Keia Is Hungry

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Eat this: Korean Fried Chicken at Kindred Restaurant

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 8:00 AM

There are a good number of reasons why Kindred Restaurant in Davidson was recently named to Bon Appetit’s 2015 list of 50 Best New Restaurants in America.

Korean Fried Chicken
  • Korean Fried Chicken

The ambience and warmth of the interior, reflective of its history as a century-old pharmacy, is one. The attentive servers and expert bar staff are another.

Chef Joe Kindred’s intense focus and attention to detail are notable while Katy Kindred’s front of house wizardry and wine expertise add to the magic, too.

Yet, there is something else at hand, a key element that registers almost completely in the subconscious– nostalgia, that thing that stirs the memory and transports one to their happy place. In this case, the McDonald’s drive-thru window.
Yes, Joe Kindred has found a way to make his Korean Fried Chicken taste like a McNugget. Of course, with a few flourishes. The dish, which can be found on Kindred’s dinner menu, is made with chicken thighs that are dredged and fried to an uncanny science.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eat This: Border springs lamb ribs at Bonterra

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 12:55 PM

In the land where pork barbecue is practically a birth rite and hamburgers come a dime a dozen, it’s refreshing to see other proteins earn space on local menus. At Bonterra, Chef Blake Hartwick and team are delighting diners with a not-often-seen cut of lamb. Ribs. Not racks, ribs.
Inside this church turned restaurant off East Boulevard, the lamb rib appetizer might just make you see God.

Hartwick isn’t peddling your average Colorado lamb or even Australian racks. He’s working with Border Springs Farm, a small scale operation just across the North Carolina border in Patrick Springs, Virginia.

Craig Rogers, known to his devout followers as “The Shepherd” is producing some of the finest pasture-raised lamb on the market thanks to his keen understanding of grass and his hard working border collies.

Border Springs lamb feasts on a diet of high sugar grasses, perennial rye and red and white clover grass. The animals possess a much milder flavor than the average lamb product which can often hijack the palate with the taste of harsh mutton.

Hartwick takes a quarter rack of ribs and coats them in a dry rub (brown sugar, smoked paprika, cinnamon, red pepper, thyme, oregano, garlic and smoked sea salt) for 24 hours, which produces a sweet heat that’s down to caramelize when it hits a hot wood-fired grill.

Next, the ribs are smoked over oak and hickory wood before hitting the grill to seal the deal.

Hartwick brushes a fortified Cheerwine barbecue sauce on each rib and adds a schmear of tangy Alabama white sauce along with pickled onions and cucumbers to finish the dish.

Disregard the white tablecloths, tuck your napkin ‘round your neck and throw caution to the wind.

These ribs can only be eaten with your hands and reckless abandon. The rib is a layered mix of succulent, flavorful fat and tender meat with enough chew to invoke your primal tendencies.

You will want to tear every last morsel from the bone, caveman style, while chasing the richness of each bite with the cutting acidity of the pickle.

Don’t worry what that table next you is thinking as you sit in contentment with a glossy sheen lingering on your lips.
If they didn’t order the lamb ribs this time, they’ll wish they had.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Eat This: Poppy’s Bagel with Lox and Cream Cheese

Posted on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Word travels fast about good food. When it comes to bagels in Charlotte, the name that kept coming up was Poppy’s. Located at the harried intersection of Providence Road and South Sharon Amity Road, Poppy’s Bagels and More is doing true New York-style bagels, sandwiches, soups and deli-style sides.

It’s owned by Long Island native Ron Rippner, who named the place after his father. Well, his father’s nickname. Like many New Yorkers, Rippner couldn’t find a “proper” bagel when he first moved here, so he took to replicating it himself.

Of course, if I’m hitting up the bagel shop, there’s only one thing to order — an everything bagel with lox and cream cheese all the way ($6.99). That is, with lettuce, tomato, onion and capers.

  • Keia Mastrianni

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Eat this: ‘Chicken’ and Dumplings at Fern

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 at 11:00 AM

I’m sure you may have expected to find some bright, verdant dish here on the page this month. Maybe you were hoping for a colorful plate of vegetables sounding the trumpet of springtime, bursting with fresh flavors and edible flowers. Perhaps, you thought I would wax poetic on the spring revival at the farmer’s markets? Nope. Not this time.

This dish, my friends, is dedicated to the betterment of my sanity. It is the proverbial (and quite unexpected) chicken soup for my soul. And, there’s no chicken in it. Sometimes a dish is in the right place at the right time and it is everything one needs at that moment. The “Chicken” and Dumplings at Fern — a feature on the new spring menu coming out the second week in April — was that for me.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Eat This: Burger at Fenwick’s

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 11:00 AM

In Charlotte, there are things that our culinary scene lacks. An abundance of good Korean food and ramen joints, for example. What we don’t lack is a hunk of ground beef slapped between two buns. Burgers. The Queen City has as many burger joints as there are stars in the sky. Actually, we probably have more than that.

Every time I turn a corner, a new burger spot opens with the latest iteration of grassfed beef, artisan toppings or new and improved bun technology. I made that last one up, but you get my drift. When the market is soaked through with choices, it’s easy to forget about the old guard, places that serve a burger that’s just plain good — which is why I want to talk about the hamburger at Fenwick’s.

The tiny family-owned structure on Providence bearing a neon sign of its namesake has been serving the well-to-do neighborhood of Myers Park since 1984 and still manages to fill seats. Heck, I even had to wait for a table.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Eat This: Torta Cubana from Tacos El Nevado

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 3:12 PM

I don’t do drugs anymore, but I will eat a torta to alter my state of consciousness. In fact, this is an experience best done with friends at Tacos El Nevado, the hole-in-the-wall Mexican spot down the glorious ethnic corridor that is Central Avenue. Best known for its tacos — authentic, inexpensive and the epitome of simple cuisine done right — Tacos El Nevado is a best kept dining secret in Charlotte. Though, if you want to get lifted, the torta cubana ($8.50) is your ticket.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eat This: Roasted Scallops at Halcyon

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Remember Halcyon? That restaurant attached to the Mint Museum made notable by a certain chef Marc Jacksina who brought Southern and seasonal together inside the elegant rustic space? Yeah, that one.

It’s been well over a year since Jacksina left the building to pursue other endeavors (he is now at Earl’s Grocery in Elizabeth) and executive chef James Stouffer took over. For some inexplicable reason, the foodie fangirls and boys abandoned ship here for no good reason. Since Jacksina’s departure, Stouffer has been quietly executing dishes centered around the seasons, employing classical technique and European-inspired touches for offerings that are as colorful as they are comforting. Farmers pay Stouffer a visit each week, delivering fresh produce to populate the ever-changing menu. On any given night, you can find him joyfully cooking in the tiny shoebox of a kitchen with his team. You won’t find the trendiest tricks or even a sous vide machine, for that matter. What you will find is a passionate chef cooking, truly cooking, honest food.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Eat This: Porchetta at Little Spoon Eatery

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 10:10 AM

If you didn’t already know this about me, I’m a proud supporter of swine consumption. I like pig in all of its delicious iterations, and I’ve never met a meat sweat I didn’t like. To be fair, I’m an equal opportunity carnivore, and when I walked into Little Spoon, the Selwyn Avenue breakfast and lunch eatery open since late July, I was looking for a different dish. Thanks to a chance run-in with one of my most trusted food advisors, I was swayed by the siren call of pork when she ordered the porchetta ($11).

  • Keia Mastrianni

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Eat This: Brownie à la mode

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 3:36 PM

It seems almost counterintuitive to overlook the enticing selection of seasonal and artistic dessert creations made by pastry chef Ashley Boyd at 300 East only to settle for a perceived commoner — the brownie à la mode. Am I crazy to suggest you bypass the tender and pliant goat cheese panna cotta or the perfectly autumn sorghum molasses cookie stuffed with homemade butterscotch ice cream and head straight for the stuff of church bake sales? Would I lose my street cred if I told you to choose a dessert that’s been corporately bastardized in chain restaurants into morbidly obese caricatures of confection crowned with Reddi-Whip? Perhaps. Except this brownie is different.

The brownie has always been on the menu at 300 East, since its beginnings in 1986. But pastry chef Ashley Boyd, self-taught and mentored under exceptional pastry chefs from Chicago to Atlanta, reworked the concept into what it is today — an impeccable version that is doomed to be eaten in its entirety once it hits the table.
Boyd uses Callebaut chocolate in her brownie recipe which, when baked and plated, is equal parts cake and fudge. Soft, warm and borderline gooey, it is everything to delight your inner fat kid. The high quality Belgian genius of Callebaut ensures that this brownie maintains its chocolatey integrity and exudes a quiet sophistication instead of veering off into a saccharin one-note bite of disappointment. Boyd pairs her brownie with a honey chocolate sauce, salted caramel and, of course, vanilla bean ice cream.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eat This: Camarofongo at Nano’s Dominican Food

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM

When I first heard the word mofongo, it conjured up memories of my childhood, when my Italian-by-way-of-Long Island mother would hurtle Italian-ish swear words at me in times of toddler distress. One of them sounded an awful lot like mofongo. Couple that with an offensive hand-to-chin gesture and, well, you get my drift. But, I digress.

Mofongo is a traditional Dominican dish, also found in Puerto Rican cuisine, made of fried green plantains mashed with garlic, mixed with crispy bits of pork skin, called chicharrones, and usually served with a simple tomato sauce. In Charlotte, you can get your mofongo fix at Nano’s, the well-loved Dominican restaurant at 3428 N. Tryon St. Nano’s was first opened in 2007 by Julio “Nano” Victoria Sr. and then recently purchased by Dalton and Miriam Espaillat, the husband-and-wife team who also own Three Amigos (Dalton is the Dominican amigo) and Sabor Latin Street Grill.

Nano’s serves a plethora of mofongo options, including a version with the option of shrimp, marinated steak, fried chicken or crispy pork.

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