Sides Soups + Mains Travel

Life Lately – Travel, Food, & Wine

Chihuly at the Biltmore, Wrightsville Beach, a food event, wine recs, and two classic recipes!

Get ready for a random spread today! Life has been crazy lately as I’ve started a new job, and we have had a lot of other unexpected things going on. As well, we’ve been on the go! Here are a few snapshots of what’s been going on lately…

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I recently attended the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA) Chef Showdown at Founders Hall, where 21 chefs and six mixologists from across the state competed for top honors.

The welcome drinks were definitely delicious – and while I loved these beautiful specialty cocktails, I also enjoyed the local wine from Shelton Vineyards.



As you might remember from my earlier post, I had the honor of getting to know two of these talented competitors – Miranda Brown from The Asbury and Cody Middleton, from Forsyth Country Club, both pastry chefs. Miranda took home top honors that night – this is her plating her desserts for the chefs.


Cody’s desserts, alongside more NC wine…


Just a sample of the beautiful food – we visited multiple stations like these around the room!


Me with some of the other food bloggers there.


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We also recently hit Wrightsville Beach with our friends for a long weekend. We go to Wrightsville often, and for those of you who aren’t local, it’s on the coast of NC where the floods just were. I hate thinking of the “then and now” factor of these photos, but here are some snapshots of our recent beach trip.


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Right before Florence hit, Mike and I also took a very quick trip to Asheville with my parents and sister. We ate at a great new spot – White Labs Pizza, which I’d definitely add to my list of Asheville recommendations.




We also couldn’t resist a repeat visit to our favorite – Curaté. I sort of hate to waste opportunities trying out new things, but that’s how good Curaté is.


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Me with my Mom, Dad and sister.

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And my hubby!


The main reason for our visit was to check out the Chihuly exhibition at the Biltmore. We had heard it was cool to see all the large-scale glass sculptures lit up at night, so we went at dusk.


A wine stop before walking…


Chihuly throughout the Biltmore gardens – so stunning!





Chihuly at the Biltmore runs for a couple more weeks, and I’d definitely recommend trying to get these if you are close by.

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I recently supplied 2 bottles of whites to a wine-tasting – this tasting served at a higher price point, but if you are in the market for a bottle of white for a special occasion, I would definitely recommend these as my wine group really enjoyed them. I got them both at Total Wine:

  • Domaine Julie Belland Mersault Premier Cru Santenots 2015. WE 92. Rtl $99.
  • Ramey Chardonnay Hyde Carneros 2014. RP 93. Rtl $57


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Last but not least, my friends Lauren and Jeremy also recently made these classic dishes that looked too good not to share. Recipes below!

Melting Potatoes

Recipe from Cook's Country

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6


  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled


  1. Use potatoes at least 1½ inches in diameter. Do not use a glass baking dish, which could shatter.
  2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Square off ends of potatoes and cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick disks. Toss potatoes with butter, thyme, salt, and pepper. Arrange potatoes in single layer in 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  3. Roast potatoes until bottoms are beginning to brown around edges, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Using flat metal spatula and tongs, loosen potatoes from bottom of pan and flip. Continue to roast until browned on second side, about 15 minutes longer.
  4. Remove pan from oven, flip potatoes once more, and add broth and garlic. Roast until potatoes are tender and sauce has reduced slightly, about 15 minutes. Baste potatoes with sauce before serving.

Skillet-Roasted Chicken in Lemon Sauce

Recipe from America's Test Kitchen

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken
Servings 4


  • ½ cup salt
  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (2 split breasts cut in half crosswise, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs, trimmed)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves


  1. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Heat oil in ovensafe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place chicken skin side down in skillet and cook until skin is well browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer breasts to large plate. Flip thighs and legs and continue to cook until browned on second side, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer thighs and legs to plate with breasts.
  3. Pour off and discard fat in skillet. Return skillet to medium heat; add butter, shallot, and garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour evenly over shallot-garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in broth and lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon zest and remove skillet from heat. Return chicken, skin side up (skin should be above surface of liquid), and any accumulated juices to skillet and transfer to oven. Cook, uncovered, until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs and legs register 175 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. While chicken cooks, chop parsley, oregano, and remaining 1 teaspoon zest together until finely minced and well combined. Remove skillet from oven and let chicken stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer chicken to serving platter. Whisk sauce, incorporating any browned bits from sides of pan, until smooth and homogeneous, about 30 seconds. Whisk half of herb-zest mixture into sauce and sprinkle remaining half over chicken. Pour some sauce around chicken. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

Recipe Notes

We serve our version of Rao’s chicken with crusty bread, but it can also be served with rice, potatoes, or egg noodles. To ensure crisp skin, dry the chicken well after brining and pour the sauce around, not on, the chicken right before serving.

Bon Appétit and Cheers!

2 comments on “Life Lately – Travel, Food, & Wine

  1. Beautiful pics and you’re making me hungry already today 🙂 I’d love to get to see that Chihuly exhibit in person, such lovely work!

    • I swear I made myself hungry at 6 am when I posted this, haha! Yes, if you can, I definitely recommend trying to get to Asheville for a quick trip, I think it runs through Oct 7!

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