I don’t believe I’ve ever fantasized about mussels like I have George’s. They’ve been on my mind and in my dreams, succulent and meaty and begging to be eaten, for weeks. Of course we’re talking mussels here, not muscles, of which George’s Brasserie offers five different varieties. The fiery style, with a delicate spicy cream sauce, was so good, I’m not sure I’ll ever find the courage to order any of the others. It was love at first dunk of their fresh French bread into that spicy sauce. This overwhelming delight was a somewhat unexpected reaction, given that French food has never really excited me (a distaste I blame on a few bad experiences I had on a trip to Paris back in college, and an overall dislike of game and heavy sauces). In contrast, Executive Chef Andrew “Drew” Dodd puts a contemporary spin on the cuisine, while still offering many signature French dishes, including bouillabaisse, cassoulet, beef bourguignon, and charcuterie. A handful of the entrees are sourced locally, including the North Carolina trout armandine, the Spring Mountain Farms chicken served with black garlic beurre blanc, and a few varieties of their large oyster selection.
Like the food, the restaurant itself is upscale yet inviting. There are cozy round booths bordering smaller bistro style tables complete with Parisian-style rattan chairs. Small touches, like the aluminum bread pails brought to each table, keep the restaurant grounded and the atmosphere friendly.
One of my favorite hors d’oeuvres is the 48-hour pork belly, which is cooked sous-vide and served with jalapeno infused water melon. Unlike other pork belly I’ve tried, George’s has a crispy skin and no jiggly bits; you can literally sink your teeth into it. Other standout dishes are the supple pan-seared scallops, served with sweet corn and saffron puree, fava beans, smoked tomato, and thyme beurre blanc and the NY Strip Au Poivre with brandy peppercorn sauce, served with a petite ceramic pot of truffle pommes frites. I’ve also heard great things about the goat cheese and caramelized onion tart, but I’ve yet to try it (next time!).
George’s is a place where Francophiles and Francophobes alike will be satisfied, not only with the exceptional food but also the extensive wine list and the attentive and impressively knowledgeable servers. And for those fiery mussels, of course.
Shortly after moving to Charlotte, I fell in love with Mama Ricotta’s. I blame it on the goat cheese and mascarpone dip, which was my first bite of food on my very first visit to Mama’s.
Mama’s is the type of place where families feel equally comfortable as couples on hot dates. The dining room is cozy with large family-sized booths plus intimate tables for two, vintage family photos, and a large wood-fired pizza oven.
If you have any Italian friends or family, you know the importance of sharing food in the Italian culture. Food is love. This holds true at Mama’s, where most of the pasta dishes are available family-style and are served in deep dishes that are passed around the table, just like at home.
It didn’t take long for me to realize Mama Ricotta’s had common ownership with Bad Daddy’s (one of my favorite burger spots in town) and Midwood Smokehouse (my favorite barbecue joint). I’ve eaten at these restaurants dozen of times, and many of those meals have ended with toasts to Frank Scibelli, the owner and man behind the amazing food.
I’m a big fan of bread, and Mama Ricotta’s bread basket alone is worth a visit. The housemade rolls are served with olive oil sprinkled with crushed red pepper flakes for dipping. As for appetizers, there’s that amazing dip I mentioned–it’s a warm goat cheese and mascarpone dip served with grilled crostini and a warm tomato basil sauce, a steal at $8.50. I also highly recommend the new house made burrata ($12). Burrata is fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, and Mama’s burrata is soft and supple and accompanied by olive oil poached tomatoes, basil, roasted garlic, and grilled ciabatta.Read More
I know it’s the new year and we’re supposed to be juicing and diet cleansing and sweating to the oldies plus doing three thousand crunches a day, minimum. I know I should be focusing on eating my greens and counteracting all that indulging I did over the holidays. Spinach. Kale. Brussels Sprouts. SALADS, SALADS, SALADS!!!
I know. I KNOW. But what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t share THIS with you guys?Read More
Pizza is one of few foods for which I will risk third degree burns of both the mouth and esophagus. As soon as I open the box and locate the slice with the most ample crust, I’ve got it dangling above my mouth, scalding cheese be damned. The crust is by far my favorite part, and it alone can make or break a pizza. I cannot fathom why some people think of the crust as merely a handle used to transport the pizza to their mouths, ceasing to eat once they reach that sweet spot where sauce and cheese meets bready bliss.
Pizza delivered to your door is one of life’s simplest pleasures, but leftover pizza can leave a lot to be desired. There’s always the option of eating the leftovers for breakfast, cold and straight from the box, but I crave the smells and textures of a freshly delivered pie. When years of college dorm living taught me that microwaves turn pizza crusts to rubber, I found my solution in the oven.Read More
As a kid, pizza was one of my favorite dinners. When mom or dad would come home exhausted from their days, too tired to cook, with just enough energy to utter the words “let’s just order pizza for dinner” my heart would pitter patter with excitement as an uncontrollable cheshire-cat style smile spread across my face.
Pizza was cause for celebration in my family, and back in the day I was a straight up pepperoni and cheese gal.
Pepperoni and Cheese
I remember the day I got my braces. I was 13 years ripe, and I think my dad felt bad that I was in so much pain… Or perhaps he felt bad because he had just assisted in adding more metal to his poor teenage daughters head (as if my GIANT glasses were not enough).
So, in an attempt to cheer up his little girl, he decided we’d order pizza from our favorite hole in the wall pizzeria for dinner. I remember opening that steaming box and seeing the thick pepperonis all curled up into little cups of grease heaven, and that amazing pizza smell that made the pain suddenly start to melt away. I was so excited, so high from the pizza induced endorphins, that I grabbed a slice and chomped down without hesitation.
I remember the horror that immediately washed over me as I ripped my hand back from my mouth like a kid who’d just high-fived a hot stove as I burst into tears. My newly bedazzled mouth was too sore to eat the pizza. Too sore to enjoy the crunch of that buttery crust or the spice of the pepperoni. Too sore to even nibble on the oozing cheese. Through my tears, my dad and I painstakingly cut the pizza into pebble sized swallowable bites and I proceeded to toss them into my mouth followed by long swigs of Coke like a real pizza pill poppin addict.
Why was adolescence so cruel?!
Yes… that just happened.
But let us focus on what’s important here.
It brings people together.
It puts a sparkle of happiness in your eyes and warm and fuzzies in your belly.
Heck, it even puts hair on your face.
Hahahaha… That’s my nephew Dylan. LOVE that pic. He’s almost 13 now… and sadly, no longer a pirate.
I can count on one hand — strike that — one FINGER the number of people I’ve met in my life who did not adore pizza. (crazy man, that Tim is)
Pizza is the jam. The cat’s meow. The shiznit, if you will.
A couple years back, my sister and I were brainstorming ideas for a Father’s Day present for our dad. We decided we would take dad out to lunch to the restaurant of his choice. Mexican or seafood or a big Italian feast. Whatever his heart desired.
Sometimes all a father really wants is to pig out with his children at the pizza buffet
I haven’t been to CiCis Pizza Buffet since then, which is very sad given how enamored I was with their macaroni and cheese pizza… So wrong, but SO right!
When I was contacted a couple weeks back about doing a giveaway for Cici’s, I HAD to jump on it (in secret hopes that my one of my siblings will win a free pizza buffet for my pa, of course).
Here’s the scoop: CiCi’s Pizza Family Funtacular summer scratch and win contest runs through August 28. The scratch off tickets give you the opportunity to win movie tickets, family fun packs, children’s movie tickets, CiCi’s gift cards, free buffets, carry-out pizzas and beverages.
Oh man… my dad would LOVE LOOOOVE to win this….
Grand prize for two lucky families: an all-expense paid trip for four to Universal Orlando Resort Vacation…. Ok… Shut the front door!!! Now I really REALLY hope one of my siblings win!
I have SIX scratch off tickets to give away, and I’ll send them ALL to the winner. TWO ways to enter: 1.) leave a comment (or link) on this post with your favorite pizza topping or recipe AND 2.) Follow me on Twitter @Fervent_Foodie!
I’ll use a random # generator to select a winner Sunday at midnight!