Restaurant Review: Mert’s Heart and Soul

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Mert’s Heart & Soul is located in downtown Charlotte.  When you walk through the doors, however, you forget that fact.  You feel like you are in an out-of-the-way hole in the wall establishment.  I love it.  The walls are filled with personal pictures and other interesting memorabilia.

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Some of the criticisms we’ve heard of Mert’s is that the service is lacking. We found that not to be a concern at all. Our waiter, DJ, took care of our large party perfectly. He even posed for a picture with me!

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Sincerely, I should put these cornbread cakes down there in the desserts.  Especially when  you slather them with this amazing honey butter.  But, alas, they bring them before the appetizers, so I feel I must insert them here.  This is what everyone talks about.  These tender pones are just sweet enough to satisfy the Yankees, but still savory enough to tempt the Southerner.  (I don’t know about your family, but my people call yellow, sweet cornbread “Yankee” cornbread.)  Whatever you call it, it is glorious.
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Mert’s has a limited selection of appetizers.  Everything we tried was delicious, but my favorites were Mert’s Soul Rolls.  These egg rolls have a unique spin:  they are filled with seasoned rice, black-eyed peas, collard greens and chicken.  They are served with a spicy honey mustard sauce that has just enough punch to elevate this crunchy favorite.

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Every Southern/soul food place worth its salt has Fried Green Tomatoes on the menu and Mert’s is no different.  The tomatoes themselves were sliced perfectly (not too thick) and fried crisply.  The remoulade sauce that dressed them was tangy and a little spicy.  It was a good dish.  But honestly, it is one of those things, much like calamari, that is on every menu, and there isn’t enough variation in taste from one to the other to really justify getting it and forsaking the trying of a new dish.  But hey, I understand cravings.  If you are just jonesing for some FGT, then by all means, enjoy.  But branch out!

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For dinner I got the Fried Chicken Wings with Winston-Salem Sauce.  They were maybe the best pieces of fried chicken I’ve ever had.  Crispy, not greasy, and seasoned perfectly.  The sauce is merely hot sauce dowsing it, which was perfect.  The macaroni and cheese was perfection and the black-eyed peas were creamy and well seasoned.  I’d get that exact same plate if I went again.  So good.

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Laurie got the Fried Whiting on the recommendation of our waiter, DJ.  She said it was amazing!  The fish was crispy on the outside, tender and flaky on the inside.  The macaroni and cheese was the best any of us had ever eaten.  Cheesy and creamy with just enough crusty edges to add a little texture.  The collard greens were braised perfectly, and topped with fresh tomato and onion: mixed together to make a perfect bite!

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Erika got the Salmon Patties with macaroni and cheese and greens.  She said the patties were fine, but nothing special.  Next time she’d try something else.

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Anessa got the Fried Catfish and Fried Chicken Combo with Yams and Macaroni and Cheese.  The chicken and fish were fried and seasoned perfectly.  The yams were slow cooked in brown sugar and butter…how can that be bad?  And the macaroni.  Yeah, we’ve already talked about how life altering that is.

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The lemon pound cake was tangy and had a good flavor.  Anessa reported it was a little dry, so next time she might try another dessert.

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My peach cobbler came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  It was decent cobbler, but my mom’s is better.  Not overly sweet, but not overly flavorful either.  The best dessert of the night was this:

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This is the banana pudding cake.  It was moist, cakey and full of banana flavor.  I never even thought I liked banana pudding all that much, but this cake…what a great twist on a classic.

Here’s the real deal:  No matter where we go, or what we eat, we always ALWAYS have a blast together!

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Mert's Heart and Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Review: Kindred in Davidson

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Girl Nosh goes to Kindred on Halloween!  Not only were we adorable, but we were well fed.  Kindred is the real deal, people.  We decided to bump Kindred up on our list due to this article in Bon Appetit Magazine:  Kindred, Davidson NC.

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I had a large group of ladies able to attend on this night.  So large that I had to call the manager and arrange a special table (I think there were 10 of us) since the place is a bit small and seating is limited.  I thought it worth the extra trouble.

kindredtoastThe place was PACKED.  When we arrived, we did have to be patient and waited around for nearly 30 minutes for our table to be set up and ready for us.  They were gracious about the delay, and allowed us to sit at separate tables until the party beside us was ready to leave, allowing us to push these two tables together so our whole party could be together.

Googling dishes, of course

Googling dishes, of course

The Deal

This establishment serves small plates.  Everything is a la carte, so the server recommended we each get 2 or 3 items, not including dessert.  Some of us liked the small plate concept, and some of us did not.  One of our party members thought that this concept should have been explained better, and felt that we were a bit condescended to when we didn’t quite know how to order.

We all agreed that people who post pictures of their food are the best people.  As you can see from the photo at the right, we Googled dishes we wanted to try to see what they looked like.  Wish I’d have Googled the crudo before I ordered.

The Food

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When we finally sat down (after standing in the bar for a bit) the server brought us this most amazing Milk Bread.  It reminded me of the rolls we used to get at school (when they were homemade) only better.  Lighter, fluffier and sprinkled on top with chips of kosher salt.  Served with a side of REAL whipped creamy butter…I’d go back just for that bread.  All of us are STILL talking about that darn bread.  Be warned, they don’t serve it at lunch, only dinner.

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The Crispy Oysters were a favorite of the table.  Lucky for me, Laurie thought they were too spicy and traded her oysters with my crudo.  The oysters were perfectly fried in a light batter and they sat atop a puddle of dill aioli and Calabrian chili oil.  I thought it was the perfect balance of heat and a nice cool down from the aioli.  This dish is a hit!  As good as the oysters were, I was just as charmed by the plate they served them on.  I felt like I was at my grandmother’s house…my gourmet grandmother.

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The biggest disappointment of the night was the Matsutake Mushroom Crudo.  Shaved Asian pear slices, Matsutake Mushrooms and Parmesan cheese, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.  Not one bit of skill needed, unless you count the mandolin?  The idea is that the ingredients paired work well, and the quality of the ingredients are allowed to shine.  But the mushrooms tasted like dirt.  And I NEVER met a mushroom I didn’t love.  One person at our table loved it, but the rest of us…no.

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Another nifty thing they offer is the Farmhouse Cheese Tray.  They give you a selection of four and each cheese is $4.  It is served with thin baguette slices.  It was good, the cheese was great quality, but you know…it’s a hunk of cheese.  Get something the chef makes.

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The Apple Salad was pretty and tasty, too.  Hazelnuts, sliced apples and Serrano ham all nestled on a bed of peppery arugula made for a fresh start to dinner.

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See above?  That’s called Pappardelle and it is the best thing you will ever put in your mouth.  It is a perfectly seasoned hand-made pasta tossed with a guinea hen ragu.  Guinea hen tastes suspiciously like chicken, but this is so good, I don’t care if they tricked me.  You see those little shavings that look like mushrooms?  Those are fried chestnuts, for crunch. They used a tiny mandolin, shaved little chestnuts and then deep-fried them, just to give you a little crunch with your pasta.  All I could say was thank you.  Amazing.

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So, the other not-as-lucky folks at my table opted to try the Bucatini.  I snuck a bite of Erika’s, just for the purpose of this review, of course, and while it was yummy, it wasn’t as good as mine 🙂  This bucatini was in a buttery sauce with bay scallops, miso, shishito peppers and black truffle.  It was rich and spicy and it was yummy…just not AS yummy as the papardelle.

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Anessa ordered the Pasture Raised Chicken.  She also got that with a side of Creamed Mustard Greens with Bread Crumbs. The chicken was baked to perfection, very tender and juicy and it sat atop a pile of polenta, collards and guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian cured meat or salami product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. I know this because I just Googled it.  So, the chicken was great.  The mustard greens?  Well….not so much.  Anessa enjoyed them, but they were so bitter I had to spit them out.  I’ll admit I’m not a “greens” lover, but this was too much.

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Dessert…aaaahhhh.  We were pretty full, but we took one for the team and ordered dessert.  We actually ordered dessert with our meal, since we were informed they might run out.  No sense taking chances like that.  First up is the Cookies with Cinnamon Ice Cream.  The cookies were thick and chewy and the ice cream was perfectly creamy with just a warm hint of cinnamon.  So perfect.

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But the most perfect dessert was the Roasted Apple Galette.  Sugar sprinkled flaky pie dough enfolds sweet yet tart apples, on a puddle of milk jam (tasted like caramel to me) and topped with buttermilk ice cream.  That weed on top?  Sugared thyme.  I might have sucked on a leaf or two.

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The Pumpkin Pot de Creme was a most requested dessert that night.  They ran out!  It was a smooth, spiced pumpkin custard (like a super smooth pumpkin pie filling, elevated) topped with Chantilly cream and hazelnuts.  It was perfect, light and refined.

This was one of my favorite restaurants that the Girl Nosh group has been to.  We had a few snags, but the experience was so unique and so personal, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it.  kindredgirlnosh

Kindred Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Forgiveness-Don’t forget you!

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Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV)

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

 

Forgiveness.  It is a concept I admit I struggle with daily.  I have to consciously stop my negative thoughts about my current situation and sometimes fake it.  But over time, that is working.  I no longer cringe when I see the two people who hurt me so horribly.  I even pray for them, and I do my best to make it a sincere prayer, not just words I know I have to say.  I’m making headway.

But in all of that “growth” I forgot to forgive myself.  I constantly question how I could have been so blind.  How could I have been so naive.  What should I have done differently?  While it is important to take accountability, you have to be careful not to go down the road of self deprecation.  Give yourself a little leeway of understanding and forgiveness, too.  I missed the signs of betrayal…I trusted too much.  I’ve decided that from today that is not my failing, but the failing of the ones I gave that trust to.  So I believed someone to be something they weren’t.  If believing the best about someone turns out to be the wrong thing, I just have to move on.  I refuse to let that lesson color the people I meet in the future.

 

I am usually the person who volunteers to help.  I like it, and selfishly I guess, I like the way it makes me feel.  Recently, I had to be the one to accept help.  I’d exhausted every other avenue to finish a house that we began building over 2 years ago, and I was now taking on the project as a single woman.  I thought I might even lose the house, I just didn’t have any answers how to finish the house minimally so that we could move in to finish the rest.  So close to despair, my friends reached out like it was nothing.  Nothing to give up entire Saturdays after a long work week to come to my home to do back-breaking work.  They brought friends, too.  People who had no idea who I was came to help a person, out of the kindness of their hearts.  I was so blessed by that, so overwhelmed, I just went on the deck and cried.  It meant more to me than just getting my children into the house we’d been dreaming about for 3 years…it restored my faith in the goodness of others.  It helped me forgive myself for my poor choices.  It humbled me.

 

So, today I am able to breathe a little easier.  My house will be livable soon, not perfect, but workable.  Kind of like me. 🙂  All I can do is do a little better, keep my head up while I work on my forgiveness, my patience, my empathy, and my trust in God.  I hope one day I can be as big a blessing to someone as these friends have been to me.

Inspired by:  http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/encouragement/

 

 

Twisted Oak Bar & Grill in Statesville, NC

Restaurant Week is probably my favorite two weeks of the year.  I mean, I love Christmas, but Restaurant Week allows me to have a fabulous meal that someone else cooks and cleans up after.  That’s love.

This year I had the most handsome date on the planet…my sweet son, Ty.  We went to Twisted Oak Bar & Grill in Statesville.  It is located in Statesville’s charming downtown area, and in a factory-esque building.  It is not facing the road, the front entrance is on the side.  When you come up the ramp you’ll see a nice outdoor area with a fireplace and several seats around.  Very cozy!  The interior is spacious and homey with exposed brick and minimalist decor.  I loved it.  Also, on this night, they had live music.

Twisted Oak serves breakfast Monday – Thursday and the pictures I saw looked amazing.  If I am ever near Statesville early in the morning, that will be my first stop.  Lunch and Dinner are served Monday through Saturday.

As you know, Restaurant Week has a limited menu…3 courses for $30 each.  What a deal!  We both skipped the wine they offered at the beginning of the meal and opted for tea and water.  The first course was a great start to a terrific meal.  I got a delicious garden salad with a tangy and creamy homemade Ranch dressing.  I love some salad.  Ty got Peirogies.  If you aren’t sure what that is, it’s a potato dumpling that is pan fried and tossed with caramelized onion and andouille sausage and topped with sour cream and cheddar cheese.  Ty hit the jackpot with these.  A HUGE plateful and they were the best peirogies I’ve ever tried.  The outside was crispy and chewy and the inside was soft and creamy.  I would order this and my salad for my meal next time!

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For his entree, Ty opted for the Pimento Burger.  It was a 1/2 pound Angus beef, cooked to medium atop a toasted bun slathered with melted pimento cheese, fried onion, bacon, lettuce and tomato (he opted out of that) and served with French fries.  He said the burger was very good and the fries were homemade and perfect.

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I got a special selection that was made just for Restaurant week: Beef Short Rib Lasagna.  Tender bits of slow roasted short ribs in between pasta sheets with cheese, mushrooms and topped with a tangy and robust tomato gravy, Bechamel sauce and mozzarella cheese.  So decadent, I had to take home half of it so I could enjoy dessert!

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Our dessert choice was the 5 Layer Chocolate Cake.  It was a huge slice of moist chocolate cake with plenty of rich, fudgy frosting.  Satisfying to any chocolate lover!

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We gave this comforting restaurant two thumbs up and will be dining there again very soon!

 

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Tupelo Honey – Girl Nosh

So I find myself in a separated state after 20 years of wedded bliss.  I gave myself a couple of days to wallow in misery and then got a plan together.  New job, new gym membership, new church…check.  The last piece of my happiness puzzle was surrounding myself with great friends.  Thus “Girl Nosh” was born.  We are a group of girls who enjoy going out to eat together and laughing our heads off.  We meet once a month and the only requirement is that everyone has to take a picture of their food for my blog and let me taste a tiny bite of what they got 🙂

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Our charter meeting was held at Tupelo Honey in Charlotte.  We had to call for reservations, since I had too many folks coming to use the online reservation scheduler.  No big deal, they were nice and efficient and had our reservation when we arrived.  Actually, we arrived early and they seated us very quickly.  Awesome!

OK, so I have one knock on the place.  It was smoking hot.  I mean, I never cooled down.  We were seated by the door and it kept opening with each new customer, totally screwing us out of cool air every time.  Every time.  If only they had a more “closed in” entryway, perhaps that could be avoided?  All I know is I was hot.  But, I did buy two drinks, so maybe there is a method to the madness?

The Bar

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Our table ordered white wine, Sangria (red) and a mixed drink called a Honeysuckle and Lavender Flip.  The Sangria was sweet and fruity and very refreshing.  The Flip…well…that was light and sweetly resplendent.  That’s right: resplendent.  It was made with Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka and a house made lavender sweet and sour mixed with soda water and a squeeze of lemon.  Served over cracked ice and a sprinkling of lavender buds on top, and you’ll hear an angel sing upon first sip.

Appetizers and Small Plates

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First up is a hearty appetizer: Fried Green Tomatoes.  Any southern restaurant worth its salt must have this on the menu.  But TH has their fried green maters on a bed of creamy goat cheese grits and that is nestled over the top of some brightly flavored red pepper coulis.  What a perfect combination.  The crispy, salty and sour fried green tomatoes was a perfect counter balance to the decadent grits.  The coulis added just enough spice to tie it all together.  A perfect dish that we had to order 2 plates of to share.

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The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake was another hit.  It might have been the best crab cake I’ve ever tasted!  Crispy on the outside and full of sweet large hunks of crab.  Seasoned just perfectly!  It came propped against a small salad a mixed dark greens dressed with a jalapeno aioli and tossed with sweetly sour baby tomatoes.  That salad had a bite to it!  Perfect addition to the simple goodness of the crab cake.

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The table also thoroughly enjoyed Warm Pimento Cheese, like a Southern cheese dip, served with house-made tortilla chips.  I looked around to see so many tables enjoying this simple, but unbeatably delicious, sharable appetizer.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it didn’t even need salsa.  It was that good.

Tupelo Honey biscuitThe humble Biscuit.  Handmade, fluffy, salty and tender.  Served with honey (of course) and blueberry preserves.  A.mazing.

Brunch

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Erika had a brunch item for dinner: Fried Chicken and Biscuits!  She couldn’t make up her mind what she wanted, everything looked so good, but the description of the basil gravy eventually won her over.  Let me set this dish up for you:  Huge bowl is filled with split house made biscuits.  Next, they place a perfectly fried buttermilk chicken breast patty.  Add crispy NC country ham and some basil and top all of that with a fried egg.  Which when Erika sank her fork in burst and gave a new level of richness to that gravy.  It was decadent and wonderful, and she could barely finish a third of her meal!

Dinner

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Laurie ordered Roasted Duck Breast.  It was topped with a cherry port wine sauce and served with cardamom ginger roasted carrots and a shaved Brussels sprout salad dressed with a honey vinaigrette.  Laurie said that the duck was cooked well, but the skin wasn’t seared enough, leaving it chewy.  She cut all of the skin off and ate the duck breast meat.  It was tasty, but she was disappointed with the skin.  The salad was so tangy and creamy, much like a cole slaw.

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Vickie got the Jumbo Fried Shrimp.  These big, juicy prawns were buttermilk fried and topped with a sticky cherry pepper lemon aioli.  Vickie reported them amazing!  She got hers with a side of asparagus and a side salad.

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I got the Hickory Nut Gap Farm Beef and Bacon Meatloaf.  I’m going to be honest here: I picked something that would go with the macaroni and cheese.  Because that’s what I was wanting.  If you are going to cheat on your diet, you should really go all out.  So, I picked fried okra, too.  NO REGRETS!  The meatloaf was so tender, and a nice brown color, unlike my gray offerings.  The gravy on top was a tomato rosemary shallot gravy that was zesty and packed with flavor.  I was dragging the macaroni and cheese through it, too.  The macaroni and cheese was gooey and cheesy.  I mean, even a bad mac and cheese tastes pretty good, but this one is yummy, no fear.  The fried okra was plump yet crispy.  Not that frozen mess you get at other places.  I was so happy.  Joyous, really.

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Kathy, the healthy one in the group, opted for the  Venerated Veggie Bowl.  We’ll never truly know how wonderful this was because Kathy refuses to share her food!  LOL  I can say that it looked amazing and she couldn’t eat it all.  Let me set it up for you:  On the bottom of the bowl there is a layer of SC Stone Ground Goat cheese grits and that is topped with salsa verde black-eyed peas.  They then pile on sauteed greens, fried okra and salsa.  I love meat, but this bowl looked amazing.

Lunch

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Lunch isn’t all that much different from dinner, but they do have more sandwiches.  My favorite is probably the Shoo Mercy Cheesy Grill.  A gooey mixture of Havarti and pimento cheese tops carmelized onions, crispy maple smoked bacon, salty smoked ham, fried green tomatoes and fresh basil all on wheat sourdough bread.  Sounds like a lot going on, but the combination is perfect.  Squishy, salty, creamy and crispy: it hits all the notes.

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I got my sammie with a bowl of their tomato soup.  Eh.  A little tangy.

Tupelo Honey Chix BLT

The Southern Fried Chicken BLT is another staple at Tupelo Honey.  I had one at lunch on another visit.  The chicken is seasoned perfectly, crispy crunchy and the bacon is smoky.  Perfect in its simplicity

Side Dishes

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You could make a meal on the side dishes.  Seriously.  Because they have a veggie plate where you can choose 3 or 4 for your meal.  But, if you just want a couple with your meat (do it!) you’ll be happy too.  Laurie got the Edamame, Pine Nut, Golden Raisin and Carrot Salad.  I was very suspicious of those healthy looking green beans, but I was pleasantly surprised at the sweet and tangy dressing, and the bite from the pine nuts.  Healthy never tasted so good.

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Another favorite of our table was the Benne Coated Asparagus.  Asparagus can’t go wrong as long as it isn’t over cooked.  These were perfectly cooked, still had a bit of a snap, and the benne (sesame seeds, right?) added a nuttiness.  Yum!

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You may also choose a side salad as one of your “vegetables.”  This one comes with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, pickled onions and pine nuts.  The  pickled onions and pine nuts are tangy and crunch elements that are different from your run-of-the-mill side salad.

If you are looking for a delicious country meal that is a little on the upscale side, you have to give Tupelo Honey a try.  Just bring a fan.

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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.

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.