Saturday, October 3, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to the Plaza-Midwood area of Charlotte and to The Workman’s Friend, an Irish pub offering a variety of pub fare with a Southern influence. 

Dora here. Plaza Midwood came through for us again! Originally, we'd picked out a restaurant in downtown Charlotte, but Panther fans snagged all the on-street parking. Plaza Midwood is a fabulous alternative to eating in downtown proper, and I appreciated the ample parking in the back of The Workman's Friend. :)
For an appetizer, we chose the Bag of Chips, hand cut fries with salt and malt vinegar aioli. Not chips in the American sense, nor the typical thick and potato-y pub chips. They were almost a blend of the two, crispy on the outside and firm on the inside. I ate mine with extra malt vinegar. Perfect!
Bag of Chips
Dora here. You should have seen Ernie's face when the server set the chips down on the table. I knew he expected homemade American chips. lol.

The Irish Breakfast was the brunch special of the day. Eggs, a Banger (sausage), Black and White Pudding (also sausage), Irish Bacon, Baked Beans, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and sourdough toast. Black pudding is sausage made from blood, meat, fat, oatmeal, and bread or potato fillers. White pudding (the same minus the blood), and Irish bacon is from the back of the pig instead of the belly and is like ham. The highlights of this great dish were the three different types of sausage and the sourdough bread. 
Irish Breakfast - a Brunch Special

Dora here. I'm a big fan of Irish pubs. Well, pubs of all kinds, actually. I'd heard about Black and White pudding but never tried it until now. (See those two round patties next to the baked beans. And how did they ever come up with that name??). Considering the ingredients and the name, I was surprised at how tasty they were.

The Sausage Roll, a blend of ground sausage and mustard and sour cream inside a puff pastry, fit my mood. Something light, not too heavy, and I enjoyed the mild sausage flavor. 
Sausage Roll ~ An appetizer
We rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.

What about you? Do you enjoy pubs? What's your favorite pub food?

The Workman's Friend Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Excited about Reading: Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter

Amazon Purchase Link
The Cover Story ~

A story of love and second chances. She wished she could go back and change things . . . but life doesn't give do-overs. Could anything but good-byes be waiting on the other side of Sweetwater Gap?

Josie Mitchell's sister Laurel thinks she's come home to pitch in with the apple harvest and save the family orchard. Her brother-in-law Nate thinks she's there to talk the overworked, very pregnant Laurel into finally selling the family business. The orchard's new manager Grady Mackenzie just thinks she's trouble with a capital T. They're all right . . . and all wrong. Because no one really knows what drove Josie from home in the first place. Why she's never come home before, even for her own father's funeral. Why she pushes herself so hard . . . and what she's running from. And nobody, not even Josie, is prepared for the surprising new fruit she'll find on her last trip home.

Sharing my takeaway ~

A guilt-inducing phone call from her brother-in-law brings Josie Mitchell back home to Sweetwater Gap to help with the apple harvest. Orchard Manager Grady Mackenzie doesn't appreciate the help, especially when Josie admits she came home to convince her sister to sell the orchard.

Relating to Josie was a challenge. She carried a staggering amount of guilt for years, choosing to bottle it up inside rather than talk about it with her sister or aunt, and wrestled with low self-esteem. She made a conscious decision before the story started that I didn't understand (no spoilers). Maybe she had too many issues. On the other hand, Grady, aka Marlboro Man, was easy to like. Betrayed by his ex-wife, he's vulnerable and lonely, and fears that Josie only cozies up to him to convince him to sell his small share of the orchard. Even so, he's kind and sweet, regardless of how she treats him.

Usually, Hunter's true-to-life characters and oh-so-delectable romance jerk me right into the story until I lose all track of time. But for me, Josie's heavy unresolved issues overwhelmed the actual romance in this book. That said, Sweetwater Gap is definitely one of those books that will leave you pondering long after you turn the last page. 

Disclaimer: I purchased Sweetwater Gap. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to Port City Club in Cornelius, North Carolina. 
This lakefront restaurant is located on Lake Norman, where you can drive, walk or boat to your meal. 
Dora here. How have we not discovered this gem sooner? What a glorious day for sitting outside! Everybody else agreed with us. Port City Club offers generous seating inside and three different levels outside, including one covered. What a gorgeous, relaxing setting for any meal.

Covered patio
For my meal, I chose the Lobster and Shrimp Roll. Maine lobster, poached shrimp, scallion, basil, and mayo served on a New England style split roll. Huge and meaty with just the right amount of mayo, this sandwich was outstanding and matched any meal that I enjoyed during our visit to Maine. 

Dora here. I opted for the Port City Club, grilled chicken, bacon and smoked Gouda on a brioche roll. Delish! Tender, moist, and jazzed with a garlic aioli, I'd definitely go back for a repeat. 
Can't see the chicken? Here's a better view:

The service was attentive, friendly and flawless. Not once did our tea or water glass drain, and every time a server walked by, used items were scooped from the table with a smile. It's the perfect location for brokering business deals, families with active children, and couples looking for a romantic setting. 

We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

Port City Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

That Look

Recently, we bought a new razor trike, a modern version of hot wheels, for Little Man to ride at our house. The back wheels pivot, which causes the whole trike to spin. When Little Man and our neighbor, also a classmate, race up and down our long driveway, it’s quite entertaining.

He wanted red like his buddy’s, but the stores around here only carried blue. At first, Little Man was disappointed, but that didn’t last long. Only until he discovered the joy of riding and spinning and tumbling onto the grass in make-believe crashes, giggling alongside his new friend.

And when I mentioned that Grandpa put the trike together?

Adoration blossomed on his cute face. “Grandpa, you built my bike?”

Not exactly, but…

That look.

As if his grandpa could do anything. As if building a bike was the coolest thing ever! Love and admiration and awe and delight all swirled together and swelled to shine from his face and lift his tiny shoulders.

And right then it hit me.

As a daughter of the Most High King and Creator of the universe, shouldn’t the world see that look on my face as I go through life?

The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. ~ Psalm 27:4 (NLT)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington DC and to Old Engine 12 Firehouse Restaurant

Constructed in 1895 as a firehouse, this beautiful structure housed firefighters for over a century until transformed in 2013 as a restaurant. "From the brass fireman’s pole to the Captain’s Loft we have preserved the legacy and character of the original firehouse that once served here."
Dora here. Sorry for the blurry photo. A rescue unit was parked across the street, and the red lights reflected from both directions. Fitting for a converted firehouse, right? :) Oh, and their website indicates this restaurant is located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, but it's also only a couple blocks from Shaw.

The Grilled Brussel Sprouts appetizer with balsamic molasses syrup and sea salt was outstanding. With just the right amount of char and sweetness, these sprouts were delicious.
Grilled Brussel Sprouts Appetizer
The Classic Lasagna, made with short rib Bolognese, ricotta and arugula, was huge, definitely large enough to share. The pasta was homemade and thin and mixed great with the sauce and massive amounts of ricotta. The star of this dish was the brisket short rib; tender, juicy, and something you would not expect in lasagna. The only negative was the layer of arugula. More than I expected and a bit overwhelming. 
Classic Lasagna
Dora here. Beautiful dish, though, right? It's a stunner presentation, but I agree. One bite, and the pungent arugula took over for me. I'm glad I ordered the Firehouse Burger. lol. Meaty, thick and juicy, the special sauce jazzed up the flavor even more. Delish!
Firehouse Burger
We rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food. Dora here. This restaurant deserves five forks for ambiance. As a converted fire station, how could it not? lol. We enjoyed the outside patio. Cool and breezy and quiet, easy for conversation. A perfect spot for dinner! 
Outdoor patio

They score 5 forks for presentation and the burger, but the excessive arugula brings it down to 4 overall.

What's the most unusual ingredient you've tasted in lasagna? Did you enjoy the twist or do you prefer traditional?
Washington Firehouse Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, September 18, 2015

New Release: BURK'S SURRENDER, a Christian Romance Book

Happy Book Birthday to Burk's Surrender,
the third and final book in the Harmon Heritage series, 
where three siblings struggle to find healing and peace after their father's tragic death. 
Purchase Link ~ Available now
with Pelican Book Group

Deputy City Manager Burk Harmon has always been the strong one for his family, but recently those responsibilities have dwindled. When Lacie Heatherton, Assistant Director for Parks and Recreation, ropes him into a city-sponsored trip to the mountains with fifty seniors, Burk has two things on his mind: considering a possible promotion and wooing Lacie past friendship and into a future. Lacie has emotional scars and a thirteen-year-old daughter to remind her that men can be cruel and unforgiving. Can Burk convince Lacie to relax her "no dating" policy or will he surrender his dreams of family and love?

Harmon Heritage, available with Pelican Book Group
Rori's Healing ~ available now
Beck's Peace ~ available now
Burk's Surrender ~ available now!
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