Thursday, October 30, 2014

'Final Fire' pits finalists in competition dining

Tickets are on sale now for "Final Fire," the chef competition in November that pits winners of regional N.C. competitions to determine a champion. The events will be at the Renaissance North Hills Hotel in Raleigh.

Charlotte's winner, Jon Fortes, formerly with Mimosa Grill but now at The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill, gets a first-round bye. The events, dubbed the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, begin Nov. 19 with "Fire on the Dock" champion (for the Wilmington area) Antoine Murray of the Cape Fear Country Club facing "Fire on the Rock" winner Michelle Bailey of Season's at Highland Lake in Flat Rock. Fortes, who won "Fire in the City," will take on the winner of that match on Nov. 20.

"Fire in the Triad" champ Tim Thompson of Marisol in Greensboro faces "Fire in the Triangle" winner Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh on Nov. 21.

Tickets to those are $129 (plus tax, tip and drinks). The Nov. 22 finale will cost $139; all are available online.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dunkin's is 'croissant donut,' not Cronut

Dunkin' Donuts will start dishing "Croissant Donuts" (left), which the company describes as "a delicate and flaky criossant ring that is glazed like a donut," Nov. 3 at some locations, including Charlotte's.

(And in case you're thinking, "Hey, that sounds familiar. Wasn't there some New York bakery doing something like that?" -- yes. Dominique Ansel's Cronut became world famous and still is. But Dunkin's president of global marketing and innovation, John Costello, told NBC News: "Are we copying a specific bakery in New York? The answer is no.")

Plus this one will be $2.49, about half the Cronut cost.

Also new at Dunkin': Pumpkin donuts shaped like jack-o-lanterns and Boston Screams (the company's regular Boston Kreme with orange icing drizzle) for Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween food -- that isn't candy!

Morton’s offers a Halloween dinner Friday for $35: choice of Caesar or Morton's salad or baked five-onion soup; choice of filet mignon, chile-glazed salmon or chicken with side; choice of double chocolate mousse or Key lime pie. 227 W. Trade St.; 704-333-2602.

South End's Food Truck Friday goes "Truck or Treat" this week, adding a costume contest for kids and dogs, and ghost stories by the fire pit, we're told, at Camden Road and Park Avenue. Trucks planning to be there, 5-9 p.m., include Autoburger, Comfort Foods, Dan the Pig Man, Gourmet Goombahs, Maryland Crab, Papi Queso, Plated Palette, Smoke n Go, Southern Cake Queen, Spice Wagon, Sticks and Cones, Sugar Donuts and Tin Kitchen.

And at Artisan, the Art Institute's restaurant, diners get buy-one-get-one-25-percent-off at Tuesday lunch or Wednesday or Thursday dinner this week. Lunch runs 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; dinner is 6:15-7:45 p.m. 2110 Water Ridge Parkway; 704-357-5900 for reservations.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chef Jon Fortes makes a move

Jon Fortes, recent repeat winner of the Fire in the City competition dining event for the Charlotte area, says he's left the Harper's Restaurant Group (he'd most recently been executive chef at Mimosa Grill) and is joining his wife, Amy Fortes, at The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill. Fortes says they plan to begin offering cooking classes, wine dinners and "a lot of catering," and that the couple is also "in the process of designing another location" in Fort Mill, a different concept that they aim to open in summer 2015.

The Flipside offers a comfort-food-driven lineup that emphasizes locally produced foods, at 3150 Highway 21 North; 803-802-1711.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chef Coleman's a little bit everywhere

Chris Coleman, chef at The Asbury, is bouncing around the area at light speed these days (and has a new menu slated to be out next week at the uptown restaurant, at the Dunhill hotel):

Saturday (Oct. 11), he'll be in Chapel Hill, serving at the Grand Tasting in the TerraVita Food & Wine Event, a festival that began in 2010, aimed at showcasing "excellence and sustainability in the South," from wines and local craft brews to edibles.

Oct. 19, he'll be at the Piedmont Culinary Guild's "Carved" event, with chefs competing with their pumpkin-carving skills at Atherton Market.

Oct. 27, Coleman will join others in the Angus Barn of Raleigh's fundraiser for the National Restaurant Assocation and the N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Oct. 29, he and Laetitia Vineyards and Nadia Wines owner Nadia Zilkha host a wine dinner featuring the California wines. $85.

Nov. 11 brings an Artist's Dinner; the restaurant hangs art curated by the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, and Charlottean Ben Premeaux's photography is up now. Some proceeds will benefit the McColl Center. Details at

And Nov. 17, Coleman will be in "Sliced" at Whole Foods in SouthPark, taking on Passion8 chef/owner Luca Annunziata in another competition.

The Asbury: 235 N. Tryon St.; 704-332-4141.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Coming up: tastings and dinners

Zebra offers a South African wine dinner Oct. 14: four courses and wines for $75. 4521 Sharon Road; 704-442-9525.
Also coming up: The new autumn dinner menu begins Oct. 16.

Blue does a "Taste of the Northwest" with wines and food pairings Oct. 24, with a dozen wines offered in a tasting, then a five-course paired dinner. Among the menu items: peekytoe crab salad with Asian pear slaw and 2013 Boedecker Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Gris; and N.C. heritage pork in a Pinot-braised shank with crisp pomegranate-glazed belly, and roasted tenderloin with a sweet potato and bacon puree, with 2012 Ken Wright Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. $75; Hearst Tower at College and 5th streets; 704-927-2583.

Also Oct. 24: A Woodford Reserve dinner in the Carolina Room at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. The dinner will officially unveil The Ballantyne Bourbon, the place's "personal selection bourbon" from Woodford Reserve, and there'll be a pairing menu with specialty cocktails and other Woodford Reserve selections. $150; 704-248-4100; 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bits and crumbs: wine at Palm, tofu at Chipotle

Chipotle adds the new vegan Sofritas to North and South Carolina stores starting Oct. 13: the dish uses organic shredded tofu braised with chipotle chiles, roasted poblano peppers, tomatoes and spices. Price is $6.50 -- same as chicken, which will doubtless irritate some vegetarians.

The Palm hosts a Ceretto Italian wine dinner called "Barolo, Truffles & Best of The Alps" on Oct. 24, with four courses and pairings for $175. Among the lineup: choice of espresso-rubbed carpaccio of beef tenderloin or Tuscan kale Caesar salad with 2013 Ceretto Arneis Blange; Nova Scotia lobster pasta with 2011 Ceretto Barbaresco; choice of black-pepper-crusted Prime New York strip or seared jumbo sea scallops with 2008 Ceretto Barolo Brunate; and chocolate nut torta with 2013 Ceretto Moscato d'Asti. 6705-B Phillips Place Court; RSVP to Leigh Whicker at 704-552-7450 or