Julia’s German Stammtisch {Columbia, SC}

I have a problem when I go on road trips. Although I don’t mind eating at chain restaurants, I’d much rather support a small, locally owned restaurant instead. One day, there will be a web site and phone app you can use to find this information…and I’m going to build it. Well, at least the web site part. More on this another time, but I’ve already started researching…

This past weekend, we went out of town for a short excursion. Since I was the passenger, I decided to use some of the downtime in the car to find a local spot on the road trip.

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I found Julia’s German Stammtisch in Columbia, SC, and it was only one mile from the highway (77).

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Located in a small shopping center, we actually passed this place originally and had to turn around to get to it.

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One of the best things was that they let us bring Bailey to hang out on the porch. Everyone was very welcoming to us and Bailey – they showed him lots of attention!

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I haven’t eaten a lot of German food before, so we requested suggestions. One of the first ones was the Jagerschnitzel – (from the menu) – “Our traditional pork schnitzel lightly breaded and topped with a rich mushroom gravy.” I read online that the portions were big, plus hubby wasn’t that hungry, so we got a couple salads and split this dish. We wanted to try the soup, but those are colder-weather items for the restaurant, so they’ll start offering them in a couple weeks.

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A salad was included with the entrée, and we added an extra small salad. The plate was full of pickled deliciousness – beets, green beans with onions, cabbage, and some fresh tomato and lettuce. I’ve been really into pickled foods lately, so I really enjoyed this. I liked how there was a nice mix of different types of salads in the single plate.

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We also ordered an extra roll and butter.

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And the entrée didn’t disappoint. There was more than enough food for hubby and I to share (pictured above is the full dish pre-splitting). We opted for the spatzel, which is like German pasta, for the side. It sort of reminded me of small pieces of gnocchi in the texture because it was so soft. Everything was delicious, but that pork was killer! The pork was pounded very thin and then breaded. The breading was so nice and crispy…like super-duper crispy. I loved the ratio of breading and crispiness to pork. The mushroom gravy added great flavor and was even poured over the spatzel. There weren’t a whole lot of mushrooms in the gravy, but that was fine by me because I enjoy the flavor of mushrooms much more than the mushrooms, themselves. This isn’t your lightest dish, but it is tasty and worth trying.

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I read online that dessert at Julia’s is a must, so we got a slice of tangerine cake “to go.” What a joke that was to order it “to go” because we ended up eating it right on the table. Yum!

Not only was the food wonderful, but the service was great, too. A couple members of the staff stopped by to chat with us, and we even got to meet Julia herself! It was so nice chatting with the person whose creations we’d been enjoying all night. Try finding that at a chain!

TIP: Bring cash – they don’t take checks or credit cards.

Check Julia’s out online: http://julias.vpweb.com

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Next time on TCL – photos from Kiawah Island!

Kronuts Have Hit Charlotte, NC!

When I heard kronuts were finally available in the Queen City, I knew I needed to find out more…Stat! I learned from my friend Keia’s article on Creative Loafing that Fourth Ward Bread Company was planning to kick off their grand opening with a kronut bar from 6:00-6:30pm last Friday. Naturally, I planned to be there to help celebrate and do some research for you guys.

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And, “What is a kronut?” you may ask.

Kronut = croissant + donut

Yup, you read that right! It’s the next big thing since sliced…err…the cupcake.

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Located off of Graham Street in uptown Charlotte, this new bakery is centrally located. There is a lot of construction around Graham Street for the baseball stadium, so there may be detours, but they are worth it if you can get your hands on the elusive kronut. Trust me!

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I love the open, airy feeling inside the bakery that welcomes you with a big bear hug of natural light.

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I left straight from work to hit up the grand opening and arrived just in time to see the kronuts in process.

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{Crème Brûlée in progress}

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{Lemon}

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{Crème Brûlée – complete}

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{Coffee}

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I was so excited to finally try the famous kronut. Could it really live up to all the hype? Flavor-wise, I went for my favorite – Nutella. I ordered two – one for me and one for hubby.

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However, after just a bite or two, I knew I needed more. More flakey, sweet, doughy, chocolately goodness. More edible happiness.

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Just look at all those layers. How could you not want just one more kronut?

I ended up finishing my first kronut and got two more to go (Strawberry and Crème Brûlée). I figured dinner would probably be a good idea, so I went home for savory eats before digging into my last kronut…which ended up being half of the Nutella and half of the Crème Brûlée.

I will need more of these very soon, I can already tell.

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But, Fourth Ward Bread Company has more than just kronuts! They will also be serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner most nights, so check em out for all kinds of eats. Grab a nice, sunny spot to read a book. Get some treats to go. Go crazy!

Tip #1: I’ve heard the kronuts sell out in about the first hour of opening, so if you want kronuts, go early! Your dessert-stomach will thank me!

Tip #2: Follow @sugarrmann on Instagram for behind the scene photos of the delicious baked goods at Fourth Ward Bread Company!

Which do you think is ruling the dessert world – the kronut or the cupcake?

Charlotte Food Blogger Tasting at Red Ginger

You know those restaurants where they create giant fireballs on the flattop grills right in front of you? Where they make onion volcanos and throw shrimp into the mouths of the strangers dining with you? I love those places. Hibachi restaurants were a treat for us when I was growing up, and they’ll always have a special place in my heart. So, I was very excited to hear that a new sushi and hibachi restaurant opened up in town.

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I was even more happy when Red Ginger offered to do a blogger tasting event for some of us local food bloggers.

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Red Ginger is located uptown (aka downtown) in Charlotte, NC next to The Green. Since the weather was so pretty, I decided to snap a few shots in The Green before heading over. It’s so nice to have this colorful, little spot in the middle of the gray and silver of the corporate buildings towering above.

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Red Ginger offered up a variety of their best dishes for us to sample.

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I loved their calamari – firm bites with a crispy-crunchy outside. It’s silly, I guess, but I liked how the calamari were shaped in rings. I don’t normally order calamari at restaurants, but I’d be willing to share a plate of these with hubby, who really enjoys them.

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The Crispy Duck Roll was probably my least favorite of the night, mostly because I’m just not a duck fan. There were slivers of duck on the inside, a soft wrapper on the outside, and a dollop of a sweet brown sauce on top. I thought the outside would be a little more crisp because of the name, but the dish was still a winner with the other food bloggers in attendance.

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In contrast, I love shrimp. Besides chicken and steak, it’s one of my favorite non-veg proteins, and it’s definitely my favorite seafood. These Rock Shrimp were crunchy on the outside and tossed in some sort of sweet, almost creamy sauce. I must admit, I’m not sure I would have ever ordered this before since I usually stick to my favorites, but now that I’ve sampled it, I absolutely would. This was actually probably my favorite appetizer of the night.

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Food blogger in action!

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Here’s the tempura appetizer – a mix of shrimp and vegetables. I sampled the onion, which was great – nice and classic tempura.

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Pictured above is the coconut shrimp. These guys looked delicious, but I didn’t sample this one this time around. Coconut shrimp is something I’d normally order off of almost any menu, so I’ll just have to get one next time.

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With that, we moved on to the sushi! This is the sashimi bowl. Isn’t it beautiful? The presentation at Red Ginger is gorgeous on all plates, but this one stole the show. I’ve never seen sashimi presented like this before.

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Next, the sushi rolls showed up. Here’s the Leap Roll: Spicy salmon, white tuna, yellow tail, crunchy masago (salmon egg), special sauce. Yum!

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This is why a food blogger should always take multiple photos of a plate. I goofed and took only one, and of course, it was blurry. Oops! I wanted to share the photo anyways because this was my favorite of the sushi rolls – Cherry blossom: Soy paper (pink), Spicy tuna, Avocado, Shrimp tempura. I look forward to ordering this one again in the future! This roll tasted as good as it looked, and I liked the playful presentation.

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The last roll was closest to the type of sushi roll I’d normally order, so I definitely enjoyed this one – Pink Floyd: Spicy crab, Shrimp tempura, Soy paper, Avocado on top, Crunchy masago, Tobiko (fish egg).

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And we got to enjoy one last appetizer sample – a classic for me – potstickers! Always a favorite in my family.

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I was impressed to learn they make their ginger dressing in house. I love this stuff!

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And another favorite of mine was offered for dessert – mochi! Love love love this stuff, and we got to sample three flavors. I went for the red bean (bottom right of the above photo).

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{Fabulous food bloggers and our new friend, Don}

Overall, I had a great experience at the tasting event and had a blast meeting some new, local food bloggers. I was impressed by the quality of Red Ginger’s food and attention to detail. They do have hibachi options that you can order from regular tables or the classic flat top, family-style tables at both lunch and dinner. If you want to go on a romantic date or girls’ night out, you could have a great night uptown, starting with dinner at Red Ginger. They even do free valet after 6pm (according to their web site). And here’s some more info…

Weekly specials:

M – $3 DRAFTS

T – 1/2 PRICE BOTTLES OF WINE

W – 1/2 OFF REGULAR SUSHI ROLLS

R – $5 FRUIT MARTINI

F – $5 SAKE BOMB / SAKE MARTINIS

S – $3 DRAFTS, $5 COSMOS, MAITAIS, AND LONG ISLANDS

***

Thank you Mary for coordinating this fun and tasty event, and thank you Red Ginger for having us!

***

Disclaimer: Yes, the food and drinks were provided for the sampling event free of charge, but they also told us bloggers to be honest in our post, which I was going to be already. ;) The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine {Orlando, FL}

One thing that I enjoy most about travel is eating. We usually have a Zumba Convention tradition of going to Café TuTu Tango, but we also usually have almost half of our team of instructors together. This year, I went with my friend Sarah only, so it seemed too sad to uphold the tradition without the rest of the team.

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Instead, we hit up one of my favorite chains, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Yes, I said “chain.” I know I typically like visiting local restaurants when I’m traveling, but I love Roy’s (click here to view a post about a previous visit), and it isn’t your typical chain restaurant. According to their web site, the chefs at Roy’s utilize local ingredients and even get to design a portion of the menu. I saw the menu part first hand. The fabric-bound menu had all the usual favorites that every Roy’s features, plus a whole page designed by the Orlando chef, Mac Lynch.

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Think those flowers are real? Sarah guessed they weren’t, and I guessed they were. Sarah was right!

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I love open kitchens, though I did get in trouble for trying to snap a couple closer shots of the chefs in action. Oopsie!

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For my drink, I tried out their specialty – “The Original” Hawaiian Martini – “In classic Hawaiian fashion, our Maui pineapples are drenched in SKYY Vodka, Stoli Vanil Vodka & Malibu Coconut Rum. Hand shaken to order.”

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The complimentary edamame was the best edamame I’ve had, mostly thanks to the special togarashi spice blend they use to season the bite-sized snacks. I found a similar spice blend on Amazon called, Shichimi Togarashi, and I’m strongly considering buying some to try to re-create this snack at home.

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Sarah and I were going to order the prix fixe menu but decided to order our own entrées and share an appetizer and dessert instead. For our starter, we tried the Lobster Potstickers with Spicy Togarashi Miso Butter Sauce. I’ve never seen potstickers made with lobster, and these were not only unique, but tasty, too. The crispy outside provided a nice contrasting texture to the tender lobster inside, and the potstickers went great with the sauce.

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Sarah had the Seared Sea Scallops – “Potato Purée, Pork Belly, Fennel, Apple, Honey Coriander Glaze”.

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I thought about getting the mahi mahi, but another dish caught my eye – Teppanyaki Shrimp – “House-made Togarashi Noodle, Sambal, Tomato, Garlic, Thai Basil & Asparagus”. I was worried this may be a little boring compared to some of the other entrées on the menu, but my choice was spot on for me. The thing that really caught my attention was how the noodles were house-made. I guess I have a thing for from-scratch carbs (pastas, pastries, and breads).

Not only that, but you can’t really get noodles like these anywhere else. These noodles had the (also) house-made togarashi spice blend (that I liked on the edamame so much) in the noodles. The spices gave the whole dish a fiery bite, and I loved the flecks of vegetables and fresh herbs that made it into each bite. I may have to re-order this again at next year’s convention!

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For dessert, Sarah and I shared the pineapple upside down cake, which was simple but wonderful. The cake was served hot with sweet, little bites of caramelized pineapple on top and cool ice cream with fresh fruit on the side. Yum!

By the time we were ready to go, we were on a serious food high. You know, the kind where you’re just so happy with the dining experience you just enjoyed that you’re utterly stuffed and can’t stop smiling. Yup, that was us.

Till next year, Roy’s! Thank you for another amazing eating adventure!

My Latest Work Uniform {Outfit} and Nom Nom burger

I tend to wear the same thing to work. Once I’ve found something I like, I wear that over and over and over again. Not literally the same outfit. It’s more like the same kind of outfit.

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My current uniform = cropped skinny pants (that are a little loose) + t-shirt + jacket that is a sweater that looks like a blazer (so comfy!) + heels/flats

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Not sure exactly why I love my pants so loose. Some of it is a comfort thing. Some of it is not wanting people noticing my outfit in a way other than I had intended. I like looking professional, not sexy, when I’m at work. I’ll save those stretchy skinny jeans/pants for another occasion! Either way, maybe some of it is also because I’m really a tomboy at heart. You knew this, yes?

Anywho, I scored these red pants on sale plus an extra 30% off making them only $27.99 (down from $89.99, marked on sale to $39.99)

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And this jacket has been a real staple for me on my new work project. I wear this thing almost once a week or at least every other week. I found this on sale for $69.99 and got it for $48.99 after an extra 30% off.

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Full outfit:

  • Red dress pants: J Crew
  • T-Shirt: Gap
  • Navy Sweater Jacket: J. Crew
  • Peep-Toe Heels: Banana Republic
  • Tote: Michael Kors

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Not my best picture, but you can see my shorter hair cut pretty well here. My hair has grown out a couple inches since this photo was taken (been meaning to blog it for awhile). I’m now at the point where I need to decide if I want to grow my hair out and have it long-ish for fall/winter or go short again. I’m leaning towards short…especially with Zumba convention coming up next month!

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We recently checked out one of the new-ish restaurants in town, Nom Nom Burger, which features Asian style burgers.

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The burgers are wonderful. I love the way they cook their burgers but the Asian themed toppings really take things over the top. This is a photo of the Kalbi Burger – “Sterling Silver® ground beef. Kalbi marinade. Kimchi. Fried egg. Sesame roasted nori. Spicy aioli. Roasted garlic.”

This one was good, but the Nom Nom Burger is our fave – “Sterling Silver® ground beef glazed with house special teriyaki sauce. Provolone cheese. Fresh sauteed Shiitake mushrooms with mirin. Caramelized onions with ginger orange marmalade. Mayo.”

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The restaurant features other dishes for the non-burger fan, like Yakisoba (Japanese style noodles with veggies and optional addition of chicken for $2). The noodles were great, but the burger is still tops in my eye.

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Nom Nom Burger has delicious desserts (try the “Xango” – cheesecake and puff pastry…hello!), but if you’re wanting something simple, you can always hit up the Ben & Jerry’s right across the patio.

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Reader question: What’s your work uniform?

Not Just Coffee at Atherton Mills Market {Charlotte, NC}

In case you haven’t heard, Not Just Coffee is now at Atherton Mills Market in Southend Charlotte!

As big as Charlotte, NC is, I’m always surprised there aren’t more small, local coffee shops in town. Luckily, Not Just Coffee entered the Charlotte scene in 2011, and they been making a name for themselves with delicious coffees and teas ever since. It’s the type of place where you can grab a tea latte, a Counter Culture pour-over brew, or a gourmet latte with foam art on top. They’ve been in 7th Street Market for awhile, but I’m really happy to see them expanding to one of my favorite places around – Atherton Mills.

They recently had a grand opening event to hundreds of welcoming patrons. Here are some photos from the event:

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The Herban Legend food truck was there, too.

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Not Just Coffee is still working through their business hours, but here’s their latest tweet on that topic:

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And they’re pretty responsive on twitter, so if you’re not sure, send them a tweet at @NotJCoffeeClt.

Stop by for a delicious brew and grab some other local goodies while you’re there – Cloister honey, farm fresh fruits and veggies, and more! Thanks for reading!

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