Taqueria Express, Charlotte, NC

I was heading out of the city for a dinner, I know it sounds crazy that I was going to a dinner, but I knew it would be hours before we ate and I needed something to hold me over, so I stopped at this little taqueria on Albamarle Road.  Two dollar al pastor taco and one hecho en Mexico Coca-Cola and I am in heaven.  Seasoned pork tacos heavily topped with cilantro and onion.  Man, it was all I could do not to order more.  And yes, by the time dinner rolled around that evening, I was ready to eat again!

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Porto, Portugal

My husband told me he was going to Portugal on business, so I immediately start seaching Amazon for Time Out Lisbon and checking hotels, we are emailing back and forth, then he tells me no, we aren’t going to Lisbon, we are going to Porto.  WHAT???? OMG Porto, seems like a dreamland, not a place that you really get to go.  That is the best thing about understanding wine, is really going to the city or region.  It is really amazing how it clicks when you visit.  So needless to say, I was very exciting about going to the home of Port wine.  We had an amazing visit and here is my trip documented by food and booze.  Let me say for the record, I had the best Sangria, I have ever had and I had a cocktail called a Porto Tonic made with white port that made my toes curl.  I would go back tomorrow if I could.

Porto Tonic ~There are several variant possible some like 1/2 white Porto ,1/2 tonic water, ice and lemon . Some like it with tawny, and no lemon… You be the judge.


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Belmont Soda Shoppe

I don’t even know where to begin with my delight in the Belmont Soda Shoppe.  I went to Belmont today to meet a couple for an engagement session, I had about fifteen minutes to find something to eat fast.  I poked my head in a pizza place and asked if they served slices. No, so she sent me to the soda shop for bbq sandwiches and hot dogs.  I can always eat a hot dog.

So I head down Main Street, it is a cute little space, it’s almost like you can imagine what it looks like, it used to be a pharmacy and now it’s a little counter that serves hot dogs and ice cream.  I saw a guy with some bottle soft drinks in his hand, so I walked to a reach in Coca-Cola refridgerator and I see Sundrop, Mountain Dew, tiny Coke bottles, Dr. Pepper, Orange Crush all in the bottle.  Oh my, what a big decision, so I finally decide on a Dr. Pepper, but then I get a whiff of fresh oranges and the man behind the counter is squeezing fresh oranges and then topping it with crushed sno cone ice. OMG, totally put my soda back in the box and ask for an orangeade.  I watch him, squeeze oranges for me, put a little simple syrup in my glass and then shave some ice for me and top it with a fresh orange.  It was delicious and such a special treat.

So, I scarf down an average hot dog and that beautiful drink and head out to meet my couple, we shoot some photos, walk around the small downtown, go have a bloody mary, take more photos, then end up back at the Soda Shoppe, I’m so bad, then I get a milkshake.  Also, homemade, made with love.  He tops it with a little more chocolate ice cream and a cookie. I have had so much sugar today, I think I will need to watch myself tomorrow.  I can’t wait to go back for an orangeade and I might bring a mini bottle of vodka with me.  My bride to be, ordered a cherry sno cup, no paper cones, I guess, but that shaved ice is good for everything!!!

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Tabouli, bouli.

I waited tables in a vegetarian, non smoking restaurant way before it was mandatory.  Some people would come in, we would have to explain what lemon tahini is and tabouli, bean burgers and other things the restaurant owner would make up and call it crazy names.  I was a little flippant, my standard answer for tabouli was, “do you know the phrase, if you have to ask you can’t afford it? If you don’t know what tabouli is, you don’t want it.”  They would look at me puzzled, so then I would say, “it’s cracked bulghar wheat, parsley and then they would stop me and say, :OK, I’ll have the chips.”  Too funny now, I LOVE tabouli!  I can’t get enough of  it.  Sometimes I get the craving and I just start chopping up parsley!

Easy tabouli recipe is bulghar wheat, put equal parts boiling water and bulghar in a bowl, stir and cover.  Rest for 30 minutes.

Finely chop, parsley, red onion, mint, cucumber and tomatoes. Add to  bulghar, salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Ready to eat!  I can’t eat tabouli without thinking of that crazy restaurant.

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Villa Francesca, Charlotte, NC Entertainment Coupon Success Story

Let me start by saying I love Villa Francesca, but it’s one of those restaurants that I don’t go to often enough.  I have eaten pizza by the slice many times and I always get the same thing,  Grandma’s pie, square, crushed tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil and I ask for the center piece.  I know..  LOVE!!!

Today I was with my Tuesday lunch friend, we refer to Tuesdays as Tuesdate.  Our Tuesdates consist of snobbery, low-key, cool coffee.  You know who makes the best pour over coffee or coffee art.. blah blee blah..  but it’s sooooo good.  ah aha ahhahahahhhhh boner good.  Anyway, we meet for coffee, go to thrift stores and thumb through the coupon book to see if anything catches our eye.

We aren’t very hungry so we decide on a cheese pizza and salad at Villa Francesca’s with a coupon.  Woot, woot, save money and have delicious cheese pizza.  We end up picking up a new friend at the coffee shop, so our budget lunch turns into a whole brick oven pie with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, old school mozzarella and fresh basil and two salads, bread knots and a cannoli.  How did that happen?

Sometimes people bark about not being able to find great pizza in North Carolina, I swear they aren’t lookin’.

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Valentine Candy

When I was a kid my dad would buy us candy every year.  I was one of those people who take a bite and put it back if it wasn’t to my liking.  One year dad brought us generic brown boxes from Russell Stover filled with chocolate covered marshmallow hearts.  He told my mom and sister not to tell me there were two layers. You can imagine my chagrin when I discovered the bottom layer, this instilled my love for Valentine’s day.

To this day I am no different, I might like it for different reasons.  Let’s just say I am a little cynical.  I loathe the term “make love”, absolutely hate when people write personal ads and say they love horseback riding, holding hands and walks on the beach.  I would rather be kicked in the skull.

But don’t get me wrong, I LOVE, I mean, big ass heart, Valentine’s day.  I love vintage Valentine’s, I cannot walk past conversation hearts in a store without stopping and reading the bag.  Even just a glance, pick me, fax me, big love, true love, friend me, reach for it, hold hands, puppy love, crazy 4 u….who writes these goofy sayings?

Last night while driving home and I decided to stop by Walgreen’s and check out their half off Valentine’s day merchandise.  Some M&Ms found their way into my basket.  A little side note, always buy festive candy, it’s always fresher.  Suddenly a serious craving came over me, I wanted some official Valentine candy.  Even though I am always disappointed in those kinds of candy, but I could imagine me biting into them and feeling the pleasure of finding out what was inside.  I pushed it aside, but then I was like half off, three bucks, I can buy a tiny heart of candy.

Such a big decision, I went with Hershey’s, I figured they were less likely to suck.  I was driving home, I ripped open the protective covering and took a whiff, it smelled heavenly.  I couldn’t eat any, because sugar really jacks me up at night. But today on February 16, I will snack on some Valentine candy.  I can’t wait.  I’m sure the half off mark down will make it taste even sweeter.

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Shake Your Bon Bon

Citypass Coupon Book 2011

Bistro La Bon on Central Ave. made the cut today for our coupon book lunch.  Lovely little restaurant, well really not so little, the restaurant is long.  Great space, with plenty of windows and natural light. Dark wooden tables, no frills kind of place, I really like it.

I have eaten there numerous times, enough to say they take pride and care in preparing the food, they always use fresh ingredients and present your plate in a tasty manner.  Some of my favorite items have been, chocolate waffles at brunch, mussels appetizer sitting at the bar and today I had a yummy curry chicken salad, open-face on a brioche toast circle.  Simple good food, fair pricing and good service. 

With our coupon today, our tab was less than a ten spot.  Thanks Bistro La Bon!

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