I’ve been incredibly distracted the last couple of weeks, spending every breath of free time surfing Craigslist and property management company sites for a new apartment. It’s one of those life moments when I just wish someone would tell me what to do. Should I stay in my current rental and pay the (exorbitant) rent increase or move? And if I move, where? One bedroom or two? Is it safe? Can I walk to work? Does it get good light? Is street parking a deal breaker? Is shared laundry?! Where will I put my shoes? Is there a coffee shop within walking distance? What about good restaurants? Will my beloved green couch fit in the new rental? GAS STOVE!!!! Will my friends and family still come to visit???
It’s a lot to ponder.
With all this rental business looming overhead, I’ve been a stranger to my kitchen. You know what that means. It’s time for a little restaurant recap!
Let’s start with the Common Market hot mama panini–tomato, red onion, red pepper, spinach, Havarti, and mayo plus turkey–that I devoured right there in the parking lot.
No shame, this girl.
Then there was a liquid meal at Ten Park Lanes. Hello, blueberry infused moonshine lemonade! This is my favorite specialty drink in Charlotte. As my good friend Jessie used to say, two sips will “make the tongue slap da brain out ya head!”
I also knocked two BIG names off of my Charlotte restaurant wishlist! First there was dinner at Good Food on Montford with Vanessa. Not only was Good Food a James Beard award semi-finalist, but it has been recommended to me more than any other restaurant in Charlotte. Why have I not been before??
It was a Saturday night, and the energy in the restaurant was high–I swear a palpable buzz filled the room. It was dark with small candles on each table serving as the main source of light. Small plates emerged from the kitchen in rapid procession, and I found myself constantly craning my neck to sneak peaks of the plates. Within a few moments, I saw no less than five steamed buns go by, so that is precisely how we began our meal.
Though the bun looks very large and dense, it was actually light and puffy (and sticky). It was stuffed with five spice pork belly, hoisin, and pickled vegetables. We also ordered the broccoli and cheese curds, which Vanessa pointed out were a fun play on the broccoli and cheese (or Velveeta, as the case may be) of our youth. It was my first time (that I recall) eating cheese curds. Something about the word “curd” made me apprehensive, but I loved the little nuggets of fried cheese. The third dish was my favorite: roasted shrimp arepas with red cabbage slaw and chipotle barbecue sauce. And for dessert we split the macadamia pie–good, but I’d opt for a different dessert next time.
That same week, I had a belated Valentine’s dinner at Customshop, a very popular higher-end restaurant in Charlotte. Like Good Food on Montford, Customshop is well known for its use of high quality ingredients and for supporting the local food movement here in Charlotte. The restaurant was practically pitch black inside—I had to use my iphone as a light to read the menu. (Maybe I’m just an old lady?) At the recommendation of the waitress, I had the veal bolognese papparadelle, which was a good dish overall but had very mild flavors and is not something I’d order on my next visit. The pork flat iron was moist and tender. Reflecting on the meal, the dishes that really stood out to me were the sides: incredible horseradish potatoes, skillet Brussels sprouts, and their house bread, each bite of which literally disintegrated on my tongue.
Then there was dessert: brioche bread pudding with hunks of apple and walnuts and a small scoop of caramel ice cream on top. I think I’ve hit my crappy iphone photo quota for this post, so in lieu of more, here’s a pic of me about to devour the bread pudding:
Sunday night, I made my first visit to Carnitas Guanajuato. Given that the menu is in Spanish (with small English translations listed secondary) and that we were the only non-Spanish speakers in the place, I think this may be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in Charlotte. Each table is served complimentary chips and FIVE different salsas, which range in heat from a mild fresh tomato salsa to the I-can’t-feel-my-face hot. I speak from experience on the hot…
The mixed grill fajitas with corn tortillas were muy excelente! Sorry, had to do it. Had to.
And last night, I had a meal so delicious I had to restrain myself from grabbing a handful and smearing its gloriousness all over my face. Maverick Rock Taco, where have you been all my life?! As the name suggests, Maverick’s menu features several tacos, including fried avocado, chorizo and potato, and blackened mako shark. Our favorites of the evening were the corn crusted calamari and the barbacoa short rib, topped with jalapeno crema and pickled onions. The white sangria and Mexican street corn sealed the deal. It was an awesome AWESOME meal.