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NY Times article on wine/food in the Triangle

I made a happy *gulp* when I opened the dining section of the Times this morning. Really nice article on food and wine appreciation in this area, focusing on Mateo but mentioning other places. Not sure if the link will work but here you go: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/din...

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  1. The weekly Times Durham Food Wrap-up. They really ought to hire/syndicate Greg Cox.

    Also, it was a very nice story.

    1. The link works. Thanks for posting. And thank you New York Times for recognizing once again that we in the Triangle are not living in a backwoods culinary wasteland and are not forced to drink only moonshine, bathtub gin and syrupy sweet fermented grape juice when we are not drinking our beloved tea. [FYI NYT, tea means iced tea.] What would I do and where would I be without your all knowing omnipotence, oh great bastion of news and journalistic integrity.

      “The horrible, paralyzing fear I had about leaving New York City was, ‘What am I going to drink?’ ” Oh the humanity! Oh the horror! I'm glad it all worked out ok for you Noel.

      When I came to Durham in 1978 and for years before that and years after that, the good (no, make that amazing and fantastic) folks at Fowler's could and would get you any wine and any exotic, gourmet, rare or unusual foodstuff you desired. Southern Season would do the same.

      All of a sudden I feel like eating a Moon Pie and drinking an RC Cola. You remember RC Cola NYT, it's the drink that Tom and Nancy Seaver used to sing about in a commercial played during tv broadcasts of NY Mets baseball games.

      1. Mr. Maller and I were talking on the plane ride back from NY 2 weekends ago. His wife teaches at Southern Season CLASS. Both affable and knowledgeable people.

        1. "Sure, the Research Triangle, an academic and high-tech center formed by Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, has an educated, worldly population that welcomes the chance to eat and drink well. "

          As opposed to those backwater, bumbling fools out in rural areas who don't care about food and eat slop all the time? Sorry, you NYC elites, but a plate of farm-fresh meats and veggies from Bum's in Ayden, NC; chopped pork bbq from Lexington #1; the ethereal daily-changing menu up at Knife and Fork in Spruce Pine, NC; the BBQ chicken at Keaton's; and the honest-to-goodness culinary masterpieces you find in time-honored and time-honed recipes everywhere in between, ends up symbolizing an inherent and culture-driven love of food more enduring and meaningful than the flavor-of-the-month hipster crave of fussy Michelin 1-star food that pervades NYC/SF/etc.

          This type of food is more difficult to replicate than you think. It's why you can't get a meat-and-three in NYC or SF that tastes right; it's not for lack of effort. But there's something soulful and learned in it that can't substitute for family and time.

          16 Replies
          1. re: mikeh

            Of the places you mentioned I've only been to Keaton's but just about any BBQ, home/southern cooking places I've ever been to have served vegetables that I'm certain were canned.

            1. re: LBD

              Sounds like you need to do some more exploring - try Pam's Farmhouse in Raleigh, Bum's in Ayden, Old Place in Bear Creek, Roasting Company in Charlotte, Delancey's in Burlington, Blackbeard's in Conetoe, Nothin' Fancy Cafe in Edenton for farm-fresh veggies. These are all "backwater"-type places if you'd ask the NYT.

              1. re: mikeh

                Mikeh - are you familar with Joyce and Family in Fuquay Varina and Ye Old Country Kitchen in Snow Camp? Have you been? Do they compare favorably with the others on you list?

                1. re: carolinadawg

                  I haven't been to Joyce's in a few years - not since they moved from their small cafe location downtown to that large converted ex-steakhouse up the road. Apparently they had switched to menu service for a while before reverting (at least partially) to the buffet. It was excellent and as farm fresh as you could get back a few years ago, but I'm not sure that has changed if they've increased the volume of production.

                  Ye Old Country Kitchen is quite decent, but I think their meats/stews/desserts are better than their veggies. While some "veggies" like mac-and-cheese seem homemade, I suspect that some of their green veggies (turnips, green beans) might have been from cans. So in that sense, not as good as the places I've mentioned.

            2. re: mikeh

              I think you're reading too much into the statement. Just because he compliments the Triangle doesn't mean he's dissing the rural areas.

              1. re: bbqme

                Agreed. It was a nice article and it was nice to have yet another Triangle article in the NYT. And I hate to break it to some of you, but for people that have never been here, NC still conjures up images of banjos and incest. We all know better of course, but I run into that all the time with acquaintances from outside the area. And I certainly understand why someone that loves food and drink would be apprehensive about leaving one of the world's greatest places to enjoy food and drink.

                1. re: dinersaurus

                  I think you've put it very well, dinersaurus. I have friends all over the place and they stick their noses up in the air about North Carolina. Their loss, but let's face it, there is that perception out there.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    It's too bad one can't more easily popularize rural culture and foodways done right. It's a more convincing to say, "hey, you can get sophisticated food here too!" (which is true, and in many cases, done better than the majority of places that attempt it in the Big City), but they're missing out on a lot by not taking that country drive. It's not all diabetes and heart attack-inducing food as long as you use some discretion - - - a meat-n-three diet can be outstanding for one's health as long as the "three" isn't a bunch of sweets or carbs.

                2. re: bbqme

                  There actually was an explicit contrast made, but it was with other "college towns and affluent communities" that are similar in some sense to the Triangle, but don't offer the same gustatory delights.

                  It's true, too. I live in Greenville (NC) which is a college town and has had a big Yankee influx, and by and large, it's a wasteland. Hint: the quality of the college in the college town matters!

                  1. re: Naco

                    Good point, Naco. Funny thing is, IIRC, mikeh and I both hail from another town that fits that description, Tallahassee, FL. Although, I think FSU is a fine university-- but the good eating scene is bleak.

                    1. re: bbqme

                      FSU perenially ranks high on the party school listings just like ECU, though. I suspect that the party school ranking is going to inversely correlate with the quality of the dining scene pretty much anywhere you look.

                      1. re: Naco

                        I don't know...Athens ranks pretty high on both rankings.

                      2. re: bbqme

                        I spent 4 years in Tallahassee and was always surprised that the food options weren't more developed. It's the state capital!

                        I was there when the first bagel place & the first Thai restaurant opened. Lucy Ho was queen of the ethnic dining scene.

                        1. re: bbqme

                          Yeah, wow, I have no idea what the deal is with food in Tallahassee. Thomasville, GA has better quality restaurants (at both the down-home and upscale ends of the spectrum). Same for Apalachicola. I have a business meeting in Jacksonville, FL next week and am going to swing by the Market Diner in Thomasville for old time's sake, given the rarity with which I'm back in that part of the country these days. Really craving that type of cuisine done as well as they do.

                          1. re: mikeh

                            The Market Diner was phenomenal! Awesome veggies being that they were at the Farmers Market. You'll have to let me know if it's still good. If you have time, you might want to check out Sweet Grass Dairy. They're making a name for themselves. I was able to buy their cheese at Southern Season.

                  2. There is some good information there but it does smack of the typical major-press attitude for our state and the South in general (if you care to lump a quarter of the country into one category as they like to do).

                    I wonder how we would have coped had these experienced gurus not moved down and enlightened us. Someone should remind them that NC was probably the 2nd largest wine producing state pre-Prohibition. And that due to the wonders of modern transportation you can buy worldly wines all over the country.

                    "What am I going to drink?" - I think the same thing whenever I travel outside the "ice tea" zone.