Peppervine is a fine dining restaurant located in the SouthPark neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina. Dinner is offered Monday through Saturday with brunch on Sunday. The décor inside Peppervine is breathtaking. Wooden sculptures hang from the ceilings. Wine cellars with glass windows offer a glimpse of critically acclaimed bottles. Beautiful art canvases are scattered throughout the dining space. The magnificent furnishings are reason enough to visit Peppervine for a cocktail.
Guests visiting Peppervine will not be disappointed with their seasonal menu. A wide range of seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes are available. The menu is separated between small and large plates. Small plates are generally the size of an appetizer. Large plates can serve as one person's main entrée. During my visit to Peppervine, three small plates and four large plates were ordered for a table of four.
One of the small plates was the popular Yeast Rolls. The order of Yeast Rolls comes in a cast iron tray with six buttery rolls. Ashley and I split an order of the Roasted Beets. We were impressed with the complex flavor profile of the dish. The Poached Pear & Arugula Salad was split between another couple. They thought the salad was very good and would order it again.
Our server recommended George's Bank Scallops and Charred Korean Beef Rib among the large plates available. Ashley ordered the scallops and thoroughly enjoyed it. Four large scallops were perfectly cooked with a nice crust on top. The parsnip cream paired well with the scallops and roasted vegetables.
I ordered the Charred Korean Beef Rib. I was surprised by the generous portion of bone-in beef. The Korean sauce smothering the meat was excellent. The beef was very tender and easy to pull of the bone. I liked the poached egg inclusion in the basmati "fried rice." Mixing the rice and beef together offered a colorful and flavorful combination. However, I found the rice was underwhelming when eaten separately. I would recommend this dish to anyone that enjoys a great piece of beef and Asian-inspired cuisine. Ashley and I shared Peppervine's olive oil cake for dessert. While I thought the cake was a tad dry, Ashley found it tasty. I would have liked it more with the delectable whipped cream served on top.
While I have praised the decorations and food, I need to save a few compliments for the wine list. Peppervine's extensive wine selection is found on an Apple Ipad. Guests are able to search and scroll through bottles of wine from all over the world. There were some fantastic bottles available to celebrate a special occasion. If you are looking for a bottle of wine under $75, I would recommend ordering one from their menu featuring wine by the glass. Ashley and I enjoyed a bottle of the Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir. We like Willamette Valley Pinots and this one did not disappoint.
The service we received at Peppervine was above average compared to other experiences in Charlotte. Our server was attentive, informative, and accommodating throughout the evening. Unfortunately, we did have one issue when our server went missing while we waited for the check. Beyond the service blemish, our evening at Peppervine was delicious and enjoyable. I believe Peppervine is one of the best restaurants in SouthPark and highly recommend it.
Playing Magic: The Gathering with paper cards has seen a downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals are staying at home and local hobby shops remain closed. There has been much discussion on the r/mtgfinance Subreddit about COVID-19 causing a decrease in MTG paper prices. While outlets for playing MTG in paper have decreased significantly, these unfortunate times will not last forever.
Pioneer, one of MTG's newest formats, has been a popular addition to competitive play. Many cards increased in demand and price following Pioneer's announcement. However, the uncertainly surrounding COVID-19 has led to price drops for many of Pioneer's format staples. While COVID-19 has negatively affected the financial situation for millions of people, I believe it has created an opportune time to purchase paper cards. The following cards are my current recommended buys for Pioneer.
Kaladesh Fast Lands
The rare lands from Kaladesh are known as fast lands. Most of them are found on MTGGoldish's top 50 lands in Pioneer. These lands also appear in Pioneer's top decklists. Market prices on TCGPlayer are at their lowest since Pioneer's announcement. I particularly like Botanical Sanctum, Spirebluff Canal, and Blooming Marsh. Personally, I completed a set of Spirebluff Canal at $5.50 per copy. The other two fast lands, Concealed Courtyard and Inspiring Vantage, are priced around $3.00 each.
Vivien, Archbow Ranger
The market price on TCGPlayer for Vivien, Archbow Ranger has fallen from a high of $21.00 in November, 2019. The card is one of the most played in Pioneer according to MTGGoldfish. Vivien sees play as four copies in multiple competitive decks. Her strength and staying power in Pioneer give reason to purchase copies for about $7.00 each.
The Throne of Eldraine set brought new and powerful cards to Pioneer. Stonecoil Serpent found inclusion in the Hardened Scales and Izzet Ensoul decks. Also, Stonecoil is one of the most played creatures and overall cards in Pioneer. With a current price around $2.00, it is an inexpensive card with versatility.
Since the release of Throne of Eldraine, Murderous Rider has remained a format staple in Pioneer. Murderous Rider sees play in many black decks like Sultai Delirium and Mono-Black Aggro. It is currently a top ten overall most played card in Pioneer. The 2020 Challenger decks did increase the available supply of Murderous Rider. However, it is only included as two copies in one deck. With a current price hovering around $2.00, I believe Murderous Rider is a decent buy.
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
My sleeper recommendation for Pioneer is Ashiok, Nightmare Muse. This card has quickly become one of the most played in Pioneer. It is commonly found in the Sultai Delirium and Dimir Inverter decks. Currently, the card is available for about $5 on TCGPlayer. The floor price for Planeswalkers playable in Standard is generally around $3.00. Ashiok has a long road of playability ahead in Pioneer and Standard.
*The information in this article is of my own knowledge and opinion. It is meant for informational purposes only.*
Magic: The Gathering contains a primary and secondary market. Products sold through a distribution network are part of the primary market. The secondary market consists of buying and selling individual trading cards open from sealed products. It also contains selling sealed products sold outside of distribution networks like out of print booster boxes.
The secondary market of MTG is an unregulated space where buyers and sellers exchange goods. Market behaviors found in regulated markets, such as the Nasdaq stock market, can also exist in MTG's secondary market. One such economic event that can occur in both markets is known as a market bubble.
Investopedia defines a bubble as "an economic cycle characterized by the rapid escalation of asset prices followed by contraction. It is created by a surge in asset prices unwarranted by the fundamentals of the asset and driven by exuberant market behavior." A recent article by Elvis Picardo highlights the five largest asset bubbles in history. The dotcom bubble of the 1990s occurred in the Nasdaq market. One of the most famous bubbles was Tulipmania. This particular bubble occurred during the 1630s in Holland
The market bubbles in MTG's history are not as evident as Tulipmania. How is a bubble identified in a market containing trading cards? This article explores some possible occurrences of bubbles in the secondary market.
Individual Card BubblesIn MTG, buyouts of individual cards could lead to a price bubble. This article on buyouts in MTG lists several examples. Specifically, the price history of Hexdrinker shows a brief period of rapid escalation in July of 2019, followed by a correction within 90 days.
Another card that potentially went through a price bubble is Argivian Archaeologist. This card from the Antiquities set was almost $70 in January 2018. It saw a price increase that hovered between $120 and $140 by the summer of 2018. Unfortunately, the price fell to about $60 by the end of 2019. Other cards with similar price movements include Gaea's Cradle, Tolarian Academy, Candelabra of Tawnos, Ali From Cairo, and Drop of Honey. All of these cards appear on MTG's reserved list. Throughout 2018, there was a heightened interest in purchasing cards on MTG's reserved list. Reserved list cards potentially experienced a market bubble that began in 2018.
MTG Set BubblesMany valuable cards on the reserved list are from MTG's earliest sets. One such set is Legends, which released in 1994. The price for Legends increased by 65% in early 2018 from $9,370 to $15,476. During 2019, the set's price fell about 22% to around $12,000. By January 31st, 2019, the set had dropped further in value to $9,666.
Antiquities, another set from 1994, dramatically increased 90% from $2,415 to $4,586 in 2018. The price declined by about 12% and stabilized around $4,000 during 2019. Antiquities pricing fell further by 17% between October 2019 and January 2020. Similar price patterns occurred for the Arabian Nights set as well.
Market bubbles can occur over a short or lengthy period. It is hard to predict when a bubble may happen and for how long. Buyouts are also hard to see coming. One option to avoid losing money on a potential bubble is not buying cards after spiking in price. While some cards stabilize at a price above pre-buyout levels, this is not guaranteed. Anyone who owns the cards before a price spike can potentially make money. However, there is likely a limited amount of time to make a profit.
*The information in this article is of my own knowledge and opinion. It is meant for informational purposes only. I am not a registered financial professional or trying to act as one.*
Rome is a wonderful city to visit. It is a place overflowing with beautiful architecture, authentic cuisine, and rich in culture. You could easily spend a whole week in Rome exploring the many neighborhoods and historic sites. I have been to Rome multiple times and have not seen everything. I have a few tips and suggestions when visiting Rome for only a few days.
Navigating the City
Rome has a transportation system that can be difficult to navigate. It is a large city that makes traveling by foot very long and arduous. The bus system is extremely tough unless you speak the language and know where to go. In my experience, there are no maps on the bus to let you know what stop to get off. I recommend purchasing a ticket before you get on a bus if you do not want an ugly stare from the driver. Taxis and Ubers are great options to get you to and from dinner or around the city quickly. The taxi cabs are regulated with accurate meter pricing. For our last trip, I arranged a car service to pick us up from the airport and take us to an Airbnb. Prices for a car service were around 50 euro and well worth it. Coming off a long flight, I did not want to try finding my Airbnb nestled in the small streets of Trastevere.
Where to Stay
I find Trastevere a very charming, quintessential Italian neighborhood. It is filled with great restaurants and cobble stone streets perfect for la passeggiata (an evening stroll). The neighborhood is situated across the Tiber River, out of the bustle of tourist areas. Landon and I stayed here in an Airbnb. We had a great experience with our host and found it was not too challenging to get around. If you are strapped on time, I believe staying near the Spanish Steps would be a good option. The area is more touristy, but easily accessible to everything.
Sightseeing: Visiting the Vatican
I have been to the Vatican/Sistine Chapel four times. However, this past time was by far the most educational and memorable. We booked the Pristine Sistine tour through Walks of Italy. You get early entrance into the Sistine Chapel before the crowds. You are in there with about 50 people who have similar tours booked. This is nothing compared to the normalcy of hundreds of people in there at the same time. We also witnessed the morning prayer by a Cardinal of the Vatican. It was an extremely special experience. As you would expect with a small group tour, the guide gave an excellent explanation of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. In all, it was well worth the money and waking up early.
You can book tickets for the relatively new underground tour. These sold out fast for us, so only Landon went on the tour. I had previously done the guided tour through the Colosseum. The normal guided tour is certainly worth the fee.
If you chose not to accompany your travel partner to the Colosseum, I recommend going across the street and wandering the Monti neighborhood. This area has some great vintage boutique shopping.
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