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.