Monday, August 30, 2010

Salsarita's in Mooresville

The first time I ever called a Salsarita's to see what kind of food they had, I was told it was like Subway for mexican.  As odd as that sounds, it made some sense.  In a my way or no way world - it's nice to have full selection over what you put in or on my food.

This location has been going through a slow transition.  The staff was a little rough a few years ago.  It was never exceptionally clean either.  That has all been changing and I am happy for it.  Of all of the changes though, the one I don't care for is the deletion of shredded beef from the menu.  It's counterpart (shredded pork) won the battle I guess, but I miss the beef.

This segment of restaurant is getting a little crowded, with Qdoba, Salsas and Chipotle all in the race; add the family-owned places like Monterrey and Mi Pueblo etc..  The only way to stand out is really going to be freshness and value.  When 3 of us can eat for $18 and leave full, it's a good visit. 

A couple things for the first timer - the pico has zero heat, so try the medium or mix medium and pico.  The bare burrito is the best value on a plate.  Load it up and dig in.  Check out the daily combo specials and save a buck.  They don't charge extra for guacamole, so get some.  All in all, it's a very good value for a very good meal.

Salsarita's Fresh Cantina on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It’s Never too Early to Think about Oktoberfest!

Courtesy of the Hickory Chamber

Hickory’s Oktoberfest is a three day festival held outdoors during the second weekend of October each year. The Festival begins on Friday, and the hours of operation on the first day are from 12 PM to 11:30 PM. Saturday, guests can show up at 10 AM, and the fest closes at 11 PM. The hours on Sunday are from 12 PM to 5 PM. The entire are of the Oktoberfest is handicap accessible, and guests will be able to find plenty of parking spaces as well.

You will find many things to love about the festival, including beer gardens where you can sample many different kinds of beer. The festival also offers plenty of live music for all tastes. You will find traditional polka as well as rock and roll. The festival has three stages, so you should always be able to hear some great live music.

You will also be able to find plenty of great food at the festival. You will be able to choose from authentic German bratwurst to blooming onions, turkey legs, cheese steak sandwiches, and more. Everything that your tongue and stomach could ever desire will likely make an appearance at Oktoberfest in Hickory. In addition to the food, you will find works from local artists and craftspeople. Make time to visit the arts and crafts are of the festival.
Commercial vendors will also be available selling all manner of wares. Kids and adults will be able to play the carnival games and ride the amusement park style rides. Everyone is going to have a great time at Hickory’s Oktoberfest this year, just like they do every year. If you are going to be in the area, make it a point to come and celebrate with the locals.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Firebirds at Northlake Mall

If you did not read other reviews on the mall, here's the summary - this is the best place to eat at the mall.  There are some decent places around Northlake, but Firebirds really sits above them all.  Every meat on the menu is wood-fired (other than the crab cakes) and it is a great treat.  Steaks, chops, chicken and pork all wood fired and delicious.  Their lunch menu is a great way to enjoy the menu without all of the higher prices.  We have enjoyed a couple meals here with great service and wonderful food.  Friends go there for big events and always leave happy.  Look for weeknight specials all the time.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill on Urbanspoon

Dixies Taven is Charlotte's Steeler bar!!!

So the building is old, the floor is rough, the space is dark and the Steelers are on Directv.  Perfect right?  This place is the only real sports bar in downtown Charlotte.  It's not all neon and bright, it's dark and all about beer and food.  Okay, football or basketball too, but a lot of beer and food.  If you are looking for Bobcats tickets on any given night, they seem to flow in the bar area from people that have extras.  Their prices are average for uptown.  It would be nice if they were cheaper due to the lower rent factor of an older place like this, but it is what it is.  I would go back on Sundays if I did not have Sunday Ticket at home.  Now a Bobcats game, I am all in.

Dixie's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Good Coffee in Huntersville/Cornelius

Our dear friends at Caribou decided to close my favorite coffee shop a couple years ago.  Through a friend, I was introduced to Dilworth and found a new coffee house.  They make a Snicker-doodle brewed coffee that has all kinds of flavor.  I have bought and brewed about 10 different coffees at home and have enjoyed them all.  The one thing they do different than Starbucks is roast locally and deliver fresh coffee beans to each store.  Early mornings will find warm beans waiting for purchase.  Good luck finding that at Starbucks.

Dilworth Coffee at Highland on Urbanspoon

Carabbas in Huntersville

It's really hard to go to one of these chain-style restaurants and find things that bring joy.  They have really done their homework at Carabbas.  This location in fact has done a good job with the staff as well.  We had a mediocre visit our first time, and since everyone gets a second chance, we were impressed the second time.  Not just better, but impressed.  We sat in the bar section the second time - note: busy places have their best servers in the bar.

They make their business on serving good food fast.  If you want good food that is good, look at the fish.  I had the trout and it was incredible.  Not good, it was down right awesome.  I grew up on fish and this was as good (and better) than what I expected.  Now I am not a fan of chain restaurants.  You can overlook that here and just enjoy a nice meal with solid service.

Carrabba's Italian Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This burger goes a little too far - right?!?!?

Cheeseburgers? Mmmmm.
Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Mmmmm.

A cheeseburger on a grilled Krispy Kreme?  Ummmm???

A popular dish on the fair circuit this year is the Krispy Kreme cheeseburger. At the Wisconsin State Fair, which ended Sunday, it sold for $5. For an extra buck, you could add chocolate-covered bacon.
And the burger packs an eye-glazing 1,000 calories, according to the vendor. A regular Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut has 200 calories.

The Krispy burger has been around for years. Dubbed the Luther - supposedly for the late singer Luther Vandross' love of them - it is on the menu at restaurants in Georgia and elsewhere. Sometimes it's served with a fried egg on top.

David Sparks, the director of the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem, said he hadn't heard of any vendors who plan to sell it at the fair, which will begin Oct. 1.  "I think I'd be surprised if somebody didn't do it, this being the home of Krispy Kreme," Sparks said.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Salad on Grilled Bruschetta

Take advantage of your produce aisle or local farm stand and try out this recipe for a light, seasonal dish.
by Bobby Flay

2 lbs. assorted heirloom tomatoes, diced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed basil leaves, thinly sliced
Salt and fresh black pepper
4 1/2-inch-thick slices ciabatta bread

1. Put the tomatoes, onion, garlic, vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and the basil in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

2. Heat a grill pan over high heat (or a grill to high). Grill the bread on each side until slightly charred, about 30 seconds per side. Remove from the grill and brush the tops with the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil. Mound the bread with the tomato mixture and some of the juices and serve immediately.

Serves 4. Per serving: 290 calories, 22g carbs, 5g protein, no cholesterol, and 22g fat.

Wellingtons Completed!

It is complete.  The Beef Wellington was a hit.  The recipe laid it out nicely as well.  The time is deceiving though.  You have to thaw the dough (45 minutes), sear then cool the meat (1 hour) and cook then cool the veg filling (30 minutes).  Basically, you need to be doing 3 things at once so everything is cooling at the same time or you are prepping for hours. 

Multitasking, I was able to do all of the prep and have them fully assembled in about 1 hr 20 minutes.  When you sear the beef, place it on a plate with a paper towel or parchment paper.  You have to let some of the juices run off or they will soak the pastry and give you a soggy finished product.

If you are cooking them the following night, like I did, cover with parchment to prevent sticking, then with foil.  Be sure you do the egg wash before you cover them, so the pastry dough does not dry out.  The egg protects it. 

The recipe calls for less dough and I don't understand.  I used both sheets for 4 filets, the recipe is for 8 with the same amount of dough.  It worked well.  That's really the only thing I did different than the recipe.  It was great.  I am looking forward to that last one for lunch today :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birthday bash gets Beef Wellington

My wonderful wife has a birthday coming up in a few days.  After watching Gordon Ramsey crush people on their Wellington performance - it's my turn.  A little Googling and our friends at Pepperidge Farms have a great recipe that I am going to take on.  Here's the recipe for any that want to try it at home too.  It's like a game show "Play along with us at home..." only you really get a prize - a delicious dinner (we hope).

Mini Beef Wellingtons with Mushrooms & Gorgonzola

Prep Time:30 min
Cook Time:20 min
Serves:  8 servings.

•8 (6 ounces each) beef filet mignons (about 1/2-inch thick each)
•Ground black pepper
•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
•2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
•4 cloves garlic, minced
•1 egg, beaten
•1 package (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets)
•1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese


Thaw the pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes or until they're easy to handle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season the beef with the black pepper.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook for 10 minutes, turning the beef over once during cooking. Remove the beef to a plate. Cover the plate and refrigerate for 1 hour or until the beef is cold.

Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Season with the black pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, stirring often. Remove the mushroom mixture from the skillet and let cool.

Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheets into 2 (14-inch) squares. Trim the edges to form 2 (13-inch) squares. Cut each square into 4 squares, making 8 squares in all.

Place 1 tablespoon Gorgonzola in the center of each pastry square. Divide the mushroom mixture among the pastry squares. Top each with 1 filet mignon. Fold 2 opposite pastry corners over the beef, overlapping slightly, and press to seal. Brush with the egg. Repeat with the remaining pastry corners.

Place the Wellingtons seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate the Wellingtons and the remaining egg for 1 hour or overnight.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush the Wellingtons with the remaining egg. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the temperature of the beef is 117 degrees F. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Urbanspoon Featured Blogger

I guess eating a lot has it's rankings now too.  This blog is a feature on Urbanspoon and as of this post is ranked Number 14 in the Greater Charlotte area.  How cool is that?

mOOresville fOOdie Charlotte restaurants