Wheel of Baku

Since it’s opening, Baku has been this untouchable desire in my fantasy world of frequenting nice restaurants. For starters, it doesn’t put prices on the website menu. Like really? Either a) you are pretentious pricks or b) you are pretentious pricks. Between that and hearing that it had “trendy cocktails”, Michael made it clear that he didn’t want to try it. So, naturally, I name dropped it every weekend during the inevitable “where should we go to dinner?” game of hell. Just when I thought I had annoyed him enough to take me, we heard it was expensive from one person. And just like that, all my productive nagging was made useless. I had again spun the “we aren’t going, so shut the f up” tab on the Wheel of Baku.

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Alas, I had one more spin in my pocket. You see, due to Michael’s work, I saw the yard man at my house more often than I saw Michael in the month of December—which did not make the girl who wanted to watch christmas movies, wrap presents, and sing carols by the fire together all day every day very happy. But it did make for some good guilt. Add that to our two-year wedding anniversary on December 29th, and suddenly, when I spun the Wheel of Baku, I spun a “surprise anniversary/remember what your husband looks like dinner!!!”. Good thing. Because I was about to spin the Wheel of Potential New Husbands.

Now that is was actually time to try the restaurant though, i began to wonder if it could live up to my ridiculously-overhyped expectations. Spoiler: it did, overwhelmingly so. and here is why:

1) Atmosphere: the moment I walk into a restaurant, I can tell if I am going to like it. (Similarly, the second I meet someone, I can tell if I am going to like them. I am gifted in discernment, not judgment, as a 250 question multiple choice test recently told me.) Baku atmosphere=on point, especially the bar upstairs.

2) Specialty Cocktails: gotta have a unique variety. again, it passed the test.

  • My choice: Cucumber Cooler- Junmai Sake, cucumber, lime juice, simple syrup, and club soda ($10)
  • Michael’s choice (and my second cocktail): Orange Ginger Pimm’s Cup- Pimm’s liquor,  Domaine de Canton, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, and Orange juice

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3) bold flavors. and bold they were. We had:

  • Kurobuta Pork Belly with gochujang-miso glaze and kimchi  ($14).
  • Pork dumplings with green onion, ginger, and sesame oil ($9).
  • King Crab hot pot ($17)
  • Duck breast with umeboshi honey, and five spice with sancho salt ($24)
  • Asparagus with sweet soy and sesame seeds ($8)

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while everything was to die for, i would probably only choose to die a slow death for the pork belly and the asparagus. pork belly, obvi. but the dreaded pee sticks as they are called in our house? that was a surprise. every dish was cooked perfectly and was overwhelmingly savory, and the fact that there wasn’t one bite of food left on our plates proved it.

i could stop right here. but i feel like I should admit that I was wrong about a few things. i was wrong about the pretentious pricks part. the staff couldn’t have been nicer, and based on comparable charlotte restaurants, the prices weren’t bad either. but more importantly, i was wrong about the Wheel of Potential New Husbands. These two years have been the best two years of my life, and it is without a doubt because of the man I married. i wouldn’t be half the woman (and bitching wife on her blog) that I am without his unconditional love. another date night at baku?

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Are you there AAA, it’s me again

Do you know how to change a tire? I do. 1-800-AAA-Help.
And i can sew a button…by taking it to an alterations place.

These embarrassing revelations–and skills lack thereof–lead me to the question: where the f*** was home economics in high school? Hysterical that the tigres-euphrates river system is deemed more important than lug nuts and jacks. Or, the limit of a function as x approaches minus infinity is more important than hemming a pair of pants.

But, since middle-eastern tributaries and asinine derivatives trump life,  my friends and I are talking about starting a grill-camp for guys (patent-pending). How fun would a weekend of learning how to grill with a bunch of friends be? We can even throw in whiskey tastings. Because, every guy should know how to grill. And every guy should know his whiskey.

As luck would have it, he-who-shall-not-be-named in my house can’t grill. We try to have lessons in, you know, putting meat on and flipping it until it appears done, but we just aren’t there yet. Even so, we teamed up a few nights ago to make the most flavorful, easiest chicken by using Carolina Table Salt. Even a Jack-of-no-home-trades could put the rub on the chicken and plop it on the grill. It’s tasty, easy, local, and it can be used on “‘most anything”–from veggies to meat to chex mix.

Can be found at Southern Gent in Charlotte.
It can be found at Southern Gent among other places in Charlotte.

It must be said though, that what he lacks in grill skills he makes up for in whiskey skills. Our latest discovery is Defiant. It’s one of the best we’ve ever tasted, and just like the Carolina table salt, it’s tasty, (goes down) easy, and local. I can’t describe it more than this, for I would be a fraud making up whiskey terms, but I can tell you to pour it over a few ice cubes and voila! you will taste why its winning so many awards.

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So, even though grill camp is, like, the best.idea.ever, i’m still pissed about getting rid of home-ec classes. really, it’s no problem that i don’t know how to iron because i (used to) know the atomic mass of hydrogen. And while learning to cook together is fun,  nothing will ever make it ok to pay $85 dollars to hem a dress. And nothing will ever be ok about wannabe Susie Homemaker stranded on the side of the street with her husband dialing AAA. Let’s just pray he brought the whiskey.

5Church & the Magic of Christmas

dinner downtown followed by the christmas symphony has quickly become one of my favorite christmas traditions. it’s festive, it’s delectable, it’s ear(th)-shattering.

it’s also a chance to eat downtown. though I’ve lived in charlotte my whole life, my knowledge of downtown roads and relative locations is probably on par with a drunk in corn maze. for the life of me, i just can’t figure it out. but it doesn’t stop me from entering addresses into uber. this year, we chose 5Church. and as many times as I said, oh my god, after taking a sip or a bite, it’s quite possible i thought i was in an actual church.

first things first. the viper. it was delicious, cool, and refreshing–like if i ordered ten, i’d be hydrated… which is why i ordered two in about ten minutes.
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rather than an app, we went the “snack” route. split, it was just a bite a piece. but it was the perfect bite. the prime meatball slider (michael’s favorite) and the crisp szechuan pork belly (my favorite) left us wanting more long after the plates were cleared.

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mahi-mahi or trout?

funny story about the entree. i was between the wasabi-crusted salmon and the mahi-mahi with hoppin’ john and greens in a ham broth. somehow though, i must have asked the waiter whether he preferred the salmon or the trout. he said “definitely the trout”. so, when I got my plate, i was like hmmm this is odd. these greens seem like kale. and where is the hoppin’ john? and i don’t taste the ham broth. I justified these thoughts by assuming that my mom probably uses more fatback than regulated establishments are allowed to use, and, since there were some black-eyed pea size things around the edge of the plate,  i was all like, this place is fancy. they must have done hoppin’ john all fancy and dried the black eyed peas. so i kept eating…and eating…until literally the last bite… and it finally hit me that I was eating trout. 

curiosity kills my cat’s nine lives daily, so I just had to know if the trout or the mahi was better. after i explained my dumbassness to our waiter, I asked. I assumed he would answer with the trout, since, you know, it was in front of me and i was about to pay for it. instead, he responds “oh, definitely the mahi.” FML. on the positive side, when you order the wrong dish and still think its one of the best you’ve ever had, that’s a pretty good sign.
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on to the symphony. simply put, the Magic of Christmas is one of the most beautiful sounds i’ve ever heard. it makes you feel good, feel hopeful, and feel thankful. hearing Joy to the World, it almost seems as if the whole world will soon feel joy.

but the night wouldn’t be nearly what it is without conductor Albert-George Schram. i. love. Albert-George Schram. no shame. his jokes are hilarious. his dance moves are top notch. and his enthusiasm and love of music and of life are contagious.

so it is my hope that I continue to celebrate the christmas season with such joy and such love. Because, maybe if we all give a little love, it is possible to bring joy to the joyless.

soup & a southern 75

Sunday means dinner at my parents. Rain or shine. #sundayscaries or a scary hangover. But as we are spending 4 out of 7 meals together in the next week, we decided to take a rare rain check. Perfect, because all I wanted to do on this rainy Sunday was make soup, camp out in front of the fire, and read the latest issue of Garden & Gun. I wanted something that would be fast–my DVR was full. Something tasty–my taste buds are in overdrive on Sundays. And something semi-healthy before Thanksgiving–i.e. more kale than heavy cream. So this creamy chicken tortellini soup with kale from eat.live.run was the answer. At this point, it’s pretty much a staple in our house, but it never disappoints. Even better, it paired perfectly with a Southern 75–which I happened to stumble upon while reading G&G. With IPA and bourbon as the two main ingredients, I knew it’d be an instant winner and it might even get me a foot rub without my shameless, nightly begging. IMG_0020

 Ingredients

6 oz. India Pale Ale 2 oz. bourbon 3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice 1/2 oz. demerara syrup (or simple syrup)

Directions

Pour the beer into a chilled glass. In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, lemon juice, and demerara syrup with ice and shake vigorously. Strain the bourbon mixture into the beer and garnish with a lemon twist.

Soup and southern 75–and a foot rub–the perfect rainy sunday.

Holiday Workout

My new favorite napkins

The transitive property of geometry: if a=b and b=c then a=c

The variables:

a = there is Christmas music playing on the radio

b = it is the holidays

c = it is now appropriate to follow the workout routine listed on the napkins

The proof: 

1) We can all agree that a=b.

2) The napkins prove that b=c.

3) Therefore, a=c. Since there is christmas music on the radio, then the holiday workout is now acceptable. You’re welcome and Happy Holidays!

Napkin Credit: Paper Skyscraper (330 East Blvd)
Napkin Credit: Paper Skyscraper (330 East Blvd)