Good morning, friendly faces!
Today marks my 104th post, since starting this little bloggie last October. Somehow I just passed right by #100, so I’m recognizing it now. I can’t believe it. I look forward to hundreds more!!!
Also, PSA announcement. Try these flavors of hummus. I am obsessed with the thai coconut.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I went to my first restaurant meet up with the Charlotte Food Bloggers. It was a really neat experience and I thought I’d share it with you guys.
There were 18 of us there, and of those 18 people, there were two men. Odds in their favor, huh?
The dinner was at Evoke, in the lobby the Le Méridien hotel, which was ranked 7th on the 50 Best Restaurants in Charlotte list this year. Definitely a treat to finally get to eat there!
Evoke is a “new-age steakhouse” whose focus is on steaks, house-made pastas and fresh crudos using seasonal ingredients.
I was a little apprehensive about finding the group initially since I had never met anyone in person before. I walked in and found the only group of ladies in site at the bar, which turned out to be them. We were then ushered into a private dining room in the back of the restaurant. Fortunately, it was lit pretty well. They must have known we would be taking a bunch of food photos 🙂
I know my next experience will be different because I will be familiar with more people, but it’s a little awkward in the beginning not knowing anyone. You can start small talk, learn a little bit about the person sitting next to you or across from you, learn about his/her blog, recipes, etc., so that’s what I did in the beginning.
One of my favorite things about it was the reassurance that I wouldn’t be the only weird person taking pictures of food. That’s one of the hardest parts about going out and blogging about it – more often than not, the lighting is dark, the tables are close to others, people are probably judging you for taking pictures, and Ed just doesn’t have the patience to wait for me to get “the perfect shot.” It was pretty funny that we all took pictures of each dish as they came.
The servers offered us a choice of red or white wine. We were given the menu ahead of time (which I loved so I could know what to expect), and the dishes were true to the menu. We tasted five small dishes that gave an idea of the variety on the menu, but also provided enough food for a meal!
Chef Reinken came out to discuss each dish before we ate it. I liked having the expert explain the flavors and learning more about each dish and pairing.
First out was a small spring greens salad, with radish, snap peas, prosciutto and a meyer lemon vinaigrette. I really liked the lemon vinaigrette – it was nice and light and helped transform the salad dish from something ordinary to something a little more complex.
Next up was the carne crudo (similar to a tartar) dish with lemon, pickled mushrooms, and mustard seed. I absolutely love mustard seed, I’m in a total mustard phase right now. I’ve had tartar a handful of times, and each time I have it, I like it more and more. This dish was a winner in my mind.
We then tried escolar, which is a raw fish, with snap peas, onions, lemons and coriander oil. Evoke has snap peas in many of their dishes right now – loving this seasonal touch!
The next course was a pasta dish with lobster, spring peas, garlic and truffle butter. The truffle butter was a great addition with the lobster. I loved the taste of this dish and it wasn’t too heavy.
Last up was the seafood brodetto, a bowl with scallops, mussels, shrimp, roasted tomatoes and black garlic brodo. Brodo is like an italian broth or soup stock (I did not know this). It was so good to soak up with the toasted bread. Being a Rhode Island girl, I LOVE seafood and loved not having to choose just one dish – this had a bunch of choices in one! The scallop was my favorite.
I’m so glad I reached out to learn more about the local food blogger group in Charlotte. There may be some in your cities, and if so, I urge you to reach out (or try to start your own)! Part of the challenge of blogging can be when you don’t feel like you’re reaching your readers or connecting, but a group like this reminds you of the many like-minded people around you, and can be a great resource for support and motivation.
Any fun plans for the long weekend? I think we’ll be heading down to Greenville, SC, for a day, and maybe heading to the White Water Center for a day of adventure! It’s officially 90+ degree weather here in Charlotte so I hope to find some cool water to cool off in.
What’s your favorite seafood? Tough for me to decide between shrimp, scallops and salmon. I’d probably say wild caught salmon!