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9 Cakes 'n' Flakes (2015 E. Arbors Drive, 704-688-7100, www.cakesnflakes.com) may specialize in celebration cakes, but this Indian bakery also offers a short list of chaats — aka Indian street food. My fork-driven lust demands that I order the pani puri filled with potatoes, tamarind chutney, and the bhelpuri — puffed rice with potatoes, onions and tomatoes.
10 An Italian pastry addiction can be a problem in Charlotte since we do not have Italian bakeries located within a few miles of each other as residents in the Northeast enjoy. But we do have Nona's Sweets, Bakery and Café (9331 JW Clay Blvd., 704-717-6144, www.nonassweets.com). One of the Neapolitan treats I enjoy is sfogliatelle, a flaky shell-shaped pastry enveloping a mixture of ricotta cheese, semolina and orange peel. If served warm, it tastes of Sunday baptisms.
11 Pandebono, or Colombian cheese bread, and arepas are made from in-house ground corn at Antojitos mi Colombia Bakery (4740 Old Pineville Road, 704-522-1211). The arepa de queso (arepas stuffed with mozzarella) is a soothing cold weather treat.
The Open Market
12 While I wait patiently for St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church and St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church to host Armenian and Egyptian festivals respectively — which might include such foods as basturma (a spicy Armenian sausage) and moloukhiya (an Egyptian soup) — I mark my calendar each year for the loukoumades at the Yiasou Greek Festival. The popular event is held each year from the Thursday through Sunday after Labor Day at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Although I haven't met a Greek pastry on their long dessert tables I didn't like, the galaktoboureko — a custard pastry — has become a favorite.
13 The Sweet Union Flea Market (4420 West Highway 74, 704-289-9414) in Monroe is still the place to go if you want to try excellent Latino truck food. While food trucks are now a dining category, with the slowdown in construction around town, these trucks are harder to locate. But each weekend at this market, hundreds of people order deliciously overstuffed sandwiches. From the red truck parked parallel to Highway 74, I order the lamb barbecue, listed as barbacoa de borrego torta and is enough to feed two. The sandwich is made on a long and wide white flour hoagie roll to which tender lamb, shredded iceberg lettuce, slices of avocado and tomatoes, pickled jalapeños and crumbed white farmers cheese is added. Then the sandwich is slathered with crema. It's a messy affair; pick up a stack of napkins.
14 While the conversation rages about whether a locavore can also be a cheapavor, I have always supported local farming and local farmers. For years I have belonged to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). My farmer is Sammy Koenigsberg. He and his family have New Town Farms in Waxhaw. Produce from this farm is sold through the CSA, to local restaurants and at the Matthews Farmers Market. The best part of being in this CSA, though, is going out to the farm at Thanksgiving and picking up a turkey.
15 I would be remiss not to mention local crops. Years ago, I found my favorite heritage apple at a farm stand in the mountains. The farmer told me all the apples in the bin I spotted were spoken for, but I talked him into selling me one. These tart crisp apples were Grimes Golden, an excellent cooking apple, perfect to bake with cinnamon and vanilla and then topped with a cloud of freshly whipped cream. From time to time, I have found Grimes Golden at our local farmers markets in the fall.
16 Bursting with flavor, local peaches make the heat of the summer bearable. If you have lived in Charlotte for at least one summer and have not gone down the road to South Carolina to buy White Lady or Red Haven, you are missing out.
17 Even if your name doesn't end in a vowel, watching pasta sail by on a zip line will bring you closer to all things Italian. Tommy George's Pasta & Provisions (1528 Providence Road, 704-364-2622, www.pastaprovisions.com) has been a stop of mine for a dozen years. In addition to the fresh pasta and raviolis, I also go for the Italian flour.
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