Fooding it up in Chapel Hill

Goodness, I haven’t posted in quite a long time. Why? Well… I haven’t cooked in a very long time 😦 Seriously, I should just transform this blog (or at least, my half of it) into a review of Trader Joe’s frozen food section, because that’s the only thing keeping me alive right now. And thankfully, alive without additives and preservatives! 🙂

Instead, here’s a post I wrote over a month ago…

My dear, dear friend Ben swung through recently, and in the span of 36 hours he took me to some of the best establishments in his hometown!

We began with a very delicious cocktail at Acme, which serves modern southern food. Although we didn’t eat, I was heartily encouraged to try it soon.

Our dinner location was just a few blocks down the street: Lantern, recently named one of Gourmet magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” — yep, fancy! I didn’t take too many photos while we were in the restaurant, but we did eat well:

  • Fresh black mushroom and cabbage dumplings
  • Salt and pepper shrimp — fresh wild shrimp with crispy shells, fried jalapeños, coriander and sea salt [with fried cilantro! so fun!]
  • Tea and spice smoked local chicken with yang chow pork and shrimp fried rice, local green beans and housemade XO sauce [they list their recipe for XO sauce here, and all I have to say is that I’m glad I don’t make it by hand!]
  • Salt-grilled Niman Ranch flat iron steak with roasted garlic, local cherry tomatoes, fingerling potatoes and red miso-marrow [de.licious. i ate the leftovers two mornings later with toast and a fried egg, and the meat was so amazingly tender]
  • Two Junebug cocktails — Pimm’s, fresh ginger & lemon soda and cucumber

The food was delicious, service attentive, and great ambiance. It’s not a huge restaurant, so you feel nice and cozy. They have a very cool bar out back that is decorated in red and black — definitely recommended.

We ended the night with friends at the Orange County Social Club. Being a recent Californian transplant, I still giggle at seeing the “OC” … but I suppose counties are allowed to be Orange no matter what state they’re in, eh?

The next morning we headed to Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, named the Best Breakfast in North Carolina by the Food Network magazine. Ben has been “going here since I was a boy of six” and swears by the chicken biscuit. Who was I to argue with his experience?! It is housed in a simple grey drive-through, but often has a line extending into the street. Sweet tea and chicken biscuit in hand, I was a convert.

The biscuits are really lovely. None of that over-greasy (why even put butter on it?!), over-salty taste you get at many of the mass-produced biscuit places. Just a good sized, buttermilk biscuit, with an amazingly fried piece of chicken inside. The chicken was tender, flaky, juicy, and seasoned to perfection. Dangerous… I now occasionally use this place as a morning bribe to get my butt in gear (how convenient that it is en route to school!).

We then swung by Cup A Joe, where Ben has made many a cappuccino…

And then to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market where the cheese lady recognized him, even after such a long hiatus. Amazing. 🙂

The next day he and lovely L hijacked me at my office and we drove into the countryside to Maple View Farm, where we sat on their wrap-around rocking chair front porch, gazed at rolling hills with grazing cows, and ate the most delicious fresh ice cream.

Topped off with sharing several plates of food at Carrburritos, a place that I will have to go to every time my Mexican food cravings hit… It’s the closest thing to Cali I have here, and it’s delicious!

Of course it only makes sense that if Ben and I get together, we enjoy good food and drink as well as lots of good chats and laughs. It was a wonderful trip! I can’t wait until the next time.

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2 thoughts on “Fooding it up in Chapel Hill

  1. Oh, my dear Lin…..prior to this wonderful post I had no reason to visit NC. I fear that I must make travel plans now so that I may taste a biscuit. Please don’t stay away from the kitchen for too long!

    JB

    • eek I just realized I never responded to this! Well, dear JB, if you ever do find yourself in my neck of the woods, you have a place to stay and a fellow biscuit-lover to eat with. In fact, you should probably coordinate a visit with Ben, because he knows all the good food places!

      Excited to see where your blog goes in 2011… All the food is looking delish 🙂

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