Wednesday, June 26, 2013

National barbecue survey says ...

... that North Carolina style does not come out on top when Zagat conducts a survey. With 1,500+ responses, the regional preferences on "favorite style of BBQ" were:

Texas: 27%
Kansas City: 16%
Memphis: 13%
Eastern North Carolina: 8%
St. Louis: 5%
South Carolina: 4%
Western North Carolina: 3%
Don't Know: 19%

Starbucks to start posting calorie counts

Starbucks will begin posting calorie counts at stores nationwide this week, reports the Wall Street Journal, thereby getting ahead of the federal mandate for chains of more than 20 locations to post the counts; that is expected to go into effect later this year. Nutrition advocates say people will make better decisions if they have this information (a 16-ounce Caramel Frappuccino with whole milk is 280 calories; 140 with skim), the paper says, and notes that after Starbucks began posting the info in NYC stores (as per city law), the company saw customers ordering items with 6 percent fewer calories per transaction. "Menu labeling is yet another step to extend our commitment to wellness," according to Starbucks senior vice president of Global Research & Development Mary Wagner, quoted from a news release.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chef change at Halcyon uptown

Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth has a new executive chef: James Stouffer, former kitchen manager, is taking over the role at the uptown restaurant that's part of The Mother Earth Group (which includes Fern and Something Classic). The concept will remain the same, according to the company's president, Jill Marcus, who noted previous executive chef Marc Jacksina (still listed on the Halcyon website at this time) "is an extremely talented and passionate chef. We wish him nothing but success."

I'll update on Jacksina's plans as soon as possible. The co-founder of Lulu in Plaza-Midwood, he's also cooked at the former Andrew Blair's and Kaffe Frappe in Charlotte and has cooked at the James Beard House for Halcyon.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Conde Nast names Best New Restaurants in world; 1 is in the Carolinas

Conde Nast Traveler magazine has released its list of the Best New Restaurants of 2013 from “our favorite food cities” (sic), which it lists here as New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney and “the American South.” That last stretches from Dallas and Houston to D.C. and includes one from the Carolinas: The Ordinary in Charleston, from chef Mike Lata. (Amazingly, I went just last week - snapping the above and below - and I'll link to my upcoming writeup ASAP.) The Ordinary was also a nominee for Best New in the James Beard Awards this year.

Tequila, wine dinners

Paco’s Taco’s & Tequila hosts a Herradura tequila dinner June 26, with a menu from chef Marin Heller that includes market fruit salad with Blanco watermelon mint cocktail (drinks form mixologist Amanda Swartz); slow-smoked brisket taco with Anejo classic margarita with chile-infused agave nectar; and more. $40; 704-716-8226; Specialty Shops at the Park at 6401 Morrison Blvd.

The Wine Shop at Foxcroft offers a Maculan Italian wine dinner July 8 (with the winery's Angela Maculan on hand) for $65; the menu includes N.C. blue crab with housemade tagliatelle with 2012 Maculan Castadolio Rosato; beef short rib with wild mushroom polenta and 2008 Pallazotto Cabernet; and more. 704-365-6550; 7824 Fairview Road.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pop up at Zebra

Show up at Zebra June 25 for a (sort of) pop-up wine dinner: The location isn't secret or unexpected, but the vineyard whose wine will be featured, and the menu itself, are both being kept under wraps until that evening. There'll be hors d'oeuvres, followed by fish, fowl, meat, meat supplement, salad and dessert courses, with wines ranging from an '09 estate Chardonnay to an '07 Claret. $75; 704-442-9525; 4521 Sharon Road.

David Byrne on Harvest Moon Grille (and Hooters)

Musician David Byrne, in town for a show at the Belk Theater, stopped at a few Charlotte spots and blogged about it Tuesday. "Some of us went to a 'farm-to-plate' restaurant called Harvest Moon that was wonderful. There were pictures on the wall of the farm where lots of the food comes from, as well as sows and chickens."

He also hit the NASCAR museum, posting photos of a Wonder bread car and Hooters racing suit, and wished "every politician, artist or entity of any kind with corporate sponsorship revealed his or her backers so honestly and blatantly." (File photo from the Washington Post.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bill Spoon's on TV

Bill Spoon's shows up July 31 on the Travel Channel's new "BBQ Crawl," in which Canada’s Danielle Dimovski travels the barbecue competition circuit through the South. There's a double-episode kickoff July 3, featuring Texas, then a Texas to Arkansas swing; Spoon's is in the "Atlanta to North Carolina Crawl," along with Midway BBQ in South Carolina, and the Bone-In Artisan truck in Columbia.

Monday, June 17, 2013

NPR asks Southerners 'What's your food identity?'

It's like StoryCorps for eaters! The Southern Foodways Alliance, Whole Foods Market and Georgia Organics are doing something called "The Spoken Dish," a video storytelling project designed to document food memories and rituals of the American South. (Personal favorite so far: The girl who talks about her "port-bul fra-r." I'd watch them all at once but that 10-second intro is a mite long for me to take.)

The project is seeking input. Producer Kate Medley asks "What food tradition in your life reflects time, place, and people, or evokes a specific memory?" You can share with them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, using #aspokendish.

(And a hat tip to @Smedette for the alert.)

Wait: New favorite is about the "redneck Durian." Seriously, y'all, these are fun.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Free drinks, food at Renaissance

"Summer of Discovery" at Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark hotel means -- on June 19 -- creating your own free cocktails with Topo vodka or whiskey (from North Carolina) and Cloister Honey (from Charlotte)-infused tea. There'll also be complimentary grilled shrimp and roasted oysters with watermelon pickle relish, Ashe County cheeses, grilled watermelon and Bosky Acres goat cheese salad, and more. Yes, the public can come, in addition to hotel guests; the event runs 5:30-8 p.m. 5501 Carnegie Blvd.; 704-501-2510.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fido welcome at the Ritz

Dogs can accompany their owners to "Saturday Sidewalk Socials" this summer at the Ritz-Carlton in uptown, offered outside the hotel's Bar Cocoa and its menu of pastries, desserts, gelati and teas: A section of the sidewalk will have leash tie-ups, local dog-walking maps and Bar Cocoa dog biscuits. 201 E. Trade St.; 704-547-2244.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Updated: Dad's day on the way

The new Local Loaf, at 7th Street Public Market uptown, will do Father's Day brunch 9 a.m.-3 p.m.: a full omelet station, shrimp and grits, crepes, pork ribs, baked Brie, fresh fruit and live entertainment. $15 ($8 for kids 12 and younger); validated parking available in the 7th Street Station parking garage.

The Liberty offers half-price for Dad on Father's Day three-course brunch if you join its mailing list (through the website or its Facebook page). It's $21.95 for the rest of us, and the menu includes choices such as spicy New Orleans beer and Tabasco barbecue shrimp; pan-roasted wild Alaskan King salmon; fried chicken with biscuits; bourbon pecan pie and more. Reservations: 704-332-8830; 1820 South Blvd.

Harper's will offer 11-ounce prime rib and grilled shrimp and sirloin specials on Father's Day for $21.

e2 emeril's eatery plans a special Father's Day Brunch (June 16, folks) from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., with bananas Foster pancakes, andouille and crawfish omelets, Old Mill buckwheat waffles and more. 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts; reservations: 704-414-4787.

Red Rocks Cafe at Birkdale only (not the Strawberry Hill location) will offer a buffet beginning at 10:30 a.m., with the last seating at 3 p.m., followed by a regular menu with chef features that evening. Buffet: $25 for adults, $12 for children; 8712 Lindholm Drive in Huntersville, 704-892-9999.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pizza Peel coming to Plaza Midwood

The Pizza Peel closed on its deal today to put a second location into the former Kelly Tires spot in Plaza Midwood, says Will Bigham, and the menu will be similar to the Cotswold original. Plans call for keeping the building's exterior, adding to the back and putting in parking. "October-Novemberish," he says, "if everything goes as planned."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Updated: Chef, Block & Grinder split

Chef Kent Graham is no longer with Block & Grinder, he said; after leaving the relatively new South Charlotte restaurant for personal reasons, he's taking a little time off, going on a back-roads culinary trip to Charleston, then figuring out what's next. "I'd love to find another restaurant to go into and still be part of the restaurant scene in this town ... It's fun, the direction: It's so vibrant." He said he's also looking at corporate work.

 B&G owner Jed Kampe says the restaurant "won't be changing anything with regards to our philosophy and direction." The upcoming summer dinner menu will feature game -- elk, bison and venison over the course of the season -- and the already-up lunch menu includes lighter salads, new burgers and a crawfish roll and Cuban sandwich, among other additions. 2935 Providence Road; 704-364-2100.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Here's a peek at OGGI: Review in Friday's CLT

3rd annual Italian wine dinner at D'Vine

D'Vine Wine Cafe hosts its third annual family-style Italian wine dinner on June 13 for $49.99. Among the five courses are stuffed clams and mussels, with 2012 Cascina Chicco Arneis "Anterisio" Cru, Piemonte; chicken braised with tomato and pepperoncini, with housemade gnocchi and 2011 Ceralti "Scire" Super Tuscan; and veal Milanese with 2009 Pelissero Langhe IGT Nebbiolo, Piemonte. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; reservations: 704-369-5050.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Honey up at the Ritz Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton uptown will have its first Summer Honey Festival this year: three months of events having to do with the 100,000 honeybees it hosts on its green roof, with the first honey harvest slated for June 20. Offerings will include the Rooftop Honey Brandy Sour (sold at the Lobby Lounge and the 15th-floor Urban Sip); honey with the usual daily chocolate afternoon tea; and honey bread, complimentary with every weekend brunch at Bar Cocoa. Events will include lobby gelato socials and honey tastings each Friday and Saturday afternoon and Saturday morning rooftop tours for hotel guests. 704-547-2244; 201 E. Trade St.

The video was made in 2011 for Our State magazine, but you get a great look at the essential workings.

Wine dinners

ilios noche hosts an Italian wine dinner June 17, with five courses from guest chef and Milan native Piero Premoli and five wine pairings from northern Italy. Premoli, executive chef at Buckhead Life Group's Pricci in Atlanta, and has cooked from Paris to New York. Dinner is $80; 11508 Providence Road; 704-814-9882.

June 13, Blue hosts a Benziger dinner with crisp softshell crab and 2011 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc; pork Milanese with 2009 Sonoma County Merlot; pepper-crusted Wagyu ribeye with mushroom/goat cheese bread pudding and 2009 Tribute Sonoma Mountain Red Blend; and more. $49.95; Hearst Plaza uptown; 704-927-2583.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Updated: Donut-bacon-egg sandwich? Yes!

Dunkin' Donuts is rolling out its new Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich nationally this Friday, but at least some Charlotte locations (I didn't call them all) already serve the new concoction: A split glazed donut with fried eggs and bacon.

It's 360 calories -- 30 fewer than Dunkin' Donuts' new turkey sausage breakfast sandwich aimed at those "eating right" (!) and 60 more than an Egg McMuffin -- and runs $3.29. (You can add cheese, too.)

UPDATE: For those concerned some people will think this isn't much worse for you than the "eating right" choice, let's clarify. The Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich has 20 grams of fat (14 in the donut), which is 30 percent of the daily recommended amount and includes 6 grams of saturated fat. The turkey sausage flatbread has 8 total fat grams (3 saturated).

Create your own joke in the comments. Just keep it clean.