Did you know that today is National French Fry Day? Honestly, when does it end? Week before last it was fried chicken. Last Tuesday afternoon, whilst at the grocer I was informed it was National Chocolate Day and handed a Hershey's Kiss. This Kiss found its way into my bag, melted and made a right mess of things. Honestly, who is in charge of allocating food to the respective days. I can understand fried goods on a Friday but on a Monday? Give a dog a bone! After a week's hiatus from yoga I was back at it this morning. Oh my stars, did I take a beating or what. I have become fiercely proud of my practice over the past months and this morning was just rude. I felt like a novice. My chataranga pushups were elementary; I could hardly lift my body weight. My favorite pose, half moon, had me teetering like a drunken sailor. Self-hate aside I was thrilled that an instructor, whose class I have only had the pleasure of taking twice, would be leading our practice. She opened the class as my yoga studio in NYC does. A bit of talking and gentle sitting paired with deep breathing before moving into child's pose. 

Her message today went, "in the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Our instructor said no problem on the first two. Big heart for everyone and she is kind to planet earth as well as those around her. The third however, letting go, she said is a bit of a problem. I had to chuckle as a family member was mentioned. I recognize that this third point is also a challenge for me. Big heart, glass half full, smiles for everyone aside, I like to dwell. I let things fester. I obsess. My mother says I sweat all the small stuff. Queen of making mountains out of molehills. It reminds me of a blog post I wrote once upon a time where I was challenged to "surrender what no longer served me". Anyway, this week I plan to work on a bit of emotional sobriety and as always, self-awareness. Self-help; this work in progress is a neverending story.

We had a spectacular weekend painting the city red. I captured most of our gallivants via social media. If you aren't yet, please come find me @Eliz1167. In recapping last night, we were quite proud of what these two old 35 year olds managed to squeeze into 48 and a handful of hours. Friday night was rather low key. We had a superb dinner at Thai Orchid in Strawberry Hills just off of Providence Road near to Fairview. If you are a fan of Thai, check this place out. In my book, it's the best in the city. The space is always packed with families, couples enjoying date night, neighborhood dwellers. It is obvious that they employ only the best and freshest of ingredients. Their crispy roasted duck and Pad Thai with chicken will blow your pants off. I also highly recommend the thai orchid spring rolls, steamed dumplings, chicken satay, beef larb, thumyum soup with shrimp, kang dang curry, mussamun curry and pal sarm ros. Clearly, we dine here regularly. Order a Tsing Tao or two to wash down your meal and thank me later. We love ethnic food. A close second favorite is Ben Thanh on Central. After dinner, we came home to nurse a couple of cold ones, eat some ice cream mixed with German dark chocolate and finish off season one of An Idiot Abroad. I think I am actually developing a crush on Karl Pilkington. Karl, if you are reading this, look me up. JC.

Saturday, we were awake obscenely early and so as not to miss a beat, headed to Atherton Mill for a shmy around. Our usual uptown coffee shop, Not Just Coffee, also has a post here. Matthew loves lattes but I drink mine black and was recently introduced to their pour overs, which are sublime. After coffees, friendly banter with other Joe enthusiasts and a few waves at children in prams and dogs jumping about, we saw a woman giving 5$ massages. When in Rome. I received one and then Matthew. This massage was a first for Matthew. Take the kid out of NC...Nicely loose and tense free, we hopped in the car to the Kings Drive Farmers Market for our usual loot, which now includes a few pounds of zucchinis for zoodles. From here, we went to Good Bottle Co. directly off of South Boulevard for one of their pop-up breakfast events. We enjoyed beermosas - a nice mix of DuClaw Morgazm and orange juice - and breakfast. Who knew that an American blonde ale could pair so marvelously with OJ? Roots Farm Food manned the griddle churning out scrumptious pancakes: peach, blueberry, sweet potato and bacon. Matthew is not wild about sweets in the morning and so we instead shared a chorizo cheddar drop biscuit. I poured a side of the honey saison syrup for dipping. It was a bonjour moment for sure. 

After our al fresco breakfast, we dropped our goodies off at the house and a couple of hours later made our ways north to the historic Elizabeth neighborhood. The gourmet bodega, Earl's Grocery has been on my culinary list for quite some time. The same folks behind Carpe Diem, this spot is on point. Matthew and I both shared the Banh Mi Sandwich; lemongrass pulled pork, daikon and carrot pickles, cilantro, mint and a tasty aioli spread generously over a toasted baguette. Alongside came a creamy and subtle potato salad. Our second dish was the harvest salad; curly kale, pink pickled fennel, crisp pumpkin seeds, toasted farro, creamy goat cheese and a zesty chili vinaigrette. Matthew sipped on his beloved Dale's Pale Ale and I quenched my thirst with a refreshing peach ginger lemongrass aqua fresca mixed with rum and garnished with fresh basil. Served in a mason jar, this was an afternoon cocktail at its best. After filling our stomachs for the second time, we headed to a local favorite of ours, Sycamore Brewing for a round of cold ones and a game of ping-pong. I had to ask the patrons sitting at the picnic table next to us to please drink more. I haven't played in eons and clearly it's like riding a bike. In fact, my skill set was surprising not only to my partner but me as well. 

From here, we set out down the street to the grand opening event of the Wooden Robot. Inspired by Belgian brewing traditions, this place is fantastic. The interior is cool and ditto the back deck. We saw a guy taking a late afternoon snooze on the lawn and I told him he is serving as outstanding PR for the place. I was tickled to see one of my favorite gals from Luna's Living Kitchen manning the taps. While I am no beer authority (I was ridiculously spoiled during the five years I lived in Germany), the Some Like It Tart Saison was perfect for the hot Carolina afternoon. Matthew had the Overachiever. We enjoyed a bit of shade, made some new friends and were tickled to have been part of the opening day of a great new addition to the South End landscape. After this, I was ready for a couch and some AC. Matthew agreed. Circa 6.00 PM friends were on the horn beckoning us back to South End. Rally we did. We enjoyed a marvelously cooler evening from the roof deck of Gin Mill. I have said it before and I will say it again, any spot giving out salty popcorn for free is quite okay in my book. After a fun evening of great conversation and laughter with wonderful friends, we made one last stop for late night grub at Futo Buta. Located directly along the Lynx line, this place serves up flavorful and pillowy pork buns as well as delicious ramen bowls. I am also partial to their fried shishito peppers, gyoza and my favorite, Japanese fried chicken. On this night, we shared the low country smoked pork belly buns with crispy sesame slaw and sweet barbecue sauce as well as the shoyu ramen with extra spicy ground pork. This bowl comprises flavorful broth perfect for slurping, pecan smoked pork belly, scallions, onsen egg and roasted spring onion. Lest we not forget the copious amounts of noodles. Great beer, wine, cocktails and soft serve ice cream make this a fun gastro spot in the city. After dinner and accidentally sending our Uber driver to our house for a pickup (yes we would accept the surge charge and great apologies for the mistake), we finally made it home and collapsed into bed.

Yesterday was a bit more low key. I looked through old photographs from college. I love reminiscing. We stuck around the neighborhood and enjoyed coffee al fresco at Kenilworth Espresso. We then did our Harris Teeter run, came home to unpack and decided to take advantage of the nice weather. And so we threw on our swimsuits and packed up our bags to head to the Vue in uptown Charlotte. My folks have an apartment there and I like to keep an eye out every once in a while. After a couple of hours of swimming, sunning and relative privacy, the party scene ignited and it was time to say cheers. I spent the afternoon preparing for a barbecue that would yield leftovers for dinner as well as the upcoming week. Over the next pair of days, I plan to share my recipes with you. The below rub for kebabs is so simple yet incredibly flavorful. For kebabs, I always like to use red bell peppers, red onions and chicken thighs. I find that thighs cook better than breasts and with the bit of fat, they are gorgeous in the flavor department. You can also use this rub with beef, pork, mushrooms and green peppers alike. Next time we will add plump fruit to the mix. Just not peaches, I hear the prices are skyrocketing a cause of the drought. Just terrible. Regardless of what you like to prepare on the grill, do yourself a favor and sprinkle it with this stuff. All in all, we had a superb weekend. I went to bed thinking what a lively, happening, inviting, engaging and fun city Charlotte has become. I hope that you have a chance to enjoy all that it has to offer one day too. The Queen City really is something else. Happy cooking party people.

Grill Time Rub


1 tsp pink peppercorns
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chili flakes

How To

Mix everything together and sprinkle on top of your kebabs. For ours, we chopped up 6 organic, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 2 red bell peppers and 1 medium sized red onion. Matthew likes to soak the skewers in water for 15 minutes before putting them on the grill. This prevents them from burning. Super easy and delicious. Enjoy!

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