CLTReview – Joe’s Doughs

It seems like there has been a donut explosion in Charlotte over the last year or so. Several stores have popped up that are dedicated to selling just donuts and people in Charlotte are not mad about it. First came Duck Donuts in Dilworth, now Joe’s Doughs has opened a brick-and-mortar store in NoDa (they used to do pop-up shops only) so you can get their unique donut creations (almost) every day if you wanted to.

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Joe’s Doughs doesn’t serve your typical donut. Some of their combinations sound absolutely crazy but just work. Just a few of my favorites: Candied Lemon, Maple Bacon, Peanut Butter S’Mores, and Cinnamon Sugar. I’ve been dying to try the Goat Cheese Strawberry Balsamic but it’s been sold out each time I stop in. I’ve noticed that only about 5 or 6 flavors are available at any given time as the donuts are made fresh and in batches. Once a flavor runs out, a new flavor becomes available so don’t expect to get your favorite flavored donut each time you visit. This is a great way to experiment with different flavors, though, and I have yet to meet a Joe’s Dough donut that I didn’t like. Even if they sold plain donuts only, I would still be a fan. The dough is very similar to a kronut as it’s chewy, flaky and with lots of fluffy layers. Yum.

Each donut is about $2, which seems to be a little pricer than other shops but in my opinion, they’re worth it. I can only eat about 2 anyway before I start feeling dizzy from all the sugar. Joe’s also sells coffee so if you’re a coffee fiend like the rest of America, you’ll probably want to grab a cup of the locally made Enderly Coffee that’s sold there. Joe’s Doughs is open Tuesday – Friday: 6:30AM – 3PM and Saturday – Sunday: 7AM – 3PM. Usually when I stop in, there’s a small line to place an order but the line moves very quickly. I’ve also noticed that this is a great spot to bring kids and let them pick out their own crazy donuts, which I’m sure would make you parent of the year… at least for a day.

Have you guys tried Joe’s Doughs yet? Let me know in the comments which flavor is your favorite!

Evoke Truffle Dinner

Evoke photoAward-winning steakhouse Evoke, located at 555 S. McDowell Street, presents a one-of-a-kind culinary journey with Toska Truffles, as part of their Truffle Dinner one night only Thursday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m.  For $128 plus tax and gratuity, guests will enjoy a savory six-course, prix-fixe dinner curated by Executive Chef Oscar La Fuente and Chef de Cuisine Robert Heineken. 
 
From the Truffle Honey Custard to the Lobster Pot Pie to the Chevre Cheesecake, each course is paired perfectly with select wines, offering guests the chance to embark on a culinary journey that will tantalize the palates.  

The six-course Toska Truffle Dinner includes:

 

Truffle Honey Custard

Rose California 2014

 

Rabbit Terrine

Madeira Gelee, Truffled Brioche

Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl

Riesling – Washington State 2014

 

Wild Mushroom Tortellini

Truffle Consommé, Enoki Salad

Edmeades Zinfandel – North Coast California 2013

 

Lobster Pot Pie

Potato, Cauliflower, Truffle Velute

Beaujolis Village

Jadot 2014

 

Roasted Veal Loin

Root Vegetable Pave, Sprouts, Truffle Jus

Torres Gran Coronas Penedes 2010

 

Chevre Cheesecake

Truffle Honey, Poached Pear

Ice Wine

 

To make a reservation or for more information, visit www.evokerestaurant.com or call 980-237-5354.

#PurplePowerCocktail

Carolina Wild is hosting the #PurplePowerCocktail promotion this February in honor of North Carolina Sweet Potato Month. They are also releasing a brand new juice called “Purple Power,” which is made with purple sweet potatoes grown in North Carolina.

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To participate in the #PurplePowerCocktail promotion, bartenders in Charlotte and other areas have been asked to design a speciality cocktail using the new “Purple Power” juice. Carolina Wild will be providing bartenders with the juice needed to participate in the promotion. Also, the restaurant or bar with the most likes on social media posts about the promotion will be deemed the winner of a $250 Visa gift card and a set of high ball glasses!
If you know of a restaurant or bar that is interested, please ask them to fill out the following form: http://ow.ly/Wl4ta. Space is limited to the first 25 participants. Cheers!

Coconut Macaroons

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I’ve been in a baking mood lately and with Christmas just a couple days away I decided to bake cookies to bring home to my family in Virginia. Last night I made homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies that somehow turned into what may as well have been a gigantic cookie cake. (All of the curse words!) But tonight I set out to make Coconut Macaroons as I’ve been eating more gluten-free foods lately and also just know that they are straight up delicious. I used to HATE coconut when I was a child and my mother LOVED it. Whenever I had the chance, I turned down anything made with it but now I’m a grown-up (heh) and my tastebuds have matured. So if you think you hate coconut because you did when you were young, there’s a good chance that you may actually enjoy it now. For those who don’t mind these chewy, coconut-y treats, this is a delicious and incredibly easy recipe.

Ingredients:

14oz bag of sweetened shredded coconut
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl combine the coconut and condensed milk. (Use a sturdy wooden spoon for this. I tried using a rubber spatula and it broke!)

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In a medium bowl combine the egg whites and salt. Beat this mixture with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. (About 3 minutes)

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Once the egg whites have stiffened, fold them gently into the coconut and condensed milk mixture using a rubber spatula.

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To create the macaroons, use two spoons to create heaping mounds and place them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. (I used aluminum foil here because I did not have parchment paper. I sprayed the foil with cooking spray which helped to pry the macaroons off the foil. In hindsight, parchment paper would have been much easier.)

Place the macaroons about one inch apart on the cookie sheets. Once the macaroons are placed on the sheets, use your fingers to squish the macaroons so that there is no errant coconut pieces coming off of the macaroons. Any coconut pieces that stray from each mound will undoubtedly burn.

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Place the cookie sheets on the middle racks of your oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes until each macaroon is golden brown on the top and a darker brown on the bottom.

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Let the macaroons cool once taken out of the oven.

OPTIONAL: Once cooled, dip the bottom of each macaroon into melted chocolate to create Chocolate Coconut Macaroons! To melt the chocolate, place the chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl or ramekin and heat in 30-second intervals until completely melted. Stir the chocolate in between melting intervals. Once the chocolate is melted, dip the macaroons in the chocolate, bottom side down.

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Place the dipped macaroons back onto the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Then place the cookie sheets in the fridge to cool and harden. Once the chocolate on the macaroons has hardened (about 20 minutes) they’re ready to be boxed up or eaten!

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This is a great recipe for those who want to cut a bit of flour out of their diet as well as those who want an easy recipe that won’t take all night to bake. If you try it, let me know of your own tips or successes!

Legion Brewing Now Open in Plaza Midwood

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I popped into Legion Brewing on the night of their Grand Opening last week to meet a couple friends and check out the newest and only brewery in Plaza Midwood. I’ve been anticipating their opening for a couple months as the brewery is exactly (and dangerously) one mile from my house. Folks in “the Hood” have been anxiously awaiting a brewery within waking distance and this one does not disappoint.

Legion Brewing just opened at 1906 Commonwealth Avenue sandwiched between other popular Plaza Midwood businesses like Okra, Petra’s, Common Market and Peculiar Rabbit. The brewery is smaller than other Charlotte breweries that have had several years to establish their business but the beers at Legion make it one worth visiting. My friend Alexa Long is the Head Brewer at Legion and also the only female brewer in Charlotte. Not only is she the only female brewer, but she’s a badass rock climber too. If you ever catch Alexa drinking a pint at Legion, say Hi. She’s awesome. 🙂

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I tried several of the Legion beers that night (when in Rome…) including the “Wittastic Wit” Witbier, “Carolina Sparkly Party” Berliner Weisse, “Black Oat” Oatmeal Stout and “Cran-Bizzle” Cranberry Saison. All were great but the Carolina Sparkle Party was hands down the best. They, in fact, ran out of the beer as soon as I went to order a second. It was a perfect balance of sour and wheat flavors, both of which I can get down with. Obviously beers will rotate here as they continue to brew but try to grab this one if it’s available next time you stop in.

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Pictured: “Black Oat” Oatmeal Stout

Generally, the vibe at Legion is very cool and Plaza Midwood-ish. The tasting room seems like it might get a bit crowded on very busy nights but it’s hard to tell just how busy they’ll be considering I went on their very first night open. There is a balcony off of the tasting room that overlooks the brewing tanks down below so you can see where your beer was brewed while you’re actually drinking it. The only thing I was bummed about at Legion was the lack of outdoor space. Even though we’re in the cooler months now in Charlotte, it’s always nice to enjoy a beer outside at a local brewery. Maybe this is something that will be remedied in the future. Other Charlotte breweries that have expanded to bigger locations have also added much larger patios.

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One unique thing that I noticed while at Legion Brewing was the piano in the tasting room. After I had been there for a little while, I noticed that someone had jumped on the piano to play a song that was familiar enough to pique the interest of those nearby. After one person, came many, and in a few minutes several guys who were really great rotated back and forth playing. It reminded me that breweries don’t play music (with good reason, I guess) but that every now and then it would be a welcomed change. I have no idea how to play the piano but if you do, I think that it is perfectly acceptable to show off your skills here and impress your friends or a date.

My first trip to Legion Brewing? A success. Chances are I’ll be back very soon considering the beers are quality and I can walk there. Cheers all around!

Have you been to the new Legion Brewing yet? If so, let me know what you think of the brewery and their beers!

CLTReview – The Scone Shop

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I recently had the privilege of tasting delicious scones from The Scone Shop, a scone retailer in Charlotte, and they were amazing. The founder of The Scone Shop, Fielding Williams, dropped off scones still warm from the oven at my office one morning for me to try. Fielding told me that she started her business after making homemade scones as a fundraiser for her son’s summer trip. After realizing her scones were in such demand, she began selling them in local retail stores throughout Charlotte. Scones from The Scone Shop can now be found in stores in the Charlotte area including Healthy Home Market, Whole Foods, and Reid’s. Their freshly-baked scones are also available at the Nordstrom Ear in Southpark Mall. The flavors offered at the Ebar are Bacon Cheddar Chive flavor, and the Spinach Feta and Cranberry Orange.

The scones by The Scone Shop are available in retail stores in 3 flavors: Cinnamon Chip, Cranberry Orange, and Butterscotch Chocolate Chip. Each pack consists of 8 frozen scones to be re-heated at home. I tried the Cinnamon Chip and Cranberry Orange. Although the Cranberry Orange scones were delicious, the Cinnamon Chip were hands down my favorite. I’m typically more of a sweets person so given the two options, cinnamon wins. The scones were sweet, crumbly and dense, but not tough. They would be a great addition to a breakfast with fruit or even paired with ice cream as a dessert!

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If you’re a scone person, I highly recommend picking up a pack of scones from The Scone Shop the next time you go to the grocery store. By doing so you’ll be supporting a local business and treating yourself to a delicious, easy breakfast or snack at home.

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You can follow The Scone Shop on social media at @thesconeshop. InstagramTwitter – Facebook

 

Have you tried scones from The Scone Shop? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

5Church To Add New Location in Atlanta, GA

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Restaurateurs Patrick Whalen, Ayman Kamel, Alejandro Torio and Jamie Lynch are announcing their plans to open a third location of 5Church in Midtown Atlanta early in the first quarter of 2016. The restaurant, which has an existing location in Charlotte and a second opening in Charleston, will be located at 1197 Peachtree Street NE. Serving lunch and dinner daily along with weekend brunch, 5Church offers a technique-driven menu that blends a casual, yet refined dining approach for a memorable experience. The name of the restaurant comes from its original location, the corner of 5th and Church Street, in Uptown Charlotte.

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“We love the growth that’s happening in Atlanta and feel there is a lot of continuity between Charlotte, Charleston and Atlanta,” explains Kamel, who will be moving to Atlanta with his family to operate 5Church locally. “We look forward to enhancing the Midtown restaurant scene with a 360-degree dining experience that blends award-winning food with top rate service and nationally acclaimed design.”

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The team behind 5Church brings a wealth of operations, marketing and culinary talent to the table and credits their combined forces for the success of their dining concept.

At 5Church, guests will be drawn to the restaurant’s eye-catching design. The restaurant speaks to guests who are looking for a top-notch meal and the service to match but who are also in search of an ambiance that reaches beyond the typical restaurant environs. The neo-Victorian décor features white concrete bars, black leather banquettes, imaginative chandeliers and large-scale artwork created by local artists. The hand-painted ceiling will feature Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” in its entirety. 5Church will seat 185 guests downstairs with an additional rooftop dining space upstairs.

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Jamie Lynch, who is both a partner and the restaurant’s executive chef, boasts an impressive culinary background including Le Cirque, Aureole and Café Boulud, as well as Blue and Barrington’s in Charlotte. Since opening 5Church, he has been recognized as Charlotte Magazine’s Best Chef for the past three consecutive years. His menu will feature many 5Church favorites such as the famed “60 second” NY strip steak and 5Church lamb burger with red onion marmalade and Gorgonzola fondue along with new, locally sourced dishes original to the Atlanta restaurant. A 200-bottle wine list curated by an in-house certified sommelier and a selection of specialty cocktails and craft beers will complement Lynch’s menu.

The new 5Church location will be at Colony Square, 1197 Peachtree Street NE in Midtown. The restaurant will offer a private event space as well as on-site parking and complimentary valet. For updates, follow the restaurant on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For additional information, visit www.5churchatlanta.com.

CLTReview – Pinky’s Westside Grill

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I love me some Pinky’s. I went there for lunch today and knew I was going to go all in. You just can’t go to Pinky’s and NOT eat fried, delicious food. I ordered a salad there once in an attempt to eat “healthy” and it came with a gigantic pile of fried onion straws on top of it as well as fried chicken bites. At that point, you might as well just go all the way and skip the lettuce nonsense.

The original Pinky’s is located in the FreeMoreWest neighborhood of Charlotte on Morehead St. The restaurant is kind of a big deal considering Guy Fieri came to Charlotte recently and filmed there with Clint Bowyer for his show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

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Pinky’s Westside Grill is very casual with a vintage diner feel complete with a jukebox and old metal signs. The staff is extremely friendly and always on top of refills and checking back with guests. Parking is tricky because there is a very limited amount of parking spaces in the front lot but there is; however, a much larger gravel parking lot behind the restaurant for overflow parking.

The menu consists of gluttonous goodies like the Pinky Dog – a hot dog grilled not the flat top and smothered in pimento cheese and chili, Corn Dog Shrimp (which I think should be re-named Shrimp Puppies) – battered and fried shrimp, and the White Trash Burger – a burger with provolone, fried pickles, onion rings & spicy ranch (yum). My favorites are the corn dog, cheese fries and the White Trash Burger. These are some of my go-to’s when I want to eat all of the calories.

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Pinky’s also has an excellent signature cocktail menu and drink specials. Even though I’m not a huge liquor drinker, every time I mention Pinky’s to someone in Charlotte, they usually respond with “Ooh, I love that place. They have a great drink menu too!”

Pinky’s also opened a second location in Huntersville so for you folks north of Charlotte, you now have an opportunity to try their tasty food and cocktails.

Have you been to Pinky’s Westside Grill? Let us know which dishes are your favorite in the comments!

CLTReview – Benny Pennello’s

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I have a new favorite pizza place in Charlotte. Benny Pennello’s just opened a couple weeks ago in NoDa in the smaller space directly next door to Heist Brewery. This is the first pizza joint in NoDa but there are already 3 pizza restaurants nearby in Plaza Midwood. This may sound crazy, but I live closer to Pizza Peel and Fuel Pizza in Plaza Midwood and I would drive right by them to get a slice of Benny Pennello’s pepperoni. There’s nothing fancy about the pizza at Benny’s. It’s just GOOD. The crust is super thin and crispy. The pizza is a bit greasy but not in a disgusting way. The pepperonis are chewy and meaty and the cheese is perfect. I’ve had both the Buffalo Chicken and Pepperoni slices and at this point, the Pepperoni is my fave.

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Outside of the taste, the most obvious and talked-about feature of Benny Pennello’s pizza is the size. Their slices are ginormous. One slice of pizza is bigger than my head, or anyone’s head for that matter. (I’d like to think I have a normal-sized head.) Each slice is served on not one, but two paper plates, because one just won’t do the job. The best part? Each slice is $5. I ordered a slice and a Coke can for about $7 and I was very full. I saw someone on Facebook complaining that they thought one slice of pizza for $5 was expensive… But seriously, most pizza restaurants in Charlotte charge over $3 per slice and and they are MUCH smaller than those at Benny Pennello’s. I’ll take a $7 lunch any day.

If you want to order a whole pizza from Benny’s, it’ll cost you at least $30 starting with just cheese. BUT the pizza is a whopping 28 inches in diameter. Oh yeah.

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Benny Pennello’s isn’t the first of the Benny’s chain. The original location, named Benny Marzano’s, is in Blacksburg, VA. (The original location of Cabo Fish Taco in NoDa is also in Blacksburg.) The Benny’s chain now has 10 locations including Mount Pleasant, Charlottesville, and Redford (Go Highlanders!).

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The decor of Benny’s is very bare-bones for now. There are a few painted murals on the walls of the restaurant but some of them look unfinished. Several booths and benches line the perimeter of the inside of the restaurant. There are no servers so to place your order, you simply tell the cashier which slice you want and pay after ordering. Your name will be called once your slices are ready.

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They don’t sell beer yet but I did see a sign that said “Beer coming soon!”, which is always a good thing. I can’t imagine this place on a Friday or Saturday late night. It’s going to be nuts. Benny’s is open until 2am on Thursday, 3am Friday and Saturday, and midnight Sunday through Wednesday. Drunk people love pizza late night and I’m sure the Blind Pig folks will be the first in line after 2am. 😉

Have you tried the pizza at Benny Pennello’s yet? Let us know your thoughts!

 

CLTReview – Sauceman’s BBQ

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Photo credit: Sauceman’s Facebook Page

I tend to get a craving for BBQ pretty often. But last week I strayed from my usual Charlotte BBQ restaurants and ordered Sauceman’s using Foodie Call and it was amazing. I seriously had forgotten how delicious their food is. Sauceman’s is located in Southend on West Boulevard across from the Bojangle’s. I think when people talk BBQ in Charlotte, Sauceman’s is often overlooked, which is a shame. The restaurant is super casual with no frills but serves some pretty awesome BBQ.

(I apologize for the super blurry photo below.  For some reason my iPhone camera has decided it hates me.)

Sauceman's Sweet Smoke Sandwich

Sauceman’s Sweet Smoke Sandwich

Instead of serving the typical pulled pork, they serve a course-chopped and chopped version of smoked pork and turkey as well as ribs and brisket. I ordered the Sweet Smoke sandwich, which I remembered loving years ago and I fell in love all over again. The “Sweet Smoke” consists of smoked BBQ pork (or turkey) sandwiched between two pieces of Texas toast with Granny Smith apple slices, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, and sweet BBQ sauce. If you’re into sweeter sandwiches, you will die for this one. I also ordered baked beans and potato salad as sides and they were both amazing.

Although I haven’t actually set foot in Sauceman’s in a while, I definitely want to plan another trip soon to retry other menu items… or maybe just get the Sweet Smoke sandwich again.

Have you been to Sauceman’s recently? Let me know what you think!