Our call to stay at the house that Saturday night turned out to be a good one. It rained off and on for most of the evening and to the best of our knowledge the fireworks show downtown was cancelled. With a show to see the next evening, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, we didn’t dawdle the next morning getting the house straightened out and cleaned up, breaking away before noon for one more stop on our way out of town at a recommended breakfast joint, Filo.
Joanna and I split a piece of flourless chocolate cake and a ham and Gruyere baguette while also sharing a large Latte. Both food items were as recommended with fresh ingredients and delightful to eat. We finished our breakfast and made the two ½-hour drive home, this time on the more direct route of the I-40 and the 321 to the I-85. Back home we relaxed and whiled away the afternoon as we prepared for our evening out.
Dinner would be at 5 Church in uptown at 5th and Church, early enough in the evening to give us time for a leisurely meal and a short walk over to the Booth Playhouse for the show. We had last eaten there a couple of years ago with a dinner group we belong to and had found the food and service to be worth a repeat visit. We parked a few blocks away in a lot closer to the Theater to shorten our walk after the show and on a beautiful, warm summer’s evening strolled over to the restaurant.
We started with a round of drinks and ordered appetizers to accompany them, the Pork Belly Spring Rolls (ginger dill slaw, pepper relish, and soy-chili sauce) and the Maine Mussels (toasted garlic, lime, white wine, crushed tomato, cream, and fines herb with grilled bread). Each were a nice way to begin, the Spring Rolls leaving you wanting more, the Mussels good to the last bit of sauce soaked up by the final piece of bread.
Service here is quite good, attentive without being intrusive. Soon enough our entries came; for Joanna the Grilled C.A.B. Hanger Steak, Kris the Lamb Burger (red onion marmalade, gorgonzola fondue, arugula, house made sesame bun, crispy confit potato), Jessica the Prime 60 Second NY Strip Steak (grilled to crispy on one side, pink through the middle, and on the other side is left essentially not grilled) and I, the winner of the night, a Pan Roasted Tile Fish (creamed Carolina gold rice, fricassee of peas, carrots, sweet onions, romaine lettuce, smoky buerre blanc).
I have had this mild-tasting white fish a couple of times on different occasions and find it has a sweet flavor similar to crab or lobster, which is what it mainly feeds on. In this case, the sauce, made by reducing hot emulsified butter with vinegar and/or white wine (normally Muscadet) and grey shallots provides a rich and buttery neutral flavor that responds well to other seasonings and while light and airy it is thick enough to cling to food, in this case the fish and the vegetables that accompanied it.
Too full for dessert, we walked the block or two it took to get to the theater entrance, which can be hard to find if you are not familiar with it as it is located inside the atrium of the Bank of America Center. We entered and found our seats and settled in for a fun show. We’d seen the performance with Jessica a few years back and hoped that it would be as enjoyable this time around as it was then.
It was a good show, full of double entendre and funny audience participation. Perhaps not as memorable, as the first time we saw it performed (elements had changed since the last visit) it was still worth an evening out as we left the theater chuckling over some of the more worthwhile jokes.
Monday was to be a day of relaxing, low key with only a planned visit to Amelie’s in the morning to meet up with Joanna’s sister Debi and her kids, Kristen with boyfriend Andrew and Shaun, with girlfriend Hannah. Amelie’s is a Charlotte institution, known for their salted caramel brownies and all things pastry. Open 24 hours a day, it is constantly busy and surprisingly large; a labyrinth of rooms decorated in a style that is unique. Here is how one of the owner’s describes it:
The decor is the real jewel of our bakery; it gives us our je ne sais quois. From the beginning, it has been painstakingly curated piece by piece by owner Brenda Ische. “I find interesting aspects in the most mundane objects, seeing them for what they could be, not what they are” is just a piece of her philosophy on design with its playful mix of French antiques, bright colours, tangible installation art elements and always with strokes of the suis generis.
It was a gorgeous morning, typical of what we experience in Charlotte in the summer. Warm but not overly hot (it would get much warmer as the day progressed), blue skies, no breeze to speak of. We sat outside eating, drinking and talking, a meandering conversation without lull that last almost two hours. Given the distance between all of us, it was good for these cousins who had spent much time together while growing up to get a chance to reconnect, if only for this brief time period.
We left Amelie’s, went home to get some grocery shopping done in anticipation of cooking a roast chicken that night for dinner, then later in the afternoon set out for Birdsong Brewing’s new location, closer to Uptown on North Davidson. One of our favorite Charlotte Breweries (there are now more than 15 in town and the surrounding area) the new location is larger, more open and features a very nice outdoor seating area. I usually order their Higher Ground IPA, a smooth drinking west coast representation of that style of beer and the others sampled generously from the choices on draft that day.
Joanna had one of their Doin’ Thyme Witbier’s, a Belgian-style wheat with sweet thyme and coriander aromas, and hints of lemon and I finished with the limited release Three Little Birds, a tart Belgian Tripel at 9.2% heavy influences of strawberry and plum jam on the nose, and flavorful raspberry characteristics. Though not generally a big fan of tart or sour beers, I found this one to be a refreshing change, the high alcohol content muted by the fruit flavors that start and finish each sip.
One of the best elements of Birdsong is there generous offering of peanuts in the shell. Not sure if we ate more than our share, but there are few combinations more satisfying than peanuts and beer. We finished up at Birdsong and made our way home for a quiet evening after our busy schedule of the last few days. Upon awakening the next morning, emails received the night before informed us that their flight had been cancelled. While they were sleeping in I called customer service to find out that the impact of the cancellation was such the they would not be on the same flight to the west coast, and potentially have flights that would get them into San Francisco to catch the last BART train to Oakland.
By this time, they’d arisen and confirmed they could fly the next day if necessary; this freed up the bottleneck and we got them on a non-stop in the morning. So an inconvenience turned into a bonus, one more day together. It was a good way to finish up their visit, gaining a few more hours with each other, so precious when we live so far apart.
Dixie’s Tupperware Party: http://www.dixiestupperwareparty.com/
5 Church: http://www.5church.com/
Birdsong Brewing: http://www.birdsongbrewing.com/