Charlotte · Uncategorized

Restaurant Review: Halcyon in Uptown Charlotte

Halcyon has been on my wishlist forever, but sometimes parking in Uptown Charlotte is a hassle.  It definitely was yesterday afternoon, but we persisted.  We circled the restaurant maybe 7 times, each time finding a parking lot with a “Full” sign.  On our 8th trip we found a parallel spot a few blocks away and got in in only 2 tries 🙂  Nerve wracking!!

It was worth the concentration and anxiety.  Once we walked to where GPS said Halcyon was, we wandered around another 10 minutes trying to figure out where the heck it was.  We followed signs, we went down an alleyway….I eventually gave up and asked another patron walking around near the Levine Center where the heck it was.  Turns out, you go up this gigantic staircase into the MInt Museum (there is an elevator on the inside of the building!) and there the restaurant is in all its glory.

The restaurant is beautiful, as you’d expect. When we walked in, I was struck by all of the organic decorative touches.  The hostess station sits atop the most beautiful wood table I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t quit rubbing it.  I slipped around the hostess and snapped a quick picture of a long dining table waiting for patrons because it was so beautiful and simple.  The light fixtures look like a nest of twigs.  I was really wowed.

Look at that gorgeous table!

Huge windows overlooking Downtown Charlotte and check the light fixtures!

Love the organically shaped plates.

Despite the beauty inside, it couldn’t hold a candle to the beautiful fall weather we had yesterday, so we opted to sit on the patio.  Unlike many places, the outdoor furniture was comfortable and also lovely.  And the view!  Could not be beat.

View of Uptown Charlotte from Halcyon

The food was just as amazing as the view.  We scoured the menu and tried to order something different from each other so we could taste everything possible!  With so many delicious choices, that was easy.

Lunch Menu

First we ordered tea all around.  It comes unsweetened and they serve it with a simple syrup.  So, I was charmed the first time this happened to me, but now I despise this trend.  I can never use enough to even taste it.  Just give me some Sweet and Low and I’ll be happy.

My food, however, was without flaw.  I ordered the Local Catch of the Day which was pan seared Snapper.  They placed it atop a mix of summer veggies with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette on the bottom.  Seriously one of the best things I’ve eaten in a very long time.  The fish, though prepared simply, was so flavorful and flaky; cooked perfectly.  The skin was crispy and the inside was white and tender.  The veggies were sauteed lightly and the broccoli was charred so that was a perfect contrast of flavors.  Finally, that vinaigrette sauce: I wish I could come home with a cup full and slather it on everything.  It was tart and perfect when you dragged your fish or a vegetable through it.

Local Daily Catch with summer veggies, charred broccoli atop a puddle of roasted red pepper vinaigrette

My friend Paula got the Pork Belly BLT.  It was gorgeous!!  It’s this open-faced sandwich made on a brioche bun and stuffed with thick cut heirloom tomatoes, pimiento cheese, pork belly and drizzled with herb aioli. The fries are in a class of their own.  So crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside and seasoned to perfection.   Paula was very happy with it!

Pork Belly BLT with fries

My friend Jennifer got the Open Faced Lamb Sausage Pita, and she let me take a bite of the sausage!  It was just so spicy and tangy.  The pita had spinach, the sausage which looked to be spiced with a tomato confiture, topped with tzatziki sauce, herbed goat cheese and a beautifully fried egg.  Served with those amazing fries!  Superb.

Open Faced Lamb Sausage Pita

We were all so darn full from our delicious lunches, but we did decide to indulge in one small truffle 🙂  It was just a ball of ganache, rolled in cocoa powder and served with a few blueberries.  But it was oddly rich and perfect.  Just the little bite of sweetness we needed to end our perfect lunch.  Jennifer also got a latte which she said was great!

The perfect bite: Chocolate Truffle with blueberries

Latte

This restaurant is perfect for an al fresco dining experience with a beautiful view, or a date night when you want to impress someone.  Take a moment and look around the museum while you are there!

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Lincolnton · Uncategorized

Crafted Southern Speakeasy throws a Tea Party!

So, by now everyone knows that Crafted is THE place to go for the most delicious handcrafted cocktails and snacks.  But did you also know they do these marvelous events all of the time?  The last one I went to was a tea party.  And it was the coolest one I’ve ever been to.

Erika Thompson, owner of Crafted teamed up with Allison Gahrmann of the White Rose Manor in Lincolnton to put together this amazing event.

We bought our tickets online and when we arrived she ushered us all into the private party room which was decorated lovingly to be transformed into a Victorian tea room.  Allison brought her vast collection of delicate teacups made out of bone china for us to sip from.

Allison then gave us a demonstration about tea etiquette and history and even brought some hats that she’s helped to rescue and remake.  She asked these adorable little girls to model a couple of her favorites.  She then let us know that she and her daughter collaborated to blend some new tea flavors, some with a theme of Christmas and other with an Alice in Wonderland theme!  We all begged for an Alice in Wonderland themed Tea Party at Crafted next, so be on the watch for that!

The food was plentiful and delish!  We had every type of finger food you could imagine and then some!

 

A beautiful tablescape!

Bruschetta Bites

Cucumber Sandwiches

Peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Chicken salad sandwiches, Creme Brulee cookies and German Chocolate Cupcakes

Croissants with fresh jam

Parmesan Crisps

Jalapeno Pickled Quail Eggs

Anise Pizzelles

Scones with lemon curd

My plate!

Uncategorized

When Pinterest Got it Right

So, we’ve all seen the hilarious websites that post all of the Pinterest Fails, right?  I’ve had my share, believe me.  But sometimes Pinterest gets it right.  So, kudos to you, Pinterest!  I knew all of those hours I spent pinning stuff would one day come in handy.  Here’s my countdown:

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10:  It’s kind of a creepy thought, isn’t it?  But quite true in my life.  Going tonight to give him the scoop on some more of you, too.

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9.  That’s just the long and short of it.  You can blame someone else for telling your business.  You can blame others for being judgemental.  But really…it’s just you.  Real Talk.

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8. Maybe I’m biased, because I have one of these, but seriously…who likes to be treated disrespectfully?  No one in their right mind.  Bad boys are fine and well, but give me a chivalrous man any day of the week.

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7.  Tell me you’ve noticed all of the butt hurt there is on Facebook these days?  Everyone’s got a cause, a cross to bear, something that offends them and some are outraged that people aren’t offended enough.  Mom’s advice from my childhood still stands.

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6.  Every mother knows what I’m talking about.

FTI2723018x185.  Sad but true.  People you thought you knew for years can change.  People you thought loved you.  My advice?  Love yourself.  I’m not being cynical, I’m being practical.

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4.  Let me just say I know this to be true.  And I’m working on it.  But dang, people can make you want to slap them silly sometimes, right?

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3.  People will stalk you out on Facebook.  People will try to add you under their kid’s accounts when you block them.  People will screenshot what you post and send it to ….you get the idea.  Save yourself the headache and just unfollow the drama.  What do you care if they see how awesome you are doing anyway?

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2.  In honor of Independence Day, I give you this.  And incidentally, I’m a patriot until Monday morning.

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1.  Can I get an amen?  For all of my careful planning, my life has surely taken a different course than I had imagined when I was 18.  A different course than I imagined yesterday.  But that’s what keeps things interesting.  How boring is it if all of your dreams come true…what about the dreams you never knew you had?  Just go with it, or you’ll make yourself nuts.  Trust me.

Uncategorized

Buttermilk: Ways to use up your quart

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Are you like me and eagerly buy the ingredients for a recipe and soon have a fridge full of jars and jugs that have been opened once?  Drives me crazy!  Buttermilk is one of those things.  As a southern girl, I should be able to rattle off a dozen different ways to use up a quart of buttermilk, but the truth is, it generally gets shoved to the back until I’m too late to use it (experts say it will keep for 2 weeks in your fridge or 3 months in your freezer.)  No more.

An article in All You magazine inspired me to share some of the ideas to use up buttermilk or even make your own.  If you have some easy ways to use up buttermilk, I’d love to hear them!

Make it Yourself!

GOT MILK?  Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup measure and fill the rest with milk. Let stand 10 minutes and then whisk before using.

GOT YOGURT?  Measure 2/3 cup yogurt (or sour cream) into a small bowl.  Add 1/3 cup milk and whisk until combined.

Use it up

But perhaps my favorite way to use up some buttermilk is to make Buttermilk Syrup..and sometimes I even add raspberries.  My goodness…

Buttermilk Syrup

Buttermilk syrup with raspberry

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

directions

  1. Place first five ingredients in large saucepan.

  2. Bring to boil and cook for 7 minutes (mixture will foam), stirring to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  I also stirred in some raspberries I had on hand, yum!

     

     

     

Uncategorized

House of Taipei

Chinese restaurants aren’t that special, right?  Just fast food, or even a buffet to be scarfed down in less than an hour at lunch?  Not so at the House of Taipei in Huntersville.  When you enter you can see the difference in the table linens.  The restraurant is filled with rich dark woods and the table linens are white cotton (even the napkins!).

We started off with Hot and Sour Soup, which had a thick, rich broth and was chock full of mushrooms and tofu.  We’ve also had their egg rolls which are crispy and delicious.  For our entrees on this night we shared, of course.  My husband got Moo Shu Pork, which is a little like a Chinese pancake.  It is a thin tortilla spread with Hoisin sauce and topped with a stir-fried picture of pork, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and cabbage. That is my favorite!  I ordered the Shrimp in Firecracker sauce, which is described a spicy Chinese marinara sauce.  It is fantastic!  See the picture above for these entrees.

We always order too much so we never have room for dessert, but we always get the fortune cookies for the ride home.