Saturday Brunch at BLT Steak

This past weekend I had the opportunity to try out the new Saturday brunch at BLT Steak, located inside Ritz Carlton in Uptown Charlotte. I'm still full from our meal and it's Wednesday!

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My dear friend Erin joined me on this foodie adventure. And that's exactly what it was, an adventure! We let our tour guide take the reigns and pick out items from the menu that highlight the culinary creativity and talents.

Five courses later, we were begging for a luggage cart to get us back to our cars...

We began our brunch with the beverage trifecta: water, coffee, and a mimosa. The mimosa was one of the best I've had in Charlotte: it wasn't too sweet and it had just a hint of a mix of tropical fruit flavored liquors. 

Our first course was the Eggs Benedict. The saltiness of the ham, the creamed spinach, and the cheddar biscuit made the dish extra special. The egg was perfectly poached and the Hollandaise was delicious.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

The second course consisted of Butternut Squash soup and the signature popovers. My favorite part about the soup (other than the soup part) were the garlic "chips" and the basil oil. 

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

The popovers are served with butter and sea salt. Y'all, so good! I'm also excited to try to recreate them at home, thanks to the recipe card served alongside the bread.

Popovers served with butter and sea salt.

Popovers served with butter and sea salt.

Our third course, the Tuna Tartare, may have been my favorite but that's because I'm on a tuna kick. (Ok, ok, I'm always on a tuna kick.)

The complexity of flavors in the soy-lime dressing was a definite highlight and so were the waffle chips served with the dish.

Waffle Chips

Waffle Chips

Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare

Waffle Chip 

Waffle Chip 

My lovely date, Erin Maddrey.

My lovely date, Erin Maddrey.

Up next was the Lobster "Cobb" Salad paired with the Chosen One cocktail. Taking a bite out of the salad brought me back to white beach sands with a warm ocean breeze. Meanwhile, the cocktail made me dream of an ocean front spa experience. 

Be right back, I'm off to plan a tropical beach getaway...

Lobster "Cobb" Salad

Lobster "Cobb" Salad

Chosen One

Chosen One

We ended our meal on a sweet note: Bananas Foster French Toast.

Oh. Em. Gee. So good but so sweet. 

Bananas Foster Brioche French Toast

Bananas Foster Brioche French Toast

Dessert Wine

Dessert Wine

It was my first time dining at BLT Steak and I will definitely return, both for brunch and to try their dinner menu. 

Now, if you excuse me, I have to go shopping for stretchy pants because I have twenty one Uptown restaurants left to try out this year. Eek!

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*P.S. Our meal was complimentary and my review is in no way influenced by that. The experience really was that great and so was the food.

 

 

 

 

The Daily Birch: Carousels and Pi Day

This spring I'm dusting off my suitcase and returning to air travel. It's been a few years but we're finally planning a trip outside of the Carolinas as a family. I'm both nervous and excited and a little overwhelmed because one particular trip includes traveling cross country with a toddler. Help!!

The last couple of nights included research on all of the "tools of the trade" available: travel friendly strollers, car seat backpacks, CARES harnesses, car seat travel carts with wheels, travel friendly diaper bags, etc., etc., etc. Y'all, by the time I was done reading about all of these things my eye balls were burning. And to think I have yet to read about what to pack, making take off and landing comfortable for a kid, entertainment ideas, snacks, etc. 

This trip is getting expensive and we haven't even left yet.

 

We headed to the mall this morning to check out some of the items we researched and ended up not buying anything for the trip. I did, however, find a good option for a second car seat for my husband's truck...but first I have to research it online to make sure it's good enough for our kid.

We tried Pholicious for lunch and it wasn't bad for mall pho. Definitely a healthier food court option, outside of getting a salad from a fast food restaurant. 

Charlotte didn't eat much of her lunch because she was distracted by the carousel in the middle of the food court. I tried to negotiate with her: finish your pho and we'll go for a ride. She didn't even try finishing her lunch and I gave in. 

It cost three dollars to see my child go from pure joy to pure terror then back to joy during the three minute carousel ride. There's a metaphor for life in there somewhere. 

 

We decided on Sabor for dinner since today is both Pi Day (3.14) and Taco Tuesday. Sabor has empanadas (meat hand pie!) and dollar tacos on Tuesday so it was an easy choice. They also have delicious margaritas.

We ordered four tacos, street corn, and two empanadas to feed the three of us. Our friend and her toddler joined us and we helped them eat their plate of nachos because we believe in no nachos being left behind.

 

Dollar Tacos at Sabor in NoDa

Dollar Tacos at Sabor in NoDa

Street Corn

Street Corn

Empanadas on Pi Day

Empanadas on Pi Day

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Hipster Toddler.

Hipster Toddler.

I also got a ton of work done after our outings so today goes in the "winning" category.

 

How was your day? And more importantly, how did you celebrate Pi Day?

 

 

 

Foodie Light

food-blogger-tool-portable-light-for-dark-restaurants

Spoiler alert: you don't have to have the fanciest camera or the fanciest tools to be a "serious" food blogger, especially when starting out. Whether you're a micro blogger (Instagram only) or have a blog, a few simple tools are all you need for professional results.

Recently, I "invested" in a portable light that has been a game changer. "Invested" because it was less than $10. The light has three brightness settings, fits in a small bag, and it clips on to your phone for the perfect #selfie situation. And the best part? I no longer have to ask my husband to break out his phone to light a dish.

Intrigued? Get it here.

 

Charlotte Ballet's Sleeping Beauty at the Knight Theater

The production run of Charlotte Ballet's Sleeping Beauty begins March 10th and runs through March 19th. The Knight Theater's location Uptown is perfect for an enchanted outing and I was asked to contribute to the Charlotte Ballet blog, along with three other local food bloggers. I took the kid friendly route that would be perfect for one of the matinee showings!

Leaving the kids at home? Check out the three other suggestions by clicking here.

 

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Do you have your tickets to Sleeping Beauty yet? What is your favorite Charlotte Ballet production?

Rocksalt

Rocksalt has been on my "must try " list for the past year so when the opportunity to try it presented itself, I took it! We were a little full from dinner at Chopt but we easily found room for oysters and a wine pairing to cap off our evening.  

Rappahannock (Topping, VA), Rochambeu (Yorktown, VA), Olde Salts (Chincoteague, VA)

Rappahannock (Topping, VA), Rochambeu (Yorktown, VA), Olde Salts (Chincoteague, VA)

The homemade hot sauce is out of this world!

The homemade hot sauce is out of this world!

But it didn't stop there. We were treated to a few new menu items that were scrumptious!! 

Until last night I was not a big fan of bone marrow. But this? This bone marrow was like butter. And the pickled raisins were the perfect topping.

Bone Marrow I Pickled raisins, fresno, dukkah, and grilled bread. 

Bone Marrow I Pickled raisins, fresno, dukkah, and grilled bread. 

Up next was Tuna Tartar. A favorite of mine no matter where I go but this one was so good I almost licked the plate clean. Pretty sure my fellow food bloggers would not have judged me.

Tuna Tartar | coffee vinaigrette, egg yolk, hazelnuts, chili threads.

Tuna Tartar | coffee vinaigrette, egg yolk, hazelnuts, chili threads.

I have never seen Toad in the Hole on the menu but Rocksalt has changed that. Talk about elevating something so simple to something so delicious! I love smoked fish so I was excited to find it on the dish, along with roe. 

Toad in a Hole | House-smoked trout, caper aioli, shallot, everything spice.

Toad in a Hole | House-smoked trout, caper aioli, shallot, everything spice.

The Charred Spring Onions plate was the last item that we tried before calling it a night. Another new-to-me dish and I'm hooked! If you need me, I'll be outside grilling spring onions.

Charred Spring Onion | herbed tahini, sumac, aleppo, feta

Charred Spring Onion | herbed tahini, sumac, aleppo, feta

What an experience!

Have you been to Rocksalt? If so, what's your favorite dish there?

 

Chopt: The Pacific Northwest

I love salad as much as I love bread so when I heard about a new salad restaurant concept, I was excited to learn more. There was a huge buzz around Chopt when it first opened in Charlotte but I never got a chance to try it, I live too far away.

Turns out that's a good thing because after trying it last night I can see myself eating there everyday. 

Chopt changes out their Destination's menu every two months, and this March and April they are 'traveling' to the Pacific Northwest. The main four items that they're focusing on are tamarind, red boat fish sauce, bee pollen, and smoked wild sockeye salmon. 

We tried three salads: Crunchy Vietnamese, Beekeeper's Quinoa, and Wild Smokehouse Salmon. My favorite was the Beekeeper. It's slightly spicy, which I love, and the aged Tillamoook cheddar cheese was a nice touch. The smoked salmon was also a hit in my book.  

Here are are a few photos from last night and detailed descriptions of each new salad:

Crunchy Vietnamese Salad | FreeBird grilled chicken, crispy rice crackers, pickled sweet onions, rainbow carrots, English cucumbers, romaine, kale, purple cabbage, and cilantro. Tossed in Spicy Tamarind Vinaigrette.

Crunchy Vietnamese Salad | FreeBird grilled chicken, crispy rice crackers, pickled sweet onions, rainbow carrots, English cucumbers, romaine, kale, purple cabbage, and cilantro. Tossed in Spicy Tamarind Vinaigrette.

Beekeeper's Quinoa Bowl | Tri-colored quinoa, aged Tillamook cheddar, roasted chickpeas, Mama Lil's spicy peppers, rainbow cauliflower, kale, broccoleaf, purple cabbage. Tossed in Wildflower Honey Dijon dressing and topped with bee pollen.

Beekeeper's Quinoa Bowl | Tri-colored quinoa, aged Tillamook cheddar, roasted chickpeas, Mama Lil's spicy peppers, rainbow cauliflower, kale, broccoleaf, purple cabbage. Tossed in Wildflower Honey Dijon dressing and topped with bee pollen.

Wild Smokehouse Salmon Plate | Smoked wild sockeye salmon, quinoa, lentil and millet blend, pickled sweet onions, and arugula. Tossed in Dill Caraway dressing.

Wild Smokehouse Salmon Plate | Smoked wild sockeye salmon, quinoa, lentil and millet blend, pickled sweet onions, and arugula. Tossed in Dill Caraway dressing.

The new menu items debut on Monday, March 6th and will be available through May 7th. 

 

P.S. Several folks at the event asked about my portable light that I used. It's a clip on selfie light that I got on Amazon, click here to purchase it. 

My favorite food blogger tool: a clip on selfie light. Get yours here. | Photo by Davida Jackson.

My favorite food blogger tool: a clip on selfie light. Get yours here. | Photo by Davida Jackson.

Have you been to Chopt? What's your favorite salad or build-your-own combination?

 

 

Recent Goodwill Finds

One of my favorite past times is spoiling my child with clothes, toys, and books. This hobby of mine can get expensive quickly. This is why I love to shop second hand stores like Goodwill.

Last weekend I stopped by Goodwill near our old house to see what treasures I could find. I walked away with four pieces of clothing and five books for less than $20. Score!

I have been coveting a dual Cat & Jack jacket but have not been able to find Charlotte's size at Target. Not only did I find it at Goodwill, but it was brand new and in the color that I wanted.

cat-and-jack-dual-jacket-toddler-target

I also got her two Cat & Jack cardigans and faux fur vest. All brand new!

 

One of my goals this year is to build up her library so I'm always checking out Goodwill for children's books for a fraction of the retail cost. 

Toddler Street Style: Atherton Mills

A mid-December adventure at Atherton Mills with a future fashion blogger:

toddler-fashion-blogger-atherton-mills-charlotte-nc-babyinthequeencity
toddler-street-style-blogger-atherton-mills-southend-charlotte-nc
anthropologie-atherton-mills-southend-charlotte-nc
not-just-coffee-atherton-mills

Charlotte's outfit details: 

Faux leather jacket: Genuine Kids | Long sleeve shirt: Janie & Jack | Skirt: Janie & Jack | Tights: Gap Kids | Boots: Old Navy | Hair bow: Hun and Bun

My outfit details: 

Sweater: J. Crew | Jeans: Gap | Booties: Sam & Libby | Crossbody: Kate Spade

 

The Daily Birch: Lately

"Life is going to get easier in the new year,"  I said to myself. "I'm going to have more time to blog, to take care of my self, and to get organized!" I excitedly thought to myself. 

Seven weeks in to 2017 and I finally started to put my plan together to achieve just that.

 

I spent the better half of December, and a good chunk of January, sick. By the time I started feeling better our house was overrun by the holidays, two months worth of clutter piled on top of already existing clutter, and unpacked boxes scattered around the house from our move in July. 

On a mid-January morning I woke up feeling claustrophobic and spent the whole week scrubbing, decluttering, and organizing the house. I had barely scratched the surface but I was finally able to breathe. 

 

Stop to snap the sunset. (February 10, 2017)

Stop to snap the sunset. (February 10, 2017)

Setting small habit forming goals has been my MO the past two months. Increasing water intake, decreasing alcohol consumption, spending more times outdoors, and hitting the gym have been helpful in reducing my anxiety. I can count on one hand the number of times I've felt crippling anxiety this year. Granted, there are daily stress inducing events but I've been able to handle them...for the most part.

My daily gratitude journal has been a blessing, specifically on days when it feels like nothing good happened. There are days when I don't want to reflect, I don't want to be grateful for anything, and all I want to do is just quit. But that's never an option and pushing through and finding ten things to be grateful for helped me end those bad days on a good note. Because let's be honest, I (and we) have a lot to be thankful for and we are truly blessed. Every bad day, and every challenge, makes us stronger and helps us handle the next day and the next challenge with new found strength. 

 

Finding time to blog again. :) 

Listening to minimalist moms podcast.

Learning to do more with less.

Reading Grace, Not Perfection. This book is helping me re-think the structure of my days and how I organize my life (family, friends, house, etc.). Highly recommend it!

Working on my consulting website and looking for my next digital marketing client! If you or someone you know needs help with digital and social media marketing strategy, content creation, and daily maintenance, let me know

 

What are your favorite life organizing books, podcasts, bloggers, worksheets, etc.?

 

Life With a Toddler (a Visual Essay)

Toddlers do the darnest things, including ours! There's never a shortage of entertaining moments, from her lining up the animals from the Little People Big Zoo on the lower stair step looking up towards the top to hiding half a pancake in an empty kitchen drawer.  

The other day the kid did a few funny things in a short period of time so I captured it in my Instagram sorry. If you missed it, don't fret! Here it is again: 

 

 

What are some of the funniest things that your toddler has done?