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Southern Living article about Charlotte

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Would any locals or Southerners care to weigh in on the merit of the recent Southern Living article calling Charlotte "the South's new food city"?

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  1. I would say Charlotte is not yet the food city. However it keeps getting better and better. New ethnic options, more Johnson and Wales grads entering the market makes for more fine dining options. People moving here from all over the country, bringing their food experiences with them. Southern traditions being kept alive and also being expanded upon. More and more super high quality fresh local produce,meats,cheese,eggs,etc. It is getting exciting here.
    Charlotte is the South's emerging food city and stay tuned this is only the beginning.

    1. I agree w/ GFL. It's emerging, but Charlotte ain't there yet. It's come a long way for certain. J&W can only help us. I think the next 10 yrs will serve us well, food-wise. But there is a lot of mediocre and an overwhelming amount of chains. We need locals to show an interest in and frequent the independent places. I've seen many great small establishments go under.

      Our problem in a nutshell - most folks here don't care about good, local food. They got the $$, but they ain't got the time. I hope that changes...soon.

      The Matthews farmer's market this past wknd showed promise. Looked like everyone was selling out - Baucom's Best beef (their flank steak rocks), Grateful Growers (get the paprika bacon) and Bosky Acres goat cheese is heaven on a fresh tomato!

      9 Replies
      1. re: lynnlato

        Do you really think its about not having time. A bad meal at Applebee's is no faster than a good meal. I think many people have never been exposed to good food. They grew up only eating canned veggies, perhaps the only Italian restaurant they have eaten in is the Open Kitchen. You cant miss what you don't know. I grew up in an apartment with no air conditioning. I never felt like it was a problem as I did not know better. Today I would never even think about living any where without plenty of central air conditioning. You cant appreciate a hormone fee, antibiotic free naturally raised chicken if you have never tried one. When you don't know better the over cooked dry bird that was on sale at the teeter tastes just fine. Even if waiting for that little thingy to pop up means its as dry a the sahara,it seem like a smart thing to do if you don't know better.

        1. re: GodfatherofLunch

          I just know that in my little suburban bubble folks are rushing from work to soccer practice, karate, school, etc. They always ask me how I find the time to cook. It just seems that they don't make the time and they don't really care. Plus, if you go to Applebee's you appease the children and you take out the element of choice. You know what your options are going to be, the kids will find something that satisfies their need for nugget-like food and you know how long it will take. Everything else is a priority. Food? Not so much.

          p.s. Please, I'm dying to know how the Grateful Growers dinner was? I heard it was a hit but I didn't get specifics!

          1. re: lynnlato

            Grateful Growers Farm Dinner
            The hands that Feed You - Real Food and Real Farmers

            On Saturday May 31, 2008 I had the pleasure of attending the Annual Grateful Growers Farm Dinner at the Grateful Growers Farm in Denver North Carolina.
            Less than an hour from Uptown Charlotte is the 10-acre Grateful Growers Farm. While not a huge farm an amazing amount of growing happens here.
            Co –Owners Cassie Parsons and Natalie Veres grow vegetables, produce; Shitake mushrooms and raise Tamworth hogs, Delaware chickens, Blue Swedish and Khaki Campbell ducks.

            All of the animals are raised outdoors on rolling pastures, which are not treated with chemical fertilizers or herbicides. The diets of pasture forage and grains are highly nutritious and free from hormones, antibiotics, and meat byproducts. They comply with animal husbandry standards established by the Animal Welfare Institute, ensuring the animals are safe, free from stress, and are able to behave naturally. There are no stuffy confinement pens or waste lagoons here.
            The Pigs are free to roam, root, and play in the sunshine and fresh air. The breeds they raise were especially selected for superior meat quality and hardiness for outdoor living.
            The Chickens are free ranging, producing delicious, nutritious meat and eggs.
            Produce is grown without synthetic pesticides, weed controls, or chemical fertilizers. As they believe food is a valuable gift, and shouldn’t be laced with poisons.

            Other farms participating in the event and supplying ingredients were Laughing Owl Farm, N’ Thyme Farm, Gilcrest Natural Farm, Rosemary Pete Herbs, My Bosky Acres, Fisher Family Farms and Pecan Lane Farm.
            The chef’s who participated in transforming these splendid ingredients into magnificent dishes were Ben Miles – formerly of Table Restaurant, Chris Vergili - Barrington’s, Mike Vergili- Carmel Country Club, Paul Malcolm - Johnson & Wales University, Paul Verica - The Club at Longview, Marla Thurman- Art Institute of Charlotte student, intern at Longview, baker at Downhome Bakery, Christine Strzepek - Down Home Bakery, Greg Balch and Mark Hibbs - Ratcliffe on the Green, Karl Hoffmann - Chef for executive staff, ACN and Liz Hale - The Compass Group.
            Perhaps the same skills set that make for an outstanding farmer also serve to make an outstanding event planner. The organization, level of planning and eye for details made this event move like a Swiss watch. The warm greeting, the interesting farm tour, the amazing entertainment featuring singer extraordinaire Melissa Reaves and the way the food and wine flowed to the tables were all flawless.
            For me all of this was eclipsed by one thing the quality of the food. Upon entering the farm our path was lined with several food stations. The smoking station offerings included Applewood smoked Whiskey brined heritage turkey, Mexican style chorizo wrapped in smoked chicken served with a mole sauce and Braised Pork Shoulder. Next the Vegetarian section with a Spring Peas salad and a Tomato and goat cheese Aroncini. The Charcuterie station featured a house made prosciutto a pork terrine and a pork rillette. The bread station had a fantastic array of artisan-baked breads. The beverage very needed as it was a very warm day served herbal tea, Belgian style white beer and Alligator ale and of course water.
            A brief tour of the farm allowed us to see the area where produce is grown and the shady area used to inoculate logs to grow shitake mushrooms (who knew). We also received a personal introduction to many lovely chickens and hogs and even a few dandy ducks.
            Having stretched our legs a bit it was time to enter the large white tent and begin dinner. Dinner was a magnificent tasting menu that followed a progression of light to richer dishes. Dinner included a salad with goat cheese and a light strawberry dressing. Succulent duck breast and ravioli stuffed with duck confit. Next a chicken dish with a sauce that contained bits of caramelized garlic that had become crispy and added a crunch almost like a mild garlic candy. Last was an unctuous braised portion of pork belly. It was at once juicy, smoky, and slightly crispy around the edges and just all around fantastic. Desert was not memorable and this is a shame as it is the last taste folks leave with, could be challenging to represent local ingredients well thru desert. Perhaps a simple fruit tart would fare better.
            The event was truly amazing and a huge success. I am grateful for Grateful Growers Farm and all of the farmers and chefs who produce healthy, delicious and local food for us.

            1. re: GodfatherofLunch

              THANK U, THANK U, THANK U, MY DEAR GFL!!!! I feel as though I had been there too. Beautiful description of the event. Man, what I wouldn't give for some of that smoked turkey. Duck confit ravioli? Oh baby! Fortunately, I have 2 lbs of GG pork belly in my freezer. I'm going to try and cure half of it (Cassie inspired and encouraged me) and the other half I'm going to recreate K.Purvis' seared pork belly on cheddar mustard crackers w/ strawberry jam. I've already made the jam. Just gotta make the crackers and cook up the pork!

              Beautiful, GFL. Glad you had a memorable time!

            2. re: lynnlato

              The other thing is that so many Charlotteans (I believe all three of us?) are from somewhere else. And if that somewhere else was somewhere without many good, innovative independent or Mom & Pop type restaurants that served the kind of food I grew up eating in and around NYC, then Applebee's seems like a good option. If the kids liked it in Cleveland, they'll like it here too. It's familiar. That said, in the dozen+ years I've been down here, the restaurant scene in the QC has EXPLODED. Even just in the past three years I've noticed a dramatic difference. I was driving a visiting cousin around S. Charlotte recently and she was AMAZED that we have both a Dean & DeLuca and a Trader Joe's. We cooked at home during her short visit but I think she would have been equally amazed at some of the restaurants that Charlotte has to offer.

            3. re: GodfatherofLunch

              I agree about people having never been exposed to good food...but i would like to add "in a restaurant." I have repeated myself here many times, but I think there is no "restaurant culture" around here. My mother as example, will eat at disgusting restaurants, but has total appreciation for fresh, local ingredients when it comes to her own cooking. She's a scratch baker, never uses prepackaged crap, grows her own corn,tomatoes, okra, blueberries (ok , i think the drought got those last year)...etc. But she's never been exposed to restaurants much beyond Red Lobster, so her standards are just lower. And if your educated upper-middle class folks don't care...good luck turning the tide toward great independent restaurants.

              Anyway, i tore out the article...which one's should I circle for my infrequent trips to Charlotte?

              1. re: danna

                Zink and Mimosa Grill are fine if you're confined to uptown but neither is especially good. The article really missed some of Charlotte's gems but all of the restaurants included have mass-appeal although I don't think Customshop has been shown much love on this board. It's refreshing that they seem to have left out Price's Chicken Coop and Mert's, although it's been a while since I read the article. Next time you're in town for an infrequent trip, let us know what part of town you'll be in and we'll bore you to tears with our opinions.

                1. re: danna

                  Interesting point about "in a restaurant". You may be on to something there. I wish yo momma and her garden lived next door to me!

                  As SI said, let us know when you will be in our next of the woods. We'll steer you right. Just as you did me last year when I was in G'ville.

                  1. re: danna

                    I hear you. Perhaps in the case of your Mom, Red Lobster offers something special that she would never ever make at home even though she sounds like a great cook. I bet she has never prepared lobster. To her the restaurant experience may be about going out having someone else do the cooking, serving and cleaning and not so much the food. Lame food may be a small price to pay for a night off. Perhaps yo mama only has been to "popular places" the type advertising on TV. You need to take her to some good local restaurants using fresh local ingredients and expand her horizons. She has got to love an evening with no labor and a great meal. Give it a shot and please let us know how she likes it.