Tag Archive: Eating Out

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…

photo

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

Oxford by Instagram

The reason behind our recent trip back to Oxford was for me to attend a reunion.  Being the kind of girl that takes more pictures of food than anything else on vacation I, of course, had a list of places that I wanted to hit while there.  Here’s a brief little recap of the food, beverages, and fun.

Instagram Oxford

 

1.  Abner’s sauce = BEST.  DIPPING. SAUCE.  EVER.  Abner’s is a chicken place that originated in Oxford, but has recently franchised a bit.  This is the secret sauce that used to come standard with every order.  Now they ask you what kind of sauce you want (Abner’s, BBQ, honey mustard, etc).  That annoys me…It’s ABNER’S.  Your ONLY choice should be ABNER’S SAUCE.  If you want BBQ or honey mustard, go to Chick-fil-A.

2.  City Grocery’s Shrimp and Grits – first on my list of things to eat while in Oxford.  I’ve got the recipe and occasionally I make it myself at home, but it’s just never as good as when The Grocery makes it.

3.  Saw these posted all around the Square.  Like I need another reason to want to go back to Oxford…

4.  The Timber Beast IPA from Mississippi’s own Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company that I used to wash down my Shrimp and Grits.

5.  Courthouse on the Oxford Square.  When I see this I know I’m home.

6.  Beautiful latte from Bottletree Bakery.

7.  No trip to Oxford is complete without Chicken on a Stick.  SO YUMMY!  It ain’t fancy.  It’s fried.  It’s chicken.  It’s on a stick…Did I mention that you get it at a gas station?  Also, it’s really only appropriate to eat it after midnight and partaking of  several adult beverages.

8.  Sipping yet another Mississippi brew at Irie on the Square.  This place is new to Oxford for me, but it was good for a post-banquet brew.  Guess which one was mine…

9.  Fun artwork in my director’s home that represents most of my time at Ole Miss and in Oxford this weekend.

10.  Breakfast of champions on the way home.  Technically, I didn’t get or take this in Oxford.  It was taken in Atlanta on the way home from Mississippi, but I needed a 10th picture to make the collage work.  So sue me…

Not pictured are:

  • late Thursday night brews at Ajax Diner (I had a Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan which you’ll read about in a later post)
  • Friday night dinner banquet at the University Club
  • Saturday morning breakfast at Big Bad Breakfast (wasn’t in Oxford when I was there and that’s probably a good thing.  The headline on their website says “Lard Have Mercy,” need I say more?)
  • Saturday lunch at Proud Larry’s (was very excited to see that my previous favorite Southwestern Pasta had made its way back on to the menu)
  • and Saturday night dinner at Two Stick Sushi (I wasn’t a sushi fan when I was at Ole Miss, so I was a Two Stick virgin until last weekend…but I’ll definitely be going back for more)

 

And that, ladies and gentleman is how I ate my way around Oxford for 5 days!

 

newmrssig

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1097

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

You Heard Me…A “Porkapalooza”

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time or actually know me, you know that I am not one of these skinny-mini-eat-salad-on-a-date kind of girls.  I like to eat.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not Miss Piggy or anything…I just like to eat.  That also means that I’m not one of these girls who lets the fact that the pig is the universal symbol for fat get to me.  Samuel L. Jackson’s proclamation (as “Jules” in Pulp Fiction) that “A pig is filthy animal” doesn’t bother me one bit.   A couple weeks ago, when my friend Gretchen reminded me that she doesn’t eat pork and requested that I leave the bacon crumbles off her serving of the Pumpkin Goat Cheese Risotto I made to kick off our Walking Dead Season 2 marathon, the only response I could muster was “But…you’ve TASTED bacon, right?”  It just blows my mind that someone could have actually tasted bacon and decided against it.  Pulled pork, I get.  Even ham, I understand.  But bacon?  Seriously?!?

But I digress…I mentioned to you that I spent last weekend in the Durham-Chapel Hill area for a work-related workshop.  What I didn’t tell you was that while up there I attended a “porkapalooza” event.  Yeah, you heard…uh, READ me right – PORKAPALOOZA!

Every summer, Foster’s Market does regular Farm to Table dinners.  I’ve known about these for years and I have never been able to go because they are always at 6:30p on a Thursday night.  Since Chapel Hill is about a 2.5-3 hr drive from Charlotte, and I always find out about them after my work schedule is full of patients, going would mean having to cancel my Thursday afternoon patients as well as my Friday ones (‘cuz there’s no way I’m gonna drive back from dinner 3 hrs away, then get up early for work the next day).  Well, my workshop started early Friday morning, so I drove up Thursday night (‘cuz there’s no way I’d get up in time to leave Charlotte at 6:30a on Friday morning) and, as luck would have it, Foster’s was having a Farm to Table dinner that night!!

This dinner was to celebrate Cane Creek Farm of Snow Camp, NC, who specialize in “unique breeds of pigs” and an “ever expanding family of goats, chickens, turkeys, sheep, donkeys and ducks.”  Knowing that, is it any wonder that Foster’s theme for their Farm to Table dinner was a “Porkapalooza” in which the entire pig was cooked…in multiple ways… invading every course…even dessert?

I know the word “Porkapooloza” sounds…well, what’s the word I’m looking for here…ummm…ok, I’m just gonna say it – redneck! Don’t worry.  In true Foster’s fashion it was very farmer chic!  (And, yes, “farmer chic” is a real thing and I TOTALLY dig it!  Remember our lunch here 2 yrs ago?)

The meal was served family style on the mismatched farm tables throughout the market.  The Mr. chose not to couldn’t come with me, so I was on my own but quickly made friends with my table mates. We sipped on a fantastic 2011 Mendocino County Gerwurtztraminer while we chatted about missing our grandparents home grown veggies and wishing that we’d payed more attention when our grandmothers were canning them, all the while nibbling on hors d’ oeuvres of Pork Rillette and Country Pâté with Crostini and tons of pickled veggies.

I’m not really a fan of pickled anything, so I passed on most the veggies.  (Besides, what am I – a chump? What kind of dummy fills up on veggies when there are four courses of pork on the line?  A girl’s gotta conserve energy where she can.)  I didn’t love the rillette (weird texture) but, surprisingly, I really enjoyed the pâté.  (Little known secret – I was a pâté virgin until this dinner.)  Next came the soup course – Split Pea and Ham Hock with a side sliver of fresh bread loaded with herbs and caramelized onions.

I lie to you not, the bread basket came with a little dish of LARD to spread on the bread instead of butter.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture, but I promise you I’m not making that up!  After all, they did say that they would be using the WHOLE pig…I guess that includes it’s fat.

We switched colors and nationalities of wine for the entree…a 2010 Tempranillo to be exact.

Maybe I should say ENTREES, because it involved 3 pork offerings – 1) Housemade Italian Sausages with Peppers and Onions, 2) Porchetta, and 3) Braised Pork with Plums, Sage and Onions

served with sides of Creamy Polenta that was topped with some sort of sweet potato glaze and Wilted Kale and Spinach with a Warm Bacon Dressing.

I had a little bit of everything.

It was all crazy good, but that sausage was out of this world.  BEST.  SAUSAGE. EVER.  There was TONS of food and, since sausage is The Mr.’s favorite food group, I (thoughtfully) boxed up some left overs to take back home to him…

only to get back to my hotel room and discover that I didn’t have a mini fridge in which to keep it until I headed back home on Sunday.  Sorry, dude.  Ya snooze, ya lose.

Sarah (as is Sarah Foster, herself – owner of Foster’s Market, former apprentice to Martha Stewart) came by our table while the staff cleared the entrees to inquire as to whether we were enjoying ourselves and the meal.  She urged us to save room for the dessert because it was “incredible.” She also informed us that although the menu listed Caramelized Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake with MAPLE Bacon Ice Cream, it had been changed to a SORGHUM Bacon Ice Cream, because the “sorghum just worked better with the bacon.”  Since she was standing right next to me, I made a little joke that, in my humble opinion, there just weren’t enough desserts that involved bacon.  She gave a little laugh and patted me on my shoulder!

(You know what that means, don’t you?  It means that Sarah and I are kinda like BFFs.  I imagine that, had Martha been dining with us, she would have laughed at my joke too.  So…if Sarah and I are now kinda like BFFs…and she’s also BFF with Martha…and Martha probably would have also laughed at my joke then…by extension, that means me, Sarah, and Martha are all BFFs together…just three peas in a pod… What?  It could happen.)

But, again, I digress…Now, about that dessert.  Actually, there are no words.  I’ll just let you look…Oh, and look closely.  Do you see what I see?

Uh-huh.  Little chunks of bacon IN the ice cream.  I know it sounds weird, but it was really REALLY good.  I’m not a person who loves sweets and this was a great balance of salty and sweet.  The cake part was a little dry, but it was a cornbread cake.  When have you ever had cornbread that wasn’t dry?  Besides, who really cares about the cake anyway when there is bacon in the ice cream on top of it?

You would think that bacon-laced ice cream would be the clincher to my porktastic weekend, but the next day when my workshop broke for dinner, I made a b-line here

to check out some local brews, only to find the Big Mike’s BBQ food truck parked outside.  I washed down a BBQ sandwich with Fullsteam’s Carver Sweet Potato Lager.

I loved the beer.  Not too heavy, but very tasty.  Perfect for an early fall afternoon.  (Wish I’d had more time to spend there…)  The sandwich was good, but I’m not a huge fan of BBQ.  But their dessert was something else entirely.  As I close, I’d like to post this question to you – What’s better than banana pudding?

Yep, you guessed it – BANANA PUDDING WITH BACON!!  Now THAT is certainly worth a trip to Big Mike’s.

With this weekend, I think I’ve had my allowance of pork for the next 6 months or so…which is good because, according to Stephen Colbert, we’re on the verge of an Aporkalypse due to the recent drought.

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/997

Easy Like Sunday Mornin’

There’s just something about a lazy Sunday morning in a college town that I love.  The cool autumn morning air, no particular agenda for the day, good food and coffee in a quaint local eatery…oh how it makes me yearn for Oxford.

I’ve been in the Chapel Hill-Durham area all weekend for a workshop which ended too late last night to make the trek back to Charlotte. So I stayed the extra night.  The only thing I had to do today is to get home…but by not particular time. So, I decided to forego the alarm and the wake-up call (yes, it takes multiple trials to get me up in the morning), wake-up when my body decided it was time to wake up, take my sweet time getting packed up, and treat myself to a yummy breakfast here.

I spent about an hour here sipping on a Great Pumpkin Latte and leisurely munching on Lucas’ Cinnamon French Toast.

The french toast was out of this world, but ladies and gentlemen, can I just brag on this latte for a moment?  It was so beautiful and so delicious!  I could seriously have spent my entire Sunday curled up with it, in a cozy little nook, reading something equally delicious.  Let’s look at it again, shall we?

Don’t you want to just dive right in?   No…so that’s just me?  This is how lattes should be served.  I honestly don’t know why I was so enamored with this latte.  Maybe my urban existence just has me at Starbucks too often and I’ve grown too accustomed to the commonness of the paper cup, cardboard grip, and plastic lid.  Being served this latte just sent me into sensory overload – the FEEL of the warm mug big enough to require two hands, the SMELL of the pumpkin spice, the SIGHT of the creamy-caramel colored foam on the top that, of course, left me a foamy ‘stache after the first sip… I tell you, it was heaven!  Easy Sunday morning perfection…

After finishing my breakfast, I ventured next door to Flyleaf Books, a local independent book store.

I’m not sure I’ve shared with you before my affinity for indie book stores.  I seek them out whenever I travel and was thrilled that this one just happened to be next door to my breakfast.  I have yet to find one that I haven’t adored. (I love them all, but of course, none more than the mother of all indie book stores, Square Books in Oxford, MS.)  Much like the latte, they simultaneously set all my senses ablaze and make my soul let out a relaxed “Aahhhh…”  I love the dim lighting, the mismatched chairs, the somewhat dusty book smell, the boutique-style small quantities of the selections, and the overly-scarfed-thick-rimmed-funky-glasses-wearing clientele that tends to favor this type of bookstore to the big booksellers.  Even if I don’t buy anything, I have so much fun just wandering the stacks.

When ever possible I try to get my books from local, independent bookstores.  The benefits of shopping local aren’t just limited to produce shopping.  I noticed this hanging in the ladies room and couldn’t resist taking the shot.

Flyleaf is small, but it doesn’t disappoint.  My favorite part, however, were the staff’s hand written descriptions and “plugs” for books.  These were most prominently displayed on the “staff picks” table in the middle of the room, but were also scattered throughout the stacks in the rest of the store.  The handwritten notes just give it a “We-Don’t-Just-Work-Here-We-Actually-Read-This-Stuff” vibe.

A personal favorite…

My only disappointment was that I had to finish my latte and walk through here to get to the lovely bookstore…

It would have been so much better if Foster’s Market and Flyleaf Books would have joined forces, knocked down the wall that separates them, and let all the good food, great lattes, and lovely books mingle like God intended.

Here’s hoping your Sunday morning was just a good!

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/996

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

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

Chocolate Steak

Last Friday night I had one of the most intriguing entrees that I’ve ever eaten.  You remember that BG whisked me away for my 35th birthday, right?  As part off our reservations at the Mast Farm Inn, we were scheduled to have dinner there on Saturday night, leaving Friday’s dinner up for grabs.  Upon recommendation from the Inn Keeper we decided to try Crippen’s in the nearby mountain town of Blowing Rock.

The weather was perfect, so we opted to dine al fresco in the front garden.

We were warned, both by the Maitre’D and our server that a family of ducks lived there so that we wouldn’t be alarmed if they decided to come fuss at us for dining in their happy home.  Fortunately they did not decide to fuss, but I was at least hoping to catch a glimpse of them.

I have to say, for a “country inn restaurant” in a relatively small town, this place had quite an eclectic menu and a wine list to match.  For apps we enjoyed Popcorn Dusted Sea Scallops with Bacon Creamed Corn.

Yes, that’s actual crumbled popcorn on the top.  We also had a little bread with our choice of three dipping or spreading options:  homemade butter, white bean hummus, or olive oil infused with a Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Let me tell you, that last one had a kick!  Of course, no lovely dinner out is complete without a nice bottle of wine.  Our server told us that all the wines in the list had been hand picked by the chef to compliment the current menu, so anything we chose would be complimentary to our meal.  We decided to go with an Australian Shiraz.

Of course, I’ve got to do my thing.

It was nice, but given the richness of my entree I think I would have preferred a full-bodied Cab.  And speaking of entrees…

That’s what this whole post is boiling down to.  BG ordered a Juniper Marinated Venison Tenderloin.

Oh, and FYI – it was floating in a Blueberry Sauce with Truffle Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes on the side.  I just want to make sure y’all got all that -

TRUFFLE GOAT CHEESE MASHED POTATOES!!!

The only thing I can manage to say about that is – DDDAAAAMMMMNNN!  Truth be told, even though they came with BG’s entree, I ate about half of them. :)

As awesome as those potatoes were, I have to admit that they were not the star of the show.  That, instead, would be my entree – the Bittersweet Chocolate Infused Espresso Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Irish Cream Sauce and White Cheddar Potato Au Gratin.

Now, the concept of cocoa, coffee, and steak was not new to me.  While on our 10th anniversary trip to the Russian River Valley, I enjoyed an Espresso Crusted Filet in a Cocoa Cabernet Sauce at Mosaic in Forestville, CA.  Let me tell you, that was out of this world!  Needless to say, I was expecting something similar this time around.  But what I got…

was chocolate OOZING out of my steak as I cut into it.  Seriously.  No, SERIOUSLY!!  Check out that pick again.  Please note the oozing!

According to our server, it is prepared by slicing the tenderloin and having a bittersweet chocolate square placed inside before it is then rolled in crushed espresso beans and cooked.  It sounds weird but it was INCREDIBLE.  I, of course, let BG have a bite of this unique dish.  He agreed with me, but stated “It’s hard to tell whether that is dinner or dessert.”

I didn’t care, though.  How many times in her life does a girl get to say she had CHOCOLATE STEAK for dinner?

Cheers y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/831

Now, Where Were We?

Oh yeah, right! Park City!! That’s it.

I realized that it has been just under a MONTH since our last post. Disgraceful! I know. But we got back in town and there have been weddings, speaking engagements for work, conferences for work, obsessive house cleaning/reorganization, and 2010 tax preparation and before you know it – POOF! A whole month has gone by. I haven’t even had a chance to finish editing and organizing my Park City pics. Shameful!

But, things are now calm and my house, work schedule, and finances are clean and organized. So, I’m back in the saddle. There’s still lots of good Park City fun to share. So, rather than pretending that I’m posting in real-time and back dating posts, I’m just going to pick up where I left off.

When we last “spoke” our brave, wine guzzling heroine (that would be – ME!)

had just risked life and limb in the name of good fun and trying new things, only to be comforted by a nice Pinot Noir and some rockin’ cheese fondue at a higher elevation than one should ever have to go for a snack. During our mile-high snack, I announced that, since I had such a daunting and treacherous day, I would be taking a ski break to explore Park City proper. Beer Guy was welcomed to join me if he’d like, but the following day I would be hanging out closer to sea level – with or without him. I mean, it’s vacation. I should have at least one day when I’m not required to get up at 6am. Can I get an “Amen” on that one?

The next morning we leisurely ate our breakfast while watching BG’s dad and sister bundle up and do the ski boot mosey back out to the slopes. We got around to catching a resort shuttle onto Main Street in Park City about 10:30. Upon recommendation from our shuttle driver, we popped into Park City’s No Name Saloon for a quick lunch around 11a.  What a treasure!  There was so much stuff hanging on the walls and from the ceiling that my eyes didn’t know where to land…but in a good way!

As they said in the Old West, we “bellied up” to the bar and quickly hit it off with our friendly bartender, Nicole.

We sipped on a couple of these,

but decided we preferred the bottled Wasatch Devastator.

(**SPOILER ALERT** We found out later that The Devastator is the only offering from Wasatch that we do enjoy.  But, you’ll have to tune in later to hear all about that…that is if BG will get off his duff and write a post!)

BG munched on No Name’s infamous Buffalo Burger.

Since it was hmmm… NINE DEGREES outside, I enjoyed the daily soup special.

It warmed me right up!  After settling up, we hit Main Street again, to see what we could see.  Some places we didn’t even bother gracing the doors…

(BG has reflux).  Others, we graced, we bought, we shipped back home!

You see all those aluminum tins?

They’re filled with either olive oil or balsamic vinegar…so many different “varietals” of each.  We sipped and tasted to our hearts content and decided to ship a bottle of the Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar back home.  Since I’m writing this in retrospect, I don’t mind telling you that I made this scrumptious Goat Cheese Bruschetta using the Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar, rather than plain.  One word…

EPIC!!

But back to Park City…We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering up and down Main Street which included general Park City cuteness and scenery,

playing in the snow,

an awesome pet boutique

where we were greeted by THIS guy,

Wasatch Brew Pub,

(Don’t let the smile fool you.  It’s not about the beer.) and Mountain Body Spa and Cosmetic Deli.  May I just say, OOOH-LA-LA!

But this place deserves a post all to itself…especially since I went back to Mountain Body two days later for much more cosmetic deli goodness!

Suffice it to say, if you are like me and are more for the apres ski or “in lieu of ski” then there is plenty of fun to be had on Main Street in Park City!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/677

This I Know

I am for apres ski.  I’m not certain yet whether I am for skiing, but I am most definitely for apres ski!

Exactly what is apres ski, you ask?  According to Wikipedia it means “after skiing” and

“refers to going out, having drinks, dancing, and generally socializing after skiing. It is popular in the Alps, where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear. The concept is similar to the nineteenth hole in golf.”

I mentioned that this week would be my first attempt at skiing… as in EVER!  On Day 1, I smartly went to Ski School in the morning and spent the afternoon playing in what I called the “baby pen.”  That was fine.  Day 2, however, was a different story.  I spent the morning on the bunny slope at the very bottom of the mountain at Deer Valley.  I had a blast doing that, and was gaining confidence in my ability to slow myself down and stop when I wanted rather than solely by flattened terrain.

After lunch BG, who had been “babysitting” me on the bunny slope all morning, assured me that I was ready to try something more and took me to the closest “green.”  I repeatedly asked him “So, because this is a green it is not any steeper than what I have been doing?”  To which he repeatedly replied “Right.  It will just be longer.”  Does anyone else sense the foreboding here?

I started getting nervous when the chair lift for this particular run went more than just a little higher than the one for my precious bunny slope.  And, by “more than just a little higher” I mean 1200 FEET HIGHER!!  I know it’s no double black diamond, but this is the highest elevation I’ve been to and not been on an airplane…and we all know how much I LOVE that.  May I just say that BG was woefully mistaken in his assessment of the slope of this so called easy green run?  It was considerably more steep than the bunny slope.  To make a long story short, there was great crying, wailing, and gnashing of teeth and we WALKED down from 8400 feet…except for the portions where I scooted on my butt for 10-15 yards at a stretch.

Once at the bottom, after our 45 min descent , I had just enough time to do a couple more runs down the bunny slope so that I didn’t completely wig out and give up on skiing altogether right then and there before meeting up with the rest of the family for our apres ski at the Stein Eriksen Lodge.  Little did I know that to get there, we had to ride a chair lift that went even higher than the last one.  I don’t know exactly how much higher, but it was enough…to COMPLETELY FREAK ME OUT!

Once again, great crying…wailing…gnashing of teeth…

At least this time, I was assured a shuttle ride down the mountain since BG’s mom does not ski and had to arrive at the lodge by shuttle.  We took our apres ski in Stein Eriksen’s Troll Hallen Lounge.  Once in the door I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir so fast that I don’t even remember the name of the vineyard.

Maybe I don’t remember the name of the vineyard because I was having a hard time reading the wine list through my red, swollen, and bloodshot eyes and basically rattled out something that sounded like “Pinot Noir” to the patient server.  There are no tasting notes on it because, honestly, my nerves were so frazzled at that point that I finished the glass in about three swallows.

The apres ski menu had something for each of our thirst cravings.  BG, of course, had a beer… some brand of oatmeal stout

while his dad had some sort of amber.

His mom enjoyed a virgin Bloody Mary, which was apparently very good but quite spicy,

and his sister had an adult coffee beverage.

For our snacks we split two bowls of Chef Zane’s Spicy Nuts and a big ole pot of New York White Cheddar and Stout Fondue!

Talk about cheesy goodness…

I tell ya, if the wine hadn’t started to cheer me up by then the fondue would have certainly done the trick!  I do love a good fondue!  So, if you are skiing Deer Valley in Utah, and are into good food at a ridiculously high elevation, the Troll Hallen Lounge in the Stein Eriksen Lodge is a must.

Finally, after two glasses of wine and a gigantor pot of beer-based cheese, I finally managed to smile again.

Like I said in the beginning, I do not know yet whether I am all for skiing but, THIS I know – I am most certainly for apres ski!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/665

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