Tag Archive: What To Do

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

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

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

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

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

He Said/She Said: To Market We Go!

BG was one of those lucky folks who got Good Friday off of work. Unfortunately for me, healthcare does not adhere to all national holidays. While enjoying his day off, BG treated himself to a haircut and apparently got into a nice beer discussion with his stylist. She – aghast that as a fellow beer lover didn’t know about this place – tipped him off to a local beer gem, The Common Market. While I was slaving away in the speech therapy world, I got a text from BG at precisely 12:55 pm saying “Going to check out a new beer store in Plaza Midwood.”

Somebody’s enjoying his day off…

Four hours later I got a follow-up text “Beer tasting next Wed at 6:30 – Common Market.” Ok, sounds fun. Have you been there all this time? I returned home to find three new beers in my fridge

and a giddy, smiling husband in my kitchen.

Wednesday finally rolled around and off to The Market we went!

Upon entering, there is a distinct “convenience store” vibe.  You know, candy aisle, sodas, etc.  But as you keep walking towards the back a whole new world appears.  There’s an entire wall of beer – GOOD, CRAFT BEER – not just your typical garden-variety convenience store beer collection.  Then there are crates and crates of wine tagged with ratings and tasting notes.

These are capped off with a mini Wine Bar/Tap “Room” just before heading out the back door and onto the patio…where you can eat your fresh gourmet deli sandwiches.

To our surprise, the Charlotte Beer Club, which we didn’t know existed (Sign us up?  Yes, please!) was there for the tasting.  “On tap” for the tasting were 4 beers from the Southern Tier Brewing Co.

First up was the Southern Tier Hop Sun –

He Said: Pours a clear, pale straw color with minimal head. Wheat taste, with a dry finish.
Even though they gave out free pint glasses, for some reason we started with the plastic cups — so perhaps the “Dixie Cup Ambiance” reduced the head a little.

She Said: I’d drink this in the summer…although it is a smidge dry and hoppy for my taste.  Nice crisp finish.  And do I detect a bit of citrus?  Lemon maybe?

As with all tastings, the pours were small. :)

Next up was the Southern Tier IPA

He Said: Pours clear, golden with little head. Crisp and floral, but I’m having trouble smelling the beers today. Perhaps it’s the Dixie cups, perhaps it’s the North Carolina allergies.

She Said: I can smell ‘em!  Nice floral nose.  And after the first sip…WHOOO-that’s hoppy!   Another crisp and light finish.  I know enough to know this is a nice representative of the varietal but…

WineGirl clarified, “I’m generally not a fan of IPA’s”.
BeerGuy countered, “I’m generally not a fan of Dixie cups”, as he picked up the free glass for the next round.

Round three – Southern Tier IBA.  That is, the Iniquity Imperial Black Ale.

He Said: Yum! I got this in a snifter when we first walked in. To give away my secrets, the BeerGuy tends to head straight for the bar upon entering a drinking establishment, and then beer in hand, turns to take in the environment.

My one note was “Get a Bottle!” It’s too big and black to shortchange, so we’ll write up a separate review.

She Said: By this point in the game I was too busy being sociable to make tasting notes or take pics.  Luckily a bottle of this came home with us, so, as BG promised, a more detailed review will come later.  I may not have made a lot of notes, but I do remember that I liked it and was intrigued by the uniqueness of the black ale.  Third time’s the charm, right?

And finally, the Southern Tier Jah-Va…an Imperial Coffee Stout.

He Said: When I first visited, Thomas (manager?, owner?, enthusiastic beer-dude!) recommended this so highly that I took one home for the WineGirl. We haven’t popped it yet, and I had trouble smelling the sample at the tasting, so we’ll write this up separately. High hopes, though, that we’ve found a new breakfast beer.  :)

She Said:  Ah…a beer after my own heart!  Again, no formal notes from the tasting, but there’s a bottle in the fridge!!

Some may say that the star of the tasting show tonight was the Southern Tier Brewing Co., but I say it was the camaraderie.  You see, this was one of the most unorganized laid back tastings I’ve ever been to.  Don’t get me wrong. The laid back vibe totally fit the atmosphere. I’m just saying that usually at a tasting, the pouring is very organized, the beers are brought out on a schedule and the brew master or beer company rep really wants to talk to you about the beer and describe the taste, process, philosophy of the brew.  Here, the tasters just mingled and socialized and the hosts seemed to randomly decide to open up the next brew, giving a pour to whomever held their glass out the fastest.

While that put my little OCD heart on edge, the mingling allowed us to get to know some of our fellow beer enthusiasts.

We chatted with 1) the head of the Charlotte Beer Club, 2) a naturopathic physician who just happens to brew a little on the side, and 3) the Brew Master of the new NoDa Brewing Co. (scheduled to open in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood this fall).  These people are true beer lovers who want not just to enjoy the beer for themselves, but to share it with others as well.  To that end as the NoDa Brew Master was describing to us a particular beer he loved, he stopped mid-sentence, grabbed a bottle of it out of the cooler, opened it up, and shared it with us.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet TINY.

Brought a bottle of this home too…and it gets a post all to itself.

Believe it or not, TINY, wasn’t the only privately purchased bottle someone shared with us out of good-beer will.  Another fine young lad simply smiled and handed over a bottle of this from his 6-pack after the naturopathic physician complimented him on his beer choice.

We split it three ways.  Once again, BG has deemed this one good enough for its own post.  So…stay tuned!

All in all, this evening included three of my favorite things – good beer, good conversation, and good atmosphere.  Not bad for being out on a school night!  And, P.S., guess who does wine tastings every Tuesday night?  You got it, The Common Market.  After this evening’s success, it is safe to say we’ll definitely be checking that out very soon!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Beer Guy

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/795

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

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