Sucre King Cake [Review]

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Let the good times roll! We are celebrating Mardi Gras on the blog this week. What better way to start off the celebration than with a king cake?

Sales for king cakes typically start on January 6th – Epiphany or Three King’s Day (the 12th day after Christmas) and runs through the duration of the Mardi Gras/Carnival season (ending on the day before Ash Wednesday). It is my understanding that the day celebrates the visit of the Magi to baby Jesus. Typically a small baby is hidden in the cake to symbolize baby Jesus. It is a sign of good fortune (and that you’ll supply the next king cake) if you find the baby.

I ordered my king cake from Sucré. Located in New Orleans, Sucré was established in 2007 and features macarons, chocolates, cakes and so much more delicious goodies. Their king cake is a danish pastry is sweetened by cinnamon and cane sugar, baked with a light layer of creole cream cheese.

The king cake was delivered on Friday and it didn’t take long for my boyfriend and I to dig in. Per Sucré’s instructions, we microwaved each slice for 10 seconds, which really gave it that delicious fresh-out-of-the-oven taste. Sucré’s king cake is delicious. The cinnamon and cream cheese isn’t overwhelming, instead it is a delicate whisper of flavor. It worked well as an after dinner treat or even first thing in the morning for breakfast. The king cake is beautifully decorated. Sucré even includes a plastic baby for you to place inside.

While my boyfriend technically found the baby (he sliced a piece and noticed it sticking out, so he brought that piece of me), I may be feeling generous next year and order another king cake out of my own pocket.

Check out The Southern Belle Blogs tomorrow for a review of “The Casquette Girls” by Alys Arden or back here on Wednesday for my delicious shrimp poboy recipe!

Sucré
3930 Euphrosine St.,
New Orleans, LA 70125
504.708.4366

Duck Bombs [Recipe]

When Robb and I first started dating, one of the first things I learned about him was that he loved duck hunting. He often regaled me with tales of the duck-based goodies he created after a morning of hunting. During our first year of dating, he fixed me meals made with goose, swan, wild turkey, and deer. But no duck. I always just figured that he caught too-few ducks and that he had earned the right to enjoy them on his own. After all, he is the one getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning and sitting in a blind in the freezing cold while I’m still snuggled in bed.

We’ve been dating a little over two years now and I’ve finally been able to enjoy a few duck dishes. But nothing compared to the duck bombs (as I have dubbed them) Robb fixed a few days ago.

There is no recipe really for this. To be honest, I’m not sure if Robb even knows what he did. He cooks instinctively, which is something that impresses me. He throws this-and-that into a pot, no measurements. Sometimes the food turns out delicious, sometimes the dogs get a large dinner that night. These duck bombs were a definite win.

He used a mallard and a wood duck, breasting them out to get 4 breasts. He pounded the breasts thin and then marinated them in Allegro and garlic for 24 hours (simply because he forgot to fix them the night before). After marinating, he rolled the duck breasts up with a sliver of jalapeno, smear of cream cheese and wrapped them in bacon.

He cooked them in a grill pan in a mixture of onions, olive oil, garlic, and jalapenos for about 10 minutes (I’m guessing) or until medium rare and tender.

We served the duck breasts with asparagus (marinated in garlic and Allegro as well) that was oven roasted until tender.

Delicious! Hopefully he’ll snag a few more ducks this season and we can recreate this dish!

What’s your favorite, most mouth-watering way to serve (or be served) wild game?

Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s Haul

Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve been working on clearing out my pantry in anticipation for my quarterly Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods excursion. My boyfriend and I almost messed up. The weekend before Christmas, we went to Moore County to visit his family for the holidays. On our way up, as we passed through Raleigh, we decided that we would stop to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Cabela’s on our way home. Monday came and it was a dreary day as we set off back to our house with a truck full (and I mean jam packed) with gifts.

We stopped to Cabela’s but decided to bail on the other two stores. We were tired, ready to get home, and most of all – our truck was FULL! So we decided to stick to our original plan of making a day date of it while I was out on break.

That same Monday night, I attacked the kitchen in a whirlwind after we arrived home. I cleaned out our pantry – putting items that have been in our pantry for months – into a bag to donate to the local food bank (I ended up with two large bags full), throwing some expired items away. Then I started on the spices. There were spices in there from back in 2011! I let Robb go through everything before I tossed it and if he said keep it, we kept it (fair trade).

When we went to Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s the day after Christmas, neither of us were feeling at our best. That may have been why we didn’t go as crazy as I had anticipated. But that’s okay. It still ended up being a good “date” day for the two of us and I enjoy spending time with Robb. Even if it’s doing something that seems as mundane as going to the grocery store!

Here’s what we purchased:

 

Some of our favorite purchases were:

  • Growler of Ginger Kombucha from Barefoot Bucha (first tried at the Heritage Festival at Monticello) from Whole Foods (Me)
  • Olives from Whole Foods (Robb)
  • Creamy Corn & Roasted Pepper Soup  from Trader Joe’s (both of ours)
  • Trader Joe’s Roasted Potatoes (mentioned before in this post)
  • Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina Flour from Whole Foods (Me) – this is for homemade corn tortillas using the tortilla press I got for Christmas!
Molten Chocolate Macaron from Trader Joe’s – this thing is HUGE!

Since we went on Monday, we were able to take advantage of the Pasta Night at Whole Foods. For $12.99 we were able to get a pound of fresh cut pasta (our choice was spinach pappardelle), 16oz of Severino sauce (we went with the Fra Diavolo) and 4oz of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Our pasta night deal from Whole Foods with chorizo, mushrooms, and onions thrown in. Delicious!

A few nights ago, I was able to try out my new tortilla press. I know that a tortilla press is a weird thing to ask for but I love the idea of being able to make fresh corn tortillas. I still need to practice but I think I did okay! I paired my homemade corn tortillas with homemade pico de gallo, homemade lime crema, cilantro, coleslaw mix, and pan seared Alaskan halibut (with a adobo seasoning purchased from Whole Foods).

Tacos?? A good first try.

I’m already looking forward to our next trip!

A Farm-to-Fork Dinner

This is one of those posts that I should have typed up long ago. But life happened (we left for Alaska a few days after) and I wasn’t exactly happy with my photos.

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At the beginning of October, a friend of mine had an open invitation for people to come to her family’s farm for a delicious farm-to-fork meal that she helped produce along with a friend of hers from Raleigh. I couldn’t resist the urge to go even though rain somewhat threatened the day (only to reward us later on with a gorgeous rainbow). 

This wasn’t the first time I had been out to Somerset Farm and I hope that it will not be the last. I love spending way too much money at their table at the Edenton Farmer’s Market picking up delicious and fresh vegetables. The menu at this particular event featured produce and lamb straight from the farm.

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The menu:

  • lamb pate with blood orange marmalade + rosemary crisps
  • chioggia beets with feta + berbere chickpeas
  • couscous with roasted butternut + golden raisins
  • eggplant with za’atar + pomegranate molasses
  • grilled lamb ribs
  • pear + date croustade with vanilla cream
  • lemon balm mojitos
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lamb pate | blood orange marmalade | rosemary crisps

Everything that I ate was delicious, and yes, I even braved the pate! My evening was spoiled slightly when I locked my keys into my car, which contributed to some of the less than flattering plated photos, but my boyfriend came to my rescue (eventually) and brought me my spare keys.

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lamb ribs being grilled
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chioggia beers | feta | berbere chickpeas
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My plate – prepared by a friend that I had invited while I was out dealing with my car issues.

All in all, it was quite the magical evening! She hosted a November event in honor of Guy Fawkes Day that featured Indian food, but unfortunately I was not able to attend. I hope that she resumes these events once the weather grows warmer.

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Expressing My Excitement to Come!

(Note: I’m filling this posts with pictures of some of the food I made when I lived in Raleigh – pulling these from my defunct flickr stream)

When I lived in Raleigh (in what seems like another lifetime now), I tended to shop at either Food Lion or Harris Teeter (depending on where I was living at the time) with visits to Whole Foods every other week. Mostly to enjoy the prepared foods bar, but also to view what new and unusual products they had in the produce section. Typically it was items that I could either not afford on a student’s budget or thought I didn’t like (such as mushrooms) but it was fun to view them. I think that was the budding foodie in me starting to emerge. About once a month or so, I would venture over to Trader Joe’s – that was back when “Two-Buck Chuck” was actually $2. If you are a Trader Joe’s fan, then you’ll know what I’m referring to.

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A delicious chicken & vegetable soup I made using brother, corn, potatoes, carrots, spices, and a rotisserie chicken back in October 2010.

Since moving back home, my grocery store choices have been limited to Food Lion, mostly to supplement what I can’t grow myself. Sure there are a couple of other grocery options (Farm Fresh and a small health food store), but I find their prices are typically higher for the same products I find in Food Lion. As the years passed, I found myself missing my Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Finally, my mom and I ventured up to a Whole Foods in Virginia and you would have thought that I was a kid in a candy store. It was heaven even though I didn’t buy much, if anything. Fast forward to dating my boyfriend. We were bored one weekend and after driving up to Bass Pro Shops, we traveled a bit further to Trader Joe’s. I think that it when he started to see the magic.

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My dinner in March 2010 – pork roast and frozen potatoes from Trader Joe’s (the potatoes were delicious) and cucumbers from a family recipe.
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Trader Joe’s purchases from March – the potatoes and pork roast pictured above are included.

Half a year later, I took him up to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and he realized that they really had some awesome things and that it wasn’t just for “hippies”. Though we spent more than we probably should have at both stores (but how could he resist the olive bar??), we made a vow that we would try to go a few times per year.

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Chicken katsu with tonkatsu sauce and cucumbers from the same family recipe as before. I crave this meal (from October 2009) even now.

So guess what time it is now? YES, it is time for our quarterly trip. Our last trip was over the summer so I wasn’t able to get the frozen items I wanted but I have a few days off from work between Christmas and New Year’s making it the perfect time for our little adventure. We are making the effort during the next two weeks to empty our fridge, freezer, and pantry of as much food as possible with no trips to the grocery store.

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Preparing for the Superbowl in February 2010 – I made shrimp dip, pigs in a blanket, velvetta cheese dip, and we had oreos.
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Shrimp dip (as mentioned above) – this recipe will be coming soon!

The Fitzroy [Charlottesville]

[Note 12/5/2016: I had some website issues this morning that involved me just getting irritated, deleting the hosting system and starting from scratch. I only lost one post – this one – so I am attempting to recreate that lost post now. I did have a few drafts saved but since I had wanted to cross post them to The Southern Belle Blogs, I had copies there. Lesson learned: I need to back up my files more often. This post also doesn’t have any pretty pictures.]

Exhausted after a fun day at the Heritage Harvest Festival, mom and I went back to the campground, though we weren’t exactly excited about the notion of hot dogs cooked over the fire for dinner. Yes, they would have been delicious (and basically free) but we just were not feeling it that evening. Instead, we hopped into the truck and headed downtown to explore and hopefully find something good to eat.

The Downtown Mall in Charlottesville seems to be the happening place in town. It is a bit trippy for newcomers as sometimes the road runs right next to people dining outside, but there are lots of cute little shops and restaurants to check out. Almost too many options we quickly discovered.

Initially I wanted to eat at Citizen Burger. Citizen Burger had been on my to-do list for months but after having a burger for lunch that day, we decided to go for something else. My mom and I wandered the streets for a while, growing hungrier and hungrier, as I browsed through menus on my phone. While I wanted something tasty to eat, all mom wanted was a cold Bud Light and nothing “funky” to eat. I finally came across the menu for The Fitzroy, a relatively new establishment, but one that met both of our requirements.

I went with the Fried Chicken [boneless, buttermilk battered, a little honey, hot sauce] with a side of Broiled Mac & Cheese. Mom chose the Shrimp Po’Boy [fried shrimp, remoulade, tomato, crisp lettuce]. While my fried chicken was delicious and cooked exactly how I like it, I did have a rare bout of food envy once I tried mom’s dish. It was really good (though the remoulade could have used a bit more kick – mom makes a version that is perfect to me). I wasn’t crazy over the mac & cheese and wish that I hadn’t ordered it (it was good but we had so much left over).

Looking back, I wish I had tried one of their signature cocktails. The Majestic [St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Drambuie, Bubbles] sounded amazing but I simply stuck with water.  After being in the sun all day, that was probably not a bad choice though.

All in all, this place was a definite win. The service was good, the prices were reasonable, and the ambiance was great. The Fitzroy looked like it would be the place to come after work and hang out with friends or even a great spot to bring a date.


The Fitzroy

120 East Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 am – 12 am
Friday and Saturday 11:30 am – 2 am

Heritage Harvest Festival [Charlottesville]

This is a continuation of my post detailing my adventures at the Heritage Harvest Festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. This blog post was previously published at The Southern Belle Blogs.

This is probably my favorite photo out of them all.
This is probably my favorite photo out of them all.
TJ and I
TJ and I

For lunch, I ate at Gryffon’s Aerie (grass fed beef burger with aioli, arugula, local tomato) while my mom ate at Bada Bing (philly cheesesteak). My burger was absolutely delicious while mom’s cheesesteak had a nice heat to it. For dessert, we shared a refreshing popsicle from King of Pops (lemon basil). It was delicious (which I’ve had their popsicles a couple of times before in Atlanta).

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That afternoon, after leaving mom in a nice breezy spot, I went to watch Jeanine Davis’ presentation on Unusual Edible Plants & Fungi for Home Gardens. Fun fact: Jeanine is a horticulture extension specialist with North Carolina State University (my alma mater). Listening to her presentation made me want to try growing wasabi again and is making me very curious about the status of the ginseng I planted last fall. It was a great presentation and she brought lots of goodies – grey griselle shallots and Japanese hull less popcorn seeds for us to plant and a dried ramp spice rub (which smells delicious). I haven’t had the opportunity to try ramps before and am delighted experience them.

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We walked around, checking out some of the other sights – such as the farm animals. I love goats and cannot wait until I can have a goat of my own!

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Before we left, I made it a point to stop back by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and take advantage of their 3 for $5 seed packet special (and no shipping!). SESE is one of my favorite companies to order from every year, right next to Baker Creek. I went with some seeds that were on my wish list (White Sage, Tulsi Kapoor Holy Basil, German Chamomile, Resina Calendula, Carolina Gold Rice), a few that sounded interesting (Seminole Pumpkin – which Jeanine discussed in her workshop, Rouge d’Hiver Romaine, Monticello White Sesame), and one “practical” seed packet (Georgia Green Collards).

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My goodies.
My goodies.
Thank you to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation for making this a great weekend for my mother and I! I hope to come back again next year and encourage everyone to go at least once in their lifetime.

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Heritage Harvest Festival [Charlottesville]

Cross-posted from The Southern Belle Blogs.

I finally made it to Monticello! I have been wanting to visit Monticello for years now and ended up going this weekend for the 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival. The Heritage Harvest Festival is this huge even

The first thing that you will notice when you arrive at the top of the mountain is the view. The view is gorgeous.

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The garden at Monticello is amazing. It is basically my dream garden. There were so many varieties of plants (many, like fish peppers, I identified by sight) that I could probably have simply explored the garden all day. I want to go back on a non-festival day and really browse the garden.I’m also jealous at the large amount of fig trees and the size of the orchard! One day…~!

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I’ve been wanting to grow these little peppers for a while now.
I’ve been wanting to grow these little peppers for a while now.
This was such a neat idea for growing beans that I snapped a photo to share the idea with my boyfriend.
This was such a neat idea for growing beans that I snapped a photo to share the idea with my boyfriend.

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The Tasting Tent seems to be the highlight of the event. We made our way around the tables for the Tomato, Melon, and Pepper tasting. There were so many different varieties that neither of us tasted every single product. We did have our favorites though – the main one being a tomato by the name of Nepal. I MUST have seeds for this one next growing season – it tasted like sugared tomatoes, that delicious touch of sweetness.

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The first cider we tried from Castle Hill Cider was a bit to dry for our taste (Levity), but the Serendipity was perfection. We both ended up purchasing a bottle of it. Back Pocket Provisions was at the top of my list of vendors that I wanted to check out. We tried all three of their Bloody Mary mixes (Bloody Brilliant, Bloody Bangkok, Bloody Baja) and decided that Bloody Brilliant was our favorite. We purchased 3 jars of it. I’m not a big Bloody Mary fan but I loved the taste of their mixes and even more so, I love that they use local farms for their tomatoes.

American Heritage Chocolate
American Heritage Chocolate

Barefoot Bucha was a bit hit with my mother and I as well. I love Kombucha but she has never tried it. We both tried the ginger kombucha, which we preferred over the Elderflower Sunrise. I ended up buying a 1/2 gallon of ginger. What is neat is that the container is refillable!

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I had been curious about Falling Bark Farm’s Hickory Syrup since I had heard about it. It is an interesting taste and though I didn’t buy any then, I later purchased a small jar from the shop at Carter’s Mountain Orchard. I have followed Farmstead Ferments on social media for a while and was thrilled to see them there. My mom and I tried the strawberry mint water kefir. It was both of our first times trying water kefir and we enjoyed how refreshing it tasted. When we went back to buy some later that day, they were out. :-/ What was really neat is that they had kombucha scoby’s for sale as well. I purchased a small jar of hand-harvested salt from J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. There were several other food vendors we tasted – they were all delicious. The Peppermint Dark Chocolate Sauce from Willie Byrd was delicious and the sage vodka (?) was quite an interesting experience.

Part two will be posted tomorrow! 

Charlottesville KOA [Charlottesville]

If you are in Charlottesville and looking for a budget-friendly place to rest your head, I suggest checking out the Charlottesville KOA. Located about 10 miles from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the Charlottesville KOA is the place to go to experience peace and quiet in the mountains. This campground is a small one but don’t let that stop you. The staff was fabulous when we checked in (very helpful – even providing us with a great map of the area) and the facilities are very clean.

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Even though the pool normally closes on Labor Day, it was still open because of the heat. The water was certainly nice and refreshing! The pool was surrounded by trees and since we were the only ones in there, it felt like our own private oasis. There is a laundry/game room which we checked out (but never utilized – even though we had talked about playing a game of pool or air hockey), as well as a playground.

There’s also a fishing pond/nature trail you can check out on the property. I really liked walking the nature trail and the fishing pond was nice to gaze upon. Now keep in mind that there is a poison ivy out there. I did find several good sources of jewelweed however, which is known to help soothe poison ivy (as an herbalist, it tickled me to find so much jewelweed).

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There are three different types of cabins you can book: a one room cabin, a two room cabin, or a cottage. For our one room cabin (which sleeps up to 4 people – and provided us with plenty of room), it cost only $65 a night when we booked. We did have to bring our own linens, but the cabin provided us with a cable tv, AC/heat, electricity, and a ceiling fan. The larger cottages have their own bathrooms attached but since all of the cabins were located right near the restroom (and like I said, this is a smaller campground), that wasn’t an issue.

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One of the nicer perks was free wireless internet on the campground as well as free cable tv. All in all, this was a great campground and provided us with a nice and relaxing place to stay.

Charlottesville KOA
2016 Season: Open March 11th – Close November 13th
3825 Red Hill Rd.,
Charlottesville, VA 22903
434-296-9881