Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Food truck fixins' and where to find them during CIAA 2012

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 3:30 AM


Service-industry folks, brace yourselves; the CIAA is back in town. For the seventh year in a row, crowds starved for their basketball and/or partying fix will descend upon Uptown’s entertainment venues with the same hungry instinct broke college students use to find free food. This time of year finds clubs and restaurants eager to serve up Charlotte’s crème de la crème to locals and visitors alike. Lucky for foodies of all stripes, there are more options than ever, particularly in the food truck department. Offering the gourmet appeal of a sit-down restaurant with the speed and convenience of a fast-food joint, the nationally popular food truck trend has established a loyal audience in the Q.C. as well. During CIAA tournament week, a stroll through Center City streets will present the famished fan or plastered partygoer with a myriad of mobile goodies set to satisfy your specific craving.

5th and Brevard will be a temporary home to what has been deemed the CIAA’S Official Foodie HQ, across from the Time Warner Cable arena. Holy Matrimony Wings and Pizza , Smoke n Go BBQ, and Southern Cake Queen have joined forces to serve up grub for lunch, dinner, and late night crowds, starting Tuesday and going through Saturday.

Also hunkering down on 5th and Brevard are Napolitanos and Soul4wheels . If you've ever felt torn between feasting on Italian or noshing on soul food, here's your chance to combine two comforting cuisines in one meal. You can spot them in the Big Red Truck, Thursday through Saturday.

Cupcakes have evolved from kid party favorites to the apple of many a sweet-toothed adult’s eye. Capitalizing on this nationwide obsession is Cupcake Delirium, which travels Uptown and its peripheries, tempting Charlotteans with their assembly of gorgeous, sugar-laden snacks. If you need a sweet early morning pick-me-up, find them Tuesday and Thursday at the lunch lot across from Phat Burrito, from about 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Find them in Uptown proper outside on Trade Street, outside Johnson & Wales, from 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

If it’s a taco spread you’re after, The Tin Kitchen has you covered. They’ll be outside the Charlotte Observer building Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., the lunch lot on Camden on Friday from 11:30-2, and then outside of Dharma Lounge on Saturday from 1 p.m.- 6 p.m.

Sure, it's fun to be enough in the know that you can hunt down the food truck of your choosing, but it’s admittedly also a whole lot easier when you find them all in one place. Not exactly tied to the CIAA, but a great night out for those wanting a break from the scene Uptown, the Southend Gallery Crawl comes with an added bonus: they're calling it Food Truck Friday, and it's a doozy. Feature Roaming Fork, The Herban Legend, The Tin Kitchen, Goody Woodys, Napolitanos, Sticks and Cones, and Roots Farm Food. The term "smorgasbord" certainly comes to mind.

There you have it, food trucks to indulge all the cravings you could conjure up, allowing you to break bread without breaking the bank.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Crockpot Arsenal: Chana Masala

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Crockpot Arsenal

This week I dove far down into my crockpot arsenal to find something exotic, spicy, and savory.

Chana Masala

Chana Masala ...

... in a crock-pot!

You know, I used to think that I hated Indian food. After trial and error, I learned that I actually don't. I just hated all the fried stuff I ate at Indian food buffets. So I stopped eating what my husband ordered at Indian food restaurants and decided to branch out into a healthier version of Indian food.

Continue reading »

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Sample Uptown dining, one bite at a time

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 11:44 AM

The crawl kicks off at Harvest Moon Grille
  • The crawl kicks off at Harvest Moon Grille

While libation lovers have no trouble finding a decent bar crawl to mingle at in this town, those looking to fill their bellies with food instead of booze usually tend to stick to one eatery per meal. Combining the bar crawl spirit with a four-course dinner,The Uptown Progressive Dinner Crawl promises to feed both your stomach and your sense of adventure.

Taking place on Friday, March 9, crawl-goers will have a chance to support local businesses while getting their grub on. The evening will end not with dessert, but with a blowout after-party where you can enjoy all the digestives you please.

The festivities break down like this:

6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. - Registration & Hors d’ourves at Harvest Moon Grille

8:15 p.m.-9:15 p.m. - Appetizers at Ri Ra

9:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. - Entrees at Lavecchia’s

10:45 p.m.-11:45 p.m. - Desserts at Vapiano

12 a.m.-Until?-After Dinner Party at Prohibition

$30 for couples, $50 for singles. Tickets are available for purchase at www.uptowndinnercrawl.eventbrite.com

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Photos: Sweet Tooth Festival

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 1:46 PM

On Sunday, Feb. 18, dessert lovers invaded Black Lion in South Charlotte (10605 Park Road) for the first ever Sweet Tooth Festival, which benefited the Joe Martin ALS Foundation. And even though I'm supposed to be on a diet —Ã'Â� I was one of them.

When we arrived, the two rooms reserved in the back of the store for the fest were packed, but not suffocatingly so. Attendees were given a passport of the list of vendors — 19 in all — which was stamped at each table offering samples (I'm ashamed to say the holes in my passport were almost all punched out by the time I left). Frozen yogurt, ice cream, cupcakes, cake, mousse, truffles and candies all decked out in flavors of chocolate, raspberry, lemon, vanilla, coconut, banana and more ... just recounting that for you makes my tummy ache a little bit. Thankfully, the organizers were thoughtful enough to include a to-go box in the goody bag (which was courtesy of Yelp Charlotte) and a table offering bottled water.

While the event left me with a sugar high like no other, I have to give a shout-out to organizers Rachel Sutherland and Rhonda Hodges. Ladies, my cavity wasn't a big fan, but it was a delicious event for a worthy cause.

Check out the slideshow of photos from our photog Justin Driscoll below.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crockpot Arsenal: Curry Chicken Soup

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Quick pop quiz!

Are you...

a. Too busy to cook?
b. Not in the mood to cook?
c. At a loss of how to prepare an easy healthy meal?
D. All of the above?

Have I got a recipe for you!

When I want to put a healthy meal on the table, but have little to no time, I reach into my crockpot arsenal.

Crockpot Arsenal

My crockpot arsenal is a handful of easy healthy recipes that basically involve dumping a bunch of ingredients into a crockpot and walking away for at least eight hours, then coming home to a delicious home cooked meal.

Got that?

1. Assemble ingredients.
2. Dump in crockpot.
3. Walk away for eight hours.
4. Come back and enjoy!

It's really as simple as that!

Curry Chicken Soup

One of my favorite recipes to pull from my crockpot arsenal is curry chicken soup. Chicken soup is so comforting and delicious, but I love that this recipe is a little different than your traditional chicken soup by including curry.

Crockpot Soup

It's warm, delicious, and comforting. Exactly what I want to come home to on a cold winter day!

Crockpot Chicken Soup

Crockpot Curry Chicken Soup (serves 6)

1 pound chicken breast
6 cups chicken broth
1 can light coconut milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cups spinach
2/3 cup brown rice
1/2 cup cilantro, stems removed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put all ingredients in a crockpot and stir. Turn crockpot to low heat and cook for at least eight hours. Once cooking is complete, pull chicken apart (shred) into bite size pieces with two forks. Spoon into bowls and serve piping hot.

Crockpot Curry Chicken Soup

If you think this soup is delicious, wait until the next day! This soup gets tastier and tastier over time.

Serve it with a side salad or veggies and hummus, and crusty bread to sop up the broth. This meal will feed a crowd or will serve a couple for a few days. Feel free to halve it for less servings or stick it in a sealed container in the freezer to keep up to a few months.

Now what are you going to do with all of the free time you have by not slaving over a hot stove?

Come back next week and I'll share another tasty, healthy, quick and easy recipe from my crockpot arsenal!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Simple but impressive Valentine's Day Meals: Part II

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Last week I shared with you a plan for a simple, but impressive, Valentine's Day meal with salmon. Well, this week, I'm sharing a romantic meal for all you meat lovers out there.

When it comes to steak, typically, I can take it or leave it. The only exception is a good filet mignon. Call me picky, but It's my absolute favorite way to eat beef. And since I'm married to a beef-loving man, it is often the center piece of my cooked-at-home Valentine's Day meal.

Valentines Day Meal

In my humble opinion, the ultimate fancy DIY meal involves filet mignon, risotto, and a hearty green vegetable. I've made this meal so many different ways over the years ...

... with creamy sauces.
... with earthy mushrooms.
... with about as many ingredients you can think to add to risotto.

But I know that all of you reading this are not just like me. The typical cook doesn't like over-complicated recipes. You probably don't find it therapeutic to stand over a pan of risotto, babysitting it, nurturing it, pour by pour of broth, for an entire hour.

I'm betting that you want something simple, so you can spend Valentine's Day with the person you love ... or at least like enough to spend a holiday.

I get you.

And just for you, I have simplified my go-to fancy meal. There's no multiple cooking methods for preparing the steak. Instead of the classic laborious approach to making risotto, you simply bake it and forget about it.


Did I mention that this meal includes an ultra classy, utterly simple dessert?

Tiramisu is one of those misnomer desserts: It sounds incredibly classy (and it is), but terribly difficult to make (but it isn't). In reality, it's a delicately sweet and elegant way to end a meal that will leave you thinking, "Is that really all there is to it?"

Continue reading »

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Now open: Queen City Q

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 11:13 AM


Uptown may be a jewel on the Q.C.'s crown, but when it comes to the down-home, meat and potatoes staples our state is famous for, dining options have been surprisingly limited. Fans of all things finger-lickin', your prayers have been answered- Queen City Q is open for business.

The brainchild of seasoned restaurateur John Duncan, Queen City Q has pit master Dan "Boone" Gibson serving up cherished family BBQ recipes. “It’s a very exciting time in Uptown," says Duncan in a press release "And this is a fantastic opportunity to bring great BBQ to center city in a highly visible location."

The menu offers traditional favorites like hand-pulled pork, collard greens, and pimento dip, along with more contemporary fixings like Corn & Edamame salsa and Asian slaw, as well as an assorted taco menu. Best of all, your BBQ plates come with homemade sauces served on the side so you can sauce them in whatever style you want, East or West or not at all.

225 E. 6th St.
704-334-TheQ (8437)

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Charlotte-area chefs vie for regional 'Chef of the Year' title

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Q.C. foodies know that our city’s chefs are among the crème de la crème, and the American Culinary Federation is all set to prove them right. On Monday, Feb. 20, two area chefs — Travis Dale, executive chef at The Point Lake and Golf Club in Mooresville, and Jean-Pierre Marechal, executive chef of the Charlotte Marriott City Center — will face each other, and a competitor from Virginia, in an Iron Chef style cook-off, vying for the title of American Culinary Federation’s 2012 Southeast Regional Chef of the Year. Unacquainted with our ambassador tastemakers? CL gives you the inside scoop.

Chef Dale Travis
  • Chef Dale Travis

Chef Jean-Pierre Marechal
  • Chef Jean-Pierre Marechal

Creative Loafing: Chefs can always pinpoint when they caught the cooking bug. What was that moment for you?

Chef Dale: When I was 10, my mother was in culinary school and she didn’t have a babysitter one night, so she took me and my brother to her class, where they were working on a banquet. One of the instructors asked us if we wanted to help. I started buttering herb toast, wearing the chef’s hat and apron, and I just knew.
Chef Marechal: At 6 years old I was already watching cooking shows. At 9, I taught my babysitter how to do a béchamel sauce, which I guess is very unusual. I was born to do this; I don’t know if I would be able to do anything else. I am very fortunate, not a lot of people love what they do.

How did you start paying your culinary dues?

Chef Dale: All through middle and high school, my mom did a lot of catering, and I would help her. When I was old enough to legally get a job, I worked the counter for her in a bakery.
Chef Marechal: I was 13 when I did my first catering banquet for 150 people in my mom’s kitchen. I needed to cook like 100 chickens and my mom’s oven only held six chickens, so I would cook them six at a time. I was so proud, it was magical.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Simple but impressive Valentine's Day meals: Part I

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Want to know the best way to impress your significant other this Valentine’s Day? Cook. Yes, it really is that simple.

Take it from someone who fell in love over my own dining room table. Cooking for the one you love (or really like) is magical. Early in my relationship with my (now) husband, I cooked for him. Almost every night. With hardly any prior experience in cooking entire meals.

Cooking in Italy on Our Honeymoon

He was so impressed that I was willing to go to such great lengths to feed him and spent a few minutes of every one of those meals telling me how wonderful the food was ... telling me how wonderful I was.

I ate it up.

And if I can do it, you can do it, too. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef or a domestic goddess to impress your date. You just need something that looks amazing, but in reality, is very simple to make.

Don't worry, I’ve got you covered.

I’m going to teach you how to make a complete meal that is just as beautiful as anything you would order in a fancy restaurant, but also a meal that anyone can cook. The ingredients and preparation methods are simple — dare I say, easy? — and you can totally do this.

Just follow my directions and you’re well on your way to making your Valentine’s Day date think that you’re an amazing cook.

Your Valentine’s Day Menu
Maple Dijon Salmon with Roasted Sweet and Yellow Potatoes and Green Beans Almondine.
For Dessert:Death by Chocolate Mousse with Whip Cream and Strawberries

Valentines Day Meal

Chocolate Mousse

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Craft beer popularity continues to grow in Charlotte

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 11:19 AM


Last year, I wrote about a new local clothing company that targeted craft beer enthusiasts. The launch of Batch Apparel spoke to the growing popularity of craft beer.

"Craft beer is a higher quality beer. It is supposed to be served at a certain temperature and certain way that the brewery comes up with," explained Tanner Fritz, co-owner of Batch Apparel, in that interview. "The whole idea is that craft beer is done in smaller amounts so it is not mass-produced."

As a testament to the attention craft beer is getting here locally, the Queen City Brewers Festival, a tasting event featuring Charlotte-area breweries, will take place at Neighborhood Theatre this weekend.

If you haven't gotten your tickets already, though, you've missed out. The festival will feature two tastings on Saturday, and both time slots are sold out.

But hey, that's all the more reason for you to check out our local breweries directly. Here are links to all of the Charlotte breweries that will be showing off their goods on Saturday. Cheers!

Ass Clown Brewing

Birdsong Brewing


Kind Beers

NoDa Brewing

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Rock Bottom Brewery

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