Photo by Briana Brough
Originally published March/April 2012
If you think this column about food-related goals for this year is going to be about buying only organic or giving up chocolate, you've obviously never met me. Between the Old-School Diet Crew (Fat! Guilt! Sin!) and the Neo Crunchy Set (Carbon! Pesticides! High-Fructose Corn Syrup!), we're all already getting plenty of shame around food. Allow me to propose some ideas of a totally different sort, then: vows to actually do all the fun food-related things we've been thinking about, rather than putting them off again and again.
This year, I resolve to sign up for that cheese course at Reliable Cheese in Durham, so I can finally learn what, exactly, determines "semi-soft" and how to pronounce "tomme de savoie." I will actually book a spot for Celebrity Dairy's family-style Third Sunday dinner. I will go to Saxapahaw General Store or the village's new(ish) Eddy Pub with – crucial point – enough patience to wait out the lines that have driven me back to Chapel Hill in the past. I will bike the American Tobacco Trail from Southpoint and eat buttermilk pie and biscuits with pimento cheese at Scratch. I will finally attend one of the Friday morning coffee cuppings at Counter Culture Coffee. And while I've already taken the Taste Carolina food tour of Raleigh and Chapel Hill/Carrboro, this time I’ll commit to try something further afield, like their tour of Hillsborough or Greensboro.
Speaking of Greensboro, I'd also like to dedicate this spring to expanding my boundaries beyond the Triangle. I'll spend a day in Greensboro checking out the ethnic eateries – the city has the best Thai and Vietnamese food in the state and is perhaps the only place in N.C. (correct me if I'm wrong) where you can sample Laotian cuisine. Why not spend a Saturday on a DIY Asian tapas tour, wandering from restaurant to cafe to market nibbling banh mi sandwiches and green papaya salad and sour-sweet tamarind candies? While I'm at it, I'll head to Old Mill of Guilford to pick up some stone-ground grits and watch the water wheel turn.
Another Triad resolution: The next time I'm passing through Winston-Salem on my way to the mountains, I resolve to pop into Winkler Bakery at Old Salem (You have to pay to go to Old Salem, but you can visit the bakery for free.). You can get tubes of Winkler's Moravian paper-thin cookies at most local gourmet stores, but for the wood fired bakery's true pièce de résistance, the sugar cake, you have to go straight to the source. Made with potato flour, it's rustic and dense and totally worth the detour off I-40, though I've often skipped it out of laziness. No more.
Closer to home, I resolve to shop at the farmers’ market more often. In my imagination, I'm a "wandering through the farmers’ market with a charming tote bag brimming with kale and sweet potatoes at 7 a.m." kind of woman. In reality, I seem to be more of a "buying tortilla chips at 1 a.m. in Harris Teeter because I've been writing for 14 hours, and I want nachos now" type. Nothing against the nachos – I love you forever! – but I love sweet potatoes too, when I can coax myself into getting up on Saturday morning to buy them. I would also like to be more responsible with my kale and sweet potatoes when I do acquire them, rather than letting them rot in the bottom of my crisper while I write columns about food resolutions.
If my "more home cooking" resolution does fall through, I will not feel too guilty about it, though. It will give me a chance to carry out one of my other food resolutions: try some of the new local restaurants I never got a chance to try in 2011. Food trucks/bikes/caravans are high on my list – Chirba Chirba Dumpling, Monuts Donuts, Will and Pop’s, The Parlour ice cream.
As for chocolate – rather than giving it up, why not just eat better quality? I'd start with a Beaufort Bar (dark chocolate with sea salt) from Raleigh's Escazu – you can pick them up at A Southern Season, Foster's and other local spots. I'm also a big fan of Carrboro's highly underrated Miel Bon Bons, in Carr Mill Mall, with flavors like yuzu and mango-mint-coriander.
If this sounds good to you, don't delay. As quickly as 2011 passed, so will 2012. Why put off until tomorrow what you could eat today? CHM