Our Visit to Cast Iron Waffles in Charlotte, North Carolina

We normally don’t travel outside of 20min for breakfast but we made an exception this time. Neither of us had ever tried an “Authentic Belgian Liege Waffle” (as advertised) before. This family owned cafe called Cast Iron Waffles is in the Ballantyne area (about 30min from our home)-a little bit out of the way for us because we get impatient for that first meal of the day.

How we found the Authentic Belgian Liege Waffle in Charlotte

On my lunch break (months ago) I happen to notice a Charlotte Magazine laying with some others and decided to check it out. Skimming through, my eyes fixated on an image of a waffle sprinkled with bacon and this frosting stuff that appeared to be oozing out of it. After glancing over another few pages i somehow ended up back on the picture of this waffle. This is where my imagination started to run wild about what it must taste like.  Salty and sweet are never a bad combination.


Here is my photo of the waffle i saw in the magazine that had me dreaming of that special moment where this particular waffle would enter my mouth and send messages of ecstasy to my brain…

I grabbed my iphone and took a picture of this waffle masterpiece and where to find it to make sure i wouldn’t forget. Boy, pictures really do sell!

For a few months i continue to refer back to this photo and remind my husband that i am gonna treat him to a new spot I found for a surprise breakfast. My husband Apache absolutely loves waffles so i thought it would be a great excuse idea to take him to a place that specialized in making the “Authentic Belgian Liege Waffle!”

Our Cast Iron Waffles Experience

This European style cafe opens at 7am. It was finger numbing cold outside, so the first thing we ordered was two sweet, body warming lattes.

We enjoyed a very casual vibe in this cafe. If i lived nearby i could see myself stopping in this cafe for a quick pick-me-up before or after work.

Cast Iron Waffles Menu

Since we Americans typically like to do the most, Cast Iron Waffles has a menu that caters to our need for extra everything. Especially extra sugar!

The menu has a variety of different flavor coffees and lattes. Cast Iron Waffles serve espressos along with plenty of waffle toppings to choose from! Personally, this makes for a happy pairing in my book. 

Cast Iron Waffles Toppings

Apache ordered the Peanut Butter Cup Waffle. I nick-name Apache “Extra Sauce” for good reason, when it comes to indulgence he always wants EXTRA no matter what it is and he has a big personality. Apache’s waffle topped with a cream cheese peanut butter mixture. In addition, it had chocolate syrup and also their homemade whipped cream. I made a point to sample that whipped cream from Apaches plate and found myself nodding in approval. Afterthoughts…. “it’s light, no aftertaste, reminds me of a homemade whipped cream.”  I ordered the Lumberjack waffle topped with maple buttercream and bacon! I thought my waffle was very tasty- sweet,salty and crunchy. Apache loved his extra loaded waffle as well.

The Cast Iron Belgian Liege Waffles Difference

We are accustom to big, airy waffles with smooth edges found in American diners. The Belgian Liege waffle served at Cast Iron has uneven edges. They are also smaller with a more dense texture to them. This made the waffle feel more filling compared to the American style waffles we have had in the past.

Apache and I both thought the Belgian Liege Waffle had a sweet, richer taste. Cast Iron Waffles mix imported Belgian Pearl Sugar into their butter Brioche style dough (pastry dough) which makes it taste more like a dessert. Cast Iron Waffles also use a 100 lb. waffle press. This combination produces a caramelized crispy outer shell that has my tummy grumbling for more as i type this blog.

After eating this yummy desert for breakfast we were full until lunch time so that was a plus for us.

Cast Iron Waffles Prices

Our entire order of two dressed up waffles and two lattes totaled about $20. Not bad for two filling orders.

We feel good about supporting Cast Iron Waffles  because Cast Iron Waffles is a family owned business. Another reason is because Cast Iron Waffles make their dough from scratch. Lastly, because they purchase farm direct or  Fair Trade coffees.

The next time we’re in Ballantyne, i plan to have my Authentic Belgian Liege Waffle prepared more simply with powdered sugar and fresh fruit. When we finally get to go to visit Belgium we will be sure to try their waffles and compare!

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience” – James Beard

If you enjoyed this check out CreativeMornings Worldwide ,   3 Places to go for date night in Charlotte, North Carolina or Have The ASC Experience in Charlotte, NC

 

 

 

Have the ASC experience in Charlotte,NC

Resident Culture Brewing & Blending

The South has come so far in recognizing the importance of art and international cultural education! Come through ASC (Arts and Science Council) Charlotte celebrating our differences and the values that tether us as a human race. If you haven’t already, make sure to have your ASC experience in Charlotte, NC.

We got to participate in a collaborative paint project in a brewery and take a Djembe lesson for free! The ASC gave us so much fun and brought some new conversation to the table about what we learned. Find great ideas for your next date night or family night on their website.

We learned that ASC Charlotte  (Arts and Science Council) is continually providing sponsored cultural opportunities and exposure to art for the community throughout the year. On the website you will find a list of ongoing activities to explore for couples and families in Mecklenburg County. 

The ASC experience we attended is called Connect with Culture, an annual event that takes place every January. Everyone gets to enjoy Connect with Culture’s festivities regardless of weather they are rolling in dough or broke because it’s free! Yaaay ASC!

One of the many ASC free experiences held throughout the Mecklenburg was held at the Resident Culture Brewery in Charlotte, NC.

This Brewery is HUGE! I’m loving the space.

The Brewery:  

Apache and I have never been to Resident Culture Brewery on Central Ave. before, therefore we didn’t know what to expect. 

We were pleasantly surprised at how spacious this bar is.  We both admired the fine wood furniture in and outside on the sizable deck. There are tall heated lamps so we could stand outside with a beer and mingle. There were even outdoor fireplaces so people can still gather outside on chillier days. 

Cozy outdoor sitting corner with a fire place!

We loved meeting other people’s dogs at Resident Culture . This is a dog friendly brewery and Nikia loves the dogs! 

This brewery had loads of board games available in case anybody wanted to play. There were also ping pong machines if that floats your boat. We thought it was so cute, this couple enjoying a game of cards while their baby French Bull dog danced around their ankles.  This seems like a great place to hang out! 

More space- Resident Culture front porch.

All the wood counters and tables used for this rustic decor was beautiful.

Some Options …..

We also noticed a beautifully lit Barrel Room for producing barrel aged beers and found out that this area may be rented for events.  On our date night we got to enjoy Drums 4 Life interactive experience in this lovely space courtesy of the ASC. But, Resident Culture Brewery plans to continue hosting many great interactive events here for the community.  

Welcome to the Barrel Room!

Still in the Barrel room.

You guessed it! This is still the Barrel Room! Lol

Painting:  

The ASC experience in Charlotte, NC orchestrated a multi-brewery paint project! Many breweries around town participated in the collaborative painting project of Queen Charlotte! 

Emily Andress developed the master plan for each brewery to have a large wooden puzzle piece to paint. At the end of the evening, all of the puzzle pieces would be joined to make one complete abstract portrait. The portrait would then be presented at the Mint Museum on the next day!  Pretty cool!

Jean Cauthen led our painting experience at Resident Culture Brewing.  The ASC brings people together and allows us to have fun while learning, best idea! 

I couldn’t believe I was in a bar painting! What a way to upgrade the bar scene!  I noticed how participating in a creative activity really got me out of my head and into the moment, what a gift.  If you watch the vlog of this evening you will see what part of the painting I did!  Apache really enjoyed watching how happy this made me.

Completed collaborative paint project of Queen Charlotte presented at the Mint Museum!

Food Trucks:   

There were food trucks at each participating brewery!  Owww (in my Cardi B. voice)!

The Dumpling Lady truck was parked in front of Resident Culture so we had to see what those dumplings were all about!  Someone else on line had mentioned that the pork and Chive dumplings were really good. They left out that the dumplings were also super spicy!  

Thank goodness we both love spice. Along with that spice was an abundance of flavor and we really enjoyed that meal together.  Apache and I sat at a long beautiful wooden picnic like table inside Resident Culture Brewery. During dinner, we got to meet some other people while Resident Culture played some cool old school music.  

While we enjoyed our dumplings we conversed with a woman who talked about her mom being a Radio City Rockette when she was a child.  We also got to meet a mom who was there with her son to expose him to the drum circle.  Her adorable son, about the age of 10, sat staring into his phone intently. He looks up briefly when we mention that we were YouTube Vloggers. The boy’s mom then states “He loves YouTube.” 

It was great to meet new and interesting people on our date.  I am happy to report that after the event the Mom told us that her son took part in and really enjoyed the Drum Circle!

Attend one of their free classes! I promise you will have so much fun!

Drum Circle:  

The ASC experience in Charlotte also included a free African Drum Circle class! Commence Drums 4 Life!!! 

I was just standing around in the bar chillin, minding my own business, taking in my atmosphere while Apache ran to the bathroom. All of a sudden, this rhythmic tumbling thunder rolled in behind me! It echoed throughout this entire sizable brewery and I quickly turned to catch the action. 

Lead instructor and father Kojo Bey and his three young sons played their African drums in perfect sync!  Apache had the camera in the bathroom so I whipped out my trusty cell phone and got what I could of their impactful entrance!  At this time Apache returned and we follow their sound. Drums 4 Life maneuver all around us onlookers engaging and intriguing us all! 

Once our excitement is peaked, they stop and everyone is cheers!   The experience continues in the Barrel Room where Drums 4 Life set out a plentiful array of Djembe and Dunun drums along with other small complimentary instruments to engage the audience.

Djembe (jem-bay) is an instrument originally from West Africa. The name Djembe comes from the saying “everyone gather together in peace.”The Dunun (dun dun) drums are played with sticks.

For this occassion people gathered from all over the world from different religions, nationalities and cultures in peace, enjoying a moment together and learning together. 

I thought “this is what life is all about.” I felt joy to be a part of the human race. In my body I felt excitement and connection from the beautiful sounds. There also was a feeling of gratitude to be a part of this special experience.  Check for Drums 4 Life on Instagram @drums4lifeorg and join a circle!

We won’t forget this date!  Make sure to seek out new types of experiences and learning opportunities. See what type of discoveries and great times they lead to!

“All the world is my school and humanity is my teacher.” – George Whitman

What to Expect at the Spring LEAF Festival in Black Mountain, NC

Apache & I exploring LEAF Festival in Black Mountain, NC

 Let me feast my eyes on the evidence that there is a power so much greater than I.  Taking in the nature of never ending clear skies, immovable mountains kissed with ever giving forests made me feel whole. 

Enchant my soul with musical tunes from around the world, transporting me to another place. 

Feed my human need to be enriched with culture and I find a place in my heart sweetened.

I received all of these elements at the spring LEAF festival in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Apache and I saw LEAF festival welcomed  groups of young and old, friends, families and cuddling lovers.  Some people enjoyed the festivities for the weekend with intentions to camp and some there only for a day.  This is a family friendly affair with plenty of entertainment for all age groups.

Kids were having a ball everywhere! Including this one on the Super Bungee Jumping-Trampoline

A small shuttle bus escorted us past the LEAF camp grounds to the festival from the parking area. 

The first thing we noticed was lots of children and families.  This makes sense because LEAF’s non-profit efforts are all directed to LEAF schools and streets for their local and global youth programs that support cultural arts education.  With this knowledge, we were so happy to be contributing. Consequently, our attendance allows us to be a part of the positive change we would like to see in our future. 

The children covered songs by civil rights activist such as Nina Simone and others from whom we could all learn.  Watching the children share powerful quotes and history facts that complemented the tunes they proudly sang was very moving; I believe they gave every listener hope.

LEAF Schools & Streets performing a Jazz routine
Outside there was no shortage of things to do for the kids. We saw a Super Trampoline Bungee Jumping apparatus for the first time. There were large inflatable bouncers and even a children’s zip-line sending them right into the lake! Children dominated the mini man made beach along the lake, rode in Canoes and played on the floating Jungle gym which was equipped with a diving board. There was lots of space to run and opportunity to make new friends. 

 

We met one teenager who sat on the grass exercising her entrepreneurial and creative spirit selling necklaces that she made herself.  This young girl informed us that she had been selling her craft work at LEAF for several years now.  She mentioned that she loved coming to LEAF every year with her family.  What a great way to encourage goal setting, self esteem, creativity and self independence in a child!

We were in awe of these young entrepreneurs selling their own homemade arts & crafts at LEAF!

Some of the events made available for the children included Teenage Female Power Funk, OSO Kid Hop Dance Party, a Teen poetry slam, a Magic and Wonder show and LEAF International Tanzania to name a few options but all events are family friendly.


Let’s try to remember this!

There was something for everyone.  We decided to put our sheet down on the grass to relax, people watch, sun bathe and enjoy the the beautiful lake and mountain view.  After sunbathing the colorful Ignite and Inspire parade began and our inner hippy emerged! 

Make sure you don’t miss the Ignite & Inspire parade
We loved the variety of options for music venues! You could find anything ranging from Reggae to Bluegrass and Folk to Salsa dance parties. Listen to the Blues or even go to a Techno Contra dance party- yup, all that!

There was singing/ song writing workshops and also an exciting fire performance that evening.  Who turns down a chance to gaze at twirling fire on a pitch black evening in the mountains? Basically you could make your festival day as chill or as active as you like.  


We got to put our blanket out and relax by this lake when we got tired.

How to prepare for LEAF

1) Managing your time

My best advice for managing the LEAF festival’s elaborate itinerary would be to go to the website , review it and the map ahead of time. Note which events you definitely don’t want to miss.  Plan to factor in time to walk from one area to another. Planning ahead will also allow you time to get to your chosen events 15-30 min early for a good view of the show, dance space or seat but you can arrive to any gathering whenever you like-it’s very laid back here.

Factor in time to browse, there is a lot to see. If you want to vendor shop there are loads of clothing, art, jewelry and unique item vendors to explore. 

This kid was styling hardcore at LEAF!
Meeting fabulous people at LEAF!

2) Saving money on food

Food trucks and culinary booths at LEAF offer international, vegetarian, health conscious options as well as typical yummy junk food if you are so inclined. 

We chose to purchase the Culinary Passport available on the LEAF website because this offered us 5 full meals for the day for $50. This Spring, The Corner Kitchen catered in Eden Hall; we could pile as much food as we wanted onto our plate for each meal. Our Passport ticket got hole punched for each plate of food. I believe we saved money doing it this way.  If you don’t purchase the ticket but want to have one of these meals, your plate will be weighed for purchase price.

LEAF has the food hook-up!

The food is gourmet and prepared by local chefs.  If you choose this option I would say arrive 15min early to cut back on time standing in line, although the line did move quickly.  These special meals are served in a community dining style environment with entertainment.  

You can find loads of beautiful handcrafted jewelry


3) What to pack

For our day trip we packed a debit card, bed sheet, sun block, bug spray and a few bottles of water although bottles of water at LEAF were only $1. 

I started out very comfortable in my summer dress but by evening it felt like 40 degrees so definitely bring layers. In addition, it did rain that morning so basically there was large areas of mud. Keep in mind when planning what to wear that you could potentially get dirty which could be fun. So remember, layers and comfort is key.

 It’s also a good idea to bring a poncho and footwear you don’t mind getting muddy for possible Spring showers.  If you want to wear a costume feel free, this is a huge playground for children and adults alike.  If you decide that you want to stay more than one day but you are not a camper type, no problem, Airbnb is a great option!

Adult kids playing dress up at LEAF
Apache and I wish we could buy all of this amazing art work!
LEAF offers a Spring and Fall festival each year pulling artists from around the world to give attendees an opportunity to experience and learn about cultures internationally.  LEAF festivals have been in existence for the past 20+ years. This organization has enriched over 55,000 children with their programs in 10 countries worldwide. LEAF cultural arts education programs are local and global! 

 

If you are unsure about whether you can afford to attend LEAF remember that it is a non-profit organization for children and you may be able to use your tickets as a tax write off. 

LEAF was a very special occasion with great purpose and we agree with LEAF that the more we learn the more we grow!

The Poetry Slams at LEAF were incredible so make sure to go!

Watch our LEAF Vlog here!

 

CreativeMornings Worldwide

Fortunately you can attend a CreativeMornings event in most cities around the world. We got to experience this creative movement for the first time in Charlotte.

Excited to attend out first CreativeMornings event together!

Do you believe in the power of positive energy?  Do you believe that surrounding yourself with others who are purpose driven, seeking to learn, grow and be inspired can encourage transformative change within yourself? My personal answer to these questions would be a big fat YES! This is the type of environment you can expect at a CreativeMornings event.

Fortunately you can attend a CreativeMornings event in most cities around the world. We got to experience this creative movement for the first time in Charlotte.

We didn’t know what to expect when we entered the CreativeMornings event for the first time.

Stepping into the room we could immediately feel that there was something very special happening. When my husband and I attended CreativeMornings in April, there was free coffee and breakfast supplied by local vendors. There were all types of people including photographers, artists, activists, vendors, a DJ playing upbeat music plus a bubbling audience of all ages!  We met Matt Olin, Charlotte’s CreativeMornings enthusiastic MC.

Feeling great energy in the room as I signed in at CreativeMornings in Charlotte, NC

Reasons to attend CreativeMornings

Opportunity and networking

There was a positive and quick moving presentation providing a platform to encourage entrepreneurs and creative thinkers. A few new entrepreneurs were allowed to quickly pitch their ideas which was inspiring and exciting.

Inspiration

I have attended two CreativeMornings so far and also enjoyed a variety of their speakers from around the world made available on their website.  Having listened to these talks, I can say the chosen speakers come from all walks of life with a wide span of creative and professional backgrounds.

One Friday each month provides a new global theme for the chosen main speaker to discuss.  At each CreativeMornings event I enjoyed listening to intriguing stories that resonate with the human experience.  We are grateful to hear about topics such as how to overcome life obstacles and how to move forward in becoming the best version of ourselves. Both can be a creative action. 

Win a prize

CreativeMornings in Charlotte is interactive.  Audience members have an opportunity to engage in a brief but fun game to win really great prizes! Someone won a gift certificate to a hair salon.

Cool vendors

My favorite vendors at this past April’s event would have to be Viva Raw and Pop up Produce

Pop up Produce’s founder Amanda Zullo has designed a kit providing families and individuals the essentials to grow their own food.  This kit empowers people to make a difference in preserving the environment as well as educates the user about the benefits of fresh produce.  Fabulous! Check out their website to see how Pop up Produce is impacting Charlotte’s youth and families in food deserts. 

The Viva Raw truck had a delicious and energy boosting drink available for sampling which we loved.  My husband and I are always interested in improving our health and energizing our bodies through nutrition.  Viva Raw is providing cold pressed juices and raw snacks that help keep you looking and feeling your best naturally!  All of their products are dairy and gluten free. 

CreativeMornings is an example of how following your heart can lead to a purpose driven life. This event shows that Charlotte has so much potential and awesome people to meet. We witnessed people connecting with one another, dancing, and encouraging one another.

We were inspired by Pop Up Produce’s community outreach efforts!

Thought provoking speakers

Harvey Gantt was the honored speaker for the CreativeMornings event held on April 21st 2017 at Camp North End warehouse to address the month’s global theme of “Beyond.” 

Harvey Gantt has won numerous local, regional and national design awards for his architecture. Mr. Gantt  has a very extensive educational background.  In 1983 Harvey Gantt became Charlotte’s first African American Mayor for two successive terms. He focused on the revitalization of Charlotte’s inner city with efforts to promote education and taking actions politically as a civil rights activist.  It was a privilege to sit in his presence.

Mr. Gantt has accomplished so much in following his God given purpose.  His message ultimately challenged audience members to find ways to contribute to improving our communities. 

Its free

CreativeMornings work with volunteers, long term partners and generous sponsors that provide funds to help cover event expenses and provide this free venue.  Anyone can attend this event. Learn about what’s going on in your city while enjoying free breakfast and coffee.

Camp North End was a dope space to host CreativeMornings! Very spacious, industrial with a lot of natural light coming in.

CreativeMornings was started in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenberg in NYC to provide a space for New York’s creative community to gather, support and network with like-minded individuals. Since then, CreativeMornings has expanded to 170+ chapters worldwide.  Subsequently, you could go to just about any city in the world to enjoy a CreativeMornings event.

When you travel to new destinations get a dose of positive energy along with great new ideas to discuss with your friends or family. Check the website to see if there is a CreativeMornings chapter in your city wherever you are!

CreativeMornings happen in Charlotte from 8:30am -10am once a month. Registering to attend is a very simple task of creating a log in at CreativeMornings.com , locating your city and signing up to attend!

I have been married for 20+ years, and attending an event like this invites fresh new conversation between us which is really fun. Everyone is welcome.

Written by: Nikia Knapp /Edits by Craig Greshaw
Photos by Apache Knapp