Monday, August 10, 2015

A Summer Girls' Weekend

Guess who made an appearance in Charlotte this weekend . . . Mom and Bailey!  A couple weeks ago we determined that a girls' weekend was in order, so in no time we had plans for a perfect summer weekend.  Mom and Bailey arrived around dinner time after a four-hour drive, so I prepared vegetable bowls for us to enjoy on the deck as the sun set.  Sweet potatoes, broccoli, beats, and lima beans were topped with a lemon tahini sauce.

Sunflour Baking Company has been on my list of places to visit for quite some time.  Rumor has it that they have some of the best pastries and the most creamy soy lattes in town.  We enjoyed a wonderful lazy breakfast of an almond croissant and latte (for me) and an egg/provolone/spinach/roasted tomato sandwich on rosemary bread and dirty chai latte (for Mom).  Based on the number of pastries that made my mouth water, I'll definitely be back during my last year in Charlotte.  Afterwards, we wandered through the Elizabeth neighborhood with Bailey.

I was quite indecisive when choosing a restaurant for dinner that evening, but eventually we settled on Carpe Diem.  I've been here once before during restaurant week and the service left much to be desired, but fortunately, this visit was far better.  A glass of Riesling for each of us provided a sweet start to the evening.

We started by sharing the Grilled Grape Salad - romaine, arugula, grilled grapes, Bermuda onion, toasted pistachios, white balsamic reduction, and blue cheese vinaigrette.  

Our next course was the Grilled Octopus - spring onions, asparagus, smoked eggplant, romesco.  The octopus was perfectly tender and then smokiness of the eggplant was a unique twist.

For my entree, I chose the pistachio crusted North Carolina trout with a pineapple beurre blanc, Carolina Gold middlins rice, and a kohlrabi-turnip-apple salad.  The salad was a crisp accompaniment to the warm fish and rice and the sauce left me dreaming of a bit more for dipping each bite.

Mom's entree was the Vegetarian Anson Mills Rice Grits with oyster mushrooms, sea island red peas, swiss chard, cippolini onions, roasted garlic, aromatic white wine broth, and aged gouda.  A perfect comfort meal!

The next morning we went for a 4.5 mile walk along the greenway, planted a few new flowering plants on my deck, wandered through some stores in South End, and then satisfied our hungry stomachs with lunch at Luna's Living Kitchen.  If you're looking for a unique raw vegetarian meal, look no further than this gem at Atherton Mill.  I promise, you won't be disappointed!  Since we were both considered the same dishes, we split the Rawco Taco Salad and Pad Thai.

Rawco Taco Salad - slices of avocado, pico de gallo, meaty walnut-almond crumbles, and cashew sour cream atop a bed of organic lettuce, served with hot sauce and raw crackers

Pad Thai - crisp zucchini and sweet potato noodles, bean sprouts, purple cabbage, and bell peppers served with our house almond-butter pad thai sauce - garnished with fresh cilantro and a dash of our spicy samba sauce.

We returned bearing a new squeaking ball for Bailey, and she wasted no time being as loud and obnoxious as possible while playing fetch.

It was an ideal summer evening with temperatures in the mid 80s and low humidity, so we decided that we'd begin the evening at Foxcroft Wine Bar sampling a handful of red wines.  We started with two different Cabernet's, followed that with a red blend, and concluded with an Italian blend.  And since drinking wine requires a savory snack, we munched on truffle fries.  Yum!

Sisters or Daughter and Mother?  
Eventually we made our way to Stagioni for our 8pm dinner reservations.  This is yet another restaurant that has received wonderful reviews for their modern Italian cuisine featuring farm-to-table ingredients.  Appetizers went unpictured, but included a fig tart and an arugula salad, both of which we enjoyed.  I've had a craving for spaghetti bolognese, so spaghetti + meatballs was a easy decision. The thick house made pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and the meatball and red sauce had great flavor.

The daily fish special featured pan seared grouper with an heirloom tomato panzanella salad, basil oil, and pickled zephyr squash.  Mom loved the fresh summer flavors that paired with the well executed sear on the fish.

And because no Italian meal is complete without dessert, we savored each and every bite of a cannoli stuffed with an orange scented ricotta-mascarpone and a chocolate semifreddo.

My "Perfect Charlotte Saturday" took a slight twist from usual.  Bailey and I started the day with a 5 mile run (still pain-free!) on a relatively cool summer morning.  Then, Mom and I made the short drive up to Davidson to wander through the farmer's market and downtown shops.  Highlights from the morning included a bacon and blistered tomato buttermilk biscuit, an almond pastry, lattes from Summit Coffee, breads from Millstone Bakehouse and Provisions.  sweet corn from Barbee Farms, and a bag full of okra.

After driving through neighborhoods filled with gorgeous lakefront homes, we set out on a hike at Jetton Park.  The 1.5 mile paved trail winds along the banks of Lake Norman with an abundance of shade that made the summer day feel nearly like fall.

We even found a bench in the shade to enjoy a picnic lunch while watching boaters and stand-up paddle boarders soak up the sun.

Saturday evening we opted for a casual 1.5 mile stroll to dinner at Mellow Mushroom.  Bailey was very happy to join her "people" for dinner and was on her best behavior while sitting on the patio surrounded by other diners.

After a couple indulgent nights, we gladly opted for a simple pizza and salad dinner.  The mega veggie pizza is a vegetarian's delight - saucy, filled to the brim with toppings, and surrounded by a chewy Parmesan crust.

And because it appears that our Girls' Weekend was all about food, it's only appropriate that I leave you with one last picture of the pear pastry from Millstone Bakehouse that we shared for breakfast before Mom and Bailey made the drive back to Atlanta.  The cinnamon poached pear was stuffed with dark chocolate and wrapped in a caramelized pastry dough.  Yes, it was just as decadent and delicious as it sounds!

And that concludes our summer Charlotte girls' weekend.  I always treasure weekends and vacations that I spend with my family, and this was no different.  Thanks for coming to visit, Mom, and for bringing my favorite puppy with you!  T-minus 10 months until I move back to Atlanta!

No comments:

Post a Comment