Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cooking in Chef Alyssa's Kitchen

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 12:45 PM

A few weeks back, I was manning a farmers market booth for a friend and just so happened to see Chef Alyssa Gorelick in the market, chatting it up with the local vendors, picking and prodding the produce and loading up her basket with ingredients. Turns out, she was shopping for her cooking classes in Chef Alyssa's Kitchen, her new business inside the Atherton Mill & Market (winner of Best Farmer's Market, by the way).

I recently had the pleasure of attending one of her classes a few Wednesdays ago. The topic? Hearty Italian Dishes. Chef Alyssa spent much of her early culinary years studying in Italy, which made for spot-on recipes. On the menu that evening was a white bean bruschetta, pesto, pasta bolognese, chicken with olives, tomatoes and spinach and for dessert, chocolate-espresso panna cotta. I know, right? The best part is you get to eat the entire menu after cooking it.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Exploring the inaugural UNCC tailgate

Posted By on Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Carla Smith and her sassy tailgate setup
  • Carla Smith and her sassy tailgate setup

This past Saturday, hoards of students awash in green and gold gathered in front of the student union on the campus of UNC Charlotte to prepare for the 49ers inaugural football game. Dancers, lipsticked and perky as all get out, flashed their pearly whites and collegiate midriffs, preparing their glittery poms for a spirited shake. Cheerleaders practiced their chants and cheers while the drum line pounded beats to the crowds delight.


The parking lot, covered in tents, was filled with alumni and students eager to participate in history.
Fueled by school pride and a maybe a few stiff drinks, a palpable buzz was in the air and I was out to cover the tailgating scene. Sure, there was a really important football game, but I was more interested in the food.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Local Discovery: The Yolk Cafe offers great breakfast

Posted By on Sun, Jul 14, 2013 at 9:36 AM

I like to fancy myself a breakfast connoisseur, and though Charlotte's got some choice brunch spots and a few greasy spoons, I didn't have a place to call "the spot." Enter The Yolk Cafe, a small breakfast joint located in an unassuming strip mall in Rock Hill.

The Yolk is doing breakfast right, with just the right amount of greasy comfort and culinary refinement. Greg and Subrina Collier, husband and wife, opened the restaurant in March 2012 after finding the space on Craigslist. The Colliers pride themselves on serving up classic favorites and unique specials, inspired by the fresh, local produce they source.

The Yolk recently launched a brand-new menu over the holiday weekend featuring standouts like the Jerk Shrimp & Grits with smoked gouda and Coffee Rubbed Steak Hash with over-easy eggs and a charred tomato salsa. For sweets lovers, there is the Sweet Potato Waffle with homemade pecan butter and for the borderline brunch crowd, the killer chicken salad sandwich on sweet potato brioche.

Keep an eye out for the specials, which are usually a vegetarian selection. They are outstanding and sell out fast. Be sure to try the addictive twice-cooked home fries and creamy grits cooked low and slow in milk. Most of the time, grits are an ancillary breakfast item for me. At The Yolk, they are necessary, if not imperative. This breakfast is totally worth the 30-minute drive south. Trust me.

The Yolk Cafe is located at 1204 Mount Gallant Road, Rock Hill 29732. Hours: Monday-Tuesday 7 a.m.-12 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday 7 p.m.-2 p.m.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hail to the Donut King

Posted By on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 4:19 PM

It's a Saturday morning and I'm walking down the street with my sunglass-covered eyes to the ground. My clothes are wrinkled from wearing them the night before, and there are mysterious remnants (shadows of a recent experience, perhaps?) traced along my lips. Despite these characteristics, a satisfied smirk, basking in the glory of indulgence, begins to break across my face...

This is anything but the typical "walk of shame."

In fact, I happen to be coming from a feast at a donut shop. The Donut King, which opened in late 2012 in Huntersville, is the hotspot from which I'm traveling. There, the bakers, headed by owners Lyle Sarnevitz and his daughter Emily, are confectionary Casanova's who consistently woo customers with their decadent and quirky original creations baked fresh every night.

The attraction of their handiwork is so powerful that the shop often finds itself selling out of product earlier than closing hours, one time running out by 8:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, Lyle Sarnevitz said. And while freshness is key to The Donut King's success, the shop's creative donuts are what really make it stand out.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Photos: Viva Chicken

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Viva Chicken in the Elizabeth Neighborhood

I'm a huge fan of roasted chicken, so I've been dying to try the new-to-me Peruvian restaurant in the Elizabeth neighborhood, Viva Chicken.

The inside is as slick as a cookie cutter chain restaurant.
  • Kelly Davis
  • The inside is as slick as a cookie cutter chain restaurant.

I visited on a random Wednesday night around 7 p.m. and was surprised to see that the restaurant, located at 1617 Elizabeth Ave., was very busy. I was also surprised to see that the interior was so modern and sleek. My husband and I immediately jumped on our smartphones to double-check that Viva Chicken isn't a chain. It's not.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An almost-gluten-free restaurant: Chima Brazilian Steakhouse

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Some say gluten-free (GF) is just another diet fad, while many GF eaters claim that it isn't a choice at all - nature chose it for them. While it's true that some choose to eat gluten-free because they like how it affects their figure and their overall health, others have Celiac's disease or a sensitivity to gluten that makes omitting it a necessary lifestyle change.

Even so, it is still fairly difficult to dine out and avoid gluten entirely. But behold, there is a restaurant offering a 50-percent-plus gluten-free menu right at our back door.


Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in Uptown has been discreetly serving an almost completely gluten-free menu since it opened. However, they don't market themselves as an "almost" gluten-free restaurant, so it's no wonder that most people aren't aware of this.

Some of you might be thinking, "Of course, they're gluten-free! Most of their food is meat!" But if you familiarize yourself with GF cooking, you'll soon find that many of the glazes, sauces and marinades that make meat so tasty contain gluten.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vamos! Eat your way through Latin America in Charlotte

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 3:40 PM

  • El Pulgarcito

Last Thursday, the Levine Museum of the New South kicked off the 2013 New South for the New Southerner series to a packed house of Queen City foodies. The event focused on the topic of "Eating Out: Past and Present." Charlotte Restaurant Week founder Bruce Hensley opened up the evening with a spirited account of Charlotte's restaurant history.

Staff historian Dr. Tom Hanchett led the evening with a discussion of the explosion of Latin American eateries (namely in the Eastway neighborhood) in Charlotte, where you can find some of the best and most authentic dishes in town. Denise Botello-Coleman of Latina 102.3 FM and Levine staffer and Latino New South Project Coordinator Melina Monita-Pacheco shared favorites from the vast and varied scene. All you need is your car and an appetite.


Cocina Latina is serving up some of the best Hidalgo style barbacoa in town right here in East Charlotte. Owner and cook Fausta Salvatierra will take you on a pleasurable trip. Enjoy tortas, a type of Mexican sandwich and authentic pastes, a savory pastry stuffed with meat and cheese.5135 Albemarle Road. 704-531-5757

Las Delicias Bakery is known for its freshly baked authentic pastries, cakes and homemade bread. Head in between 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon for a chance at snagging some goods fresh out of the oven. 4405 Central Ave. 704-568-2121

Lupita Tortilleria y Carniceria This is the spot for carnitas, the deliciously tender and flavorful pulled pork of your dreams. Lupita's makes carnitas on the weekend and folks begin lining up on Sundays around 7:30 a.m. for theirs. I am so down for some pork with my morning coffee. 5210 N. Tryon St. 704-910-4872

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Crispy Crepe offers savory and sweet, uh, crepes

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Stepping into Crispy Crepe on South Boulevard, you're first struck by the wafting sweet aromas coming from the kitchen.

Crispy Crepe

The enormous jar of Nutella behind the counter has you salivating for chocolate, even if it is only 9 a.m. And although sweet dessert-like crepes are the first thing to come to mind when you walk into the South End restaurant, you'll be pleased to know that you can order a crepe stuffed with shrimp, chicken or eggs, to go along with your more decadent crepe.

The extensive menu at Crispy Crepe offers 19 different crepe choices, including nine savory and 10 sweet. The choices can be a bit overwhelming, but If you want to know what they think is the creme de la creme of their menu, chocolate-covered strawberries mark the Crispy Crepe "specialties." For savory crepes, they recommend the Chipotle Chicken, which includes cumin-crusted chicken slices topped with pico de gallo, jack cheese, sliced avocado and chipotle cream). As for sweet crepes, one of the two specialties is the Maple Creme Crepe, filled with pure organic maple cream (100 percent reduction of pure organic maple syrup) and served with pure maple syrup.

The restaurant is very casual. Patrons order from the counter where they're given a number, grab a drink from a self-serve soda fountain, and seat themselves at one of the inside or outside tables. Waiters bring out the food to the customers. During my visit, the waiters refilled our drinks, which was very nice, but made it a bit confusing whether we were supposed to tip and how much when it was time to leave.

Egg, Cheese, and Turkey Bacon Crepe

Many of the savory crepes seem more appropriate for lunch (open for lunch and dinner), like the Gyro Crepe, but there are three different egg crepes, for those of you who like more traditional breakfast fare. These are served with a fresh fruit, cilantro hummus, side salad, or kettle chips.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Where to eat like an Edwardian

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM

At long last Matthew and Mary marry. But the fortune of the Crawley family has taken an uncertain trajectory and the specter of bankruptcy - how 2009 - hangs before the family. Will Lord Grantham and his Ladies have to downsize or be saved to continue living their lavish aristocratic lifestyle? More than 7 million American viewers tuned in to watch the Downton Abbey season 3 premiere on Sunday, and food is a dominant player in the storyline.

The glimpse into the workings of a large estate kitchen circa 1920 has many fans searching for the gleaming cooper pots that line the kitchen shelves and the Edwardian recipes that fill the plates of the Crawley family.

What's on the nightly 12-course menu? Shimmering aspics; roasted fowl, including pheasants shot on the estate; soups; salads; vegetables; fruits and wines poured for each course. Much like the pre-bubble-burst, free-spirited 1990s in the U.S., the Edwardians consumed conspicuously.

A dozen oysters at McCormick & Schmick  -  yes, please
  • A dozen oysters at McCormick & Schmick - yes, please

Looking to eat like an Edwardian? Bring the plastic and a healthy appetite. A dozen oysters on the half shell at McCormick & Schmick's (200 S. Tryon St.) begin at 20 bucks - and that's just a starter. Add to this the $16 foie gras with pumpkin seed baklava, tangerine and pickled sugar pumpkin appetizer at Barrington's Restaurant - and I'll bet on Chef Moffet over Mrs. Patmore any day - (7822 Fairview Road); the $8 roasted beet and apple salad at Bistro la Bon (1322 Central Ave.); the $7 French onion soup at Café Monte (6700 Fairview Rd); the pan-seared Scottish salmon ($24) at Carpe Diem (1535 Elizabeth Ave.); and $24 fire-roasted chicken at Halcyon (500 S. Tryon St.). Your bill now hugs a c-note, and that's only half the courses and without the cost of cellared wine.

Too much? Downstairs, the staff enjoy shepherd's pie. You can find this dish for $16, less on Thursdays, at Big Ben British Pub & Restaurant (2000 South Blvd.). Cheers.

Watch Downton Abbey Season 3 Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Victory (pie) at Zucca Pizza Tavern

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Zucca Pizza Tavern

I can't believe it took me this long, but I finally made it over to Zucca Pizza Tavern to try out my latest neighborhood pizza place in South End. I watched the construction of the pizza joint during my weekly trips to Atherton Mill Market, anticipating a new pizza place.

We already have some awesome pizza restaurants here in Charlotte. A good thing, too, as it's one of my favorite foods. A city cannot have one too many good pizza places, so I welcome new pizza places (especially those I can walk to) with open arms.

The bar at Zucca

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