Keeping it local with The Blend & Co.

IMG_0057-0

When it comes to supporting local businesses, I’m one of the first to stand up and show my support.  Recently, a 

little coffee shop opened up in our historic downtown area of Burlington, NC.  I had been trying to get there since they opened, but hadn’t been able to until this morning.  Lucky for me, I had company and there was a car show in town.  Two great reasons in my book of life!

As soon as you step through the door, you notice they have very charming decor and you immediately get a  

 sense of brightness when inside of The Blend & Co.  It feels very modern, clean, hipster, but yet still classy and Southern.  They have a room that is semi separated if you had larger parties or just wanted to join others at a  

  

 community table type seating area.  They also have a bar area to sit at and plenty of windows to enjoy the view of downtown.

I know that they get their coffee products from Fortuna Enterprises out of Greensboro, so they truly stick with a buy local feel.  It was indeed one of the best lattes I’ve ever enjoyed.  With that being said, I would highly recommend the Caramel Latte if you join them for a pick me up.  The blueberry muffin was also equally delicious and looked gorgeous.  You know as well as I know that you can never go wrong with a blueberry muffin for breakfast.

If ever in the downtown area, you should stop in and check them out.  The coffee is top notch, the decor is refreshing, and the service is outstanding.  It’s a can’t miss gem of downtown.

The Blend & Co. – 127 E Front Street, Burlington, NC

Happy Mother’s Day and Weathervane in Chapel Hill

IMG_0014

I know that you all know how much I truly love my mother.  The things she and I have been through the last two years have made us stronger than ever.  She is indeed my best friend, confidant, and amazing beyond words.  She is my rock and the reason I go out everyday and try to be the best version of me that I can.  I owe that to her for all of her sacrifices, heart ache, and money spending that I have put her through.  I owe it to her to continually pay back in life what she has given to me.  I owe it to her to always treat others with kindness even though they may have hurt me.  I owe it to her to always take the high road and choose my battles, because she has taught me that I can choose how I react to situations for the best.  I owe it to her to be thankful of where I am in my life and recognize that life is always going to improve beyond where I am at in the present moment.  I owe it to her to hold my head high with confidence as a beautiful woman that she has created from her own beauty.  I owe it to her to be the best daughter she could possibly have prayed for all those years ago, because she has been that mother that God knew I was going to need.  She has shown up every single day for me, and I owe everything to her.

So when it came time to think of a Mother’s Day gift, it became difficult.  I knew she was missing her own mom, and I remembered that we didn’t make the traditional birthday cake at her birthday earlier this year.  It was time…yes time…to make Bishop Bread.  It seems almost sinful to be making it any other time than on her birthday.  I mean, it has been a time honored tradition for an incredible amount of years to be made only on her birthday (that’s me not telling you how young my mom is).  Sometimes life calls for throwing tradition out the window!  But wait, the recipe calls for candied cherries, which makes complete sense why this cake was only made around the holidays.  Grocery stores always had an abundance of candied cherries during Christmas.  If only for those god awful fruit cakes everyone seems to make.  I had to find them somewhere, right?  Very wrong.

After running out of time and places to hunt them down, there was only one option.  I had to make candied cherries myself.  One of my friends had suggested I make them out of Marschino Cherries.  Bleh.  Sorry, folks, I am not a fan of these artificially brightened treats.  However, I needed my candied cherries.  I took to Google, and Google came through with flying colors.  It landed me on ShaunaSever.com.  Thank goodness there was a recipe out there.

They were incredibly easy to make, and here is the link to her post… http://shaunasever.com/2010/12/how-to-make-candied-cherries.html.  Her recipe is below.

  

Candied Cherries

This is a full recipe that will yield about 8-9 ounces of candied cherries. It’s easily scaled up or down, even if you just need a tiny amount for a recipe.

  • 1 16-ounce jar maraschino cherries
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Drain the cherries, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Combine the reserved juice and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the cherries, and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour, until the cherries are slightly shriveled and firm to the touch. Remove from the heat, uncover the pan, and let cool completely.

When the cherries have cooled, remove them to paper toweling (leaving the syrup behind, your recipe doesn’t call for it) and pat dry. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months.

  


Weathervane

We were originally headed to Fearrington Village for brunch, but considering the weather, Mom decided she would rather go to Chapel Hill and visit A Southern Season and Weathervane.  Love love love going to A Southern Season.  It should really be named A Southerner’s Food Heaven.  First, we ate!  

We lucked out and got a seat in the cafe area.  It’s really not that bad, but if you are more than two, you should ask for an extra chair when sitting at the booths. We were immediately advised that their regular menu was not available, and they were only offering a $34 Prix Fixe menu for Mother’s Day.  Which isn’t a bad thing.  I just missed their main menu.  Overall, it was a great experience because I was with my Mom/parents.  It is Mother’s Day afterall.   

They had a beautiful menu and a fresh daisy on each table.  It was set nicely, just as would be expected.

Mom ordered the baked baby brie, orange blossom honey, fig preserves, and toasted country bread for her starter.  I’m not the biggest brie fan, but this had a really nice flavor with all of the elements combined.

 I ordered the Grilled Summer Squash Soup as my starter with charred peppadew peppers, and a sweet corn crem fraiche –  No, I didn’t shake it up or stir it before taking the photo.  It was presented this way.  You eat with your eyes first, and although this ended up tasting decent, it certainly wasn’t plated well.  A little bit of a let down for as amazing as this place normally is. 

 

My Stepdad ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes with a buttermilk cucumber, green tomato relish, and crispy greens.  He said the greens were so soaked in grease, it was hard to enjoy them.  However, they were indeed fried, and we came to the conclusion that maybe that’s the only way some people can eat healthy greens…fried.  The dish was perfect otherwise.

They both ordered the out of this world Weathervane Shrimp and Grits with heritage Andouille Sausage, redeye shrimp gravy, shitake mushrooms, and pimento grits.  Even though we never saw actual pimentos in the grits, this was the best dish of the entire meal at the table.  Very thankful this is on the regular menu!!!


I ordered the Tea Glazed Organic Salmon with heirloom pea succotash, preserved lemon, skinny bean salad, and a green tomato vinaigrette.  This was probably the best cooked piece of salmon that I have had in an extremely long time.  Delicious and buttery.

They copied each other again at first with both ordering the Salty Caramel Apple Cobbler with a brown sugar streusel and buttermilk ice cream.  However, contrary to what your brain tells you, this cobbler was served cold.  I asked the server if it was supposed to be served cold (we were kind of early in their lunch service so maybe they just hadn’t had time to warm it thoroughly), and after going to the back and returning, she informs us that it is supposed to be served cold.  Hmmmm…if this is a new trend, you can have it.  Ice cream (especially such tasty ice cream like the one on this dish) should be melting gently over the HOT apple cobbler.  Maybe next time put that it is served cold on the menu?


After the Cobbler debacle, Mom ended up with the same dessert I had chosen – 11 Layer Chocolate Cake with dark chocolate ganache, roasted strawberries, and a peanut butter mousse.  This was a win in the richness of the cake and the perfection of the peanut butter mousse.  I’ll take a pound of that to go, please!

The few little things that I wasn’t pleased with didn’t outweigh the stellar service, the ambience, or the overall enjoyment of being with my family at a nice restaurant.  It truly was a good experience.  I can’t wait to go back and order my own plate of Shrimp and Grits!

If you’ve made it to the bottom, I hope that you have all enjoyed your Mother’s Day.  If you’re like me, and have only been blessed with being a mother to a cat, then Happy MeowMa Day to you (as I refer to the day).  If you’re not able to be with your Mom, then I hope that she left you with wonderful memories that you can look back on today, and know that you are a better person because she was in your life.

With love to my own Mom,  J

Today’s the day…

wpid-20150329_161614.jpg

 

It’s no April Fools joke…today’s the day the house was sold. It’s been a very emotional ride since Maw-Maw passed. Isn’t it always when someone you love dearly passes? I thought I’d share a few thoughts through photographs I’ve taken these past 15 months…

image

This was the last time I looked through this window the other day with Mom by my side. Maw-Maw always had to make sure the birds were well fed, and depending on the season, the sun would come busting in, and the bay window became one of her favorite places to rest. Paw-Paw always made sure the grass was green and well manicured on his John Deere. Even though I may spend years creating a beautiful view, this will remain the most beautiful window I’ve ever looked through.  Not just because of my own memories, but because it holds memories for our entire family…especially Mom.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

I found my love of cooking in her kitchen…and maybe found my sweet tooth there as well. It was just one of the two kitchens where I truly learned how to cook with heart.  It’s where I remember making Lemon Meringue Pies with my cousin.  He always knew how to show the saran wrap who was boss.  That’s still a skill I’m working on!

image

I inherited her plants. Those poor orchids! Do you have any orchid advice for me? My green thumb does not seem to be translating to them. However, they remind me her love is alive and well in my home, and that’s alright with me.

imageimage

20141115_153045

Mom and I had fun finding all the treasures (although sometimes odd) in the house while cleaning out. Oh the life loved and lived in this house. Some of the walls even told stories.

image

image

Inspirational messages and her handwriting were found often. The days you found these little messages, were always the day you needed to read it. They became little reminders of love.

image

image

We were blessed with new bundles of joy in our family that are carrying on the legacy of lives well lived before them…yes, even the cat.

image

image

Sometimes new hobbies were good to find and take the mind off sadness. Yes, I’m a good shot! I get it from my momma.

image

image

imageimage
We learned how to cut up again, not take life so seriously, and how to put a beard on a cat without losing an arm. We also learned to smile again…that one took a while.

image

I learned it was ok to be “basic” and find the joy in the little moments of my day.

image

We made sure her homemade Halloween flag flew proudly in the wind on its final flight. They sure did love Halloween and the joy it brought to everyone around them. Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw were a blessing to many people.

image

Christmas was a time to remember a beautiful life that was taken too soon from us. I blew that candle out that night, but the memories will never extinguish.

image

I found sympathy cards on days I wished I hadn’t. Then I was reminded that people really do care about one another. Humanity is a magnificent creature.

image

Some days I just wanted to sleep it all away.
image

Some days I just wanted to play outside like a kid again. Only this time I was using fall leaves to make a heart.

image

image

image

image

image

The backyard will forever be remembered as a safe place for all of us grandkids to run around in. My first memory of the smells, tastes, and sights of grilling out. There were a few barns.  To the younger grandkids, the barns were off limits, especially when we were told snakes were in them. On the back deck, the screen door always made this loud smack when closing. You knew it was coming, so you braced yourself for the abruptness of the slam.  Never were prepared in the end.  I hope everyone knows that sound. There’s truly nothing like it.

imageimage

 

Some days I gave life a not so nice face, and some days I smiled. The smiles became more often. I’m not sure they’re the same as before though. It’ll get there.

imageimage

 

image

This woman was my second best friend. My second confidant. My second love. She was my first Maw-Maw though. There’s nothing that can replace that hole left after her death, but it helps to remember that life is still beautiful even after all the heartache. This house, it will live on in a new family.  The house has moved on, so shall we.

image

This really sad day will end, and tomorrow begins for another go at life if we’re fortunate enough. I find it’s good to remember where we came from (along with the homes we shared) and all the people who invested their heart in supporting our life. Life is truly a journey, and journeys always move forward whether you think they are or not.

image

On a final note…we left behind the Elephant Egg. When growing up, our grandparents always told us it was an elephant egg. Now, I don’t know where it came from, or its story, but that thing never did hatch. I’m beginning to think a couple of grandparents were really great storytellers as well. We’ll never know…

LaRue – A great addition to Greensboro dining

wpid-20150321_193821.jpg

Sitting here on a cloudy afternoon, bored and with no one to talk to but my cat, I can’t help but think about last night’s meal. Another blogger friend and I were invited to a special preview of the new LaRue restaurant opening in downtown Greensboro on Monday, March 23.

It’s a small French restaurant right across from the Carolina Theatre, and it’s owned and operated by a very passionate Chef. Trey Bell’s passion shows through in his staff and especially the food. The staff was involved in the prepping of the space, and it’s very evident they all have a great source of pride in LaRue. I find that very charming about this place. The use of reclaimed wood all throughout the restaurant on the walls, the handmade bar and top (that was all created or made by the staff) really brings this restaurant together and shows it can fit in with the trendy downtown crowd.

image

When you first arrive, they have you sign in on an old typewriter (the owner loves his antiques, but mainly typewriters). I’ll admit it, it’s been a long time since I’ve touched a typewriter, so I had to ask for assistance. Next time I’ll know (because there will be a next time).

image

We were seated at the bar, which is pretty much like a Chef’s Table. We could sit and watch as food was finished and sent off to other guests. It was fun being in the middle of the action and talking to the chefs.

image

image

Did I mention the retractable heat lamps??? Those should be in every kitchen!

We decided to order three of the four small plates…

image

Marrow Butter was first up – house made cultured butter, bone marrow, and epi bread. The bread is brought in from Loaf Bakery, and it’s Trey’s actual recipe/creation.  The bread was prefect with a chewy outside and soft on the inside. $6

image

Pigs in a Blanket was next – while it’s not my traditional Southern experience of Pigs in a Blanket, it was extremely tasty. The Chinese sausage wrapped in phyllo was spot on delicious with the mustard seed caviar. $6

image

Next was the Duck, Duck, Duck – foie gras, duck confit and duck jerky went perfectly again with the bread. This was a first for me to have foie gras, and I must say that I quite enjoyed it! It went well with the butteriness of the confit. Duck jerky, where have you been all my life? $12

image

We switched to main courses and chose the Cassoulet as one of our dishes. The pork belly paired well with the duck breast and white beans. We asked Chef for a suggestion of a sauce for the dish, and they whipped us up a sauce from scratch that was beyond what we expected. That says a lot about this place when they are willing to accommodate.

image

The other course we chose was Spottail Bass – it came with romesco, wild onion and root greens. My friend is allergic to nuts, so the romesco was served on the side and not pictured. Trust me when I say it was phenomenal with the bass.

image

image

We both enjoyed selections from a large wine and beer menu. It had all bases covered, even though this is a small restaurant. There’s no way you couldn’t find something to pair with your meal.

image

Instead of dessert, we ended with a beautiful and delicious cheese plate. All three of the cheeses were accompanied perfectly with the peach, nectarines, and dried fruits.

This was truly a pleasurable experience dining out that I haven’t had in a while around town. The prices were right for the quality and quantity, and I can’t encourage enough to try this new gem. Most importantly, it’s nice to see fresh faces, fresh passion, and fresh ideas downtown. I can’t wait to go back!

Visit LaRue at 313 S. Greene St. in Greensboro, NC starting Monday, March 23rd!

image

Happy Four Year Anniversary to The Onyx Plate!

20141113_114520_20141113115413214

Wow. Just wow.

Four years ago I decided to open up to a world I never thought I could connect to. Well, let’s be honest here. I really started writing it just for friends and family. Isn’t that really who we start writing to anyhow? I wanted to share recipes, Southern family stories, and my love of life. No one expects to end up with gobs of followers from around the World across various social media platforms. From avid Foodies to Nutella lovers alike, they have come from all over to show love for what I do here on the site.

Sometimes, things like this just happen.

No truer words have left my fingertips lately. It seems that this last year has been nothing but things just happening. These “things” are not all bad. The loss of Maw-Maw was what hit me the hardest over the last twelve months. (I still have yet to read the post I wrote about her death.) After that, everything seemed to happen and change.

With reflection on that fact, it has remained important to remind myself that there is a bigger plan with all of these “things” that happen. Life isn’t solely about what happens to us, it’s also about how we handle the situation. Some days, all you can do is live in the present and take things one day at a time. Breathing becomes incredibly important and remembering to “Let go, and let God.”

The most important information I can pass along to you on my four year anniversary of us being together is to not be afraid of growth, change, or taking a risk. Who cares if you fall flat on your face at first…you’re going to get back up and be better than ever. While on that journey though, remember to respect and love others around you. Be there for your people when they need you. Extend a helping hand to someone when they need to be helped up. Love unconditionally without fear of being hurt, again.

This is life, and sometimes things just happen. But those things, yeah, those things can turn out to be breathtaking if given the chance.

"Rise up this mornin', Smile with the risin' sun, Three little birds Each by my doorstep Singin' sweet songs Of melodies pure and true, Sayin', "This is my message to you" Singin' "Don't worry 'bout a thing, 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right." ~Bob Marley~

“Rise up this mornin’,
Smile with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Each by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, “This is my message to you”
Singin’ “Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
~Bob Marley~

An Evening with Paula Deen!!!

10541981_704694036274531_5629947214773861164_n
20140924_173339
Friends, Food, and Paula…can’t get better than that!

Life has been very active lately…good, bad, all the above! That’s why when the opportunity presented itself for me to go and see the Paula Deen Live tour that was coming through Charlotte, I was NOT going to pass that up! What made it even better? My good friend, Amy, was going to be able to join me. We both are huge Paula Deen fans, and since we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like, this was perfect.

First thing is first – the staff at the Belk Theater at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center was amazingly hospitable considering the amount of foodies that had piled into their waiting area. Then you had the Deen Crew in their special shirts that were able to give you more information about the Paula Deen Network and get you signed up.

20140924_203934
A gameshow within a show – What did Paula Deen just put in your mouth?

I was amazed at the different walks of life that were there to support Paula and see her. It was a very cool feeling to be amongst them. When we got to our seats, there was a goodie bag waiting for us. Wait, it wasn’t just us, every single person there had one waiting for them. It was an extra special touch that was well noted and appreciated.

While we waited, I noticed many “grandparents” taking selfies with their smart phones and such. I ended up giving a couple tutorials on selfies to a couple around us, and also took a few photos for some other “grandparents”. In exchange, I met some very nice people. It was quite refreshing

...and that combination of tuna fish and chocolate sauce resulted in this...poor woman.
…and that combination of tuna fish and chocolate sauce resulted in this…poor woman.

seeing the selfie craze being appreciated in the older generations. My grandmother was one of the first “grandparents” I ever knew to start using the Internet, and I truly believe that if Maw-Maw were still around, I would have been giving her the same tutorial.

The show was phenomenal. Her husband, Michael, was there. Both Jamie and Bobby were there as well! It was nice to see them, because I’ve always been a huge fan of the sons and their own shows. It was just a quadruple treat to meet them all! Yes, that’s right….I said MEET! There was a meet and greet after the show for a select few, and Amy and I were right in the thick of it. We also got to speak briefly with Paula, Michael, Bobby, and Jamie. That was a nice surprise!

Lee Greenwood's performance was inspiring.
Lee Greenwood’s performance was inspiring.

Wait…there’s more!!! Did I mention that Lee Greenwood was there as well? He came out and cooked just a little with Paula and spoke about his own charity work that he does with our wounded veterans and ‘Helping a Hero’. Of course he sang God Bless the USA. The feeling in the crowd was immense patriotism as every single one of us stood and sang with him. Wow, just wow.

In the end, I am always amazed at these wonderful television chefs that are actually quite phenomenal in person. Paula was superbly witty, and that fact raised my appreciation of her to a level I didn’t think possible. It was tons of fun, and it has me super excited about everything with the Paula Deen Network. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be on there! *fingers crossed*

20140924_194020
The amazing Cooper Boone and his band

You can gather more information on the Paula Deen Network by clicking here. It promises to have tons of classic Paula Deen shows, money saving tips, fun reality shows with her friends and family, and even more new cooking shows with some new faces and new friends! One of which is with this amazing man and his music! Check out Cooper Boone by clicking here!!! He and his band opened up the show with some beautifully written music. Definitely got the show started on the right Southern path!

It was another phenomenal foodie experience for the books. Thanks Paula and team!

10541981_704694036274531_5629947214773861164_n

Happy Birthday, Sara!!!

Shells

I think in life that we always find that certain someone that changes the way we look at things.  They change the way we do things.  Frankly, they change our entire existence at times.  Then sometimes, they scare the crap out of us with how much they know our heart.  That’s my friend Sara.  I met her in 2004 at our then workplace.  Wherever she advanced in the company, I seemed to follow her lead (minus the management part).  She was the perfect example of what hard work and dedication looked like in the job place.

Sara and I moved to our final department together in 2009.  We shared intimate moments from our lives outside of the workplace as well as gathered inspiration to get through the day at times.  She left the workplace first, and then I followed suit.  We both took leaps of faith with leaving the security of one job to another.  She, to be a wonderful stay at home Mom to her beautiful girls.  Myself, to pursue a career path closer to my passion with food.

Sometimes we go through life not knowing what to expect in our next chapter of life.  But, it is Cobblertimes like that when it is so reassuring to know you have someone in your corner.  See, Sara moved about 4 hours away a few weeks ago.  Up until her moving time, we gathered a few last times for a few “last meals”.  Sara makes the best tuna salad, lasagna, and was holding back on these amazing stuffed shells that she makes.  I enjoyed our meals and conversations together immensely.  They always seemed to come at the right time.  I am also thankful that she is a great friend of mine that loves food as much as I do and is always willing to open up her kitchen to me! —- The last meal, when we had the stuffed shells, Sara’s daughter was so excited to give me a gift she had picked out for me.  They had a bible for me.  Not just any bible, but a pink bible.  Sara had given me explicit instructions to read a certain book in the bible for the situations I have been going through lately, and I know she was making sure I had absolutely no excuses not to read it.  Sara and her husband have moved through life with leaps of faith.  With every leap she takes, she spreads the love of God as well.  This was just another example of her inspiration to others.

In that…she is the perfect example of God’s love everyday, and that is something I hope to follow in her footsteps with as well.

Happy Birthday to my amazingly beautiful friend, Sara.  I love you.

She’s made an appearance on TheOnyxPlate.com before, and you can find that recipe for her easy Lasagna at this link here.  We normally paired our meals with a good salad, bread, and a tasty dessert.  Of course by tasty dessert I only mean brownies or Peach Cobbler.  *smile*

Below is the recipe for our “last meal” while she was in town…her Stuffed Shells.

Shells

Sara’s Stuffed Shells

  • 12 oz pack of jumbo pasta shells

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 – 15 oz cartons of Ricotta Cheese

  • 2 cups shredded Mozz cheese

  • 1.5 cups grated Parmesan Cheese (I’ve used both grated and shredded before; both work)

  • 2 tbsp dried parsley (or 1/2 cup fresh–I’ve never had fresh on hand, so I always use dried)

  • 1/2 tsp salt (I also add about 1 tbsp basil and 3/4 tsp oregano–or roughly 1.5 additional tbsp of a mixed italian seasoning when I don’t have the specific herbs on hand)

  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Drain and let cool. Mix eggs in separate large bowl. Add Ricotta, Mozzarella, parmesan (directions say to add 3/4 cup and using reserves for top–I’ve been adding all it lately in the mix and then sprinkling extra some on top), and all the seasonings/salt. Spoon the cheese mix into each shell. Spread some spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish. Arrange shells in dish. Top with spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with parm cheese and mozz. Bake for 25-30 min or until heated through. ENJOY!!!!

 

My 10 Flavors I Love in Alamance County and Beyond

Greek Orthodox Baklava

This was the February 2013 article published in Alamance Magazine. I’m sorry I haven’t been around much. I’ve began a new job since the last time I posted, and I also closed my right hand index finger in my car door. It was broken and horribly swollen. That hasn’t made it very easy to type, hence me being missing in action. So my apologies. I hope this makes up for it though…*smiles*. Love to you all!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Time and time again I find myself longing for some of my favorite flavors as I drive through the area. It wasn’t too long ago that I can remember not having all of these wonderful dining options. However, through growth of our county, I am extremely proud that we have grown as a community that fosters different types of culinary delights. Now, I haven’t explored everything we have to offer around our area. So, when I think of the flavors I love in Alamance County and beyond, I am drawn back to many childhood memories and places and people I hold dear to my heart. After I made my list, I took note of what I had listed. In the end, the flavors all ended up being at places where good people work and give back to our community. Those are the places that deserve our patronage, and I’m honored to share them all with you. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see one of your favorite flavors listed as well. I encourage you to savor life and try every last one of them.

  1. The Souvlaki at Skid’s Diner on Church Street is absolutely one of my favorite flavors here. Maw-Maw and I always have excellent service from Todd, and he always knows I like grilled onions on my Pork Souvlaki. Souvlaki and amazing service always make me smile.
  2. I grew up on visits to Tasty Bakery where the Chocolate Pie quickly became a favorite of mine. It is the closest to our family’s tried and true Chocolate Pie recipe. Even better…this little personal Chocolate Pie is only $1.59, and they have them all the time. It’s perfection in the form of a pie.
  3. There isn’t much that compares to the Apple Jack sauce at Blue Ribbon. It’s good on everything in their restaurant, especially the grilled chicken. I’m ashamed to admit that I could almost drink it out of a glass. It’s sweet, tangy, and mustard like taste makes it the best dipping sauce around!
  4. When the strawberries come in at Iseley Farms, I can’t help but start thinking of all of the recipes to make with them! One of my favorites is a Strawberry Pretzel Salad. Jane Iseley’s strawberries are perfect for every dish since they always have the sweetest flavor one expects from a well grown strawberry.
  5. If you like pickles, then you will love the Rusted Bucket Shot at the Rusted Bucket Tavern in downtown Burlington. I picked this as one of my favorite flavors not only because I like pickles, but because it was so creative. In an effort to not waste all of the pickle juice left behind from pickles served at the bar, Angie, the owner, decided to serve a combination shot of whiskey followed up immediately with a shot of pickle juice. It’s definitely worth the try! Trust me.
  6. The pizza dough at Vesuvio’s Pizza is another favorite of mine. The dough for their mouth-watering pizzas is the same dough they use for the rolls served with their pasta dishes. It’s hard to find a good crust, and this has topped my list since I first tasted it.
  7. I am aware that when I say Pulled Pork BBQ in Burlington, that Delancey’s is not the first place that comes to mind. However, this is a BBQ you must have on your plate…and often! It’s juicy with just the right amount of smoke flavor, and I don’t even need to put a sauce on it. But, if you do want a sauce, the owner makes his own BBQ sauce that I hear is fantastic! It’s rare to find an equally moist and flavorful plate of BBQ. Delancey’s gets their Pulled Pork BBQ from Brookwood Farms in Siler City. Delicious!
  8. If you’re looking to indulge in something rich and creamy, I highly recommend you stop in at Six Scoops in Gibsonville. Their ice cream tops my list of any ice cream option around. Their ice cream is truly made with love, and you can’t go wrong with any flavor. I am absolutely in love with this little place and their creamy ice cream. It’s great that they serve other food now also!
  9. When I’m looking for fresh seafood to cook at home, I head to Michelle’s Kitchen in Burlington. She has a great selection of fresh fish, and the Tuna Steak she sells is hard to beat. The Tuna Steak always tastes fresh, and she has large meaty steaks with the best coloring. While I love the Tuna Steak there, it’s hard not to pick up some of the other take home meals and sweets! It’s a one stop shop of enjoyment.
  10. Baklava, Baklava, Baklava…what more can I say? When the Souvlaki Dinners come around at St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church on Front Street, I’m almost always first in line each time to consume a piece of their treasured Baklava. Its sticky sweetness makes those particular Sundays even better, and I have yet to find a Baklava around town that compares.

Skid's II on Urbanspoon
Tasty Bakery on Urbanspoon
Blue Ribbon Diner on Urbanspoon
Vesuvio's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
Delancy's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Transported: Destination, Stoney Knob Café in Asheville, NC

101_3528

To be “transported”: To be moved from your current location. To be “beamed up” by Scotty (oh wait, that’s teleportation). To have a different experience than you expected. To allow yourself to relax in your current environment and go with the flow. Just….to be.

Granted the above is all my wording, but you get the point I’m sure. We can transport ourselves by plane, train, or automobile to anywhere we choose on this beautiful Earth, or beyond even. We have choices a plenty. Along that road of transportation, as a Foodie, we have another choice to make…where do we eat? I make it a goal to NEVER eat at a chain restaurant when traveling out of town. Lucky for us (sometimes), we have pretty much any chain restaurant you can think of within about a thirty-minute drive from home. Side note***When I say “chain restaurant”, I mean more than two or three of the same restaurants. I wanted to be clear here, because we have some wonderful local restaurants that are doing so well, we are fortunate enough to have more than one of their restaurants around us as they grow. They still have that local, hometown flair (unlike some of the more popular chains)…which is important in my opinion.

Back to being transported…

While traveling, I have become quite fond of two Droid apps. One of which is Urbanspoon, and another is TripAdvisor. This time, I went with TripAdvisor. While glancing through their top-rated restaurants for Asheville, NC, I found Stoney Knob Café listed as number 6 out of 267 restaurants in Asheville! Number 6 isn’t half bad, I’d say! The funny part…Stoney Knob Café isn’t even in Asheville. *wink* It’s actually located in Weaverville, NC. Which, sure, it’s right there on the outskirts of Asheville…but, wouldn’t it be more fair to say it’s in Weaverville so Weaverville gets a little credit for having one of the most amazing restaurants around??? Not to mention another one we went to while in Asheville….it too was amazing, and in Weaverville. *smile*

We pulled up to Stoney Knob Café, located a bit away from the hustle and bustle of Asheville (which I loved, because you can only take so much “downtown” on vacation). We were immediately met with a “Diner” feel from the outside with an extra room added to each side. Should I mention I pulled a little close to the brick sign out front, so the hub had to shimmy out the door when he opened it…hehe. *mischievous smile*

When you walk into Stoney Knob Café, you are immediately met with color from top to bottom, right to left. It was absolutely breath-taking with all of the amazing details in the restaurant. I may have gotten a touch of ADD being in there with all of the elements to look at. You didn’t feel like you were in Asheville anymore (oh wait, you AREN’T!). Let me rephrase that…you didn’t feel like you were in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the middle of winter, surrounded by a lot of monotone, once you stepped over their threshold.

We had truly been transported…

It was unlike anywhere we had been before, and little did we know that the food was going to prove that fact. Sitting down, it was immediately realized how comfortable our booths were and how clean everything was. The coffee was ordered, and the Brunch menu was reviewed. With menu items like…

  • Blackberry Crepes – Two Crepes stuffed with Orange-Cream Cheese topped with Blackberry Sauce & Honey Cream with a choice of Bacon or Sausage.
  • Huevos Rancheros – Two crispy Corn Tortillas with scrambled Eggs, Guajillo–Chili Sauce, Black Beans & Cheddar Cheese. Served with choice of Grits, Polenta or Potato.
  • The Spinach Artichoke Frittata – Baked open-faced Frittata with Artichoke, Spinach, Onions & Feta Cheese.
  • Johnny D’s Breakfast Burrito – Scrambled Eggs, Tomato, Onions, Green Peppers, Mushrooms, Cheddar Cheese & choice of Ham, Bacon or Sausage wrapped in a Sun-dried Tomato Basil Tortilla served w/Salsa.

It wasn’t an easy decision to say the least. I went with the Stuffed French Toast – Two slices of Texas Toast stuffed with Orange-Cream Cheese topped with Blackberry Sauce & Honey Cream with a choice of Bacon or Sausage. The hub chose the Stoney Knob Benny – Two luscious Crab Cakes topped with poached Eggs & roasted Red Pepper Hollandaise Sauce with a choice of Grits, Polenta or Potatoes. For the record…I didn’t write the word “luscious” when describing the Crab Cakes. It was there already, and man oh man was it the truth!

The food…took the restaurant to a completely different level in our minds, as if the décor hadn’t already. The food was delivered with pure beauty, it tasted like pure bliss, and it left inspired smiles for the day of traveling ahead of us on our faces. The way the Blackberry Sauce dripped seductively off my fork tines as I tried to make the entire bite fit in my mouth just left you wanting the next bite even more. I know…it sounds like I was taking big bites, but come on…some of the bites need to have every single element of the dish on the fork, because there is a reason the genius Chefs put them on the plate together in such a perfect combination to begin with. Method to the madness, people. *smile* The Benny…oh the Benny! Back to that word “luscious” and the word’s relation to their Crab Cakes…they aren’t lying to you. They were amazingly luscious. You also know how much I adore a perfectly poached egg (maybe because I leave it to the professionals and don’t make them at home). Everything about both of these dishes was pure perfection, from the “pop” of the poached egg to the Honey Cream to the Red Pepper Hollandaise Sauce. I wish I could order this every morning for breakfast.

Plates were cleaned as if a hungry pup had enjoyed the remainder of the nibbles. Coffee cups were drained empty, good to the last drop as they say. This all signified that the transportation we had just experienced was coming to an end. The time came to journey back over the threshold of which we had crossed earlier, from our blissful transportation to a peaceful world with delightful food and on down the currently monotone mountains and back to our equally monotone piedmont area.

As we took a peak at the rest of the restaurant rooms (the additions previously mentioned), sighed in amazement, and headed back to our own mode of transportation home, we resolved ourselves to the fact that we could only get this experience in one city…Weaverville, NC. Thank you, Weaverville, for offering us a meal we will certainly never forget.

Stoney Knob Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This slideshow requires JavaScript.