Day 96–A Locavore’s Lunch–Sitti

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Hard to tell how warm and soft this pita is from the photo!

 When Ellie was very little, I enrolled her in a creative movement program for preschool children at the Raleigh School of Ballet. We spent every Saturday morning at the school and then we would join one of her classmates and her mom at next-door Neomonde Bakery. Owned by a Lebanese American family, Neomonde features food from the Middle East and the Mediterranean area. Their food is really absolutely delicious. Their homemade pita and flatbread are so good that many local grocers carry it. Part casual restaurant, part grocery, part take out, Neomonde has a stellar reputation in the area for fresh, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. I don’t know how many quarts of humus I ate during those post-dance meetings, but it was all good–lots of garlic and a topping of cold pressed olive oil. YUM. A few years ago, the owners of Neomonde opened their own restaurant, Sitti, in downtown Raleigh, and while the food and ambiance are more upscale (I wouldn’t bring two rowdy ballerinas here!), it is all fresh, homemade and amazing. Sitti is a member of North Carolina’s 10% Challenge, meaning they have agreed to purchase at least 10% of their produce and food products from North Carolina farms.

Ellie isn’t a tiny dancer anymore, but we took a spring break opportunity to venture out to Sitti for a girl’s lunch. We started with an appetizer of falafel, which arrived carefully placed on a cucumber yogurt sauce. It was very good–crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. We ate them before we could take a photo! We also had a basket of fresh, very hot pita with an olive dipping sauce. Also delish. Could have stopped there, but no, we continued…

Our lunches were huge, super fresh and wonderful. Ellie had the chicken shawarma pizzette–a flatbread “pizza” with chicken shawarma, cheeses, roasted garlic and onions. It also came with a salad as big as her head. I had the curried chicken special–a huge mound of fresh, chicken salad loaded with my new favorite spice, turmeric! The chicken salad was served on a bed of field greens, cucumber, tomatoes, oranges and roasted red peppers. The whole thing was sprinkled with feta cheese. Needless to say, we have lunch for tomorrow as well!

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My curried chicken salad was delicious and lovely!

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Ellie's chicken shawarma pizzette was made on fresh flatbread and cooked to perfection in the wood oven. Yum.

Kudos to Sitti for bringing Mediterranean and Med-inspired food to downtown Raleigh. And for giving us a continuation of mother-daughter time centered on healthy, fresh food.

Day 76–A Locavore’s Lunch–Crema on Fayetteville Street

When it comes to food, you really can’t tell a book (or a restaurant) by its cover. I’ve been to some trendy “local” restaurants where it was clear that they spent more time picking the font for the logo than testing the menu. Conversely, I’ve been to some wonderful places that, from the outside, didn’t have a lot of spark, but actually had satisfying, fresh food. Crema in downtown Raleigh, is like that. Good food, but it’s easy to miss. Glad I remembered it yesterday when I was running low on energy and didn’t have any leftovers to bring for lunch.

Crema is on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, just a 1/2 block south of the Capitol. It’s main claim to fame is homemade ice cream, which in the summer is actually hard to find downtown. I’m not ready for all that, although the temperature was 85 degrees yesterday afternoon. I was looking for a fresh and light lunch, so I entered the easily passable storefront and I was in for a wonderful surprise. Crema purchases much of their ingredients locally and they make almost everything from scratch.

In the end, I took my marinated tomato and brie sandwich with cucumber salad to the grounds of the Capitol for a picnic lunch. At $4.99, it was a genuine bargain for a downtown lunch. The sandwich was so good, I need to remember to make it at home, where olive oil dribbling down my chin is a little more accepted. The sandwich was just sliced tomatoes marinated in a vinaigrette, with slices of brie cheese and field greens on a warm baguette. Easy and more interesting than the standard sandwich–so why don’t I ever do this?

Crema is open 6 days a week, so if you are looking for the elusive downtown Saturday lunch spot, give them a try!

Day 42–A Locavore’s Lunch–Market Restaurant

The Market Restaurant provides fresh, organic, locally produced food!

I work with some really awesome people who, thankfully for me, seem to “get” me. For my birthday, they gave me a generous gift card to a restaurant in Raleigh called Market. Market serves primarily locally grown, seasonal food and locally produced, pasture-raised, pasture-fed meat. How did I not know about this place??? So on my birthday yesterday, my husband and I walked to lunch at Market and enjoyed a very healthy and delicious lunch!

Market is located in Raleigh on the north end of Blount Street (for you Raleigh natives, it’s down near the Pilot Mill Building, where Halifax Court used to be). In a converted service station, Market is on the small side, with about 15 tables inside and a few more on the patio. Lunch begins at 11:30 and when we arrived at 11:20, there were already people waiting to get in. By the time we left at about 12:15, it was full, so get there early! They also serve dinner and sometimes Sunday brunch.

The menu clearly articulates the mission statement of Market and lists their local producers (yay!!). Was glad to see our favorite Mae Farm listed! Since Fridays feature $5 Friday specials, we both had the specials and I had a house salad, which was very fresh and probably the best salad I’ve had in a while. I had the vegan 3 bean chili special, which was a thick, spicy chili served over jasmine rice. On a chilly winter day, it was perfect. My husband had the pulled pork sandwich with apple/cabbage slaw and he really liked it, although he didn’t like the pickled onions served on the sandwich (easy fix, scrape them off and move on). Other specials included rockfish tacos and risotto with mushrooms and squash. Other entrees included fried duck salad and a variation of pupusas.

When we left, we felt full, but not stuffed, which was nice. The portions are satisfying, but not overly huge. Would love to try their brunch sometime. The staff regularly post specials and events to their Facebook page and Twitter, so it’s easy to keep up with the menu.

I hope Market is just the beginning of socially conscious dining in Raleigh. They certainly prove that you can be organic, sustainable and local and still have really yummy food!