Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater: The Story of Seasonal Squash

Thought it would be fun  in the week before Halloween to serve up an update of a seasonal post on cooking  with pumpkin and winter squash. Plus, here is your advance notice to be sure to tune into Charlotte Today on WCNC on Monday Oct 31 for a special edition Pumpkin-Driven Restaurant Round-Up along with an accompanying blog post so you can see – and go to taste – what Charlotte area chefs are doing with this seasonal squash on their fall menus.

But before you can cook though, you must carve… learn all the tricks of the trade this weekend Oct 31, 4-7 pm at Lenny Boy Brewing Company from some of Charlotte’s finest chefs and farmers, all members of the Piedmont Culinary Guild who will be putting on their annual fund raising event for the fall season…Carved…

carved-2016-facebook-ogThe fun begins right at 4pm and runs through till 7 on Oct 31, 2016.  You and your family will watch pumpkins be transformed into clever and creative, sometimes ghostly and ghoulish  works of art.

I can promise you these aren’t your mama’s triangled-eyed Jack-O-Lanterns!  The photos I’ve posted here are from a Carved event a couple of years ago,  I took some of them, and some are thanks to the Piedmont Culinary Guild, but as incredible as these photos are, know the event just keeps getting better and better, so make it a point to make Carved a part of your family’s pre-Halloween festivities.

And, to add to the fun,  you’ll help add to the excitement by casting your vote for what you deem to be the best carved entry and your ticket will serve as your raffle number to possibly win one of the Carved creations! The lucky carver of the  winning creation gets the 2016 bragging rites and a custom-created leather knife roll and apron, crafted by Guild Member Brad Todd of Lucky Clays Farm.

In addition to the seasonal squash on display this year, Carved-goers will enjoy  fresh shelled popcorn-on-the-cob, courtesy of PCG Member Brent Barbee of Barbee Farms; fresh cider pressed on site from  North Carolina apples, courtesy of PCG Member Eric Williamson of Coldwater Creek Farms; and an antique John Deere tractor “ice cream machine” that will be set up to sample and demo fresh ice cream, courtesy of PCG member Bo Sellers of Allee Bubba Farms.

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Emily Russell from Zone 7 Foods at the 2015 Carved event

But wait theres more: Magic and balloon creations by Scott Link; Artistic caricatures created of you and your family on site by Sarah Pollack; Tin-type photographs developed on site by Jeff Howlett; and a Silent auction

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Chef Dave Feemster – Fahrenheit with his chili pepper pumpkin

There will be a separate Kids Competition on the Carving front. Kids, ages 11 and under who bring a pumpkin they carved themselves get in FREE and will be eligible for special prizes. Plus, PCG Member Megan Lambert of Johnson and Wales University will have a table of sugar skulls for kids to decorate, plus there will be games and other activities for children to enjoy.

Two options during the event  to purchase  food on site:  PCG Member Tara Diamante will have her Bleu Barn Bistro food truck at Lenny Boy – offering dishes created from locally-sourced meat and produce. While PCG Member Courtney Buckley will  be serving up sweets from Your Mom’s Donuts cart on site – offering all local product made from Got ToBeNc locally  milled flour, pasture raised dairy, and eggs.

Your ticket includes entrance to the event, a souvenir Carved 2016 cup, one Lenny Boy beverage (with supplied ticket) ( You may purchase more to drink on your own) and one voting ticket – which doubles as an entry to the Carved raffle to win one of the carved pumpkins created at the event.

Cost is  Adults: $18 in advance or $22 at the door; Kids – 11 and under: $5
(Remember – Kids who bring a pumpkin they carved themselves get in FREE)  Advance tickets are available online here and advance sales end on Friday, October 28. 

How to carve your pumpkin and eat it too!

Like the chefs and farmers participating in the Carved event,  most of us do not hesitate to go out and choose a real pumpkin for our Halloween Jack-o-Lantern, but when it comes to actually cooking this seasonal squash, we tend to forgot that “Eat Local” mantra and all the possibilities of using fresh versus canned. This year, I suggest you shop from local farmers, rather than the canned veggie aisle of your local grocer and make some puree you can freeze and use for months to come.

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Local Pumpkins from Dover Vineyards spotted at The Asbury booth at this year’s Dilworth Southend Chili Cookoff

It’s easy to put up your own pumpkin puree this season and I am happy to use this post to show you how its done. Fresh pumpkin, like all other varieties of winter squash is abundant in this area and makes for some very fine eating not only in pie, but in custards, ice creams, breads, cookies and muffins as well as savory recipes like soups, salads, pastas, tempura and pureed or baked as a side with grilled or roasted meats and is great for juicing, too.

Whew! Pumpkin is also quite nice served raw, either grated into salads or thin sliced and served with raw veggies and your favorite dip.

These seasonal squash are low in calories, yet abundant in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Pumpkin is a great source for vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E all are rich in anti-oxidants and anti-aging properties. Health benefits aside,  legend and folk lore has it that this grandest of gourd’s is also an aphrodisiac…so all of a sudden, pumpkin season could take on a whole new meaning … I’ll leave it at that and let you draw your own conclusions.

pumkins in the fieldPumpkins grow in a wide variety of sizes, some weighing in at well over 100 pounds. Save the big brusiers for winning awards at county fares and for carving contests. Nothing like a large Jack-o-lantern set out and lit up on the porch designed to welcome treat or treating seasonal guests. Keep in mind that once “Jack” has been carved and spent several nights out of doors, all sorts of ants and other creepy crawly things may take up residence, to say nothing of the melted wax. That’s all fine, if the plan is to keep the carved pumpkin outside, but if you were planning to cook and eat the pulp after the 31st, then best to buy another pumpkin or two or three for all  your upcoming culinary endeavors this season.

For eating purposes, look for medium to slightly smaller pumpkins, those with more tender and succulent flesh.  Like any other winter squash – butternut, acorn, golden and Hubbard – the skin should be free from blemishes and the pumpkin or squash heavy for its size. Store whole any winter squash, pumpkins et al, at room temperature for as long as a month or keep in a cooler place for as long as three months.

To easily get inside the tough outer shell, place your pumpkin in a large heavy-duty plastic garbage bag, take it outside and drop it on some hard concrete – this might be one fun and good way for the kids to help with the process.. The pumpkin will split open into several pieces. Remove the pumpkin pieces from the bag, scoop out the stringy pulp that surrounds the seeds and then cut the firmer pulp from the outside pumpkin shell. Boil, steam, bake or fry the chunks of pumpkin as you would potatoes, or oven roast by placing the pumpkin chunks, skin and all, cut side down in a large baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about an hour, or an hour and a half or so, or until the pumpkin pieces are fork tender – about the same consistency as a baked potato. When the squash has cooled slightly, scoop is of the cooked shell.

For pumpkin puree, mash or process the roasted, boiled or steamed chunks in a processor, blender or by hand. Season to be sweet or savory, as you choose and then use as directed in your favorite recipe. Cooked pumpkin pulp will keep in your freezer for six to eight months.

In addition to being used as a base for many sweet and savory recipes, pumpkin or winter squash puree may also be served on it’s own as you would mashed or creamed potatoes. Simply add a little butter to the puree and season to taste with salt and pepper.

From Little Seeds, Big Pumpkins Grow

pumpkin heirloom-seeds-740x493The pumpkin seeds, sometimes called pepitas, may be rinsed from the stringy pulp, which holds then in place inside the pumpkin and then baked. Because you will remove them before setting your Jack-o-lantern outside, you can bake and eat the seed from pumpkins you carve as well as those you cut up and cook.

First, rinse the seeds well, removing all of the pumpkin pulp. Then, pat the seeds dry between several layers of paper toweling. Spread the dry pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a lightly oiled or buttered baking sheet. Season them generously before baking with your favorite spice or spice combination. Use something as simple as a mix of salt and pepper or go for a zestier blend of garlic salt, chili powder and a dash of cumin. Toast the seeds in a preheated 200 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour, turning them over halfway during the baking time. When the seeds are dry and toasted with a crunchy consistency, remove them for the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container and enjoy over the course of the next several weeks and months.

Pumpkin pairs well with other veggies of the fall season including locally grown carrots. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for oven roasted pumpkin and carrots – serve it up in carved out small pie pumpkins in place of bowls for an extra touch of something special. Enjoy!

 

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Heidi Billotto gets into the act at the 2014  Piedmont Culinary Guild’s Carved event several years ago – tons of fun for all!

Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

Recipe from Charlotte Culinary Expert, Heidi Billotto

1 medium sized pumpkin or 2-3  butternut or acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise

3-4 whole organic carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 shallots, minced

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Water or broth to cover

1 cup heavy cream or fat free half and half, more if needed

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Place the pumpkin or squash on a parchment paper lined baking sheet cut side down. no need to scrape the seeds out first unless you’d like to go ahead and roast those separately. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the outside of the pumpkin or squash begin to brown. When the pumpkin is  cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds, then gently scoop the pulp from the skin. Reserve.

In a stockpot, Heat olive oil for a minute, till it becomes aromatic. Add carrots and shallots or leeks and saute until they start to brown. Add butternut squash, cover with water or broth; bring to a boil and allow to boil until carrots are tender.

Use an immersion blender or a food processor to puree the squash and carrots and stir into broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the heavy cream or half and half for a creamier soup if you would like. Adjust seasonings.

Serve hot, freezes well. Thin with additional broth or water if desired.

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Stay tuned for another pumpkin centric post on Monday Oct 31, as a share how local Charlotte chefs are serving pumpkin on their fall menus and be sure to tune in to see 5 of my favorites on Monday’s Halloween edition of Charlotte Today on WCNC in Charlotte.

If you’d like to be the first to see each of my blogs posts as they appear on this site, then simply subscribe to the blog as prompted and each and every post will come right to your inbox.

2016 GotTobeNC Competition Dining Series Comes to Charlotte

BlackCompDiningLogoIts called Competition Dining – The GotToBeNc Competition Dining Series – to be exact.  Its a series of interactive dining events held across the state of North Carolina.  Think of it as what you would get if  you combined the cooking and competition premise of  the television shows Chopped and  Iron Chef and then add in the fact that YOU get to be the judge as teams of talented area chefs create a number of courses centered around a “secret ingredient” each night of competition.

As many of you may know, I work and travel across North Carolina with the Competition Dining team headed by the uber-enthusiastic host and creator or the event, Jimmy Crippen.

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOODI absolutely love what I do as the face behind all the #CompDiningNC social media, newsletters etc,  coordinating relationships with local, regional and national sponsors; helping to connect local farmers and chefs and in general making sure that our dinner guests have the most fun possible as we competing across North Carolina, this year with regional series in Durham, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh, Charlotte and Wilmington.

Its fun to travel meeting talented chefs across the state, but I am particularly excited to be home in Charlotte next month as the competition kicks off August 8, showing the state what Charlotte chefs bring to the table. Excited, too, to be the first to share the news in this post as to which Charlotte-based chefs are competing and when they will be in the GotToBeNC Competition Dining spotlight, that’s right – you heard it hear first!

bring your own battery packs - CopyAs a dinner guest at any Competition Dining event, you and your dining companions will enjoy a six course meal, but you won’t know which team of chefs prepared which course. You’ll have fun voting on the specially designed app on your phone, voting and posting on your own social media if you would like, as you enjoy each sweet and savory forkful. In the end, your votes are tallied, the teams come out to meet the crowd, the scores are reveled and one team wins and the other goes on the cook another day.

UPDATED - NCDAThere really is nothing else like it... with the NC Department of Agriculture as the title sponsor, The GotToBeNc Competition Dining series comes with a focus on promoting local NC and for this series Charlotte area produce, proteins and products.

Here’s how it all works – Every GotToBeNC Competition Dining Series dinner event includes two chef teams battling it out, each preparing three courses centered on a featured North Carolina ingredients  – its like simultaneously eating at two of your favorites restaurants.

bonterra_thumbnailIn Charlotte all of the  events will take place at Bonterra Dining and Wine Room, located at  1829 Cleveland Ave. We book out the restaurant on the days of competition; our chefs start early in the  morning with the reveal of the secret ingredient or ingredients, cook all day and then plate and serve guests at the event that night. Doors and the bar open at 6 pm and the show starts about 6:45.

verica in actionWhile the chefs are cooking in the kitchen, as ticketed guests, you can get in on the action as well, savoring a full-service, six-course meal without knowing which chef prepared which plate.  As you enjoy the dinner, you’ll vote on each dish using the free app, and ultimately help determine who moves on to the next round and who goes home. Guests attending the finale in each region receive a gift bag of coupons, swag and samples compliments of our Competition Dining Sponsors.

While the Charlotte Food-centric crowd has been enjoying the competition for several years running now, its always fun to have a new twist. New to GotTobeNc Competition Dining for 2016, the creation of All-Star Dream Teams allows chefs from different restaurants to partner together for the three-person teams, upping the potential caliber and creating a more fun and competitive atmosphere for all.

In just a few weeks the Queen City series kicks off. In Charlotte, 24 highly competitive chefs on eight individual Dream Teams go up against each other for the regional Charlotte win.

The Charlotte series will take place in two heats, the first with 2 preliminary Battles on August 8 and 9 and a semi final round on August 11. The second heat sees preliminary battles on August 22 and 23  and a semi final round on August 25.

The Charlotte Finale will take place on Sunday August 28. The finale is already sold out. No doubt that each of the preliminary rounds and the semi final showdowns will soon be sold out as well. I don’t want you to miss out on all the fun – check your calendars, call your friends and make your reservations TODAY .

Here is the lineup of talented Dream Team chefs  all are in contention for the big Charlotte win…. I don’t want you to miss a single bite of the action, so to make it easy, I’ve included the brackets with competing teams plus links to tickets sales for each battle. Can’t wait to see you there! Just click on the red dated link to purchase tickets for each individual battle

Aug. 8 GotToBeNc Competition Dining Charlotte Prelim Dinner:

Team 3 cooks Comp dining cltTeam 3 COOKS from Waxhaw: Paul Verica, owner and chef at Heritage Food & Drink; Joseph Bonaparte, executive director at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach; and Ashley Boyd, pastry chef at Heritage Food & Drink and 300 East in Charlotte.

Radical Range Riders comp dining CltTeam Radical Range Riders from Matthews: Adam Reed, owner and chef at Sante of Matthews; Terra Ciotta, culinary instructor and chef at Artisan Restaurant in Charlotte; and Matthew Sganga, owner and chef at the Stone Table in Monroe.

Team Bistro 127 Comp Dining nc CLTTeam Bistro127 from Hickory: Shawn Bank, executive chef at Bistro127; John Edwards, sous chef at Bistro127; and Jeff Croft, assistant sous chef at Bistro127.

ViciousandDeliciousTeam Vicious and Delicious from Charlotte: Ryan Forte executive chef at Southminster; Phillip Platoni, chef de cuisine at Southminster; and Brigitte Oger, owner at Craft Cakes in Charlotte.

 

Aug 11 GotToBeNc Competition Dining Charlotte Semifinal Dinner sees the  Aug. 8 winning team versus Aug. 9 winning team

 

Aug 22 GotToBeNC Competition Dining Charlotte Prelim Dinner:

Team LucianosTeam Luciano’s from Charlotte: John Soilis, executive chef Luciano’s Ristorante Italiano; Daniel De Dios Guerrero, chef de cuisine at Luciano’s Ristorante Italiano; and Giovanni Bassi, sous chef at Luciano’s Ristorante Italiano.

team black mamba 2Team Fahrenheit Charlotte from Charlotte: David Feimster, executive chef Fahrenheit Charlotte; Rachel Child, pastry chef at Fahrenheit Charlotte; and Lewis Carter, sous chef at Fahrenheit Charlotte.

 

Aug 23 GotToBeNC Competition Dining Charlotte Prelim Dinner:

Team Heirloom comp dining cltTeam Heirloom from Charlotte: Clark Barlowe, chef and proprietor at Heirloom; Zack Gragg, executive sous chef at Heirloom; and Ann Marie Stefany, pastry chef at Heirloom.

Team Les Trois Petit Cochon comp dining cltTeam Les Trois Petit Cochon from Fort Mill: Neil Bratton, executive chef at Fish Market Bar and Grill; Jon Ernst, executive chef at Café Monte in Charlotte; and Wade Waller, former executive chef at Standard Brewing Co. in Maryland Heights, Missouri, now relocating to Charlotte

 

Aug 25 GotToBeNc Competition Dining Charlotte Semifinal Dinner sees the  Aug. 22 winning team versus Aug.23 winning team

August 28 GotToBeNC Competition Dining Charlotte Finale – Winner of the Aug 11 semi final goes up against the winner of the Aug 25 semi final for the Charlotte regional prize package including the coveted red chefs jacket compliments of Alsco, a check for $2000 in cash and prizes from Pate Dawson Southern Foods, an autographed book from Master Baker Lionel Vatinet of La  Farm Bakery in Cary NC and a hand forged knife from Charlotte Bladesmith Steve Watkins of Ironman Forge…and then of course there are the braggin’ rites and entree to the November Battle of Champions.

 

Hurry, Hurry…Read All About It

Lots to read about in the culinary sections in both the Fall and Winter issues of Charlotte Living Magazine – ICYMI ( In Case You Missed It), today I wanted to share links to my recent culinary, giving back , art and travel articles 

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOODIn between cooking classes and catering, articles and recipes on HeidiBillottoFood.com and posts on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, I write four times a year for a fabulous publication in Charlotte: Charlotte Living Magazine.
These perfectly bound glossy pages pair my words with wonderful photos and give me a chance to write in more detail about many of my favorite people and places.
You can pick up a copy of Charlotte Living Magazine at lots of places around Charlotte, including The Savory Spice Shop in Southend, EarthFare, Whole Foods, and The Atherton Mill Farmers’ Market, just to mention a few; or you can read it online in it’s flipbook format at CharlotteLivingMagazine.com.
The Food and Entertaining section online offers links to archived articles I have written over the past year on Kindred Restaurant in Davidson, The Fig Tree Restaurant, Bonterra Dining and Wine RoomPassion 8 Restaurant, Chef Bruce Moffett’s Trio of Restaurants: Barrington’s, Good Food on Montford and Stagioni , a piece about three ever favorites: The Heirloom, The Asbury and Fahrenheit Clt and more.
While a portion of the content in these archived articles may be dated by seasonal references,  the basic information is still current and it is important to note, that these restaurants continue to be places to put on your dining out radar.
over shot for fall recipesOn these pages you’ll also find stories about local product such as Charlotte’s own Cannizzaro Sauces.read more here…. and  a fun story on a new beverage category hitting bottle shops and grocery stores all over the southeast: Islander Ginger Beer.
What makes it new, is this is Alcoholic Ginger Beer and what makes is pertinent to you and Charlotte is that this Ginger Beer has North Carolina roots!
I won’t print any spoilers here – just…read more here… and then I know you’ll head out to buy a four pack for your next batch of Moscow Mules, Mimosas, or perhaps a Dark and Stormy or two. Islanders are available in Harris Teeter’s across the state and locally in Total Wine and Earthfare too.
2015 Fall issue of Charlotte Living
In the Fall 2015 issue we put an incredible dessert by Chef Ben Kallenbach, executive pastry chef at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge on the cover and the cover story is about the hotel’s Gallery Restaurant and the talent Chef David Moore and his team bring to the table. Read more
This fall issue also includes a Three Day Weekend article all about Winston-Salem, the gate way to the North Carolina wine country and home to a host of great places to stay, eat and explore, such as Graze Restaurant, Atelier On Trade, Meridian Restaurant and more …Read More
2016 Winter issue of Charlotte Living
The culinary section in the Winter 2016 issue  is filled with places and products  you simply must try sooner than later if you haven’t already! Pick up an issue as you’ll want to devour each and every page. This issue is on newstands now, but until you have the issue in hand, I’ll tease you with a taste and a link back to my featured stories:
On Chef Tom Condron and his modern take on French cuisine at Lumiere French Kitchen in Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood… Read More

On Chef Tim Groody and his farm to The Fork! fare in Cornelius… Read More…in addition to nightly dinners, be sure to check out Fork’s Sunday brunch, too!

elizabeth ave Charlotte Living story heidi with chefsOn the all new Elizabeth Ave corridor in Charlotte, The Queen City’s first streetcar in 77 years  and the chefs ( Luca Annunziata of Passion 8, Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem, Marc Jacksina of Earls Grocery, Trey Wilson of Customshop, Jose Garcia of 1900 Mexican Grille and Tequila Bar and Sun Jae Kim of Elizabeth Creamery) that are making this two block stretch Charlotte’s newest restaurant row… Read More… A big shout out to all of these chefs who came to help a writer out when I called them on a cold and rainy November Monday to come out for a photo at one of the Elizabeth Ave street signs – they all happily obliged and I couldn’t have been more thrilled – here is one of the shots I jumped in for fun just before Jose got there!

And speaking of Charlotte chefs, hope you will enjoy reading a recap I put together on a great giving back effort coordinated by the Charlotte-based Piedmont Culinary Guild and lead by chefs, farmers and people who cared  when our neighbors in South Carolina were affected by the October 2015 flooding. They all pitched in, not for publicity, but because it was the right thing to do, but I wanted to give them a little love and tell the story…Read More

Looking for a great way to Eat Local at home? Don’t miss the detes on my new favorite with Take and Bake product: frozen scones from Charlotte’s own The Scone Shop ( and YES, there is a package in my freezer, even as I type this – so you now I practice what I preach)… Read More

Food is art they say and it was my pleasure in this issue to write about the very talented Loren DiBenedetto, a Charlotte artists who paints the food you love to eat ( You’ll see when you…Read more… that Loren also paints detailed pet portraits, so if you have four legged friends, you’d like have captured on canvas, you might want to reach out to Loren for details. We own 6 of Loren’s charming paints ( 4 cats, a pear and a study of figs) and we love them every one.

blossom shop logoFinally, I would be remiss if I didn’t share one link for an advertisement in this Winter issue – its the back inside cover ad for The Blossom Shop. The Blossom Shop is owned my my dear friends and family by marriage Ted Todd and Debby Sacra. It’s been my go-to florist for years ( even before I married Tom and info the family) and I can’t say enough good things about the work they do – always making every special event in life even more memorable.  Call them, you’ll be thrilled you did.

Heidi Billotto 2008

To see The Blossom Shop ad now, follow this link – which will take you to the  online flipbook, then flip over to page 83. Here you’ll see a wedding photo of my my niece and new nephew from their September 2015 nuptials. As you will see, the bride and groom, Kendel and Chad Parks, were dazzling and the flowers were stunning!

Cheers to photographer Critsey Rowe for capturing it all on film and to the talented staff at Charlotte living for transforming it all into the best ad ever!

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOOD
 “Maybe it’s much too early in the game; Aah, but I thought I’d ask you just the same; What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?
“Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight; When it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night; Welcoming in the New Year, New Year’s Eve”

 

NYE bottleNow that I have you in the mood, humming along, no doubt; here’s the scoop on ten Charlotte area restaurants and what they are serving for New Years Eve 2015 – Take a read, make a reservation and then Eat, Drink & Celebrate  as we welcome in 2016! Cheers!

300 East –

300East_front_5_13300 East. located as the name suggests at 300 East Blvd., is locally owned and  has been a mainstay in the Charlotte restaurant scene since 1986 capping off Charlotte’s ever developing East Blvd. restaurant row in Charlotte’s Dilworth neighborhood.   If you are not up for a dinner out on New Years’ Eve – you might want to enjoy lunch instead and I’m happy to say that 300 East will be serving a midday meal on Thursday December 31 from 11-3:30.  Dinner  service on the 31st is  from 5-10PM. The full dinner menu will be available, as well as an optional 3-course package for $40. Reservations are highly recommended by calling 704-332-6507 or visit 300east.net   300 East Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A big supporter of local farms, the 2015 New Years Eve 300 East menu features product from some of my favorite places to shop local as well  – Cheers to Boy & Girl Farm, Small City Farm, Bosky Acres, Clover Mushroom Farm, High Rock Farm, A Way of Life Farm, Windcrest Farm for making the dinner at 300 East even better… and here is what the talented staff of 300 East, headed by the dynamic duo of chefs Kristine Schmidt and Ashley Boyd, is serving as we welcome in 2016!

Diners may select one choice from each category for the  $40 prix fixe pricing , or you may order a la carte – the Full Dinner Menu will  also available!

Starters:  Sunchoke & Potato Soup, Roasted Lobster

Salad of Bibb Lettuces & Roasted Beets, Almond Crusted Goat Cheese, Clementines, Champagne-Mustard Vinaigrette

Mains:  Border Springs Lamb Osso Bucco, Rosemary Mint Gremolata, Gigante Bean-Taleggio Puree, Sauteed Rapini

Persian Spiced Brick Grilled Poussin, Tahini Yogurt, Freekah with Apricots, Walnut Green Beans

Seared Hawaiian Ono, Shiitake, Maitake & Oyster Mushrooms, Rice Noodles, Asian Greens, Ginger Dashi

Dessert:  Carrot Cake, Black Walnuts, Fromage Blanc Ice Cream, New Ginger Marmalade

French Broad Chocolate Cremeux, Chestnut Sponge Cake, Popped Sorghum, Caramel

 

The Asbury at The Dunhill Hotel

Asbury LogoAs only the team of Chefs Chris Coleman, Matthew Krenz and Jossie Perlemutter can do it, New Years Eve guests are in for a treat at The Asbury with a special five-course tasting menu on tap for the evening. (The tasting menu is also quite nicely offered in a vegetarian version) Cost $75 per person with an additional $40 for wine pairings (plus tax and gratuity).  To whet your palate while you read on  The Asbury’s menu’s follow… the evening starts with Amuse, or a little bite to get your palate in the mood; gives you a pause to refresh with an Intermezzo  or midway and ends with “Mignardise”  small sweet tidbits to finish the evening. The Asbury is located adjacent to the Dunhill Hotel in Uptown Charlotte at 235 N Tryon Street. Parking in the deck directly behind the Dunhill and the restaurant will validate. For more info visit TheAsbury.com
Reservations are a must: http://bit.ly/SaveMySeatAtTheAsbury  or call 704.342.1193The Asbury Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Asbury NYE Tasting Menu:
First Course: Salad of Bitter Greens | egg, mushroom, pepper gel, charred walnut miso, carrot
Second Course: Smoked Scallop Custard | juniper + thyme shortbread, citrus, mustard, chili, kale
Third Course: Bacon-Wrapped Duck Confit | beet tartar, arugula, pickled apple relish, cranberry, spiced pecan
Fourth Course: Thyme + Smoked Peanut-Crusted Lamb Chops | cranberry chutney, whipped sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, coffee + cocoa demi
Fifth Course: Tasting of Chocolate

The Asbury NYE Vegetarian Menu:
First Course: Salad of Bitter Greens | egg, mushroom, pepper gel, charred walnut miso, carrot
Second Course: BBQ Shiitake + Ricotta Raviolo | butternut squash bisque, arugula, pecan gremolata
Third Course: Roasted Broccoli | tofu, pickled wheatberries, cranberries, goat cheese, cashews, pear
Fourth Course: Winter Vegetables | crispy oyster mushrooms, harissa spiced root vegetables, Carolina Gold rice, charred corn + bay broth
Fifth Course: Tasting of Chocolate

Fahrenheit Charlotte –

fahrenheitNothing like watching the New Year’s Eve roll in on one of Charlotte’s most popular rooftops as the clock stokes midnight, you’ll have a birds eye view of the city and can step outside to raise your glasses high. Special menu with lots of mouthwatering choices – Chefs Rocco Whalen, David Feimster and the Fahrenheit Charlotte team and working their magic to make it a spectacular evening with a four course menu to beat the band. Selections include Dutch Harbor King Red Crab Bisque with winter truffles, Vietnamese Chicken Springrolls, Garlic Black Pepper Lobster, Kobe beef short ribs, Beef tenderloin and Moroccan Lamb loin, just to name a few. Wind it all up with bread pudding, cobbler, creme brulee or my personal fave: Dark Chocolate Jolt Cake served with Fruity Pebble Cremeux and Marshmallow Cotton Candy! Fruity Pebbles – you just gotta love it! Fahrenheit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Complete Fahrenheit New Year’s Even menu with all the selections is up online at http://www.chefroccowhalen.com/fahrenheit-charlotte/events/

Reservations are required and must be confirmed with a credit card, Cost is $99 per person or $240 per couple. Pricing includes a bottle of Moet & Chandon White Star Champagne. Call for reservations 980-237-6718.  Located in uptown Charlotte atop SKYE Condominiums at 222 S Caldwell Street. Valet parking and adjacent lot make for easy access. For more info visit ChefRoccoWhalen.com

Fork!

forkWant to make it a farm to fork New Year’s Eve? Lots of these restaurants featured here use local product, But Chef Tim Groody, now of Fork! in Cornelius is credited with making the movement real in Charlotte when he was the first chef to ever put a famer’s name on a menu in the Queen City. You can read all about it in my culinary section of the winter issue of Charlotte Living Magazine! But first, if you live north of the city, consider New Year’s Eve dinner at Fork!

Lots of local on the menu which is prix fixe at $65 Per Person and features  your choice of two Bites, one main, & one dessert. There are sides two – for all the details visit http://www.forkdining.com/resources/NYE16.pdf  Be sure to as about gluten free options! For reservations call 704-655-7465 or visit Forkdining,comFork! Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bites

Fried NC Oysters- spicy cornmeal crusted, marcona almond sauce

Foie Gras Torchon & Smoked Duck Gyoza – persimmon, apple salad House Made Whipped Ricotta & Oyster Mushrooms – shaved burgundy truffle, pickled beet oil

Brussel Sprout & Charred Vegetable Salad – carrots, turnips acorn squash, pomegranate preserved lemon vinaigrette Kale & Baby Lettuce Salad – granny smith apple vinaigrette, spicy pecans

Low Country Shrimp Cocktail – spicy tomato granite, broccoli okra slaw, carolina rice

Turkey Neck Rillets – raw vegetables, sea salt crackers

Sweet & Sour Fresh Bacon & Scallop – preserved damson plums

Mains

½ Ashley Farm Guinea Hen

Roasted Mills Family Farm Strip Loin

Carolina Bison Hanger Steak

Pan Seared NC Seafood

Pan Roasted Dry Pack Sea Scallops

and for Dessert –  Chocolate Mousse Cake, Dark Rum Sauce Cream Cheese Glazed Carrot Cake, Candied Bacon, Apple Pecan Nougatine Spiced Pumpkin Pot de Crème, ginger bread crumble, pomegranate                                   Chapel Hill Creamery Raw Milk Asiago sea salt crackers, rosemary honey, evoo

Heirloom Restaurant – 

heirloomTucked away in Charlotte’s Bellhaven neighborhood, near Moutain Island Lake,  Heirloom is an easy drive from Uptown, South or North Charlotte, there is plenty of parking and is a Charlotte hot spot you simply do not want to miss. Chef and owner Clark Barlow is making big waves, sourcing from local North Carolina farms and producers and won’t serve anything that wasn’t “Grown. Raised. Caught. Made.” in North Carolina. He and his incredibly talented staff celebrate each season and then can, jar and preserve the harvest for use all year round.  Clark has made appearances on The Food Network’s Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay.  Before opening Heirloom, Clark worked and trained at The French Laundry in California and at El Bulli in Spain, just to mention a few of his creds,  and now he’s taking that same small plate philosophy and doing doing it in spades with all North Carolina local product. Heirloom offers a regular 12 plate tasting menu, but for the end of this year and the beginning of the next, he’s raising the bar.   Celebrate New Year’s Eve in 16 Small Local Delicious Bites to ring in 2016.

$100 per 16 course menu, savor each bite, celebrate all that is local and start your new year at Heirloom.  New Year’s Eve service from 5-10 pm.  The complete 16 course menu will be up on the Heirloom Website on Tuesday Dec 29 by 5 pm.

Always happy to try to accommodate the customer,  Clark asks that for this specially prepared holiday meal, any one with any sort of dietary restrictions needs to call before making reservations. This would include those interested in vegan and vegetarian options as well.  Reservations Are A Must, by calling 704.595.7710 or with a visit to HeirloomRestaurantNC.com. Heirloom is located at 8470 Bellhaven Blvd. Heirloom Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lumiere Restaurant –

lumiereLumiere French Kitchen is located in the heart of Myers Park in Charlotte at 1039 Providence Road. Owned an operated by Chef Tom Condron and Matthew Pera, Lumiere brings modern French cuisine to the Queen City. To read more about chef Tom Condron’s philosophy and all he brings to the table  (Pun intended) at Lumiere in the feature article I wrote in the culinary section of the new Winter issue of Charlotte Living. Then book a reservation for New Year’s Eve when Condron and staff will be offering a four course Four Course Tasting Menu with Lobster, Shrimp, Wild Boar to Dry Aged Prime Beef . For more info call 704.372.3335 or visit lumiereMyersPark.com Lumiere Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

modPALEO –

mod paleo logoHere ‘s an option for after the clock strikes midnight and you make that New Year’s resolution to take better care of yourself in 2016. Just when you thought you were going to have to go it all alone, Charlotte’s modPALEO comes to the rescue! Chef Kris Reid and the talented team are here to help and have already come up with a plan of meals prepared with local and sustainable ingredients. All you have to do right now is register for the program  Dec 26-30. modPALEO is a Carolinas-based, pre-packaged meal service that offers a modern approach to healthy eating, based on the Paleo lifestyle. They believe in maintaining balance and wellness through the power of real food, well-sourced ingredients and sustainability

Commit to Eating Clean and feeling great  with this limited time offer. The “Keepin’ it Clean in 2016” package includes 4 weeks of modPALEO meals purchased in advance for the month of January. You choose how many meals and modPALEO will deliver 4 orders throughout the month (deliveries on January 6, 13, 20 and 27). Shipping and tax are included in pricing. Save between 5 and 25% by paying up front (depending on meal plan). Everything you need to make it happen is at https://store.modpaleo.com/news/Clean2016/  JustDoIt!

Passion 8 – 

passion 8 logoMy friends Jessica and Luca Annunziata and their talented team at Passion 8 are making a night of it with a New Year’s Eve Masquerade party. Two seatings at the popular Elizabeth Avenue restaurant.  First at 6pm featuring  4 fabulous Courses for $85 ; and then the Second Seating at  9pm with  5 Fabulous Courses for $125 with Champagne. An hour before the stroke of midnight the photo booth opens up so you can capture the moment and there will be dancing and a live DJ. Complimentary Hors D’oeuvres & Champagne Toast at Midnight. its all happening at 1523 Elizabeth Ave. Complimentary Parking in adjacent lots.   Wondering what those four or five courses will be? Here you go…. and then Call for Reservations 704.910.3161 or visit http://thepassion8.com/12-31-15/  Passion8 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

To Start: Foie Steak, Peanut Butter Foam, Butter Squash, Walnuts Brittle, Apple Butter

Butter Poached Lobster,Snow Peas, Chanterelle, Lobster Consommé, Crispy Ramen

Beef Tartare, Potato Gaufrette, Quail Egg, Horseradish Crema, Winter Pickled Vegetables

-Salad / Soup-  Mushrooms Consommé,Pickled Vegetables, Truffle Bone Marrow Butter

Winter Green Salad,Goat Cheese Fritter, Sliced Apple, Candy Beets, Pecans,Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

Crudo – Apple Fennel Salad, Yuzu Caviar, Shaved Radish, Micros Herbs, Wasabi Aioli

Mid Course-  Squid Ink Pasta,Snow Peas, Capers, Grilled Calamari, Fennel Broth

Exotic Mushrooms and Truffle Champagne Risotto, Shaved Ricotta Salata

Scallop,Parsnip Puree, Foie Gras Caramel Butter Sauce, Spaghetti Squash, Crispy Prosciutto

Entrees-  Poussin, Stuffed with Sausage & Truffle Bread Pudding, Jamon Iberico,

Butternut Squash Battonet, Spinach, Sage Pan Sauce

Branzino, Brussels Sprout Petals, Trumpet Mushroom, Black Rice, Fish Brodetto

Surf & Turf,Filet, Butter Poached Lobster, Pea & Macaroni Cake, Warmed Zabaione, Collard Greens, Apple Micro Salad

Elk Loin, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Peperonata, Crispy Kale, Coffee Bourbon Reduction

Dessert-  Chef’s Duet

Village Tavern

Village tavernThe annual New Year’s Eve Party at Village Tavern on 4201 Congress Street in the SouthPark area takes place from 9pm to 1am!    Enjoy another masquerade themed evening with the sounds of DJ Chase Morgan, drink specials, delicious appetizers and party favors for all!  $20 cover charge per person, alcohol and gratuity under separate cover. Safe transportation will be available. For more information and reservations, please call 704-552-9983 or visit http://www.villagetavern.com/locations.cfm/8/charlotte-nc/ Village Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Vivace Charlotte

vivaceFinally, perhaps a taste of Italian is what you’ll want to ring in the new year. Lots of great Italian options in town for sure, but one of my recent favorites is Vivace, located in the Metropolitan shopping area between Uptown and Southend at 1100 Metropolitan Ave.

Enjoy fine food and a beautiful view of the Charlotte Skyline from the outdoor patio or the upstairs dining area. Chef Mike Suppa is doing big things there – you won’t leave disappointed and that’s for sure. also impressed that there are regularly vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options on the menu.  For New Years’ Eve its a prix fixe menu with lots of choices, among them, lobster bisque with sage gnocchi and  chestnut crema; tuscan kale salad with pomegranate, caramelized winter squash, toasted pumpkin seeds, shaved caprino and  white balsamic dressing; several pastas; rabbit lasagna with mataki mushrooms, rosemary ricotta, fontina and caramelized onions; lamb porterhouse with oregano potatoes, black olive crema, braised escarole and golden raisins; and for dessert – a host of the chefs sorbets and gelatos as well as peppermint tiramisu, flourless chocolate cake or banana budino. For the complete menu visit http://www.vivacecharlotte.com/menu/new-years-eve

Cost is $55 per person | $75 with wine pairings for each course. Dinner service begins at 5 pm.    For reservations  call 704-370-7755  or visit VivaceCharlotte.com Vivace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NYE bottle

 

 

The problem with any sort of list is that eventually it has to end –  Know that with every list I write and every televised restaurant segment I do there are always lots more of great restaurants and chefs in Charlotte to try as well. All  doing fabulous things for New Years Eve and all year long. Make it a point in 2016 to eat local and support  our incredible local culinary community – Cheers to them all.  

 

 

 

 

Making a list, Checking it Twice – Heidi Billotto’s Restaurant Guide of Great Charlotte Spots to Wine and Dine

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOODA Few of my Favorite Finds

When I moved to Charlotte nearly 40 years ago, if you wanted wine or a cocktail with dinner it meant brown bagging and there was no such thing as pizza delivery or valet parking. Now, as we end 2014 and  move headstrong into 2015, Charlotte’s culinary skyline continues to expand and the nation is starting to pay attention.  Great chef-driven restaurants abound in every neighborhood; new locally-owned restaurants are opening every day. 

The list in this post was first published and is up online in the current issue of Charlotte Living magazine. It started as a Baker’s Dozen round up of 2014 – a bakers dozen to give myself a cushion from only listing a top ten. But then 10 grew to 20 and, well, you know the story. This list is not a finite one, but a work in progress.

The problem with a list of any kind is that once you write it and publish it, a new place opens or you rediscover old favorites you want to add. So this list starts as a post  and then next week  it will be become a page on my blog at HeidiBillottoFood.com under its own tab.  In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll add to it with updates of new finds, old favorites and don’t miss places in a dedicated blog post out each week on Wednesday or Thursday with enough time for you to make weekend plans..

My hope is for it to grow into a list of great places to simply eat or wine and dine your way across the  Carolinas.

It is in alphabetical order and offers something for everyone, suiting every palate and pocketbook. Most of these restaurants opened this year or late in 2013, but some are old favorites I just had to mention.  

Your favorite places on my list may vary from day to day depending on your mood but  I can promise there is not a wrong choice in the bunch. Take the tasting into your own hands and check back weekly for additions and updates and even some video from my monthly Charlotte Today restaurant segments.

Enjoy! – Heidi Billotto

 

The Asbury – Off the lobby of the historic Dunhill Hotel at 235 North Tryon Street. Call 704.342.1193. Visit DunhillHotel.com/Dining. Under the watch of executive chef Chris Coleman the Asbury offers modern southern cuisine with a farm to fork approach with a menu that honor the past and celebrates each seasons supporting local farms, farmers and producers along the way. Private dining rooms separate bar area and lounge The Asbury on Urbanspoon

Baku Robata Bar and Lounge – 415 Sharon Road, Call 704.817.7173. Visit Baku-restaurant.com        Japanese cuisine featuring  Robata and Yakitori grilled seafood and meat specialties as well as unique presentations of sushi and sashimi. All of it beautifully done. Tapas style serving, so go prepared to share items at the table. At the bar, an extensive collection of premium sake, wines , beers and craft cocktails – this writer’s favorite – the kumquat infused Sazerac made with candied kumquats, Russell’s reserve rye, Absinthe and lemon juice Baku-Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bonterra Dining and Wine Room – 1829 Cleveland Ave, Charlotte, NC 28203  Call 704.333.9463. Visit BonterraDining.com.       The band is back together again at this old Charlotte favorite reinvented  in the fall of 2014 with the return of Chef Blake Hartwick doing great new things  and taking the menu back with a whole new and delicious farm to fork vibe along with pastry chef  Jason Lemon and sous chef Mike Long.. Nightly  food and drink bar specials, incredible desserts, excellent service staff, lots of room and great opportunities for private events. Private rooms, wine cellar dining, catering, great venue for weddings and receptions Bonterra on Urbanspoon

Dean & DeLuca Wine Room – 6903 Phillips Place Court, Charlotte, NC. Call 704.643.5152; Visit Deananddeluca.com/aboutus/northcarolina  Made in America  wine comprised of many tasty selections all available by the bottle, the glass or the taste. Red and white flights, plus a long list of domestic and imported beers. Enjoy the a menu of delicious fresh made options many featuring local ingredients. For something light, think snacking and sharing and turn to the list of cheese and charcuterie (complete with several vegetarian pates) or small plates. For something more, there is a short list of flavorful entrees and desserts to help finish it all off in style. Gift Baskets, Catering, Patio Dining Dean & Deluca's Wine Room on Urbanspoon

E2 emerils eatery – 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts #100, Charlotte, NC. Call 704.414.4787. Visit emerilsrestaurants.com/e2-emerils-eatery           Chef de Cuisine Brian Motola at the helm of the talented team in this Uptown eatery channeling  owner  and creator Emeril Lagasse’s take on  New Orleans-inspired American cuisine. Motola uses many local and regional products on the menu which changes seasonally. Top notch wait staff will make you feel right at home.  For a quick bite at breakfast or lunch patrons can also enjoy e2 to go and to make it more convenient you can order ahead online ( via computer or mobile device) and pick up within 30 minutes. But at dinner plan to go, relax and take it all in course by course. The tuna crudo, beef carparcio and wood roasted oysters are great ways to start. Salads and entrees delicious, too; but be sure to pace yourself and save room at dessert time for the banana cream pie, oh my!        Separate bar area, patio dining,  private rooms, wine dinners,  catering E2 Emeril's Eatery on Urbanspoon

Fig Tree Restaurant – 1601 E. 7th Street, Charlotte, NC Call 704.322.3322; Visit CharlotteFigTree.com        Fine seasonal cuisine with French and Italian influences.  This beautifully restored building  is The Lucas House, a registered historic landmark home and a fine example of a 1913 Craftsman Bungalow nestled at the corner of 7th street and Louise Ave in the charming Elizabeth neighborhood. Top notch staff with attention paid to every detail. Owned and operated by chef and proprietress Greg and Sara Zanitsch. Award winning wine list – you will leave wanting for nothing but to come and enjoy it all over again.    Private Rooms, patio Dining, separate bar area, wine dinners, annual game dinner, catering The Fig Tree Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Heirloom Restaurant – at 8470 Bellhaven Blvd.  Charlotte, NC 28216; Call  704.595.7710; Visit HeirloomRestaurantNC.com           Chef Clark Barlowe’s flavors are intricate, texture is key, and each plate a work of art as good to look at as it is to eat! Tasting menu’s are fun and a great way to try it all.  It’s nearly impossible to make a recommendation as every dish in this all local from North Carolina restaurant changes from day to day, but guests at Heirloom will delight in knowing that they are enjoying any given menu item at the height of just harvested flavor. Private dining room, cooking classes and farm dinners. Heirloom Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Heritage Food and Drink – 201 W, South Main Street, Waxhaw, NC 28173 . Call 704.843.5236 . Visit HeritageFoodAndDrink.com           Chef Paul Verica’s vision for Heritage? To bring the idea of tradition back to life and to celebrate the bounty of our region and the seasonality of local product . Verica’s  personal take on New American Cuisine style finds his menu featuring the best in each local product. Supporting farms and producers from around the region, Verica incorporates molecular gastronomy’s powders and sprays in a way that simply feels right. This baker of biscuits and doughnuts also serves small plates layered in Mason jars, just for the fun of it. Big flavors make for a very satisfying dining experience, indeed. Catering Heritage Food and Drink on Urbanspoon

Fahrenheit  Charlotte – Fahrenheit Charlotte is located  at 222 S Caldwell St in the Hyatt Place Hotel, Charlotte, NC 28202;  Call 980.237.6718; visit ChefRoccoWhalen.com                                                                                      One of the Queen City’s newest and highest dining establishments. The venue – 21 floors up – undoubtedly has the best view in the city. The menu, which changes quarterly, lives up to the striking atmosphere with an air of creative yet comfortable sophistication. I’m crazy about the ramen noodle appetizer , but don’t miss the short ribs, the potato starter or any of the seafood entrees –  the level, quality and presentation of each dish delights. Nightly specials Private rooms, catering, separate bar Fahrenheit on Urbanspoon

Flipside Café – 3150 Highway 21 North, Fort Mill SC, 29715. Call  803.802.1711.  Visit theflipsidecafesc.com      This little casual café in the Regency Park strip mall in Ft. Mill is owned and operated by a talented husband and wife team of chefs: Jon and Amy Fortes . The Flipside kitchen  is turning out big flavors – lots of them local and all of them fresh and delicious. Check it out -Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner – great kids’ offerings with tasty rather grown-up, well seasoned choices. And even though Amy’s palate may be pork-centric, there are lots of vegetarian selections on the menu too!  Chef Jon Fortes was the winner of the 2013 and 2014 Competition Dining Fire in the City Championship and went on take the 2014 state wide title as well.  Catering The FlipSide Cafe on Urbanspoon

Fork! – 20517 N Main St, Cornelius, NC Call 704.655.7465 Visit ForkRestaurantCornelius.com                      Fork! is home to chef Tom Groody, a true frontrunner among chefs in Charlotte, Tim was the very first here to ever put a farmers’ name on the menu. Groody’s style is clean and uncomplicated ; paying homage to the vast array of locally sourced ingredients on his menu.  Menu changes daily and featured items change with the season. This old home turned restaurant is a charming venue  with on the porch seating in suitable weather. Separate bar area. catering Fork! on Urbanspoon

 Kabab Je Rotisserie and Grill – 2233 Matthews Township Pkwy. Sycamore Commons  Mathews NC.  Call 704-845-0707.  Visit kababje.com         This great little place just keeps getting better and better, from classic Hummus  to stuffed grape leaves to the grilled lamb and chicken shawarma. Don’t miss the Za’taar “pizza”, the roasted cauliflower, the falafel and the chick pea and broad bean appetizer called Ful Mudammas.  With a host of sweet syrupy Middle Eastern desserts, a tiny cup of Lebanese coffee made with cardamom is the perfect finish.  Patio dining and Catering, too! Kabab-Je Rotisserie and Grille on Urbanspoon

Little Spoon Eatery – 2820 Selwyn Ave, Charlotte, NC 28209 Call (704) 496-9908  Visit LittleSpoonEatery.com/ “ the little spot right on the corner”, this neighborhood spot for breakfast and lunch is taking the Myers Park neighborhood by storm,  chef Miles Payne at the helm using local ingredients and supporting local farms in almost all of his breakfast and lunch offerings. Its all good, but I can’t get past the homemade pop tarts, the bowl of frothy cappuccino and the over easy eggs with toast. Weekends are packed, so go on a weekday and take the time to relax and enjoy before you start your day. Patio dining, take out

Lumiere French Kitchen – 1039 Providence Rd Call 704.372.3335 Visit lumieremyerspark.com The newest culinary adventure by  Chef Tom Condron and restaurateur Matthew Pera. These two long time Charlotte culinarians, owners of the very successful gastropub, The Liberty on South Blvd, have taken a more formal turn at Lumiere. Don’t miss the Wild Mushroom “Lyonnaise” salad or the Mediterranean White Sea Bass with roasted with olives, basil and lemons, beluga lentils, mushrooms and herb butter. Excellent staff, tremendous wine offerings and a host of classic French dishes with Chef Condron’s modern twist. Taking it up a notch in Charlotte,  Lumiere French Kitchen is located in the heart of Myers Park bringing modern French cuisine to the Queen City. Wine dinners, Cooking classes, catering Lumiere French Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Mama Ricotta’s  – 601 S Kings Dr, Charlotte, NC; Call 704.343.0148. Visit MamaRicottasrestaurant.com Great neighborhood spot for classic Italian and  American Italian fare, all exceptionally well done. From scratch sauces, homemade cheeses and sausages, fresh baked bread and from scratch pastas made from high quality imported Italian ingredients.  Competition Dining semi finalist chef Tom Dyrness heads the team as executive chef and menu favorites include:  the meatballs or Polpette Al Forno, the grilled salmon and arugula salad, any of the pastas and the pizza hot out of the wood burning oven. Mama’s is the flagship restaurant of owner Frank Scibelli’s FS Foods chain that includes Midwood Smokehouse, Pacos Tacos,  and a huge catering division as well.   Patio dining, full separate bar, catering Lumiere French Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

Passion 8 -1523 Elizabeth Avenue Charlotte, NC, 28204. Call 704.910. 3161. Visit ThePassion8.com                   Owned by chef Luca Annunziata and his lovely wife Jessica, Passion 8 Bistro moved  from its tiny home in Ft. Mill to bigger newer more sophisticated digs in Charlotte on Elizabeth Ave. in Charlotte in late October. While the surrounds are new, Chef Luca and his staff continue to supporting nearly 75 different local farms across  North and South Carolina and serve their own contemporary style of farm to fork cuisine.  Looks for special theme dinners and cooking classes too.  The new interiors are soft and sophisticated yet warm and inviting; with the same family friendliness and incredible local fare and flair that has always made you want to come back for more. Make your reservations now for the weeks and months ahead – its gonna be a hot spot in town, for sure. Now serving lunch as well! Private rooms, chefs table, catering, craft cocktails, separate bar Passion8 on Urbanspoon

The Summit Room1531 East Blvd. Call 980.237.2227 . Visit thesummitrm.com         In a clever and creative move, The Summit Room owners also own the adjacent restaurant The MayoBird and the two dining establishments share this picturesque porch and patio. The MayoBird is open for breakfast and lunch, while The Summit Room with Chef Brent Martin at the helm in the kitchen is open from early afternoon till the wee hours of the evening. But at night, the space at MayoBird is available for private events.   Chef Martin has come into his own at the helm of this kitchen, doing some really innovative things with the menu. Love that the menu changes at his whim, with the weather, and with the availability of local product. Specials are always great – the hand cut fries are incredible!  Private rooms, seating at the bar, catering The Summit Room on Urbanspoon

Stagioni   – 715 Providence Rd. in the Eastover neighborhood. Call 704.372.8110. Visit stagioniclt.com       Stagioni, the third jewel in Chef Bruce Moffett’s triple crown of restaurants including Barrington’s and Good Food on Montford opened  to rave reviews and  standing room only crowds. The menu, which changes with the seasons, features deliciously done Italian classics with a fresh, modern twist. The food, like that in each of the Moffett Group restaurants is beyond reproach; and the atmosphere at Stagioni is, well, the Moffett website says it best, “The Moffett’s know from experience that life’s greatest memories unfold around the dinner table. Stagioni ( is the perfect place) to bring family and friends together.” Separate bar, catering Stagioni on Urbanspoon

 

Terra – 545 Providence Road, Charlotte NC; Call 704.332.1886; Visit TerraCharlotte.com.  A quaint little neighborhood French café you’re going to love. The menu changes with the seasons, the service is very personal and the feel is classic French right down to owner Thierry Garconnet, who is living his dream of bringing a taste of his home town in Paris back to the states. This charming little bistro is tucked away at the end of a small strip right next to Starbucks, but don’t let the casual surrounds fool you, the food is the real deal. Daily specials include: Tuesdays: All you can eat Mussels; Wednesdays: Pasta Special and Thursday: Half price wine  Patio Dining Terra on Urbanspoon

 Va da Vie Gelato – 4203 Park Road  Call 980.201.9159. This free standing building  with the little patio offers big flavors inside –flavors like homemade, almond,  pistachio, coffee bean, chocolate hazelnut, lemon ricotto, local strawberry and blueberry and pineapple and mango! It’s all in the guise of homemade gelato by owners John and Wendy Paglia  who use all local product to make their Piedmontese style gelato and sorbet. No bases or mixes just local Homeland Dairy milk and cream and real fruit, fair trade coffee, local cheese and imported Italian nuts –  no chemicals or preservatives.  As this product doesn’t travel well – you can’t really take quantities to go – just gotta eat it there and savor the moment

Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza Bar – Phillips Place Call 704.295.0101 Visit wolfgangPuck.com                  Charlotte’s WP Pizza Bar is Puck’s flagship Pizza Bar Restaurant and offers  a relaxing getaway from to enjoy lunch and dinner. While the menu offers an assortment of appetizers and pasta dishes, for me this place is about the pizza done in Wolfgang’s signature style a la an aromatic wood burning oven.  Puck is in town occasionally but day to day it is the talented Chef Scott Whallen and staff who channel Puck’s vision and creative juices into beautiful  and delicious plates for lunch and dinner. Our go to order is the arugula and asparagus salad lightly dusted with grated Parmesan, teamed with any one of the lists of pizzas – our current faves are the mushroom pizza with rubiola cheese and the slightest drizzling of truffle oil and the margarita pizza – simply perfect for two to share. Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar on Urbanspoon

 

Your Moms Donuts – 11025 Monroe Rd, Matthews, NC 28105 Call 803.280.5720 Visit Yourmomsdonuts.com    I’ve talked about these wonderful square-shaped locally-made donuts throughout the year.  The company is owned by Benjamin Frye, chief donut maker and his wife Courtney Buckley, manager of everything else. These truly  gourmet donuts are made with locally sourced ingredients, including organic, NC grown flour , grass fed dairy, local pasture eggs, and the donuts are fried in freshly rendered  leaf lard!

The best news of 2014 is that Your Moms Donuts is now operating out of its own bricks and mortar location on Monroe Rd. Donuts are available every day but Monday for breakfast and lunch or until they sell out.  Check the website or follow on Facebook @yourmomsdonuts and Instagram @yourmoms_donuts for the daily list of flavors. Large orders in advance. Complimentary delivery is available. Your Mom's Donuts on Urbanspoon

 

Fire in the City Competition Dining 2014 | Charlotte Chefs are Hot to Get This Party Started

The GotToBeNC Competition Dining Series, a single-elimination culinary tournament of chefs, highlights the best of the state’s food, agriculture and culinary talent. North Carolina’s favorite culinary sport starts in Charlotte on August 18, 2014 when sixteen local chefs will go up one against the other, head to head, battle by battle in Charlotte’s own Fire in the City culinary competition.Each Fire in the City dinner takes place at the beautiful Bonterra Dining and Wine Room located at 1829 Cleveland Ave in historic SouthEnd. The  Bonterra kitchen provides a neutral battle field for these chefs from restaurants all around the city. The chefs come in around 11 or so, and following the lead of Chef Refs Laurence Willard and Billy Seay, take stock of what foodstuffs are available to them to use from the mobile pantry and then sit down for a presentation from Competition Dining host and creator, Jimmy Crippen, to learn the details on the secret ingredient for the evening. Then they get cooking till its time to plate and serve upwards of 150 guests each evening of the competition  – the fun and festivities each evening kick off at 7 pm.

There is nothing else like it any place else, you could say its the Sweet Sixteen of Charlotte’s culinary community.  To paraphrase Oprah, what I know for sure is, YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS IT!  To make it even more fun, at each Competition Dining dinner two teams of talented chefs must each prepare their three courses using a secret or featured ingredient that comes from a North Carolina farmer or artisan producer. Award winning NC wines and local NC craft beers are also featured at each dinner.  Competition Dining is all about things Grown, Raised, Caught and Made in the great state of North Carolina.

Heidi with the city crew

Heidi Billotto with all of the 2014 Fire in the City chefs standing in front of the mobile pantry

 

And the best part is, you get the be the judge! At each dinner – or culinary battle – you, the diner, will delight in savoring six courses without knowing which chef prepared each dish. Its a blind tasting of sorts and as you eat, you’ll rate each plate using a specially designed interactive app which you will download on your smart phone. No smartphone, you say? No worries! The tech talented team at HitsTech, Competition Dining’s NC based tech support team, are on site and have smart phones you can borrow for the evening.

At meals end, final scores are revealed and just like you see on Iron Chef or Chopped, one team moves on to the next round and one team goes home.

And for the winner…

At stake for the series winner. along with the all important braggin rites, is a grand prize of $2,000, a handmade chef knife by Charlotte’s Own, Steve Watkins of Ironman Forge and the coveted “Red Chef Jacket.”

Additionally, the Fire In The City winning team moves on to the Final Fire Battle of Champions.
Hosted in Raleigh this November, the Final Fire will pit the Fire in the City winner up against other regional winners from 2014 competition dining series in the mountains (Fire on the Rock), the coast (Fire on the Dock), Fire in the Triad (Winston Salem Greensboro and High Point) and Fire in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) to crown a statewide winner.

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOODThe Fire in the City Official Blog

As the official blogger of Fire in the City series and now the social media maven for Competition Dining across the state ( that’s me behind all of the Competition Dining Tweets and Facebook post) I’ll be there at every battle.  covering all the action, tweeting and facebooking along  the way and then posting the recap with notes on my favorite dishes and details on the  secret ingredients here on these blog pages each morning after.

If you want to follow along during each battle, periodically check  the Competition Dining Facebook page through the evening or follow along on Twitter by searching #CompDiningNC. Feel free to post your own ooohs and aaaahs as the food photos and course descriptives are posted and by all means, don’t hesitate to post your own comments on the action or in support of your favorite chefs along the way.

I can tell you from experience, that one or two nights of following along on the social media and you’re going to wish you were there in person. These dinners are like eating dinner at TWO of your favorite Charlotte restaurants at the same time and I can promise, its the most fun you’ll ever have on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening! So, Don’t Miss Out on this incredible culinary experience.

Make your reservations now, simply click here and then select each individual battle to link to that specific reservation page.

For more information about where you will find these chefs and their restaurants, outside of Competition Dining, follow the links to restaurant websites at the bottom of this page

as a PNG - charlotte living peice

I encourage you to go and dine with each of the Got To Be NC  Fire In The City chefs at their own individual restaurants, outside of all the Competition Dining fun, as well –

Here they are with links to their websites: 

Chef Luca Annunziate – Passion 8 – http://www.passion8bistro.com/ Passion8 Bistro on Urbanspoon

Chef Clark Barlowe – Heirloom Restaurant – http://www.heirloomrestaurantnc.com/ Heirloom Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Chef Tom Dyrness – Mama Ricotta’s – http://mamaricottasrestaurant.com/home/ Mama Ricotta's on Urbanspoon

Chef Brian Mottola  – e2 Emeril’s Eatery- http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com/e2-emerils-eatery E2 Emeril's Eatery on Urbanspoon

Chef David Feimster – Fahrenheit – http://www.chefroccowhalen.com/fahrenheit-charlotte/ Fahrenheit on Urbanspoon

Chef David Quintana – Southminster- http://www.southminster.org/exquisite-dining/

Chef David Moore – Gallery Restaurant – http://www.gallery-restaurant.com/ Gallery Restaurant at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge on Urbanspoon

Chef Ben Phillpott – Block and Grinder –http://blockandgrinder.com/ Block & Grinder on Urbanspoon

Chef Brent Martin – The Summit Room- http://www.thesummitrm.com/ The Summit Room on Urbanspoon

Chef Jon Spencer – Epic Chophouse and Chillfire Bar and Grill- http://www.epicchophouse.com/ Epic Chophouse on Urbanspoon

Chef Chris Coleman – The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel – http://www.theasbury.com/ The Asbury on Urbanspoon

Chef Brian Williams – Upstream – http://www.harpersgroup.com/upstream.asp Upstream on Urbanspoon

Chef Nicholas Daniels – The Wooden Vine – http://thewoodenvine.com/ The Wooden Vine Wine Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon

Chef  Paul Ketterhagen – Carpe Diem – http://www.carpediemrestaurant.com/ Carpe Diem Restaurant and Caterers on Urbanspoon

Chef Jon Fortes – Mimosa Grill – http://www.harpersgroup.com/mimosa.asp Mimosa Grill on Urbanspoon

Chef David “Sully” Sullivan – The Fish Market – http://www.fishmarketbarandgrill.com/ Fish Market Seafood Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

Patio Picks – Do it Dining al Fresco

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOODDining al fresco – the art of eating outdoors is a pleasure that combines casual atmosphere, fresh air, cool breezes and great food and beverage. The venue can range from family style BBQ and picnic tables or even your car at places like BBQ King on Wilkinson Blvd. or Brooks Sandwich House on North Brevard Street to a setting with comfy patio furniture seating at places such as Osso Restaurant and Lounge at the Music Factory and Bonterra Dining and Wine Room in Dilworth.

Lots of restaurants with patios offer opportunities for dining al fresco throughout the year, but late spring, summer and on into early fall is the time we want to enjoy the out of doors as much as we can. So lap up the sunshine or sit in the cool comfort of the summer shade. Join your kids in a game of shuffleboard at the patio at Zada Jane’s in Plaza Midwood while you wait for a table at breakfast or brunch; take in the splendor of our city’s skyline from the highest heights atop the patio at Chef Rocco Whalen’s Fahrenheit Restaurant  at the Hyatt Place Hotel uptown; or enjoy food, wine and occasional music at several eateries or wine shops with outdoor dining and tastings such as Napa on Providence in Eastover; and Vin Masters in SouthEnd.

Alfresco dining in the Queen City can range from large venues, such as the patio at Mimosa Grill, Uptown that over looks the plaza and a bustling sections of Tryon Street to small, much like the patio at Fenwicks on Providence Road,  with just a few tables on the front porch of this neighborhood gathering spot

Great patios to see and be seen abound at local breweries in NoDa; bars and restaurants surrounding the Music Factory; and in shopping “villages” around town where several restaurants might have patios grouped together off a main courtyard as at Ballantyne Village where patios from Mellow Mushroom, Terrace Cafe and Villa Antonio meet; or off South Main Street in Davidson where the back porch patio of the Pickled Peach looks over the patio behind Summit Coffee nestled up to an adjacent playground – on Saturday mornings this “common area” is home to the Davidson Farmers’ market where locavores can enjoy combine their morning coffee al fresco with a little fresh from the farm shopping trip.

Favorite al fresco eats from Toscana, Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar, Tupleo Honey, The Summit Room and Va da Vie Gelato

Favorite al fresco eats from Toscana, Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar, Tupleo Honey, The Summit Room and Va da Vie Gelato

Tis the season, indeed, and so my June restaurant segment on WCNC’s Charlotte Today with hosts Colleen Odegaard and Ramona Holloway features five of my favorite places to dine al fresco with some of my favorite summer menu selections as well… enjoy!

toscana logoWe’ll start with what I have always thought to be one of the most romantic patios in town, Toscana, located in Shops on the Park across from SouthPark, 6401 Morrison Blvd. 704.367.1808. Like all of Augusto Conte’s magical restaurants, the menu at Toscana offer high quality fresh made Italian fare and the patio is like sitting off a small village side street in Tuscany. Comfortable seating surrounded by a shrub lined fencing keeps it tight and cozy, A beautiful fountain offers the cool comfort and pleasant sounds of a water feature and  large pots of herbs define the heritage.  In the evenings the open sky view add the romance of moonlight and the stars. One of our favorite dishes at Toscana is the gnocchi, tender potato pillows bathed in a light fresh tomato sauce touched with basil and mozzarella – add a bottle from the well appointed wine list – perfecto! Toscana on Urbanspoon
Wp white logoNot far from Toscana, is Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza bar located in the Phillips Place shopping center 704.295.0101 Charlotte’s WP Pizza Bar is Puck’s flagship Pizza Bar Restaurant and offers  a relaxing getaway from to enjoy lunch and dinner. The patio is off to the side of the restaurant, away from parking and much foot traffic and offers a cozy comfortable place to great place to getaway from it all.  Perfect for business meetings, ladies who lunch or a midday tete-a-tete.  While the menu offers an assortment of appetizers and pasta dishes, for me this place is about the pizza done in Wolfgang’s signature style a la an aromatic wood burning oven.  While Wolfgang himself does occasionally make appearances at the restaurant, day to day it is the talented Chef Scott Whallen and staff who channel Puck’s vision and creative juices into beautiful  and delicious plates for lunch and dinner. We now enjoy WP as our go to after the movies spot and our go to order is the arugula and asparagus salad lightly dusted with grated Parmesan, teamed with any one of the lists of pizzas – our current faves are the mushroom pizza with rubiola cheese and the slightest drizzling of truffle oil and the margarita pizza – simply perfect for the two of us to share. Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar on Urbanspoon

Tupel Honey Cafe (Contributed)Next, Tupelo Honey at 1820 South Blvd. 980-225-9167. The restaurant and patio are located on the second level of the historic SouthEnd Building,  take the stairs or the elevator up and the fun begins. The restaurant is full of action and a buzz most of the time, so the patio offers a lovely slightly quieter dining option. Great for families or dinners for two, big overhead fans keep the climate cool and in case of inclement weather their are outdoor curtains drawn to keep the rain away. The vibe at Tupelo is reconstructed Southern and it is exceptionally well done from soup to nuts. Great service and an assortment of wonderful craft cocktails and local beers round out the experience. Must tries this season include the sweet potato pancakes ( breakfast is served whenever you want it at Tupelo), the black bean burger and tofu wings (three cheers for some great vegetarian options), the fabulous Southern Popcorn ( aka fried okra) and the Carolina Mountain Trout with Goat cheese grits – shooo mercy! and Tupelo’s own Brown Butter Pecan Pie.  Look for bar specials on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday ( the least crowded days and nights to dine at this Charlotte favorite); and while you are there shop for cookbooks, Tupelo’s biscuit mix and of course, jars of Tupelo Honey. Tupelo Honey Cafe on Urbanspoon

summit logoThe Summit Room at 1531 East Blvd. 980.237.2227 is one of Charlotte’s newest places to dine al fresco. In a clever and creative move, The Summit Room owners also own the adjacent restaurant The MayoBird and the two dining establishments share this picturesque porch and patio. The MayoBird is open for breakfast and lunch, while The Summit Room with Chef Brent Martin at the helm in the kitchen is open from early afternoon till the wee hours of the evening.

Several years ago the Dilworth Communtiy made it a mission to  drive neighborhood foot traffic with more pedestrian friendly streetside dining. As a result,  many neighborhood places on the boulevard offer patio dining but not many do it better than this. Rocking chairs with side tables on the porch, patio tables in the sun or under umbrellas –  its a great place for everything from power lunches to a glass of wine or tea – with two very different dining concepts. At  The Summit Room, Chef Martin doing some really innovative things with the menu. Love that the menu changes at his whim, with the weather and with the availability of local product. Specials are always great – the hand cut fries are incredible and  my new favorite – a quenelle (or oval shaped scoop) of chicken liver mousse atop a house made waffle with candied and pickled fruit and microgreens is a real winner! The Summit Room on Urbanspoon

va de vie logo

Wendy and John Paglia create nine different varieties of from-scratch gelato, fresh every day

Wendy and John Paglia create nine different varieties of from-scratch gelato, fresh every day

Finally, the newest patio on our list for today, at just a month old, is to be found in the unlikeliest of locations: the center of the Park Road Shopping Center parking lot!  This free standing building  with the little patio offers big flavors inside –flavors like homemade, almond,  pistachio, coffee bean, chocolate hazelnut, lemon ricotto, local strawberry and blueberry and pineapple and mango! It’s all in the guise of homemade gelato at Va da Vie Gelato, 4203 Park Road 980.201.9159  … owners John and Wendy Paglia use all local product to make their Piedmontese style gelato and sorbet. No bases or mixes just local Homeland Dairy milk and cream and real fruit, fair trade coffee, local cheese and imported Italian nuts –  no chemicals or preservatives.  As this product doesn’t travel well – you can’t really take quantities to go – just gotta eat it there and savor the moment.  During the heat of the  day enjoy the cool marble-lined comfort inside; and  in the evening mix and mingle on the patio with friends and neighbors of all ages, comparing flavors and deciding which one you will order next. Va da Vie Gelato on Urbanspoon

 

To watch the restaurant segment that  inspired this blog post and originally aired on WCNC-TV’s Charlotte Today, simply click on the  caption of the photo of Toscana’s beautiful Italian Patio, then go out and enjoy al fresco dining in Charlotte for yourself.

 

 

February Nibbles and Sips

A quick post as we say goodbye to February and head into March of 2014, my way of sharing a taste or two of several of my favorite Nibbles and Sips  for your consideration, all making news in and around Charlotte, North Carolina 

NC's own soft drink, Cheerwine, marries Cackalacky,  NC's favorite sweet potato condiment to make a sweet hot sauce you are sure to love

NC’s own soft drink, Cheerwine, marries Cackalacky, NC’s favorite sweet potato condiment to make a sweet hot sauce you are sure to love

Its not wacky, its Cackalacky!

The creative and oh so, innovative, Page Skelton, creator of the Cackalacky brand,  first crafted his original zesty, award-winning Cackalacky condiment, dip, and topping from North Carolina-grown sweet potatoes and began to market it ten years ago. The  “famously original” Cacklacky Spice Sauce debuted in 2003.

In 2013, Skelton decided to give his zesty Cackalacky a softer side and so conceptualized a sweet version of his popular sauce.   It was important to Page to continue to keep his product all local.  “I wanted to keep it local and looked for a sweet North Carolina-made product to add to my original sauce – Cheerwine came to mind, and it was a no brainer from there,” Skelton explained.     Brad Porter of  Salisbury NC- based Cheerwine told me that, “It just seemed like a good idea that would really work.”

And work it has! The sweeter Cackalacky sauce has proven to be every bit as popular as the original brand and now starting Friday Feb 28, the sweet hot sauce that has taken North Carolina by storm will be available in the Charlotte market at Costco Wholesale in Charlotte. On Friday, Feb. 28 at 500 Tyvola
Road, Charlotte NC, shoppers can sample the product during regular business hours all weekend  through March 2. The introduction of the North Carolina-born condiment in Charlotte is a part of a statewide rollout of the new
condiment to all Costco locations throughout North Carolina.

Don’t live in North Carolina? Don’t worry – you can order all the wonderful Cackalacky products plus lots of fun Cackalacky swag, online at www.cackalacky.com

…And the new restaurants just keep on coming – French, Farm to Fork and Fahrenheit – just to name a few –

Charlotte is on a roll with new excellent chef -driven restaurants opening at every turn. For March, on your list of must tries must be…

lumiereLumiere French Kitchen -is the newest  culinary adventure by  Chef Tom Condron and Matthew Pera. These two long time Charlotte culinarians, owners of the very successful gastropub, The Liberty on South Blvd, have taken dining out in Charlotte up a notch.  Lumiere French Kitchen is located in the heart of Myers Park in Charlotte, NC at 1039 Providence Rd and brings modern French cuisine to the Queen City. Lumiere is open Tues-Sat from 5-10 for dinner. Reservations by calling 704.372.3335 or visit http://lumieremyerspark.com/ Lumiere on Urbanspoon

For more casual gastropub dining, with award winning, chef-driven American cuisine, a fabulous selection of beers  and more than 2 dozen wines by the glass. Turn to Lumiere’s sister restaurant, The Liberty, Charlotte’s first Gastropub,  1812 South Blvd, in Charlotte, NC; 704.332.8830. Open for Lunch and dinner and late night, too. For more information visit http://thelibertycharlotte.com/ The Liberty on Urbanspoon

heirloomHeirloom Restaurant – Its Farm to Fork in the Coulwood neighborhood of Charlotte.  Chef Clark Barlowe, a relatively recent graduate of Johnson & Wales with a ton of top notch creds, has a mission to serve hyper local cuisine as the focal point of his new restaurant Heirloom.

On the menu: a of North Carolina-driven theme as Barlow procures local ingredients from across the state. With Barlowe at the helm and  French trained Pastry chef Joselyn Perlmutter on the team – this food writer has high hopes for this  brand new all local spot. Heirloom is located at 8470 Bellhaven Boulevard Charlotte, NC; call 704-595-7710 for reservations or visit http://www.heirloomrestaurantnc.com/ Heirloom Restaurant on Urbanspoon

fahrenheitAnd finally, the much anticipated Fahrenheit Restaurant at SKYE Condominiums in Uptown Charlotte. Owned by Chef Rocco  Whalen, the Queen City sister restaurant to Whalen’s Cleveland, Ohio Fahrenheit will open in Charlotte NC on Monday, March 3  at 4pm.
The restaurant is located at 222 South Caldwell  Street, at the corner of Third and Caldwell  Streets, but you must look up from the entrance of the Hyatt Place Hotel to see Fahrenheit Charlotte, as it is located  on the rooftop of this unique mixed used  development.
The spacious 8,600 square foot restaurant  is beautifully dressed with distressed wood  tables, quartz columns and  ultra modern light  fixtures.  Private dining  facilities are fit with the latest technology, should a private lunch or dinner business meeting feel the need, and allow seating  for up to  60.

A spectacular ceiling mural of the  Fahrenheit logo greets guests as they step off the  elevator onto the 21st floor and glass walls surround the restaurant on all sides. The “walls” off the bar, open up to the roof area patios and herb gardens with 360 degree views of  Charlotte.  Fabulous outdoor linear fire pits  surrounding the restaurant add to the immediate experience of the truly incredible panoramic  view.

Chef Rocco Whalen

Chef Rocco Whalen

Not only is the Fahrenheit layout a must see, but Chef Whalen’s menu is a must try. I was fortunate to have a “First Bite” tasting several weeks ago, when the restaurant space was still under construction and Whalen’s way with flavor and his well-honed skill and technique  are spot on.   The menu focuses on  American regional cuisine, with Mediterranean and delightful unexpected  Asian accents which will keep your taste buds popping.  Whalen incorporates local, seasonal  and sustainable ingredients.  New to Charlotte and continually traveling back and forth from his Cleveland enterprises, Whalen has worked hard to develop relationships with many local North and South  Carolina purveyors.

Fahrenheit  Charlotte will be open daily for dinner and happy  hour beginning at 4pm starting March 3, and will  host many specialty events on location and  throughout the community.  Charlotte diners can look forward to everything from  Food Network Cookbook Dinners, where guests will  receive a signed s  cookbook to unique Food Truck events, featuring specialty recipes, celebrity guests and local food  purveyors. This April restaurant is participating in the  25th Anniversary of Charlotte Wine  & Food Weekend 2014 with a Vintner Dinner,  paired with Bure Family Wines on Thursday, April with the anticipation of everything Fahrenheit would bring to Charlotte,  this event is already a sell out!

For reservations at Fahrenheit call 980-237-6718 or visit http://www.chefroccowhalen.com/fahrenheit-charlotte for more information Fahrenheit on Urbanspoon

home show promo2014 Southern Spring Show Cooking Stage –  Feb 28 -Mar 2 marks the second weekend of the Southern Spring Home and Garden show here in Charlotte at the Park Expo and Conference Center at 2500 East Independence Blvd.

I have had the pleasure of hosting the cooking stage for several years in a row and this year the line up of chefs with me on stage doing back to back cooking demonstrations every hour on the hour has been incredible.

Great fun, you should definitely plan on coming out and spending some time with us at the show this weekend.

This year, No more paper at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show cooking stage – or at least less paper – we’ve gone digital! This weekend’s cooking stage schedule and recipes from last weekend up online at CharlotteLiving.com! Just click on the photo of yours truly on the Charlotte Living magazine home page at www.CharlotteLiving.com! Links will take you to the complete schedule of chefs for this weekend and at the end of each day, to the recipes these talented chefs presented.

The recipes from the chefs who appeared onstage last weekend – Chef Paul Verica from Heritage Food and Drink, Chef Paul Ketterhagen from Carpe Diem, Chef Tim Groody from Fork!, Chef Jon Fortes from Mimosa Grill, Chef Greg Collier from The Yolk, Chef Ben Philpott from Block &Grinder, Chef Nathan Volz from the Ritz-Carlton, Chef David Moore from the Gallery at Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge and more – are now up and available at CharlotteLiving.com –  Enjoy!

nada class and tom music 001Your Mom’s Donuts update –

Now you can enjoy the wonderful all local donuts I told you about months ago  at several locations around town. These truly  gourmet donuts are made with locally sourced ingredients, including organic, NC grown flour milled at Lindley Mill, grass fed dairy from Homeland creamery, pastured eggs from Bell’s Best Berries, and the donuts are fried in freshly rendered  leaf lard from The Naked Pig!

On  the weekends Your Mom’s Donuts are now a fixture on the breakfast and brunch menus at Chef Chris Coleman’s The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel and you can also get them on Saturday mornings a the Atherton Mill & market location of Not Just Coffee.

Starting in April, Courtney and Benjamin will also be selling their fresh made donuts every Saturday at the Matthews Community Farmers Market. Need a donut fix during the week? Your Mom’s Donuts delivers !!! You can place your order at yourmomsdonuts@hotmail.com and have them delivered to your door! The minimum  is 1 dozen and the cost is : 1 dozen $24; 2 dozen $45; 3 dozen $60; 4 or more $18/dozen

Let Courtney and Benjamin know by 4:00 the day before you want them as donuts are made every night fresh for delivery! Check out Your Mom’s Donuts Instagram or Twitter feeds – @yourmomsdonuts – for updated pictures and weekly flavors.