Archive for the ‘Chapel Hill’ Category

The following is a news release courtesy of Michele McKinley.

Enjoy a truly delicious, local Thanksgiving by shopping pre-Thanksgiving markets on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at five Triangle area markets. The Carrboro Farmers’ Market, Durham Farmers’ Market, Eno River Farmers’ Market in Hillsborough, S. Estes Farmers’ Market in Chapel Hill and the Western Wake Farmers’ Market (WWFM) in Cary are all hosting holiday markets to provide shoppers with the freshest, locally and sustainably grown foods available.

Together, the markets have created a web site as a resource for a local Thanksgiving, complete with details on each of the markets’ hours, offerings, guest chefs and special events, and recipes. Visit http://trianglefarmersmarkets.wordpress.com/ and be sure to bookmark it as recipes will be added over the coming weeks.

Farmers and artisans at each of the markets will feature a variety of seasonal produce, as well as meats, eggs, cheeses, desserts, flowers and more for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. Shoppers can go local with help from the N.C. 10% Campaign, which is putting together a holiday menu featuring local foods from local farms as prepared by local chefs. A limited number of copies will be available at each of the farmers’ markets on Nov. 23.

WWFM in Cary will be open from 3-6 pm, and special events include a Chef’s Tasting, Herons Gift Certificate Raffle and Gingerbread Houses and Cookies. Martin Sreshta, chef/owner of Martins’ Curry Rice in Morrisville, will dish up samples of a locally-inspired dish that you can make for Thanksgiving. Karen Barlow’s lighted gingerbread houses will be on display, and the kids are invited to decorate gingerbread cookies! Plus anyone who signs up for the 10% Campaign is eligible to win a gift certificate to Herons Restaurant in the Umstead Hotel and Spa.

“The goal is to get more people thinking about our farmers and local food,” said Sarah Blacklin, manager of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. ” We want them to think, ‘Where is my farmers’ market?’ when they are planning their weekly menu and ‘Where is my farmers’ market?’ when they are planning for their holidays. Partnering with our sister markets in the area is a great way to involve the community and get more support for eating locally.”

Most of the markets will be closed on Sat., Nov. 27, for Thanksgiving weekend, but the Carrboro Farmers’ Market will be open.

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I stopped by Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe with my son last Saturday.  With no major events taking place that day, I was able to find free parking relatively close to Franklin Street.  It was a cold and rainy day so I wasn’t expecting a crowd, yet when I entered there was a line from the door to the back seating area.  Thankfully the service is fast and people seem to eat and go pretty quickly, so we didn’t have to wait more than about 15 minutes or so.

The interior of this place gives me the creeps.  Tile walls (outside of bathrooms) always make me think of old hospitals, sanatoriums, or basement slaughterhouses.  Luckily we were seated in the back room, where the white stucco and exposed “beams” were probably supposed to be channeling more of a Tudor architectural theme.  The bathrooms were not as horrible as I was expecting.

I ordered the pancake meal with Reese’s pieces pancakes, a scrambled egg and 2 sausage patties.  The sausage patties were dry and hard, like heated, spiced jerky, and the eggs were typical scramble mix.

The pancakes were pretty unique.  I don’t know who thought of putting Reese’s in pancakes, but it probably has something to do with the restaurant being right across the street from a college.  They tasted pretty good slathered up with little “spread” tubs of imitation butter and the pancake syrup.

Hot Cake Combo with Reese's

My son got a stack of 2 blueberry pancakes with whipped cream on top.  They charge $1.25 just for a squirt of Reddi-Whip which I thought was a bit much.  The pancakes were pretty awesome though.  I had to “help” him finish it, and they use some pretty good blueberries in those pancakes.  I liked the blueberry pancakes better than my Reese’s ones.

Service was quick and friendly here.  They need to get people in and out pretty quick to keep the line moving, so you never have to worry about waiting for your bill.  The restaurant is cash only.

Blueberry Pancakes with Whipped Cream

Normally I don’t carry cash with me, so this could have been a very bad thing.  Luckily on this day I had enough to cover the meal and tip.

I’d love to give the place 5 stars, because the pancakes were really great and the staff is super friendly.  But the restaurant building itself is so cramped, outdated and unpleasant to be in that I can’t rate it that highly.

Ye Olde Waffle Shop on Urbanspoon

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I finally got a chance to try out The Pig.  Lucky for me, I got to avoid the downtown madness and head north of town, in an area I don’t visit much.  There’s a wonderful park up there, Cedar Falls, right across the street, but other than a couple other shops it’s mostly residential around there.  At least it’s somewhat easy to spot, if you look up the hill a bit.

The exterior looked nice, new, and big.  So I was surprised when we went inside and it looked like a 20-year-old diner with crappy little tables and chairs, a solid wood bench for seating and ugly bathrooms.  I was so confused, how could such a newish looking building have such an unkempt interior?  But I guess BBQ restaurants aren’t known for being fancy, so I wasn’t exactly expecting white tablecloths either.

I was a bit confused at first about whether we were supposed to sit, wait for a hostess, or order first.  Apparently you’re supposed to order and pay first, then chose a table, and they bring the food out to you once it’s done.  I guess the good thing is you don’t have to tip, because there’s no real table service.

After surveying the options, we asked what the difference was between the BBQ trays and the BBQ plates, besides that the plates were $3 more expensive each.  The guy explained that they originally just offered the trays, but so many people wanted to exchange the sides that they offered the plates to be able to accommodate that.  I figured that the slaw, pickles and hush puppies sounded like perfectly good sides so I just ordered the small tray.  My husband got the large BBQ tray.  The difference between the two was the weight of the meat, one is 1/3 lb. of BBQ, and the other is 1/2 lb. of BBQ.  When they came out I couldn’t really tell the difference though.  Eh, for only a dollar more, I suppose the difference might not be too obvious.  I also ordered the chess pie for dessert.

Small Tray

At first I couldn’t find out what all the orange stuff was on the slaw.  After tasting it I realized it was carrots.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such a carroty coleslaw.  It wasn’t really to my liking, it wasn’t as vinegary as I would have liked.

The hushpuppies were fantastic.  They were really fluffy, like little cornbready donuts.  I’m not sure if that’s what hushpuppies were supposed to taste like, but they were still very good.

Large Tray

The pickles were fresh pickles, not like the ones that have been sitting in a jar or can for 6 months.  They tasted like the ones I make, and I imagine they were probably made about the same way: sliced, then put in a bowl with vinegar, sugar, salt and spices for just a day or less before being served.

The BBQ was really amazing.  I think it was the best pig I’ve eaten since moving to North Carolina.  There’s 3 sauces you can use with it, ketchup, vinegar sauce and hot sauce.  I found the vinegar sauce to be the best, and I used plenty of that, and just a dash of the hot sauce.

Side By Side Comparision

The chess pie tasted more like a brownie than anything else.  Near the outside it was a bit dry, but towards the middle it was very rich and moist.  It wasn’t really what I was expecting, but it was good all the same.

Chocolate Chess Pie

I think next time I’ll probably avoid the slaw, and try one of the other sides like the fried green tomatoes.  The prices are pretty decent here, as a lot of the entrees with sides are $10 or less.  Chapel Hill is a little far for me to bring home take out, but certainly if I lived closer, I would rather eat in the comfort of my own home than in this restaurant.  But man, I’ll keep dreaming about that BBQ for weeks.

The Pig on Urbanspoon

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We came to Breadmen’s in Chapel Hill on a drizzly Saturday afternoon.  Breadmen’s has a free attached parking lot which is nice to find in the downtown area.  The restaurant has a small town diner feel, with Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling and posters on the walls.

The menu is typical for North Carolina, with sandwiches, burgers, and BBQ.  The reason we picked this particular restaurant though is because it serves breakfast all day, and my picky son will only eat things like pancakes or french toast when we go out to eat.

Turkey and Bacon Club Sandwich

I ordered some coffee, my husband got a Coke, and my son got a chocolate milk to drink.  We ordered some mozzarella sticks as an appetizer.  They were pretty good, but the marinara sauce was served a bit cold.  For lunch my son ordered a single pancake, I got a waffle, and my husband got a turkey bacon club.  It’s too bad they didn’t have any Monte Cristo’s here, they sometimes serve them at restaurants that serve breakfast.

My husband said the fries were excellent, and the ingredients of the sandwich were good, but the sandwich fell apart all over.  It was impossible to eat neatly.

My son didn’t use all his butter on his pancake so I got his extra butter.  He liked his pancake and ate the whole thing.


I love whipped butter and was glad to have plenty of it for my waffle.  It’s been years since I had a waffle, since I don’t have a waffle maker and don’t typically order them at restaurants.  It was good, though I think strawberries would have made a better topping than maple syrup.

The prices here are pretty decent.  $2.10 for the pancake, $5 for the waffle, and $8 something for the club sandwich.  The service is a bit slow though, it was difficult to get a refill or get the check at the end.
Breadmen's on Urbanspoon

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Today we went strawberry picking again at DJ’s Berry Patch. I think it’s a great activity for kids, to get a better appreciation for their food. I was just thinking while I was there though, the place doesn’t smell like I remember a strawberry farm smelling. I remember going out on June summer days to the Kirschbaum’s Strawberry Acres back in Wisconsin, and the moment you got out of the car, the smell of ripe strawberries was in the air. I think the strawberries tasted better back then as well. I’m not sure if they use a different variety of strawberry in Wisconsin than they do in North Carolina, or maybe it’s just my memory playing tricks on me.

I also went to Southern Season in Chapel Hill to pick up some nice things for myself for Mother’s Day.  The Fromager d’Affinois was the free sample cheese today, both the plain and the herb varieties.  I had a couple crackers full of the plain, and also tried the herb for the first time.  The herb was good, but I think the plain will always be my favorite.  I was surprised to see some Fromager d’Affinois at my local Kroger as well, but unfortunately they only carry the black pepper kind.

So I picked up 2 wedges of my Fromager d’Affinois, some Haribo raspberry gummies, some Almond Toffee corn from the Carolina Popcorn shop, Moravian mint/chocolate cookies, and some Rabitos Royale fig bonbons.  I’m always on the lookout for fig treats, since one of my favorite foods while in Germany was the chocolate covered marzipan figs.  I haven’t been able to find them at all in the US, but this Rabitos Royale fig bonbon is almost as good.  It’s a simple treat, just a dried fig injected with cream and brandy, then covered in chocolate.  The price is terrible though, I paid $5 for just 3 individually wrapped fig bonbons.

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The Weathervane restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC

The Weathervane is A Southern Season’s connected cafe.  The first few times I visited A Southern Season, I thought the attached restaurant looked very small, and probably only served coffee and pastries.  But actually going in and eating there today, I discovered the menu is very diverse, and the restaurant is fairly large, able to seat about 200 people inside, outside and upstairs.

I made reservations for three at 12:30pm on a Saturday.  It probably wasn’t necessary to make reservations, but I didn’t see many open seats when we showed up.  We were seated immediately.  Shortly after, we ordered drinks.  They have a wonderful selection of coffees, teas, juices, wines and cocktails.  I wish I had tried the hibiscus mimosa, it sounded interesting.  Maybe next time.  I just got the flavored ice tea of the day, peach, and I chose “sweet”.  I should have picked “unsweet”, as it was really sugary.  My husband got a coke and my son got an orange juice.

The restaurant was very accommodating for our son, offering a reasonably priced kids menu with lots of good options for him, and some crayons.  The kids drinks are served in the same glasses as adult drinks though, so if you’ve got a younger child you may end up having to hold it for them a lot.

Our drinks were brought to the table in a reasonable amount of time, and then we ordered the food.  There are different menus depending upon whether it’s lunch or dinner, weekday or weekend.  We were there for Saturday lunch so most of the foods on the menu were either breakfast type, salads or sandwiches.  We got the grilled baby lamb chops as an appetizer, my son ordered the kid’s french toast, I got the classic eggs Benedict, and my husband ordered the grilled rib-eye steak sandwich with sweet potato fries.  It was really tough to decide as there were so many great foods on the menu, and when I go back I’ll make sure to try the artisanal cheese plate or the seared scallops.  Everything sounded so appetizing!

We were brought three soft, warm bread sticks as an appetizer, and a small plate of olive oil to share.  The bread sticks had some lovely aromatic herbs on them and they were delicious.  The baby lamb chops arrived soon after.  There were three very small lamb chops on the plate, with some peas, pearl onions and mint sauce.   The peas and onions weren’t particularly good but I suppose they might just be there for decoration.  The lamb chops were tender and tasty, but very tiny, and I wondered if perhaps the cheese would have been a better choice.

The kid’s french toast was served next.  I like it when restaurants serve the kid’s food first, as it gives me an opportunity to cut it all up before my food arrives and most children don’t like waiting.  The serving size was 4 half-slice triangles of very large french toast bread, with a small cup of butter and a small cup of syrup.  It’s was more than enough for a 4-year-old, though he certainly tried.  He liked it so much he probably ate about 3 of the 4 triangles, and wanted so badly to have room for the last.  I was able to taste a couple pieces, and I thought it was very good.  Definitely worth the $3 for the kid’s plate.

Classic Eggs Benedict

About 10 minutes later my husband and I got our food.  The Hollandaise sauce was really well done, with a creamy, yet tangy flavor that really added to the overall dish.  I had made eggs Benedict way back when, as a short order cook, but I’m ashamed to say the restaurant I worked for always used a powder mix for the Hollandaise.  It wasn’t until years later, when I made my first Bearnaise, that I learned what the difference was between a powder mix and a real egg/butter emulsion.  The Weathervane makes the real deal, and you can tell.  The eggs were perfectly poached, and the canadian bacon was also very good, but probably could have been sliced a little thinner so as to better balance with the eggs and english muffin.  The muffin wasn’t dry toasted, it seemed to be pan fried with butter, which in my opinion is the absolutely best way to make this dish.

The sides were a cheesy hashbrown casserole and fresh fruit salad.  Casserole is one of my dirty words, and since I don’t like my cheese cooked or my hashbrowns soft, this wasn’t going to be a favorite of mine.  I’m sure it’s appealing to many though.  The fruit salad was a nice way to end the meal.  All the fruit was free of bruises or other defects, and all very fresh tasting.  I was pleased with the amount of blueberries included, usually most restaurants try to be cheap and serve mostly melons.

Grilled Rib-Eye Steak Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries

The grilled rib-eye steak sandwich didn’t come out looking that good.  Frankly I don’t think there’s a lot of ways to make cooked tomatoes and caramelized onions look especially appetizing, so perhaps this sandwich should have been served closed.  I didn’t have an opportunity to taste the sandwich myself, but I’m told it was a bit bland, and could have used either more steak sauce, or a stronger sauce.  He ate the whole thing so it must have been fairly good.  I tried a few of the sweet potato fries and they were perfectly cooked.  I really liked the fries, and would definitely get them again when ordering a sandwich.

The service was decent at the restaurant.  The server wasn’t overly friendly or attentive, but it seemed very busy.  The atmosphere was more distinctive than most restaurants in the triangle, as it all seemed specifically designed from the start to be for The Weathervane and Southern Season.  We were able to get in and out of the restaurant in just over 45 minutes, which is good if you’ve got a young child, or if you’ve got a short lunch break.  I’ll be coming back here in the future to try more dishes, since there’s so many others that sound really good.  At $11-$13 a plate for lunch entrees it’s a bit on the pricey side, but the $3 kid’s entree balanced that out.

The Weathervane is in the University Mall in Chapel Hill, connected to A Southern Season.  You can make reservations online and view the menu on their site: http://www.southernseason.com/cafe.asp

The Weathervane on Urbanspoon

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A Southern Season, Chapel Hill, NC

My first experience with A Southern Season was through their gift basket orders.  Our first year in North Carolina, I ordered Christmas gift baskets for my parents and the in-laws which featured NC-specific foods, such as cheese straws and Moravian spice cookies.

Then, on a trip to a Chapel Hill shopping center, I discovered that there actually was a physical Southern Season store, and that there were a delightful amount of European foods I could find there.  Ever since spending a semester in Bonn I’ve gotten tastes for certain chocolates and candies that can’t be found in most places in the US, as well as some of the soft cheeses.

A Southern Season also has a small restaurant called The Weathervane connected to the store, though I haven’t had an opportunity to visit it yet.  In the future I’ll give a review of this restaurant.

When you first enter (from the outside, not the mall side) you’re greeted by a wonderful scent of various coffee flavors.  I would love to buy their coffee sometime if we ever get a coffee machine that is not a Keurig (single cup serving).   They also have many teas, but I usually just drink pretty cheap tea.  That’s one thing you need to know about A Southern Season.  It’s pretty easy, without realizing, to rack up a $200 food bill when you start just grabbing things without looking at the price.  There are some very expensive items in this store.

Then they usually have a seasonal section along the next left wall corner, which features rum cakes much of the time, and around Christmas you’ll find all sorts of Stollens.  I love the Cherry Marzipan Stollen, which is something like a cross between a coffee cake and a fruitcake.  They also feature various liquor cakes (Kalua, Strawberry Daquiri, ect), pound cakes, panettone (very dry Italian cake, usually has raisins), and other boxed baked goods.

On the right as you proceed through the store, there will be cooking supplies.  I’ve picked up pancake molds (they have a star one for making star pancakes), assorted meat pounders to make nice, thin tonkatsu or schnitzel, aprons, and Wüsthof knives.  Again, everything here is quite pricey, but I’ve always been satisfied with the equipment I’ve purchased.

On the left as you go through the store, you’ll see the pastries.  I’ve had pastries at Guglhupf in Durham that are better, and less expensive, so I usually skip these.

My favorite part is the cheese section.  They offer all different kinds of cheese, and the selection rotates over time so you’ll always be able to find something new.  My favorite cheese is the triple creme brie called Fromager d’Affinois.  This is also offered in a herb variety which I haven’t tried yet.  I also like the Humboldt Fog goat cheese, and the Cowgirl Creamery Fromage Blanc.  The Fromage Blanc is excellent for cooking.  Sometimes in this area they also feature items such as fig cake and quince paste, each are wonderful to try at least once.

I’ve always skipped their deli/meat section, though certainly if I ever need prosciutto, this would be the place to buy it.  The kitchen supply section continues to the right for a while.
Next up on the left will be the chocolate section.  I love the Ritter Sports from the time I spent in Germany, and occasionally they’ll offer some Côte d’Or chocolate as well.  They sell some truffles as well, though I haven’t tried any yet.

Further on through the store will be the cookies and candy section.  I’ll usually get some Dare maple cookies from Canada, which always remind me of road trips to Ontario, and some Moravian spice cookies.  They come in so many different flavors now.  They’ve got some Haribo gummi candies, though not my favorite, Tropi Frutti.  I’ll settle for some of the raspberry gummies instead.

The wine here is pretty expensive, though if the mood strikes I’ll spring for some Niagara Icewine.  It’s hard to find elsewhere.  The rest of the store I pretty much skim through, since many of the other food items offered such as mustard from England and sauces from India, I can find elsewhere for cheaper.

Again, it’s a very expensive store, but when you’re craving some good brie there’s just no place else in the triangle to go.  It’s also a good place for me to buy holiday boxes for my family in Wisconsin, since they like a lot of ethnic German food.

A Southern Season is located in the University Mall in Chapel Hill, NC.  You can visit the site at http://www.southernseason.com/

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