October 29 – November 2
The next morning, Sunday, we’d get to participate in a bike ride we’ve long missed doing, that is the occasional Breakfast ride with Charlotte Area Cyclists, hosted by our good friend Maurice who started and runs the club. This is probably the shortest ride the club offers, as we’ve enjoyed many other local rides of 30 to 50 miles (Mint Hill, Huntersville, etc.), loads of charity rides and best of all, the annual Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride event each spring that alternated between the small coastal towns of Little Washington, Edenton, and Oriental.
We met up in front of the Bike Source bike store (where I bought my Niner and Joanna bought her Specialized Tri-Cross, the bikes we have with us on this trip) in the Park Road Shopping Center. Should we ever return to Charlotte to live, we’d gravitate to either our old neighborhood or to the one near Park Road, with its many shops and restaurants in easy walking distance.
We took off on the ride, as usual winding through neighborhoods we’d never visit by car, one of the appeals of this exercise being exploring new and different parts of the city. We eventually found ourselves on the long familiar Charlotte Rail Trail that parallels the light rail line for our stop for breakfast at Superica, housed in the former home of Atlanta Stove Works factory. This company was known for the Barrett Range, made of cast iron, and known for a design that forced the fire to “loop the loop” and very efficiently and evenly heat the entire oven.
At first a bit suspicious that we’d find suitable breakfast items here, we were knocked out by the meal we did receive, the Huevos Mexicanos. Consisting of 2 eggs scrambled with jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, cheese (kind of like Machaca but without shredded beef) and served with 2x fried frijoles, the freshness of the ingredients and just right mix of ingredients made for a flavor explosion in each bite. You’d attack it with a fresh rolled up flour tortilla in one hand and a fork in the other, alternating bites until the plate was clean, an achievement as we’d filled up on good chips and salsa waiting for our food.
Maurice ordered his usual, quite possibly the largest pancake in the history of that food item and surrounded by conversation with this great group with finally adjourned to take a picture of all in attendance before winding our way back to Park Road and a return to the Airbnb.
Later we met up with Lyndsey and Dave for what has become our regular Charlotte Sunday afternoon activity, hopping from one craft brewery to another before landing somewhere for dinner. This time we met at their house in Plaza Midwood and the traveled together to the NoDa neighborhood to start at one of Charlotte’s first craft breweries, NoDa Brewing Company.
NoDa (short for “North Davidson”) is a popular arts district located in the North Charlotte neighborhood on and around North Davidson Street and 36th Street, not terribly far from Uptown (Downtown to folks not from Charlotte). Formerly an area of textile manufacturing and mill workers’ residences, it has also served as a center for the arts and, in addition to historic mill houses, has seen a boom in residential construction in multifamily housing in recent years.
When we first moved to Charlotte, the neighborhood was known for its bimonthly gallery crawls, but its increasing popularity thanks to the subsequent addition of bars, music venues and restaurants drove rents up and eventually forced out the art galleries that helped to revive the neighborhood in the first place.
Early in our tenure in Charlotte, the only craft brewer that I can recall was (and is still operating on a large scale) Olde Mecklenburg Brewing. This was because up to 2005, ABV in beer (the level of alcohol) was capped at six percent in North Carolina. That year was pivotal, as the state legislature passed House Bill 392, a measure that amended the ABC Law to raise the nearly seventy-year-old cap on beer from six percent ABV to fifteen percent ABV. This amendment resulted from a two-year campaign, styled Pop the Cap, by local brewers and beer enthusiasts. In 2003, when the campaign started, only four states other than North Carolina had comparably low ABV caps on beer.
We would often visit NoDa’s original taproom, and Birdsong’s as well, on the southern outskirts of NoDa, not far from our favorite bakery Amelie’s (chronicled in this blog several times). They were small low-key affairs, with a casual vibe intended to appeal to beer aficionados, a forerunner of the burgeoning craft beer scene that would eventually inundate the city, which now boasts thirty in Charlotte alone with another twenty or so in the outskirts of town.
At NoDa I I started with one of their lighter beers, knowing we’d be in for a long afternoon of imbibing. Sitting outside on a warm fall afternoon is as good as it gets with good friends as you sip a fine beer and enjoy this pair out of the many friends we made in Charlotte during our eleven years there.
From there we found ourselves in the heart of NoDa at Salud Cerveceria, at one time a humble bottle shop taking up a single storefront and now occupying two store fronts upstairs and downstairs and brewing their own beer. I’d choose some higher gravity brew I can’t recall right now and we took our drinks outside to a narrow seating area that abutted the driveway to the parking structure of a large apartment complex that had been built during our tenure in town, replacing the dirt parking lot we used to use when seeing shows at the Neighborhood Theater around the corner.
Our final stop before dinner was two blocks down Davidson at the Protagonist, known more for their lighter Pilsners, Kolsch’s, and Pale Ales. It was just the right setting for a wind down of our crawl and placed us another short walk away for dinner at The Goodyear House, opened in 2019, the year we moved back to Los Angeles so this would be our first visit. Joanna and I both started with a cocktail, for her the Harvest Apple (spiced rum, apple cider, grenadine, pomegranate, edible gold luster) and for me a Highland Park Mill (Makers Mark, demerara, orange bitters, angostura bitters).
This a shareable type of establishment and that is what we did, starting with the Devilish Toast (smashed egg salad, Calabrian peppers, dill pickle on verdant seedy toast), Marinated Shrimp (with mignonette butter, chile oil, and saltines)and an order of Smoked Cashew Mac with chile breadcrumbs. I’m not a fan of deviled eggs (blame it on the flu I had when a child and I threw up after eating eggs, thus attaching an underserved aversion to them that I have manfully overcome in the intervening years). The Devilish Toast could cure me of that. Only time will tell.
Next up was a Mississippi Roast (braised pork shoulder, jimmy red grits, pickled peppers, milk gravy) and the Winner Winner (crispy BBQ poussin, butter beans, miso-mushroom broth, chow chow, cornbread). Poussin is a butcher’s term for a young chicken, less than 28 days old at slaughter and usually weighing 14–16 oz but not above 26 oz. It is sometimes also called spring chicken, and the word is the French language term for the same thing. Normally a portion is a whole poussin per person. In the United States, poussin is an alternative name for a small-sized crossbreed chicken called Rock Cornish game hen, developed in the late 1950s, which is twice as old and twice as large as the typical British poussin.
Regardless, it and the pork shoulder were delicious and between the four of easily consumed leaving just enough room to split a serving of Thicc Pie (chocolate ginger chess pie, orange malt candied ginger strudel, whip) for dessert. Was it good? We could have eaten two but that just might have pushed into being uncomfortably full, so reason prevailed.
And with that we finished yet another fine day in Charlotte, visiting with two different sets of friends and engaging in activities we are so well known for, that is, bike riding and beer drinking. Let the rest of our stay commence.
Charlotte Area Cyclists: https://www.meetup.com/Charlotte-Area-Cycling/
Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride: https://ncsports.org/event/cyclenc_coastal_ride/
NoDa Brewing Company: https://nodabrewing.com/
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery: https://www.oldemeckbrew.com/
Charlotte Breweries: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-around-town/article236119143.html
Salud Cerveceria: https://saludcerveceria.com/
Neighborhood Theater: https://neighborhoodtheatre.com/
The Protagonist: https://protagonistbeer.com/
The Goodyear House: https://thegoodyearhouse.com/