My latest adventure has been to Charlotte, North Carolina. Other than the fact I was excited that I was going to a place with the same name as 2 of my best friends, I was also excited for another bucket list tick – go to a Nascar race!
Actually getting to Charlotte was a dream – a direct flight with American Airlines out of Heathrow that only ended up taking 8hours. Plus a whole row to myself. Also, as far as aeroplane food goes – you couldn’t fault the cheese and tomato pasta that was served! Why do Airlines usually insist on feeding you inedible ‘fancy’ meals?! Just give me some cheesy pasta any day!
After our peaceful and non-eventful flight, we got our hire car and hit the road (a Qashqai is a compact car over here!).
After arriving at our business partners home, I was in awe of how much house you could get for your money in comparison at home. This alone is a reason to consider moving all these miles away! We had our own wing of the house – that’s how big we’re talking!
Anyway, fun stuff… the food! So, I’ve been to America before, and for those of you that don’t know, American portions can easily serve 2/3 people without question. I don’t think I finished 1 meal, although I do feel that I’ve gained a least 14lbs. It was worth it though (she says whilst typing this on the plane and sat in leggings).The first night we arrived, we were treated to a local Italian restaurant. I had the tomato and mozzarella gnocchi, and, although I enjoyed it, it tasted like most of the ingredients had come from a tin as opposed to being made fresh. I am definitely going to try this dish at home though! I didn’t quite catch the name of the restaurant, but in my defence, I was super tired and fighting off sleep!
The next mentionable dinner (or tea depending on where you’re from) was at a restaurant called Twin Peaks, which was near the Nascar circuit where we had been working. Twin Peaks, is not for a mountain or anything similar I learnt, but another name for an asset that us women have, and that men love to enjoy. It’s basically, just like hooters! The service here wasn’t great – but the waitress was very pretty, so I guess she was doing her job! It’s also a family friendly restaurant (if I ever have kids – they will not be going somewhere with me like that…). I ordered the chicken wings with sweet potato fries. They were so good. I love American chicken wings. Slightly crispy, lots of meat, and really flavoursome. I would 100% recommend these wings. They also do a boneless version, but I thought surely they wouldn’t be as tender?
For our final nights dinner (we had eaten a dominos and an Indian the other 2 nights, both good, but unremarkable), we went to an upmarket Mexican which was sat on the lake front with stunning views. I ordered a sangria (my all time favourite alcoholic drink!) and a Paella. To start, we ordered guacamole and chips (tortilla) for dipping. The waiter brought over a trolley filled with avocados, fresh chillies, pico, and fresh herbs. He made the guacamole in front of us to our likings and it was delicious – again, I am going to try this at home. I didn’t get to take an pictures unfortunately as I was to busy watching what he was doing. The paella was fairly disappointing. I don’t think I chose well with this dish. It came out lukewarm and didn’t take a lot of anything. The rest of the table had ordered steak or shrimp fajitas and they looked really tasty.
Being used to either a slice of toast, a bowl of cereal or some fruit for breakfast, is not common in America. The portions and sugar involved are easily 1000+ calories or more, but are a tourist dream as it’s something that we don’t have. We had breakfasts of French toast, eggs, bacon, biscuits (like a scone), fried chicken and every American cliché you can think of to eat for this meal. This is where I think my weight gain has come from! It has been good, don’t get me wrong, but just for waist bands sake, I am pleased to be going back to my boring toast.
Lunches were another game all together. We went to a place called Big Tinys BBQ. I debated on doing a post for this separately but it’s been part of my American dream so I can talk about it twice. I ordered the Texan Sausage with mac and cheese and corn bread. This was one of my favourite meals. Although it’s all fairly simple, the way the meat had been cooked was perfectly. Some of our group had ordered the brisket (which I sampled) and it literally melted in your mouth. The mac and cheese was great with a nice crisp top, and the warm corn bread complimented the meal perfectly. Someone had the idea for the banana pudding, and I was feeling full so only wanted to try a small amount, but when we got it, I ate a whole portion. This banana custard with sweet cake and banana slices, was one of the tastiest desserts I’ve had. Again, simple. But, sometimes the simple, unfussy things are the best.
So, I hadn’t actually travelled all that way just to eat food. My boss (who is also one of my friends) and I were going to Charlotte to understand Nascar and how we can grow the business in to this series with the help of our American Distributors and Partners. Nascar is unlike any other series I have been too. There is clearly a lot of money being spent, but not in the areas where we are used to seeing. The concept of them going round an oval track sounded boring to me, but witnessing this showed me that all my preconceived views on the series had been wrong. There is far more real racing and real drama in any one Nascar race than a whole other championship put together.
As a added bonus, we got to go shopping. Yay! Why is everything so much bigger and better in America than at home?! We went to a Target, and I filled up my arms with goodies to bring back. Including extra squeaky dog toys for my pooch. Even they seemed better than his squeaky toys at home! I also bought items for a DIY project I’ve been working on – again, they’re better than anything I’ve seen, as well as convincing my dad over whatsapp that I needed an Apple Watch for my birthday in a couple of weeks and it is cheaper for me to get one in America. He said yes – so I became an extremely happy girl then and took myself (well my boss took me) off to the shops!
5 days in America is never enough, but, I am pleased to be coming home after this incredible opportunity to see my family, and play with my dog. It is my dads birthday when I land, and although I didn’t get him an Apple Watch, I am excited to see him to give him his presents.
Where is your favourite place in America?