The Social Eater: FEAST Southend Food Tour & Williams Sonoma Grilling Class

By 27 May ’14Uncategorized
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That flurry of foodie posts last week was fueled partly by the sheer excitement of the farms tour (I’m a dork. I embrace that.) and partly by a new venture. I have a weekly blog on Creative Loafing Charlotte that highlights foodie events in the city — The Social Eater.  Every week, I’ll go to at least one of my picks and tell you more about it here, on my personal blog. 

 

Kristi Martin of FEAST Food Tours & Culinary Events invited me to tag along on the first official Bars & Bites in Historic Southend tour on Friday afternoon. It’s a new offering on an established menu of themed walking tours that highlight Charlotte’s most delicious neighborhoods.  The common thread for the Southend tour is “happy hour” — avenues to lift and maybe grab spirits with friends.

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The rain cleared up in time to leave a warm sunny day for us, which was great because the tours are rain-or-shine. We experienced 8 establishments on our 6 stops including a new food truck and a super fancy spot I can’t afford.

Before the walk, I wondered where we would stop — I hang out and eat in Southend a LOT, so I feared all the places would be familiar to me. That wasn’t a problem at all. We started at Vin Master, where I’ve attended and hosted events in the past, but I had no idea that the next stop existed.  I got turned on to Lenny Boy Kombucha during the farms tour and who knew that their brewing facility is right in the neighborhood? With a tap room!

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Not pictured: the @boonesbarbque brisket and chow chow. I ate it too fast… it was too good!

I’m deliberately not mentioning all the stops because you should go and see for yourself. Most of the group had never visited most locations but even for a seasoned diner like myself, it was really fun.  We talked to the proprietors and chefs at restaurants, experienced behind-the-scenes views and tours, and learned a bit of history along the way. Also, Kristi was very attentive to special dietary needs.  My group included a vegetarian, a vegan, and my own shrimp allergic self. Each restaurant prepared special mini-meals as necessary to accommodate. I was actually full by the time the we were finished.

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I can see why so many in the group had been on other tours previously. I’ll definitely plan to go on another soon. It’s a great idea for entertaining guests, a date, or even for a group of local friends. Tasting trips are currently available in NoDa, Uptown, and Plaza-Midwood.

 

Sunday, I reserved a spot at Williams-Sonoma to check out their Summer Kickoff grilling class and demo. I’ve lived in Southpark for the entire 15 years I’ve lived in Charlotte and never had a clue that the store offered classes at all, much less this series of free ones on Sundays. They also have free classes for kids on Saturdays that look really fun. I may need to borrow someone’s child soon. I mentioned next Sunday’s cocktail-mixing class in this week’s CL post, so I’m expecting to see some familiar faces.

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Culinary Specialist Beth was our instructor through a menu of cowboy beans, roasted corn and veggies, and chicken two ways. She even had a pitcher of virgin pina coladas handy for us.  The tastings could’ve almost been brunch if I wasn’t such a chunk.

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A couple of people were turning down extra chicken and dissecting flavor profiles. Child, bye. The store is fancy, but I’m about good good with zero pretense.

The demo is up close and personal so although you’re not cooking hands-on, it’s still a very engaging and interactive experience. It also does exactly what it’s intended to do: sell you on Williams-Sonoma products. I had no idea that those indoor grilling pans work so well and the roasting pan she used made the moistest chicken ever.  I left with a pair of cut-protecting kitchen gloves (which I’ve needed my entire life) and a Zoku personal ice cream maker (yaaaassss).

I definitely learned some techniques that I’ll bring into my own kitchen. My mom, who never cooks ever, is willing to try grilling some vegetables on the stove. I may need to swing back for one of those kitchen fire extinguishers and see if they’ll let me use the 10% discount again.

So yeah, I had a busy holiday weekend, in town, learning new things about old places – including Saturday’s lovely trips to Bistro La Bon (more on that later) and Petra’s (for Leah Palmer-Licht’s Speakeasy jazz show.) Now that the week’s started, I’m exhausted!

 

Feast Food Tours and Culinary Events
visit the website or call Kristi for scheduling and reservations. She also organized private and customized events for businesses and groups.

Williams Sonoma Free Technique Classes
call your local store for times and reservations. Also check out the kids’ classes.

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