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

provisions

We are headed to MS for a few days to help out with some family things and then go to a reunion for me.  We are both native Mississipians, and as much as we love it, compared to NC it is a craft beer wasteland.  That isn’t to say that Mississippi is completely void of craft beer.  It’s just that, when compared to NC, it’s slim pickings way down South in Mississippi.  We know that Mississippi now has the Lazy Magnolia Brewery, but it’s on the coast which is not where we are headed.  So, just in case are are unable to get our hands on some of Lazy Magnolia’s offerings, we had to pack provisions.

Travel Provisions

Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to continue to drink in the manner to which she has become accustomed, even while traveling.

The Mr is a hophead. I’m more of a stout and porter kind of girl.  Since NoDa wouldn’t let us growler a Ménage a Quàd to take with us, we couldn’t decide on one happy medium.  So, he chose a Midnight Madness (a Cascadian Dark Ale made with five hop varieties: Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Chinook, and Warrior hops.)  I chose a Coco Loco (a Robust Porter made with chocolate and brown malts and toasted organic coconut).

That ought to keep us set…for a few days at least!

kitchensig1

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1058

my husband thinks my beer belly is sexy

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

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

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

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

The Mr: “Sure is.”

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

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

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

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

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

The Mr.  “Point taken.”

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

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

Menage a Quad

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

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

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

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

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

kitchensig1

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

Bravo, Luciano!

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

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

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

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

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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

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

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all…

Bet your thinking Christmas, right?  Well, my lovelies, you would be mistaken.  The most wonderful time of the year is, in fact, Fall.  More specifically, Fall and SEC Football Season!  IT’S GAMEDAY PEOPLE!!!  Aren’t you pumped?!?  I have been psyched about today for weeks.  In truth, I’ve been looking forward to this day since Bama put the smack down on LSU for their 14th National Championship last January.

The fact is, I’m the football fan in the family.  The Mr. and I have a running joke that when it comes to college football, I fulfill the stereotypical male role in our relationship.  Every Saturday from September through the BCS championship game in January, I can be found parked in the comfiest chair in the living room  (right in front of the flat screen), guzzling some sort of ale or stout, shouting at refs, and armchair quarterbacking.

Lest you be tempted to pity The Mr. because he didn’t know what he was getting into, I should tell you that he knew – from Day 1.  The Mr. and I actually met at the Ole Miss v. Alabama game in Oxford in 1997.  He had come up to visit his brother who introduced us.  Our first conversation went something like this (To set the scene, picture me absolutely engrossed in the game glancing back and forth at it and him while he grinned and attempted to chat up a cute redhead he just met…):

Him:  Hi, I’m Steve.
Me:  Uh-huh.  Nice to meet you.  GET HIM, GET HIM, GET HIIIIIMMMMM!!!!
Him: So, how do you know Robby (his brother who introduced us)?
Me:  Huh? Oh…um…we’re…we’re in the same choir and opera program.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? THAT’S INTENTIONAL GROUNDING!
Him:  I actually really enjoy classical music.  I’ve always enjoyed Wagner.
Me:  WHAT THE…! Wha? Huh?  Oh, that’s great…IN WHAT WORLD WAS HE NOT BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE…

Never fear, we actually had a real conversation (one in which I fully participated) later that evening a party, when I wasn’t as distracted.  And the rest, as they say, is history…and get’s us back to me screaming at TV every Saturday in the Fall.  The only difference is that now he knows better than to attempt meaningful conversation with me during the game.  He’s also sweet enough to keep bringing me beer.

As much as I love college football in general, my heart belongs to Ole Miss.  This time of year there is no where I’d rather be than in the cool, crisp fall air in Oxford, Mississippi.  Let’s face, I’d rather be in Oxford any ol’ day of the year, but that desire is magnified by a GAZILLION during football season.

Unfortunately, this weekend we are not traveling and it doesn’t really feel like Fall outside.  But a girl and dream, can’t she?  I wish is was 30 degrees cooler outside…

I wish I was wearing this… (At Ole Miss, Gameday is a dress event)

(Credit BCBG)

I wish I was here…

sipping on one of these…

(Credit marthastewart.com)

eating this…

(Credit Southern Living)

getting ready to head over here…

Instead, I’m at home, wearing this…

sipping on one of these…

while watching the game here…

It’ll do for now.  HOTTY TODDY!!

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/983

New Kid On the Block

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

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

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

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

Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

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

MY Independence Day

I woke up today with definitive plans.  We’ve done a lot of socializing in the last couple of weeks so, last weekend, I announced to The Mr.  that I would not be attending any July 4th Festivities this year.  You see, in my old age, I’ve come to realize that I am actually an introvert who has been masquerading as an extrovert her entire life.  If I’m too sociable and don’t get enough down/quiet/home time, then I start to get…well…let’s just say I start to get twitchy.  Knowing that I had a day off from work in the middle of the week, I preemptively declared my independence from social obligation.

Ever a slave to my to “To Do” list, I saw the free day in the middle of the week as an opportunity to get a few things done.  I awoke with plans to ride my bike, cook/prep dinners for the rest of the week, work on my Bible Study homework, write/outline blog posts for the next week or so, do a little midweek house keeping, start working on my “To Pack” list for my upcoming trip to Virginia and spend some time practicing my photography.

Instead, I sipped coffee in bed until about 8:45a while begrudgingly watching the Today Show (I’m still mad at NBC for what they did to Ann Curry, but can’t bare to watch GMA.  So, I’m still watching the Today Show, but I’m NOT happy about it.)  I eventually wandered downstairs where I mustered the energy to put some Trader Joe’s frozen waffles in the toaster oven and water the flowers in my kitchen window box.  After that…well…um….

You see…

I…well…I sort of…

It’s just that…

Ok, you got me!  The rest of the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

My subsequent activities basically boiled down to me tooling around on the internet.  As in ALL DAY.  Seriously.  ALL.  STINKING.  DAY.  Doing what, you ask? Do seriously important stuff – you know, reading blogs, reading about how to grow your blog (chief among the suggestions here are actually WRITING posts rather than just tooling around reading what other people have posted), looking for wallets (unfortunately, I’m currently in love with this one), reading more blogs, window shopping for organizational paraphernalia at See Jane Work, Franklin Covey, and The Container Store, and playing rousing games of Words With Friends with my sister and my mother-in-law.  Oh, and reading about 7 chapters of my book club selection…sometimes in the bed…sometimes on the loveseat.

I basically never made it out of my yoga pants.

I DID manage to do one lesson of my Bible Study homework for this week and prep some simple filets for The Mr. to grill.  In all honesty, I also whipped up some small salads and baked two sweet potatoes while The Mr. did the man cooking.  (But who’s counting?) Oh! AAAAAND I can scratch the accomplishment of drizzling melted herb butter over the grilled filets before plating them.

I grew the herbs myself.  That has to count for something, right?

It may not have been the Independence Day our forefathers intended, but today was apparently the day that I declared MY independence…from my “To Do” list, that is.

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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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

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