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Posts from the ‘Charlotte’ Category

Bourdain and Ripert

Last Wednesday evening, I dragged Tristan to Good vs. Evil at the Belk Theater in uptown Charlotte for an entertaining evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert.

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It turned out to be a surprisingly intimate evening with the two chefs.

I was REALLY EXCITED about this show… as I have been a fan of Bourdain for years and years. I’ve read all of his culinary/travel books, the most recent being Medium Raw ; and am crazy about his show, No Reservations … Travel, drinking, swearing and great food? Seriously, what’s not to love? As for Ripert, I knew substantially less about him, other than what I’d seen on Top Chef and in relationship to his friendship with Bourdain. After this though, Le Bernardin is definitely on my must list for our next trip to NYC. (We’ll have to save up though – even to just do lunch! $$$). 

First off, they took turns interrogating each other in the hot seat. (The hot seat consisting of the rather crap folding chair they claimed felt as if  it was going to collapse at any moment).

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Bourdain was the first one out, he introduced Ripert and then proceeded to grill him on his culinary background, Le Bernardin and his dislike for fellow chef Gordon Ramsey. (Apparently Ripert, a Buddhist, thinks Ramsey is a meanie. He is not wrong).

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Then it was Bourdain’s turn in the hot-seat, where Ripert grilled him (mostly) on his slightly salacious past.  It didn’t take long for the f-bombs to start flying. Which I admit to loving about Bourdain.

“I sure as hell know…”

After the interrogations, they sat down together, Bourdain with a beer and Ripert with a Diet Coke (his choice of beverage surprised me). They mused about the current culinary “it’” movement of Farm to Table. They both have very strong opinions and aren’t afraid to express them.  It felt more like we were eavesdropping on two good friends having a conversation, rather than speaking in front of an audience.

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With an audience of food obsessives (and the person they dragged along with them!), this was a love fest. Most of us got the references they spoke of, and ‘celebrity chef’ slams.

Bourdain talked about how cooking should be a necessary skill that is taught to every child… along the lines of potty-training, learning to tie your shoe laces, riding a bike, etc. “Everyone should know how to chop a fucking onion” he said – to which I agree wholeheartedly.

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Bourdain slammed Sandra Lee (to many cheers!) and Guy Fieri . He spoke about his current “riff” with Paula Deen – and how she is the most dangerous woman in America. True, true. Cheeseburger meatloaf with a stick of buttah, anyone?

They touched on the topic of sustainable seafood (yet another reason I want an iPhone, for the Monterey Bay Aquarium app while dining out!)… Ripert advocated it, while Bourdain said he would eat the last Bluefin Tuna in the ocean if he could. Both commented that they had signed some sort of agreement to never eat shark fins. (Rightly so, the practice of harvesting the fins sounds horrific).  They discussed cheap food, fast food and the nastiness that is the McRib. They also spoke up for foie gras… apparently it is being done “correctly” here in the US, by the three farms that produce it.

Towards the end of the show there was a brief Q &A segment. Which was, I’m not going to lie, quite awkward. It didn’t help that the first guy up was clearly hammered, kissing ass, and talking nonsense.  Bourdain eventually told him to “fuck off” and called on someone else. (It needed to happen). It was disorganized, and could have used ushers manning the mic stations (or something like that) because well, yeah, awkward.

But all in all – it was a fantastically fun evening. I think it even inspired Tristan to want to learn how to cook, a wee bit. Which is music to my ears.

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Why I Crew

 

A little more than a week ago, I took part in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, as a Crew Member. A Team Leader of the Information Services Crew, to be exact. I have volunteered as a Crew Member before. I have even participated in the Avon (now defunct) 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer, as a Walker.

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Why do I crew?

I crew for the woman I saw on both Saturday and Sunday crossing the finish line, her body wracked with sobs. She seemed sad, and happy, at the same time. A fellow Team Leader, Lisa, (a stranger to the woman) gave her a hug at the finish line on Sunday. I later found out the woman is a breast cancer survivor, as I stood next to her during the Closing Ceremony.

I crew for my Gram… because she has battled (and won) this disease. She had a mastectomy, and is an 18 year survivor!

I crew for myself, as a woman with a history of breast cancer in her family.

I love that I do this. I’m very proud. I do it for you.

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The Crew Members on my particular team ranged from average to awesome. Some members of my team were FABULOUS. (Some were… meh. I could tell their heart wasn’t really in it). I received some less-than-enthusiastic responses to our early start time. (Yes, 4 a.m. is early. Yes, you knew this when you signed up. *ahem*.  You are doing this for charity. Presumably you are doing this because Breast Cancer has touched your life in one way or another. It is ONE weekend out of the whole year. Suck. It. Up. – Rant over).  So, I made the best of it – relying on those that I could count on – and picking up the slack myself.

I got 2.5 hrs. of sleep on Friday night, and then worked for 18 hours. On my feet. (Saturday night was very exciting… I got a whole 3.75 hrs. of sleep!). I was in Uptown Charlotte at 3:45 a.m. Saturday morning.  I joked that the only time I sat down that weekend was to pee. (Sadly it wasn’t really a joke).

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I have never worn so much pink in my entire life.

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I had a fabulous time.

People ask me why I crew, raise money, and am involved with the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. To understand, perhaps you have to see it in person. Even if you don’t know someone participating in one of the walks… come out. Attend an opening or closing ceremony. Cheer for and support those who walk (and those of us who work it!).

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I’ll be back next year, and the year after that. I even hope to WALK the event again, in 2013. I’m thinking of doing it in Washington DC…? (That way I can still Crew in Charlotte).

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I set a modest little goal for myself for fundraising, of $300.00 (Crew is not required to fundraise, but is encouraged to do so). This year, time got away from me. I didn’t even *try* to start fundraising until a week before the event. Ooops.

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Thank you to all of my donors who stepped-up to the plate last-minute, to help me surpass my goal. You guys are the best! Next year – I’ll do better. You can always do better. 🙂

Learn more about the good work performed by the Avon Foundation and the Avon Walk  at AvonWalk.org

 

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WIAW–Nothing Fancy

Despite the fact that I did my “big” shopping last weekend (meaning $100+ at both EarthFare AND Trader Joe’s each; along with a basic HT run for $45), it hasn’t been showing in my food this week. Wha? Who knows. Call it busyness, laziness, and the desire to eat “comfort food”. Also, I seem to have forgotten how to buy vegetables at the grocery store, as opposed to the Farmers Market. The FM is a leeetle slow these days, being in that limbo space between summer and fall. I believe in buying seasonally (within reason), and am a bit stuck right now. So, don’t be appalled at the dire lack of green veggies here…

I. Am. Aware. Smile

This WIAW features a distinct lack of green veggies, and a low-key birthday celebration… enjoy!

 The past two mornings I’ve eaten this…

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In the mix:

Total 2% Plain Greek Yogurt

TBSP HoneyCrunch Peanut Butter (homemade)

TBSP Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (gift from Gram)

2 Mini Banana Oat Bran Muffins (homemade – recipe coming this afternoon!)

Sprinkle of chia seeds

As much as I love my yogurt smooshes, this is an unusual combo for me. I’m usually all about the fresh fruit and crunchy granola on top of my yogurt… but this is a nice compromise, before moving into my staple hot oats of autumn.

I’m still on the iced coffee, but foresee switching back to my beloved lattes and French press soon. Well… as soon as it ceases being 80-something degrees here every. damn. day!

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Lunch has also been on repeat this week…

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In the mix:

2 Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes

1/2 c. Refried beans

1 oz goat cheese

Cholula, salt, pepper

And…

leftover homemade sweet potato “fries”, with a big dollop of organic ketchup on top, served cold. (Yes, I like my leftover sweet potato fries cold. Always).

Where is the green!?!!?!?

Afternoon snack of a LOCAL apple (hooray for apple season!)

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Yesterday happened to be my Mom’s birthday. As my Dad was out-of-town on business, and Tristan was hanging with the guys, I took her out for a “nothing fancy” girls birthday dinner out.

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Our first stop was Dish  for a local OMB beer and veggie plates for both of us.

(I don’t have any pics from here, as it was exceptionally dark at our table).

I had the Three Vegetable Plate with…

Smoky Lima Beans, Mashed Red-skinned Potatoes, Collards (GREEN!!!), a deliciously fluffy biscuit and half a deviled-egg.

For dessert and coffee, we trekked over to Amelie’s

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Salted Caramel Brownie, anyone?

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Bella was there to greet us, when I dropped my Mom back off at her house. Cute puppy pics, just because!

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I didn’t get home until after 11pm, which is insanely late for me on a weeknight. (Oooh, wild-child!). Needless to say, I’m knackered today. ZzZzZzZzZzZz.

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Yiasou!

The second weekend in September here in Charlotte, means one thing to me… Greek Fest!

I’ve been going to the Yiasou Greek Fest since I first moved to Charlotte in the 6th grade. We used to walk there for a field-trip from my Elementary school… and the tradition continued into adulthood. Any year that I’ve been living in Charlotte come September, that is where I will be.

It’s a big, loud, Greek party – that has been going strong since 1978 (just like me!)

Highlights…  Mythos beer, Spanakopita, Frappe, and Greek coffee… ohhhh, the coffee.

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After getting our fill of the festival and deciding it was time for dinner, we scoped out the food lines, and finding the line for Gyros and Kota Pitas (T’s choices) particularly massive, we decided to take our food to go. Thankfully, the Yiasou fest has a drive-thru! We picked up what turned out to be a ton of food to take home and enjoy on the comfy couch, while catching up with Fringe on Blu-Ray.

I had the Baked Fish, which came with all sorts of sides. I broke my “only local humane meat” rule and sampled a bit of everything… from the dolmade to the pastichio. All delicious. And then… there was dessert…greek fest15

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EARTHQUAKE!!

Holy crap… I was just sitting here at work, when everything started to shake. I felt dizzyish, and the windows and shades were rattling. Freaky! It must have lasted about 30 seconds, but felt much longer.

Apparently this was centered in Virginia, and about a 5.8 magnitude.
We *definitely* felt it here in Charlotte.

GOOD vs. EVIL

This is VERY exciting news to a foodie… particularly a Top Chef-loving, Travel Channel-watching, Bourdain book-reading nerd such as myself.

 

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They are coming to Charlotte on October 26th, 2011.  Get your tickets here: Blumenthal PAC

They are *officially* on sale this Friday July 29th, at 10 a.m. – but if you are a member of the E-Priority Club, you can get ‘em now! (There are even VIP tickets if you are inclined to drop $150 per ticket). (Or, if you want the advance link, comment or email me!)

Eric… you are immensely talented, not to mention handsome, with a  lovely French accent, and I’m looking forward to seeing you and hearing what you have to say — but for me… honestly? It’s all about Tony. I’ve been a fan of his for over a decade. C’mon October! 

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What do you think of Anthony Bourdain and/or Eric Ripert? Geniuses? Jackasses?

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A Helping Hand

If you’ve been around the blogosphere this week, perhaps you’ve seen Caitlin’s post about Tonya ? Tonya Breen is a 32-year-old mother of two young boys, who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She and her family live here in Charlotte; so when Caitlin did a post about her situation (they are neighbors), I decided that I wanted to get involved. I joined her online community to see if there was anything that I could do to help out. I have signed up to bring dinner to the Breen family in July and August, so far. I’d like to make it a once-a-month occurrence for as long as they need the help. It’s not much, but I hope it will help ease the burden, if only a bit.

Tonya is a very devout Christian, as I understand it (I don’t know her personally); and if you know me at all – you know that I am, well, NOT. However, something about her situation spoke to me. She is 32. I am 32. She lives here in Charlotte, as well. Lucky for her (relatively speaking, of course) she lives next door to a very well-known blogger who was able to bring her situation to our attention. I doubt I would have heard about Tonya were it not for Caitlin. I love our little blogging community, and am so proud to belong to something that can do so much good! Tonya has a site to raise money for her expected $100,000 in hospital bills and childcare expenses as she tries to beat this brain tumor. I made a small donation, but of course, wish it could be more. However, due in great part to all of the wonderful people in the blogging community, she has collected over $15,000 in just a few short days. It’s truly amazing.

She seems to have an amazing attitude about all of this, which is truly inspiring. I doubt I would be able to be so positive through something like this.

Again, if you’d like to help Tonya and her family out, please see her site here.

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Noosa – Funny Name, Delicious Yoghurt

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I had my first taste of Noosa Yoghurt this morning, and I am already raving about it. I found it at The Fresh Market earlier this week, and snapped two of the three available flavors right up. I purchased Raspberry (which I enjoyed this morning) and Strawberry Rhubarb. There was also a Blueberry flavor there, which I’ll buy next time; but they didn’t have the Honey flavor that Ashley has raved about. Thanks to her, I knew what Noosa was, and that I wanted to try it. I’m so glad I did!

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I never buy flavored yogurt… for me it’s Greek plain (Fage 2%), all the way. However, this was a nice treat to have. I can see eating one of these once-a-week, and hope to keep them in my rotation.

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The fruit puree was beautiful, simple, and natural. You could see the raspberry seeds… nothing fake or artificial here.

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This yogurt reminded me of the yogurt that I fell in love with while living in England a decade ago. I have never found anything here in the States that comes close to the yogurt I ate in England – until now!! (Can you tell how excited I am?!?! Dork!)

Technically this container is supposed to be 2 servings – which would work great as a snack or dessert. However, seeing as how this was my breakfast, I ate this whole container. It’s only 8 oz (which in my mind is a serving of yogurt anyways), and was very satisfying with 260 calories, 12 grams of fat and 18 grams of protein, total, for both servings.

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I would like to research the company more. All I know is that it is a Colorado based company, using a culture from Australia. I wonder if the cows are grass-fed? That would make this yogurt PERFECT.

Noosa, I’m so happy to have found you here in Charlotte!

Have you ever tried Noosa products??

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Stormy, Stormy Night

Last night I woke up with my heart pounding, around 12:45 a.m. Why? What just woke me up?

Oh. That.

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(via Flickr)

Crikey!

I had only been asleep for a little more than an hour. I remember watching the end of Will Ferrell’s bit on The Daily Show, but turned the TV off right after. Sorry “Moment of Zen”. I was tired. I AM tired.

After jolting awake, and discovering that Tristan was awake, too, I got out of bed to take a look at the raging storm. Holy cow. Watching the pine trees bow and sway in the backyard, as well as the nearly constant lightning strikes, I thought that it might be a good idea to turn on the TV and see what was going on. Of course, true to form, News14Carolina was urging everyone to get up and go the lowest level of your house. So, that we did. Also, I was concerned with how Lilly was dealing with the storm. (No, she doesn’t sleep in our room. Yet. I’m working on it). So, there the three of us were, at 1:00 a.m., hanging out in the living room, until the storm passed.

I saw that down Katie’s way, things were worse… but the worst that I saw here in town was a couple of stoplights that were malfunctioning on the way to work this morning. Thankfully, we don’t have any damage to report, this time around. Just an ever-growing lack of sleep. *yawn*.

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To Market, To Market

I went to Atherton Mills Market on Saturday, for the first time. What the heck had I been waiting for? I’m definitely going back. Perhaps for a once-a-month visit… to stock up on more honey, at the very least. But more on that in a minute.

Atherton Mills is a clean, urban, modern take on a “Farmers Market”. It is unlike every other Farmers Market that I have ever been to. This turned out to be a very good thing, and a little disappointing as well…

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Atherton Mills Farmers Market

The good…

There were some truly amazing products there, that I have not found at other market locations around town.

The honey (the honey!!!!). Cloister Honey produces the BEST. HONEY. I. HAVE. EVER. TASTED. Hands down. And? It’s well and truly local. They have hives on top of some buildings in uptown Charlotte – as well as in Wilkesboro, NC for their amazing Sourwood honey. Who knew something with ‘sour”’ in the name, could be so sweet and smooth? I have been purchasing local honey for a couple of years now, but nothing comes close to being as good as Cloister Honey. I spent a while chatting to Randall about his products and sampling just about everything on offer. I ended up with my favorite honey, the Sourwood, and their Whipped (think creamed) Cinnamon Honey. Spreadable, and delectable. Oh my.

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In the five days since I have purchased this, I’ve already put the honey on yogurt, cornbread and homemade English muffins. I’m going to treat this honey like a good balsamic vinegar… I won’t cook with it, but rather use it raw to savor it.

Some other great finds at Atherton were…

25 Star (18 year old) Balsamic Vinegar from Ohhlio Express. I have been on the hunt for the perfect balsamic since I left my favorite vinegar company back in England. I might have just found it. This is a local company, with a decidedly non-local product (obviously).

I also sampled some locally roasted nuts, pickles, locally made Greek-style yogurt, and cheeses. I ended up with a really nice Asiago cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery, along with some local Sweet Potato & Cracked Black Pepper Gluten-free crackers, made right here in Charlotte. I also bought some grass-fed beef/pastured pork hot dogs from Proffitt Farms, mostly for Tristan. He likes meat, and well, if we’re going to eat it – it’s going to be local, pastured, grass-fed and humane. So, $12 hotdogs it is!

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There was far less fresh produce at this market than other markets, which wasn’t a problem for me, as I had already visited my local market and purchased eggs, chicken and beef, arugula, mini carrots, and 2 varieties of lettuce. However, if you were looking for straight up garden variety (pun intended) produce, you might be a bit disappointed at Atherton. But what they lacked in produce, they made up for in other offerings, in my opinion.

The other little disappointment for me there was the wine vendor. Vin Master has a booth there, (as well as a store across the parking lot), and was sampling wines. We started to chat to the owner, and while sampling he informed us, somewhat begrudgingly, that the wine was from California. Boo. Nothing special there. Now, our NC wines can leave a little to be desired (except the Biltmore wines – which are excellent, and I’m not just saying that because I knew the winemaster!), they are usually overly sweet and remind me of Manischewitz. However, in the absence of say a NC wine, it would have been nice to have seen some Virginia wines, or something like that. I don’t shop at Farmers Markets expecting to find products from California, with zero local connection, and found that disappointing.

We also sampled some ‘Melon Ice’, which was delicious and refreshing on a warm spring day. Sitting outside on the benches, and watching our LYNX light-rail train go by… this was definitely a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Home again, home again, market is done.

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