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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Creative Loafing gets its own sushi roll

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 11:47 AM

First, we had our own beer at Birdsong. Then JJ's Red Hots gave us a hot dog. Now, Creative Loafing is making its mark on the sushi world. We're taking over, guys.

Join us at AZN Azian Cuisine in Piedmont Town Center tonight as we celebrate the launch of our very own roll. If you haven't eaten lunch yet, you may want to stop reading. This roll features spicy tuna, cream cheese, cucumber & tempura shrimp rolled inside, topped with salmon, kabayaki sauce and rice crispy pearls.

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If you haven't been to AZN yet — which was awarded Best New Restaurant last year by our critics — tonight's as good a night as any. There will be $5 drink specials.

Thursday, Aug. 14
5-7 p.m.
AZN Cuizine Charlotte
4620 Piedmont Row Drive

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You say tomato and I say, which one?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Every summer it's the same thing: piles of tomatoes at the market, and loads of dithering. At this year's annual Tomato Tasting Day at the Matthews Community Farmers Market, patrons sampled and voted on 30 different varieties. With that kind of assortment, how the heck are you supposed to know which one to buy?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Eat This: Pan Seared Swordfish at Barrington’s

Posted By on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 2:34 PM

There are a handful of places in the city where you are guaranteed a good meal every time you walk in the door. Barrington’s (7822 Fairview Road) is one of them. The cozy 47-seat restaurant in the Foxcroft neighborhood near SouthPark is a stalwart among Charlotte’s restaurants. The first of three for veteran chef Bruce Moffett, who also owns Good Food on Montford and Stagioni, Barrington’s opened in 2000 boasting a comfortable familiarity and seasonal cuisine that has consistently delivered well-executed dishes for the last 14 years.

The standout this season is the Pan Seared Swordfish ($31), a crisp yet tender piece of mild Atlantic swordfish with European flair. Sous chef Jason Newman traipses across the Mediterranean with the components of this dish, from a French-forward side of white beans beefed up with smoky Spanish chorizo to a punchy Moroccan-inspired charmoula and decidedly Spanish tomato and olive salsa. The synthesis of flavors is comforting and rich, with components bright enough to be enjoyed on a summer night out.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why are seasonal beers releasing earlier and earlier?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM

It seems seasonal beer offerings start hitting shelves earlier every year, but in 2014 we hadn’t even made it out of June when bottles of Southern Tier’s Pumking released in Pennsylvania. Sure, Southern Tier blamed its area distributor for jumping the gun, but that got me wondering: Why does this beer exist so early to begin with?

Beer-making isn’t an instant process; fermentation takes weeks. Then, the finished beer is kegged or bottled, and may travel great distances to a distributor’s facility. For this “rogue” distributor to have pumpkin beer to sell, someone else further up the chain had pumpkin on the brain in May, before pumpkins are traditionally even planted. In fact, retailers were contacted back in March about this year’s Pumking orders. Spring hadn’t even officially started, and a fall-harvest beer was being allocated.

This concept of traditional boundaries being blurred is known as Seasonal Creep. Many of us complain when Christmas music plays in department stores before Thanksgiving, but won’t bat an eye about picking up Oktoberfest beers in August (traditionally released the last week of September).

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Monday, August 11, 2014

#hashtaghungry: OMB grand reopening, South End Ice Cream Churn-Tacular, more

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Each week, The Social Eater picks a handful of filter-friendly, tweetable, social media-shareable foodie events in and around the city. No #struggleplates allowed.

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• How much do you contemplate the food on your plate? Thinktank and social entreprenuer hub Queen City Forward is hosting Innovation Challenge: Food Stakeholder Meeting — a series of community conversations to hash out on hash browns, ruminate on rutabagas, discuss daikon… you get the picture. Talk about food access, healthy choices and the further development of our ecosystem with major players and game changers in our midst. #musedbouche
Free (RSVP here)
Aug. 12. 6-7:30 p.m.
Packard Place, 222 S. Church St.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Get your ripe figs now

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 10:53 AM

I have to confess, for much of my life I confused figs with dates. They were both seed-filled, squishy, brown fruits that I didn't eat often. But a few years ago, Pat Sain of Pat's Pickin's handed me a pint at the Matthews Community Farmers Market, and I started a new friendship with this dumpy little fruit. They're in season again right now, and you've only got a couple more weeks to enjoy their sticky sweetness.

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Native to the Mediterranean basin, these members of the ficus family do well in the American South. The ones Sain offered me were called brown turkey, probably the most common type in our markets. They and Celeste are the only two varieties hardy enough to survive our western Piedmont winters; the further east you go, the more varieties you can find.

According to Sain, growing fig trees isn't hard, though they do need a little protection in the winter. "Usually a fig bush is up against somebody's barn or outhouse or something," he says. Since they normally freeze back during winter, they typically top out at about eight feet tall. While the trees themselves are fairly disease- and maintenance-free, the fruit is another story.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Haunt Bar takes over Nano's

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 9:29 AM

For two days, the folks at Nano's Dominican Cuisine are stepping back and letting someone else rule their bar area.

On Aug. 8 and 9 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Haunt Bar will bring their special combinations of elixir to Nano's customers. The restaurant specializes in Caribbean, Latin and Cuban cuisine.

Known for bringing the unique art of the cocktail mixing to the Charlotte area, Haunt will mix up a variety of Dominican rum drinks, including flavors from the Brugal brand.

To compliment the drinks, Nano's will offer special Dominican small plates along with the full dinner menu.

This two-day event is one you don't want to miss. Cheers to the weekend.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Welcome to North Carolina, Sierra Nevada

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I’d like to welcome a new brewery to the North Carolina fold. Unlike most startups that struggle for name recognition, I can promise you’ve already heard of this one. Say hello to Sierra Nevada.

That’s right, the seventh largest brewery in the country, the inventors of the American Pale Ale, the 34-years-young venerable California-born brewery Sierra Nevada decided it’s time to build a mountain home just west of Asheville. To celebrate the occasion, the folks there invited a few friends over on Sunday, Aug. 3 — namely every single brewery in nine Southern states. Of those invited, more than 85 breweries joined the party, plus another 5,000 festival attendees.

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Earl's Grocery is now open

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 2:21 PM

After persevering through several setbacks — for example, a freezer malfunctioned and froze bottles of wine, beer and sodas, which, sad face, they had to throw away — the folks at Earl's Grocery finally opened their doors on July 28.

Sisters Tricia Maddrey and Bonnie Warford — owners of Carpe Diem, a restaurant and catering business — knew they wanted to create a spunky and upbeat atmosphere for customers to eat some great food.

Earl's Grocery is less than a block away from Maddrey and Warford's upscale restaurant. Here you'll find hidden treasures often not available in other stores: from handmade pasta to Cilantro and Lime Beef Jerky to Armenian-grown Harvest Song cured walnuts.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Charlotte Oktoberfest vs. Charlotte Beerfest

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 5:42 PM

I am pleased to announce that tickets to 16th annual Charlotte Oktoberfest went on sale today. This event will be held Sept. 27 at the N.C. Music Factory, the host for last year’s festival as well. As of this writing, over half of the VIP tickets have already been sold, costing $65 apiece (general admission $45). Over the last 16 years, this Carolina Brewmasters-run event has donated nearly $500,000 to local charitable organizations. This year’s charity benefactors include Classroom Central, Kids Rein, and Camp CARE.

I am also pleased to mention the first Charlotte Beerfest, taking place at BB&T Ballpark on Sept. 20 — the week before Oktoberfest. VIP tickets to this event are $100 (general admission $50), with proceeds benefiting Grin Kids Children’s Charity and USO.

These beer festivals are two completely unrelated events, but there has been considerable confusion between the two (not to mention online animosity). Allow me to help to clear the air.

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