Charlotte · Denver · Gastonia · Huntersville · Uncategorized

Best of Restaurants: Mexican Food

Mexican food is my all time favorite.  It’s my desserted island food, my last meal food and my go-to when working late.  Here are the best dishes I’ve found.

Shredded Beef Chimichanga at Margaritas in Denver, NC

Quesadilla Mexicana at La Unica in Huntersville, NC

Tableside Guacamole at Paco’s Tacos in Charlotte, NC

Pollo Loco at El Patron in Gastonia, NC

 

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Charlotte · Hickory · Lincolnton · Myrtle Beach · Restaurants

Best of Restaurants: Cocktails

I’m not a big drinker, I’ll normally have one cocktail when I go out with friends for dinner.  So, if I say something’s good, you can take it to the bank.

Bourbon Peach Smash at Crafted Southern Speakeasy in Lincolnton, NC

 

Bloody Beast at Standard Oyster Company in Hickory

L’eveilleur from Aix en Provence in Charlotte

Watermelon Margarita from Margaritaville in Myrtle Beach

Watermelon Margarita

D.S.L. from Aria Tuscan Grill

Charlotte · Denver · Hickory · Lincolnton · Morganton · Myrtle Beach · Winston-Salem

Best of Restaurants: Sandwiches

Not your girlfriend’s sandwich.

Chicken Salad Croissant from Croissant’s Bakery in Myrtle Beach

Chicken Salad Croissant, Broccoli Cheddar Soup & Ambrosia Salad

Club Sandwich and Pulled Pork Ban Mi from Hatch in Hickory

Club Sandwich at Village Tavern in Winston Salem

Smoked Turkey Club Sandwich at Crepe Cellar

The Cuban at Sports Page in Denver, NC

Chicken Salad Sandwich from Harvest Moon Grille in Lincolnton, NC

Basil Grilled Chicken Sandwich at The Crispy Crepe in Charlotte

Hot Fried Chicken at Root & Vine in Morganton, NC

Cuban Sandwich at Root and Vine in Morganton, NC

Asheville · Charlotte · Davidson · Hickory · Mooresville · Restaurants · Santa Rosa Beach

Best of Restaurants: Seafood

Seafood dishes remind me of vacation.  We always go somewhere near a beach and the first thing we do is hit our favorite seafood places.  Here are my favorite dishes, some are even inland!

Seafood Risotto from Standard Oyster Company in Hickory, NC

Bouillabaisse Marseillaise at Aix en Provence in Charlotte

Fried Soft Shell Crab from WP Kitchen + Bar in Charlotte

Crispy Oysters at Kindred in Davidson, NC

Raw Oysters at Steamboat Grill 30A

Rock Shrimp at Wasabi in Asheville, NC

Buffalo Shrimp at Big Daddy’s in Mooresville, NC

 

Recipe

A good life

When I’m planning a trip somewhere, I do my research.  I am a list maker from way back and I get joy from checking things off of one.  I was thinking of taking a trip to Kitty Hawk in NC.  Mary Ashley and I do these “Discovery Days” where we take a city in our area and discover all there is to know about it.  Fun, and she shares stuff.  We tight.

OK, so I found this restaurant people talk about called The Good Life there.  Knocking around that website, I see that they cater.  They are custom caterers, meaning they’ll do exactly what you want.  Even your favorite FAMILY recipes.  That idea is so cool to me!  I checked the menus they had online and found one that seemed really delicious for a beach side barbecue.

 

And then I thought…I can do that!

Here’s the plan.  I’ve tested most recipes, and the rest I will end up testing before summer so I can have everything just right!

CHEESE AND CRACKER ARRAY

So for my cheese tray I’ll use a nice herbed goat cheese log from Montchevre.  I got mine at Wal-Mart of all places!  To go with the soft goat cheese, I’d also choose a sharp cheddar from Ashe County.  Pricey perhaps, but worth it.  Also, I’d include this Chocolate Lab from Asheville’s Looking Glass Creamery that uses a local beer and is rubbed with French Broad Chocolate companies own cocoa nibs. Finally, I’d use a harder cheese from the NC dairy farm Three Graces Dairy like the Goldie, which is raw aged cow’s milk cheese much like gouda.  The crackers have to be Root & Branches Seeded Wheat Flatbreads.

HUMMUS AND PITA POINTS

This hummus is life.  It just is.  It’s a recipe I got out of my New York Times Cookbook, meaning to monkey with it.  No need, perfect as written.

HUMMUS BI TAHINI

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
    • 5 tablespoons chicken broth
    • 3/4 cup tahini
    • 1/2-3/4 cup lemon juice
    • salt
    • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
    • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put chickpeas in food processor and add broth, tahini and lemon juice to taste. Blend until smooth. Add salt if needed. Add garlic and pulse to mix.
  2. Spoon hummus into wide, shallow serving dish. Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita chips.

DEVILED EGGS

I’ve tried a million recipes, but you know what?  The simplest one is the best one.  It reminds me of those my mom used to make and she makes the best, that’s that.  So, here’s my recipe for that: Deviled Eggs

NC PULLED PORK BARBECUE

There are better methods I’m sure.  But, I’m not great on the grill.  It’s on my to do list, so for now, I’d cook the shoulder in a large crockpot with sauce on low for 8 hours, shred and serve with leftover sauce.  Done and done.  The trick is in the delicious sauce!  So for that you need to use: Spicy Barbecue Sauce.

ROLLS

I’m not making these when I can buy something sweetish and soft in the store.  Try these:

COLE SLAW

Purists may not like this idea, but this slaw that I made from Blue Apron is my favorite.  And that’s what I’d have with my BBQ sandwiches.  If that offends you, the next best thing is to go to Lincoln Seafood and pick up some of their slaw.  It’s the best around here.

CREAMY CONE CABBAGE AND RED ONION SLAW

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 head cone cabbage, thinly sliced ( or 1/4 head of cabbage)
    • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
    • 1/4 cup Mexican crema or 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
    • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. In medium bowl, combine cabbage, crema, sugar, juice of 3 limes and as many of the red onion slices you’d like.
  2. Toss to combine, then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Allow to sit 10 minutes before eating.

 

BBQ CHICKEN PIECES

I know this sounds like a lot of ingredients, but you have most of it right in your pantry.  Very flavorful!

FOIL BAKED BARBECUED CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

    • 3 lbs chicken, cut up
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/3 cup catsup
    • 1/3 cup vinegar
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 2 teaspoons dry mustard

DIRECTIONS

  1. Salt and pepper chicken. Combine all remaining ingredients. Dip chicken into this. Seal tightly with foil. Bake covered for 45 minutes at 400. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes, basting with remaining sauce.

 

CORN PUDDING

I recently made this recipe from the Pioneer Woman for a Christmas party and it was a huge hit.  You have to try it for the corn pudding! Fresh Corn Casserole

 

GREEN BEANS

Sounds easy, right?  Wrong.  Green beans are easily one of the most bland vegetables you can eat.  You have to doctor them up to make them palatable.

COUNTRY GREEN BEANS

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans green beans
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion
    • 1/4 cup chopped cooked ham
    • 1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup margarine
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 garlic clove ( minced)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.

 

Thoughts

Goal Digger

Some people think billboards are ugly.  Some folks don’t see them at all.  Some think that they are akin to litter to the eye.  But I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  And this beholder of a new billboard in Denver, NC is pretty darn proud.

In 2009, my family was hit by a drunk driver who broke both of my legs, ankles and feet.  We didn’t know if they’d have to be amputated.  It was bad.  Worse, the guy who did it was on his 6th or 7th DUI (I can’t remember, he had a few “dismissed”) and he was completely lacking remorse.  I won’t go through the list of indignities we suffered because of that wreck, but I will tell you that I had to leave my job as a REALTOR for 5 years.  During those years I had 10 surgeries.  I was not in a good head space.

One of the things that used to drive me nuts was hearing how the community still supported this family.  It was not easy to see my friends liking their business page, when we knew what they were really like when money was involved.  Not to mention the indignity of hearing this same man had another DUI while awaiting our own trial, in addition to other arrests for violence.  He didn’t care whose life or legs he ruined and he certainly didn’t learn his lesson.   My (then) husband used to comfort me by saying that when it was all over with, we’d rent a billboard.  We’d put his face on it to warn people since he wouldn’t police himself and no one could seemingly stop him from driving impaired.

Then something happened.  Eventually I stopped obsessing about this monster (yes, I do still think he is) and just decided that doing that wouldn’t make my legs better, wouldn’t benefit my family in any way and was out of character for me.  So, I wanted a billboard for myself.  To better myself, to benefit my family in spite of the jerk who hurt us.  So here it is, 9 years later, I finally have a billboard and I’m so proud of all it represents to me.  All I’ve made it past in these long 9 years.  It’s a promise I made to myself that I finally fulfilled and it feels amazing.

Without my team at Lake Norman Realty #RollesTeam it would have never been possible.  Lucky, happy girl!

 

 

Charlotte · Restaurants

Fiamma Restaurant in Charlotte, NC

Restaurant Week Winter 2018!!  I’ve managed to hit 3 (or will) this week.  Chillfire in Denver, The Foundry in Denver and Fiamma in Charlotte.  Oh be still my heart!  Fiamma was so worth the wait.  I’ve had it on my wish list forever!  It is authentically Italian, probably some of the best I’ve had in this area.  Their fish is flown in daily from Europe and they hand make all of their pasta.

Fiamma is also open for lunch Monday through Saturday, so you can try it during the day if you can’t make it for Restaurant week or forget to make reservations at night.  You can easily make reservations online through Open Table, though, so don’t forget.  This place is hopping!

The service here is top-notch.  I found all of the staff to be kind, knowledgeable and prompt.  I felt cared for, but never bothered.  This is a true accomplishment during harried Restaurant week!

Let’s talk about the food.  YUMMM!

When you sit down, they bring out a plate of fresh bread and crunchy bread sticks to dip in this luscious and tangy pesto.  If I had a big bowl of that pesto and a hunk of bread, I think I’d be happy.  It was so good!

St. Germain Coctail: Prosecco, St. Germain liquor, on the rocks with lemon and lime.

Refreshing and crisp, this is my favorite cocktail ever.  Reminds me of a sweeter mojito.

APPETIZERS

Burratta – fresh creamy buffalo cheese served with arugula, roasted red pepper, grilled eggplant, and prosciutto di Parma

Calamari al Salto – sautéed fresh calamari, tomato, avocado in a white wine sauce

This was a perfect hearty warm salad.  The calamari was tender and not rubbery and provided a perfect canvas for the avocado and tomato to give it such flavor.  The girls were mostly impressed with the party hat on the lemon, though.

Delizia Del Contadina – mixed greens tossed with walnuts, pears, and Tuscan Pecorino cheese in a light balsamic dressing.

This was my first course, and it was lovely!  A basic salad, but sometimes that’s just exactly what I want, a simple salad, with fresh ingredients that are all perfect.  This hit all of the marks.

Then came this palate cleanser: orange sherbet.  I was charmed 🙂

MAIN COURSE

Veal Ossobuco (Fiamma’s Specialty) – braised veal shank served with a side of saffron risotto

This was the best dish of the night.  The veal was so tender it fell apart with a touch of the fork.  The sauce it was simmered in was so flavorful and rich, you could tell it had reduced for hours.  The one blight on the meal was the saffron risotto.  It was so salty, it was inedible.  No, we didn’t send it back.  Restaurant week is super busy and we were seriously enjoying everything else so much it became an afterthought.

Branzino – Mediterranean fish stuffed with fresh seafood and served with spinach, potatoes, and asparagus

Tagliolini alla Scoglio – homemade pasta sautéed with fresh seafood in garlic, red pepper flakes, white wine sauce

This was my selection.  It was incredibly hardy.  I couldn’t believe how much seafood it had, especially during restaurant week!  They truly don’t skimp on portions.  The wine sauce was light and really let the homemade pasta and seafood stand out as the stars.  I took most of it home and it was even better the next day.

Fussili Al Toscanaccio – sautéed with chicken, mushrooms, served in a vodka pink sauce with sundried tomatoes

I tasted a tiny bite of this dish, and it was packed with flavor and the chew on the pasta was perfect!  I rank it the second best dish of the night!

DESSERTS

Panna Cotta – cold Italian custard served with mixed berries

Tiramisu – layered coffee-soaked ladyfingers topped off with a mascarpone cream and cocoa

This dessert was creamy and light, not with an overwhelming coffee flavor.  I thought it was perfect, but my dining partner wanted the coffee to be more prevalent.

Cheesecake – ricotta and mascarpone blended cheesecake, served with berry sauce and vanilla ice cream

So light and creamy, and not too sweet.  perfect with the berry drizzle.

Crema Tostada – warm vanilla custard topped with torched sugar, served with fresh berries
 This was my dessert, and despite the name, as you can see it is Creme Brulee.  Not very imaginative of me, but so good 🙂
Anessa’s Cappuccino