ogre sauce ~ hot

Ogre Sauce HOT

Your favorite local “all-around great bbq sauce on just about anything” is coming back at you with something a bit spicier. While leveling in at Medium on the hot scale Ogre Sauce HOT is an approachable flavor for most anyone. Made with the most popular ingredients like vinegar, mustard, honey, salt & pepper as in their original, they surprise you at the end with the very last ingredient, the Carolina Reaper. If you are unfamiliar with this pepper please know that it is no joke, coming in at number one for Worlds Hottest Pepper. Luckily for us it is the smallest dose and if I can handle it, so can you.

 

Kickstarter

Once again they are back to get support from their fans to help get Ogre Sauce HOT on the market and in your hands. Once it’s produced and distributed you’ll be able to find it at Reid’s Fine Foods, Whole Foods Market, Blackhawk Hardware, The People’s Market, Earl’s Grocery, and Provisions Waxhaw. Right now you can sample it at Tijuana Flats restaurants on their hot sauce bar; located in Ballantyne, University, and Concord Mills.

They have exceeded their goal of $6,000 and currently have over $10,000 people pledged which is from roughly 365 people. Click here to get pledge yours!

 

At Home Recipes

 

My boyfriend and I love to cook at home and he is somewhat of a hot sauce collector so we were thrilled to be given the opportunity to test out the new Ogre Sauce HOT. This version of Ogre Sauce has the same sweet tangy flavor as the original but with a slight punch at the end making you want to see what else you can try it with.

 

Dinner ~ Grilled Chicken Breasts, Veggies & Corn

Summertime is meant for grilling so we set out to grill everything on our plate. We purchased some chicken breasts, fresh vegetables and corn on the cob and lathered them up in olive oil for the charcoal grill. The seasoned chicken was dusted with salt & pepper and the standard go-to in our kitchen, a Salt-Free Herb mix from Provisions Waxhaw. Simple salt & pepper for the veggies and the Ogre Sauce HOT for the chicken. It matched really well with the chicken and when it slid over onto my vegetables, I wasn’t mad about it :)

 

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Breakfast ~ Ham, Cheese & Veggie Omelette

Breakfast is one of our favorite meals and we look forward to it every weekend, and when the off chance comes that we work from home. For us, eggs and veggies are a staple for breakfast and with it we’ll have sausage or bacon and the occasional hashbrown cake.

We chose to pair the Ogre Sauce HOT with a ham, cheese and vegetable omelette. Sautéing the veggies first with salt & pepper is key, then throw in the meat to give that a bit of a sear. I typically like to drizzle Valentina hot sauce on my eggs along with some sour cream but since we had the Ogre Sauce HOT I had the chance to try a new variation. I was thoroughly pleased.

 

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Taste for Yourself

Overall I have put Ogre Sauce HOT on chicken twice, eggs three times and ready to try it on some pork chops, wings or maybe even some salmon. I highly recommend giving this sauce a shot because it deserves a special place in your refrigerator as a super versatile hot sauce.

 

Sponsored:  A big thank you to Chris and his team for letting me try their new hot sauce. Wishing them all the luck in their kickstarter to bring this sauce to more stores near you. We made our pledge, have you?

 

 


stumptown station

Local Liquor Focus

A private club located in the heart of downtown Matthews rests just feet away from your favorite shops and restaurants at the intersection of Trade and John Street, named Stumptown Station. There are roughly sixty five distilleries in North Carolina and they take pride in representing at least 20-30 of them at any given time to feature in their craft cocktail menu.

 

 

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One Year Anniversary

Coming up on their one year anniversary in August, since then the owners have put their blood, sweat and tears into the vision for Stumptown Station. Installing everything themselves from the solid single piece of wood for the bar (which is 18 feet long and weighs 1,100 lbs), upholstering chairs, assembling solid wood tabletops, building cabinets behind the bar, and many other little details like stringing ceiling lights.

 

Behind the Name

If you are unfamiliar with why Matthews is known by another name, Stumptown, here is a snipit behind it’s making. You can also read more about Stumptown Station and their mission to create a space for fantastic local liquor drinks amongst the well established beer and wine scene in town on their site.

“Nestled between Charlotte and Monroe, the area now known as Matthews was unspoiled rolling woodlands with large stands of trees. By the early 1800s, this rich and inviting land attracted our early settlers, who were mainly farmers. In the vicinity lay the trading trails, game-rich hunting grounds and the ancestral homes of the Waxhaw and Catawba Indians. These farmers began clearing the land for planting around the start of the 19th century. Cotton grew well and soon became the primary cash crop. As the land was cleared for planting, so many tree stumps were left standing that the early settlement was unofficially known as Stumptown.”

 

 

House Cocktail Menu

This twenty one and up establishment offers a wide variety of local flavors fit for any taste your mood might be after. Craft cocktails made with local spirits, fruits and herbs sourced from local markets like the Matthews Community Farmers Market just across the street on Saturdays. Bartenders also create classic cocktail favorites like an Old Fashioned, Manhattan or Tom Collins. While pouring a simple rum and coke is something they do, what inspires them most is being able to share their knowledge of spirits, their history and new cocktail creations. You might come in looking for the old familiar but likely leave a bit more experienced.

 

Stumptown Old Fashioned

Their Flagship cocktail is made with only the best from what’s around. Rua, American Single Malt Whiskey aged in American Oak Barrels, from Great Wagon Road Distilling in Charlotte, Oak City Amaretto from Raleigh, house brandied cherries, finished with the rind of an orange served over a large ice cube. Pictured: bottom left.

 

 

No Food, No Problem

Stumptown welcomes outside food. Bring your own or order from Seaboard, Pizza Peel, Moe’s BBQ, Pita Kabob, Cafe 157, even Jimmy John’s, most will deliver. There is nothing wrong with eating a nice steak dinner out of a to-go box as long as it’s paired with a fancy cocktail. Make your own happiness!

 

Weekly Specials

With just a few weekly specials to keep you entertained they also host live music on the fourth Saturday of every month. Monday ~ Mystery Beer/Bartenders Choice, Thursday ~ Margarita, Sunday ~ Half Price Drafts (only 6 taps).

 

Membership

There are two levels of membership. Five dollars gets you and four friends in the door to enjoy yourselves, or you can upgrade to VIP for $30 and receive your very own custom engraved heavy cocktail glass plus discounts for ticketed events such as Valentine’s Day or New Years Eve. Join them (and us) today, become a member here.

 

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A warm thank you to Brandon & his team for hosting us for the evening. Eric and I will see you reaaal soon.

 

 


the table is set: a four-city tour served with a coke

Sharing my food experiences at local restaurants is normally the inspiration behind my posts. This time I am honored to have the chance to write about something different, a recipe with a purpose.

I love to cook at home and put my own spin on recipes so I knew this opportunity was right up alley. Trying a new recipe at home AND helping promote a good cause made it an easy choice for me to participate. Let me introduce you to…

sfs

Soul Food Sessions

 

Soul Food Sessions mission is to increase opportunities in the food industry for minority chefs to set the scene for a better future. SFS started as a series of non-profit “pop-up dinner series” here in Charlotte. Now they’re on the move to three new cities.

Through a valuable partnership with Coca-Cola Consolidated they are paving the way to keep conversations going about equal opportunities in the culinary field.

“The table is set for lasting change in the culinary industry.”

Lucky for us, Charlotte is Coca-Cola Consolidated’s home market so that means we get to be the first stop in the four-city tour. The event will be on Tuesday June 19th at Free Range Brewing in NoDa. Then they’re off to Washington D.C., Baltimore and Charleston.

There are a series of appetizers and main courses that will be introduced throughout this tour. Here is the appetizer I recreated at home that will be presented during the kick-off event at Free Range. It was really fun to make and tasted delicious. The simple fact that my house smelled like balsamic vinegar for a couple hours was a big plus :)

 

 

Seared Scallops with Purple Carrot Chutney

 

The person behind this creative appetizer is Chef Greg Williams, you may know him as the chef and owner of What the Fries CLT food truck.

Official drink pairing:  Coca-Cola Zero Sugar

Why a Coke Zero? “Coca-Cola Zero Sugar brings to the forefront the richness of scallops combined with the boastful flavors of ginger and garlic in chutney.”

 

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INGREDIENTS

PURPLE CARROT CHUTNEY
2 purple carrots, finely grated
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup grated ginger
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
SEARED SCALLOPS
6 U10 scallops
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
POTATO LEEK SOUP
2 cups potato leek soup
GARNISH
chives
balsamic vinaigrette

 

DIRECTIONS

1.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, ginger and sugar. Let brown and caramelize for 5 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar to deglaze pan. Cook for 30 minutes. Set aside.
2.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium sauté pan over medium heat. Dry scallops with paper towel and salt and pepper to taste. Add to pan, being careful not to overcrowd scallops. Sear until golden-brown; flip and repeat.
3.  Spoon potato leek soup into base of bowl. Top with chutney and scallops. Finish with chives and balsamic vinaigrette.
4.  Serve and enjoy with a Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

Check out the full recipe here

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Get your tickets here and show your support. Your seat is waiting :)

 

 

 

 

This post was sponsored by Coca-Cola Consolidated. Thank you so much for the opportunity to help promote a good cause.


a fahrenheit valentine

Fahrenheit is known for their playful menu creations. Just think, if you could mix your favorite childhood cereals into pancakes or a breakfast casserole and still be considered a functioning adult then you need to brunch here ASAP.

Not only are the dishes whimsical and unique, Chef Rocco Whalen takes seasonal ingredients and NC businesses seriously. “Eat Local, Drink Local”… all of that is practiced here on the 21st floor. Since I mentioned height, Fahrenheit is also a destination for fantastic Charlotte skyline photos, follow #rooftopon21 on Instagram.

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Charlotte Nachos {regular menu} | Fresh Fried Potato Chips, Pimento “Fondue”, Scallions, Applewood Bacon

 

Date Night

I had a wonderful opportunity to partner up with the Fahrenheit team to taste and get you pumped for their Valentine’s Day Menu. If you are like me and try to avoid restaurants on holidays they are offering this menu Valentine’s Day through Sunday the 18th. Their full menu is still available if you prefer.

The special menu for Valentine’s Day is an easy-to-understand set up with three sections:  starters, entrees and desserts. I find it refreshing when a menu is clear and doesn’t need an explanation on how I should order, or how to share my food. I like to share my food with just a few people, luckily I was with one of them during this meal :)

 

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@beardbeerbard doing what he does best

 

My goal with the following food photos is to make your mouth water. So much that you call the restaurant right now and make a reservation to celebrate a delicious meal with someone special. Every dish was prepared with great care and landed in front of me in a beautiful presentation. You will leave fat and happy, like we did. Pro Tip:  Make you reservation after 6pm to get free street parking.

Starters
Tuna Tartare | Jumbo Lump Crab Sliders | Lobster Tempura Satay
Entrees
Baked Lobster Tail Udon | Snake River Farms Wagyu N.Y. Strip | Pan Seared Black Grouper
Desserts
Dark Chocolate Coconut Truffles | Rum Soaked Cherry Bread Pudding | Blood Orange Cheesecake

 

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Jumbo Lump Crab Sliders | Blistered Shishito Pepper Aioli, Yuzu-Tomato Jam, Greens, Brioche

Since Eric and I are both into photography we had a super fun time taking these photos. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at a cozy table for two next to a well needed lit side wall, no flash needed. Collectively we took about 30 photos so check out our Insta pages for more drool-worthy news feeds.

If you a food blogger reading this, ask to sit next to a lighted column. You will still get a pretty view of the balcony fire pits and city skyline.

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Grouper | Brown Butter Tuscan Kale, Winter Squash Puree, Confit New Potatoes Wagyu | Potato Pave, Cedar Roasted Asparagus, Lobster Beurre Monte

Originally I was set on the Wagyu before I realized that I prefer it raw, in Nigiri form. So I kind of just kept the Grouper from Eric once we switched plates for equal photo opportunities. He only minded a little so of course I shared. At least until dessert, we each had our own cheesecake to devour. The leftovers are in the fridge just waiting for me to get home. Cheesecake for breakfast anyone? Always.

 

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Blood Orange Cheesecake | Champagne Sorbet, Coconut Dust, Tulle Cookie

 

Thank you so much to the Fahrenheit management team and staff for showing Eric and I a really great evening. We are eager to come back and use our gifts <3


charleston getaway

While only in our second year tradition of vacationing in Charleston over the weekend for my boyfriends birthday in late November, I am always very excited to begin the trip. The days before are always hectic trying to predict the weather and pack for all the activities we plan to do like walking around downtown, strolling the beach and staying out late. A girl needs big luggage for all these occasions smashed into one weekend!

Spotted Salamander
Deviled Eggs | smoked salmon + capers
Hot Turkey | pulled turkey, gravy, cranberry, sage mayo, swiss cheese + broccoli salad

We began the trip from home in Waxhaw and decided to take slight detour to Columbia and visit a little lunch spot recommended by some friends called Spotted Salamander. This place is decorated with lovely accents. Every table has it’s own unique set of salt and pepper shakers, a chalkboard display of menu that changes daily. They used to strictly be a catering operation but is now a lunch destination during weekdays from 11:00am to 2:30pm. Next time I am in Columbia this will be my lunch spot.

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Revelry Brewing
Breakfast & Brunettes | Belgian Dubbel + Coffee
Lazy Lover | Belgian Blonde

After checking in to the hotel and regrouping from the car trip, we order a ride and set out for the evening, with somewhat of an agenda. We have made Revelry Brewing’s rooftop a priority both years now so it was obvious that was the very first stop on the list. It is a great rooftop complete with a full bar and space heaters. The perfect place to see the sunset and celebrate our first night in Charleston, cheers’ing the weekend off in style.

Spero
Scottish Egg | szechuan peppercorn sausage, runny egg
Fettucine + Pork | roasted pork, escarole, pickled fennel, sharp provolone
Bread + Butter Flight | cornbread + burnt miso honey butter, sourdough pretzel bun + ham & mustard butter, schmaltz biscuit + malted maple butter

Spero is tucked away on a side street under the bridge. You would never know this quaint little restaurant had such amazing home-made food by judging from the outward appearance alone. This dinner was by far our favorite experience of the entire trip (food-wise). Have you ever had a Bread and Butter flight? I know I haven’t and we both knew immediately it was the first thing we were going to order. The breads were absolutely stellar and the butters were so rich in flavor there was no mistaking everything was made with care and great attention to detail.

Fresh made pasta is one thing difficult to duplicate at home. I have yet to make fresh pasta but it is definitely a goal in the near future. This pasta dish had bits of roasted pork and sharp provolone and was divine. Every bite was a perfect marriage of the different flavors. We savored this dish the rest of the trip.

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SOL Southwest Kitchen
Smoked Tequila Flight | Creyente Mezcal, Montelobos Mezcal, Maestro Dobel Humito Tequila + el vocho, lime, lemon, salt

The hotel in Mount Pleasant where we were staying happened to be right across the street from a fun Southwestern Grill. When we arrived earlier that evening to the hotel there were cars parked on all the medians so we made note to stop before we hit the bed. Their list of cocktails were really all we waned since this was the end of a long night of hanging out in Downtown Charleston, and easy to just walk back across the street after.

Charles Pinckney Historic Site
Charles Pinckney was a major contributor and a signer of the U.S. Constitution. This plot of land is the remains of the plantation and on the National Historical Parks list.

Walking around was our goal for Saturday. Not too far from our hotel was the Charles Pinckney Historical Site. We strolled the grounds of the old rice patties and through the wooded trail around the plantation making our way back to the house. Stopping during a busy trip to appreciate our history and the value behind our ancestors is always important to keep perspective on your life and future goals.

Sullivan’s Island
Poe’s Tavern Black Cat | grilled onions, drunken chili, applewood bacon, pimento cheese
The 450 Pizza Joint Strawberry Icecream | fresh, homemade

My favorite part of trips to Charleston is visiting Sullivan’s Island. I simply cannot go through a trip without it, even if it is to just walk on the beach for ten minutes. Eating at Poe’s Tavern is usually part of my wish list too when I’m on the island. Their burgers are so unique that I have a hard time deciding which new one to try. The best I have eaten so far is a special with fried pickles on top and The Sleeper, which comes with garlic bleu cheese and buffalo fried shrimp. The one here is Black Cat, also a really good choice with chili and pimento cheese.

Charlestowne Fermentory | Pelican Splash, Pineapple IPA
Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co | Something Cold, Blonde Ale

For someone like me who is a big fan of IPA’s, you must stop by the Charlestowne Fermentory. Every beer on their menu was right up my alley and I would have been fine to hang out here all night in their space. We had other stops to make, like the new Edmund’s Oast Brewery location, which was very big and welcoming. Sitting at the bar gave you a full view of the restaurant space and bar taps. Got some growlers to go too!

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Charleston Distilling
Jaspers Gin + Bourbon Whiskey

I have always liked gin, usually mixed in a cocktail. My love for drinking gin neat was introduced to me by way of Jasper’s Gin, from Charleston Distilling. This trip I decided to make a bold move and go for the Jasper’s Bourbon Barrel Gin.

We met one of the distillers the night before sitting at the bar in Edmund’s Oast Brewery. He recommended we check out the special release of their Bourbon Whiskey. It was not a hard sell to Eric so once we arrived to make our purchases there was no thought involved, it was a done deal. Not pictured however, is the Bourbon Maple Syrup I simply just had to have. Per the label it is to be used in cocktails or on chicken & waffles, yes to both!

Craftsmen Kitchen The Cheezer| mozzarella, pecorino, chevre, garlic oil, + added pepperoni
House of Brews | Freehouse, Ashley Farmhouse Ale

When in Charleston, have pizza. That’s a saying right? No, but the pizza at Craftsmen Kitchen was really delicious. Sitting outdoors though with space heaters and string lighting surrounded by high exposed brick walls I sort of felt like I was in New York.

Stopping by what seemed like a secret society hangout known as House of Brews was the last on the agenda for the evening. There is no sign and it is a place like Isla de Muerta in Pirates of the Caribbean “It can only be found by those who already know where it is.” type feel to it. House of Brews is literally someones home converted into a small bar, bottle shop and hang out. The back patio is something I will look forward to in the warmer months, it is huge!

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Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts
Raspberry, Strawberries + Champaign, Regular Glazed, Butternut Squash + Sage

During the last few minutes of our walk after dinner downtown we stopped in Market Street Sweets to get gifts for our family and made another quick stop into Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts for my sugar fix. Such unique flavors of donuts and I was more than happy to buy a box full of them. My only regret is that I did not buy more!

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Sea Biscuit Cafe ~ Isle of Palms
Shrimp & Gravy | scrambled eggs, grits with cheese, shrimp and homemade gravy with V8 juice, green peppers and onions

Breakfast out is always something I enjoy on vacation. Being at the beach also means that I should eat seafood any chance I can. Ordering the Shrimp & Gravy was a new option for me, and it turned out to be delicious and hearty. That biscuit though :D Oh, and it is cash only so if you plan to visit, be prepared!

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The Craft Stand + 521 BBQ
Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale + regular bbq sandwich, spicy bbq sauce, mac

On the way home we wanted to make just one more food stop before heading to the house, back to reality of work and responsibilities. Frequenting The Craft Stand in Lancaster, SC is not something out of the ordinary for us so it made sense to stop in and say Hi, plus it was lunchtime and what better way to welcome ourselves back than with bbq. Order it across the street and bring it over to pair with a cold glass of craft beer.

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Heist Brewery
Cheers Charlotte | 200th Episode Bottle Share

We never sell ourselves short do we? Ok, so we attended one last event before finally closing out the weekend. Cheers Charlotte, radio podcast for all things beer, home-brewing, and good food, aired their 200th episode at Heist Brewery with an awesome bottle share party.

If you have never been to a bottle share, like me, there are a few tips I have for your first time. Bring, at least, two bottles of rare(ish) beers to share, a tasting glass, a water bottle for rinsing the glass, snacks and a fully charged battery for photos of course. You will without a doubt forget all of the beers you tasted and if you want to remember anything, take a quick photo of the label because you will have a lot of favorites by the end. Our last meal of the day was a huge slice of pizza from Benny’s next door. Bottle shares typically happen mid-afternoon and you will feel spent come 7pm and in definite need of food, so have a food plan before you leave the party.

I hope you enjoyed my story of our weekend trip. They are rare occasions and always packed full of adventure. We are back to our normal daily routine and looking forward to the next trip already.

Cheers Y’all <3


cyo charcuterie

I am pretty sure there are people out there just like me who think that charcuterie is something super fancy you can only eat out at restaurants where you must also be sipping on a glass of wine. On any given day I am more interested in an IPA or wild ale over glass of wine.

While restaurants typically have a decent selection of meats and cheeses on their charcuterie menu it is always a great feeling when you can create meals just as worthy of a fancy restaurant but in the comfort of your own home. Choosing your own meats, cheeses and pickled items is highly satisfying since everything on your charcuterie board will be things you love! There will be no guilt about any uneaten pate, pickled onions or the other weird meat or cheese leftover on your board.

I partnered with Dietz & Watson to give you a walk-through on how you can create your own charcuterie board, complete with accoutrements and beer pairings. These items are all curated to my personal taste and to show you that you can create something just as beautiful and exciting as what I have made. Chef Luca at Luca Modern Italian Kitchen in Uptown Charlotte has also partnered up with Dietz & Watson to prepare a memorable meal for you and a guest for their #choosethetable series sweepstakes.

Enter the Dietz & Watson #choosethetableCLT contest for your chance to win a dinner for two on Nov 11th at 6:30 using this link. You have just 12 hours left, good luck!

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Meats

Dietz & Watson are known for their meats so I was excited about the opportunity to try something new. Pictured here is their genoa salami and summer sausage. I then added another Italian charcuterie favorite, prosciutto.

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Cheese

It is best to choose multiple styles of cheese. An herbed one, soft, hard, and medium textures. Here I have herbed goat cheese, blue cheese, smoked gouda and Dietz & Watson provolone. You could also pair a pimento or beer cheese in the mix.

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Nuts, Fruit + Spreads

You can choose just about any fruits and nuts you like. It is all based on your preferences. I would also choose different types of mustards, spicy or stone ground. Then pick your favorite fruit spreads or even flavored honey’s.

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Pickled Vegetables

I have recently stumbled upon spicy pickled brussel sprouts, which were my favorite to snack on in between bites of meat and cheese. In the cabinet at home I had pickled ramps and pickled okra, both are a great pairing.

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Breads

You want your bread and crackers to be relatively plain with no herbs or garlic oils. They are meant to be a base for your specialty meats and cheeses, not overpower them. Choosing different shapes and sizes is the best way to make your board stand out from the rest.

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Beer

Just like wine pairing you need acid to cut through the fats in meat and cheese. The right beer can accomplish the same goal. I chose three styles that I personally like that seemed to do the trick. A sour red ale, a golden saison and a chocolate-coffee porter.

Final Spread, Time to Enjoy!

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Photos by Eric Gaddy | Casting Shadows Photography


mcninch house

This historical home in Fourth Ward opened up it’s doors during off hours to some of us food bloggers to offer a preview of a few new menu creations you’ll find on their Fall Menu.

A highly sought after dining destination for over 20 years, there is much more than a kitchen and dining room living in this home-turned-restaurant. This home was built in 1891 and stands on the National Historical Record in what is seen as one of the most accurate representations of the Queen Anne/Shingle style homes in North Carolina. Rich in architectural history, the residents who preserved this gorgeous home over the years have an interesting history as well, you can read more about them here.

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Feeling like it was my lucky day when I received an invite to attend a Fall Menu Preview through my Charlotte Food Bloggers group. I have always wanted to dine here and it was finally my chance. Walking down the city street to the restaurant with leaves falling from trees around me onto the sidewalk, I felt this was a perfect start to a great Fall evening. The stairs to the front door creaked as I expected them to, welcome mat, hanging flowers and heavy, dark front door were all signs of a warm and welcoming home. I couldn’t wait to see inside.

I was greeted by familiar faces and a glass of wine within just a few minutes of walking past the stairs to the second floor into the foyer. Presented with little plates of their otherwise larger dinner portions, I was excited to taste everything very slowly to savor each small bite.

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Salad + Brussel Sprouts + Poppyseed Vinaigrette
Apple Cider Braised Pork Belly
Crusted Lamb Chop + Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin Soup + Balsamic Glaze + Pepitas
Pork Loin + Crispy Kale Chips

Brussel Sprouts rarely find their way onto my regular salad rotation, I think that might change now. I am a big fan of just about any type of vinaigrette and to have poppyseeds also in there just made my taste buds do a little hop. In addition to vinaigrettes going well with just about anything, there are so many ways to enjoy a Balsamic Glaze too, especially on grilled salmon. This pumpkin soup was no exception, and with the toasted pumpkin seeds, it was a great follow up to the vibrant salad.

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Hands down my favorite of the evening was the Pork Belly, braised for over 24 hours in apple cider. The least fatty and tender piece of pork belly I have ever eaten. Simply put, I wanted to drink the leftover juices in that little saucer! As for the other meat in this meal, the Lamb Chop, it was a bit rare for my taste. It had flaky and tasteful crumbs around the outside that gave it a nice crunch when dipped in the puree.

The last menu item, the Pork Loin, did not stand a chance to be photographed. I was extremely hungry, the crispy kale chip and pumpkin puree underneath took me by surprise and I ate it out of turn, before the salad. I can assure you it was delicious and as tender as any pork loin should be, perfectly prepared.

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During the menu tasting we were given a sample of the wines likely to be paired with that dish at an evening dinner. The in-house sommelier is outstanding and opened my ideas about wine a little wider than they had been before I walked in. Each wine was well paired with each small plate. What I remember most was the go-to favorite of the restaurant for less frequent wine drinkers like myself, the Conundrum California Red Wine.

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Closing out the evening with a tour of the dining rooms, kitchen and Chef’s Table and then two amazing desserts by chef Matthew Shepard, who was really eager for us to taste his Homemade Smoked Vanilla Ice-cream. Equally as enthusiast about the Flourless Chocolate topped with Chocolate Pot de Creme and Frangelico Mousse. I was equally as pumped to eat them as he was to explain the desserts to me. Superb finish.

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A very big thank you to Wendy at Asterisk Creative, Chef Shepard, the kitchen staff, and Anthony the “wine guy” for a fabulous evening at your fine establishment. It was a memorable evening.