Charlotte · Davidson · Myrtle Beach · Savannah · Statesville

Best of Restaurant Desserts

Chocolate Souffle’ at Aix en Provence in Charlotte

Creme Brulee at Baron’s Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach

Roasted Apple Galette at Kindred in Davidson

Chocolate Layer Cake at Twisted Oak Bar and Grill in Statesville, NC

Rolled Ice Cream at Below Zero in Savannah, GA

Apple Pie Wontons at The Cowfish in Charlotte, NC

S’Mores Trifle at 5 Church in Charlotte, NC

 

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Charleston SC · Charlotte · Isle of Palms · Savannah

Best of Restaurants: Appetizers

Appetizers are my very favorite part of the meal.  Not a big commitment, you can be adventurous and not break the bank.  Here is a list of my favorites:

Caramelized Gnocchi from Aria Tuscan Grill

Fried Green Tomatoes at Huey’s Southern Eats in Isle of Palms

Mert’s Soul Rolls at Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte

Homemade Lime Tortilla Chips served with Pineapple Mango Salsa from Caterer extraordinaire Food Junkie

Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Food Junkie

Filipino-style Pork Eggrolls with Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce from Food Junkie

Funghi Repieni at Caruso’s in Mooresville

Peirogies from Twisted Oak Bar and Grill in Statesville, NC

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Manchego Skillet at Tybee Island Social Club in Tybee Island, GA

Warm Pimento Cheese & Jumbo Lump Crab Cake  from Tupelo Honey in Charlotte, NC

&

Oysters Rockefeller at the Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, SC

Shrimp Flatbread from 5 Church in Charlotte, NC

Nashville · Places · Restaurants · TN

Travel: Nashville, TN

My kids and I took a trip to Nashville, TN last year to see Avenged Sevenfold in concert.  It was our first trip with just the three of us after my divorce and it was mag.ni.fi.cent.  We had the best adventure ever! We leisurely toured the city and busied ourselves with shopping, fun and food in the city that friends recommended we hit.  Here’s a snapshot of our long weekend.  Or as I like to call it, the best road trip ever.

So, the reason we visited this awesome city: A7X.  Avenged Sevenfold.  The band that bridged the communication gap between myself and my daughter after that divorce.  Yeah, I love them.  So, they get top billing in this blog post.

We had great seats.  The best I could find.  We caught one of Johnny’s guitar pics at the end of the night.  Yes!!

Airbnb

We booked our apartment through Airbnb, and it was so much better than a cramped hotel room.  The owner told me that the apartment was formerly owned by Kris Kristopherson.  Pretty sweet!

The Grand Ole Opry

“The Show that Made Country Music Famous” began in 1925 and is the longest running radio broadcast in US history.  It is a weekly music stage concert that attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.  I’d call it the hub of Nashville.

Parthenon

Built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, the Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece.  Today it serves as a museum with tons of sculptures and portraits, but truly it is a wonder in itself.  Don’t miss the huge statue of Athena that culminates this gorgeous tour.

 

Loveless Cafe

This one is a little ride outside of Nashville proper, but go on and make the drive.  It’s worth it.  We waited about 30-45 minutes, and really, it was just breakfast.  But you still gotta go.  I mean, it’s good breakfast.  Don’t get me wrong.  And they ply you with biscuits and jelly.  Still..eggs, bacon, grits…it’s breakfast.  They do have a cool store, but by the time we were done eating I was peopled out.

Pancake Pantry

If you visit Nashville, you must visit the Pancake Pantry, dubbed Nashville’s best pancakes. Founded in 1961, lines are usually long and you’ll wait, but it will be worth it.  It’s an institution here.  They get their special blend of flours from local sources and make their batters and syrups with a secret recipe fresh daily.

Mafiaoza’s Pizza

After the amazing concert, we decided to go get some pizza at this late night joint.  Luckily for us, they were open and kind enough to serve us.  I’m sure we looked like death warmed over.  All I know is my mascara was all down my face and I was drenched in sweat, I could barely hear the waitress from the loud concert and we were all shaking with hunger.  Smart move, not eating before the concert.

Anyway, we ordered the pie and laid our heads on the table like heathens until it got there.  It was delicious, with a soft crust and tangy sauce.  We’ll have to go at a more decent hour next time.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

Nashville’s coolest and most delicious ice cream…as far as I’m concerned.  It was blazing hot in Nashville when we were there, so we ducked into Jeni’s while shopping for a snack.  What we found were fancy flavors and ice cream made with the finest ingredients.  Perfection.  The purple here is wildberry lavender.  I *think* the one below it is Savannah Buttermilk.  Read between the lines, that one was less memorable!

 

GA · Savannah

Savannah, Georgia Trip

I’ve been dying to visit Savannah forever.  I’d always heard it was a charming city, and Paula Deen being there didn’t hurt either.  What I found surpassed my high expectations.

Wormsloe Historic Site:  The famous tree lined with gorgeous oaks leads to the ruins of a former plantation owned by Noble Jones in the 1700’s, who arrived with the first settlers from England.  It is the oldest standing structure in Georgia.

Laurel Grove Cemetery South:  I loved driving through this old graveyard and looking at beautiful, historic grave sites.  Weirdly enough, this was probably my favorite part of this trip.

Bonaventure Cemetery:  Hauntingly beautiful cemetery located on the Wilmington River.  Featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Gingerbread House:  This gorgeous home was built in 1899 and is used primarily as a venue for weddings and bridal parties.  It’s a great example of the Gingerbread style from Germany’s Black Forest region. Largest of the cities municipal cemeteries at 160 acres…and you can drive through.  My VERY favorite stop in Savannah.

Tybee Island Social Club: We visited on Easter so they only had a specific brunch menu, but it was delicious and flavored well. The best part about this experience was the patio seating and the live music.  Really cool place!

Vic’s on the River:  This was our favorite restaurant in Savannah.  The food was amazing, the view was even better, and on the wall is a map of Sherman’s march from Tennessee to Georgia hand drawn by Union soldiers.  Tons of history, a must visit!

Below Zero. Tucked in the Savannah Seafood Shack on Broughton, you can watch them make your ice cream as you wait in line! Rolled ice cream originated in Thailand and can only be found in a handful of cities: New York, Atlanta and now Savannah!

Myrtle Beach · Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach Hits and Misses

The Gay Dolphin Gift Shop.  Lots of stuff.  I mean, a lot.

Myrtle Beach Skywheel.  Tip: buy those tickets online.

Pirate’s Voyage.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Dinner with a show!

 

Captain Juel’s Hurricane Restaurant.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Sushi and Seafood with a view!

You’re here!
Full view of restaurant
Gorgeous Oaks near restaurant
Hushpuppies
Oysters on the half shell
Crab Dip
Spring Rolls…eh
Spider Roll
Sushi

 

Side Salad (look at that crouton!)
Gumbo
Crab Legs

Croissants.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Best food in Myrtle.

Croissants
Acai Bowl
Strawberry and Nutella Crepe
Eggs Benedict, Potato Casserole and Ambrosia
Fish tacos
Chai Latte
Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffin
Chicken Salad Croissant, Broccoli Cheddar Soup & Ambrosia Salad

Hamburger Joe’s.  See my review on Yelp!

Cheeseburger

MISSES 😦

Baron’s Steaks and Spirits.  Here’s my review on Yelp.

Filet Mignon with potato casserole
Chocolate Cake
Creme Brulee with Caramel Sauce

Margaritaville.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  It’s not horrible, but once was enough.

Margarita Hurricane
Watermelon Margarita
Crab Dip

Lava Lava Shrimp & Calamari
Taco Salad

 

Boone · Boone

Restaurant Review: GameKeeper in Boone, NC & Chetola Lodge

Boone and Blowing Rock are two of our treasures near the Piedmont.  Dustin and I took a little trip up to stay at Chetola Lodge for a long weekend at Valentine’s Day.  We were able to get out only the first night, when we visited the Gamekeeper Restaurant, but the next night we got snowed in.  It was beautiful, and cozy.  A really magical evening!

Chetola Resort

800-CHETOLA (243-8652) :: 828-295-5500

info@chetola.com 

185 Chetola Lake Drive :: Blowing Rock, NC 28605

http://www.chetola.com

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The grounds of this gorgeous resort are worth a visit, even if you park and walk around a bit.  Ponds, swans, walking trails…very natural and peaceful.

We stayed in the Bob Timberlake Inn and it was so personal.  They have cozy (if a tiny bit outdated in decor) rooms with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs and they have a wine and cheese tasting every evening.  We also enjoyed the indoor pool while it snowed outside.  Magical!

Gamekeeper Restaurant

3005 Shulls Mill Road
Boone, North Carolina 28607
828.963.7400

http://gamekeeper-nc.com

Gamekeeper Restaurant on Urbanspoon

First thing you should know is you need a reservation.  The winter hours are scarce and the tables were full when we were there.  Second thing you need to know is that if it is winter, you’ll need to call to make sure the restaurant is open.  The drive up is curvy and scary on a snowy road.  But…it certainly is charming in a snowy setting once you reach your destination.

As you might suspect, the restaurant has a glamorous hunting lodge feel.  There are fireplaces blazing inside and twigs along with eclectic artwork and low lighting.  It’s easy on the eyes and comfortable.  We were seated immediately and enjoyed wonderful service all night.

gamekeeper mixed game grill app

We started our meal with the Mixed Game Grill which had a variety of (chef’s choice) grilled game meats, sausages and dipping sauces.  On the night we visited, we got grilled ostrich and elk, yak and emu sausages, and mustard, horseradish and a peach-pear barbecue sauce for dipping.  All of these meats were topped with some hand-cut seasoned fries.  The grilled ostrich was crispy and hearty, not too gamey, as I was afraid.  The elk was absolutely the best thing I ate all night; it was grilled to perfection with a smoky crust.  I’d order a plateful of that.  The yak sausage was cooked crispy but it was dry and quite gamey tasting.  Not my favorite.  The emu sausage was better, with a creamier texture.  The fries were without question the best I’ve had.  They were planks of starchy deliciousness, seasoned properly.

A perfect accompaniment to this dish were the sauces that were served with it.  First there was a mustard sauce that was thick with whole mustard seeds; very bold!  There was also a horseradish sauce that was creamy and had just enough bite.  My favorite was the peach pear barbecue sauce.  It was sweet and matched perfectly with the char on the grilled meats.

gamekeeper pheasant pot pie

I had the Pheasant Pot Pie.  It was surprisingly good, but I’m not sure everyone would like it as much as I did.  The filling tasted a little “gluey” but it was so flavorful I overlooked the somewhat unpleasant texture.  The pheasant itself was cooked beautifully, and tasted like…wait for it…chicken.  But incredibly flavorful and tender chicken!  The pastry shell was flaky and perfect.  I also loved the accompanying vegetables with just a bit of char on them.  My only real criticism was that the whole dish lacked salt and it wasn’t provided on the table.  That is a bold move on a chef’s part, and in this case the move was the wrong one.  Chefs:  put salt and pepper on your tables.  We won’t think less of you for it.

gamekeeper bison hangar steak

 

Dustin had the Grilled Bison Hangar Steak, served with roasted potatoes and root vegetables.  Honestly, his was a little gamey tasting for me, but it was cooked well.  Again, we found the dish lacked seasoning.   Still, it was an experience.

 

 

 

 

Places

Paula Deen LIVE at the Blumenthal in Charlotte

Paula Deen came to Charlotte, ya’ll!  Her people reached out to me with fantastic tickets to see this wonderful show and to meet Paula!  What an amazing experience!  If you want to see her, here’s the link to check out her tour dates:  Paula Deen Live.  Our show was Wednesday, September 24 2014 at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Theater downtown.

When we first arrived, we were directed upstairs in this beautiful center to have some wine and snacks before going up to meet Paula.  As you might imagine, the food was amazing.  I wish I could show you pictures of the venue, but security was tight and they wouldn’t let us snap pictures inside the building.  My guess is we were too close to the Bank of America Building, and they thought we might be cat burglers.

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While we stood in line to wait on the Queen of Buttery Goodness, we spotted several famous folks.  Lee Greenwood was on hand to greet us in line, and we’d learn later he’d sing his hit song God Bless the USA during the show.  Stunning!  (not his best picture, but that is the fault of the photog, not Mr. Greenwood.)

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While we were in line to meet Paula, we were told that we could not have anyone take pictures of us (it would hold up the line) but that their photographer would get the shot and give us a link to download them.  I got that one today.  I think it came out great, even if the hubs has a death grip on Paula’s hand.  They seem like awesome people.    Paula certainly was.  Very warm and friendly 🙂

 

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Now, for the good stuff!  Paula’s sons were just out there strutting around, chit chatting with everyone, really working the room.  Handsome!  This might have been the highlight of my night 😉

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I didn’t take pictures of the event itself.  I was too wrapped up in listening to Paula talk!  We saw her prepare some yummy dishes, heard her telling her famous stories and anecdotes and even played some games!  It was a wonderful time, and not to be missed!

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