Before I went to Dean & Deluca in Charlotte, I had brunch at Cafe Monte. Cafe Monte is located in Philips Place, but it’s a bit hidden behind the Hampton Inn & Suites. Sarah and I had to drive around twice to find it. We went into this restaurant blindly as neither of us had been there. I just knew I wanted brunch and I knew we were seeing a movie at Philips Place later (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close).
I was so pleased with Cafe Monte! It’s a quaint French bakery and bistro. The decor is very clean; loved the wood floors and yellow walls. It was bright and inviting, which is always great for a brunch place.
For brunch, I always go with some egg dish, whether it’s a scramble, omelet, or in this case…Benedict Monte.
I love eggs Benedict so much. For Cafe Monte’s version, it was croissant, smoked ham, two eggs, tomato, asparagus, and Hollandaise sauce. YES! Let’s all get on board with serving eggs Benedict on top of CROISSANTS! So much better than English muffins! It’s tastier and easier to cut. Success!!!!
My Benedict Monte was also served with a hash brown potato patty. This potato was a bit bland to me, so I passed on it.
After devouring my brunch, I patiently waited 10 more minutes for noon to arrive!!
Mimosa time!! A tip that I learned from my friend, Kat…order your Sunday brunch cocktail well before noon! Pre-ordering your cocktail for noon lets you beat the rush. If you wait until noon to tell your server you want a drink, you’ll have to wait forever for the bartender to get through the rush of orders.
The early bird gets drunk.
I absolutely love soup all year round. It’s delicious comfort food.
I also absolutely am horrible at photographing soup. It’s so hard!! Argh.
I love cooking, baking, writing, eating, and blogging. I dislike photography. There, I admitted it.
I do love my iPhone and Instagram though. I got my iPhone 4 last month and am really digging the camera apps. So maybe I’m sloooooowly getting into photography.
I couldn’t invest in a DSLR camera at this point though. I’m too afraid that I’d shell out all that dough and not use the dang thing.
Also, how do you let this delicious soup get cold while you style it?!?! I’m more interesting in EATING the food than taking pictures of it. I should probably eat, then style/photograph after I’m full. But that just makes too much sense for me to do, ha!
What was my point? My point is….this soup rocks!! Don’t let the pitiful pictures throw you.
P.S. If you want to know how to rock out soup/stew photography, check out Nancy at Spice Foodie’s awesome tutorial! I wish she could take all my pictures!
Pumpkin Curry Soup
Recipe from my friend Sarah via her friend Lauren! :)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onion , chopped
2 cloves garlic , minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
In a large pot, add the butter, onion and garlic. Cook until onions are soft.
Stir in the curry, salt, and pepper and cook for one minute.
Add in the chicken broth and pumpkin. Bring soup to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
Stir in evaporated milk just before serving.
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I know! Where have I been? You’ve already read The Hunger Games books. I bought the 1st book quite awhile ago. I was forewarned by a friend not to start it until I had the other 2 books, because you will FLY through them. She was so right! I read the 1st book in 2 days, the 2nd book in 2 days, and it took me about 4 days to get through the last book.
The Hunger Games books take place in Panem, formerly known as North America. The Capitol oversees the 12 districts of Panem. Years prior, the districts tried to overthrow the Capitol and failed. To remind the districts to keep their place, the Capitol hosts the Hunger Games annually. Once a year, each district draws the name of one boy and one girl to fight to the death. Only one will come out alive. The Hunger Games follows Katniss Everdeen from District 12 as she volunteers for the Games to save her sister.
It’s a really unique and interesting concept! There’s violence, romance, and suspence while still touching on social issues such as poverty and abuse of power. Many people seem to like the 1st book the best and the last book the least. I actually liked the 2nd book the best! The 1st book was a very close 2nd though. The last book was a disappointment unfortunately. The final book just didn’t hold up. It was as if the author thought….oh wait, I have to figure out how to end this real quick. The ending left me wanting more explanation.
Don’t let my lackluster feelings on the last book deter you though. The 1st two books are SO great that it’s still well worth your time to knock out reading these three books.
Get cracking now and you’ll have them read before the 1st movie comes out in March!!
4.75 out of 5 stars
Happy Saturday, folks!!
Last month, I went to Dean & Deluca in Charlotte. For the 4 years that I lived there, I never went to Dean & Deluca. OMG, I was an idiot!! I was missing out! I really thought Dean & Deluca was just a coffee/wine shop. I had NO IDEA that it’s like a mini-Whole Foods!
Tons of different kinds of pepper jelly.
An abundance of roasted red peppers & artichoke hearts.
Love the colorful pasta!
Not all vanilla extract is the same…so I’ve been told…is it worth the price??
Somehow I managed to resist the cupcakes.
These maltballs were my favorite find!! I bought the pumpkin spice and the mint chip maltballs. The pumpkin spice were good, but I could take them or leave them. The mint chip maltballs were bonkers good!! I put them in the refrigerator for awhile and then they tasted like Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookies!!!!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe
If you had told me 12 months ago that I would be so into autobiographies, I would have said um, no thanks I don’t think that’s my cup of tea. But I am loving them! Now, I need funny/juicy autobiographies though (not the political/historical variety). I’m talking David Sedaris, Kathy Griffin (Just saw her comedy show live last night, by the way! Love her!), Tina Fey, Bethenny Frankel, Mindy Kaling, and now Rob Lowe!
I bought this book on a whim. I went to Watermark Books to pick up my tickets to see The Pioneer Woman (yay!) in April. I felt bad just going to the bookstore to get free tickets though. It’s only polite to buy a book too, right? (Read: I will use any excuse to buy books!) So, in support of my locally owned book store, I went with Lowe’s autobiography. I’d heard killer things about it!
Lowe’s autobiography is a very good read. Pure entertainment. I knew that he’d started acting young and was a playboy. So, I was anxious for tales of growing up in the limelight and his escapades. I was a little disappointed that there was only a mere 2 page mention of his big sex scandal back when he was campaigning for Dukakis. But then I thought back to the title: Stories I Only Tell My Friends. Would I rehash this scandal to friends? Or would I tell them about how I punched Tom Cruise in the face instead? Tom Cruise, please!!!
At first, I thought the stories were a bit name dropper like. But no, he really was just telling you how he became famous and who he met along the way. Back in the day before homeschooling and TMZ was everywhere, I think young actors could more normal lives. Lowe pretty much grew up in high school with Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Sean & Chris Penn, Tom Cruise, and Robert Downey Jr. He dated Melissa Gilbert and later on Princess Stephanie of Monaco…..whaaaaaat?!
A lot of the stories are pretty light and short and in passing. Such as Lowe talks about his first starring role in a TV commercial and he’s cast next to a newscaster at the time by the name of Regis Philbin. Or when Lowe was on a sitcom for awhile and one of his co-stars said she wanted to try singing instead of acting like her brothers….oh yeah, it was Janet Jackson, no bigs.
I found the book so entertaining and really enjoyed it! I have to admit I really only associate Lowe with Brothers & Sisters, Parks & Recreation, and Tommy Boy. I’ve never even see St. Elmo’s Fire, About Last Night, or The West Wing. But Netflixing past seasons of The West Wing is definitely on my radar now!
4.75 out of 5 stars
After my dinner at Soul during my vacation in Charlotte, Sarah took me to Amelie’s French Bakery for dessert. I’d heard about Amelie’s when I lived in Charlotte, but sadly never went there. Sarah had recently raved about the salted caramel brownie and said I HAD to go.
Salted caramel brownie. Are there 3 better words in the world??
Amelie’s is in the NoDa area and was only a few minutes from Soul. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I was seriously experiencing foodie visual overload. Oh to be young again! Wouldn’t it have been awesome to WORK there and learn how to make all of these things?
I wish that I would have had more time to make a decision of what to order. It was 10 pm on a Thursday night and it was still PACKED and there was a line, so I had to hurry.
After we ordered, I looked around a bit. Amelie’s is so fun and eclectic. There were no seats in the front room, nor in the room to the left. I figured that we may just have to eat our treats at home. Amelie’s is actually HUGE though. So many small, cozy areas with a few seats for romantic conversation…a quiet place to read/blog….or most likely…a place with tables for students to stay up all night, caffeinated & sugared up to study.
Oh I wish that there had a place like this when I was in college! My studying was just done at the Borders coffee shop. I want to study in a French bakery!!
So what did we order??
Sarah went the (award winning) salted caramel brownie:
And I went with…..
Wait for it…..
Hazelnut Chocolate Tart!
It was simply….perfection.
Happy Friday everyone!
A few weeks ago, I went to Charlotte, NC for my birthday and to visit friends.
And to meet this little guy.
My friends, Kelly & John, had their son, Conley, in November. He’s so cute! And Kelly’s already lost all her baby weight plus some. Whaaaaat?!
First up, after a SIX HOUR delay, I finally arrived in Charlotte. My bestie, Sarah, picked me up at the airport and we immediately head to Soul Gastolounge for dinner.
Soul is a very chill, tapas restaurant in the Plaza Midwood area. It’s been voted one of the best restaurants in Charlotte. It was such a nice night out (in January even!) that we were able to eat outside at 8 pm. I immediately needed a drink after being in airports since 5 am.
Sweet Heat cocktail: tequila, jalapeno simple syrup, fresh squeezed lime juice.
Jalapeno simple syrup!!!!!! This cocktail was so rocking! I need to figure out how to recreate it. Ah-mazing.
I also ordered the white bean & goat cheese dip. It was good, but not worth giving up the stomach space.
That was reserved for:
Pork belly tacos topped with watermelon & balsamic vinegar.
I’d never ordered pork belly before. But they talk about it on Top Chef all the time, so I knew I needed to try it.
DELICIOUS!! If you haven’t tried pork belly before, go for it. Immediately.
Sarah ordered another complete winner too:
Polenta & mushrooms. I was skeptical of this one. I’ve never been a fan of polenta/grits. But maybe I’ve just always had them cooked poorly. This dish was so creamy and yummy. I could have licked the bowl clean!!
Finally, Sarah and I split some sushi. I really can’t remember which roll we got. I believe it was the Crunch roll. A+ for presentation on it!
If you’re in Charlotte, rush out to eat at Soul!
And don’t forget to Cheers! me with your Sweet Heat cocktail for telling you about this place.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Did you read Bossypants last year? Me too! Loved it!
BUT OMGeeeeee, I love.love.love.love.LOVED Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?.
Mindy Kaling is one of the writers and stars of The Office. She plays Kelly Kapoor, one of my favorite characters. Kaling’s autobiography kept cracking me over & over again. Since we’re the same age, I related to it much more than I did to Fey’s book. Kaling’s book is a super fast read as well. I knocked it out in one day.
I bookmarked so many pages in the book of parts that I loved. Here are few of my favorite random parts:
“I didn’t want to be Regis or Kathie Lee, because their chairs were too high. I’m sorry, I’m supposed to sit like that for an hour? Too much blood rushing to my ankles. No, thanks.”
“…So, with my zit throbbing like a nightclub, I went to the interview.”
“When I was a kid, I was obsessed with listing my favorite things. I kept an index card with all my favorite foods folded in my wallet, just in case anyone asked me what they were. Then when people walked away, I imagined they’d say ‘Whoa, Mindy Kaling is so cool and self-actualized. McDonald’s pancakes are her favorite food, and she was able to tell me right away.’ “
“I remember when the news reports came out about Michael Phelp’s ten-thousand-calorie-a-day diet, and everyone was so shocked. But I just thought, yep, I could do that, no problem.”
If you need a good laugh, read this book! Pronto!
5 out of 5 stars
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
To celebrate, I made….Brussels sprouts! I know, totally weird, right? It’s because I really care about you and the gift of health is the best gift.
That and it’s really cold outside and I didn’t want to go to the grocery store.
But mostly because I want you to eat your vegetables.
Make these tonight! Or no, do your V-day lovebirds things tonight. Make these tomorrow.
Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
Recipe from How Sweet It Is
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound raw Brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Over low heat, toast your chopped pecans in a small skillet. Toast for 5-7 minutes. Shake the pan gingerly every minute or so to avoid burning the pecans. Turn off heat.
In a large skillet, heat your olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic to the skillet. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and salt & pepper to skillet. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
In the meantime, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add butter. Whisk continuously until butter browns. Remove from heat immediately.
Place cooked Brussels sprouts in serving dish. Sprinkle toasted pecans on top. Drizzle brown butter over top. Serve.