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.
Shortly after New Year’s, my friend Amy & I went to dinner at Luciano’s in Mulvane. It was our delayed Christmas get together. I’ve long heard that Luciano’s is a great Italian restaurant and worth the drive from Wichita to Mulvane. It is a small restaurant, so I would advise that you make a reservation.
The restaurant has a nice decor, but a bit cramped. I’m glad that we were placed in the back room so that I didn’t feel on display to the diners that were waiting for a table. Now, when I think of a restaurant that does reservations…I think dress nicely! But it pretty much ran the gamut of attire; jeans & nice tops (Amy & I), dress up folks, and a guy in a sweat suit next to us (which highly annoyed me).
Since dining at Luciano’s was a holiday gathering for Amy & I, we took advantage of the 5 course meal. I did the added wine pairing with each course.
Course 1: Formaggi Trio
Cheese plate featuring Parmesan, Romano Pecorino, & fresh Mozzarella with Kalamata olives. I love cheese, so this was right up my alley. I combined the cheese with the bread we had. I’m not an olive fan, so I gave those to Amy.
Course 2: Pappa al Pomodoro
Tuscan Tomato Soup. Very tasty…it was chunky, which is how I like my tomato soup. And the small portion size was perfect.
Course 3: Pasta Salmone
Flakes of salmon blended with cream & farfalle pasta. I do love salmon and it was cooked well, but I wasn’t too thrilled with it added to my pasta. I would have preferred a plain pasta. The sauce was wonderful though.
Course 4: Pollo Con Crema
Pieces of chicken breaded and sautéed served in a cream sauce and paired with asparagus. This chicken course was why I choose the 5 course menu. Chicken is not on Luciano’s regular menu. The waiter said that Luciano rarely does chicken, but when he does it is phenomenal. How could I say no to that?? It was so delicious!!!! I’m not sure why they sliced the asparagus so thin though. It was hard to stab with my fork.
Course 5: Dolce Della Casa
Chef’s choice of dessert–chocolate mousse. Delicious!
I highly recommend Luciano’s for a special occasion. Make a reservation and for goodness sake, don’t wear a sweat suit.
1. I had to get up at 4 am on Thursday for a 6:20 am flight to Charlotte. How come it’s so easy to leap out of bed at 4 am for a flight, but it’s virtually impossible for me to drag myself out of bed to workout?
2. The 6:20 am flight didn’t leave until 12:15 pm! Hello 6 hour delay in the airport. At least I had plenty of time to catch up on blog reading. And I got a free round-trip flight voucher out of it. Score!
3. After making it to Charlotte, Sarah immediately took me out to dinner. I got a Sweet Heat cocktail made with jalapeno simple syrup. Ah-maz-ing.
4. I’m finally getting with it and reading The Hunger Games trilogy! I’m half through the first book and LOVING it!
5. One benefit of visiting a friend, perusing her iTunes library for new music. How did I not already know SafetySuit had a new CD!?
1. I recently signed up for a Birchbox subscription. Once a month, you get a box with 4-5 beauty samples. It’s not practical, but it’s fun.
I got my first Birchbox this month. It had: Jouer lipgloss (the color is less harsh when you’re wearing it than in the tube), Juicy Couture perfume (which I’ve already used it all), Zoya nail polish (currently wearing it & liking it a lot), and some eye cream. Ladies can always use eye cream!!!
2. Self-serve froyo places are the BEST!
I could have gotten a separate bowl just for more Twix bars too.
3. I got the Camera+ app on my iPhone this week. I learned about it from Janetha. It’s awesome!!
My favorite Haley picture so far:
4. I got these cute Valentine’s Day towels from my friend, Amy, for my birthday!
Owl Be Yours
5. I’m in gift card heaven currently. Hello Starbucks, iTunes, Target, and Best Buy. I’m currently saving up for an iPad from Best Buy. Wheeeeeew. :)
I recently went to Mike’s Wine Dive with my friend, Amy. Amy and I first went to Mike’s Wine Dive about a year ago and it was awesome!!!! She’s been back several times since, but it was just the second time for me.
They have a 13 page menu of wines they offer by the bottle. It’s intense. It’s just a one-pager for wines by the glass. So go when you want to settle in for a while!!
I knew that we’d only be there for a short time. I ordered a glass of Manifesto Cab Sauv. I was informed by the waiter that they only offer Manifesto by the bottle now. Ummm okay, well I’m not paying $35 for a bottle when I can buy a bottle at the liquor store for $16. And by the way, you still list Manifesto by the glass on your online wine menu, Mike!
I settled on the La Flor de Pulenta instead per the suggestion of my waiter. It was still very tasty, so no biggie.
On to our appetizer, we ordered the bruschetta topped with basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and Balsamic reduction.
This “bruschetta” was super tasty! Love love loved the Balsamic reduction on it. Although, I’ve never had bruschetta with soft hunks of bread like this. I thought bruschetta was a way to salvage stale bread, no??
Moving on to my entree…..last time, I got the Lobster, Shrimp, and Crab Macaroni & Cheese. It was excellent that first time I went to Mike’s Wine Dive!
This time, it was pretty ick and very disappointing. You know when you use crappy cheese and not enough cream….so that the cheese melts into goops of grossness? Yeah that happened. :/
With the changes in wine and to the quality of the entrees, perhaps that explains why we got a table right away on a busy Friday night. Also while we were there, a guy’s chair BROKE on him as soon as he sat down. And he wasn’t a big guy. (I would have been SO mortified if that happened to me!! Although would have been nice to get a free meal out of it…)
I looked online after our meal and have found that Mike’s Wine Dive changed management over the past few months. Well, new manager….get your act together!!! I would try Mike’s Wine Dive again since my first experience was so good. But I doubt I’ll risk ordering the Lobster Mac & Cheese again.
The most entertaining part of dinner happened in the restroom after Amy & I ate. There was the DRUNKEST middle-aged lady in the restroom. She asked us what we’d ordered to eat and we told her. Well, that opened the door for her to tell us her life story:
1. She’s on a date with a guy, but doesn’t know if she likes him. But she’s been dating him for SIX months.
2. She’s an admin assistant at an attorney’s office. And we should come by work some day and visit her. It’s the attorney’s office with the nice aquarium in the lobby…..like we should know where it is based on that?!
3. Her roommate is a contestant on Dancing With the Stars and we should come see her dance!! Wait what?! We finally figured out it was just a local Wichita version of it.
4. Her husband left a couple of years ago after he reunited with an old flame from high school that he found on FACEBOOK! FB is evil, y’all!
5. The old flame from high school is now……wait for it…..a professional female wrestler!!!
Ha….oh my goodness. We were trapped in the bathroom with this lovely nut job for over 10 minutes. Amy finally had the sense to fake a call on her cell phone and we got out of there.
So…..Mike’s Wine Dive…..great wine selection…..just okay food…..interesting bathroom entertainment.
If you missed the last installment, click here!
I’m finally wrapping up the last day of my Austin vacation recaps! And I saved the BEST for last….foodie wise.
On my last day of vacation, I went down to San Antonio to see my friend, Ben. I told Ben that it was too bad he’d been out of town that weekend. It would have been fun for him to come up to Austin for us to do the Austin Eats Food Tours to go to 7 restaurants/bars, like a bar crawl for foodies.
When I arrived in San Antonio at 10 am, Ben had a plan! He’d come with his own version of the San Antonio Four Tour for us! And we were going to at least 8 places to show Austin what’s up. How awesome is Ben!!?!
So the gluttony and good times began…with a few hiccups since this was a Monday. Why are a lot of restaurants closed on Mondays??!?! (Note to self: remember to go to that car wash/laundromat/restaurant place & that martini bar on the Riverwalk…on a non-Monday!)
San Antonio Food Tour Stop # 1: Lulu’s
Lulu’s has been featured on Man vs. Food, so I was already stoked about going. And since it was still early, breakfast was in order. Breakfast in the form of coffee and their famous 3 POUND cinnamon roll. What?!
We dominated that 3 lb roll! Ha…no, we barely made a dent in it. We had to pace ourselves, people!
This part was the BEST part of the cinnamon roll. Do you see that frosting OOZING out?! Sugar heaven!!
San Antonio Food Tour Stop # 2: Rosario’s
Rosario’s a Mexican restaurant in the Blue Star Arts district. It’s said to have some of the best Mexican food in the city. I loved the vibe there! It was also my first time having a prickly pear margarita! (Oh yeah it was after 11 am by then, so it was okay to start drinking….and drinking….and drinking. )
For our lunch…or 1st lunch, Ben & I split an order of ceviche and the pork tip tacos in a chile cascabel sauce. (My stomach just growled.)
I’d never tried ceviche before. And I probably won’t again. No, it wasn’t bad…just not my thing. There was a lot of cilantro on it and I’m not a fan of cilantro.
These pork tacos though……OH.MY.GOD. Love! I wanted to lick the remaining sauce off of the foil. I didn’t though. I’m classy.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #3: Madhatters Tea House
After Rosario’s, we needed a non-food destination. Well, that and the next two places we tried were closed. So, we walked over to Madhatters.
It’s a quaint place. I was excited about the variety of teas.
J: I’ll have the cinnamon plum tea!
Cashier: We’re out of that one.
J: Okay, I’ll have the Blackberry Sage.
Cashier: Out of that too.
J: Wow…the Raspberry Quince?
Cashier: We’re out of all of the black teas.
What the heck!? Are tea delivery trucks closed on Mondays too?
I do love the individual pots that the tea came in. They have a hodge podge of different cups to chose from too.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #4: Paesano’s
After tea time, we were off to go down to the Riverwalk.
Hey the Alamo! See, we didn’t just eat & drink all day. No, we totally did but I figured that I should take a picture of the Alamo at least. (I’ve already been to San Antonio and been to the Alamo, etc. I’m not completely uncultured.)
Some important corner that Ben pointed out…..? The original border of the missions in San Antonio…? Let’s go with that one.
We walked around a bit and then we headed to Paesano’s Riverwalk. We sat outside and enjoyed the weather and the Riverwalk. Loved Paesano’s! Our waiter was super nice.
We had the antipasto sampler of giant calamari, shrimp, and Parmesan crusted artichoke hearts. We also split a bottle of red wine.
Okay, see the food in the middle that looks similar to chicken strips. That’s the GIANT CALAMARI! I never even heard of giant calamari. I’ve only had the little bits with tentacles. Giant calamari is amazingly delicious!!!! I need more now. My favorite of the sauces was the basil aioli.
We stayed at Paesano’s for quite awhile since we had a bottle of wine to get through and it was very chill there.
At some point throughout the day, I admitted to Ben that I didn’t like cilantro, olives, guacamole, and scallops. Bleck to all of those. I think Ben was ready to revoke my foodie card…especially after I told him that I didn’t know what Kolaches were. (It’s just a danish, Ben!)
After wine, you need to power up with a double espresso.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #5: Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery
Next up, we left the Riverwalk to head to the Market Square. The Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the US with a 3 block outdoor plaza of restaurants, shops, and produce stands. (source)
Mi Tierra is open 24 hours a day and hangs Christmas lights all year round. They have strolling musicians in the restaurant/bar.
And the bakery counter was always jumping with a line of customers.
At Mi Tierra, we were still so full from Paesano’s. Our food tour turned into more of a drinking tour for awhile. I had a margarita at Mi Tierra and Ben had a beer.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #6: Stonewerks
After Mi Tierra, we were off again…top down this time.
Whilst riding in a convertible as a tourist, always have your ponytail holder handy. And have your camera ready to take random pictures of things as you whiz by them.
The Emily Morgan Hotel….it’s haunted I can’t believe that I even remember what this picture was of!
We headed over to the Quarry to have drinks at Stonewerks. There’s not to much to relay on this one. We sat on the patio and had a beer or two. By this point, I couldn’t hang with margaritas or wine anymore.
Stonewerks seemed like a nice patio for an after-work happy hour if you lived/worked in the area.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #7: The Friendly Spot
We tried to go to The Friendly Spot earlier in the afternoon, but they don’t open to 3 pm. So we headed back over there around 7 pm to have another beer. Amstel Light for me…and I have no clue what Ben had! Some sort of fancy pants IPA, I’m sure.
I loved the vibe of The Friendly Spot. It’s super chill. They had one of those inflatable big screen TV’s on so you could sit outside and watch sports while having a beer. And oddly, there’s a playground inside the gates so your kids can play while you get plastered. Brilliant.
I especially loved the chairs. My grandpa used to have chairs like this outside in his backyard.
San Antonio Food Tour Stop #8: Tomatillo’s
Can I just say that I was beat by this point? But I HAD to rally go to to Tomatillo’s. Ben said they have the best queso. And there is always room for queso….even at 9 pm at night when you started at 10 am.
We split a chicken quesadilla and ordered a bowl of queso/chips. Holy crap!!!!! BEST.QUESO.EVER. I wanted to bathe in it. It was SO flippin’ good. I don’t know if they just add a bunch of butter to it or what, but it was so creamy & delicious. Love love love love!!! I’m so happy that we powered through and ended on a high note.
I had an awesome day with Ben! It was a great way for him to show me the city.
To recap, we went from the Blue Star Arts district, to the Riverwalk, to the Market Square, to the Quarry, back to the Arts district, and finally Downtown. It was a day of devouring: cinnamon roll, ceviche, pork tacos, GIANT calamari, artichoke hearts, shrimp, chips & queso, and a chicken quesadilla. Washed down with: coffee, tea, 2 glasses of red wine, 2 margaritas, 3 beers….and some water.
I can’t decide if I’m really hungry after writing all this or full from thinking about it!!
Did you all have a great Labor Day weekend?? I hope so!
I was worn out this morning. I had stupidly made a 7 am appointment for this morning to get my car’s oil changed and tires rotated. Too early!!!
Pumpkin Spice Latte to the rescue!!!!!!!! Normally, I am VERY firm in that I don’t have any Pumpkin Spice Lattes until October 1st. But I needed something to ramp me up for the 7 am nonsense.
The moment that my barista handed it to me, the wonderful AROMA hit me! Angels from above sang, glorious!
So, this weekend….
We celebrated my Mom’s birthday!
I made a cake! Strawberry cake with strawberry icing. The cake was dry. :/ I used skim milk instead of whole milk. Bad decision. The icing was good though!! I would remake the strawberry icing, but would use it on vanilla cupcakes or frost sugar cookies with it instead.
I’m annoyed that I spent $7.50 on strawberry extract too. Dang dry cake.
At least I got to hang out with family though.
And see these two….they were up to no good!
I headed up to Lawrence, Kansas for the KU/McNeese football game.
Severe Weather Delay!!!!!! Lightening while sitting on metal bleachers? What’s the problem? Luckily, the delay only lasted about 15 minutes.
Wave the wheat!
KU won 42-24.
Sunday Funday was the 2011 John Wake Laugh Olympics. It was the 10th annual charity event with proceeds going to help Sickle Cell Anemia Research.
It started bright and early at 8:30 am with 9 holes of golf. There was beer pong on the 9th hole.
I didn’t golf. I walked the course though. Er…I walked 3 holes at least. Then I left to go get beer and bagels. A blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese and a Miller Lite at 10 am on a Sunday. Fantastic!
Ali came in from St. Louis for the event and was ROCKIN’ the golf outfit.
After golf, there were 2 games of bowling. (I bowled, but was just a lovely spectator for the other events.) I tried to cram my fat thumb into a small hole on an 8 pound ball. Yeah, I ended up cutting my thumb. But I proceeded to play. I’ve had a tetanus shot with the last 10 years, so I figure I’m okay.
Let’s be honest. I was there for the beer and the company, not my mad bowling skillz.
After bowling, there was a pool tournament.
And finally, the winners dueled it out in a dart tournament. Whewwwww, kudos to all those who played all the events!!! I bailed after pool to drive the 2 hours back home.
It was a great time and a good weekend!!!!
What did you all do??
The last 1-2 years that I lived in Charlotte are filled with memories. Memories of hanging out with 2 of my favorite people in the world….my BFF’s Chris & Sarah.
Aren’t we cute?
My favorite times with Chris & Sarah were Sundays. Chris & I would head over to Sarah’s around 10 am. Sarah would make us breakfast while I’d read magazines and Chris would surf the Internet. We would plan the next concert we would go see together. We’d rehash Saturday night and whether we drank too much. We’d see if there was a movie we wanted to see that afternoon. We’d make our way through watching episodes of Arrested Development. We’d watch in awe of how much Sarah’s cat, Gary, was in LOVE with Chris. We’d make snarky comments about anything and everything.
Sundays also often meant Sarah would make us peach cobbler in the afternoon.
This Sunday, Sarah, Chris and I will be together again for a day up in Lawrence for a charity event. I.can’t.wait. We haven’t been together in about a year and a half. Although there won’t be peach cobbler, it will feel like home on Sunday.
Recipe from Food.com (this is the one Sarah uses!)
Serves 12. 277 calories per serving.
For the batter:
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup room temperature milk (I used skim milk.)
1 room temperature egg
For the filling:
1 (28 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used a HEAPING teaspoon. I heart cinnamon.)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a 9×13 inch baking dish, melt your butter. Set baking dish aside.
In a bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in your milk and egg. Pour your batter mixture in your baking dish over the melted butter. Spread evenly with a spatula.
In a separate bowl, combine your peaches, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread the filling over the batter. Do NOT stir the filling into the batter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes under golden brown. Through the magic of science, the batter will rise over the top of the peach filling as it bakes!
Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Try to not to dig in so fast that you burn your mouth on hot peach filling! I speak from experience.