Coming soon, a machine that looks like a coffee machine that churns out pizza for a mere 5 euros, or $6. Yum.
Aman Boyd, loves NoDa's vibe, but soon after he opened the neighborhood's corner pizza joint with his wife, Dena Bashiti, he realized the industry's way of preparing pizza didn't jive with the way they wanted to do things. Disappointed to find that many restaurants used pre-made, frozen ingredients, they began seeking local farmers and merchants who could help him realize his fresh food goals for Revolution Pizza and Ale House. But he doesn't stop with the groceries; he's also interested in providing the Queen City with a variety of local meaning made in North Carolina brews.
Creative Loafing: When you say you use fresh, local food what do you mean exactly?
Aman Boyd: We buy as much produce as we can from local farmers, like Grateful Growers; we have our flour milled locally; we shop at farmers markets; we even asked Chef Harry Peemoeller, of Charlotte's Johnson and Wales, to create our pizza dough recipe; not only that, we make our own mozzarella, gelato and salad dressing. It's all part of the revolution; we don't want to buy pre-made, pre-shredded, frozen foods because we don't really know what's in it. I can honestly tell any of my customers that I know what is in the food on their plates and I know how it was made, and by whom. I even know where most of the ingredients came from. That bit of effort makes the quality of the food stand out. Plus, if I need supplies, I just get in my truck and go get them.
What is your favorite local brew?
It's a moving target. Right now, I'd have to say Allagash White. It's a Belgium-style wheat beer in the same style as Blue Moon. The beer being made in North Carolina can rival beer made anywhere else, and we want to feature that. It's also one of the best parts of the job, tasting the new drafts. I'm really looking forward to tasting Olde Meck Brewery's beer.
Tell me about Revolution Pizza's logo.
That's Demeter, the Greek goddess of the bountiful harvest. She represents all of the great things that come out of the ground that we harvest and take advantage of. Demeter taught humans how to grow, prepare, preserve and use grain, so she represents Dena and my take on pizza and our determination to make everything in-house.
Revolution is located at 3228 N. Davidson St. Contact them at 704-333-4440
(photo by Logan Canale)
* Harper's Blue Ribbon BBQ will close Wednesday, April 1. According to Tom Sasser, president and owner of Harper's, the lease ends March 31 and an option to stay open included a rent increase. Given the current economic climate, the company decided not to renew. However, Harper's To Go Go, around the corner, will remain open. Chef Minie Raynes will continue making pulled pork sandwiches, Dixie chicken, and mac n' cheese each day at the To Go Go. 121-100 West Trade St.. Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. www.harpersrestaurants.com.
Its always amazed me that while food is one of the major cornerstones of African-American culture, the Food Network the cable channel dedicated to all things food cant seem to produce a decent black-hosted show for its programming lineup.
Specifically, Im talking about the shows Big Daddys House, Cooking for Real, and Down Home With the Neelys. Ive watched all three programs numerous times and they honestly suck ass especially compared to other more successful shows on the network.
So why dont the shows work? Well it aint because theyre hosted by black people. Although the fact that they suck probably does not bode well for black-hosted shows in the future. I can just hear some idiotic programming director at a TV network saying, Well those shows didnt work. Audiences dont want to see black people cooking.
Anyway, the Food Networks black shows fail for two main reasons: lack of personality and lack of focus.
Lets take Big Daddys House. The host, Aaron McCargo Jr., is a likeable enough guy (Hes the winner of the networks Top Chef-ish cooking show.) and he seems like he can cook, but what is this show about? One day hes cooking sloppy joes the next hes making a healthy scallop supper. Look at other Food Network shows like Everyday Italian, Semi-Homemade hell, even 30 Minute Meals, and the focus of the show is evident from the title. The best cooking shows from Julia Child days until now are hosted by cooks with a singular vision. Big Daddys House, however, is all over the place.
When we turn the spotlight to Cooking for Real, you find a show that lacks focus and personality. The show is hosted by Sunny Anderson; she seems like a really nice person but is just devoid of any interesting personality traits. Even her clothes are drab and nondescript. On top of that, her dishes (like on Big Daddys House) seem haphazardly pulled together. Im sure she can cook all types of food, but that doesnt make for the best television.
Now, moving on to Down Home With the Neelys, Ive gotta admit that the show actually defies both of my gripes. The show has a focus barbecue (everything) and it has personality. But heres the thing, I dont really like the hosts personalities. The show is helmed by the married couple Pat and Gina Neely, and the two kiss and whisper sweet nothings to each other throughout each episode. Cook dammit! As far as the food is concerned, all they cook is barbecue and I aint talkin grilled, I mean barcbecue. As in smoked. As in pork. Lots of pork. This is definitely not a show for vegetarians or Muslims. Once, I saw them make barbecue spaghetti. That aint black thats ghetto. Whats next? Ramen noodles? With barbecue sauce?!
All that said, there are a few decent black cooking shows on TV, but they arent on the Food Network. One halfway-decent show is Urban Cuisine, which airs on BETJ (thats not on basic cable). Urban Cuisine is hosted by Harlem-based chef Marcus Samulesson, whos of Ethiopian descent. And although the production values are poor, the food on the show is diverse but still manages to stay focused on the richness of black culture and that means soul food from America, African cuisines, Caribbean vittles and more. Tune in.
You may have heard that the legendary Coffee Cup restaurant (renowned for its soul food) just opened again in a brand-new NoDa location (2909 N. Davidson).
But before you run over to the eatery to grab some of their favorite pan-fried chicken (as opposed to deep-fried), be warned: the Coffee Cup doesn't officially open until April 1. So right now, they're operating in "soft-opening" mode.
As a result, the service is a bit off; and that means it may take a while to get silverware or refills on your drinks. They don't even have a printed menu yet. (Trust me I just got back from having lunch there.) But all that is to be expected when you're in that soft-opening mode. Everyone involved is still working the kinks out.
So if you make a visit to the Cup, don't flip out if everything ain't perfect, OK?
This month's cooking class at Zink American Kitchen (201 N. Tryon St.) is all about rolling a big one sushi, that is.
March 28, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Only $45 per person.
Includes tastings and wine. Seating limited.
Celebrate southern food, hospitality and entertaining at the annual fundraiser Taste of the New South at the Levine Museum of the New South.
Pinehurst Resort will headline this year's evening cocktail reception, which will be held Wednesday, April 1. Executive Chef Thierry Debailleul will treat guests to an array of themed food stations (and by looking at the menu-in-progress, this event is not to be missed!). There are 11 food stations planned, with an extra four just for dessert. Check out the tentative menu below. (Eyes growing wide yet??!)
Tickets to this culinary feast are $85 for Museum members, and $100 for non-members (includes a 1-month membership). To rsvp and purchase tickets to the event, call 704-333-1887 ext. 232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taste of the New South 2009 featuring Pinehurst Resort
Mango, Sweet Potato and Duck Turnovers
Curry Prawn and Collard Greens Springroll with Citrus Sweet and Sour Sauce Moroccan Lamb Lollipops with Scallion Aioli
Brioche of Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese and Fig Compote Corn bread Croustade of Smoked Pheasant with Huckle Berry Cream
The Heirloom Farm
Heirloom Beets and Tomatoes samplers.
Assembled to order
Gold Beets with White Asparagus and Green Tomato Salsa Cherokee Red Tomatoes with Blue Cheese and Walnut and Micro basil
Crawfish Bisque with Sea Foam
Sweet potato Duck Soup
Cooked to Order Montecristo of Capicollo and Goat Cheese on Brioche
Coconut Bamboo Rice Pudding with Litchee Foam
Drink: Carrot and Passion Fruit Nectar
North Carolina Cheese Makers Display
Hoop Cheese, "Goat Lady" Chèvre, Camembert, Bleu Cheese and Hickory Grove Fig Compote, Branston Pickle Dry Fruits, Nuts and Oils Artisan Breads Display, Lavash and Crackers
Ceviche Shooters with Crispy Tortilla Soup Carolina Oysters on the half Shell, Yamasa Soy and Cucumber Chow-Chow
Corn Action Station
Sweet Corns Sautéed to order 3 ways served with Stone Ground Grits Foie gras and pea tendrils, Balsamic syrup Day Boat Scallop with Lobster Essence with Wasabi Peanut Dust Smoked Tomato, Broccoli and Gruyere
Farm Raised BBQ Pulled Pork with Warm Brie Cheese, Wonton Cracker Raz Cherry Gastrique Micro Celery Greens
Mini Kobe Beef Burger on Pretzel Bun
House Composed Relish and Chopped Lettuce
1. Wedding Cakes - Eclectic, contemporary, Classic, Bold, Groom's cake type
2. Chocolate Lab Station
Dry ice Chilled Granit Slab
Chocolate Fountain and Assorted Fruits and bites cakes and Confections dipped to order and Placed on the Chilled Slab
3. Small bites of Great Southern Desserts
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Sweet Potato Pie
Freestone Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream Mini trifles and Shot Glasses of various compositions
4. Flambé Station
Almond Financier with Flambé Strawberries, Strawberry-Balsamic Sorbet and Balsamic Syrup
Rachel Ray's Barbecued Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps received a decent review at my house. No standing ovation and no encore was demanded, but a repeat performance would probably be welcomed sometime in the future. The dish is healthy and pretty simple. The picture above shows the cast of characters aka. ingredients. I didn't time it, but the recipe probably did take 30-minutes, as promised by RR. The most time consuming part of the recipe wasn't necessarily cooking, but prepping. Most of the "cast" required some primping... slicing, dicing, mincing, grating. But once that was done, throwing it all together in a stir-fry was easy peasy.
I made a few changes to the recipe: I used regular mushrooms instead of Shitake, used the entire red bell pepper instead of 1/2, added some garlic chili sauce, and next time, I'll add more Hoisin sauce to add flavor.
Get the recipe for the chicken wraps here.
For dessert I made Ina Garten's lemon cakes (I guess last night was a Food Network-themed night!). Now this recipe got rave reviews. We scarfed down half a loaf. The cake was deliciously tart and sweet, with the texture and crumb of a pound cake. Here's the recipe:
Lemon Cake, adapted from Ina Garten
Makes 2 loaves.
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans. (I sometimes use smaller loaf pans for cute little lemon cakes loaves. Make sure to shorten the baking time if you use the baby loaf pans.)
Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small bowl. Microwave for one minute and stire until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
* I decided to forgo the extra glaze and the I think the cake tasted perfectly wonderful without it.
Yes Charlotte, the day you've all been waiting for: Crave Dessert Bar is opening next Tuesday. Finally, a spot in Uptown where you can just grab a glass of wine and some dessert and chill.
Located next to CANS at 500 W. 5th St., Crave promises to be the place you go to after dinner to satisfy your sweet tooth. It'll be the lounge you visit for a signature martini or a glass of that dessert wine that's so hard to find in restaurants.
Food selections range from cheese to cupcakes, your classic cheesecakes, smores, layered cakes. The wine and cheese selections will be "female-friendly" and they'll have already pre-selected wines to be paired with menu items.
According to general manager Scott Vines (pictured left with assistant general manager Sean Taffe), they'll be employing many students from Johnson and Wales University. "This should really be a conduit for Charlotte to have some window into whats going on in modern dining as well as when it comes to confection and baking on a world class level because of the Johnson and Wales students, obviously using some of their skills and newest techniques on our desserts here. Its a real good opportunity to stay on the cutting edge here."
Never buy Jell-O instant pudding in the banana cream flavor. It is definitely Yuck-O.
I made the unfortunate mistake of purchasing the offending product when I decided to make some banana pudding a few days ago. Figuring banana pudding would be enhanced by banana-flavored pudding, I threw it into my grocery cart, along with Nilla wafers, organic skim milk, and a bunch of bananas.
Happily, I went home and started assembling my banana pudding.
Disaster struck as soon as I started mixing the milk with the pudding mix... When I smelled the scent of banana Runts wafting towards me as I whisked the pudding, I knew the pudding would be bad. I stopped whisking and tasted the pudding. Gag. The banana pudding tasted definitely tasted like banana Runt candies -- the worst flavor ever. There was no way I was going to add the pudding to my dessert, so I dumped it out.
Now without any pudding for my banana pudding recipe and no desire to go back to the store, I decided to try my hand at making vanilla pudding from scratch. Disaster struck again! The recipe called for milk, eggs, cornstarch, butter, and vanilla. Simple enough. But the recipe never warned me not to use skim milk! arrrrg. My pudding never thickened (even after tripling the amount of cornstarch) and was a liquidly mess. I had to dump it out. Ultimate FAIL.
So...long story short, and lesson learned, and 5 cups of wasted organic milk later, I finally got vanilla instant pudding from the store and was able to make my banana pudding. Luckily, the pudding was good. So all is well.
Here's the banana pudding recipe:
-4 bananas, thinly sliced
-1 box Nilla wafers
-2 boxes instant vanilla pudding (make according to package instructions)
1. Arrange one layer of Nilla wafers in a 8x8 pan.
2. Layer half of the sliced bananas over the wafers.
3. Pour half of the vanilla pudding over the bananas.
4. Repeat steps 1 through 3.
5. Top with whipped cream and serve (or chill until served).
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