Thursday, October 31, 2013

Upcoming: Dining With Friends

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Spend Nov. 2 among old friends and new while raising money for a worthy organization in Charlotte.

As one of the largest HIV nonprofits in the Carolinas, the Regional Aids Interfaith Network's mission is to combat prejudices and strive for understanding within the community. RAIN gives those living with AIDS the ability to live their lives to the fullest.

The charity event Dining With Friends allows hosts to throw their own parties and invite their guests to raise money that will go directly to RAIN. Parties will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, with the finale shindig at Discovery Place at 9 p.m. The finale is a celebration of all the money raised by the event, and guests are treated to desserts from some of the best restaurants around. Amelie's, barCHOCOLATE and Dandelion Market are just a few of the sponsors. Attendees are welcome to explore the exhibits as they sip on champagne and cocktails. Donations and registration to become a host can be made online at www.diningwithfriendscharlotte.org. Minimum donation of $30 to attend finale. Nov. 2, 9 p.m. Discovery Place, 301 N. Tryon St.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Recipe: Apple Cider Donuts with Peanut Butter Frosting

Posted By on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 12:17 PM

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I'm not generally a fan of anything that gets plastered over a zillion billboards and TV ads, but I feel the need to defend this whole "pumpkin spice/apple" mania the country seems to go into every fall.

I like it because it IS fall, and fall tastes and smells goddamned amazing. And the other seasons have their things too, their iced teas and peppermint sticks and tables full of Grandma's hellaciously soggy "stuffing" that'd probably seep out of a turkey like a paper bag full of ice cream. But if you ask people what the definitive taste of winter or spring or summer is, it's going to be totally different depending on who you ask. Some people think of roasted chestnuts in the winter, while others think of the inviting smell of a half-empty bottle of Wild Turkey and a freshly-loaded handgun. To each his own.

Say "fall," on the other hand, and you get the same answers from everyone: pumpkin spice, apple cider. Every. Damn. Time. And there's a reason for that: THEY'RE DELICIOUS.

Like I said, I'm not super into obsessing over anything too much. But the way I see it, this whole fall thing isn't obsessing, it's just giving people what they already know they want. And I want some Apple Cider Donuts with Peanut Butter Frosting.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sow Much Good's Robin Emmons nominated as a Top 10 CNN Hero

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 1:01 PM

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  • Image courtesy of Piper Warlick Photography

The inimitable Robin Emmons and her nonprofit organization Sow Much Good is a Top Ten nominated finalist for the prestigious CNN Heroes Awards, an honor bestowed upon ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help others.

Since 2008, Emmons has been an advocate for less fortunate individuals living in food deserts, places where fresh, healthy food is difficult to obtain, and a catalyst for change. She was first inspired to do something after becoming the legal guardian of her mentally ill brother and realized that his health was deteriorating as a result of the food he was eating while living in a care facility.

One small, generous act, planting an extra row in her home garden, turned into the larger mission of Sow Much Good that now services hundreds of individuals via three gardening sites, including the Sunset Road Urban Farm that opened earlier this year. Currently, 73,000 people living in food deserts in Mecklenburg County. Over the last five years, Emmons has grown more than 26,000 pounds of produce for underserved communities in Charlotte.

Emmons aired her featured video on CNN in August and was announced as a Top Ten finalist earlier this month.

The CNN Hero of the Year will win $250,000 to further the mission of their organization. Voting is open until Nov. 17 with the winner decided by the public online vote. The winner will be announced on Dec. 1, 2013 when the CNN Hero of the Year and Gala airs on CNN Networks. To cast your vote, visit the CNN Heroes site here.

This Saturday, Oct. 26, NoLimit Larry, host of CBS Radio's NoLimit Larry and the Morning Maddhouse, will be at the Sunset Road Urban Farm for a voter hangout. Support the nomination of Charlotte's very own hero with members of the local community from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at this free event. The Sunset Road Urban Farm is located at 3432 Sunset Road.


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Upcoming: Bachtoberfest

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Bachtoberfest may be the only event that can successfully pair classical musical with beer and turn it into a fun and classy night on the town, German style. Christopher Warren-Green will conduct the Charlotte Symphony as it performs works by German composers Bach, Mozart, Wagner and Schubert. Among the most anticipated performances of the night are Bach's Double Violin Concerto and Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries." Local breweries Rock Bottom and Triple C will serve free beer samples after the event, and authentic German delicacies and treats will be provided by Waldhorn Restaurant and Mostly Chocolate.

$18-$28. Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m. Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. 

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Upcoming: Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM

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Somewhere, not too far away, a pitmaster is firing his coals and preparing a low and slow cook in hopes of taking home the title of Grand Champion this weekend at the Q-City Charlotte Barbecue Championship, along with an opportunity to represent the Southeast at the 2013 World Food Championships in Las Vegas, Nev.

Now, that's what I call a serious pressure cook (insert laugh track here, please and thank you).

For the rest of us, it means a weekend-long festival filled with damn good barbecue, live music, festivities and the company of 100,000 of your closest friends. Beginning tomorrow, the 11th annual Q-City Charlotte Barbecue Championship (formerly known as the BBQ&Blues Festival) returns to Uptown for two full days of smoked meat mayhem, porky delights, beer and another fantastic excuse to get outside and enjoy the fall. Oh, and did we mention it's free to get in?!

Of course, a festival that takes up four blocks of Tryon Street is not without its logistical feats. Here's everything you need to know for your festivus pleasure:

Travel Tips and How to Get Around:

List of Street Closures

Event Map with bathroom locations. (Super important when you're sipping on beer)

Schedule of Events

Happening in conjunction with the festival is the first annual Carolina Brew Challenge, held at the Epicentre on Saturday from 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Forty Carolina breweries will compete for the People's Choice Award for Best Brew. Come sample the competition. Tickets can be purchased here.

For more information on the Q-City Charlotte Barbecue Championship, visit http://charlottebbqfestival.com.


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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Upcoming: Carved

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM

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This Sunday, Charlotte chefs are stepping out of the dark corners of their kitchens to wield knives and quench their insatiable appetite for pumpkin-slashing. Family-friendly pumpkin slashing, of course.

Join the Piedmont Culinary Guild, a new culinary collective, as it gathers for a pumpkin carving competition inside the Atherton Market to support the Slow Food Charlotte Farmer's Fund. Word on the street is that some of Charlotte's best chefs will be competing to support the event. Best jack-o-lantern, which gets carved on the spot, wins the chef official bragging rights and lucky spectators can bid on their favorite pumpkin to take home.

Kids 12 and under are encouraged to participate in their own competition by bringing an already carved pumpkin to the event. There will be live music, free beer from Triple C Brewing Co. and refreshments from Luna's Living Kitchen. Food will be available for purchase from local food trucks, and photographer Deborah Triplett will have a photo booth to capture all the fun!

Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door and any child without a pumpkin is $5. All proceeds will benefit the Slow Food Charlotte Farmer's Fund. The event is from 4-7 p.m. at Atherton Market, 2104 South Blvd.

Purchase your advance tickets here.


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Monday, October 14, 2013

Michael Pollan name-checks North Carolina amid warnings about a 'cooking paradox'

Posted By on Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Americans spend more time watching televised cooking shows than actually cooking. "We've managed to turn cooking into a spectator sport," said best-selling author Michael Pollan. Plus, wouldn't you know, "the less we cook, the fatter we are." While Pollan's visit to Queens University Thursday night was thoroughly entertaining, such depressing truths sprinkled throughout made the food star's talk pretty scary, too.

The way Pollan writes, food is history and culture, as well agriculture; cooking is therapeutic, a political act. If "the family dinner table is the nursery of democracy," he said, grabbing fast food on the run really could be the decline of civilization we suspected all along. Pollan explores where what we put in our stomachs really comes from, something that would have been obvious 75 years ago, he said, but now results in such revelatory New York Times best-sellers as The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Botany of Desire and Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.

After his description of a vast, industrialized potato farm with machines spewing toxic insecticides just so those fried spuds sprouting from bright cartons remain unblemished, you immediately vow to start digging out a patch of dirt or trolling farmers markets. "If you grow vegetables, you will cook them; you will feel guilty if you don't," he said - even though you might have to learn to use more than the microwave.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Recipe: Thai Coffee Cupcakes

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 10:52 AM

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I know there's still a cupcake joint on every other corner, and frosting-topped monuments to the diabetes gods lurking behind the overly-breathed upon glass cases of every supermarket in the country, but the cupcake trend is over. The days of a piping bag and a dream propelling you to the big time? They're done, baby. The cupcake "thing" isn't a thing anymore ... it's just a thing you want.

I'm not going to sit here and pretend like the damned things stopped being delicious because US Weekly stopped yammering on about them. They're still good. A lot of them are still really, really good. What makes me upset isn't the stuff in the pink sparkly storefronts. It's the homemade stuff, the stuff that inevitably withers its way into the local potluck or the bake sale down the road.

Take a trip to your local cupcakery and regardless of the quality of the product, they always manage to make the damn things look impressive. You get your massive pyre of frosting, some sprinkles, maybe even a gummi lime or a candy cane if they really want to wave their proverbial jazz hands around. But it always looks nice, no matter where you get it from.

Then I go to a bake sale and I have to suffer through some piddly little barely-frosted bullshit that came from a box with "Sara" or "Duncan" or some other name that sounds like a fifth grader in summer school. I have to suffer through cupcakes that look like they just came out of your Fisher-Price "My Mommy Wanted to Be A Baker But Blew All Her Money on Law School" magic oven, that maybe, if I'm lucky, make it to the inch-high mark.

Look. Maybe frosting your cupcakes with a plastic knife and writing your name in shittily-made gel icing was cool in the '90s, but it's 2013. I got standards now. Just because you don't own a cupcake store doesn't mean you can't grab a pastry bag and pipe out some tall, thick, quality spires of icing. So snatch up some powdered sugar and a star tip, because we're getting mean with some Thai Coffee Cupcakes. And throw away that plastic spoon, dammit. You've been rewashing it for like three years, it's disgusting.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Updated: Ardbeg's full-size rocket not landing at Soul Thursday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Update (Oct. 10, 5:24 p.m.): Well, I guess I shouldn't have gotten so excited at the prospect of seeing a huge-ass rocket in the neighborhood. Just got word from the folks at Soul that the Ardbeg folks have postponed their appearance to November. 

I know. Sad face.

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Oh, so many ways to use the phrase "out of this world" come to mind as I start to write this post ...

The folks with Ardbeg - a single malt Scotch whisky, for those of you who just toss glasses back without a second glance at the label - will be at Soul Gastrolounge Thursday evening for a Scotch tasting. Soul - who won Best Spot for Bar Bites and a Creative Cocktail List in our Best of Charlotte issue - has just released its fall cocktail menu, and its selections look tasty.

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Upcoming: 10th annual Plaza Midwood-Chantilly Chili Cook-Off

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Suffering through a serious illness or bearing witness to a loved one in pain makes you understand and appreciate the importance of hospice and palliative care. When my grandfather was sent home from the hospital with weeks to live, I swear the hospice nurses had wings under their scrubs and halos around their heads.

The annual Plaza Midwood-Chantilly Chili Cook-Off serves as both a way to raise money for Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte Region and a great opportunity to enjoy some of the best chili in town.

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Local businesses, restaurants and courageous individuals will be serving up their delicious chili in hopes of walking away with the People's Choice award for best dish. Categories for the competition are red, green, white and vegetarian chili. Besides the chili tasting, which continues until every pot runs dry, there will be live music, a sidewalk sale and raffles being given away all day. The Oct. 12 event will be held at the MMR Racing parking lot. All proceeds from the sidewalk sale will benefit Hospice and Palliative Care.

$15. Oct. 12, noon, MMR Racing, 1318-D Central Ave. For more information or to register to compete in the cook-off, visit www.pmccookoff.com.

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