Friday, February 28, 2014

Featured Cocktail: Southern Hospitality

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Found: e2 emeril's eatery (135 Levine Avenue of the Arts #100)
Ingredients: Southern Comfort pepper, Aperol, lime juice, simple syrup and Cajun spice for the rim (chili powder, sugar, salt, cayenne pepper).

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There's always an occasion for a drink or, in this case, a drink for the occasion. Mardi Gras, often dubbed "the biggest party in the world," would be one of them. Fortunately, New Orleans knows how to make a drink, and here in Charlotte, you can get a taste for the Cajun culture at e2 emeril's eatery. The New Orleans inspired restaurant is celebrating its knack for spirituous drinks with Southern Hospitality, a take on the classic whiskey sour.

Kevin Harris, bar manager of e2 said his inspiration for the drink was simple. "Mardi Gras is based in New Orleans so the Southern Comfort was a good tie-in. It was invented in New Orleans back in the 1800s. I used the pepper because of the Cajun influence down there ... but I didn't make it too hot, just a little bit of spice to go with the theme." The drink has a slight kick, but it's packed with hints of fruit, so you'll get a delightful swig of sweet and spice. If you like a bit of heat, opt to sip from the half of the rim that's garnished. Harris says he uses a basic formula for making cocktails, which includes a base spirit, modifiers and then elements like sweet, sour and bitter. That formula he uses, let's just say it's working.

Available starting Feb. 27 and will be offered on the spring cocktail list.

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Recipe: Camembert-Pear Toast Points with Mint-Pistachio Pesto

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM

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Necessity isn't the mother of invention. Neither is hope, brilliance, ambition or anything else you'd find on one of those cheap-ass motivational posters in a dentist waiting room. Know what it really is? Boredom. Boredom is the mother of invention.

Think about it: When the first guy to invent the wheel thought of the damn thing, do you really think he stood up and yelled "Eureka!" (or the caveman-ish equivalent). Or do you think he sat there and thought "Man, transporting heavy things like this is a pain in the ass, I'm tired of it. Wheel."

Not that I have any measure of conclusive proof, but that's probably how it went. Same with gun powder ("I'm bored of nocking arrows"), the guillotine ("Drawing and quartering people is a pain"), and pretty much everything else.

And, yes, that extends to cooking, too. Especially cooking. Every sauce, condiment and preparation was made because someone was bored with the stuff they were eating, because they were bored with the way things were. Sure, the Thomas Kellers and Ferran Adriàs of the world really did come up with some fucking genius stuff, but I guarantee the thought they had before that was "I'm tired of eating fish the same way I always eat fish."

That's how I came up with a lot of these recipes, this one included. Hell, that's why I learned to cook in the first place. I was bored. I was standing around my kitchen and thought "I'm bored, I'm hungry, I have a pear."

And there it was.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Your CIAA source for Southern comfort food

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Charlotte's own eclectic boutique, dupp&swat, is playing host to chef Barry Francois during CIAA. Francois' signature Kluck 'N' Moo is a menu offering all your favorites in Southern comfort food - fried chicken, mac & cheese, collard greens and burgers of your choice.

It's hard to find good food Uptown when you walk out of a party at 3 a.m. - unless you love hot dogs. What can you do when you finally collapse on the bed in your hotel room, and then your stomach growls?

Here's the answer to all your late-night munchie needs: Kluck 'N' Moo offers delivery to hotels from 8 p.m. - 4 a.m. during tournament week. That's right, after a night of sports and kick-ass parties, you can lie in bed and eat chicken wings. Could this possibly get any better?

Yep, it did. For all you animal friends out there, Kluck 'N' Moo also offers vegetarian-friendly options, including veggie burgers and pork-free collard greens. Now you can enjoy soul food without harm to our furry and feathery friends.

Barry Francois started Food by Francois, a catering company that serves people who live and work in Uptown Charlotte. Food by Francois offers a range of menus, which you can check out on the website.

"Charlotte didn't have any late-night options," Francois said. "It gets intoxicated people off the street, because we deliver. I wish it was something we offered year-round. It's definitely something Charlotte needs."

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The argument for afternoon tea

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 3:29 PM

I arrived in Scotland a little over a month ago, hungry to discover. Pictures of kilted folk eating haggis, people drinking Scotch to the tune of trilling pipers, a salmon dish or two and maybe some mutton danced in my head. That archetypal pop-culture knowledge in hand, I came with small expectations, but still dreamt big, hoping to find something that I could return with and use to wow the folks back home. Something missing from the States' tables and shelves that I felt we should have though we didn't. And, by God, I think I've found it.

With all the pictures I've recently received of the snowstorms that froze over the Queen City a couple of weeks ago, I've become more convinced that afternoon tea is the single most woeful omission from the common American dining scene that I've encountered in Scotland. After all, could you not imagine how well a nice hot "cuppa" and some chocolaty, buttery biscuits would go down after coming in from the nippy ice and snow? How divine a buttered scone and a hot mocha would be to cure the cold in your bones? I know it sounds a little ridiculous to be so enthusiastic about a small ritual, but allow me to explain.

Taken at Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgows city centre, and the dishes in front of me are a cream scone with jam and a cappuccino
  • Taken at Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow's city centre, and the dishes in front of me are a cream scone with jam and a cappuccino

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Let the good times flow at Soul

Posted By on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 1:36 PM

If you walk into Soul Gastrolounge (1500-B Central Ave.), you'll notice something new and shiny in the corner of the bar.

Soul, in all of its Plaza Midwood forward thinking, now offers select cocktails on tap. These vintage-inspired brass spigots, the only ones you'll find in Charlotte (at least for now), look more refined than typical beer taps, and their handles can be changed out with various liquor brands.

One churns out the Bangkok Sling, made with Bombay Sapphire East (a peppercorn and lemongrass gin), cherry Heering, Bénédictine, Cointreau, house-made pomegranate grenadine, lime, pineapple and Angostura. The other dispenses a longtime Soul staple, the Wise Old Buffalo, crafted with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Aperol, Lillet Rouge, and hints of orange and sage.

Behind the chic appearance of the taps, there's real practicality. If you've ventured into Soul on any night of the week, you'd know why.

"With our volume, trying to push out these cocktails has always been a problem," says beverage director Andy Maurer. "I want to do cool stuff the right way. I don't care how busy I am, it's going to be right. We've had to develop a way to make cocktails fast to pump them out but keep the creativity and quality the same."

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Grab a bite at Tupelo Honey, make a difference

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 9:41 AM

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  • Photo courtesy of Tupelo Honey Charlotte Facebook

Beginning today through this Wednesday, Tupelo Honey Cafe will donate 20 percent of all restaurant proceeds to YWCA Central Carolinas in celebration of its 112th anniversary. Yep, the local chapter dedicated to empowering women has been forging a path for social justice since 1902.

Since Tupelo Honey (finally) filled the space in South End formerly occupied by Pewter Rose, its has set a clear intention to give back locally. It introduced its partnership to YWCA Central Carolinas during grand opening festivities and show continued support with community dinners for the residents of their Families Together program and Women in Transition program. In addition, Tupelo Honey Cafe will start nutritional programming and cooking demos for the YWCA Youth Learning Centers this spring.

Today through Wednesday, I can't think of a better time to grab a biscuit in the name of altruism. Tupelo Honey is located at 1820 South Blvd. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner starting at 8 a.m.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Forget Valentine's Day - Happy February 15th!

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 3:19 PM

With the recent winter storm shutting down all of Charlotte this past week, Valentine's Day probably wasn't top priority for many people. (Seriously, how many of you actually bought a gift for your lover before Tuesday? Kudos to you if you did.) But February 15th is just as good a day as any to celebrate your undying love - it'll also probably be safer to drive then, too. Here are just a few restaurant picks for everyone from the seasoned romancer to the couple who couldn't get a babysitter.

Because nothing says, uh, love, like a hot dog from The Diamond.
  • The Diamond's Facebook
  • Because nothing says, uh, love, like a hot dog from The Diamond.

For couples on a budget
The Diamond on Commonwealth Avenue is ideal for those of us without much to spend. An old-fashioned jukebox helps to set the down-to-earth atmosphere of this classic American diner. The fried oyster basket is one shareable dish that will get you both in the mood for lovin'. Or if you're going for a more blatantly suggestive eating experience, the Diamond has a variety of hot dog options, from hand-dipped corn dogs to all-beef to veggie dogs with plenty of topping choices. End your night by sharing one of the diner's Southern-style desserts.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

These restaurants will feed you today (Feb. 13)

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Driving is a terrible, terrible idea. But if you're lucky enough to live in walking distance, check out one of these open restaurants. (Details are subject to change, so call before you make the trek.)

* Common Market is open until midnight.

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  • Common Market Facebook

* Solstice Tavern just posted this on its Facebook page: "Hey all you snowmen and snow angels! Post a pic of you in the snow wearing a T-shirt and shorts and receive half-off any entree or app all day TODAY! Make sure to bring your phone to show your server."

* Dolce Vita will be open 2 p.m.-6 p.m.

* Nan & Byron's and 5Church will be open for dinner tonight at 5 p.m.

* Angry Ale's will open at noon.

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Recipe: Pineapple-Oxtail Marmalade Tarts

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 11:15 AM

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Oxtail marmalade's a weird idea. I'm aware of that.

And it sucks to be in the club of people who like something that tastes really good, but sounds utterly disgusting, because it's your job to convince other people why that awesome, delicious goodness isn't actually something you'd find in a trash bag behind an Arby's. Or just ... in an Arby's.

So yeah, when you make something like oxtail marmalade, and have to explain that it's essentially meat jelly, it's a bit of a hard sell. But you want to make that sell. You want to be the fucking Willy Loman of slow-cooked meat products, because you know how goddamned delicious it is. It helps when you put it inside some dough, too. I find that helps with selling most things, really. I mean, you'd be more likely to buy an iPod if it came inside a cookie, right?

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Featured Dish: Pan-Roasted Guinea Hen at The Asbury

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 8:05 AM

The historic Dunhill Hotel recently unveiled its new crown jewel, The Asbury (235 N. Tryon St.), an upscale farm-to-table restaurant that fills the space formerly occupied by Harvest Moon Grille. The name has a swanky ring to it, no? Don't you just want to say "Asbury" in a smug English accent while holding a tea cup with your pinky out? It all sounds so dignified. And, it is.



Asbury's menu boasts locally sourced, modern Southern cuisine. At first glance, the Pan-Roasted Guinea Hen ($26) may sound fancy and is sure pretty enough to eat in your date-night getup, but it also displays the comforting familiarity of Southern dishes made by someone's granny. In fact, it has just as much heritage.

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