Just in the St. Nick of time, I’m here with a recap of my December restaurant segment on Charlotte’s WCNC’s Charlotte Today… read on for details and then watch the video of the December 19 spot using the link at the end of this post – Thanks to Colleen Odegaard, Eugene Robinson, Natalie Ridley, Arve Byrd, Kim Thomas, Matt Hammond and Mary Alvarez and the team at Charlotte Today for making these monthly restaurant recommendation segments so much fun! And a special thanks to my wonderful husband, Tom Billotto who is always there on set – helping me set up the shots, and who keeps the food moving during the actual taped segment. Cant wait to plan more for 2016, but first, lets talk about the next two week….
Lots of food and cooking going on this week and next – here are five places I think can help you ease through the rest of the 2015 holiday season.
Lets start with a breakfast option – good for the holidays or anytime of the year…
Brooklyn Water Bagels – Located at 15105 John J Delaney Blvd in the Ballantyne Commons East shopping Center; Open 6am – 3 pm – New York’s borough of Brooklyn is the hot new food place to be; but fortunate for us in Charlotte, we don’t need to take a trip to the Big Apple to get the same wonderful bagels. You see, when it comes to making bagels (traditionally prepared by boiling the round loops of dough first and then baking them) its all about the water. They say that NY City water is some of the finest in the country – that’s because it comes from the Catskill Mountains.
So to make bagels like the ones you’ll get in Brooklyn, you need to have water like they have in Brooklyn and the fine folks at Brooklyn Water Bagels have figured out how to make it happen. These bagels are the real deal – made with specially filtered water that not only goes into the bagel preparation, but into the coffee and all the beverages as well.
Not to miss – the coffee ice cubes that come when you order a “Cubsta” iced coffee and the chocolate egg creams made with Fox’s U-Bet seltzer. Both are exceptional and the latter may be my new favorite carbonated beverage.
In addition to the house blended cream cheese, and bagel sandwiches for breakfast or lunch, try the Bagel Bites, as a great way to have a taste of it all the BWB varieties. Holiday entertaining note: these bagel bites also make for exceptionally cute appetizers at your holiday party served with smoked salmon or smoked trout of your choice or BWB white fish salad.
If you don’t trust my opinion on the quality of these fabulous bagels, know that BWB now makes all the bagels served at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge –delivered fresh baked each morning. To pass the mustard of the likes of Chefs David Moore, Ben Kallenbach and Michael Rayfield, you know I’m not pulling your chain.
After the bagel and the beverages, authentic cake like, perfectly iced Black and White cookies are a must. Plenty of room to dine in or you can take out, of course; but if you stay and sit a while, you can enjoy another taste of old time Brooklyn culture by enjoy the reruns of Jackie Gleason’s classic – The Honeymooners while you eat. If I had one suggestion for Brooklyn Water Bagels, it would be to turn down the music and turn up the sound on the video – nothing like the fun and laughter these old reruns bring to the table.
Next up you’ll surely want to be wining and dining this week and next, or want to give a gift of a great bottle or two. Time to make a toast to the year that has gone by, the year that is to be, and the holiday season in between. No where better to cover your bases on all angles than at the new location of
Foxcroft Wine Company now in Dilworth at Kenilworth Commons Shopping as well as in their original SouthPark location at 7824 Fairview Rd. The new location is taking the Dilworth Neighborhood by storm. The retail operation and wine bar Open 10 am to 11 pm; the kitchen opens at 5
This is the perfect place to celebrate with 40 something wines by the glass, hundreds by the bottle; and while there is a fair share of beef, chicken and fish on the menu, I love and appreciate the fact that there are also great vegetarian and vegan entrees and well.
The flat breads are a divine way to start, and whatever you order by sure to add on the French Fries and Brussels Sprouts as sides. My oh my – perfect fried potatoes with a dusting of Parmesan, a drizzle of truffle oil and a truffle aioli on the side for dipping. The sprouts are poached then sautéed with a mix of butternut squash, caramelized onions and a Asian glaze – possibly the best Brussels in the city right now and those may be fighting words…
In season, enjoy the patio dining… and
Exciting news – and you heard it here first – Foxcroft Wine Co. is upping the bar as one of the two 2015 Competition Dining Charlotte Champs – Chef Brent Martin is joining the culinary team, so along side the talent of Chef Justin Solomon, Shawn Harrison and the rest of this talented culinary team – look for dynamic things to come with the new year.
Looking for a fun family holiday tradition to start? Turn to Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Parkway S, Concord, NC, for the biggest light show in town and while you are there enjoy dinner at The Speedway Club, open during the month of December to the public. For the majority of the year, this is a members only club; but for the whole month of December the club is open to the public by reservations made by calling 704-455-3216.
The cuisine is old country club style dining and I say that in the very best light – a throw back to classic continental cuisine –excellent crab and lobster cakes with big chunks of lobster, perfectly done steak and a delicious take on fish and grits with a citrusy twist, and a beautiful assortment of desserts – its a back-to-basics old school approach to food in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. At a recent dinner, as we were in the NASCAR mode, at least for the evening, we opted to try of the Childress red wines on the menu – both excellent selections.
If you are interested in becoming a member and would like to see or know more, contact GM George Krail who would be happy to help you arrange to come for dinner, holiday time or no for test drive – pun intended, thank you.
This time of year though, the added benefit to enjoying dinner at The Speedway Club is the spectacular holiday light display called “A Speedway Christmas”
Now through Dec. 30 but closed on Christmas Day, you can enjoy the creative display of Three Million Lights and Holiday Music, , a huge infield Christmas Village with photos with Santa, a bustling Bethlehem village, petting zoo, holiday crafts and more and the unique chance to drive the track, and Classic Christmas Movies on the 16,000 square foot Big Screen
The Speedway Christmas drive-through light show is open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. through Dec. 30 (closed Christmas Day). Christmas Village is open Thursday through Sunday. The movie schedule includes showings of Frozen Dec 21-24 and Dec 26 and 27 at 8 and 10 pm
For tickets, the pricing is as follows: Christmas Village open: Thursday & Sunday: $25 per car; $50 per van (max 36); $175 bus (max 57), Friday & Saturday: $30 per car; $50 per van (max 36); $175 bus (max 57), Military Discount: $3 off, Fast Pass: Move to the front of the line with a fast pass for an additional $10 to the above price
Light Show only: $20 per car; $40 per van (max 36 people); $140 per bus (max 57 people), Military Discount: $3 off
Visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) for pricing and more information about Speedway Christmas.
During the remainder of the holiday season it’s for sure you’ll be entertaining a bit, and if you are looking for a little homemade ice cream to go with your line up of holiday desserts look no further than Charlotte’s own Elizabeth Creamery.
Elizabeth Creamery, is located at 1535 Elizabeth Ave,directly behind Carpe Diem…
With so many places to dine in Charlotte now, different places capture our attention at different times. This family owned and operated ice cream parlor came back onto my radar as I was writing an article about the Elizabeth Ave revitalized restaurant row for the new issue of Charlotte Living magazine out before the end of the year. Owner Sun Jae Kim has been making ice cream in Charlotte since 1996. He believes in simple honest flavors that are steeped in tradition.
All of the ice cream is made fresh on location with the very best ingredients. And the waffle cones are light and crunchy – they melt in your mouth along with your flavor of choice and are some of the best I have ever eaten…
Elizabeth Creamery is a great stop for a family outing after you drive the neighborhoods to see holiday neighborhood lights – or before or after a ride around through the Elizabeth Ave corridor to Uptown on Charlotte’s only street car in 77 years.
After you’ve enjoyed a cone or two –be sure to take home a pint of your favorite flavors – perfect for your holiday desserts – try the ginger with a slice of gingerbread, a cinnamon rolls or ginger cookies; or a scoop of mocha in your next cup of hot chocolate! And, just because you’ve gotta love blue food and as a favor for your sweet tooth don’t miss the cotton candy flavored Smurf.
Finally, a banquet at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge is the perfect destination dining stop and this year a great place to continue on the celebration the holidays with friends and family – once gifts are opened, take a deep breath and relax as the talented Culinary team at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge as done the work for you.
The hotel will offer Christmas Brunch on December 25, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The elaborate buffet will include a variety of salads, an assortment of cheese and seafood displays, breakfast items, an omelet station, carving station and indigenous desserts. There will be live holiday music. Cost is $75 per person, $35 for children, ages 5-13, and complimentary for children ages 4 and under (pricing does not include tax or 23% service charge). Private dining rooms are available.
Gallery Restaurant will be open for dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas, 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. The restaurant will feature its regular menu as well as offer a prime rib dinner special.
Reservations are required for dining on Christmas Eve and Christmas. To make a reservation, please call 704-248-4100 or visit www.gallery-restaurant.com.
While you are there visit the Hotels annual Gingerbread Lane open now through Sunday, December 27. Vote on your favorite entries with $1 minimum donation per vote. All proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital (LCH), dedicated to caring for the physical and emotional needs of children and their families.
To see the video with my take on all these December restaurants click here for the segment on Charlotte Today with Hosts and my friends Colleen Odegaard and Eugene Robinson http://www.wcnc.com/story/entertainment/2015/12/18/take-a-break-from-cooking-and-visit-these-5-restaurants/77567784/