Saturday, December 29, 2012

Amy on Food in Charlotte Observer

Things have been so busy lately I have not had a chance to post. Fear not. Amy on Food will return in full force in 2013. In the mean time enjoy this article about Amy on Food, which was in the Charlotte Observer on 12/16/2012.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar

 Tuna Nachos - love the Crab Rangoon dip served on top.

I was recently invited to check out The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, a Charlotte restaurant that pushes the limits on the definitions of "sushi" and "burger" and even invents its own words like "burgushi" to describe combinations that blend elements of burgers and sushi. The menu here is ENORMOUS! You could not get through it even after a dozen visits. There is plenty for everyone with the burgers and the sushi standing out as the main items to consider. There are some great appetizer options also including the above tuna nachos we enjoyed. 

Inside, there is a sushi bar and a full bar (including sake selections) and lots of trendy, modern sushi theme art lines the walls. The patio, heated for winter enjoyment, is a great option also, although if you want the vibe you should stay inside. Even with the obvious attraction for the young adult crowd, The Cowfish is welcoming to families and the wait staff didn't blink an eye when we brought in our infant for an early dinner. 

If you haven't yet tried The Cowfish, it is definitely an experience and a destination. I look forward to returning again to try the burgers (more than a dozen combinations plus an option to build your own) and the build your own sushi - what fun!


Sweet and Spicy Thai Cucumbers - available as an appetizer or side.

The Motherload sushi platter - includes every piece of fish on the sushi menu! Unique presentation and very tasty. They even have different flavors of fish roe for the top of the roll which tops a California roll with all types of sashimi.

Close up of the fried shrimp head, also on the Motherload platter.

Filet and Lobster Roll. Very inventive!

Sushi bar.

Patio where we sat.


The Grasshopper milkshake - mint chocolate chip goodness.

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bonefish Grill Celebrates National Seafood Month

Famous Bang Bang Shrimp - it's so good, it's trademarked!

I was recently invited to check out Bonefish Grill at their location in Matthews, NC near Charlotte. October is National Seafood Month and in celebration Bonefish has some special menu items on tap. We sat near the bar area and had a fabulous time sampling some of the National Seafood Month menu items along with several classic menu items that are always available. Don't miss the Bang Bang Shrimp. The mussels Josephine were also really tasty. From the special menu my favorites include the swordfish with pumpkin ravioli - love sweet raviolis - and the tuna entree, served with a whole grilled jalepeno. Bonefish also has a wide selection of wines and cocktails. Calvin enjoyed the fresh apple martini and later, an espresso martini. I enjoyed trying some of the non-alcoholic specialty drinks. Bonefish Grill is a great place for an upscale meal that won't break the bank - and there are plenty of options for non-seafood lovers as well including the tasty filet that we tried. Check them out before National Seafood Month ends. This location also serves Sunday brunch - a great idea!

Surf and Turf Roll (back) and Ahi Tuna Sashimi appetizer.

Mussels Josephine - great sauce for dipping the delicious bread!

Ahi Tuna Special with grilled jalepeno and delicious rice - kicking it up a notch!

Filet Mignon - available with various special toppings. 

Fresh Apple Martini - enjoyed by all.

Wood grilled swordfish with pumpkin ravioli - the ravioli is amazing!

Bonefish also has delicious desserts including this warm chocolate concoction with ice cream and berry sauce.

Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Friendship Trays - Garden Party Saturday 10/13/12

Friendship Gardens.

If you have not yet heard about Friendship Trays and its many affiliate programs, you are truly missing out on a vital community organization in Charlotte and a worthwhile volunteer and donation opportunity. Friendship Trays provides meals - cost is based on income and ranges from nothing to $4.50 - to people of any age who are unable to prepare a healthy meal and have no resource to help them do so. Most people pay less than $1 per meal and volunteers make up the bulk of the manpower that runs this daily operation. The program receives no government funding and counts on donations and a huge volunteer effort to keep going. 

An affiliate garden program called Friendship Gardens, which is a partnership between Slow Food Charlotte and Friendship Trays, helps people start community gardens and accepts donations back from the gardens, including local, fresh foods in the delivered meals. 

Friendship Gardens is hosting its annual fundraiser, a fun Autumn Garden Party, this Saturday October 13, 2012, including food, music, dancing and mischief in the garden. Tickets are $50 and you can buy them online or pay when you arrive. Registration is here

To donate to Friendship Trays, click here

Also on site is the Community Culinary School of Charlotte (CCSC), which trains unemployed individuals, including some former offenders, to cook and offers help with resume building and interview skills so that graduates are sure to find permanent positions in the culinary field. 

Encore Catering, which grew out of the CCSC and is also on site at the same facility as Friendship Trays, uses students and graduates to prepare food for all sorts of events including weddings. Their rates are competitive and from what I hear, the food is excellent.

Please check out these great organizations and the other Friendship Trays partners - there is so much available on the website. You can also arrange to tour the facility as I did - trust me, you will be impressed with the organization and the direct effect on the community that is obvious when you learn how many folks benefit from Friendship Trays and its affiliates.

More than 800 active clients receive meals from Friendship Trays with 550 - 650 meals being delivered every day! I love this map, which shows all of the clients served and the routes.

Meals are delivered in two parts. Above, the salad/fruit/bread tray, which does not need to be warmed.

The main dish of the day, which is delivered cold and heated up by the client.

Busy at work in the kitchen preparing the meals. Both volunteers and full time employees make this operation possible. Students at the Community Culinary School of Charlotte take 14 week classes and some work in the Friendship Trays kitchen.

Fresh peppers delivered from one of the many community gardens.

Friendship Trays partners with many community organizations including the Community Culinary School of Charlotte and Encore Catering. 

Lots happens at 2401 Distribution Street! Volunteering and/or donating is a great way to help our community. If you would like to volunteer, 125 drivers are needed every day to fulfill 94 routes and kitchen volunteers are also needed.

Contact Lani Lawrence at to volunteer.

Another view of Friendship Gardens.

Cloister Honey - A Local Charlotte Find

Whipped honey and Arbol Pepper Infused Honey.

Cloister Honey is a local Charlotte honey company that produces all sorts of traditional and creative honey flavors, as well as beeswax candles. Everything is made with products from the owners' own hives. Although the business started as a hobby, it has now blossomed to include hives not only in the owners' backyard but also on the roof of the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte! The honey is available at Atherton Mills Market, Dean & Deluca, Whole Foods, Reids and quite a few other locations, which can be viewed here. I really enjoy the Atherton location, where you can often find co-owner Randall York, selling the honey products himself.

I had the opportunity to sample the whipped honey, the arbol pepper infused honey, and the seasonal pumpkin whipped honey and all are delicious! The arbol pepper infused honey is great for cooking - we made grilled chicken with it as a marinade/basting sauce and it was very tasty. I look forward to trying more varieties of honey and including them in homemade recipes!

Co-owner Randall York with honey and bees at Atherton Mills Market.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Hazelnuts Creperie - Uptown Charlotte

Mexicana Breakfast Crepe: egg fried or scrambled, bacon, black beans, tomato, red onion, avocado and swiss cheese - a great start to the morning!

I was so excited to hear that Hazelnuts Creperie opened in uptown Charlotte. Located in the lobby of 200 South Tryon Street, the casual eatery is open 7 AM until 4 PM weekdays. I met up with a friend for lunch here in August and we really enjoyed sharing the BBQ Chicken Crepe, the Florentine Crepe, which is vegetarian and the Banana Nutella crepe (below) - all so delicious.

At lunch more than 10 signature crepes, including 3 veggie, are available and you can also create your own crepe with any fillings you like. In addition to what we tried there is a Pesto Chicken crepe, a Buffalo Chicken crepe, a ham and Swiss Crepe a South West Veggie crepe and more. Dessert crepes are also available all day and locally roasted coffee is served as well. With the dessert crepes there are several signatures and you can also build your own.

When owner and chef Asi Agajan found out I was a blogger, he invited us to return to Hazelnuts to try his breakfast offerings. We loved the Mexicana (above) and the Chevere & Mozz was also very good. There are 4 signature breakfast crepes, all loaded with eggs + other toppings and, as with the lunch and dessert crepes, you can always create your own breakfast crepe as well. We also tried some sweet crepes that are suitable for breakfast or dessert - the "Not French Toast" with maple syrup, cinnamon, powdered sugar, whipped cream (also available with ice cream) and walnuts was fabulous as was the less sugary Berry Delight with strawberries, goat cheese, walnuts and honey.

Hazelnuts has seating available in the cafe itself and there is seating on comfortable leather ottomans just outside the restaurant in the lobby as well. Takeout is, of course, available. Charlotte does not have many places where crepes are available so this is a real find. It is truly worth a visit to uptown Charlotte to sample these delicious offerings, perfect for breakfast, lunch, a snack or dessert and coffee! I will be back at Hazelnuts soon for sure.

Owner and Chef Asi Agajan in action making a crepe.

Chevre & Mozz: egg either fried or scrambled with olives, red onion, mushrooms, goat cheese and mozzarella.

Not French Toast with Whipped Cream - so delicious. I could eat this every day - really!

Berry Delight with Ice Cream - love that it contains goat cheese and honey!

Nutella Banana - a classic.
Hazelnuts Crêperie on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The breakfast described in this review was complimentary. The lunch was not.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

East Boulevard Bar & Grill

Cobb Salad - love this version.

I had the pleasure of dining at East Boulevard Bar & Grill recently for lunch. This place is quite nostalgic for me even though it is now located a few blocks west of the old location on East in Latta Pavillion. As a kid my dad and I used to dine here with some frequency and I remember the salads, the round fries and the tuna melt - all still available. Lucky for me the Grill is even closer to my house! I also love that the new location allows the front windows to be raised, opening the restaurant up to the street, which is perfect for people watching and an urban touch not seen enough in Charlotte. Definitely a great place to have a beer and watch a game, too.

The menu includes lots of great appetizers (think nachos, wings and quesadillas among other items) sandwich options including the popular oven roasted grinders, a French dip and a Reuben, burgers and salads. The below fish tacos are another option. Entrees, including fried shrimp, grilled or blackened fish, pot pie and fish and chips are also available. If you haven't tried East Boulevard Bar & Grill you definitely should! I look forward to returning soon to try more menu items.

Signature round fries - brings back memories!

Fish Tacos with Slaw.


Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quaker Steak and Lube - New Pineville Location

Wings in 2 varieties: Thaisian and Hot with celery/carrot sticks and blue cheese.

I was recently invited to check out the new Pineville location of Quaker Steak & Lube. Located near Carolina Place Mall, the restaurant boasts a large indoor seating area, covered patio with bar outside and outside deck seating. We opted to sit on the deck, near where cornhole games are available for patrons' use. A full drink menu is available and Calvin enjoyed a couple of margaritas with dinner. There is a wide variety of food available here including more than 20 kinds of wings, burgers, sandwiches, salads, entrees and appetizers like the below shrimp quesadillas. They are constantly adding new menu items and lighter items are noted on the menu. The Pineville location has specials almost every day including Bike Night (Thursday), All You Can Eat Wings!! - both bone-in (Tuesday) and boneless (Wednesday) and Family Night (Monday) when kids eat free. There is a location in Concord also - I'm sure very popular with the Speedway crowd - as well as locations in many other states. If you haven't already, check out the Quaker Steak & Lube in Pineville!

Shrimp Quesadilla.

The new Pineville location.

Arizona El Camino burger with tasty onion rings.

Caramel Apple Nachos - a sweet treat to end the meal.

Quaker Steak & Lube on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.