Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#PancakeDiaries | Lavender Lemon Crepes

I'm not sure when it happened or what caused it but I have turned into a pancake making machine. If you follow me on Instagram, you know all about #PancakeDiaries. I also share this hashtag with an adorable bulldog named Pancake, who may live in Charlotte because there was a box of Bojangle's posted by one of his humans. Oh, internet!




Most days I just throw things together and make pancakes happen and don't pay attention to all the ingredients or their amounts, making people who want to recreate the pancake du jour sad. I'm trying to be better about it.


The base recipe for my crepes comes from Alton Brown. I typically add vanilla (1/2 a tablespoon), sugar (3 tablespoons), and a pinch of salt to take them from plain to sweet.



Last week I visited Savory Spice Shop in SouthEnd and was instantly inspired by the extract section. I've been on a lavender kick and the moment I saw the lavender extract, it was over. It was mine mine mine! Not to be outdone, the lemon extract looked me in the eyes and said, "take me home, woman!" and I listened. After all, lavender and lemon are a classic combo.

So here's what you'll need:

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon lavender extract
1/2 tablespoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
pinch of salt





Blend all of the ingredients together, either with a blender or by whisking the ingredients in a bowl. The batter has to be smooth and lump free. To get the lumps out, strain the batter. Trust me, this extra step will make all the difference.

Also, don't skip the butter.

The pan is also an important "ingredient" in crepe making. Get a non-stick, shallow pan. It'll come in handy in ways other than crepe making so make the investment. Also, you don't have to spend $100+ on an actual crepe pan. Unless, of course, you want to.



I purchased a 12 inch hard-anodized round griddle at Sur La Table for around $30 (it was on clearance) and it's fantastic. I recommend getting an 8 to 10 inch griddle for crepe making. A 12 inch pan is a bit large but you can make it work.




Preheat the pan on medium heat and then butter it for the first crepe. Use a 1/4 cup to measure out the batter and pour it into the pan and quickly spread the batter by moving the pan around (it's all in the wrist!). Flip the crepe the moment you see the outer edge brown (30-90 seconds, you have to watch it!). Cook the crepe another 10-20 seconds on the other side and remove. Butter the pan for the next crepe and repeat the process until you run out of batter.



Enjoy on their own or with Nutella and fruit!



Or at a Bachelorette Men Tell All viewing party with friends. Rose petals and all!







Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday | The New Funday?

The feeling starts right around supper time on Sundays when we put the dishes up after the final meal of the weekend. Tomorrow is Monday, a day of the week hated by most.

But as most things in life, it's all about the attitude and an attitude can be changed. It's a choice we make.


Cheers to Dion

Back in February, I spent a Monday with the girls, drinking champagne and watching our girl Dion do her thing at a new station down in Tampa. This proved to me that Mondays can be the new Fundays. It was also the same day when we came up with the idea for the inaugural #blacksessions.

Fun and productive.

Two weeks ago, the #EpicEaters got together for another inaugural event: Monday Suppers. Why should Sunday Suppers have all the fun?


Combo platters (!) at Red Sea

We drank honey wine (which is not as sweet as one would think) and split combo platters of delicious Ethiopian food (a first for me). It was a fantastic change of pace that set the tone for the rest of the week.


Today, I'm spending the day organizing my brain, working on client projects, and volunteering my time to CAMA. Tonight, I will make a delicious snack and bring it over to a Bachelorette watching party, drink wine, and show this dreary Monday who's boss.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Constant Cravings | Viddlz

Most mornings I wake up not knowing what I'm going to wear that day and treat my next meal the same way.

Even though I fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to food, I have a list of things I'm constantly craving or love but don't always know where to find them, especially if it's a one-day-only special or a seasonal item.

Enter Viddlz, a platform to solve all of your food craving issues.

Signing up for an account is easy. You can enter an email address or create an account using your Facebook or Twitter account.

Then you create a profile and enter all the things that you constantly crave. My list includes cheese fries, nachos, wings, kronuts, craft cocktails, craft beer, beets, figs, kumquats, and jazz. You can also follow your favorite restaurants, check out all of the specials and offerings available, and search by allergies and other categories. You can also receive Viddlz Alertz in your inbox for the things you crave. An app is also in development. If only my closet was this organized!

Last week I was craving all things jalapeño, specifically a craft cocktail featuring the spicy pepper in a classy jazz bar setting.

Viddlz to the rescue!

A click here, a click there and I was at Blue Restaurant and Bar enjoying a seasonal cocktail called Summer Love (strawberry and jalapeño infused vodka with a splash of soda). We may or may not have crashed a private party to enjoy said cocktail, but that's a different story for a different day.



In short, Viddlz is an alerts service that makes it easier for foodies to find special meals, events, and exclusive and date-sensitive deals all based on personal preference and cravings. What could be better for a foodie?

Viddlz is free and is a brainchild of Zerrick Bynum. And the best part is that Viddlz is starting here in Charlotte with plans for expansion into other markets.



What are you constantly craving?

Queen's Feast | Fahrenheit Charlotte

Queen's Feast, or Charlotte Restaurant Week as some refer to it, comes around twice a year and we always try to check out a new restaurant or two. However, it's been a while since we've made our Queen's Feast rounds due to our busy schedules and travel so last night was a first in a while.

We landed on Fahrenheit as our first stop for the summer Queen's Feast "tour". We have been there on numerous occasions and I was excited to try something new (for me) on the menu and opted for the prix fixe menu.

First Course: Sausage Gravy & Biscuits



lobster, Neese’s sausage (NC), sweet potato biscuit


The biscuit was delicious and the lobster was a pleasant surprise but I kind of wish there was more sausage.


Second Course: Seared Scallops



cauliflower puree, roasted cauliflower, pomegranate, arugula


I have a mild addiction to everything cauliflower so that was probably the only reason why I ordered this dish. Ok, ok, I love scallops too. And arugula. And pomegranate.


Hubs ordered the "Mr. Fungi" pizza and it was giant. Bigger than last time.



roasted wild mushrooms, fresh goat cheese, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, mozzarella, rosemary


Third Course: Bread & Butter Cake


Georgia peach compote & vanilla ice cream

Even though the food was delicious and lived up to all expectations, the service from our server did not and left a bad taste in my mouth.

All that aside, I had a great time with my Epic Eater girls and the two men who are brave enough to hang out with us.





What are you favorite restaurants for Queen's Feast?







Friday, July 11, 2014

BYOB | Birchbox

Studies show that it's not about exceeding customers' expectations but making the process easy and painless that makes someone come back to a brand over and over again. As a marketer, it's my job to figure it out for each brand that I work with (not an easy task when you announce to said brand's executive team that they have a lot of internal changes to make to make it work).

As a consumer, I earn to find brands and companies that make my life easy. If you make it easy for me to do business with you, it makes it easy for me to give you all my money.


https://www.birchbox.com/invite/nj61w



One such brand is Birchbox and they're taking the experience to a brick-and-mortar location in SoHo. And, if successful (which I'm sure they will be!), I hope they bring the experience to Charlotte. The Ulta's and Sephora's of the world need a little friendly competition down here.

And if not, guess I'll just have to plan a trip to NYC to experience the reinvented BYOB.

https://www.birchbox.com/invite/nj61w




All photos via Birchbox.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Video | Charlotte, the Beautiful




http://vimeo.com/23894008

There's no place like home, especially when your home Charlotte.

Click the image to see a beautiful video of Uptown Charlotte created by Osprey Production Group.

July | The Halfway Point

In so many ways, July marks the official start of 2014, where projects and plans will start moving again, and you will be gratified to see that at long last, you will be able to get more done in a week than you did during the entire first six months of 2014.


Ain't that the truth!

So far, this year has been the most exciting and most difficult. The most exciting because I started my own business and I get to do what I love, the most difficult because I feel like I've been trying to run a marathon in water and haven't made much headway, still hanging out in the 3ft end of the pool. Everything that comes naturally to me has been anything but and I'm ready to get out of the funk.

Anytime I'm in a funk or looking for answers from the universe, I turn to astrology. I used to be really into it and then let it go, occasionally reading my horoscope on Elle.com (one of the best, by the way). My friend Katie recently had a birthday and pulled hers from Susan Miller and I gave it a read. It was spot on with all of my recent struggles and aligned with all of the goals that I set earlier this week.

I'm most excited about my renewed sense of self, posting my #blacksessions extra large post-it note front and center to remind myself that I'm already who I had hoped to become in the eyes of my closest friends (now I just have to believe it), and realizing that it's okay to take care of me and my needs first.








Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chuy's Charlotte: Talk & Taste

My foodie heart was broken when Zink closed its doors last year and I have not been able to bring myself to try Chuy's, a tex-mex restaurant that went into the empty space. I had so many great memories at Zink that and I was afraid that the replacement would not be as good. The mixed reviews only fueled my preconception.

I love being proven wrong.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a Talk & Taste event with fellow Charlotte foodies. We were treated to all the salsas on the menu (and one that isn't!), samples of specialty margaritas, and full entrees. The food was great, but the attentive service was what won me over. The fact that everything is made from scratch, daily, made it difficult not to instantly become a fan.

Below are all the noms that we got to enjoy:


Getting sauce-ducated.


New Mexican jalapeño margarita


Blackberry Margarita


Sangria (made with tequila!)





"Big as yo'face" beef burrito


Chicken tortilla soup. Amazeballs!



My lovely date, Katy of girl and the good.


There's no photographic evidence of the amazing tres leches cake because my husband and I devoured it before it could be documented.

Huge thanks to Gwen and everyone at Chuy's for a great night!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Nearby Eats: Sakura Japanese Restaurant (Gastonia)

You never forget your first time.

I was fourteen and my friends urged me to try it. After some coaxing, I put it in my mouth and grimaced. I'm sure I wasn't the first to do so.The cucumber and imitation crab were not new to me, but the seaweed, avocado and cold rice were. Add the wasabi and soy sauce and it was quite the experience.




salmon hand roll, spicy tuna, octopus sashimi, tuna sashimi
Jam Session (NoDa Brewing)


Sakura, hidden in Phase 4 of Franklin Square, was the first sushi restaurant in Gastonia. For me, it holds memories of prom dates, best friends, and special occasions.

The restaurant still looks the same as it did when it first opened. The menu recently received a makeover and it's...jarring. Thankfully, the food remained the same!

My favorite menu item (outside of sushi) is the pecan crusted grouper. Get it! The sashimi has never disappointed either and the spicy tuna roll is my all time favorite.

If you ever find yourself in Gastonia, Sakura is a must and won't break the bank.



Friday, March 21, 2014

Authentic Ramen in Charlotte


For the college student or anyone on a "ramen noodle" budget, it's survival. For the Japanese, it's comfort food. 

I have fallen into both categories at different stages of life with different types of preparation.

It used to be a cup of noodles, poor the hot water in, and three minutes later you had a meal. Then I learned to buy the kind in a wrapper and cook it with miso paste and other spices, throwing out the packet of flavoring. Then it was my first trip to Tokyo where the true love affair began.

I was tired, weary. It was my first time traveling half way around the world. It was my first time traveling that far alone. I arrived at the Imperial Hotel and was greeted by a warm hug from my mom and a hot shower after a day of travel.



After unpacking, we set out to find dinner. We were both exhausted and finding a full fledged meal with no knowledge of the language seemed daunting. After a few misses we found a hole in the wall ramen restaurant with one broken English menu. It was perfection: delicious broth, tender meat, and slick noodles. 

One never forgets their first authentic bowl of ramen so when I heard about Musashi's I knew I had to give it a try!

A bowl of ramen was the perfect dinner choice after spending the afternoon celebrating St. Patrick's Day. The husband and I met up with the #EpicEaters and their dates and quickly separated ourselves, the men at one table and the ladies at the other. 

We gabbed, drank sake, and snacked on light appetizers. And then the ramen came and the nine of us got really quiet. 
 


Miso Ramen
Japanese egg noodle, roasted pork slices, bamboo shoot & green onions

It was delicious and the closest thing I've had in Charlotte that resembles the ramen that I had had in Tokyo years ago. 

The restaurant is 35 minutes from the house but is definitely worth the drive for those days when I crave the taste of Tokyo.