Ciao Y’all


On the way out of town Saturday I stopped by La Fornarina Italian restaurant in Fort Mill.  I’d heard the food was supposed to be pretty good and the owner was from Sicily so I figured it was a good possibility for some authentic Italian.  It’s located in what was previously a chain pizzeria location and there are some remnants of that in the design.  You can order takeout or dine in.

The menu is fairly standard looking but they do say they make their bread on site and use fresh ingredients.  I went with their Sicilian Calzone which has cheese, ham, mushrooms and a white sauce in lieu of red sauce but it did come with a side of marinara for dipping.  You can get it baked or fried and I almost went with fried but decided to stick with baked.  It came out golden as you can see with a just a hint of char on the bottom which you can’t.


The crust was nice and crispy on the outside and inside there was plenty of ham, cheese & mushrooms.  The crust did have a taste and texture a bit different that standard pizza crust, more bread like.  The “white sauce” felt more like just some olive oil and garlic but it’s pretty hard to go wrong with that combo.  I enjoyed it and now that I’ve had the baked I will try the fried next time to see what that’s like.

Since I was about to embark on a 4 plus hour drive I figured I needed a palette cleanser and followed up the calzone with a lemonchello gelato.


That was worth the trip all by itself.  Man that was good stuff.  Tart enough to start your mouth puckering with every bite and sweet enough to keep you from making that duck face thing that teen girls do in their selfies.  They have several other flavors too but this one was just the perfect thing to set up the road trip.

Overall I have to say I enjoyed this place and will definitely go back when I’m tooling around the Ft Mill / Tega Cay area and lunch time rolls around.  Another plus and probably a confirmation of what I heard about the owner is that I heard nothing but Italian coming from the kitchen.

I didn’t find a web site but you can Google them to find the address if you are so inclined.  Check out the Tell Me More page for a recipe, music and a little something I bet you didn’t know about Italy.



Oh! Canada


Canadian stamp

That’s right it’s a country, they have food.  What they don’t really have is Canadian restaurants.  As I was lamenting the fact that North America is sadly underrepresented on the blog and since I’d done Mexico already it wasn’t going to get much better.  Then it hit me, find some place that serves poutine.  That’s Canadian so it’d do.  A quick search turned up 3 possibilities and two of them looked like hipster gastropubs so I decided the Friendly Moose in Matthews, NC was the place to go.

From the outside it looks like a good sized brick house that has been converted to a restaurant / bar and inside kind of continues that look with several rooms with seating.  I sat in the front room since it had a big window and a stunning view of the parking lot.  The moose theme is embraced and there is one in the foyer (see below) as well as a fake stuffed moose head in the front room and a couple of wooden ones outside.  When I got the menu I discovered they do breakfast until 2pm on weekends and was sort of bummed out until I saw they considered poutine a potential breakfast food plus they had a loaded breakfast version which is what I went with.


I’ve never had poutine before but I knew in general what it was but for those who don’t, standard poutine is French fries and cheese curd covered in brown gravy.  The Friendly Moose breakfast poutine offers options of types of potatoes and gravy.  Poutine purists will likely be scandalized but you can get it with fries, hashbrowns or tater tots and your gravy options are white sausage gravy or standard brown beef gravy.  I kept it standard and went with fries and brown gravy but the loaded breakfast poutine came with 2 eggs, a biscuit and one of several meat options.  I was hoping they had Canadian bacon but no such luck.  Sausage it was then.  They don’t use cheese curd but use a shredded white cheese that was stringy but didn’t seem to be mozzarella.  Whatever it was it tasted ok but was very break resistant in it’s stringiness.

As breakfasts go this was decent and filling.  If I visit the Moose again I will likely go with tots over fries and if I’m going off the rails I might as well try the sausage gravy too.

If I lived in Matthews I could see making this a regular place as it does have the Friendly feel.  The only issue I saw was the apparent preciousness of butter.  I heard two people have to ask for some before my food arrived so I was on alert and when there was none immediately asked for it.  I got it after asking a second time and I was well on my way to being done.  In the grand scheme of things that’s a pretty minor deal.

And for the record while there were plenty of meese, I didn’t see any sign of a Captain or a flying squirrel. Here’s the web link, The Friendly Moose and don’t forget to check out the Tell Me More page for a poutine recipe and the #1 Canadian song ever according to the CBC.


Don’t Cry For Me



This week after spending a week at the beach chowing down on seafood pretty regularly hitting Parrillada Che Gaucho seemed like a good idea.  This is a restaurant that is supposed to have food authentic to Argentina and Uruguay.  I think it started as an Argentine place and now is owned by Uruguayans based on what I could determine from some light research.

The restaurant is in a, let’s call it a well established, strip of shops off Old Pineville Rd in Charlotte.  Not far off the interstate and easy to get to.  So my first gripe is that the website is awful and inaccurate.  It indicated the place opened at 10:00 on Sat. which seemed odd but what did I know.  When I get there at 11:30 they’re closed still because according to the door sign they open at 12:00.  WTF, where’s the food?

When they do open there’s no line beating down the door so I get a chance to check out the place.  Lots of flags of Argentina, Uruguay and USA along with soccer paraphernalia and one wall has a number of pictures of gauchos covering it.  There’s also a small bar along one wall and a few TVs going.  My waitress spoke enough English to make up for my lack of Spanish. She was friendly but not chatty.

The first thing I ordered, Matambre, she came back and told me they were out of but had other blah, blah, blah.  I was really looking forward to that stuffed flank steak (see the recipe on the Tell Me More page).  My back-up was the parrillada for 1.  It was pricey but had a ton of meat as you can see.

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The meat was delivered on a warmer that had some hot stones or something in the bottom to keep the metal cover warm.  Nice idea.  The parrillada consisted of a chorizo sausage, a blood sausage, sweetbreads, chicken, short ribs, stuffed small intestine, and flank steak.  I got rice and salad as my two sides.  To drink I got what was allegedly tea.

The chorizo sausage was good but I was really expecting some spicy heat and there was none.  The blood sausage had an interesting texture.  It was less dense than most sausage and mixed with some rice it was pretty good.  The Argentine chitterlings were fried and stuffed with some kind of ground something that was pretty much a paste.  Based on the taste and texture I’m guessing it was some sort of organ meat.  It was a bit chewy and didn’t taste bad but the visual and texture made enjoying it beyond me.  The chicken was lightly seasoned and a nice palette cleanser after the intestines.  The sweetbreads were pretty good.  They were a little crispy, again lightly seasoned, and they were probably my favorite of the lot I ate.  I did wind up bringing home the steak, short ribs and a couple of sweetbread chunks.

The salad was just some lettuce, a couple of tomato slices and slivers of onion.  No dressing offered and nothing included when it was delivered.  The tea.  Oh the tea.  If you are a tea fan and especially if you are a Southern iced tea fan just don’t even stop here.  The glass I got had two cubes of ice, which normally I would be fine with if the tea had already been cold but it wasn’t.  The only way I knew this was supposed to be tea and not rusty water was that rusty water would have had taste.

My last gripe is the wait I had to get my bill.  I asked for a box which would normally have indicated I was finished and just might be ready to leave but apparently that was a bit subtle.  When she was bussing the table and asked if everything was okay and I said “Everything was fine but I’m done.” I thought that was also a clue but it apparently wasn’t.  So I finally asked who I had to see to pay the bill and she figured it out.

So in spite of all the meat options I have to say this is the first time I have been disappointed over all with my experience.  This is the only place I’ve been to I wouldn’t go back to.

Just so this doesn’t reflect poorly on Argentina as a nation check out the Tell Me More page for a matambre recipe and what looks like an Argentine Moon Pie.


Around the Horn of Africa


passport puntland visa

Busy day today but I managed to get down to Central Avenue to Jamile’s Cuisine International or Jamile’s Cuisine & Grocery Store depending on the sign you choose to believe.  Either way it was the designated representative for Somalian cuisine.  This is a place you’d never find if you weren’t looking for it.  It’s in an older plaza that looks like it might have started life as offices but since to other things like Jamile’s which takes up two suites, one for the restaurant and one for the store but they share a common entrance.  You turn between one obvious Mexican restaurant and another that doesn’t have a name that I could see and Jamile’s is on the left.

I was among the first diners of the day and the lady who was my server came over from the connected store.  There is nothing fancy about Jamile’s, it’s kind of dim and decked out with a number of 4 seat tables covered with blue and white checked plastic table cloths but it was clean.  The menu is very limited with 6 main dishes plus a choice of 5 sides and a couple of other meal options.  You don’t have to worry about getting hung up making decisions.  When she gave me the menu the lady mentioned they were out of 2 of the 6 main dishes and 2 of the 5 sides further facilitating decision making.  She asked if I’d been there before or was familiar with the food and since I hadn’t been and wasn’t she explained a bit about the choices.  I opted for the goat meat with rice.  As an aside I’ve had more goat since I started this blog than I have in my 50 plus years prior, I kid you not.

With the meal there is an optional free soup that I opted to receive.  As you can see in the photo below it is served in a stemmed heavy glass bowl that looks like it would be right at home with a frozen fruit drink in it.  This soup however was the opposite of frozen, oh my was that stuff hot.  Initially it was just heat hot and when it cooled enough to taste I discovered it brought a little spice to the party as well.  It was a pretty much just a meaty broth with an occasional bit of herb spotted but it did have enough salt and spices to add too but not overwhelm the broth’s meaty flavor.


The main course came out just as I was finishing the soup.  It was a healthy portion of rice with a good amount of meat and a token salad, my favorite kind.  The rice was good by itself and had some herbs mixed in to make it pleasant tasting and there were a small number of raisins scattered at the edges that added a hint of sweetness.  The goat was very tender and seasoned well but it was also bony.  Not a bad thing necessarily but some of those bones could have been used to shank someone.  It did have a good taste though.  Now if you will direct you gaze to the center of the plate in the picture you will see a small little container of an innocuous looking green sauce.  Another aside, I found this place just this morning when I was checking the hours of the place I originally intended to go and I checked them out on Yelp to make sure they didn’t specialize in ptomaine and one of the reviewers gave one of my new favorite descriptions on Yelp ever.  This sauce was described as “hotter than the devil’s daughter”.  Being prepared I didn’t just start lapping in up and dipped a small goat chunk in to get a feel for the heat.  My conclusion is that while it was no joke in the spicy department I think the devil’s daughter is likely hotter.


Once I got that salad out of the way and settled in to a rice, goat, sauce rhythm the meal was quite enjoyable.  As with a lot of the places I’ve been to since starting this blog the patrons were mostly from the same area as the food represented by the restaurant.  Verdict for Jamile’s is that it was an enjoyable meal that felt authentically Somali.  I couldn’t find a web site or Facebook page for them so just Google them to find more info.  As always stop by the Tell Me More page for some additional content on Somalia.