Soul Food Sessions Tour | Seared Scallops with Purple Carrot Chutney

There are a few things that I find intimidating when it comes to cooking and chutney is one of those things. I'm not sure why I've shied away from making it. It could be that it sounds complex and I thought it was difficult to make. Or may be it's because it feels like something from far away lands where I have yet to travel to and I have nothing to compare it to to ensure that I made it correctly. 

Those fears were put aside when I got the chance to re-create Chef Greg William's, of the What the Fries CLT food truck fame, Seared Scallops with Purple Carrot Chutney recipe. 

Turns out chutney doesn't have to be complicated or inaccessible. If you love balsamic vinegar and scallops, this recipe is for you!

 

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This delicious appetizer pairs perfectly with a Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which brings out the richness of the scallops combined with the boastful flavors of ginger and garlic in the chutney. This dish will also be served as part of a multi-course dinner on the first tour stop of the Soul Food Sessions tour at Free Range Brewing on June 19th

 

What is soul food?

Most people think of soul food as fried chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese, and watermelon. But it's so much more than that. According to Chef Jamie Barnes, "Soul food is whatever you cook from the heart, from your soul."

I couldn't agree more.


 

What is Soul Food Sessions?

Soul Food Sessions is a nonprofit organization that started in 2017 to break stereotypes and enhance opportunities for African American chefs. Their pop-up dining experiences aim to foster open conversation about challenges in achieving equal opportunity in the food industry while showcasing the chefs' diverse culinary talents. 

Coca-Cola Consolidated has partnered with Soul Food Sessions for an east coast dinner tour to help with their mission to increase diversity in the culinary industry. The Table is Set: A Four-City Tour Served with a Coke will begin in the organization's hometown of Charlotte on June 19th and continue on to Washington D.C. on July 26, Baltimore on July 29, and Charleston in late October. No two stops will be the same! Soul Food Sessions has partnered with an African American chef in each market to develop the menu, host the event, and lead the conversation.

But the partnership does not end there! Soul Food Sessions will grant a minimum of $10,000 in scholarships to culinary students across all four markets.

Full press release can be found here.

 

Tickets

Tickets for the June 19th dinner can be purchased here. There are only 100 tickets available for this event so don't delay, get yours today! 

 

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Recipes:

Seared Scallops with Purple Carrot Chutney

Potato Leek Soup

Balsamic Vinaigrette

 

Thank you to Coca-Cola Consolidated for sponsoring the tour, the scholarship, and this post.

Tandur Indian Kitchen

I'll be the first to admit that I know very little about Indian cuisine. I've had Indian food plenty of times (I love it!) but I never know what to order and tend to lean towards restaurants with buffets so that I could try as many different items as possible instead of feeling completely lost when staring at a menu.

Earlier this year I started to hear buzz around a new fast casual Indian restaurant concept opening near SouthPark Mall and couldn't wait to try it. Finally, last Tuesday, Charlotte and I got a chance to give Tandur Indian Kitchen a try and it was totally worth the drive from Harrisburg!

First, the menu. It's very easy to navigate and the sauce descriptions are easy to understand for someone who doesn't know much about Indian cuisine (like me!). There's authentic saucy entrees that are served with a choice of protein, saffron basmati rice or brown rice, and fresh naan (regular or garlic). The wraps are inspired by different regions of India plus one wrap inspired by the Carolinas. If you're hungry, try the Biryani rice bowls. If you're looking for something lighter give their salads a try. And finally, there's a variety of kebabs to choose from including tofu!

If you can't decide on a sauce for your entree, ask for a taste! That's what Charlotte and I did. We tried the Korma (saffron curry, fennel, and cardamom), Vindaloo (hot and sour jus), and Kadai (red onions, bell peppers, and chili tomato oil). Charlotte tried all three sauces and settled on Korma as her favorite. She basically drank the sauce while I studied the menu. 

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We started with two of the starters: the Spiced Okra Fries and the Tanduri Wings. Both starters were unique in their own way. 

The okra fries are very different from the southern fried okra that one may be accustomed to. They are thinly sliced and fried and not at all greasy. 

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tandur-charlotte-nc-spiced-okra-fries-toddler-approved

The wings are marinated and baked and served with a delightful tamarind ranch. They're also huge and one can easily make a meal out of them!

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For my entree I ordered lamb meatballs with Kadai sauce. The entree was served with saffron basmati rice and fresh naan. 

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Charlotte opted for the kid's chicken with korma sauce, served with a side of rice, and half of my mint ginger sparkling lemonade.

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tandur-charlotte-nc-sparkling-mint-ginger-lemonade

The meal was delicious, the service was great, and we took our sauces home and repurposed them a few days later for dinner. Hashtag delicious!

Whether you're new to Indian food or not, you're sure to find something delicious to eat at Tandur for the entire family.

Thank you to Scott and the entire team at Tandur for your hospitality and to the Social Ape team for arranging everything!

P.S. Their second location will be opened in ballantyne later this year! 

 

Would you like to like to see more toddler and kid friendly restaurant reviews? 

 

 

I received this meal at no charge. All opinions are my own.  

Friday Brunch at Haberdish

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that Haberdish is one of my favorite restaurants in town. So much so that I'm currently on a five week streak of eating there and I can't wait to go back again this week. My favorite thing about the restaurant, other than the food and the decor, is the fact that you can order a la cart so anyone can enjoy eating there regardless of budget.

As many times as I've dined at Haberdish, this was my first time trying their brunch. We were there for my girlfriend's birthday and we went all out... on a Friday morning. Because why not?!

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Here's what we drank and ate:

 Blonde Bloody Mary | Cathead Vodka, local heirloom yellow tomato mix, lime, and olives.

Blonde Bloody Mary | Cathead Vodka, local heirloom yellow tomato mix, lime, and olives.

Cathead vodka, local heirloom yellow tomato mix, limes, and olives.

 Blonde Bloody Mary

Blonde Bloody Mary

I have a new favorite Bloody Mary and she's blonde. She's less acidic and much sweeter. Add a dash of Haberdish's homemade hot sauce and you're in business! 

 Counter Culture COffee

Counter Culture COffee

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haberdish-noda-charlotte-nc-brunch-coffee

Counter Culture organic, direct-trade coffee served in a thermos.

 Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

A side of mac & cheese to start off brunch.

 Livermush Patty

Livermush Patty

Livermush Patty set with Carolina gold rice.

 Grits

Grits

Slow-cooked Anson Mills grits.

 Two Eggs Any Style

Two Eggs Any Style

Cage-free, local eggs, your way.

 Biscuits with Gravy

Biscuits with Gravy

Biscuits with housemade sausage milk gravy.

 Bacon

Bacon

Edward's thick-cut country bacon.

 Thing Cut Country Ham

Thing Cut Country Ham

Edward's dry-cured, thin charcuterie-style country ham.

 Daily Fruit: Bruleed Grapefruit with PInk Himalayan Salt

Daily Fruit: Bruleed Grapefruit with PInk Himalayan Salt

Daily fruit: bruleed grapefruit with pink Himalayan salt.

 Classic Mimosas

Classic Mimosas

 Chicken & Waffle

Chicken & Waffle

Chicken & Waffle: waffle, de-boned fried chicken thigh, slaw, bread & butter pickles, with a choice of honey butter syrup or maple syrup.

 Waffle with Fruit

Waffle with Fruit

Waffle with fruit: two waffles, fruit compote, and whip cream with a choice of honey butter syrup or maple syrup.

 Brunch Babes

Brunch Babes

Happy birthday, Ally!!

 

Mr. Tokyo: All You Can Eat Sushi

When you boast on Twitter about getting all of your meal planning complete and groceries purchased and a friend asks if you want to go to dinner you obviously say YES! This is exactly what happened a few Fridays ago when my friend Joey suggested we go out for sushi.

We both live on the outskirts of Charlotte where sushi options are slim. You have the usual suspects with "fusion" menus where a restaurant crams as many Asian flavors on the menu as possible, instead of focusing on one or two regions, and it tastes...Americanized. They try to be too many things to too many people at the lowest price possible. This is not how we like our sushi and why, when the craving hits, we head into town to get our fix.

Having said all that, our side of town is growing. New shopping centers bring new restaurants, some new and some existing concepts that work in other parts of town. One one of those restaurants is Mr. Tokyo. The original location is in south Charlotte and has a great reputation for quality sushi so when they opened another location on our side of town I knew we were in trouble. And by trouble I mean having to wear non-elastic pants to eat there.

There are two dinning options: all you can eat sushi and hibachi or ordering off of their standard menu.

Obviously we chose the all you can eat option. I typically eat $30-50 worth of sushi in one sitting so paying $18.99 (plus a little extra for the few "premium items") is totally doable.

Gluttons beware! They will charge you $0.50-$1.00 for leftover sushi to curb over ordering. Better to under order and order more, than over order and pay more.

Here's everything that I ate:

 Yellowtail Jalapeno

Yellowtail Jalapeno

 Tiger Roll | Spicy Tuna, crunch, mango with tuna, salmon, crunch, masago on top  Dragon Roll | Eel, cucumber, crabmeat with sliced avocado on top, eel sauce  Spicy Tuna Hand Roll

Tiger Roll | Spicy Tuna, crunch, mango with tuna, salmon, crunch, masago on top

Dragon Roll | Eel, cucumber, crabmeat with sliced avocado on top, eel sauce

Spicy Tuna Hand Roll

 Sashimi | salmon & octopus

Sashimi | salmon & octopus

The octopus sashimi was the only disappointing thing that evening. 

 Samurai Roll | Spicy salmon, crunch, mango with salmon, avocado, coconut chips on top

Samurai Roll | Spicy salmon, crunch, mango with salmon, avocado, coconut chips on top

The texture of the coconut chips threw me off a bit, however, I did enjoy their flavor on the roll.

 BBQ Squid

BBQ Squid

Needless to say, Joey and I sat and talked for about an hour after devouring dinner because we couldn't move. 

I'm excited to have something on our side of town that's delicious and has a great reputation. Can't wait to try the rest of their menu!

 

Where: 10012 Benfield Rd, Ste 300, Charlotte, NC 28269

 

Have you been to Mr. Tokyo? What's your favorite sushi roll there?

 

Legion Brewing's Brunch and Brews

My list of favorite Charlotte breweries is as short as my criteria and Legion Brewing in Plaza Midwood makes the cut. They have a great selection of different types of beer (not just one or two decent brews), great atmosphere, and easy access to delicious food. 

This past Sunday I was invited to try out Legion's brunch menu and it did not disappoint! I was the first to arrive and was greeted with a Beermosa and a pretty tablescape. 

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First Course

Mixed Berry Parfait: Greek yogurt, fresh mixed berries, and housemade honey almond granola. Paired with Grambo, a Graham Cracker Amber.

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Second Course

Breakfast Slider: bacon, cage free egg, cheddar, tomato, and black pepper aioli. Paired with Carolina Sparkle Party, a Berliner Weisse dressed with blueberry lavender simple syrup.

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legion-brewing-brunch-and-brews-carolina-sparkle-party

Third Course

Southwest Grit Bowl: chorizo, cage free egg, cheddar cheese, housemade salsa, fresh jalapeno slices, topped with avocado. Paired with my favorite Legion brew: Juicy Jay, an East Coast IPA.

legion-brewing-brunch-and-brews-southwest-grit-bowl

This was my favorite course because it was savory yet light. I also loved that there was plenty of spice from the chorizo and the fresh jalapenos. 

Fourth Course

Maple Canyon Waffle: Belgian waffle, Maple Canyon chocolate reduction, housemade chantilly cream, and maple candied bacon. Paired with Maple Canyon, a maple syrup brown ale.

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To say I was full would be an understatement. My favorite part about brunch was the liberal use of bacon and the variety achieved with a carefully edited brunch menu.

 

 Bloggers doing blogger things.

Bloggers doing blogger things.

After brunch we were given a private tour of the brewery, got to ask questions about their processes, and get as many scoops as we could on their newest location in SouthPark. Can't wait to see the new space in late summer/early fall!

legion-brewing-brunch-and-brews-new-southpark-location-scoop

Brunch is served from 10am till 2pm every Sunday.

Have you tried brunch at Legion Brewing?

 

Charlotte Eats: Ararat 17

All of the local Russian Facebook groups have been buzzing about a new Armenian restaurant that opened recently in Matthews so naturally we had to check it out ourselves.

Ararat17 is located in a strip mall, next to a Harris Teeter, as most great restaurants do. The name is inspired by Mount Ararat and 2017, the year that the restaurant opened. The space is small, however, they are rumored to be planning an expansion into the space next door. 

ararat17-matthews-charlotte-nc-armenian-restaurant-interior

The menu is large and spans Armenian, Georgian, Mediterranean, and Russian cuisines. The pricing is reasonable and the portions are generous.

Here's what we ordered on this visit:

A bottle of Revah Pomegranate wine from, you guessed it, Armenia.

ararat17-matthews-charlotte-nc-armenian-restaurant-pomegranate-wine

Our first course was Tabbuli, one of my absolute favorite salads.

 Tabbuli | Chopped parsley, onions, mint, diced tomatoes, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, & cracked wheat.

Tabbuli | Chopped parsley, onions, mint, diced tomatoes, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, & cracked wheat.

The second course consisted of two meat pies. We originally ordered the Khinkali (Georgian dumplings) but they were all out. Next time!

 Meat Pie | Stuffed with ground beef.

Meat Pie | Stuffed with ground beef.

We tried two entrees: Cornish chicken tabaka and fresh sturgeon shish kabobs. The chicken was perfectly cooked and inspired me to re-create the recipe at home. The sturgeon was served with a sauce that was amazing and I forgot to ask what it was. All I know is that it is a reduction of some sort of a fruit.

 Cornish Chicken Tabaka 

Cornish Chicken Tabaka 

 Fresh Sturgeon Shish Kabob

Fresh Sturgeon Shish Kabob

Each entree is served with three sides and we tried as many as we could: hummus, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, french fries (for the toddler!), and rice balls.

The standout stars were rice balls and coleslaw. Yes, slaw! It's another dish I will try to re-create at home: cabbage, green apple, carrots, corn, and parsley tossed in a house dressing. Yum.

For dessert we ordered the chef's special. We didn't catch the name of the dessert but as soon as we took a bite we were transported back in time. It was almost identical to a cake my grandmother use to make for special occasions and holidays. It was a lovely trip down memory lane and a sweet way to end a great meal.

ararat17-matthews-charlotte-nc-armenian-restaurant-chefs-special-dessert

We're already planning our next visit, this time with a larger group so we can try even more menu items and share them family style.

 

 

Weekend Eats: Brunch at Napa on Providence

It's been a while since I've had a proper brunch since having the baby so when I saw two friends tweeting about brunch, I jumped into the conversation. After sliding into each others' DMs, we set a date.

A proper brunch requires a proper restaurant. Napa on Providence is one of my all time favorite spots because they have bottomless mimosas and a large menu that pleases most.

We started out with a round of waters and coffee:

napa-on-povidence-charlotte-nc-brunch-latte
napa-on-povidence-charlotte-nc-brunch-coffee

Then we proceeded to order non-brunch food...

I've had their daily quiche before and highly recommended it (it's HUGE!) but wanted to try something different this time. I ordered the Salem Hills Farm steak burger and subbed out the fries for breakfast potatoes. It was delicious. My only complaint is that the bun fell apart before I could finish my burger. 

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The burger was topped with white cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, mesclun greens, tomato, crispy onions, and sriracha aioli. 

 

After almost five hours, we decided to return back to reality and head back to our adult responsibility. 

Brunch mission accomplished.

 

Have you been to Napa on Providence? If so, what's your favorite item on the menu?

Charlotte Eats: Haberdish

Y'all, I'm obsessed with Haberdish in NoDa. If given the choice, we would eat there every time we find ourselves in the area.

Haberdish serves southern inspired food, including killer fried chicken and homemade hot sauce. And, in addition to great food, they have fantastic cocktails. The space is beautifully designed and a photographer's dream. (And a genius marketing move because the urge to Instagram ALL THE THINGS is hard to resist.)

haberdish-noda-charlotte-nc

I recently introduced my mom to their food and I have a feeling we'll be back, a lot.

Here's what we drank and ate on our most recent visit...

Spring Fever: El Jimador resposado, lime, jalapeno, ginger beer, black cardamon vanilla orange syrup, topped with cilantro.

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You can request a flower ice ball with most cocktails.

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Ransom Gin Smash: Old Tom Ransom Gin, mint, sugar, flaked ice.

haberdish-noda-charlotte-nc-gin-smash-cocktail

Hushpuppies served with sweet tea butter.

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Fried Chicken Half: brined, battered, and fried.

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Daily Pickles: Spicy Herb

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Daily Hot Side: roasted cauliflower mash with cheddar, scallions, and chives.

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Charlotte loves the hot sauce, the large windows, and free wi-fi:

haberdish-noda-charlotte-nc-CLM

Have you been to Haberdish? If so, what's your favorite dish/cocktail?

 

Dinner at Eez + a Train Concert

I'm never not craving sushi and I'm never not celebrating my birthday without a roll, or five, because that's just how I roll. 

Sushi jokes? I've got 'em!

One of my favorite places for sushi is Eez Fusion & Sushi in Huntersville. The services is great, the fish is fresh, and the unique menu caters to everyone (even those who do not like sushi!). It's a safe and delicious choice.

Here's what we drank and ate...

That Mezcal Drank: mezcal, cilantro, citrus juice, soda, agave and harissa.

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Spicy Poke Dip: spicy tuna poke with salmon and yellowtail, seaweed salad, served with wonton chips.

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Pork Potstickers: 10 pork potstickers with ginger citrus dipping sauce.

eez-fusion-sushi-huntersville-nc-potstickers

And then I built my own roll, to match my blog's name, because that's just who I am as a person. ;)

I call this one The Birch. 

Inner: white fish, mint, inari (sweet tofu)
Wrapper: seaweed
Rice: white
Outer: Tobiko

The flavor combination is definitely unique and a first for me. It is sweet, salty, and savory.

eez-fusion-sushi-huntersville-nc-build-your-own-roll

Tropical Storm Roll: kani, avocado and cucumber inside, topped with yellowfin tuna, salmon, yellowtail, Japanese mayo, sweet eel sauce, sriracha and tobiko. Served with wasabi yuzu

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Cash Money Roll: tempura salmon, cucumber, cilantro and spicy mayo inside, topped with avocado, cashews, mango salsa and sweet eel sauce. Served with ponzu dipping sauce

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Chef's Deluxe Sushimi Mix.

eez-fusion-sushi-huntersville-nc-chefs-deluxe-sashimi-mix

Not pictured: miso soup and the Skinny Gonzales drink.

It was a lovely dinner with my mom, Brandon, and Charlotte. We enjoyed the food and watching Charlotte eating spicy poke and sashimi with chopsticks. I'm still in awe that my child loves sushi but not mac and cheese.

eez-fusion-sushi-huntersville-nc-toddler-eating-sushi
eez-fusion-sushi-huntersville-nc-toddler-sashimi-chopsticks

We skipped dessert because we were so full! We took a walk around Birkdale and popped into a few stores before heading home.

birkdale-village-huntersville-nc-toddler-shopping

We live near PNC Music Pavilion and pass it on the way home. There was heavy traffic near the venue so we knew there was a concert happening. A quick search on Google revealed that it was OAR and Train. 

I had a rather difficult week and an impromptu adventure was just what the doctor ordered. We bought tickets from a re-seller on the street for $20 dollars, found an amazing parking spot, and an awesome spot on the lawn. Our Monkey Picnic Blanket came in handy...

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I've always enjoyed Train's music and that evening was no different. Honestly, I didn't realize how many hits they had, or how the lyrics were just what I needed to hear at that moment, or just long it's been since Brandon and I have been to a show together.

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What's your favorite roll at Eez? Have you ever created your own? If so, what was it made out of?