Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Fabulous Foodie Giveaway!

Free stuff you can win!

Q: What happens when your little food blog gets noticed by a national restaurant chain?? 

A: You get free stuff, that's what!

A little while ago I was contacted by a Noodles and Company representative, asking if I wanted some swag (a.k.a.  free stuff).  So I did what any other underemployed PR professional / Foodie would do -- I said "Yes please!" (At least I said please!)

A few days later, I had a Noodles and Company T -Shirt, mood rings, mini football, and Free Bowl coupons.  Fortunately for you, I'm the generous sort.  So, mi free stuff es su free stuff.  (That's Spanish for my free stuff is your free stuff.)

Now, you're probably asking yourself -- "How do I get the free stuff?"  Great question!

Answer: Send an e-mail to me at lakenormanfoodie@gmail.com with Free Stuff in the subject line. Be sure to include your name and address (so I can mail the stuff to you). In one week I'll pick the winners and send it out.

Items to win include:
1 T-Shirt (medium)
1 Mini-Football
3 Free Bowl coupons
5 Mood(le) Rings (Mine says I'm "Upbeat and Passionate," and that I should be eating Mediterranean food -- no joke!)

Rules and Details:
  • Only one e-mail per person per day.
  • Additional e-mails from same e-mail address per day will be deleted.
  • Winning names will be picked by the Lake Norman Foodie through chance, luck, and blurred vision due to excessive wine drinking.
  • You may not win anything.
  • If you win one (1) item, you will no longer be able to win additional items.
  • The Lake Norman Foodie reserves the right to send you an occasional e-mail (which you can unsubscribe from.)
  • In addition, your e-mail address will probably be donated to the Lake Norman Wine and Food Festival, which will only use your e-mail address for an occasional update (which you can unsubscribe from) as next year's Festival approaches. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Restaurant Review: Mint (Mooresville)

It's been a while since I had the chance to review a new restaurant in the Lake Norman area.  Backed up by projects and travel, my taste buds have been screaming for something new.  So, I did what any other Foodie would do -- I traveled up the road to try a place that I've been wanting to visit.  This day I wanted to visit Mint Indian Cuisine.

Found in the large strip-mall that houses Best Buy in Mooresville, Mint is relatively easy to get to.  However, if you take 150, be ready for a long drive.  With all the lights and traffic, the short distance can feel like an eternity.

I walked into Mint and was immediately seated.  Since I was there for the lunch buffet, I gave my drink order to the host (who also was the bus-buy and waiter) and headed to the prominent buffet tables found in the back corner of this small restaurant.  To my surprise, the selection was larger than I was expecting.

I'm having a hard time remembering the extensive array of foods, but it included a chicken curry (Chicken Tikka?), rice, coconut rice, a spinach curry, tomato soup (I was a little surprised about that selection), onion salad, pickled vegetables, Naan (lots of it!) and many other selections.

I helped myself to many of the items listed above and took my seat where my soda was waiting.  But before I took a bite I decided to take a look at the place.  The restaurant is clean but it gives a clinical vibe.  Unlike many of the Indian restaurants I've before, there is very little clutter and the restaurant feels just, well, clinical.  I probably got this feeling from the bare walls.  But, aside from a few things near the cash register, there is nothing that distinguishes the interior of the restaurant. 

But enough with the atmosphere -- let's munch!

Since I'm not a big fan of vegetarian curries, I went straight for the chicken curry that I believe was Chicken Tikka.  The chicken was plentiful, moist and tender, while the curry sauce was nice and thick. But the flavor was a little lacking.

** WARNING -- RANT AHEAD ** Unfortunately, this lack of flavor is something that I've noticed in many of the ethnic restaurants of the area.  It's like the restaurants are trying hard to appeal to such a broad spectrum of people, they choose to make the food on the blander (is that a word?) side.  This is just a bad idea all the way around.  If you're new to the cuisine, you're not actually getting a chance to experience all the flavors.  And if you're experienced at eating this type of food, all you're left with is an empty feeling where the taste is supposed to be.  Come on restaurants of Lake Norman, don't tone down the food!  I'm an adult, I can handle the flavor -- I promise. Rant over.

Aside from the previous rant, the food was good.  Nothing was over-cooked.  Nothing was under-cooked.  There was plenty of food, a large selection of food, and the different sauces and desserts were the Indian standards and perfectly good.  In addition, I'm a huge fan of Naan, and I just couldn't stop eating the stuff.

Atmosphere: 2.5
Food: 3
Service: 3
Total: 8.5/15

Kid Friendly? Yes.  High Chairs are available, and the linoleum floor will take whatever your kids can throw at it.
Price: $

Conclusion: It's one of the few Indian restaurants we have in the area, and the lunch buffet has something for everybody.  If it's your first time trying Indian food, give it a shot.  But if you're experienced with Indian cuisine and not there for the buffet, make sure they know it. I'm sure they'll be able to kick the flavor up a notch.
Restaurant Info:
Mint Indian Cuisine
591-N River Highway
Mooresville, NC 28117
p) (704) 660-8899
e) mintindiancuisine@gmail.com

Friday, August 27, 2010

Deep Fried Alcohol -- Beer and Wine Make it to the Deep Fryer.

I need to categorize this in the "Where there's a will, there's a way" category.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that some of the newest deep fried goodies include beer and the frozen margarita.  (YAAY!  Finally, somebody has found the best (a.k.a. easiest) way to win my heart!)

Sealed in dough, these "Beer Blasts are still made with a top-secret process that seals beer inside of a "pretzel-like dough pocket that's shaped like ravioli." The process is so secretive, that the creator is awaiting a patent for the process.

The deep fried frozen margaritas are a little more traditional.  They are made with funnel cake batter that is mixed with tequila or tequila-flavored wine then dusted with margarita mix and served in a salt-rimmed plastic glass.

I don't know about you, but I now have two very important reasons to make it to the closest fair!  Now, all I gotta do is actually find one!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another Wine Bar Opens!

Observer Columnist Joe Marusak had a nice blurb about Mooresville's newest wine bar, The Wine Dive. 

The owner, Thor Chitow, describes The Wine Dive as a "wine saloon," as it offers 40 wines by the glass -- but also has an extensive selection of beer on tap.

The Wine Dive already has some stiff competition in the Lake Norman Area.  At my last count (let me know if any of these have closed -- or if I'm missing any) other wine bars in the area include: Corkscrew, XO Tapas and Wine Bar, The Wine Cellar, The Wine Loft and 202 North Main Street.  It's sorta a crowded field, but I wish them luck -- as far as I'm concerned you can't have too much wine in ANY area! 

Here's the info:
The Wine Dive
807 Williamson Road, Suite 101
Mooresville, NC

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pardon the dust . . .

As you might have noticed, the Lake Norman Foodie is undergoing a re-design.  Over the next few days (hopefully not weeks!) things will be moving around and changing.  Just please bear with me, and this will be over soon.

Until then, if you want to cook, please check out my recipes, or if worse comes to worse, get my favorite cook book (The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Heavy-Duty Revised Edition) and try to make your own culinary masterpiece!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tri-Tip Coming to the East Coast

Below is an article I ran across in the Sacramento Bee which talks about a cut of beef that I grew up with -- tri-tip.

When marinated and thrown on the grill, this cut of beef is absolutely delicious. Found between the bottom sirloin and round, this triangular cut (hence the name tri-tip) of beef will be found at almost every backyard grill and every street fair during the summer in California's Central Valley.

Below is a part of the article, with the link to the full story. Apparently tri-tip is growing in popularity and is found in a few restaurants on the east coast. Yay!

Tri-tip is 'California's Cut' -- and a gift to the nation
Wednesday, Jul. 21, 2010

When it comes to beef, tri-tip rules as the king of the California grill. Now this humble, easy-to-cook cut is gaining a toehold in other parts of the nation and is even wowing diners in the Big Apple.

Sporadic consumer demand outside California has spurred Costco, other national chains and regional grocers, to supply what the California Beef Council has officially dubbed California's Cut. The council has fielded so many requests from people in other states longing for tri-tip that it posted a meat-cutting chart on its Web site (http://www.calbeef.org/).

"These are people who moved out of California or who tasted tri-tip during a visit here, and they can't find it where they live," explained Laura Norman, marketing director for the Sacramento-based council. "Now they can take our chart to their butchers and have a tri-tip cut especially for them."

While these grass-roots appeals caught some grocers' attention, they hadn't caused a ripple in any dining meccas. Then, earlier this year, Northern California tri-tip czar John Pickerel introduced New York City to California's Cut at his Tri Tip Grill. Ever since, New Yorkers have lined up there for a taste. . .

Click here for the rest of the article.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Foodie Travels: In-N-Out Burger

Heaven. Pure Heaven.

This was the thought that went through my mind when I ended my In-N-Out Burger drought, and bit into my food in Petaluma, Calif. The meal consisted of a burger, fries and a chocolate shake. However, the burger and fries weren't your standard menu items. In fact, you won't even find the following terms on the menu -- but trust me, the "Animal Style" burger and "Well-Done" fries are just two items that can be found in the In-N-Out Hidden Menu. (This is a topic that is worthy of its own post.

The "Animal Style" burger has a beef patty that was cooked in a mustard sauce (trust me, it's delicious), grilled onions, ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce, pickles, cheese and a thousand island sauce. The "Well Done" fries are fries that have been cooked extra-long so they are very crispy.

The "Animal Style" burger was slightly messy -- the Thousand Island sauce dripped onto my fingers. And the high-quality produce - crisp lettuce and ripe tomatoes -- was a nice contrast to the texture of the burger. In addition, the grilled onions added a hint of smokey sweetness to the burger. Simply delicious.

The "Well Done" fries were very good. They were very crispy -- not a soggy fry to be had. In addition, the potatoes were cut and fried in front of my eyes -- you just can't get a fresher french fry.

The chocolate shake was good. They claim it's a 100% ice cream milk shake. But it's more like the standard fast food soft-serve milkshake -- like a Wendy's frosty, but just a little more liquid. Don't get me wrong, it was still delicious, but a far cry from a real milkshake.

After all was said and done, I finished the burger and shake but ate only about half of the fries -- there were a LOT. I love In-N-Out, and my allegiance has only grown since I moved to the east coast over a decade ago. Cookout and Five Guys are good -- but IMHO, this is better.

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

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes

Conclusion: A great burger made only better with fresh produce and REALLY fresh fries, make this a delicious meal. If you're ever within a 30 minute drive of one, be sure to drive and try it. It's worth it.

Restaurant Info:
In-N-Out Burger

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Foodie Travels: Sonoma Wineries

Last week, with only a moment's notice, I decided to grab a last-minute flight and join my wife in Sonoma County, Calif., for a convention she was attending. If you don't know about Sonoma, think wine country next to Napa. So, I hopped on a flight, and about 7 hours and one connection later, I was in San Francisco International. YAAY! I know. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it. :)

After meeting my wife at the airport and eating our way through San Francisco, we made it to the convention hotel. The next day, we joined her friend and headed up the road during some convention down-time to try some local wineries that distribute wines all the way to North Carolina. The next thing I knew, we were exploring the grounds of Chateau St. John. WOW, what a place!

The estate is gorgeous and HUGE. But in some ways its a little over-done. The wine-tasting room is easily larger than my entire house. It was stuffed with trinkets, books, hats, sweatshirts, and lots of wine displays --one display had over a thousand bottles of wine. The only thing missing was a water fountain filled with wine! (If you know the movie Sideways, think Frass Canyon.)

But that said, it WAS quite nice -- and the seating area outside was remarkable. LOTS of tables, chairs and umbrellas from Restoration Hardware were inviting us to stay, relax, and enjoy a bottle of Chardonnay.

Who am I to decline such gracious hosts??

So, the three of us sat back and relaxed for a little over an hour. Surrounded by rose bushes and vine-covered walls, while enjoying the warm sun and a cool breeze, we thoroughly enjoyed our first winery.

It should be noted that the Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay was perfect for the summer day. With hints of pear and apple, this slightly oaky chardonnay had an awesome finish of spices and clove. Light but not too light. Absolutely the perfect drink for the perfect afternoon.

More about the next winery, Blackstone, to come....