Monday, August 31, 2009

Denver Cookout Open

I drove past the Cookout in Denver Saturday. And guess what?! It's open!

That's right, I'm due for a good milkshake and some chicken tenders and/or cheeseburger. I'll visit it soon and post the review here.

Stay tuned for more info!

300 East (Dilworth)

Last Saturday my wife dropped off a small order at the FedEx / Kinkos on Gilead. It seemed like a good idea ... until we were told that if we wanted to pick up the order on Sunday, we'd have to drive to the FedEx/Kinkos in Dilworth. Dilworth?? Really? There isn't ANY other (ri.e. closer) FedEx / Kikos that we could use?


Off we went in the car, to drive to Dilworth for one 2'x3' sign on foamboard. We probably spent more on gas than the sign was worth. So, to make up for this inconvenience we decided to look for some good food.  :)

We drove up and down East Blvd. Where would we stop? Moe's? Big Daddy's? 131 Main? Copper? Actually we hit a place I didn't plan on -- 300 East.

Located in a restored house on East Blvd., just east of South Blvd., 300 East has a unique feel, and a very unique menu. Though they had a nice patio, it was a little warm out, and we decided to eat inside. The front of the house is covered in windows, which makes the dining room feel open and airy. We sat on the first floor dining room near the large wooden bar. The seating area on the first floor is small. From my seat I could see the bar, 2 fireplaces, and the kitchen. The atmosphere was casual, but the food was very upscale.

The varied menu had a little of everything. From Banana's Foster French Toast and sandwiches, to salads and pizza, the menu has a decidedly gourmet feel to it. Though I REALLY wanted the Bananas Foster French Toast, I already had breakfast so I eventually decided upon something more lunch like -- the Spanish Pizza.

The Spanish Pizza consists of "Spiced Chicken, Serrano Ham, Gouda and Manchego Cheese,with Roasted Pepper Tomato Sauce." However the description on the menu really doesn't do this dish justice. The tomato sauce was thick and had chunks of vegetables in it. The chicken was savory, the ham salty, and the Gouda and Manchego cheese melted together to create a thick layer of creamy gooeyness. On top of it all, the crust was REALLY good. It was sorta on the thick side, and had a crisp outside, but a tender middle. (To be honest, I'm looking forward to having the left-overs today!)

The crust was soo good, I was surprised to learn that it comes pre-made. They roll it out, and add the toppings. But the dough is delivered through a typical restaurant supply company. DARN!

My wife had the Sonoma Salad. It has "Grilled Chicken, Red Potatoes, Avocado, Grape Tomatoes & Dijon Dressing over Baby Greens." Again, the description doesn't do it justice. The avocado was perfectly ripe, the chicken breast was perfectly cooked. It was almost crispy on the outside, and tender and moist in the middle. It was glazed with a very thin coating of a teriyaki-like sauce. Simply amazing. And combine that with the mixed greens and the creamy dijon dressing, and you had one killer salad.

Overall this place was amazing. Service and atmosphere were good, and the food was amazing. This place is great and easily made the trip to Dilworth worth the drive.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 12.5/15

Price: $$ (pizza, tea, and tip were under $20)
Kid Friendly: Yes. I didn't notice children's menus, but there were several families in the restaurant.

Conclusion: Relaxed atmosphere, attentive service, and unique menu (not to mention decent wine list!) make this a great find. I'll happily visit this restaurant again and again. Highly recommended.

Restaurant Info:
300 East
300 East Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28203
p) 704-332-6507

Friday, August 28, 2009

200th Post!

This is my 200th post! Started in January, this blog has continued to grow -- and kept me from getting bored! I've enjoyed getting to know many readers via their comments and e-mails. Now, is your chance to actually meet me. Anonymity be damned! :)

So, here's the contest I warned you about. Below this post, click on the comment link (or click here), and enter your own restaurant review in the text box. In that posting, be sure to include your e-mail and first name. This way I'll be able to contact you, and let you know if you're the winner.

In one week, I will determine the winner based on their writing ability, restaurant and food descriptions, and sheer luck! :) The winner (and a friend) will be invited to share a bottle of wine with me at a local wine bar -- my treat!

So, gimme a restaurant review! It can be any restaurant in the Lake Norman area.

Good luck!

-Lake Norman Foodie

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cafe Mia (Birkdale)

Today after a meeting, I decided to grab some lunch in Birkdale -- sometimes convenience is a deciding factor. But where would I go? I've been to almost every restaurant in Birkdale. Where could I go for a sandwich?

Then I remembered something. When I first moved to the area, I visited Cafe Mia once for a coffee and free WiFi. While there, I noticed that they had sandwiches. So I decided to head over and see what I could find.

I walked in and took a look around. I immediately noticed the three large flat-screens above and behind the counter that were showing the entire menu, prices, and photos. This place is a little higher-tech than the typical ice cream or sandwich shop!

There are display cases from the door to the register. They have desserts (cupcakes = YUM!) and LOTS of home-made gelato. The color scheme is more mild than I remember (I think it used to be bright pink), now it has warm chocolates and pastel-like periwinkle (my wife swears that my color identifying ability is totally off, so take these color descriptions with a grain of salt).

A man in a chef's coat greeted me and took my order, a Toscano Panini and an iced vanilla latte. Sounds like a good way to spend an afternoon!

The latte was prepared immediately, and then he went into the back room, I'm assuming to make the panini.

I took my seat and had a sip. The iced latte was great! The drink was a little on the sweet side -- just the way I like it. The chairs at my table were a little difficult to get used to. They're formed plastic, and very solid. I almost fell trying to get out of my chair, so be careful of these things! About 10 minutes later the panini arrived.

According to the Cafe Mia website, the Toscano Panini is "Oven roasted turkey, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, sun dried tomato tapenade" between two grilled pieces of bread.

The photo shows what the two sandwiches looked like stacked on top of each other. And simply put, it was delicious! The cheese melted into the tapenade creating a creamy gooey concoction that just worked with the peppers and the and turkey. The flavors built on each other, and I had to pace myself since this sandwich melted in my mouth. And in all honesty was light-years better than the sandwich I recently had at Sonoma in Uptown.

But I was a little disappointed with the kettle-style chips that accompanied the sandwich. Though the chips were kettle-style and crispy, compared to the sandwich, the chips were just boring.

But before I left I had to have a bite of their home-made gelato. Which, apparently, is made daily. I had a small Caramel Cream, which I ate as I walked around Birkdale. It was amazing. It was creamy, sweet, and smooth. It was the perfect way to finish my meal. And since I was walking, the calories don't count -- RIGHT??

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 12.5/15

Price: $$ (sandwich and coffee were over $11, and I don't think the gelato was any more than $5)
Kid Friendly: Yes. With the gelato and cupcakes, this place is loaded with kids during the evenings!

Conclusion: Cafe Mia is more than a sandwich shop or an ice cream store. They combine the two with a gourmet flair that I haven't seen before in this area. In an area known for good food, they raise the bar and set themselves apart. Highly recommended.

Restaurant Info:
Cafe Mia
16916-A Birkdale Commons Parkway
Huntersville, NC 28078
p) 704-892-3116
f) 704-892-3084

Julie and Julia Movie Makes Child a Bestseller

As you know, I recently saw and enjoyed the movie Julie & Julia. (I still encourage all foodies to see it!)

This movie had an interesting side-effect. The Julia Child book that was featured in the movie, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, now tops it's category (Hardcover Advice)on the New York Time's weekly Best-Seller list for the FIRST TIME! Link Here.

In addition, in the Paperback Advice category, Julia Child's book Julia's Kitchen Wisdom is also number 1.

That's right, a movie that came out after her death, has made Julia Child the #1 author in two categories. A feat that she never accomplished in life.

But don't feel bad for Julia. She was an accomplished author, cook, and television personality. She's somewhere now, cooking a meal to celebrate her success. And since she doesn't have to worry about cholesterol -- she's doubled the butter in every recipe! :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wine Wednesday: 2007 Newman's Own Cabernet Sauvignon

Now, I know what you're thinking. The late Paul Newman's company - Newman's Own - makes salsa, marinades, salad dressing, cookies, lemonade, cereal, popcorn, and pizza. What's the only remaining food group missing?

If you answered "Ice Cream," you're wrong. (But good idea!)

You should have answered wine!

In general I've found Newman's Own products to be darn tasty, so when I was at the opening of the Bloom grocery store off of Beaties Ford Rd., I decided to splurge and grab one.

This 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is heavy on the fruit. It is moderately dry and leaves a fuzzy feeling on the tongue. It has strong amounts of cherry and blackberry, with a hint of spice. While my nose detected some vanilla, which was completely overwhelmed by the previously mentioned fruit.

It's a decent wine, but for the $12 (sale price) I paid, I've had better. Then again, I've had worse, too!

Wine Rating: 2.5/5

Price: $$

Wine Info:
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Newman's Own
Rebel Wine
St. Helena, CA 94574

Wine Review Later Today

Hi folks! I'm rather busy today, so I'll be getting the wine review to you though it will be slightly delayed. It will be of Newman's Own 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. So, com back later today to see what I thought of it!


F.Y.I. This Friday you will see the 200th Foodie post!! YOO HOO!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Coral Sushi (Huntersville)

Behind the latest development on 73, just west and across the street from Birkdale is a new sushi restaurant called Coral Sushi. Located behind Hickory Tavern, it's easy to miss from the street.

But after a reader comment, this place has been on my radar. So, my buddy and I decided to give this place a try. There aren't too many sushi restaurants in the area, and we were both curious about what we'd find.

We walked in and were quickly taken to our seats. Too bad it was soo hot out -- I would have liked to sit on their patio -- it looks nice and relaxing. Which is actually the vibe you get from the inside of this restaurant. It's a nice facility, they did a good job decorating.

We looked over the menus and made our decisions. I started our order with the tempura appetizer. Then I ordered the lunch special, sushi combo A. Which with my ordering includes miso soup, an order of California Roll, and an order of Spicy Salmon Roll.

The tempura arrived first, and had a wide variety of veggies (carrots, broccoli, onions, etc.) and shrimp. The veggies were sliced nice and thin, which I like, but the shrimp was on the smaller side of. Also, the fried tempura batter almost seemed more like breading. It was rather thin and consisted of fine pieces, almost like breadcrumbs. This was different, but not necessarily bad.

Next came the miso soup. This was a disappointment. Miso soup usually is very mild in flavor, and this was too. However, there were two things that really turned me off of this dish. 1) In my opinion it was too salty. and 2) To my untrained nose, it smelled like a hamster. (Yes, like those little guys that run around on a wheel.) Needless to say, I didn't finish my soup. Though my friend didn't agree with my smell test, he wasn't a fan of the soup either.

Lastly, our sushi arrived. It was presented nicely, and was freshly rolled. (Just let me say, everything here was presented nicely. They've got aesthetics down!) I prepped my soy sauce with a generous portion wasabi, and dunked the California Roll. It was -- average. It had lots of cucumber, little avocado, and a standard amount of crab. However, it did seem a little chewy -- maybe the seaweed was a little too moist? Either way, I went over to the spicy salmon roll.

I had the same result with the Spicy Salmon Roll. Average. It was a little squishy, even for raw salmon. Again I'm wondering if the seaweed was too moist. The flavor was OK. But for some reason it didn't work for me.

At the end, we asked for separate checks, and the waiter brought us one bill. Sigh, it's not the biggest deal. But it's the reason the service scored a 3 and not a 4.

One last thing, they do have a decent selection of sushi, and I sorta want to try the Godzilla Roll. It has "Spicy Tuna, Avocado, Masago, Scallions flash Fried w/ Chef's Sauce." Thought I'm always a little wary about something called Chef's Sauce, I still wanna try it!

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Total: 10/15

Price: $$ (1/2 appetizer, lunch combo, soda and tip put it at mid-teens)
Kid Friendly: Unknown. I didn't notice a kids menu or specials. I'd call ahead.

Conclusion: Good atmosphere, but the food and service were mostly average. I want to return to try the patio on a nice night and try some of their other foods, just to see if they had an off day.

Restaurant Info:
Coral Sushi
9525 Birkdale Crossings Dr.
Huntersville, NC 28078
p) 704-895-6880
f) 704-895-6879

Monday, August 24, 2009

Horsefeathers (Sherrills Ford)

Last week I visited Horsefeathers, and I've spent the better part of the week trying to put together my feelings on the place. When I got there I was expecting more. The building is owned and was rebuilt by the folks that own the Prickly Pear -- one of my favorite area restaurants. However, this is like comparing enchiladas and fried okra. Both are delicious and unique, and they should never be brought together.

Then it hit me yesterday, Horsefeathers is a Lake Tavern / Roadhouse, and should be compared to other comparable restaurants . . . though, I'm not sure that there are currently any similar experiences in the Lake Norman area.

Horsefeathers is in a rehabbed building. The property had been closed for 8 years, and the past two years have been spent bringing it to a higher level. The exterior looks new, as does the roof and patio. The interior appears new, but doesn't scream it. The walls are covered with old signs, folksy sayings, and even a photo of the Marlboro Man, and much of the simple furniture in the dining room appears new. But don't let that fool you, this place seems to have quite the following of locals at the Saloon upstairs.

My buddy and I walked in the door to the Saloon (next to the pool tables), not knowing that the Dining Room was downstairs. As we entered the conversation immediately stopped, and everybody turned to look at us. Apparently the New Yorker driving a Mini Cooper (which was parked between two Ford F-150 pickups) and this California boy, stuck out like a sore thumb. Needless to say, we quickly found our way to the Dining Room!

Once we made it to the Dining Room, our waitress took us to our seats. As I mentioned before, the interior appears to be relatively new, but it still conveys the atmosphere of a lakeside roadhouse. Though we were in the non-smoking section, the smell of smoke was still in the air -- which actually seemed appropriate for this place.

A friend recommended the Hawg Wings to me a while ago, so I placed and order for that appetizer when the waitress took our drink orders. Hawg Wings are individual pork ribs shanks (I chose BBQ), which have been cut so that an inch of clean bone is available at one end for grabbing. This makes the ribs shanks very easy to eat, and also keeps your fingers (relatively) clean too!

The Hawg Wings were quite good. They were moist, tender, and topped with a thick western-style BBQ sauce - my favorite! These "Wings" were especially good after my last rib experience at Outback!! There was simply no comparison, and Horsefeathers was the winner.

After the Hawg Wings, the waitress brought our lunch orders -- I ordered the pulled BBQ sandwich and a side of fried okra. It should be noted that Horsefeathers has their own smokehouse, and the flavor shines through in their BBQ. The pulled pork had the same sauce as the Hawg Wings, and in all honesty I wasn't thinking when I ordered the sandwich. The Hawg Wings and the sandwich both consist of BBQ pork. Therefore the sandwich was good, but I was a little over-loaded on BBQ.

I was surprised to see that their BBQ only consists of the thicker western-style BBQ sauce, and not the NC vinegar-based BBQ sauce that I've become accustomed to. It's not a criticism, just an observation.

However, when it came to the sides, I was a little underwhelmed. My fried okra, and my friend's onion rings seemed like they were just standard frozen sides that were poured into a deep-frier and cooked. They were OK, but they weren't anything special.

But our waitress was great and considering she appeared to be the only person working the dining room, I was even more impressed.

Horsefeathers is definitely off the beaten path. But it appears that they already have a good local following. In addition, they're continually working to enhance the property, and are currently working on the lakefront portion of their land. (They're on the tip of a small inlet.) This place has improved a ton in just two years, a lot of TLC has gone into Horsefeathers. And it looks like the place will continue to improve for years to come.

In addition, they offer a jam-packed calendar that is loaded with events and specials. I recommend you take a look, and if something strikes your fancy, give them a try.

Atmosphere: 4/5 (Nice, new, and clean lake tavern -- no lake views from the dining room)
Food: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 11.5/15

Price: $$ (Sandwich, appetizer, and tea were about $14)
Kid Friendly: Yes. They have a couple of kids meal deals. Under 10 eat free on Sundays, and they have a Kids Night on Tuesdays -- though I'm not sure what that entails. Call them for details.

Conclusion: One of the nicer lake taverns around. Their BBQ is good, and the Hawg Wings are a new (and cleaner) take on a standard messy dish. On a nicer day I'd enjoy having a beer on their deck -- it's quite impressive.

Restaurant Info:
3746 Mount Pleasant Rd.
Sherrills Ford, NC 28673
p) 704-966-0192

Friday, August 21, 2009

Upcoming 200th Post

Next week this blog will be celebrating it's 200th post. And to celebrate this occasion, you'll get the chance to post your own review of any restaurant that I've already visited.

By posting your own review under the comments section of the 200th Post, you'll be entering for the chance to hang out with wonderful me over a bottle of wine at a local wine bar (location not yet determined). The VERY lucky winner will be determined by writing ability, food and restaurant descriptions, and sheer luck.

So get ready to write your own review, and keep an eye out for the 200th Post next week!


Recipe Friday: Macaroni and Cheese (with Bacon!)

Until I met my wife I'd never had home-made macaroni and cheese. It was always from a box, and prepared in the amount of time it took to cook noodles, and open the packet of neon yellowish cheese. If I went really crazy, I added sliced hot dogs to it!

Now I've come to realize that home-made macaroni and cheese doesn't have to take too long. And it will taste MUCH better. I've also learned that if I add about 20 minutes to the quick home-made mac and cheese recipe, it'll taste even better. In addition, I've learned that if I add bacon to the same recipe -- it'll taste EVEN BETTER. After all -- everything tastes better with bacon!

Below is my recipe for the best mac and cheese that I've ever created. I made this last week, and I enjoyed every bite!

1 lb pasta (macaroni or rotelli)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup milk
8 - 10 ounces shredded cheese (approx)
3 large thick-cut slices of bacon
(optional) 2 slices worth of dry sourdough bread crumbs

1) Bring water to boil, and cook pasta
2) Cut bacon width wise into small pieces, and then cook in small pan. Once crispy, place in bowl with paper towel and set aside.
3) Place 1 tbsp butter into skillet and melt over medium/ high heat
4) Add flour and stir, once it starts to thicken, slowly add 1 cup of milk and stir continuously.
5) Once milk is boiling, slowly add cheese, stir continuously
6) If sauce gets too thick, add additional 1/4 cup of milk. Then add bacon.
7) Place cooked noodles in pre-buttered oven safe pan.
8) Pour cheese over noodles and stir
9) Top with extra cheese, and then top cheese with (optional) sourdough bread crumbs
10) Cook in oven at 350 for 20 mins. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Cookout in Denver!

As I was driving through Denver the other day, I ran across a new Cookout in the final stages of construction. It's just east of the interchange at Hwys. 16 and 73.

I've already reviewed a Cookout, and I look forward to reviewing another! YUM!


Fusion 108 (Huntersville)

About a month ago I ran across Fusion 108 in Huntersville, just off of Gilead by the Harris Teeter. I made a mental note to try this place again soon. Unfortunately, my mental notes are frequently lost. So, it wasn't until a few days ago, when I can across a coupon in a mailer, that I remembered that I wanted to try this place.

Fusion 108 advertises itself as a Chinese and Thai restaurant that uses "fresh, natural ingredients, lean white meat and flavorful Chinese and Thai spices ... Our dishes combine traditional, delicious Chinese stir-fry with fragrant spices. Enriching our menu, we also serve distinctive Japanese Habachi Grill."

I've gotta admit, I was a little hesitant to try Fusion 108. My rule of thumb is: a restaurant that serves too many styles, doesn't get any of them right. As you will soon read: I was wrong -- VERY wrong.

My wife and I entered Fusion 108 and were immediately seated in one of the three booths. This is a small restaurant; probably no more than 20 tables. The interior is done with warm colors of dark browns and mustards. At the front is a long counter top that also serves as a window into their substantial kitchen. I saw many take-out orders pick-up their orders here.

We looked over our menus and I had a hard time deciding. Did I want the mongolian beef? Maybe the orange beef? What about the chow mein? They do have a lot of options -- and all of them sound delicious. I eventually settled on the Egg Roll (pork), and the Thai Red Curry Coconut with beef and white rice. While my wife ordered the Thai Spring Roll (pork and shrimp) and the Pad Thai with chicken.

The first thing to arrive were the rolls. Both were deep fried (STILL HOT!) and crispy. In my haste, I burned my tongue, but I'd rather the food come out piping hot than cold. My pork egg roll came with duck sauce and was thicker and more substantive than the spring roll ordered by my wife. Her roll came with a spicy red pepper and vinegar sauce. But both were good, flavorful, and filled with assorted vegetables (aside from the meats). An excellent way to start the meal.

Shortly after we finished the rolls, our entrees arrived. My Thai red curry looked good, and the aroma was intoxicating. The curry was a reddish brown color, spicy, and very thick and creamy -- something that caught me by surprise. The slices of beef were lean and tender. However the meat wasn't the star of this meal -- it was the vegetables. This entree was loaded with zucchini, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, sweet peas, and the occasional water chestnut. The veggies worked well with this dish, adding flavor and a crunchy texture with every bite.

My wife's pad thai was fantastic. Served with the standard flat and thin rice noodle, this chicken pad thai was topped with finely chopped peanuts, and had a great tangy vinegar zest to its flavor. The tender chicken was served in strips that were easily picked up with the noodles in every bite.

Not only was the food good, but the servings were huge. We only ate about 1/2 of our entrees, this means that we both have lunch to later today. Also, though we went with coupons in hand, our order only came to about $23 (including tax), so we didn't actually get the dollar amount high enough to use the coupons. Next time we'll either have to order more, or add a drink or two.

Fusion 108 is one of the few restaurants that tries to serve several different styles of food, and masters it. My assumption was wrong. Now to prove how wrong I was -- I'll need to go back again, and again, and again . . .

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 12/15

Price: $$ (including tip, and no drinks it came to about $14 per person)
Kid friendly: Yes, they have a kids menu.

Conclusion: This little restaurant is almost hidden by it's much larger neighbor Killington's Pub. But the food, atmosphere, and service here are great. Unfortunately, it was mostly empty when we visited - but I hope more people try it out and learn what a gem this place really is.

Restaurant Info:
Fusion 108
Rosedale Shopping Center
10010 Rose Commons Dr
Huntersville, NC 28078
p) 704-992-0808

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

North Harbor Club Update

Sometime between the last time I visited the North Harbor Club and now, they added an outdoor cocktail area.

The photos are on their website In addition, it appears that they'll be offering live music on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

Here's a quote from their website:

With big comfortable Chair's and Sofa's outside under the trees, enjoy a great view of the lake while our staff replenishes your beverage.

Sounds like a good time to me!


Wine Wednesday: 1919 Malbec at Corkscrew

As a wine lover who lives a few minutes from Birkdale, you may be surprised to learn that I've only visited Corkscrew twice. During those visits I sat outside, only ventured inside briefly.

So, last night I ventured out of my house to check-out Corkscrew. It was one of the best ideas I had all day!

I walked in, sat down at the bar, and took a look at their wine menu. Since I was only ordering a glass, I wanted to get something new ... something I'd never tried before. (After all if it sucked, I didn't want an entire bottle!) I settled on the 1919 Malbec from Argentina.

It's my first Malbec, so I didn't know what to expect. It's a dark purple red wine that smells of cherry and spice. Upon drinking it I tasted currant, cherry, spice, and a hint of minerals and black pepper. It's slightly dry on the finish, but not so much that it made my mouth feel like I just ate a cotton ball.

This Malbec comes from the Mendoza region in Argentina. Being a thin-skinned grape, it doesn't take well to freezing. And apparently the Mendoza vines in Argentina produce larger grapes in tighter clusters than do their French counterparts.

Also, I just wanted to give a shout-out to the folks at Corkscrew. I had a great time while there. Though I brought the paper to read, I didn't get to read much of it. I had animated interactions with some regulars. And I enjoyed my conversations with the bartenders.

The wine was good, but I enjoyed hanging out at the bar more. I plan to have a few more tastings at Corkscrew before the year is done.

Wine Rating

Score: 3/5

Price: $$ (online bottles tend to go for a little over $10)

Wine Info:
Malbec Varietal

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saw Julie and Julia

I recently had the chance to see the movie Julie & Julia. Now I know what you're thinking... Yes, it's sorta a chick flick. And yes, there weren't any explosions.

But it was STILL good! Perhaps it's the foodie in me. Or the blogger. Both of those parts of me enjoyed this movie. It still boggles my mind how one person could cook 500+ new recipes in 365 days. That's a LOT of adapting and adjusting.

I like cooking, but I also enjoy cooking and honing and tinkering with my favorite recipes. For example, I recently added bacon and sourdough bread crumbs to one of my standard recipes -- macaroni and cheese. IT WAS AMAZING!

Nonetheless, if you're a foodie -- And let's face it, I'm not the only foodie in the Lake Norman area -- this movie is for you. So go out there, see the movie. And, repeat after me: "Butter is my friend, butter is my friend...."

Foodie Travels: Zevely House (Winston-Salem)

As you may have already read, my wife and I spent the weekend in Winston-Salem. On our first night, we were looking to try some local cuisine. But where should we go? The trendy area in downtown? Or maybe we should just stay at the hotel.... Fortunately we decided upon the Zevely House on West 4th Street.

The Sevely House seems like a quaint and humble house by today's standards. It was built almost 200 years ago, and seems like it'll be standing for another 200. Built by Van Neuman Zevely, a Moravian cabinetmaker, it was the center of a plantation. Eventually it was moved to its present location.

We entered the front door, walked into the livingroom, which now serves as the bar. Because we wanted to sit on the patio, we were told to walk out the front door, and follow the path around the side of the house to the patio. We met the hostess, and were taken to a seat in the corner, with a fan circulating overhead.

Along with the menus, we were handed mosquito repellent wipes. Apparently it's sooo filled with mosquitos during the summer, the fans just aren't enough. Fortunately, we didn't notice any mosquitos, nor did we notice any other patrons swatting the air. So it appears that the mosquitos stayed away this night.

The patio was fantastic. Along with twinkle-lights hanging from the beams, there was a custom-made chiminean in the middle. Though in this hot weather, it only served as a planter. Along the sides of the patio, vines grow along the beams, and proved to be an effective wall from the outside world.

As we looked over the menu, we were intrigued by the food listed. Everything here appears to be made fresh, including the rolls served with dinner. Eventually I decided upon the house salad with green goddess dressing, and I chose one of their entree specials, that had salmon, shrimp, and rice in a lemon coconut sauce. Our waitress took our orders by memory -- without writing it down-- at first I was impressed.

Our waitress returned with our salads. Unfortunately, mine came with the wrong dressing. It came with the thickest vinagarette that I've ever seen. It was more of a spread than a dressing -- and GEEEZ was it tangy. It made my mouth pucker! I asked for the correct dressing, she apologized, and evnetually came back with the correct dressing. Looks like she should have written down our orders after all. But it's only one little mistake, so I overlooked it.

The salad was good. It contained a vide variety of fresh mixed greens. Some of which I don't think I have ever had before. The varied flavors of the food, combined with the creamyness of the Green Goddess dressing to create some wonderful flavors.

After our salad we waited for a while. During that wait, we noticed that everyone who had arrived after us was enjoying their wine. When our waitress eventually came by to take our plates, I asked if we could have our wine. Our waitress apologized, apparently she had forgotten to place the order. Again, it appears that she needed to write some of this down, because we had to give her our wine orders again.

Eventually our entrees arrived, and I was happy with mine. In fact it found it to be freaking delicious! The lemon-coconut sauce worked perfectly with the baked salmon and shrimp. It offered a tangy creamyness that didn't over-power the flavors of the seafood. In addition, the dish dad grilled vegetables too, and this even worked with the sauce. Really an amazing meal, and I haven't had anything quite like it. Their chef really works to ensure an original menu.

Next came our dessert. We decided to split the Brown Sugar Pound Cake. This again was an original dish. I've never had a brown sugar pound cake, but I hope to again. It was moist and flavorful -- that flavor being brown sugar (YUM!). The pound cake was topped with a caramel-ish sauce. Just amazing. I was about ready to go into a diabetic coma after that dessert -- but it was worth it!

After our dessert our waitress brought us the check -- for another table. I'm thinking maybe she needs to look for another profession. But that's just me. Overall the food and atmosphere were the winners, and that's what will bring me back here again.

Patio Atmosphere: 4/5 (I didn't get a chance to rate the inside)
Food: 4/5
Service: 2/5
Total: 10/15

Price: $$$$ (over $30 per person for entree, salad and dessert)
Kid Friendly: I'd bring older children. It's a mellow older crowd that dines here.

Conclusion: Zevely House has a original and creative menu that compliments the extensive wine selection. Our service for that night was friendly -- but poor. However, the atmosphere and food were so good, that I will definately return.

Restaurant Info:
Zevely House
901 West Fourth Street
Winston-Salem, N.C. 27101
p) 336-725-6666

Monday, August 17, 2009

Foodie Travels: Ollie's Bakery (Winston-Salem)

Ollie's BakeryThis weekend my wife and I took a little trip to Winston-Salem. It was our first time in the area, so we made sure to check out the area's attractions -- and local cuisines. Hey, what else did you expect? That I'd visit Taco Bell?? (Ok, I'll probably eat there tomorrow...)

For breakfast on Sunday Morning we walked out the door of our hotel (which offered milk and cookies every evening -- YUM!), and in less than 5 minutes we were at the door of Ollie's Bakery. A local bakery that has been around about 10 years.

Ollie's Bakery is a charming facility. About 90% of the floorspace is used for baking the pastries and assorted foods. There are only a few tables packed together. The interior looks like a bakery from another time. No TV. No WiFi. Aside from light bulbs, modern ovens, and an electronic register, this place could easily have been from another time.

Once I entered Ollie's I was overwhelmed with the smell of freshly baked goods. And I've gotta be honest -- my mouth is watering as I type this. Just the thought of this place makes me hungry. I was torn over what I wanted to order. Should I get the Chocolate Eclair? Maybe the Cherry Danish. How about the scones?

Ollie's Bakery PastriesSooo many choices... and my stomach certainly couldn't handle ALL of them.... well maybe....

I settled on the Orange Scented Bittersweet Chocolate Brioche. My wife chose the Apple Cinnamon Cake. And we each had an iced vanilla latte.

Where to begin? The Brioche was amazing. The pastry was light and buttery, while the interior was chock-full of chocolate. Simply put, it was heavenly. I ate every single bite, and wanted to have another. But it was sooo big, I could only eat one.

My wife's cake was amazing. It was moist and tasted like a combination of a cinnamon roll and apple cake. Utterly delicious.

To top it off, our coffees were great. I'm being completely honest when I say that it was the best vanilla latte that either of us have had.... EVER. It was poured so that the coffee and milk were not mixed, and it was topped with milk foam. There was the perfect amount of vanilla syrup, and the espresso was remarkably smooth. It was simply amazing.

In addition, we really enjoyed our time there. The young woman who took our orders and made the coffee was very friendly and attentive. Also, Ollie's Bakery is now owned by Harry. Harry is a great guy, and is closing up the bakery until mid-September, to go visit his children and their families.

I hardly ever give a 5/5 as a score. And I have never given a 15/15. But I absolutely have to give this place a perfect score. To do otherwise would be an insult to an amazing breakfast, served by great people, in a building that looks like it was meant to be a bakery.

Atmosphere: 5/5
Food: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Total: 15/15

Price: $ (1 pastry and coffee was under $9)
Kid Friendly: Yes and no. While there was one child there (about 4yrs), this is a small seating area. Strollers may be hard to maneuver. And I didn't notice any high chairs.

Conclusion: Ollie's Bakery is a special place. Once you go there, it will be in your thoughts for a while. I'm already trying to convince my wife that we need to do a pastry run every couple of months.

Restaurant Info:
Ollie's Bakery
300 S Marshall St
Winston Salem, NC 27101-5249
p) 336-727-0404

Friday, August 14, 2009

Recipe Friday: Steak with Peppers

This is a very easy recipe that I've modified slightly from the original which came from the Hannaford Grocery website.

It's amazingly simple. Take two steaks and cook them. While they're grilling, cook some peppers and onions in a skillet. Once the steak is done, top it with the peppers and onions. TADA! Quick, easy, and REALLY REALLY good.

Ya know, sometimes it's the simple dishes that really knock my socks off!

1/4 tsp oregano
4 Rib-eye steaks or Filet Mignon
1/2 seeded red pepper
1/2 seeded yellow pepper
1 seeded serrano pepper
1/2 white or yellow onion
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1) Give a generous sprinkle of salt, pepper, and oregano to both sides of the steak.
2) In pre-heated cast-iron skillet (medium-high), add 1 tbsp olive oil
3) Sear the steak on all sides (about 2 mins per side)
4) Once the steak is seared, place in oven at 350 until desired done-ness (about 15-20 mins)
5) While the steak is cooking, slice peppers and onions, and place in skillet (medium heat) with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
6) Cook until slightly soft and onions and peppers are slightly caramelized.
7) Place fully cooked steak on plate, and top with peppers and onions. Serve with full-bodied red wine.
8) Enjoy!

La Unica (Huntersville): 2nd Review

A little over seven months ago I posted my first restaurant review on this Blog. I visited a new Mexican restaurant called La Unica, off of 73, next to Food Lion, and I was smitten.

The food was great, the service was great, and I realized that I had made a great find. So now, seven months later, I was in the mood for Mexican food, and didn't want to drive too far. This meant I was heading to La Unica to see if the first visit was a fluke.

It wasn't.

Everything about La Unica has stayed the same. It still is decorated more like a trendy cafe, than a typical mexican restaurant. I was still seated immediately. And once I sat down, I was again handed two carafes of salsal (medium and mild), and a bowl of lime wedges.

The service here is like clockwork. (Except the servers here are hispanic -- not swiss.) There are several waiters and serving staff who are contantly attending to your every need. Need chips? They're refilled. Getting low on soda? The glass is refilled. Done with your meal? The plate is quickly taken away. The service here rocks!

Once seated, my friend and I glanced over the lunch menu. Being in a perpetual enchilada mood, I ordered the Speedy Gonzalez with rice. That's a beef enchilada and beef taco, and it came with a side of spanish style rice. My friend ordered a combination that included a quesadilla and a Chalupa.

You may remember my brief tirade about another restaurant in the area that tried to pass off a tostada as a chalupa. So the stage was set. It was a battle of the restaurants. Chalupa vs. Fake Chalupa. Who would win?

When the food arrived, the winner was instantly apparent. La Unica delivered a real chalupa. It looked delicious, with the fried dough, cheese, lettuce and meat. DARN! Now I wanted one!

So, I ate my friend's food while he wasn't looking. So, I started eating my meal. It was REALLY good. The enchilada was perfect. The sauce had a deep but spicy flavor, and the beef tasted of cumin and oregano. The same ground beef was found in the crispy taco. But this time topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. In addition, the crisy shell was slightly different than a standard shell. It didn't spontaneously break apart! It held together throughout the meal.

Then I took a bite of the rice, and I liked it! I'm not big on rice. But I use it as a way to determine how good a kitchen is. Most places serve the rice as an afterthought. And in those places it's usualy stale, and has a distinct flavor of cardboard. Not here. The rice was warm, moist, and flavorful.

It's apparent that they pay attention to the details at La Unica. And because of this, it's one of the better Mexican restaurants in the area! Needless to say, I'm still smitten over this place!

Atmosphere: 3.5/5
Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 11.5/15
Avg. Total: 11.25/15 (Including previous visits)

Conclusion: La Unica is proving to provide consistently great food and service, for a reasonable price. It's one of those few gems that I won't hesitate to recommend to a friend.

Restaurant Info:
La Unica
9121 -1 Sam Furr Road
Huntersville, NC
p) 704-895-5378

Thursday, August 13, 2009

No Post Today

Hey Folks, I'm rather busy today, and I won't be posting. However, this means that tomorrow you'll get a guaranteed two posts -- and maybe some more!

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wine Wednesday: Paso Creek Merlot

It's been several years since I last had the opportunity to visit California's Central Coast. This region's wine growing abilities were highlighted in the movie "Sideways," which was shot on location in some great vineyards. (Yes, this is one of my favorite movies)

This means, that whenever I get the chance to try a new wine from that region, I will try it if it's in my price range. This Paso Creek Merlot, was about $14, so it was on the higher side of my standard price range, but I'm glad that I got it. It's a GREAT find!

I served this 2006 Merlot with a steak, covered with grilled peppers. And I've got to say, the wine held up against this flavorful meal very well. This is a dry Merlot with a full body. It has a lingering finish that has a hint of currant and spice, with a whiff of vanilla. It was a deep red / purple, and after a brief spill, I learned that it can leave a stain like nothing else!

According to the Paso Creek Vineyards website, this Merlot was aged for at least 18 months in French and Eastern European oak. And 35% of the barrels were new. The alcohol content on the bottle says 13.5%, but the website claims 13.8%. I believe the website -- this wine packed a very good wallop!

But I've gotta say, this was a great Merlot. That's $15 well spent.

Wine Rating

Score: 4/5

Price: $$

Wine Info:
2006 Merlot
Paso Creek Vineyards
Paso Robles, California

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sonoma Modern American (Uptown)

Last week I went into Charlotte to meet with an acquaintance for lunch in downtown Charlotte Uptown. I've gotta admit, I was kinda excited. I rarely make it to downtown Charlotte Uptown. I'm usually just hanging around the Lake Norman area, eating and running errands. So, when I get the chance to try a new restaurant in downtown Charlotte Uptown, I'll jump at the opportunity.

(Ok, I'm done with the crossing-out, but why is it called Uptown??)

I'd been foiled in my two previous attempts to eat at Sonoma. Both were for dinner, and both were scheduled after an event. And, both times, the event ran longer than expected -- so dinner never happened.

This time I had nothing previously planned, so I drove into Uptown, and parked at the nearby EpiCenter lot. FYI, be careful where you park. I was parked for just over an hour, and got charged $12! Where the heck am I -- Uptown New York??

I made my way to the restaurant, and waited for my friend by the door. Sonoma is decorated in sorta a cool and suave way. With clean lines, dark wood, and local art. I just felt like I was in a fine dining establishment -- and I couldn't wait to see the wine list!

My friend arrived, and we were promptly seated. We were given a table against the wall, and after some brief conversation we looked over the menu.

The menu looked amazing. I could see where the name came from, as much of the menu had a California influence. Some of the items included: Grilled Chicken Goat Gouda with Roasted Peppers, Arugula & Pesto; Asparagus Avocado Wrap with Brie, Portobello, Baby Greens & Balsamic Vinaigrette; and Grilled Breast of Organic Chicken with Lemon & Herb CousCous & Grilled Asparagus. Any one of these could come from a restaurant in California's wine country.

I settled on the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Goat Gouda and Roasted Peppers, Arugula & Pesto. It sounded amazing. We continued our conversation, and waited for the food.

And waited....

And waited....

And waited....

Yup, that's right, our simple sandwich orders took almost 30 minutes to arrive. I know Rome wasn't built in a day -- but does it really take 30 minutes to prepare a sandwich? To add insult to injury, a table of four behind us arrived and ordered after we did -- and they got their food about 10 minutes before we did!

Eventually our food arrived, and I took a look. Honestly, I found the appearance a little bland. This is Sonoma Modern American. Shouldn't there be a little presentation going on? A piece of lettuce? A sprig of parsley? Anything?

But no, just a white plate, with light golden potatoes, and a slightly toasted sandwich. Yawn.

But appearances aside, I couldn't wait to bite in to the delectable sandwich. I took a bite. Again, Yawn.

The ingredients were there. They SHOULD work together. The flavors should work with each other like a symphony, and build on the flavors to make a melody for the taste buds. But it didn't. The chicken was dry. The cheese too mild. And the pesto lacked flavor and made the bread soggy. Granted the bread was probably soggy because it was on the heating tray for waaaay too long.

Ok, I was disappointed in the sandwich. But the waiter HIGHLY recommended the fries. I was assured that they were the best side item on the menu. I took a bite. Meh. They were OK, but they weren't as amazing as I was told. They were slightly soggy, needed salt, and really not worth remembering. I didn't finish them.

Thinking, I was just having an unusual experience, I checked with my friend about her lunch. Different sandwich, different side. But the same conclusion. And OK sandwich with an OK side. Nothing more, nothing less.

I know this post sounds like a total rant against Sonoma. And in all honestly, I'd only read good things about it. So, my expectations were high. But at the same time, if this restaurant is going to keep it's good reputation, it needs to keep the bar for service and food high. Unfortunately neither was on the day of our meal.

But I'll be back for dinner. This lunch may just have been an anomaly. I'll know for sure during my second visit.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 3/5
Service: 2/5
Total: 9/15

Price: $$ (lunch was about $15 with tip)
Kid Friendly: I'd recommend adults and older children for this restaurant.

Conclusion: Simply put, I felt the food and service for this lunch should have been much better. The ingredients were not ordinary, but the results were. In addition, the service was very bad, bordering on neglectful.

Restaurant Info:
Sonoma Modern American
Bank of America Corporate Center
100 N Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
p) 704-377-1333
f) 704-332-1134

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Coffeehouse (Denver)

This morning I'm sitting in the newest coffee shop within a 10 minute drive of my house. It's called The Coffeehouse, and is in a new strip-mall between the Midtown Sundries and the Lowe's Hardware, in Denver.

I have a real weak-spot for locally-owned coffee shops. I'll go to a Starbucks or Caribou when needed -- and sometimes I absolutely need a Caramel Mocha -- but if given the choice, I'll choose the local alternative.

So, imagine my excitement when I went to Lowe's the other day, and I found a new, locally owned, coffee shop! It was sorta like finding out that one of my old friends had moved into town. So, in an effort to get to know my old friend, I found myself sitting down over a cup of coffee.

The moment I entered, my senses approved. The aroma of coffee and pastries delighted my nose. While my eyes were treated to the warm colors on the walls, ceiling, and floors. In addition, my ears approved of the good, but not overly-hyper music playing. There's a big leather couch when you enter, and an assorted arrangement of tables, chairs, etc. To be honest, I really wanted to lay down on the couch, place the laptop on my expanding tummy (one of the hazards of this pseudo-job), and hang out for a few hours!

Now all that was left was for my taste buds to weigh-in.

I placed an order for a caramel mocha, and again heard it referred to as a "Royal Moose." The only other time I heard it called that was at the Dilworth just a short distance away. To my knowledge, the term Royal Moose -- when referring to a Caramel Mocha -- is only used in this area. But if you've heard it in other places, let me know!

I looked over their pastry display case, and was overwhelmed with choices. From muffins, to croissants, to cinnamon rolls this place has everything you need for a morning pick-me-up. Many of the pastries are pre-made, and then baked right here. While some of the muffins are made at a local bakery.

The drink was brought to my table, and I took a sip. The Royal Moose is very good! Not too much chocolate or caramel, and there is a good amount of espresso to milk. The drink perfectly hits the delicate mix of bitter, sweet, and creamy! YAAY!

In addition, my blueberry croissant was amazing. I nuked it for about 15 seconds, so it was warm. Just what I wanted! A top notch pastry -- even if it was pre-assembled. The fact that it was baked here does give it a better texture.

It was good to find this place. It was like visiting an old friend, and I know I'll be coming back to enjoy my friend's camaraderie again.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 12/15

Price: $ (Small espresso drink and and pastry about $6)
Kid Friendly: Unknown. I don't see any high chairs or kids menu.

Conclusion: This place is everything a coffee shop should be. I recommend that you give it a try if you're in the area. I know that I'll be back again and again.

Restaurant Info:
The Coffehouse at Denver
7260 NC Highway 73
Suite 105
Denver, NC 28037
p) 704-827-1601

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pellegrino's (Troutman)

Today marks the last day of Pizza Week. And since I posted a recipe this Monday, today I'll be posting a restaurant review.

I decided upon Pellegrino's because a reader mentioned it. Also, it's in Troutman, and I hadn't been there yet. So a couple of hours ago I hopped into the car, and headed north on 77 for about 20 miles.

Pellegrino's is on N. Main Street (hwy 21 and 115), and is behind the Domino's Pizza and the Movie Gallery. I almost passed right by it, but since there was nobody behind me, I slammed on the breaks, and make a hard left turn into the parking lot.

I entered knowing what I wanted, two slices of pepperoni. So I approached the counter, and ordered. The slices were put into the oven to be re-heated, and I filled my cup with soda, and took a seat at a counter facing the kitchen.

As I waited for my slices I looked around. If I had ventured to the left, past the cashier and kitchen area, there is a dining room. The decor is nice, and on your way to the dining room, you pass a nice wine display, and a mural or two. Very nice for a pizzeria.

The slices were done quickly, and I brought them to my table. They're nice big New York style slices. Folding was necessary if I wanted to eat the slice without silverware.

The crust was nice and thin. Slightly soggy in the middle, but that's expected with NY style pizza. There was lots of good pepperoni, a decent amount of sauce, and plenty of cheese. The sauce was nice and flavorful, but I didn't notice any tomato chunks. But that aside, it's probably the best NY style pizza I've had in NC. It's pretty darn good!

In addition, I found the staff and the patrons to be very friendly. I was brought into the conversation a few times -- though I know nothing of Troutman politics. Also, while there I noticed a new pizza go into the oven; and they tossed the dough and made it right in front of me -- it's always nice to see the pizza get made, and know it's fresh.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Food: 4/5
Total: 11/15

Price: $ (I had 2 slices and a soda for under $6. Meals look more expensive: pasta around $10, and entrees range from $10 - $18)
Kid Friendly: Yes. They have a children's menu and high chairs

Conclusion: I now have a reason to go to Troutman. The pizza was the best NY style pizza I've had in the area. The atmosphere is nice, and the staff very personable and friendly. I recommend you give it a try.

Restaurant Info:
Pellegrino's Trattoria
275 N. Main Street
Troutman, NC 28166
p) 704-528-1204
f) 704-528-1207

Mexican Restaurant Coming to Mooresville

According to Joe Marusak, of the Charlotte Observer, the Cozumel Mexican Restaurant in Statesville, is getting ready to open another Cozumel Mexican Restaurant -- this time in Mooresville. Apparently, it will be in the Morrison Plantation area, and is replacing Rusty's Deli.

Once you see that it's open, please let me know! I don't make it up to Mooresville as much as I should.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pizza Week: Brooklyn South

Brooklyn South was voted by the readers as one of the local pizza favorites. So yesterday I stopped by to try some of their pizza again.

I'd been to Brooklyn South a while ago, so I was curious to see how I'd rate their pizza. I've noticed that my tastes in food have been modified slightly, since I started this blog. While I still enjoy eating (I LOVE EATING!) I now look at it slightly more objectively, and tend to compare similar foods and restaurants.

So, taking this all into account, I walked in the door. I tried to grab a small or medium pizza. But they only have one size -- Large. (Makes sense, after all, this IS a New York style pizzeria!) So I ordered a couple of slices, since I was by myself.

The Colorado inspired interior always throws me. It looks like a Colorado lodge -- with pictures of New York. But it is clean and there's always a TV within view, a BIG plus for me, especially when eating alone.

My two slices of pepperoni were served on two plates. Each one took almost a full plate. Yup, standard NY style! There was a layer of grease on top of the pizza, so I mopped it up with some napkins. The slices were so large they needed to be folded, and then I took a bite.

The crust was quite thin, and this time the bottom of the crust was slightly burned and charred. I'm guessing this was because these slices were pre-cooked, and then re-heated when I ordered them. The sauce is used sparingly, but the occasional chunk of tomato can be found on each slice. This time there seemed to be a little more cheese than last time, so that's always a plus.

In addition, each slice had a decent amount of pepperoni. The pepperoni wasn't the most flavorful that I've had, but it seems to be real and not loaded with fillers. Another plus.

Brooklyn South appears to be doing well, I was there around 2pm, and there were several full tables. It seems that every other person I meet in the Lake Norman area is from NY, and as long as they stay in the area, I'd imagine that Brooklyn South will continue to do well. Why wouldn't it? It serves a slice of home to those transplants.

Atmosphere: 3.5
Food: 3.5
Service: 3.5
Total: 10.5/15

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes. They have a kids menu, and offer high chairs.

Conclusion: If you're looking for a slice of NY style pizza, this place is for you. The service is friendly and the food is good. Even though the inside may sorta feel like Colorado, the heart of this place is all NY.

Restaurant Info:
Brooklyn South Pizzeria
19400 Jetton Rd# 201
Cornelius, NC 28031
p) 704-896-2928

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wine Wednesday: Pizza Week Edition

Since I've declared this to be "Pizza Week", I've decided to do a run-down with the top three wines, which I've already reviewed, that would be perfect with a slice of pizza.

These are full bodied wines, that will be able to hold-up against a slice of spicy pepperoni, or will compliment a more mild tomato and basil.

Either way, these are wines that you should savor and enjoy. And with the exception of the St. Clement Merlot, they're under $10.

Pine & Post Cabernet

Rosemount Shiraz

St. Clement Merlot

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lake Norman Pizza Closed?

I tried to kick-off Pizza Week by celebrating with a pizza from nearby Lake Norman Pizza. But when I went there at noon on Monday, nobody was there.

There were no signs saying that they were closed. In fact, everything looked like they just weren't open for some reason. However, in this economy some of the smaller restaurants are getting hit hard.

So, if you know the scoop on Lake Norman Pizza, let me know! Are they closed permanently? Or was this just a fluke?

Geppeto's Pizza (Denver)

Yesterday I went in search of a Lake Norman pizzeria. After one failed attempt (is Lake Norman Pizza closed for good?), I decided to drive down the road to Denver, where there is a new restaurant called Geppeto's.

This Geppeto's is the fourth of a local chain. With restaurants in Newton, Hickory, and Morganton, it's safe to say that I've never been to any of them. In all honesty, Hickory is the only town in that listing that I've actually been to.

This location in Denver, used to be a BBQ place (I think). But, you can't tell. They've done a decent job decorating and the BBQ origins of the place are no longer apparent.

When you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a cash register and a kitchen. (I'm guessing for the take out orders.) But once I took an immediate left, I was greeted by a hostess to took my friend and I to our seat.

Geppeto's is big. Though there are some booths, most of the seating in the main dining area is with tables. And from the large groups that came through the door, they're used to pushing together the tables to seat a bunch of people. Gepettos doesn't have the best restaurant feel, but it does feel more like a restaurant than a pizzeria. So, that gets a plus in my book.

During lunch they offer a pizza buffet, complete with dessert pizza. I saw one that looked like apple pie pizza. (It looked delicious!) But I decided to go with a medium pepperoni pizza. After all, I'm here to try the pizza, so I wanted to have one made fresh. Rather than go with a buffet pizza that may have been sitting out for a while.

Our waitress took our drink orders immediately. And kept out cups filled the entire time. The pizza arrived about 10 minutes after ordering. So the wait was minimal for a fresh pizza.

The pizza was good. The crust was on the thinner side, so it was a little crispy. (But don't get this confused with a thin-crust pizza.) It's kinda hard to describe the texture, the crust was crispy on the bottom, but the top bubbled a bit. It was the closest I've found out here to the Round Table pizza crust that I grew up with. So, I definitely enjoyed it.

The cheese and pepperoni topping was good, and I was very pleased with the lack of grease. I'm used to mopping up pizza grease with napkins, so it was nice not to worry about it. In addition, the sauce was pretty good. I noticed at least one chunk of tomato, and it was tangy as well.

Atmosphere: 3.5
Food: 3.5
Service: 4/5
Total: 11/15

Price: $$ (1 medium pizza, two drinks, and tip were about $15)
Kid Friendly: Yes, they have a kids menu (nothing over $5), and high chairs too.

Good pizza, decent prices, and very good service. It's one of the few restaurants in the Denver area. So, if you're in or near Denver give it a try... and let me know what you think about their pasta!

Restaurant Info:
7558 Highway 73
Denver, NC
p) 704-822-0080

Monday, August 3, 2009

Recipe Friday Monday: Grilled Pizza

This week is Pizza Week on the Lake Norman Foodie Blog. So, I was going to entertain you today with a review of a local pizzeria. However, at the last minute, my Mother-in-law came into town. This means, that I have no pizza review for you.

So, I decided to move up Recipe Friday, and turn it into recipe Monday.

Here is an easy recipe I created last year. Basically, I use the BBQ as an oven. This gives the pizza a nice smoky aroma and flavor. And I find it adds flavor to both the tomato and mozzarella pizza, and the pepperoni and cheese pizzas that I like to make. So, here are the recipes to both.

Before I forget, here is a suggestion. When using my charcoal BBQ, I find it quite helpful to put the pizza on a sheet of aluminum foil. They still get the flavor from the smoke, but they don't stick to the grill or burn as much.

1 Tube of Pillsbury pizza dough (not thin crust)
Olive Oil
1 large ripe tomato
6 -10 leaves of basil
1 small roll of mozzarella (the real stuff, not pre-shredded or shaped into a block)
1 package of pepperoni
1 package of shredded cheese (I suggest one of the bags of mixed cheeses)
1 jar of pizza sauce or marinara sauce

1) Light BBQ and let it heat up
2) Unroll dough onto board with flour on top (to reduce sticking)
3) Stretch dough out by a few inches on each side
4) Cut dough in half, width-wise. (now you have two pieces approx same size)
5) Get two large sheets of aluminum foil, and use brush to spread olive oil on sheets (keeps pizza from sticking)
6) Transfer dough to aluminum foil
7) For tomato and mozzarella pizza. Brush olive oil onto top of dough. Then top with slices of mozzarella, then slices of tomato, and then pieces of basil. Try to keep the tomato from direct contact with dough as it makes the crust soggy.
8) For pepperoni pizza. Spread sauce onto top of dough. Then top with shredded cheese and pepperoni.
9) Bake each pizza for approximately 7-10 minutes. Try to keep it over indirect heat, or evenly spread heat. Don't place the pizza over a lump of hot charcoal in the middle. Keep a close eye on the crust, as it can burn easily.
10) Enjoy with a bottle of red wine!