Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chocolate, Manicures, and Wine

"A four hour lay-over in Charlotte, you have got to be kidding me!" Those words and few other unmentionables spilled out of my mouth when I saw my flight itinerary for an academic conference in Albany. "What am I going to do in Charlotte for four hours?" Expecting the worst, I packed my suitcase full of books, magazines, and sudoku puzzles to ward off the drab monotony of the airport. When the plane touched down on the tranquil N.C. runway (peaceful, well compared to Miami), I resolved to make the best of it. To my surprise and delight, Charlotte-Douglas Airport practically sparkeled with life. White rocking chairs lined broad concourses and a plethora of food-court favorites from Nathan's and Sbarro's to TCBYs and Edy's enticed the weary and airline-starved travelers.

On a little unknown passage tucked between concourses D and E, I found the trifecta of travel heaven: A full-service salon, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory outlet, and North Carolina wines. The four-hour layover now seemed like just enough time to savor some chocolate, taste-test some wine and have my nails done, before heading off to the conference.

Monday, September 3, 2007

I'll have the carnival with a side salad

Fogovivo brings Brazilian Rodizio dining to Westchester. Located just past the Palmetto on Bird Road, this Brazilian steakhouse provides all you can eat meat served by gauchos wearing baggy pants and armed with sword-sized skewers. This was my first experience with Brazilian steakhouse eating, and I was quite impressed.

The service was excellent, if a bit rushed. The nearly empty restaurant seemed to be over staffed. As soon as we were seated and had served ourselves salad from the copious salad bar, the gauchos swarmed us with offers of beef ribs, pork ribs, roast duck, bacon-wrapped filet mignon and shishkebabs. The fresh salad greens wilted under the pile of meat that quickly accumulated on my plate, and then I remembered to turn my button over. Green means keep coming; red signals-- "My arteries need a break!" Other reviews of Fogovivo criticized the management as cold and uncaring, but the manager on during our meal came over personally to see that we were satisfied. The gauchos on the whole were personable with one comedian who quacked tableside, and one grouch, who refused to let diners handle the meat.

The plentiful salad bar offered more than just fresh greens; poached salmon, manchego and parmesan cheeses, and even sushi (not reccomended, this is a steakhouse after all!) tempted diners from their place beneath a decorative waterfall coming from the ceiling.

The plain decor and the restaurants unfortunate location beside the highway-- the vibrations provide a gentle massage during dining-- do dampen the experience, but the meat and salad bar more than make up for it. Skip dessert and coffee and indulge in the savory goodness of juicy tender meat served up on skewers, and you will be sure to enjoy the live fire of Fogovivo.