Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dine in the dark?

The third annual Charlotte Dining in the Dark event is Oct. 9, a fund- and awareness-raiser for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, held at Great Wolf Lodge, 10175 Weddington Road NW in Concord. Diners wear light-blocking masks. Event chair Marilyn Green (the original Miss Winston, for race-goers) said in a press release: "Reactions to Dining in the Dark are truly powerful because people often don't realize the daily obstacles of living with low to no vision."

This year's event will honor Darrel Waltrip and Marcus Smith, both known in NASCAR circles, and will benefit the Foundation's research into blinding retinal diseases. Tickets are $350. Info: (919) 781-8014 or

Friday, September 27, 2013

Coming up at Passion8: Celebration, darkness

Passion8 celebrates its sixth anniversary with a six-course meal Oct. 16 for $60. Reservations: 803-802-7455; 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill.

Then, for Halloween, chef Luca Anunziata plans "Dinner in the Dark": three courses for diners to consume blindfolded, on Oct. 31, for $38.

Meanwhile, reservations are already open for Thanksgiving at sibling American Cafe (3695 Foothills Way, in the Clarion Hotel, Fort Mill): The meal will be $48, with children 10 and younger free. 803-548-1158.

'You ART What You Eat' in Mint Hill

Mint Hill Arts, a nonprofit offering art classes and exhibits, will host a food truck festival in its parking lot 2-7 p.m. Oct. 12. It's a kickoff for its new exhibit, "You ART What You Eat," a gathering of work inspired by food. The exhibit runs through Oct. 31. The festival will also feature culinary demos and work by students from Johnson & Wales and Central Piedmont Community College, plus a sidewalk sale of local artwork, a children's drawing contest, live music and more. More info:, 980-226-5532 or email

Thursday, September 26, 2013

BAKU opens tonight

BAKU opens tonight (Sept. 26) at Sharon Station, and the website will give you a sense of the drama it's aiming at. It's slated to offer a robata bar (open-flame charcoal grilling) and sushi, and shared plates -- so it falls into the izakaya idea (which is sort of Japan's equivalent to a tapas place: the word means, essentially, sitting in a sake shop, and it's designed to offer a variety of things to eat while you drink).

4515 Sharon Road; 704-817-7173.

Another from the website:

Sunday brunch coming to AZN

AZN Azian Cuizine, near SouthPark at 4620 Piedmont Row Drive, begins Sunday brunch Oct. 6. It'll be served 11 a.m.-2 p.m., buffet-style, with stations for sushi, hot entrees, noodle dishes, salads, sweets -- and a dim sum cart, too. $22.95; 980-819-9189;

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oysters for Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend

Look for an oyster roast 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at 7th Street Public Market that will help the Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend raise money and awareness. (The Weekend, if you don't know, happens every two years, is one of the Southeast's largest wine events, and has raised more than $4 million for area charities since beginning in 1989.)

Expect steamed oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp and Olde Mecklenburg beer. Tickets are $25, available online only (no tickets at the door) at; 224 E. 7th St.

The next Weekend is April 22-26, 2014, and will be the event's 25th anniversary. Find out more at
the website.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hey, vegans and friends: Bean now serving brunch

Bean now serves Sunday brunch, with a menu that ranges from brunch bowls (scrambled tofu, cheesy grits, home fries, housemade sausage, carrot bacon and a biscuit) to fried tofu fingers and waffles and more. There's also a vegan artisanal cheese plate (yes, in the previous sentence, please read "cheesy" with air quotes). Choices for the plate: brick, pepper jack, brie, smoky cheddar, chipotle cheddar, brie with truffle oil, smoked gouda -- all are soy-based.

3001 E. Independence Blvd., 980-939-1234;

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Take a look at Nom Nom Burger

This week's vid review is Nom Nom Burger, across from Park Road Shopping Center.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oysters at Upstream

The fifth annual Oyster Bash at Upstream happens 6:30-9 p.m. Sept. 20, with $95 buying diners all-you-can eat cold-water oysters such as Old Salts, York Rivers, Fanny Bays, Blue Points, Rappahannocks, Malpeques and more, plus still and sparkling wines, from La Marca Prosecco and Sella & Mosca Vermentino to Marques de Caseras Albarino and Brageon Muscadet. A portion of proceeds goes to Kids First, which helps families in need with donated items and supplies.

The event is bigger this year, having been moved into the main dining room, and will have live music and a raffle, too; reservations are required: 704-556-7730. 6902 Phillips Place.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

e2 offers $29 menu

e2 is doing this three-course, choose-it dinner menu for $29 all September:

First course: smoked trout and baby iceberg with citrus horseradish dressing; wood-oven-roasted oysters; New Orleans-style mussels with crawfish and andouille; Emeril's barbecued shrimp

Second: shrimp and grits; Heritage Farms double-cut pork chop; or duck bacon carbonara

Third: banana cream pie with caramel; or peanut butter and Concord grape float.

Levine Avenue of the Arts in uptown; 704-414-4787.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Updated again! Drink out, do good -- and dine, too

Through September, diners can go to any Harper's Restaurant Group location -- that's Upstream and Mimosa Grill, along with the two Harper's in town -- and get a specially created chocolate bread pudding, and the group will donate $5 for each one to the national No Kid Hungry campaign. Share Our Strength is a national hunger relief group and holds a fundraising event called Dine Out for No Kid Hungry; its goal is to end child hunger in America.

Through the month, all Salsarita’s locations will donate 25 cents to the campaign for every one of its Sol Lemonades it sells: That's a new beverage addition for the Charlotte-based change, a lemonade "with a hint of guava and a freshly squeezed lime."

Queen City Q, meanwhile, is donating $1 for every Sunday brunch entree sold in September, and 25 cents for every sale from its food truck this month at the Panthers Lair (across from the stadium), to No Kid Hungry.

Coming up

"Mexican Independence Day" at Maverick Rock Taco Sept. 14 and 15 means you can get a meal for two or three people for $35: antojitos (salsa and chips, chorizo fritters, guac classico); platos mayores (poblano chile relleno, with beef and cheeses; ancho chicken tamales and beans and rice); and dessert: flan and churros. 1513 Montford Drive; 704-527-1400;

Links of the week

Entrepreneur writes about Chipotle's branding efforts here, and comments on this video, which may haunt me forever (with a version of "Pure Imagination" by Fiona Apple that is stunning):

Check out photographer Beth Galton's "Cut Food Series" here. Here's a peek at one:

And this is NOT about food, but is still the coolest video I've seen all week:

Fourth Ward Bread Company's open

Fourth Ward Bread Company opened this morning uptown. Here's a quick glimpse:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keep thinking internationally ...

A reminder that a series on international fare available in Charlotte starts Friday, with cool videos online, and I'm asking for your contributions. I've got a list, but would love to add your suggestions. Instagram or Tweet them with the hashtag #foodforhelen (and email me if you Instagram; several have and I can't see them because I don't know to follow you!), share them here or on Facebook, or email me at hschwab@charlotteobserver. We'll publish them by region, and Africa's up first. (That's Jamile Sheikh of Jamile's, and the Somalian deliciousness that is chicken suqaar, above, by The O's Davie Hinshaw.)

In the interim, check out Zagat's list of 10 cuisines that are up-and-coming. Do you know which Charlotte's already got going on?

ilios noche gets close in south Charlotte

Look for the long-awaited ilios noche at Quail Corners to open the week of Sept. 30, says the group's Stratos Lambos.
It'll have a "gorgeous" bar, an interesting bar program and the Mediterranean menu of the Providence Road original, plus more seasonal-centric stuff from chef James Jermyn, says Lambos.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Try a dozen Barbarescos -- with food, that is

Aria presents "Il Barbaresco a Tavola," a four-course "nose-to-tail" wine dinner with a blind tasting of a dozen Barbaresco wines Sept. 26. Barbaresco, from the Piedmont region, is made from the Nebbiolo grape like one of the other Italian B wines, Barolo, but is generally a bit lighter than that known-for-being-big wine.

On the menu: pork rillettes with black lentil salad; ricoltta gnudi with braised pork shoulder; herb-roasted pork ribs with mascarpone polenta and trotter jam; smoked pork loin; and dessert that includes chocolate drizzled crispy pig ears.

The wines will be listed after they've all been tasted, and this is the first in a series of four such regional wine dinners, says Aria's Briana Cohen. 100 N. Tryon St.; 704-376-8880.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Know your farms!

Find out more about where your food comes from -- Charlotte-area restaurants buy from some of these folks -- at the fifth annual Charlotte Area Know Your Farms self-guided tour: 30 farms in nine counties hold open houses Sept. 14-15, from the pretty well known (Grateful Growers in Denver, above) to the you-may-never-have-heard-of (Thomas Bee Farm in Kannapolis, below).

You can learn about growing methods you can also use in home gardens, and kids can get up close with cows, pigs, chickens, goats and more, through this venture, for which the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Piedmont Grown and the 10% Campaign are all partners.

The farms will be open 1-6 p.m. both days, and some will offer activities such as hayrides, petting zoos and cooking demos. You buy a ticket -- $25 per vehicle in advance, $30 on tour days -- and plan your route via the website. Check out the details at

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cheese shop celebrates anniversary

Orrman's Cheese Shop at the 7th Street Public Market celebrates its first year in business with the usual first-anniversary marker: melty cheese. (What, you didn't give that as a gift? You're behind the times.)

Raclette and all that goes with it will be on hand 5-7 p.m. Sept. 19; you can find more info and RSVP on the place's Facebook page here. 224 E. 7th St.; 980-226-3025.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wine celebration, dinner, series en route

Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda hosts its eighth annual Festa Italiana 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 14, billed as a celebration of Italian culture, food, music and wine. Admission is $15 and includes a tasting of three wines and a commemorative glass. Vendors will sell pastas, sandwiches, pizza, espresso, gelato and more. The vineyards are 10 minutes from the I77 and N.C. 421 interchange;

Del Frisco's plans a Sept. 18 Ramey Wine Cellars dinner, with winemaker David Ramey on hand. On the menu: scallop BLT sliders with Sonoma Chardonnay; filet mignon with Yukon Gold mash and Napa and Pedregal Cabernets Sauvignon; and more. $175;
704-552-5502; 4725 Piedmont Row Drive.

And Bonterra is launching its seasonal dinner series, with wine pairings, with a Fall Harvest Dinner Sept. 22. Chef Bill Schutz's menu includes potato and parmesan soup with NV Domaine Carneros Brut by Tattinger; wild striped bass with wild mushrooms and 2011 Solena Estate Grand Cuvee Pinot Noir, Williamette Valley; grilled saddle of venison with 2011 Paul Hobbs Felino Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina; and more. $100; 704-333-9463; 1829 Cleveland Ave.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kids eat free...

Lulu now offers Sunday dinner free (and a beverage) for kids 12 and younger, when accompanied by an adult buying a main plate. The special runs 5-7 p.m. Sundays, and Lulu's press suggests "Anti-kid people: Come to wine & dine after 7.") 1911 Central Ave.; 704-376-2242.