Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kimchee Burrito?!?!?!

This article was passed along to me by a reader (THANKS JINNY!)... and it features a Kimchee burrito!

For those of you unfamiliar with Korean food, Kimchee is a fragrant and extremely spicy pickled cabbage. Personally, I think the stuff rocks!

So, a restaurant decided to get a fancy with its menu, and made a Kimchee burrito, it sounds like a Korean BBQ with a hint of Mexican food. It contains: "tortilla, bugogi beef, sauteed kimchee, lettuce, salsa, onions, cilantro, rice."

Yeah, I know that may be a LOT to take in, but it sounds like a great idea! I hope some restaurants around here start trying to make similarly adverterous meals. I'll be the first in line!

Here's a link to the story at FoodHoe:

Wine Wednesday: Fox Brook Cabernet

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a Foodie reader. Jinny wrote the winning entry for the Write a Review contest, which appeared about 30 posts ago. So, last night I sat down at Corkscrew with Jinny and her boyfriend over one two three (lost count) glasses of wine, and had a great time.

During our time there I sampled the Fox Brook Cabernet. It's a solid wine, but far from transcendent. From my understanding, it is Albertson's (California grocery chain) equivalent of Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck."

This cabernet has strong flavors of fruit. In particular, I noticed plum and blackberry, with a hint of currant. Its smell is also on the fruity side, but this doesn't overwhelm the wine. The wine isn't dry, and has a smooth finish.

It's good, but not great.

Wine Rating
Score: 3/5

Price: $

Wine Info:
Fox Brook Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prestone's Cuisine (Trailer at Gilead and Statesville)

Recently, one of the local weekly papers ran an article on Prestone's Cuisine. It chronicled Executive Chef Kemalemir Preston Frashto and his latest creation -- the food trailer next to the BP gas station at Gilead and Statesville roads.

The food at Prestone's is promoted as Italian. (The website says: "a vision of creating Huntersville's finest Italian dining experience...") But I'd say it's more American cuisine with a hint of Italian and Bosnian flavors.

The menu has everything from Chicken Tenders and Cheeseburgers, to Italian Schnitzel and Funnel Cake. It took me a little while to decide,but I eventually placed my order for a Bosnian Traditional Burger and a Deep Fried Twinkie. Yes, that's right -- a DEEP FRIED TWINKIE! YUM!!!

It took a while for my order to get cooked -- almost 15 minutes. So this isn't the fastest meal. Also, it's a little disorganized. I had to give my order about 3 times. But the final product is good!

The Bosnian Burger was a combination of 20% lamb and 80% beef. The meat was seasoned with spices that gave it a mildly exotic flavor. It's not something that I don't usually taste so I honestly can't identify it. Though the meat was slightly more pink that I prefer, the actual burger patty was quite good.

The burger was topped with an interesting condiment. It tasted like a tomato paste with paprika and roasted red peppers. It was an interesting flavor. Again one that I'm not used to tasting. The fries appeared to be freshly cut and cooked. The fries were good, but they could have been a little crispier and there should have been a few more.

Then came the deep fried twinkie. I have one word. YUM!!! Yes, it's bad for me. Yes, I could actually feel my arteries hardening. Yes, it's the one food that would survive a nuclear winter. But I don't care. It was good, gooey, and creamy! It was served with whipped cream and a cherry (nice touch!). But in all honesty it woulda been just fine by itself.

Atmosphere: 0/5 (No Seating)
Food: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Total: 7/10

Price: $
Kid Friendly: The food is kid friendly, but you'll be eating at home.

Conclusion: Unique flavors and foods help to separate this place from the normal greasy spoon. Aside from the longer than expected wait time, and slight disorganization with the order, this is a place you should try. I really like the fact that most of the food is made there and not pre-prepared.

Restaurant Info:
Prestone's Cuisine
BP Gas Station at Gilead and Statesville Rd.
I-77 (exit 23)
Huntersville, NC

Monday, September 28, 2009

Visit Brooklyn South Tonight

I know this is late notice, but this is important:

Brooklyn South and Brooklyn Boys Pizzeria are holding a fundraiser for Preston -- the four year old boy who was seriously injured in a lawnmower accident (it's been on the news). Part of their sales, and donations, will go to the family to help with his medical care.

So do your family -- and Preston's family -- a favor. And go get some pizza tonight.

UPDATE: If you can't make it to Brooklyn South, you can make a donation here:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

P.F. Chang's (Northlake)

I have an obsession. It's not my fault though. It's really an addiction. So, it's completely beyond my power to resist. I might as well admit it.....

I'm completely and totally enamoured with P.F. Chang's Great Wall of Chocolate.

My wife and I recently decided to visit P.F. Chang's on our way back from the airport. It was convenient, familiar, and it had been over a year since we last visited.

We walked in and were greeted by a rather snarky hostess -- who greeted the people waiting behind us in line, and seemed determined to ignore us for as long as possible. (I don't know what we did to receive this attitude, we were friendly, smiling, and initially were in a good mood!) She eventually got around to us, and informed us we'd have to wait for a table. We turned around to sit in the lobby, and I noticed something strange -- there were MANY open tables. I was REALLY starting to dislike the hostess.

After a 7 minute wait we were seated by someone else. Out waitress promptly appeared, and asked for our drink order. Fortunately, we already knew what we were having. So we gave her our food order instead: Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Mongolian Beef. It just so happens that these dishes are the exactly right portion sizes for us to share.

(As a side note, I hate doing this to the waiter and waitress. No drink order, and sharing the entree means that their tip will be less. SORRY to all of our future and past P.F. Chang's serving staff!)

As we sat there waiting for our food, I looked around. I LOVE the decor of this place. The stone facade, the warm colors, and dark woods REALLY give this place a relaxed vibe.

Our Chicken Lettuce Wraps appetizer arrived quickly. It really is one of my favorite appetizers. The chicken, mixed with mushrooms, water cress, and an assortment of other goodies is simply amazing. Here's the one thing you need to know about it. I HATE mushrooms, but this appetizer has it, and I don't care. 'Nuff said.

Next came our entree. The Mongolian Beef. These thin strips of steak cooked with scallions and garlic, in a brown soy-based sauce is amazing. I'm guessing the sauce has some soy, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, red peppers, and rice vinegar We learned about this entree several years ago, when my wife tied another entree she wasn't happy with. The waiter said, "Let me bring you something I guarantee you'll like." We liked it so much, that is now the only entree we order when we dine at P.F. Changs together.

After we ravenously inhaled quietly enjoyed the entree, we decided that we still had room for coffee and dessert. To be honest as you probably guessed, there was only one dessert that crossed our minds: The Great Wall of Chocolate.

This thing is a chocoholic's dream come true. About seven layers of chocolate cake, with chocolate icing, and the exterior side of this cake have have chocolate chips pressed into the icing. Heck, I'm almost experiencing a diabetic coma just thinking about it! The cake is served with fruit (blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries) and a raspberry puree.... if there's one thing I love in life it's chocolate with raspberry puree!

Really, aside from the hostess who seemed determined to ignore us, this was a great time. Though I hate to recommend chain restaurants -- this one is worth recommending.

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

Price: $$ (Would be more expensive if we hadn't shared the appetizer, entree, an dessert)
Kid Friendly: Yes

Conclusion: The asian fusion style to this food is hard to resist. I've always enjoyed my food here, non-traditional asian, but it's great!

Restaurant Info:
P.F. Changs
10325 Perimeter Parkway
Charlotte, NC
p) 704-598-1927

Friday, September 25, 2009

Denver Days is Happening Now!

Sometimes I'm such a slacker and I have a hard time making it across the river to the other side of the lake. However, this time I'll get off my butt and make it to Denver Days!

From what I can tell, it sounds sorta like a county fair -- minus the county. But there will be food and rides. So, I'll go, eat some corn dogs, funnel cake, and cotton candy.

Then I'll take a stomach-turning ride! (I already feel sorry for the people sitting next to me!)

I'd post the address, but they don't have one listed on their website. So, here are the directions:

From the intersection of 16 and 73 continue north on Highway 16 approximately another 1½ miles to the Denver Days Fall Festival on Triangle Circle (Just behind the Hotsy Company building, Look for the signs!).
Go! Enjoy! And have fun!

Website Info:

Recipe Friday: Another Tomato Sandwich

A while ago, I posted a recipe for a Tomato Sandwich. The outcry to this recipe was amazing. I received many e-mails about it, and most claimed the posted recipe was a bastardization of the traditional tomato sandwich, which is basically a tomato on white bread.

I learned my lesson, and I didn't want to challenge the taste buds of soo many readers -- UNTIL NOW!

Last week, while making this recipe I stumbled across another tomato sandwich variation that I had to share.

I was just sitting there enjoying my barbecued steak dinner, and then I decided to put a slice of my home-grown tomato on the barbecued bread with melted jack cheese. I have one word for this.


The fresh tomato mixed with the Monterey Jack cheese and the smokey flavor of the barbecue to create something truly amazing. Once we tried this, my wife and I ignored the steak, and just ate this modified open-faced sandwich.

So, below is the recipe for this amazing sandwich. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

French baguette
Olive Oil
Monterey Jack Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Tomatoes

1) Brush the baguette with olive oil on non-crust side(s).
2) Top the olive oil with small amount of salt and pepper.
3) Place olive oil side(s) of bread onto grill, until slightly toasted. (Beware of flame-ups!)
4) Remove bread from grill, place aluminum foil onto cooler parts of the grill, and top with toasted bread.
5) Top bread with generous portions of Monterey Jack cheese.
6) Cover grill and let cheese melt.
7) Remove cheesy bread from grill.
8) Let cool slightly, and top with fresh tomato slices.
9) Dig in!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

XO Tapas Wine Bar (Cornelius)

The other night while my wife was traveling, I decided to hit the other nearby wine bar, XO. Located just off of the recently completed W. Catawba Ave. (YAAY!), it's easy to get to. And since I'd been hearing good things, I thought I'd check it out.

The second I walked into XO, I felt more like I was in Manhattan than in Cornelius. The furniture was black lacquer, the bar was stainless steel, and the vibe was hip and trendy. I had to do a double take. I was in Cornelius... RIGHT?? (I personally lean away from the hip and trendy, and tend to like a laid-back atmosphere. But they succeeded in creating an intimate lounge feel.)

However, it's not the style that sets XO apart, it's the menu. They have a full menu that features tapas, but also has some entrees thrown in too. The chef has a creative streak that produces some interesting and adventurous food. From their Andouille Sausage pizza that features peaches, champagne gastrique, robiola, and cinnamon basil; to their Caprese Salad that highlights a balsamic-injected cherry tomato wrapped in mozzarella, Chef Kyle Schutte is trying new things.

Unfortunately I already had dinner before I arrived. So, I enjoyed only a glass of wine and the Sweetbread Corndogs. These are not the dogs you ordinarily enjoy at the county fair. Stuffed with ground veal, these corndogs are very different indeed. They have a rich and savory flavor that just can't be beat. Served with spicy mustard, these corndogs were a treat to be enjoyed.

I wish I would have had room in my stomach to try more of their food selection. It was very unique, and that's something which is hard to come by.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Total: 13/15

Price: $$ (one glass of wine, one tapas plate, and tip came to almost $15)
Kid Friendly: Not really.

Conclusion: The only wine bar in the area to have such a large and unique menu. This place has more formal vibe to it, but it works. Definitely worth giving this place a try, for their menu if nothing else.

Restaurant Info:
XO Tapas Wine Bar
19701 Bethel Church Rd.
Cornelius NC 28031
p) 704-896-9255

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wine Wednesday: Matchbook Tempranillo

This wine is yet another new experience from my all too brief (aren't they always?) vacation last week. After dinner at High Thyme, my wife and I walked next door to a coffee store. This is one of my favorite coffee shops EVER. Do you know why?

Time's UP!

Not, it's not just because they sell coffee. It's because they sell coffee AND wine. Yeah, I could have moved in and never left.

While perusing I ran across this Tempranillo by Matchbook. If you're like me you're asking. "Tempran-What-A?" After a brief Google search, I learned that Tempranillo is a wine grape that is Spanish in origin. And it's at it's finest when mixed with other wines.

Apparently the folks at Matchbook know their stuff because this wine was rockin'. Served with pasta and home-made tomato sauce, this wine held its own against the acidity and robust flavor of the sauce.

At first the wine was slightly dry. But after a second, WOW. My palate was hit with flavors of cherry, fruits, a hint of vanilla and a whiff of leather. The wine shows a complexity I wasn't expecting. And it's REALLY good.

For the price, it's one of the best wines I've had. This seriously needs to be on your shopping list.

Wine Rating

Score: 5/5

Price: $$ ($15)

Wine Info:
2006 Matchbook Tempranillo (Blend: 77% Tempranillo, 14% Petite Sirah, 9% Graciano )
Dunnigan Hills, California

Crew Wine Company
12300 County Road 92B
PO Box 493
Zamora, CA 95698
p) 530-662-1032

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tomatoes Ahoy!

Finally, after months and months of waiting -- I have two ripe tomatoes in my garden!

Yes, I know today is the first day of fall.....

The first plant was a dud. It grew, then slowly and painfully died, with green tomatoes still on the vine. Then in late July, I decided to plant another tomato plant. This time I chose a Beefsteak. This monster of a plant recently stopped growing at 6ft fall and now its tomatoes are finally turning red.

It was a LOONG wait, but sooo worth it. Nothing like a fresh and ripe tomato from the yard!

The Boathouse (Isle of Palms)

Last year I went to the Boathouse and had a fabulous time. Before dinner my wife and I had drinks on the roof-top bar and watched the sunset. Then we went downstairs for a meal that was so amazing, we both had talked about for over a year.

So, last week when we visited the Boathouse our expectations were high. Unfortunately, this time the Boathouse didn't deliver.

On this soggy day we entered the boathouse, approached the hostess, and gave my name for the reservations I made earlier in the day. The hostess looked and couldn't find my reservation. She then took a substantial amount of time trying to decide where to seat us. In all honestly, the place was half empty -- it shouldn't be THAT difficult to find us a table.

Finally we were seated at a tiny corner table and we took a look over the menu. I knew what I wanted. The last time there, I had a fantastic the crab stuffed Tilapia. So that's what I ordered this time. My wife decided on one of the fish specials. And we both decided to share an order of fried calamari, and a 1/2 bottle of Chardonnay.

The calamari was pretty bad. The light breading was good, but the calamari itself was VERY rubbery. Stop rolling your eyes -- I know that calamari is usually rubbery. This was different. It was so rubbery I could barely chew it! UGH!

Well, after that horrible appetizer I was almost scared to try my entree. Fortunately, it was as good as I remembered. The Tilapia was cooked perfectly -- tender, flaky, and still moist. The crab stuffing was a actual crab cake. Part of me likes this, part doesn't. The crab cake was so large, it was more like the Tilapia was placed on top of the crab, rather than stuffed with it. Id rather they actually stuff the Tilapia, or at least just say that the dish consists of Tilapia and a crab cake.

But aside from that the crab cake was delicious! In addition, the side of smoked gouda macaroni and cheese was delicious! Almost as good as the macaroni and cheese at Maddi's Southern Bistro!

We liked our entrees so much we opted to stay for dessert. Along with two coffees, we decided to share an order of cheesecake. The coffee was good. The cheesecake was another matter. Aside from obviously being pre-made and then delivered to the restaurant, it just wasn't good. It was chalky and tasted stale. In addition, the apricot puree it was served over left our mouths with a taste of chalky socks.

To his credit, our waiter quickly witnessed our displeasure, took our dessert, and offered to get us the chocolate mousse cake. Which we readily agreed to.

He brought the cake, and again, it was obviously pre-made, and was probably frozen. To be honest, I was a little disappointed. The Boathouse features some very good entrees. Therefore, I anticipated that they'd have homemade, or at least fresh, desserts. I was wrong.

The previous time we left the Boathouse we couldn't wait to return. This time we left, and decided that we wouldn't return any time soon.

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

Price: $$$$$$ (Just over $50 per person)
Kid Friendly: Yes. Children and families abound at this restaurant.

Conclusion: Decent entrees, but the appetizer and dessert were disappointing. The price tag was far too high for the pre-made (and probably frozen) food.

Restaurant Info:
The Boathouse at Breach Inlet
101 Palm Blvd.
Isle of Palms, SC 29451
p) 843-886-8000

Monday, September 21, 2009

High Thyme (Sullivan's Island, SC)

Last week my wife and I headed to the South Carolina coast for some much needed R & R. While cruising around we hit the "Business District" of Sullivan's Island. This area is only about a block long, but it has many locally owned restaurants, most of which looked great.

One of this blog's readers suggested that I visit Poe's Tavern. Unfortunately, it was packed. So my wife and I went across the street to check out High Thyme... with a name like that, I HAD to give it a try.

The patio of High Thyme was mostly empty, so we grabbed a table under an umbrella (which I promptly ran into with my forehead), and took a look at the menu. To be honest everything sounded good. The menu focused on fish dishes (which you'd expect from a restaurant on a small island), but it also had entrees that featured pork, beef, or chicken.

Since this was our first dinner out, we decided to celebrate with a half bottle of champagne. We also decided to share the warm Spinach Dip appetizer. But for the entree, we were split and couldn't compromise -- I chose the Baked Tilapia Stuffed with Crab, and she uncompromisingly chose the Mahi Mahi Special. Who's entree would win this clash of wills? Read more to find out. :)

The champagne arrived first, and our waitress popped the cork. Unfortunately, the cork went flying as did the champagne. The bubbly goodness poured out of the top, and onto the floor. Our waitress apologized profusely, but we weren't worried -- after all we were on vacation!

While we sipped our champagne, our Spinach Dip arrived. It was accompanied by a large amount of home-made flour tortilla chips. These chips were amazing by themselves. Freshly cooked, they were still warm, and mouth watering. They added a nice crispiness to the creamy and warm spinach dip. The dip was topped with a generous helping of cheese, and the two together were divine. Combine that with the warm evening and champagne, and we were in heaven.

Shortly after we finished inhaling delicately eating the appetizer, our entrees arrived. My stuffed tilapia was served over smoked gouda grits, and was accompanied with green beans. The grits were creamy and delicious. I'd never had smoked gouda grits before, but I want to have them again -- soon! In addition, the beans tasted like they were cooked in a tub of butter. YUM!

However, the tilapia was slightly overcooked. It was dry, and not as flaky as I would have liked. In addition, because of this overcooking, the crab lacked flavor and I was slightly disappointed in the entree. Don't get me wrong, it was good. After all, it's freakin' talapia stuffed with crab -- it's always good! But it should have been sooo much better.

My wife's mahi mahi was amazing. It was perfectly cooked, and topped with a drizzle of lemon glaze. I liked her dish so much that I kept sneaking a bite when she wasn't looking -- until I got caught. Seriously, her meal was one of the best fish entrees that I've ever had!

As we finished our small bottle of champagne, our waitress brought us each a glass of a REALLY good champagne, to compensate us for the previously spilled champagne. With service like this, our first night of vacation was one to be remembered.

Atmosphere: 4.5/5
Food: 4/5
Service: 5/5
Total: 13.5/5

Price: $$$$$ (With tax, tip, drink, etc. this cost about $45 per person)
Kid Friendly: Yes. Great food, but laid-back atmosphere made this a family-friendly restaurant.

Conclusion: This is a great local restaurant, with a great service, food, and atmosphere. I can't wait to go back. Highly recommended.

Restaurant Info:
High Thyme
2213-C Middle Street
Sullivan's Island, SC 29482
p) 843-883-3536

Friday, September 18, 2009

Recipe Friday: Spinach Dip with a Kick

Ok, I admit it, I'm sorta being lazy. But I'm on vacation right now (Isle of Palm), and I REALLY don't have the brain-power to find a recipe that I recently used. So, I'm going back to my friend Vlasta for one of her recipes.

This time it's her Spinach Dip with a Kick. I haven't tried her version -- but anything that uses Sriracha is good in my book! :)

Below is the link. As always, if you like the recipe let me know! If not -- blame Vlasta!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Everest Grill (Denver)

While running around finishing my last chores before vacation, I stopped by Everest Grill, just west of the intersection of 16 and 73, next to the Food Lion. I didn't know much about the restaurant except for the "Homemade Onion Rings" sign posted in the front window. So, I walked in, hoping I'd like what I found.

Everest grill has a register and menu up-front and a seating are to the right that was much larger that I expected. The restaurant is painted mostly yellow, and accented with photos of some Greek islands (guessing) and a LARGE photo of Mt. Everest in the back.

The menu consists of a standard greasy spoon diner / grill fare. Eggs and hash browns for breakfast, and burgers and sandwiches for lunch. I took a look at the specials and decided upon the Bacon Cheeseburger Special, and an order of their Homemade Onion Rings. I paid at the register, and the food was brought to me.

The burger was OK. The lettuce was wilted but the tomatoes were large and ripe. In addition, the bacon was crispy, but the burger was thin and lacked flavor. Just an FYI, if you like Mayo, you're in luck. The burger had a ton. If you don't like it, let them know when you order.

The onion rings fared much better -- they were great! When they came out I thought they looked soggy. But they weren't. They were crispy and delicious. Many other restaurants in the area could learn a thing or two from these onion rings -- they're soooo much better than those pre-prepared frozen things that many places use.

Atmosphere: 2.5/5 (Clean, but uninspired. Felt like a cafeteria.)
Food: 3.5 (Burger was below average -- fries were great.)
Service: 3/5
Total: 9/15

Price: $ (Food and drink under $10)
Kid Friendly: Yes, kids menu and high chairs.

Conclusion: The burger and atmosphere left something to be desired. But their homemade onion rings saved the day. Next time I go back I'll try the gyro.

Restaurant Info:
Everest Grill
122 Highway 16 S
Denver, NC 28037
p) 704-822-0404

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wine Wednesday: David Bruce Petite Sirah

The night before our wedding, my wife and I got plastered and ran away to be married by Elvis in Las Vegas had a lovely rehearsal dinner. My mother had planned this thing within an inch of its life, and it was perfect. One of the things that added to the perfection were the cases of wine they smuggled across multiple state lines during their drive from California!

These cases included a Petite Sirah from the small Santa Cruz winery called David Bruce.

So, the other day when my Mom told me to look for a bottle of David Bruce in the mail I was a little excited. After all, this had all the potential to be a great bottle!

A few days later the bottle arrived, and soon thereafter we shared the bottle of wine over a large dinner. At first this 2004 Petite Sirah from Paso Robles was almost too fruity. The fruit flavors were very concentrated, and overwhelmed the palate. However, after a few more minutes of airing the wine, it opened up a LOT.

Be warned, this bottle will knock you on your butt. At 14.9% alcohol, we were both a little loopy after dinner. After airing-out the wine, we came to enjoy it. Though the fruit flavors were still there, they mellowed out. The wine had strong flavors of blueberry and plum, with a hint of black pepper. The wine had a light tongue feel, and went down with just a slight dry finish.

It's a very good wine. I don't know if I would pay $30 for it. However, if it's being given to me as a gift, I'll happily take more!!

Wine Rating:

Score: 4/5

Price: $$$

Wine Info:
2004 Petite Syrah (Paso Robles)
David Bruce Winery
21439 Bear Creek Road
Los Gatos, CA 95033

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Donato's (Huntersville)

A while ago my wife and I stopped by Panera for lunch. Unfortunately, the store was closed (utility problems). Fortunately, this meant that we got to try someplace new, and we walked across the sidewalk to Donato's.

Donato's is a franchise that serves "pizza, subs, and salads." But they also have things like wings, stromboli, and bread sticks.

After looking over the menu, I ordered a pepperoni stromboli at the register, while my wife decided to be healthy and ordered a pre-made salad. We took our seats and waited for my the food to arrive.

The interior of Donato's is clean, but very sterile. The longer we sat waiting for my food (about 10 minutes), the more uncomfortable we felt sitting there. It just wasn't a place that made you want to stay.

Once my food arrived, I took a bite -- HOT!!!!! This thing was prepared on-the-spot and then thrown in the oven. It was good, it was fresh, and EXTREMELY hot, since it just came out of the oven.

The stromboli was dense, and packed with cheese, sauce, and pepperoni. In fact it was so dense, I couldn't eat the whole thing -- it was just too much to try to ingest! Unfortunately, it was only about average -- sorta like the food you'd get from Sbarro's. It was good, it filled my grease craving, but it wasn't extraordinary. The sauce, cheese, meat, and crust were only OK.

My wife's salad was about average as well. Some of the lettuce was wilted, and there were few additional veggies in it. Again, OK, but not great.

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

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes.

Conclusion: Average atmosphere, food, and service. Donato's will do in a pinch, but I won't find myself with a Donato's craving any time soon.

Restaurant Info:
Donato's Pizza
10109 Northcross Center Ct.
Huntersville, NC
p) 704-766-1500‎

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yiasou Greek Festival

What a GREAT weekend for food! The Yiasou Greek Festival in Dilworth AND the Blues, Brews, and BBQs in Uptown were both running this weekend. It's every Foodie's dream to have so much to choose from. Unfortunately I slacked this Saturday, so I only made it into Charlotte yesterday for the Greek Festival. But man, am I glad I went!

This was, by far, the largest Greek Festival that I've ever seen. Massive tents housed everything from dancing and pastries, to wine and gyros -- it was great!

I got to the area, and was promptly greeted by a traffic jam. So I took a side street and found a parking spot. The parking spot was about a 10 minute walk away, but since it was so nice outside you won't hear me complaining about it.

I waited in line to enter. Paid the $2, and I began my search for gyros and pastries. I passed tents with dancers, and tents for shopping. Then I made my way past the pastries -- I'd get that on my way out. Eventually I found the drinks and gyros. So, after I grabbed my Coke, I waited in line for my gyro.

My standard luck held out, and I picked the slowest line possible. (My "line luck" also applies to traffic lanes and grocery check-out lines.) But again, the weather was great so I didn't care about the 7-10 minute wait. I grabbed my gyro and found an open seat. (Many thanks to the nice couple who let me sit at their table!)

This gyro was packed! At least 1/3 lb of lamb was packed into the pita. There was also feta, tomatoes, white onions, and tzatziki (cucumber and yogurt sauce). It was amazing, and easily the best gyro I've had in a LOOONG time.

Next, I went to the pastry tent, and loaded up on pastries for me and my wife. There were aisles and aisles of pastries. Each aisle had the same pastries (approx 8-10) to choose from, all were recently made, and smelled amazing. I wish I could remember the names of these delicious morsels. As you can see by the photo, I chose baklava, a fantastic almond cookie, and the light and crunch dough rolled onto itself and coated with honey and some nuts.

All in all, a great festival with amazing food. I can't wait until next year, I'll be sure to bring some friends -- so I can sneak a bite of their food!

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

Price: $$ (gyro and soda were $8, admission was $2, and pastries for two were $14)
Kid friendly: Yes. Activities abound for the young. By all means, bring them.

Conclusion: Good time, great food. Loved every second of it. I wish it happened more than once a year.

Festival Info:
Yiasou Greek Festival
600 East Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28203-5112

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blues, Brews, and BBQ

There is yet another festival in Charlotte this weekend! Starting today, the Blues, Brews, and BBQ festival will have plenty for you to eat in Uptown!

I haven't been there (I'm still a noob!), but it sounds delicious! The event is free, and they'll have nine blues bands playing.

Now the only question is -- which will I hit first?? The Greek Festival or the BBQ?

Friday, Sept. 11, 11a - 11p
Sat., Sept 12, 11a - 11p

Tryon Street -- between Martin Luther King Blvd. and Trade Street


Recipe Friday: Tomato Sauce

Until this weekend, I always thought that making tomato sauce for pasta was a time intensive, laborious, and tedious effort. After all, why should I go through all that trouble if I can just have sauce in 30 seconds from a jar?

Because it's freakin' easy, and WAAAY more delicious than anything a jar can make!

Here's the recipe for the sauce. It's from the folks at America's Test Kitchen. I suggest sprucing it up with your own ingredients -- a little more red pepeper and some red wine would totally add delicousness to this recipe.


3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Garlic cloves minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3 Tablespoons minced basil
1/4 tsp sugar


1) Cook the garlic in the oil over medium low heat. Until it is fragrant, but not browned
2)Stir in all tomatoes (not drained)
3) Simmer for about 15-20 mins
4) Stir in basil, sugar, and salt to taste.
5) Serve over pasta and enjoy!

To REALLY enjoy your pasta, toast my Garlic Butter onto some good crusty bread!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Moe's Southwest Grill (Huntersville)

As you know, I love me some burrito. It's more of an addiction than a preference. No, really. This is a clinical condition known as Foodie Needus Burrito Maximus. Go ahead, look it up. It's in some medical journal and is recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act. (DISCLAIMER: Foodie is not a trained medical anything!)

I first noticed this condition while I worked in a campaign office in California, that was across the street from an AWESOME burrito place (they spoke no English). Fortunately, this condition forces me to get a burrito a few times a month -- or else I get cranky.

So, I took my cranky self into the Moe's in Huntersville. It's off of Hwy 73, and near the Staples and Panera. I walked in, and I felt myself getting happier as I anticipated the burritoy goodness. I looked at the menu, and found myself a little confused... the burritos were priced by the number of ingredients. So, I wouldn't be able to go through and point to my favorite ingredients -- I needed to to figure out what I'd be ordering before I got into line.

I figured it out and ordered a "junior" (small burrito) Homewrecker. Basically the home wrecker has everything they offer -- except it only has one meat. I chose the ground beef and then proceeded to watch my burrito get filled with rice, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, and pickled jalapenos. YUM!

The burrito came with chips. So, I took my food, a soda, and two types of salsa from the salsa bar to my table.

Moe's is decorated in warm earthy yellows and reds. In addition, they have two HD TVs which kept my attention. (One showed Tom and Jerry, and the other ESPN -- two of my favorites!)

I'm glad I got the junior burrito, because it was plenty big for me. In the past I haven't liked Moe's burritos. But this time, I really enjoyed it! The ground beef was tasty, seasoned with cumin and oregano. The lettuce crisp and the rice didn't taste like cardboard. Though it was hard to tell with so many toppings!

The chips were OK. I like the chips at Chipotle better, but these were warm and not stale. The salsa bar was one of my favorite features. I grabbed a chunky standard salsa and the salsa verde. The salsa verde was quite good. I found it to be both spicy and tangy. YUM!

Moe's kept me from getting too cranky. The burrito put my crankiness at ease. Now I need to figure out where I'll go the next time my condition becomes critical.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Total: 10.5/15

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes. Kids menu, TVs, plus a wipeable floor make this place very kid friendly.

Conclusion: Decent food for a good price. It's not my favorite burrito, but it'll do in a pinch.

Restaurant Info:
Moe's Southwest Grill
16933 Kaufinger St.
Ste 180-J
Huntersville, NC
p) 704-896-2206

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Yiasou Greek Festival Starts Tomorrow!

The Yiasou Greek Festival starts tomorrow! So you know what that means -- FOOD! Lots and lots of it.

Gyros, spanakopita, baklava, souvlaki, and a LOT more options will be available for purchase. In addition they have cultural events and entertainment to keep everyone happy. Admission is $2.00, free for kids 12 and under. Trust me, you want to go to this. I'll be there -- will you??

11 am to 9 pm Thursday, Sept. 10th
11 am to 10 pm Friday, Sept. 11th
11 am to 10 pm Saturday, Sept. 12th
12 noon to 8 pm on Sunday, Sept. 13th

600 East Blvd,
Charlotte, NC 28203-5112

Wine Wednesday: Bell'agio Chianti

I've gotta admit, I fell in love with this wine years ago -- because of the bottle. This sorta round bottle of wine is covered in a straw/wickerish covering. It just screams Italian, and since I love Italian food, this was a match made in heaven.

In fact, I even went so far as to use one of these bottles as a candle holder -- something I learned from a small restaurant when I was in DC. But now I'm married, and if I still had that wax covered bottle of wine on the table, my wife would probably have a aneurysm. So, it's gone, but the fond memories remain.

All this back story leads to the fact, that when I learn about an upcoming Italian meal being made at home, it's the first thing I reach for!

So this weekend when my wife made a delicious lasagna, I had that bottle of wine opened about 30 minutes before the lasagna left the oven.

This 2007 Chianti isn't a great wine and it won't rock your world. But it is a good wine, and has enough tannins to make it perfect for most Italian cooking. I took a whiff, and detected a slight hint of cherries. With the sip I tasted currant and cherries. It's a light wine and goes down easy. But it does have a dry finish that lingers for a while.

Overall a good wine, that's a good value. In order to get more value from the wine, I suggest you use the empty bottle as a candle holder. :)

Wine Rating:

Score: 3/5

Price: $$ (Just over $10)

Wine Info:
2007 Chianti

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jeffrey's Restaurant (Mooresville)

A few weeks ago an acquaintance of mine asked about this blog. After some blog-ish conversation he asked, "Have you been to Jeffrey's? You've gotta go!" He was adamant that I visit Jeffrey's as soon as possible.

I was taken slightly aback by his enthusiasm. I'd never heard of this restaurant, but my friend was talking about it with the fervor that one usually reserves for 131 Main, Dressler's, or Eez. I had forgotten that conversation until I got an e-mail from Erica yesterday. It asked "What about Jeffreys Restaurant off of exit 33 in Mooresville. near McDonalds, across from Dairy Queen and Shell gas station?"

Did you catch that? To make sure I got the right restaurant Erica mentioned FOUR landmarks! Not just the exit, not just one store, but a total of four places! Heck, my GPS usually isn't THAT accurate!

So, I realized that I had to quickly find-out what this hubbub was about.

I'm glad I did.

Jeffrey's is a very nice stand-alone building, off of exit 33. Near the McDonalds, and across hwy 21 from the Dairy Queen and Shell Gas Station. :) It's exterior is adorned with brown-ish bricks, and the interior is filled with warm colors and dark brown woods. The second I walked in the door, I found myself relaxing.

Because it was such a nice day outside, we asked for an outdoor table. The patio was empty, and we were quickly seated. The patio is large, and I imagine it is packed during the evenings. Along with a small water feature, there is a large outdoor fireplace that is a focal-point for the patio. Though there was a little noise from the roadway, it wasn't too bad.

Once we took our seats, we looked over the menu. Honestly, everything sounded good. From sandwiches, to salads, to the specials, nothing was over $10! EXCELLENT!

I decided upon the "Country Style Steak," and for my two sides I chose the macaroni and cheese and fries. Once we placed our orders, my friend and I chatted over our drinks (I chose sweet tea), and some potato rolls that our waitress brought for us.

The potato rolls were surprisingly sweet, and tasted somewhat like Portuguese sweetbread. (No, not sweet breads!) After a while our meals were brought out. As you can see, the steak is indeed country fried, but there's more to it. It's placed in a thick gravy-like sauce that tasted like no gravy my Mom ever made. It was delicious and accented with onions. The macaroni and cheese was actual macaroni and cheese -- not that stuff from a box. But they actually used real cheese for the sauce.

And to top it off, I enjoyed the thick cut fries. Seasoned with large salt crystals, these fries still had their skins, and were crisp on the outside, and tender inside. Here's the thing -- I NEVER enjoy thick-cut potatoes. If I do enjoy them, they are exceptional -- and these were. Also, I can't forget to mention the biscuit -- fantastic!!

According to their website, Jeffrey's Restaurant offers "New American Cuisine concentrating on fresh regional ingredients from around our country with particular attention to the 'soul warming' south." I think this sentiment really describes Jeffrey's very well.

Atmosphere: 4.5
Food: 4.5
Service: 4.5
Total: 13.5

Price: $$ (Special, drink, and tip put it at $14)
Kid Friendly: Yes, but this restaurant has a upscale casual feel. Probably not the best place if your kid is a screamer.

Conclusion: The best restaurant that I'd never heard of. Great food, great service, great atmosphere. Their lunch is definitely a great deal! Highly Recommended.

Restaurant Info:
Jeffrey's Restaurant
117 Trade Court
Mooresville, NC 28117
p) 704-799-1110

New Book Features Owners of Dressler's

Apparently there's a new book out there called Me, Myself, & Inc., that focuses on the commonalities of successful businesses. Sounds like good reading already. But then I learned that the book takes a look at the Birkdale restaurant Dressler's, and it's owners Jon and Kim -- now it sounds like a great book!

The book already had a signing party at Dressler's earlier this month. But, there's a scheduled signing at Max's Alley (another good restaurant) in Concord on September 15. So if you want to get it signed by the author, there's still time.

For more info, check out this link:

FYI, restaurant review coming later today!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Free Chick-fil-A Sandwich TODAY!

Today Chick-fil-A is offering its signature Chick-fil-A Original Chicken Sandwich for FREE, to anybody who wears the logo of their favorite sports team!

I'm excited for this, for two reasons:
2) I can wear my Oakland A's Zito jersey in public!

So, get out there, get some free food and have a great Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

Hey everybody, I've been busy this weekend and haven't had a chance to visit a restaurant to post a review. So, I'm taking today off from posting a review. However, that doesn't mean that I won't be providing you with new and interesting info. For example:

Did you know that Wine Spectator Magazine just awarded 131 Main (Dilworth) with it's "Award of Excellence" for wine selection? (200 bottles!)

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking about heading over there for a glass of wine right now!

Now that I think about it, I haven't reviewed 131 Main for a LOONG time. I might need to head over there soon! However, should I go to Dilworth or Cornelius? So many decisions, such little time... I don't know which one to choose!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Recipe Friday: Zucchini Pancakes

A good friend of mine recently started a food blog. Vlasta is her name, and cooking is her game!

She came up with an interesting twist on a Czech specialty, potato pancakes. By substituting some zucchini for potatoes, and using whole wheat flour, she came up with something healthy to deep fry! YUM!

Nothing says "healthy" like frying stuff! I just had some fried green tomatoes this week, and I now have a very healthy amount of cholesterol! :)

So, follow this link for zucchini pancakes. And if you like the recipe, feel free to praise my brilliance. If you don't like it -- send the hate mail to Vlasta!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Taco Stand on Old Statesville Rd (Huntersville)

A while ago I visited a taco stand in Huntersville. That one is red and located in the parking lot of a seed and supply store on Statesville Rd.

But yesterday I visited the OTHER taco stand in Huntersville. This one is on OLD Statesville Rd., and is located in the parking lot of a Latino store. This taco stand is a little more run down than the red one, but the trailer is bigger. An over-used dry erase board holds the menu, and an english -speaking woman takes the orders and cooks the food.

It's a small operation, and the trailer fills much of the miniscule parking lot to the worn-down Latino market. But a friend recommended the food here, so I decided to give it a try.

I placed my order for two barbacoa (spicy pulled beef) tacos and was asked if I wanted rice and slasa with it. I answered, "yes, please." I then waited for the meal to be prepared.

It only took about 5 minutes, and the food was ready. Placed on a plate and covered with aluminum foil, I took it with me to my friend's place to eat.

I openend the foil and found two large soft-shell tacos in (apparently) hand made corn tortillas. The tortillas were stuffed with a good amount of barbacoa, onions, cilantro, cheese, and a hot salsa verde. The spanish rice on the side was topped with melted cheese and the salsa verde.

I took a bite of the taco. Delicious. The barbacoa was quite good, and very moist. And the corn tortillas were great -- and I usually don't like corn tortillas! The rice was bland and needed the salsa and cheese. But even with that, I didn't finish the rice -- to me it just tasted like cardboard with salsa and cheese.

Then I started to eat the other taco. But the texture was off -- something was amiss. Then I realized what was wrong... this taco's barbacoa was about 50% fat! UGH! I understand that when you're cooking meat its not unusual to have large chunks of fat. But don't serve it to the customers!

But to be fair, my friend really enjoyed his tacos, and he didn't have this problem with his barbacoa or steak tacos. So, I'll assume this was a statistical outlier. However, if you've been here let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Atmosphere: 0/5 (It's a taco stand, and there's no seating. There is no atmosphere!)
Food: 2.5/5
Service: 3/5
Total: 5.5/10

Kid Friendly: No. However, since you'll be eating somewhere else, it doesn't matter.
Price: $ (two tacos plus rice was $3.50)

Conclusion: The food was very cheap, but the one fatty taco ruined it for me. I need to go back and try some more food before I can offer a final verdict.

Restaurant Info:
White Taco Stand
(approx) 500 Old Statesville Rd.
Huntersville, NC

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wine Wednesday: 2006 Pine & Post Chardonnay

As I've mentioned previously, I have a love for the Pine & Post Cabernet. Dollar for dollar, I think it's the best value out there. So, the other day while cruising the Harris Teeter wine aisle, I came across a Pine & Post Chardonnay. Needless to say, I snapped it up in record time.

This 2006 Chardonnay is from the Columbia River region of Washington State, from the same region where their Cabernet is from.

I found this Chardonnay to be much lighter in texture and taste than other Chardonnays. This wine lacked the butter and oak flavors that I typically enjoy in chards. Instead it has flavors of pineapple, citrus, and green apple. The finish is crisp with a slight acidity, but not too crisp. If I had to guess, I'd say that this wine was aged in steel and not oak barrels.

It's a good wine, and if you're going for a lighter and crisp wine, this is a good choice. But to me it seemed more like a Sauvignon Blanc and not a Chardonnay. It's good, just not my style.

FYI, It would be a perfect compiment to lighter dishes including fish and sushi.

Wine Rating:

Score: 3/5

Price: $ ($6-$7)

Wine Info:
2007 Chardonnay
Pine & Post
Columbia Valley, WA

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cookout (Denver)

In late July, I finally visited the Cookout in Huntersville. It was a new experience for me. I was unfamiliar with this regional chain, and wasn't prepared for the sizable menu. I made my choices quickly, and didn't know what to get.

But yesterday when I walked into the NEW Cookout in Denver, I was ready to order. Thanks to Laurie's comments, I realized that I wanted to order a Chocolate Banana milkshake. And fortunately, VermillionRes alerted me to a VERY important detail -- Side items include meats! Like a hot dog, corn dog, or chicken nuggets! FREAKIN' AWESOME!

So, yesterday I walked right to the registers knowing what I was going to order. Chicken strips with a side of onion rings and a side of CORN DOG, and the chocolate banana shake. Don't get me wrong, I was excited about the chocolate banana shake, I haven't had one for a LONG time! First one was in Mels Drive-In in San Francisco, and every time I take a sip of a good chocolate banana shake, it takes me back to Mels. But I was even more excited about my side of corn dog!

Let's face it, where else can you get a corn dog as a side? ZOMG!! That's just the coolest!! :)

Ok, ok. Sorry for losing my composure there. I'm back.

After I placed my order, I took my seat and waited for my number to be called. My shake was ready first, and I took a sip. This milk shake actually had a REAL banana. I was a little surprised -- I was expecting banana flavoring not the real thing. The shake was nice and thick, better suited for a spoon than a straw. Just the way I like it!

Next came the food. Three chicken strips (two large, one small), some onion rings, and an average sized corn dog. The chicken strips were OK. The breading was crunchy and thick. But unfortunately, the chicken was slightly over cooked, and was quite dry inside. The onion rings were nothing special. I suspect they were pre-made and frozen. So, they were about average.

Then I had the corn dog. I wish I could say it was earth-shattering. But again, only average. Personally, I like the corn dogs at Wienerschnitzel or A&W better. However, since none of those are in the area, I suspect these will do. The Cookout corn dog had a good amount of breading on it, and the mustard was fine. But the actual dog lacked some flavor -- an all beef dog in the middle would have been better.

The atmosphere at this Cookout was about average for a Cookout, and I like the interior more than the standard McDonalds or Taco Bell. It has more character. But I do find it slightly amusing that the Huntersville Cookout has a more prominent lake theme, while the Denver Cookout is MUCH closer to the lake, but the lake theme is downplayed.

Atmosphere: 3.5
Food: 3.5 (The shake saved this score from being a 3)
Service: 4/5 (REALLY friendly and helpful staff)
Total: 11/15

Price: $ (shake, onion rings, chicken strips, and corn dog were UNDER $6)
Kid Friendly: Yes. High chairs and booster seats available.

Conclusion: Though most of the food was only average, for less than $6 I consider this to be one of the better values in the area. So far I've found the shakes and burgers to be the best items here. I'll need to return again to try the BBQ.

Restaurant Info:
Hwy 73, just east of 16. Next to the vet hospital
Denver, NC