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

Brownie Sundae at Carolina Cones in Davidson, NC

 

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Charlotte · Restaurants

Restaurant Review: Aria Tuscan Grill

May Girl Nosh was at Aria Tuscan Grill in Uptown Charlotte.  We were a small group this time, but the restaurant was jammed with prom-goers.  It made for some very interesting people watching.  I saw a lot of first time high-heel wearers.  Good times.  Anyway, here’s the girls:
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Our waiter greeted us and brought us some chilled water in a bottle for the table.  He gave us the option of sparkling water and Pellegrino (same thing?) and we all felt like cheapskates for saying that plain old tap water was fine.  But gah.  Who wants to splurge on water?  Save your pennies, and order a cocktail.

With the free water (which was just fine, by the way) they brought out the free appetizers:  White bean spread with fresh Italian bread.  Some of the folks at our table didn’t really love the white beans, but I did.  They were tangy with a splash of vinegar and minced onions and herbs and creamy when spread on the bread.  Drizzle with olive oil and you have a winner.

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Here’s what you were saving those pennies for:  D.S.L.  No idea what it stands for, but lord was it good.  It was a mix of Limoncello, Prosecco, Muddled Fresh Mint and Strawberry Purée.  How I found this was by asking the waiter which drink was the least strong.  Because I’m a wimp and I was driving.  This is the answer.  To lots of questions, I found out.

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For the paid appetizers, we all agreed to get something different so we could try each other’s.  Anessa got the Calamari Fritti.  This was a lightly fried mix of Calamari sticks and Scallions which were garnished with Peppadew Peppers.  The two dipping sauces were Spicy Tomato Sauce and Lemon Aioli.  I don’t know which I liked better.  The spicy tomato sauce packed a flavorful punch, but the aioli was subtle and creamy.  The calamari itself was lightly fried, not overcooked, but we missed those weird tentacle thingies.  Still, a favorite at the table.

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Heirloom Tomato Caprese features Burrata, Basil Pesto and the freshest heirloom tomatoes.  Skinny girl treat.

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Another skinny girl treat was the Asparagus + Prosciutto Tender braised asparagus served alongside a lightly dressed Spring Salad with a Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette with Prosciutto.  A splash of balsamic vinegar adorned all.  Laurie was pleased as punch with her choice.  She said it was so fresh and light.

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Eggplant Parmigiana 
You expect it to be fried, but just tryyyy it like this.  Seriously.  It was so good and fresh, and the Tomato Marinara that it swims in is so spicy and good.  Sitting atop is Mozzarella, Olives, Peppadew Peppers, Basil and it all somehow works together amazingly.  And look at the cool plate.

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Caramelized Gnocchi 
I always ask the waiter what his favorite dish is.  Very rarely am I steered wrong by the person who has tried everything on the menu and consistently brings food to patrons night after night.  So, when he recommended this, no brainer.  If you could get a bite with all 5 elements: Gnocchi, Prosciutto di Parma, Pear, Gorgonzola, Truffle Oil, you would hear the sound of angels and a light would emit from your mouth.  Not even exaggerating.

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Tuscan Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib 
If you’ve never had short rib, you might not realize that when braised it tastes just like pot roast.  But really tender, and so flavorful.  This one sat atop an English Pea Risotto, ringed with plops of Goat Cheese and garnished with Brussel Sprout Chips.  It was so rich and hearty.  I’ll get that next time.

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My choice for dinner was a special.  It was Grilled beef tenderloin, Caesar style potatoes & Swiss chard.  I had to send mine back because the steak was too rare for me (cold red center, blech) but they brought it back a few minutes later and it was perfect.  OK, still pretty red on that far right one, so I didn’t eat it.  But the rest was very delicious.  The meat was so tender, and seasoned perfectly.  I LOVED the small little potato coins and the parmesan sauce they were in.  Also, I never knew I loved Swiss chard so much.
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Roasted Arctic Char
Anessa got this dish, and because it was cooked so rare I could not taste it to report to you.  I will just tell you that it was perched upon Roasted Eggplant  and topped with Shaved Fennel Citrus Salad with a Walnut Vinaigrette,  She said it was cooked perfectly and delicious. But she left a lot of that eggplant on the plate, suspiciously.

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OK, so the polenta is a side dish, but I have to mention it because it is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  Creamy, buttery goodness.  I mean, just look at that lake of butter in this dish.  Sinful.  Amazing.

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Crispy Chicken Parmigiana 
We all know what this is, and it might be an unimaginative choice.  I can’t help it, it’s still an old favorite.  And when done well, like it is here with fresh Mozzarella and the spicy Marinara you sincerely can’t go wrong.  Simple and good.ariachickenparm

Spaghetti + Meatballs 
Mimo’s Meatballs, Red Sauce, Parmigiano:  Another classic that can’t miss.  Honestly, this was from another visit, and I never tasted it, but my dining companion said it was fine.

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Pasta al Nero 
King Crab, Scallops, Shrimp, Linguine, Spicy Marinara:  This was another of our waiter’s recommendations.  And was it spot on.  The shrimp were huge and cooked perfectly.  The crab was delicate as were the scallops, but the scallops were just on the undercooked side.  I’m sure bay scallops are hard to get exactly right since so small, but there you go.  The squid ink linguine was an unexpected surprise, but I didn’t taste any difference between it and regular pasta.
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Orecchiette with Sausage 
Toasted Garlic, Broccoli Rabe, Roasted Red Peppers, Chiles:  Another dish enjoyed on another visit.  My dining companion said this one was simply “Ok”.

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Aria Tiramisù 6
Espresso, Lady Fingers, Mascarpone Crema:  Is this not the most beautifully rustic dessert you’ve ever seen in your life?  And guess what?  It tasted just as good as it looked!  The coffee soaked lady-fingers were perfect; not too strong and not too wet.  The fresh cream was perfect and made for a light end to a delicious meal.13221704_1723691334580311_1064938938907246289_n

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake 
White Chocolate Crema:  And then there’s this.  Dense.  Chocolaty. Rich.  Hazelnutty.  If you like Nutella, you’ll love this.

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So, there you have it.  Aria.  It’s delicious.  I will say that both visits we had an issue with service.  Not a big big big deal, but our waiter was a little annoyed with us and was a little absent.  The owner did come over and chat with us about his friends in Lincolnton, so that was a nice touch.  Even with the snooty waiter, I’d go back.  Everything we ate was delicious last night.

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

Recipe

Milky Way Cake

Looking for a decadent dessert that’s relatively easy to make?  Try this Milky Way cake.  I used a red velvet cake mix for mine,  but next time?  Butter Cake all the way.

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Milky Way Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 18 1/4 butter recipe yellow cake mix, i use duncan hines
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 9 small fun sized Milky Way bars or 3 large Milky Way bars
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • Glaze
  • 4 small fun sized Milky Way bars or 2 large Milky Way bars, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons evaporated milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and flour a bundt pan or use Bakers Joy spray.
  3. Melt Milky Way bars in evaporated milk, set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl blend cake mix, water, butter and eggs.
  5. Blend at low speed for 1 minute.
  6. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes, then add melted candy mixture.
  7. Beat at medium speed for 2 more minutes.
  8. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes.
  9. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.
  10. Place cake on plate.
  11. Glaze or sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
  12. Glaze: In a small saucepan over low heat melt Milky way bars, butter and evaporated milk.
  13. Stir until melted and smooth.
  14. Cool slightly and pour over cake.
Recipe

Melt in Your Mouth Lemon Bars

My daughter Mary Ashley loves to cook with me, but she prefers baking sweets over dinner every night.  So, because I am a wonderful parent, I bribe her to help me make dinner by agreeing to bake a dessert at the same time.  One night we pulled up this recipe as we were making dinner and I tried to shoot it down because it had 3 separate steps.  She insisted, and lo and behold,  was she ever right.  These bars are worth every tiny bit of extra effort.

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Melt in Your Mouth Lemon Bars

Ingredients

  • CRUST
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c butter softened (no substituting)
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • FILLING
  • 4 eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • FROSTING
  • 1/2 c butter (softened)
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp cold water

directions

  1. MIX CRUST INGRED. WITH FORK AS YOU WOULD FOR A PIE CRUST. PAT INTO A 9X13 PAN WHICH HAS BEEN GREASED AND FLOURED. BAKE AT 350 DEGREES FOR 15 MINUTES.

  2. AS CRUST IS BAKING. MIX FILLING. AFTER CRUST HAS BAKED 15 MINUTES, POUR FILLING OVER CRUST AND CONTINUE BAKING FOR 25 MINUTES. COOL BARS COMPLETELY

  3. MAKE FROSTING BY BEATING BUTTER,POWDERED SUGAR AND MILK FOR 6 TO 8 MINUTES ON HIGH SPEED. THEN ADD 2 TBLSP. COLD WATER ONE AT A TIME. BEAT UNTIL SMOOTH. SPREAD OVER COOLED BARS.

 

Recipe

Happy 4th of July!

Fourth of July falls on Thursday this year, so I need some easy ideas for our annual cookout this year.  We intend to have a few families over for hamburgers and hotdogs, then head up to the high school for our town’s firework display.  Happy Birthday, America!

The desserts I’ve chosen are quite simple.  The first is a white chocolate covered strawberry dipped in red and blue sugar.  If you’ll look in the baking section of your grocery store near the chocolate chips, you’ll see a cup for melting chocolate.  You may use this, or the melting blocks of white chocolate there.  Use your imagination!

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After dessert, we will head to the high school to see the fireworks.  For such a small town, Lincolnton has a great display!  They begin around 9pm (or whenever it gets dark enough) but we have to go early to get a parking spot.  There we’ll make camp with our chairs and I’ll bring this set up for a little glow in the dark bowling to keep the kids occupied while they wait. (Thanks to Dumpaday for the idea!)

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Recipe

Susan’s Lemon Icebox Pie

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This is absolutely one of my favorite pies. It is no-bake and super easy to make! Perfect for a summer day.  My mom made these when I was a little girl for my dad, so it reminds me of that wonderful time.  I hope it transports you to summer!

Susan’s Lemon Icebox Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 graham cracker crust

DIRECTIONS

  • Pour Eagle Brand milk into medium bowl. Mix in fresh lemon juice and stir together.
  • In a separate bowl, pour cream into medium bowl. Beat cream until it forms soft peaks.
  • Gently fold cream into lemon and milk mixture.
  • Pour into graham cracker crust and cover with plastic dome. Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour. Store in refrigerator. Enjoy!
Recipe

Lemon Crumb Bars

I am not crazy about lemon flavor, but my husband loves it.  I am crazy about sweetened condensed milk.  So, with these bars, we are both happy.

Lemon Crumb Bars

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (18 1/2 ounce) box lemon cake mix or 1 (18 1/2 ounce) box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 large egg, plus
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups saltine crackers, finely crushed (1/4 lb)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In large bowl, heat cake mix, margarine and 1 egg with mixer until crumbly.
  • Stir in saltine crumbs.
  • Reserving 2 cups of crumb mixture, press remaining crumbs into bottom of greased 13×9 baking pan.
  • Bake 20 minutes.
  • With mixer or wire whisk, beat 3 egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Spread over prepared crust. Top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool.
  • Cut into bars. Store covered in refrigerator.