Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: January 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to Queen City Q in downtown Charlotte, a short walk from the Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the Charlotte Hornets
Across-the-street view
Dora here. My first Hornets game ever! Too bad they lost that night. :) 
Time Warner Cable Arena
This BBQ joint/sports bar serves all of our BBQ favorites, burgers, tacos and more. During our visit, most visitors were sporting their Hornets gear while filling up before the game. 

We opted to try a few menu items and share: Brunswick stew, hush puppies and honey butter, and Carolina Classic Nachos.
Hush Puppies and Honey Butter Appetizer
I never pass up Brunswick stew when it's on the menu, and I am glad I did not pass on this one. This stew was outstanding, with just the right mix of meat and vegetables and a flavor that kept me going back for more. I think next time we visit I could make my whole meal on this Brunswick stew. 
Brunswick Stew
Dora here. Hmm. I hear you, but I'm quite sure on our next visit, you won't be able to resist the lure of the Que. :)

The Carolina Classic Nachos was loaded with three types of meat (pulled pork, smoked chicken and brisket), lettuce, tomato and chips. 

Carolina Classic Nachos
I have nachos at many places, but these nachos have to rank in the top two or three. What separated these nachos from the others had to be the white queso, with just the right amount of kick and mixed well with the different meat combination. In addition, the serving portion is huge. Both of us ate on it, and still weren't able to finish. 

Dora here. Huge and delish! I love chili nachos, but the chili version tends to be heavy, so I appreciated the lighter variation. The chips didn't taste overly salty while I ate them, but I could've downed a gallon of iced tea after dinner. 

Service was quick and friendly, even jammed with people. 

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

Any Hornets fans out there? Make some noise!

Queen City Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Time for Family

So, now that we're nearing the end of January,  

how are you doing on your resolutions or one-word theme?

I don't make resolutions. Nor do I focus on one words. But, for me, 2016 seems to be all about family so far.

My parents spend the winters in TN, four hours away from us. The rest of the time, they hang out in AK. As in A L A S K A. So, we try to squeeze in as much time as we can with them while they're in the lower 48.

This month they both scheduled cataract surgeries for the same day. One eye at a time, two weeks apart.
It's been fun watching them see things in a new light. Everything's brighter, more colorful, and now, after 50+ years of wearing glasses, all they'll need are readers.
Both pictures were taken after the first eye surgery.
I'd allotted time in my calendar to be there to drive them around and help while they recuperated. They didn't really need any help, though. After surgery and a nap, they were good to go. :)

What I didn't schedule were snow days. Note to self: must remedy that for next year.

Let me ask you. Would you be able to write with all this cuteness in the house? 

Nope. Not me. :)

My word count definitely tanked in January. I'm working on Kissing Santa Nic, a Christmas story that I'll publish independently as Tori Kayson. No contract, no deadlines, so it's all good. But even so...

"There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens..." ~Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Little Man won't be five forever. Before I can blink (practically), he'll be driving age. And my parents will head back to AK soon. 

Apparently, God has designated 2016 as the time for family for me. So, I will adjust my calendar and not fret over my poor word count. Because when I release my schedule to God, He blesses my time beyond measure. 

What season are you in right now?

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to Cowbell Burger & Whiskey Bar in Uptown Charlotte. 
Cowbell Burger & Whiskey Bar

This modern designed gourmet burger restaurant/bar offers a full array of starters, sandwiches, salads and tacos and a full brunch menu on the weekends. 

Dora here. The interior was well-lit, not gloomy like some restaurants where the bar takes center stage. Also, it was clean and lacked any musty odors from the night before, definitely a plus. And was it my imagination or did a hush come over the room when we walked in? So we might've had a good thirty years on most of the diners here, but service was friendly and efficient and they put us right at ease. :)

We started with Pretzels. These were no ordinary pretzels; they were small barrels packed with flavor, hard on the outside and soft on the inside. They complemented perfectly with the Guinness cheese sauce, which carried just the right amount of kick. These pretzels were great and something that we will be sure to try again on a return visit.
Dora here. I would've sworn the cheese dip was actually some type of Dijon mustard base. Light and mild to taste, but set my throat on fire. Yum!

For my meal, I chose the Dumpling, an Asian pork burger topped with hoisin glaze, slaw, and sriracha aioli on a Kaiser Roll and a side of Sweet Potato Tots. 
The Dumpling with Sweet Potato Tots

This burger definitely had a unique taste with all the various flavors melding together. Makes me want to return soon to try another. If the burger was not great enough, the sweet potato tots took this dish over the top. Outstanding! Now I have never tried sweet potato tots but I can tell you they will be added to my plate whenever they are offered on a menu again. 

Dora here. I really enjoyed the Boogan's Bacon Burger. The patty was huge and meaty, and looked handcrafted, and the bacon marmalade and garlic aioli gave it an added pop. And fresh fruit? How could I resist? Check out that heaping bowl of berries and pineapple. Delish!
Boogan's Bacon Burger
Meaty ~ Boogan's Bacon Burger
Looks yummy, right? It was! Even so, my fork kept wandering over to Ernie's plate, and I snatched more than half of those Sweet Potato Tots. Yowza! Those tots sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon rocked! Heaven in my mouth!

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

Cowbell Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to Afton Pub & Pizza in Concord, NC. This family owned restaurant offers a complete list of Italian dishes, specialty pizzas, sandwiches and a variety of appetizers. 

Dora here. Afton Pub & Pizza (Pub) is the sister to Afton Tavern (Tavern), my go-to restaurant (read favorite). From the picture, you might be able to tell it's tucked in a mixed residential/retail environment, a fabulous, relaxing place to hangout on the weekend or stop by for dinner on your way home from work. While we visit the Tavern for our favorite salads, the Pub is all about the pizza for us. :)

We start with Garlic Knots. Warm fresh baked dough, drizzled with garlic butter, flaked with parmesan cheese and served with marinara sauce. These garlic knots were large, soft, and full of garlicky flavor and the marinara sauce complemented well. They were outstanding and I could have made an entire meal just eating them. 

Garlic Knots
Dora here. Me too! Buttery. Soft. Doughy. Lick-your-fingers for the last speck of parmesan delicious!

We followed that with a Ryan’s 4 X 4 pizza. Pepperoni, bacon, prosciutto, and a ton of cheese including mozzarella, parmesan, Monterey jack, and cheddar with a hint of red sauce. This pizza was great, cooked perfectly, and loaded with ingredients. This thick crust pie is the best that we have tasted since living in North Carolina.

Ryan's 4x4 Pizza, extra parm on hubby's side
Dora here. Everybody has their favorite pizza, right? I'm a Chicago style pizza fanatic, but good luck finding a deep dish like that here! The Pub's 4x4 comes in a close second. Thick and cheesy, with just the right amount of dough to cheese ratio, and I really appreciate that it's not heavy on the marinara. Totally satisfying for those pizza cravings, and of course, we brought much of this big boy home.

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

What's your perfect pizza?

Afton Pub & Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Excited about Reading: MUST-HAVE HUSBAND by Ginny Baird

Amazon Buy Link
The Cover Story~
Fall for Love. Take a Chance...

City girl Connie Oliver has a hard time hanging on to men, grooms in particular. Just nine weeks before her wedding, she's seen another one slip away. To make matters worse, her ailing grandfather's eightieth birthday is approaching, and he has one final wish: to see his last granddaughter married in the historic wedding gown that was first worn by his late wife and has been a family tradition for years. When her sister takes Connie on a girls' getaway in the wild to soothe her latest heartache, she quips that Connie wouldn't know a decent man if he fell on her. So, when a handsome stranger drops out of the trees, Connie's got to wonder whether he's some sort of madman - or an answer to her prayers.

Rugged outdoorsman "Mac" McCormack is down on his luck after having just lost his camping store in a forest fire. So he hits the trail to forget his woes and plot his next move. Little does Mac expect the fates to deliver an angel with a predicament in need of his skills. With Connie desiring a groom and Mac requiring a down payment, their meeting seems fortuitously timed. But how far will Mac be willing to go once he learns play-acting for the Olivers is not such smooth sailing? Despite the mishaps and mayhem that ensue, can Connie and Mac achieve an authentic happy ending? That all depends on whether both of their hearts can take a chance.

Sharing my takeaway~
After her latest fiance dumped her (#3 or 4?), Connie Oliver needs a groom and a wedding to satisfy her beloved grandfather. Mac McCormack needs money to rebuild his camping store after a forest fire destroyed it. Their cute meet in the wilderness extends to Mac masquerading as her fiance in exchange for enough money to begin the rebuilding.

"Sometimes you had to make sacrifices in order to achieve your goals."

This was the first book that I've read by Ginny Baird, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Tagged "A sweet, traditional PG-rated romantic comedy" perhaps I should've, but this was laugh-out-loud funny

At 113 pages, including previews of other books, Must-Have Husband is a quick read, definitely PG but not in a turn-the-page-quick kinda way, and not heavy or meaty in plot or character development or even romance. I would've liked more pages, more time for the romance to develop. But I've been in a reading rut lately. Sometimes you just need something different, you know? This short read was the perfect prescription for me.

Because of its petite size and zippy dialog, it's a light, fun read to while away an hour or so. I'll definitely look through Baird's other books for more laugh-out-loud enjoyment!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book while it was offered free on Amazon. I was in no way compensated for my fair and unbiased review. 

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating take us on our annual trip to Washington DC and to Old Ebbitt Grill located near the White House. 
Decorated for the holidays

Legend has it that Old Ebbitt Grill, founded in 1856, is the oldest saloon in DC. Presidents such as Grant, Andrew Johnson, Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Harding visited this saloon. Dora here. We didn't recognize anybody during this visit. Bummer. 

Having eaten a later breakfast, I chose the Oyster stew, full of huge fried oysters, Andouille sausage, and Swiss chard. This stew was outstanding! The creamy broth had a little bite from the Andouille sausage and blended great with the smoky paprika. The best part of this stew was the perfectly fried oysters. They fry the oysters separately then add the broth at the end so that the oysters don't get soggy. 
Oyster stew
Dora here. I went with the French Dip. Roast beef, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese on a baguette with a side of beef broth for dipping. I'm not a big fan of arugula, so that was just garnish for me, but the sandwich? Yum! Tender beef, cheesy, and the bread ratio was perfect. The service was impeccable. Get there early, though. When we left, the reception area was packed.
French Dip

What's the most famous restaurant you've visited? Any celebrity sightings while dining?

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

Old Ebbitt Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to McKoy's Smokehouse & Saloon located right off of I-77 and Old Pineville Rd in south Charlotte. 
McKoy's Smokehouse & Saloon
This smokehouse, with both indoor and outdoor seating, reminds me of what a local BBQ joint should look like with wood interior, BBQ paraphernalia on the wall, and loads of TV’s.
McKoy's Smokehouse & Saloon
We chose to share the Living the Dream (LTD) platter, a combination of ribs, pork, pot roast, and smoked BBQ chicken with sides of mac n’ cheese and fried okra. The St. Louis style ribs were great, not fall off the bone as most BBQ restaurants serve, but with a little pull after the bite like KCBS competition ribs. The smoked pot roast was different, something I've never eaten. 
McKoy's Smokehouse & Saloon
Living the Dream platter
Dora here. While we were contemplating the menu, I remember commenting that I wished they offered a combo minus the pot roast. But, no matter. I gobbled the pot roast down first! :) And look at that crusty bark on the mac & cheese! Yummy! I'm really not a fan of okra, but their crispy vegies won me over. (Sorry, no pic.) Even with two of us eating off this plate, we still brought home a leftover container with enough meat to make a pot of chili. Sa-weet!

Have you tried smoked pot roast? 
What did you think?
What's the most unusual smoked meat you've eaten?

We rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.

McKoy's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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