A Carolina Country Tasting Trail
A selection of recipes from some of North Carolina’s adventurous food expertsBy Jenny Lloyd and Michael Gery
F.A.R.M Café, Boone
617 W. King St. Boone
This café in 2012 opened for lunch in the historic Boone Drug Downtown soda fountain space on King Street. It was the outgrowth of a project that began in 2009 when members of the High Country United Church of Christ embarked on a mission to help neighbors who go hungry. Fundraising and community awareness led to the not-for-profit, pay-what-you-can Feed All Regardless of Means café. The café serves nutritious meals produced from local food sources. Patrons donate as they are able, or they volunteer an hour in the cafe or at its garden spot.
(The local Touchstone Energy cooperative, Blue Ridge Electric, provided a grant to the café to provide vouchers for diners who are hungry but also do not have the means or opportunity to work for their food.) On any given day, you can walk in and see a politician eating with a worker from the nearby university, or a homeless man sharing a hot meal with a local shop owner. "We are here to create community and do it with dignity," says events coordinator Amanda Merritt.
Executive chef Renee Boughman says that beets are a favorite at the café: "Patrons say this is the only place that can make them want to eat their vegetables."
root & vine, Morganton
139 W. Union Street Morganton
Since 2011, a blend of traditional Southern and traditional French food preparation at root & vine has lured locals and travelers to downtown Morganton's Union Street. On the menu you'll find wood-grilled pork rib chop with Granny Smith apples next to pan-seared seafood with snap peas, pineapple, roasted red peppers, vindaloo curry and coconut milk.
Manager Aimee Perez and head chef Brian Miller teamed up to remodel and beautify a former five-and-dime at the corner of Union and N. King. Coordinating with the local farmers market, they have seasonal lunch and dinner menus, a full bar, wine to go, outdoor seating and can host special events.
The Pit Authentic Barbecue, Raleigh
328 W. Davie St. Raleigh
The Pit brought real North Carolina barbecue to Raleigh's new warehouse district not long ago and soon became a celebrity. Housed in a handsomely restored 1930s meat packing building, The Pit serves bonafide eastern North Carolina pork barbecue, along with a swinging variety of complimentary entrees, sides and beverages. The pork dishes come from North Carolina pigs, raised in free-range farms. There's also Texas-style barbecue, brisket and ribs, as well as barbecue turkey, fried chicken and barbecue tofu. The Pit takes pride in enhancing the smokiness and spark of its starters and entrees with the right malted, fermented or distilled beverage. Its southern Brunswick stew has already become a legend.
Boone Docks Restaurant, Holden Beach
63386 Holden Beach Rd. SW, Holden Beach
Boone Docks is a small and intimate place that serves dinner every night in small and intimate Holden Beach. Chef Scotty Anderson describes his cuisine as "new American, traditional American, Asian fusion, seafood." So on any given night there may be a one-of-a-kind surprise special. One of the popular mainstay items is the crispy Firecracker Shrimp in a spicy Asian cream sauce with poppy seeds.
Oceanic, Wrightsville Beach
703 S. Lumina Ave. Wrightsville Beach
Perched in the historic shadow of the legendary Lumina Pavilion of Wrightsville Beach, the seafood at the oceanfront Oceanic is as popular as its pier
that extends over the surf. In good weather, the recently rebuilt and reinforced Crystal Pier allows for outdoor dining and music under the stars. Oceanic also is known for special occasions at both the pier and its third floor rooms.
The executive chef is Matt Wivell, who came up in the ranks of the local LM Restaurants, including at Bluewater Waterfront Grill in Wrightsville Beach.
Lorene's Bakery and Catering, Dobson
314 N. White St. Dobson
Lorene Moore is known for the amazing and artistic cakes her bakery makes for weddings and other special occasions.
They also are booked well in advance for catering services. Annette Ayers, president of the Surry County Historical Society, said Lorene gave her permission for Carolina Country magazine to print this recipe. Dr. Ayers said, "This recipe's flavor is true to the traditional flavors of the sweet potato sonker found throughout Surry County and this region. It is absolutely delicious."
You can also visit Lorene's on Facebook to see her beautifully decorated award-winning cakes