Category Archive: Around Charlotte

Fun and food around Charlotte, NC

how to entertain the in-laws

The Mr’s parents were in town last weekend.  While we love our fair city, we are frequently at loss as to how to entertain people when they come visit.  As evidenced by our food and beer blog, for entertainment we pretty much eat out and support our local beer scene.  While that sounds like lots of fun to us, we aren’t ever sure if visitors will enjoy it as much as we do.  Luckily, The Mr’s parents were game.

Should your in-laws come to town in the near future, consider showing them a good time this way…

First, take them to Food Truck Friday in Southend on Friday night.

The Herban Legend

SCQ Truck

Then take them to Good Bottle Co and really show them what they are missing back home despite the recent improvements in Mississippi’s beer laws.

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Make them Challah French Toast for brunch on Saturday morning.

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Once that has had time to digest, take them to 10 Park Lanes for a little healthy competition.

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After working up a thirst at the bowling lanes, take them out to NoDa for some home grown brews.

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For Saturday night dinner, you make them some Korean Short Ribs and baked sweet potatoes with Grilled Asparagus & Portobellos with Shallot Soy Dressing…

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and you wash it down with Wicked Weed’s Infidel Porter that the hubs brought home from a recent trip to Asheville.

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Sunday afternoon, you introduce your mother-in-law to this…

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(after having taken her to actual church that morning) only shortly before realizing that you forgot to buy the Bomba rice from Sur La Table before it closed and therefore can’t make the paella you had planned for Sunday dinner.  Instead you order pizza from The Pizza Peel

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and show them how YOUR James Bond kicks THEIR James Bond’s butt.

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And I think it goes without saying that on Monday, after they’ve left and Sur La Table has opened again, you buy the Bomba rice that you should have bought two days ago, make the enormous pan of Chicken and Sausage Paella anyway, and eat it yourself…

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al fresco, of course.  It makes for fantastic leftovers for the next couple of days.

 

newmrssig

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1173

real food: a confessional

Well we are now on day 8 of our 30-Day real food challenge.  I bet you are wondering how we are doing.  For the most part we are doing really well with it. I’ve altered some shopping habits and been making several menu staples and pantry staples myself (I’ll tell you about those later) but…

I have a confession to make…

We had two instances this week where we ate some processed food.  :(  The first one was quite minor.  The second…well…

You know those kids who never drank in high school, were always home before curfew, and never broke any rules, then went off to college and went stark, raving mad and partied to be point of nearly flunking out during their first semester.  Let’s just say the second incident fell more along those lines…

Does it help if I clarify that neither instance was intentional?  I think that just illustrates how hard something like this is in our current American food climate.

Since you guys don’t follow us around town and only check in on us here, it would be very easy to skip over the bits where we didn’t follow the rules and only report back on the parts where we succeeded.  But, if we are going to do this, it only works if we are completely honest about it.   (As I sit here writing this on Easter Sunday, I can’t help but consider parallels between my temptation to hide these “real food sins” and our attempts to hide our actual sins…but that is a whole other can of worms. Let’s stick to the “real food sins” for the time being, shall we?)

VeggiePizza

We host our small group for church every Tuesday and the members of our group take turns providing snacks.  This week the provided snack was a “veggie pizza.”  It looked beautiful with all the raw broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers and tomatoes on top.  Without thinking I grabbed a small piece (~2″ square) and swallowed it down only to realize later that the “pizza” crust was made from pre-packaged crescent rolls.   Not a terrible “real food sin” in severity.  But you’d think on Day 2 I would have been a little more focused and on my guard.  Apparently not.  I’ll have to be more careful next time.

Oh, and, I’m pretty sure The Mr had like 5 pieces…

I also need to figure out a balance here.  If friends will be bringing snacks to our home weekly, then this is something that is going to come up at least 3 more times during our 30 day crusade.  I’m certainly not going to impose these rules on them and make them go to any extra work to bring us snacks.  This is our challenge, not theirs.  So, we’ve got to find ways to politely decline snacks (and eat something from our pantry) if they include processed foods.  Hmmm…

Doozy

For some reason, at the end of my work day on Friday, I was craving a burger something fierce.  So, I texted The Mr shortly before leaving the office and he was up for burgers as well, even though we had leftovers ready to be reheated in the fridge.  Our usual go to burger joint is Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar on East Blvd but The Mr wanted to try something new so he suggested we check our Kickstand Burgers-n-Bar on Central.  Y’all…it didn’t even cross my mind to worry about what real food options we would have there.

The Mr was hungry and jonesing for an appetizer.  As soon as he grabbed the menu the Shrimp & Fried Grits caught his eye.  (Yes, you read that correctly.  It was Shrimp and Fried Grits, not fried shrimp and grits…there’s a difference.)  It was a cake of deep fried grits with a “shrimp and grits” sauce on the top with andouille sausage.   It tasted like jambalaya.

Our discussion was whether or not we needed an appetizer, not

  • “No refined grains such as white flour or white rice.”  I’m pretty sure that grits fall into a refined grain category.  
  • “No deep fried foods.”  Strike two.
  • “Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).”  Not sure whether or not the sausage in it was local because it did not even dawn on me to ask.

I’ve gotta say, though, it was totally worth it.  Just look at this…

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Seriously, The Mr is lucky that I didn’t tackle him to keep him away from it.  It was crazy good!

But wait, our sinful indulgence didn’t stop there.  After all, the whole reason we were eating out was because we wanted burgers.  I had The Kickstand signature burger (which is mixed with onion, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic) topped  with cranberry chutney, caramelized onions, and baked brie.  The Mr had The Fender Bender with chili, mushrooms, slaw, American cheese and bacon.  He asked that they hold the fried onions.  Sides included fries for me and tots for him.  (Sorry, no pics.  I was too busy cramming that burger in my face to remember to take pics.)  So let’s see how many real food rules we broke with these:

  • “No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat, not just wheat).”  Neither of us had or asked for whole wheat buns.
  •  “Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).”  Again, not sure if the meat was local ‘cuz we didn’t think to ask…
  • “No refined sweeteners such a sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial things like Splenda.”  Not sure what all was in my cranberry chutney, but it tasted very sweet and tangy.  Also, both of us were freely dipping our sides in Heinz ketchup, which every one know is full of sugar…
  • “No deep fried foods.”  Um, yeah…#epicfail.

Well, go big or go home, right?  What upsets me more than the number of rules we broke in one two-hour period, is the fact that it didn’t even dawn on me/us to choose differently.  As soon as I realized I was craving burgers and started down that path, we were both on autopilot.  Back to our typical behaviors and decision making patterns.   It simply didn’t occur to us that this was not in keeping with the goals we set for ourselves for this month.  That’s supposed to be the advantage of doing something like this with someone else.  Your parter is supposed to remind you and help keep you accountable.

Neither one of us flinched.

I’m telling you, though, when we are done with our 30 day challenge, we are definitely going back to Kickstand.  It may have been an complete and total real food failure, but it was DELICIOUS!  My burger was amazing and those fries were some of the best fries I’ve had in a while.  They also had a good beer selection, not the best I’ve seen in our burgeoning beer town, but a good one nonetheless.  I guess we are just a little spoiled on the beer front here…#firstworldproblems.

MiscConf

Let’s see, what else can I do I need to confess to you…

I’m annoyed by the inconvenience of shopping for local produce and meat for my weekly groceries.  I HATE fighting the crowds to do my grocery shopping on the weekend.  I’ve been working 4 10-hour days since October, getting Thursdays off, and doing my grocery shopping then.  Even then, though, I still like to get up and get my shopping out of the way first thing in the morning.  Until this last week or so, I had it down to a science.  Hit Target by 8:30a for things like toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.  Then head across the street to Trader Joe’s for the food. Home by 9:30a (or 10:00a at the latest) with the rest of my day off ahead of me.

Around here Farmer’s Markets are only open on Saturdays.  There are crowds there too and you have to get up at the stinking crack of dawn to get there before everything gets picked over.  The “stinking crack of dawn” is not where I like to start my Saturdays…and did I mention that I HATE fighting crowds?  However, there are two local public markets which sell only goods from local farms and are open on Thursdays – Atherton Mill Market and 7th Street Public Market.  However, one opens at 10:00a and the other opens at 11:00a.  So, if I want to get everything that I can locally, before heading to Trader Joe’s for the rest, I’m not even getting started on this until 10:00a.  I have found that I can consistently get the meat I want from 7th Street and between the two can always get local milk, eggs, and cheese on Thursdays, but neither of these places seem to be as stocked in the produce department on Thursday as they are on Saturdays. (I started researching this part of it before we started our actual 30 days.)  That means I end up running around to 3-4 different places in the middle of the day on Thursday just trying to get local grown food.

I miss the one-stop shopping!  Frankly, though, it’s starting to annoy me that it is more difficult and inconvenient to get the local food.  It should be the other way around. (Markets, if you are reading this, it would be immensely helpful if you would post on your websites the produce you have available each week.)  I am thoroughly pleased with the goods I get from these places, I just think it should be easier to get local stuff than imported stuff.  Ya feel me?

Final real food airing of grievances – I. MISS. MY. HAZELNUT. COFFEE. CREAMER!!!  My morning coffee is just not the same with plain half-and-half.  To say I am not a morning person is the understatement of the century.  Needless to say, taking away my favorite thing about the morning, makes for one unhappy momma (pup momma, that is.)

Despite our Friday night epic failure and my griping here today,  we are enjoying this challenge and have been able to stick to the rules for the remaining 95% of our week.  When we have eaten the food that I’ve prepared we have stuck to the real food rules beautifully.  And I am really glad that we are making a better effort to support our local farmers and economy.  I’m getting some tremendous satisfaction out of making some of our menu and pantry staples myself.  You’ll have to tune in later in the week to read all about that.

Until then, we will keep trucking along and trying to keep it real!

newmrssig

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1144

it’s about to get real around here

Sorry for the lack of posts last week.  Blame The Mr’s travels, me subsequently having a hectic week, and the power being out for two hours because of a storm on the one night I had time to work on posts.  But now, my fella is back in town, the power remains on, and all is right with the world.

So, I’m baffled. I can’t believe that I have lived in Charlotte and been a food blog reader for as long as I have and have only come across the blog 100 Days of Real Food in the last month!  I seriously don’t know how on earth I’ve been missing it.  Oh, well.  Whatevs.

For those three other people in the world who haven’t read it but somehow read this blog, the 100 Days blog is about how a family of four completely cut processed food out of their life for 100 days and the subsequent dietary changes they maintained after the initial 100 days.  I’ve found it to be really interesting…and eye opening.  In fact, it got me wondering…how much processed food do The Mr and I really eat?

Initially, I was all “I buy 97% of our groceries at Trader Joe’s.  We can’t be doing that badly, right?”

Before I can answer that question, I should clarify what Lisa from 100 Days outlined as “real food” for her family’s 100 day challenge.  Pretty much real food is just what it sounds like.  It’s food that either remains or is made from ingredients that have not been processed in any way.  So, for Lisa’s 100 day challenge here were the terms:

What You CAN Eat:

1.  Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.

2.  Lots of fruit a vegetables (as many as possible from local farmers).

3.  Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese.

4.  100% whole wheat and whole grains.

5.  Seafood (preferably wild caught over farm-raised).

6.  Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).

7.  Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee and tea, wine, and beer.  (WHEW!)

8.  Snacks like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and popcorn.

9.  All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates in moderation.

What you CAN NOT Eat:

1.  No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat, not just wheat).

2.  No refined sweeteners such a sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial things like Splenda.

3.  Nothing out of a box, bag, can, bottle, or package that has more than five ingredients listed on the label.

4.  No deep fried foods,

5.  No “fast foods.”

 

So keeping those in mind, I started looking at the things in my refrigerator.  Here’s what I found:

Exhibit A – My FAVORITE Tru-Moo Chocolate Milk (which I typically use for my late afternoon snack)

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Daaammmnnn!  I knew it was too good to be true that chocolate milk could be good for me.  So how many “real food rules” have I broken with this one – 1) sugar as an added ingredient, 2) packaged product with more than 5 ingredients in it, and 3) cornstarch.

 

Exhibit B – The Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Links we eat with breakfast each morning. 

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This one didn’t surprise me much.  Definitely counting more than 5 ingredients on the back of the package…two of them being added sugar and added salt.

 

Exhibit C – My FAVORITE Trader Joe’s Hazelnut non-dairy creamer that I put in The Mr puts in my coffee each a.m.

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You may ask yourself what exactly I thought “non-dairy creamer” entailed.  Truth is, I didn’t think about it at all really.  I just liked the hazelnut flavor and thought it would be healthier than say Coffee Mate you buy at main stream grocery stores, you know, since it comes from TJs.  I’m betting that the fact “cane sugar” is listed as the second ingredient in it means it has a pretty hefty dose of it.  Again I say – daaaammmnnn!  (FYI, that should be pronounced with at least three syllables…)

And finally…

Exhibit D – The Trader Joe’s Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage I’ve been putting in my lunchtime quiche.

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This one is sneaky.  Conveniently lumped into the category of “seasoning” for this product are added salt and added sugar.  Hey, at least TJs was honest about it.  They could have easily left only the generic “seasoning” in the ingredients list and it would have met the “no packaged items with more than five ingredients rule.”  But…they told the truth and I’m a believer that the truth will set you free.  That’s true of many things, but in this case it’s free from added sugar and salt.

Clearly, not all is as it seems.  For the most part, as long as we eat at home, we do pretty well with these things.  But, as this little experiment illustrated, there are some hidden traps out there.  And, truth be told, I talk a good game about eating local but when it comes to my weekly shopping, I opt for convenience.  I can make a greater effort to get more of our meat, dairy, and produce from local farmers.  We’re much better about drinking local than eating local. ;)  I need to learn to shake the hand that feeds me…not just the one that makes my beer.

On her blog, Lisa encourages readers to go for a 10-day real food challenge to open their eyes about the hidden processed foods they encounter.  I don’t know that I’m ready to sign up for a full 100-day challenge, but I think 10 days might be a little too short for us, especially since we have a pretty good start.  I mean, aside from my Tru-Moo habit, our snacks are mostly things like plain Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese, and raw nuts.   In ten days we could simply avoid eating out and make one run to the farmer’s market.    That’s not enough to really start to impact our habits and the choices we make about our food.

So, The Mr and I have decided to put ourselves on a 30 day challenge to follow the rules listed above and only eat real food.  We started yesterday and we’ve got two weeks to get into a rhythm before he has to go on a business trip.  I can tell you right now, I’m already missing my hazelnut flavored coffee creamer…

I’m also thankful that beer and wine are the products of natural processes which put them in the list of “allowed” foods and beverages.  Otherwise, no deal…or at least only maybe 98% deal.

Anyway, we’ve got one day down and 29 more to go.  Who knows, as we approach the 30-day mark we might call an audible and decide to go the full 100.  You never know!  Wish us luck! We’ll keep you posted as to how we are doing!

newmrssig

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1136

my husband thinks my beer belly is sexy

Why shouldn’t he?  He gave it to me.  He’s the one who introduced me to craft beer.

Our 14th anniversary is coming up this Spring.   Beyond that, 2013 marks the 16th year that we’ve known each other.  In our 16 years as a couple, I think we’ve made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day twice…maybe three times.  We’re just not big Valentine’s Day people.  Needless to say, our conversation over breakfast yesterday went something like this:

The Mr:  “Did you get me a valentine?”

Me:  “Oooh…today is Valentine’s Day, isn’t it?”

The Mr: “Sure is.”

Me:  “Well then, no, I didn’t get you a valentine.  Did you get me one?”

The Mr:  “Nope.  What do you want to do?”

Me: “NoDa’s releasing a special Valentine’s Day beer.  Want to go get one when the tap room opens?”

The Mr:  “Are you sure that’s all you want to do for Valentine’s Day?”

Me:  “Why not?  I love you.  You love me.  We love beer. “

The Mr.  “Point taken.”

Truth be told, whether we had other Valentine’s Day plans or exchanged gifts or not, I had been plotting since October to head out to NoDa Brewing Co on Valentine’s Day.  Last October we were out at NoDa for a Beer and Cheese Pairing hosted by Chad, the head brewer.  Sadly, I never got around to actually blogging about that event.  I did, however, learn that a nice Gouda can really take the edge off of the hoppiest of IPAs.  The Mr is the “hophead” in the family, not me.  But apparently, if I’ve got a wedge of Gouda and stack of crackers, I could polish off a pint of an IPA very easily.

Anyway…while at the Beer and Cheese Pairing, Chad told us about his planned Valentine’s Day release – a Belgian style Quadruple called Ménage a Quàd.

Menage a Quad

The Ménage a Quàd is part of NoDa’s “NoDable Series,” unique small batch beers “that otherwise would not be possible on a larger scale” released only in the tap room each week.  Good news is that if these beers are successful then the brewers may add them to their regular menu.  Bad news is they won’t let you growler them and take home.

For those of you who don’t know what a Belgian Quad is, here’s how I understand it.  Belgian Dubbels, Tripels, and Quadruples were originally reserved for Abbey brewed ales.  However, over the years, secular breweries (particularly in the U.S.) have started trying their hands at it.    Basically, these three brews are distinguished by the number of times they are put through the fermentation process with the “quad” going through a total of four fermentations and resulting in the richest, strongest, and most complex flavors and highest alcohol content of the three.  Typically quads are high in malts with background yeast tastes and notes of fruits and chocolate with alcohol contents trending towards 10% or more.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I did a bit of internet research on these distinctions and found the simplest most straightforward answer in this blog post from the Dallas Beer Snobs.)

I took a few notes after our conversation with Chad in October, but it’s been several months since I’ve looked at them. (So, Chad, if you ever read this and I have gotten it wrong, please forgive and correct me.)  If I deciphered my notes correctly the Ménage a Quàd was brewed using the same yeasts as the Westmalle beers and was aged in red wine barrels.  The Mr and I thought we tasted raspberry and chocolate notes as we sipped our snifters.  The “sipping” was our attempt to savor it, because this baby was smooth enough that it could have gone down MUCH faster.  Savoring was required because, much to our chagrin, NoDa limited patrons to two each in tap room on the night of the release.  Despite our sadness at the limitation,  with the Ménage weighing in at 11.2%, it was probably for the best.

As I sat sipping, making the low pitched murmurs of yummied satisfaction, I noticed The Mr staring at me and smirking.  “I should have known the way to your heart would be through beer,” he laughed.  “You + me + 2 beers = a ménage a quàd.”  Like I said at the top, my husband thinks my beer belly is sexy.

Who needs a Valentine’s Day ménage a troix when you can have a NoDa Ménage a Quàd? ;)

kitchensig1

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1057

Bravo, Luciano!

If you’ve paid attention to my Instagram feed in the side bar, you’ve noticed that I have a problem.  What started out as a “treat” one lazy Saturday morning has now be come an addiction.  At least one morning each weekend – sometimes Saturday, other times Sunday – I find myself driving to Sunflour Baking Company for a cheddar biscuit with bacon.  This weekend was no different, but I fear it’s getting worse.  Last week I also grabbed some Duck Rabbit Milk Stout cupcakes and a couple sandwiches while I was in there.  This has got to stop soon.  Otherwise, before I know it, I will be walking out with an entire case of Ham & Gruyere Croissants, all the while cramming yet another cheddar biscuit into my face.

Each week as I wait for my biscuit, I see this quote on the chalkboard style menu that hangs on the wall just inside the bakery door:

I think that’s lovely.  Don’t you? As much as I am an opera fan, I had never heard or seen this quote from Pavarotti before.  All I can say is – “Bravo, Luciano!  Bravo…

and I HAVE to stop coming here so often or otherwise I’m gonna start to look a little too much like you.”

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1038

New Kid On the Block

These days, most the buzz in Charlotte is about the DNC.  For local beer lovers, there is something much more newsworthy though… the opening of Charlotte’s newest brewery. In case you hadn’t noticed, our fair city is becoming quite the beer town.  Yesterday Triple C Brewing Co., newest addition to the Charlotte beer scene, opened it’s doors.

The Mr. and I had a busy day, so we weren’t sure that we’d be able to stop by.  But, being the beer lovers that we are, we just simply couldn’t let the occasion pass without squeezing in a visit.  We only had about 30 min to spare for new brews (sad, I know) and we spent 20 of those minutes waiting in line to actually procure a pint.

The Mr. gulped down Triple C’s Greenway IPA, while I guzzled their Smoked Amber.    He wanted to get his hands on a Baby Maker, but didn’t think it wise to try something that bold when we had so little time.  We had to drink them so fast, we can’t really give you honest opinions on them.  We did get to take in the tap room pretty well while all queued up, but sadly did not get a lot of pics.  For now, you’ll have to take my word for it – rustic/industrial, but elegant.  I dug it.

I guess we’ll just HAVE to give it another whirl when we’ve got more time spend…

Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/980

Truckin’

I’ve known for a while that a food truck phenomenon was sweeping the nation.  I’ve also known that a Charlotte food truck contingent existed, although I wasn’t all that interested in chasing them down.  Until recently, however, I also didn’t know what I was missing.  Enter my friend Jenn who, a couple weeks ago, offered to take me to the South End Gourmet Food Trucks for a belated birthday celebration.

Charlotte’s South End is a historic, but urban/funky neighborhood adjacent to Charlotte’s Uptown.  Apparently, every Friday night in South End is known as Food Truck Friday.  Who knew?!?  (I seriously have to get out more.)  Each Friday, 4-5 of Charlotte’s food trucks park directly across the street from the Phat Burrito and serve deliciousness from 5:30-9:00p or until they are out of food, which ever comes first.

With so much deliciousness to choose from right there in one spot, it was impossible to choose just one.  So, we made the rounds.  Not being her first visit to the food trucks, Jenn, in her infinite wisdom, suggested that we hit the cupcake truck first because “They always sell out and if we have any hope of getting cupcakes for dessert we need to get them now.” So, first stop…the Southern Cake Queen truck…a mobile cupcakery!!

The cupcakes were $3.00 each, or 4 for $10.  I ask you – how’s a girl supposed to pass up that kind of a deal, especially for a belated birthday celebration?  I mean, you’ve GOT to have cake at birthday celebration!  We got one Turtle cupcake, one 14 Karat cupcake, one Crimson & Creme, and one Lemon Drop.

Dessert – CHECK!  Now onto the main course.  Stop number two – The TIN Kitchen.

For $9 each we got two tacos and a side.  Jenn ordered the Pork Carnitas tacos with red rice…

while I chose the Porchini Grilled Steak tacos with chips and salsa.

The two taco serving size made sharing and sampling one of each very convenient.  They were both delicious, but I’m here to tell you those steak tacos were OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD!!!

Main course – CHECK!  Now, it’s true that sides came with our delectable entrees, but Jenn and I had both noticed something of interest from while menu browsing.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Truffle Parmesan fries…

from The Herban Legend, our third (and final) stop.

There are no words.

We did not hit the food trucks on a corresponding South End Gallery Crawl night which was a little disappointing, but totally fine at the same time because we were then able to take our food truck fare to the South End location of the Common Market, get a couple of draft brews, and enjoy our dinner on the patio with a little music while chatting the night away and taking in the local culture.  Jenn’s Pale Ale is captured in the fry picture above.  But I went with something a little darker…

A Saison Black to be exact.  You’ll have to forgive me because 1) I was apparently too busy salivating over my brew…or the cupcakes…or both to bother focusing my shot and 2) because I’ve forgotten the brewery name.  Trust me though, it was delish! And a perfect pairing for the steak tacos!  We managed to polish off every crumb of our tacos, sides, and fries, plus the Turtle and 14 Karat cupcakes.  Lucky for him, I got to take the remaining two cupcakes home to the The Mr.

Of course…they were cupcakes for MY birthday…so we cut each of the remaining two in half and shared.  Of the four, the Crimson & Creme (red velvet with creme cheese icing) was my favorite.

The Mr. and I had a LONG day the next day with a ridiculously overdue “clean-out-the garage-day.”  After dropping off two car loads of donations at the Salvation Army, The Mr. didn’t have to ask twice as to whether or not I wanted a beer.  Since we were in the neighborhood we ended up at the Plaza Midwood Common Market location.  (You know, where we had so much fun at the Southern Tier beer tasting last year, and heard the first rumblings of the NoDa Brewing Company.)

Speaking of NoDa Brewing Company, we grew a little peckish while sipping our brews and just happened to notice via Facebook that the Maki Taco food truck was currently parked in its side lot.  I was keen to introduce The Mr. to the joy that is the food truck, so we jumped in our cars and headed towards NoDa.  There we grabbed a couple tacos

(his…)

(hers…)

The tacos were yummy, but they were a little skimpy on the shrimp for my taste.  We enjoyed our tacos on NoDa’s patio and chatted up the brewery owner, Todd, for quite a while as he personally zested limes for their NoDable Series NoDajito brew.

The Mr. chose this mojito inspired barley pop to pair with his tacos

while I sipped the Monks Trunks.  What can I say?  I’m sucker for Belgian.

So, in a matter of 24 hrs, I hit 4 out of Charlotte’s 8 food trucks.  The weather in Charlotte has been perfect for dining al fresco lately.  Naturally, I repeated the process the following Friday.  The Mr. was out with the boys so, once again, he did not get the South End experience.  But, never fear, he’ll get his chance.  As for me, if you are looking for me on a Friday night, I’m probably truckin’!

Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/944

Hoppy Camper

Last Sunday, we found ourselves driving back from visiting our newest niece (for all our other nieces who read about beer — we love you all the same!). After a long car ride, the Mrs can get a hankering for a particular food. And from then, it’s on.

As we pulled into town, she wanted her favorite burger — a special from Big Daddy’s Burger Bar (We refuse to call it Bad Daddy’s, just because they changed their name to avoid a conflict. How rebellious are we?)

The Mrs makes her own modified “Western Burger”, with buffalo meat, applewood smoked bacon, crispy onion straws, cheddar, and BBQ sauce. Mine is similar, but with no onion straws. She opts for sweet potato fries; I’ve got to have my tots.

We carry out more often than dining in, especially when our pups have missed us. So, we also ran by local favorite, Common Market, to pick up some brew.

I chose Old Hickory Death by Hops, and the Mrs reached for Tiny. As you might suspect from an name like Death by Hops, this gem from Old Hickory is an Double IPA or Imperial IPA.

DBH pours with big bubbles in the head but the head is about 1/4″ with a little lacing. I may have been a little too fast with my pour — I was excited about this one!

The color is a light amber and the smell! Smells like grapefruit and citrus … smells “hoppy” but not “piney”. (Clearly someone needs to do further hops research! I should be commenting on Cascade hops and dry-hopping)

On the first sip, I got a big bite on the front of my tongue, rounding around to bite the sides of the tongue as well. This beer is a biter, be careful! Yummy, yum, yum!

The Mrs. went for the Tiny, and I must confess that if I had to pick “last beer ever”, it might be that.

I’m back home with my pups, a great beer paired with a favorite burger, and I’m a Hoppy Camper!
The Mr. Signature

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/935

Birthday Celebration

My birthday was last week.  I don’t know how you guys like to be awakened on your birthday but, personally, I enjoy being awakened with breakfast and presents in bed.  The menu – scones, raspberries, and itsy bitsy peanut butter cups.  (The Mr. knows that peanut butter and chocolate were my first love.)

He may have enlisted the help of Trader Joe’s for the “cooking,” but the presentation was all him.  I may have eaten a good bit of it before taking some pics…

After a sufficient amount of breakfast was consumed, there were presents.  I didn’t get any wrapped shots but, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything.  The Mr. prides himself on his bad wrapping jobs.  In fact, it’s a gift giving signature for him.  This year, they were wrapped in mismatched sale papers that you get in the mail.  The ends weren’t taped down despite the yardage of tape engulfing them but, hey, at least it was eco-friendly. :)

The wrapping isn’t the important part anyway.   What’s important is on the inside and, this, he did well with.  Being the techie guy he is, all of my presents were some sort of gadgetry, but all gadgetry that I needed and wanted.

In case you can’t make that all out, the goodie pile includes: 1) an external hard drive – pink, of course, because it’s a girl’s hard drive, 2) LED lights for my bike, both rear and front, so that I am well seen in not so great lighting, and 3) the piece de resistance – a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens for my camera!! Yeah for low f-stops!!  (I could previously only get down to a 3.5).

The only bad thing about my birthday was that I had to go to work.  This was the first birthday in probably 7-8 yrs that I haven’t taken it off. (Never again.)  Good news is that my last evaluation cancelled, allowing me to knock off just a little early…allowing for pre-birthday-dinner beers at World of Beer.  The Mr. was introduced to this place earlier in the week and desperately wanted me to see it too.  I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it later.

This month, our local World of Beer is highlighting brews from the Southern Tier Brewing Company, which we tasted and enjoyed before.  I wanted a Southern Tier Choklat Stout, but its keg had run dry. So, I tasted a Southern Tier Creme Brûlée Imperial Stout.

Wah-hah-hah…THAT was sweet!  My mouth is puckering now, just thinking about it…days later.  Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t taste bad at all.  In fact, it was quite good, just intense…and sweet.  I might have been able to ingest more of it if it had it been poured over my morning waffles.  For real drinking, I opted for a the Southern Tier Oat Imperial Stout  instead.

The Mr. had a Southern Tier Krampus, for reasons that appeal only to him and his odd sense of humor.

World of Beer doesn’t serve food, but it partners with several nearby restaurants who will bring food to you while you sip your brew.  As novel as that sounds, bar food is not exactly what I had in mind for my birthday dinner.  So, we polished off our beers and headed Uptown to Dandelion Market , a local Dublin pub-inspired tapas restaurant.

I ate there with girlfriends for another birthday celebration about a year and half ago, but The Mr. had never been.  I loved the atmosphere as well as the food.  Check out the lovely table water…

Another really cool thing about Dandelion Market is that it has a deal where for $230 you can order EVERYTHING ON THE MENU.  That sounds like a lot, but when you go with a party of 15-20 people, it’s kind-of a great deal.  We did this when I went for my girlfriend’s birthday celebration and, even with the 17 of us that were there, it was a ridiculous amount of food.  So good, but SO MUCH!  Needless to say, The Mr. and I did not attempt that on our own.

We split the Pan Seared Ahi Tuna,

the Ale Simmered Sausage Bites,

the Baked Potato Croquettes,

and the Market Mac and Cheese.

It was all fantastic but, I’m here to tell ya – that tuna was out of this world!!  I almost pulled a “it’s-my-birthday-I-don’t-have-to-share-if-I-don’t-want-to” line but, The Mr. really loves a seared tuna and I just couldn’t keep it from him.  What can I say?  I’m a giver.  Even if I had withheld the tuna, I have no doubt that he would have enjoyed himself.  You see, I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t really like for my food to touch.  Him, he’s a combiner…

We finished the evening off with a Guinness-based, ganache-filled birthday cupcake.  I was stuffed by that point.  But, a girl has got to have a little bit of cake on her birthday…especially if there is Guinness in the batter.

Despite the ever increasing number associated with the anniversary of my birth, it was a really good day!

 

Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/915

Saw This Today

I met my friend, Meg, for dinner at Cantina on East Blvd tonight and look what was right in front of my eyes as I pulled out of the parking lot…

I’m super excited!!  I’m guessing it’s brand new 1) because of the “Now Open” sign in the window and 2) because I know a interior design boutique used to be in that same location.  We had a blast in a similar place called Mountain Town Olive Oil in Park City last year.  We’ve been loving the oil and vinegar we picked up there ever since.  But, I’ve kinda been dolling it out sparingly, not knowing when I would be able to get more.  Now it looks like I won’t have to do that anymore.  I’m running low on olive oil anyway.  So guess where I’m headed when I do my weekly shopping this Saturday!  I’ll let you know what I find out.

Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/894

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