Monthly Archive: July 2010

Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc – Uncorked!

Happy Friday to you all!  I hope you are all as glad to be home from work as I am.  I don’t know about y’all but it’s been a crazy busy week for me.  I’m exhausted with no end in sight as I have to work tomorrow at 7 am!  (There are so many things wrong with that statement that I don’t even know where to start.  It’s wrong, I tell you.  Just wrong.)

For now, though, let’s uncork a chilled bottle of Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc and relax.

My go to vino is usually a Pinot Noir, but it’s just too dang hot outside.  I need to drink something chilled.  So, I’m on a whites kick right now.  This one is from Rodney’s Charlotte’s Home Vineyards.  Just looking at mellow straw-like color of the pour in the glass cools me off.  It is so lovely and fragrant with hints of pear and pineapple on the nose.  It is light and crisp and, although it is generally dry, there is a slight sweetness at the finish.

Those are my thoughts.  If you are interested, see what more seasoned wine reviewers at the Vine Republic and Snooth have to say about it on their sites.

One thing I don’t like…it’s got a screw cap.  (I know, I know.  Technically that means I didn’t “uncork” it.  Rather I unscrewed it.  But I can’t have a regular blog spot called Unscrewed!, can I?)  I ordered it online with my groceries and I couldn’t tell from the picture that it was a screw cap.  If I had noticed that I probably wouldn’t have ordered this one.  (Yes, I’m THAT shallow.) I know that some legitimate Rieslings, Sauvignon Blancs, and Pino Grigios are being bottled with screw cap these days, but I don’t like it.  I just don’t like it.  It makes me feel like I’m opening something that I bought at a convenient store, not something as artful as a beautiful bottle of wine.

There, I said it.  I’m prejudiced against a screw cap.  So sue me!

But, on the bright side, it was on sale for $9.99 at my local grocery store and it went VERY NICELY with the Roasted Salmon with White Wine Sauce and broccoli that I had for dinner.

Overall, despite the screw cap, this one’s a winner!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/142

Feel Free to Hate Me

because THIS is what I had for dinner last night:

One of the doctors that I work with is retiring.  So the six of us that work with him most closely  took him out for a celebratory dinner at The McNinch House Restaurant in Uptown Charlotte.  And, no, your eyes are not deceiving you.  That’s SEVEN courses you are seeing on the menu.  There were three different entree options, everything else was a Prix Fixe menu.  I had the Moorehead Estate Coffee Rubbed Grass-Fed Beef.  (This is where you should hear the Hallelujah Chorus ringing in the background!)

Sorry, I was too busy enjoying and eating to take pictures of all the food.

Oh, and there was a different wine to compliment each course, hand picked for our menu by the sommelier.  Small pours, of course.  (Otherwise, none of us would have made it home!) The vino hailed from France, Spain, Chile, California, Oregon and Italy.  SOOOOOOO YUUUUMMY!!! (Heaven…I’m in heaven…)

The meal lasted for 4 hours!  Did you notice details in the menu pic like “White Truffle Oil,” “Chevre Mousse,” “Praline Peppered Bacon,” and “Housemade Buttermilk Ice Cream?”  SHUT. UP.

There are no words!  (I wonder if they’d let me move in?  What?  It’s a house.)

Go on, admit it. You hate me just little bit, don’t ya?

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/184

Now THESE are Shrimp & Grits…

Y’all remember how I lamented the  Shrimp & Grits I had last week from Charlotte’s Bite Your Tongue, right?  I can’t help it, though.  You see, I’m spoiled…but let me back up.

I told y’all I went to Ole Miss, didn’t I?  Ole Miss is located in a town I love like no other – Oxford, Mississippi.  For a small Mississippi town, Oxford has a lot of culture and virtually nothing embodies local culture like food!  So it almost goes without saying that Oxford, the quintessential Southern town, is bursting with restaurants full of great Southern food.  During my tenure at Ole Miss and in the years I’ve returned to visit, I’ve seen many Oxford restaurants come and go, but there are a few that were there long before I got there and will probably still be there long after I’m gone.  One of these Oxford staples is City Grocery…and she makes some mean Shrimp & Grits!

Loving City Grocery’s Shrimp & Grits is actually how I learned to like grits period.  (Forgive me for I am about to speak, um write, Southern blasphemy!) I actually didn’t like grits until I got to college, fell in love with Shrimp & Grits, then decided I’d try them one day minus the shrimp.  Since I had never heard of or had Shrimp & Grits anywhere before City Grocery, I just assumed that this was a creation unique to this Oxford eatery.  It wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina that I discovered that Shrimp & Grits is actually cuisine straight from the South Carolina Low Country.

Nevertheless, I first came to love this dish at City Grocery and never eat it without thinking of my beloved Oxford.   So like any self-respecting Ole Miss girl, there will always be a soft spot in my heart (more like tummy) for City Grocery’s Shrimp & Grits.  It shouldn’t surprise me, then, that my Ole Miss friend and fellow blogger, Carmen from Keeping Up Klapper, left this comment on my Supper from N’Awlins post.

“It’s nearly impossible to find shrimp and grits as good as they make them at City Grocery in Oxford, right?! “

Little did she know…

I HAVE CITY GROCERY’S RECIPE FOR SHRIMP & GRITS!!!!  And here’s the proof:

The recipe is included in this cookbook put out by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

As you can see from the cover, it is “A Collection of Recipes from Oxford, Mississippi.”  For my fellow Rebels, not only does it have the recipe for City Grocery’s Shrimp & Grits, it includes several recipes from Yocona River Inn, Downtown Grill, Ajax Diner, and Bottletree Bakery, just to name a few.  It’s also peppered with Grovin’ Tips, recipes for Grove food, Mississippi art, and essays from famous Mississippians.  If you went to Ole Miss, you need this cookbook!

To get one for yourself, just stop by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council website and get one for yourself here.

But enough about books…let’s cook!

First you cook up some of these…

then mix in butter, sharp white Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, cayenne pepper, paprika, and Tabasco sauce until they look like this:

Then you take  1 1/2 lbs of these…

and cook them up in some olive oil with some bacon, mushrooms, garlic, lemon juice, and white wine like so:

I should tell you (as if you haven’t inferred it already) this is not a low-calorie dish.  Anything that has this much bacon in it should be eaten sparingly.

But when you do eat it…man, oh man, is it good!  (Side note- The recipe says to cook all that bacon in with the shrimp and mushrooms, but I find that makes the bacon get a little wilty again after it’s already been cooked.  So I reserve a couple crispy tablespoons to spinkle on the top of the finished product.)

I should also warn you that it’s got a kick!  I actually only put in half the Tabasco sauce the recipe calls for when I make it and I still need plenty of this to wash it down

along with plenty of water, of course. :)

Now THESE are Shrimp & Grits!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/155

Paella’s Key Ingredient

Consider this post to be an addendum to my initial Spanish Cooking Saturday’s post on paella.  When I made it at home for me and the Beer Guy, I did it for two reasons: 1) I’d been wanting to make it for over a year and I finally had the pan to do it, and 2) I needed a trial run before I made it for my family while we were at the beach.

Since we were on the coast and I had access to more beautiful, fresh, local seafood,  I decided to add a few ingredients that I didn’t have in my first batch.  In doing so, I realized there is one ingredient that you should never make paella without.

Was it these beautiful scallops…

or these meaty little mussels…

or the smoked sausage (the shrimp, lobster, and peas were in my first batch)….

or the moonlight under which it was cooked?

Nope.  While all this ingredients definitely added more depth and ambience to my seafood paella, none of them are essential as paella can be made with any kind of meat/game, chicken, duck, or seafood.

The key ingredient to paella is COMMUNITY!  I mentioned in my inaugural paella post that real Spaniards eat the paella right out of the pan.  While BG and I had a blast doing that very thing the first time around, my pan holds 8-10 servings.  So the first night we had it, we got to eat it out of the pan  but the subsequent nights we had to dish it out in to bowls and reheat it.  That, of course, dried it out a little.

But to sit it in the middle of a table, encircled by my family, was priceless!  We had a little pan con tomate on the side too.  (I was too busy eating to get a pic of that.)  The fact that we were doing this seaside, poolside, and under the stars wasn’t too shabby either!

We neatly avoided the whole reheating-and-drying-out issue by eating it until there was nothing but empty lobster and mussel shells in the pan.  :)

This is how this dish was meant to be served – IN COMMUNITY.  Lesson learned – Never make paella without loved ones around you!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/165

Toad Hollow’s Erik’s the Red – Uncorked!

Uncorking a bottle of wine is typically the first thing I do when I get home from work on a Friday night.  So I have decided that my Uncorked! segments will be regular Friday night segments.

Tonight’s Uncorked! is dedicated to Toad Hollow’s Erik’s the Red.

Consider yourselves introduced.

We got this as part of wine club shipment that I think we will be canceling soon because we haven’t really loved any of the wines we’ve gotten with it.  It is a red blend of 18 different grapes, none of which really stand out in the flavor.  Maybe that’s a good thing in a blend.  Who knows?  (I’ll be sure to look into that for you guys.)  You can check out Toad Hollow’s description of it here.

In the glass it’s a lovely dark currant color, but it’s got pretty thin legs when you swirl it around.  Upon first sniff it was a little too peppery for my taste, but I could definitely smell more cherry/berry as it opened up.  To me, it tasted a little bitter and my taste buds could never pick up on the cherry/berry flavor I assumed would accompany the opened aroma.  It generally had a smooth but thin texture, and the finish – I lie to you not – seemed soapy.   I know that may seem ridiculous, but I had a distinct “soapy” after taste in my mouth after each sip.  It was just odd.

Since I’m really trying to learn and hone my tasting skills, I’m always interested to see how my personal notes on a wine tasting stand up against those of other wine lovers.  A quick Google search of this wine led me to a tasting site called Cork’d, of all things.  Wine lovers on this site used words like “disappointing,” “flabby,” “metallic,” and “weird” to describe this one.  A couple reviewers enjoyed it, but for the most part the wine-o’s either didn’t love it or weren’t sure exactly what to make of it.  Check out the Cork’d reviews for yourself here.  In fairness, I should mention that someone known as The Wine Curmudgeon seemed to really like it.

My final thoughts on this “vintage” are… Meh.  It smells better than it tastes…and it tastes kind of cheap.  I don’t think I’ll be uncorking another bottle of this one.

Sorry I don’t have a better review for you tonight.   If any of you have tasted this one, I’d love to know what you think of it too.  Don’t forget to stop by and see what I uncork next Friday night!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/154

Surprise Supper from N’Awlins, Y’all!

Beer Guy surprised me by bringing home dinner tonight.  On his way home from getting a haircut he popped into a Queen City eatery called Bite Your Tongue and grabbed some yummies for dinner.

We first heard about Bite Your Tongue from the realtor who helped us find our townhouse 2 years ago.  He had a penchant for showing us as many good places to eat as he did good places to live.  What’s neat about this place is that it is owned by Katrina refugees that relocated to Charlotte.  The owner’s apparently had a similar business in New Orleans.   So when they found themselves in a new city they decided to make this their home by doing what they knew how to do best.

It’s located in a little, nondescript,  hole-in-the-wall building just a few blocks down the street from us.  The only reason we know it’s in there is because of folding sign they sit outside the door.  We’ve tried to go a couple times, but they’ve been closed every time we tried.  They are only open until lunchtime Monday-Friday and, unfortunately, we’ve only tried to go for dinner or lunch on Saturday.  They serve breakfast, lunch, “gourmet to go” take home dinner, and offer catering services.  (Much to my dismay, begnets are not included on the breakfast menu. Of course, that’s probably good for my waistline as this establishment is located just down the street.)

Happily, the sign caught the BG’s eye during their actual business hours today so he seized the opportunity and grabbed us some dinner.

He brought home some Gumbo “Lulu”…

and some Shrimp & Grits…

and picked out a beer with an appropriate Louisiana-esque name to accompany  this Cajun cuisine – the Abita Andygator!  You’ve gotta love that name!

(I certainly enjoyed it, but I’ll let him give you his thoughts on that later.)

Like any good Southern girl, I had some biscuits in the freezer.  So I popped those babies in the oven, divvied up the entrees so we could each have a little of both and… Ta Da!

Dinner from N’Awlins in a flash, y’all!

I LOVED the gumbo!  But, frankly, I’ve had better Shrimp & Grits.  That’s to be expected, though.  Shrimp & Grits is a Low Country thing…not a NOLA thing. (Not to bite the hand that fed me, but if I had been choosing the entrees I would have chosen the gumbo and another signature New Orleans dish like jambalaya, shrimp creole, or crawfish etouffee.  But I’m not complaining…)

Mmmm…Shrimp & Grits.  Oh, how I adore them!  I’d love to expound upon that, but that’s a post for another day.

Like the building that houses them, their website leaves a little to be desired.  But who cares what their website looks like as long as they can cook, right? I didn’t love their Shrimp & Grits, but I’ll give ‘em props for their Gumbo!  I’m willing to bet that their signature N’Awlins dishes (which, according to the website, change daily) are pretty awesome as well.  So if you are in the Queen City, are craving a little Cajun cooking, and can get there when the doors are open, go ahead and Bite Your Tongue!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/147

It’s The Little Things

The Beer Guy’s birthday was this weekend. It was a milestone birthday. I always try to make a big deal out of his birthday, but since it was a milestone I had wanted to make this one EXTRA special. We talked about a road trip through the Outer Banks to see all the lighthouses, but with a recent beach trip, having friends in town, and a busy work schedule we never got around to actually planning the trip before his birthday.  So that was out for the official birthday weekend, but WILL be happening soon.

Not only did we not go on a birthday trip, but I also did not have a big gift idea lined up. The BG is not one for frequently listing things that he wants…unlike myself. :) What he DID want was for me to rent a bike (since he has one and I don’t) and spend all day Saturday biking around Charlotte with him, stopping occasionally to sample a few new brews. So, we did that and it was a heck of a lot of fun…but we were EXHAUSTED at the end of the day.

But his ACTUAL birthday was Friday. Not wanting his true birthday to be a dud, I tried to think about something special I could feed him. I thought long and hard about what meal he would enjoy the most…

Filet mignon? Nope.
Foie gras? Huh-uh.
Duck a l’Orange? Negative.
Baked Alaska? Nothin’ doin’.

Try Sloppy Joes with frozen Tater Tots and a store-bought Key Lime Pie.

All childhood favorites of his and he was GIDDY! Hey, it ain’t fancy, but it meant something to him and that’s what counts.

So here’s to the little things!

Cheers!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/148

Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe

On Sunday, Wine Girl and I were looking for a casual yet yummy breakfast. Usually at this hour, WG is making herself (somehow) even more beautiful, and I struggling vainly to look presentable, so that we can go to services. But on this morning, not so. We were out late Saturday night, showing out-of-town friends around town, and where else to show but bars and restaurants? More on that in a later post.

A good friend had introduced us to Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe (site may be offline), so our mouths were salivating even as we looked for a parking spot. Nope, none available in the lot. Not on the first block. or second. or third. Finally we park, and I test WG’s patience as I take pictures of some lovely trees. I especially enjoy light-dappled tree leaves, and while I was becoming more absorbed in my deciduous delight, other diners were passing us towards the restaurant.

Zada Jane's Corner Cafe

We walked toward the entrance, first hoping that there would be an open table in the outdoor patio area, then hoping that the wait wouldn’t be too long. In the event of a long wait, coupled with a fit of energy on our part, we could play shuffleboard or cornhole outside.

Cornhole at Zada Jane's

Happily there’s a spot for two at the bar, and we’re seated immediately. The surroundings take several moments to sink in. First, it’s the funky and eclectic decor (and staff), replete with albums ranging from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Hendrix to Southern Culture on the Skids. Oh, and a big chicken, too. The columns are covered with art from local artists, and Wine Girl delights over the mismatched coffee cups.

I’m feeling conventional, and I sampled the biscuit with bacon, egg, and cheese. That sounds like something fast food, but instead, I’m greeted with actual food!

Man-sized Biscuit

After our food comes, we break out the D90 and begin the ritual. Our server (who I think is also the owner) stops and asks:

(He) Taking pictures of your food?
(Us) We take pictures of all our food.
(He) That’s cool. Do you write or blog?
(Us) We blog.

Even now, I’m struck by the casual pretension — we blog — this is the first we’ve outed ourselves as bloggers in “real time”. An amiable chat ensued, and he recommended a few food blogs, including RoadFood.com. That’s right, gentle reader, ours is not the first food blog on the Internet. For a more established set of reviews, you should follow the Charlotte Food Snob.

Wine Girl orders the Amaretto French Toast with bacon and orange butter on the side. She declares madly: “French toast made on any other bread besides challah is just wrong!”
Challah French Toast
Now that’s breakfast!

Beer Guy

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/146

I Heart Oatmeal…Now

My usual breakfast is a lovely little combo of Fage 0% Greek Yogurt (“yogret” as my niece would say), topped with 1/2 a cup of strawberries, and a tablespoon of sliced almonds with 2 slices of Canadian bacon on the side.  The Greek yogurt tends to have more protein than regular yogurt, so with that plus the Canadian bacon and sliced almonds I usually get enough protein to tide me over until lunch.  The strawberries are for sheer yummy deliciousness and to get in one of the recommended 5 daily servings of fruit and veggies.  I really enjoy this breakfast it would generally keep me satiated from ~7am to noon.  That is, until recently…

In addition to my usual daily workouts I’m now training for a Susan G. Komen 3-day walk.  That means that for about 3/5 weekdays I’m walking an extra 3-5 miles and on the weekends I’m now walking 6-8 miles.  The weekend distance will continue to grow as I get closer to my 3-Day walk in October, during which time I will walk 60 miles in 3 days.  So I guess I’m burning a lot more calories because, lately, the lovely yogurt and berries combo is just not cutting the mustard.  By 10am I am STARVING!  My stomach is NOTICEABLY  growling during my therapy sessions, and I have to remind myself that it would neither be professional, nor sanitary to sneak bites of the things I’m feeding to my dysphagia (swallowing) patients.

So, I am searching for a yummy, healthy, breakfast that’s gonna have a little more “stick-to-it-ness” (yes, I made that up) than my typical breakfast.  You’ve noticed in my blog roll and by a couple of my posts that I am a fan of Kath Eats Real Food.  It’s a blog that began as a twenty-something girl’s weight loss journey and through her journey decided that she wanted to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician.  It’s all about healthy living.  Kath, the author, is a HUGE fan of oatmeal and makes more variations of it that I would have ever thought possible.

I have never eaten oatmeal.  It looks like a gray, lumpy, pile of mush.  I will admit, though, that smelling someone cooking up a cinnamony bowl of it would pique my curiosity but then I’d take a look at it and think “Nope.  Just can’t do it.”  But since I’m trying new things and oatmeal is generally regarded as a heart-healthy, relatively low calorie, protein-rich breakfast…and I am on the lookout for such a breakfast…I thought, “Why not.  Let’s give it a shot.”  If I’m going to do this, it’s got to be yummy.  So I went to the Oatmeal Master…Kath.  She has a video on how to make her Kath Classic Oatmeal on her site followed by recipes for numerous variations.

And, what do ya know… I liked it!  So much so that I looked down at my bowl and realized that, while perusing my favorite blogs over breakfast (second breakfast, actually since I was starving after walking 8 mi this a.m.), I had inadvertently eaten my Kath Classic Oatmeal into the shape of a heart.

(Side note – Kath’s video recipe leaves out salt, but both her written recipe on the site and the instructions on the back of the Quaker Old Fashioned Oats container call for a little salt.  The salt is needed and I’m definitely going to add it next time.)

The moral of this story – Trying new things won’t kill ya, and you might even like what you try!  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to many more oatmeal adventures!

Cheers!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/143

We don’t have kids…

that doesn’t mean we don’t have babies!  We have two, ages nearly 11 (in 2 weeks) and 9 yrs.

Internet, meet “The Girls”…

There’s our oldest (she’s a “Prissy Pup” even if she’s giving the camera her grumpus face in this pic)…

and her baby sister (she’s more of a “Sporty Pup” but is SO cuddly when she’s sleepy)…

Of course, we try to take them with us whenever we can.  But sometimes mean ol’ hotels and resorts say “Pups Aren’t Allowed.”  So, what do we do with these pretty girls when we are on the road and they can’t come too?  We let Michalle from Gopher Dogs look after them for us.

We’ve been using Michalle’s services for over a year now and can’t be happier.  She comes three times a day to feed them, walk them, and play with them.  The Girls are much more relaxed than if they were boarded.  Beer Guy works from home, so he usually walks them in the middle of the day.  But when he travels, I’ll have Michalle come take them for a mid-day walk, just to make sure I don’t have any surprises when I get home! :)

The price for Michalle’s pet sitting services is about the same as if we boarded them,  but the difference in finding them waiting nervous and expectantly for us like this…

or chillaxin’ such that we get all the way up to the third floor before they realize we back in the house like this…

is priceless!

(Please pay no attention to the ugly, undecorated office complete with dying plant…just the cute pups cuddling on the ugly old couch. The rest of the rooms in our house are much prettier, I promise!)

So if you are in the Queen City or the surrounding area and looking for a pet sitter, we highly recommend Gopher Dogs! Thanks, Michalle, from us AND The Girls.

Cheers!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/127

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