Keeping it local with The Blend & Co.

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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

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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

LaRue – A great addition to Greensboro dining

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

We decided to order three of the four small plates…

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Dates Make a Difference: Eat for a Cause event

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EatforaCause

One of the most wonderful things that I’ve enjoyed since beginning my blog is the connection that I’ve formed with so many in the food world.  I’ve met entirely too many people to sit here and name that have impacted my life in many ways.  I love them all, and I especially love them for letting me into their lives.  Along with the connections, I have been blessed with many food events I am able to attend.  I understand the Farm to Fork movement a lot better, and I also understand the impact of buying local…purchasing from local farms, and also frequenting locally owned restaurants.

I wanted to share this next event with you, because it will truly be a night of amazing dishes and great Chefs!

The event, Eat for a Cause, will be held on August 18th from 6-9pm at :

Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts

251 Spruce Street N., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 United States

You can find more information and purchase tickets at the Dates Make a Difference event website by clicking here.

Here’s a quick synopsis of what Dates Make a Difference is, and what all we will be grubbing on at the Eat for a Cause event on August 18th!  So excited!

“A Dates Make a Difference Event is not a typical school fundraiser. We don’t just throw an event and write your school a check.  Students, parents and teachers work together and come up with a project or proposal for how to best use the funds.  A local ‘Difference Maker’ hosts your school’s event. They partner with local restaurants and food suppliers to offset the cost of the event, to keep costs lower for the parents, and so more of the funds go directly to the project. The event meal keeps a strong focus on locally-grown slow food prepared by local chefs and restaurateurs.  Also at your Dates Event and after a brief presentation about where the funds will be used, children and their parents experience family-friendly and inspiring entertainment that we believe will enrich your relationship.

Fundraising for Education

A new fundraising model where funds go directly toward an immediate, visible and long-lasting benefit.

Building Family Relationships

We inspire a connection between parent and child at our events to help facilitate an ongoing dialogue.

Supporting Local Food

We introduce diners, growers, and chefs to inspire a lifelong love of food, and support of the local community.”

 

Here’s the menu for the event!

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Am I allowed to call myself a Published Food Critic now?

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I’m published! I’m published! I’m published!

If you’ve been following The Onyx Plate on Facebook and Twitter, you might already know this little bit of information…and you very well might be tired of hearing about it. My apologies if so. Otherwise, I’m super excited and extremely proud of myself. Did I just say that? I did…hmmmm. I’m PROUD of myself and my accomplishments thus far on my path to a food career.  This may be old territory for some of you reading this, but this is a whole new horizon I’m looking at!  Yay!

So what was published you ask? My first Restaurant Review was published in our local Alamance County Magazine, along with my photographs of the food. Woohoo! The restaurant I reviewed was really and truly awesome, and I guess I lucked out in that way. No one ever wants to review a restaurant where they can’t say ALL good things about it. That’s just awkward. Although, you know I have had that awkward restaurant review on here with the Tupelo Honey Café review I did on our last trip to Asheville, NC. That was a bit awkward. Sigh. So, that just goes to show you that I do tell the truth with my reviews. *smiles*

Below is what was published in the magazine, along with photographs of the layout. I’M SO EXCITED!

The main question though…Am I allowed to call myself a Published Food Critic now?

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When I think of the name of this restaurant, I can’t help but think of family and the phrase “getting back to your roots”. Sure, this phrase definitely is referencing the act of going back to where you came from or going back to the beginning in essence. However, it’s not always about where you came from originally that could be considered your roots in life. Truthfully, life takes us to a thousand different places and through five thousand different situations. We meet people along the way that shape and mold our lives, and we also live in places that add to our character and define who we are as a person. Sometimes along that way though, we decide to plant ourselves. Not necessarily where we first took root with our family, but where we planted ourselves along our road in life. Something drew us back to that special place, and something made us want to root in fresh soil. Such is the case with the owners of The Root Trackside, and I am very thankful that they came back after graduating from Elon in the 90s.

As everyone knows, it’s very important to have a great first impression when walking through the front door of a restaurant you’ve never tried before. We were immediately greeted by a clean-cut gentleman who led us to a comfortable booth. As I looked around, there were strawberry baskets on the walls around us that reminded me of picking strawberries with my Mom locally. Those are warm Southern memories that I was happy to remember when seeing them. The waitress, Amy, was quickly at our table and went through the menu graciously with us. She took care to explain everything and made some of the greatest faces while doing it! You could tell she truly loved the food and people there, and I can appreciate that.

For a Starter, we had the Crispy Topped Fries. Yeah, these weren’t just a plate of fries. These perfectly crisp fries were topped with shaved Parmesan and Truffle Aioli. It was one of those items that once you had one French Fry, you had to pause and think about it, then you had another one, thought about the blast of flavors again, and then fought to eat the rest of them before the person you were with ate them all. They were a phenomenal Starter that set the mood for the rest of the meal.

When Amy was asked what she would suggest as a menu item for us, she immediately went to the Foodie Grilled Cheese. Let me explain what they mean by “Foodie” being at the beginning of the name. It means that you can have about anything on that Grilled Cheese sandwich that your little heart desires and make it your own creation. I chose to add spinach, caramelized balsamic onions, avocado, bacon, and arugula. By the time I was finished adding all of my toppings, my sandwich was still under $8. Oh, and it came with a choice of side. I chose the Cheese Grit Cakes. Cheesy Grits with chopped green onion mixed in and cooled. Then, they were cut into triangles, battered, and fried to golden deliciousness. Also at our table, was the Ivy League Sandwich. This sandwich came on soft French bread and had an enormous amount of house-baked turkey breast on it, Havarti cheese, an herb mayo, lettuce, tomato and this mouth-watering cucumber dill relish to top it all off. When I say “mouth-watering”, please believe me. I was so thankful we were able to get more on the side. Delicious! The Ivy League was accompanied by Crispy Brussels Sprouts, which were quite tasty as well.

Now once you have already filled your belly with these hearty sandwiches and crispy fries, you have to wonder where extra room is going to come from for dessert. I’m sorry, but when you tell me that the desserts are homemade by someone at the restaurant…I’m ordering dessert, regardless of how full I already am. When the Raspberry Cheesecake slice arrived at my table, I found the room for it easily. The raspberry sauce drizzled over top of the homemade cheesecake just glistened back at me. The shaved white chocolate on top was calling my name. The kicker was the crust though. That chocolate crust was amazing. I’m very picky about cheesecakes. I love everything about the inside of them. It’s the outside edges that I typically get disappointed with though. When I have already consumed the creamy beginning of my piece of cheesecake, the last thing I want to finish with is an edge that is too brown and tastes of freezer burn. This was definitely not the case with this slice of cheesecake. It was obvious that it was made with love and attention. It certainly made me smile.

All in all, The Root Trackside was simply delicious and offered many ingenious combinations of fresh food. They also carry a nice selection of local brews to enjoy with your burgers and sandwiches. You know what made me smile the biggest though? Seeing a sandwich called “The Fightin’ Christian”. That was the Elon I grew up around, and The Root Trackside brought back yet more memories of our wonderful little town and my childhood. Thank you to The Root for restoring my faith in sandwich shop-like restaurants. It’s nice to see sandwiches and burgers modernized while still keeping that Southern and Elon charm.

You know I had to ask them to put World Nutella Day in there with a little shout-out to all of you around the world! *wink*

The Root Trackside on Urbanspoon

My New Project! Fresh. Local. Good. food group Blog!

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I know it’s been a while since I have posted, and please forgive me. Between introducing a new kitten to a well established older cat in our home, long days of work and exercise, and now a dabble of a cold, it has surely been busy.

But that’s all the ho-hum of what’s been going on for me…there’s good stuff too!

I’m rocking out to some 311, the windows are open, and I’m writing…about coffee. Not for The Onyx Plate though. *wink*

I was recently asked to write for one of my favorite restaurants around, Iron Hen Café. Their parent company, Fresh. Local. Good. food group does a lot for our community. I will be writing an ongoing blog for them that you can find by clicking on the link below. It will include local goodness of all sorts with an abundance of wonderful local Foodie stories.

You are encouraged to follow that blog as well. You never know when you are going to make it to Greensboro. *smiles*

My posts may not be as frequent as before on The Onyx Plate, but there will surely be free-flowing Foodie love on both!

I can’t wait to see where life is taking The Onyx Plate. As I have asked before…you coming with me? *huge smiles*

You are going to LOVE everything Fresh.Local.Good. food group!

Click here to visit the new blog!

A few items from Iron Hen Café are pictured below, and you can find a previous post I wrote on them by clicking here.

Enjoy!

 

The NC BBQ Company…some of the best letters ever combined together!

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Just take a second and review the below company seal…what all do you see?

Every little detail screams North Carolina and BBQ! Just love it!

While I was sick in the middle of December last year, I was laid up at home on the computer…A LOT! I entered a FB contest to win some BBQ during that time from The North Carolina Barbecue Company and won! Woohoo! Below is how they announced the winner of their contest….(how clever!)

I went by and picked up my BBQ a couple of weeks ago, and my oh my. It was quite the great experience. I got to meet with one of the owners, Ryan, and discuss BBQ. We talked a lot about their business plans coming up, and how I might be able to participate in some other things BBQ. Let’s get to the nitty gritty though and discuss what I won…

A Battle Box….you know (well you might not if you’re not from around these parts) that old battle between Eastern and Piedmont BBQ? Well, this perfect little package lets you judge for yourself in one convenient box, with super easy to prepare packaging (the BBQ comes in boil bags! *perfection*).  It contains BBQ, slaw, and sauce for both Piedmont and Eastern styles (and a mini Texas Pete – perfection). If you’re not too familiar with the differences…Eastern sauce is more vinegary and Piedmont is thicker and sweeter normally. Eastern slaw is mayonnaise based, and Piedmont slaw is marinated. Eastern BBQ is the whole hog, and Piedmont BBQ is traditionally the shoulders. Understand a little better now? *smiles*

I'll take a bite of everything!

I had my family over for dinner that night I picked up the Battle Box, and we had a very tasty dinner full of BBQ! The Eastern had everything I love in it….big meaty chunks of pork. The Piedmont was more chopped, as you would expect shoulders to be done. Even though they both were amazingly flavored, we had a mixed table that night. I, myself, loved the Eastern style BBQ. The sauces were pretty similar and both were quite tasty. Now…the slaw…in LOVE with the Piedmont marinated slaw. *huge smiles* Nothing better to go with delicious BBQ than marinated slaw in my book.

If you want to have your own Battle Royale of BBQ then you can order your own Battle Box by clicking here. Five of us ate off the small Battle Box that I had won…not including leftovers for about three more sandwiches.

Food for thought: Ryan made a good point when I was talking with him…BBQ establishments are good wholesome family places. They are all deeply rooted in family and religion, and you never see a BBQ restaurant that serves alcohol around here. So go check out your local BBQ joint, or order you your own Battle Box….or, hey, if you’re blessed with the BBQ gene, get to making your own (but don’t forget to call me over)!

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Homeland Creamery: A smile in a cup…or cone.

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I got more than I beckoned for on Wednesday during a hunt for amazing Ice Cream…

1. I didn’t expect for Homeland Creamery to be decently close to us. I knew it was a beautiful ride through the Country, but never realized that it isn’t too far away for a regular visit.

2. I didn’t expect to meet such a nice lady inside the ice cream shop. Yvonne (I am hoping this is how she spells her name) was very helpful, and she made you feel very welcome. Come to find out, she lives very close to me. *smiles*

3. The Creamery had 16 flavors available! I certainly wasn’t expecting such a vast array. All of which looked appetizingly delicious! The refrigerators there were stocked with their milk, butter, and MORE ice cream!

I love this picture...not only can you see me...oops...you can see the reflection of the store, the products in the case, and other merchandise.

4. There were a lot other local products available as well. I purchased a Fresh Goat Cheese Chevre Herb Ball from Calico Cheese Company right down the road from my house. I had NO IDEA I had a cheese company right down the road! Field trip! I also purchased some Phillips Brothers Country Ham Hot Sausage. It was calling my name from the freezer case in the Ice Cream Shop!

5. The resident “pets” were just as friendly as Yvonne. We were herded by one pup, and three cats enjoyed our visit along with us. (When we sat at the picnic tables, one little cat hopped right up on Mom’s lap and laid down. *smiles*)

6. If you don’t go on the Creamery Tour, they still have a few animals in view that children could enjoy while eating their ice cream…furry rabbits, a couple of turkeys, a few hens, and of course the “pets” I mentioned earlier.

7. The picnic area was very nice and pleasant. I’ll admit it, I’m not a Country Girl. I can’t say a Dairy Farm would be my most favorite smell, but the amazing Ice Cream certainly made up for the smell I wasn’t accustomed to.

8. On to the ICE CREAM! I opted for the Chocolate Reeses and Peanut Butter in a cup. They were both phenomenal! So fresh, creamy, and packed full of flavor. I went with Mom, my Step-Dad, and Maw-Maw. All of which enjoyed their ice cream as much as I did…Maw-Maw splurged for a cone (good woman).

Bottom line…Go and visit Homeland Creamery! It was a pleasant surprise that also featured a lot of other local goods in their store. I would recommend taking the tour when you go though. You can see their website by clicking here to obtain more information on the tours. I didn’t see any cows on our trip, so the cows would be more visible on the tour I am sure.

Now, go have some ice cream from your local Creamery, and feel proud that you just supported your local economy!

A happy blue sky behind a happy ice cream cup

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Homeland Creamery on Urbanspoon

Iron Hen Café: Fresh. Local. Good. Simply Amazing!

Nuff said...

As some of you may know, I have a birthday coming up tomorrow.

On a sidenote: Has anyone figured out how to stop the birthdays from coming around making us older? This is really getting old…no pun intended.

I have also been off work for a few days, and plan on being off all next week as well. When I was asked what I wanted to do for my birthday week (which I celebrate the whole month…no seriously, I do. *smiles*), I didn’t hesitate to say I wanted a Foodie adventure week! I had all of these restaurants lined up that I was going to visit and write about for you. Sadly though, funds got tight right here at my birthday, and I have had to choose just a few that I wanted to visit. So here we go…

First up – Iron Hen Café: Fresh. Local. Good.

I mean come on people! If the words on the front of the building don’t tell you all you need to know, then I think you just might have a few screws loose in that pretty little head of yours. If anyone is as bold as the owner of Iron Hen Café to put how good it is on the front of the building, it durn well better be good inside…period. *smiles* Let me tell you, it was fantastic!

It was literally like Foodie heaven. The menu speaks for itself, when you see phrases like…

  • “Old Mill of Guilford’s buttermilk buckwheat pancakes…”
  • “Simple Kneads Bakery’s buttermilk roll sliced and dipped in a peanut butter batter, seared and topped with sliced bananas, honey, and powdered sugar”
  • “Tender braised beef short ribs, pulled and served over Asiago peppercorn toast, topped with fresh arugula, poached eggs and a hickory smoked tomato hollandaise”
  • “Crab cake medallions seared”
  • “Grilled Peach and Scallop salad with walnuts and bleu cheese crumbles”
  • “Fried goat cheese salad with a grilled pineapple and pancetta salsa over mesclun greens, topped with an aged balsamic reduction” (I’m getting this one next time, wow!)
  • “Grilled Portobello Mushroom on Asiago peppercorn bread with provolone cheese, caramelized sweet onion, roasted red peppers, roasted red pepper aioli, and spinach” (had that last night, amazing!)
  • “Tender braised beef short rib in natural jus with hickory smoked Brie, shaved red onions, and baby arugula, on a Kaiser bun”

Are you drooling yet??? Wait, there’s more…

  • “Friday Night Iron Skillet Fried Chicken: A breast and leg dusted in espresso flour and friend in a cast iron skillet” (OMG, did you read that??? YUM!)
  • “Baked Smoked Gouda mac and cheese, Parmesan charred corn on the cob, corn fritters with honey, collard green egg rolls”
  • They also have a delightful selection of baked goods at the front counter, and an Espresso selection that looked tasty.

It’s the kind of place that makes you want to become a better Foodie…and, while I’m sure I would love every single adventurous thing on the menu, I love the simple things from a kitchen even more (because yes, the simple things are the true test of a good restaurant) , and with that being said, the best thing I put in my mouth at the restaurant…the Baked Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese. It wasn’t that annoying mac and cheese with stringy cheese everywhere where you have to check and see if anyone saw you tackling that long string that dripped down from your hungry mouth. It was smooth, cheesy…..creamy. It was as if the Gods had bent down from the heavens and touched the chef personally that made it. Mouth wateringly good.

The atmosphere: When you walked in, you just felt peaceful. There were no harsh colors in your face, the lighting was soft. It was very light and refreshing. It’s exactly how you want to feel when walking into a place that has a mission to connect the food they serve to the farm it came from and the people at their tables. Green. The back of the menu states that they favor organic and North Carolina grown items.

We are our own farmers’ biggest fans and we must support them in every way we can! What better way than supporting a local restaurant that prides themselves on bringing us local goods from local farms and companies and helps contribute to a healthier agricultural North Carolina.

The help: A real quick blurb about the people working there last night…Matt, Kate, and Chandler (who briefly appeared from the back towards the end of the visit)….Yum, Beautiful, Quite Cute. Oh sure, you’ve heard me talk about delicious waiters before…but these guys took it to a whole new level. They were super nice to us and everyone in there that night. Truly seemed like good hearted individuals, and those are the people you want to employ. They were tolerant of my questions, and took the time to make us feel welcome in their restaurant. They acted like they were owners as well and took pride in the items when I asked them for suggestions. It was great to have that interaction, and to see them interacting with other tables as well. They really do care about the customer’s experience.

Thank you Iron Hen Café for a fabulous pre-birthday dinner. The food was wonderful, the employees were entertaining and fabulous, and the whole experience was refreshing. Will be back next week, and the week after that, and after that, and …….. (you get the point).

A few shots of my visit…. I would have loved to have had my real camera in here, but you get cell phone pictures. *smiles*

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