Charlotte · Denver · Gastonia · Huntersville · Mooresville · Sherrills Ford

Best of Restaurants: Mexican Food

Mexican food is my all time favorite.  It’s my deserted 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

Table-side Guacamole at Paco’s Tacos in Charlotte, NC

Pollo Loco at El Patron in Gastonia, NC

Pelusa at Los Mezquites Grill in Sherrills Ford, NC

Lobster Quesadilla at Cousins Maine Lobster Food Truck in Charlotte, NC

Fish and Chips Taco at Velvet Taco in Charlotte

Street Corn from Cantina 1511 in Mooresville, NC

Shrimp Tacos from Village TapHouse in Mooresville, NC

Asheville · Charlotte · Cornelius · Davidson · Destin · Hickory · Lincolnton · Mooresville · Restaurants · Santa Rosa Beach · Wilmington

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

Fried Crab Claws at The Back Porch in Destin, FL

The Lobster Roll at Lobster Dogs Food Truck in Mooresville

Snapper with summer vegetables and roasted red pepper vinaigrette from Halcyon in Charlotte

Shrimp with Cornbread from Bistro La Bon in Charlotte, NC

Cast Iron NC Trout from Haberdish in Charlotte

Broiled Flounder from Capt’n Pete’s in Lincolnton, NC

Crispy-Skin Organic Salmon by Circa 1922 in Wilmington, NC

Crispy Calamari from Jeffrey’s in Mooresville

Chicken Fried Oysters from Table 31 in Mooresville

Scallops from Barrel and Fork in Cornelius

Scallops and a Crabcake from the McNinch House in Charlotte, NC

Halibut from Choplin’s

Baked oysters with chorizo from Dogwood: A Southern Table in Charlotte

Recipe

Anniversary Week Menu

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So, most people’s New Year’s Resolutions include losing weight, stopping drinking or smoking, or being nicer. Mine was to cook more. In order to accomplish this, I have *got* to get more organized. No more jotting down a grocery list with recipes I’m tagging on Pinterest. I have to make a weekly menu, and shop for it once a week, to maximize my time. So..menus. Weekly menus. That’s my plan of action.

Tomorrow is my 18th wedding anniversary. It’s a Monday. Blah. Day full of meetings and night full of homework, so no fancy restaurant for us. Instead I’ll fix us something yummy tomorrow, and kind of fancy. The rest of the week we can eat pork and beans, I guess.

So, for our appetizer I’ll make Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms.  It’s been my experience that nothing conveys love more than bacon and cheese.

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 5 -6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon
  • one 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 1/2 lbs fresh button mushrooms, stems removed
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a large skillet, cook the onions and bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, add the bourbon and cream cheese and stir constantly until the cream cheese is melted and mixed with the bourbon. Add the onion and bacon mixture back into the skillet and mix together. Add the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix together.
  • Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the mushrooms are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Top with some Parmesan and put back into the oven to allow the cheese to melt. Remove from the oven and serve.

The main event is going to be steak with sauteed mushrooms, Caesar salad, broiled lobster tails and twice-baked potatoes.  Good heavens.  This is way better than I can get at our local steakhouse.

Fancy Anniversary Feast
Fancy Anniversary Feast

For the steak, I marinated it overnight and then grilled it to yummy perfection.

Steak Marinade

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all ingredients together and place steaks into freezer bag with marinade, preferably overnight.
  2. The original recipe used balsamic vinegar.Seems I never had that on hand so I just used white and listed that in the recipe, but balsamic is definitely better.

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Sauteed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 green onions with tops, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Saute green onion in butter until tender.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients; cook, uncovered, over low heat 30 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

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Lemony Caesar Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I always just use regular cooking oil)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled (I use canned, minced garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in blender.
  • Cover and process until creamy.
  • Serve over torn lettuce with Parmesan cheese and croutons.

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For the lobster, I just looked a recipe up on the internet and used it.  I don’t have lobster often enough to have a tried and true recipe.  I’ll have to change this.  Here’s one for you:  Broiled Lobster Tail with Brown Butter Sauce.

For the twice baked potatoes, I had no real recipe.  If you need one, here’s a good one:  Best Twice Baked Potatoes.

Lemon raspberry custard cake

Now after all of that wonderful, but quite substantial food, you need a very light dessert.  Nothing too heavy.  I present you with Raspberry-Lemon Custard Cakes.

Raspberry-Lemon Custard Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp raspberry extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Directions

  • Fill a roasting pan with 1/2 inch of hot tap water; place in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. You’ll need eight 6 oz. custard cups; place 4 or 5 raspberries on bottom of each.
  • Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with mixer on medium speed until foamy. Beat in 2 tbsp of the sugar until stiff, shiny peaks form when beaters are lifted.
  • With same beaters (no need to wash), beat yolks and remaining sugar in a large bowl until mixture is light; beat in flour, extract, lemon zest and juice. Gradually beat in milk. Using a wire whisk, gently fold egg whites in yolk mixture just until combined. Divide batter among prepared cups (cups should be filled to the top). Place cups in hot water in roasting pan.
  • Bake until puddings are puffed and golden brown on top, about 24 mins. Serve puddings warm or at room temperature, with confectioner’s sugar and remaining berries.
Charlotte · Restaurants

Cafe Monte in Charlotte

Café Monte

My girlfriend and I decided to give this place a try because we found a Living Social deal that was too good to pass up.  So glad we did!  The interior is fun yet elegant.  When we were there, they had live music playing in a corner and a pastry case on the opposite side.  It made the wait for our table a bit more bearable!

We were seated in the busy restaurant at a small patio (looking) table and were immediately served our drinks.  Our server was attentive and friendly.

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We started with some pretty standard appetizers.  My friend ordered a salad, and it was dressed sparsely and was pretty basic.  I tried the French Onion Soup.  The cheese was delicious, but the broth itself was lacking in body and flavor.  We both agreed we’d try something a little more adventurous next time.

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We sampled the Chicken and Mushroom Crepes for our entrée.  This was really my friend’s dish, but she let me have a taste.  They were rich and creamy and I kicked myself all night for not getting them.   I know it looks a mess, and the picture isn’t that clear, but it was the best thing we had all night.

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For my dish, I chose the special for Friday night:  Broiled Lobster with fries and asparagus.  It was fine, but the waiter really hyped it up and you know…you’ve had Lobster once, you’ve had it a million times.  It was delicious, but nothing special.  Plus, kinda messy and hard to handle with grace.  Next time, crepes for me.

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After staring at the pastry case while waiting on our reservation, we decided we had to have dessert.  My friend chose the chocolate éclair.  The photo is blurry, but I’m sure you can see the cracks in the chocolate on top.  That was an indicator we should have heeded.  It was dry and uneventful.  Very disappointing for a French bakery.

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This was the winner between the two desserts.  This Vanilla fruit tart was good, but it still had that “made ahead and sat around” flavor to me.  I was not impressed, but maybe my expectations were too high for a French restaurant.

The next time we go, we will skip dessert altogether, but definitely have the crepes.

 

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