Archives for category: Southern
 From one of my favorite blogs…Mrs. Blandings…

 

I do not have a back yard swing, but rather one on my front porch.  As the days are getting warmer, I find myself there creating the most relaxing rhythm with only the slight push of my toe.  As a friend mentioned the other day, “The soothing contemplation done from a porch swing compares to nothing else in the world.”  I’m finding this is true.

A reoccurring springtime rumination is where to find good skirts.  I like skirts.  In fact, I like skirts best.  Perhaps the years of wearing uniform skirts, picked up from the floor of my bedroom and pulled on for the second or third day, left an impression of ease and reliability.  One day in high school, walking down a long breezeway, a particularly sour sort of girl said from behind me, “I wish I had a swing like that in my backyard.” It had embarrassed me at the time, but now I think she would have been a lot more fun if she had.

Skirts then appeared by magic (otherwise known as “Mother”) and hung, briefly, three in a row on the low bar in my closet.  Now I must find them myself. So many are either too expensive or two short.  But today, this gem landed in my e:mailbox and a quick click turned up several attractive cousins as well.  Ann Mashburn, no surprise.  Here.

I’m proud to say that little ole Charlotte NC has the same bike program as Paris France (I believe they call it Velo) whereby you rent a bike and ride around, and return it to the location of your choice. I haven’t tried it yet, but its on my to-do list (I promise)!

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Bike Share Bland StationIt’s hard to believe that Charlotte’s bike share program (Charlotte B-Cycle) is a year old! It’s been cool to watch this program take off as I’ve seen folks on B-Cycles all over town. This Wednesday, Charlotte B-Cycle is hosting a press conference at 10am at the New Bern Light Rail Station to celebrate their first anniversary and to share some exciting news about expanding bike share stations. Come join us to celebrate and to learn about the expansion. The official save the date with details is below.

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Charlotte B-cycle anniversary celebration and press conference

Join Charlotte B-cycle as we mark the one-year anniversary of the system and announce our first new station and expansion plans

When:             Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10 a.m.

Where:            New Bern light rail station, 129 New Bern Street in South End

Who:  

Michael Smith, President & CEO, Charlotte Center City Partners

Dianna Ward, Executive Director, Charlotte B-cycle

Jasmine…

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The Grove Park Inn has ALWAYS been great, but its getting even better.  We were just there this past week and I wanted to tell you about some new things going on.  First of all, they’ve built gorgeous decks outside where you can enjoy cocktails, nibbles and the stunning mountain views…

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I was also told that they are opening a BRAND NEW restaurant this week (soft opening) called EDISON that is going to feature craft beers and cocktails as well as a new spin on southern comfort food.

In case you didn’t know, the Grove Park is having its centennial celebration this year with new signature cocktails, commemorative glasses and ongoing events.  Furthermore, should you decide to spend a weekend here, make sure to book well in advance for a day at their award-winning (seriously) over the top spa.

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Yes, the prices seem extortionist, but trust me when I tell you that it is worth paying $80 for a pedicure when you can spend the whole day pampering yourself on the premises, and you must indulge!  There are indoor pools, waterfalls, outdoor pools with striking views of distant mountains…you will not regret it.

As for the food, we had lunch on the terrace after waiting for a while in the massive lobby sipping on a craft cocktail and house made pimento cheese and chips…a shout out to Nelson for some snappy waitering!

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Then for lunch, we had a variety of items from the gargantuan burger, to the beet salad and trout entree, all of which were lovely and delicious…

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The house made fries are cooked in duck fat, just sayin…

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And let me tell you, you will have died and gone to heaven after eating their insanely good biscuits with honey/butter/pepper spread (notice I couldn’t get a picture before it was half gone)!

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I promise they don’t pay me to say any of this (although they should!).  The place is just awesome in my opinion.  I have stayed there, but its been a while.  I’ve heard they’ve updated all the rooms recently, and I can vouch that the lobby has been redone with a contemporary adirondack vibe (if there’s such a thing, imagine John Saladino crossed with Frank Lloyd Wright).

Book now and thank me later. Maybe I’ll send you ideas on where to eat in Asheville, which was recently voted one of the best foodie towns (by Food and Wine I believe).

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Disregard the fire trucks…the renovation kicked up dust and set off a false alarm that day!

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No posts as of late means either extreme procrastination (not the case) or vacation.  My mini-escape was to the lovely Outer Banks (known as OBX on car stickers) of North Carolina, namely the Southern Shores/Duck area, which is devoid of hotels, except for the (awesome) Sanderling Hotel, and the (just ok) Hilton Garden Inn in Southern Shores.  This is the place to go when you want to rent a house and focus on R and R.  We did just that…

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Here is the gorgeous view from our deck…

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Requisite beach read, which was surprisingly good, and the best smelling sunscreen on the planet (yes, better than those coconut ones!) and some rays…you get the idea.

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And family, my gorgeous gal wearing her “I got your crabs” tee…ok, so let me explain right now that  there is a trend (far too widespread for my taste) to name your seafood restaurant an off-color name…Dirty Dicks, Awful Arthurs, etc. and then sell a tee shirt with a similarly suggestive slogan, like above.  Well, this particular place, “I got your crabs” is new, and is seriously good, reasonable and way too small of a local hangout.  I hate eating off of plastic, but aside from that glaring issue, the food was great, in a ‘fried seafood’ kind of way.  And we pretty much had everything off the menu…scallops, shrimp bisque, fried fish, snow crab, blue crab, sides, etc.

If you want haute, head over to the Blue Point in Duck for decor and extraordinary dishes with a southern flair.

Somehow this week got away from me without a decent post, except last weekend’s wrap-up, but my excuse is that I was writing my thesis (you’ll be hearing that pretty much all summer) and cooking!

Here are a few things I made…

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This SERIOUSLY good coconut and rum loaf is from the blog, Food, Fashion and Flirts (shout-out to her for some great cooking!!).  I DID NOT put chilis in the recipe (since I’m not a fan of heat, especially in desserts…it must be a British thing) and it is more of a sponge cake than a ‘loaf’ like Banana Bread.  My daughter, who is a health nut and normally poo-poos sweet stuff I cook, asked me if I could bake one every week!

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The next day, my daughter had her boyfriend-du-jour over and I made this risotto with ground beef and carrots and herbs from the garden.  I am totally making this one again!  Think of it like bolognese without the tomato, or not.  As for the recipe, I adapted it from the blog, Dinner of Herbs (another good cooking site!), except I cooked the ground beef and carrots together so that the carrots wouldn’t be crunchy and added the mixture at the end with herbs from the garden (chives, parsley, thyme and a rosemary garnish).  I also used a ‘normal’ risotto method…lots of adding (homemade) chicken broth and stirring…any recipe will have a decent version.  One cup of dry risotto serves four generous portions.  If you’ve never tried to make risotto at home, let me assure you that it seems WAY more complicated than it actually is.  The only key is knowing that once you put the rice in the pan, you MUST have someone at the stove stirring until it is done…no exceptions, or it will burn/stick to the bottom of the pan.

The secret is to make sure that whatever ‘stuff’ you’re putting in at the end is prepared beforehand (like the hamburger mixture).  It is an awesome dish to make at home.  I highly recommend it.  Think of it like Italian comfort food…

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Last, but certainly not least, we took a drive up to High Rock Lake, which is a BEAUTIFUL lake that borders the Uwharrie National Forest near Lexington NC and we, of course, had to stop off for some NC food at Jimmy’s BBQ.  If you’re traveling on I-85 through NC, its just off the highway, and boy, its worth a stop.

Now to be fair, on Sunday (THE) Lexington BBQ is closed, but Jimmy’s serves up ‘Sunday Lunch’, which I had above…fried chicken, 3 veggies, hush puppies and dessert for $7.75…hard to believe.  Sorry the picture is blurry, but I was rushing :-).

If you’re in the area, its located on Highway 8 just off exit #103 in Lexington NC.

In no particular order…

Saw Great Gatsby…after all the hype, I wasn’t that impressed.  Yes, LC is delicious, but honestly, the sound track was distracting as was the overt over-the-top visual stimuli…

The Washington Post thought it should be this generation’s Rocky Horror Picture Show…pretty funny!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2013/05/25/the-great-gatsby-should-be-the-new-rocky-horror-picture-show/

Took a lovely bike ride with my daughter…I ride, she runs.  It’s great…we talk, we connect, I take her mind off of running… 

Gelato at the new Bella Fresca Cafe…in a word, yum! (it’s at the Arboretum, for you Charlotte folks)

Stopping by Starbucks to see my other barista daughter and have a custom made iced caramel macchiato…

Catching up on “Once upon a Time”…my daughter and I are slightly obsessed…can’t wait to see what happens this fall.  They’re running out of fairy tales to pull from, unless they start converging on ‘Grimm’ territory!

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Lunch outside with my wonderful family on Memorial Day!  I made homemade lemonade (that was a hit!), doing a Paula Deen thing (not sure why but it was all good) with her Daddy’s BBQ chicken (really not BBQ, its made with Worcestershire/butter/lemon), her cold almond broccoli salad, Bon Appetit’s cabbage and corn slaw with cilantro and orange dressing (also a hit!) and for dessert, Bon Appetit’s nectarine and blackberry crisp (I used apricots in place of the nectarines) which was awesome served warm with vanilla ice cream….

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I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend, and blessings to our former, present and future military for all they do to protect this wonderful land we call home!

I agree with Barrie’s suggestions, but a few VIP’s (very important places) were left off of the list:
Amelie’s…only the most insanely decadent bakery cum 24/7 awesome Charlotte hangout (NODA-that’s North of Davidson for you non-Charlotte folks)
Dean & Deluca…sure, its a NYC transplant, but there’s NO BETTER PEOPLE-WATCHING in town than the Southpark location, which recently unveiled a massive renovation, replete with top notch wine bar.
Pasta and Provisions…homemade pasta, check. All things Italian, check. Impromptu dinner party, this is your place (in Myers Park).
Cottage Chic…lovely one-of-a-kind shop in Dilworth that ALWAYS has something I want. From home to apparel to accessories, a must shop!
Hidden Gem…McGill Rose Garden in NODA; over 1000 varieties of roses and herbs, and I swear, even born and raised Charlotteans don’t know about it!

The Daily South

Countdown to SummerIn our Charlotte Summer in the South guide we tapped interior designer Barrie Benson for tips on the best shopping spots in Charlotte. If it’s a great deal you are after, Barrie recommends going to Hong Kong Vintage & Recycled on Central Avenue for chic accessories and breezy sundresses.

To splurge on lust-worthy designer pieces such SUNO dresses, Nina Ricci skirts, and Lizzie Fortunato baubles, hit up Capitol Charlotte run by the ever-stylish Laura Vinroot Poole (find Laura’s Southern style essentials here).

Find more of Barrie’s picks, including where to stock up on summer wines, where to go on a Sunday drive, and what flavor Italian ice to try at Atherton’s Market—in our Charlotte Summer in the South guide.

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