The #704

My great apologies for the delay in communication. A dreadful case of writer's block paired with way too much going on has reigned. Thank my stars that the proverbial clouds have parted. My birthday curmudgeon turned 36 on Thursday of last week. Despite gaining another year of wisdom, I don't think I had the happiest of campers on my hands. As previously declared, I rhapsodize over birthdays. They are the one day a year where you can completely feel special. The dreaded association of a new number aside, he rallied and we enjoyed drinks at our local stomping ground followed by an outstanding dinner at our favorite restaurant with his father. Given the fact that I am not currently working, I told Matthew that this birthday celebration and in turn, my gift would be downright pale in comparison to years past. I take pride in the fact that gifts are my forte. One year, I handed him an envelope containing Cubbies tickets and to the Windy City we went. Not this year. I informed him that we would be taking advantage of the Queen's Feast at Capital Grill (if you do eat here, asked to be seated in Michelle's section and tell her I sent you) followed by a round of drinks at a location of his choice. Exciting to some but no whistles were blowing this go around. I did supplement these plans with a spectacular t-shirt from the 704shop. Ye Charlotteans, support local and check these gentlemen out.

A three course steak dinner however was not in the cards. Some time ago, I organized for Matthew's best friends and their partners to come to our uptown apartment for nibbles and libations followed by the 311 concert at the North Carolina Music Factory. I lured folks with promises of great sunset views, glimpses into the BB&T ballpark and the opportunity to party like we did back in 1999. While we only had two takers for the concert, everyone showed up in full force to surprise the birthday boy. Matthew was over the moon and if I may say so myself, this gathering of all his high school cronies was far more meaningful than anything else a steady paycheck could have afforded. Given the timing and the nature of the surprise, I couldn't prepare a hugely elaborate meal because the jig would then officially be up. So the day before, I prepared a pair of dips at my apartment, bought cheeses and sausage, crackers and bread. It should be noted that the best baguettes can be found at Reid's. I tucked jars of fig jam and mustard away. I hid the birthday napkins. Into the cupboard went the marcona almonds and Spanish olives. When Matthew walked through the door, the apartment looked as it always does, empty. Around 5.30, I began to pull goodies out and informed Matthew that plans had in fact changed. A slew of his people were coming over and then I handed him an envelope. Therein were the tickets to the show. The rest is history.

As our ritual holds, we stayed uptown on Friday evening. On Saturday, we took advantage of a much needed lie in. We didn't return home until well past midnight, which I hate to admit is quite late for me. We walked to Seventh Street Market for a spot at the bar of Not Just Coffee. After our morning coffee, we enjoyed the cooler weather and meandered around uptown. Folks were sitting outside of one of our prized uptown spots, The Asbury, and one of the couples was enjoying biscuits from a cast iron skillet. I am easily lured by anything in a cast iron skillet. Yep, we were in. After a charming wait at the hotel bar where we enviously watched people prepare delightfully complicated Bloody Marys complete with plump olives, a myriad of hot sauces and fried bacon, we too secured a table al fresco. A manic woman was shouting obscenities at people in the streets, which made for lively entertainment. For breakfast, I ordered the chicken in a biscuit. A sweet, fluffy biscuit crafted in true southern fashion and topped with fried Springer Mountain Farms chicken breast, a fried egg and delicately smothered in a hoop cheddar fondue. Matthew, who is besotted with anything pork related (hence our affinity for the spicy ground stuff at Futo Buta), ordered the open faced pork belly sandwich that came with a fried egg and generous hunk of red dragon cheese. Our dishes would have been stupendous had they arrived hot it was a busy morning and the temperature did not stop us from feasting. After a glorious breakfast and delightful discussion with our server, we took the streets again.

After an hour or so of walking, we decided to head back to the homestead. Within minutes of arriving home, friends called to ask if we would like to join them for lunch to celebrate another birthday. Leo's unite. This gallivant took us to the spectacular deck of Ruru's in Myers Park. This visit was a first for me and I shall return. While the food was uninspired, the Margaritas were the business. I had more than one Magic Mike. I also liked that our friend ordered shots to which the our gal responded they are 24 bucks a pop, which lent him the opportunity to make a different selection. Generous feedback indeed. Following our superb lunch outside, we went home to quite frankly, crash. I love nothing more than a delicious afternoon nap on the couch. As we roused circa 4.00 pm, we made the decision to return uptown to partake the excitement surrounding the Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea soccer match, two of the greatest European clubs colliding. We first went to the Romare Bearden Park to people watch and then walked across the street into the livery shaping Brevard Court. Matthew bought two TripleC brews and we took a seat directly across from a photography studio showing actual wedding videos. The entertainment was unparalleled. For dinner, we were in the mood for Asian and so dined at Soho Bistro on the back end of Hearst Tower. If you are looking for delicious Chinese food in a pleasant setting, eat here. We split the chicken and broccoli with brown rice as well as the Peking Noodles. We carried a bag of leftovers with us to Connolly's, the city's best Irish pub with a stupendous back deck for a chat with Ronan and cold Guinness before heading home where we enjoyed the city lights whilst devouring the remainders of dinner. 

The below dip is one of the dishes I covertly prepared for Matthew's soiree. Super easy to pull together, a bit of a kick thanks to the jalapeños and sharing a similar texture to that of pimento cheese, is comfort food at its very best. Bon appetit.

Corn and Bacon Dip
Warning: This is ridiculously addictive


8 oz bacon - crumbled
3 cans of corn
1 cup of sour cream 
1 cup of mayonnaise
3 green onions - chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
Fresh cracked pepper
Pinch of kosher salt
Two 4 oz cans of diced green chilies
Two 4 oz cans of diced jalapeños
1 bag of grated cheddar cheese
2 bags of Frito Lay Scoops


1. In a pan, fry your bacon. Do keep an eye out to ensure that it does not burn. When cooked to your liking, transfer to a towel to absorb the liquid fat. Once cool, crumble and set aside. In the same pan, turn down the heat to medium and roast the corn. Once it begins to pop, stir to ensure even color and remove from the heat to cool.

2. In your largest serving bowl (because this yields a lot), add your sour cream, mayonnaise, green onions, garlic powder, fresh cracked pepper, pinch of kosher salt, diced green chilies, diced jalapeños and the bag of cheddar cheese. Now add the cooled corn and crumbled bacon to the mix. Give a big stir. 

This absolutely must be served with Frito Lay scoops. I don't often prepare naughty dishes (I eat them elsewhere). As such, please don't count calories with this one.

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