Jolenna, the pastry chef at the helm of Sugar Kiss Catering, incorporates produce grown by local farmers into her confections. Among the treats she bakes are seasonal strawberry pies, Granny Smith apple galettes in a cinnamon crust, and chocolate cupcakes with salted-caramel honey sauce and peanut-butter frosting. She uses only real vanilla pods to make vanilla frosting.
Cylindrical lights cast artful shadows on golden walls while amber drapes evoke waterfalls of pure honey. Patrons just entering The Wine Loft's warm, glowing lounge find seats on a wall-length leather sofa and begin eyeing neighboring feasts of small plates. Shareable boards are scattered with Italian antipasto, charcuterie, and Mediterranean accouterments, all begging companionship from more than 40 wines by the glass. "I also have 100 wines by the bottle," the waitress says, seeing the customers scanning the bar. She drops two menus and cocktail napkins onto the black-lacquered table. Each item's description flickers against lit tea candles. Jazz music gives the room a velvety pulse. "We'll have the Japanese pumpkin ravioli and shrimp and blue-cheese pastries,” says one of the diners. “And as for all these wines, I think we'll need a few more minutes."
Charlotte magazine isn't coy in its praise of Clean Catch Fish Market. "Simply stated, Clean Catch Fish Market is the fish market Charlotte has been waiting for," it raved when it awarded the market its 2012 Editors' Choice Award for Best Fish Market, citing the "quality and freshness." The market also came out on top in that year’s Voters' Choice Awards.
Living up to the accolades, staffers curate seasonal selections of the freshest fish possible, such as Alaskan cod or swordfish caught wild in state. Though they're continually searching for exciting, new seafood, they always offer a selection of sushi-grade fish, oysters, and shellfish. Clean Catch Fish Market dedicates itself to sustainable seafood, and the vast majority of catches are wild.
The market's chefs can give shoppers tips on how to cook their finds or give recipe suggestions, but they also whip up dishes of their own, such as shrimp gumbo, jumbo crab cakes, and complete fish-taco kits. Every day, staffers post links to the day's offerings on their Twitter page, and they allow customers to text in their orders to the shop rather than making them send their overworked carrier pigeons.
An acronym for Fabulous Art Buying Opportunity, FABO began as just that: an art store. It still is today, only along with art, the Park Road shop quenches thirst and quiets hunger, too. Inside, artwork from nearly 60 local artists?including paintings, photographs, jewelery, and pottery?sprawls across blue-gray and wine-colored walls. Visitors kick back in this funky atmosphere to sip on coffee, espresso, and even a carefully selected roster of wines and beers, some from local breweries. When stomachs begin to rumble, guests can also munch on muffins, bagels, and other bakery treats made to eat while on the move or during a secret detour from a nearby marathon.
The epicurean engineers at The Original Italian Pie slather homemade sauce across gourmet pizzas, which beckon hungry stomachs from a mouthwatering menu stocked with salads, pastas and sandwiches. A meaty triumvirate of pepperoni, italian sausage, and ground beef joins forces with a bevy of fresh veggies to invigorate combo pies, and modest margherita masterpieces enjoy simpler existences with sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. A garden of more than 25 toppings, including canadian bacon, herbed ricotta, and jalapeños ($0.95–$2.75 each), endows customers with more choices than an edible Choose Your Own Adventure novel at the create-your-own pizza or calzone station. Unlike their circular counterparts, a selection of salads, pastas and entrees, such as seared tuna salad ($9.95), spinach lasagna ($10.95) and chicken parmesan ($11.95), provide a purpose for utensils, keeping hand-jealous forks from throwing themselves off the table.
A self-described "accidental baker," Amy Craparo wasn't shepherded into her field by a cake-obsessed grandmother or mother. No matter. She found her own way, and it all started with a bite of the most wonderful cake she had ever tasted. Call it love at first sight; Amy found herself so inspired that she simply bought the business, starting an unlikely career in the world of baking.
After training with bakers and cake designers from around the country, she started to churn out her own delicious wedding cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops. Today, The Wow Factor lives up to its name, baking sweets that sweep customers off their feet. But it's not just the taste that elicits "Wow"s. Amy's cakes are flat-out gorgeous, drawing aesthetic inspiration from the latest fashion trends, bridal designs, and Internet memes.