Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tales of a traveling mouth

Where have I been eating the last few days? Well . . .

Saturday morning: I stopped by the new shop for Your Mom's Donuts. Last April, when we checked in with Courtney Buckley and Benjamin Frye (and baby Violet), they were working around the clock to make their square doughnuts from mostly local ingredients (including frying them in leaf lard) and deliver them all around Charlotte. Now it's August, Courtney is selling doughnuts on Saturday mornings at the Matthews Community Farmer's Market, and Benjamin is running the new shop a short distance away, in a little strip shopping center at  11025 Monroe Road. And Violet is about to get twin brothers. (Buckley and Frye think life is busy now?)

Sunday morning: I hit the road for 28 hours in Asheville, as a speaker at the Food Bloggers' Forum at the Biltmore. First, I stopped for lunch at the Indian street food restaurant Chai Pani across from Grove Arcade, which is as good as I've heard. I hate to fall for butter chicken (it's like going to a Thai restaurant and never ordering anything but Pad Thai), but this version was so good, it was hard to resist. I threw in a side of kale pakora to mix it up.

Sunday night: I was playing a game where I shot an obscure picture and asked Twitter followers to guess where I was. This one: John Fleer's new restaurant, Rhubarb on Pack Square. The Sunday Supper is a great feature, with a three-course meal for $29. This week, it included a wild mushroom arancini, a cannelone of heritage pork, a date stuffed with gorgonzola and walnut, a lovely bowl of grilled corn and summer squash salad with roasted peach vinaigrette, red pepper grits, thyme-braised kale and a fillet of Sunburst trout fillet coated with sesame seeds. Dessert: Chocolate bread pudding with coffee toffee sauce. My favorites were the house-made condiments, including Nana's Pepper Relish and Spiced Preserved Tomatoes -- cherry-style tomatoes in a little jar of sherry vinegar, jalapeno and a little sugar.

Monday afternoon: At the Food Blogger's Forum, put on by Jaden and Scott Hair (www.steamykitchen.com) and photographers Diane Cu and Todd Porter (www.whiteonricecouple.com), I spotted another reference to John Fleer when lunch included sweet tea-brined fried chicken. Fleer was famous for that dish back when he was chef at the Inn at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.

Monday night: If you're coming back from a mountain trip this fall and you need dinner to go, pull off on N.C. 9 in Black Mountain: The Red Radish, 107 Mountain Creek Road (about a block off Highway 9 in downtown), is a sweet cafe, but they also serve dinners that are packed, chilled and ready to go, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday. It's about $10 for three things (a protein, starch and side) that technically serve 1, although we found it served two. The menu changes daily, and you can find it at redradish.com, or call 828-669-5100.