Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recipe Friday Halloween Edition: Meat Hands

I know it's Thursday, but I wanted to give you as much heads-up as possible for this -- especially if you have kids. Below is a link to a recipe on (Originally found the link at that shows how to make "Meat Hands."

Basically it's meatloaf in the shape of a hand, with onions for the finger nails, and cheese for the skin. As you can see, it looks REALLY GROSS!!! But if you have kids that like gross stuff -- they'll be in heaven!!

Here's the link!

Amelie's French Bakery (NoDa)

Again with the suggestions!!

Last week I had a few suggestions that I visit Tony's. So, I did, and I posted the review. But what I didn't tell you, is that last week I had even MORE suggestions that I visit Amelie's in the NoDa Neighborhood of Charlotte. So, yesterday I made my way to Amelie's to check it out.

I'm glad I listened to my friends....

Amelie's in located in an industrial feeling shopping area at North Davidson and 28th St. From the outside there is nothing to distinguish Amelie's from the other stores in the brick and mortar complex. However, once inside, you feel miles away.

The interior is decorated with an eclectic, funky, and cozy vibe. Along with chess sets and checkers tables, you'll find chandeliers, sofas, and fake fire places. And the place is huge -- basically it's comprised of two store spaces. One is mostly for baking and some tables, while the other is primarily for seating.

But there is one thing that I noticed immediately -- the smell. The deliciousness of all the pastries and breads was evident from the smell alone. And once you enter, you're assaulted by the images of all the pastries in a wonderful display case. The second I entered I started to salivate.

After looking over the choices I chose a chocolate croissant and a cup of coffee. I prepared my coffee, took a seat, and then took a bite. The result???? OMG! YUM!!

The best chocolate croissant I've ever had was at a French Cafe in Ponta Delgada, on the Azores island of Sao Miguel. I know, I know, Portugal isn't known for it's food. But at this cafe, the baker was trained in France. So, all the food was fantastic. And the chocolate croissant was as close to heaven as possible.

The chocolate croissant from Amelie's is a VERY close second.

The chocolate wasn't too sweet or too bitter. It was excellent. In addition, the buttery, light, and flaky croissant was fantastic. My words simply don't do it justice. But this might -- I liked it so much I bought another so that I could eat one this morning!!

Unfortunately, since I inhaled the croissant, I HAD to try something else. I mean, what kind of a Foodie would I be if I didn't explore different dining options? Oh, the things I do to inform my readers!! It's a sacrifice, but I manage! :)

So, I ordered a twice baked almond croissant. Ok, here's how these things are made. A freshly baked standard croissant is sliced in half, and filled with a creamy/buttery almond concoction. That croissant is then dipped in a sweet syrup. And then it's baked again!! The result?? Something crunchy and sweet on the outside, and buttery and almondy in the middle! SQUEEE! I was in heaven.

While I was enjoying the almond croissant, I decided to have them bake me a loaf of sourdough bread. Having grown-up on San Francisco Sourdough, I can tell you it's been hard for me to find another that is comparable on the east coast. Fortunately, Amelie's sourdough is one of the better ones I've found over here. When I got the bread back to my car I stuck my nose in the bag and inhaled. Ohhhh, it smelled like home.....

So, I did what any other home-sick Californian who lives in the Lake Norman area would do... I went to Ferrucci's and got some Italian Dry (Sicilian style) Salami! Lemme tell ya. That bread with the salami? Heaven, pure heaven!

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

Price: $ (Coffee and pastry around $6)
Kid Friendly: Unknown

Conclusion: GREAT pastries and bread make this one of my favorite eateries in the Charlotte area. I'm glad that I expanded my geographical boundaries to try Amelie's. And it's only about a 20 minute drive from my home.

Restaurant Info:
Amelie’s French Bakery and Cafe
2424 N. Davidson St.
Charlotte, NC 28205

Wine Wednesday: Alice White Chardonnay

While perusing the wine aisle the other day, I ran across something new to me. Easily portable (perfect for picnics!) little cardboard boxes that hold wine -- sorta like a Capri Sun for adults. Each box holds almost 3 glasses worth of wine. Yes, it's box wine -- but at least it doesn't come in the gallon sizes!

This mini-box comes from Australia and contains the Alice White Chardonnay, but don't ask me about the year -- it's not listed. This wine has a light mouth feel and an almost non-existent nose. I really can't smell much except the alcohol. There might be a hint of citrus and pear, but it's faint at best.

The taste is very similar to the smell. It's a faint flavor of citrus, apples and pears. But the mild alcohol flavor almost overwhelms it. Really, its one of the strangest chards I've had. It lacks both smell and flavor. Because of this it's not bad.... but it's not great either.

Wine Rating:

Score: 2.5/5

Price: $

Wine Info:
Alice White Chardonnay (500ml)
South Eastern Australia

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tony's Pizza (Huntersville)

Last week, two new friends of mine who are from COMPLETELY different circles, both made the same recommendation, "You've gotta go to Tony's!"

Before last week, I don't recall hearing the name before. I knew of a LOT of different pizzeria's but Tony's wasn't one of them. Now I'm wondering why it took me a couple of years to hear about this place...

I ventured to the Tony's in Huntersville, at the corner of Harris Blvd and Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd. It's in the same strip mall as the Food Lion. But there are plenty of other Tony's in the region for you to visit... but the two in the Lake Norman area are in Huntersville and Mooresville.

This Tony's was a standard no-frills pizzeria. The decor isn't memorable, there is no wait staff, and the menu is posted on the wall above the counter. But the place is clean, the booth-like seating appears new, and the staff behind the counter were friendly.

I was warned about Tony's large slices of pepperoni. Undaunted, I ordered two pepperoni slices. I SHOULD have ordered one.

These slices are huge!! One was plenty to fill me up. I took the second slice home, and measured it's length -- one foot (12 inches) exactly. Now that's a slice!!

The crust is nice and crispy, but not overly crunchy. Since this is a huge NY Style slice, it's necessary to fold it so that the slice doesn't droop, and lose all the toppings to gravity.

Speaking of toppings, I was pleased with the choices. The cheese was good and there was plenty to cover the slice. There could have been a little more, but I love cheese, and there could always be a little more. The pepperoni was actually quite good. It was very flavorful, and it was some of the best that I've had in the area. My only complaint is that on one slice there were only 6 slices of pepperoni. I know that sounds like a lot, but the slices are so large, this made the slice almost look naked! The sauce was good. I would have liked some tomato chunks, BUT I understand that the NY Style is supposed to be thin, so I understand the reasoning behind the pureed sauce.

All-in-all, a good visit. They've got a good pizza and the huge slices are a great value. Let's face it, for about $7 I had two meals.... and that's hard to do anywhere!

Atmosphere: 3/5
Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Total: 9.5/15

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes

Conclusion: Huge slices, good food, and a great value will encourage me to visit again. Definitely an authentic NY Style pizza. Next time I might try one of their entrees -- but then again, I'll probably just order the pizza.

Restaurant Info:
Tony's Pizza
Pecan Ridge Shopping Center
9548 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd.
Huntersville, NC
p) 704-394-5677

Monday, October 26, 2009

Random Musings....

If you only read this blog, and don't hit my Facebook or Twitter postings, you're missing out on some GREAT info!

Tibit #1. Apparently, the Cashion's Gas Station on Catawba and 21, has a GREAT double cheese burger. I haven't tried it, but Bill and Joel (2 of my Facebook Friends) love 'em.

Tidbit #2. Over the past few weeks, my wife has been out of town a lot. How can you tell?? I only bought two things at the store the other day -- beer and corned beef hash!! Ahhh, bachelorhood.... Wait, wait. This house is kinda empty... anybody wanna come over for homemade ravioli???

Lake Norman HS BBQ Fundraiser

I opened the Lake Norman Citizen last week, and I saw an ad that proclaimed, "Fall Food Festival!" I was excited. Fall? Food? Festival?? What's not to like? Right???


Stupid ad was for the local Wild Birds Unlimited store. No offense to the folks at WBU, I actually like their store and have found great gifts there, but they really got my hopes up over nothing. My excitement for bird food just doesn't match my excitement for people food....

But a few pages later, I ran across this tidbit. There's an upcoming BBQ fundraiser at Lake Norman High School. This Thursday, October 29, the BBQ will run from 4:30p to 6:30p. It will cost $10 at the door, and will include BBQ (your choice of pork or chicken), roll, coleslaw, and beans. Sounds like some good food for a good cause... sign me up!!

For more info about the BBQ call 704-799-8555.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Feature Next Week!

In the never-ending quest to make this blog better, next week I'll be adding a new feature -- an interview with a local restaurant representative. Sometimes it'll be an owner. Sometimes it'll be a chef. Heck, I might even interview a dish washer every now and then!

But next week I'll be posting an interview with Eez Owner Marcus Hall.

Eez has been around for 5 years in Birkdale -- no small feat. In an area that has businesses come and go, Eez has had good staying power! What's their secret? Did I eat lots of free food? Or did I wimp out and have a water? You'll only know when you visit next week!

Wine Wednesday: Deficit Red

Ok, ok, it's Friday. I know. But this post was meant to appear on Wednesday. So, that's why I still consider it to be a Wine Wednesday Posting....

But I'm here to tell you about a great bottle of wine -- that you've never heard of. Deficit Red.

It comes across as a novelty wine. With a huge downward pointing red arrow on the label to the phrase on the back: "For the debts I have paid, trying to stay ahead, here is a bottle of wine. Now we are all in the red!"

This is a robust Cabernet. With strong flavors of black pepper and plum, this wine has a good blend of spice and fruit. But it does have a heavy mouth-feel, and strong nose. So, we found it best to let this one air about about 10 minutes before drinking. It softened the pepper and alcohol, while allowing the fruit to become more intense.

If you're having a meal with this wine, be sure that it's a strongly flavored meal. Pasta with tomato sauce, steak, etc. The meal could easily get lost in the strong flavors dancing around your tongue.

This Cabernet from Monterey is quite good and worth a try. Also, considering the down economic times, it's hard to wine (Get it??) about the approx $12 price tag.

Wine Rating:

Score: 3.5/5

Price: $$

Wine Info:
Deficit Red
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
Monterey, CA

I'm Online!!

After far too long I'm back online, thanks to the help of my friend, Paul, who held my hand through the re-building process of my hard drive.

But since I'm again online, do you know what that means?

No, it doesn't mean puppies for everyone -- though that would be nice.

It means posts, and posts, and more posts! So, stay tuned, and I'll start catching up!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Almost back

More computer problems for me. I'm currently in the process of rebuilding a hard drive. Tomorrow, you'll get the wine review from me (I promise), and a bunch of news and stuff.

Sorry for the delay!!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Post later today...

Got some major computer problems right now. In fact, I'm not on my computer as I write this....

Will post a wine review (Deficit Red) later today when I get everything up and running.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Six Pence Pub (Blowing Rock, NC)

This past weekend, my wife and I went on an excursion and made our way to Blowing Rock. It's a small mountain town with a a good vibe. Lots of tourists packed the sidewalks of the main drag. Unfortunately, this also meant that every restaurant was packed for lunch time.

And since this trip was unplanned, we took our time in the morning. We slept-in, had a relaxing coffee, and read the paper by the fire place. This meant that when we arrived we were starving, it was lunch time, and we had to wait for ANY meal we could find.

So, when we walked by the first restaurant we saw (Six Pence Pub) we put our names on the waiting list. We hit a couple of other restaurants, but they all had a waiting time. So, we walked down to the end of the shopping district, bought some warm hats (we were unprepared for a high of 40 degrees), and then made our way back to Six Pence. After a few more minutes huddled together in the sun (did I mention we were TOTALLY unprepared for the cold?), we were finally given a table.

Total waiting time 30-ish minutes.

We were seated by the bar of this packed small restaurant. As you could probably tell by the name, Six Pence is a British style pub. They offer a full array of pub food, along with some UK favorites; Welsh rabbit, Shepard's Pie, Bangers & Mash, and, of course, some decent beers!

We were just so happy to be warm inside the bar, almost everything sounded good -- even the Shepard's Pie! (For the record, after a couple of months in England, I swore I'd never have another Shepard's Pie...) Eventually we picked our meals. I wanted a bacon cheeseburger on an onion roll with fries, while my wife chose the half corned beef sandwich with a cup of broccoli cheddar soup.

The drinks arrived first. I had a Guinness. They actually took their time pouring it, which surprised me. The bar was packed, and I expected a rushed pour with an overly frothy head. But they did it right, so they get a bonus. :)

After about 15 minutes, our meals arrived. My wife's sandwich looked good,but small. However, she was pleased with it. The broccoli cheddar soup was good, but it was slightly runny, and overly salted. Normally this would be a huge no-no. But since we were still warming up, it was rapidly gobbled up.

My bacon cheese burger was quite good. The tomato, onion, and lettuce seemed fresh, and not heated by extra time under the warming lamps. The burger was at least 1/3 lb. if not bigger. And the burger wasn't over cooked either. It had good flavor, and the bacon, cheese, and onion roll, just added to the flavor.

At the end of the meal, we decided to split a slice of homemade apple pie. It seemed home-made. It was a little messy, and the filling sorta fell outside of the crust, making it somewhat flat. However the pie was good, and the creamy cinnamon topping made it even better.

Re-energized and warmed by our meal, we went back out into the cold, and window-shopped and explored the downtown area, and a small portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a shame we were only there for the day. But additional exploration will bring us back to the area soon.

Atmosphere: 3/3
Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Total: 10/15

Price: $$$ (drinks, dessert, entree and tip brings it to just over $20/person)
Kid Friendly: Yes. High chairs, kids menu, etc. are available.

Conclusion: Six Pence was small and packed, yet it had a great vibe and wasn't too loud. The food and service were slightly above average for this type of establishment. And thought the prices were slightly higher than expected, I didn't feel fleeced. I'll recommend this place to friends going up to the Blowing Rock area.

Restaurant Info:
Six Pence Pub
1121 Main Street
Blowing Rock, NC 28605

Monday, October 19, 2009

I FINALLY found it!!

Being from Northern California, one of my favorite lunch meat staples was Italian Dry Salami, and the best brand was Columbus, based in San Francisco. Encased in mold, this cured meat with garlic and black pepper, is still one of the greatest flavors that I know. When enjoyed with some wine, sour dough bread, and a sharp cheddar -- I'm a VERY happy camper.

I hear the shock from those of you from the New York and New Jersey area. But it's true, San Francisco had a good amount of salami producers in the early 1900s. Before refrigeration became the norm, the San Francisco climate was ideal for making salami.

As an LA Times article states: "As the salami dried, the links fermented, and a change in acidity effectively cooked the meat, and produced the complex spectrum of flavors. As this happened, the sausages would also dry. The meat would lose roughly 30% of its water weight. A penicillin mold would form on the coat, checking exposure of the meat to air, and thus stopping oxidation and preventing rancid flavors. "

Unfortunately, the moldy coating is rarely found on the salami any more -- now it's taken off then vacuum packed to ensure freshness. But the flavor remains the same.

Unfortunately, when I moved to the DC area, finding Italian Dry Salami became almost impossible. And when I did find it, it was in specialty shops, in tiny, yet expensive, chubs. Once I moved to the Lake Norman area, I began my search anew. This time, same luck.

But last week, when I had lost all hope, I walked into Ferrucci's at the Shops on the Green, in Cornelius. I looked at the salami selection, and there it was Italian Dry Salami. YIPPEEE!!!!

Ok, the brand surprisingly was Boar's Head, so that threw me off. But once I got it to my car, and tasted a slice -- I knew it was Italian Dry Salami. The hint of black pepper and garlic, the dry and hard texture, and the smell.... oh that smell. It reminded me of homey deliciousness.

Also, it should be noted that the guys at Ferrucci's know their stuff. I had a brief conversation with guy who sliced my order, and as it turns out Italian Dry Salami, is very similar to Sicilian Salami -- good to know!

So, yes, this entire post was about the fact that I finally found some Italian Dry Salami in the Lake Norman Area. I admit, it was a strange obsession. But my wife is glad to know that I won't have the occasional tirade about missing it. It's here for me to enjoy -- about 10 minutes from my house. :)

Relevant Links:
Columbus Salami
Sicialian Culture: Salami War Won by Italians in California
Ferrucci's Italian Market

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recipe Friday: Brunswick Stew, Now with more -- SQUIRREL??

Ok, this recipe is really for Brunswick Stew. But I'm pulling it from an old-time cookbook called "Recipes from Old Virginia." My wife recently obtained this book during a business meeting in Richmond , VA. It contains some very, er, interesting recipes, next to some delicious ones.

To give you and idea of how old-time this Brunswick Stew recipe is, the first paragraph contains a little rhyme that starts with , "First catch your chickens...." The directions below the rhyme also contains, "Squirrel or rabbit is excellent in place of chicken." And sadly, during High School, I learned that the edible squirrel of choice is the Gray Squirrel. (No, I never ate one!) So, if you ever do substitute squirrel for chicken, now you know the one to use. :)

1 stewing chicken (can be substituted with squirrel or rabbit)
4 Irish Potatoes
1 pint butter beans
1-2 diced onions
Salt and pepper
1 pint canned corn or 6 fresh ears
1 pint canned tomatoes or 8 fresh
1 cup biscuit or bread crumbs.

1) Cut meat in pieces and summer with potatoes, butter beans and onions, salt and pepper until tender
2) Remove bones and add corn and tomatoes
3) Cook until vegetables are done
4) Add butter and crumbs to thicken like a stew

Aside from the old-time recipes, there are newer recipes. And many of the desserts look great. You can get this book by clicking here. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fuel Pizza (Davidson)

I think I've mentioned it on this blog before -- pizza is the perfect food. It's got all four food groups, it's easy to eat (no forks or knives necessary), and it is great at 2am after a night of drinking! :)

Yesterday a friend of mine and I decided to grab a slice or two. But where should we go? I've hit most of the pizzerias in the area. Then it clicked -- I hadn't yet reviewed a Fuel. So, we hopped in the car and made the short drive to Davidson.

This Fuel is perfectly named as it is in an old gas station. It's got a small outdoor seating arrangement, small parking lot shared with other local businesses, and a rough around the edges interior.

We walked in, and looked over the pre-made pizzas. I decided to go with a slice of a pepperoni, a slice of chicken ranch, and a soda. The slices were delivered to our outdoor table, and we dug in. Simply put the pizza was good, but not great.

To be honest, I don't recall ever having a bad piece of pizza. There are some that I've liked more than others, but all-in-all, I think it's hard to have a bad slice.

The crust was thin and the slices were wide. So, I suppose it's sorta a New York Style slice. But the crust, sauce, and toppings all seemed rather average. In addition, to the pepperoni, I was given a slice of Hero pizza, which was basically a hero sandwich on a slice, instead of the ordered chicken ranch. The pizza was ok and I liked the sweet peppers, but it was still the wrong slice.

When we ate, the weather broke and it turned out to be a gorgeous day. So it's hard to say anything bad about the meal. But sadly, everything was just average. I had hoped for more.

Atmosphere: 3/5
Food: 3/5
Service: 2/5 (docked a point for the wrong order)
Total: 8/15

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes

Conclusion: The pizza is good, not great --about average. But an average slice is still good IMHO.

Restaurant Info:
Fuel Pizza
402 S Main St
Davidson, NC 28036
p) 704-655-3835

Wine Wednesday: Heitz Chardonnay

Ok, so I'm actually posting this on Thursday... but it's not my fault.... the dog ate my homework!

Wait. No. That was a lie. I don't own a dog, and lets face it, my cat will only eat tuna. So, I was busy yesterday and I didn't get a chance to write this. Ok?? That's the truth! (Mostly....)

But back to the wine, which came via California, from my parents. They wanted to share some of their fall-back wines. So, I readily agreed to the shipping terms (all I had to do was open the door for the UPS guy) and waited for the delivery. Shortly after the red and white wines arrived, I served them with an appropriate dinner.

The 2006 Heitz Chardonnay was a welcome addition to my wine holder. I haven't seen it at any of the local stores, and I kinda liked the label too. But when it came to the wine, my wife and I were split. The wine had a strong scent of pears and apples. However, the taste was that of acid and grapefruit. The acid gave it a crisp mouthfeel, and a lightness that usually comes with sitting in steel barrels, instead of oak.

This is something my wife really enjoyed. I however, am more of an oak barrel, buttery and oaky sorta guy. Don't get me wrong, I readily drank it. And the bottle was finished shortly after the dinner.

But this shows how wines can taste differently to different people. My wife loved the crispness while I found it wasn't my cup of tea.

But I'd like to thank my folks for the wine delivery! Sometimes its nice to have your own personal wine club deliveries! :)

Wine Rating:

Score: 3/5

Price: $$

Wine Info:
2006 Chardonnay
Heitz Wine Cellar
436 St. Helena Highway
St. Helena, California
p) 707-963-3542

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Max's Alley (Concord, NC)

The other day I had the pleasure of meeting a new friend over lunch at Max's Ally in Concord. I'd been there before, but that was long before (a couple of months), this blog got started.

As I entered the restaurant, I walked past their outdoor seating area -- it looks pretty sweet! Faux natural stone fireplace, TV, heaters, and fans are all available to keep you comfortable. Seriously, it's one of the nicer outdoor seating arrangements I've seen.

I made my way inside and met my friend. After some small talk, I got down to business and read the menu. The lunch menu there is on the lighter side, and has mostly sandwiches and salads. After a LOT of going back-and-forth, I decided to order the Honey Mustard Chicken Wrap with regular fries (I've had their sweet potato fries before -- they were amazing)

Max's Ally is actually a large dining facility. But because of the way it's broken-up into rooms, it feels very cozy. The interior is decorated with warm colors, stone, and dark woods. It seems like a great place to hang out after work with a bottle of wine! Too bad don't work in Concord, I'd be there all the time!

Our meals arrived (we ordered the same thing), and I was very pleased. The large wrap was served in a spinach tortilla, and was filled with "marinated chicken, field greens, smoked bacon, tomatoes, swiss (cheese)." It was really good!

The freshly cooked chicken was still warm, the honey mustard sauce was present but not over-powering. The veggies were ripe and fresh. And really, how can you go wrong with bacon? All these flavors mixed together, to create a light but filling meal.

In addition, the fries were crispy, but tender. Truly delicious. But, here's the sad part -- I didn't clear my plate because I was soooo full. A few fries and a little bit of wrap survived the meal.

After my meal, I had the opportunity to meet the owner of Max's Alley (who also owns Dresslers' in Birkdale). And to my astonishment, he actually knew of this blog!! SQUEEE!! I've gotta admit, I was a little floored.

But, all-in-all, my meal was very good, the service ridiculously attentive, and I liked the atmosphere -- I've gotta bring my wife here for dinner sometime.

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

Price: $$ (Sweet tea, food, tax, and tip approx $16)
Kid Friendly: Yes, they have a kids menu. And the atmosphere, while nice, is informal.

Conclusion: I had a great meal. I'll definitely recommend this place to friends, and I'll be sure to visit again. Just a quick note, their dinner entrees range from $12 to $19.

Restaurant Info:
Max's Ally
Afton Village
355 John Galt Way, Suite 101
Concord, NC
p) 704-721-MAXS (6297)
f) 704-721-6291

Monday, October 12, 2009

Foodie is Growin!!

Ok, just a little update:

As you've noticed, I now have sponsored advertisements on this blog. These sponsors pay a minimal fee that gets them a clickable image on this blog. Along the top you'll find Diamond Springs, and to the left you'll find a link to the Pampered Chef (Think Mary Kay, but for foodies!), and the Coffeehouse in Denver.

In addition to my new sponsorship (THANKS guys! I can continue to eat out and post reviews because of you!), I have some growing numbers to report. My Facebook and Twitter pages have 150+ followers EACH! That's right, with the click of a mouse, I can constantly annoy almost 300 people! WOO HOO!! :)

So, I want to thank you, my readers, for continuing to return for daily updates. It's much appreciated. This blog wouldn't exist without you -- THANK YOU.

Also, to let you all know: I believe in full disclosure. And as such, if I am paid for a post, or review something that was a freebie, I will let you know up-front. I won't have it any other way.


Wine Auction Next Weekend!

Apparently, the Rotary Club of Lake Lorman hosts a "Wine Spectacular" every year, and donates much of the money raised to local charities. Next weekend, this awesome wine auction and tasting will be taking place at the Northstone Country Club.

Now, here's the REAL reason to go.... I'll be there! Yup, if you're lucky, you'll meet me over a decadent glass of wine and some fascinating conversation. :) Or, maybe I'll just be there volunteering for Hope House. Either way, there's something for every wino wine lover or foodie who attends!

Here's the link:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Poppas Hot Dogs (Mooresville)

Some of you may remember a recent post that included an article about Poppa's Hot Dogs. What I found strange about that post were the two extremely negative comments, left by readers, who really didn't like Poppas.

So, this made me want to go even more! I mean, would this place make it into my hall of shame??

Short answer: No.

Long answer: I actually enjoyed my meal there......

I walked in, and was greeted by a no-frills hot dog joint. Straight ahead, across a few tables there is the counter and behind it, a small kitchen. The walls are adorned with NASCAR memorabilia -- fenders, autographs, sheet metal from cars, and photos are in plan view. This makes sense, after all, this place is home to the local cable show "The Race Review" -- be sure to visit early to get onto the audience list.

I walked down the line to the left, to place my order. On my way to the register, I walked past a wall mounted menu. In addition to many other types of hot dogs, they also have Chicago, New Jersey, and Carolina style dogs. But I already knew what I wanted -- a chili dog. So I placed my order for two chili dogs (I interpreted the menu to read that the 2 chili dogs were part of one order. It read "Best of two great dogs..." I was wrong and would up paying for two separate chili dogs, this increased the price, but really, they were still cheap).

The dogs were prepared quickly, and in about 3 minutes my order was called. I picked them up and this is what I saw. Two dogs, in steamed buns, covered with chili and nacho cheese. This isn't a specific type of chili, just kinda s general chili. Bot dogs were covered in the perfect amount of chili and cheese. Enough to fill you up, but not enough to make a mess. In fact it was so perfect, I never used the fork and knife!

I gotta admit, these were the best chili dogs that I've had in the greater Charlotte area. I've tried chili dogs in Charlotte, Huntersville, and Davidson, and none of them compare to the chili dogs at Poppas. The buns were soft, but not too mushy. The chili was spicy and meaty. It was great, but didn't overwhelm the flavor of the dog. In addition, the nacho cheese was actually good (and I usually hate nacho cheese)!

All in all, a mouthwatering meal, that left my tummy full, and me letting out a notch on my belt!

Atmosphere: 2/5
Food: 4/5
Service: 3/5 (service was quick, but I'm taking one point for the misleading menu)
Total: 9/15

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes

Conclusion: A REALLY good chili dog, for a really good price. This place is no frills, and the napkins are paper towels. But the food delivery speed, flavor, and value are very good.

Restaurant Info:
Poppa's Hot Dogs
510 River Hwy # 13
Mooresville, NC
p) 704-664-7677

My Dream Come True: Mug with Cookie Holder!

The folks at Techeblog have uncovered the most awesomest piece of modern technology ever... a mug that also has a cookie holder!!

That's right. It's a mug (for righties or lefties) that has a cookie holder shelf in the bottom of the mug. No more inconvenient plates! This thing appeals to both my sloth and inner child at the same time! EXCELLENT!!

Here's the link:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Review later today....

Hey everybody, the review will come a little later today. Currently I'm at the office of a veterinary specialist.... our family pet, Alex the Cat, has come down with cancer, and we're exploring options.

He is a member of the family (he thinks he's a person), and as such, will be given the best care possible. So, if some of my posts are a little delayed or shorter than usual, I apologize. But I've got a family member to take care of, and taking care of family is what's important.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wine Wednesday: Robert Mondavi Merlot

The other day I was rummaging around the Food Lion Discontinued Wine Cart. This thing is awesome, EVERYTHING in there is 20% off!! Sometimes you find a Gem. Sometimes you find something that can peel the paint off of a car. But with my trained eye, and superior wine sensing skills, I found a 1/2 bottle of 2006 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot. Mondavi has good stuff, and this is the Private Selection. It sounds hoity toity. So, it's gotta be great! Right?


This wine was so bad, neither my wife or I were able to finish our poured glasses. Usually I find Merlots to be a mild wine. Light fruit and spices. Sorta a half-way point between the subtle flavors of a Pino Noir, and and the more concentrated flavors of a Cabernet Sauvignon. This was none of those.

This wine overwhelmed our nose and mouths with fruit and acid. Lots and lots of fruit and acid. But not the good fruit. This was almost like a concentrated syrup flavor... with a watery consistency. No spice, no oaky tones. Just super concentrated fruit. YUK!

I've been to the Mondavi vineyards, I've enjoyed Mondavi before, and I hope to again. But I simply cannot recommend this wine to anybody.

Wine Rating:

Score: 0/5

Price: $ (1/2 bottle on sale for $4.79)

Wine Info:
2006 Robert Mondavi Merlot
Private Selection
Robert Mondavi Vineyards
Woodbridge, CA

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Little Caesars (Denver, NC)

My wife and I have a tradition of sharing a pizza with a bottle of wine every Friday. It's a great way to wind-down from a busy week and relax for a bit.

So, when the Little Caesars opened up in Denver, I knew that I'd be stopping by in short order. In fact, since the store has arrived, I've visited MANY times for three reasons: It's good, it's cheap, it's convenient.

Personally, I like the drive-thru option. When I get to the window, I am greeted by a friendly face who asks me for my order. I always get the same thing; a large pepperoni pizza, Crazy Bread, and Crazy Sauce.

And here's the great thing about Little Caesars -- when you arrive and order this, IT'S ALREADY MADE! So you go, you order, and in about 10-20 seconds it's in your car.


(FYI, the only pre-made pizzas are cheese and pepperoni. For anything else you'll need to wait, or pre-order.)

Now, I will say, that when I've picked-up an order during an off-time, I've found the pre-made pizza to be a little stale. But when I've gone during a busy time (Friday 5-7), the place is hoppin', and the food moves fast enough to ensure freshness.

The pizza has a standard crust, not too thin to be considered New York Style, but not too thick to be Chicago style. In addition, it has corn meal on the bottom (used to keep it from sticking), which I always like. The cheese is actually cheese and the pepperoni is good as well. We usually gorge ourselves, and eat waaay too much.

But my favorite thing to order has got to be the Crazy Bread. For the most part, its the same dough as the crust, just rolled into sticks about 1 inch in diameter, and about 8 inches long. They're REALLY buttery and topped with grated parmesean. They're delicious all by themselves. But I really enjoy dipping them in the Crazy Sauce -- which is really just tomato sauce.

All-in-all, there are few deals as good or convenient as this. I get a large pepperoni with Crazy Bread and Sauce for about $8. I drive up, pick up, and start eating when I get home. For me it's about 1/2 the time and 1/2 the price as ordering delivery. A definite plus in my book.

Atmosphere: N/A (no dining facilities)
Food: 3.5 (Pizza is average, but the Crazy Bread is amazing)
Service: 4/5
Total: 7/10

Price: $
Kid Friendly: N/A. No dining facilites.

Conclusion: One of the best values out there. The pizza is average, but the Crazy Bread is amazing. Definitely worth the trip, and the drive-thru makes pick-up very easy.

Restaurant Info:
Little Casears
117 N Pilot Knob Rd.
Denver, NC 28037
p) 704-827-8585

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hot Dogs and Chili in Mooresville...

Hey everybody, I'm swamped today, so I won't be able to post a restaurant review. BUT, I did want to share a GREAT article by Joe Marusak at the Charlotte Observer. It talks about Poppa's Hot Dogs -- a hot dog and Chili place on 150 in Mooresville.

Personally, I think this place sounds great. And since I love me a chili dog, I'll be going here soon.

But I'd like to hear from you... have you been to Poppa's Hot Dogs? How was it??

Here's the link:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Recipe Friday: Caramel Popcorn Balls

Fall is here, and you know what that means -- s'mores around the fire-pit, drinking hot chocolate on the couch, and making popcorn balls.

For some reason popcorn balls just feel like Fall to me. So, as surely as the leaves start to fall, you'll find me in the kitchen making these at least once when the weather gets colder.

So, here's a recipe that I used last year to make some delicious caramel popcorn balls. Because it's just me and my wife, I halved the recipe, and still had plenty to eat.

I pulled the recipe from I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Star Wars Cupcakes!! (SQUEEEE!)

I have a confession. Yes, another one.

This one may shock you, because you're used to my suave and debonair exterior. But behind my cool and collected 007-ish looks lies the heart of a.....


I know you're shocked, and you feel as if the world is crumbling around you. And I don't blame you. You should feel that way. Go ahead and cry.... Ok, done?

Good, because you're gonna LOVE these Star Wars Cupcakes! They're AWESOME! The last time I saw something this cool, was when I was at the Star Trek Convention, and a Klingon was holding a Tribble!! (SQUEEEEEE!!)

Below is a link to the article. And for those of you who cook cupcakes -- can any of you make an R2D2 cupcake?? If so, send me a photo, and I'll feature it on here! May the Frosting be with you. :)

Nevole's Pizza (Denver, NC)

A few days ago I left the Coffeehouse in search for food. Where would I go? There's a Chinese buffet, a Showmars, and a Mid-Town Sundries nearby. It's not often that I find so many new restaurants within a 5 minute walk!

However, I chose to go with Nevole's Pizzeria instead.

When I walked into Nevole's I was reminded of some of the pizzerias of my youth -- the interior is very basic, with few frills. The walls have shelves lined with beer cans serves. There is only one TV, and the furniture has nicks and scrapes. Not really the atmosphere for a date, but the atmosphere is good if you're just looking for a few slices.

The pizza here is done in the New York style. And pizza is really all they do. The menu has subs, wings, calzone, and of course pizza. I decided to go with their lunch special. Two large slices of pizza (I chose pepperoni) and a drink for $4.99. I thought the deal was good. But then I tasted the pizza.

This deal is GREAT!

Because of the plain interior, I was expecting plain pizza. But it's good pizza! Really good! The crust was tasty and I actually ate my crust (which is unusual for me). The pepperoni wasn't too greasy, and the mozzarella cheese, actually tasted like mozzarella cheese. The sauce was a little thin for my linking -- but that's sorta standard for New York pizza so I can't blame them for that.

All in all, a great find. I'll be back.

Atmosphere: 2/5
Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 10/15

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes, as long as they like pizza!

Conclusion: The basic interior hides some really good pizza and fast, yet friendly, service. If you like New York style pizza, you should try this place.

Restaurant Info:
Nevole's Pizzeria
7260 Hwy 73
Suite 118
Denver, NC 28037
p) 704-822-1964