Friday, March 21, 2014

Authentic Ramen in Charlotte

For the college student or anyone on a "ramen noodle" budget, it's survival. For the Japanese, it's comfort food. 

I have fallen into both categories at different stages of life with different types of preparation.

It used to be a cup of noodles, poor the hot water in, and three minutes later you had a meal. Then I learned to buy the kind in a wrapper and cook it with miso paste and other spices, throwing out the packet of flavoring. Then it was my first trip to Tokyo where the true love affair began.

I was tired, weary. It was my first time traveling half way around the world. It was my first time traveling that far alone. I arrived at the Imperial Hotel and was greeted by a warm hug from my mom and a hot shower after a day of travel.

After unpacking, we set out to find dinner. We were both exhausted and finding a full fledged meal with no knowledge of the language seemed daunting. After a few misses we found a hole in the wall ramen restaurant with one broken English menu. It was perfection: delicious broth, tender meat, and slick noodles. 

One never forgets their first authentic bowl of ramen so when I heard about Musashi's I knew I had to give it a try!

A bowl of ramen was the perfect dinner choice after spending the afternoon celebrating St. Patrick's Day. The husband and I met up with the #EpicEaters and their dates and quickly separated ourselves, the men at one table and the ladies at the other. 

We gabbed, drank sake, and snacked on light appetizers. And then the ramen came and the nine of us got really quiet. 

Miso Ramen
Japanese egg noodle, roasted pork slices, bamboo shoot & green onions

It was delicious and the closest thing I've had in Charlotte that resembles the ramen that I had had in Tokyo years ago. 

The restaurant is 35 minutes from the house but is definitely worth the drive for those days when I crave the taste of Tokyo.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Charlotte is on the Verge

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably have seen the sad attempt at satire on Huffington Post about Charlotte and local publications and bloggers stepping in to defend the Queen City.

You should really read Jeremy Markovich's article in Our State instead of the Huff Post article. It's beautifully written, although lengthy, and shares the sentiments I have towards Charlotte.

"And right now, at this moment, at this point in history, that is Charlotte. We’re on the verge of something.

We’re lucky. Some towns in North Carolina are locked into what they’ve been for years. There are beach towns. Furniture towns. Mill towns. Farm towns. Suburbs. Mountain getaways. Interstate oases. Tobacco towns. When the realities of a new era force them to change, sometimes they have a hard time doing so. Some places dry up. The stores close. The weeds grow. The people move. The heritage is so strong that it’s hard to stop living in the past. People point at those towns and say, I know who you are.

Not Charlotte. They say we’re nice. But we know we’re more than that."


Today I had a beautifully exhausting day. I met with amazingly talented women here in Charlotte who are doing big things. I walked away from both coffee meetings feeling more confident about what I want to do and the paths I need to take. It's not going to be easy and I like it that way.

I also made a pit stop at a dim sum restaurant for lunch... My heart yearns for travel and an epic foodventure.

Foreign currency adorns a door at Smelly Cat Coffee.

Dim Sum on Central Ave.

Latte art at Central Coffee

I'm spending the rest of the week prepping for a new venture and tagging clothes for the Green Jeans Sale. I may also do the dishes and finish laundry from last weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SEED 20, Class of 2014

I really enjoy live tweeting, whether it's the Bachelor season finale, a marketing webinar, or a fantastic local event.

Last Tuesday I did the later at the SEED20 competition. Not only was it a an inspiring event that I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to attend but I also got to see my friend Katie win the grand prize for her non-profit, PlateShare.

If you get the urge to get inspired to change the world, add this event to your "must attend" list in 2015!

Learn more about the non-profits that are part of SEED 20's Class of 2014:

Behailu Academy
Bottles N Bottoms
Camp Blue Skies
Charlotte Speech and Hearing
Project Energy Transition
Project Scientist
Queen City Mobile Market
Youth Development Initiatives
F3 Foundation
Make It Work
Patriots Path
Pearls for Creative Healing
Refugee Support Services
R.I.C.’s Market
The Arts Empowerment Project
The Sandbox
UrbanPromise Charlotte

in the Kitchen | Greek Chicken Kabobs

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love to cook and recently started using #callmemarthasteawart hashtag to instabrag. It happens. ;)

Cooking gives me the ability to create something that also benefits others (unlike when I paint it only truly benefits me). Not only is it a creative outlet, but it also feeds my geeky scientific side.

Last Monday I made one of my favorite dishes that is also super easy to make, Greek chicken kabobs. I used this recipe for inspiration but put my own twist on it (as always!) and used ingredients that I had on hand without going to the grocery store.

The Instructions (based on 1.5 lb of chicken):
  • Cut the chicken breasts into one inch pieces and put them into a large zip lock plastic bag
  • In a bowl, mix the following ingredients: 
    • minced garlic (3-5 cloves)
    • dried oregano (2 tablespoons)
    • crushed pepper (1 tablespoon)
    • salt (1 tablespoon)
    • juice of one lemon
    • olive oil (1/2 cup)
    • red wine vinegar (1/3 cup)
  • Pour the mixture into the bag with the chicken and let it marinate for a minimum of two hours
  • Meanwhile, soak the kabob sticks in water (to reduce the chance of your sticks burning while you gril the kabobs)
  • Cut one red onion and one large red pepper into one inch pieces
  • Build the kabobs by alternating the onion and red pepper with the chicken
  • Grill the kabobs on an open fire for the best flavor

Serve with couscous and homemade tzatziki sauce.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ides of March

Sometimes, dreams turn into nightmares and you are forced to wake up to make it end.  I'm awake, slightly terrified, and mostly excited about what the future will bring.

The past two weeks I've slept in, done some soul searching, new full time job searching, and started working on the foundation for what will one day become my own business. I have also celebrate life and friends and have had amazing and inspiring days (so long as I didn't get lost in my head and start going down the wrong path).

I'm excited to turn my attention back to this blog. I've built the in the Queen City brand and now it's time to take it to the next level. I'm once again toying with the idea of moving the blog over to Wordpress so that I could start advertizing. There's still a lot of research that needs to be done, a lot of learning, and tapping into the expertise of others.

The Ides of March was a turning point for the Roman Empire... this is definitely a turning point for me and I can't wait to see what the future brings.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What to Wear to Front Row Charlotte's Spring Show

It's that time of year where all of Front Row Charlotte attendees freak out because no one knows what they're wearing. Or they did and then Mother Nature decided that it should be freezing on March 5th just to wreck havoc on everyone's plans.

Thanks, Mother Nature!

This year, just like last year, I have reached out to my social networks to help decide what to wear and I thank everyone who has helped thus far!

Last night I dug through my closet and went for the black-and-white trend. What I really wanted to wear was all black and a parka and calling it a day.

Round 1:

A) black sparkly sweater, white pleated skirt, classic pointed toe pumps
B) grey halter, white jeans, open toe platforms + leather biker jacket
C) purple (even though it looks blue) top with sparkly shoulders, pleather leggings, open toe platforms

Today I felt like a brand new person and went into the mall with a mission to find a cute spring top to go with my leggings. I found that, and a whole lot more (thanks to Anthropologie!).

Round 2:

D) neon green tank, stripe jacket, circle pattern navy skirt with a peach underskirt, dark purple suede pumps
E) variation of D but with a matching peach tank and open toe slingback platforms
F) peekaboo floral bra, semi-sheer peach button down, faux-leather leggings, and matching I'll-take-any-excuse-to-wear Choos.

So, which outfit should I wear to Front Row tomorrow?

This year Front Row Charlotte's beneficiary is Baby Bundles, a non-profit that helps clothe newborns. Visit their website to learn more on how you can help.