Share on Messenger Harry Kane’s slick hat-trick smooths Tottenham’s path past Apoel Nicosia Shakhtar Donetsk Raheem Sterling scores in injury time to seal victory for the home side. Photograph: Oldham/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock Read more Guardiola has never been very good at hiding his displeasure and the City manager looked slightly nonplussed during those moments, running his fingers down his face as if bewildered by what he was seeing.That does not mean City were playing badly, more that their opponents were operating at a level to cause anxiety. Taison, Fred, Bernard and Marlos all showed the familiar Brazilian traits of quick, incisive, soft-touch football. Ismaily, the team’s left-back, was another who caught the eye. Guardiola described the Ukrainian champions afterwards as a “machine” and an “amazing team” and there was a measure of relief to his post‑match comments.“I said to the players: ‘You have to be proud because you have beaten one of the best teams at the way they play,’” the City manager said. Manchester City Pinterest match reports As brilliant as he is, Agüero’s record from the penalty spot jars with the rest of his scoring achievements. This one was saved by Andriy Pyatov and City will just be glad that Shakhtar Donetsk, the better side in the opening half, ran out of puff after that point, with an assortment of visiting players needing treatment for cramp.Instead, the game was settled by the late goal from Raheem Sterling, a substitute, to add to the latest piece of brilliance in Kevin De Bruyne’s portfolio. Agüero looked forlorn when he was substituted late on, with his penalty rather uncharitably being replayed on the giant screen, but it ended up being a splendid result for City.Donetsk were a fine team and ought to have been awarded a penalty for John Stones’s handball before Sterling soothed the crowd’s nerves, just as the fourth official was about to hold up the electronic board announcing four minutes of stoppage time.As is his way, Sterling had already missed an even more glaring chance and, overall, City created enough opportunities in the second half to feel like they warranted the victory, their seventh on the bounce in all competitions. Yet it was a difficult night at times and Guardiola must have been startled by the way City’s opponents controlled the opening 45 minutes. It is not often that a team visit this stadium and attempt to outpass the home team but Donetsk’s Brazilian contingent, with four of their front five originating from South America, elegantly set about the first half. Reuse this content The game swung in City’s favour three minutes after the restart and here was another demonstration of De Bruyne’s brilliance, even on a night when the Belgian did not always exert his usual influence. Marlos was the Donetsk player who put his team in trouble with a loose pass. De Bruyne intercepted the ball and David Silva carried the possession on before squaring the ball back to his team‑mate. De Bruyne was just over 20 yards out, in a central position, and whipped a curling, powerfully struck shot into the top right-hand corner of Pyatov’s goal.As well as his penalty, Agüero might also reflect on the moment 10 minutes into the second half when Silva clipped a lovely ball over the top for the Argentinian. Agüero struck his volleyed shot well enough but it went straight at Pyatov and, that apart, most of City’s chances fell to their midfielders.Leroy Sané’s penetrative running was another feature, leading to Ivan Ordets clipping the German to give away the penalty, and Silva grew into the game after a strangely subdued start.Fabian Delph’s performance as an experimental left-back must also have encouraged Guardiola – “exceptional” was the word City’s manager applied – at a time when Benjamin Mendy is facing a long lay-off because of the knee injury he sustained in the 5-0 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.Mendy watched this match on crutches, with his knee in a protective brace, and is to fly to Barcelona to ascertain whether he has ligament damage. Guardiola’s assessment was that he did not expect good news, acknowledging that the £50m signing would be missing for a number of months. Facebook Champions League Share via Email Share on Pinterest For Sergio Agüero, it was a bittersweet evening. The most important detail is that his team won and have put themselves in a position of strength in their qualifying group. Yet this was also a night when Agüero missed the opportunity to sugarcoat a slightly dishevelled performance with the goal that would have established him as Manchester City’s joint all-time record scorer.The damage is only superficial and Agüero’s time to equal Eric Brook’s 177‑goal target, a record that has stood since 1939, will inevitably come, perhaps even against Chelsea on Saturday. Yet City will have to hope that his inability to finish off a 71st-minute penalty is not a sign of the anxiety that sometimes grips a player when they are on the cusp of these personal milestones. Twitter Share on Twitter Liverpool left to rue missed chances as Spartak Moscow hold on for draw Read more Topics Share on WhatsApp Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook
Twitter/@derekjstevensCollege basketball fans will tell you to never bet against Tom Izzo in March. One Las Vegas casino owner, Derek Stevens, placed a $20,000 bet on Michigan State to win the title back after the team’s 79-78 overtime loss to Notre Dame on December 3. The 5-3 Spartans were at 50-1 to win it all at the time, giving Stevens a potential payout of $1 million.I’ll be @theDlasvegas #LONGBAR to #SpartyOn THX @GoldenNuggetLV & @Gollumlv for giving me the shot @darrenrovell pic.twitter.com/GjK1ueQfin— Derek Stevens (@DerekJStevens) March 31, 2015In an article by ESPN’s Darren Rovell, sportsbook director Tony Miller admits that this is a big risk for the casino.…Miller accepted Stevens’ $20,000 bet, never thinking he’d be sweating the possibility that the Spartans could pull it off. “In my nine years at this sportsbook, I never accepted a bet that could result in us paying $1 million,” Miller said. “The most I’ve ever seen won here was a $100,000 parlay.”…Miller and Stevens have become good friends over the years, which makes the fact that the Spartans have two games to win it all a bit awkward.“This would be a massive loss for us,” Miller said. “I see days where we lose $10,000 to $30,000, but nothing close to $1 million.”Michigan State is a five point underdog against Duke on Saturday, and would play either Kentucky or Wisconsin for the title on Monday night. Stevens still has a long way to go to cash in, but it is definitely impressive that his bet is still alive.[ESPN]
Four of the 10 students presenting at Art2Wear work on their garments for the upcoming show. from left: Sydney Smith (senior), Sara Clark (junior), Gillian Paige (senior), and Sarah Cannon (senior).by Justin LeBlancphotographs by Benjamin ScottApril is crunch time at the N.C. State College of Design and College of Textiles. Student designers, models, and event planners are working overtime to prepare for our 13th annual Art2Wear Runway Show on April 25.Art2Wear is very special to me. The event contributed to a career-changing decision, when, as a student nearing graduation, I transitioned from architecture to fashion. Art2Wear gave me the opportunity to fulfill my passion for functional art, becoming an important stepping stone in my career. It led to my appearance on Season 12 of Project Runway and to my Spring 2014 collection presentation at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York.This year’s Art2Wear will give a new group of students their chance at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: To have control of a stage where they can make their own dreams a reality. It’s a showcase for the best of the best and provides a perfect opportunity for the audience to meet top-notch designers in their transformative years.Art2Wear is also an educational event for the students, where they learn just what it takes to put on a major runway fashion event. With their imaginations running at full throttle, students have the chance to showcase their diverse interpretations of style, all centered on the event’s theme: Accelerated Evolution: Speed.I must tell you, there is no shortage of imagination. The energy has been buzzing for the past several months leading up to the event. Last year’s runway show, Hypernatural, drew more than 4,000 attendees. The atmosphere and mood were electric.We can only speculate, but the theme of this year’s show conjures up many possibilities: motion, change, technology, time, and transformation. I get goose bumps just imagining it.There will be 10 new collections featured at this year’s event designed by students from diverse disciplines ranging from Art and Design to Industrial Design.Will it be art? Will it push boundaries? Will it tell a story?I believe Art2Wear will be all of that and more – a celebration of style, art, and talent.
Angela Salamancaco-owner, CentroAt home, Angela Salamanca’s eating habits are all about healthy, fresh ingredients. In warmer months, she’s a regular at the downtown farmers market, supplementing with stops at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and International Foods. Her dedication to fresh produce informs her pared-down cooking approach. “I keep things simple because my time is limited and fresh quality ingredients don’t need much to be amazing.”When she’s cooking for her two daughters, Sara and Ana, breakfast is mandatory, and ranges from a fresh fruit smoothie to hot chocolate with cheese and arepas, or Colombian corn cakes. But when Salamanca has guests over, she reverts to a favorite dish from her childhood: ajiaco. This traditional chicken-and-potato stew from Colombia is all about the garnishes; guests can doctor their bowls with sour cream, capers and aji, a cilantro-based sauce.“I consider myself a cook rather than a chef,” says Salamanca. “I was never trained in the kitchen, but my love of food and comfort led me to this career – and I’m still grateful every day to be cooking.”Angela’s Black Bean Salad1 can black beans, drained and rinsed2 cups of roasted yellow corn (or frozen corn, sautéed with 1 tablespoon coconut oil)½ avocado, diced¼ cup thinly sliced red onionOlive oilCider vinegarKosher saltFresh ground Szechuan pepperIn a large bowl, add the beans, corn, avocado and onion. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently and taste; adjust the seasoning by adding more oil, vinegar, salt or pepper as desired.Charlotte Coman and Sunny Gerhartchefs, AC RestaurantsWhen both members of the household are chefs within AshleyChristensen’s AC Restaurants empire, the propensity for delicious food – and full schedules – is high. In reality, Poole’s Diner sous chef Charlotte Coman and Joule Coffee chef Sunny Gerhart don’t do much cooking at home. “When we get off late after cooking all day, the last thing we want to do is cook more,” Coman admits. “There’s a lot of pizza delivered to our house.”The infrequency only makes the home-cooked meal more special. “We make a project out of it,” Coman says. “We’ll spend a whole day making something, often different forms of ethnic food.” These monthly cooking projects are a way to learn about cuisines that the couple is less familiar with – most recently Greek, Mexican and Thai, generally with the help of different cookbooks.On most days, the kitchen is stocked with a few limited essentials: coffee and fixings for sandwiches. “I’ve perfected the art of the late-night sandwich,” says Charlotte.Charlotte’s Mediterranean Salad4 cups cooked barley, warm2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled1 bunch (about 8) radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced1 small cucumber, thinly sliced2 tablespoons chopped dill½ red onion, diced2 tablespoons chopped mintRed wine vinaigrette made with olive oilLemon juiceSalt and freshly ground black pepper to tasteIn a large bowl, combine the barley, feta, radishes, celery, cucumber, dill, onion and mint. Dress with vinaigrette and lemon juice, a tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go to achieve desired flavor. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve alongside hummus.Coleen Speakschef and owner, Posh Nosh Catering“These days, my cooking is completely dictated by my kids,” admits Coleen Speaks, professional caterer. “It’s really a complete gamble.” While she doesn’t relish packing lunches each morning, adjusting to her children’s ever-changing palates has led to some surprising and delicious discoveries.Most recently, it’s Indian food. “Both of my kids – even the picky one – really like Indian flavors, so I’ve been doing a lot of shopping at the Patel Brothers market” in Cary. Speaks has been experimenting with classic Indian dishes, from butter chicken to green beans with coconut, to change up the home rotation. She always makes more than enough, in anticipation of unexpected guests. “I have a habit of inviting anyone I meet over for dinner; we always have drop-in guests.”If dinner is a time for experimentation, weekend breakfasts in the Speaks household hew closer to tradition. “We always start with some sort of baked thing, like muffins; while they’re baking we’ll make another dish, usually eggs of some kind.”Since she cooks at home quite frequently, Speaks keeps her refrigerator full, relying on a heavy collection of condiments. “I make a point to shop for home whenever I’m shopping for work; I try to kill two birds with one stone,” she says. Frozen chicken stock is a constant, too, and Speaks keeps homemade and store-bought versions on hand to make quick soups and stews.Coleen’s New Orleans BBQ Shrimp1 tablespoon olive oilSmall shallot, minced4 cloves garlic, minced3 – 4 bay leaves1 teaspoon cayenne (more or less to taste)A couple dashes hot sauce2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce1 medium lemon, zested, juiced, and halves flattened and julienned1 cup dry white wine5 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes2 pounds large shrimp, still in their shells (heads on is best)1 handful parsley, choppedSalt and pepper to taste1 baguette of crusty breadSaute shallot, garlic, bay leaves, and cayenne in olive oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add Worcestershire, hot sauce, lemon zest, juice, julienned lemon rind, and white wine. Cook until reduced by half. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, until shrimp just turn pink. Stir in parsley and adjust seasoning. Serve straight from the pan with bread to sop up the sauce. Remember to put a bowl on the table for the shrimp shells.Vansana Nolinthaowner, Bida MandaBida Manda, downtown Raleigh’s hugely popular Laotian restaurant,recently celebrated its first birthday. Co-owner Vansana Nolintha still spends most of his days within the restaurant’s walls. As a result, he only cooks at home for himself a few nights a week. But that hasn’t prevented him from creating certain ritual around his cooking routine.It starts with rice: “I’m really particular about my rice and how it’s cooked, so I always use a rice cooker. I make a big batch at once, and leave it on the ‘warm’ setting all day. There is always warm rice at my house,” he says. There’s also always garlic, ginger, Thai chiles, lots of fresh vegetables, and hot sauce that Van has his relatives ship from Laos.But Van’s favorite dish to make at home, noodle soup, requires a bit more time. On his days off, generally Sundays, Van will make a three-pound batch of rice-flour noodles from scratch. “It’s very labor intensive, so I only get to do it once a week,” he says. When going to all of that trouble, Van invites a few friends over for dinner, filling bowls high with his noodles, broth and plenty of fresh herbs from his garden.The rest of the week, he admits to indulging a late-night eating habit: “I generally don’t get home before midnight, so I eat really late, around 1 a.m. Often my meal is made up of leftovers and a glass of wine,” he says.Van’s Pork Larb1 tablespoon vegetable oil1 pound ground porkSalt¼ cup chopped garlic¼ cup chopped fresh Thai chile¼ cup chopped lemongrass stalks¼ cup kaffir lime leaf (the hourglass-shaped leaves of the kaffir lime tree are available at specialty stores like Grand Asia Market at 1253 Buck Jones Rd. in Raleigh)¼ cup chopped galangal (similar to ginger, and available at specialty stores like Grand Asia Market)1/3 cup chopped cilantro1/3 cup mint leaves1/3 cup chopped scallion, white and green parts3 to 4 tablespoons fish sauce1/3 cup fresh lime juiceLettuce leaves, for servingJasmine or sticky rice, for servingIn a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil, ground pork and a pinch of salt. Cook the pork, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, until it is well browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the juices and transfer the pork to a medium bowl. Let cool to room temperature.When the pork has cooled, add the garlic, chile, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, cilantro, mint, scallion, fish sauce and lime juice. Toss gently, and taste for seasoning.Serve the larb inside lettuce leaves or over rice. by Kaitlyn Goalenphotographs by Geoff WoodWhen it comes to cooking, even the most passionate and enthusiastic home cooks fall victim to overcooked steaks, school lunch ennui, spilled bottles of olive oil, and an embarrassing reliance on the delivery guy.In these moments of weakness, it’s hard to imagine our favorite chefs and restaurateurs ever having to endure such cooking tedium. Rather, we picture them and their home kitchens as culinary oases, free of blunders and full of delicious dinners.Just consider the fictional paradise for a moment: a gargantuan set of perfectly polished French copper pots; a sink that has never seen a dirty dish; weekday breakfasts of eggs Benedict and afternoon snacks of mile-high soufflés. Their kids never turn up their noses at a school lunch packed with asparagus gribiche or homemade headcheese. And that distinct aroma of burnt food never dares perfume the air.Before such fantasies lead you to throw up your arms and walk away from your cooking aspirations forever, read on. Five Raleigh restaurant professionals invited us to explore their kitchens and cooking habits, and in doing so, breached the gap between their reality and our fantasy. It turns out, even the most successful cook is subject to dirty dishes, and their home cooking routines are all the better for it.Walter Royalexecutive chef, Angus BarnThe sheer volume of food prepared in the kitchen of the Angus Barn is something epic. And the man overseeing it all is Walter Royal, who has been at the helm of the restaurant’s menu for nearly two decades. After dishing up scores of steaks and sides each night, Royal still has energy to cook for himself and his 87-year-old neighbor, Harold, when he’s back at home.Post-shift, he opts for a tuna sandwich, but if he’s preparing dinner on a free night, Royal sticks to his favorite comfort food dishes, like roast chicken or a pot of grits. “I always keep eggs and bacon in my refrigerator, and grits in my pantry,” he reports. His garden supplies fresh herbs and tomatoes in the summer, and he rounds out his sundries at King’s Red & White in Durham and the State Farmers Market.One of Royal’s favorite dishes to cook at home is a classic macaroni and cheese, for which he uses a blend of cheddar and Gruyere. Royal rounds out the meal with greens from his garden.Walter’s Macaroni & CheeseSalt2 pounds elbow macaroni1 pound white sharp cheddar, shredded1 pound regular cheddar, shredded½ cup shredded Gruyere6 tablespoons unsalted butter4 tablespoons all-purpose flour2 cups heavy cream1 cup half & half1 cup milkGrated nutmeg1 teaspoon chopped garlicPinch dried basilDirections:Fill a large saucepan full of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the cheddars and Gruyere together, and reserve.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and turns a very light brown, about four minutes. Add the heavy cream, half & half, milk and a pinch of nutmeg and keep stirring until the mixture thickens into a velvety sauce. Add ¾ of the reserved cheese, the garlic and basil, and stir until the cheese has fully melted.In a large bowl, mix the cheese sauce with the macaroni until the noodles are well coated. Transfer the mixture to a buttered ceramic baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the surface. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until gooey and melty.
by Kaitlyn Goalenphotographs by Jillian ClarkFolks, we’ve turned pumpkins into the Miley Cyrus of autumn eating. Once upon a time, pumpkins were cherished totems of the season, embraced with fervor by children in costumes. And while vestiges of that innocence still exist, popping up each Halloween like a Hannah Montana rerun, it’s been all but swallowed up by a new image: “pumpkin spice.” Like Miley’s wagging tongue, pumpkin spice follows us from latte to doughnut to beer. The flavor is ubiquitous and over-the-top, and tastes nothing like the ingredient for which it’s named. And that’s the shame of it, because actual pumpkins and their winter squash ilk (all part of the Cucurbitaceae family), should be the centerpiece of your cooking this month. No need to wait until Thanksgiving: make a pumpkin pie this weekend (and give it a twist by using coconut milk instead of the stalwart evaporated milk, or by throwing sorghum into the filling instead of granulated sugar). Swap out the butternut squash in your favorite soup recipe for an heirloom like red kuri squash or Jarrahdale pumpkin.Or do as I do: Let the natural vessel-like nature of pumpkins and squash work to your advantage by stuffing them full of your favorite things and roasting them whole. I like to mix stale bread with whatever is left in my fridge (the ends of a cheese plate, for example, or the last of a package of bacon), stuff the mixture into a pumpkin (or, for individual portions, acorn squash), top the mixture with cream, and bake until the squash is tender and practically melting into a cheesy, molten center.My comparison ends here: Miley, under all the pageantry and gyrating, has a killer voice. Pumpkin spice, likewise, harkens back to a vegetable worth honoring. Let’s get back to the source.Stuffed Acorn SquashServes 4This recipe is very much a template that can be customized to your taste. Swap the cheese (blue cheese would be delicious), swap spinach for kale, or bacon for sausage. You could even swap the bread for partially cooked rice; it’ll resemble a gorgeous risotto after being roasted.2 small pumpkins or 4 acorn squashSea salt and freshly ground black pepper2 tablespoons olive oil1 shallot, minced4 garlic cloves, minced8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced3 sprigs fresh thyme2 cups cubed day-old bread (such as sourdough or country loaf)1 ounce sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes1 ounce Gruyere, cut into small cubes1 ounce Fontina, cut into small cubes3 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces and cooked until crispy (optional)1 cup spinach leaves, torn into bite-size pieces (optional)½ cup heavy creamPreheat the oven to 350°.Using a sharp knife, make a circular cut around the stems of each acorn squash (as if you were carving the top of a jack-o’-lantern). Remove the tops, and use a spoon to hollow out the squash, discarding the seeds and stringy fibers. Season the insides of the squash with salt and pepper, and set the squash inside a 13-by-9-inch rimmed baking pan.In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. When it shimmers, add the shallot and garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes, and add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms have shrunk in size and are cooked through, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.In a large bowl, combine the bread, cheese, bacon (if using), spinach (if using), and reserved mushrooms. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon the bread mixture into the squash cavities, pressing down gently to pack. Divide the cream between the four squash, pouring it slowly into the cavity, then replace the squash tops.Bake for 90 minutes to 2 hours, until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Firestarter (R)Friday, Feb. 13Featured speaker: Jennifer Bunch, photo double for Drew Barrymore Ricky Bobby’s No. 26 Wonder Bread race car from the 2006 movie Talladega Nights: TheBallad of Ricky Bobby. The 2006 Chevrolet, currently on view in the museum lobby, is on loan from International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., and from Shell Oil.In August 2012, North Carolina Museum of History curator and film buff Katie Edwards had an idea. She knew that major movies and TV shows are often filmed in the Tar Heel State. “We’d all heard about Bull Durham, The Hunger Games, Dawson’s Creek, and others,” she says. But she knew there were many, many more, and suspected that the history of filmmaking here could make for an interesting exhibit.The film clips, stories, history, and memorabilia she and her team uncovered amazed them all. Covering 3,000 films over the last 100 years, their work took two and a half years to complete and resulted in Starring North Carolina!, which opened Nov. 15 and runs until Sept. 6.The show charts the state’s emergence as one of the nation’s top film and television production locations – from silent pictures shot in western North Carolina in the early 1900s, to the birth of Wilimington as a movie-making hub in the ’80s, and on to recent blockbusters like Iron Man 3 and the successful Sleepy Hollow series.There are three main reasons why moviemakers flock here, Edwards and her colleague Camille Hunt say. The first is geography. With mountains, beaches, and everything in between, there’s no terrain we don’t have. The second is talent. As in any other industry, good work attracts it, and North Carolina is now home to thousands of professional crew members who make these productions happen. One of the many places they ply their trade is Wilmington’s EUE/Screen Gems Studios, the largest film studio outside California. The third is economics. North Carolina remains a far less expensive place to make movies than the West coast or many other places.Movie lovers won’t be surprised to see Bull Durham featured in the show – Kevin Costner’s bomber jacket is on display. But you might not know that 1986 cult classic Blue Velvet was primarily shot in Wilmington. The museum has not only Isabella Rossellini’s blue velvet robe but also the “severed ear” that figured prominently in the film. Other highlights include Ricky Bobby’s No. 26 Wonder Bread race car from 2006’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby; a costume worn by Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games; several items from Dawson’s Creek; and Daniel Day-Lewis’s fringed suede get-up from Last of the Mohicans.The exhibit will play host to the inaugural Longleaf Film Festival, which will feature narrative and documentary movies, on May 2, 2015. The museum will also run a monthly film series on the second Friday of each month in coordination with the exhibit. (See box below.)Starring North Carolina! Film SeriesIron Man 3 (PG-13)Friday, Dec. 12Featured speaker: Bryan Simmons, memorabilia collector. Dirty Dancing (PG-13)Friday, March 13Featured speaker: Dr. Marsha Gordon, associate professor, film studies, N.C. State Brainstorm (PG)Friday, Jan. 9, 2015Featured speaker: Ira David Wood III, actor, author, singer, director, playwright(see story, following page.) All films begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in the museum’s shop. For a complete list of films through Sept. 2015, go to NCMOH-starring.com.
Courtesy Jason CraigheadJason Craighead has long had a leading role in the Raleigh art scene as an an artist, as a member of the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, as a collaborative studio founder, and as a former gallerist. Now his reputation as a contemporary artist has grown beyond North Carolina. This fall, Craighead’s work made a splash with Beyond Myth, a solo show at the prestigious Cheryl Hazan Contemporary Art gallery in New York, and next month, he’ll have another solo show at Tinney Contemporary in Nashville, Tenn.Lately, Craighead says, his work has been influenced by myths of heroes and adventurers, those who “answer the calling within and venture down a path that is filled with challenges.” Bending Time (above), from his most recent body of work, reflects some of those ideas. “When we choose to seek our very own personal adventure and find our very own personal voice,” he says, “… our hearts have room to rise.”Jason Craighead’s work is represented locally by Flanders Gallery, 505 S. Blount St., flandersartgallery.com.His Nashville, Tenn. show opens Dec. 5 at Tinney Contemporary, 237 5th Ave. North, Nashville, Tenn.;tinneycontemporary.com. Read more about Craighead at jasoncraighead.com.
Nicole Wilder/Bravoby Mimi MontgomeryAfter serving as executive chef at The Umstead’s Herons restaurant, Scott Crawford opened Standard Foods last fall with business partner John Holmes. The space is a hybrid restaurant, grocery, and butcher shop, featuring a variety of ingredients and goods from local purveyors and growers. Crawford places an emphasis on clean simplicity when it comes to his menu, incorporating healthy ingredients into Southern-inspired cuisine.Now the three-time James Beard award semifinalist’s creations will reach a much wider audience: Crawford will be a contestant on the new Bravo culinary competition series Recipe for Deception, which premiered last month. The show pits four chefs against one other in three elimination rounds where each is challenged to create a dish showcasing one main ingredient. The catch? The chefs have no idea what that main ingredient is. Each competitor is allowed to ask another three yes-or-no questions to determine the secret addition, but two of the answers will be truthful and one a lie.It’s a culinary twist on the old Two Truths and a Lie game, and Crawford will appear on the February 11 episode. Following the broadcast, he’ll offer the mystery dish he created on the show at Standard Foods throughout the month. Of course, since he’s bringing his creation home to Raleigh, he’ll put his own local spin on it: Ingredients will be sourced from North Carolina and most will be available in the grocery section of his business. No lie.Catch Crawford on Bravo’s Recipe for Deception February 11 at 10 p.m. Visit Standard Foods at 205 E. Franklin St.; standard-foods.com
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Green Tomato-Mozzarella AranciniThese are best eaten hot, straight from the fryer. After all, I’ve never been one for patience.1½ cups Arborio riceKosher salt4 green tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters2 tablespoons unsalted butter2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided1 cup whole milk1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano1 teaspoon chopped oregano2 garlic cloves, finely minced3 eggs, divided12 ounces whole milk mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes2 cups fresh breadcrumbsCanola oil, for fryingIn a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups salted water to a boil. Add the rice, lower to a simmer, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the rice and spread on a baking sheet in an even layer to cool. Place the tomato quarters and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse until chopped, but not completely pureed. Transfer the tomatoes to a fine-mesh sieve to drain; let drain for at least 20 minutes. Then, press down on the tomato mixture to drain any more excess juices. Meanwhile, make the roux: In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 2 tablespoons flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to turn golden in color. Whisk in the milk, whisking until completely smooth. Cook, whisking, until the sauce begins to bubble gently (it will be quite thick). Remove from heat. In a large bowl, combine the rice, sauce, reserved green tomatoes, Parmigiano, oregano, garlic, 1 egg, and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix well. To form the mixture into balls, place about 2 tablespoons of the rice batter in the palm of your hand and flatten into an even layer. Place 1 cube of the mozzarella in the center, then cup the rice batter around the cheese so that it’s completely covered and mold it into a golf-ball size round. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining batter and cheese. (You should have about 24 balls.) Place the remaining 2 cups flour in a shallow dish and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Beat the remaining 2 eggs in another shallow dish. In a third shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon salt. Working one at a time, roll a rice ball in the flour, shaking off any excess, then roll it in the egg, letting any excess drip off. Finally, roll it in the breadcrumbs, making sure to get an even crust. Set the ball on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rice batter. (You can make the balls up to this point and freeze them. Place them on a baking sheet in an even layer in the freezer for 1 hour, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Do not thaw when ready to fry; just increase the frying time by 3 minutes or so.) In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 inches of oil until it reaches 330 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Add the rice balls in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping the balls with tongs throughout, until they are deep golden brown on all sides. Transfer the rice balls to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Serve hot. by Kaitlyn Goalenphotographs by Jillian ClarkThey say patience is a virtue, but it’s never been one that I can claim. Nowhere is my shortcoming more apparent than in the kitchen. I’m always going to be one of those cooks that paces in front of the stove while something is cooking, daring to take a peek before it’s done. I’m always going to dread the wait between spring and summer, when the weather is warm but my favorite produce is still unripe on the vine. Thankfully, it’s become something of a trend to cook with unripe, or “green” produce. It might seem like a head-scratcher: What, from a culinary perspective, would make unripe fruit attractive? It turns out that its tart flavor, when harnessed intentionally, can be a delicious boon to a cook. Unripe ingredients also have less moisture, which is ideal for things like pies or pickles. Unripe strawberries are a good example: They make excellent pickles, a fact which well-known chefs across the country have taken advantage of. Of course here in the South, we’ve been ahead of the game as far as cooking with unripe fruit goes. Green tomatoes have long been a staple, even an icon, of Southern cuisine. While I can’t be sure, I like to think that fried green tomatoes are a holdover from our agrarian roots, a farmer’s way to use the tomatoes that fell from his vines too early. I like fried green tomatoes as much as the next person, but green tomatoes have endless potential that deserves to be explored beyond that familiar dish. Green tomato pies are another old-school use for the fruit, and I’ve also experimented with green tomatoes as a base of a green gazpacho, capitalizing on their tart vegetal flavor. But I’m particularly enamored with using them to stud Sicilian-style arancini, a type of cheesy, deep-fried rice ball that makes an amazing snack. It capitalizes on the green tomatoes’ adeptness for being fried, and pairs it with plenty of gooey mozzarella.
The pool at SkyHouse sits 23 stories above street level, making it the tallest all-residential building in Raleigh.by Jesma Reynoldsphotographs by Tim LytvinenkoIt’s a vertical world we live in, and Raleigh is going up. Young professionals and empty nesters are migrating downtown to live, work, and play, fueling demand for stylish residential projects that are reshaping our city skyline. Luxury projects like The Residences at Quorum, West at North, and SkyHouse offer owners the opportunity to live above it all in high-altitude dwellings with access to private rooftop pools and gardens. Other stalwarts like City Club Raleigh and the columnar Holiday Inn offer communal gathering spots for taking in the ever-changing views. Photographer Tim Lytvinenko takes us into this world of rarefied spaces, providing a bird’s-eye perspective of our city. Citrix employees enjoy a game of miniature golf on the rooftop course that can also be used for bocce, one of the perks offered by the tech company.Another Citrix bonus is the yoga studio, also on the roof, with aerial views of downtown.Tall glass buildings mean lots of glass to clean. Here, a window washer scales the face of the PNC building, the tallest skyscaper in Raleigh at 538 feet.Through the glass bubble chandelier of City Club Raleigh, a view looking east.A reflection of the chandelier in the Sky Ballroom of the City Club appears to hover over the city.The Hudson, converted from the old Belk deparment store on Fayetteville Street, has a roof terrace for its residents.The Raleigh skyline lights up as evening falls on the city.Spectators, seen reflected in glass, gather on the roof of SkyHouse to view Fourth of July fireworks.A Holiday Inn patron enjoys views from the 19th-floor bar and restaurant at the top of the iconic rotunda.At West at North condominiums on Glenwood South, residents take in a sunset by the rooftop pool.Humid summer nights bring evening electric storms to the city.A crowd gathers for happy hour beneath the 11-foot chandelier in the Sky Ballroom at City Club Raleigh. Located on the 30th floor of the Wells Fargo Capitol Center, the former Cardinal Club merged with the Capital City Club in 2014 and underwent a $3 million renovation.Downtown seen from the green-roof terrace at The Residences at Quorum Center. The 15-story building was completed in 2006 as one of the first mixed-use (residential and commercial) projects downtown.A young resident looks for fireworks on Fourth of July from the SkyHouse rooftop.Reflections create an illusory effect on the cityscape.Photographer Tim Lytvinenko captures his reflection from a balcony at SkyHouse.Downtown appears on the horizon as seen from the top of the CapTrust building at North Hills.
DFS’s ten-week job acquisition class, Going Places Network, is designed to help clients like Flanagan tackle these obstacles. During its skills assessment class, Flanagan learned her personal and professional strengths. “I am adaptable,” she says now. “I am an eager learner. And I like to be a resource of information for other people.” The program taught her how to capitalize on these strengths during job interviews and when crafting cover letters. She says she has also found hope in the friendships she’s made through the program. “We carpool and lean on each other. It is encouraging to see the women in our group find employment.” Beth Briggs, executive director for Dress for Success Triangle, believes that the Going Places Network is one of Dress for Success Triangle’s most effective client services. “About 75 percent of women who go through GPN get jobs within three months,” she says. “That is a high percentage. It is a confidence-builder and a skill-builder. It teaches the women what it takes to get a job in this world and what is expected by corporations.”Transformative experience When Flanagan first met with an image coach for her suit fitting, she was taken aback by the amount of care and attention she received. Although she has bought and worn business suits in the past, she says the Dress for Success Triangle boutique experience is like nothing she’d known before. After more than a year looking for a job to support her two sons, she says she felt power when she saw herself in the mirror with a pair of high heels and a tailored suit. “It is transformative. It is a completely different experience for those of us who are not used to that kind of care. The image coach is more than a personal shopper. She listens to what I like and what I want. It is very empowering.” Briggs nods. She sees the same thing time and time again with the women who come through her organization’s doors. “This is all part of our mission to support unemployed and underemployed women and to help them find economic security. A lot of what we do is about building a woman’s confidence, dignity, and respect. It is easy to feel powerless when you’ve been out of the job market for some time. It is just so hard. We want to help a woman feel good about herself.” Once a woman finds a job, Dress for Success Triangle continues to support her, providing employment retention training and continued professional development. She also becomes part of the organization’s Professional Women’s Group, a network with mentors and leaders who help women navigate the workplace. They support each other as they tackle new routines and company culture and work-life balance. Briggs says Dress for Success Triangle is also committed to equipping its women to become strong leaders in their workplaces and communities. This results in a strong network between employers and Dress for Success Triangle.“We have a lot of corporate donors,” Briggs says, “and in addition to supporting us financially, we ask them to hire the women who come from Dress for Success. They flag our women. It lifts them out of the enormous crowd of applicants.” And while corporations, foundations, inventory sales, and private donors offer the financial means to support the organization’s $1 million annual budget, it relies on a team of more than 365 dedicated volunteers to run effectively. They donate and sort clothes, provide style and career coaching, job training, networking, and employment retention support. Many of these volunteers are women, some of whom have gone through the programs themselves. Flanagan admits that the road to landing a job has felt long, overwhelming, and frustrating. But she credits Dress for Success Triangle (and a healthy dose of pure grit) with keeping her plowing ahead – now with strong interviewing skills, an impressive resume, and a sharp professional suit. Most importantly, she carries with her a renewed sense of empowerment. trianglenc.dressforsuccess.org Dress for Success Triangle deliversby Settle Monroe | photography by Lissa GotwalsStepping through the double doors of Dress for Success Triangle feels like entering a high-end boutique, not a nonprofit. Dresses and suits, many adorned with new tags and labels like Coach and Ralph Lauren, hang on racks. Italian leather shoes line the walls; modern jewelry fills a glass case. Women strut in and out of dressing rooms to oohs and ahhs of personal styling consultants. Their confidence is clear as they see themselves in the mirror for the first time in a sharp suit or a well-fitting dress. And while the clients at Dress for Success may choose from a variety of beautiful clothes, they are all here looking for the same thing: employment and economic security. Yeshimabet Flanagan is one of the 10,000 clients who has benefited from the powerful work of Dress for Success Triangle. The organization not only dresses women to enter—or re-enter—the workplace, it trains them for it, too. Flanagan turned to the organization about a year ago for help. Like many of the women who walk through its doors, she came eager to re-enter the workplace after years of staying home to raise her children, and was referred to the agency by one of more than 150 nonprofits that refer women who are ready to find employment. When Flanagan moved to New York City from Jamaica in 1998 at 16, leaving seven siblings and nearly all of her family behind, she was quickly able to secure a job as a file clerk at an insurance company. Highly-motivated and personable, she worked her way up to earning a comfortable salary, even by New York City standards. In 2008, Flanagan moved to Raleigh and left the workforce in order to be at home with her sons. For a year now, she has been looking for a job. But despite her years climbing the corporate ladder to become an insurance broker, the large gap on her resume and her lack of a college degree have made it difficult to secure meaningful employment. Dress for Success Triangle has been the engine of perseverance for Flanagan in the face of numerous rejections and unreturned phone calls. “Transitioning back to the workplace is really hard,” Flanagan says. “Hearing ‘no’ again and again can be frustrating and disempowering. I’ve always been able to secure jobs by word-of-mouth. I have never had to pound the pavement. But Dress for Success is helping me navigate this new, current world of job searching.” And a new world it is. Unlike her first foray into the workplace, resumes are now submitted online. Computer programs search for specific key words in the resumes and reject those without them. Automated systems respond to job inquiries and cover letters. The result: The modern job search can be discouraging, impersonal, and isolating.
by Tina Haver Currinphotographs by Keith IsaacsThe zigzag of Capital Boulevard as it wends its way into downtown is often crowded, sometimes bumpy, and never particularly pleasant. But if you exit to the right just as Capital becomes Dawson Street, you enter a different world. There, behind brick walls and large wooden gates, is a retreat of swaying palm trees, crystal blue reflecting waters, and tufts of sweet jasmine curling their way up toward a terra cotta-tiled roof. It’s completely removed from the hustle and bustle of Raleigh’s main artery, and everyone is invited. But this oasis didn’t appear by magic. It’s the result of the vision, patience, and significant investment of one Raleigh man.“The whole design concept is that you are in somebody’s house,” says Samad Hachby, the owner of the pools and palms. He operates his Moroccan-influenced restaurant, Babylon, in the ground floor of the historic mill that anchors the space. “If you go to a house in Morocco, you have an interior courtyard for maximum light. You have water, you have food, you have booze, and it’s beautiful. But this place was a dump with no parking lot.”The courtyard has all the elements of a house in Morocco according to owner Samad Hachby – water, food, and drink – and anchors the historic Melrose Knitting Mill.Hachby, 44, left Casablanca for a stint aboard a cruise ship before relocating to North Carolina to attend N.C. State in 1998. He first noticed the 116-year-old brick Melrose Knitting Mill in 2004, before he opened Mosaic, a wine lounge perched on the corner of Jones Street and Glenwood Avenue. The knitting mill’s landlord, Abdul G. Zalal – or, as his friends call him, A.G. – was holding the building for a prospective tenant who wanted to turn it into a gym.“I kept walking by, and nothing was happening,” Hachby says. “So, one day (in 2009), I walked in and I said, ‘A.G., I am going to do this project.’ He said ‘OK,’ and we shook hands.”The mill had sat empty for years, and Hachby spent the next two and a half years making it restaurant-ready. That involved significant interior renovations, including replacing ancient wiring and plumbing. Hachby also made several trips to Casablanca to find the fittings he needed to create the place he envisioned.“I wanted a classic palatial ceiling that you’d find in Europe, southern Spain, or Morocco,” Hachby says, craning his neck to admire the handiwork. His dark hair and the faint beard are the same color as the espresso he sips to ward off an afternoon slump.“I went to Casablanca to find artisans who do work in Malaysia and Dubai. Forty men worked for two months on the tiles. They sent each piece separately – without instructions, of course.”Owner Samad Hachby.Signature dishes reflect Babylon’s unique atmosphere.By the summer of 2011 he was ready to open Babylon’s doors. It has since become a popular and cozy cavern for dining on braised lamb tagine or crispy margherita pizza. For four years, Hachby himself was at the helm of the kitchen. His goal was to create a menu to reflect the restaurant’s unique atmosphere, with Moroccan classics like hearty harira soup made from lentils and chickpeas, couscous topped with meats and vegetables, and tasting plates overflowing with hummus, eggplant, and marinated olives. Last year, Chef Jean Paul Fontaine stepped in as executive chef. He developed the menu for Babylon’s new outdoor kitchen and a satellite kitchen in a recently renovated upstairs event space.With plush, high-backed seating, a well-appointed bar and roughly hewn exposed beams, Babylon’s main room provides a rustic retreat. An adjacent room often used for parties features high ceilings with classic Moorish tiles and chandeliers that sparkle in the midday sunlight, while in a tucked-away library room, beams from the original factory hold cookbooks and magazines. Four hundred square feet of beige travertine marble cover the floors, blending with the brick walls.Hachby and his team had to lay each piece on the floor, like a jigsaw puzzle, and then mount the tiles on the ceiling one at a time from the center, radiating out. Hachby points to sections of brick where his crew – or previous crews before him – began construction, only to realize that continuing would compromise the structure or historical integrity of the mill. The building’s walls tell a story of half-starts in holes and patches.The interior of Babylon is exotic and dramatic.One floor above the tiled ceiling, the restoration of a massive events space, which hosted the Raleigh Food and Wine Festival in May, is finally complete. Hachby installed a second kitchen with direct access to the space, so his staff doesn’t have to clamber up and down the stairs from Babylon with piles of dirty dishes. Gorgeous rounded windows bathe exposed brick and wood in warm, natural light. Adjacent to the events space, a new tenant in Furbish Studio brings even more style to the historic mill.Textile roots Though the Melrose is now one of Raleigh’s loveliest treasures, it has been a long time in the making. The groundbreaking for the textile mill occurred in June of 1900, and the building was completed by October. The mill officially began manufacturing men’s wool and cotton underwear on January 28, 1901. Three years later, 85 employees – many of whom lived in small wooden homes around the property – were turning out 1,800 pieces of underwear a day.That same year, the Pullen Park Pool – the city’s first – brought an increased interest in swimming to the community, so bathing suits were added to the Melrose repertoire. The City of Raleigh ordered five dozen suits from the factory, which patrons could rent for five cents per visit.But the operations of the Melrose were short-lived. The knitting mill shut its doors in 1930, one year after the stock market crash that halted nearly all construction and commerce in downtown Raleigh. By the 1960s, two roofing companies were based at the property. In 1969, Abdul Zalal, a young recent immigrant from Afghanistan, came looking for a job.“I arrived and I asked, where is the office?” Zalal says today, gesturing to where one of Babylon’s massive wooden gates now hangs. With white hair and a white mustache, he exudes the same kind of rugged stateliness as the historic building he would later purchase. “It was a roofing company with 35 employees, but I went to the wrong one,” he recalls. “They still hired me, and I worked for $3 an hour.”A decade later, on June 8, 1979, he bought the crumbling Melrose Knitting Mill for $60,000. It was a good investment – the building is now worth about $1.7 million.Zalal’s first move was unsurprising: He installed a new roof to save the historic mill from further deterioration, then boarded up the windows. For years, it stood mostly vacant save for a collection of auto parts – you can still see the faint paint outline of the “Motorparts Warehouse” sign on the front of the building – and the parking lot was a pocked landscape.But in 2010, with the help and vision of Hachby, revitalization of the Melrose began in earnest. Zalal removed the old buildings that obscured the front of the mill, andinstalled 200 truckloads of dirt to level and pour the parking surface. With tenants Babylon and the housewares store Furbish, plus the second-story events space now complete, the Melrose Knitting Mill now buzzes with shoppers, diners, drinkers, and brides. “For 68 years, this building was vacant except for A.G.’s workshop and a stash for roofing cranes,” Hachby says, tracing his fingers along one of the mill’s solid wooden beams. “Now, there’s so much going on. It’s not vanilla. The building tells its story.”For Hachby, imbuing the historic mill with new vitality is a source of pride, and he keeps a collection of photographs from the State Archives close at hand. There are black and white snapshots of downtown Raleigh from the 1960s, the cobble of steel roofers’ buildings obscuring the beautiful brick facade, and even a photo from the early 1900s where the street is covered in mule-drawn carriages, the Melrose towering beyond a paving company that’s little more than a wooden construct with several smoking chimneys.With the renovations complete, Hachby is now turning his attention to travel and writing a cookbook centered on Moroccan wines. Even so, he’s committed to constantly improving his restaurant and the historic space.“You have to do things beautiful. It costs a lot of money, and a lot of people don’t want to invest in their businesses,” Hachby says. “But this is what drives the name Babylon. You had this crazy, macabre looking place, with this beautiful building rising up. Like Babel. It’s Babylon.”309 N. Dawson St.; babylonraleigh.comShekshoukaSamad’s favorite recipe: Shekshouka, a classic egg dish with spicy tomatoes and peppers. This is a one-skillet recipe of eggs baked in a tomato-red pepper sauce and onions spiced with cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Make the sauce first – it comes together fairly quickly on top of the stove – then gently crack each of the eggs into the pan, nestling them into the sauce. The pan is moved into the oven to finish.3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced1 teaspoon ground cumin1 teaspoon sweet paprika⅛ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste2 pints San Marzano tomatoes withjuices, coarsely chopped¾ teaspoon salt (to taste)¼ teaspoon black pepper (to taste)6 large organic eggsChopped cilantro, for servingHarissa for servingHeat oven to 375 degrees.Heat oil in a large skillet or tagine over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika, and cayenne, and cook 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes and season with the salt and the pepper; simmer until tomatoes have reduced.Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer skillet or the tagine to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with harissa.Serves 4. Total time: 1 hour.Lamb shank tagine6 small frenched lamb shanks (5 to 6 pounds total)3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 largeonions)3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger1 ½ teaspoons chili powder1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin½ teaspoon ground cardamom1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick1 large can diced San Marzano tomatoes2 cups unsalted chicken stockA pinch of saffronPreheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a very large (12-to-13-inch) pot or tagine.Preseason the lamb shanks, then add to the pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat until translucent and almost caramelized. Add the garlic, ginger, chili powder, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon so that the spices release their oils and merge with the onions. Add the tomatoes and their liquid. They will deglaze any stock you have in the pot. Put back the lamb shanks in the pot and cover with the stock. Cook for 90 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest.Serve over couscous, risotto, or seasonal roasted potatoes.Serves 6.
Shelby Vanhoy of Pretty in the Pines. Photo courtesy of Shelby VanhoyThe Triangle’s fashion bloggersby Mimi MontgomeryIn The Age of the Smartphone, where social media and viral hits reign supreme, blogging has evolved from a solo, diary-like activity into a lucrative field that allows tech-savvy entrepreneurs to create their own online communities-slash-marketplaces, right from their own homes. Here in the Triangle, style bloggers in particular have a growing toehold. A primarily female-dominated pool, these locals are showcasing their own takes on the fashion, beauty, decor, health, and lifestyle worlds, and contributing to the innovative spirit of the Triangle. This is “a place that just naturally fosters creativity,” says Molly Stillman, Still Being Molly blogger and founder of the Triangle Fashion, Beauty, Food, and Lifestyle Bloggers group (TriFABB), a community of 160 bloggers begun in 2012. The many startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs’ groups that pepper RTP and downtown Raleigh and Durham make for fertile ground, she says. The Triangle is also a place where female blogging entrepreneurs forge friendships and encourage each other. “It’s a really supportive community where a lot of people want to collaborate together, because when you win, I win,” says Meghan Grant of Holly Springs, the blogger behind I’m Fixin’ To and co-founder of the Raleigh Blog Society. “It’s good for both of us.”Meghan Grant of I’m Fixin’ To (both photos above) tries to keep her posts real and fun. “I don’t take myself seriously.” Em Grey Photography With reaches near and far, these women are redefining what it means to be an entrepreneur in the 21st century. Their work may come with a steep learning curve and many late nights, but bringing a dose of style to the Triangle is what they love – and increasingly, it’s a real business, too.Not just a hobby Many of these local bloggers started their sites as sideline hobbies or creative outlets. Working in corporate jobs, they wanted an open space to share their stylish ideas and their writing. “When I was growing up, I used to change outfits like, three times a day, and I always used to have to put on a party dress,” says Angela Keeley-White of Raleigh, who works full-time for a financial planning and investment company and started her style blog Head to Toe Chic in 2011. So she decided to turn that passion into a side gig, writing posts filled with outfit inspirations, style tips, and eye-catching photography. When Raleighite Shelby Vanhoy was rejected from dental school, she took a hard look at her passions and felt the need for more creativity in her life. “I was thinking, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’” she says. “I’ve always had an interest in photography, travel, style…” So in 2014, she bought a camera and starting her blog Pretty in the Pines, which led to her current job managing marketing for Bailey’s Fine Jewelry.Amy Loochtan of Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins says blogging is a “legit career.” Photo courtesy of Amy Loochton Keeley-White and Vanhoy are not alone. What started as an outside hobby for many of these women has quickly become a second career. When they leave full- and part-time jobs at the end of the day, they head home to another one, where they create editorial calendars, schedule and write posts, organize photo shoots, edit photo batches, monitor site traffic, respond to readers, and negotiate brand campaigns and sponsored posts. Angela Keeley-White of Head to Toe Chic; Em Grey Photography “It comes across as so glamorous,” says Chapel Hill’s Lauren Steele of LC Steele. She’s talking about the stylish photography spreads and Instagram posts bloggers are known for. But for the Mississippi native who balances her blog with her job at a legal consulting business, it’s hard work, too. “You don’t see 90 percent of the time it took,” she says. “It is way more time-consuming than people give it credit for.” It’s her job, she says, to make it look easy.Angela Keeley-White’s Head to Toe Chic was mentioned in InStyle magazine. Vanhoy agrees: “It’s like a 12-hour day, every day.” But it pays off: The popularity of these blogs is a testament to the consumer demand for the women’s content. “So far, it’s really been worth it,” she says. “The people you meet, the community you grow, the opportunities you get – it correlates with how hard you’re working.” Brave new world For a successful style blogger, business opportunities can be vast. With the advent of content monetization platforms such as LIKEtoKNOW.it, bloggers can share their outfit details via Instagram, where followers who have “liked” their post will receive an email complete with links to purchase each pictured item. For each piece purchased from a LIKEtoKNOW.it email, the blogger receives a commission. Global companies have picked up on the wide reach of these digital influencers, as well. “As brands begin to trust the influence of bloggers and see the results, social media is becoming much more monetizable for the influencers,” says Jamie Meares, blogger behind the popular i suwannee and founder of Furbish Studio. “It’s created this Wild West effect on blogging – now you can actually make a business out of sharing the things that you love.” Triangle style bloggers are doing just that, negotiating paid contracts with brands to create sponsored product posts. These women have worked with national corporations such as Coca-Cola, J. Jill, Shopbop, Whole Foods, Anthropologie, Henri Bendel, Toyota, Target, Anne Taylor, and Rent the Runway, to name a few, as well as local companies like Cameron Village and The Fearrington House Inn. Using their social clout as an advertising platform makes sense: Each of these women have followers by the many-thousands. “People now understand the value of bringing eyeballs to the page,” says Steele. “I’ve watched social media become so much more integrated in everything. If you have 200,000 followers, you can look at a company and say, ‘Hey, I can basically fill a football stadium for you. How much is that worth?’”Lauren Steele of LC Steele balances her blog with her job at a legal consulting business. Photo by Anna Goodson Apparently a lot. “It’s a legit career,” says Durham-based Amy Loochtan of Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins. “People are flabbergasted by that … Some people think blogging is just taking some pictures of your outfit, putting them online; but it is so much more than that.” Of course, with the meteoric rise of outlets like Instagram and Snapchat, content is moving more toward the social media side, and anyone with an iPhone can try to become a blogger. That can put pressure on longtime bloggers to keep content fresh and readership levels up. After all, that’s where the money is – brands want to work with sites that consistently post original material and reach the widest demographic possible. “Now you have to be out there on all social media channels and keep up with the latest trends,” says Keeley-White. There’s also a fine line between the virtual and actual worlds, especially when personal style is the focus of a business. After a while, life can seem like just a series of potential Instagram posts. “That’s one of the biggest things that bloggers struggle with – missing out on life because of social media,” says Loochtan. “It’s a hard balance to know when to unplug.” Along with separating the personal from private, local style bloggers say they work hard to strike the right chord between stylish escapism and relatability. Because most have longtime readers who feel a virtual kinship to them, they want to maintain those relationships with the relatable voice of an old girlfriend. So in addition to the glamour, local bloggers are also careful to include affordable fashion and DIY projects that appeal to the everyday woman. “I try to be real with my readers,” says Grant. “The style posts are really pretty and they do really well, (but) if you’re behind the scenes with me on a shoot, I don’t take myself seriously … For me, it is really fun.” Bringing it home While these women may work with global companies and have followers across the world, they’re committed to using their brands to promote North Carolina, too. Keeping it local is just part of their spin on things: Many stage photo shoots at local spots like the Boylan Bridge, American Tobacco Campus, and the Leslie-Alford-Mims house; they showcase pieces from local boutiques and clothing lines; they partner with nearby restaurants and businesses; and they provide travel guides to N.C. destinations.Shelby Vanhoy of Pretty in the Pines says the 12-hour days are worth it. “The people you meet, the community you grow, the opportunities you get – it correlates with how hard you’re working.” Photo courtesy of Shelby Vanhoy Vanhoy recently partnered with the Outer Banks for a sponsored, weeklong trip along the coast, documenting her vacation on social media and her blog, and Grant started a blog travel series on eastern North Carolina, focusing on places to eat, shop, and visit while passing through. “People get stuck in the bubble of the Triangle,” she says. “It’s sad to see towns that were thriving when I was little become ghost towns.” It’s her way of using her online presence to benefit the local places she loves. Like her peers, Grant has come to realize that a significant online presence can be a powerful tool, both in terms of business opportunities and simply creating a brand that people love. “Life can be complicated and it can be so cluttered,” says Steele. “I just like to keep things as simple, classic, and elegant as I possibly can.” It’s a lot of work to make things look so good, but it’s worth it, says Loochtan. “You make time for what you love.”FALL PICKS“Big sweaters and ponchos layered over a thin turtleneck, booties, and changing up accessories and shoes for fall colors.” –Shelby Vanhoy, Pretty in the Pines“(It’s) cowboy boots, riding boots, lots of dresses and skirts. I would not be caught dead in a T-shirt and jeans at a football game. That is where you step out and you show up.” –Meghan Grant, I’m Fixin’ To “(I’m) all about layering with blazers and military jackets. And of course, ankle boots. And fun scarves … a bunch of light layers.” –Angela Keeley-White, Head to Toe Chic“Leather jackets, over-the knee-boots, and blanket scarves … (they’re) an affordable and chic way to make a statement with an outfit, plus they are really warm.”-Lauren Steele, LC Steele“A good bootie, black blazer, (and a) really great pair of jeans. If you feel good in it, you’re going to look good.” –Amy Loochtan, Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins
Sam McDonald, Matt Thomas, Billy Warden, and Jeff Holshouser of The Floating Children, photo by Jonathan Drakeby Billy WardenNot even the makers of Viagra have pitched the restorative powers of their product as insistently as proponents of rock ’n’ roll.From Bruce Springsteen to Joey Ramone to Pink, billions of decibels have gone into claiming for the music the mantle of all-purpose elixir, mender of broken hearts, guardian of the faithful’s most delirious dreams.Truth? Hokum? This summer, I got my chance to find out.On the evening of April 20, while playing catch-up with another blown tax deadline, an email arrived from the organizers of the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation. Would my old band reunite for the foundation’s annual August fundraising extravaganza at the Triangle’s venerated mecca of indie rock, The Cat’s Cradle?The tax sheets melted away along with the political argument in the kitchen. The email swept me back to the riotous late-’80s heyday of The Connells, The Pressure Boys, The Veldt, Three Hits, and my baby, The Floating Children.Of course, a reunion was out of the question. Completely impractical. What with family obligations and business responsibilities. Naturally, I replied: “Oh HELLZ YES.”Now, a quick word on how ill-advised this may have looked to an outsider. The Floating Children were not a stand-and-strum band. A writer of the era described us as “the New York Dolls run amok in Pee-Wee’s playhouse.” We were an anarchic, confetti-spewing mayhem machine.So as I lay in bed that night, troubling questions commingled with chronic back pain: “How could a middle-aged reunion NOT fall flat?” “If my wife leaves me in shame, which car will she take?” And, “how to make a reunion count for something beyond nostalgia?” The answer to the last question, counterintuitively, was to up the ante, heighten the risk. The next day’s proposition to the rest of The Floating Children included the reunion performance – plus, “how about we write new songs?”New tunes would mean stretching beyond old tricks. They would require creativity and commitment. They would be a more profound test: Did we still, somewhere inside, carry that spark of inspiration?The band didn’t balk. We went to work emailing lyrics and texting demos – me, Jeff Holshouser, Jody Maxwell, James Olin Oden, Steve Eisenstadt, and Larry Burlison in the Triangle; Sam McDonald and new guy Matt Thomas in Norfolk.Craggy reserves of creativitySure, everyone had jobs and workaday duties. But everyone also had craggy reserves of creativity to uncork. Two new tunes came together fast – and with considerably more melodic hooks than 25 years ago. I couldn’t vouch for each band member’s bodily fitness, but creatively we were in fine form.Soon, the rehearsals revealed our physical and emotional conditions. Physically, the eight of us looked to be a collective 90 pounds or so overweight – not exactly Olympian, but certainly respectable by middle-aged standards.Emotionally, we were a ragged parade of humanity straight out of a Bob Seger double album. Divorce, money woes, exhaustingly complicated bachelorhood, kid concerns – they were all in the mix. But none of it slowed us down. When we played, energy and optimism gushed.We recorded the new tunes in a daylong blizzard of missed notes, surging solos, profane pep talks, and tequila shots. Then came the show. Creating new music had limbered us up. We were rock ’n’ roll acrobats again. And when our original background singer and “dance diva,” Tracey Brown, entered the dressing room, confetti bucket in hand, we were beyond inspired.Backed by an overzealous fog machine operated by my first-pumping teenage son, The Floating Children ’16 put on what some longtime fans called our best show – period. And, by the grace of the rock gods, we picked up new fans. They included 17-year-old guest saxophone player Lee Sullivan, who noted approvingly, “Putting on weird clothes and playing freaky music. The Floating Children go hard.”Indeed, we did – and not just musically. There were ridiculous twirls and foolish shimmies and other moves that away from the adrenaline rush of the stage would land me in intensive care.I hugged each Floating Child at least 120 times that night. While every embrace was an expression of genuine affection, maybe I was also trying to get a firm hold of something more ethereal. The magic that generations of stars and nobodies had promised was real. I wasn’t 22 again; but nor was I the same harried businessman/dad I had been on the night the reunion offer arrived.As The Floating Children prepare to share those new tunes with the world via technologies that we couldn’t imagine a quarter century ago, I am – we are – back to square one. Hoping that a few folks out there get it and groove along. The gamble is electrifying. The secret, then, of rock ’n’ roll’s restorative power is simply, beautifully this: The risk is the reward. Billy Warden is the co-founder of the marketing agency, GBW Strategies, and an incorrigible song-and-dance man. The Floating Children’s new songs are available on Facebook, SoundCloud, and YouTube.
Jason Cooper and Jason McGuigan of Horizon Productions.by Henry Garganphotographs by Tim LytvinenkoEveryone in the Triangle’s burgeoning virtual reality industry seems to have a story that drives home the same point: No amount of artfully worded description can adequately convey what it’s like to enter virtual reality for the first time, they say, but once the headset’s on, there’s no going back. The region is full of these recent converts, many of whom have parlayed their revelations into start-up companies that produce virtual reality experiences – and yes, they are called “experiences” – within a thriving local industry. Virtual reality’s arrival in the region has been decades in the making, a long arc in a uniquely challenging industry. It’s a business that requires a complex, interdisciplinary process involving the coordinated talents of computer programmers, graphic designers, audio engineers, videographers, writers, and directors. Then there’s the challenge of marketing a product few people fully understand, if they know it exists at all.Horizon tests projects in the works using a HTC Vive headset that transforms a room into 3-D space. Thanks to the Triangle’s three major research universities and large population of technology professionals, the region is one of few in the country with the volume and variety of talent readily available to make virtual reality work. The UNC-Chapel Hill computer science department developed some of the technology’s cornerstones, like head-tracking and latency experiments, in the 1990s. Many of the scientists who did the groundbreaking work were still in the area when VR began making inroads into the consumer market a few years ago, and local VR professionals today say the legacy of that pioneering work partially explains why so many industry players are setting up shop in the Triangle. Cary-based Epic Games, the maker of real-time rendering software crucial to the production of virtual reality experiences, also gets a good deal of credit for its beginnings. To gain a sense of where the industry is headed, it helps to talk with someone who knows better than most where it has come from. Before Mike Capps was president of Epic, he was an undergraduate in UNC’s computer science department. This was in the 1990s, when his professors were just beginning to fulfill the dreams sci-fi buffs had about what virtual reality could and should eventually become. So where did that first push go wrong? And what’s different now? “There was a giant consumer expectation bubble that came from the movies and TV that told you what VR was going to be like,” Capps says. “And the reality was nothing close to it. That led to a crash in the business.” The first consumer products were decent, Capps says, but there was no Matrix-like sense of total sensory replacement, which is what consumers were primed for. And until relatively recently, Capps says he was afraid something similar would happen with the bubble that’s been building over the past few years – that the promise of virtual reality would, perhaps inevitably, always outstrip what was available to the average hobbyist. “I was like, please don’t overpromise,” Capps says. But when he saw Facebook purchase vitual reality start-up Oculus in 2014, “I told the guys at Oculus: Please don’t screw this up.” He allowed himself to believe that they wouldn’t. Google’s recent release of its own mobile virtual reality technology with its Pixel phone and Daydream VR platform is just one of several steps forward in the consumer sector that appears to be proving Capps right. Capps says the virtual reality industry’s success here in particular is owed, at least in part, to something he’s uniquely positioned to have witnessed. “About five years ago, we lost some big gaming companies that had some unfortunate failures,” Capps says. “Even some successful companies lost some staff, so there’s a lot of talent here that knows how to create these compelling experiences. You have all these developers that never saw their home in making things like free-to-play mobile games, and VR is perfect for them.” Capps, for his part, is tight-lipped about what he’s up to these days, but he still lives in the area and keeps a careful eye on things. His role is often that of a mentor, bridging the gap between the old guard and the new so the leading edge of this most recent wave doesn’t have to reinvent what his professors labored over so many years ago – ensuring this is the time everyone gets it right. The biggest remaining social obstacle to the success of the technology, Capps believes, is its demand that users isolate themselves. It is both fitting and ironic that he would worry about this, knowing that he and others like him have made virtual reality successful here by remaining anything but isolated, by sharing and teaching one another in ways that suggest the Triangle remains a place where any vision for the world can be made reality. Indeed, all of these local players have managed to prioritize the success of their medium above competition between themselves, weaving together a collaborative, interdisciplinary business ecosystem in the process.There are simply too many moving parts and too few experts for any one company to handle every project alone, local industry experts say. And the technology is also advancing too quickly for companies to eschew collaboration and risk missing out on a game-changing new piece of equipment, or fail to adapt to evolving standards.“If the medium doesn’t succeed, it doesn’t matter who gets a job,” says Jason McGuigan, creative director with Raleigh-based Horizon Productions. “We need the entirety of this to become a thing before we can realize our fullest potential. If we can all help each other out, the industry succeeds.”RTPVR If the area’s surplus of tech geeks and media professionals was the industry’s kindling and tinder, it was the spark of RTP Virtual Reality that set the whole thing ablaze. RTPVR began in 2014 as a meet-up among hobbyists and was accelerated by the 2015 arrival of Alex Grau, a virtual reality whiz who had worked on 360-degree video technology for a company called Total Cinema 360 in Manhattan. For a while, RTPVR was little more than a group of enthusiasts who met up every so often to geek out about the latest technology. But Grau’s experience and knowledge about the business side of things helped inspire a wide variety of companies and hobbyists to dive into the market. Eventually, a core group of VR professionals and their start-ups – about 11 of them, so far – emerged. Once that happened, RTPVR realized that its role as a clearinghouse for Triangle virtual reality start-ups was a business opportunity in itself. Beginning in January of this year, RTPVR transitioned from its role as a networking collective to an incorporated business.RTPVR’s Alex Grau and Nate Hoffmeier. “Right now, we’re describing ourselves as a consulting group,” says Nate Hoffmeier, who works with Grau at RTPVR. “We’re functioning as an incubator, but also trying to give start-ups access to these businesses coming to us for help.” Say, for instance, a university wants to develop a VR tour of its campus. RTPVR leverages its connections and knowledge of the Triangle start-ups in the industry to help the university find the company that best suits its needs and budget. Start-ups with complementary areas of expertise will often team up on larger projects. In addition to sharing technology and best practices among VR companies, the kind of networking RTPVR facilitates is doubly valuable for marketing to potential clients. Because one of the industry’s chief challenges is explaining what the technology can do and how it works, Hoffmeier says, word-of-mouth is critical. So are decidedly old-fashioned, in-person sales techniques. “People can’t advertise this stuff through a traditional 2-D screen,” Hoffmeier says. “We need people saying, ‘No, you need to try this. This isn’t a fad; this isn’t a gimmick.’”Horizon Unlike many of its peers, Horizon Productions is about three decades removed from “start-up” status. It has long been an industry leader among old-fashioned video production companies in the Triangle. But the company took a turn to the future about a year-and-a-half ago – “quite some time” in the VR world, according to creative director Jason McGuigan – when a few employees began playing around with a gadget called the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset born on Kickstarter but later bought by Facebook. Oculus is widely known as a pioneering force behind market-ready virtual reality. Because Horizon already employed people with the graphic design, audio, and videography expertise required to produce solid VR experiences, the company realized it only needed a few key additional hires to become a viable player in the industry. And unlike most start-ups trying to get a foot in the door, Horizon had the capital and client base to support that ambition. “Looking at the core technology, we recognized that a lot of its aspects we already do, we have in house,” McGuigan says. “Once you discover the power of the medium, it’s very difficult to say, ‘This isn’t going to be a big deal.’” Since then, Horizon has begun offering 360-degree video products to its clients alongside more traditional services. As Horizon’s multimedia director Jason Cooper notes, they’re often educators as much as salespeople in those cases.Jason Cooper and Jason McGuigan of Horizon Productions pose with their Google VR/GoPro Odyssey camera, one of the only 360-degree VR cameras of its kind on the East Coast. “We’ve made it a focus to be evangelists and do demos and take VR to our clients and the community,” Cooper says. “We‘ve actually introduced VR to maybe more people than anybody else, than someone like Epic (Games), in the Triangle.” Horizon’s success in the field led to its becoming one of a handful of VR-involved firms chosen to participate in Google’s VR Jump program, which is both a product and a service. Companies like Horizon get to use a GoPro-designed 16-camera rig to capture stereoscopic 3-D video, the production of which has been, until now, an incredibly labor- and computing-intensive process. VR Jump, however, allows participants to send Google their raw footage, where it’s processed within a day or two and sent back perfectly stitched together and compiled into 3-D, 360-degree video. “Our focus right off the bat was on the non-gaming applications of this technology, but we’ve actually moved into that realm as well,” Cooper says. “We’re one of the few players in the area that has done projects for major corporate clients.” Among those clients are local LED producers Cree and hardware retailer Home Depot. Horizon has also recently produced 360-degree video packages for the UNC football team – Cooper’s a UNC grad – as well as the Carolina RailHawks. Duke’s VR therapy Cynthia Jones’ Virtual Reality Therapy for Phobias clinic isn’t the only place on Duke’s campus using virtual reality; the technology you’ll find there, compared to what media and gaming production companies are working with, isn’t necessarily cutting edge. But that’s not what’s important, says Jones, a counselor with the Duke Faculty Practice whose clinical work using virtual reality to treat phobias has expanded the technology’s reach into places even the most interdisciplinary development teams might never have considered. Virtual reality’s application as a phobia treatment makes a lot of sense once you learn a little about how phobia treatment has traditionally been approached. People like Jones often use what’s known as “immersion therapy” to help patients understand and control their psychosomatic responses to their phobic triggers – flying in an airplane, for instance.Cynthia Jones uses VR to help treat phobias at Duke. Here she demonstrates a simulation for public speaking. But traditionally, immersion therapy hasn’t actually been all that immersive. Patients with a fear of flying might have been asked to imagine themselves in an airplane. They would then evaluate their responses to that imagined input and practice controlling them. Even that can be surprisingly successful, Jones says, but the power of suggestion that comes with a 360-degree video experience – combined with physical cues like a rumbling seat – adds a new dimension to the treatment. “VR allows me to take that in-between step of what you imagine in your mind and kind of having a virtual world to play with before you go into the real world,” Jones says. Duke’s clinic started using the technology in the early 2000s as a result of the hospital’s partnership with Emory University, where it was pioneered. The modules Duke has adopted, each crafted to address a specific condition, are developed by a company called Virtually Better. Virtual reality’s clinical uses have also expanded to addiction treatment, post-traumatic stress, and motor skill rehabilitation in patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury. Jones says VR helps some patients overcome the stigma associated with certain phobias by making the process of overcoming them feel more like a discrete task. The modules she uses recommend between eight and 20 45-minute practice sessions, but Jones says most patients only need a handful. “They can think, ‘I’m going to go in and practice with this set of equipment instead of going in and feeling like a crazy person,’” she says. “People will use VR, particularly men, because they want to come in, get the job done, and get out of there.”LEVR Studios As creative director of online education at N.C. State University, Mike Cuales has worked for the past 14 years to find and develop tools that transcend the limitations of remote learning. Once he discovered virtual reality, he knew it represented a total shift away from – and a vast improvement upon – everything that had come before it, including classroom learning itself. “From an educational standpoint, the ability to immerse somebody in an environment and put them in the scene holds immense promise for almost anything I’ve been working in for the last decade,” Cuales says. In 2015, Cuales began LEVR Studios. For now, it’s a low-budget, boutique operation that Cuales and his business partner Arthur Earnest find time for when they’re not at their day jobs. Cuales 3-D-prints his 360-degree camera rigs himself and uses his background in education to his advantage.Mike Cuales sets up gear provided by Lenovo for a 360-degree immersive experience at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ BugFest. “With a small company, I can do the projects for a school, for example, or a nonprofit,” Cuales says. “Someone who can’t foot the bill for a Hollywood production.” That suits him just fine. Cuales says he’s not in virtual reality to become an industry tycoon. As an educator and researcher, his passion lies more in finding out what happens when artists and documentarians get their hands on the technology he’s grown to love. Cuales also understands better than many in his field the challenges virtual reality will face if it hopes to become more than a futuristic novelty. His job requires him to think about what will capture students’ attention, and unlike the bulk of technological innovation that’s come along in the last decade or so, virtual reality’s immersive premise demands that attention in an undivided form. That kind of focus is wonderful for learning, Cuales says, but it’s no mean feat to get students and consumers to commit to it.LEVR Studios’ Mike Cuales believes in the immersive power of VR for remote education. “It’s a big ask for our audience to sit down, put on this headset, and make sure you have enough space around you to move around and really check out to some degree,” Cuales says. “We’re not doing a tremendous job of preparing users for that.” As exciting as it is to don the headset for the first time, it’s also hard to completely let go and forget how goofy it must look to the outside world to be flailing about and remarking on things no one else can see. Cuales says he’s noticed that sense of vulnerability in demonstrations he’s been a part of, and he worries that could be an even more pernicious barrier. The solution to these problems, he thinks, is two-fold: Start people out with short experiences, and be conscious of the environment you create when introducing people to the technology. “That’s why I’m so passionate about its application in education,” Cuales says. “It’s a captive audience. If I say you need to take the next five minutes to step into this manufactured environment, that’s exciting because they’ve already made the commitment to be here.” Lucid Dream The founders of this Durham-based start-up are eager to discuss virtual reality’s big-picture future, but for now, they’re content to meet the market where it is. “What we’re not doing is games; I’ll start with that,” says Joshua Setzer, one of Lucid Dream’s co-founders. “Games are going to be a huge market in VR, and there’s going to be a lot of interesting possibilities, but we’re interested in VR mainly as a sales and marketing tool.” But even within that focused mandate, Lucid Dream has chosen to grapple with virtual reality at the conceptual level, partly because of the shared responsibility industry members feel to advance the technology, but also because a fundamental understanding of what makes virtual reality work promises to make their products more effective. “We’re hacking the conscious mind,” Setzer says. “We’re trying to hit the minimum threshold so that the human brain says ‘yes, this is reality.’” Mike McArdle, another Lucid Dream co-founder, is a former Apple Store employee who used to specialize in helping neophytes navigate Apple products. He has also dabbled in bringing the technology into the classroom through a separate initiative called the Virtual Reality Learning Experience. McArdle says virtual reality holds the promise of unprecedented accessibility in a way that takes away the abstraction of user interfaces, making tech-based tasks easier for even true tech novices by mimicking their real-life equivalents. “If you think about it, we’ve gotten used to abstractions with mouse and keyboard,” McArdle says. “(Virtual reality) is this crazy flat circle where we’re using the most insane, cutting-edge technology to make interaction with technology a lot more human, a lot more intuitive. VR could, ironically, bring a whole generation of people back into computing.”Lucid Dream co-founders Joshua Setzer and Mike McArdle say virtual reality has the ability to be the “greatest empathy machine that man has ever known.”McArdle’s skills are complemented by Setzer’s. The Duke graduate used to work in architectural rendering designing yachts, and he has a strong familiarity with 3-D modeling and the types of clients in the market for Lucid Dream’s work. So far, those include real estate developers, car and boat manufacturers, and product designers, all of which can benefit from the ability to give potential customers a tour of products that are either not present or don’t yet exist. In addition to possessing a near-complete virtual reality skill-set in a three-man team – RTPVR’s Alex Grau completes the trio – Lucid Dream’s co-founders are willing to discuss the cultural and philosophical implications of the medium, both the value and danger that awaits a society that places a premium on augmenting and replacing sensory input with something other than one’s immediate physical surroundings. “We have different mental constructs because of how we interact with different technologies due to the spread between the wealth of the world and the poorest of the poor,” McArdle warns. “This could accelerate that. It might be the great equalizer if enough of this technology gets around, but it might be the great divide where some people are able to start living in a virtual world.” Setzer chimes in with a more optimistic perspective. “It also has the potential to be the greatest empathy machine that man has ever known,” he says. “There are all these really interesting immersive journalism pieces that take an audience into another person’s world and life in pretty haunting ways. There are so many opportunities to build understanding.” The two agree that virtual reality, like the internet, is simply another media tool that expands access to both the real world and to refuges from it. What becomes of this tool will depend on how those who pioneer virtual reality define its place. “It’s business, but it’s much more than just business,” Setzer says. “It’s society-changing technology. There are a lot of important conversations to be had.”
courtesy La Farm BakeryWith five bakeries in the downtown area alone, most of them less than a handful of years old, Raleigh has quickly become a destination for the gourmet baked good lover. Come holiday time, there’s something for everyone. An assortment of treats from Boulted Bread slivered into bite-sized portions would make a perfect cocktail pairing … a weekend morning stroll through the State Farmers Market would be sweeter with one of Annelore’s German Bakery’s spicy gingerbread cookies … a sticky toffee pudding-flavored macaron at Lucettegrace could turn an afternoon coffee break into a mini celebration … a crusty loaf of bread from any of these spots would make a perfect complement to a warm winter stew.Besides stopping in and stocking up, most local bakehouses have seasonal specials, too.Here’s what to plan ahead for. Boulted Bread provides rustic, hearty favorites. Last year’s spiced date levain was a hit and will be back; and there’s also old-fashioned apple and cranberry pies; crusty-sweet-croissant-y kouign-amann; and soft gingerbread. Order online or in-store between Dec. 2 and Dec. 18; 614 W. South St.; boultedbread.com Dewey’s Bakery is a seasonal taste of history. Many North Carolinians know the Winston-Salem outpost as the source of annual tins of Moravian sugar cookies; each year lately, the store opens a pop-up shop in Cameron Village from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Alongside those wafer-thin sugar cookies are boxes of cinnamon-bun-esque Moravian sugar cake, pies and cakes, and Lovefeast buns, sweet yeast rolls with nutmeg, orange, and lemon. 421 Daniels St.; deweys.com La Farm Bakery and its breads are featured in this month’s “Favorite Things” issue of O: The Oprah Magazine. Among their celebrated goods are dark chocolate babka, the traditional Jewish dessert; stollen German holiday bread; linzer-inspired challah: challah bread filled with raspberries and cream; and fig-polenta-walnut bread. Just in time for winter orders, the popular Cary spot opens its second production bakery downtown on West Chatham Street this month, and a new cafe adjacent to it is under construction to open come spring. Order by Dec. 21; 4248 N.W. Cary Parkway; lafarmbakery.com Lucettegrace is for the elegant dessert lover. This year, the pastry shop is increasing its in-store packaged treats, including fudge and sweet granolas, for hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. There are also three bûche de noël French Christmas cake flavors to choose from and pre-order: Red velvet rolled with cream cheese mousse with raspberry jam; chocolate cake rolled in pecan pie mousse, set in chocolate mousse, and resting on chocolate brownie cake; and gingerbread cake rolled with lemon cream, set in chai mousse, and resting on more gingerbread. Order to pick up on Dec. 23 and 24; 235 S. Salisbury St.; lucettegrace.com Night Kitchen is where to find unexpected treats. Last year’s order-ahead, pre-wrapped assortment of homemade holiday cookies was popular and will again be an option; as well as linzertorte, an Austrian spiced nut pastry shell filled with raspberry and red currant jam; and panettone, an Italian celebratory cake studded with dried fruit. Order in-person or by phone by Dec. 20; 984-232-8907; 10 W. Franklin St., Ste. 140; raleighnightkitchen.comYellow Dog Bread offers baked goods with familiar Southern influences. Rosemary, cheddar, and pumpkin seed boule; yeast rolls; pumpkin walnut bread; and other treats are all available throughout the winter. For the holidays, the order-ahead selection includes salted pecan pie, cranberry apple pie, and sweet potato cheesecake. Order in-person or by phone by Dec. 21; 984-232-0291; 219 E. Franklin St.
Jill Knight, The News & Observerby Jessie AmmonsIt’s hard to miss the Dixie Deer Classic: One of the State Fairgrounds’ largest annual events brings more than 20,000 folks to town the first weekend of March. This year’s show March 3 – 5 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wake County Wildlife Club, the local conservation nonprofit behind the event. “It’s a phenomenon that’s built on itself,” says club member Jim Hudson.The Dixie Deer Classic is the 100-member Wildlife Club’s only fundraiser. Begun 37 years ago to showcase local deer hunting in a time when hunters often left the state to seek prizewinning bucks, Hudson says just a few hundred people attended that first show. Those numbers have since multiplied by 100, and the scope now encompasses environmental stewardship education and kids’ outdoor activities, too. These include biennial “wildlife careers days” led by outdoors writers, park rangers, and environmental scientists that middle and high-schoolers can attend for academic credit. There’s a family-friendly scavenger hunt and exhibitors galore – and there’s also still an area for hunters to bring buck mounts and racks to be scored.While the Classic’s roots are local, word has spread. “People come in from all over creation,” Hudson says, to reconvene annually. The atmosphere is familiar and convivial, much like a family reunion. “It’s very festive.”General admission for the weekend is $12, and kids ages 12 and under are free; on Friday, youth, seniors, military, and women can buy a day pass for $6; dixiedeerclassic.org
“The boxes support local food makers, and they’re a chance to practice gratitude. The sentiments that come with gifts are inspiring.”–Cathleen Cueto, co-owner N.C. Madeby Jessie Ammonsphotograph by Madeline GrayNicole makes amazing pies. She’s the friend who always brings something extra delicious to parties.” Cathleen Cueto moved to Durham from Brooklyn, New York City in 2014 and says she still remembers the first time she met her friend and now business partner Nicole Bogas. “Amazing food is memorable.” It turned out to be especially true for the duo, who today work together to curate gourmet food gift boxes at N.C. Made. Bogas first founded the company as a side business in 2014 while also working in digital advertising. “I was so excited about the food in our area, and inspired by how many of them had beautiful product design.” She wanted to share her favorites with friends and clients across the country, so she decided to do it herself. “We hang our hat on things that are typically North Carolina,” Bogas says. N.C. Made’s first boxes remain among its most popular: the N.C. Barbecue themed package includes barbecue sauce, hushpuppy mix, and a N.C. BBQ map; the N.C. Beer one includes a beer-and-bacon barbecue sauce, spiced apple beer jam, and gaelic ale mustard. There are snack boxes, customizable corporate gifts, and wedding welcome boxes. As business grew, Bogas brought Cueto on board. Winter is an especially sweet time of year at N.C. Made. “We can’t send any boxes with chocolate in the warmer months,” Cueto says, because it melts in the mail. The holidays mean the return of boxes with cocoa candy: in particular, city-themed boxes. If you want to send an Oak City box to a loved one, inside will be Slingshot Coffee Company cascara tea, Crude shrub syrup, Benny T’s Vesta dry hot sauce, a note card letterpressed by One and Only Paper, and a bar of Videri chocolate. No matter the theme choice, every box comes with a handwritten note. Sometimes, Bogas and Cueto use the front and back of note cards to transcribe customers’ thoughts. “Even if they’re really long, we write it out,” Bogas says. After all, a personal touch combined with amazing food is bound to be remembered. “Those are the aspects we get excited about.”ncmade.net
Travis Long, News & ObserverTimes to be together throughout the Triangleby Katherine PooleWe’ve made our list and checked it twice. Here are a few ways to make merry across the Triangle during the month of December, if the fates allow. Faithful friendsTo experience a really Raleigh Christmas, plan ahead for these City of Oaks traditions.Dec. 6State Capitol tree lighting ceremony5 – 7:30 p.m.; free; N.C. State Capitol, 1 E. Edenton St.; nchistoricsites.org/capitolDec. 6 – 10Theatre in the Park presents A Christmas CarolWed. – Sat. 7 p.m., Sat. – Sun. 2 p.m.; $32 – $92; 2 E. South St.; theatreinthepark.com/whatson/a-christmas-carol-2017Dec. 7 – 17Holiday Express at Pullen Park4 – 9 p.m.; $11.29; 520 Ashe Ave.; raleighnc.gov/home/content/parkspec/articles/holidayexpress.htmlDec. 15 – 24Carolina Ballet presents The NutcrackerSee website for dates and times; $37 – $111; 2 E. South St.; carolinaballet.comLight heartChildren of all ages will delight in these shining stars. Catch a new spin on a holiday classic complete with Red Rider BB guns, Charlie Brown Christmas trees, reindeer games, and big bad wolves. Then, jam on some gingerbread house building at Marbles Kids Museum. Troubles will be guaranteed out of sight.Dec. 1 – 4The Cary Players present A Christmas StoryFri. Sat. and Mon. 7:30 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 3 p.m.; $18 – $20; 101 Dry Ave., Cary; caryplayers.org/shows/a-christmas-story-december-2017Dec. 1 – 10Theatre in the Park presents A Charlie Brown Christmas See website for dates and times; $12 general admission, $10 season member; 107 Pullen Road; theatreinthepark.com Dec. 5Carolina Puppet Theater presents Rudolph11 a.m.; $5; 300 W. Ballentine St., Holly Springs; etix.com keyword: Carolina Puppet TheaterDec. 8 – 10A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol and The Great Big Holiday Bake OffFri. 7:30 p.m., Sat. 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m.; $10 general admission, $6 students 16 and under; Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex; etix.com keyword: Great Big Holiday BakeoffDec. 9Gingerbread Jamboree10 a.m. – 12 noon and 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.; $12 members, $15 non-members, $20 per household; Marbles Kids Museum, 201 E. Hargett St.; marbleskidsmuseum.org/gingerbreadjamboreeHappy golden days of yoreYou can make a date to experience Christmas as in the olden days. Take the wayback machine to the 19th century Dec. 9 for a taffy pulling party at Leigh Farm Park in Durham, then travel over to Bennett Place State Historic Site to learn about Christmas during the Civil War. Or make a stop in the 20th century for an evening of holiday music in the style of Glenn Miller’s big-band swing.Dec. 9A Kid’s Life: Taffy Pulling at Leigh Farm Park10 a.m. – 12 noon; free, but a small donation is suggested; 370 Leigh Farm Road; durhamnc.gov/753/Parks-RecreationChristmas in the Piedmont during the Civil War10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; free; Bennett Place State Historic Site, 4409 Bennett Memorial Road, Durham; bennettplacehistoricsite.comDec. 15 – 18In a Holiday MoodFri. 7 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m.; $20 adults, $18 students; $10 children under 12; N.C. Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St.; ncmuseumofhistory.org/events/holiday-mood