. I took a stool at the counter and ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and pecan pie. When I pronounced it “peh-cahn” pie, the waitress repeated it back as “pee-can” pie. Hilarious! The pecan pie was decent, the fries very good, and the cheeseburger amazing. I had no qualms telling the fellow manning the grill that I very much enjoyed my lunch there. My first official meal of my quest was a success. I hope the rest will be as much fun.
While interviewing to hire a new assistant at work, I met a guy who came up with and executed a grand plan: he had eaten in each of the counties in North Carolina. As a huge North Carolina enthusiast myself, I decided this was a mission I should take on myself. The rules I set for myself are simple: visit each county, eat in each county at a local restaurant, take a photograph of something bearing the county’s name, take a photograph of myself wherever I eat, and keep track of my visits. I also decided that, since I live in Wake County, I should have to kick off this mission in a county other than Wake. I thought about putting a time limit on this mission, but I think I’ll enjoy it more if there’s no pressure to complete my visits.
P.S. If you can come up with a better name for my mission, please let me know!
P.P.S. To track my progress, click on “about me” to see where I’ve been so far.
I think it was my best friend Ami who mentioned this club to me. Now one of my goals is to become a member of the Travelers’ Centry Club before I die. From their website, the club explained:
Membership in the Travelers’ Century Club (TCC) is limited to those travelers who have visited one hundred or more countries of the world. It was first organized in Los Angeles in 1954 by a group of the world’s most widely traveled people. The idea has attracted the interest of the world travelers everywhere and we now have members throughout the world, as well as the United States.
In the Country List, you will find TCC’s official list of 317 “countries,” updated June 2007, along with an application form for prospective members. In the Events Calendar you will find information about upcoming meetings. Click on TCC Tours for details about some highly interesting escorted journeys designed for the unusual traveler. If you would like to become a TCC member, click Join the Club for information about membership requirements and dues.
To date, I’ve visited 19 “countries.”