Wicked Sausage Lunch

Well it was more like impish than truly wicked which is ok. That’s what lunch was too, OK. Not great, but good enough.

This Saturday would have been my Dad’s 83rd birthday and the last trip we took together was to Cherokee, NC and the casino there. I figured I’d celebrate his birthday by donating some dollars to the Cherokee tribe and grab some lunch from one of the several restaurants available on site. After an up and down morning at the slots & video poker machines and some mixed luck at the craps and roulette tables it was time for lunch.

I thought about the Gordon Ramsay Food Market but decided I’d go looking for Guy Fieri’s Kitchen & Bar instead. Turns out it’s in the Hotel section not the Casino section so I didn’t find it. However, I did find the Wicked Week Brewpub. I like pub food and beer and they weren’t that busy so I opted to give them a try.

Seating was done quickly and the lady who would be my server was Jenny on the spot. They had flights of beer and I’m not one to pass those up since I love variety. I asked her to give me a minute to pick them out and I’d probably be ready with the food order too.

They have 3 flight options, a set 4 mostly IPAs, a fancy flight from the Funkatorium options and a flight from their Special and Seasonal selections. I wasn’t feeling all that funky so decided to save the extra $ (I was down $50 for the day at that point too) and get some of the seasonal / regular options. This is where disappointment started.

There were 7 options to choose from and the flight was made of up of 4. The Strawberry Kiwi Burst Session Sour, check. Watermelon Burst Session Sour, oops they were out. Lunatic Blonde Belgian, sorry out of that too. Fresh Pressed Wheat Ale, maybe out of that too. At this point she goes away to see what they do have. I ended up with the Fresh Pressed Wheat Ale, Player’s Club Pale Ale, Strawberry Kiwi Burst, and the Hefeweizen Weissbier.

They were all ok. The Fresh Pressed was brewed with pineapple, mango and guava. It tasted tropical but not especially of any of the included fruits. The Player’s club was a very hoppy ale. The strawberry kiwi was mostly strawberry and not much of a sour. The Hefeweizen was actually a nice palette cleanser between the others. All of them went ok with my lunch which was a brat and sweet potato fries.

Again, OK was the theme of the day. The brat is supposed to be chargrilled with caramelized onions and Lusty Monk whole grain mustard. Honestly Johnsonville has a more flavorful brat and if you’re going to name your mustard it should be better than my Food Lion brand mustard, this was not. The caramelized onions though they nailed. The sweet potato fries looked like they were the bottom of the bag where all the little pieces gather. They did taste good but it was kind of sad picking through the little bits and bobs to get a decent sized fry. It was (wait for it), OK. A filling lunch and for being in a Hotel / Casino the price wasn’t bad. Next time GR’s food market will be where I go or maybe a trip to the hotel side for Guy’s joint.

I did manage to have a bit of luck at the roulette table on the way out and not only recouped my losses but paid for lunch and gas. So pretty good day.

Beach Beer

I decided to add a new activity to our family beach vacation this year. On the way to get some cider for the trip I thought it might be fun to have a beer tasting and introduce people to beer they might not otherwise try and have some fun with their reactions. My thought was to keep it local by only including NC & SC beers and have 4 pretty different styles.

We used small cups as our tasters so it only took two bottles / cans for everyone to have a decent taste with little waste in case someone didn’t care for one of the selections.

The first one we tried was RJ Rockers Peachy King. Let me say now I’m using internet images because some brain surgeon forgot to take snaps of the containers.

RJ Rockers is out of Spartanburg, SC and the Peachy King is a wheat ale brewed with, you guessed it, peaches. It’s also 9% alcohol which got peoples attention even with the little shot cups. I didn’t do a word cloud but some comments were; creamy, bitter, peachy, pecan?, yuck and a straight up shiver of dislike. We had one person enthusiastic about it and several others like it while a third did not and a couple were in the OK camp. Personally I liked it.

Our next contestant was the Lenny Boy Ground Up Coffee Stout.

Lenny Boy is a Charlotte brewer and the name of the beer pretty well lays out what it’s all about. It is a 5.3% beer. The consensus was the coffee taste was there but it was mild. It was not as bitter as the Peachy King but we had several people who weren’t coffee fans so that didn’t help them much. No one was enthusiastic about this one, although a third liked it. It did get a nod for best aftertaste from one of the panel. As much as I like stouts I have to say I didn’t love this one.

Our third beer was from Sycamore Brewing, their Strawberry Lemonade Gose.

Sycamore is from Charlotte and I’ve been there a couple of time on a Friday when they had food trucks so I was already feeling positive towards the beer. If you aren’t familiar a gose is a sour beer that usually has a salty taste as well. This one is tarted up even more by being brewed with lemons and they say there are strawberries involved as well but it was a real struggle to find any. Initial impressions were; sour, lemon, lemonade flavor, acidic, and no. It is a summer beer that should be ice cold when you’re drinking it. About a third liked it, most were jumped on the OK bandwagon and one just didn’t like it at all.

Our final entry was the White Zombie white ale from Catawba Brewing.

Catawba is headquartered in Morganton, NC and I’ve visited the Charlotte location which has a very nice taproom. The White Zombie is a Belgian style wheat beer of 5.1% alcohol and a hint of citrus courtesy of the orange peel added to the brew. Interestingly this had the most initial likes but didn’t finish as the top beer in our final review. Early comments included; pissy (yes that’s what I typed), light, least bitter, watered down, a hint of orange. My feelings were it was meh.

When all was said and done Peachy King was the overall number 1, White Zombie took second, Strawberry Lemonade avoided last place by being third and the poor old Ground Up Coffee Stout was easily in 4th place.

Thanks to all the guinea pigs, I mean tasters; Lynn, Mr B, Dee, Alex, Haley, Chris, Paige, Garrett, and Lauren who joined us in spirit and can for real next year.

We all enjoyed the activity and plan to do it again on next years trip with the twist that everyone who wants to participate will bring a beer to ante up. Very much looking forward to it. Only 51 weeks to go.



OMB could stand for Oh My! Beer or October Means Beer or Olde Mecklenburg Brewery  In this case it’s the last one.  Since it is October and the temperatures finally started acting like it’s Fall it felt like a weekend for some German food.

Although I’ve had some of their beer before I’d never been to the restaurant at the brewery.  I checked out the menu online to make sure they had German food on the menu and not just bar food. They did so off I went.

It was a relatively short jaunt up the interstate to find Olde Meck which happened to be within sight of a cider company I visited a while back.  OMB is really more of a complex of buildings and a huge biergarten.  The restaurant is large also with a bar area and at least two seating areas I saw.  One has regular tables and the other has several rows of tables butted up to one another making long community tables.  Outside there is a covered area with picnic style tables and the biergarten which has row upon row of picnic tables to accommodate at least a couple of hundred people.

I got there fairly early and they had the seat yourself sign out and it was easy to do since I was the only person inside.  I’d have opted for the biergarten had the sun been out.  Anyway the service inside was good and I had a menu and beer list in just a minute.  Since it was an option I got a flight of 4 different beers to go with the meal.  For the meal I selected the Teller plate that included two sausages, a roll and two sides.  From the options I went with a regular bratwurst and Nuremburger brats plus sauerkraut and potato salad.

The flight came first and included a handy key in case I couldn’t have picked out the beers on my own.  I started with the Captain Jack, a pilsner that was a perfect option for Bud drinkers.  The food arrived and I had the Mecktoberfest and the Copper with my meal.  The Mecktoberfest tasted a lot like a full bodied version of the pilsner which made it better in my opinion.  The Copper is reddish in color like the name suggests and has a hoppier flavor but not like the overdone IPAs.

Looking at the plate it occurred to me I probably could have used a little color on the plate but what was done was done.  The wursts were good quality sausages, the mustard was a good slightly coarse vinegary style, the sauerkraut was plain tangy kraut served warm.  The potato salad was good but not great and served cold.  I think it would have been better served warm.  The bread was warm though and a bit dense and chewy.  Nice meal that paired well with the beer.

I finished up with the Fat Boy Porter (don’t make the obvious joke, you’re better than that).  It was my favorite of the four having a bolder taste, slightly sweet with a hint of caramel and the higher alcohol content was noticeable.  Nice desert.

Based on the number of seats OMB must be popular at times and certainly has capacity to host large events and the food and beer were worth the drive.  One note for the true German beer aficionados OMB adheres to Reinheitsgebot so they have a few different types of beer but the ingredients are the limited to the 4 approved.

If you didn’t check out the Tell Me More the last time I posted for Germany check it out for a little extra content.



Mangiare a Milano


As promised last post this week is devoted to the food & drink from an overnight trip to Milano.  The trip was quick but we managed to have some great meals just by wandering into places we were passing by.

I was joined on the trip by friend and co-worker Levina and we decided to go towards the downtown area and start roaming around.  The cab ride made it quite clear there was at least one pizzeria per block so we walked only a little way before we found one that looked very inviting, Ristorante Pizzeria da Sasa.  The waiter was standing in the doorway smiling and waved us in to enjoy some pleasant outdoor dining.  His English was only slightly better than my Italian but we managed to get drinks ordered and an English menu.

The beer was a local draft that tasted like a lager and it was nice and cold.  We placed our orders and while we waited they provided us a wonderful eggplant appetizer with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese accompanied by a basket of fresh bread.  It whetted the appetite for our entrees.

The entrees we ordered were spaghetti with garlic oil and spicy peppers and the calzone Napoletano which had tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta and spicy salami.  We shared the dishes so we could enjoy each.

The spaghetti was cooked just right and the simplicity of the garlic olive oil and peppers meant you didn’t have a ton of competing flavors and could enjoy those tastes.  The calzone was cooked in a real pizza oven with fire and everything, witness the slight char.  There is no substitute for a good wood or coal fired pizza oven.  The fillings weren’t as copious as they are in a lot of the calzones here in the States but the ingredients tasted fresh and the salami was spicy as advertised so it was quality over quantity.  Pizza & pasta, what more iconic first Italian meal could you ask for?  Well maybe an espresso to put the capper on the meal.  The staff was very friendly and inviting and I’d recommend this place to anyone.

From this leisurely lunch we walked, bussed and subwayed around Milano until we would up at the Duomo where we spent a little time gaping before deciding we’d really pay attention to that the next day and chose to stroll through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II next to it.  This place was loaded with high end shops and some nice restaurants as well so we stopped at one, Ristorante Galleria,  more for something to drink than a meal since lunch had been so substantial.

We settled on the cheese plate which came with five different cheeses with preserved figs and a basket of assorted rolls.

I’m not even sure what all the cheeses were except good.  The brie was obvious and there was parmesan and what I think was romano but it could have been some other hard cheese. It was mild and had a kind of nutty flavor to it.  The other really soft cheese was akin to bleu cheese but it was more finely veined and creamier and the last was a semi-soft cheese that had a bit of a tang to it that went well with the roll laced with pumpkin seeds.  So this was a light dinner but very tasty and filling.  Of course there’s always room for gelato.

I had hazelnut topped by mixed berry and as you can see it came with some crispy thin cookies that you had to eat just to gain proper access to the gelato.  Sacrifices must the made.  This was a nice place that matched the high end shops surrounding it in that it felt fancy but dress code wasn’t really that much of an issue if you could pay the bill.

When we got back to the hotel we relaxed and I had a darker local beer and Levina enjoyed a cappuccino.

The next day we had breakfast at the hotel which was not bad but not blog worthy either.  Lunch was at a restaurant off the Duomo’s square and was mostly notable for the lack of ability to communicate.  We ordered panini sandwiches and Levina asked if it was toasted and was told “No!  No toast!”  I tried to mime both pressing something and also closing a panini press but the answer was the same.  Of course we’re thinking “how is it a panini if it isn’t toasted?”  They arrived, pressed and toasted.  It was no better or worse than any other busy café next to an Italian landmark.

Great trip, good food, you should go.

North to Germany


This week we moved from Africa to Europe and I chose Germany as the target country and Waldhorn Restaurant as the establishment.  This was a bit of a cheat as I have been here several times before but didn’t find any place else that really seemed to typify German cuisine.
Waldhorn is a large white building with foliage around the perimeter of the property to lend it some separation from the other businesses and the nearby James K Polk museum.  This particular Saturday they weren’t very busy but there was a meeting of some kind of Mercedes owners club so my Hyundai and a little Nissan were the only non-Mercedes in the parking lot that I could see.  I felt like I should have stopped at the car wash first just so my car would have at least been shiny.  Enough about that.
My impression of the interior of the restaurant is that it has 3 areas with different feels.  There is one section where they have windows on three sides and during the day it has a bright, airy feel to it.  The main part of the restaurant seems darker and heavier but in a good comfortable way.  Finally there is an upstairs area good for groups but not private as it is open to the rest of the restaurant.  It does get you up out of the traffic pattern though.
The staff was friendly and attentive and Paul and his trainee Ashley took good care of me while I was there.

Although Waldhorn was not new to me and I had tried their Jaegerschnitzel and my go to is usually the Schwaebische wurstplatte I had never tried the Wienerschnitzel so that was the choice for the day.  It came with spaetzle and red cabbage.  To accompany the meal I decided to go with a beer sampler to maximize the variety and still be able to drive home.  I tried the Spaten Premium Lager, Warsteiner Pilsner, Warsteiner Dunkel and the Spaten Oktoberfest.


The wienerschnitzel was thin and tender and cooked a perfect golden brown all the way around.  The spaetzle by itself could have used some more salt but along with a bite of the meat it worked.  The cabbage was a little sweet but complimented the rest of the meal.  Being a good southern boy I could have used a ladle full of that gravy but there was enough to enhance the schnitzel and spaetzle without drowning either.

Oh and the beer.  All four were decent but the Oktoberfest was far and away my favorite of the lot. Neither the pilsner or the lager really stood out.  The dunkel was bitter, in a good way.  That Oktoberfest though was nothing but smooth.

As I was eating I could overhear Paul schooling young Ashley on the finer points of being on staff and he described to her his favorite menu item and you could tell it was not just what he considered the most edible thing on the menu but that he truly liked this particular dish a lot.  That says something when your wait staff is enthusiastic about the food when they don’t have to be.

If you’re in the market for German and in the Charlotte area you won’t do better than Waldhorn.

Here’s a link to their website


Next week I’m heading east to Asia.